Should birthday celebrations for devotees’ children be banned?

by Chaitanya CharanOctober 17, 2014

From Jaya Krsna Prabhu

It increases bodily identity; it is not a part of our tradition; it is simply a wastage of money

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan
  • krishna dasa
    October 17, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji

    I completely agree with you . Celebrating birthday or not is similar to whether devotees should vote or not . yes philosophically it is right ,that we are not the body ,but the eternal soul . and birth and death is a misery .but even it is equally true that getting human birth is also very rare (durlabha manava janma ) . so in one sense , we are fortunate indeed that we got this human birth ,and by Krishna’s mercy and our sincerity , now ,we can indeed cross this ocean of birth and death .so we can celebrate in this mood as follows
    , My dear Lord, by Your causeless mercy I am now awakened to human consciousness .

    For this causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the friend of all fallen souls, there is no way to express my gratitude but to pray with folded hands.

    The living entity in another type of body sees only by instinct; he knows only the agreeable and disagreeable sense perceptions of that particular body. But now that i have a human body in which I can control my senses and can understand my destination; therefore, I offer my respectful obeisances to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by whom I have been blessed with this body and by whose grace I can see Him within and without. ( referred from Srimad Bhagavatam canto 3 chapter 31)

    This is a positive way by which we can express our appreciation towards Krishna ,that he has given us birth in this human species ,which even demigods aspire for ,at the same time ,we realize the fact that we are not our body ,but part and parcel of Krishna . but Krishna consciousness is a journey to be enjoyed, where you are re establishing your lost relationship with Krishna. It should not be a burden .enjoying not in a sense the way materialist aspire for ,but it should be devotionally infused towards Krishna . There are certain things that we can do during our birthdays

    1) Instead of food, offer your guests prasadam . Meaning, ensure that the food is without onion and garlic pure veg food, or without egg cakes, offer to Krishna or Jagannath and then offer to your guests .in this way ,many of the guest will get the opportunity to eat prasada offered to Krishna ,and that even helps getting agyata sukriti

    2) Attend kirtans in temple ,if possible try to have Hari Nama Sankirtana in your house .

    3) Give charity of food and clothing to the poor and one who deserves .

    4) Read Srimad Bhagavatam ,or Bhagavad Gita ,distribute or give it in charity to the deserving ,if possible .

    And as you rightly said ,we need to be sensitive and being vaishnava ,we should be affectionate towards all , and should not become harsh by our philosophical erudition( by saying this things like how old is our stool bag )
    we never see any incidence in our sastras ,even amongst the great sages ,that after one child is born ,we lament . No ,even when lord Ramachandra and Krishna descended ,as if human beings , their parents unaware of their divinity ,celebrated their birth with great happiness . so were they philosophically weak . definitely not , but we should be sensitive ,and should not unnecessarily alienate people ,as you said ,by asking , “how old is your stool bag ” . personally speaking ,on an advanced level ,a devotee can spiritualize any thing and everything looking material and mundane ,depending on the circumstances ,and he can use that as an instrument to take us more closer to Krishna . but nevertheless ,if devotees family are not found to be Krishna conscious ( not conducive to the above 4 ways mentioned ) ,as it happens at times ,then rather than partaking with their meaning and their way of birthday celebration , we can simply accept their token of gratitude and love ,and give our self some time to read some devotional scriptures ,and in this way ,we can learn to value the importance of this human life ,and understand the need and urgency to free ourselves from this material world .

  • Narayana Acharya Dasa
    October 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Hare Krishna Dear Prabhu, PAMHO

    Wonderful explanation/answer.

    Two important take home messages for me:

    1. Because of our KC lifestyle in the modern day setting, we have too many expectations (academic/spiritual/cultural) from kids, so we have to be sensitive to this fact and be realistic in our expectations.

    2. The real purpose of celebrating birthdays is to express our love to our loved ones and make them feel valued/appreciated/cared for.

    Thank you very much prabhu!

    Narayana Acharya Dasa (Naveen Kandakatla)

    • Chaitanya Charan das
      October 17, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Yes, but with an important addition:
      The real purpose of celebrating birthdays is to express our love to our loved ones and make them feel valued/appreciated/cared for so that they can practice bhakti more enthusiastically and attain Krishna, in whom our need to feel valued/ appreciated / cared is supremely fulfilled

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