“The night was very dark, but as soon as Vasudeva took Krishna on his lap and went out, he could see everything just as in the sunlight.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)
Ignorance is darkness and knowledge is light, and so the spirit soul encased in gross and subtle material elements lives in darkness until the true light of knowledge of its inherent relationship to the Supreme is revealed. The revelation can come at any moment, and when it does, the connection to the divine creates a link in consciousness that doesn’t have to break. The realized soul knows that God is with them, so the cloud of nescience never has to return. The transcendental light can come internally through the practice of yoga or externally through the direct presence of Shri Krishna Himself, who showed the power of His effulgence moments after appearing from the womb of mother Devaki. That wonderful incident is still celebrated to this day on the occasion of Shri Krishna Janmashtami.
Krishna is God. Not a deity of sectarian importance or a mythological character of the Hindu faith, Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His name speaks to His all-attractiveness. Krishna’s smile is so enchanting that it takes away the pride of the staunchest devotee of material nature. The sweetness of the sounds emanating from His flute capture the attention of human beings and animals alike. The peacock feather in His hair and the kaustubha gem around His neck keep the eyes focused on His transcendental form. To meditate on Him is the most worthwhile activity for the eyes, which are gifts from nature to be used in the proper way.
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
The all-attractive vision is granted to the population of the earth periodically when Krishna decides to appear. He states in the Bhagavad-gita that one of the reasons for His advents is to annihilate the miscreants. The miscreant in this case refers to an enemy of religion, someone who purposefully thwarts the harmless efforts in spirituality of the saintly class. Accompanying the elimination of the miscreant influence is the reinstatement of the religious principles. The highest religious principle is bhakti-yoga, or devotion to God, and so that devotion is reinstituted best when there is the direct vision of the Supreme Lord.
During the Dvapara Yuga, a famous miscreant was ruling over the town of Mathura. A prophecy had stated that his sister’s eighth child would kill him. Not wanting to take any chances, King Kamsa imprisoned his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. Each of her first seven children was then killed by Kamsa immediately after they were born. Ah, but the prophecy would hold true nonetheless, as Devaki’s eighth child was Krishna Himself. When He emerged from the mother’s womb, Krishna first showed His four-handed form of Lord Vishnu, which indicated to the parents that their son was God Himself arriving on the scene to grant them special favor.
Despite seeing Vishnu, the parents were worried that Kamsa would come and kill their newborn child. Knowing this, Krishna asked Vasudeva to transfer Him to the nearby town of Gokula, which was a farm community. Kamsa would not find out about Krishna’s birth until later on, and so nothing bad could happen in the meantime. Even if it did, young Krishna, though in the body of an infant, would save the day.
As if to show the magic of His transcendental form, Krishna’s effulgence spread immediately. The Lord appeared at midnight in a jail cell, while the outside guards were asleep. Vasudeva was to transfer the child to Gokula immediately; there was no time to waste. The problem was that it was dark outside. How was the father going to see without some kind of external lighting? He didn’t want to draw attention to himself either; as no one was to know where he was going.
When Vasudeva took Krishna in his lap, suddenly he could see everywhere. This wasn’t a magic trick. The boy wasn’t holding a secret lamp. He is naturally effulgent. It is said that the light of Brahman, which represents the sum collection of spiritual fragments in the material universe, emanates from the gigantic body of the Supreme Lord. He is the source of all light, and we know that darkness is only the absence of light. Holding Krishna in His arms, Vasudeva had no problem seeing. Even when he had to cross over the Yamuna river and it started to rain, Krishna’s trusted servant, Ananta Shesha Naga, arrived on the scene to create an umbrella of protection with his many hoods.
Krishna’s transcendental effulgence also exists in stories about Him, including the accounts of His initial appearance in Mathura. It also exists in His holy name. Therefore the illuminating spiritual practice for the modern age, which is applicable to any person in any part of the world, is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
Krishna Janmashtami is the time to remember Krishna and the influence He had in both Gokula and Mathura. Kamsa would eventually find out about His birth and he would try every which way to kill Krishna. But the Lord can never be annihilated, and conversely nothing could be done to save Kamsa, who was destined to die at the hands of the delight of Devaki. That sweetheart son protected His parents, eventually freeing them from prison and allowing them to live in peace. To always keep the vision of the owner of all matter and spirit in your mind is the way to remain in the light, and to celebrate His appearance on Janmashtami is the way to further reinforce that remembrance for the days that lay ahead.
After child’s birth Lord Vishnu they saw,
Appeared from Devaki’s womb, kept them in awe.
From King Kamsa Krishna needed to be safe,
So boy to Gokula father Vasudeva would take.
But there was a problem in limited sight,
In dead of night father required light.
Krishna’s body automatically is bright,
Effulgent is Vasudeva and Devaki’s delight.
Through the darkness, God to show the way,
Remember His name and glories on Janmashtami day.