Janmashtami – Mysterious birth of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna in Gokula!

Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are two most important scriptures for Kali Yuga, they have specifically manifested for us kali yugians. If we sincerely try to serve these two transcendental scriptures then we can unlock many hidden gems. Let us take a look at the famous verse from Bhagavad gita

जन्म कर्म मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः

त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन

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.

(Bg 4.9)

As we read the above verse it looks very simplistic, as if Krishna speaking these words just to encourage everyone to accept His shelter by holding a big carrot in front of us. Rather, coming out from the lotus like mouth of Sri Krishna, every single verse of Bhagavad Gita is Absolute and so is its conclusion and promise. Srila Prabhupada further declares in his purport –

He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation.

(Bg 4.9p)

The above statements may baffle us, especially devotees. We already know that Krishna is the Supreme personality of Godhead, we know about Krishna’s transcendental appearance and activities but liberation seems a bit far. But then how much do we even really know Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, Krishna of Vrindavan.

Both the verse and its purport are ‘packed’ and we can unpack them in multiple ways. Today, however let us unpack it from the angle of Krishna’s birth, how and where exactly did Vrajendra Nandan Krishna appeared.

Scriptures say that Svayam Bhagavan Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna does not take even one step out of Vrindavan. Many of us may have read the pastime in Srimad Bhagavatam when Akrura came to invite Krishna and Balaram to Mathura, the two brothers he finally took with him to Mathura were different personalities than what he assumed accompanied him.

Vrajendra Nandan Krishna

Nanda Maharaj returned to Vrindavan without Krishna and Balaram. He was accompanied only by the cowherd boys and men. It was certainly a very pathetic scene for the gopis, Mother Yashoda, Srimati Radharani and all the other residents of Vrindavan. Many devotees have tried to make adjustments to Krishna’s being away from Vrindavan because, according to expert opinion, Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never goes even a step out of Vrindavan. He always remains there. The explanation of expert devotees is that Krishna was actually not absent from Vrindavan; He came back with Nanda Maharaj as promised.

When Krishna was starting for Mathura on the chariot driven by Akrura and the gopis were blocking the way, Krishna assured them that He was coming back just after finishing His business in Mathura. He told them not to be overwhelmed and in this way pacified them. But when He failed to come back with Nanda Maharaj, it appeared that He either cheated them or could not keep His promise.

Expert devotees, however, have decided that Krishnawas neither a cheater nor a breaker of promises. Krishna, in His original identity, returned with Nanda Maharaj and stayed with the gopis and Mother Yashoda in His bhäva expansion. Krishna and Balaram remained in Mathura not in Their original forms but in Their expansions as Vasudeva and Sakarshana. The real Krishna and Balaram were in Vrindavan in Their bhäva manifestation, whereas in Mathura They appeared in the prabhava and vaibhava expansions. This is the expert opinion of advanced devotees of Krishna. Externally, however, They were absent from Vrindavan.

(Krishna Book, chapter 46)

If Vrajendra Nandan Krishna never takes steps out of Vrindavan then how did He take birth in Mathura?

Let us try solve this mystery by seeing it from the eyes of our acharya and the scriptures.

Thereafter, exactly when Vasudeva, being inspired by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was about to take the newborn child from the delivery room, Yoga-māyā, the Lord’s spiritual energy, took birth as the daughter of the wife of Mahārāja Nanda.

Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura discusses that Krishna appeared simultaneously as the son of Devaki and as the son of Yashoda, along with the spiritual energy Yoga-māyā. As the son of Devaki, He first appeared as Vishnu, and because Vasudeva was not in the position of pure affection for Krishna, Vasudeva worshiped his son as Lord Vishnu. Yashoda, however, pleased her son Krishna without understanding His Godhood. This is the difference between Krishna as the son of Yashoda and as the son of Devaki. This is explained by Vishvanath Chakravarty on the authority of Hari-vaśa.

(SB 10.3.47+p)

What Srila Prabhupada is disclosing above is simply astonishing! Prabhupada is divulging to us that Krishna appeared simultaneously in two places- as the son of Devaki and as son of mother Yashoda, in Vrindavan.

Let us read the commentary of Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura from which Srila Prabhupada quoted the above.

In the Hari Vamsa is says that that in the eighth of her pregnancy Devaki and Yashoda gave birth at the same time to their Children. But here in Bhagavatam it is stated that that Yashoda gave birth after Devaki. How to correlate the two contradictory statements? Exactly when Devaki gave birth to Krishna, Yashoda also gave birth to Krishna. After that, as described in this verse, Yashoda birth to Yagamaya. Yashoda gave birth to two children at different times. This is confirmed in SB 10.4.9, for when Yogamaya falls from the hands of Kamsa, she is called younger sister of Krishna. But when Krishna was born to Yashoda it is not stated that he had four hands. It is understood that He was born from Yashoda with two hands.

(Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakura purport to SB 10.3.47)

Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura is revealing to us that mother Yashoda gave birth to two kids. A son, Krishna, was born at the very same time when Lord Vishnu appeared as the son of Devaki. (Hence Krishna’s birth is rightly celebrated as Janamashtami everywhere and not on Nandotsava as some devotees tend to suggest.) Second child, as we know, was Yogamaya, Krishna’s ‘younger’ sister.

How the umbilical cord could still be intact if kids were exchanged in the night?

Srimad Bhagavatam itself gives us a hint about this secret while describing how Nanda Maharaj celebrated Krishna’s ‘Jata-Karma’ ceremony, cutting of the umbilical cord connecting the child and placenta.

nandas tv ātmaja utpanne jātāhlādo mahā-manāḥ
āhūya viprān veda-jñān snātaḥ śucir alaṅkṛtaḥ 

vācayitvā svastyayanaṁ jāta-karmātmajasya vai
kārayām āsa vidhivat pitṛ-devārcanaṁ tathā 

Sukhdeva Gosvami said: Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation. Therefore, after bathing and purifying himself and dressing himself properly, he invited brahmanas who knew how to recite Vedic mantras. After having these qualified brahmanas recite auspicious Vedic hymns, he arranged to have the Vedic birth ceremony celebrated for his newborn child according to the rules and regulations, and he also arranged for worship of the demigods and forefathers.

(SB 10.5.1-2)

Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of the above verse :

The jāta-karma ceremony can take place when the umbilical cord, connecting the child and the placenta, is cut. However, since Krishna was brought by Vasudeva to the house of Nanda Maharaj, where was the chance for this to happen? In this regard, Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura desires to prove with evidence from many shastra that Krishna actually took birth as the son of Yashoda before the birth of Yoga-maya, who is therefore described as the Lord’s younger sister.

(SB 10.5.1-2p)

Srila Rupa Gosvami also reveals this secret!

preshthanandair vraje tais tair atmano ‘pi vimohanaih

lilollasair vilasati shri-lila-purushottamah

Because He enjoys many happy pastimes, delighting His dear associates, and even enchanting Himself, Lord Krishna is called “lila-purushottama” (the most playful person).

asamordhvena bhagavan vatsalyena vrajesayoh

sutatvenaiva sa tayor atmanam vetti sarvada

Because the parental love of Vraja’s king and queen has no equal or superior, Lord Krishna eternally thinks Himself their son.

kecid bhagavatah prahur evam atra puratanah

vyuhah pradurbhaved adyo griheshv anakadundubheh

goshthe tu mayaya sardham shri-lila-purushottamah

In ancient times some devotees have said that the Lord appeared in His Vasudeva feature in the home of Maharaja Vasudeva, and at the same time He appeared, along with Yogamaya, in His original form as Sri Krishna in the village of Vraja.

gatva yadu-varo goshtham tatra suti-griham visan

kanyam eva param vikshya tam adayavrajat puram

pravisad vasudevas tu shri-lila-purushottamam

When Maharaja Vasudeva arrived in Vraja, he entered the maternity room, saw (Yashoda’s, daughter and, taking her with him, returned to Mathura. The Vasudeva expansion (Maharaja Vasudeva carried with him, then merged in the body of Sri Krishna.

etac cati-rahasyatvan noktam tatra katha-krame

kintu kvacit prasangena sucyate shri-sukadibhih

Because this pastime is very confidential, it was not related in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Nevertheless, Sukadeva Gosvami and other great devotees have indirectly described it in some of their writings.

Srila Rupa Gosvami then quotes below four verses from Srimad Bhagavatam which specifically describe Krishna as son of Nanda Maharaj.

“Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation.”

(SB 10.5.1)

“Nanda Maharaj was very liberal and simple. He immediately took his son Krishna on his lap as if Krishna had returned from death.”

(SB 10.6.43)

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the son of Mother Yashoda, is accessible to devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not as easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerities and penances, or to those who consider the body the same as the self.”

(SB (10.9.21)

“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the son of Maharaj Nanda, who is standing before me with conchshell earrings and peacock feather on His head. His face is beautiful, He is wearing a helmet, garlanded with forest flowers, and He stands with a morsel of food in His hand. He is decorated with cane, flute, and a bugle made of buffalo horn. He stands before me with small lotus feet.”

(SB 10.14.1)

tatha shri-yamala-vacanam samudaharanti

“krishno ‘nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ‘sty atah parah

vrindavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati

The different between Krishna’s appearance in Vrindavan and His appearance in Mathura and Dvaraka is described in, Yamala Tantra:

“The Krishna known as Yadukumara is Vasudeva Krishna. He is different from the Krishna who is the son of Nanda Maharaj. Yadukumara Krishna manifests His pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dvaraka, but Krishna the son of Nanda Maharaj never at any time leaves Vrindavan.

(Laghu-bhagavatmrta 1.5.452-461)

The above verse has also been quoted in Caitanya Caritamrta, it was spoken by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to … who else…. Srila Rupa Gosvami!

Caution- We should not misunderstand that there are multiple Krishnas. This verse is showing that Vrindavan Krishna, Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, is the original personality of Godhead and rest all are His various plenary expansions or incarnations. Vrajendra Nandan Krishna is the original source.

pūrṇa bhagavān kṛṣṇa vrajendra-kumāra
goloke vrajera saha nitya vihāra

Lord Krishna, the son of the King of Vraja, is the Supreme Lord. He eternally enjoys transcendental pastimes in His eternal abode, Goloka, which includes Vrajadhama.

(CC Adi 3.5)

I hope we got a little taste of sweet undercurrents flowing via seemingly straight verses of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. If we simply serve these two scriptures by studying them regularly, then, by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada, many intricate aspects of Absolute Truth, Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, can manifest in our heart.

He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation. The Vedic version tat tvam asi is actually applied in this case. Anyone who understands Lord Krishna to be the Supreme, or who says unto the Lord, “You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead,” is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed.

(BG 4.9p)

aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita
srimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan
sri-caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaj, is worshiped along with His transcendental abode Vrindavan. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrindavan. Srimad Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything and pure love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

(Caitanya-matta-manjusa by Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura)

Wish you all a very Happy Janmashtami. Here is a short kirtan clip to sing and cry out to the lotus feet of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna and welcome the arrival of Lord of our heart.

All glories to the lotus feet of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

We are under the supervision of Srila Rupa Goswami.

Hare Krishna.

15th August, 2016. Gurgaon

“The best way to search for the truth is to follow the path that has previously been gone over by saintly persons and devotees, and by which they have attained the supreme goal of life. Such a path is always free from all kinds of obstacles and hindrances to our progress, and by following it one very quickly attains the desired result.”

(BRS 1.2.100)

Priti Vardhana Prabhuji

By Lord’s mercy I was very fortunate to get association of HG Priti Vardhana Prabhuji while coming back from Vrindavan to Gurgaon few days back. During our two and half hour ride I had some amazing discussions with prabhuji. During that discussion I shared with prabhuji how I am struggling on a particular aspect of being conscious of Krishna and requested Prabhuji to kindly help me how to practice it. Prabhuji replied for that I will have to read Upadesamrta (Nectar of Instruction). I was surprised because as far I knew Srila Rupa Goswami did not touch the particular topic I was struggling in this book. I asked Prabhuji in which verse or purport I can find this topic. Prabhuji’ reply further stumped me- the first four verses! Seeing the  puzzled expression on my face, Prabhuji clarified: you have to first start practicing these first four verses of Upadesamrta and only then I can hope to develop a consciousness to help me understand and practice the area I am currently struggling with. It was a wake up call for me to start practicing what I was reading and not merely understanding it philosophically.

Rupa_Goswami

Today is the disappearance Day of Srila Rupa Goswami

I was thinking what to read on the disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami today. After some thinking I felt inspired to check what HG Priti Vardhana prabhuji had told me few days back. I started writing what are the qualities in each of the first four verses of Upadesamrta and where do I stand vis-à-vis each of them. It was a mixture of embarrassment and some hope!

On the auspicious occasion of disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami we can do this exercise to write down these qualities on one side of a paper and then in front of each quality we can write down how are we situated and compare, say 1 year back, and see how is our progress under each quality.  It might turn out to be a good reality check!

Here the first four verses:

vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ  jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ  sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt

A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.

atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca  prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati

One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.

utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt
saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati

There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam – hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa], (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.

dadāti pratigṛhṇāti guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam

Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasāda and offering prasāda are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.

(Verses 1-4, Upadesamrta)

We may list down the qualities described in these four verses as below

Verse 1 : Becoming a sober person by tolerating these six urges

  • Urge to speak
  • the mind’s demands
  • the actions of anger
  • urge of tongue
  • urge of belly
  • urge of genitals

Verse 2: Not to get too entangled in the below six activities

  • Eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required
  • over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain
  • talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters
  • practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically
  • associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness
  • being greedy for mundane achievements.

Verse 3: Six principles favourable to devotional service

  • being enthusiastic
  • endeavoring with confidence
  • being patient
  • acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam – hearing, chanting and remembering Krishna]
  • abandoning the association of non-devotees,
  • following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas.

Verse 4: Practicing six symptoms of love shared between devotees

  • Offering gifts in charity
  • accepting charitable gifts
  • revealing one’s mind in confidence
  • inquiring confidentially
  • accepting prasāda
  • offering prasāda

Let’s read few gems Srila Prabhupada wrote on the process given by Srila Rupa Goswami in Upadesamrta

The Krishna consciousness movement is conducted under the supervision of Srila  Rupa Goswami.

In all spiritual affairs, one’s first duty is to control his mind and senses.

Upadeśāmṛta constitutes the first instructions for neophyte devotees. (!!)

(Nectar of Instruction, preface)

Self-realisation is not so cheap!

Yoga means training the mind and the senses to be fixed on the Self. This is not possible by meditating only fifteen minutes a day and then going out and doing whatever the senses dictate. How can the problems of life be solved so cheaply? If we want something precious, we have to pay for it.

(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)

From go-däsa to goswami…

The nature of the mind is flickering and unsteady. But a self-realized yogi has to control the mind; the mind should not control him. At the present moment, the mind is controlling us (go-däsa). The mind is telling us, “Please, why not look at that beautiful girl?” and so we look… “Why not go to this restaurant for such palatable food? Why not do this? Why not do that?” In this way, the mind is dictating, and we are following. Material life means being controlled by the senses, or the mind, which is the center of all the senses. Being controlled by the mind means being controlled by the senses, because the senses are the mind’s assistants. The master mind dictates, “Go see that,” and the eyes, following the directions of the mind, look at the sense object. The mind tells us to go to a certain place, and the legs, under the mind’s directions, carry us there. Thus, being under the direction of the mind means coming under the control of the senses. If we can control the mind, we will not be under the control of the senses. One who is under the control of the senses is known as go-däsa. The word go means “senses,” and däsa means “servant.” One who is master of the senses is called goswami, because swami means “master.” Therefore, one who has the title goswami is one who has mastered the senses. As long as one is servant of the senses, he cannot be called a goswami or swami.

(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)

How would I know I am following it properly?

After eating, a man can understand that his hunger has been satisfied; similarly, by following the principles of Krishna consciousness, one can understand that he has advanced in self-realization.

(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)

Each one of us can follow the process given by previous acharyas and make our present life successful by simply endeavoring for it, perfection is not required. And on special days, like today, we can receive extra mercy. So it may not be such a bad idea today to pray to Srila Rupa Goswami with a sincere and honest heart and seek his mercy to help us follow the instructions he left for us.

All glories to the auspicious occasion of disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.