By Damodara Pandita Dasa
Govardhan was a simple but mighty mountain that coexisted in harmony with his ‘father’, Dronachala, centuries ago. One day, the great sage Pulastya happened to pass by; he took such an instant liking to Govardhan that he intended to carry him off to Varanasi so that he might perform his meditation peacefully in the secluded caves of Govardhan.
Govardhan agreed to go, but on one condition – wherever Pulastya would set him down, after lifting him up, he would not move from that spot. The sage agreed. He lifted Govardhan and began to fly towards Varanasi. But, as they flew over Vrindavan, Govardhan felt an intense longing to settle down there. So, by his mystic power, he caused an irresistible urge, in Pulastya, to attend to nature’s call. Thus, the sage was compelled to set Govardhan down in Vrindavan.
After relieving himself, Pulastya tried to lift Govardhan to continue towards Varanasi, but the mountain wouldn’t budge even an inch. Pulastya tried with all his might but Govardhan stayed put. Feeling frustrated and insulted, the sage pronounced a curse on Govardhan to shrink in size and thus eventually become a small hill. Govardhan, nevertheless, accepted this terrible predicament with a grateful heart, seeing it as the inconceivable will of the Almighty – a perfect example of equanimity in adversity!
Much later, in Treta yuga, Hanuman lifted Govardhan and was bringing him to Dhanushkodi to be part of the magnificent bridge that was being built for Rama to cross over the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka. Suddenly a mysterious voice resounded in the sky, announcing that the bridge was already completed. So, Hanuman returned with Govardhan and placed him back in that very same spot, in Vraja, where the mountain previously stood.
Govardhan was sad because he missed a golden opportunity to serve the divine mission of Rama. Yet, he waited patiently for many, many years hoping against hope to be of some service to Krishna in Dvapara yuga.
As Krishna grew up into a young boy, his heart was irresistibly attracted to this magic hill, Govardhan, whose slopes were full of lush pasture grounds for cows to graze and which also served as a playground for Krishna and the cowherd boys and girls to revel in various sport and relax and refresh themselves in the crystal clear waters of Govardhan’s lakes and secluded caves.
Krishna wanted to teach Indra a lesson since he had become too proud because of the traditional ‘yajna’ that the Vrajawasis were offering to him. So, he convinced Nanda to discontinue the Indra ‘yajna’ and have a glorious festival to honour Govardhan, instead. Deeply mortified, the enraged king of heaven decided to drown the inhabitants of Vraja with unseasonal, devastating rains, stormy winds and hailstones for seven long days.
Krishna, however, thwarted Indra’s ruthless plan by effortlessly holding Govardhan on his little finger, like a gigantic umbrella, for the protection of the terrified residents of Vraja.
In stark contrast to Indra’s arrogance and reckless conduct, Govardhan’s gentle and submissive nature attracted the favour of Krishna who elevated the mountain to the status of a sacred deity who adds special charm and enchantment to the holy land of Vraja and whom millions of devotees circumambulate throughout the year, even till today.
The writer is with ISKCON, Maharashtra
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.