The festival of Janmashtami, marking the earthly arrival of Bhagwan Shri Krishna and, whose very existence is a fountain of inspiration, was celebrated in a program at the Festival of Inspirations in Robbinsville, New Jersey, on the evening of September 7, 2023. The Festival of Inspirations is a three-month-long festival celebrating the grand opening of the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey, which stands as an inspiration of ancient Hindu values in a modernized world. Each story filled with playful innocence, profound wisdom, and divine deeds shined a beacon of light on the timeless lessons from Bhagwan Shri Krishna's life. Guided by the principles he preached, the assembly embarked on a spiritual journey to embody his life teachings, which are etched in the ancient texts of Sanatan Dharma.
Taking verses from the ancient text of the Shrimad Bhagvad Gita, the scholarly Pujya Shrutiprakash Swami expounded on the profoundly transformative power of refuge in God and how to imbibe this historical dialogue between Arjun, the disciple, and Bhagwan Shri Krishna. Through recollection of countless incidents during the Mahabharat, he shared examples of the various ways in which God had remained in the protection of devotees who had taken his refuge. He explained that when questions arise in the face of dharma (righteousness) and adharma (immoral conduct), having firm conviction in the words of God as truth is what becomes one's force of protection.
Renowned scholar, Mahāmahōpādhyāya Pujya Bhadreshdas Swami cited another verse from the Shrimad Bhagvad Gita - Esha Brahmi Sthiti in contemplation of how transcendence of material desires, embracing equanimity, and aligning oneself with Aksharbraman, results in the attainment of brahmi stiti, the state of utmost equilibrium and oneness with God. He explained how Bhagwan Shri Krishna's teachings on overcoming affection for worldly objects, fear and anger have provided the foundation for remaining undisturbed amidst the inevitable waves of happiness and sorrows experienced in life, noting that one cannot exist without the other. He eloquently related a reference to how the ocean remains calm on its surface despite the happenings in the deep blue sea, similarly we too must learn to attain a state of calm despite the storms within. Through the living examples of such divine beings like His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, we can learn to apply these lessons in our lives practically.
Drawing inspiration for the sacred text, the Vachnamrut, Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami illustrated the deep affection and devotion the gopis had for Bhagwan Shri Krishna. Describing the three levels of devotion the gopis exhibited towards Bhagwan Shri Krishna, he explained how Bhagwan Swaminarayan's discourse applies to one's daily life. Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami conveyed that following even minor commands is a form of devotion similar to the gopis relinquishing their inner desires in favor of God's wish.
A dramatic re-enactment of the epic tale of the Mahabharat took place in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, who attentively watched the ancient story unfold. During the war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Arjun, a warrior and skilled archer of the Pandavas, chose the divine strength of Bhagwan Shri Krishna over strengthening his army with the might of a thousand soldiers. Having utmost faith in and with the divine power of God likened to that which Arjun and the Pandavs possessed, one will always come out victorious.
Following a dance depicting the stories from Bhagwan Shri Krishna's childhood, the celebration concluded with various Janmashtami traditions. His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj affectionately swung a hindolo, or decorative swing, upon which sat the murtis of a youthful Shri Krishna Bhagwan. He lovingly offered thaal, a dish of sweets, while engrossed in the divine image of God. To cap off the evening, devotional songs regaled the glory and greatness of Bhagwan Shri Krishna's compassion and unmatched devotion.
The birth celebrations welcomed esteemed guests to the program honoring New Jersey Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo. He expressed his deep gratitude for being honored and witnessing the beautiful facility. He said, "All I can say today is thank you. Thank you for getting to witness and see the structures that I've seen here today. And thank you for the kindness of your community and the outreach that has come into our communities." Also honored were the founding member of Elysium Ventures Dr. Hari Eppanapally, and Andrew Dinsmore who works alongside U.S. Senator Chris Coons in Delaware.