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Report: Sri Krishna Janmashtami 2023

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Divine Life Society of South Africa celebrated Sri Krishna Janmashtami at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, as well as at all its Sivanandashrams on Thursday 7 September 2023. At Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang which concluded at midnight. The programme included Kirtans, Bhajans, readings from the Srimad Bhagavata, an audio message by Pujya Swami Sahajananda, a DVD entitled, Wisdom of Sivananda, video recordings on Lord Krishna, guest artistes, readings on the significance of Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Pujya Swami Sahajananda's Bhajans on Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita recitals and the Krishna Arati. It was indeed a spiritual feast!

The following excerpt from a reading from the Srimad Bhagavata, entitled "Departure of Uddhava Part 1", sums up Lord Krishna's glory, value of chanting of His Divine Name, yearning of His devotees and the essence of this glorious celebration. Upon being questioned by the erudite scholar, Uddhava, Lord Krishna smiled tenderly at Uddhava and replied, "Till My advent, O Uddhava, a dip in the Ganga was supposed to eradicate all sins, but now a dip in the holy story of my life is enough to cleanse the sins of a thousand lifetimes. He who listens to the story of My life, he who narrates it or explains it to others, will sanctify himself as well as his listeners. If even this is too difficult, O Uddhava, take a dip in the flowing river of My Names. The chanting of My Name alone is enough to attain liberation. My Names are not difficult to learn like the Vedic Mantras, which are reserved for the favoured few. They can be enjoyed and repeated by anyone regardless of birth or sex. Sweeter than honey is My Name, giving bliss to those who utter it as well as to those who hear it. It is the ripe, juicy fruit of the Vedas. Like a calf following its mother, I Myself will follow the one who calls on My Name, in order to see that no harm comes to him. Thus, listening to the tales about My life and chanting My Names, you will definitely be victorious over death itself. After studying this discourse, there is nothing more for a spiritual aspirant to enquire about and understand, just as after drinking honey, there is nothing sweeter for him to drink". What a marvellous assurance by Lord Krishna! Full of meaning, filled with divinity and sublime to the point of supreme bliss!

The reading from Hindu Fasts and Festivals, by Sri Swami Sivananda gives a beautiful insight into the need for devotion to the Lord, the observance of Sri Krishna Janmashtami and the Lord's divinity. The Master says, "There is no true science except devotion to Lord Krishna. That man is wealthy indeed who loves Radha and Sri Krishna. There is no sorrow other than lack of devotion to Sri Krishna. Amongst those emancipated, he is foremost who loves Sri Krishna". Sri Swami Sivananda continues, "Sri Krishna is the ocean of bliss. His soul-stirring Lilas, which are the wonder of wonders, are its waves. The honeyed music of His flute attracts the minds of His devotees from all the three regions. His breath-taking and unsurpassed beauty amaze both animate and inanimate beings. He adores His friends with His incomparable love".

The Satsang programme – inspiring, divine and blissful, filled the hearts of devotees with spiritual fervour and Bhakti. Pujya Swami Sahajananda's audio message on Mantra chanting, its potency and the value of the repetition of the Divine Name, complemented this great spiritual experience. Pujya Swamiji said, "Now one of the methods that has been advocated by all the great saints - is unanimous in one thing – in one method, both the saints of the east and west – that is to take the Divine Name – to chant the Mantra. In that one point they all been unanimous; and they all been unanimous in this fact that the Divine Name is the easiest and quickest and surest way to approach God in this Kali Yuga. In different Yugas, in different periods, the devotees followed different methods, but in the Kali Yuga, they say it is very easy to realise God and make progress merely by taking the Divine Name. And Gurudev, Swami Sivananda, Swami Ramdas, Sri Aurobindo and all of them have prescribed the Name. Ramakrishna practised all the Tantric Yogas. He did every one of them, but in the end, he concluded that the Name was the easiest and he practised that".

Pujya Swamiji explained that as the aspirant progresses in Sadhana, one may see images, hear sounds and see forms, However, one should be steadfast in Sadhana and repeat the Divine Name continuously. He quoted Lord Krishna, saying, 'He attains Me easily who remembers Me constantly'. Pujya Swamiji said that there is no difference between God and His Name, and that "the moment you repeat His Name you are in contact with God". Explaining the power of the Mantra, Pujya Swamiji said that every word and every Mantra has vibrations, just as each has a form. We cannot see the vibration of the Mantra with our physical eyes, but we can do so with our inner eyes. He continued to explain, "People have got Siddhis in these Mantras. And this power that is in the Mantra is locked up in it, like the tree is locked in the seed". Pujya Swamiji gives clear guidelines on the practice of Sadhana, meditation and how to surmount difficulties in Sadhana. He advises that one should not give up on Sadhana nor change one's Mantra irrespective of the physical conditions and challenges, for Mantra chanting "forms deep Samskaras in the mind".

In the reading, "The Divine Ruler", Paundraka, who masqueraded as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Vasudeva, met his fate at the hands of Lord Krishna. "Paundraka had proclaimed that he was the Supreme God and forbade the worship of other Gods in his country and put all the Rishis and Brahmins who insisted on reading the Vedas and performing Vedic rituals, into the dungeon". When confronted by Lord Krishna, Paundraka proudly said, "I have no need of friends like you! Be prepared to fight for there is no place on earth for both of us!" So saying, his army attacked the Yadava host with various weapons like tridents, wooden maces, tipped maces, javelins, spears and arrows. At last, tiring of this play the Lord laughingly told him, "O Paundraka, whatever weapons you have asked me to give up I'm now giving to you. Here, catch them! So saying, He threw the discus at Paundraka who was unable to do anything but gape as it hurtled towards him and neatly severed his head from his body. His friend, the king of Kashi, soon followed 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".

The Satsang programme was embroidered with an array of colourful and spiritually elevating cultural and devotional items. The audio story, "Krishna's Jewels", highlighted how a thief can be transformed into a pious devotee of the Lord. Two delightful videos depicting Lord Krishna's divine exploits and superhuman feats, inspiring and melodious Bhajans by the esteemed Acharya Ratna Isai Selvamani Sri Karthiegesan Pillay and distinguished musicians who sacrificed their valuable time to perform, the mellifluous Kirtans and Bhajans of Pujya Swamiji on Lord Krishna, the devotional singing by devotee, Smt Shakuntala Lucken, the soul-stirring recitation of Bhagavad Gita Slokas with meanings by our Rishikumaris, and the cradle Bhajan, Jaya Nandala, whetted and satiated the spiritual appetite of devotees who drank to their fullest, this divine nectar.

Sri Swami Sivananda aptly sums up the essence of the Gita in the video, "Wisdom of Sivananda", in the track, Message of the Gita and Song of Bliss. He says, "Fix thy mind on the Lord. Become His devotee. Sacrifice everything; sacrifice everything unto the Lord. Bow down to Him. Surely, you will attain Him. Abandon the fruits of all works. Take refuge in the Lord alone. He will liberate you from all sins. Wherever there is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, wherever is Partha the archer, there is prosperity, victory and happiness and sound policy".

We have celebrated many Sri Krishna Janmashtamis, and we will yet celebrate many more. Our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, boldly and candidly provides the esoteric meaning and significance of this celestial observance. Indeed, self-introspection and internalisation are important. The Master says in Lord Krishna, His Lilas and Teachings, "You need not go to Vrindavana, to have the Darshan of Lord Krishna. Your own heart is the real Vrindavana. You will have to search Him in your Hridaya-Vrindavana. Rukmini and Radha are the two Saktis (Kriya Sakti and Jnana Sakti) of Lord Krishna. Arjuna is Jiva. Kurukshetra-the battlefield within. The real battle is the one with the mind, Indriyas, Vishaya Samskaras, Vishaya Vrittis, and Svabhava. Draupadi is the mind. Pandavas are the Indriyas. Blind Dhritarashtra is the original Avidya. Gopis are the nerves or Nadis. Enjoyment with Gopis is enjoyment of Atmic Bliss by controlling the various nerves. This is the esoteric exposition".

The following is an apt conclusion, from Hindu Gods and Goddesses, from the chapter, "Krishna" by Sri Swami Sivananda, where the Master says, "May we sing His Name – Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya – wholeheartedly like Radha and obtain His Grace which can take us to His Abode of everlasting peace and infinite bliss! May His Blessings be upon us all!"

Last modified on Monday, 18 September 2023 12:36
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