In all of the Lord’s incarnations, the Divine Mother is accompanies Him (like Lakshmi Varaha, Lakshmi Narasimha) because it is She who bestows everything to the aspirant, including liberation, (Moksha Lakshmi). Incarnations like Parasurama do take place sans a Lakshmi, who is filled with anger and vengeance, but He is seldom worshipped at homes; it is Lord Sita-Rama who is worshipped by all. In Krishna-avatara, Krishna gets the élan and beauty only after He gets wedded to Rukmini. Our Swamiji says, the Divine Mother has three qualities that even the Lord seldom possesses – patience, compassion, penance. The patience of a mother is the supreme, when she nurtures her child. And Mahalakshmi is equivalent to a million mothers. Compassion springs from disparity. When one’s stature/position is below another, the one higher above may spring forth with compassion towards the one lower (like a man on the road to a beggar on the disparity of wealth; to a handicapped person on the disparity of health, etc.) Sage Ramana starts his work – Arunachala Pathigam with this word ‘karunai’. The Divine Mother is the one who bestows us with Moksha and we are the recipients. Because of this disparity, she showers infinite compassion on us. Penance (‘thapas’) – unlike the materialistic kind like that of Ravana and Hiranyakashipu – is the infinite wait and staunch expectation of the Lord’s grace. Our Guru Maharaj depicts these beautifully in His kirtan, ‘karunaiyum porumaiyum thavamum….’.
Gokulashtami is the most celebrated festival in the month of ‘Shravana’ – when the Lord descended as Krishna with all His 16 ‘kalas’ (qualities / characteristics), unlike His other avatars which were ‘kalaavataars’ when He descend with lesser ‘kala’s. All the other Avataras were for destruction of the evil and protection of the good and hence a few ‘kalas’ were enough. Whereas, Krishnavatara, as Sage Shuka says, ‘krishnastu bhagavAn svayam’ and Jayadeva says in his Ashtapadi – ‘Keshava druta’ – Keshava took all these forms, was less for destroying evil and protecting Sadhus but to establish the Bhagavata Dharma, which is not about destruction, but about listening to His Lilas. So He had to descend with all his ‘kalas’ – to enact all the Lilas!
We can boldly proclaim that Krishna descended for our sakes – so that we can listen (‘shrunvan’) to, sing (‘gruNan’) and ruminate (‘samsmarayan’) on Krishna Lila when narrated by our Guru Maharaj, and Sage Shuka says so too –
shruNvan gruNan samsmarayamscha chintayan nAmAni rUpAnicha mangaLAni te |
kriyAsu yastvaccharaNAravindayorAvishta chetA na bhavAya kalpate ||
But the Lord has proclaimed that His every Avatar shall be for protecting the Sadhus and destroying the wicked, and hence he summoned a few of the Devas to be born as Gopas and Gopis – Sadhus – that He would protect as Brahma instructs them ‘janishyate tatpriyArtam sambhavantu surastriyah’. He summoned His ‘Parshada’ Adisesha and ordained him to play the ‘big brother’ role, which sometimes, Balarama even fumbled, and Krishna intervened. That is perhaps why the Lord left Balrama behind at home, when he was to perform Kaliya Nardhanam (as Balarama is also a divine serpent who may not stand his brother serpant being ‘tormented’!)
He ordained the rest of the divine beings like Jaya and Vijaya, by enacting another Lila with the Sanatkumaras, to be born as Shishupala and Dantavaktra to destroy them. Bhagavan perhaps thought it was an ‘overkill’ to spare two avataras one for Hiranyaaksha and Hiranyakashipu, and hence took just one – Rama and Krishna, the subsequent descents. Interestingly, the Lord gave even the bad forces a ‘satsanga’ in their incarnations – like Kalanemi (as Kamsa), Soubha, Paundraka, etc. And they played their role perfectly, as noted by Narada:
vaireNayam nrupatayah sishupAla paunDra shAlvAdayo gati vilAsa vilokanAdyaih |
dyAyanta Akrutadiyah shayanAsanAdau tatsAmyamApuranurakta dhiyAm punah kim ||
The demons Kamsa, Saubha, Paundraka, would gather in a meeting – and would keep thinking of the gait, glance and his beauty, even though mockingly or in an envious manner, and thereby, are in ‘Krishna Smarana’, thought of Krishna, all the time- eventually attaining Krishna! Kamsa verily attained that where everything seemed to him as verily Krishna – ‘tanmayam jagat’!
This was the secret behind Krishna’s incarnation on a Shravana Month, Krishna Paksha, Ashtami night – merely so that we can relish the nectar of His Lilas. And Parikshit asks for just this to Sage Shuka – ‘tAni no vada vistarAt’!
‘pitAmahAme samaramaranchayaih devavratAdyAtirataih timingilaih |
duratyayam kaurava sainyasAgaram krutvAdaran vatsapadam sma yatplavAh ||’
‘Samara’ – means war; ‘mara’ denotes death and ‘samara’ literally means ‘definite death’. Mahabharata meant definite death – for the huge shark called Bhishma – Devavrata (Sri Vallabha says, he was ‘daitya vrata’ instead – the favorite of the Asuras!). For Pariskhit’s grandparents – the Pandavas – it was ‘amara’ – eternal life – because they caught hold of the boat called Krishna to cross the huge ocean of the Kaurava army. A question may arise as to how a boat could be sufficient to cross a huge ocean! And Vallabhacharya answers here that when the boat is verily Lord Krishna, the ocean becomes a small puddle of water and can be crossed just like a calf jumps across a water-puddle.
Pariskhit begs unto Sage Shuka for Krishna Katha, pointing at his own body – ‘draunyastra viplushtam idam madangam’ – When Ashwattama sent the Brahmastra, it was aimed at destroying Parikshit who was in his mother’s womb. But Uttara surrendered unto Krishna. Here Vallabhacharya says that Krishna did let the Brahmastra destroy Pariskhit’s body, but gave a new divine body to Parikshit’s soul – ‘madangam’ – a body bestowed by Krishna – purely for the sake of listening to Krishna Katha!
Shuka Muni, elated by Parikshit’s enthusiasm for Krishna Katha, started it – by speaking about how the Mother Earth was longing for the Lord’s descent to ease her pain, and how the Lord promised Brahma that He would be born as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. He went on to narrate how Devaki was given in marriage to Vasudeva, and during the wedding procession, when Kamsa rode the chariot for the wedded couple, he heard a divine voice notifying him of his death by the eighth child of Devaki. Kamsa’s intent to slay Devaki and Vasudeva’s plea to spare Devaki for an offer of each born child to Kamsa, ended them in the confines of the prison. Vasudeva offers his first child ‘kirtimanta’ to Kamsa. One may think – how hard-hearted Vasudeva would be to offer his own child to be killed! Sage Shuka says ‘What is painful for saintly persons who strictly adhere to the truth, and what cannot be given up for the sake of Krishna by those who have completely surrendered unto Him?’
All the 6 six children are killed by Kamsa. The Lord now summons his sister, Maya, to take the seventh child of Devaki and transfer it to Rohini’s womb and to be born in the womb of Yashoda when He would be born in Devaki’s womb.
The Lord enters Devaki’s womb as the eighth child and Devaki shines with luster which attracts Brahma and all the Devas, who sing praise of the Lord in the womb:
tvaiyambujAkshAkhila satvadhAmni samAdhinAveshita chetasaike |
tvatpAdapotena mahatkrutena kurvanti govatsapadam bhavAbdhim ||
‘We shall catch hold of your Feet tightly O! Lord, and jump this Samsara just as a calf would jump across a puddle of water.’
‘Anyone who starts starts his sadhana, but unable to perform it properly will be saved by you as long as he surrenders unto You and says ‘Oh! Madhava! I am yours!’ whereas, those that are under the delusion that they have realized the truth on their own, shall fall into the gorges of ignorance.’
They console Devaki, ‘Don’t worry oh! Dear mother! About Kamsa. The knower of everything knows how to protect Himself and the entire world! He shall bring auspiciousness all around’.
On the Shravana Month in the eighth day of the waning phase of the moon, the sky was lighted up; everyone’s hearts were as pure as the pure waters in the rivers and the fire in the oblations of the Brahmanas. The clouds set the stage by mildly drizzling, just as incensed water would be sprinkled and shed their tears of happiness.
That very Janardhana – the Lord of the Universe was born at midnight as the full-moon ascends from the East – with four arms, all the precious jewels, a bedecked crown, conch, wheel, mace, lotus, sporting a dazzling yellow garment and a beautiful smile on His face! He showed such a form to Vasudeva ‘vasudeva aikshatah’.
Vasudeva realized the true nature of the ‘new-born’ and praised Him with a stuti and Devaki followed suit. She pleaded to Krishna to take a normal form for the fear of Kamsa’s wrath. Krishna speaks to His parents and transforms into a little baby instructing Vasudeva to carry Him across. The entire nature bends to execute the Lord’s instruction. With cuffs unshackling, prison gates opening up, Yamnua giving way, Adisesha being the umbrella for the Lord against the rain, Vasudeva carries the Lord to Gokulam and brings back Yoga Maya. And in Nanda Gokulam, ‘Nandotsav’ is celebrated in a grand manner.
The satsang ended with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.