Lord Chaitanya Receives Govardhan Shila :
The Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, incarnated as Govardhan hill and how special the Govardhan hill is to the devotees of Shri Krishna. In the Caitanya Caritamrita, it tells us, how one devotee once came from Vrindavan to Jagannath Puri with one small stone from Govardhan hill. Govardhan or Giriraj is non-different than the body of Shri Krishna. And that Govardhan shila was given as a gift to Lord Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And He was so happy upon receiving it. He was receiving Krishna directly. Therefore, He wrapped that Govardhan hill with string and He tied it to wear around his neck. And every day He would wear it constantly – for a long long time. And it is described, when He would feel the sentiments of ecstatic love for Krishna overpoweringly, He would pick up that shila from His chest and He would press it to His forehead and into His eyes. And it is described by Kaviraj Goswami that 24 hours a day that shila was constantly soaked with the tears of Lord Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And Lord Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave that Govardhan shila as an intimate and confidential gift, to His devotee Raghunath Das Goswami.
Govardhan Is Heart Of Acharyas :
And along with it He gave him very very special instructions on how Giriraj should be worshipped – each and every day, with a certain amount of Tulasi leaves, flowers, how to bathe it and so on. And Raghunath Das Goswami considering that Giriraj his life and soul worshipped it throughout his whole life – Jai Radha Giridhari, Raghunath pran dhan aahe. It was the life force, the love of the life of Shri Raghunath Das Goswami. And Raghunath Das Goswami who was one of the most principal and important of all the associates of Shri Caitanya, he made his residence at Radha Kund which is at the foot of Govardhan hill. And there he spent many many long years. In fact, Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami, he also took shelter, when he went to Vrindavan, of Govardhan hill. And it was at Govardhan hill near the Radha Kund that he heard the narrations from Raghunath Das Goswami of the lila of Shri Caitanya, and it was at Govardhan hill that Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami wrote the greatest of all spiritual literatures for the devotees of the Lord, Shri Caitanya Caritamrita.
By His Own Example :
Today in Vrindavan, on this very day as we are sitting here, there are tens and thousands of people that come from all around to circumambulate the Govardhan hill. With bare feet, some of them do the ‘Dandavat’ parikrama and some do “108Dandavat parikrama”, to show their great respect and love for the lord, who has so munificently appeared in this most unique and wonderful incarnation – to show His mercy upon all. And our own Guru Maharaj, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, when he was in his last days of his earthly lila. We know he left his body only 3 days after the Govardhan puja in the year of 1977. He was so thin and he was in such a condition that it is…his doctors and the devotees, they understood that he wasn’t even supposed to move, he had to be carried if he had to go anywhere. But when he understood that the day of Govardhan puja was coming soon, he was so overwhelmed with joy that he ordered his disciples that I want you to take me on that day for parikrama around Govardhan hill. And his disciples, they could not believe what he was saying – how is this possible? That you cannot even walk, you cannot even move and the doctors say if you try to move you will die. And Srila Prabhupada said, ‘I cannot walk but you can take me on bullock cart and we will have kirtana all the way around Govardhan hill. That will bring me great happiness.’ And the devotees consulted physicians and they said, ‘He will die within the first 5 minutes, it is not possible.’ And the devotees were pleading with Srila Prabhupada, ‘Please! Please! do not go. We are begging you. If you go, you will die. We need you too much.’ Prabhupada said, ‘Why are you talking about death? Death will come whether I go or not go. If I die at Govardhan hill, that will be very auspicious, but I don’t think I will die. Krishna will protect me.’ And he said, ‘take me. that is my order.’
Devotees Desire Is Important :
So there was great great difficulty amongst the devotees. Some were saying, ‘If he wants to go, you must let him go. That is his cherished desire.’ And others were saying, ‘No, no, no. We must show our love for him, by keeping him from this great great inconvenience.’ But, none of the devotees could face him, because he wanted to go so much to worship Govardhan hill on this most glorious day of Govardhan puja. So finally, devotees had to approach some of Prabhupada’s God brothers who are very dear to him. Because they did not..they could argue with him. A disciple cannot argue with the Guru, it is a great offence, but a God brother can argue out of intimacy. So they called one of his very dear God brothers, Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj. And he also pleaded with Prabhupada, and all the devotees were pleading with Prabhupada, and finally he said, ‘If you want me to stay, I will stay.’ He Said, ‘I must be above and beyond any of my own desires, I must respond to the love of my devotees.’
Don’t Be Ritualistic :
So what makes it such an important event that we are here today to celebrate? The story is given by Srila Sukhadeva Goswami in the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. There it is described that the Govardhan puja has many very very deep meanings. When Krishns performs a pastime, He has so many lessons for everyone to learn.
It is described that after Krishna showed His mercy to the wives of the Brahmans, the yagnic Brahmans, in Vrindavan, He saw Nanda Maharaj and the other cowherd men arranging beautiful preparations for a big big yagya. So Lord Shri Krishna asked, ‘What is this that you are doing?’ to Nanda Maharaj. He said, ‘What is this ritual? Who is it for? And what will you accomplish by performing it?’ This is very important, the first line of the story. Krishna disapproves of performing any ritual without a deep understanding of what you are doing and why. Krishna disapproves of religiosity based on superstition and vane tradition, because you cannot put your heart into something like this. Krishna wanted to tell us all that if you are performing some ritual, if you are performing some religious yagya, you must know what it is for, you must know who it is for, you must know how to perform it and you must also know what is it that you are going to accomplish through it.
Lessons To Be Learnt :
- Understand Fully Before Doing.
- Practice What You Preach.
How many people today perform their puja simply to carry on their family traditions? Or perform a puja because they are superstitious. They are afraid that something may happen if they do not do it. Krishna was asking Nanda Maharaj, why? For who? And what are you doing? And then because Nanda Maharaj was quite quiet, Krishna explained that do you know that if people perform this yagya with ignorance, without understanding these things, then you will get no good result. If you perform it with knowledge, then you will get the result. So I want to know, what is this? And, you should tell me because I am intimate family member. And amongst those who are highly qualified in religious life, they have no secrets from their friends and family members. In fact, such person should have no secrets from anyone. Their lives should be like an open book. Here Krishna is instructing another great lesson, that we should practice what we preach. We should not have two lives. We should not have a private life and a public life. What we say, we should establish by our actions. Acarya means one who teaches the truth according to the scriptures, and one who lives according to that truth. Such a person has no secrets, nothing to hide in his life.
Nanda Maharaj’s Explanation :
So Nanda Maharaj, he began to speak, he said, ‘My dear Krishna, we are performing the Indra yagya. Because, you see we are cowherd community, we grow grains, we take care of cows, we are completely dependent on rain. If it does not rain, we will have no success in our life. And Indra is the devata, the demigod, who bestows when he is pleased, rain upon the earth. So this yagya is meant to please Indra, so that he will provide plentiful rains. And, then we will live a nice life in prosperity, and the cows will be happy.’
Krsna’s Reason For Govardhan Puja :
1. Karma Mimamsa :
When Krishna heard this, he was looking at Nanda Maharaj like is that the reason? I think, as far as I am concerned, Indra really doesn’t have anything to do with it. Because, according to the laws of karma, if you act good, you will get good results. And if you act bad, you will get bad results. And Indra is simply the deliverer of your karma. So if you are performing good works, Indra has to give rains. And if you are sinful, Indra has to hold it back. It is something like in the government you have telephone, you have electricity, you have water. If you pay your bill, then you get the water, you get the electricity. If you don’t pay your bill, it gets turned off. You don’t have to flatter the minister of water, or the minister in charge of electricity. Go and say you are very great man, you are very wonderful. If you pay, they give it to you.
So Krishna was explaining if you just do good works, why do you have to waste all this time trying to satisfy Indra? It’s like flattering. You are pious man, he has to give rain. And then he explained that karma-mimansa philosophy.
2. Surrender To Me :
Krishna wanted to establish, to His devotees that it is an offence to Him, in His presence to worship the demigods. That here He was personally living in Vrindavan, the Supreme God of all gods, Parameshwara, and they are worshipping Indra for rains. Krishna explains in the Gita, that the demigods, whatever they have they are getting from Me. And if you worship Me, you have no other obligations to anyone.
na kiìkaro näyam åëé ca räjan
sarvätmanä yaù çaraëaà çaraëyaà
gato mukundaà parihåtya kartam
That all one’s obligations to one’s forefathers, to the government, to the demigods, to one’s teachers – we have obligations to all of them. They are all automatically fulfilled when we surrender to Krishna, because He is the source of everything. When you water the root of the tree, automatically every part of the tree is nourished. When you surrender to Krishna, when you please Krishna, the whole universe and all living beings within the universe are fully nourished. You have no other obligation. So Krishna wanted to show that if you are not My devotee, then it is your duty to worship the demigods because they are giving you so many benefits and gifts and you are ungracious if you do not, but if you are My devotee then all that is taken care off.
mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja
ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo
mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù
Krishna says abandon all varieties of religion, just surrender to Me. I shall relieve you of all sinful reactions, do not fear. So, Krishna very very cleverly wanted to dissuade from Indra puja, but there was another reason.
3. Krsna’s Mercy Is In Curbing Pride :
Because, Krishna knew that Indra was very proud. You see, when Krishna appeared on earth, not everyone understood that He was God. ye yathä mäà prapadyante, täàs tathaiva bhajämy aham [BG 4.11]. Only those who had hearts full of true devotion understood that He was God. Others considered that He was just a very great powerful mystic, but He was a human being or some thought of demigod, but they didn’t understand He was God. And even amongst the demigods in heavens, many of them did not understand that this Krishna was the original Avatari. So Krishna knew, that Indra is very proud. Why? Because he was in such a position of control and in this world, it is very very difficult to have a high position, wealth, beautiful looks, power or authority over others and not become condemned by false pride. It is almost impossible. Unless one really and seriously takes shelter of the lotus feet of the sadhus, it’s not possible. So, Krishna knew that Indra, although he was His devotee, he was intoxicated by his high position in the world. And because Indra was His devotee, Krishna was so merciful – He wanted to curb this pride. He wanted to purify his life.
So Krishna simultaneously wanted to give pleasure to the Vrijwasis, He wanted to establish to His devotees there is no need to worship anyone but Me, and He wanted to curb the pride of Indra. So he began to speak in such a way to convince Nanda Maharaj to stop this Indra puja.
4. Athiestic Philosophies :
He said, ‘Nanda Maharaj, work is worship. You just do your work you gonna get the results. Whether there is a God or is not a God, it doesn’t really matter, because God is subservient to your karma.’ Krishna was preaching atheistic philosophy. In fact, where do you think the atheists get all their arguments from? You think they have the brain substance to think of it themselves. They get it from Krishna. If you don’t want to surrender to God, if you don’t want to believe in God, if you want to be your own God, then Krishna is within your heart, sarvasya cähaà hådi sanniviñöo, mattaù småtir jïänam apohanaà ca [BG 15.15] he gives you just the proper philosophy of atheism to justify your position. And just to prove that Krishna was teaching atheism, that – “may be there is a God, may be there is not a God, but what difference does it make? If you do your work properly, the results have to come. So what is this? Wasting your time trying to satisfy this Indra”. And then he explained that according to the varnasrama system, if you just act according to your natural propensity, as a Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, then all the needs of your life will be fulfilled. So just perform your duty, you are cowherd man.
5. Practical Situation :
And after all, where are you getting all of your gifts from? From Govardhan hill, from the cows and from the Brahmans. Govardhan hill is supplying grass, the cows eat the grass, give milk and by the blessings of the Brahmans, they give us Vedic knowledge, so therefore you should take all of these beautiful articles of paraphernalia for worship and worship the Brahmans, the cows and Govardhan hill.
Brajwasis – They Just Love Krsna :
So, because Nanda Maharaj and all the elder cowherd men they loved Krishna so much, that they had to do whatever Krishna wanted. They knew that Krishna was simply jokingly preaching these very very bogus philosophies – for the less intelligent people. But they didn’t care what the philosophy was. They just wanted to please Krishna. And therefore they said, ‘Yes Krishna, teach us how to do it.’ Cook mountains of prasad. Make payasam, and make puris, and make halwa and rasagullas and gulab jamuns and laddoos and chapatis and rice and subjis and dahls and make all sorts of nice cakes – fried cakes, and cakes soaked in various milk preparations, and then all the stock of all your milk and all your grains, make wonderful big offerings for the pleasure of the Brahmans, the cows and Govardhan hill. And then after that let every one in Vrindavan decorate themselves with the nicest jewellery, with the nicest clothes and then let us take the bullock carts with all the cows in front of us and let us circumambulate Govardhan hill.
Krsna Is Giriraj :
So, they performed this wonderful ceremony. And how wonderful, as they were circumambulating Govardhan hill, mountains and mountains of bhoga, wonderful foodstuffs they were all chanting the glories of Krishna and Balarama. And after the ceremony was over, every one was so happy, so joyful and Krishna said, ‘Now, with this prasad, make sure afterword that we must offer it very humbly to Govardhan’. So as they were offering it, right before their eyes, the Govardhan hill assumed a personal form, and this personal form grew so big and it was non-different than Krishna Himself that assumed this form within the hill. And then Govardhan hill began to speak that I am Govardhan, I am the Supreme. I have come to accept all of your offerings. And then right before their eyes, the Govardhan hill, with great pleasure ate all of the offerings. And upon seeing this, while Krishna was incarnated as Govardhan hill, He was at the same time the seven year old little cowherd boy along with the Vrijwasis. And in order to teach all the Vrijwasis and in order to teach all of us for all life to come, the importance of this great avatar, Krishna Himself bowed down and offered His obeisances to Giriraj. And all of the Vrijwasis followed and did the same. And after Giriraj partook of all the offering, before every one’s eyes, again he gave it all back. Then Krishna explained; now we must distribute it to the Brahmans and then we must distribute it to all other classes of men. We must specially sumptuously feed those who are very poor and we must sumptuously feed the dogs, the cats, the cows, everyone. Let everyone enjoy the wonderful mahaprasad of Shri Giriraj.
And after this wonderful wonderful feast took place everyone was so happy – they all dancing in transcendental ecstasy remembering Krishna in the heart of their hearts returned to their homes.
Indra’s Reaction :
Everyone was happy except one person – Indra. Indra was thinking, ‘Where is my puja?’ He was told that Krishna took your puja and offered it all to Govardhan hill. ‘To Govardhan hill? That was meant for me!! For generations and generations and generations all the forefathers of Nanda Maharaj have been offering me this sacrifice. I am the supplier of the rains. Who does He thinks He is? These Vrijwasis, rather than accepting my Supreme authority they are accepting the authority of this cowherd boy?…this ignorant, foolish, little, talkative cowherd boy? They will be punished.’
Vrindavan In Danger :
He called the Samvartaka clouds. They were not ordinary clouds. They are the clouds that pour torrents and torrents of rain to flood the entire earth, at the time of the dissolution after the day of Brahma. And these Samvartaka clouds, when they came they were very frightened. They did not know who is this Krishna, but on Indra’s ordering, He told them that you go to Vrindavan and you pour torrents of rain and you destroy all the cows, all the cowherd men, all the cowherd women – you destroy the entire the community because they have offended me. They have neglected their vow to me. And I will be behind you with my thunderbolts on my elephant carrier, Airavata. So, in Vrindavan, all at once these black black deep clouds started forming in the sky and there was so much thunder and so much lightning and torrents and torrents of rain. The rains were not falling in drops, but they were coming down like pillars. It was like the entire ocean just falling on to the land of Vraja dhama. And the winds were blowing, and the cows, and the gopis, and the gopas they were feeling too much distress. Everything was being destroyed. They were soaking wet, they were freezing, thunderbolts were coming in all directions – everywhere.
Krsna’s Thought Process :
They turned to Govinda, because after all they were thinking He was just an ordinary little child, but when things became very very difficult, they remembered what Garg muni had said in the past – that any danger that you are ever in, Govinda will save you. So they all approached Krishna that kindly protect us. Indra has become very angry. So Krishna smiled and He began to think in His own heart that My devotees, this is all My fault. I have angered Indra because he is so proud. His pride must be smashed today, because he is very big rich man and He has so much authority and power over others, he has become intoxicated. And I cannot tolerate pride in the heart of my devotee. Today I will smash his pride. Although he is an insignificant little jiva like an insect, his pride has become like the Himalayan Mountain, but today it will be crushed.
Giridhari Krsna :
So, then He left His home and He ran to where Govardhan hill was. And it is described by Vishwanath Chakravati Thakur that at the time when He ran out, how did He get there without getting wet? He describes that the yogamaya potency cleared the skies beyond Indra’s control while Krishna went from His house to Govardhan hill. So not even one drop of water was placed upon even one hair of His head. And then, Bhagwan, Shri Giridhari, with the left hand effortlessly like a child lifts a mushroom, He lifted the Govardhan hill. And He held it with the little finger of His left hand upraised and He called out to all the residents of Vrindavan, ‘Please come. This is a very warm and dry place. You have nothing to fear. Come under Govardhan hill and be happy.’ So they all came. All the hundreds and hundreds and thousands of cows of Nanda Maharaj….and all of the gopas and all of the gopis. They all took shelter under Govardhan hill. And Krishna stood there for seven days. And the Vrijwasis because they were so much struck with wonder at this beautiful pastime and because Krishna’s charming smile was simultaneously upon each and every one of them. They did not even think about eating, drinking or sleeping. And when Krishna saw the great affection in which all of the cowherd men and cowherd girls were looking at Him, He was so pleased with the Vrijwasis that He did not even think about eating, sleeping or drinking.
Happiness Of Vrajwasis :
So, in this way seven days went by. It was an ecstatic festival of love for all of them. And when Indra saw that all of his power, all of his strength and he could not even get a drop of water on any of the Vrijwasis, he realized that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And he realized what a horrible, terrible mistake I have made. And he told the Samvartaka clouds you all stop – go away. And the rains stopped. And the sun came out, and at that time Lord Shri Krishna knowing the heart of Indra as the Paramatma in all living being’s heart, He told the Vrijwasis that now it is safe. Now you can go away. Go back to your respective homes. There will be no more rain. So then they all left and how happy they were.
We may wonder how is it possible from a point of view of just practical….physics and gravity that if all the water was going under the umbrella and they were all standing on the ground, why didn’t the water go in from the bottom side? It is described that by Krishna’s internal, inconceivable internal potency, as soon as any water touched the ground, it immediately evaporated.
So, in this way, when they left there was no water and how happy they were. Then Krishna put the Govardhan hill back in its proper place. And it is described, everyone was simply going to whatever respective homes they were assigned chanting the glories of Shri Krishna and the young gopis, they were so happy. Because of their tradition of being chaste young girls it was inappropriate for them to very loudly glorify the names of Krishna. They had to keep it secretly in their hearts. But on this day, everyone was glorifying Krishna. So they were simply to their heart’s content just dancing, chanting the glories of Lord Shri Krishna.
Indra Realises his Mistake :
And Indra, the king of the heaven, knowing the offence he had committed he came down and he placed his golden crown on the lotus feet of Shri Gopal and he explained to Krishna that You are so kind, You are so merciful, You always protect the promise that You will never neglect Your devotee. And because of my position as the ruler of all the demigods, because all living beings on this entire earth depend on me for rain, because of the wonderful palace, the beautiful wife, the wonderful luxuries that I have been given due to my post, the king of heaven, I have become proud. And in my pride my spiritual advancement has been blocked. And I have been so intoxicated by this condition that I didn’t even know it. But Your great mercy, Your great kindness is that You never forget Your devotee. And You have curbed my pride, You have again reminded me that I am only the insignificant servant, aspiring to be the dust of Your…..at Your lotus feet. And then, the elephant carrier, Airavata, with the water of the Ganges, offered abhishek to Shri Krishna. That is why on this day, as we saw earlier, we perform the abhishek ceremony for Lord Krishna. And then the Surabhi cows of Vrindavan out of their gratitude they also offered the abhishek with the limitless milk of which was coming out of love and bathed Krishna.
Krsna’s Kindness :
In this was the Govardhan puja is celebrated in remembering the great kindness of the Lord – the kindness of the Lord upon the Vrijwasis to remind them that the topmost jewel of all existence was right amongst them – why should they worship someone else. The lesson given to all devotees that you don’t have to approach anyone for any thing material – just please Me and your life is perfect. We don’t have to ask Krishna give me this, get me that and can I do this. Krishna is within your heart.
bhaviñyäëi ca bhütäni
mäà tu veda na kaçcana
He knows everything – past, present and future. He knows all your thoughts, all your desires.
“One Prayer” To Please Krsna :
He knows all your needs. Do you think you need to ask Him? And ordinary person we ask for something because they don’t know what we need. Just like a little child – when he starts to cry, sometimes the parents are bewildered – they don’t know what the child wants. Does he have a rash? Does he having some sickness? Does he want milk? Does he want food? Is he lonely? Does he want attention? Very difficult to tell. But Krishna is not like that. Krishna is the perfect father. From within the heart He knows exactly what all of our needs are – at all times. So there is no need to ask Krishna – give me this, can I get that? There is one question, ‘My dear Lord, how can I serve You? How can I please You?’
Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught us this prayer,
na dhanaà na janaà na sundaréà
kavitäà vä jagad-éça kämaye
mama janmani janméçvare
bhavatäd bhaktir ahaituké tvayi
[Çré Çré Çikñäñöakam – 4]
I do not want money. I do not want even the most beautiful women. I do not fame or distinction in this world. I do not even want liberation from the pains and sufferings of life. I only request of you one thing – please engage me in unmotivated and uninterrupted loving service to you birth after birth after birth. This is the great prayer which more than any other prayer will please Krishna. And if Krishna is pleased, will He not give you what you need? Someone who doesn’t loves you so much will give you what you want just to pacify you, but someone who truly loves you will give you what you need even if you do not want it. If your child goes to a neighbour, the neighbour will give him what it wants. But the parent, if he loves the child it may not give a child what it wants.
‘Go to school’.
‘But I don’t want to go to school’.
‘Go to school’.
‘Go to sleep’.
‘But I don’t want to go to sleep’.
‘Go to sleep’.
Krsna’s Action Plan :
Out of love, the parents give so many things, children don’t want but what they need. So have faith – Krishna will give you what you need, and don’t be so crazy to think that what you want is what you need. Usually, it’s just the opposite. That is why many people are afraid of Krishna. You see when you worship the demigods you can only ask them for material things. They cannot give you spiritual things. But what you asked for, if you do the proper penance or austerity, sacrifice, you pay the price, they give it. Even if it is not good for you, they will give it. But Lord Hari is not like that. Hari is famous for taking things away. Recently, I met one sadhu and I was telling him about how our new Vrindavan community was becoming persecuted. He said, ‘Well, what do you expect? You are a devotee of Krishna.’ He said, ‘If you don’t want that you should worship somebody else. Krishna will bring you to your knees until you say Hey Krishna!! Hey Govinda!! Only You can save me. That’s what you want – Krishna’s best. You want something else, but that will never satisfy you.’
Even to the Vrijwasis, when the torrents and torrents of rain, thunder and lightning were coming in to Vrindavan, they were scared to death. They were suffering. They ran to Krishna, ‘Krishna save me!!’ Then Krishna lifted Govardhan hill.
In Storms Take Shelter Of Giridhari :
You see Gopal, Shrinath ji on our altar with a beautiful childish smile on his face he is lifting the Govardhan hill. He is in the Giridhari asana, and….He is simply waiting to do that same favour for us. When the storms come into our life, and they will – it is the nature of this world – there will be storms. Some days everything will be very nice and it will be like a sunny day, but some days it will appear that everything is against us, it’s an impossible situation, what am I to do?? Follow the lotus feet of Giridhari and say ‘O Govinda, O Gopal, I am Yours. How can I serve You? Please save me.’ And then Krishna as Giridhari, He will lift the Govardhan hill of His mercy to protect us from all the miseries and sufferings of this world.