“Krishna’s showing the universal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even when lying down on the lap of His mother, proves that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whether He is manifested as a child on the lap of His mother or as a charioteer on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 7)
Does God exist? If so, where is He? Why can’t we notice Him? He is in fact everywhere, and we make the mistake of only approaching Him during times of distress. Since due to ignorance we make gods out of mortals who display some skill, the Supreme Lord from time to time goes beyond and displays something that can’t be comprehended. Though He is around us every day and in every situation, the occasion of Janmashtami allows us to notice Him in the way that we prefer: opulence. We celebrate His fixed possession of the title of controller of the universe.
Janmashtami is a compound Sanskrit word consisting of the terms “janma” and “ashtami.” Janma refers to birth and ashtami is the eighth day in the lunar calendar. Krishna Janmashtami is therefore the specific date in the calendar referring to the appearance of the Supreme Lord Krishna. He emerged from the womb of mother Devaki on the eighth day of the moon in the month of August-September.
Krishna is always God; despite His outward appearance. We can look to the incident with the whirlwind demon in Vrindavana. Though He took the form of a small child when first appearing in front of the parents Vasudeva and Devaki, Krishna was still the Supreme Lord. For proof He showed the parents the vision of Narayana, who is opulently adorned and has four hands. Krishna has two hands but He is identical to Narayana, who is the source of man.
The whirlwind demon was sent by Kamsa, the king of Mathura. Krishna had been transferred to Vrindavana, away from the attacks of the envious Kamsa. The king sent different hit men to do the job, kill the Supreme Lord. Of course this is impossible. Not surprisingly, each one failed to accomplish the task.
The interactions were quite amazing. On the one side you had a living entity with an extraordinary ability. In Trinavarta’s case, he could assume the form of a giant whirlwind. Surely if we saw a character today who could do this society would give high praise. After all, so much attention goes to athletes, cinema stars and politicians. Becoming a whirlwind is much more difficult.
On the other side you had this innocent baby. He was lying down one day because His mother had placed Him there. This was Yashoda, the foster mother in Vrindavana, though she didn’t view herself that way. She thought Krishna was hers. She loved Him more than any mother could. She set the Lord down one day after He began to feel very heavy. This was an intentional move by the master of all mystic power.
Being alone gave Trinavarta the opportunity to come and pick up Krishna. The demon took the child high into the air, and the people of the town couldn’t see what was going on because of the dust created by the winds. When reaching his apex, Trinavarta suddenly felt Krishna to be extremely heavy. It was like a mountain crushing down on his neck. The demon soon fell to the ground and died. Indeed, the comparison to the mountain is only for our understanding. Krishna’s weight is impossible to measure. Since His attributes cannot be measured by blunt instruments, one of His many names is Adhokshaja.
The people couldn’t believe that Krishna survived. They were so relieved. Shortly thereafter, mother Yashoda began feeding Krishna with breast milk. From her intense affection, so much milk poured that the mother started to worry. She opened Krishna’s mouth to see if He was alright. To her surprise, she saw in that mouth a vision of the universal form. She saw all the stars, mountains, rivers, planets and the many living entities populating them.
From both incidents we see that Krishna is always God. Trinavarta took the tiny baby up in the air, not knowing the weight of the darling child of Nanda and Yashoda. The mother looked into His innocent little mouth and saw something no one ever sees. The same child many years later would speak the highest philosophy to a distressed warrior on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. That conversation would come to be known as the Bhagavad-gita, and for many it is the primary way they establish Krishna as the Supreme God.
Janmashtami allows the mind to recall the amazing adaptability of Krishna. He can take any form He chooses and He doesn’t lose anything as a result. Even the incomprehensibly large universal form is nothing to Him. It is too limiting in describing Him. His true nature comes out in the interaction with the devotees, such as with mother Yashoda. Therefore on the sacred day celebrating the anniversary of Krishna’s appearance in this world the devoted souls choose to remember Krishna the child, the tender, soft, cute and powerful savior of the pious.
The Supreme Lord always to remain,
In different forms, of potency the same.
Like when Trinavarta took into the air,
Or Yashoda into tiny mouth to stare.
Adhokshaja is Vrindavana’s treasure,
Impossible are His features to measure.
Through loving interactions can be known,
Like with mercy to mother Yashoda shown.