Janmashtami celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Ashtami is significant as it indicates a perfect balance between the seen and the unseen aspects of reality; the visible material world and the invisible spiritual realm.
Krishna’s birth on Ashtami signifies his mastery of both the spiritual and material worlds. He is a great teacher and a spiritual inspiration as well as the consummate politician. On one hand, he is Yogeshwara (the Lord of Yogas — the state to which every yogi aspires) while on the other, he is a mischievous thief.
The unique quality of Krishna is that he is at once more pious than the saints and yet a thorough mischief-monger! His behaviour is a perfect balance of the extremes — perhaps this is why the personality of Krishna is so difficult to fathom. The avdhoot is oblivious to the world outside and a materialistic person, a politician or a king is oblivious to the spiritual world. But Krishna is both Dwarkadheesh and Yogeshwar.
Krishna’s teachings are most relevant to our times in the sense that they neither let you get lost in material pursuits nor make you completely withdrawn. They rekindle your life, from being a burnt-out and stressed personality to a more centred and dynamic one. Krishna teaches us devotion with skill. To celebrate Gokulashtami is to imbibe extremely opposite yet compatible qualities and manifest them in your own life.
Hence the most authentic way of celebrating Janamashtami is knowing that you have to play a dual role — of being a responsible human being on the planet and at the same time to realize that you are above all events, the untouched Brahman. Imbibing a bit of avadhoot and a bit of activism in your life is the real significance of celebrating Janmashtami.