Simply by understanding two things about Lord Krishna one can easily attain the highest perfection of life.
laksa vrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami [Bs.5.29l
So today is the birth appearance ceremony of Lord Krishna, In the Bhagavad-gita (4.9), Lord Krishna says,
janma karma me divyam
yo janati tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mstnet! kaunteya
"My dear Arjuna, any person who simply tries to understand about My transcendental birth or appearance and disappearance and activities gets a wonderful result." The Personality of Godhead is not niskriya, without activities. So simply by understanding these two things – what kind of activities the Lord has and what kind of birth He accepts – after quitting this body, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti, he does not take any more birth in this material world. Some of us may think that punar janma naiti means he becomes vanquished. No. Punar janma naiti, but mam eti: "He does not come to this material world, but he comes to Me."
So today is that auspicious day, Janmashtami, when Lord Krishna appeared five thousand years ago in Mathura, India. Indian ladies and gentlemen present here know very well where Mathura is. It is about ninety miles south of New Delhi. Mathura is still existing and it is eternally existing. Krishna appeared in Mathura in His maternal uncle's house in a very precarious condition. That birthplace of Lord Krishna is now maintained very nicely. One who goes to India can see this place.
Divyam means "not ordinary." It should not be understood that His birth is like our birth. Krishna does not take his birth like us. That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita. When Arjuna inquired from Krishna, "My dear Krishna, You say that formerly You spoke this yoga system of Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god. That means it was millions and trillions of years ago. How can I believe it?" Because Krishna was contemporary to Arjuna, Arjuna was thinking that "Krishna is my friend, my cousin. How it is possible that He spoke this Bhagavad-gita yoga to sun-god?" So what was Krishna's reply? "You also appear many, many times; I also appear many, many times. The difference is that I can remember, but you cannot." That is the difference between God and an ordinary living creature. We take birth after birth. There are 8,400,000 species of life, and so long we are in this material world, we are cycling around, birth after birth. Krishna' s birth is not like that. Therefore Krishna says, janma karma me divyam yo janati tattvatah. Tattvatah means in truth, not superficially. Scientifically, one who knows this can immediately get liberation. And how one can understand the same truths? That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita: bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah. [gita 18.55]. Again tattvatah, "in truth." If anyone wants to know God, or Krishna, in truth, not superficially, then he has to undertake the process of devotional service -bhaktya. In another place Krishna says, petrem puspem phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati [gita 9.26]: "Any person who gives Me a little fruit, little flower, little water, but with devotion, bhaktya …. " That is the only qualification. So Krishna says, bhakti-upahrtam asnami: "Because he brings it with devotion and faith and love, I eat." Krishna eats. We offer food in the temple, so He eats because He says "I eat." How you can say that He does not eat?
One gentleman asked me, "Swamiji, you offer food in the temple, but do you think Krishna or God eats?" I answered, "Yes, why not? He says, 'I eat.' How you can say He does not eat? But you do not know how He eats." Due to poor fund of knowledge, you think that God does not eat. But His eating process is different – that is answered in the Brahma-samhita. It is said, ailgani yasya sakalendriya-vrtti-manti [Bs. 5.32]. Krishna' s senses are as powerful as other senses. I can see with my eyes, but Krishna can eat also with His eyes.
There are many examples. During the universal creation, Garbhodakashayi Vishnu is lying on the ocean, and Brahma was created from His navel. A lotus stem rew from the abdomen of the Lord, and Brahma was born. Now Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, was just sitting. For us to beget a child, we require the cooperation of wife, but here we see that wife was sitting, but He begot Brahma from the navel. This is called sarva-saktiman. He does not require anyone's help to beget a child. He does not not beget a child like we do – therefore janma karma me divyam.
He is within your heart, He is everywhere, so He can appear from everywhere. The sun rises from the eastern side, but that does not mean that eastern side is the mother of sun. In this way, if we try to understand in truth, then we can understand what God is. Superficially, by our experimental knowledge, it is not possible to understand God.
vayor athapi manaso muni-pungavanam '
so 'py asti yat prapada-simny-avicintya-tattve
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
The Brahma-samhita says that if one starts on the chariot of air and makes progress by the speed of mind, still one cannot understand what God is. vedesu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau [Bs. 5.33]. He cannot be understood simply by studying Vedas. Traigunya visaya vedeh nistraigunyo bhavarjuna. One has to transcend the position of Vedas also. Then one can understand what God is or what Krishna is.
So that process is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, that bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yaa casmi tattvatah [Gita 18.55]. So this bhakti, devotional service of Krishna, is so nice. Celebrating Krishna' s appearance day, or Janmastaml is a part of bhakti. This Ianmastami ceremony is observed by all Hindus. Irrespective of becoming Vaishnava or not, this ceremony is observed in India in every home, just like in your Western countries Christmas is observed in every home.
Today is a great ceremonial day. Our program is, at twelve 0' clock night the Lord will take birth and we shall receive Him. Now it is ten o'clock. For two hours our program will continue in kirtana. kirtana means sometimes chanting with music, and sometimes speaking. Both of them are Kirtana. Kirtayati iti kirtanam. Whenever we glorify the Lord, that is called Kirtana. The Srimad-Bhagavatam reading is also Kirtana. Abhavad Vaiyasaki Kirtana: Vaiyasaki, Sukadeva Gosvami, achieved the highest perfection simply by reciting Srimad Bhagavatam. Sri-vishnu-sravane periksit: Parikshit Maharaja achieved perfection simply by hearing. There are the nine processes of devotional service: sravanam Kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam. Chanting, hearing – first hearing, then chanting. Without hearing, nobody can chant. Sravanam kirtanam. And what sort of sravanam Kirtanam? visnoh, of Vishnu, not anything else.
sravanam Kirtanam visnoh smaranam
pada-sevanam archanam vandanam dasyam
sakhyam atma-nivedanam [Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23]
These are nine processes of devotional service, of which sravanam, hearing, is most important. Without hearing, nobody can understand the science of God. Therefore the Vedic mantras are called shruti. Stuti means it is to be heard, not something to be experimented in the laboratory. So sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam, archanam vandanam dasyam.Vandanam, offering prayer. We also offer prayer. Christians and Muhammadans also offer prayer. Offering prayer is also one of the items of bhakti. Archanam, worshiping the Deity in the temple, is another item. All of them are together devotional service. If you can execute all the nine, it is very good. If you can execute even one item, you become perfect. It is so nice. Simply by following one principle of this devotional service, many got the highest perfection of life, liberation, going back to home, back to Godhead.