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Janmashtami

Krishna Plays in the Village of Vrindavan

Krishna Plays in the Village

Krishna Plays in the Village

Harinama Dasi narrates specific pastimes of Lord Krishna playing in the village of Vrindavan.

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Harinam Cintamani dasi narrates several of Lord Krishna's pastimes.

The Unhealthy God Concept Deliverance Program

Krishna knows how to have a good time better than anyone.
So why does He come to Earth—a known hangout for people who either don’t like Him or have serious problems accepting His very existence?

He explains why—“to deliver the pious and annihilate the miscreants.”

The battle of Kurukshetra is a prime example of Krishna’s miscreant annihilation potency—but what does it mean to “deliver the pious?”

As the Supreme Social Being, He’s not happy that any of His infinite parts and parcels would prefer to alienate themselves from His company.

He doesn’t force Himself on anyone, but He’s more than willing to deliver us from our own unhealthy God concepts—by reminding us what “all-attractive” really means.

We just have to be open to the idea.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.

(Bhagavad-gita, 9.1)

Krishna—Appearing like the Sun, Since Forever

Krishna—Appearing like the Sun

The sun is always shining, always existing, but we can’t always see it—it’s dark half the time. There's night and day. The sun does rise on schedule, though, so we’re not condemned to live without sunlight. You can predict when it will rise.

Krishna is the same way. He always exists. He also has a regular schedule for appearing in this world, which is mentioned in the Vedas.

Just as biological life depends on sunlight, our existence depends on the Absolute Truth, Who is ultimately a Person, the source of everything, the source of our life.

When Krishna appears, He shows us what it means to be truly alive.

"Godhead is light. Nescience is darkness. Where there is Godhead there is no nescience."

—Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.31)

How Krishna Makes His Entrance

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by Ekendra dasa

"Important" activities of "important" people on this "important" planet get big media coverage. Fifty-foot high video billboards in the center of the city, full-page ads in major papers, and TV commercials are all designed to help us all appreciate the importance of such people and their "important" activities, and sell product.

But because nothing happens on this tiny, temporary planet that's really that important, we surround our human events with hype to trick ourselves into thinking that they are. Big light shows, huge, elevated stages, booming sound effects, pyrotechnics, advertisements ad nauseam, and miles of magazine covers are essential components of the show business of the material world.

So, when contemplating the idea of the appearance of God Himself, those of us steeped in the contemporary culture of hype might naturally expect a grandiose production, reminiscent of the best that Hollywood has to offer, calculated to inspire awe and fear.

Considering Krishna's extremely high-profile position—the omnipotent, omnipresent, ultimate source of all energies—His appearance in this world is remarkably low-key. He doesn't draw attention to himself. He has nothing to prove. His "publicist"—yogamaya, His energy for engaging in transcendental pastimes—arranged His entrance to be subtle, classy, and mysterious. Here's how the moment of His appearance on earth is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam:

"Thereafter, at the auspicious time for the appearance of the Lord, the entire universe was surcharged with all the qualities of goodness, beauty and peace. The constellation Rohini appeared, as did stars like Asvini. . ."

This might be very useful and interesting information for you Vedic astrologers.

"The sun, the moon and the other stars and planets were very peaceful. All directions appeared extremely pleasing, and the beautiful stars twinkled in the cloudless sky.
Decorated with towns, villages, mines and pasturing grounds, the earth seemed all-auspicious. The rivers flowed with clear water, and the lakes and vast reservoirs, full of lilies and lotuses, were extraordinarily beautiful. In the trees and green plants, full of flowers and leaves, pleasing to the eyes, birds like cuckoos and swarms of bees began chanting with sweet voices for the sake of the demigods."

If you pause to imagine this scene, you may notice that this description is very rich in detail, and calls to mind the most attractive circumstances possible. It goes on:

"A pure breeze began to blow, pleasing the sense of touch and bearing the aroma of flowers, and when the brahmanas engaging in ritualistic ceremonies ignited their fires according to Vedic principles, the fires burned steadily, undisturbed by the breeze. Thus when the birthless (italics added) Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was about to appear, the saints and brahmanas, who had always been disturbed by demons like Kamsa and his men, felt peace within the core of their hearts, and kettledrums simultaneously vibrated from the upper planetary system." (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.3.1)

The narrator makes a point of describing Krishna as "birthless," because that is the fact. He has no "birth" the way we do. We're born into the bodies we're born into because of our karma, our destiny. But Krishna is the supreme controller. He appears and disappears from our sight whenever and wherever He likes.

He chose to make His appearance in a prison, in the middle of the night. The only human witnesses were Devaki and Vasudeva--the extraordinarily devoted husband and wife who had prayed for many lifetimes to have Krishna as their son:

"Then the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, who is situated in the core of everyone's heart, appeared from the heart of Devaki in the dense darkness of night, like the full moon rising on the eastern horizon, because Devaki was of the same category as Sri Krishna." (Srimad Bhagavatam,10.3.8)

Almost immediately then, under cover of night, Krishna was mystically whisked away to the remote cowherd village of Gokula, Vrindavan, so that no one but Devaki and Vasudeva would know that He had appeared.

Krishna's appearance was as undercover as could be.

"The Lord is one, but He can appear in everyone's heart by His inconceivable potency. Thus although the Lord was within the heart of Devaki, He appeared as her child. . . the Lord appeared like the sun . . . the Lord is situated even within the atom . . .He is situated in Mathura, in Vaikuntha and in the core of the heart. Therefore one should clearly understand that He did not live like an ordinary child in the heart or the womb of Devaki. Nor did He appear like an ordinary human child, although He seemed to do so in order to bewilder asuras [atheistic persons] like Kamsa."

In other words, Krishna appears to take birth—and even "die"—here, just like us, so that determined atheists can tell themselves and others, "Look! Krishna is just an ordinary guy!" Krishna doesn't mess with their view of reality.

"The asuras wrongly think that Krishna took birth like an ordinary child and passed away from this world like an ordinary man. Such asuric [demonic] conceptions are rejected by persons in knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead . . .The Lord is aja, unborn, and He is the supreme controller of everything. Nonetheless, He appeared as the child of Devaki.
This verse describes the inconceivable potency of the Lord, who appeared like the full moon. Understanding the special significance of the appearance of the Supreme Godhead, one should never regard Him as having taken birth like an ordinary child.(Srimad Bhagavatam 10.3.7-8, Purport)

Krishna is very kind to come see us. He doesn't have to. We may try our best to maintain the illusion that people, places, and events in this world are so important, but once we begin to understand the significance of Krishna's appearance, it's possible to see everything here in its proper perspective. It's not that big of a deal. But Krishna coming—that's a big deal.

Janmashtami

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Janmashtami is the yearly observance of Krishna's appearance on earth. It is one of the world's most widely observed spiritual festivals. Krishna's "birth," janma, occurred at midnight on ashtami, the eighth day after the full moon in the Vedic calendar.

Krishna's appearance is significant on many levels, and is something of a paradox. He's the beginningless Supreme Person, eternally existing everywhere at all times. He isn't "born" like we're are—forced by karma into a succession of material bodies. Krishna appears in His same permanent, spiritual form whenever and wherever He likes.

When He does appear, He chooses His devotees to play the roles of His father and mother. He Himself plays the role of their child, and acts like a human being, while also performing superhuman activities that are impossible for anyone else to imitate.

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Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that He appears time after time in this world, in His original form, to reestablish religious principles, deliver His devotees from material existence, and annihilate the wicked. He also says that those who hear about and understand the nature of His appearance and activities no longer have to undergo repeated birth and death, but return to live with Him in the spiritual world.

Devotees of Krishna most commonly celebrate Janmashtami by:

Those who live far from a temple may wish to celebrate online by:

Janmashtami Lecture in Montreal

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What follows is a transcription of a talk given by Srila Prabhupada in Montreal in observance of Janmashtami in 1968.

From the Complete Srila Prabhupada mp3 Library

A transcription of this lecture is also available on the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase.

Note: The Vedabase transcription includes bonus material which the recording omits. As Prabhupada is ending his lecture, he asks all the devotees present to stand, one after another, and share their own realizations of Krishna consciousness.

Montreal 1968: Prabhupada on Janmashtami





So, today is the birth—appearance ceremony—of Lord Krishna.

In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says,

janma karma ca me divyam
yo janati tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti kaunteya

[Bg. 4.9]

"My dear Arjuna, any person who simply tries to understand about My transcendental birth or appearance and disappearance and activities, janma karma..."

The Personality of Godhead is not niskriya, without activities. So anyone who can understand what kind of activities the Lord has and what kind of birth He accepts; simply by understanding these two things one gets wonderful result.

What is that? Tyaktva deham. By quitting this body—tyaktva deha punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]—he does not take any more birth in this material world.

Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. Some of us may think that “punar janma naiti” means he becomes vanquished. No. Punar janma naiti, but mam eti, "He does not come to this material world, but he comes to Me." Mam eti.

Mam eti means, then...the supreme personality of Godhead has His place, the...abode where we can go, simply by understanding the nature of His appearance and activities.

So today is that auspicious day, Janmashtami, when Lord Krishna appeared—five thousand years ago—in India, Mathura. Those who are Indian ladies and gentlemen present, they know very well where is Mathura. It is about ninety miles south of New Delhi. Mathura is still existing, and it is eternally existing. . .

Krishna appeared in Mathura in His maternal uncle's house in a very precarious condition.

That birthplace, Lord Krishna's birthplace, is now maintained very nicely. One who goes to India, they see.

So anyway, Lord Krishna appeared on this planet five thousand years ago. Now Krishna says, janma karma me divyam [Bg. 4.9]. Divyam means "not ordinary." It should not be understood just like we take our birth.

Krishna does not take his birth like us.

That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita: when Arjuna inquired from Krishna, "My dear Krishna, You are speaking that formerly You spoke this yoga system of Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god. That means it is millions and trillions years ago You spoke. How can I believe it?" Because Krishna was contemporary to Arjuna, so he was thinking that "Krishna is my friend, is my cousin brother. How it is possible that He spoke this Bhagavad-gita yoga to sun-god?"

So what was the reply? The reply was this, that "You also appear many, many times; I also appear many, many times. The difference is that I can remember. You cannot remember."

That is the difference between God and ordinary living creature—that we are also taking birth after birth. . .

There are 8,400,000 species of life, and, so long we are in this material world, we are cycling ‘round this birth after birth. So Krishna's birth is not like that. Therefore Krishna says,

janma karma me divyam yo janati tattvatah

Tattvatah means “in truth.” Not superficially. Scientifically, one who knows, he can get— immediately—liberation. And how one can understand the same truths? That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita:

Bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah [Bg. 18.55].

Again the same thing, tattvatah, “in truth.” If anyone wants to know God, or Krishna, in truth—not superficially—then he has to undertake the process of devotional service; Bhaktya.

In another place Krishna says,

patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati [Bg. 9.26]

"Any person who gives Me a little fruit, little flower, little water, but with devotion, bhaktya..." That is the only qualification. So Krishna says, taya bhaktya upahrtam asnami. "Because he brings it with devotion and faith and love, I eat."

Krishna eats.

We are offering, in the temple, prasadam. So He eats because He says "I eat." How you can say that He does not eat?

Some gentleman asked me that "Swamiji, you offer prasadam in the temple, but do you think Krishna or God eats?" I answered, "Yes, why not? He says, 'I eat.' How you can say He does not eat? But you do not know how He eats."

Due to poor fund of knowledge, you think that God does not eat. But eat..., His eating process is different. That is answered in the Brahma-samhita, it is said

angani yasya sakalendriya-vritti-manti [Bs. 5.32].

God's senses—Krishna's senses—are as powerful as other senses; just like I can see with my eyes, but Krishna can eat also with His eyes. That is angani yasya sakalendriya-vritti-manti.

Just like, there are many examples. Krishna or Vishnu—the first creation is that Garbhosayi (Garbhodakashayi) Vishnu lying on the ocean and Brahma was created from His navel. There was a lotus stem grown from the abdomen of the Lord, and Brahma was born.

Now Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, was just sitting. But as we understand that if we beget child, we require the cooperation of wife, but here we see that wife was sitting, but He begot Brahma from the navel.

This is called sarva-shaktiman. He does not require anyone's help. He can beget child—not exactly as we beget child—therefore, janma karma me divyam [Bg. 4.9]. He is within your heart, He is everywhere, so He can appear from everywhere.

Just like sun rises from the eastern side. It does not mean that eastern side is the “mother” of sun; we simply see that sun is rising from the eastern side. In this way, if we try to understand in truth, then we can understand what is God.

Superficially, if we try to understand by our experimental knowledge, then it is not possible to understand God.

panthas tu ko?i-sata-vatsara-sampragamyo
vayor athapi manaso muni-pungavanam
so 'py asti yat-prapada-simny avicintya-tattve
govindam adi-puru?a? tam aha? bhajami

The Brahma-samhita says that if one starts on the chariot of air and makes progress at the speed of mind, still one cannot understand what is God.

Vedeshu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau [Bs. 5.33].

He cannot be understood simply by studying Vedas.

Traigunya visaya veda nistraigunyo bhavarjuna.

One has to transcend the position of Vedas also. Then one can understand what is God or what is Krishna.

That process is explained in the Bhagavad-gita,

bhaktya mam abhijanati
yavan yas casmi tattvata?

[Bg. 18.55].

So this bhakti—devotional service of Krishna—is so nice.

And under that bhakti category, this Janmashtami... Of course, this Janmashtami ceremony is observed by all Hindus—irrespective of becoming Vaishnava or not, this ceremony is observed in India every home.

Just like in your Western countries the Christmas is observed in every home, similarly Janmashtami is observed in every home.

Today is a great ceremonial day.

So our program is; at twelve o'clock night the Lord will take birth and we shall receive Him. And just now it is ten o'clock. For two hours our program will continue in kirtan.

Kirtan means sometimes chanting with music, and sometimes speaking. Both of them are kirtan. Kirtayati iti kirtanam. Whenever we glorify the Lord, that is called kirtan. The Srimad-Bhagavatam reading is also kirtan.

Abhavad Vaiyasaki kirtane. . .

Vaiyasaki, Sukadeva Gosvami, he achieved the highest perfection, liberation, simply by reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam;

Sri-Vishnu-sravane pariksit.

Pariksit Maharaja, he simply heard.

There are nine processes of devotional service;

srava?a? kirtana? vi??o?
smara?a? pada-sevanam

Chanting, hearing—first hearing, then chanting. Without hearing, nobody can chant.

srava?a? kirtana?

And what sort of srava?a? kirtana?? Vishnoh, of Vishnu. Not anything else.

srava?a? kirtana? vi??o?
smara?a? pada-sevanam
arcana? vandana? dasya?
sakhyam atma-nivedanam

[SB 7.5.23]

These are nine processes of devotional service, of which sravanam, hearing, is most important. Without hearing, nobody can understand the science of God.

Therefore the Vedic mantras are called shruti. Shruti means it is to be heard. It is not to be experimented in the laboratory. It is simply to be heard. Therefore it is called shruti.

So,

srava?a? kirtana? vi??o?
smara?a? pada-sevanam
arcana? vandana? dasya?

Vandanam, “offering prayer.”

We also offer prayer. The other religious sects—just like the Christians—they offer prayer. The Muhammadans, they offer prayer. So prayer—offering prayer—is also one of the items of bhakti; chanting, hearing, meditating, offering prayers, arcanam (worshiping the Deity in the temple), all of them are together devotional service.

So out of the nine, if you can execute all the nine, it is very good. But it is not possible. So even if you can execute one item, you become perfect. It is so nice.

sri-vishnoh sravane parikshid

Just like Maharaja Pariksit, he simply executed the function of hearing. He got perfection.

Similarly,

abhavad vaiyasakih kirtane. . .

Vaiyasaki means Sukadeva Gosvami. He simply glorified the Lord.

prahladah smarane. . .

Prahlada Maharaja, he was simply meditating.

There are many examples; simply by following one principle of this devotional service, they got the highest perfectional life— liberation, back to home, back to Godhead.

So we shall invite today to speak about Krishna from our students, as well as all the members who are present here. So I shall request Janardana to speak something about his realization of Krishna.

From the Complete Srila Prabhupada mp3 Library

Krishna Steals Butter

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Sri Krishna Steals Butter

Harinama Dasi narrates Krishna's pastimes of stealing butter.

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Harinam Cintamani dasi narrates several of Lord Krishna's pastimes.

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Why Krishna Wears Peacock Feathers

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Lord Sri Krishna

Lord Krishna Wearing a Peacock Feather on His Head

Harinama Dasi narrates how Krishna came to wear a peacock feather upon His head. In case you've ever wondered.

Listen to other narrations of Krishna's pastimes by Harinama Dasi:

Lord Krishna Steals Butter
Krishna Plays in the Village of Vrindavan
The Qualities of Sri Krishna

The Birth of Lord Krishna

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The birth of Krishna as related in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and narrated by Amala Bhakta dasa.

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The Qualities of Sri Krishna

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The Qualities of Krishna

The Transcendental Qualities of Krishna

Harinama Dasi narrates Krishna's transcendental qualities from Nectar of Devotion.

Listen to other pastimes of Lord Krishna, narrated by Harinama Chintamani Dasi:

Lord Krishna Steals Butter
Krishna Plays in the Village of Vrindavan
Why Krishna Wears Peacock Feathers