Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja
In the first three chapters of the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam there is a description of the appearance of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Krishna's appearance is also described in Hari-vamsa and in Sri Jiva Goswami's Gopala-campu. Hearing the transcendental pastimes of Krishna is all-auspicious. The Bhagavatam describes:
srnvatam sva-kathah krsnahpunya-sravana-kirtanahhrdy antah-stho hy abhadranividhunoti suhrt satam
"Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, Who is the Paramatma in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear his messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted."
Why Krishna Appears
The Bhagavatam says that hearing the transcendental lila-kahani, narrations of the pastimes of Bhagavan Krishna, is all auspicious. If you hear with faith and concentrated attention, all of the material contamination in your heart will be purified. For this reason Bhagavan Sri Krishna descends here.
Krishna's eternal abode in the spiritual sky is known as sac-cid-anandamaya-dhama, a dhama that is sanmaya, cinmaya, anandamaya - full of eternality, full of knowledge and full of bliss. He is always there engaged, completely absorbed in transcendental lila, especially rasa-lila.
Why should he come to this material world? It is not His abode. It is the antithesis of His transcendental sac-cid-anandamaya-dhama. This material world is asat, acit and nirananda-maya. It is temporary and full of ignorance and misery.
Why should Krishna come here? What business does He have to conduct here? He comes because he is suhrdam sarva bhutanam, the only well-wishing friend of all living entities. From time immemorial you have been under the clutches of maya but Krishna has not forgotten you. He is your well-wishing friend. He always runs behind you. He never deserts you. He is there in your heart as Paramatma. He also descends in many incarnations to this material world along with His dhama and his associates and He manifests transcendental pastimes.
One purpose for his coming is so that his lila-kahani will be recorded in books. Then His dear devotees, the sadhu-vaisnava-mahajanas will come. They will preach, recite and speak these pastimes. Krishna's pastimes should be heard, deliberated and meditated upon. Thereby you will get peace and bliss. Your heart will be cleansed and then you will be able to understand your constitutional position is as His eternal servant. Krishna therefore descends here out of kridartha, for the purpose of enjoying playful pastimes with His dear devotees to relish his lila-rasa, the mellow of transcendental lila. Simultaneously He also gives you an opportunity to relish these pastimes. Moreover, He also comes here for sadhu-samraksana, to protect His dear devotees. These are the purposes of Krishna's coming to this material world.
Sri Nanada Maharaja's Vow
Gopala-campu describes that in the assembly of Nanda Maharaja there were two poets named Snigdha Katha and Madhu Kantha who daily sings songs. One day they started singing the story of how Nandaraja got a son. With the aim of obtaining a son, Nandaraja performed many sacrifices but still no son was born. The residents of Vrajabhumi, who were all his friends also took up a vow and offered worship so that Nanda Maharaja could have a son. Still no son was coming. Yasodamati, the wife of Nanda Maharaja, became very distressed. She gave up eating and was always sitting, hanging her head down and shedding tears.
Seeing the condition of his wife, Nanda Maharaja became very distressed and consoled her in various ways saying, "Whatever is the will of Providence, that will take place." Yasodamata said, "My dear husband, I will tell what I have thought of in my heart. I have performed many sacrifices and have taken up many vows, but I have not performed the dvadasi-parama-vrata."
Hearing this, Nanda Maharaja became very happy and said, "Yes, very good. We have not performed this vrata, so we must do it."
Nanda Maharaja called his priest. The priest described everything to him about the procedures, rules and regulations to perform this dvadasi-vrata.
The Yogini's Visit
Nanda Maharaja and Yasomati-rani observed the vrata for one year. At the end of the vrata Nanda Maharaja had a dream. Lord Hari appeared and being very pleased with him said, "Your desire will soon be fulfilled. In every kalpa I come as your son and in this kalpa I will also come as your son. I will manifest My babyhood lila in your home. Every day you will see My pastimes and you will be very happy."
Then Nanda Maharaja's sleep broke. It was morning and birds were chirping. He decided to take bath in the Yamuna along with Yasomati and he took much wealth with him to give in charity. All of the demigods, munis and rsis came in the guise of beggers to receive charity from Nanda Maharaja. Nanda Maharaja and Yasomati completed their bath and then started giving charity. Everyone become very pleased to receive charity from Nanda Maharaja. They all shouted, "Nanda Maharaja ki jaya!" and "Yasomati-rani ki jaya!"
Then Nanda Maharaja returned home and offered worship to Bhagavan Vishnu. After finishing his daily activities he came to his assembly and offered respect to worshipable personalities such as his gurus and the brahmanas.
Snigdha Kantha's narration continued: Just then the gatekeeper came and informed Nanda Maharaja that a brahmacarini had come. Hearing this he stood up and welcomed her, offering her a nice seat. Nanda Maharaja washed her feet and worshiped her. Yasodamata began to cry. She cried at the feet of that brahmacarini-tapasvi. She took Yasodamata onto her lap and putting her hand on Yasoda's head, blessing her, saying, "My dear queen, very soon a nice son will come and take birth." Hearing this, all of the cowherd men and women said, "Nandarani ki jaya!"
When Nanda Maharaja's brother Upananda heard the news he became very joyful and said, "This Gokul forest will be a great place of pilgrimage." Hearing the brahmacarini's prophecy, all of the inhabitants of Vrajabhumi became very joyful. They all came and offered dandavat-pranamas at the feet of that yogini, brahmacarini. They built a cottage for her and she stayed there.
Snigdha Katha said, "My dear brother Madhu Katha, now tell how Krishna came to the womb of Yasodamata." Madhu Katha then spoke about this confidential truth:
For one year Nanda and Yasoda observed dvadasi-vrata. Then on the night of the Krsna-pratipat, the first day of the dark fortnight of the month of Magha, Nanda Maharaja had a dream. He saw a baby child with blue complexion moving in the sky and then he saw a girl with a golden hued bodily complexion. The two of them entered into Nanda Maharaja's heart. Then they came out of the heart of Nanda Maharaja and entered into the womb of Yasodamata.
In this way, Yasodamata carried the Supreme Lord Krishna. Hearing this news, all of the gopas and gopis became very blissful and happy. Everyday they had grand festivals on account of Yasodamata was now going to have a son.
Nanda Maharaja gave much charity to the brahmanas and Vaisnavas. Many persons were coming and going to Nanda Maharaja's house. Who all these persons were, no one could say. Among them some demigoddesses were also coming.
After eight months of pregnancy an astrologer told them, "On the eighth day of the dark fortnight of this month of Bhadra the child will take birth on a most auspicious tithi. When this bhadra-krsnastami, the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadra came, the nurse said, "The child will be born today," Immediately a maternity home was prepared and decorated nicely. Flower garlands were hung all over. Gates were also made out of various flowers. Nurses came to take care of the mother and the child. In the heavenly planets all of the demigods became joyful. Indradeva was showering rain. On that day everyone was drowning in an ocean of happiness, for the Supreme Lord was about to take birth.
All the gopis stayed awake that night. But due to the influence of Krishna's yoga-maya they all fell asleep. When the child took birth everyone was sleeping, even Yasodamata was asleep. There was no pain in the delivery at all. Without any pain, Yasodamata gave birth to Krishna, the Supreme Personality. That child was putra-ratna, a son like an invaluable gem.
Mathura and Vrindavan
Exactly at the same time when Yasodamata gave birth to Krishna in Vrndavan, in Mathura, in the prison house of Kamsa, Devaki also gave birth to a child. That is described in the tenth canto of the Bhagavatam. Lord Hari appeared in Mathura in a four handed form. He had a crown on His head and with four hands He was holding a sankha, cakra, gada and padma - a conchshell, disk, club and lotus. Kanaka-kundala-karna, on His two ears there were golden earrings and bright effulgence was coming out of His body. Although it was dark and cloudy night, by the effulgence coming from the body of Lord Hari everything was illuminated.
Seeing this wonderful child, Devaki paid obeisances with folded hands and offered prayers. Vasudeva immediately took bath. How could he take bath in the prison house? He did so by meditation within his mind, manasa-snana. Also in his mind he observed a grand festival for the birthday of Lord Hari and gave away innumerable cows in charity to the brahmanas and Vaisnavas. Like Devaki, he also offered prayers to Lord Narayana. Then Narayana told him, "Immediately take Me to Vraja-Gokul and put Me on the lap of Yasodamata."
Hearing this, Vasudeva was very, very happy. By the wonderful will of Lord Hari, those who were guarding the prison all fell asleep. All of the strong iron doors and shackles opened and Vasudeva was free to leave. Exactly at the same time when Vasudeva was leaving the prison of Kamsa, Yasodamata gave birth to a second child, a daughter.
When Vasudeva came to the bank of the Yamuna he saw there was a great flood. The water was very high and all of the land was inundated. He thought, "How can I cross?" Just then Vasudeva saw Mahamaya in the form of a she-jackal crossing the Yamuna. So Vasudeva followed her.
Finally he came to the quarters of Nanda Maharaja. There he put his son on the lap of Yasodamata and took Yasoda's daughter with him.
Appeared in Two Places
Hearing this, Snigdha Katha said, "What is this? Yasodamata gave birth to one son and one daughter and Vasudeva took the daughter. What happened to the son? Madhu Katha said, "This is a very confidential matter. Yasodamata's daughter was saksat-yogamaya. By her potency Yogamaya kept the son of Nanda hidden and Vasudeva could not see Him. He only saw the daughter."
The son of Nanda and Yasoda is svayam Bhagavan, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead - ete camas-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. Nanda-nandana Krsna, Yasoda-nandana Krsna is svayam Bhagavan and all avataras are His plenary portions or portions of His plenary portions - amsa and kala.
From the womb of Devaki came the four-handed form Vasudev, who is a prabhava-prakasa of Krishna. Krishna has two types of expansions, prabhava-prakasa and vaibhava-prakasa. In the temporary category of prabhava come the incarnations Mohini, Hamsa and Sukla. In the eternal category comes Dhanvantari, Rishabha, Vyasa, Dattatreya, Kapila, etc. The vaibhava-prakasa are partially powerful. In this category comes Kurma, Matsya, Nara Narayan Rishi, Varaha, Hayagriva, Prishnigarbha, Baladeva, Yajna, Vibhu, Satyasena, Hari, Vaikuntha, Ajita, Vaman, Sarvabhauma, Rishabha, Vishwaksena, Dharmasetu, Sudama, Yogeswar, Brihadbhanu, etc.
When svyam Bhagavan Krishna comes, all of His portions and portions of portions, amsa and kala, all come within Him. The son of Vasudeva is Vasudev, a four-handed form of the Lord. Vasudev is a plenary portion of Krishna. So when Vasudeva put his son on the lap of Yasoda, that Vasudev entered into the child Krishna who was already lying there. Just as all the rivers flow down to enter into the ocean, similarly all the plenary portions and portions of the plenary portions of the Lord all come and enter into the original Lord. By the activity of yoga-maya, Vasudeva could not understand any of these things.
In the Hari-vamsa (2.4.11) it is described how Lord Hari simultaneously took birth in two places:
garbha kale tv asampurne astame masi te striyau devaki ca yasoda ca susubate samam tada
"In the eighth month of pregnancy, which is considered asampurna, incomplete, Yasoda and Devaki both gave birth at the same time."
Just after that, Yasoda gave birth to a daughter, Yogamaya. Mahamaya is a portion of Yogamaya and she was thus also there. Vasudeva took away this Mahamaya and handed her over to Kamsa, while Yogamaya stayed, hidden in Vrajabhumi. In this way it was declared that the eighth child was a daughter, not a son. Kamsa was cheated.
Mother Yasoda's Joy
Madhu Katha then said, "When Yasodamata gave birth to Krishna, all were asleep. Everyone slept through the whole night. Then in the morning Lord Hari started crying, "Kwaa! Kwaa! Kwaa!" Everyone woke up. Yasodamati also woke and saw her nice son.
Seeing her wonderful, very beautiful son, Mother Yasoda completely drowned in the ocean of blissfulness. She couldn't think what to do. She was shedding tears of bliss and love. From her breast, milk was flowing. The new-born child was there in her lap and Yasoda was very blissfully looking at Him.
Yasodamata's voice was faltering in joy. She could not speak anything and was simply shedding tears of love. Up until that day she had only looked at the sons of others. Today she was looking at her own son. Tears poured from her eyes and milk flowed from her breasts. Her whole sari became completely soaked. Again and again Yasodamata looked at the beautiful lotus-like, moon-like face of her son. All the nurses, gopas and gopis awoke hearing the crying sound of the newborn child. Everyone came and said, "Oh, it is not a daughter, it is a son! Yasoda has given birth to a son!"
Everyone was very happy and blissful. It was as if all of Gokul, Vrajabhumi had drowned in an ocean of blissfulness. All the gopas and gopis came running to Nanda Maharaja's quarters to see Yasoda's newly born son. The demigods were dancing in the heavenly planets, beating drums and singing, "Hari Hari! Haribol! Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!" The fourteen planetary systems resounded with the sound of "Haribol!"
In the heavenly planets the deva-naris, the wives of the demigods, were showering flowers. All of the gopas and gopis were dancing blissfully. Embracing one another with love and affection, they were all drowning in an ocean of happiness.
Immediately Nanda Maharaja took bath according to Vedic rites. Then he performed the jata-karma-samskara - purificatory ceremony for childbirth. Brahmanas came and uttered svasti-vacana, prayers for auspiciousness.
Many musicians came playing varieties of musical instruments. The sound of drums, kettledrums and other musical instruments resounded throughout all of the three planetary systems.
The three planetary systems were completely filled with supreme happiness, maha-ananda. Prithivi-devi, Mother Earth had been very, very distressed and over-burdened by the asuras, demons. Now the demons were to be killed and Prithivi-devi would be relieved of her heavy burden. All of the sadhus, Vaisnavas and dvijas, brahmanas were happy.
Sri Nanda Maharaja's Good Fortune
When Nanda Maharaja came, all the gopas and gopis said, "Nanda come, come and see your beautiful son. Taba grhe udaya haiyache kata sasi - It is as if innumerable moons have arisen in your house. O Nanda Maharaja, eteka dibase janma haila saphala, manera anande dekha badana kamala - you have achieved perfection in this birth after a long time. Many long years have gone past. Come and see the beautiful lotus-like face of your son."
The news spread throughout Gokul, Vrajabhumi. All of the cowherd men and cowherd women came running to Nanda's quarters - nandera mandire gayala aila dhaiya, hate badi kandhe bhara - all the cowherd men had sticks in their hands and on their shoulders they were carrying kandhe bhara, a stick with bags on both ends. As they were coming they were dancing and dancing.
Everyone was saying: "Oh Nanda, such excellent good fortune you have. Ah! Today there is an ocean of bliss in your house."
Seeing the beautiful lotus-like face of his son, Nanda Maharaja was blissfully dancing. In all directions all of the cowherd men and inhabitants of Gokul were also clapping their hands and blissfully dancing. In the heavenly planets the demigods were dancing. In the nether planet, Patala, the snakes were dancing. In the inner quarters, Yasodarani was dancing. Siva was dancing, Brahma was dancing and Indra was dancing. Everyone was dancing and full of bliss.
All of the cowherd men came bringing presentations of yogurt, tumeric and gorocana, a kind of auspicious yellow pigment. Nandarani, the wife of Nanda Maharaja has acquired all good fortune and auspiciousness for today she has obtained Nilamani the blue gem Krishna as her child.
Sri Krsna Janmastami tithi maha-mahotsava ki jaya!
Bhadra Krsnastami tithi ki jaya!
Bhagavan Krsna avirbhava tithi ki jaya!
Vrajendra-nandana Krsna avirbhava tithi ki jaya!
Sri Nanda-nandana Yasoda-nanandana Krsna ki jaya!
[A lecture by His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami, given on August 18, 1995 in Bhubaneswar, India.For more nectarean Krsna Katha, Please visit www.srilagourgovindaswami.org], this lecture is also in the book Mathura visits Vrindavan