Significance of Janmashtami
What is Janmashtami?
Janmashtami is the day we celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. Since the last 5100 and odd years, the birth of Krishna is being celebrated. But Krishna says, "I am never born."
It is like this – a potter makes a pot and suddenly the space is born inside the pot. Can you say the space is born now? No! Space was already there, it was only encapsulated with mud all around. Mud, by itself, didn't have any value. Space by itself is available everywhere and it has no value. But when the mud and the space came together, it assumed a value.
Now when you move the pot from one place to another place, does the space inside the pot change? No. From one day to another day, does the space inside the pot change? No. Yesterday the mud pot had 1-litre space, today it became 2-litre, tomorrow it becomes 3-litre, does that happen? No. Mud can wear in due course of time. You can carbon date and find out when this pot was made. Is there any way to measure the time (or age) of the space inside the pot? No. The space inside the pot is beyond time and space. So, Krishna identified himself with the space and not with the pot. That's why he said, "These foolish people see me as a human being. People do not see me as the immortal space which was never born. They only see me as a pot".
Why is Janmashtami celebrated?
Janmashtami assumes great significance for devotees because on this day you remember all the qualities that Krishna came to manifest. In Hindi, they say 'Prakat hona' which means unveiled or manifested. Space was already there, but it took a shape and form.
Our ancient seers are very intelligent. They said, "Yes, Krishna was never born but he manifested (prakat bhayo)." Krishna was there before too, but he became visible, he manifested. Why? It was the wish of the devotees to see Krishna with their eyes, to listen to him with their ears, and touch him with their hands. To fulfill these wishes of his devotees, Krishna manifested. Krishna was there earlier too, but he manifested (prakat bhayo).
An excuse to celebrate. An opportunity to remember (the Divine) a little more than other days. Krishna is one such personality which you can never forget because he is so complete. He is in everything: from a King to a thief, from a Guru to a disciple, from a warrior to someone who just runs away from a war, from one who takes responsibility, and one who shuns all responsibility. So, he has exhibited all aspects of existence. That is why Krishna is complete.
What is the best way to celebrate Krishna Janmashtami?
People celebrate Janmashtami with dance and music. They sing praises of his Leela. I say, listen to what he has said in Bhagavad Gita, read the Bhagavad Gita and internalize the knowledge. Everyone should read the Gita. Why? The intellect which makes our life impure – to purify that intellect, it is very important to read the Gita.
Lord Krishna says that four types of people come to him:
- Those who are sad
- Those who want something in life
- Those who are inquisitive and want to know the truth
- The knowledgeable
Then He says, "There is no difference between the knowledgeable and me. Although everyone is dear to me.”
So, if you want to establish a relationship with Krishna, in which there is no difference, you need to take an interest in knowledge. You need to become a Jigyaasu (have a thirst for knowledge) and become a Gyaani (knowledgeable one).
So, this Krishna Janmashtami, take a Sankalpa (pledge or promise) to read the Bhagavad Gita. Read it with its simple translation, and understand as much as you can. If you cannot understand, never mind but at least read it once. Whatever you understand is good enough.
Throughout your life you must go through the pages of the Gita again and again, only then you will be able to understand it completely. As the level of maturity of our mind and intellect increases, our understanding of the Bhagavad Gita also increases.
Message for Janmashtami 2017
The message of Janmashtami is to become inquisitive, and become a Gyaani (knowledgeable one).
What is life? What is the World? – this is inquisitiveness. Who am I? – this is knowledge. Develop an interest in knowledge and meditate. One who meditates alone becomes wise. If you don't meditate you can't be wise, because you don't know a dimension that is deep within you. If you are unaware of your center, how can you be wise? Wisdom means recognizing your center, recognizing the very focal point of your existence.
In every facet of human existence, if you want to see completeness, the example is Lord Krishna. This Janmashtami, know that you have Krishna inside of you, and knowing this repose in yourself. We see Krishna outside and do pooja, that is fine to begin with. But as you proceed on the spiritual path, see Krishna within.
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Symbolism Behind the Story of the Birth of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna signifies Ananda
(bliss, pure happiness). We express happiness by celebration. So Janmashtami is celebrating the birth of bliss. It is the day when joy became manifest.
In this article,
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains the symbolism behind the story of the birth of Lord Krishna from a spiritual angle.