Thereare three principal Gods in Hindu Mythology: Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, theprotector; and Mahesh, or Shiva, the Destroyer. Each of these Gods has theirown incarnations and forms, but it is Vishnu who manifests himself the most.There are ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, each born in a different time with adifferent purpose. Born in the Treta Yugof Hindu Mythology, Lord Krishna is one of these incarnations. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes hispurpose in his own words:

“Yada Yada hi dharmasya,glaanirbhavati bharatah, abhyuthaanam adharmasya, tadaatmaanam srijaamyaham.

Paritraanay saadhunaam, vinashayacha dushkrataam, dharam sanstha panaarthaya,

Sambhavaami yuge yuge.”

Here,Krishna means to say that whenever Dharma(duty), justice and peace are disturbed, and injustice and discord are rifein this world; whenever the harmony and life of common people are disturbed byevil elements, I will appear to restore balance to the world, and reestablishpeace and justice to all. I will come to destroy all evil.

Krishna’spurpose was predestined before he was even born. He was the son of Devaki,sister of the king of Mathura, Kans. After Devaki’s wedding to Vasudev, a saintprophesized to Kans that her eighth son would be his downfall, and would becomethe cause of his death.

While Kans loved his sister, he loved his kingship evenmore. Therefore, he imprisoned Devaki and Vasudev in Mathura, and began hisreign of terror over them.

Hislust for the crown and kingdoms turned Kans into a shell of the man he had oncebeen. As time passed, he grew increasingly paranoid, and started slaughteringanyone who would dare speak against him.

He blasphemed and murdered,considering himself the God of all people under his reign. And when his sistergave birth to her children, he killed them all by throwing them against thewall of the very cell she and her husband were imprisoned in.

Timepassed, and soon the hour came for Devaki to birth her eighth son. Havingwitnessed the deaths of all her children, she had turned into a woman scornedand suppressed.

She knew that she would not be able to continue living if hereighth son fell prey to the hands of her evil brother. Thus, she prayed to Godto save her child.

Herprayers were answered in the form of Lord Vishnu, who appeared to her, andsaid, “Worry not, Devaki. I have seen the pain that you have borne all thistime, and I assure you, the time has come for your brother to pay for his sins.I will come to you as your eighth son. After my birth, tell your husband totake me to Gokul and hand me over Nand and his wife, Yashoda. Exchange me withtheir child, and you shall be blessed.”

Thatnight, Devaki woke up to immense pain shooting from inside her, and she knewthe time had come for her eighth son to come into the world.

Terrified andanxious as she was, she brought the child forth, and implored her husband tofollow God’s instructions. The only problem lay in the fact that both she andVasudev were imprisoned in a cell guarded round the clock by Kans’ guards, thusmaking escape possible.

Asif it were divine intervention, a spell cast over all of Mathura, and soon allguards, people, servants and even Kans himself found themselves in a deepslumber. The gates of the cell opened on their own, and a storm brewed in thenight sky outside as Vasudev thanked God and set out with Krishna tucked insafely inside a straw basket.

Hewalked the distance to Gokul, all the while praying that the guards would notwake up, but he knew in his heart thatfate was on his side.

The sky above him roared and plundered the ground withheavy rain, but he protected his son and trudged on.

Thelast obstacle in his path was the river Yamuna, beyond which lay the land ofGokul. Vasudev was reluctant, but his faith in God was not. He chanted Vishnu’sname and stepped into the water, hoping to cross the river with the basket kepton his head.

Yamuna,however, had other plans. A goddess and devotee of Lord Vishnu herself, shedidn’t want Krishna to leave without bestowing his blessings on her. Therefore,she rose up towards the basket in which the baby lay, hoping to touch his feet.As Vasudev struggled on, he found the water level increasing. At this rate, heknew he would soon drown.

He walked faster, but the water showed no signs ofreceding.

Lyingin his basket, Krishna knew of Yamuna’s yearning, and also of the fact that hisfather would drown if the water rose any more. Thus, to calm the excited river,he stuck his foot out of his make-shift bed, letting it dangle off the edge,just in reach of the water. An inch further, and the water was touching hisfeet, drenching it with cool and rain from above. And as if she had found herpurpose in life, Yamuna calmed, and magically, her water level receded, untilshe parted entirely to make way for Vasudev to cross.

Thenappeared the Shesh naag. In Hindumythology, the shesh naag is a giantfive headed serpent who serves as Vishnu’s seat and transport.

In all ofVishnu’s depictions in Hindu scriptures, he is shown resting on the shesh naag with his wife Goddess Lakshmiby his side.

Evennow, the shesh naag crawled behindVasudev, protecting both the father and son from the rain. Krishna smiled athis devotee, and bid him goodbye as soon as Vasudev reached the shore.

InGokul, Vasudev sought out Nand, and told him of his dilemma. He relayed thestory of Krishna’s birth and purpose to his friend, and was ecstatic to findthat Nand was willing to help him. Thus, in the dark of the night, Nandexchanged his daughter with Vasudev’s son to bring him up as his own.

Vasudevreturned to the cell with Nand’s daughter, fearing for the child’s safety. Soonafter he had entered, the spell over the city broke, and Kans arrived to killDevaki’s last child.

She implored him, yet again, to see reason. The baby was agirl, a mere female who couldn’t possibly beat someone as powerful as Kans. Buthe was not to listen to anyone except his greed. He picked the child up andstarted to throw it against the wall, but to his shock, the baby loosened itselffrom his grasp and transformed into Yogmata,a Hindu Goddess.

“Kans,”she said, “The time has come. All of your efforts have been futile, for thechild you had meant to kill is now safely and soundly away from here. He willhave a full life, and when he comes of age, he will come to end you. Startcounting your days, for they are but few.”

Sayingthus, she disappeared, leaving Kans more terrified than ever.

He went to alllengths to ensure Krishna’s death, but fate’s path was set. Upon coming of ageand learning of real lineage, Krishna returned to Mathura with his brotherBalram and killed Kans, thus freeing his parents and the people of the regionfrom his grasp.

Thus,every year, on the day of the birth of Krishna, the people of India celebrateJanmashtami, as a symbol of the victory of good over evil, which has been theessential force truth that has always been driving the world.