The Significance of Janmashtami
In few days’ time, we are going to celebrate the grand festival of Janmashtami or the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth on this planet. This is one of the most special festivals of the world and is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm all around.
Interestingly, there is great significance and relevance of Janmashtami with the time we are in. When we look around the world today, it is full of chaos. Every other day we wake up to either a terrorist attack or a major calamity. It fills our heart with fear and anxiety. There is hopelessness all around and hundreds of people every other day fall prey to the atrocities caused by the demons of the modern society. In the quest for power and control, these demons abduct, torture, loot and kill!
5000 years ago, the world was quite the same. There were similar demons tormenting the world. The innocent were suffering, the weak were tortured and the poor were looted. There was fear all around.
As the suffering reached its peak, desperate prayers and cries of help rose from all corners. The moment had finally arrived!
On the eighth day of Krishna Paksa in the month of Bhadra (Vedic calculations estimate the exact date to be 18th July 3228 BC) in the city of Mathura, Lord Krishna took birth.
Yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself”.
Bhagavad Gita 4.7
Lord Krishna was the only beacon of hope and He delivered.
Even today, whenever darkness and evil start to choke the planet, the Lord takes birth to eradicate all evil and re-establish righteousness. Therefore Janmashtami is also a symbolic celebration of all that-is-good over all that–is-evil. And sometimes the evil is not even outside. It’s within ourselves. It’s in our mind. Perhaps the best way to cleanse the world of its evil, is to start with one’s own self.
It is observed that in Satya Yug, the good and the evil were in two different planets but in the same universe. In Treta Yug, they were in same planet but in two different countries. In Dwapar Yug, they were in the same country but two different families and finally in Kali Yug, good and evil are in the same body.
Visibly so, we are bound by so many shackles of anger, greed, temptations, attachments and pain. We spend most of our life engulfed within the darkness of our own vices. But the moment the Lord in form of righteousness takes birth in our heart, every bit of the darkness fades away and we are released from the chains of worldly pleasures and miseries. This is where Janmastami becomes relevant. This is the time to bring the Lord into our heart and let Him kill the demon within.
It is interesting to note that Lord Krishna could have easily devoured the demon at the earliest as He did in many of His earlier incarnations, or He could have sent one of His messengers! He did not need to have taken birth at all, after all He is beyond the cycle of birth and death, unlike us. But then He had a much bigger purpose – the establishment of righteousness in our mind and love in our heart. He wants us to be good, righteous and compassionate not out of fear but out of love – out of our own free will. And that’s what makes Him so special.
In spite of coming as the Supreme Personality – the most attractive, the most powerful, the most intelligent, the master of all wealth and the biggest renunciant, He decided to be like one of us.
In spite of being the king of the kings, he led a simple life of a cowherd boy. He went through various stages of life just as any other child. He displayed the greatness of each relationship that we experience in our lifetime, whether it was as a child to Mother Yashoda, as a friend to Sudama, as a student to Sandipani Muni, as a lover to Srimati Radharani, as a saviour to Draupadi, as a mentor to Arjuna or as a renunciant of the world, through his timeless teachings in the form of Bhagavad Gita.
This is the greatness of His life. He was greater than the greatest, smarter than the smartest and yet simpler than the simplest. His life is therefore an inspiration and an eternal source of pleasure and hope.
On this Janmastami, let the guards of vices fall asleep, the chains of desires break loose and the barred doors of our heart fly open. Let us bring Him in!
Together, let’s win the chaos with universal love and compassion.