“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)
No more birth. The honor comes at an otherwise inauspicious moment: death. Upon giving up, tyaktva, the body there is release from the cycle, which is like a spinning wheel of misery, samsara-chakra.
We know when the honor is received, but what merits its arrival? Is it through pious deeds? Be a good person and you won’t have to take birth again. Is it through renunciation? Give up things and prove that you don’t have attachments to the material world.
The promise is made by Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The qualifications are rather straightforward. Just know the nature of Krishna’s janma and karma, birth and activities.
1. Birth in Mathura
Krishna’s place of birth is Mathura, and more specifically inside of a prison cell. The king at the time, Kamsa, was previously told that his sister’s eighth child would be his end. It was a fortunate occurrence. Not everyone gets prior warning of death. Time waits for no one, and in its most gruesome form it has yet to meet defeat.
Kamsa tried his best to deny destiny. He imprisoned his sister and her husband. Every time she gave birth he had the child killed immediately. Krishna’s janma is further proof that God is time itself. In special circumstances, like with King Hiranyakashipu prior, Krishna personally assumes the role of time and delivers what is due the sinful person.
2. Prayers of the demigods
Prior to His janma, there were prayers from the devas. These are demigods; something like the Supreme Lord, but not quite. They are His constant associates. When the Almighty descends from the spiritual world, the residents of the heavenly realm watch with attention, amazement and joy. The asura class works to stop worship of the heavenly figures. In one sense this is the definition of the proliferation of adharma, or irreligion.
“Our dear Lord, You are appearing as the best of the Yadu dynasty, and we are offering our respectful humble obeisances unto Your lotus feet. Before this appearance, You also appeared as the fish incarnation, the horse incarnation, the tortoise incarnation, the swan incarnation, as King Ramachandra, as Parashurama, and as many other incarnations.” (Demigods praying to Krishna in the womb of Devaki, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 2)
Part of the work Krishna accomplishes through His descents to the material world is the reestablishing of religious principles, dharma. The demigods are very pleased by this. In the case of Krishna appearing in the personal form, they knew that Devaki was the chosen birth mother. Therefore even while she was pregnant they offered her nice prayers.
3. Life in Gokula and Vrindavana
The janma took place in Mathura, but the first karma was reserved for the nearby communities of Gokula and Vrindavana. The infant child, showing His four-handed form of Narayana, asked to be taken to Gokula. The loving father Vasudeva obliged, and so Krishna’s early years were spent under the care of foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda.
The karma included both delightful pastimes and protection of the innocent. Krishna delighted by acting like the most adorable child. In addition to showing His all-attractive body, He would sometimes steal butter from the homes of the neighbors. He would go out to the fields and play with His friends, taking care of many calves at the same time.
The same innocent child would thwart the attacks of powerful Rakshasas sent to the community by Kamsa, who was angry that the eighth child had eluded his grasp. Krishna took down a villainous witch, a deceptive whirlwind, and several other such wicked characters. In Vrindavana, He lifted the massive Govardhana Hill to save the residents from the jealous wrath of the king of heaven, Indra.
4. Life in Dvaraka
The karma continued into adulthood, as Krishna moved from Vrindavana first to Mathura and then later Dvaraka. In Mathura He killed Kamsa with a swift punch, bringing great delight to the devas. In Dvaraka He served as king, with His principal queen of Rukmini Devi. There were more asura-like characters to defeat, as evil has been trying to take down good since the beginning of time.
5. The Bhagavad-gita
The promise of release from the cycle of birth and death through knowing His janma and karma comes from the Bhagavad-gita, which is a conversation between Krishna and the bow-warrior Arjuna. It took place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, prior to a great war.
The key word in the verse is divyam. This means “divine.” Krishna’s janma is not ordinary. Neither is His work. The word karma is used simply for our understanding. Karma means work that has a future consequence pertaining to the material body.
Krishna is Divine, so there is no distinction between spirit and matter for Him. The flute in His hands is just as spiritual as His lotus feet. His janma is actually an appearance. Birth is the time of accepting a new type of covering consisting of material elements, both gross and subtle, but Krishna has no such association with matter.
Those who simply know that only His janma and karma are divine do not take birth again. Knowing means being conscious of, and the easiest way to stay Krishna conscious is to always chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Promise in Bhagavad-gita made,
That no more in suffering ocean to wade.
When Krishna’s janma and karma knowing,
Like how in youth to Gokula going.
Butter from the neighbors stealing,
And love from the cows feeling.
In Dvaraka with Rukmini as queen,
With Arjuna in greatest war seen.
Categories: the five