Janmashtami: The divine appearance day of Sri Krsna

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īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam

Sri Brahma-samhita (5.1)

Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes and the Lord of all the manifest and unmanifest universes, Syamsundara, is eternally residing in his spiritual abode of Goloka-Vrindavan. There He enjoys nectarean transcendental pastimes with His associaties in the various mellows of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhura. Through his maya-sakti (external energy), He is the cause of the creation, maintenance and destruction of all the material universes, but He himself remains unaffected and independent of this external energy, eternally performing manohara-lilas, mind-enchanting pastimes. These lilas steal the hearts of the great yogis and rsis, who are completely unattached to the material world and the objects of the senses. Their hearts stolen, they are now only concerned with pleasing the senses of the most charming Lord Sri Krsna, whose three-fold bending posture, broad chest, slender waist, lips as red as the bimba fruit, mischievous smile, lotus petal like eyes moving restlessly with amorous desire, and ears adorned with makara earings, have completely enchanted their minds. 

Madana-mohana (the enchanter of cupid), stands under a kadamba tree on the banks of the river Yamuna, whose waves are most cooling. The breeze blowing over those waves carries the sweet scent of the lotus flowers blooming in the her waters. When He places His flute upon His reddish lips and plays an enchanting melody, all the residents of Vraja, and all the animals in the forests of Vrindavan, become stunned with wonder and listen intently to that transcendental sound vibration. In this way He is eternally present in his transcendental abode enjoying transcendental mellows with His eternal associates such as Nanda, Yasoda, the cowherd boys and the gopis.

However, due to his compassionate nature, the Supreme Lord in His original form,  which consists of all of His potencies and partial manifestations, descends to this material world once in a day of Brahma to annihilate the miscreants, deliver the devotees and re-establish the principles of religion.

paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
sambhavami yuge yuge

Bhagavad-gita (4.8)

In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

When Swayam Bhagavan Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna descends to this planet, He appears with all His eternal associates and with His eternal abode, Sri Vraja-mandala. His main purpose to bestow mercy upon His dear devotees by giving them His direct darsana and to attract all the other living entities to Him by performing divine enchanting pastimes. Thus attracted, they may take up Krsna consciousness and go back home back to Godhead. This has been explained by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura:

gopīnāth, tumi kṛpā-pārābāra
jīvera kāraṇe, āsiyā prapañce,
līlā koile subistāra

Gopinatha, Mama Nivedana Suno (7)

“O Gopinatha, You are the ocean of mercy. Having come into this phenomenal world, You expand Your divine pastimes for the sake of the fallen souls.”

To this end, although He is unborn and eternal, the Supreme Lord appears in this world on the auspicious eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadrapada, during the auspicious Rohini naksatra, when all the stars are in auspicious constellations. A sweet scent permeates the atmosphere and the entire universe welcomes the advent of Sri Syamsundara.

This glorious day is therefore celebrated by all Vaisnavas with great enthusiasm, as on this day, the lord of their lives purified this earth by His appearance in a most attractive form of a bluish baby as soft as butter tinged with musk. Keeping the same spirit, this festival is celebrated in Iskcon Vrindavan, Krsna Balarama Mandir. 

The Lords give Their darsana in a new outfit, both at the time of Mangal arati and also after darsana-arati, when They have been dressed in beautiful attire and decorated with various splendid ornaments and fragrant flowers.They ooze nectar from every pore of Their transcendental forms, and the devotees become submerged in an ocean of bliss. The Vaisnavas thenproceed to speak and hear the glories of Giridhari, the lifter of the Govardhan hill. After the glorification, all the devotees engage all their time and energy in the service of the lord in various ways, till 10’o clock at night when they assemble for the gorgeous abhiseka ceremony of the deities of Krishna Balaram and Radha Shyamsundar. 

The abhiseka is accompanied by the devotees’ heartfelt singing of the holy names and followed by an elaborate bhoga offering comprised of an unending variety of delicacies. At midnight, the Lords are offered arati, which fills the hearts of all the onlookers with immense pleasure and gives them relief from the miseries of material existence. This is followed by ekadasi prasada for all the devotees, who have been fasting the whole day and engaging only in service.

The festivities continue into the next day, when Nandotsava is celebrated. All the devotees perform various services for the pleasure of the Lord and a huge feast is offered to the Deities, which the devotees later honor  with much reverence and to their hearts content.