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The appearance of Sri Krishna

In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is said that Sri Krishna has unlimited incarnations, like the countless waves in an ocean. Through these incarnations Sri Krishna appears at different times and different places to perform many pastimes. However only once in a day of Lord Brahma (which lasts for 4,320 million of our years) does Sri Krishna descend in His original form, and this happened 5,000 years ago. It is said that He descends in His original form to only one place of all the millions of planets in the material universe and that is Bhuvaraloka, our Earth planet.

We are therefore extremely fortunate to have been born in the same kalpa as Sri Krishna and on the same planet on which He performed His pastimes just 5,000 years ago. We can to this day visit the birth site of Sri Krishna in Mathura about 90 miles south of New Delhi, India. We can also go to Vraja, an area that includes Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Nandagram, etc., where Sri Krishna performed His childhood pastimes with the cowherd boys (gopas) and damsels (gopis). So holy is the land of Vraja, that simply living there is considered to be the greatest of devotional service, and if a devotee is fortunate to give up his body in this holy land, he is assured of going back home, back to Godhead.

Krishna descended in an answer to the prayers by Bhudevi, Mother Earth personified, to relieve her of the burden of innumerable asuras (demons), who had taken birth as kings and were ruling tyrannically. Actually Sri Krishna has nothing to do with non-devotees. They all eventually destroy themselves by their own karmic reactions. But, Sri Krishna always has the welfare of His devotees in His heart. Just as He always resides in the hearts of His devotees, His devotees are always there in His heart. and, it was to give protection to His devotees and establish religiosity that Krishna descends. He comes to enjoy His pastimes in the association of His devotees and give them the pleasure of His own association.

When Krishna descended, every one knew He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, unlike His later descent as Caitanya Mahaprabhu about 500 years ago which is called a ‘gupta’ (confidential) avatar, where in He came in the guise of His own devotee and His identity was only known by a very few intimate associates. However Sri Krishna came as the performer of super human activities. When he was just a child of 6 months He killed the powerful demoness Putna and as a boy of just 6 years old He lifted the Govardhana hill on His little finger. But the people of Vraja were so immersed in the love of Krishna, that they were never awed by His opulence as God. For them He was their son or friend or master, and that was all that mattered. The Gopis of Vraja were the highest of His devotees who had crossed all stages of sadhna-vaidhi bhakti and reached a stage where they knew nothing but the spontaneous love for Krishna. Such a stage is very exalted and reached by a very few devotees.

It is impossible for non-devotees to even approach Sri Krishna. Many people try to rationalize or worse, emulate the activities of Krishna. Such people as destined to fall in the darkest of nescience. Even elevated personalities like Lord Brahma cannot approach Sri Krishna by dint of mental speculation. There is only one way to approach Him, and that is in the mood of a devotee, one of complete surrender, love and service. When Krishna is pleased with surrender of a devotee, He gives him the benediction of pure devotional service by which the devotee freed from the illusory energy of maya, transcends the glaring effulgence of the impersonal Brahamajyoti emanating from Krishna and can eternally associate with Him personally.

Just as the devotees of Krishna, covered by His internal spiritual potency called Yogamaya, are able to relish His association; the demons who were envious of Sri Krishna, come under His external, illusory potency called Maya, and are never able to approach Him. Jarasandha with his army of millions of soldiers was defeated 17 times by Krishna and Balarama alone, but he never accepted Their supremacy. Similarly Kamsa, Shishupala, Shalva, Rukmi – all had witnessed the transcendental activities of Krishna, but out of their envy and pride they chose to be illusioned and continued to plan to kill Krishna, till their own very end.

In Bhagavad Gita (4.9), Sri Krishna says “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna”. So Krishna is not without activity, in fact He is sac-cit-andanda-vigraha - full of eternal truth, knowledge and bliss in a personal form. But His activities are mysterious for mundane people. In fact Sri Krishna Himself says ( BG 9.11) that “Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be”.

So if we are serious about our spiritual lives, then we must hear and read about the pastimes of Krishna from a self-realized, bona fide source. Krishna katha is words spoken by Krishna (as in the Bhagavad Gita), and words spoken about Krishna (as in Srimad Bhagavatam). Both are transcendental and can liberate one from the cycle of birth and death. However, just as milk that has been tasted by a serpent is poison, Krishna katha delivered by materialistic people and professional reciters is devastating to spiritual progress. We must therefore seek out a self-realized spiritual master in a bona fide disciplic succession, render service to him, inquire submissively from him, and try and understand the glories of Sri Krishna from him.

Sri Krishna Janmashtmi, the appearance day of Sri Krishna is being celebrated on a very grand manner. This is the most auspicious of all Vaishnava festivals. Celebrating this festival is highest form of devotional service. One hears (sravanam) the pastimes of Sri Krishna, sings His glories (kirtana), remembers Him (smaranam) and worships Him (pujan, arcanam). The perfection of any one of these form of devotional service can liberate a person from the material world and on this most auspicious occasion, we have the special benediction of none else than Sri Krishna Himself.