Shree Kutch Satsang Swaminarayan Temple (Mandir) London
Affiliated to Shree Swaminarayan Temple, Bhuj, Kutch, India
Significance of Sri Krishna Jayanti
Sri Krishna Janmashtami celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna and is observed on the eighth day of the Shukla Paksha. The corresponding month is the Shravan month. It is also referred as Gokulashtami or Krishnaashtami or Sri Jayanti. The true significance of Sri Krishna is that he is relevant in the present and even more relevant for the future.
Lord Sri Krishna was the eighth son born to Devkiji and Vasudev in a dungeon in the palace of Mathura. They were imprisoned by Devkji's first cousin, Kansa, after an oracle told him that he would be killed by her eighth son for the atrocities he was committing. To save himself he rationalised that he would kill all of their children.
However, as the eigth son was Lord Sri Krishna Himself, there was no hiding from Him. Lord Sri Kirshna was born at midnight. At the time of His birth all the soldiers in the dungeon went into a deep trance. Vasudev wrapped the baby Lord into a cloth and put him in a small basket. He carried the Lord on his head to take Him far away from the clutches of the evil Kansa. On his path, Vasudev needed to cross the River Yamuna. However, the Goddess Yamuna instantly recognised that this was the Lord Himself and gave way to Vasudev who walk through the river with ease.
The evening was full of stormy thunder and heavy rain. As Vasudev had nothing to shelter his son from the elements, Lord Sheshnag (as depicted in many pictures) immediately came to the service of his Master and acted as an umbrella over the seemingly innocent child.
Vasudev's destination was his friend Nandji's home in Gokul. There, he left Lord Sri Krishan besides the sleeping mother Yashoda and took with him the little baby girl that had been born to her. The next day the whole of Gokul village celebrated the birth of the heir of their leader with grandeur and enthusiasm.
Upon his return to the dungeon, Vasudev thought Kansa would not harm a baby girl. How wrong he was. As Kansa went to murder the innocent child, she flew out of his hands and rose into the air and transformed into a beautifully divine Goddess. The Goddess warned Kansa that she was not hte one he wsa waiting for and that his slayer had already been born. Thus began the pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna, who disguised Himself as a mortal amongst the people, yet performed miraculous actions hence demonstrating that He was the Lord Supreme.
Janmashtami Pooja Process
The festival of Janmashtami is considered a very pious day by Hindus. Lots of bhajan singing, hymn chanting and poojas are performed this day. Devotees queue all the major Krishna temples to seek his blessings. People perform elaborate poojas during the festival. They keep day long fast. Functions and prayer meetings are organised to share the glory of their favourite God. The general pooja process begins early in the morning with devotees giving a bath or abhishek to Bal Gopal's idol with gangajal, ghee, water, honey and curd. The idol is then adorned with new clothes (preferably in yellow colour), stone or other precious jewellery.
Next, the idol of Lord Sri Krishna is offered bhog, the contents of bhog may vary. Fruits, kheer, pedha, milk, and milk products are made. There are devotees who offer chappan bhog (56 dishes) to Bal Gopal. Thereafter, a special pooja is performed. The cradle containing the divine infant's idol is rocked, and the conch shell is blown. Devotees sing Krishna arti, some people read out 108 names of Lord. They get totally immersed in the name and praise of Gopal. After the entire pooja is over, devotees break their fast by having panchamrit.
Teachings of Lord Krishna
The Lord's teachings on various aspects of human life to Arjuna during the epic battle of Mahabharata are world famous. His teachings were written in the form of a shastra by famously known as Bhagwad Gita. Bhagwad Gita literally means divine songs of Lord. Teachings of the Lord are relevant even in the present age. They are being promoted by a number of spiritual gurus. Few of his important teachings are as follows:
Four Kinds Of actions: According to Lord Sri Krishna there are four kind of actions or karma that a human can perform they are:
Kamya Karma - Actions performed for selfish gains;
Nishiddha Karma - Actions that are forbidden by holy texts and scriptures;
Nitya Karma- Actions that must be performed daily;
Naimittika Karma-Actions that must be performed on certain special occasions.
Lord Sri Krishna clearly forbade his devotees to perform the first two kinds of Karmas as they lead to rebirth and laid stress on the performance of the latter two as they help in getting Moksha or Nirvana, in other words, salvation.
Liberation and Bondage: Lord Sri Krishna emphasised on being free from all kinds of negative and positive emotions like, joy, sorrow, grief, happiness, jealousy, as they are all illusions or maya. These emotions are ephemeral. All the beings are bonded due to lack of knowledge but they get free and achieve liberation once they realize that the world is nothing but illusion. All the souls taking birth on the Earth must surrender to Lord, be free from attachments to living and non living objects. One should not be conditioned by body or the worldly things around.
Glory Of Satsang: Lord Sri Krishna described, 'satsang' as the fastest means to be closer to him and please him. Satsang literally means being in the association of Sadhus or the knowledgeable one, as it helps in reducing and finally putting an end to attachment of all kinds.
Withdrawal from Sense-Objects: Lord Sri Krishna preached withdrawal from all the sensory - objects as a means to avoid delusion. All the objects of desire ultimately lead to misery. One must control his senses and not run after the pursuit of desires. As soon as one of the desires is fulfilled, another desire takes its place thus creating a vicious circle. One should give up ahamkar or Ego and identify only with God.
Importance of Meditation: Lord Sri Krishna emphasises on the benefits of meditation. It is a means of introspection, looking inside oneself, being close to God and removing oneself from the materialistic world. One should sit in a comfortable position, placing both the hands on the lap and fixing the eyes on the tip of the nose, followed by deep breathing. The mind should be free from all thoughts and chanting only the harmonious name of the Lord.
Path to Life Long Happiness: Lord Sri Krishna describes, Dharma (Righteous living), Gnan (Knowledge), Vairagya (Detachment) and Bhakti (Devotion) as the four fold way to attain Lord and please him. This is sure shot way to achieve happiness and Moksha. Being knowledgeable will help perform the right Karma and not worry about the fruit of the action. Devotion to God helps introspect and remove from the worldly desires. The four paths lead to removal of illusion or maya.