Tarun Reflex

August 23, 2008

Happy Janmashtami

‘Yadã yadã hi dharmasya, glãnirbhavati Bhãratah,
Abhiyutthãnam adharmasya, tadãtmãnam srijãmyaham|
Paritrãnãya sãdhunãm, vinãshaya cha dushkritãm,
Dharmasamsthãpanãrthãya, sambhavãmi yugè yugè||”

~ Lord Krishna to Arjuna
(Shrimat Bhagavat Geetã)

~ 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. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I, Myself, appear, ages after ages.

In the Bhagvat Geeta, this is what the Lord Himself promised. The Lord never failed to keep His promises down the ages. He incarnated down to the earth from His heavenly abode at the Vaikuntha, to save his devotees. In different forms, Lord Vishnu, the sustainer and the Supreme Soul, came down to the earth, one after another, just like ‘the waves in an ocean’. But, His Avatãr (incarnation) Lord Krishna is said to be God Himself incarnated. It was the eighth day of the new-moon fortnight (krishnapaksha) of the month of Shrãvana.

Janmashtami is the birthday of Lord Krishna, the re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who gave us the vital message of the Bhagwat Gita. The festival of Janmashtami (pronunciation : Janmãshtami) is now popularly celebrated outside of India due largely to the extraordinary efforts of many many Krishna-devotees and many Hindu organizations. Reach out to all your fellow Indians on this auspicious occasion and wish them Happy Janmashtami ! ! !

Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, where his parents lived in captivity of the evil Kansa and he as a young boy came and vanquished his maternal uncle Kansa to ascend the throne and free his parents, celebrates Janmashtami with great enthusiasm. The main celebrations are performed at the Dwãrakadhish temple, Mathurã in the form of Jhulanotsava and the Ghatas during the entire month of Shrãvana.

The ghatas are a unique feature of the month long celebrations. During the ghatas of a particular colour the whole temple is covered with decoration in the same colour. Even the Lord dresses up in the same colour. The twin cities of Mathura-Vrindavan takes on a festive look and spirit of devotion runs high among the people. It was on the banks of the Yamuna river where Lord Krishna played during his childhood and indulged in pranks and tricks with his friends and the gopies. There are about 400 temples dedicated to Lord Krishna in this sacred city and the major festivities are held at the Bãnke Bihãri, Rangaji, Shri Krishna Balarãm temple and Gopinãth temple. The Raslila of Braj is thematically the basis of many performing arts.

Indian mythical heritage overflows with a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. The celestial powers figure in the beliefs of the people and the divine influence plays an important part in their lives. Yet, among these deities, the most beloved is Lord Krishna, the eighth avatãr (incarnation) of Vishnu. Janmasthami is a celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna and every ritual in the celebration of this auspicious occasion is associated with various phases of his life, which have been immortalised in both the religious and the folk literature.

Krishna Janmashtami is observed on the eighth day of the dark half (Krishna Paksha) of the month of Bhadrapadha in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatram is ascendent. The Hindu calendar being lunar, these two events [the day being the eighth of the waning moon (Krishna-paksha Ashtami) and the Rohini Nakshatram being ascendent] may overlap for only a few hours. In such an event, the festival may be celebrated on different (but successive) days by different people, depending on their local or family traditions. Lord Krishna was born in the Dwãpar Yuga (age called Dwapar, according to the Hindu religion), which came just before the Kal Yug. Janamasthami, His birthday falls on the Ashtami Tithi or the 8th day of the new moon fortnight in the month of Bhãdra some time in July or August. The Jhankis (tableaux) depicting many significant scenes from Lord Krishna’s life are the intrinsic part of Janmasthami. Devotees also make beautiful Jhulans (Cradles) for the baby Krishna. In some parts of India, young men break the Matkãs (Earthen Pots) filled with butter and curds. The most important tableux is that of baby Krishna. A idol of baby Krishna is placed on a cradle, which is rocked to recreate scenes from Krishna’s infancy. The devotees believe that anyone who makes a wish and while rocking the cradle in which the Lord is, his or her wish will be granted on this day. Other popular Jhankis are Kãliya Mardan(vanquishing the black snake Kãliya Nãga or serpent), Kansha Vadha ( Killing Kansha) and lifting the Govardhan Parvat (Mount Govardhan).


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