“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)
Understand the janma and karma of Shri Krishna and you’ll become immune from birth and death. At the time of tyaktva deham [quitting the body], rebirth will not take place. This is an important reward since the source of every trouble is birth. You can only die if you are born at some time. That is the initial catalyst. Death is a manifestation of time, which creates truth in the saying of, “As soon as you are born, you are dying.”
Krishna’s janma, or birth, is transcendental. It is not ordinary. He is in fact above the cycle of birth and death. Only one person has this property, and thus it is no surprise that Krishna is considered God, the personal aspect to the singular Divinity. During His time on earth, the less intelligent could not understand His true nature.
“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.11)
They figured He was an ordinary person, like everyone else. On one hand it is understandable to have this viewpoint. Just by looking at someone, how are we to know that they are the lone person transcendental to birth and death, that their janma is actually an appearance instead of a birth?
On the other hand so many people testified to Krishna’s unique position. These were respected personalities, like the sage Markandeya, the travelling preacher Narada, and the leader of the Kurus, Bhishmadeva.
What about for us? Krishna’s advent took place a long time ago. We know from the Mahabharata that He soon returned to the spiritual world. How are we to understand with faith and conviction that Krishna does not take birth?
1. We don’t live forever
This truth must be acknowledged at the outset. We don’t live forever; that is the meaning of mortality. By extension, any person who makes the claim of immortality cannot be tested through our own perception. If they say they live forever, we have no way of knowing that for sure, because eventually we must leave the present body and start over in the next life. With that event memory gets erased, like a reformatting of the hard drive.
2. Take the testimony of the sun-god
During Krishna’s time even pious souls had doubt. In the famous conversation known as the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that the amazing wisdom shared with him was spoken to the sun-god at the beginning of the creation.
“Arjuna said: The sun-god Vivasvan is senior by birth to You. How am I to understand that in the beginning You instructed this science to him?” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.4)
Arjuna wondered how that was possible. The sun-god was known to be much older. Krishna explained that both He and Arjuna had appeared many times before, but only Krishna could remember. The testimony of the sun-god gives some proof of the truth, and special souls in the past have been able to communicate with him.
3. Krishna’s words have survived thousands of years
The Bhagavad-gita is still prominent today. Something known as the disciplic succession, parampara, has ensured access to successive generations. The original sound vibration is still alive, in the amazingly potent Sanskrit language. Krishna and the sound that represents Him are identical. The fact that works glorifying Him have stood the test of time provides further evidence of God’s deathless nature.
4. Practicing bhakti-yoga
Take up devotional service. With love, faith and attention chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. There is faith in the beginning, but that is true of any endeavor. In first grade we have no way of knowing for sure if the teacher is actually proficient, if they’ve gone to college and proven capability. We extend some faith to the authority figures, and proof arrives later on.
“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)
Through practicing bhakti-yoga under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master everything necessary for escaping the cycle of birth and death is provided. This is because Krishna Himself helps the devotee. He shines the lamp of knowledge from within, to dissipate the darkness of ignorance.
Just one simple thing know,
Of janma and karma so.
That for Krishna of nature divine,
From within torchlight to shine.
So that no more in ignorance to be,
Proof also from Gita to see.
And sun-god testimony giving,
Profound wisdom through time living.
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