A Divine Festival of Freedom
Over 5000 years ago on this very day of Janmashtami, Lord Krishna appeared at midnight in a dark prison cell. This is indeed a historical fact, but this momentous event has a deeper significance. Presently, our hearts have become darkened due to the debilitating passions lust, anger, greed, pride, envy and illusion. These dark desires prevent the illumination of divine wisdom and joy from flooding our hearts and lives. Moreover these murky cravings compel us to hanker for the undesirable and
lament over the inevitable. Thus moment after moment, they distract us from fruitful utilization of our precious mental and physical energies. They imprison our desires and destiny within the world of matter, where we are constantly tormented by anxiety and misery. Those who succumb to these passions harm not only themselves, but also everyone else. When these internal passions are repeatedly frustrated, they become distorted and aggravated. In their extreme perverted form, these insidious internal forces manifest as the specter of international terrorism that is haunting everyone today.
We moderns have researched tirelessly to understand and control the external world, but we have neglected research to control the inner world. Martin Luther King Jr states our malady, “We have guided missiles and misguided men.” The Bhagavadgita – and indeed all the wisdom traditions of the world explains that the mind can be controlled only when the individual connects himself with the divine power of God by a bond of devotional love.
Srila Prabhupada, the founderacharya of ISKCON, poignantly summed up our existential dilemma: How can we have universal brotherhood without accepting the universal father, God? When we are established in selfless love for God, love for all His children, our brothers and sisters, is an automatic byproduct. He succinctly stated, “Without awakening divine consciousness in the individual, there is no use of crying for world peace.” In our turbulent times of terror and tribulation, Janmashtami is a timely reminder of the timeless aphorism: No God, no peace; Know God, Know Peace.
We can very easily and effectively invite the Lord in our heart by the nonsectarian spiritual process of chanting His holy names, as is recommended by all the great religions of the world. For example,
1 the Bible declares, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10.13);
2 the Islamic tradition extols the chanting of the ninetynine names of Allah, called the “Beautiful Names” and
3 the Bhagavadgita (10.25) declares, “Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names.”
Sincere spiritual practitioners, irrespective of time, place, circumstance or religion, have experienced the potency of the holy name of God to evoke divine love for all living entities. On the sacred appearance day of Lord Krishna, let us come together in a festival of the heart by chanting His holy names.