To mark the birth of Lord Sri Krishna, the festival of Janmashtami is celebrated with utmost fervor in India and abroad. The story of the birth of this child god is in itself a transcendental phenomenon much to the joy of His devotees.
According to the great epics and legends, when Mother Earth was unable to bear the burden of sins committed by evil kings and rulers, she appealed to the Creator of the Universe Lord Brahma to help get rid of the evils lords. Following which Lord Brahma requested Supreme Lord Vishnu who assured that he would be born to annihilate tyrannical forces plaguing earth.
One such notorious and evil lord was the King of Mathura, Kansa. People of the land were extremely annoyed and terrified of this brutal ruler. One fine day when Kansa’s sister Devaki got married to Vasudeva, there was an akashvani (voice from the sky) which prophesied that it will one of Devaki's son who would be the slayer of Kansa.
Petrified and also angered by the voice, Kansa immediately put both his sister and her husband to prison. On the promise that he would spare their life only on the condition that their every new born would be handed over to him.
Even though the couple relented to Kansa’s demand, they were shell shattered once Devaki gave birth to her first child. Kansa came to the prison cell and slaughtered the newborn! And same was the fate of the next six babies that were born to Devaki and Vasudeva. But at the event of the birth of their 8th child, Devaki and Vasudeva lamented as to what would be the fate of the child yet unborn.
Suddenly Lord Vishnu appeared before them and said he himself was coming to rescue them and the people of Mathura.
He requested Vasudeva to carry him to the house of his friend, the cowherd chief Nanda in Gokul. Vishnu assured that once the child in His incarnation is born and when he will have to carry him to the Gokul village nothing shall bar his path.
Interestingly, when Devaki gave birth to her 8th child, Nanda's wife Yashoda had given birth to a daughter. So, at midnight on ashtami, when the baby was born Vasudeva clasped the child to his chest wondering how to get out of the prison before evil Kansa could come in the morning and kill their child. Suddenly, the child jerked his legs and the massive iron-barred doors unlocked and opened up.
But in between Vasudev and village Gokul laid the vast expand of Yamuna. Vasudeva held his baby high over his head. The rain fell in torrents and the river was in spate. But the water made way for Vasudeva and miraculously a five-mouthed snake followed him from behind providing shade from heavy lashes of rain over the baby.
When Vasudeva reached Gokula, he found the door of Nanda's house open. He exchanged his boy and bring Yashoda's baby daughter back to the prison
When Kansa came to know about the birth, he rushed inside the prison and tried to kill the baby. However, this time much to Kansa’s surprise, the baby skipped from his hand and reaching the sky. She was transformed into the goddess Yogamaya, who told Kamsa: "O foolish! What will you get by killing me? Your nemesis is already born somewhere else."
Later in his youth Krishna killed Kansa along with all his cruel associates, liberated his parents from prison, and reinstated King Ugrasen as the new ruler Mathura.
Janmashtami celebration is incomplete without Krishnraslila in which Sri Krishna's life is enacted in the form of dance, the experience of which is absolutely mesmerizing.