GEMS FROM THE
VISION AND PRACTICE
BEACH 10: HINDUISM FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
Wave 6: Krishnavatara, the Miraculous – Page 2
It was on that Ashtami day after ShrAvan Poornima, when the Moon was in the asterism Rohini – corresponding to the star Aldebaran, in modern terminology – that Krishna was born in that famous prison of Kamsa of Mathura. According to the hair-raising description of that birth in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, tenth canto, third chapter, it was in the dense darkness of that fateful night, the Lord appeared – mark the word, appeared, not born – as an unusual child from the womb of Devaki, just like the full moon rising on the eastern horizon!. Oh, what a sight it was! Continues the Bhagavatam:
tam-adbhutam bAlakam-ambujekShaNaM caturbhujam shanka-gadAdyudhAyudhaM /
shrIvatsa-lakShmaM gala-shobhi-kaustubhaM pItAmbaraM sAndra-payoda-saubhagaM//
mahArha-vaiDUrya-kirITa-kuNDala-tviShA pariShvakta-sahasra-kuntalaM /
uddAma-kAnchyangada-kankaNAdibhiH virAjamAnaM vasudeva aikShata //
Vasudeva saw that wonder child with four hands, holding a conch, a mace, a chakra (discus) and a lotus; with Srivatsa emblem on his chest; with Kaustubha gem on the neck; with cloth of golden hue, as beautiful as the blue water-filled cloud; with dense hair flowing around amidst the adornments of crown and ear-rings radiant with precious gems; and excellently brilliant with bracelets around the hip and arms.
Struck with awe and wonder at the sight, Vasudeva praises the Lord and His glory and Devaki, his wife, also joins him in the prayer. Devaki is naturally scared of the possibilities of Kamsa, her brother, hearing of the birth and walking in any moment to kill the new-born child, who has been predicted, as the eighth child of Devaki, to turn out to be the killer of Kamsa. So she pleads that the baby should become a natural baby immediately and she wants to think of some way of hiding the baby. The Lord (in the form of the baby) speaks, reminds them of their previous births, how she and her husband had done a massive tapas for ages, and the Lord had promised them that He would incarnate as their issue. And then, right in front of their view the child assumes a normal human form and then all the story that we know took place.
Now let me raise the major question that arises in the mind of a skeptic or in the mind of the teen-agers or in the mind of an enquiring intellectual.
Was all this true? Did something like this really happen? Could it have happened? Is it a historically accurate account that is written in the book of Shrimad Bhagavatam or is it the fantastic imagination of an over-zealous superstitious fanatic Vyasa who any way had a vested interest in promoting his brand of religion?How can we believe such a thing as a newly born baby with four arms, with flowing hair, with bracelets and anklets, and speaking to its parents in that way?
In fact, if we pursue the story further, it says that the gates of the prison opened themselves for Vasudeva to carry the child to the other side of the Yamuna, and to exchange it for the other child (the Yoga Maayaa as it is referred to in the book) born there in distant Gokulam and all that story of Kamsa coming and getting totally disappointed and scared by the fact that the eighth child had been a female child and even that child would not stay in his hands until he could crush it, and more amazingly, the child speaks from the heavens, as it were, to announce that the real killer of Kamsa has been born somewhere else already. All this is totally unbelievable, if you approach it from a rational point of view. It all looks like a fairy tale story fit only for the kindergarten. So let us examine it.
Why don’t we want to believe it? Let us analyse this behaviour of our modern mind in a logical manner. There are two kinds of disbelievers of this story.
Some people say they believe in God alright, but they are not prepared to take this story as historic. According to them, some well-meaning person, Vyasa, perhaps, has invented these stories for purposes of instilling faith in the masses, in our religion. According to them it is not necessary to believe in such stories in order to understand the principles and practices of the ancients. If you ask them whether they believe the words of the Lord himself in the Gita they will have a hard time explaining how they arfe prepared to take the teaching given in the Gita as Gospel but still they cannot digest the supposedly historical accounts mentioned in the fourth and eleventh chapters of the Gita.
The other kind of disbelievers go one step further bcause they don’t believe in the concept of God itself – much less its avatar.
But both kinds of disbelievers, if asked to pinpoint their reasons for their disbelief in these stories, would say something like this:
One, it is so unnatural, extraordinary and ridiculous an event to have happened in reality.
Two, it is against scientific spirit and rationale to believe in something for which you have no convincing evidence of the kind accepted by modern science.
And thirdly, there is no documentation of the event which has been preserved in a scientific way.
All these three reasons and some kind of modifications and combinations of them exhaust all possible alibis for not believing the birth of Krishna in the way it is told in the Bhagavatam.
Copyright © V. Krishnamurthy Aug.15, 2006