कृष्णजन्माष्टमी- Kŗṣṇajanmāṣṭamī

Kŗṣṇajanmāṣṭamī also popularly known as Kŗṣṇāṣṭamī (कृष्णाष्टमी ) or śrīkŗṣṇajayantī (श्रीकृष्णजयन्ती) celebrates the birth of the eighth incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu (विष्णु). The festival is celebrated on the eighth day (अष्टमी तिथौ) of the dark fortnight (कृष्णपक्षे) in the month of Bhādrapada (भाद्रपद-मासे). The festival is celebrated with great pomp in unique ways all across the country. While in some places the home is decorated with small footprints made of flour in other places, groups of men create pyramids and attempt to break a high-reaching pot of curds. Each of these acts symbolize the various mischevious acts of Lord Kŗṣṇa. In fact, the childhood stories of Kŗṣṇa (meaning "dark", "black" and "all attractive") depict several interesting, engaging and exciting acts of the Lord.

"Kŗṣṇa" means the dark one or the all attractive-one. The stories of Lord Kŗṣṇa are enticing, magical and spiritual. They arouse various emotions in the listener. In addition, they inculcate great devotion.
Kŗṣṇa is believed to be the eighth incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. Out of all the incarnations He is considred a complete incarnation or the "Pūrṇa-avatāra".
The following stories of Kŗṣṇa are taken from the Viṣṇu-purāṇa, Bhāgavatam and Mahābhārata.

Kaṃsa - The Maternal Uncle of Kŗṣṇa

वसुदेवोऽपि तं प्रीतः
           प्रशस्य प्राविशद्गृहम्॥भागवतम् - १०.१.५५॥

vasudevo:'pi taṃ prītaḥ
           praśasya prāviśadgṛham||bhāgavatam - 10.1.55||

Having understood that those words (of Vasudeva) were correct, Kaṃsa refrained from slaying his sister. Even Vasudeva was pleased with Kamsa's calmness. And he entered his own house.

Kaṃsa (कंस) was the King of Mathurā (मथुरा ) - sometimes also referred to as City of Madhurā (मधुरा). He had a sister Devakī (देवकी) whom he loved dearly. After Devakī's marriage, Kaṃsa drove his sister and his brother-in-law Vasudeva (वसुदेव). As he drove the chariot, he heard a voice from heavens that the eighth child of Devakī would kill him. Filled with anger, Kaṃsa took out his sword to kill Devakī. Vasudeva stopped him and said that since it was the eighth child of Devakī that would kill Kaṃsa, he should let his sister free. He promised to hand over their eighth child to Kaṃsa. But, Kaṃsa would not trust them and he imprisoned both Devakī and Vasudeva.

Birth of Kŗṣṇa

नन्द-व्रजं शौरिः उपेत्य तत्र तान्
           गोपान् प्रसुप्तानुपलभ्य निद्रया।
सुतं यशोदाशयने निधाय तत्-
           सुतां उपदाय पुनर्गृहमगात्॥ भागवतम् - १०.३.५१॥

nanda-vrajaṃ śauriḥ upetya tatra tān
           gopān prasuptānupalabhya nidrayā|
sutaṃ yaśodāśayane nidhāya tat-
           sutāṃ upadāya punargṛhamagāt|| bhāgavatam - 10.3.51||

The brave one (Vasudeva) reached the place of Nanda where all the cowherds resided. There he found all those cowherds lying down from sleep.
He placed his son on Yaśodā's bed and taking her daughter he returned to his homes.

At midnight, on the eighth day in the month of śrāvaṇa, Devakī begot her eighth child in the dark prison. It was a stormy night. Vasudeva was shocked to see that the prison doors were open and the guards were fast asleep. Seeking this as a great opportunity, Vasudeva placed the baby in a casket and stealthily walked out of the prison. As he walked by even River Yamunā (यमुना नदी) made way to ensure the baby's safety. Vasudeva crossed the river and reached Gokul. There he left the baby in the home of Nanda (the king of the cowherd community) and Yaśodā.

नवनीत-चोरः (navanīta-coraḥ) - The Butter-Thief

नाहं भक्षितवान् अम्ब
           सर्वे मिथ्याभिशंसिनः।
यदि सत्यगिरस्तर्हि
           समक्षं पश्य मे मुखम्॥भागवतम् - १०.८.३५॥

nāhaṃ bhakṣitavān amba
           sarve mithyābhiśaṃsinaḥ|
yadi satyagirastarhi
           samakṣaṃ paśya me mukham||bhāgavatam - 10.8.35||

O Mother! I did not eat (the butter). They are all false accusations.
If their words were truthful then why don't you check my mouth with your own eyes.

Kŗṣṇa was a very mischevious child. He was very fond of butter and milk. Yaśodā tried to hide the butter jars high up in the ceiling but Kŗṣṇa with his friends would form a human pyramid. Kŗṣṇa would climb on top of his friends and steal the butter. They would also visit the homes of other cowherd women and steal milk and butter when they were not around.
The other cowherd women constantly complained to Yaśodā. Tired of the complaints, Yaśodā got a long rope and tied Kŗṣṇa to a big heavy mortar. Kŗṣṇa dragged the mortar and started to move. The mortar got stuck between two trees. Kŗṣṇa continued to pull the mortar and the two trees fell down with a heavy thud. Hearing the thud everyone came out and were wonderstruck to see the feat of little Kŗṣṇa. The two trees were the cursed sons of Kubera, the God of wealth. They were Maṇigrīva and Nalakubera who were cursed by sage Nārada to become trees. Nārada also predicted that only Kŗṣṇa would be able to liberate them from their sin.
Once, Kŗṣṇa's friends complained to mother Yaśodā that Kŗṣṇa was eating mud. Angered by that, mother Yaśodā asked Kŗṣṇa to open his mouth. To her amazement, Yaśodā saw the entire universe in the mouth of little Kŗṣṇa. Yaśodā realized that Kŗṣṇa was none other than the Almighty himself and hugged her little boy with great love and affection.

कालिय-मर्दनः (kāliya-mardanaḥ) - The slayer of Kāliya

एवं परिभ्रम-हतौजसम् उन्नतांसम्
           आनम्य तत्-पृथु-शिरस्वधिरूढ आद्यः।
           पादाम्बुजोऽखिल-कलादिगुरुर्ननर्त॥भागवतम् १०.१६.२६॥

evaṃ paribhrama-hataujasam unnatāṃsam
           ānamya tat-pṛthu-śirasvadhirūḍha ādyaḥ|
           pādāmbujo:'khila-kalādigururnanarta||bhāgavatam 10.16.26||

In this way having He bent Kāliya's raised shoulders. These shoulders had lost their strength due to the jumping around (by Lord Kṛṣṇa). Kṛṣṇa, the origin of all was ascended on those broad heads.
Lord Kṛṣṇa is the original teacher of all arts. The Lord's lotus-like feet were extremely red because they touched the numerous jewels on the serpent's head. That Lord danced.

Once a huge poisonous black serpent called Kāliya entered the river Yamunā. Kāliya had so much venom that it poisoned all the waters of River Yamunā. The people became afraid and their cows started dying as they drank the waters from the river. Kŗṣṇa decided to teach Kāliya a lesson. He jumped into the river and attacked Kāliya. The serpent was furious and tried to coil around Kŗṣṇa to kill him. But, Kŗṣṇa challenged the serpent, jumped on it and stamped its head till the serpent spat out all the poison. Kāliya begged for forgiveness and promised to leave the river. Kŗṣṇa came out of the river dancing on Kāliya. The people were shocked and rejoiced seeing the amazing feat of little Kŗṣṇa.

गोवर्धन-गिरिधारी (govardhana-giridhārī) - The upholder of Goverdhana Mountain

इत्युक्त्वैकेन हस्तेन
           कृत्वा गोवर्धनाचलम्।
दधार लीलया विष्णुः
           छत्राकम् इव बालकः॥भागवतम् १०.२५.१९॥

ityuktvaikena hastena
           kṛtvā govardhanācalam|
dadhāra līlayā viṣṇuḥ
           chatrākam iva bālakaḥ||bhāgavatam 10.25.19||

Having spoken thus, Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is an incarnation of Viṣṇu, carried the moutain in one hand.
He held it up with ease like a child holding up a mushroom.

Kŗṣṇa was growing up in Vŗndāvan. And the people of Vŗndāvan worshipped Indra, the God of Rain. Kŗṣṇa asked everybody to worship the Goverdhana mountain instead. He said that the mountain supported forests and grass which helped the cows and in turn the livelihood of everybody. So, everyone started to worship Goverdhana. Indra became furious. Using his powers he brought heavy rains in Vŗndāvan. Everybody became afraid. But Kŗṣṇa asked everyone not to fear and said that Goverdhan would help them. Kŗṣṇa lifted the mountain with his little finger. The mountain seemed like a huge umbrella and everybody took shelter there. After seven days, Indra realized his folly and became ashamed. He stopped the rains and went to Kŗṣṇa for forgiveness.

असुरान्तकः (asurāntakaḥ) - The Slayer of Demons

अहो बतास्य बालस्य
           बहवो मृत्यवोऽभवन्।
अप्यासीद्विप्रियं तेषां
           कृत्वा पूर्वं यतो भयम्॥भागवतम् १०.११.५५॥

aho batāsya bālasya
           bahavo mṛtyavo:'bhavan|
apyāsīdvipriyaṃ teṣāṃ
           kṛtvā pūrvaṃ yato bhayam||bhāgavatam 10.11.55||

The cowherd men said - "How strange! Many came to be the cause of death of this boy.
Instead he became their cause of death. The cause of the fear itself was vanquished.

When Kaṃsa learnt that the eighth son of Devakī was still alive he sent many of his demons to find Kŗṣṇa and kill him.
When Kŗṣṇa was still a baby, he sent the queen of the demons, Pūtanā, to kill Kŗṣṇa. Pūtanā took the form of a beautiful maiden and went to Gokul. She had smeared her breast with poison. She offered to carry Kŗṣṇa and feed him milk. As Kŗṣṇa sucked the milk, he sucked her life away too and Pūtanā died.
Another time, Kaṃsa sent a tornado-demon by the name Triṇāvarta to kill Kŗṣṇa. Triṇāvarta created a powerful tornado, filled the whole city with dust and carried away baby Kŗṣṇa. But, Kŗṣṇa makes himself so heavy that Triṇāvarta finds it difficult to carry him and he falls with a huge thud over Gokul and dies.
Aghāsura was angered by the death of his siblings, Pūtanā and Triṇāvarta. He came in the form of a huge terrible serpent. He expanded his mouth from the ocean to the skies. Kŗṣṇa entered the demon's mouth. Aghāsura snapped his mouth. But, Kŗṣṇa expanded his body and choked the serpent. Aghāsura died writhing with pain.
Once a demon named Vatsāsura came to kill Kŗṣṇa disguised as a calf. Vatsāsura thought that as a calf he could hide amongst the other cows and kill Kŗṣṇa. But, Kŗṣṇa saw that the calf looked different from his herd and instantly recognized the demon. He caught Vatsāsura by his hind-legs and the tail, whirled him in the sky and threw him. The demon fell into the lake and died.
Another demon by the name Bakāsura came to kill Kŗṣṇa. Bakāsura arrived in the form of a giant crane. He swooped down and tried to take away Kŗṣṇa. He swallowed Kŗṣṇa but could not bear the radiance of the child. It spit Kŗṣṇa out and tried to kill it with its beak. But, Kŗṣṇa caught Bakāsura by the beak and pulled it apart. Exhausted, Bakāsura fell on the ground and died.

Kŗṣṇa - The Slayer of Kaṃsa

           मृत्युमात्मन आसनात्।
मनस्वी सहसोत्थाय
           जगृहे सोऽसि‍चर्मणी॥भागवतम् १०.४४.३५॥

           mṛtyumātmana āsanāt|
manasvī sahasotthāya
           jagṛhe so:'si-carmaṇī||bhāgavatam 10.44.35||

Seeing Him (Kŗṣṇa) who was the cause of his death, the intelligent Kaṃsa stood up from his seat.
And Kaṃsa grabbed the sword and shield.

After several failed attempts, Kaṃsa decided to kill Kŗṣṇa himself. He sent Akrūra to fetch Kŗṣṇa and Balarāma. The brothers arrived in Mathura. In a wrestling match, Cānūra and Muṣṭika confronted Kŗṣṇa and Balarāma. The brothers defeated the famous wrestlers and killed them. Kaṃsa became furious and drew his sword to kill Kŗṣṇa. Kŗṣṇa jumped on Kaṃsa and fell his crown. He dragged Kaṃsa to the wrestling diaz and struck him with his mighty fist. He struck Kaṃsa over and over again and finally killed him.

Thus are the acts of Kŗṣṇa (Kŗṣṇa-līlā). They are captivating and filled with magic and make the listeners spellbound.



Baby Krishna
Listen to madhurāṣṭakam (sung by Vishwa Krishnamurthy)

Krishna with a Beautiful Face

अधरं मधुरं वदनं मधुरम्
           नयनं मधुरं हसितं मधुरम्।
हृदयं मधुरं गमनं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥१॥

adharaṁ madhuraṁ vadanaṁ madhuram
           nayanaṁ madhuraṁ hasitaṁ madhuram|
hŗdayaṁ madhuraṁ gamanaṁ madhuram
           madhurādhipatērakhilaṁ madhuram||1||

Lips are sweet. The face is sweet.
The eyes are sweet. The smile is sweet.
The heart is sweet. The gait is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Krishna with a Beautiful Movement

वचनं मधुरं चरितं मधुरम्
           वसनं मधुरं वलितं मधुरम्।
चलितं मधुरं भ्रमितं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥२॥

vacanaṃ madhuraṃ caritaṃ madhuram
           vasanaṃ madhuraṃ valitaṃ madhuram
calitaṃ madhuraṃ bhramitaṃ madhuram
           madhurādhipaterakhilaṃ madhuram||2||

The speech is sweet. The character is sweet.
The clothing is sweet. The wrinkles are sweet.
The movement is sweet. The walk is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Krishna with a Beautiful Flute

वेणुर्मधुरो रेणुर्मधुरः
           पाणिर्मधुरः पादौ मधुरौ।
नृत्यं मधुरं सख्यं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥३॥

veṇurmadhuro reṇurmadhuraḥ
           pāṇirmadhuraḥ pādau madhurau|
nṛtyaṃ madhuraṃ sakhyaṃ madhuram
           madhurādhipaterakhilaṃ madhuram||3||

The flute is sweet. The dust is sweet.
The hands are sweet. The two feet are sweet.
The dance is sweet. The friendship is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Krishna with Beautiful Food

गीतं मधुरं पीतं मधुरम्
           भुक्तं मधुरं सुप्तं मधुरम्।
रूपं मधुरं तिलकं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥४॥

gītaṃ madhuraṃ pītaṃ madhuram
           bhuktaṃ madhuraṃ suptaṃ madhuram|
rūpaṃ madhuraṃ tilakaṃ madhuram
           madhurādhipaterakhilaṃ madhuram||4||

The song is sweet. The drink is sweet.
The food is sweet. The sleep is sweet.
The beauty is sweet. The dot on the forehead is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Krishna Stealing Beautifully

करणं मधुरं तरणं मधुरम्
           हरणं मधुरं स्मरणं मधुरम्।
वमितं मधुरं शमितं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥५॥

karaṇaṃ madhuraṃ taraṇaṃ madhuram
           haraṇaṃ madhuraṃ smaraṇaṃ madhuram|
vamitaṃ madhuraṃ śamitaṃ madhuram
           madhurādhipaterakhilaṃ madhuram||5||

The action is sweet. The crossing is sweet.
The stealing is sweet. The remembering is sweet.
The spitting is sweet. The quietitude is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Krishna by the Beautiful Yamuna River

गुंजा मधुरा माला मधुरा
           यमुना मधुरा वीची मधुरा।
सलिलं मधुरं कमलं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥६॥

guṃjā madhurā mālā madhurā
           yamunā madhurā vīcī madhurā|
salilaṃ madhuraṃ kamalaṃ madhuram
           madhurādhipaterakhilaṃ madhuram||6||

The berry is sweet. The garland is sweet.
River Yamunā is sweet. The waves are sweet.
The water is sweet. The lotus is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Krishna with Beautiful Gopis

गोपी मधुरा लीला मधुरा
           युक्तं मधुरं भुक्तं मधुरम्।
दृष्टं मधुरं शिष्टं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥७॥

gopī madhurā līlā madhurā
           yuktaṃ madhuraṃ bhuktaṃ madhuram|
dṛṣṭaṃ madhuraṃ śiṣṭaṃ madhuram
           madhurādhipaterakhilaṃ madhuram||7||

The cowherd women are sweet. The play is sweet.
The association is sweet. The enjoyment is sweet.
The sight is sweet. The remainder is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Krishna with Beautiful Cowherds

गोपा मधुरा गावो मधुराः
           यष्टिर्मधुरा सृष्टिर्मधुरा।
दलितं मधुरं फलितं मधुरम्
           मधुराधिपतेरखिलं मधुरम्॥८॥

gopā madhurā gāvo madhurāḥ
           yaṣṭirmadhurā sṛṣṭirmadhurā|
dalitaṃ madhuraṃ phalitaṃ madhuram
           madhurādhipaterakhilaṃ madhuram||8||

The cowherds are sweet. The cows are sweet.
The stick is sweet. The creation is sweet.
The crushing is sweet. The fruition is sweet.
Everything about Kŗṣṇa, the Lord of the Madhurā city, is sweet.

Sri Vallabhacharya

इति श्री वल्लभाचार्यकृतम् मधुराष्टकम् सम्पूर्णम्

iti śrī vallabhācāryakṛtam madhurāṣṭakam sampūrṇam

Thus ends the Sweet Cluster of Eight ślokas that was composed by śrī vallabhācārya