Tag Archives: srimad bhagavatam

Getting the Most From Shri Krishna Janmashtami

janmashtami1Sri Krishna Janmashtami is the appearance anniversary of Krishna, the Supreme Person. He’s not “born” like we are—He comes and goes as He likes—but He appears here to please His devotees, rid the earth of evildoers, and give the rest of us something worthwhile to talk about.

His pastime of janma, birth, occurred on the ashtami, eighth day of the waning moon in the lunar month of Hrishikesh. Janmashtami is one of the world’s biggest spiritual festivals, and is observed by followers of many faiths. For Krishna devotees, Janmashtami is a day of non-stop chanting, cooking, worship of Krishna in His Deity form, and fasting until midnight, when a grand feast is served.
janmashtami2The Tenth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam describes the events leading up to and including Krishna’s appearance on earth. Srila Prabhupada encouraged his disciples to read about Krishna’s pastimes in the Bhagavatam, cook a feast for Krishna’s pleasure, and chant Hare Krishna all day and into the night each year on Janmashtami.

For those are very serious about advancing in Krsna Consciousness the day of Janmashtami is much more than a ritualistic celebration that we celebrate each year. Here are a few tips for elevating our Janmashtami from the ritual level to the spiritual level.

Fasting

Srila Prabhupada writes in Bhagavad Gita that one’s determination in Krishna Conscoiousness is marked by the effort to keep fast on days like Janmashtami and Ekadasi. Fasting has two sides, one positive and one negative. The negative is that we should not eat or drink for the entire day until midnight, and then to break the fast with Ekadasi prasadam. If we are unable to do that, water is permissible and in extreme circumstances one may take some fruit if he is unable to keep the fast. This fasting helps us the control the demands of the body and allows us to focus on the positive side of fasting which is the increase the level of our spiritual practices like hearing and chanting. Any serious devotee MUST make the effort to keep fast on the day of Janmashtami.

Chanting Japa

chanting-japaKrishna is non-different from His Name, therefore an excellent way to celebrate Janmashtami is to immerse ourselves in quality japa. We can gain so much spiritual benefit from chanting japa on days like Janmashtami. Initiated members of our organisation chant a minumum of 16 rounds of Hare Krishna japa each day, but if you are not initiated as yet you can try to chant 16 or any number you can. And if you are really adventurous you can try to chant with a vow of 64 rounds of japa. Either way chanting is a super way to boost the level of your Janmashtami celebration.

Reading Srimad Bhagavatam or Krishna Book

bhagavatam_bigSrila Rupa Goswami writes in his Nectar of Devotion that there are five most potent forms of devotional service, one of which is to read Srimad Bhagavatam. Krishna’s pastimes are specifically described in the 10th Canto and the details of His appearance are described in the first 3 chapters. When read with Srila Prabhupada’s commentary these chapters unlock very deep meaning and insight into the Lord’s Appearance and the way we can apply it in our own lives and practise. The same can also be read in the Krishna Book which is Srila Prabhupada’s summary study of the Bhagavatam’s 10th Canto.

Attend the Program at an ISKCON Temple near you.

DSC02617The central focus of ISKCON Temples is the worship of Krishna. In fact every day is like Janmashtami for us. But, on Janmashtami every service is done at the temple as if its on steroids. All the stops are pulled out and no holds are barred. The decorations are out of this world, the deities are dressed so impressive that one gets the experience that “YES……Here IS Krishna!”, the kirtan is soul stirring, the prasadam tastes even more amazing (at the time of breaking fast it’s even more sweet), and the atmosphere is surcharged with Krishna Bhakti (devotion of Krishna). Everyone is welcome to take part in our celebration; come and chant, hear krishna katha, take part in the worship of the deity of Radha and Krishna and sit and talk about Krishna with the devotees. It can be a life altering experience.

Listening to Lectures about the Appearance of the Lord

In today’s world almost everything is available on the internet. ISKCON Desire Tree has a MASSIVE catalog of lectures and classes give by Srila Prabhupada and many of his disciples and grand-disciples on the Appearance Day of the Lord. Visit them and spend some time hearing about the pastimes of the Lord from the devotees and if our mood is right we can feel the inner stirring to increase the depth of our spiritual practise.

These are just some suggestions to make the best of your Janmasthami festival and can actually be applied to any special day. We hope this Janmashtami proved to be a revolution in your spiritual journey. Drop us a line to let us know what you did to make this Jamnashtami more special for you or to share any special experience you had.

Guru Purnima

vyasa3This event really is directed towards Srila Vyasadeva, thus in some sampradayas they refer to Guru Purnima as Vyasa Purnima. Traditionally it is the day when the guru is worshiped.

In the book Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India (Shakti M Gupta. 1991. Clarion books. page 88-89.) It says: Guru Purnima “……is observed on the full moon day in the month of Ashadha in honour of the sage Vyasa, by keeping a fast, worshiping him for His blessings and to gain wisdom. Formerly on this day, gurus who were the traditional teachers, were honored by their pupils.

The river Beas is believed to have been so named as Vyasa practiced penance on its banks and compiled the four Vedas, the Mahabharat and the Eighteen Purana there. Since it is not possible for one man to have compiled so much in his life-time, and oer a tim span of a hundred years, it is believed that the name Vyasa must have been applied to many sages. Generally speaking, the name Veda Vyasa is applied to Krishna Dwaipayana who was the son of Satyavati and the sage Parasa – this is before Satyavati married King Shantanu of Mahabharata fame.”

Some Brief Information About Srila Vyasadeva:

“When the second millenium (‘Dwarpa Yuga’) overlapped the third (‘Treta Yuga’), the great sage Srila Vyasadeva was born to Parasara Muni in the womb of Satyati, the daughter of Vasu (the fisherman).” (Srimad Bhagavatam 1:4:14.).

The following is the story that we just touched upon mentioning how Srila Vyasa came to make His appearance.

“He is known as Krsna, Krsna-dvaipayana, Dvaipayana, Satyavati-suta, Parasarya, Parasaratmaja, Badarayana, Vedavyasa, etc. He was the son of Mahamuni Parasara in the womb of Satyavati prior to her betrothal with Maharaja Santanu, the father of the great general Grandfather Bhismadeva. He is a powerful incarnation of Narayana, and he broadcasts the Vedic wisdom to the world. As such, Vyasadeva is offered respects before one chants the Vedic literature, especially the Puranas. Sukadeva Gosvami was his son, and rsis like Vaisampayana were his disciples for different branches of the Vedas. He is the author of the great epic Mahabharata and the great transcendental literature Bhagavatam. The Brahma-sutras — the Vedanta-sutras, or Badarayana-sutras — were compiled by him. Amongst sages he is the most respected author by dint of severe penances. When he wanted to record the great epic Mahabharata for the welfare of all people in the age of Kali, he was feeling the necessity of a powerful writer who could take up his dictation. By the order of Brahmaji, Sri Ganesaji took up the charge of noting down the dictation on the condition that Vyasadeva would not stop dictation for a moment. The Mahabharata was thus compiled by the joint endeavor of Vyasa and Ganesa.

By the order of his mother, Satyavati, who was later married to Maharaja Santanu, and by the request of Bhismadeva, the eldest son of Maharaja Santanu by his first wife, the Ganges, he begot three brilliant sons, whose names are Dhrtarastra, Pandu and Vidura. The Mahabharata was compiled by Vyasadeva after the Battle of Kuruksetra and after the death of all the heroes of Mahabharata. It was first spoken in the royal assembly of Maharaja Janamejaya, the son of Maharaja Pariksit.” (SB 1.9.6-7 Purport)

Back to Godhead - Volume 10, Number 08 - 1975“The great sage, Srila Vyasa who was fully equipped with knowledge, could see through his transcendental vision the deterioration of everything material, due to the influence of the age. He could also see that the faithless people in general would be reduced in duration of life and would be impatient due to lack of goodness. Then he contemplated for the welfare of men in all statuses and orders of life. He saw that the sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas were means by which people’s occupations could be purified, and to simplify the process, he divided the one Veda into four, in order to expand them among men. The four divisions of the original sources of knowledge (the Vedas) were made separately, but historical facts and authentic stories mentioned in the Puranas are called the fifth Veda.”(Srimad Bhagavatam 1:4:17-20.).

How to Observe Guru Purnima

Traditionally in hindu culture there is puja and worship performed on this day because this day is also used to commemorate one’s own guru. However, Srila Prabhupada has given us a very practical way to worship the guru and Srila Vyasadeva as well.

1. Chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. Srila Vyasadeva has written in Srimad Bhagavatam:

“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is full of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.” (SB 12.3.51)

We can all take part in the chanting of Hare Krishna on beads and in groups and it doesn’t cost us anything, only a little time and having the will to do it. However, the benefits are unlimited!

2. Reading Srimad Bhagavatam and other literature presented by Srila Vyasadeva. Our ISKCON is the world’s leading publisher of books based on the ancient Vedas of India and these books are very accessible to everyone either in print or electronically. Therefore we should spend some time reading books like Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita and also apply that knowledge in our lives in a practical way.