“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna”
— Bhagvad Gita 4.9
For convenience and to suggest a celebration, we sometimes say that Janmashtami is Lord Krishna’s birthday, since anyone we know of on Earth, either past or present, is apparently “born” into this world. However, this is not an accurate description for Krishna, who we understand as God Himself. Why?
There is no “birth” or “death” for God, since by definition He is the original person—always existing, the source of everything, even of time itself. Since he exists outside of the realm of time, as we know it, there is no question of his “birth.” We can understand this concept better with the example of the sun. The sun “appears” and “disappears” at sunrise and sunset—but factually the sun always exists beyond our view. It is our limited perception that makes the sun invisible to us at certain times and visible at others—and has nothing to do with the nature of the sun itself.
Similarly, in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna Himself explains that he “appears” at various times to serve His purposes—re-establishing religious principles, uplifting and inspiring the faithful, and vanquishing the miscreants who are causing major world problems. Krishna and his many other names, like Govinda, Gopal, Yashoda-nandana etc., refer to God on his own intimate terms, with his principles lovers in his rural village home called, “Vrindavana”. Krishna refers to the most confidential aspect of God when he wants to be himself and relax with his closest friends and lovers. In Krishna’s home or abode, everyone and everything loves Krishna more than themselves or each other. He is their very life and soul.
Krishna is like a judge who is formally addressed on the bench as “your honor”, though seen at home as father to his children, and lover to the wife. Thus, Krishna is God at home without his crown or without the worship of awe and reverence. Krishna is God in love! He is human-like, approachable, accessible, and very kind, merciful and loving—in a sense appearing ordinary even, with no majesty or effulgence. Though with no overt aspects of the all-powerful God, Krishna is “all attractive” or irresistible to his most dear. One can’t take their eyes from him. Seeing him is always ever-fresh, each moment a new festival for the senses!
Krishna reserves the right to not be manifest to everyone. He reciprocates with our level of interest in him, and our purity of purpose in our spiritual search. Everyone is ultimately a lover of God, but that love is transformed in the material realm into lust for the flesh which often passes as love. The most selfless love of the world gives us a glimpse of what real love is—for example the mother’s unconditional love for her infant. Although there are an infinite number of forms of God, and different religions and spiritual paths that reveal them, the Bhakti scriptures and the Hare Krishna movement are promoting the Krishna conception of God as the most attractive and most intimate aspect of Divinity.
What is the best spiritual path, religion, or type of relationship with God? It is the one which is best for you, the one in which you best develop your love God, and for everyone and everything. For the Bhakti-yogis, God is a title, Krishna his most intimate name. From our study, realisation and affection we are promoting Krishna. The “proof” of any path in is one’s experience.
For you, if it is proof in the reality of Krishna that you desire, then that remains to be uncovered or revealed through your thoughtful study of Vedic literature, associating with advanced devotees, and your sincere desire for union with God. God will reciprocate with you according to your desire to know and love him. Although Janmastami is the anniversary of Krishna’s appearance in the world, it can also represent a path unfolding in your life, or his appearance in your heart.
Hare Krishna Melbourne will be celebrating Janmastami, Lord Krishna’s birthday from 7pm-9:30pm on Friday, 23 August, and from 4:30pm-12:30am Saturday, 24 August at the Hare Krishna temple on 197, Danks Street, Albert Park. This free event will commence with a beautiful darshan of their Lordships, Sri Sri Radha Krishna who will be decorated in exquisitely embroidered garments and fine jewellery. You can also participate in maha abhishek and fire ceremony where you will get an opportunity to bathe the deities using limited edition kalashas(must be sponsored). Music and cultural performances will be taking place at our specially set up stage from 6pm to 10 pm.
To volunteer or make a donation please visit https://www.harekrishnamelbourne.com.au/donate.html