Janmashtami, one of India's most popular festivals, is finally upon us. Janmashtami is observed to celebrate the birth of the most mischievous god according to Indian mythology - Lord Krishna.
People across the country and abroad gear up to celebrate Krishna's birthday with great enthusiasm and ardor. While some will bathe Krishna's idol in milk and honey, some indulge in bringing out the playful side of Lord Krishna's childhood by playing Dahi Handi. Many dress their little children in adorable Radha and Krishna outfits on the festive occasion.
Did you know that Krishna actually means "black" or "dark" in Sanskrit? Krishna is known to be the epitome of joy, the quintessence of simplicity, the very source of love and the occasion of Janmastami celebrates all of this.
Here are few things you may not know about the birthday boy:
Krishna was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva. However, Devaki's brother King Kansa, who had ascended the throne by imprisoning his father had also jailed Devaki and Vasudeva fearing a prophecy that predicted his death at the hands of Devaki's eighth son. Lord Vishnu ordered Vasudeva to take Krishna to Gokul to Yashoda where he could be safe. Vasudev crossed the Yamuna to reach Yashoda in Gokul and kept him there while Yashoda was fast asleep.
Lord Krishna is believed to have 16,000 wives and 80 sons. Contrary to popular belief, Krishna and Radha were never married each other. Also, despite the popularity of Radha-Krishna, Radha was not mentioned in any of the ancient scriptures.
Story behind Krishna's 16,000 wives
The story of Krishna's sixteen wives showcases his generosity. Krishna principally had eight wives. As far the story goes, a demon named Narakasura kidnapped over 16,000 women who were wives of other men. Krishna fought the demon and rescued all of them. However, when he asked them to return to their families, they refused to do so fearing society's reaction. They insisted that they wanted to marry Krishna. And, he obliged. They are popularly known as the junior wives of Krishna.
Rukmini and Krishna
It is also said that Krishna had kidnapped and eloped with his first and most prominent wife Rukmini to get married to her. He had apparently done that to save her from evil Shishupala who was intended to marry her. Pretty adventurous!
Krishna's generous Gurudakshina
Legend has it that, in order to pay Gurudakshina, Lord Krishna brought back his guru Sandipani's son to life. He believed that the knowledge he had obtained from him would be useless if they did not give him dakshina.
There's a reason why Krishna is known as the most playful god. He and his friends would steal milk and butter, hide the clothes of a girl when she was bathing, let the cows go free at milking time and even break the water pots that milkmaids carried on their heads.
Most of us know that Krishna saved draupadi from Cheer Haran. Not many know that Krishna had in fact pledged to protect Draupadi. Among the many untold stories of Krishna, there's one, where Krishna hurt his finger and Draupadi immediately rushed to his aid. She at once tore off her sari and bandaged Krishna's finger. For this loving act, Krishna vowed to help Draupadi. Many believe that the concept of Raksha Bandhan came from this particular story.
Gandhari, a prominent character of Hindu epic Mahabharata, is believed to have marked the end of Lord Krishna. She apparently cursed him that his kingdom would perish due to floods. The Yadavs (Krishnas line of descent) were killed by their own men and the kingdom was eventually flooded and engulfed. Lord Krishna was killed by a hunter's arrow which is believed to be a part of mysticism which destroyed Dwarka.