Monday, August 22, 2011
Janmashtami Mubarak - Lord Krishna's birthday
Celebration of Janmashtami is honoring the man who gave us so much wisdom in Bhagvad Gita. The book is an encapsulation of Krishna’s advice to Arjuna when he goes through different phases of thoughts and actions. It is one of the best self improvment books to read. Today is Janmashtami, the celebration of Sri Krishna’s birthday, the Hare Krishna devotees prefer to call it appearance of Prabhu rather than birthday celebrations.
Perhaps it comes from the conversation in the Bhagvad Gita, ‘Whenever the balance of the universe is disturbed by external interference from any of its parts, then I reveal myself as the Power of eternal balancing. For the protection of those who are in harmony, and the rectification of everything disharmonious, I incarnate myself at every juncture of time.’ So, it is assumed that the form of God will return back on earth for the establishment of peace, religion and prosperity in society once again when required.
The other version of the same quote is. “Whenever Adharma (un-righteousness) takes root in the society, God will infuse himself and restores the dharma (righteousness) to the society. In other words the operative word is the self balancing mechanism.
Celebration of Janmashtami is honoring the man who gave us so much wisdom in Bhagvad Gita. The book is an encapsulation of Krishna’s advice to Arjuna when he goes through different phases of thoughts and actions. It is one of the best self analysis books to read.
Indeed, my life is greatly influenced and affected by one single verse from Bhagvad Gita “finding the truth is one’s own responsibility”. I owe my critical thinking to this verse and I owe my return to Islam to this verse, it is very dear to me and there is not a week that goes by without quoting this truth in one context or the other. As I am writing this, I recall the famous couplet from a song by Sahir Ludhanavi in Urdu/Hindi language;
Quraan no ho jis may o dharam tera nahin hai
Gita na ho jis may o haram tera nahin hai
Your religiosity and your righteousness in incomplete without Quraan
and most certainly your worship place is incomplete without Gita.
It is one of the most powerful interfaith couplets I have read and often think about it and sing that song. India has a long history of Pluralism and diversity. It is one of the oldest nations on the earth that has welcomed every one that was persecuted elsewhere; and those who found the freedom to be themselves such as Jews, Christians, Muslims, Zoroastrians and others, besides giving birth to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism an Sikhism, it is indeed home to one of the top five Bahai shrines in the world.
If you are a good Hindu, then you are automatically a good Muslim, good Bahai or a good Christian, if you are a good Jew then you automatically are a good Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Wicca or a Zoroastrian or a follower of the native traditions. Essentially religion and the rituals lift you up to become boundless, universal and God like; where distinctions of color, religion, ethnicity and race fade. You feel a sense of relief and freedom. Bhagavad Gita says, the whole world is one family, just as every religious text calls out loud to be one universse and one world.
Perhaps this is what Krishna meant, “Surrender to me” and Jesus meant, “Follow me” and the Quraan asks to "submit to the will of God". Urging and goading us to become like God, to be free to be a part of the ocean and yet have out unique identity as a human, as a follower of one tradition or the other, live in one geographical zone or the other and born with one skin color or the other.
The other Sholoka Shri DD Maini shares with me frequently is - do your work, and don't look for the fruit. kaam kiye ja kiye ja... something very reflective of Buddha’s teachings.
When I was a baby, I was dressed up as Krishna and a matka (clay pot) with Makhan (butter) was placed in front me and apparently I did just like Sri Krishna did with the Makhan; ate it. My pictures were in many homes, I have to go find them... after 58 years!
I visited Brindavan, the birth place of Sri Krishna, it was very inspiring to think about the man who changed so many lives, and I was privileged to see that place where he was born. Sri Krishna is one my mentors and inspirations in life and I hope to learn a lot from reading about him.
Indeed, one of the best teachers in Bhagvad Gita in Dallas is Swami Nityananda Prabhu at the Hare Krishna Temple. He shares the Pluralistic vision of the Sri Krishna. He and I reviewed the whole Bhagvad Gita on my radio show in about two plus years every Thursday of the week, where we learned the wisdom of a religion, every beautiful religion, every day in the morning.
In Brindavan, I bought several tapes but still could not find the original song... . I was frustrated because I could not find the song by Rafi and Lata and instead had to be content with Sonu’s copies. After walking all over Brindavan, I found it.
Here it is on you tube my favorite Janmashtami Song
Murli Wale Murli Baja Suraiya in Dillagi
Kanha Kanha aan padi my tere paas
Radha kaisay na Jale
Tere Bharosay ai nand lala
Govinda Bolo Hari Gopala Bolo – my 2nd favorite
More Songs at the end.......................................................
God in Quraan has said that he has sent a messenger to every nation, every community and tribe to restore righteousness in that society. I am pleased to pay my respects to one of my mentors Sri Krishna today. I continue to learn and emulate a fraction of wisdom from Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Nanak in particular and many in General including Bahaullah, Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aga Khan, Rev. Moon and Obama. No confusion, I am a Muslim and I do not worship any one except the invisible, formless creative cosmic energy called God by different names.
Please go get yourselves a copy of Bhagvad Gita by Chinmaya Mission or the Hare Krishna temple and a copy of the Quraan, translated by Mohammad Asad..and if you have the money to buy the Torah, Bible, Gurugranth Sahib, the Kitab al-Muqaddas and other holy books. it is a gift to yourselves to enrich with the spiritualiy. Read the books as God's guidance for us to live in harmony, honoring the uniqueness of each other. All the books are pluralistic, have the mind set to see it.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, religion, Islam and India and is a frequent guest on the media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. His work is expressed in 22 blogs and 3 websites listed at www.MikeGhouse.net
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Note: This article is a compilation from various sources including the Bhagvad Gita
Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna in the battle of Mahabharata and contains all that is knowable in whole cosmos and particularly as a human being. The knower of Bhagavad Gita becomes omniscient. One gains enlightenment and finally salvation Moksha in Hinduism. It is one of the best self help books.From the very first verse to the the 700th verse, Bhagavad Gita teaches one the true essence meaning of life. The knower of Bhagwad Gita becomes an enlightened being. Prophet Muhammad had suggested metaphorically, if you want to learn and improve on your life go farther.The content of the Gita is the conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna taking place on the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra war. Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma about fighting his own cousins, Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu theology and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. During the discourse, Lord Krishna reveals His identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Svayam Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of His divine universal form.
The direct audience to Lord Krishna’s discourse of the Bhagawata Gita included Arjuna (addressee), Sanjay (using Divya Drishti gifted by Rishi Veda Vyasa) and Lord Hanuman (perched atop Arjuna’s chariot) and Barbarika, son of Ghatotghaj who also witnessed the complete 18 days of action at Kurukhsetra.
Historians calculate that the birth of Lord Krishna goes back to the Dwapar Yug. It is in the year of Visvavasu around 3227 BC when Lord Krishna was born. He was born on a dark, stormy night on the day eight day of the second fortnight of the month of Shravana which now corresponds to the month of August-September in the Gregorian calendar. Born in the prison of Demon Kansa, from Kansa’s sister Devaki and Vasudeva, Krishna was declared to be the savior of mankind and the end of Kansa even before his birth. Krishna, right from the day of birth exhibited that he was a special child and there was extraordinary powers with him. Throughout his childhood and adolescence in Gokul, he did many things which made people believe that he was a form of God. Since then, the people of Nandgaon celebrated the birth of Krishna as a day of fortune.
Even thousands of years after his heavenly abode, people observe this day as a day of fortune and commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna by fasting and feasting. People believe Krishna to be the ultimate savior of the world. One who unlike other gods, can be regarded, as a lover, friend, divine guru or one’s own child. People mesmerized with Krishna’s persona and deeds can be seen singing and dancing in the name of Krishna to eternity on the day of Janmashtami. It is the deep faith and devotion of people towards him that the festival is still celebrated with a great honor, joy as well as elation as it was celebrated thousands of years back.
Krishna Janmashtami Rituals & Traditions
FastingThe most common and essential ritual followed on the day of Janmashtami is the fasting by devotees. Most of Lord Krsihna’s devotees fast for on this day and open the fast at midnight when it is assumed that Lord Krishna has been born. At the time of midnight also, the people who have observed fast whole day prefer to have only milk and milk products as they are considered auspicious as well pure. Some of the ardent devotees of Krishna observe the fast for the entire day even without consuming water- it is called ‘Nirjal Vrat’. There are other devotees who observe two day fast in the honor of Lord Krishna.
ChantingIt is said that chanting Lord Krishna’s name with entire devotion brings immense joy and pleasure in the life of the devotee. So, on the birthday of Lord Krishna, devotees indulge in continuous chanting of Krishna’s name for the entire day. They chant sholkas, mantras, richas from the Veda. They also read Bhagvad Geeta and sing bhajans in the name of Krishna. It is said that chanting 108 names of Lord Krishna brings auspiciousness in one’s life.
Devotional Songs & DancesBhajans are a vital custom of the Janmashtami celebrations. Devotees sing and dance with fervor in the name of Lord Krishna. In many temples of Mathura and Vridavana, you will find devotees mesmerized and overwhelmed with their love and devotion for Shri Krishna. In the midnight celebration, people gather at a place and sing several kinds of bhajans to highlight his feats and his divine characteristics.
Plays On Lord KrishnaVery much like the Ramleela, devotees of Lord Krishna organize plays on the life of Lord Krishna called Krishnaleela. In these plays organized by professional as well as amateur artists, several important deeds and legends associated with Lord Krishna are staged.
Offering SweetsIt is known to everybody that Lord Krishna was extremely fond of sweets and dairy products. So on the day of Krishnashtami, devotees of Lord Krishna prepare umpteen varieties of sweets and dairy products and offer them to the idols of Krishna. This ritual is called ‘bhog’. Later, these sweets are distributed amongst the devotees as ‘ Prasada’.
Swings At many places in the country, devotees tie swings on the trees and take rides on that. It is said that taking a swing ride on the occasion of Janmashtami is considered auspicious. This ritual is extremely popular in the rural parts of the country.
Radha Na Bole Na Bole Re - Azaad
Mere Shyam Tera Naam
radhike tune bansari
Darshan Do Ghanshyam Nath
madhuban mein radhika nache re
Man Tarpat Hari Darsan ko Aaj
Baat Nihare Ghanshyam
Kanha too ne peer na janany
Gokul ko choray gaye ghanshyam