23–24 August 2019 at The Ashram
Shree Peetha Nilaya
Krishna Janmashtami this year was celebrated on 23–24 August 2019, at Shree Peetha Nilaya in the presence of Paramahamsa Vishwananda.
The weekend was filled with Vedic prayers, a theatre play, Bhakti Marga Academy classes, devotional music, and so much more, filling everyone's hearts with the inspiration of Radha and Krishna's pastimes.
Krishna Janmashtami celebrates the birthday (which we more accurately call the 'Appearance Day') of Sri Krishna, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord Narayana and the embodiment of Prem: unconditional Divine Love. Krishna's Leelas show us all the different ways one can enjoy and experience a loving relationship with the Divine. By remembering His naughty adventures of stealing butter and hearts as a young child, His skilful leadership as a king, and His timeless wisdom shared in the Bhagavad Gita, we can learn so much from His life. Everything He says and does illuminates the Bhakti path, and shows humanity that through Love one can attain the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord.
Friday night's grand celebrations started with a theatre play performed by residents of The Ashram, showcasing a selection of Sri Krishna Leelas.
Sri Krishna of Vrindavan: The Stealer of Hearts
The play illustrated the playful pranks of Krishna, the Leela of the Lord eating mud, and the extreme devotion of Lord Krishna's beloved bhakta, Lord Shiva, as Gopeshwara.
Playful Pranks with the Gopas
Krishna was the joy of the gopas and the gopis of Gokul. From the moment they woke until they fell asleep, their minds would think of Krishna. Every moment rotated around Him no matter if they were attending to their household chores, looking after their children or caring for their cows.
Little Krishna would do anything to make sure that their hearts and minds were only on Him even if it meant to create mischief. Even though the gopis appeared angry at him, they just longed to have a glimpse of the small boy that had stolen their hearts.
Looking at Krishna's behaviour from an outside perspective, one may question why the Lord was creating such havoc and destroying the little that the gopis had. But in reality, He was destroying the ignorance inside His devotees. He didn't even spare His own mother, Yashoda, from this teaching. He showed them that He was the aim of everyone.
Krishna Eats Mud
One day the Lord decided to play another one of His Leelas and eat mud. Balarama was astounded to see his brother eating dirt and tried to convince Him to stop but since He wouldn't listen, Balarama went to fetch Yashoda. In anger, she ordered Him to open His mouth. When He had her full attention, He opened his mouth, and to Yashoda's amazement, she saw the whole world inside His mouth: the sky, the oceans, the mountains, the stars and the galaxies. She even saw herself holding her son, Krishna, in her arms. Yashoda was mesmerised, but at the same time, she was confused. Was it was real, she wondered? But her soul knew the truth.
At that point, the Lord decided it was time to bring her back. With His maya, He removed that vision from Yashoda, and her mind came back to herself. She saw herself as usual in front of her disobedient child, this naughty little Krishna. Even though she wanted to discipline Him, she always melted with just one look of her sweet child.
The Raas Leela
The gopis and gopas lived with Krishna and experienced countless leelas with Him, such as the killing of many demons and the lifting of Govardhan Hill. But one particular leela, the 'Maha Raas', shares the deep relationship between the Atma and the Paramatma, the Absolute, where the Lord Himself dances with the gopis.
As Parvati was eagerly getting ready to attend this secret occasion, open only to women, her husband, Shiva, grew more curious, wondering where his wife could be going without him! When she finally told him that she was going to a dance with Lord Krishna, and that it was open only to matajis, his desire to see the Lord was overwhelming, and he eventually convinced her to disguise him as a gopi so he could come along.
Since Shiva is a great example of bhakti, his mind was constantly meditating on Narayana and nothing else. The sweetness of this Leela shows how much Shiva loved Krishna, and it was this bhakti that the Lord could not resist. So even though he was a man, the Lord permitted him to enter.
Of course, the Lord knew full well who this 'new gopi' really was! Eventually, Lord Shiva's true identity was revealed as he couldn't help but perform the famous 'Tandava' dance, which only he and Krishna knew.
An eventful day continues...
At midnight came the greatly anticipated appearance of Krishna. After that, Gurudev performed abhishekam on Bala Krishna and His personal deities, and everyone came for offerings, blessings and prasad afterwards.
Krishna Yagna and Much More
The dancing and singing lasted until 5 am, and then morning prayers began as usual at 7 am, continuing with a yagna (Vedic fire ceremony) that was especially dedicated to Sri Krishna.
Later Saturday afternoon, the Bhakti Marga Academy hosted a special course 'Krishna Explained' where everyone could learn more about Krishna's pastimes and the deep wisdom that He gave to the world. All around The Ashram one could find devotees sharing stories, their experiences, and enjoying the vegan delights in the Bhajan Cafe on the blissful sunny day.
Procession & Gurudev’s Private Shaligram Temple
With Gurudev's Satsang in the garden and a procession later in the day, Saturday was made even more special by Gurudev giving a Vishnu Padam blessing and by the darshan of Gurudev's shaligrams in His personal temple. He then gave one of these shaligrams (Panduranga) to the SPN Panduranga Mandir for daily care by its pujarinis.
Overall, it was a weekend with beautiful late summer weather, clear skies and perfect temperatures, filled with the joy of bhaktas who cherished the Grace of having Krishna in their midst.