22 August, 2019
Krishna Nee Begane Baaro.... happens to be the opening lyrics of a famous Kannada classical song, written by Vyasaraya Tirtha or Vyasatirtha, who is regarded as one of the foremost dialecticians in the history of Indian philosophy. While this is known to many South Indians, it reached out to many North Indian audiences as well, as one of the episodes of the Malgudi Days, based on the legendary writer R K Narayan, showed a little girl dancing to the tunes of this song. It became a rage of sorts when the famous Colonial Cousins used it as the opening lines for one of their songs. Simply put, the opening lines of the song mean ‘Oh, Krishna, please come fast’, and after a long wait, finally this year Krishna is coming!
It will be Krishna Janmashtami tomorrow midnight, and India celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna across tomorrow/day after. For the Hindus of the country, this is a major festival. The festival is celebrated on Ashtami (8th day) of the Krishna Paksh (the dark fortnight) in the month of Bhadon, as per the Hindu calendar. The eighth incarnation or Avatar of Lord Vishnu, Krishna happens to be one of the most loved, most revered among all his Avatars. He is also known by many names like Kaanha, Vasudev, Achuta, Keshava, Madhava, Ananta, Gopal, Devakinandan, Govinda, Hari, Jagadish, Jagannath, Muralidhar, Padmanabha and so on. In fact, there are 108 names that define this lord.
The lovable Lord
One of the many reasons why people love him a lot is because of the legendary stories associated with his birth and childhood. Krishna was born the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudev and was supposed to be killed by his uncle, Kamsa, Devaki’s brother. Kamsa had been told by a voice from the sky that he would be killed by the eighth child of Devaki and had so, imprisoned them and killed each and every child of theirs till Krishna was born.
With Krishna however, the Lord Vishnu listens to her pleas and Vasudeva is instructed to take the newborn across the river to Gokul and exchanged the baby with his friend Nandagopal’s child, a girl. And Kamsa could not kill the child, as she took her cosmic form of Durga and warned him that his slayer was alive.
As Kamsa kept searching, Krishna grew up in the tranquil Gokul, as the heartthrob of the whole place. He was very naughty and troubled his mom Yashoda, and stole butter from all houses so that the gopikas always complained about him. This is why he is called as maakhan chor. He would also steal the clothes of the gopikas when they went out to take a bath! He was also dark-complexioned and would play the flute and tend to cows and play with his fellow gopas. He escaped all plans by Kamsa to kill him and in the end, along with his brother Balram, kills Kamsa.
Krishna is also considered to be the one who will uphold Dharma, and hence is associated with the Mahabharata. He took the side of the Pandavas and ensured that Dharma prevailed in the world. The Bhagavad Gita and his teachings to Arjuna, just before the war began, is a comprehensive epic, which is revered and studied by many. It explains many things about life and what Dharma is.
Across the country, many events are held to celebrate the Lord’s birth, in almost all temples. The main event, of course, is held in Mathura, where he was born. And then there are temples in Dwaraka, the kingdom, he set up, and Vrindavan where he grew up. Down south, there is the famous Krishna temple in Udupi (Karnataka) and then in Guruvayoor (Kerala), and also the Rajagopalaswamy temple in Mannargudi (Tamil Nadu).
We also have the ISKCON temples set up across the country and abroad, that celebrates this day with abhishekas, poojas and provides Darshan of the lord to the people and allows them to pay their obeisance. In many parts, Dahi handi is done to commemorate the playful nature of the Lord, by setting up dahi (curd or butter) on top, and people make pyramids by climbing on top of each other to reach and break the handi. In a few temples, the Lord is taken out in a procession, and Bhagavata Purana is sung. The day marks prayers, gaiety, devotional songs or bhajans, and many people also fast till midnight when the Lord was born. Simple poojas are held in many homes, by preparing some offerings to the Lord, and praying for the welfare of the community, as he is the keeper of the Dharma.
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