Janmasthami Blessings

August 2005

Dear Divine Souls,

I hope that -- by God's grace -- this finds you and all your loved ones in the best of health and happiness. We are now at the divine and glorious time of celebrating Krishna Janmasthami. This is the celebration of the day that Bhagwan Krishna incarnated in human form upon the Earth. The day is celebrated by worshipping Bhagwan Krishna, fasting and chanting devotional kirtan and bhajans until past midnight.

The Gita says that whenever there is darkness in the world, whenever strife and ignorance prevail, the Lord incarnates to shine His divine light on the darkness. He grabs hold of the faltering world, preventing it from drifting too far astray.

However, the Lord does not simply incarnate, give wisdom and depart. Rather, His divine light, His divine message and His divine grace continue to shine, on and on, upon all future generations. His wisdom is such that, once given, it is timeless and eternal, infinite and universal. Lord Krishna's message in the Bhagavad Gita and the message of His entire life are not meant merely for those who lived 5000 years ago in the lands of Mathura, Vrindavan, Kurukshetra and Dwarka. Rather, the messages are as timeless as His presence and grace.

As we celebrate the divine occasion of the anniversary of the date He came forth into this world in human form, we must ask ourselves, "Why did He take birth?" What was the message of Lord Krishna's life? What darkness did He come to dispel? In what ocean of ignorance were we drowning, from which He came to save us?

Most Indians, and now many Westerners as well, are familiar with the Bhagavad Gita. We know that Lord Krishna's verbal message to Arjun on the battlefield was "Stand up. Do your duty."

However, there are also invaluable lessons and divine teachings embedded in the very life He lived, not only in His 700-verse Song of God. What are these messages of Lord Krishna's life, and how do they apply to us today? Let us look at His life for these hidden treasures.

Messages from the Birth of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna took birth in the darkness of night, into the locked confines of a jail cell where His mother and father were being held prisoners, due to His evil uncle Kansa.

However, at the moment of His divine birth all the guards fell asleep, the chains were broken, and the barred doors gently opened. Thus Vasudeva (Krishna's father) safely and easily carried baby Krishna across the flowing Yamuna to Gokul.

There is a beautiful message here, even from the first moment of the Lord's life. We may be living in the darkness of midnight; we may be bound and chained by so many attachments, temptations, anger, grudges, pains and by the binding force of maya. We may feel ourselves locked into the prison of our own bodies, the prison of duality. However, as soon as the Lord takes birth in our hearts, all darkness fades, all chains are broken and all prison doors open freely. Wherever the Lord is, there are no locks.

Also, we can see that the door to the Lord - from any direction, inside or outside - is always open. The only lock is the lock of our own ignorance and our own illusions. As soon as that ignorance is dispelled, as soon as we see His glowing form, all the doors in this life and in all lives open to us.

The Childhood of the Lord
Beginning with His birth in a jail and the immediate rush to whisk Him away to a new family, across Yamunaji in Gokul, the Lord was not given an "easy" childhood.

On the sixth day of the Lord's life, Putna (the demoness) made Him drink poison from her breast. In His third month of life a bullock cart fell on Him. Then, when He was four, huge trees fell on Him.

At seven, He was in Govardhan. The people of Govardhan worshipped Indra, singing his praises and making daily offerings to him. However, Lord Krishna admonished them and said that they should worship Govardhan instead, since it was Govardhan who gave them land, water, grass for their cows. Yet, the people were afraid. Indra threatened to wreak havoc upon their lives if they ceased his worship. As Indra pummeled the beautiful land of Govardhan with rain, hail, thunder and lightening, the Lord - at the age of seven - held up the mountain of Govardhan over the heads of the people, protecting them from the violent storm. However, as He held up this mountain on the tip of His finger, for days and days as Indra grew more and more furious, He never became angry, nor frustrated, nor disheartened. No. He was always smiling, even in the midst of the torrential storm.

A few short years later, He was forced to kill His uncle, and before the age of twenty, He had to flee His home in Mathura, barefoot to Junagar, with nothing but a small pitambar. For years, then, this King of all Kings lived in a simple ashram, doing seva for the saints with no facilities, no amenities and no comfort. He had no coat for winter, no umbrella for the rains. Yet, wherever He went, wherever He was, He was always blissful, always joyful, always shining His divine light upon others.

We, on the other hand, may get stuck in one traffic jam and our days are ruined. We have one business failure and we feel dejected and broken. We become afflicted with disease and we lose our faith in God.

The Message of His Life
So, what is the Lord teaching us? We know that He chose His birth and He chose the course of His life on Earth, so why did He choose a life full of obstacles, turmoil, trials and tribulations? Why, if He could have lived His entire time on Earth as a king, did He spend so many years living in the jungle?

He did this to show us that the real palace is the palace of our heart. When our hearts are full of God, then we live constantly in the most beautiful Golden Palace, regardless of where our bodies may be. He chose this life to teach us that regardless of what insults are hurled at us or what obstacles we face, we must remain immersed in Divine Connection. Then we will not become depressed or frustrated. His life teaches us that we cannot change what happens - it happens for various reasons - but we CAN change our reaction to it. The message of His life is "adapt and adjust." Move forward. We cannot stop the wind from blowing, but we can change the direction of our sails, so that instead of capsizing our boat, we use the wind to take us to our destination.

Death Alone in the Jungle - Even for the King
Even at the moment in which He chose to leave the Earthly realm - shot to death by an arrow from a hunter's bow, deep in the secluded forest - He was full of divine light and compassion, forgiving the guilt-ridden hunter. Never did He bemoan the ending of His time on Earth, nor did He cry out for help from His thousands of subjects and devotees No. He departed from this Earth alone in the jungle, miles and miles from the glorious kingdom of Dwarka.

Lord Krishna chose this way of departure to show us that we may be "kings" in this lifetime, living in palaces of gold, but at the end we are always alone. We must cross the threshold from this life to the next alone. Therefore, it matters not what riches we acquire, nor what status we hold. None of it can save us from the hunter's arrow. None of it can come to our rescue at the time of death. All that matters is how we have lived our lives, whom we have helped, whom we have healed, and to whom we have brought peace and comfort.

The Ultimate Divine Message
As we celebrate the divine occasion of Lord Krishna's incarnation on Earth, let us remember to take to heart the message of His life: never lose yourself due to external circumstances, never lose your smile, never lose your song

Let us offer to Him, on this day of His birthday, not only our prayers and our aarti, but let us offer our lives at His holy feet, so that we, too, may become divine, pure and ever blissful.

With love and blessings to you and to all your loved ones.

In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati







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