Janmashtami is the annual celebration of the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna and it is celebrated throughout India. This year, 2017 it is celebrated on Monday 14 Aug
Lord Krishna is one of the better known Gods of Hinduism. Some compare his birth and life mission to that of Jesus Christ.
Lord Krishna is considered the complete avatar (or incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. The significance of being a complete avatar is that all the qualities and powers of Lord Vishnu were integrated into Lord Krishna, whose birth was for the express purpose of re-establishing the fundamentals of faith within the Hindu people.
The festival of Janmashtami is observed as a day of fasting until midnight – which is the time at which Lord Krishna was born to his mother Devaki in a prison cell. His birth was of such humble means because prior to his arrival The demonic king Kansa, his uncle, (his mother Devaki’s brother) had put her into prison because he had been told by his advisers that the son of Devaki would be his nemesis. Kansa had planned to kill Krishna at birth, but as soon as he was born, the prison gates magically opened and his father smuggled him out to be raised by his adopted mother, Yashoda.
Sudama and Balarama were two of Lord Krishna’s favorite companions during his childhood. The stories of Krishna’s love for butter and milk products being legendary is woven into many poems, rituals and bhajans. He was always being scolded by his adopted mother Yashoda for doing all kinds of mischief as a young child.
At a young age, Lord Krishna and Balarama went to the court of King Kansa and challenged his wrestlers to duel with them. After killing all his seemingly unconquerable wrestlers, King Kansa challenged Lord Krishna to a duel. Krishna simply assumed his supernatural powers and killed him easily. The people celebrated because they were forever rid of Kansa’s evil rule.
In another instance, there was a great flood which was threatening to destroy the entire population of Krishna’s village. Krishna showed his supernatural powers by lifting the entire village, including the govardhan mountain on his shoulders and thus saving them from the calamity of the flood. 1
As spoken in the Bhagavad Gita by Krishna himself yada yada hi dharmasya, glaanirbhavati bharata, i.e. whenever faith is under attack in this world, I will re-appear to protect those who are devoted to me and to re-establish faith and order. The message of Vedanta preached to Arjuna through the Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the seminal work and crown in the jewel of all Hindu texts.1 yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glaanirbhavati bhaarata. Abhyutthaanam.h adharmasya tadaatmaanM sRRijaamyaham.h.. Bhagavad Gita, Chapter IV, Verse 7.
Devotees, who observe fast on Janmashtami, should have only single meal a day before Janmashtami. On fasting day, devotees take Sankalpa to observe a day long fast and to break it on the next day when both Rohini Nakshatra and Ashtami Tithi are over. Some devotees break the fast when either Rohini Nakshatra or Ashtami Tithi is over. Sankalpa is taken after finishing morning rituals and the day long fasting begins with Sankalpa.
The time to perform Krishna Puja is during Nishita Kala which is the midnight as per Vedic time-keeping. Devotees perform detailed ritualistic Puja during midnight and it involves all sixteen steps which are part of Shodashopachara (षोडशोपचार) Puja Vidhi. Please check Krishna Janmashtami Puja Vidhi which lists all Puja steps for Janmashtami along with Vedic Mantra to perform the Puja. 2
Krishna is the most attractive, joyful space within all of us. When there is no restlessness, worry or desire in the mind, you are able to get deep rest. And it is in deep rest that Krishna is born. The message of Janamashtami is that it is time to bring a wave of joy in society. Become seriously joyful! 3