Human form of life is specially meant for one purpose and that is the purification of the heart. Originally we are all Krsna conscious; we are all pure lovers of god. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained “nitya-siddha Krsna-prema sadhya kabhu naya sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya”. That pure love of god is within the heart of every living being. By chanting the names of the Lord and by associating with His devotees, this original natural tendency of loving service to the Lord is awakened from within.

Indeed everything we do should be for the purpose of purification of heart. Therefore we have gathered here together on this auspicious occasion of Sri Govardhan puja, for the purpose of purifying our hearts, by congregationally uniting to glorify the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. On this day of Govardhan puja, which is perhaps the most celebrated of all days in Vrndavan dham, millions of people from all over come to circumambulate Giriraj, Govardhan parvat. In fact some people, they do what is called dandavat parikrama. They offer their full prostration and where their hand touches the ground, they place their foot and offer another full prostration. And they continue all the way round the Govardhan Hill which is twenty one kilometers. Some perform what is called the astalat dandavat parikrama. They offer obeisances in 108 places and then they take one step and then another 108 obeisances and then one step and then all the way around. And there is no festival in Vrndavan where the temples are so beautifully decorated for celebration than the holy day of Govardhan puja.

I remember in 1971 when I first came to Vrndavan, there was a very old babaji, a very very sincere devotee of Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar. And he said to me, “You have just come to Vrndavan.” I said “Yes.” “Ah!” he said “all over India, what to speak of all over the world; they consider that the people of Vrndavan are crazy. After all, just try to stay for some time and see what we are doing here.” He said, “The fact is we are crazy. We are crazy for Krsna and our goal in life is to become more and more and more and more crazy for Krsna day after day after day.” Just like a man who is haunted by a ghost is obsessed with that ghost; a devotee desires to be obsessed with devotional service to Krsna. He cannot escape the desire for loving devotion to the Lord within his heart. And  then this man said to me that, “If you stay here, if you chant the name of Krsna, let me warn you, you will become crazy too.” So I took this instruction as my life and soul. Someday with the blessings of the vaisnavas I am praying that I will become crazy for Krsna. And this is a nice day to become crazy for Krsna.

What is it about this day that the vaisnavas consider so important? Everyone by the millions is coming to worship a hill. In answer to this question I would like to briefly narrate the story from the Srimad Bhagavatam, where the story of Govardhan puja is explained by Srila Sukhadev Goswami to Maharaj Parikshit. In each and every one of the divine lilas of Sri Krsna, there are most essential messages to be understood in our life.

It is explained that Balaramji, when he was eight years old and his younger brother, the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna when he was seven years old, they were wandering through the pasture grounds of Vrndavan in an area which is called yagyasthan. And there they saw Nanda Maharaj, their father, and all of his companions organizing a very massive, massive sacrifice. There were all sorts  of foodstuffs prepared. There were all sorts of ritualistic paraphernalia. So Krsna approached His father and He enquired, “What is it you are doing my father? I can see you are performing a sacrifice. What do you hope to accomplish by this sacrifice? Who is it that you are trying to satisfy by this sacrifice?After all my dear father one who performs rituals but does not understand what the goal of the ritual is, why he is performing the different aspects of the ritual, and who he is trying to satisfy by the ritual, such a person cannot attain success in the performance of that sacrifice. So, please, kindly tell me, there should be no secret amongst the family members.” So Nanda Maharaja began to explain, “That we are worshipping King Indra because the rains that come from the sky are very essential to our livelihood. After all we are vaisyas, we are in the cowherd community. And if there is rains, there is grains and grass and then the cows eat nicely and provide nice milk and then the grains grow from the ground. So in this way there will be prosperity. So this is a very ancient tradition that our forefathers have been performing for many, many generations.

Notice that Sri Krsna who is Yagneswara, He is the Supreme Enjoyer of all sacrifices. Krsna says in Gita that any sacrifice you offer to a devata or demigod, ultimately it is coming to Me. Now this Yagnapati, the Lord of all sacrifices, He is revealing the truth of what is this performance of various rituals. Nothing should be dome simply for the sake of tradition or ritual. All over the world and very much so in India, young people are going away from their religion. They are not interested. They are studying science, technology. And they consider that religion is something very backward, very unrealistic and very impractical. Why? Because what they have been exposed to is empty rituals. They go to the Church or the Mosque or the Temple. They see even their parents at home. And so often they are performing their aartis or they are performing their Mass or they are offering their obeisances to the Holy city. And they ask why are we doing like this? Who are we trying to please? There are so many little technical details that you are doing, what is it for? What is the scientific, philosophical explanation? And there is none. So they consider it is all useless, it is all empty, it is all a waste of time. I could be making money the time I am sitting for this ritual, ringing the bell and offering an incense to a statue.

So, therefore the young generation of the world is becoming very degraded and very corrupt. They are more interested in worshipping some movie star or some singer. And there are some musicians and they are worshipping the Lord and His devotees, the saints. So Krsna explains that everything we do should be done with meaning, understanding and feeling. The rituals that we perform are means of expressing our love and devotion to the Supreme Lord. Just like today we have performed the abhishek. To an unintelligent person, it just seems like some ritual. So what? They are taking this milk and yoghurt and ghee and putting it on top of a statue. Better they give it to me. I will enjoy. Or feed the poor with it. Actually Krsna is so kind that after you bathe Him, He still gives it to you. Why are we spending so much time, so much money, so much energy in this ritual? Because we understand that Krsna is a person and Krsna has transcendental senses just as you have senses. Man is made in the image of God.

“mamaivamso jiva-loke

jiva-bhutah sanatanah”

 We are all part and parcel of God. We all have the same qualities of Krsna but in a minute proportion. “Anadamayobhyasat”. We are all pleasure seeking. Why are we pleasure seeking? Because we are part of Lord Rama who is the reservoir of all pleasure. And the constitutional position of our senses is to give pleasure to the master of senses Hrisikesh, Sri Krsna. The purpose of the part is to give service to the whole. Each part of the body; the hands, the legs, the mouth gives service to the whole body. If they try to enjoy independently, they must suffer and they must die. So therefore the real pleasure of our own senses can only be truly experienced when we learn how to unite our devotional sentiment towards Krsna. Everyone has devotional sentiments. Some are devoted to money. Some are devoted to job. Some are devoted to name and fame. Some are devoted to family members and friends or nations or to some philanthropic cause. If we simply dovetail that natural propensity for devotion to the supreme object of devotion or Krsna, then we experience the real pleasure, the real joy of life.

So Krsna was telling Nanda Maharaj that I want to know exactly why you are performing this sacrifice, what this sacrifice is and who is it for and what you will accomplish by doing so? And factually when we approach any ritual or any religious performance in life, we should also very, very deeply understand these concepts. That is the purpose of guru and sadhu. To make these rituals alive, an opportunity to express your bhakti, your devotion, your desire to love and to serve the Lord. You may have no love but this is an opportunity to show the Lord that you want to love him that you want to serve Him. So Nanda Maharaja after explaining that this was a ritual meant for King Indra, Lord Sri Krsna replied by explaining that, “My dear father, the laws of karma are such that you get the result of whatever you do” As you sow so shall you reap. For every action there is an equal corresponding reaction. So if you are doing good, you will get good results. What does Indra have to do with it? The gods and the Supreme God, He said, they are all bound to simply fulfill whatever your good or bad activities are meant to reap. So therefore, just do good work. Work is worship. Forget god. Forget the gods. Krsna was personally taking this position of an atheist. God becomes an atheist sometimes. But when the god becomes atheist, He is the best atheist. Even the greatest theist cannot defeat Him. Just like Lord Buddha, he is none other than Vishnu avatar. But he came to teach an atheistic philosophy and he completely defeated all theists and got everyone to worship him, but he never claimed to be God. He never even discussed god. So Krsna is doing like this. Work is worship. Don’t worry for the temples or any of these other matters. Of course, later on Krsna explains in Gita that this is all nonsense.

“yajñārthāt karmaṇo ‘nyatra

loko ‘yaḿ karma-bandhanaḥ

tad-arthaḿ karma kaunteya

mukta-sańgaḥ samācara”

That whatever work you, Krsna says, should be done as an offering to me. Otherwise anything you do is the cause of bondage. Bondage in the mood of goodness, passion or ignorance must culminate in the repetition of birth and death.

Therefore Sri Krsna explains that this conception of work is worship, at the best can bring you to the mode of goodness, satvaguna. But when that pious activity runs out, again you must fall into a suffering condition of life. Therefore work can only fructify in real peace, real satisfaction, when it is offered to the Supreme Lord. And Krsna is about to show us how. He told Nanda Maharaja that instead of doing this Indra puja, why not worship Govardhana hill? After all Indra, he will have to give rain according to your karma. Why waste your money, why waste your time worshipping him? But actually   Govardhan Hill is providing nice fresh water, nice grasses. The cow are eating the grasses, giving milk, nice grains. So we should worship Govardhan Hill and then he explained how. That all the brahmanas should chant beautiful mantras in the glorification of the Lord and all the cows and all the cowherd men and all the cowherd women should circumambulate the hill. And then we should cook mountains and mountains and mountains of prasad. Whatever we have, we should cook it. We should cook nice rice, dal, halwa, rasgulla, sandesh, gulab jamun, pakoras, samosas. Ah! Everything. And make mountains and mountains and mountains. Whatever stock of food we have, just make mountains and mountains and mountains. Every brajawasi let them cook and bring it before the  Govardhan Hill. And after this massive offering of bhoga was put before Govardhan, Sri Krsna Himself expanded to a gigantic, gigantic size and then He exclaimed, “I am  Govardhan Hill. This  Govardhan Hill is none other than an incarnation of me and I have come to accept all of your offerings.” And then within seconds this massive form of Sri Krsna in the form of Giriraj, He consumed, He accepted and He ate all the offerings. There was nothing left and then He began to cry out aniyor anyor. I want more. And the brajawasis said there is nothing left.


“patram pushpam phalam toyam

yo me bhaktya prayacchati “

 Krsna says that He is satisfied with a little fruit, a flower, a little glass of water, if it is offered with devotion and He is satisfied with a flower or a piece of a fruit, if it is offered with devotion. The brajawasis offered mountains and mountains and mountains, the whole stock of all of  their food at one time. Krsna is unlimited. He does not need what we have but He is so merciful, He is so kind to accept whatever we offer with love. So in this way Sri Giriraj performed this most miraculous deed of eating all the bhoga, all the food that was prepared for Him. And then Lord Sri Krsna, He expanded himself as Giriraj but still He maintained His own original form as a little seven year old boy. And by His example to teach us, He personally offered His obeisances to  Govardhan Hill and all the brajawasis followed behind and offered obeisances.

So from this time on, sometimes people collect a single rock from this  Govardhan Hill. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu had one little stone, this size, and He understood that it is non-different than the body of Krsna. And He worshipped it. Twenty four hours a day, this Govardhan shila was covered with the tears of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, tears of love. A moment later, by the inconceivable mercy of the Lord, all the bhoga that was prepared and eaten, immediately appeared again before them. And He told them now first feed the brahmanas, then feed the elders, then feed everyone, the rich, the poor, the humans, the animals, everyone should feast on this nice maha-prasad of Govrdhan Hill. So after having this wonderful festival and this wonderful feast, all the cowherd men were very happy and all the gopis, they returned to their respective homes chanting the glories of Sri Krsna.

Everyone was very happy except Indra. This is the way this world is. To make one person happy you have to put another person in distress. You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can never please all the people all the time. So Indra was very much infuriated. But actually this was Krsna’s divine plan because Indra is His devotee and Krsna knew that Indra was infatuated with false pride. And therefore He had to smash that pride out of His mercy. Queen Kunti has prayed


” janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrībhir

edhamāna-madaḥ pumān

naivārhaty abhidhātuḿ vai

tvām akiñcana-gocaram”

 That one who has a lot of wealth, who has great physical strength, beauty and high education, high parentage, such a person is prone to become very, very proud. And that person cannot properly chant the name of God. Pride is the number one enemy of the devotee. And Krsna does not tolerate pride. As soon as there is pride in our heart, Krsna has nothing to do with us.

Devotional service is based exclusively on one principle and that is humility. To the degree there is humility in our heart, to that degree what we do is pleasing to Krsna. To the degree we think that we are great, we are intelligent, we are beautiful, we are spiritually advanced, we are coming from high family, to that degree whatever we do is useless in the eyes of God. Maya’s most subtle and her most deadly weapon is false pride. Even if a person becomes utterly celibate, even if a person gives up his family, his home, his wealth to live in the jungles to perform severe tapasya, who memorizes every verse of every scripture in the world, he is waging a great attack against Maya. But how does Maya defeat him? Very simple. She creeps into his heart and convinces him that you are very advanced, you are very great, you are a saint. Therefore a true devotee never considers himself advanced. In comparison to the Supreme Godhead, a devotee understands that he is utterly insignificant.

One time a devotee said to Srila Prabhupada, “I am the most fallen.” Srila Prabhupada said, “Ah! This is another type of false pride. Some are thinking they are most advanced. That is pride. You are thinking you are the most fallen, that is another pride.” The truth is that you are not the most anything. You are simply insignificant. That is your position eternally, insignificant. When we accept this principle within our heart, then our service gives the ultimate pleasure to the Lord. So king Indra, he had too much wealth, too much education, too much power and prestige and he became infatuated. He was so infatuated that he could not even recognize the Lord of his life, standing right in front of him. So he called the Samvartaka clouds, the clouds, that are called for the devastation of the world. And he told them, “Go to Vrndavan and inundate the whole land and destroy all the residents. Instead of worshipping me, they are listening to this talkative child Krsna. How dare they? They must be destroyed. This is the tendency of a proud person. Cannot tolerate anyone getting respect except him. Cannot tolerate anyone getting more recognition than me. We all have that demon within us; we all want to be the enjoyer. But a real devotee, his greatest pleasure is seeing other people advance better than himself, seeing other people getting the mercy of Guru and Krsna more than me. He finds the greatest pleasure and joy in seeing other people becoming elevated and glorified for their devotion to god. He offers all respects to others and expects none in return. “amanina manadena kirtaniya sada harih”.

So King Indra was very outraged with anger. And these clouds came to Vrndavan and he was following behind them on his Airavata carrier. And there were torrents and torrents and torrents of rain. The rain was so thick. It was like pillars falling from the sky. And there was the cracking of thunder, roaring and roaring and roaring. And lightening  bolts flying in all directions. And Vrndavan was becoming more and more filled with water. And high winds and freezing cold. And the cows and the residents of brajadham, they were suffering terribly and they all approached Krsna. Please Krsna, this is all because we listened to you. Just see what Indra is doing. We take shelter of you. Please protect us. Krsna always protects His devotee. He was protecting Indra by protecting him from his pride by smashing it and he was protecting the residents of Vrndavan by helping them in a moment of helplessness.

So Lord Sri Krsna, who was standing in the porch of His home, He ran to where the  Govardhan Hill was and quite effortlessly He lifted this hill and He held it up with the little finger of his left hand. And then he called all His friends and family members. He said, “Come and take shelter under this Govardhan Hill.” So everyone came running under  Govardhan Hill. And as they were standing under the glorious mountain, they were all fixed in looking at the beautiful features of Sri Krsna with such love, that for seven days and seven nights neither Krsna nor any of His friends, even thought of eating or sleeping. Hunger, thirst, fatigue could not touch them because they were all immersed in this loving reciprocation with one another. After seven days, one may ask how is it? From technical point of view, if all the water is coming off Govardhan Hill, then it has to come back from underneath. But by Krsna’s mystic power, as the rain was hitting the  Govardhan Hill, it was getting evaporated. So nothing came down the mountain to the ground. One may also ask this question that when Krsna ran to  Govardhan Hill, He must have gotten very wet. But as He ran from His Home to the  Govardhan Hill, by His divine power, not a drop of rain even touched Him. So as Krsna was lifting the  Govardhan Hill for seven days and seven nights, the natural tendency of the brajawasis is that they love Krsna as a child. When they are in an emergency situation, they approach Him as God and say please protect me. When everything is alright, they do not like to think of Him as God. They like to think of Him as a helpless little child, if I do not feed Him, He would die. His friends would play with Him and joke with Him. So as they were under Govardhan Hill and out of danger, they were all thinking that Krsna is just a little child. He cannot be lifting this hill. So they all picked up sticks and started putting it under the hill, holding it, thinking actually we are doing it. And Krsna was enjoying this wonderful lila and He was smiling.

After seven days, King Indra understood that this is the Supreme God. What an offense I have committed to Him. So he told the Samvartaka clouds, “Go away. Go away. Stop!” And then the clouds dispersed, the rains stopped and it became a very beautiful and sunny day. And then Sri Krsna told all of His beloved devotees that, “Now that there in no danger. Now you all go back to your homes and enjoy.” And then they all went out from Govardhan Hill and Krsna effortlessly placed it back on the ground. And then His elders, they began to embrace Him and to kiss Him and to engage in all sorts of affectionate expressions of love. And His friends, they began to joke with Him and play with Him. And those who are younger than Him, they touched His feet. In this way according to everyone’s relationship with Krsna, they all expressed their love. And then they all went home. Indra was so humiliated. So Krsna went to a secluded place and Indra came to that secluded place. And when he got there, he offered his prostrated obeisances and the golden helmet on his head, he placed it at the feet of Lord Gopal. And Indra explained that due to my pride, I have even offended my eternal Master, my eternal Father. This is the nature of pride. It makes you offensive. You cannot even identify who is a great soul. And if you see a great soul, instead of glorifying him, you become envious of him. Therefore it is said pride comes before the fall. Because due to pride, we become envious and offend great souls. This is the utter destruction of our spiritual life. It is the greatest impediment. So Indra approached Krsna with great humility. “My Lord, You are so kind, You are so merciful that You have protected me from this desire for prestige.” And Krsna explained to Indra that because he is His devotee, because you are my devotee, this is My love for you.

“Yasya aham anugrahami harishye tad dhanam sanaih “

When Krsna shows you His compassion, sometimes He gives you whatever you want. But His supreme compassion is that He takes everything away, so that you helplessly fall on your hands and knees and say, “Krsna I am nothing. Please save me.” Our pride is like a massive mountain within our heart. But Krsna is Govardhandhari. His most wonderful lila is to lift mountain. So if we surrender to Krsna, if we fall at the feet of Krsna and fall at the feet of His devotee, this is the process by which we can become free from the great deadly demon of pride within us. Allow Krsna to lift it.

Along with Indra came Surabhi, the mother of all cows and for the favor that He offered to save all the cow children,  she bathe Krsna with her milk and Indra performed the abhishek with the water of the Ganges that came from his elephant Airavata. So in this way there was a glorious, glorious abhishek ceremony for Sri Krsna. Therefore on Govardhan Puja, it is most auspicious to celebrate with a sacred abhishek. And then Indra taking leave of Sri Krsna returned to his abode, a very simple and humble devotee.

So Maya is very strong. We are living in a world, it is called a world where there is constantly the downpour of the miseries of material existence. We are in a storm, where the lightening, the thunder and the tumultuous rain of the temptations for sense enjoyment are constantly beating upon us. This material world is a storm. Therefore Krsna has exhibited how we can gain refuge. He is Giridhari. He is the protector of his devotees from the temptations of sinful life. He is the protector of His devotee from the miseries due to the temporary conditions of this world. But He only protects those who humbly fall at His feet and take shelter as the residents of Vrndavan. So on this most auspicious day of Govardhan puja, let us remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead in this way, that we are eternally His helpless servants.

Srila Vallabhacharya was one of the very, very great devotees of Srinathji, the same Gopal Srinathji, who we saw the installation of today. And his beautiful and wonderful prayer was ‘Sri Krsna sarnam mama.’ Krsna I take shelter of Your lotus feet. I surrender to You. I have nowhere else to go. I have nothing else to see. You are my only refuge.

Similarly that great devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Narottamdas Thakur , he has prayed that I have seen and considered the whole world and my conclusion is that without You nothing can save me. No one can save me. ” samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh ” “That this material world is a place where there is danger at every step. Whoever you are. Whether you are an insignificant ant or whether you are the king of heaven. At any moment there is suffering, pain or death.

Therefore Bhagavatam explains “bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam padam padam yad vipadam na tesam ” That we should make our goal in life the lotus feet of Sri Krsna. Our only goal, our only refuge, our only shelter, our only wealth, our only treasure. Bhaktivinod Thakur has said, “My dear Lord, You are my mother, You are my father, You are my friend, You are my Master, You are my Guru, You are everything to me. That my wealth, my body, my home, my family members, my intelligence, everything I have Krsna, I surrender to you because You are everything to me. You are Giridhari. So, on this auspicious day, let us pray to Sri Giridhari, that we may also take refuge of His lotus feet and seek shelter from the deluge of distractions that are constantly coming to our life in this world.

And that same Giridhari, the lifter of  Govardhan Hill, the protector of His devotees has appeared within the sound of His holy name, so that anywhere we may be, in any situation, we can find His shelter, we can find His refuge by chanting His Name.

“namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis

tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah

etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi

durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah”

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained that within your Name Krishna, You have empowered your potency. That potency that lifted the Govardhan Hill, that has protected the devotees. All of that power is within your Name. “kirtanya sada Hari” So let us always with a sincere and devoted heart, with great attention and great sincerity, let us take shelter of the Holy Name of Krsna.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.