Week beginning 1st February
In the UK, the celebration of Janmashtami at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the UK centre of ISKCON, attracts thousands of worshippers annually; Janmashtami is a festival celebrating the earthly appearance of Krishna i.e. his birthday. It is a good illustration of Bhakti Yoga with its celebration and praise of Krishna and its focus on showing devotion.
What are the four spiritual pathways (yogas) that we looked at last week?
Which spiritual pathway do you think is practised most in the Hindu community? .
Most Hindus find Bhakti yoga most accessible. Many direct their devotion to Krishna; they believe that if they focus their love and devotion on him and surrender to his love and teaching, he will be their route to the unending bliss of moksha.
If you can, collect together a leaf, a flower, some fruit and some water (or draw a picture of them).
The following is written in the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna devotees take it very seriously:
If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. (Bhagavad Gita 9.26)
What do you think this means?
Synopsis from a Hindu: Even the poorest or simplest person can follow this route to moksha. Anyone can become a pure devotee of the Lord. Krishna wants only loving service and nothing more. Even a leaf or a little water or fruit can be offered to the Supreme Lord in genuine love and the Lord will be pleased to accept it. He is not in need of anything from anyone, and yet He accepts the offering of His devotee in an exchange of love and affection.
How can people show devotion?
Watch this clip:
What ways did you see to express devotion to a deity (a God)?
How do some Hindu children get ready to celebrate and show their devotion to Krishna? Look at the photo. This boy has won a competition for dressing up as Krishna. The competition happens every year at Janmashtami, Krishna’s birthday.
Read this child’s eye view of Janmashtami:
I love Janmashtami. It is Krishna’s birthday. I show my love for Krishna by helping to decorate at home with tinsel, lights and fresh leaves around the Krishna image in our shrine. This year my sister and I made models of stories of Krishna’s life to take to the temple. I love it there because it is crowded and we stay up till midnight. Sometimes we watch plays about Krishna and some people dance in love and praise of Krishna. Even the little children are all dressed up as Krishna or Radha; I still like to dress up too. At midnight, the priest draws back a curtain and behind it is a swinging cradle with the baby Krishna. We all go and pull the cord which rocks Krishna’s cradle. We perform arti and offer prayers and presents to Krishna. We share prashad – blessed food. There are lots of sweet things made with Krishna’s favourites, milk and butter.
Now watch the clip on this link on Janmashtami:
Why is it so important for these Hindus to show Krishna love and devotion? How do you think it links to Moksha?
Task: Make a poster about the ways Hindus show love and devotion to Krishna and include an information section on your poster explaining why it is so important for Hindus and how it links to Moksha.