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Janmasthami – offering our love to God of love

By Radhanath Swami Maharaj

Janmasthami is a holy festival commemorating the appearance of Lord Krishna. It falls on the eighth day of dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada (August – September). It is celebrated from Govardhan, Vrindavan and Mathura in north to Guruvayur and Udupi in south and Maharashtra in north to Manipur in east. It is also being celebrated across USA, UK, Russia and Australia. People from all age groups from toddlers to old people take part in the celebration. The celebration consists of holy bathing and worshipping the deity form of Krishna and offering various foodstuffs, hearing narrations of pastimes of Krishna from Bhagvata Purana and enacting those pastimes depicting Krishna’s love towards his devotees through dance and drama.   

Love is a prominent theme across several aspects of life. Love or romance is an essential ingredient practically in every cinema, music and novel. The whole advertisement industry and cosmetic industry capitalize on this, to say nothing of the entertainment and media industry. On one side, there is lot of hype and hope for happiness through love and unfortunately on the other side, there is horror.

Love is the third most common cause for murders in India. It is said for US, that half of the first marriages end in divorce. Love can be fatal. Love can fail. The problem is not with love but wrong understanding of love. Love actually refers to a relationship centered on the selfless service and affection to the beloved. In this world, love generally gets tinged or dominated by a selfish desire to enjoy at the cost of beloved. The appropriate term to designate that emotion is lust. Lust naturally leads to entitlement, differences and pride which result in crime and separation. Cupid or Madan is the god of lust – an attraction based on sensuality and selfishness. Inherently lust cannot make one happy but love can.

Can we find true love in this world? It is possible but it will be limited by many factors. A typical mother’s love for a child is considered to be a glimpse of pure love. In our worldly existence, the means to express and experience love are our body, mind and intelligence. Body is obviously limited by hunger, thirst and sleep. Mind and intelligence are also limited by their scope of consciousness and comprehension. The love in this world will have a beginning and an end. Real happiness can only be experienced through love that is beyond this world. Both the means of love and the object of love has to be beyond this world. According to Bhagavad Gita, this is only possible in relationship with God. We, in essence are spiritual beings (BG 2.13). God is spiritual. The relationship formed is transcendental to limitations and influence of this world. The process of developing a loving relationship with God is Bhakti-yoga.

God has several manifestations Vishnu (the maintainer of universe), Narayana (the four-handed form), Rama (the king of Ayodhya) and Krishna (the darling of Vrindavan). Of all these manifestations, Krishna has special significance. Krishna relates with and reciprocates with all types of devotional attitudes. One can approach Krishna in the mood of an admirer, personal servant, friend, parent and a conjugal lover which is not much possible in case of others. While reciprocating with his devotees, Krishna also completely forgoes his majesty and manifests only his sweetness like the way a prime minister behaves with his family members. In that way Krishna is truly God of love.

This Janmashtami Let us establish our relationship with Krishna and express our love through chanting his names “ Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare . Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare” and studying about him from Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita and experience real and eternal bliss.

(The author is the Spiritual Guru of International Society for Krishna Consciousness)

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