Krishnashtami or Krishna Janmashtami festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (Dark fortnight) of the month of Bhadrapada (August - September ) in the Hindu calendar to commemorate the earthly appearance of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, the most powerful human incarnation. The festival is also called Gokulashtami, Srikrishna Jayanthi by devotees.
This birth day of Lord Krishna is a day of spiritual resurgence and divine lead for the removal of evils and tyranny. About five thousand and three hundred years ago, mother earth unable to bear the burden of sins committed by cruel and autocratic rulers appealed to Lord Brahma for help. Brahma prayed supreme Lord Vishnu who assured that he would soon be born on earth and annihilates the tyrannical forces. One such despotic King was Kansa who ascended the throne of Mathura the capital of Yadavas by imprisoning his father Ugrasena. He ruled the kingdom oppressing and terrifying his subject. Devaki the mother of Lord Krishna was the sister of Kansa. Kansa liked his sister very much and when married her off to Vasudeva, a prophecy from the sky (Akashvani) predicted death of King Kansa at the hands of Devaki's eighth son. Afraid of the prophecy Kansa wanted to slain Devaki but relented at the request of Vasudeva who assured to handover all the children born to them to Kansa. Kansa imprisoned both Devaki and Vasudeva in the royal prison cell as a matter of safety. Kansa killed six of the children born to them one after another. Devaki apparently had a miscarriage of seventh child which was the secret transfer of the infant to Rohini as Balarama. Vasudeva and Devaki were heartbroken, anguished and did not know what to do as children born to them are being killed. At this juncture Lord Vishnu appeared and declared that he himself is coming as the 8th child and they should exchange him with the daughter of Yashoda in Gokul.
It was a rainy and stormy dark night Krishna was born in the prison cell. Miraculously the guards went off to sleep, the chains of Vasudeva and Devaki go unfettered, the prison doors got automatically opened and Vasudeva carrying the baby started for Gokul. He braved the flooded Yamuna. Mysteriously the river made way for Vasudeva and a five mouthed snake followed providing shelter to the baby Krishna. Vasudeva reached Gokul and unnoticed he exchanged Lord Krishna with daughter of Yashoda the wife of cowherd chief Nanda when all were asleep and returned to the prison. Everything got restored as normal as he came back to the prison. In the morning when Kansa came to know about the birth of a child rushed to the prison and tried to kill the baby thinking her to be the eighth child of Devaki, but the baby skipped from his hand and rose up to the sky and transformed herself as Yoga Maya (Who is Vishnu's helper) and told Kansa "O Kansa the perpetrator of evils, your nemesis is born elsewhere and your days are numbered, he will annihilate you" and disappeared.
Krishna grew up in Gokul as the child of Yashoda with his brother Balarama. His growing up was marked by unbelievable acts and incidents one after another. Lord Krishna the most powerful human incarnation was born to free the mother earth from the evil forces was evident right from the day he was born. On his sixth day of birth the demoness Putana made him drink poison from her breast but was killed by him. He also killed other mighty demons Tunavarta, Keshi, Anistasura, Bakasura Kalinag etc. On his 3rd month a bullock cart fell on him but he didn't suffer a scratch, a huge tree fell on him when he was four year old but he was safe, at the age of 7 he protected people of Govardhan from the fury of Lord Indra when they declined to worship him. The most important was his killing of Kansa before he was 20 years old. Kansa deceptively invited Krishna and Balarama to visit Mathura to kill them. He sent Akrura to bring both brothers in a chariot. Both brothers travelled to Mathura from Brindavan and Lord Krishna instead annihilated Kansa ending his oppressive rule and liberated his parents from the prison and reinstated Ugrasena as king of Mathura.
Lord Krishna played a very important role in Mahabharat war and his theory of Karma explained to Arjuna during the war remains an eternal inspiration to the world.
Ma phalesu Kadachana
Ma Karma- phala- hetur bhurma
Te sangostu akarmani "(BG 2.47)
"You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the result of your activities and never be attached to not doing your duty."
We should perform all actions without considering ourselves to be the doers of those actions, mentally renouncing the sense of doer ship in favour of God while performing all actions is the essence of life. Therefore, O God free us from hands of actions and attachment.
Lord Krishna's death at the hands of tribal king Jara Sabar in a jungle while all alone marked the beginning of Kaliyuga and thereafter he appears as the Vishnu incarnate the Lord Jagannath. Lord Krishna is unique in many senses. He is the most adorable, most compassionate gives peace and solace to every single worshipper. Never angry, never disturbed, always joyful, smiling and radiating tranquility. He possesses six great opulence i.e wisdom, beauty, fame, power, wealth and renunciation. Therefore in Puranas it is said that he is the Supreme and absolute truth and he alone should be worshipped ".
The devotees pray Lord Krishna by various other names (108) such as Achala, Achyuta, Aditya, Ajay, Anaadhi, Anantha, Aparajeet, Balagopal, Bali Chaturbhuja, Dayanidhi, Gopal, Govind, Gnaneswar, Hari, Hrishikesh, Jagadish, Jagannath, Keshava, Krishna, Mahendra, Madhusudan, Muralidhar, Mayur, Narayan, Niranjan, Nirguna, Paramatma, Parambrahma, Purushottam, Prajapati, Ravilochan, Sakshi, Sanathana, Sarvajana, Sarveswar, Satyavrata, Shyamsundar, Sudarshana, Shyam, Shrikant, Sumedha, Trivikram, Vasudeva, Upendra etc,.
The position of Krishna as the Supreme God is confirmed by Lord Krishna himself in Bhagavad Gita where it is said "I am the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods." (BG - 5.29).
"There is no truth superior to me."(BG - 7.7)
"I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me." (BG - 10.8)
Lord Krishna was born in the darkness of night and lived through risks and horror and left the material world in blissful manner. Do your Karma, adopt, adjust and move forward is the divine message.
All have to cross the threshold of life to next. Wealth, arrogance, anger, greed, temptation, grudges, ill will takes a human nowhere. All that matter is how we have lived our life and not how long we lived. In the material world which is full of darkness and danger, combined with birth and death, full of anxieties, the only way to get out of the vicious entanglement is to position Lord Krishna in your heart and attain salvation.
The festival is celebrated with observance of day long fasting, breaking the fast after midnight when baby Krishna is born. Those who cannot observe "Nirjala" fast observe it by taking milk and milk products. Chanting of Mantras and slokas and chanting of 108 names of Lord by showering flowers at the feet of Lord and offering panchamitra Prasad (Milk, honey, butter, curd and tulsi leaves) marks the observation of festival. Jhulana and swing ceremony is an important part of the festival. In certain part "DAHI HANDI" is celebrated to mimic the stealing of butter by Krishna. The festival on the whole is celebrated with great vigour and passion with wonderful decoration of houses and temples with flowers and other aesthetic materials.
So let us also join the celebration and take the blessings of the divine force chanting.
"Govinda Bolo Hari Gopala Bolo
Radha Ramana Hari Govinda Bolo"