The miracle of birth has to do with new beginnings, of life finding yet another expression for itself. Through birth, as with death, life renews itself, balances itself, rejigs its rhythms and refurbishes its cycles. So, any birth is miraculous. But when it is of an anticipated one, the everyday miracle acquires an added allure, a sacred patina. Krishna was one such miracle child, persecuted even before he had a chance to be born. The same scenario played out in Bethlehem 21 centuries ago, when another birth was so dreaded that all male infants were slaughtered. Are the similarities between the births of Krishna and Jesus merely coincidences? Or do they give us a sense of the human need for the sacred, and the shared strands of mythology that bind humanity together irrespective of cultural differences?
Both miracle children were anticipated — with dread by some, with joy by others, their births were preceded by violence. Jesus was prophesied as the new “King of the Jews”, which led the existing king, Herod, to order the massacre of all male babies in the area. Krishna, too, was prophesied prior to his birth as the one who would vanquish his own uncle, Kansa, and liberate the people from his tyranny. As he came to know of the prophecy, Kansa massacred each one of Krishna’s siblings until he was born, in the prison where his parents are incarcerated.
Both Krishna and Jesus were born at night, one in a prison and the other in a stable surrounded by farm animals. It is almost as if their humble surroundings were a foil to their impending greatness, and a reiteration of the fact that appearances are just that — superficial. From a prison and stable emerged two individuals whose message reverberates till today. Both future “kings” and spiritual adepts were helpless and hounded at birth. Their parents had nothing to give them, and, in fact, one set of parents had to give up their child soon after birth and smuggle him out to foster parents in secrecy if he were to live at all. The other pair had to flee with their newborn baby, to give it a chance of surviving Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents.
Their identities hidden, the two miracle children grew up among common people. Their playmates were the children of the village, and they learnt the trade of their parents or foster-parents. Krishna learnt to herd cows, and Jesus learnt to hew wood into useful objects. Both performed the odd miracle, acquiring halos of divinity, of being more than human in some way. They fulfilled their birth prophecies — Krishna by killing Kansa, and Jesus by becoming a kind of a “king” of his people through his spiritually profound teachings. Krishna, too, would expound a luminous scripture, his extraordinariness established beyond doubt by then, a miracle child that grew up to point others to the greatest miracle of all — that which lies within.
Swati Chopra writes on spirituality and mindfulness. She tweets at @swatichopra1...