The festival Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated every year to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu as per the Hindu belief. Below we present excerpts from the discourses of Sri Sathya Sai Baba on Lord Krishna and His Leelas.

We must understand properly the meaning of Krishna. The word Krishna has three meanings. First meaning is: "Krishyati iti Krishnah", or "the one who cultivates is Krishna." Krishna cultivates our hearts by removing the weeds of bad qualities, watering it with love, ploughing it with sadhana (spiritual practice), and sowing the seeds of devotion.

The second meaning of the word is: "Karshati iti Krishnah", or "the one who attracts is Krishna." Krishna attracts by His enchanting Divine form, His nectarine speech, His Divine sports, and by action saturated with love. By His sweet words, He softens and calms the hearts of even those filled with hatred and makes them rejoice.

A third meaning of the word Krishna is "Kushyati iti Krishna", or "the one who is always blissful." Krishna was always in a state of bliss and bestows bliss on His devotees.

Due to these attributes, the Sage Garga named Him Krishna. The ordinary meaning of the word Krishna is "one who is dark." But people think only of this meaning and forget the deeper and truer meanings of the Lord's name.

God incarnated as Krishna to charm humanity by His pranks, His play, His song and sweetness, and to show man the path of love and how-to live-in love. Krishna was born on ashtami (eighth day) during the dark fortnight of the month. The effulgence of the Lord is seen with greater effect when it is dark. In a world of disorder, Krishna was born to establish order. Ashtami is associated with troubles and difficulties. When do troubles arise? When righteousness is forgotten. Krishna's advent signifies the dispelling of darkness, the removal of troubles, the banishing of ignorance and the teaching of mankind of the supreme wisdom.

 Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 14 August 1990, Krishna Janmashtami Day

Be His Flute

Sanctify every word and deed by filling it with love of Krishna or whatever name and form you give to the Lord you love.

The gold from which an anklet was made can become the gold for a crown on the head of a temple image, but it has to be melted in the crucible and beaten into shape. The waters of the river might be dirty, but the devotee who sips it with a mantra or a hymn in praise of God on his lips transmutes it into sanctified water. The body becomes healthy by exercise and work; the mind becomes healthy by devout contemplation and remembrance of the Divine name (namasmarana), by regular, well-planned discipline, joyfully accepted and joyfully carried out.

Nonviolence is the rice; dedication is the gram (chickpea flour); expiation the raisins; repentance the jaggery (unrefined cane sugar). Mix all these well with the ghee (clarified butter) —virtue. That is the offering you should make to your chosen deity, not the paltry stuff you make out of articles obtained for a paisa in the shops! The gopis knew this secret passage to the heart of the Lord, and they realised Him quickly and fast.

You have heard that Krishna is the Flute-God (Murali-Madhava), and what exactly is the flute? You must be the flute. Let the breath of Krishna pass through you, making delightful music that melts hearts. Surrender yourself to Him; become hollow, inclination-less, egoless, desireless; then, He Himself will come and pick you up caressingly and apply you—the flute—to His lips and blow His sweet breath through you. Allow Him to play whatever song He likes. The Lord is all love. He has no hatred in Him.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 6th September 1963

Prema (love) Is Nectarine

Like a feast to a starving man,

Like rain for the parched earth,

Like a child to one yearning for a son

The Lord comes to protect Dharma

And save the virtuous and the good.

SAHASRASIRSHA Purusha Sahasraakshas-sahasrapaad.

The Lord has a myriad heads, a myriad eyes and a myriad feet.

The entire cosmos and every living being in it are reflections of the Divine. Oblivious to the presence of this sacred Divine within himself, man embarks on the quest for God. He behaves like a man who goes to his neighbour for milk, forgetting the wish-fulfilling cow in his backyard. Avatars are of two kinds: One, Amsaavatar; two, Purnaavatar. All human beings are Amsaavatar (partial incarnation of the Divine).

Mamaivaamso jeevaloke jeevabhutah-sanaatanah

A part of My eternal soul Self has become the Jiva--individual soul-- in the world of living beings, says Krishna in the Gita.

Ever Blissful - Sri Sathya Sai Baba

These partial incarnations, caught up in  maya, develop egoism and possessiveness and lead worldly lives. The Purnaavatars, however, subduing and transcending  maya, manifest their full Divinity to the world in their lives. The Purnaavatar may behave, according to the circumstances, as if He were subject to  maya, but in fact He is free from maya at all times.

The Lord manifests in different Avatars. In the Rama Avatar, for instance, Rama conducted himself as if He was subject to maya, but upheld Dharma (righteousness) for promoting the welfare of the world. The Krishna Avatar was different. Keeping maya under control, He manifested His leelas (miraculous deeds). This was why Vyasa, in his Bhagavatha, characterised Krishna as "Leelaamaanusha Vigrahah" (The Divine manifesting as man for performing His  leelas). The Bhagavatha has described in detail the leelas of Krishna and proclaimed His glory to the world. In the Krishna Avatar, Krishna not only performed many marvellous deeds, but also taught the supreme wisdom to the world. He was one who had transcended the gunas, but, for the sake of regeneration of the world, behaved as if He was influenced by the gunas, and delighted the world by His deeds.

Krishna did everything, whatever He spoke or whatever action He did, for the good and well-being of the world. But some people, not understanding this truth owing to their own limitations, attributed wrong motives for some of Krishna's actions. In this they reflected their own feelings. The Parama Bhakti of the gopikas. Prema (love) is nectarine in its sweetness. Bhakti (love for the Lord) was the highest expression of devotion among the gopikas (the cowherdesses of Gokulam) because they were saturated with the sweetness of Divine love. They did not seek liberation or higher knowledge. The ecstasy they derived from merely seeking Krishna, they did not get from any other source. Narada coined the phrase, "parama bhakti" (supreme devotion) to describe the devotion of the gopikas. These supreme devotees regarded the Lord as their companion and most precious treasure. So intense was their devotion that they used to go about as highly intoxicated persons who were unmindful of the world. Leaving their homes, on hearing the music of Krishna's flute, they rushed to the forest in search of Krishna, oblivious to everything. The Gopikas realised that jnana (supreme wisdom) consisted in experiencing oneness with the Divine and that all other knowledge was only mundane and related to the physical. Krishna was everything for them. In their feeling of oneness with the Divine, they made no distinction between the animate and the inanimate. They saw the Divine in everything.

From Rama and Krishna to Sri Sathya Sai

In the Treta Yuga, Rama came as the very embodiment of sathya and dharma (truth and righteousness). In the Dwapara Yuga, the Lord incarnated as Krishna, the embodiment of santhi (peace) and prema (love). Today the Avatar has come as the embodiment of all the four--sathya, dharma, santhi and prema.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 14 August 1990, Krishna Janmashtami Day