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ORIGIN OF THE FESTIVAL OF JANMASTAMI


Adapted from Hari-bhakti-viläsa 15.248-265
In the uttara-khaëda of the Bhaviñya Puräëa, Yudhisthir
Maharaja asked Krishna, “O infallible Lord, please describe to me in great detail the observance
of Janmäñöamé. When did this observance commence? What are the benefits of following it and what are the rules for its conduct?”
Krishna replied, “O Yudhisthir, when the wrestling
match was over, Devaki entered into the arena. At that time the members of the Kukura and Andhaka dynasties all surrounded her and began to praise her and Vasudev. She then placed me on her lap, and with great affection she began to cry, saying, ‘My dear son! My dear son!’ With tears in his eyes and a choked voice that was filled with humility, Vasudeva came, embraced Balaram and me, and said, ‘Today my life has become successful and glorious because I have been able to see my two sons, the glories of the Yadu dynasty!’
“O king, seeing my parents’ happiness, everyone
else became happy. Bowing before me, they all said, ‘Today we are happy. Today Krishna is born. Today the demon Kamsa has been killed in this wrestling arena. O Madhusudan, Krishna, be pleased with us and kindly remove all the doubts within our mind.’ They continued:
yasmin dine prasüyeta devaké tväà janärdanatad-dinaà dehi vaikuëöha kurmas te tatra cotsavamsamyag-bhakti-prapannänäà prasädaà kuru keçava
“‘O Krishna, O Lord who removes all sufferings, please tell us the day when Devaki gave birth to you. We will celebrate a festival in your honor. O Krishna, please be kind to your surrendered devotees.’ (Text 257)
“Vasudev was astonished to hear their words. He joyfully looked at Balaram, and with the hairs of his body erect in ecstasy, he said, ‘Let the desire of the people be fulfilled. Please tell them what they want to know.’
“O son of Pritha, then, on my father’s order, I revealed the observance of Janmäñöamé to the people of Mathura, as follows:
pauräç ca taj-janma-dinaà varñe garbhäñöame gatepunar janmäñöaméà lokäù kurvantu brähmaëädayaùkñatriyä vaiçya-jätéyäù çüdrä ye ‘nye ‘pi dharmiëaù
“’The brähmaëas, kñatriyas, vaiçyas, çüdras, and all others who are pious, from the age of eight years and older, should observe Janmäñöamé. (Text 261) [Srila Sanatan Goswami comments: The same is true for observing ekädaçé. In çästra it is said: añöa-varñädhiko bälaù — “Children eight years and older should also observe ekädaçé.”]
siàha-räçi-gate sürye gagane jaladägamemäsi bhädra-pade ‘ñöamyäà kåñëa-pakñe ‘rdha-rätrake
çaçäìke våña-räçi-sthe präjäpatyarkña-saàyutevasudevena devakyäm ahaà jäto janäù svayam
“During the monsoon season, on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhädra, when the sun had entered Leo, and when the moon was in Taurus conjoined with the star Rohiëé, at the halfway point of the night, I was born as the son of Vasudev and Devaki. (Texts 262 to 263)
evam etat samäkhyätaà loke janmäñöamé-vratambhagavatyäç ca tatraiva kurudhvaà su-mahotsavammathuräyäà tataù paçcäl loke khyätià gamiñyati
“’This observance will be known in this world as janmäñöamé-vrata. On this day, celebrate
a great festival honoring the goddess Devaki also. You can begin this festival in Mathura, and soon it will spread all over the world.’ (Text 264) [Srila Sanatan Goswami comments that the word “bhagavatyäù” (goddess) here may refer to both Devaki and goddess Durga.]
ity äkarëya yathäkhyätaà tathä lokair anuñöhitamçäntir astu sukhaà cästu lokäù santu nirämayäù. iti “After hearing these words, everyone began to observe as they were instructed. As a result, there was peace, happiness, and good fortune everywhere.” (Text 265) ·
Bibliography
— Çré Hari-bhakti-viläsa. English translation by Bhumipati Das. Rasbihari Lal & Sons. Vrindavan. 2005.
— Çré Hari-bhakti-viläsa. English translation by Kusakratha Das. Krishna Library. Culver City, California. 1992.
— Çré Hari-bhakti-viläsa. Sanskrit with Bengali translation by Kanailal Adhikari. Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math. Mayapur. 2000.

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