Krishna with His mother, Yasoda

Janmashtami is the yearly observance of Krishna‘s appearance on earth. It is one of the world’s most widely observed spiritual festivals. Krishna’s “birth,” janma, occurred at midnight on ashtami, the eighth day after the full moon in the Vedic calendar.

Krishna’s appearance is significant on many levels, and is something of a paradox. He’s the beginningless Supreme Person, eternally existing everywhere at all times. He isn’t “born” like we’re are—forced by karma into a succession of material bodies. Krishna appears in His same permanent, spiritual form whenever and wherever He likes.

When He does appear, He chooses His devotees to play the roles of His father and mother. He Himself plays the role of their child, and acts like a human being, while also performing superhuman activities that are impossible for anyone else to imitate.

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Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that He appears time after time in this world, in His original form, to reestablish religious principles, deliver His devotees from material existence, and annihilate the wicked. He also says that those who hear about and understand the nature of His appearance and activities no longer have to undergo repeated birth and death, but return to live with Him in the spiritual world.

Devotees of Krishna most commonly celebrate Janmashtami by:

Those who live far from a temple may wish to celebrate online by:

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We like to quote our sources. This page is based on the following:

  • Bhagavad-gita, 4.6: “Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.”
  • Brahma-samhita, 5.1: “Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.3.7-8: “The demigods and great saintly persons showered flowers in a joyous mood, and clouds gathered in the sky and very mildly thundered, making sounds like those of the ocean’s waves. Then the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, who is situated in the core of everyone’s heart, appeared from the heart of Devakī in the dense darkness of night, like the full moon rising on the eastern horizon, because Devakī was of the same category as Sri Krishna.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.11.36: “One should always discuss My birth and activities and enjoy life by participating in festivals, such as Janmastami, which glorify My pastimes. In My temple, one should also participate in festivals and ceremonies by singing, dancing, playing musical instruments and discussing Me with other Vaishnavas.”
  • Nectar of Devotion, 26: “There are many statements about the festive days in connection with Krishna’s different activities. One of these festive days is Janmashtami, the day of Krishna’s birth. This Janmashtami day is the most opulent festival day for the devotees, and it is still observed with great pomp in every Hindu house in India. Sometimes even the devotees of other religious groups take advantage of this auspicious day and enjoy the performance of the ceremony of Janmashtami.”
  • Teachings of Lord Kapila, 7.13: “We therefore have to learn how Krishna takes His birth, which is not ordinary. If it were ordinary, why should we observe the Janmashtami ceremony? His birth is divyam, divine. Everything about Krishna is divine, and if we think that Krishna is like us, we immediately become mudhas, fools.”
  • On The Way to Krishna, 2: ” . . . Krishna also points out that His descent into the material world is transcendental . . . Even today, in India, at the end of August the people are accustomed to celebrating Krishna’s birthday, regardless of sect, just as in the Western world Jesus Christ’s birthday is celebrated at Christmas. Krishna’s birthday is called Janmashtami . . . Krishna’s birth and activities are transcendental, which means they are not like ordinary births and activities . . . we must know of His birth and activities in truth. When one knows of Krishna’s birth and activities in truth, the result is: . . when he leaves this material body, he is not born again but goes directly to Krishna.”
  • Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.11.23-24, Purport: “One should regularly take part in the ceremonies commemorating Krishna’s pastimes, such as the Janmashtami celebration glorifying the Lord’s birth. On such days one should worship the Deity of Lord Krishna and the spiritual master and thus remember the Lord’s pastimes.”
  • Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 4.6, Purport: “The Lord says that He appears in His own body. He does not change His body, as the common living entity changes from one body to another. . .Whenever He appears, He does so in the same original body, by His internal potency. In other words, Krishna appears in this material world in His original eternal form, with two hands, holding a flute. . . Although He appears in the same transcendental body and is Lord of the universe, it still appears that He takes His birth like an ordinary living entity.”

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