For many Hindu’s and all Vaishnavas Janmastami is one of the most important holy days. The “birth” of the unborn Godhead, who also appears in multi-incarnations to serve his different purposes.
According the dictionary Krishna is a “Hindu” god, an incarnation of Vishnu. So should that be the end of it? Is it merely a Hindu concern? If I am Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic or atheistic, etc., does Krishna or his “birthday” anniversary have no importance to me?
You can easily guess that if I am asking these questions, I don’t agree with a “no” to any of them.
When I was first on my spiritual search, some 38 years ago, I certainly had no interest in a “Hindu God”. Actually, I was just looking for the Supreme Truth, and a way to live my life in a way that I could realize that Truth.
When I came across Krishna I felt that my search had now been crowned with success. All my questions were fully answered, and I assumed that all my friends and whomever I met would also come to the same conclusion if they just heard about Krishna.
I was shocked! More shocks were to come, as I really discovered that most people were not that interested. Of those people who were highly interested in religion and/or spirituality, the “perfect logic” of Krishna consciousness mostly didn’t attract them. I couldn’t understand why.
Later I came to learn that logic, although a valuable tool to understand God, can only take one so far. There is something else going on more than logic. The heart has to be touched, the spiritual heart. Logic is a faculty of the mind, whereas spiritual faith (not just belief) is a faculty of the soul or heart.
Actually we require both philosophy and feeling for God. Our intellect needs to be able to explain our faith in a reasonable way. Yet only certain persons will be attracted to the reason of our path, whether religious or scientific. From the view of karma we are born with a particular psychology that attracts us to a unique path. This attraction is an effect of the spiritual progress we made in the previous life.
So, I had a certain nature which enabled my to accept the logic of why Krishna is the “Supreme personality”, of infinite manifestations of God. Others, due their psychology are attracted to their path. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “Everyone follows my path. According to their faith, I proportionally reciprocate with them, and inspire them to follow a particular path.”
From this vantage point, every religion or spiritual path has value for the person on it.
Many Christians say that to understand the message of Christ you need to understand the culture at the time of his birth. The same idea is true with Krishna. Studying the Vedic culture that was prevalent when he came to earth can help us understand the teachings. At the same time his message is timeless, and can be adapted to any culture and circumstance.
There is the form of the teachings, and the spirit of the teachings. The form, i.e., rituals and practices, are meant to deliver the spirit or the essence of the teachings. Many religions today are more concerned with the form, and have lost the real inner purpose.
So, Krishna’s birthday anniversary (appearance day) could make you curious about Krishna, the philosophy that it is founded on, and the spiritual emotion that practitioners (Vaishnavas or Bhakti-yogis) have. It may be foreign, or not as foreign as you think, if you allow yourself to try to enter into it.