Legend of Janmashtami
Janmashtami, one of the most popular festivals of Hindus celebrates the birth of their beloved God, Sri Krishna. Detailed story of Janmashtami or Lord Krishna’s birth has been narrated in Puranas. Please read on to know more about the various fascinating aspects of the legend of Janmashtami as stated in
Mathura, a prominent town of Northern India and the birth city of Sri Krishna was ruled by King Ugrasen, a Yaduvanshi ( Belonging to the Community of Yadavs). He was a great king loved by his subjects. He had two children, a son Kansa and a daughter Devki. Kansa was quite cruel by nature, his wickedness knew no bounds when he jailed his father and forcefully became the king of Mathura.
Love for sister Devki and Brother in law Vasudev
Though Kansa was hard hearted but he loved his sister immensely and married her off to Vasudev, one the high ranking officers in his army. However on the day of wedding, as a result of a heavenly prediction that Devki’s eighth child will be born to kill him, Kansa decided to kill his sister. On Vasudev’s pleading, he put both of them in dungeons and let them live but with a promise that they will handover all their children to Kansa, only to be killed by him.
Birth of Balram
Kansa succeeded in killing all the six new born babies of Devki and Vasudev, however the seventh child was saved by divine intervention as the child was transferred from Devki’s womb to that of Rohini’s, Vasudev’s other wife. Thus Balram, the elder brother of Krishna was born but Kansa thought that Devki had a miscarriage.
Birth of Krishna
The birth of the eighth child of Devki, Lord Krishna was followed by a chain of dramatic events. Soon after the birth of the child, as if by a sheer miracle, all the soldiers guarding the couple fell asleep and the gates of the dungeon flew open themselves. Vasudev decided to smuggle the child safely in a basket to his friend Nand in Gokul. Since it was raining heavily, River Yamuna was all swollen and Vasudev feared that both he as well as his child will drown if he tried to cross it, however, as soon as the feet of the infant touched the river, the flow of water became normal and Vasudev was able to cross it easily. Sheshnag, the five headed serpent of Lord Vishnu protected the child with its fangs. Vasudev knew that his was not an ordinary child but a divine being. After handing his child, to his dear friend, Nand, Vasudev returned back safely with a girl child and no one got to know about it.
On hearing the news of the eighth born child, Kansa rushed to kill the girl. He paid no heed to Devki’s plead of sparing the girl. He held the child by her legs and just as he was about to bang her against the wall, the girl vanished into thin air and told Kansa that his slayer had been born and was safe in Gokul. The girl child was none other than Yogmaya (divine illusion). The eighth child grew up as Yashoda and Nand’s son in Gokul and later killed his maternal uncle Kansa, freeing all the people of Mathura from his tyranny.
Objective of Krishna’s Birth
The main objective of Lord Krishna’s birth was to free Mother Earth from the wickedness of demons. Playing an important part in Mahabharata (legendary battle in Kurukshetra) and propagating the theory of bhakti and good karma were other important objectives.
Events Before The Birth of Sri Krishna
The people of Mathura were extremely unhappy with the wicked king Kansa who put his father, king Ugrasen in prison and declared himself the king of Mathura. It was to put an end to his evil ways and other demons that Lord Vishnu decided to take birth on Earth in human form. According to Akashvani (heavenly voice) at the wedding of his beloved sister Devki, Kansa got to know that the eighth child of his sister will take birth to kill him. So, in turn he rushed to kill his sister. Kansa gave up the idea of killing after being assured by Vasudev that he will handover all his children to him. He put them in Prison. Kansa killed all the six infants as soon as they were born. The seventh child (Balram) was saved due to divine intervention, when he was transferred from Devki’s womb to that of Rohini’s (other wife of Vasudev).
Events During the Birth of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna was born in a prison cell in the captivity of King Kansa. He took birth in divine form with lotus like eyes,his palms bearing the signs of a lotus and discus. He had a swastika sign on his sole. Wearing a yellow colored silk cloth, adorned with precious diamond earrings and a crown made of emeralds. Soon after the birth, a chain of events astonished Vasudev,when he saw the gates of the cell flow open and all the guards fast asleep. He immediately thought of Nand ,his close friend in Gokul and decided to handover his child to him in order to save him from the clutch of Kansa.
River Yamuna Bows To The Feet of Sri Krishna
The night of birth was witnessed by heavy rains which led to River Yamuna being in floods. As soon as the feet of Lord immersed in the river, the flow became normal and Yamuna made way for the Lord. Sheshnag, the serpent formed an umbrella to save the new born baby from rain.
Exchange of the Babies
Vasudev kept his child next to fast asleep Yashoda and took the baby girl lying with him back to Mathura. The baby girl is believed to be the sister of Lord Vishnu.
Disappearance of The Divine Child
On hearing the news of birth of the eighth child of Devki and Vasudev, Kansa rushed to the prison-cell and lifted the baby girl to kill her despite pleadings from Devki. However, instead of hitting the stone, the child flew up in the air and announced that the annihilator of Kansa was born and in safe hands.
Krishna later grew in Gokul and finally killed his maternal uncle, King Kansa.
Legend of King Kansa
Kansa was the king of Mathura city and maternal uncle of Sri Krishna. According to legend, Janmashtami is celebrated as the birth of Bhagwan Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu to slay the cruel king . Kansa was a self-proclaimed King of the city of Mathura (A City in Northern India). He overthrew his father, King Ugrasen and forcefully became the king. He was very wicked and evil in thinking. His subjects feared him, the cowherds of not only Mathura but also other neighbouring villages like Gokul, Barsana, Nandgaon were the victims of his wickedness. They had no option but to surrender to his tyrannical ways.
Army of Demons
King Kansa had an army of demons who helped him spread fear and accomplish his evil tasks. Putana, Bakasura, Aghasura were his close aides.
Kansa loved his younger sister Devki and fulfilled all her wishes. He married her to Vasudev, one of his cousins and a high-ranking officer in the army with great pomp and show. However, during the wedding ceremony of his sister, Devki, the love for his sister turned to hatred when a heavenly prediction warned him, that the eighth child of Devki will be the annihilator Of Kansa. On being assured of getting all the new born children of Devki and Vasudev, Kansa decided to imprison them under close supervision and let them live.
Killing of Infants
Kansa managed to kill all the new born of his sister Devki and brother-In-Law, Vasudev. His elder brother Balram, seventh child of the couple, was saved by being transferred to Rohini’s womb. Similarly Lord Krishna, the eighth child, born to kill evil Kansa was saved after being miraculously shifted to Gokul on the night of his birth and replaced with a female child. However, Kansa got to know that his destroyer had been born and was being brought up by an unknown family in a neighboring village.
Ongoing Efforts to Kill the Child
Soon, after getting to know that the eighth child of his sister was born and safely growing in another village, Kansa ordered his soldiers to kill all the one-day old male infants in and around Mathura. He made quite a few unsuccessful attempts to kill the child.
Episode of Putana-The Demoness
King Kansa, sent one of his reliable servants to kill on the infants in the village by feeding them poisonous milk. She killed many infants but in the end she was killed by baby Krishna who sucked her life while being fed poisonous milk.
Killing of Demon Trinivarta
On hearing the death of Putana, King Kansa, sent his another servant- demon Trinivarta to kill Sri Krishna. Trinivarta took the form of a whirlwind, and carried the young Krishna away with itself, in the hope of throwing him away. Lord Krishna increased his weight which made the demon unable to move any further. After some time, the weight of Lord Krishna became too heavy for the demon to handle, so he fell on Ground and died.
End of Bakasura
At the instigation of Kansa, his friend Bakasura, changed his form to that of a crane,and went to kill Young Krishna, He hit him with his beak but Lord caught hold of his beak and tore it apart, killing him instantly.
Slaying of King Kansa
King Kansa, tired of the killing of all his servants, invited both his nephews, Balram and Krishna for a wrestling match in Mathura. He made use of elephant Kuvalyapeeda to kill Krishna at the entrance of the arena, Krishna killed him followed by killings of Charuna and Toshalaka- chosen atheletes of Kansa. Krishna went to Kansa, took him by hair and threw him on the ground; finally killing him. The slaying Of Kansa ended his tyrannical rule and people rejoiced and celebrated his death.
CELEBRATIONS OF JANAMASHTMI IN INDIA !
Celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Sri Krishna, the festival of Janmashtami is a popular event in India and many other countries across the world. Devotees of Lord Krishna solemnise the festival with lot of joy and enthusiasm. All efforts are made to give the festival an extremely decorative look.
Festivity for over Two Days
Janmashtami festivities continue for two days and reach its peak at midnight of the first day. This is the time when Lord Krishna is said to have been born. The blessed event marking Bhagwan Krishna’s birth is celebrated with zeal in different states of India. Mathura, the birthplace of Lord is particulary famous for its grand celebrations. Janmashtami is also celebrated with verve in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
Celebrated with Splendour
Sri Krishnashtami is celebrated with lot of pomp and show. During the midnight celebration, lord’s idol is bathed with Panchamrit and then the cradle is rocked. Devotees fast all day long and break it after the birth of Bhagwan Krishna at midnight. Songs and hymns are sung by people accompanied by dancing in praise of their favourite ‘Makhan Chor’. Aarti is performed by blowing conch and ringing of bells. Elaborate Pooja (Prayer) and ceremonies are held in the honour of Bhagwan. Prasad is distributed among devotees after the birth ceremony.
Environment of Euphoria and Glee
Janmashtami creates an environment of happiness and joy among the devotees. With loads of ongoing fun activities, people are lost in the joy of divine songs and dances performed in praise of Lord. Colorful Rasleela (plays) are performed by devotees depicting significant phases and acts of Lord’s life.
Janmashtami Special Dishes
As Lord Krishna was very fond of sweets, milk and other milk products like butter and buttermilk, so his devotees make sweets of these products to commemorate the occasion. Sweets like Doodhachi Kheer, Pedha, Gopalkala or Gulabjamun are the major dishes prepared on Krishnashtami. Besides, Shrikhand and Singhare ki Poori are also made in households. Eatables like Murukku and Seeddai are popular in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu.
Jhulanotsava and Ghata Celebrations
A common feature of Janmashtami in North India, especially Mathura is ‘Jhulanotsava’. In this, Jhulas (swings) are hung in the courtyards of temples and houses in honour of the Lord. Another distinguishing feature of Janmashtami festival celebrations is ‘Ghatas’. This is a month long programme wherein a particular colour is selected as a theme and the entire temple is adorned with the same colour. The idol of God is also adorned with clothes of the same colour.
Dahi Handi, Raslila, Jhankis
Celebration of Sri Krishna’s birth will be incomplete without Raslila (Dance Drama). In this extremely popular and joyful drama, incidents from Sri Krishna’s life are enacted in form of dance. In a good performance devotees are virtually transformed into the time and age of Lord Krishna. The experience is absolutely mesmerizing.
The ritual of Dahi Handi is carried out with much fanfare and joy. Human pyramid is formed to break the Handi (Earthen Pot) suspended from top with the help of a rope. The exciting process involves throwing water by the onlookers to prevent the boys from breaking the earthen pot. Dahi Handi ritual is most popularly celebrated in Mumbai.
Jhankis (tableaux) are cribs and other decorations depicting the entire life of Lord Krishna right from the time of his birth. Various jhankis include bith of Lord Krishna in jail, Vasudev,father of Lord Krishna taking out of the jail to his friend Nand, River Yamuna in floods finally bowing to the feet of Lord and making way,Exchange of Lord with the baby girl etc.
Janmashtami is celebrated with fervor all over India and with the spread of Hinduism,it is celebrated with similar emotion all across the globe.
JAI SHRI RADHEY KRISHNA ! JAI JAI SHREE RADHEY !JAI SHRI KRISHNA
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE !
HARE RAM HARE RAM, RAMA RAMA HARE HARE !
Wishing you a very very Happy Birthday
Hemant Khurana ( Happy)