Krishna took birth at midnight, the darkest hour, to fill our lives with the transcendental light of divinity. There were also huge rains and storms during Krishna’s appearance. This is to signify that Krishna can give us shelter from the torrential rain of miseries that storm our lives unexpectedly. His birth in a prison cell amidst chains and shackles signifies His compassion on us by awarding us the freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Krishna also appeared in the city of Mathura, the abode of evil Kamsa who was motivated by greed, hate and envy. Krishna took birth in this city to release us from these negativities, and to fill our hearts with the rich experience of love of God.
Amongst the various pastimes that Lord Krishna performed during His earthly sojourn is His delivering a fruit vendor. A fruit seller came to Vrindavan, and being attracted by little Krishna’s exquisite beauty, offered her fruits to Him. With His tiny hands, Krishna accepted the fruits but not before dropping a few grains on her fruit basket. Lo and behold, her basket was instantly filled with priceless jewels. These were not ordinary jewles; they represent the priceless jewel of love of God. If we offer to God our work and its results, for His pleasure, our own hearts get filled with the rich treasure of pure love. Arjuna was a classic example of a warrior who had his duties to perform but he did them in the spirit of service to please the Lord. Ironically Duryodhana too fought the same war but the difference was in his consciousness; Arjuna was motivated by service to Krishna, and Duryodhana by envy. Therefore while Duryodhana lost the grace of Lord, Arjuna came closer to liberation and love.
Although Krishna appeared 5000 years ago, He appears even today wherever there is chanting of His Holy Names, for in this day and age, the Supreme Lord appears in the form of his Name. When we chant Hare Krishna, we experience the light of divinity; we experience shelter in this stormy material world and we also experience freedom from the shackles of anxieties caused by hate. Krishna then fills the basket of our heart with love.
Therefore Janmashtami is not only an occasion to remember what happened 5000 years ago but it’s also an opportunity to transform our lives now by taking shelter of Krishna who has mercifully appeared as His Holy Names. This descent of Krishna in our heart takes places particularly when we hear and chant Krishna’s Holy Names in the association of other sincere devotees of Lord Krishna. On this day let us fill our hearts with rich Krishna consciousness and offer our lives for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord and His loving devotees.