Saw some articles about Jesus Christ lately on good old MSN News. But then some readers wrote in to make fun of the prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a woman.
How else is anyone born?
A few wrote in and said, “Duh,” an expression of stupidity. (Picture a bewildered man with one finger in his mouth saying, “Duh.”)
Do these people think the prophets were idiots sitting around wearing dunce caps? The prophets set these words down two thousand years ago, words that people still pore over and use as the bricks to build their lives with.
And the critics? Who will even know their names two thousand years from now?
What is it, in fact, about computer keyboards that makes people hurl words that pierce and wound like darts?
“Born of a woman” makes sense. People looking forward to the Messiah may imagine or even predict that he will come down directly from Heaven. Or maybe rise out of the ocean or appear in some other mystical way.
So the prophets tell us no. He will be born of a woman.
I Was the Dunce
One of the first things I learned when I joined the Hare Krishna movement was that I knew nothing of spiritual life. I was the dunce. I had to start from zero.
These people who point the finger and laugh at the prophets—have they any background in spiritual life?
O.K. So it’s settled. The Messiah was born of a woman.
Then what about Krishna? Well it’s not so simple. But the answer, if you study it, reveals the purest love of God.
Who Could Be Krishna’s Father?
First, Krishna entered the heart of his father-to-be, Vasudeva.
Wait! Isn’t Krishna the Lord? Isn’t he the father of everyone? Then who fathers Krishna?
But as Krishna explains in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita:
In whatever transcendental [relationship] My devotee worships Me, I reciprocate with him. That is My natural behavior.” (Adi 4.19)
No one can be Krishna’s biological father, but someone who wants to love Krishna that way can have a loving father-son relationship with him. Like a stepfather.
Some fathers adopt their sons. Others beget them. But they hug them the same.
Then Vasudeva, just by looking at his wife Devaki, transferred Krishna into her heart. Thus Krishna entered Devaki’s womb.
When the time came, Krishna was born but not in the usual way. He didn’t have to. He appeared in the room in front of Vasudeva and Devaki as the Supreme Lord, decorated with jewels and holding weapons. The form known as Vishnu.
“I have appeared before you in this way,” he said, “so you would know that I am the Lord.”
He then transformed himself into baby Krishna, looking like a newborn.
Many People Are Confused about This
This event confuses many people in India. They think that Vishnu must be the origin of Krishna. But the scripture Srimad Bhagavatam says the opposite:
All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead.” (1.3.28)
Then Krishna spoke to Vasudeva. “Take me across the river to the village of Vrindaban,” he said. “Queen Yasoda Devi has just given birth to a girl and has fallen asleep. Put me in the girl’s place and bring the girl back here.”
So Vasudeva carried Krishna across the Yamuna River and secretly exchanged the babies.
It was Krishna’s Trick
When Yasoda woke up, she did not remember whether she had had a boy or a girl. Krishna, so she thought, must be her newborn child.
It was Krishna’s trick to reawaken ecstatic love in the heart of his eternal devotee Yasoda.
As Krishna explains in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita:
If one cherishes pure loving devotion to Me, thinking of Me as his son, his friend or his beloved, regarding himself as great and considering Me his equal or inferior, I become subordinate to him.” (Adi 4.21, 22)
But before we try to make Krishna our subordinate, there is a catch. The verse says “pure loving devotion.” Have we attained that?
We mostly know about love of God from Christianity, but that love is mixed with gratitude. Yasoda’s love for Krishna was not mixed with any other emotion.
Grateful to a Baby?
Certainly, gratitude is noble, but it is not love. It is appreciation for having received something. Yasoda never thought Krishna could give her anything. What can a baby give? Nor was she grateful to Krishna. Grateful to a baby? For what?
Just the opposite. She thought Krishna needed her care.
Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta explains:
Mother sometimes binds Me as her son. She nourishes and protects Me, thinking Me utterly helpless. (Adi 4.25)
Christians, for example, pray, “Our father which art in heaven … Give us this day our daily bread.”
This is right. They see that God is their sustenance.
But Yasoda goes a step further. She thinks that she has to give Krishna his daily bread or he’ll die.
The Goddess of Illusion
King Nanda (Yasoda’s husband) and the other residents of Vrindaban share Yasoda’s pure love for Krishna.
And Goddess Maya Devi, herself a great devotee, helps them. Most of us know Maya Devi as the goddess of illusion. She covers our eyes so that we cannot see Krishna at all, as if no God were in charge.
In Vrindaban, Maya also covers the devotees’ eyes but with her fingers spread apart. The devotees see Krishna but not his supreme position. This is Maya’s blessing. It lets them give Krishna the pure unmixed love that makes him laugh and dance.
Eternally touching my head to the floor at the lotus feet of my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, for showing me all this.
~Umapati Swami, February 6, 2023
Photo top: Naughty Krishna holding a piece of candy (Jishnu Das)
(Note: The opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organization or any other person.)
Write to me: email@example.com
© Umapati Swami 2023
Scriptural passages and lecture © Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the teacher who brought Krishna Consciousness from India to the West and then to the rest of the world. He is the founder of the worldwide Hare Krishna Movement as well as the author and compiler of many works of Vedic knowledge. He left this world in 1977.
One of the first American devotees of the Hare Krishna Movement, he became Srila Prabhupada’s disciple in 1966. Since then, he has preached Krishna Consciousness in many countries and is the author of “My Days with Prabhupada,” available from Amazon. Now 85 years old, he has started this blog to share what he has learned.
One thought on “Born of a Woman”
Haribol Maharaja, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada I hope your health is maintained. I have been having some issues with my PD but somehow or other things are going on. just thought I would touch base with you to see how you are doing. I have been following your blog which is well done and I enjoy very much. Keep it up. Take care Your servant Advaita Chandra das