Devotion without obstruction

By Yamuna Sundari dasi
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Celebrating Krishna Janmashtami in lockdown

Janmashtami is the divine appearance day of Lord Krishna and is a joyous festival observed with zeal and enthusiasm. People from all over the world celebrate Janmashtami, the day when Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, out of His causeless mercy appeared on Earth. From India to Australia, everybody is fascinated by the attractive qualities and pastimes of Lord Krishna. They are fond of hearing His butter-stealing activities with Mother Yashoda and the Gopis, His super-heroic activities of killing demons or remembering the timeless wisdom found in the pages of the Bhagavad-gita.

The Lord does not appear like us in a delivery room, crying and struggling for comfort after birth, but rather appears in His original form out of His own sweet will to deliver us from the ocean of nescience. Although seeming like an ordinary child, He is always equipped with all powers of Godhead. We can find the purpose of Lord Krishna’s descent explained in the Bhagavad-gita Chapter 4 Verse 7—“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious principles, and a predominant rise in irreligion, I descend Myself.” The Lord further elaborates on His motives in the following verse 8 by saying “To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, and to establish the principles of religion, I Myself appear millennium after millennium.”

Now one may question if the Lord who controls creation, maintenance and dissolution of the world needs to personally descent to kill the impious? Well, it is a valid point and the answer is simple—No! Lord Krishna could easily erase all miscreants by different natural disasters or through some mystical and supernatural episodes. However, the Lord out of His kind mercy enters this material realm to remind the conditioned souls of a higher reality, and therefore, chalks out a plan to re-route our misdirected consciousness back to our real domain—the spiritual world.

This divine plan of the Lord is enunciated in the Bhagavad-gita Chapter 4 Verse 9 where the Lord says “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving this body, take his birth again this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” The Lord appears with His associates, divine places of pastimes and paraphernalia to re-create the magic of the divine truth on this mortal planet.

This year we are faced with a global pandemic with various restrictions in place and devotees are unable to visit the temple. However, will it not be great to learn that pure devotion is without any obstruction? Yes, devotional service to the Lord is always uninterrupted by any external situation as is confirmed by a famous verse from the essence of the Vedas—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6—“The supreme occupation for all humanity is that by which one can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.” The perfection of human life is when one learns how to love God, Krishna without any motive and without being checked by any material obstacles. The material impediments have no connection with the devotional service to the Lord, and once we understand this secret then it will guarantee a life of peace and happiness.

Janmashtami this year is a different due to the lockdown and restrictions, but it can be celebrated in a unique way within the temple of our heart and our home. The Lord resides in the heart of His devotee, and in whatever way we approach the Lord, He would reciprocate accordingly.

We can make this occasion at home memorable by drafting an agenda for the entire day. The house and altar area can be decorated with beautiful flowers, ribbons and balloons. We can perform Aarti and Kirtan (chanting the Holy Name of the Lord) throughout the day, along with reading and chanting of different scriptures like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam to invoke auspiciousness and devotion. We can plan to include preparations of 56 or 108 items of offering to Their Lordships. If we have deities of the Lord like Ladoo Gopal, an Abhishek ceremony can be done with items like fresh juices, milk, honey and yogurt. Through this engagement, even amidst the lockdown we can experience the divine bliss and can purify our homes.

The most powerful method to connect our existence with the divine mercy of the Lord this Janmashtami would be to chant His Holy names. The most effective method in the present age is chanting His holy name—Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, which is the sublime method that can keep one situated in the divine state of knowledge, eternity and bliss.

It is stated in the Caitanya Caritamrita (Madhya) 17.133: ‘The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krishna’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with Maya (illusion). Krishna’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical.’

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Melbourne, also invites everyone to partake in their online festivities for Lord Krishna’s birthday on Wednesday, 12 August. There will be a live broadcast of the program from the Temple from 4.30 am until midnight arti at ‘bit.ly/hkmlive’ (YouTube channel—‘Hare Krishna Melbourne’).

Let us make an endeavour to dive deeper into the sublime meaning of the Lord’s appearance in this world, and take a step in establishing our personal relationship with Krishna, who is our eternal well-wisher, friend, guide and deliverer.


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