Reproduced from The Harmonist, Janamashtami special issue, 2001

Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj

God is not born. Nor does He die.  He is the Creator, not the created.  He is Ananta koti brahmanda pati, Master of infinite universes.

He advents Himself by His own maya-power, srijaamyaham atma-mayaa. One view is that there is no ‘creation’, but only manifestation. Everything already exists, already given.  But before the proper time comes, things remain unmanifested.

Manifestation takes places at the right time at the right place. Once again the manifested may go back into the unmanifest – oblivion. All is a play of Time.  All is Maya.

But Maya cannot touch God. He is the originator of Maya. Maya obeys His will. When He wills to appear on earth as a human being, Maya carries out His will. The unseen becomes seen. The Unborn becomes ‘born’.  The Infinite, Unknowable, comes within the ambit of our sense perception.

When God advents Himself He takes the help of not the ordinary Maya that brings forth material creation, but the Divine Maya, which is His own personal internal potency and is a part of Him. Sri Krishna came at a critical time. He is the Supreme, the Absolute. He is even beyond the Absolute – Para Brahma.

It is said that the effulgent Brahman is but the glow of Sri Krishna’s transcendental body. That Supreme of the Supreme took a human ‘birth’.  He had human parents, Vasudev and Devaki.

The story is well known. Krishna was born at the midnight hour in a prison dungeon in Mathura. On the very same night the new born babe was secretly spirited away to Gokul, where the Divine Infant got new parents – Nanda and Yasoda.

God is never born. But when He comes in a human form, He makes us believe that He has taken birth like a normal child. Yet when Sri Krishna was born in a prison his father Vasudev and mother Devaki at once realised that their just-born baby was the Supreme God Himself. Because He briefly showed them a glimpse of His transcendental divine form.

They made obeisance and uttered hymns in praise of God, Who had graced them by becoming their son. This is the truth of the Holy Birth. The birth occurred on the eight day of the fortnight of the waning moon in the month of Bhadra. The lunar date or more accurately, the exact same tithi,is celebrated as Sri Krishna’s birthday even today.

The whole of India has been celebrating it for thousands of years. Many more thousands of years will pass and Krishna Janamashtami will continue to be celebrated. So supremely auspicious and blessed is His appearance.

Sri Krishna is no longer the God of India. He is honoured and worshipped all over the world. His message in the Bhagawat Gita has reached every corner of the globe. His leela as depicted in the Srimad Bhagawatam has shown the way of absolute love for God. The knowledge of God and devotion to Him as enunciated in the other scriptures, the Vedas, the Upanishads and other shastras do not reach that limit.

Sri Krishna’s words and deeds are absolutely unique in the annals of world civilisation. Sri Krishna appeared at a critical turning point of humanity. He brought immense change in the consciousness of mankind. Hitherto, there was only need-based dharma or religion. Man believed in God for one or another reason. They worshipped and prayed to God for tangible and intangible benefits.

Between God and man there was a give-and-take relationship. People considered worship as a bargain. Or God was to be feared. As if He was the Lord of punishment. God was even painted as a revengeful being – a veritable monster!

Sri Krishna freed mankind from these obnoxious ideas about God. He also liberated us from thinking that God is remote and distant from us, living in a far away heaven. He taught that giving thanks to God for anything good, kind and just is not enough.

We must go beyond that. The relation between God and man is that of the whole and the part – the macrocosm and the microcosm.  Like the relation between a huge forest fire and a tiny spark. The quality of fire is present in both. But one burns large tracts of forests, the other has very little power.

Similarly, God is omnipotent and all-powerful while man is not. God is Absolute, man is dependent. God is Supreme. Man fulfils himself if he can love and serve the Supreme. Man’s full potential of a relationship with God was developed in Krishna’s Vrindavan leela. There all lives centred around Krishna. Love, at its purest and best, was the bond between Krishna and all others. Love was at its most intense too.

There were many aspects of the relationship between Krishna and others. Nanda and Yasoda thought of Krishna as their beloved son. They had parental feelings and were also anxious for the wellbeing of their child. Krishna was Gopal to them. They believed that without them Gopal was totally helpless and vulnerable.

There were the playmates. The boys of Vraja know Krishna as one of them. They never considered Him as different from them. They were His buddies and He theirs. They loved Him as their friend.

Miracles surrounded Krishna. All the Vraja vasis were aware of the unusual powers of the boy Krishna and of his superhuman behaviour at times. Yet nobody felt that He was a different being to kept at a distance and held in awe. No, He was just another Vraja cowherd boy, loved by one and all.

Then there were the Gopis. Their love for Krishna has no parallel in all the worlds. The Gopis were love personified. Their hearts, minds and souls – even the very cells in their bodies – cried for Krishna, the God of Gods. But the Gopis did not look upon Krishna as God. They knew Him as their beloved, more dear than their very lives. They lived a life of love for Krishna and served Him with all they had, mind body and soul.

When Krishna left Vrindavan never to return, the Gopis felt that their life had left. The entire reason for their living was gone. They became so absorbed in the thought of Krishna that everything around them appeared to be Krishna Himself. They lost their separate consciousness and even felt that they themselves were Krishna. Their individual egos were dissolved in the fire of love for Krishna.

Krishna apparently left Vrindavan, but He was in the hearts of the Gopis, in the feelings of his playmates, in the parental emotions of Nanda and Yasoda. All the residents of Vrindavan, the cows and calves, the peacocks, the trees, the river Yamuna and even the grass on which He tread remembered Him.

None could forget Krishna even for a moment. The moveable and the immovable, the vocal and the mute, even the sand and dust of Vrindavan pined for Krishna. Love for Krishna was all-pervasive in Vrindavan. This is true even now.

The word Krishna is derived from the root Akarshan (to attract). He attracts all and His attraction is supreme. He plays on the flute. One who has heard the call of His flute responds to it irresistibly and immediately. Because it is He that dwells within us. He resides in the core of the hearts of all living beings.

So who is it that responds to the call of Krishna’s flute? It is He (the macrocosm) that is seated in the core of the heart of the Jiva (the microcosm). It is God calling the god within, the forest fire calling the little spark to join it.

Krishna left Vrindavan because He had many great tasks to perform. He quickly rid the land of the cruel King Kamsa and relieved the population from his oppressive rule. He took his huge Yadav clan to the western coast of India and founded a new and magnificent kingdom called Dwarka. He was the friend and protector of the meek, humble and virtuous and the destroyer of the evil and belligerent.

India at that time extended from Rangoon in the east to Kabul in the west. But the land consisted of many fragmented kingdoms. The kings had become arrogant and power-mad. Krishna played a political game in such a way that all the power-hungry kings and their cohorts were assembled on the battlefield of Kurukshetra and annihilated in a great war. It was a revolutionary step, for on the ruins of Kurukshetra was built the dharma-rajya of Yuddhisthira, whose overarching monarchy was accepted throughout the land.

Dharma rajya means the rule of truth, justice, peace and welfare. It is the rule of Dharma. Krishna enunciated His eternal principles in the Gita. The message of the Gita has reached all corners of the earth. Krishna’s message is ringing in the ears of humanity through all the ages. People all over the world have to respond to His call and live His message.


Jai Sri Krishna !

Jai Gurudev !

Jai Jai Sri Radhey !