Nearly about 5000 years ago in a kingdom, Mathura which lies on the banks of river Yamuna (in the present day at Uttar Pradesh ) is believed to be ruled by a wicked king called Kansa. Kansa’s beloved sister Devaki was getting married to a King of the Yadavas clan Vasu Dev.
On the day of their wedding, Kansa was told by his Fortune tellers that he would be killed by Devaki’s eighth child. The fear of death leads Kansa to imprison Devaki and Vasu Dev and kill seven of their children. The night Devaki gave birth to her eighth child was like no other.
The city was lashed with heavy rain, thunder, and lighting. The river Yamuna flooded and overflowed its banks. Devaki’s son was born exactly at midnight. A bright light illuminated which woke Vasu Dev up. He then heard a voice that told him to take the baby immediately to Gokul and leave him with his friend, Nand, of the Gopa tribe. The voice also assured him that Nand and Yasoda had given birth to a girl but they were unaware of the gender and hence would love and treat his son as their own.
The doors of the prison opened up by themselves – all the guards fell asleep – the shackles broke. Vasu Dev took the child and surprisingly could walk easily in the heavy rain and flooded city. He encountered a snake who is believed to be Shesha Naag which protected them covered and protected them rain. The Shesha Naag also took a human form as Krishna’s elder brother Balram. Vasu Dev walked across and went to the house of Nanda and his wife Yashodha. Vasu Dev replaced the girl child with Krishna, took the girl child, and came back to the prison.
Kansa found out about the birth of the eighth child and rushed to the prison, he was shocked to discover that the child was a girl, but determined to kill especially since she was the eighth child. Devaki begged her brother not to kill the baby as it was not a son. But Kamsa, he dashed the baby against the walls but she slipped from his hands and turned into a goddess with eight hands. Kamsa was filled with fear on seeing the Goddess. The goddess said in a fearsome voice, “Kamsa, the one who will slay you has already been born. One day he will return to punish you for your evil deeds. From now on, peace will elude you, as you will live each day thinking about your end that is inevitable.” Kamsa however felt that he had escaped the dire fate that had been prophesied and relented enough to release Devaki and Vasudeva from prison. He gave them a separate palace to live in and continued his tyrannical reign. Meanwhile, Vasudeva told Devaki what had happened on the night of their son’s birth. Though Devaki felt sad about being separated from her son, she also felt relieved that he was alive and well in Gokul.
In Gokul, Nand and Yashodha celebrated the birth of their son, whom they named Krishna. He was an adorable child and everyone who met him could not help falling in love with him. Though Kamsa tried to trace his whereabouts and sent many demons to kill him, none of them could harm him. Krishna would go on to fulfill the prophecy and kill his uncle, the evil king, Kamsa when he became a young man.
The day at which Lord Krishna was born is celebrated with great devotion in the August/September months as Krishna Jayanthi, Krishna Janmashtami or else Gokulashtami.