No person who has read and comprehended the Bhagavad Gita will question the Supreme nature of Lord Krishna. Krishna reveals His own nature, our true nature, and our relationship with Him in the Bhagavad Gita.
Here is one question I often get asked: Why Lord Krishna, who is God Himself, was born on earth? What was the purpose of His arrival on this planet?
I’d want to briefly address this question today on this auspicious occasion of Janmashtmi, the day that God descended to the earth.
The many avatars of Krishna
On this planet, Lord Krishna has assumed a great variety of forms, including those of the brave King-warrior Rama, a fish (Matsya), a tortoise (Kurma), a boar (Varaha), a lion-man hybrid (Narasimha), a dwarf Brahmin (Vamana), a Brahmin-warrior (Parashurama), and more.
Srimad Bhagavatam states, “O Brahmanas, verily, the incarnations of Hari (Krishna), the ocean of purity, are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible vast lakes.” [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.26]
Therefore, it is not so that Krishna had only ever appeared once on this planet. The Krishna avatar, however, is even more unique than the other avatars since everything that He offered to us in the form of Krishna cannot be compared to any gift that someone might give someone else.
What the Bhagavad Gita says
Lord Krishna explains in the Bhagavad Gita why He normally takes birth. He tells Arjuna, “Whenever there is a decline in virtue, and a predominant rise in vice, O descendant of Bharata — I manifest Myself as an avatar. For the protection of the pious and for the annihilation of the wicked, and thus to reestablish righteousness, I appear in every age.” [Bhagavad Gita 4.7-4.8]
But how the Lord accomplishes this task of guarding the righteous and destroying the wicked? Some could argue that He does this by putting the wicked to death. That is undoubtedly one of the methods. He killed Raavana as Rama, Kamsa as Krishna, and Hiranyakashyapu as Narsimha. But there is more to it than that.
The activities of Krishna
By reading the revealed scriptures, one can comprehend the Lord’s basic means of establishing righteousness.
Let’s look at some of the things that Krishna did once He entered the material world:
- He assumed the persona of an extremely bright young child. People were drawn to Him because of both His appearance and His acts, much way iron is drawn to a magnet.
- Through His many activities, He exhibited His supreme nature. He repeatedly demonstrated that he was no ordinary child, whether it was holding the Govardhan hill on His little finger for seven days and seven nights or showing His mother Yashoda the entire universe in His small mouth.
- He effortlessly destroyed every demon Kamsa sent to slay Him, which was inconceivable for an adult, let alone a toddler.
- He demonstrated that all He desires is pure love and devotion by playing with the cowherds of Vrindavan and Nandagaon and dancing with the gopis (village girls).
- He killed Kamsa freeing Mathura from his terror.
- When he backed the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war, he displayed His preference for Dharma (righteousness) over adharma (wickedness).
- To Arjuna and via Him to everyone who had to take birth in the material realm, He sang His immortal divine song, the Bhagavad Gita, enlightening the whole human race about spiritual truths.
- On the Kurukshetra battlefield, He revealed His real cosmic self as the creator, maintainer, and destroyer of the entire universe.
The significance of Krishna’s activities
Krishna provided every one of us with the gift of understanding our roles and identities. Also, He taught us how to spend our life in a way that will help us achieve that mission.
But the question remains: What was the need for Him to come here and do all this?
The answer is: He came into this world so that you and I need not come here again.
He came to show how we can achieve permanent liberation from the grip of suffering and grief of this world.
Let me be very clear before you jump to any conclusions: This remark will make no sense to someone who has not studied Vedic literature like the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. So, if you haven’t already, my advice to you is to stop reading now and get acquainted with the holy truth that these writings hold. The Bhagavad Gita is a good place to start because it is shorter and may answer all of your questions about who you are, who the Supreme Self is, the relation between the two, and what your true purpose in life is.
However, if you already understand these concepts, you are aware that this world is Dukhalayam Ashaswatam, or “a world full of sorrow,” as Krishna Himself puts it. And the reason Krishna entered this state of misery and suffering was so that He could disclose to us His Supreme Self, restore our awareness of who we really are, and reaffirm our purpose.
The most challenging time to embrace spirituality is during the Kaliyuga, the dark age that we are currently experiencing. It is easy for us to frequently lose sight of our own selves and show little interest in subjects like self-realization in this day and age.
Lord Krishna, who is the Supreme being and was therefore cognizant of this, entered this earth to rekindle in people’s hearts the longing for self-realization.
In Chapter 4 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna declares that the knowledge He has shared therein was first revealed millions of years ago to the sun-god. However, due to the passage of time, that wisdom has been forgotten, which has resulted in complete anarchy and a lack of direction in the material world. The Lord, therefore, repeated the same wisdom to Arjuna in order to inform us of the much-needed divine spiritual knowledge.
If Krishna would not have come
Without the Krishna-avatar, our planet would not have known the truth about God, what He is like, what He wants from us, what our spiritual responsibilities are, and how to accomplish them. Even for an open-minded seeker craving such understanding, that would have been a tragic loss because there would have been no sense of direction for him.
This would have caused perpetual births and deaths for everyone in this material world, which would have caused souls to degenerate into the never-ending gloom of hell.
There is no finer illustration of God’s kindness than the fact that He chose to be born in this world of suffering. And it is our responsibility to ensure that we take full use of the chance that Krishna has given us by introducing us to His Supreme personality.
Wish you a very HAPPY JANMASHTAMI!