The Appearance of Lord Krishna

Five thousand years ago Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared on earth to attract the people of the world back to Him. This year the annual celebration of Lord Krishna's birthday, Janmashtami, falls on September 7. Janmashtami is perhaps the most widely celebrated of all the religious holidays of India, and each year, regardless of sectarian affiliation, hundreds of millions of Indians attend the temples, hold festivals, and worship in their homes. Now, owing to the work of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, many people of many nations are learning the significance of Janmashtami.

The birth and activities of Lord Krishna are transcendental, even when they appear ordinary and material. But for those who are hearing about Lord Krishna for the first time, there may appear to be contradictions about His birth. For example, if He is the eternal God, the source of everything, why does He have a mother and father?

Or we may also question the relevance of Krishna's birth: Can it help us with our immediate concerns in today's world? Even a great devotee, Queen Kunti, expressed bewilderment about the birth of Lord Krishna. In her prayers in the Srimad-Bhagavatam we find: "It is bewildering, O soul of the universe, that You take birth, although You are the vital force and the unborn."

The apparent contradiction is solved when we understand the true nature of Godhead and the true nature of the soul. Krishna Himself explains in the Bhagavad-gita that He, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is eternal. All other living entities, being part and parcel of Him, are also eternal. In other words, we are like God in that in our original position we are free of birth and death. But there is a difference between ourselves and God. We are tiny individual souls, subject to falling under the illusory influence of Krishna's material energy, maya. He never comes under the spell of the material world, which is His creation. So when He chooses to come into the material world, He is not forced to do so, as are the individual souls. Krishna's "birth" is not the incarnation of a spiritual soul within a material body. Krishna descends into this world in His eternal, spiritual form. "Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates ... I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form." (Bg. 4.6)

Even Arjuna, Krishna's intimate friend and the disciple to whom Krishna taught the Bhagavad-gita, was at first puzzled by Krishna's appearance in the world. When Krishna informed Arjuna that He had first taught the Bhagavad-gita many thousands of years ago to the sun-god, Vivasvan, Arjuna raised his doubt. Arjuna knew Krishna as his contemporary friend. How could Krishna be referring to a talk He had had with a person who lived thousands of years ago? "Many, many births both you and I have passed," Lord Krishna replied. "I can remember all of them, but you cannot."

Even if we theoretically accept that God appears on earth by His own spiritual power, we may ask why He chooses to come here. Krishna certifies that the material planets are all "places of misery where repeated birth and death take place." Why then does He leave His superior, blissful abode for this one? Krishna directly answers this in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7-8):

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, and a predominant rise of irreligious practice—at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium

To teach the universal religion, the Personality of Godhead appears in numerous forms, or incarnations, such as Lord Rama, Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus Christ, and Muhammad. There are many bona fide representatives of God, as revealed in the scriptures of the world. But when God appears as Krishna, He appears in His original form as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In all cases the mission is the same: to lead people to God consciousness and obedience to the principles of religion. Sometimes Krishna Himself appears, and sometimes He sends one of His sons or servants to represent Him.

Since Krishna can do His work in any of these empowered forms, we may ask why He comes in His original form. That appearance in His original, eternal form of Krishna is His causeless mercy, bestowed upon the living entities so that they can concentrate on the Supreme Lord as He is and not on mental concoctions or imaginations, which impersonalistic, speculative philosophies wrongly think the Lord's forms to be. Also, Lord Shri Krishna comes in His original form to mitigate the anxieties of the pure devotees, who are very anxious to see Him. This is the prime purpose of Krishna's appearance.

Still, one may doubt, "Krishna's appearance may be pleasing to His pure devotees, but what has this to do with me?" Most people are more concerned with their own birthdays, the birthdays of friends and family members, or the birthdays of national heroes. Being without spiritual realization, they focus their love on temporary objects; they cannot imagine the significance of Krishna's appearance. Even those who attend the temples of Lord Krishna on Janmashtami sometimes take it as a ritual. But if, by the grace of Krishna's devotees, one comes to understand the significance of Krishna's appearance in the world, it is the greatest gain. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, "One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in the material world, but attains My eternal abode." (Bg. 4.9)

To know everything about God is impossible. But if we become even a little faithful in hearing about the appearance of Krishna, the ensuing transcendental knowledge can free us from repeated birth and death. As Prabhupada has stated, "One who can understand the truth of the appearance of the Personality of Godhead is already liberated from material bondage, and therefore he returns to the kingdom of God immediately after quitting the present material body."

On Janmashtami Hare Krishna Village holds huge festival and the public is invited. This festivals consist of presentations and celebrations—through drama, art, music, and dance—of the divine birth of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is joyous kértana (the congregational singing of the Hare Krishna mantra) and a huge feast. Please join with the devotees of Krishna, have a good afternoon or evening, and receive the tremendous spiritual benefit of understanding more about Krishna's appearance and activities in this world.

Check out the exclusive pics of Sri Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations 2023