Krishna Janmashtami is a very important festival in the Hindu culture. This festival is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Krishna every year on the 7th day after the full moon of the month of Bhadra during August or September. According to Hindu mythology, Krishna was born at midnight in a prison where his maternal uncle Kamsa had imprisoned his parents.
The most auspicious time for the festivities start at midnight when devotees sing and pray for the coming of the little Balgopal. Generally, however, since the morning, the puja begins with bathing the idol of bal gopal with ghee and scented water. For the occasion, the idol is decorated with colorful garments and precious jewels.
Offerings are madeof various kinds of fruit, pastries, milk, flowers and incense and mantra are recited containing the 108 names of God, including that of Gopal. The women wear traditional rituals bracelets, strictly red, along with a pendant that depicts the God. The women, dressed as gopis, sing Narayan, Narayan and Gopal, Gopal. The auspicious colour for the day is yellow. Special prayers and pooja are held in temples dedicated to Krishna.
Another celebration widespread in South India and Mauritius is Govinden Thiruvizha, festival commemorating the worship of Govardhan hill. It takes place every year from 17 September to 17 October. A vegetarian fasting is observed and celebrations take place every Saturday this month. During the prayers Saturday, a large lamp is lit and burns all night. This is an important festival where the whole night singing and dancing in honor of Krishna take place. Fasting takes place during the Tamil month of puratasi.
Krishna,who has many similar traits like the greek deity Pan, is a deity that does not appear in the four Samitha of the Vedas. Although there are references of his figure in Chandogya Upanishads, a text presumably written in the eighth century BC. Krishna is presented as a god full only in the viṣṇuita poem of the Mahabharata, a text written between fifth century BC and the fifth century AD. in the Bhagavad Gita, written in the third century BC, his figure becomes central.
Scholars, however, believe that Krishna and Vishnu were two separate deities, merging them fully in the fifth century AD, when, in Vishnu Purāṇa, a text written in the fifth century AD, Krsna is referred to as an avatara of Vishnu. Rama also was not always considered the incarnation of Vishnu.
The close links between the two deities however have precedents in a column of the first century BC found in Goṣuṇḍi, where it was found associates Krsna and Narayana, previously associated with Vishnu and images relating to the period of Kushan Empire in first century AD represent Krishna and Vishnu with same weapons. In the Rig-Veda, the oldest Indian text, dated at the middle of the second millennium BC, Vishnu is a very minor character.
This is Krsna, for scholars, however, the Krishna of the Mahabharata referred to as Krishna Vasudeva, the head of Vrsni of Mathura, who kills the wicked Kamsa has references to such epic as well as in the Mahabharata are also found in Mahabhasya of Patanjali and the Buddhist Gatha Jātaka. A number of traditions and regional deities may have been merged into the stories of this god.
With Vasudeva Krishna, or to the Yadava tribe of Krishna, the Lunar dynasty, who has already built another different religion, that of Vasudeva's own clan Vrsni creating the cycle Mahabharata, is added, then a further Krishna, the Gopala Krishna considered by scholars initially differentiated from the first.
According to legends, although the lineage of the clan of Vrsni of Mathura was adopted by a family of shepherds, Abhira grew to maturity, when the hero returns to Mathura to defeat the evil Kamsa. John Stratton Hawley explains this narrative with the fact that Abhira, a nomadic ethnic group which extended its range of action from the Panjab to the Deccan and Ganges plains worshiped a Gopala Krishna. When Abhira widened their borders reaching near Mathura area of Braj meet the clan Vrsni and their worship was to be integrated with that of Krishna Vasudeva.
In summary, originally Krishna is a deified hero of the clan of Yadava and it is likely that the Devakīputra Krsna referenced in the Chandogya Upanishads in the famous seventeenth Khanda is not other than the Krsna of Yadava, an ary clan who was in close contact with the clan Vrsni of Mathura having as worship to another deified hero, Vasudeva. In fact some of the contents of the passage of Chandogya Upanishads, Krishna son of Devaki and disciple of Ghora Angirasa that teaches that human life is itself a sacrifice, reverberate in the same Mahabharata.
These deified warrior heroes find their transformation in Vedic and Brahmanical orthodoxy with a meeting with the Vedic god and Brahmanical Vishnu right in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna is synonymous with Vishnu. Also according Ramchandra Narayan Dandekar the merger between the warrior gods and the Brahmins became necessary in the context of the criticism that heterodox religions such as Buddhism and Jainism, at the time of gearing up went towards promoting the Brahmanism which he tried, conversely, new theological answers and worship to their crisis.
The Krishna-Vishnu-Vasudeva joined the clan of Yadava and Vrsni merged with a pastoral deity of their Abhira creating the Krishna-Vasudeva-Gopala-Vishnu object of theological reflections of later texts like Purāṇa and will put at the center of religious worship this divine figure seen as the Bhagavad, God, the supreme person.
Krishna was born about 7000 years ago and was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva. He was the prince of the royal family of Mathura. Truly his story began even before birth, when his uncle Kamsa, a cruel and immoral king of the line of Bhoja usurped the throne of his father, Ugrasena to become the ruler of Mathura.
Kamsa is also the brother of Devaki, and he loved his sister very much, who is to marry the prince Vasudeva. While driving the chariot that leads Devaki to her new husband, he hears a passerby foretelling him that the eighth child of his sister will cause his downfall. Enraged, he shoots Devaki by the hair out of the chariot and when Vasudeva sees this, he promises to give him all the newly born children. The couple keeps their promise for the first six. Two of his siblings also survive, Balarama, who was born from Vasudeva's first wife Rohini, and later was born daughter Subhadra. When he learns that he has been deceived, Kamsa imprisoned the couple.
Kamsa, therefore killed all the male children of Devaki and Vasudeva immediately after their birth. The eighth son was Krishna. The guards had the specific task of surveillance in order to advise the sovereign at the time of his birth, so that if the baby was male, he could be killed immediately.
At the moment Krishna was born, the chains of the prison that bound his father fell, the gates were opened, which had been boarded up and the guards were intoxicated so that they could not identify any events or anything happening near them. The father of Krishna, Vasudeva placed the baby in a basket on his head and carried him across the river Yamuna.
Vasudeva came to Gokul in the house of Nanda and Yasoda, a pair of pastors, where the woman had just given birth to a daughter. Vasudeva took their daughter and put Krishna in their laps. As soon as the female child was in the bed of Devaki in prison, she cried aloud, waking up the guards that reported the birth to Kamsa.
So Krishna and Balarama were lovingly raised by Nanda and Yasoda in the village of Vrindavan. Nanda was the head of a community of herders and that is why Krishna is also known by the names Govinda and Gopala. There are many stories about his life in the Gokul that show his way of being naughty and playful, but at the same time sweet and loving. He took care of all, in his way, because he knew what was real good, something more subtle and internal. The inhabitants of the village were simple and innocent people who fully reciprocated the love of Krishna, although clearly often could not understand it. He was dark skinned. Hence the name Shyama Sundara or Navina Nirada.
Bala Krishna, often used to eat the butter in the village and did it because all the butter made in Gokul to Mathura was sent to the soldiers of the terrible king Kamsa, who thus became more and more strong. That butter was to be devoted to children. Then he wanted to prevent this from happening; so he put on a small group of village children and their favorite game was just to go and eat the butter in the village.
For example, once the women had hidden the butter very well, at the top, because the children could not get there; then the children made a pyramid with their bodies and were able to reach their treasure.
Knowing that his future murderer was alive, Kamsa decided to get rid of him when he was still small. So he commissioned a witch to kill him. This witch named Putana went around the villages until he found a child who was praised as if it were an angelic being. So he decided to fool everyone and take on the appearance of a beautiful woman to seem divine. She went to the house of Krishna, and showed up saying she have a milk of nectar, which will be able to give immortality to those who had drunk in truth but her milk was poisoned.
So the mother of Krishna entrusted her with the baby. Sure Putana did not think it would be so simple. But when the baby began to suck milk, he seemed to never stop and sucked and sucked until it took away her breath of life. After the death of the witch, Kamsa decided to send another demon. But the little boy managed to stop even the fearsome demon.
Krishna was also opposed to the older Indo-European gods, which tends to confirm his aboriginal origin. It happened that every year the inhabitants of the various villages were celebrating the rain god Indra to ingratiate his blessings. One day Krishna asked why they were celebrating Indra and not all of the other so why not Govardhana mountain that gave them so much sustenance. Krishna was so convincing that everyone decided to celebrate the Govardhana mountain instead of Indra. In the Vaishnava version of the myth, even Indra was replaced by Krishna as the slayer of the dragon serpent, Vritra.
At that time there was a great flood so as to engulf all those poor villagers in Vrindavan. It rained so hard that they knew not where to take shelter. Then Krishna went into action and carved a cave inside the Govardhana mountain and all flee down there and were saved.
Krishna used often playing his flute and his melodious music charmed all, it is said that even animals would stop to listen to him. One of the most famous, again illustrated with miniatures is the episode where, finding the gopis bathing naked in a pond, he steals their clothes and took refuge at the top of a tree, not deigning to give them their business until they come to ask him at the foot of the tree. Holi, the boisterous festival of colors, is closely associated with Krishna and the careless games of his youth.
Now settled in Mathura, Krishna and Balarama must defend the city against the attacks of the powerful Raja Jarasandha of Magadha, a relative of Kamsa. After eighteen indecisive battles will require the intervention of Bhima, the hero of the Mahabharata to shoot Jarasandha. Later he kills Kansa and gives the throne back to the rightful king Ugrasena.
Later Krishna became the king of the yadavas in Mathura. In this period he made friends with Arjuna and the other Pandavas princes of the kingdom of Kuru, across the Yamuna river. There he met and married Rukmini, daughter of King Bhishmaka of Vidarbha. He later loses the battle against magadha King Jarāsaṃda and then comes to Dwaraka and became adviser of Pandavas against the Kauravas in the battle of Kurukshetra.
After killing Narakasura, he rescued 16000 women and released them, but they all came back to Krishna saying that, having been retained by Narakasura, their family would not accept nor anyone would marry them, thus remaining abandoned. Krishna welcomed in his new palace, offering a respectful place in society.
During the bloody battle of Kurukshetra, described in the epic Mahabharata, Krishna takes the side of the virtuous Pandavas against their cousins Kauravas, usurpers of the kingdom. His brother Balaram, instead favored the wicked kurus. When kuru Dushasana tried to undress Draupadi, the wife of the pandavas publicly, Krishna protected her while bestowing a sari.
Krsna, being related to both branches of the family, asks Arjuna (the third of the Pandavas) and Duryodhana (the eldest of the Kauravas), he came to the mountains to invoke the alliance, to choose between his army and his physical presence on the battlefield, with the condition however that he would not fight. The Pandavas chooses its proximity (which is why Krsna will be the charioteer of his cart), making it also satisfied Duryodhana, who can take possession of the powerful army of Krishna.
Before the battle, finding himself in front of cousins, grandparents, mentors and friends lined up in the opposing camp, Arjuna gives way to anguish and crying, he refuses to fight. In the famous part of the Mahabharata which is titled Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives strength and courage hero reminding his Dharma warrior and giving it a series of philosophical and spiritual teachings aimed at achieving self-realization.
Thanks to the divine proximity of Krishna, the Pandavas get the victory in Kurukshetra despite the numerical inferiority of their army than that of the Kauravas. The death of the Krishna is narrated in the Mahabharata, precisely in its sixteenth parvan, the Mausala Parvan.
After the self-destruction of his race by a fierce civil war, Krsna withdraws into the forest and while he was immersed in the depths of yoga, he was struck by an arrow to the heel, his only vulnerable spot, by a hunter, who mistakes him for a deer. The Matsya Purana indicates that Krishna was 89 years when there was the battle of Kurukshetra.
Radha or Radharani is the female consort associated with Krishna. Her eyes exceeded in beauty. He who looks at the face of Radharani despises without hesitation as the charm of the moon. The complexion of Radharani exceeds the fineness of gold. In the traditional Vaishnava literature the branch of Hinduism venerate the image of Krishna, who is likened to the Sun and Radha, the light of the Sun. Both exist, but one derived from the other.
Radha was the daughter of Vrishbhanu and Kirti Kumari Lakshmiji and born about 5000 years ago in Barsana, near Mathura.
Devarshi Narad after seeing the newborn baby, said to Vrishbhanu, that her beauty was divine in nature. One year during the festival of Holi, Vrishbhanu went to Gokul where Krishna lived and in that place he lets Krishna meet Radha, the first meeting of their divine union that become eternal.
Radha's origins are obscure. She is not mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam or in the Mahabharata, but we find mention in only Brahma Vaivarta Purana, composed later than these texts, which cite Radha as the consort of Krishna.
Jhulan yatra is the festival of the swing, which celebrates the pastimes between Radharani and Krishna.