- Religion and Philosophy
Hindu God Krishna
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the three Supreme Gods in Hinduism. Brahma is associated with creation, Vishnu nourishes and protects the world, whereas Shiva is the destroyer. In order to maintain the creation, Vishnu has number of times assumed human forms and defended mankind. Krishna is one of the ten forms of Lord Vishnu. According to the Hindu Scriptures, the Buddha too, is Lord Vishnu in human form.
Hindu scriptures like the Mahabharata, the Bhagavadgita, and the Purans comprehensively tells about Lord Krishna – His life and philosophy. Lord Krishna is worshipped in a baby form, child form, teenage form, and a young man form. The stories of Krishna’s miraculous birth and wonderful childhood, never-ending romances and his incredible valor are deeply etched in the hearts of the Hindus around the world.
Lord Krishna’s birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in August, or sometimes in early September. This year Krishna Janmashtami, or Krishna’s birthday, is on August 9.
Krishna Janmashtami: Lord Krishna is Born on Earth
Once there was a king named Kansa, who was a demon in human form. He had put his father in prison and assumed the absolute control over the country; however, he loved his cousin Devaki very much. Kansa gave Devaki to Vasudeva in marriage. In the wedding day, he drove the chariot and escorted the newlywed couple to the palace. Suddenly a celestial voice said: O Kansa, thy death will come to pass at the hand of the eighth son born out of this union.
Kansa was terror-stricken, he shackled the newlywed couple and put them in prison. Over the years, he killed all six sons born to Devaki. The seventh son was saved by Lord Vishnu by transferring the fetus from Devaki to Rohini’s womb, Vasudeva’s another wife. When the child was born, he was named Balrama, who actually was the human form of Sesa Naga, the thousand headed Snake who guards Lord Vishnu in the cosmic ocean.
It was midnight, when the eighth child was born. He had azure blue complexion, he wore a crown of jewels and yellow silk robes, and bathed in a cosmic radiance. He stood before his parents as four armed Vishnu, protected by five headed Naga-Snake, and said he chose them as his parents because long-long ago, in another life cycle, he had promised them that he will be born as their son. Lord Vishnu also said a girl child was born to Vasudeva’s friend Nanda in a nearby village, and asked Vasudeva to exchange the child. Saying so Vishnu again became a baby.
By the will of divine, shackles broke, the prison’s gate opened and Vasudeva carried baby Krishna in a basket and walked to his friend’s house. It was raining heavily, and five headed snake protected the baby from rain. Vasudeva left Krishna to Nanda’s wife, carried Nanda’s girl child and came back to the prison.
In the morning Kansa went to prison and found the girl child. When he was about to kill the child, she escaped from his hand and announced: Thy enemy is born, and thy death is certain. Saying so, the girl vanished. She was Goddess Durga, who assumed a girl form to warn Kansa.
Kansa sent his demon friends in search of Krishna. They found him only to be killed by mighty Krishna. When Krishna was sixteen he went to Kansa and killed him in a wrestling match. After Kansa was killed, Kansa’s father again became the king and Krishna was his trusted courtier. During his lifetime, Krishna fought many wars and killed thousands of demons. In the great war of the Mahabharata, Krishna was Arjuna’s chariot driver. The war of the Mahabharata is believed to have occurred in 1300 BCE, however the epic of the same name was composed about 300 BCE.
Nepal Celebrates Krishna’s Birthday with Much FanfareClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Bhagavadgita, literally ‘Song of the Lord’ and commonly called Gita, is an episode in the Mahabharata which occupies chapters 23 to 40 of book 6. There are 700 verses and 18 sections in the Bhagavadgita. It is composed in the form of a dialogue between Krishna and his cousin Arjuna when they are at the battle ground of the Mahabharata war. The Bhagavadgita is believed to be composed in 1st or 2nd CE. Krishna assumed the Universal Form while delivering Bhagavadgita to Arjuna.
Popularity of the Bhagavadgita increased when it was translated by British and European scholars in early 18th century. The Bhagavadgita presents essence of Hindu philosophy in simple terms, and summarizes the entire Hindu Scriptures.
The present day Hindu philosophy is substantially based on the Bhagavadgita.
Importance of Lord Krishna in Hinduism
Lord Vishnu has said, “Whenever religion and virtue decline and vice threatens, I will appear on the earth to save the righteous and punish the wicked.” Perhaps because of this assertion, among the Hindu Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – Vishnu is very popular God. The Vishnu cult called Vaisnavas is very strong in India and Nepal. There are many sub-cults within Vaisnavas. Among the practicing Hindus, Krishna is much loved God. There are many cults dedicated to Lord Krishna. ISKCON is one of them, which has strong roots even in the West.
The Bhagavadgita commonly called Gita, probably the most sanctified book in Hinduism, is attributed to Lord Krishna. In the courts in India and Nepal, the witness is asked to take a vow of truth by placing his/her hand on the Bhagavadgita.
The great Hindu epic Mahabharata gives detailed account of Krishna’s many deeds of valor. The Mahabharata, is the oldest and longest story in the world, which is about seven times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. According to the Mahabharata, in order to placate his cousin’s mind, Krishna assumed his Universal Form. Arjuna saw the entire universe, along with all creatures, deities, and demons inside Lord Krishna.
Krishna was a God who lived like a common man, living many lives at a time. As a child he killed many demons, and played mischievous games with his friends and mother. As a teenager he had numerous love affairs, his girlfriends are commonly referred as Gopinies. Amongst his girlfriends, he loved Radha very much, however, but he did not marry Radha. Nevertheless, Krishna is always associated with Radha, even though he had ten wives. Radha-Krishna is the divine couple in Hinduism.
Krishna is a lover, a skilled politician and a great warrior. Hindus refer Lord Krishna as Purushottam, the Perfect Man. The Universal Form of Lord Krishna reminds us that there is only one God, and He is Krishna.
Teachings of Lord Krishna
Krishna’s philosophy is comprehensively explained the Bhagavadgita. The Teachings of Krishna can be summarized in three pointsKarma, Wisdom and Devotion. According to the Bhagavadgita these are the three paths to salvation.
Human beings must do their Karma without having desire for result. Literal meaning of Karma is deeds or actions. When you perform your actions without being attached to the result, you will find the path to salvation.
While doing Karma you have to have wisdom. Only when you have wisdom, you will be able to perform righteous Karma. In this Samsara, you are born again and again because of your attachment. Nourish your wisdom and let be born no more. Samsara is the endless cycle of birth and rebirth, literally Samsara means the world.
God is not far away from you, actually God exists in everything and everyone. You have to be devoted to your God. With your perennial devotion, you will reach mokshya, the salvation.
According to Lord Krishna’s teaching, only body dies, soul seeks another body to be born again. This chain of birth and rebirth can be broken when you perform Karma without seeking desire for result. One can perform Karma without attachment only he/she has wisdom. When you perform Karma without attachment, you gain wisdom. From wisdom comes the devotion. When you are devoted to Lord Krishna, you will be liberated.