Govinda – the Uplifter of Govardhana

Vraj bhumi was preparing for the annual Indra-puja to invoke the seasonal rains. The young Krishna saw the preparations going on and asked his father Nanda about the ritual. On hearing about the Indra-puja, Krishna told his father that it is not Indra who sends the rains down, but it is our good and noble activities that constitute “yagna” that brings the rains down. Krishna suggested that the cows, the source of their livelihood, the Govardhan mountain which represents Mother Nature, which is the source of fodder for animals, and the noble people who are upholders of dharma and protectors of our scriptures should be revered, respected and worshipped instead of Indra.

Everyone agreed to this. Celebrations were held in Vrindavan where the cows and bulls were all decorated and worshipped. The presiding deity of Govardhan Giri was invoked and worshipped. The noble and pious in the community were respectfully invited, adored and appropriate dana or charity was given to all of them. Lord Indra was displeased at the indifference of the people of Vrindavan. He decided to teach them a lesson for ignoring him. He sent down torrential showers accompanied by huge gales, thunder and lightning. Unable to protect themselves from the heavy downpour, all the people sought shelter at Lord Krishna’s feet. The Lord sportingly lifted up the Govardhan mountain with the tip of his little finger, and held it aloft like a huge umbrella and asked all the people including their cattle-wealth to take shelter under the mountain. The incessant rains continued day and night for a whole week, and Krishna stood motionless holding the Govardhan mountain aloft and protecting everyone all through the week. 

Indra realized the glory of Lord Krishna and humbly accepted defeat. He came down to Vrindavan and surrendered to Lord Krishna. Since the Lord had protected the entire cattle-wealth, the celestial Mother of Cows, Surabhi came down from the heaven to express her gratitude to the Lord. She bathed the Lord with her divine milk. Indra on his part performed the abhisheka of Lord Krishna with the waters of the heavenly Ganga. All the devatas and other celestial beings glorified Sri Krishna and offered their salutations unto Him. As directed by Lord Brahma, Surabhi gave Sri Krishna the title: GOVINDA.

Significance: INDRA represents our mind. To worship Indra therefore means to cater to the mind’s fancies day-in and day-out. GO represents “knowledge” and also “ethical and moral values”. VARDHANA means “to increase”. Therefore, GOVARDHANA means “to nurture and nourish the good qualities or to seek the higher knowledge” — it represents our INTELLECT. Lord Krishna represents the GURU who comes and advises us to worship GOVARDHAN and not INDRA, meaning, not to follow the mind and its lower instincts and impulses, but to follow the higher principles in life. When we earnestly try to walk the righteous path, the mind (Indra) will create hurdles and obstacles (rain). But if we have unshakeable faith and devotion in the Lord and His guidance, and sincerely and consistently follow the right path, the Lord will surely protect us — the very values and knowledge we have sought in our lives will support us (lifting of the Govardhan). Finally the mind has to come around and align itself with the intellect! The One who is the Sole Support and Protector of the world of things and beings is GOVARDHANA GIRIDHARI or GOVINDA, the “Lord of Knowledge”.

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