“On the occasion of Lord Krishna's birth, seasonal changes took place throughout the entire universe. Krishna was born during the month of September, yet it appeared like springtime. The atmosphere, however, was very cool, although not chilly, and the rivers and reservoirs appeared just as they would in sharat, the fall. Lotuses and lilies blossom during the day, but although Krishna appeared at twelve o'clock midnight, the lilies and lotuses were in bloom, and thus the wind blowing at that time was full of fragrance.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.3.1-5 Purport)
Friend1: Krishna’s birth is pretty amazing.
Friend2: How so?
Friend1: So many things came together. The prophecy. The punishment from Kamsa. The promise of Vishnu.
Friend2: To elaborate further for anyone who might not be familiar, the prophecy stated that Devaki’s eighth child would be the death of Kamsa.
Friend1: And Kamsa was the king of Mathura. Devaki was his sister.
Friend2: The punishment from Kamsa was the imprisonment of Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.
Friend1: The king was not going to take chances.
Friend2: He killed each child as soon as it was born. The promise of Vishnu was to mother earth and Lord Brahma, the creator. Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, agreed to incarnate on earth to relieve the burden of the sinful, the asuras.
Friend1: The janma, or birth, took place in a jail cell.
Friend2: Because that’s where Devaki and Vasudeva were.
Friend1: At midnight, while everyone was sleeping.
Friend2: Yes. The timing was perfect. It allowed for Vasudeva to transfer the baby to the neighboring town of Gokula without Kamsa finding out.
Friend1: I was thinking about something. Is there any significance to the midnight thing?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Obviously, the timing was good from the perspective of escaping Kamsa, but are there other reasons that Krishna decided to appear in this world at midnight?
Friend2: Because nighttime is darkness and God is supposed to be light?
Friend1: Yeah, there you go. Something along those lines.
Friend2: The description in the Bhagavatam says that the fragrance in the air was nice, since the lilies and lotuses were in bloom. Usually that happens in the daytime, but with God everything done is auspicious. Even when He appears at midnight, that time becomes one to celebrate.
Friend1: I was thinking of the Bhagavad-gita verse. The one that says something about night and day in relation to sages and normal people.
Friend2: “What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.69)
Friend1: There you go. This was nighttime for everyone else, especially Kamsa. It was the time for awakening for Devaki and Vasudeva.
Friend2: Sure, you could look at it that way. The timing helps devotees who celebrate Janmashtami.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: It allows them to fast until midnight. This way they spend the entire day thinking about Krishna. If you just observed that one vow, once a year, you would get so much benefit.
Friend1: And with other vows the fasting period isn’t as long?
Friend2: We already fast at night, while sleeping. That’s why the first meal of the day is called “breakfast.”
Friend1: Oh yeah. Good point.
Friend2: By fasting until midnight, which corresponds with the time Krishna appeared, you get more benefit, at least in terms of consciousness.
Friend1: What about the idea that a person of regulated habits sleeps on time. They don’t sleep too much or too little.
Friend2: “There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)
Friend1: There you go. You’re like a verse machine.
Friend2: There is no contradiction here. The introspective sage is always awake to Krishna consciousness. Even their sleeping is auspicious. It makes sense that Devaki and Vasudeva would be awake for the appearance of Vishnu as their son.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: You don’t need to make too much of the midnight thing. The lesson I would take away is that everything with God the person is auspicious. Even if He appears at a time when people are typically sleeping, there is no violation of laws. In material life, even when following the Vedas, there are appropriate and inappropriate times.
Friend1: Like for starting a journey, getting married, holding a worship ceremony.
Friend2: Exactly. With bhakti, or devotion, things are different. There are no inauspicious times. Lord Chaitanya has said that there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Bhakti is about love, after all. Just as love is not limited by language, it’s not restricted to time and circumstance, either. Krishna can appear in this world at midnight and He can dance with the gopis in the forest at midnight, too. There will always be light, since He is self-effulgent.
Even if arriving in darkness of night,
Place beaming with transcendental light.
Like in jail cell janma time,
As Vishnu to parents to shine.
Divine vision for devotees to make,
At midnight Devaki and Vasudeva awake,
Perfect for sadhakas to celebrate yearly,
Any moment for bhakti auspicious clearly.