The sacred day of Janmashtami — marking the birth of Bhagavan Krishna is celebrated by his devotees around the world in many ways. Though he is popularly revered as an incarnation of divine love, Sri Krishna holds a special place in the hearts of many devotees as Yogeshvara, meaning the ‘Lord of Yoga,’ as he taught the supreme truths of Yoga, Bhakti and Vedanta to Arjuna. Exhorting Arjuna to be the ideal yogi (practising scientific techniques of yoga-meditation), Sri Krishna says: “The yogi is greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom or of the path of action; be thou a yogi!” (VI:46)
Janmashtami offers us a beautiful opportunity to attune our minds and hearts with this great avatar. At this time of the year, Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS) devotees come together for a special long meditation of around eight hours to honour Yogeshvara Krishna.
The world-renowned author of Autobiography of a Yogi, Yoganandaji expounds the message of Bhagavan Krishna with consummate depth and clarity in God Talks With Arjuna, his unique commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, India’s most beloved scripture. It consists of a dialogue between Lord Krishna (symbolizing Spirit) and his disciple Arjuna (symbolizing the soul of the ideal devotee): words of spiritual guidance that are timeless in their applicability for all truth-seekers.
At the core of Yoganandaji’s teachings is a comprehensive system of meditation techniques: the Kriya Yoga science of meditation. This ancient science of the soul provides powerful methods for awakening higher spiritual consciousness and the inner bliss of divine realization. Yoganandaji says, “The Kriya Yoga technique, taught by Krishna to Arjuna and referred to in Gita chapters IV:29 and V:27–28, is the supreme spiritual science of yoga meditation. Secreted during the materialistic ages, this indestructible yoga was revived for modern man by Mahavatar Babaji and taught by the Gurus of YSS/SRF.”
What is the ideal way to live? Bhagavan Krishna gives the perfect answer not only for the modern age, but for every age: Yoga of dutiful action, of nonattachment, and of meditation for God-realization. This moderate, medium, golden path is ideal for both the busy man of the world and for the highest spiritual aspirant, explains Yoganandaji in an introduction to his Gita commentary.
“The Bhagavad Gita assures us that as the Infinite Lord manifesting through Krishna guided his disciple Arjuna to spiritual and material victory, so He will guide us in our own daily battle of Kurukshetra — until we too achieve God-conscious expression of the divine qualities and potentials hidden in the depths of our soul,” says YSS/SRF President Swami Chidananda Giri in a message on Janmashtami to YSS devotees.
As Bhagavan Krishna aided Arjuna, so he can aid each of us in our inner Kurukshetra war between soul and ego. His timeless wisdom, conveyed in the Bhagavad Gita, is that there is no greater way to win soul freedom than by contacting God through deep meditation and performing our duties as offerings to God.
On this Janmashtami, let us resolve to follow this counsel taken from Yoganandaji’s interpretation of the Gita: “Any devotee who will emulate Arjuna — epitome of the ideal disciple — and perform his rightful duty with non-attachment, and perfect his practice of yoga meditation through a technique such as Kriya Yoga, will similarly draw the blessings and guidance of God and win the victory of Self-realization.”