Shri Krishna Janmashtami was celebrated at all Divine Life Society of S.A. Ashrams on Friday, 23 August. Calculations indicate that the year of His birth was 3227 B.C. Krishna Janmashtami is one of the greatest of all Hindu festivals. Bhagavan Sri Krishna was the Ishta Devata of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda. He was the Lord of Love. Our Master has written: "Lord Krishna had the Bhava or feeling of mother even for Puthana who came to kill Him and gave her salvation. He gave salvation even to His bitterest enemies, Kamsa and Sisupala who insulted Him openly in the Rajasuya Yajna. Then, what to speak of those who are highly devoted to Him?" A divine lesson indeed for us to learn to bear insult and injury and to forgive those who wish to harm us.
Pujya Swamiji said at one of our earlier Janmashtami Celebrations, "Today, as we celebrate the birth of the Lord, it should be our fervent prayer to entreat the Lord to take birth in our own hearts. Then, our hearts will be bubbling with joy, we will enjoy bliss and have the strength to face all the challenges of life".
Our programme on 23 August 2019, included inspiring messages and readings, Sri Gurudev singing Kirtans on Lord Krishna, an audio recording of Pujya Swamiji reading, melodious Bhajans and Kirtans, chanting, slokas from the Bhagavad Gita, classical dances, DVD (Wisdom of Sivananda) an audio recording on the play "Krishna's Jewels" and a video screening. Three poems, written by our Divine Master on Lord Krishna were read out on this night. Here is one poem:
GRACE MY COTTAGE
O Lord! Take pity on me,
Grace my cottage with Thy Presence;
Then will I relate to Thee
The story of my afflictions.
Why dost Thou still hide Thyself?
Thou art the giver of joy to the saints,
Thou art the darling of Yashoda.
Enthrone Thyself in my heart.
Why comest Thou not to my cottage?
I am waiting and waiting,
I am anxiously looking for Thee,
I am tired and exhausted.
I pine away without Thee.
Bestow Thy vision to me.
Come, soothe my burning heart.
Thus, sayeth Sivananda.
If we could only have this intense yearning, we will surely take giant spiritual steps.
Our Guest artists were: Sri Manesh Maharaj & Hemani Maharaj and Kumari Roanna Moodley who performed Kathak and Bharatanatyam dances respectively. We express our profound thanks to them.
In an audio recording, Pujya Swamiji read about the touching meeting between Lord Krishna and His childhood friend Sudama. The story of Sudama is very popular in the Bhagavata. Pujya Swamiji read in a warm, intimate and conversational style and captured the attention of listeners. The two friends shared intimate childhood memories. The joy of meeting his old friend was so much that Sudama even forgot to ask his friend for help, this being the main reason for his visit. Such is the joy of pure friendship. Ask for nothing in return!
In the reading on "The Divine Ruler", humorously written, we heard how Paundraka had masqueraded as the Lord and proudly went about his daily duties giving people the false impression that he was none other than Lord Krishna. He eventually even challenged the Lord to a duel and finally met his end. Paundraka, who had been mentally identifying himself with the Lord all the time, got released from his mortal coils and attained identity of form with the Lord. Mysterious are the ways of Karma. Each man gets liberation in his own way.
Pujya Swami Sahajananda's story "Lord Krishna and the Gopi" was also one of the readings included in our programme for that night. Herewith a summary of the story: Once a girl with deformed features was born to a couple. Her complexion was fair and beautiful and all the features on her face were also so beautiful. The only thing was that her mouth was distorted and out of shape and made her look so ugly. It was an unusual phenomenon. Naturally, no one wanted to marry her. In fact, she became a showpiece, as many visited the family only to get a glimpse of her ugly features. Her love captured the hearts of all. But the little children were completely captivated, and did not hesitate to take full advantage of her love and sweetness, so much so that some of them even played truant from school to be with her. When parents complained to the Gopi about their truanting children, she was able to persuade them to attend school regularly. But two little ones flatly refused to obey her, as they wished to be always in her presence. But with honeyed words, caresses and sweet juices, she was eventually able to convince them to attend school. The Gopi left her body at a ripe old age and, sure enough, did not forget to ask the Lord for another boon, as was her nature! This she wished to keep a secret.
We conclude this report with an excerpt from one of our readings, where Lord Krishna gave His final instruction to Uddhava: "O Uddhava! I direct you to go to the famous place of pilgrimage in the Himalayas, known as Badrikashrama, which is especially sanctified by My presence. There flows the river Alakananda, the very sight of which is purifying. Wearing clothes made out of bark, subsisting on roots and fruits, free from all desire for worldly enjoyments, live without caring for the extremes of climate, putting up patiently with all the adverse situations that might confront you. Ponder deeply in solitude over that which I have taught you. With speech and thought ever absorbed in Me, live according to the dictates of the Bhagavata Dharma, which I have taught you, and you will quickly pass through these material realms and attain to My transcendental state."