Read about supreme hero Shree Krishna this Janmashtami. Prefer to read in Gujarati? Click Here.
We celebrate Krishna Janmashtami or Gokulashtami to mark the birth of the most unconventional ‘Avatar’ (अवतार) – Shree Krishna, precisely the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu!
Before we go towards understanding Krishna, it’s essential to know about Lord Vishnu. Vishnu is the Eternal (सनातन) Purush (पुरुष) as described in Rigved (ऋग्वेद). He represents the Universe and he is held responsible for the smooth functioning of all the creations. This universal form of Lord Vishnu is known as Vishwaroopa (विश्वरूप). This eternal form is believed to be present and apparent throughout all the forms of life. It is said that he is the creator of all the three worlds (Lord Brahma assisted him in creating those) and he is the savior of the Earth. It is quite obvious that a man with ordinary vision and knowledge would not know or understand the divine functions of God and the reasons behind them. So, to make a common man understand up to an extent, this Lord Vishnu taking various incarnations theory has been created where Vishnu takes birth under the concept of Vishnu Pradurbhav (विष्णु प्रादुर्भाव), descending on Earth to vanquish the evil. Lord Vishnu has taken many Avatars, among which our Rishis and Sages have described 10 avatars known as ‘Dashavtar’(दशावतार) in Garud Puran to represent the rest.(Shrimad Bhagvata Purana (श्रीमद्भागवत् पुराण) describes 24 avatars.)
Among all these avatars, Shree Ram, Shree Krishna and Narsimha are said to be ‘Purna avatar’ (पूर्ण अवतार) of Lord Vishnu where he contains all the six qualities called ‘Bhag’ making him the Bhagvan! These qualities are complete glory, virtue, splendor, knowledge, dispassion and opulence. The other avatars are known as ‘Anshrup avatar’ where Vishnu takes a life form but he’s manifested partially. Matsya, varaha, Kurma etc. are considered to be such anshavatars where Lord Vishnu is partially manifested in the creature he represents.
Coming back to how Vishnu is incarnated as Krishna we have to look into a past story where Diti – the daughter of Daksh Prajapati became one of the thirteen wives of Rishi Kashyap. Sons born to Diti were ‘Asur’(असुर) or ‘Daitya’(दैत्य) . Chief among them were ‘Hiranyaksha’ and ‘Hiranyakashipu’ (reincarnation of Vishnu’s gatekeepers Jay and Vijay who were cursed by Sanakadi Mahayogis). Both the brothers had extremely devilish tendencies and they also acquired immense powers by pleasing Lord Brahma. Hiranyaksha was a real savage as he was a shape-shifter and could change his size accordingly. His terror rose day by day, he once uprooted the Earth and hid it in the deep cosmic chasm. He also conquered Amaravati (Devlok) and started devastating all the Gods and the people of the Earth. When all pleaded Lord Vishnu to save them from the petrifying acts of this demon, Lord Vishnu took ‘Varah Avatar’ (वराह अवतार). After a thousand year’s battle, Hiranyaksha was killed and all the three worlds were safeguarded.
Here enters Kalnemi, son of Hiranyaksha. During one of the Devasur Sangrams (precisely Tarakamaya war), Kalnemi was slain by Lord Vishnu. Now as it’s believed, the demons killed in heaven have to descend down, they have to reincarnate as any life forms on Earth. So, as per his karmic deeds, Kalnemi was reborn as Kans, the evil king of Mathura. He started torturing the Earth and its people with his devilish intentions. Hence, this human manifestation of Lord Vishnu once again is intended to take off the burden of the Earth and to restore righteousness or ‘Dharm’(धर्म) by killing these evil entities descended from the other worlds. This is contemplated to be the main purpose of Krishna Janma!!
Most of the people have either heard or read about the charismatic life stories of Shree Krishna so I’m not discussing any of them here.
What I want to discuss here is what makes Shree Krishna the Supreme Hero in our world?
Though Shree Krishna is one of the Vishnu Avatars, he is unique in many ways. He’s the most beloved deities of modern times in India who has been loved, worshipped, befriended, sought, and desired by the classes regardless of their age, gender or even Socio-economic status.
He has led his life in a way that each of us can relate to him at some point of time. Krishna has been more human than any other human manifestations of God. He has been born to human parents, has grown up passing every phase from a kid to a young boy to a grown man experiencing everything as we humans do. He has learnt and practiced the skills making him more relatable to every layman. Shree Krishna is a multidimensional embodiment of Lord Vishnu!
The range of his “Being” is so enormous that each of us can envision him from our own perspective. He has proven his life as an ocean of possibilities. His life is a message for us that makes us understand what we can BECOME as a human being. A naughty kid to an adventurous young boy, an intense lover, an artist, a cunning statesman, a fearless warrior, an astute advisor, a smart negotiator, a visionary king and the list goes on. He has been a role model for contemporary society as a common man simply can pertain this ‘Human God’ to his own self. This is because despite being a good son, a great friend and the best liberator, he has flaws. He’s made mistakes, he has human traits!! When we examine his aspect from one point he’s correct while at the same time, he seems wrong for the opposite end.
Multiple roles he’s lived and all the aspects of his life make Shree Krishna an inspiration teaching us everyday life lessons. Among all the Purna Avatars, Krishna avatar is considered more relatable. An average person can easily connect to the acts Krishna has performed.
I personally believe that if Bhagvad Gita had not been a part of Krishna Avatar, we might have misconceived this exceptional personality only as a human being. He has proven his Narayanrup or Vishvarup supremacy through this eternal teaching.
Devotees would worship him for any of the forms he has depicted through his life, but Krishna is an incomparable light of truth and righteousness. He is revered as one of the supreme deities not only for the divinity he carried but also for the futuristic ideology he’s given to us. His ideas about the ways of life, his acceptance of contradiction, his techniques of seeking the meaning and purpose of life have been far ahead of his time.
Krishna has been the only man to teach us about living like a lotus living in the muddy water (जलकमलवत्). He has been tested time and again with all his abilities and strengths to make us learn about how we can find eternal peace and happiness while being attached to the agony of worldly bindings. He has taught us to see the body and the soul separately when still both are in coexistence.
Krishna has also been a medium that helps us understand that the divine being can be accepted according to our own level of understanding. Each of us can ‘have’ or ‘contain’ Krishna as per our own capability. This uniqueness makes Krishna one of a kind deity for every individual. That’s why when he’s Balgopal for his devotees at the same time he’s the king of Dwarika, while he’s Sakha to Draupadi at the same time he’s a romantic husband to Rukamini and Satyabhama, when he’s a lover to Radha at the same time he’s the face of death for Kans and the other daityas, when he’s a mentor, an advisor to Arjun at the same time he’s the affectionate guest at Vidur’s place relishing on banana peels offered by Vidur’s wife.
He’s the embodiment of boundless love, strength, wisdom, boldness, valor, sensitivity, tenderness, virtues and divinity and under one condition you can have it all. So, what’s that condition??
He has promised to accept us as what we are once we relinquish our life and beyond to him. His deeds and ideology have proved that he was there before time, he is with us now and he’ll be there holding us after the end of time!!
I can write here countless examples proving why Krishna has been one of the most celebrated deities of modern times. But, he has permitted all of us to think about and to accept our own version of Krishna, let us embrace the Supreme sanctity and celebrate the day when he entered the material world.
Jay Shree Krishna!!
image credits – dwarkadheeshvastu.