The Nandotsav - Birth ceremony of Lord Sri Krishna

Taken from Srimad Bhagavatam 10th Canto, 5th Chapter,
translated by H.D.G. Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

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As described in this chapter, Nanda Mahäräja very gorgeously performed the birth ceremony for his newborn child. Then he went to Kaàsa to pay taxes due and met his intimate friend Vasudeva.
There was great jubilation all over Våndävana due to Kåñëa’s birth. Everyone was overwhelmed with joy. Therefore the King of Vraja, Mahäräja Nanda, wanted to perform the birth ceremony for his child, and this he did. During this great festival, Nanda Mahäräja gave in charity to all present whatever they desired. After the festival, Nanda Mahäräja put the cowherd men in charge of protecting Gokula, and then he went to Mathurä to pay official taxes to Kaàsa. In Mathurä, Nanda Mahäräja met Vasudeva. Nanda Mahäräja and Vasudeva were brothers, and Vasudeva praised Nanda Mahäräja’s good fortune because he knew that Kåñëa had accepted Nanda Mahäräja as His father. When Vasudeva inquired from Nanda Mahäräja about the welfare of the child, Nanda Mahäräja informed him all about Våndävana, and Vasudeva was very much satisfied by this, although he expressed his grief because Devaké’s many children had been killed by Kaàsa. Nanda Mahäräja consoled Vasudeva by saying that everything happens according to destiny and that one who knows this is not aggrieved. Expecting many disturbances in Gokula, Vasudeva then advised Nanda Mahäräja not to wait in Mathurä, but to return to Våndävana as soon as possible. Thus Nanda Mahäräja took leave of Vasudeva and returned to Våndävana with the other cowherd men on their bullock carts.

SB 10.5.1-2
çré-çuka uväca
nandas tv ätmaja utpanne
jätählädo mahä-manäù
ähüya viprän veda-jïän
snätaù çucir alaìkåtaù

väcayitvä svastyayanaà
jäta-karmätmajasya vai
kärayäm äsa vidhivat
pitå-devärcanaà tathä

Çukadeva Gosvämé said: Nanda Mahäräja was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Çré Kåñëa appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation. Therefore, after bathing and purifying himself and dressing himself properly, he invited brähmaëas who knew how to recite Vedic mantras. After having these qualified brähmaëas recite auspicious Vedic hymns, he arranged to have the Vedic birth ceremony celebrated for his newborn child according to the rules and regulations, and he also arranged for worship of the demigods and forefathers.
Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura has discussed the significance of the words nandas tu. The word tu, he says, is not used to fulfill the sentence, because without tu the sentence is complete. Therefore the word tu is used for a different purpose. Although Kåñëa appeared as the son of Devaké, Devaké and Vasudeva did not enjoy the jäta-karma, the festival of the birth ceremony. Instead, this ceremony was enjoyed by Nanda Mahäräja, as stated here (nandas tv ätmaja utpanne jätählädo mahä-manäù). When Nanda Mahäräja met Vasudeva, Vasudeva could not disclose, “Your son Kåñëa is actually my son. You are His father in a different way, spiritually.” Because of fear of Kaàsa, Vasudeva could not observe the festival for Kåñëa’s birth, Nanda Mahäräja, however, took full advantage of this opportunity.
The jäta-karma ceremony can take place when the umbilical cord, connecting the child and the placenta, is cut. However, since Kåñëa was brought by Vasudeva to the house of Nanda Mahäräja, where was the chance for this to happen? In this regard, Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura desires to prove with evidence from many çästras that Kåñëa actually took birth as the son of Yaçodä before the birth of Yogamäyä, who is therefore described as the Lord’s younger sister. Even though there may be doubts about the cutting of the umbilical cord, and even though it is possible that this was not done, when the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears, such events are regarded as factual. Kåñëa appeared as Varähadeva from the nostril of Brahmä, and therefore Brahmä is described as the father of Varähadeva. Also significant are the words kärayäm äsa vidhivat. Being overwhelmed with jubilation over the birth of his son, Nanda Mahäräja did not see whether the cord was cut or not. Thus he performed the ceremony very gorgeously. According to the opinion of some authorities, Kåñëa was actually born as the son of Yaçodä. In any case, without regard for material understandings, we can accept that Nanda Mahäräja’s celebration for the ceremony of Kåñëa’s birth was proper. This ceremony is therefore well known everywhere as Nandotsava.

SB 10.5.3
dhenünäà niyute prädäd
viprebhyaù samalaìkåte
tilädrén sapta ratnaugha-

Nanda Mahäräja gave two million cows, completely decorated with cloth and jewels, in charity to the brähmaëas. He also gave them seven hills of grain, covered with jewels and with cloth decorated with golden embroidery.

SB 10.5.4
kälena snäna-çaucäbhyäà
saàskärais tapasejyayä
çudhyanti dänaiù santuñöyä
dravyäëy ätmätma-vidyayä

O King, by the passing of time, land and other material possessions are purified; by bathing, the body is purified; and by being cleansed, unclean things are purified. By purificatory ceremonies, birth is purified; by austerity, the senses are purified; and by worship and charity offered to the brähmaëas, material possessions are purified. By satisfaction, the mind is purified; and by self-realization, or Kåñëa consciousness, the soul is purified.
These are çästric injunctions concerning how one can purify everything according to Vedic civilization. Unless purified, anything we use will infect us with contamination. In India five thousand years ago, even in the villages such as that of Nanda Mahäräja, people knew know to purify things, and thus they enjoyed even material life without contamination.

SB 10.5.5
saumaìgalya-giro vipräù
gäyakäç ca jagur nedur
bheryo dundubhayo muhuù

The brähmaëas recited auspicious Vedic hymns, which purified the environment by their vibration. The experts in reciting old histories like the Puräëas, the experts in reciting the histories of royal families, and general reciters all chanted, while singers sang and many kinds of musical instruments, like bherés and dundubhis, played in accompaniment.

SB 10.5.6
vrajaù sammåñöa-saàsikta-

Vrajapura, the residence of Nanda Mahäräja, was fully decorated with varieties of festoons and flags, and in different places, gates were made with varieties of flower garlands, pieces of cloth, and mango leaves. The courtyards, the gates near the roads, and everything within the rooms of the houses were perfectly swept and washed with water.

SB 10.5.7
gävo våñä vatsatarä

The cows, the bulls and the calves were thoroughly smeared with a mixture of turmeric and oil, mixed with varieties of minerals. Their heads were bedecked with peacock feathers, and they were garlanded and covered with cloth and golden ornaments.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead has instructed in Bhagavad-gétä (18.44), kåñi-go-rakñya-väëijyaà vaiçya-karma-svabhävajam: “Farming, cow protection and trade are the qualities of work for the vaiçyas.” Nanda Mahäräja belonged to the vaiçya community, the agriculturalist community. How to protect the cows and how rich this community was are explained in these verses. We can hardly imagine that cows, bulls and calves could be cared for so nicely and decorated so well with cloths and valuable golden ornaments. How happy they were. As described elsewhere in the Bhägavatam, during Mahäräja Yudhiñöhira’s time the cows were so happy that they used to muddy the pasturing ground with milk. This is Indian civilization. Yet in the same place, India, Bhärata-varña, how much people are suffering by giving up the Vedic way of life and not understanding the teachings of Bhagavad-gétä.

SB 10.5.8
gopäù samäyayü räjan

O King Parékñit, the cowherd men dressed very opulently with valuable ornaments and garments such as coats and turbans. Decorated in this way and carrying various presentations in their hands, they approached the house of Nanda Mahäräja.
When we consider the past condition of the agriculturalist in the village, we can see how opulent he was, simply because of agricultural produce and protection of cows. At the present, however, agriculture having been neglected and cow protection given up, the agriculturalist is suffering pitiably and is dressed in a niggardly torn cloth. This is the distinction between the India of history and the India of the present day. By the atrocious activities of ugra-karma, how we are killing the opportunity of human civilization!

SB 10.5.9
gopyaç cäkarëya muditä
yaçodäyäù sutodbhavam
ätmänaà bhüñayäà cakrur

The gopé wives of the cowherd men were very pleased to hear that mother Yaçodä had given birth to a son, and they began to decorate themselves very nicely with proper dresses, ornaments, black ointment for the eyes, and so on.

SB 10.5.10
balibhis tvaritaà jagmuù
påthu-çroëyaç calat-kucäù

Their lotuslike faces extraordinarily beautiful, being decorated with saffron and newly grown kuìkuma, the wives of the cowherd men hurried to the house of mother Yaçodä with presentations in their hands. Because of natural beauty, the wives had full hips and full breasts, which moved as they hurried along.
The cowherd men and women in the villages lived a very natural life, and the women developed a natural feminine beauty, with full hips and breasts. Because women in modern civilization do not live naturally, their hips and breasts do not develop this natural fullness. Because of artificial living, women have lost their natural beauty, although they claim to be independent and advanced in material civilization. This description of the village women gives a clear example of the contrast between natural life and the artificial life of a condemned society, such as that of the Western countries, where topless, bottomless beauty may be easily purchased in clubs and shops and for public advertisements. The word balibhiù indicates that the women were carrying gold coins, jeweled necklaces, nice cloths, newly grown grass, sandalwood pulp, flower garlands and similar offerings on plates made of gold. Such offerings are called bali. The words tvaritaà jagmuù indicate how happy the village women were to understand that mother Yaçodä had given birth to a wonderful child known as Kåñëa.

SB 10.5.11
gopyaù sumåñöa-maëi-kuëòala-niñka-kaëöhyaç
citrämbaräù pathi çikhä-cyuta-mälya-varñäù
nandälayaà sa-valayä vrajatér virejur

In the ears of the gopés were brilliantly polished jeweled earrings, and from their necks hung metal lockets. Their hands were decorated with bangles, their dresses were of varied colors, and from their hair, flowers fell onto the street like showers. Thus while going to the house of Mahäräja Nanda, the gopés, their earrings, breasts and garlands moving, were brilliantly beautiful.
The description of the gopés, who were going to the house of Mahäräja Nanda to welcome Kåñëa, is especially significant. The gopés were not ordinary women, but expansions of Kåñëa’s pleasure potency, as described in the Brahma-saàhitä (5.37,29):

täbhir ya eva nija-rüpatayä kaläbhiù
goloka eva nivasaty akhilätma-bhüto
govindam ädi-puruñaà tam ahaà bhajämi
cintämaëi-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-våkña-
lakñävåteñu surabhér abhipälayantam
govindam ädi-puruñaà tam ahaà bhajämi
Kåñëa is always worshiped by the gopés wherever He goes. Therefore Kåñëa is so vividly described in Çrémad-Bhägavatam. Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu has also described Kåñëa in this way: ramyä käcid upäsanä vrajavadhü-vargeëa yä kalpitä. All these gopés were going to offer Kåñëa their presentations because the gopés are eternal associates of the Lord. Now the gopés were more jubilant because of the news of Kåñëa’s appearance in Våndävana.

SB 10.5.12
tä äçiñaù prayuïjänäç
ciraà pähéti bälake
siïcantyo ’janam ujjaguù

Offering blessings to the newborn child, Kåñëa, the wives and daughters of the cowherd men said, “May You become the King of Vraja and long maintain all its inhabitants.” They sprinkled a mixture of turmeric powder, oil and water upon the birthless Supreme Lord and offered their prayers.

SB 10.5.13
avädyanta viciträëi
väditräëi mahotsave
kåñëe viçveçvare ’nante
nandasya vrajam ägate

Now that the all-pervading, unlimited Lord Kåñëa, the master of the cosmic manifestation, had arrived within the estate of Mahäräja Nanda, various types of musical instruments resounded to celebrate the great festival.
The Lord says in Bhagavad-gétä (4.7):

yadä yadä hi dharmasya
glänir bhavati bhärata
abhyutthänam adharmasya
tadätmänaà såjämy aham

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.” Whenever Kåñëa comes, once in a day of Brahmä, He comes to the house of Nanda Mahäräja in Våndävana. Kåñëa is the master of all creation (sarva-loka-maheçvaram [Bg. 5.29]). Therefore, not only in the neighborhood of Nanda Mahäräja’s estate, but all over the universe—and in all the other universes—musical sounds celebrated the auspicious arrival of the Lord.

SB 10.5.14
gopäù parasparaà håñöä
äsiïcanto vilimpanto
navanétaiç ca cikñipuù

In gladness, the cowherd men enjoyed the great festival by splashing one another’s bodies with a mixture of curd, condensed milk, butter and water. They threw butter on one another and smeared it on one another’s bodies.
From this statement we can understand that five thousand years ago not only was there enough milk, butter and curd to eat, drink and cook with, but when there was a festival it would be thrown about without restriction. There was no limit to how extensively milk, butter, curd and other such products were used in human society. Everyone had an ample stock of milk, and by using it in many varied milk preparations, people would keep good health in natural ways and thus enjoy life in Kåñëa consciousness.

SB 10.5.15-16
nando mahä-manäs tebhyo
väso ’laìkära-go-dhanam
ye ’nye vidyopajévinaù

tais taiù kämair adénätmä
yathocitam apüjayat
viñëor ärädhanärthäya
sva-putrasyodayäya ca

The great-minded Mahäräja Nanda gave clothing, ornaments and cows in charity to the cowherd men in order to please Lord Viñëu, and thus he improved the condition of his own son in all respects. He distributed charity to the sütas, the mägadhas, the vandés, and men of all other professions, according to their educational qualifications, and satisfied everyone’s desires.
Although it has become fashionable to speak of daridra-näräyaëa, the words viñëor ärädhanärthäya do not mean that all the people satisfied by Nanda Mahäräja in this great ceremony were Viñëus. They were not daridra, nor were they Näräyaëa. Rather, they were devotees of Näräyaëa, and by their educational qualifications they would satisfy Näräyaëa. Therefore, satisfying them was an indirect way of satisfying Lord Viñëu. Mad-bhakta-püjäbhyadhikä (SB 11.19.21). The Lord says, “Worshiping My devotees is better than worshiping Me directly.” The varëäçrama system is entirely meant for viñëu-ärädhana, worship of Lord Viñëu. Varëäçramäcäravatä puruñeëa paraù pumän/ viñëur ärädhyate (Viñëu Puräëa 3.8.9). The ultimate goal of life is to please Lord Viñëu, the Supreme Lord. The uncivilized man or materialistic person, however, does not know this aim of life. Na te viduù svärtha-gatià hi viñëum (SB 7.5.31). One’s real self-interest lies in satisfying Lord Viñëu. Not satisfying Lord Viñëu but instead attempting to become happy through material adjustments (bahir-artha-mäninaù) is the wrong way for happiness. Because Viñëu is the root of everything, if Viñëu is pleased, everyone is pleased; in particular, one’s children and family members become happy in all respects. Nanda Mahäräja wanted to see his newborn child happy. That was his purpose. Therefore he wanted to satisfy Lord Viñëu, and to satisfy Lord Viñëu it was necessary to satisfy His devotees, such as the learned brähmaëas, mägadhas and sütas. Thus, in a roundabout way, ultimately it was Lord Viñëu who was to be satisfied.

SB 10.5.17
rohiëé ca mahä-bhägä
vyacarad divya-väsa-srak-

The most fortunate Rohiëé, the mother of Baladeva, was honored by Nanda Mahäräja and Yaçodä, and thus she also dressed gorgeously and decorated herself with a necklace, a garland and other ornaments. She was busy wandering here and there to receive the women who were guests at the festival.
Rohiëé, another wife of Vasudeva’s, was also kept under the care of Nanda Mahäräja with her son Baladeva. Because her husband was imprisoned by Kaàsa, she was not very happy, but on the occasion of Kåñëa-janmäñöamé, Nandotsava, when Nanda Mahäräja gave dresses and ornaments to others, he also gave gorgeous garments and ornaments to Rohiëé so that she could take part in the festival. Thus she also was busy receiving the women who were guests. Because of her good fortune in being able to raise Kåñëa and Balaräma together, she is described as mahä-bhägä, greatly fortunate.

Sri Krishna Janmastami pages
Advent of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada - Nandotsav 1896 AD.