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Govardhan Leela

2. Giridhari Krishna


(Lord Krishna, who is Himself the powerful time, desired to destroy the false pride of Lord Indra. When Nanda and the other elderly men of Vrindavan heard Sri Krishna’s statement, they accepted His words as proper.)

Nanda Maharaj and all the elderly cowherd men they loved Krishna so much, that they had to do whatever Krishna wanted. Krishna is the apple of their eye. They knew that Krishna was acting as the most knowledgeable and advising them about all the philosophies. But the words from his mouth sounded like nectar. They could sit there the entire day listening to Krishna’s talk. They didn’t care what the philosophy was. They just wanted to please Krishna. And so they said, “Yes Krishna, we will do as you say. Tell us how worship Govardhan.” Krishna was waiting for this moment. He went on with his long list, “We have to cook prasad, heaps of prasad and make mountains out of it. Govardhan keeps us happy round the year, serving us and providing all that we need. Let’s make rice, dal, chapattis, curries, buttermilk, sweets, kheer, and all types of cakes, fired cakes and cakes soaked in milk. Let us stock up all our milk and grains and make huge, wonderful offerings for the brahmanas, the cows and Govardhan. Then let everyone of us in Vrindavan decorate ourselves with the nicest clothes and jewellery, take the bullock carts with all the cows in front of us and let us circumambulate Govardhan hill.”

Nanda Maharaj and the people of Brij followed each and every instruction of Krishna. The brahmanas recited the auspicious Vedic mantras. They took the articles that had been intended for Indra’s sacrifice and presented those as offerings to Govardhan Hill and the brahmanas with reverence. Mountains of rice, sweets, milk and curd were offered and hence this day is also celebrated as ‘Annakuta’ till this day. They also gave grass to the cows. Then, placing the cows, bulls and calves in front of them, they circumambulated Govardhan.

As the beautifully ornamented cowherd ladies followed along, riding on wagons drawn by oxen, they sang the glories of Lord Krishna, and their songs mingled with the brahmanas’ chanting of hymns.

After ‘Govardhan Parikrama’ all the people assembled felt a current of enthusiasm and boundless joy seep through every pore of their body. They sat down at the feet of the hill and offered all the food that they had cooked. As they were offering prasad, the Govardhan assumed a human form right before their eyes. The form grew as Krishna manifested himself in the hill. Krishna became one with Govardhan and spoke from within the hill, “I am Govardhan. I am pleased with your love and am here to accept all your offerings.” No sooner than the words were said, the hill started eating everything that was offered.

Krishna became Govardhan and was also standing as a seven-year-old boy with the Brijwasis, enjoying this feat. Looking at the gigantic form of Govardhan, Krishna as the boy bowed down before the hill, offering his obeisance to Govardhan. All the Brijwasis assembled followed suit. After Giriraj partook of all the offering, before every one’s eyes, again he gave it all back. The prasad was then distributed to the brahmanas, to all the brijwasis assembled, to the cows. The prasad of Giriraj was fed to the animals, birds and the poor people. After the grand feast, everyone returned home singing and dancing with unbound joy.

Everyone was happy except Indra. Indra waited in vain for his puja. When he learned that all the offerings meant for him was offered to Govardhan by the persuasion of the little boy Krishna, he went into a rage. For generations, the forefathers of Nanda Maharaj had been doing Indra Yajna as he was the supplier of rains. But that day, the Brijwasis had denounced him and accepted Krishna as the supreme authority. He decided to punish the people of Brij for following an ignorant, foolish talkative little boy.

Angry Indra called the Samvartaka clouds. They are the most destructive clouds that shower torrential rains with thunderstorm, and ordered, “These cowherd men living in the forest are doomed. They forgot me and have started listening to a mere boy. These people have become prosperous because of me and in their pride and arrogance have ignored me. They will pay for their haughtiness and conceit. I will follow you to Brij, riding on my elephant Airavata and taking with me the swift and powerful wind-gods to decimate the cowherd village of Nanda.”

On Indra’s order, the Samvartaka clouds began to torment the inhabitants by powerfully pouring down torrents of rain upon them. Propelled by the fearsome wind-gods, the clouds blazed with lightning bolts and roared with thunder as they hurled down hailstones. As the clouds released torrents of rain as thick as massive columns, the earth was submerged in flood. The people, cows and other animals, shivering from the excessive rain and wind approached Krishna for shelter. Trembling from the distress brought about by the severe rainfall, and trying to cover their heads and calves with their own bodies, the cows also came to Krishna asking for help.

Krishna understood that this was the work of the proud and angry Indra as they stopped pleasing him by offering sacrifice. He had to protect his devotees and bring relief. So, the supreme mystic picked up the Govardhan hill in one hand and held it aloft just as easily a child holds up a mushroom. Then he called all the residents of Brij to come under the hill along with their cows. He gave them assurance that they need not be afraid of the hill. Govardhan will protect them from the wind and the rain. Pacified by Krishna, the Brijwasis entered and stood beneath the hill with their cows, wagons, priests and all members of the community. Krishna, forgetting hunger and thirst, putting aside all considerations of personal pleasure, stood there holding up the hill for seven days, smiling charmingly at each and every one of them, as the people of Brij gazed at him in wonder.

... to be continued

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