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Govardhana - A Festival of Love

Govardhana – A Festival of Love

Actually, the inhabitants of Vrindavan, as it has been customary there for centuries, wanted to hold a kind of harvest festival in honour of King Indra, because it is he who provides the rain and thus grants a rich harvest. (In the current year 2018 even we in Europe have to experience how catastrophic it is for agriculture to get no or only sparse rain; here in Germany there is probably the worst drought for more than 130 years, the beginning of the weather records.)

But little Krishna knew very well how to persuade the inhabitants of Vrindavan to worship the Govardhana Hill instead of Heavenly King Indra, because Govardhana Hill offers the cows juicy grazing grounds, supplies people, animals and plants with fresh spring water and the like. In the end, the whole village was completely fired-up to organize a festival in honor of Shri Govardhana - and King Indra surprisingly went away empty-handed. But King Indra didn't want to let this humiliation (as he felt it at least) sit on him and immediately called for his most destructive clouds, which now pelted Vrindavan with the heaviest rain and tormented the inhabitants with ice-cold storms and huge hailstones. The Vrajavasis, trembling with cold, turned to Krishna in their distress and He then raised the entire Govardhana hill "like a mushroom", as a kind of oversized umbrella.

The spectacle lasted for seven days, and it seems that it took also Heavenly King Indra that long until his wrath dissolved, that he recognized his misconduct and consequently ordered his forcefully rain-pouring, thundering, flashing and hailing clouds to retreat immediately.

When the clouds and the storm had dissipated and after seven days the warming sun finally appeared again in the bright blue sky, Shri Krishna spoke affectionately to His devotees, SB 10.25.26-10.25.29 (translation by HH Bhanu Swami):

niryāta tyajata trāsaṁ gopāḥ sa-strī-dhanārbhakāḥ
upārataṁ vāta-varṣaṁ vyuda-prāyāś ca nimnagāḥ

Shri Krishna said: My dear cowherd men, please go out with your wives, children and possessions. Give up your fear. The wind and rain have stopped, and the rivers’ high waters have subsided.

tatas te niryayur gopāḥ svaṁ svam ādāya go-dhanam
śakaṭoḍhopakaraṇaṁ strī-bāla-sthavirāḥ śanaiḥ

After collecting their respective cows and loading their paraphernalia into their wagons, the cowherd men went out. The women, children and elderly persons gradually followed them.

bhagavān api taṁ śailaṁ sva-sthāne pūrva-vat prabhuḥ
paśyatāṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ sthāpayām āsa līlayā

While all living creatures looked on, Shri Bhagavan put down the hill in its original place, just as it had stood before.

taṁ prema-vegān nirbhṛtā vrajaukaso yathā samīyuḥ parirambhaṇādibhiḥ
gopyaś ca sa-sneham apūjayan mudā dadhy-akṣatādbhir yuyujuḥ sad-āśiṣaḥ

All the residents of Vṛndavan were overwhelmed with ecstatic love, and they came forward and greeted Shri Krishna according to their individual relationships with Him — some embracing Him, others bowing down to Him, and so forth. The cowherd women presented water mixed with yogurt and unbroken barleycorns as a token of honor, and they showered auspicious benedictions upon Him.

Commentary by Shri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur:

Overwhelmed in love, each of the Vrajavasis approached Krishna according to his position - as an inferior, younger member of the community, as an equal, or as a superior - and they dealt with Him accordingly.

Krishna's superiors offered auspicious benedictions, lovingly smelled His head, kissed Him, massaged His left arm (which held up the mountain), cracked the fingers of His left hand, and inquired with parental affection as to whether He was tired or pained.

Krishna's equals laughed or joked with Him, and those who were younger fell at His feet, massaged His feet, and so on.

***