Saturday, 5th September , 2015, 11:47 am,BDST
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Janmashtami: Advent of Hinduism`s favorite Lord Krishna



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Krishna is considered the supreme deity, worshipped across many traditions of Hinduism in a variety of different perspectives. Krishna is recognized as the eighth incarnation (avatar) of Lord Vishnu, and one and the same as Lord Vishnu one of the trimurti and as the supreme god in his own right.

Krishna is the principal protagonist with Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita also known as the Song of God, which depicts the conversation between the Royal Prince Arjuna and Krishna during the great battle of Kurukshetra 5000 years ago where Arjuna discovers that Krishna is God and then comprehends his nature and will for him and for mankind. In the present age Krishna is one of the most widely revered and most popular of all Indian divinities.

Hindus in the country and across the world are celebrating Janmashtami, marking the birth of Lord Krishna, today (Saturday) with due festivity and religious fervour. The birthday of Hinduism`s favorite Lord Krishna is a special occasion for Hindus, who consider him their leader, hero, protector, philosopher, teacher and friend all rolled into one.

Krishna took birth at midnight on the ashtami or the 8th day of the Krishnapaksha or dark fortnight in the Hindu month of Shravan (August-September). This auspicious day is called Janmashtami. Indian as well as Western scholars have now accepted the period between 3200 and 3100 BC as the period in which Lord Krishna lived on earth.

Krishna was the 8th son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Based on scriptural details and astrological calculations, the date of Krishna`s birth, known as Janmashtami, is 19 July 3228 BCE and he lived until 3102 BCE. Krishna belonged to the Vrishni clan of Yadavas from Mathura, and was the eighth son born to the princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.

Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti or sometimes simply as Janmashtami, is an annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

Janmashthami is a national holiday in Bangladesh. On Janmashthami, a procession starts from Dhakeshwari Temple in Dhaka and then proceeds through the streets of Old Dhaka. The procession dates back to 1902, but was stopped in 1948 following the establishment of Pakistan and subsequent attacks by Muslim mobs in Dhaka. The procession was resumed in 1989.

How do Hindus celebrate Janmashtami?

The devotees of Lord Krishna observe fast for the whole day and night, worshipping him and keeping vigil through the night while listening to his tales and exploits, recite hymns from the Gita, sing devotional songs, and chant the mantra Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.

Krishna`s birthplace Mathura and Vrindavan celebrate this occasion with great pomp and show. Raslilas or religious plays are performed to recreate incidents from the life of Krishna and to commemorate his love for Radha.

Song and dance mark the celebration of this festive occasion. At midnight, the statue of infant Krishna is bathed and placed in a cradle, which is rocked, amidst the blowing of conch shells and the ringing of bells.

Rasa lila, dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, are a special feature in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, and regions following Vaishnavism in Manipur. While the Rasa lila re-creates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna`s youthful days, the Dahi Handi celebrate God`s playful and mischievous side, where teams of young men form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it. This tradition, also known as uriadi, is a major event in Tamil Nadu on Gokulashtami. Krishna Janmashtami is followed by the festival Nandotsav, which celebrates the occasion when Nanda Baba distributed gifts to the community in honour of the birth.

The Story of the Birth of Lord Krishna

The birth of Krishna is in itself a transcendental phenomenon that generates awe among the Hindus and overwhelms one and all with its supra mundane happenings.

Mother Earth, unable to bear the burden of sins committed by evil kings and rulers, appealed to Brahma, the Creator for help. Brahma prayed to the Supreme Lord Vishnu, who assured him that he would soon be born on earth to annihilate tyrannical forces.

One such evil force was Kamsa, the ruler of Mathura (in northern India) and his people were utterly terrified of him. On the day Kamsa`s sister Devaki was married off to Vasudeva, an akashvani or voice from the sky was heard prophesying that Devaki`s 8th son would be the destroyer of Kamsa. The frightened Kamsa immediately unsheathed his sword to kill his sister but Vasudeva intervened and implored Kamsa to spare his bride, and promised to hand over every new born child to him. Kamsa relented but imprisoned both Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.

When Devaki gave birth to her first child, Kamsa came to the prison cell and slaughtered the newborn. In this way, he killed the first six sons of Devaki. Even before her 8th child was born, Devaki and Vasudeva started lamenting its fate and theirs. Then suddenly Lord Vishnu appeared before them and said he himself was coming to rescue them and the people of Mathura. He asked Vasudeva to carry him to the house of his friend, the cowherd chief Nanda in Gokula right after his birth, where Nanda`s wife Yashoda had given birth to a daughter.

He was to exchange his boy and bring Yashoda`s baby daughter back to the prison. Vishnu assured them that “nothing shall bar your path”.

At midnight on ashtami, the divine baby was born in Kamsa`s prison. Remembering the divine instructions, Vasudeva clasped the child to his bosom and started for Gokula, but found that his legs were in chains. He jerked his legs and was unfettered! The massive iron-barred doors unlocked and opened up.

While crossing river Yamuna, Vasudeva held his baby high over his head. The rain fell in torrents and the river was in spate. But the water made way for Vasudeva and miraculously a five-mouthed snake followed him from behind and provided shelter over the baby.

When Vasudeva reached Gokula, he found the door of Nanda`s house open. He exchanged the babies and hurried back to the prison of Kamsa with the baby girl. Early in the morning, all the people at Gokula rejoiced the birth of Nanda`s beautiful male child. Vasudeva came back to Mathura and as he entered, the doors of the prison closed themselves.

When Kamsa came to know about the birth, he rushed inside the prison and tried to kill the baby. But this time it skipped from his hand and reaching the sky. She was transformed into the goddess Yogamaya, who told Kamsa: “O foolish! What will you get by killing me? Your nemesis is already born somewhere else.”

In his youth Krishna killed Kamsa along with all his cruel associates, liberated his parents from prison, and reinstated Ugrasen as the King of Mathura.

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