Today we are celebrating the appearance day of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa appeared 5237 years ago. That makes the birthday of Kṛṣṇa the oldest celebrated religious festival in human history. Not only is it the oldest, but it is the original basis of many religious stories told in Buddhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and many other different religions around the world. The first story of God coming on this earth is the story of Kṛṣṇa. We have that story of Kṛṣṇa because it was recorded in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5000 years ago. There is also another book, written around the same time called the Hari-vaṁśa. The spiritual knowledge and wisdom around Kṛṣṇa is explained in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. But there are many little details, because Kṛṣṇa did not come alone. When God appears in this world, He comes with His brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, His whole dynasty, many friends – He brings His whole village. The details of all that are in the book Hari-vaṁśa. There are so many details of Kṛṣṇa – what food He likes, what clothes He likes to wear, what musical instruments He plays, what battles He fought, what language He speaks. That is the first question – when God came to this world, what language did He speak? He appeared in India, but in India there are many languages. The answer is that He spoke your language! Whatever language you spoke, that’s the one He spoke. He even spoke the language of the animals. Kṛṣṇa had many pets – cows, deer, and horses, even dogs – and He could speak to all of them in their own language. So many of these details are in the book Hari-vaṁśa and today we will discuss some of those details.
I am not here today to convince you that Kṛṣṇa is God. You may need to know more about why we say that Kṛṣṇa is God, but today I am not going to discuss those things. We are going to talk about some of the details such as who was Kṛṣṇa’s mother, who was Kṛṣṇa’s father etc. But the details are complicated. I can barely keep up with my own family – what to say of Kṛṣṇa’s? Kṛṣṇa’s family is very complex.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that Kṛṣṇa comes whenever there is a decline in religious principles. He comes in every age (yuge yuge). Kṛṣṇa is known as a great actor, like in a drama, so when Kṛṣṇa comes He often comes in various disguises. He doesn’t always come as the original Kṛṣṇa – He comes as avatāras. Sometimes Kṛṣṇa shows His full power, and sometimes He only shows a part of His power. Whenever Kṛṣṇa comes in human society, He has a mother and a father. He selects who will be His mother and who will be His father from His devotees. But the interesting part of the story is that Kṛṣṇa has an original mother and father also. The original mother and father of Kṛṣṇa are known as Yaśodā and Nanda. So, 5237 years ago Kṛṣṇa appeared in this world with Yaśodā and Nanda as His parents. But at the very same moment, He accepted another mother and father known as Vasudeva and Devakī. Generally the story is simplified and we are told that Kṛṣṇa was born with one mother and one father, but that is not the detailed story. Kṛṣṇa appeared in the village of Vṛndāvana and His mother was Yaśodā and at the exact same moment, Kṛṣṇa appeared in Mathurā and His mother was Devakī. The Kṛṣṇa born in Vṛndāvana is known as Svayam Bhagavān – the original Kṛṣṇa. The Kṛṣṇa that appeared in Mathurā is Viṣṇu. The most striking difference between Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu is that Kṛṣṇa is dvi-bhuja (two handed) and Viṣṇu is catur-bhuja (four handed). There are also other forms of God and if we see them, we will run away in fear. But those who see Kṛṣṇa, the original beautiful form of God, runs towards Kṛṣṇa in love. Kṛṣṇa is the most lovable object in our life.
Yaśodā and Nanda are always the mother and father of Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa comes to this world, He sends His mother and father first and they are born. Then, when the time is perfect, Kṛṣṇa appears from His mother, just like the sun rising out of the ocean. His birth is a miracle. When this happened over 5000 years ago, this story spread all over the world. That story entered different cultures and different religions and thus you will find in different places around the world the story of God appearing on this earth. But His birth is a miracle. We must understand that we are born in a certain way, but Kṛṣṇa is born differently. We are born due to our karma, but Kṛṣṇa does not come due to karma. He simply appears. Then the dream begins and Kṛṣṇa’s mother thinks, “Oh, I have given birth to this baby.” When Kṛṣṇa came in this way to Mother Yaśodā, He also brought His sister at the same time. Mother Yaśodā then fell asleep and everyone in the house also slept, and in the bed with Yaśodā was baby Kṛṣṇa and a baby girl.
Now in Mathurā, a big drama had been going on for a long time. Vasudeva and Devakī had been put in prison by Kaṁsa and they had been there for many years. Whenever any children were born to them in prison, Kaṁsa would come and kill the baby immediately. Devakī was the sister of Kaṁsa. The reason Devakī and Vasudeva were in prison was because of this – on the day of Devakī’s marriage to Vasudeva, Kaṁsa put his sister and her husband into his chariot to take them to their new home. Suddenly there was a sound from the skies. A great voice declared, “Kaṁsa, you are such a fool! You are proudly driving the chariot with your sister, but her eighth son is going to kill you!”
Now Kaṁsa was not a good man. He was a thousand times worse than today’s politicians! He was greedy, evil and violent. He was an asura – a demon. When Kaṁsa heard this voice, he was shocked. He grabbed his sister’s hair, pulled out his sword and attempted to cut off her head. He was thinking that, “If I kill my sister, she will have no children, then there is no chance of her eighth son killing me.” But Vasudeva immediately grabbed him, “What are you doing? Would you kill your own sister? People will wonder what type of man you are! You will get such a poor reputation. “
It was a very critical situation with Kaṁsa, so finally Vasudeva said, “You don’t have to worry about her. When any children are born, I will bring them to you immediately and you can kill them.” Vasudeva spoke many flattering words to Kaṁsa to cool his anger and he made this very extreme promise.
After a year had passes, Devakī gave birth to a son and Vasudeva brought the baby to Kaṁsa but he told him, “This is the first baby, but your problem is with the eighth child.” So Kaṁsa agreed and let them keep their son. But then a very strange thing happened – it was already strange but it’s going to get stranger! Nārada Muni came to see Kaṁsa and Nārada thought, “This king is so evil and he is already causing so much suffering to innocent people. We need to speed up his karma!” It was also said that the eighth son would be Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa had killed Kaṁsa in a previous life. Kaṁsa’s name in his previous birth was Kālanemi. Nārada Muni told him that, “The eighth son will be Kṛṣṇa, your old enemy, and He will kill you. But you can’t trust Kṛṣṇa – He may come as the second son, or the third. It’s better you kill all the children.”
Actually, nothing happens by accident. Even an accident is ultimately not an accident. Life is complicated and it involves previous lifetimes. You have things in this world because you have an education and you work, but that is not everything. You have things because of what you did in a previous life, in ten previous lives, in one hundred previous lives. This life is complicated.
After talking to Nārada, Kaṁsa arrested his sister and her husband and put them in prison. Every year, as children were born, he killed them in the prison. If we examine the story at this point, it is clear that Kaṁsa is evil. But a saint was the one who gave the suggestion to him to kill all the children! So the question arises, who were these poor children? Why were they killed What was their karma?
When Kaṁsa was Kālanemi in his previous birth, the children of Devakī that he was killing were his own sons. Their grandfather was Hiraṇyakaśipu, one of the greatest demons ever known in the universe. He cursed his own grandsons that they would take birth and they would be killed in that way. This is the family business of demons – they don’t even have good wishes for their own children. So these first six children were previously the six sons of Kālanemi and Kaṁsa killed them all. He was killing his own children.
Then the seventh son appeared. This was Kṛṣṇa’s brother, Balarāma. In India Balarāma is very famous. He is also known as Saṅkarṣaṇa. Ananta is His expansion. But Kṛṣṇa told Yogamāyā, the spiritual power of Kṛṣṇa who helps create the līlā of Kṛṣṇa, “Take My brother to Vṛndāvana before He is born, so that He does not have to face Kaṁsa.” Everyone in the prison thought that Devakī had had a miscarriage. The next year, on this day, on the lunar calendar, Kṛṣṇa appeared in two places at the same time. He came to Mother Yaśodā as a baby with two arms, and with His sister. In Mathurā, at the same moment, Kṛṣṇa also appeared as Viṣṇu with four arms.
In Vṛndāvana, after seeing Kṛṣṇa, Yaśodā slept. But in Mathurā, Vasudeva and Devakī didn’t sleep. They understood that, “Bhagavān has become our son!” Vasudeva and Devakī offered prayers in glorification of the Lord. If we study those prayers, we can clearly understand who is God. If we understand who is God, we will automatically understand who is not God! We will immediately broom out so many bogus bhagavāns.
After hearing their prayers, Viṣṇu took the form of baby Kṛṣṇa. At that moment, everybody in the world slept. Nobody was awake. When you have had a successful day, you are able to have a good sleep. When God appears on the earth, everyone has a good sleep, even the demons. At that time, all the locks on the prison door opened and Vasudeva picked up baby Kṛṣṇa and walked out of the prison. It was flood season and he came to the river Yamuna which parted and Vasudeva and Kṛṣṇa crossed the river. He then came to the village where Yaśodā and Nanda lived. Generally we call that whole area as Vṛndāvana, but that village is actually known as Gokula. Vasudeva entered that house, the door opened and he saw Mother Yaśodā sleeping. He saw one little baby girl and he picked her up and replaced her with Kṛṣṇa. Then he crossed the Yamunā, returned to Mathurā, entered the prison and immediately the all doors closed again.
So now there are two Kṛṣṇas in the bed with Yaśodā. The viṣṇu-avatāra from Mathurā entered into the body of the original Kṛṣṇa and they became one. Then at that moment, everyone in the house woke up, heard the baby crying and they all came running to see. For a moment, Mother Yaśodā thought, “Where is the girl?” because she remembered that there were twins – a boy and a girl. But when she saw the beauty of Kṛṣṇa, she forgot about everything and thought that it must have all been a dream.
Meanwhile, in Mathurā, that baby girl began to cry and everybody woke up. The guards heard the crying and ran to Kaṁsa to tell him that the eighth child had been born. When Kaṁsa entered, Devakī told him, “This is your niece. Please don’t kill this girl. You are in danger from a boy – the eighth son was supposed to kill you. This is a girl.” But no – he pushed them down, grabbed the baby by the feet and he prepared to smash her head on the wall. Suddenly, that baby slipped out of the hand of Kaṁsa, stood in the sky and took the form of Goddess Durgā with sixteen arms holding many weapons. This goddess has many names – Durgā, Bhadrā, Bhadra-Kālī – she has many names. She chastised Kaṁsa, “You are a bigger fool than we thought! The one who has been born to kill you has already appeared!” Then she disappeared into the sky. Kaṁsa had killed the six sons of Devakī who were previously his own sons, but this could not change his destiny. The will of God is above everything. He had done many horrible things, but he had changed nothing.
Kaṁsa then apologised to his sister and brother-in-law and allowed them to leave the prison and return home. Some time later, Kaṁsa’s associates came to him and told him that Vasudeva and Devakī were not to be trusted. They suggested that they should be imprisoned again and all the children in the whole kingdom up to ten years old should be killed. Anybody here who knows the Jesus story will immediately remember the same thing happened in Judea. The only difference is that this is the original story. The other is a duplicate.
So due to bad company, Kaṁsa arrested his sister and her husband again and put them in prison for sixteen years. Then he started a campaign to kill all the children. For this program he employed one friend named Pūtanā. She came to poison Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa killed her and saved all the children in the whole kingdom. But when Pūtanā was killed, at once Kaṁsa knew where Kṛṣṇa was. He didn’t need to kill any more children. For sixteen years Kaṁsa sent powerful demons with magic powers to kill Kṛṣṇa, but one by one, Kṛṣṇa killed them all. After sixteen years, Kṛṣṇa came to know about His other mother and father being locked up in prison by Kaṁsa, so He went to Mathurā. There, He fought with elephants and wrestlers and finally He fought with Kaṁsa, and with His left hand He hit Kaṁsa and killed him. Then He set His mother and father free.
These activities are known as kṛṣṇa-līlā and by hearing kṛṣṇa-līlā we can be freed from karma. This means we can be freed from suffering. All of you today have come from your homes; some of you have even come from a different country to this place. This means that you have an original place – Kṛṣṇa also has an original place.
Kṛṣṇa says that He is God and He shows it – not once or twice, but many, many times by His knowledge, His activities, by His power, by every means He proves that He is God. But nowadays, particularly in India over the last fifty years or so, like to imitate Kṛṣṇa. They like to say that they are God. Then we read in the newspapers that such-and-such bhagavān went to hospital. If we go to hospital, then that is alright – we are humans so we may have to go to hospital. But in India, God goes to hospital! Then they will say that, “That is his līlā!” What fool wants to go to a hospital? Nobody!
It should also be noted that Kṛṣṇa was on this earth for 125 years. Sixteen years He was in Vṛndāvana and that is known as His līlā of youth. Vṛndāvana is known as the original home of Kṛṣṇa, and that eternal home of Kṛṣṇa is beyond our temporary time/space reality. One of the characteristics of God is that He doesn’t grow old. Have you ever seen a picture of Kṛṣṇa as an old man? He is nava-yauvana – ever youthful. This year I went to the Vatican and I saw pictures of ‘God’ there. He had white hair, a big white beard and wrinkled skin. Now what if you were God? Would you like to be old or young? It is obvious – we would want to be youthful. There are many ideas of God, but the original idea is Kṛṣṇa and He is always youthful, He is never old. And when God wants to remove your sin, He just does it. He doesn’t have to die or suffer to do it. At Kuruksetra, Kṛṣṇa was 55, but when he is with Arjuna at Kuruksetra He looks like a sixteen-year-old boy. He has no moustache or beard because He never grows old.
These are some of the wonderful aspects of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa Bhagavān ki jaya!