Lord Krishna is the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born as the son of Vasudeva and Princess Devaki in Mathura, the present state of Uttar Pradesh. Krishna’s birthday is celebrated every year as Janmashtami. It falls on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) of the month of Shraavana in the Hindu calendar.
A Legendary Birth
As per the legend, Mother Earth was exasperated by the increasing wickedness on earth caused by demonic influences. She pleaded Lord Vishnu to intervene and establish peace. Vishnu promised her that he would take human form on earth at the right time to put an end to all the atrocities.
King Kansa, was a tyrant ruler of the Vrishni Kingdom with its capital at Mathura. He belonged to the Yadava community. He was over-ambitious and cruel. Everyone was scared of him. Driven by the desire to rule the kingdom, he usurped the throne from his father Ugrasena and imprisoned him. Kansa became a self-proclaimed king.
Kansa’s sister Devaki was married to Vasudeva. On the day of the marriage, a divine voice from heaven announced that the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva would kill Kansa. The terrified Kansa wanted to kill his sister outright, but was pacified by Vasudeva on the condition that all the infants born to them would be given to Kansa. In order to avoid any slip-ups, Kansa imprisoned his sister and husband.
Devaki gave birth to seven children. Six of them were cruelly slaughtered by Kansa, while the seventh one (Balarama) had an unbelievable escape.
Lord Krishna was born as the eighth child of Devaki and Vasudev. When he was born, an oracle instructed Vasudeva to exchange the baby boy with that of the new born girl child of his friend King Nanda of Gokul kingdom.
As soon as the boy was born, Vasudev picked up his son and miraculously managed to come out of the prison, crossed the Yamuna River and entered the palace of king Nanda. He placed his son beside Yashoda, King Nanda’s wife, and scooped the baby girl and returned to Mathura’s jail. He placed the baby girl near his wife Devaki. King Kansa came running hearing the news of the birth of the eighth child.
Devaki tried to discourage her brother from killing the baby, as it was a girl. As he was not ready to take any risks, he hurled the child against the prison wall. But the baby did not die. The place got filled with bright light, and a voice announced to Kansa that his nemesis was already born and was safe somewhere else.
At the same time, Gokula was rejoicing at the birth of Nanda’s son. Krishna was brought up as the son of Nanda and Yashoda in Gokula community. The complexion of Krishna was dark blue. Nanda named the boy Krishna. He grew up in Yashoda’s household garnering everybody’s love and affection.