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Monday, September 3, 2018

Sri Jayanthi ~ celebrating birth of Lord Sri Krishna 2018

Celebrating Birth of Lord Sri Krishna ~ Gokulashtami 2018

Today  3rd Sept 2018    is a day of great significance, for we Celebrate the ‘Birth  of Bhagwan Sri Krishna’.  Ithihasa Puranas are the fundamentals to tenets of Vaishnava philosophy and one can learn everything in Sri Ramayana and Mahabaratha.

Mathura is the holy place where Lord Krishna was born…. ~ the centre of what is fondly referred as Braj bhoomi.  Remember Lord was born in a prison cell at Mathura, the capital of   Surasena kingdom ruled by Kamsa, the maternal uncle of the Lord.  This is a very old place dating back to Ramayana days.  According to the Archeologists, the Ikshwaku prince Shatrughna slayed a demon called Lavanasura and claimed this  land.  By some accounts this place was a densely wooded Madhuvan.   This place was closely associated with history too.  Centuries later,  Mathura was one of the capitals of Kushan dynasty. Megasthenes, writing in the early 3rd century BCE, mentions Mathura as a great city.

The land of Braj is full of sacred places, revered on account of their being the reputed haunts and homes of Krishna. The pilgrims can never rest until they have made the round of these holy shrines, and hence, especially upon the occasion of Krishna's birthday, called JanmAshtami, falling in the month Bhadon, corresponding with our August-September, in the midst of the rainy season, they may be found by the thousands making the Ban Jathra, or perambulation of Braj. The distance travelled is popularly said to be eighty-four kos, or one hundred and sixty-eight miles, with Mathura as the central point in the circle. But at the present day Mathura is at the western side of the course marked out, and it is therefore thought that originally the circle must have been much more extensive. But in any case the circle is not intended to be exact, but rather ideal, and so any place within may be considered the center. The sacred places to be visited are enumerated, in a local manual published.. … ….

Maholi. The pilgrims naturally start from the holiest place in the holy city of Mathura, namely, Visrant Ghat. The first halting place is Mahaban, some four or five miles southwest of Mathura, in the present village of Maholi, lying back from the river about the same distance. This is the reputed place, as has been before related, where Rama's brother, Satrughna, founded the city of Madhupura, which Hindu classic literature from the earliest period identifies with Mathura.

 Sri Krishna janmasthan entrance at Mathura

domes at Mathura

The birth of Lord Sri Krishna at Mathura to Vasudeva and Devaki is celebrated with gaiety everywhere.  While some celebrate the coming of Lord Krishna to this Universe on Ashtami day as ‘Gokulashtami’ – in South India, it is more with the star of ‘Rohini’ and the birth day is being celebrated as : Krishna Jayanthi, Janmashtami, Gokulaashtami, Sri Jayanthi and more – all various names celebrating the birth of Bhagwan Lord Sri Krishna in this Universe on the Ashtami (8th day of dark half of Krishna paksha) on the Rohini Nakshathiram.  This year, Srijayanthi will be celebrated grandly at Thiruvallikkeni and other divyadesams on Monday, 3rd Sept 2018.

ஆறு எனக்கு  நின் பாதமே சரணாகத் தந்தொழிந்தாய்  :  தெய்நாயகப் பெருமானே!  அடியேனுக்கு உன் திருவடிகளே உபாயமாக அநுக்ரஹித்து விட்டாய் என சுவாமி நம்மாழ்வார் அருளிச்செய்தபடியே கண்ணன் கழலிணைகளையே  பற்றுவோமாக*

Thiruvallikkeni Vennaithazhik kannan kazhalgal

At the place where Lord Krishna was born now exists a Temple popularly known as ‘Janmasthan temple’  -  Kesava Deo Temple considered most sacred for all Hindus.  There is a huge complex comprising of a small temple, the Janmasthan, gallery, a huge temple later built by Dalmiyas – the prison cell – the exact place where Lord Krishna was born is under a doom – all heavily fortified and guarded these days.  At the Janmasthan is the most beautiful  Kehsav Dev(Krishna), the worshipped  deity of this temple. According to traditions the original deity was installed by the  great-grandson of Krishna.

This temple is considered a monument of Gupta period (320 to 550 CE)which was destroyed in 1661 CE by Aurangzeb. Vrindavan is the twin town of Mathura and there are other holy places of Gokulam and Govardhana giri – all in the vicinity.   Here some history ~~ of the plunder and ruins that the place has withstood : 

 ‘Mathura’ as recorded in British history –  states that a few centuries ago, the District was widely the two tracts differing in  character.  Varaha Mihira, writing in the latter half of the fifth century to speak of Mathura as consisting at that time also of two very dissimilar portions. For, in the 16th section of the Brihat Sanhita, he includes its eastern half, with all river lands (such as is the Doab), the western half, with the Bharatas and Purohits and other managers of religious ceremonies.  The Chinese pilgrim, Hwen Thsang, describes the circumference of the kingdom of Mathura as 5,000 li, i. e., 950 miles, taking the Chinese li as not quite one-fifth of an English mile. The people, he says, are of a soft and easy nature and delight to perform meritorious works with a view to a future life. The soil is rich and fertile and specially adapted to the cultivaiion of grain.  He mentions of Cotton stuffs of fine texture; obtainable  gold ; while the mango trees are so abundant that they form complete forests.

Krishna's birthplace is shown at the back of the Katra, near the site of the temple of Kesva Deva, now occupied by the mosque of Aurangzeb, built in 1669. It is on the margin of a large quadrangular tank called Potara  Kund, where it is said Krishna's "baby linen" was washed. It is a small room called Janam Bhoomi, "the birthplace/' or Karagrah, "the prison house," where the parents of Krishna, Basudeva and Devaki, were imprisoned. The Arina, where Krishna killed Kansa, is to be found outside of the city opposite the civil dispensary, and is known by the name of Kans ka Tila, or Rang Bhumi. The four principal entrances to the city are called the Brindaban, Dig, Bharatpur, and Holi Gates. The latter is also called the Hardinge Gate, in honor of the late Mr. Bradford Hardinge, who was magistrate and collector at the time the beautiful and elaborately carved stone arch was erected over the main street leading from the civil station into the city. The center of the portal is surmounted with a clock.

Apart from inscriptions and other fragmentary archseological vestiges of its ancient glory, the first authentic contemporary record of Mathura that we find in existing literature is dated the year 1017 A.D., when it was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni in his ninth invasion of India. The original source of information recording Mahmud’s campaigns is the Tarikh Yamini of A1 Utbi, who was himself secretary to the Sultan, though he did not accompany him in his expeditions. The place supposed to be Maha-ban he calls the Fort of Kulchand,” a Raja, who (he writes) “ was, not without good reason, confident in his strength, for no one had fought against him and not been defeated. He had vast territories, enormous wealth, a numerous and brave army, huge elephants, and strong forts that no enemy had been able to reduce. When he saw that the Sultan advanced against him, he drew up his army and elephants  ready for action. But finding every attempt to repulse the invaders fail, the beleaguered infidels at last quitted the fort and tried to cross the broad river which flowed in its rear. When some 50,000 men had been killed or drowned, Kulchand took a dagger, with which he first slew his wife and then drove it into his own body.   In the neighbouring holy city, identified as Mathura, he saw a building of exquisite structure, which the inhabitants declared to be the handiwork not of men but of Genii.  The town wall was constructed of solid stone, and had opening on to the river two gates, raised on high and massive basements to protect them from the floods. On the two sides of the city were thousands of houses with idol temples attached, all of masonry and strengthened with bars of iron ; and opposite them were other buildings supported on stout wooden pillars. In the middle of the city was a temple, larger and finer than the rest, to which neither painting nor description.  The Sultan thus wrote respecting it:— If any one wished to construct a building equal to it, he would not be able to do so without expending a hundred million dinars, and the work would occupy two hundred years, even though the most able and experienced workmen were employed.’ Orders were given that all the temples should be burnt with naphtha and fire and levelled with the ground.” The city was given up to plunder for twenty days. Among the spoils are said to have been five great idols of pure gold with eyes of rubies and adornments of other precious stones, together with a vast number  of smaller silver images, which, when broken up, formed a load for more than a hundred camels. The total value of the spoil has been estimated at three millions of rupees ; wliile the number of Hindus carried away into captivity exceeded 5,000.

Years later, after reign of Shahjahan,  Murshid Ali Khan, in the year 1636, made a commander of 2,000 horse, and appointed by the Emperor Governor of Mathura and Maha-ban, with express instructions to bo zealous in stamping out all rebellion and idolatry. The climax of wanton destruction was, however, attained by Aurangzeb, the Oliver Cromwell of India, who, not content with demolishing the most sacred of its shrines, thought also to destroy even the ancient name of the city by substituting for Islamabad. Mathura was casually connected important events in his life as  born here  in 1639, his eldest son, Muhammad Sultan, who expiated the sin of primogeniture in the Oriental fashion by ending his days in a dungeon, as one of the first acts of his father, on his accession to the throne, was to confine him in the fortress of Gwaliar  fortress of Gwaliar, where he died in 1665. .  

In 1944, Madan Mohan Malviya was distressed at plight of the site and arranged for purchase of land from Raja Krishna Das of Benaras; then  Jugal Kishore Birla of Birla group took  the leading role to fulfill the wishes of Malviyaji and formed a private trust in 1951 to which the rights of land were later transferred. Jaidayal Dalmia of Dalmia Group was another leading personality, who took untiring efforts and the temple was finally constructed over the site. The trust which runs the temple has a glorious list of Trustees besides Birla and Dalmia family members.   

Though this modern temple attracts pilgrims, the original place of birth lies within the complex -  a small room  of  a prison cell, where it is  fully believed that Lord Krishna was born.  There is a mosque overlooking this place.  Here are some photos of Sri Janmasthan of Sri Krishna at Mathura ~ photos of the entrance only as the temple premises is heavily guarded and cameras are not allowed these days.  On the day of Gokulashtami huge crowds would gather and sing paeans in praise of our Great Lord Krishna

Jai Sri Krishna

Adiyen Srinivasadhasan.
3rd Sept 2018.

1.       (marked in green in the post) : from the book ‘Braj, the Vaishnava Holy’ – Rev JE Scott 1906 (author of In Famine land & the India Mission )
2.      [Excerpted from  Mathura ~ a District Memoir  “  by FS Growse & MA Oxon,   Magistrate and Collector of  Bulandshahr in 1883] 


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