Worship Govardhan – not Indra
Once, when Krishna and his brother Balarama were at the Govardhana hill, they saw Nanda and the Gopas of Vrindavan preparing for a ceremony. When Krishna asked Nanda what the purpose of the ceremony was, Nanda replied that they were preparing for the annual worship of Indra. They would offer Indra sacrifices to show their gratitude and to please him, so that he would send just enough rain for the grass to grow to feed their cattle. Hearing this, Krishna challenged Nanda, asking him if the trees, which need rain, offer prayers to Indra. Krishna continued “living beings are born and die according to their karma. Karma regulates their attainment of enjoyment and suffering, fears and welfare. What use is Indra to such creatures, who cannot undo the effects of these karmas? The world is governed by the action of the three gunas (modes) of prakriti – rajas, tamas, and sattva. These are the basis of creation, preservation and dissolution of the universe. By the power of rajas, all creatures are sustained, and all necessary conditions such as rain are provided. Indra has nothing to do with this. These prayers to the demigods are for those who are bound to the outer reality and are far from realising the Supreme Lord. As one is submitted to one’s karma, one must do one’s duty and honour one’s karma. One must honor the deity that helps one to live happily. For us, the Govardhana hill is a personification of the Divine. It is under his slopes that we and our cattle live and grow, so let us worship the hill.”
Krishna was saying that worshipping a demigod is fruitless, because you will only attain their lokas. You will not be free, because they themselves are not free, they are not eternal; they are bound by karma. Furthermore, Krishna knew that Indra’s pride needed to be destroyed.
Govardhan Leela – Krishna lifting Govardan Hill
All the Gopas understood Krishna’s logic, so they gathered the offerings that had been prepared for Indra and walked up the hillside to worship the Govadharna hill. To instil faith, Krishna took the gigantic form of Govardhana, and consumed the Prasad they had offered. At the same time, He also remained in the form of the little Gopala Krishna. In this form, He prostrated before Himself as the mountain, whilst the others delighted that Govardhana had appeared personally to accept their offerings.
Indra was angry. He had been insulted by the Gopas at the behest of Krishna. He decided he would punish them all for withholding their sacrifice to him. He commanded a group of clouds called the Samvartaka – which cause universal destruction and complete annihilation – to rain with huge force in Vrindavan. It soon turned in to a ferocious storm, raining brutally and incessantly for days on end. The Yamuna river began to overflow, and the ground became so flooded that it washed away the trees. The cowherds and their families were helpless and ran to Krishna to beg for His help.
Krishna knew how angry Indra was by the devastation that he had deliberately instigated. Telling them to bring their cattle and possessions with them, Krishna took the whole community to the Govardhana Hill. As everyone looked on, Krishna went to the foot of the Govardhana Hill and lifted Govardhana aloft, as easily as a child might uproot a mushroom, and invited everyone to take shelter underneath the mountain.
Krishna didn’t rest, eat, or sleep but stood holding the hill for seven days and seven nights while the deluge continued. So Indra’s anger was to no avail. Those who he wanted to punish were safe.
This achievement of Krishna amazed Indra. He realised that he had transgressed from his world duty, having considered himself the “lord of the people of Vrindavan”. He also realised that Krishna, even though He had manifested Himself as a limited form, was nonetheless the Supreme Lord, and the Lord is not bound by rules. Indra hadn’t recognized that the Govardhana was Krishna Himself. Krishna showed here that He is beyond everything. He is present in the living and the non-living. Everything is only Him, and as such He was present in the hill. When one is full of pride and one’s mind is restless, as with Indra, one becomes blind and cannot recognise the Lord everywhere.
Chastened of his arrogance and pride, Indra withdrew his rain clouds, and the rains stopped. The skies became blue again and the earth began to dry up. Krishna told everyone to return to their homes, with the promise that the rains would never again visit them out of season. From a distance they saw Krishna placing the hill back on the ground. All of them went to him and embraced him with affection and gratitude. As all had taken refuge at the feet of Krishna, so Krishna shelters everyone under His protection from the flood of Maya.
Celebrate Kartik Night with us in Southall, London
When: Saturday 27 October from 5pm to 12pm (doors open at 4pm)
Where: SSPC Southall, Drill Hall, Featherstone Road, Southall, UB2 5AQ
Visit Shree Peetha Nilaya
So you love the picture at the top and wonder where it is from? This is one of over 100 glorious murals that were painted by Bhakti Marga Artists at the Bhutabhrteshwarnath Mandir, which is based at Bhakti Marga International’s headquarters – the Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram near Frankfurt, Germany.
If you are interested in going there in person and wish to travel with others from the UK, then let us know here and we’ll get back to you.