Govardhana Lila

4 Dec

The first sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam calls everyone to meditate on the supreme truth-’sathyam param dhImayhi’. The purport of meditation (dhyAnam) is to control the mind and dhArana is holding the mind and taking control of the mind. In the  realm of Ashtanga Yoga, the first four steps are about controlling the body by leading a principled life,  following proper rules, controlling the breath [pranA] and mind.

Generally, mind can be defined as a collection of thoughts. When the thoughts go astray, it is difficult to control the mind. Collecting all the thoughts together and fixing it at one point is dhArana.  Akin to how an animal is caught by catching holding of its legs, the mind is controlled through the senses which are the legs of the mind. By tying the five  sense organs , the mind can be easily arrested. Srimad Bhagavatam verily acknowledges this as the means to completely subjugate the mind in the third sloka. The senses act based on the mind and the past vasanas. Controlling the tongue is indeed very arduous when compared to controlling the other senses since the impressions of the vasanas related to the tongue are very strong.  Srimad Bhagavatam in eleventh canto proclaims that one can be considered a winner if he/she can control the tongue-  ‘Jitam sarvam jitam rasae”. Controlling the sense of sight is not easy as well.  On the other hand, controlling the ears are very easy and the easiest way to control the ears is to pour the divine nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam thereby the mind also gets instantly arrested and tie down thereby resulting in the meditation of the Lord ‘sathyam param dheemayi” instantly (thakshanaath). The first sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam talks about the sadhana and the third sloka shows the means to do the sadhana. Once the nectar entered the ears, it yearns for more and more-’bhuvi bhavukaaha’. By the immense grace we bestowed with satsangs almost every day and the word ‘muhuraho’ is truly true for all of us. When listening to Krishna Katha, it is indeed ‘Nithya Nuthana’ which is refreshing and enjoyable every time we get to hear the expositions. Bhagavatam says-’Aklishta Krishnam Aklishta Karinam’, where the Lord doesn’t perform any of his divine plays with any pomp or pride and hence it is so enjoyable. The leelas appear like a sleight of hand.  The way  Sage Sukha recounts the Krishna Leelas with King Parikshit transports all the listeners to Vrindavan the very moment.  Bhagavatam is entwined with divinity and divine love right from the beginning to the end. When Sage Narada explains the form of the Lord to Dhruva, the physical form of the Lord is described bringing out the compassion of the Lord. The Lord has to be enjoyed in his form along with his divine leelas, his compassion (karunyam) and his greatness (Mahatmyam). When Sage Suka narrates Krishna Leela, at every point he shows the compassion, the greatness of Krishna. Sage Suka transforms himself as Yashoda when narrating Damodara Leela. He specifically describes three beautiful leelas of the Lord after Venu Gitam. The order in which he narrates these three leelas is also very interesting.  The first one is that of Gopis doing Pooja to Kathyayani Devi and the Lord blessing (Anugraha) the Gopis.  The second one is the YagnaPatni Uddharanam and the third one being Govardhana Uddharanam.

In Vritrasura’s Chatur sloki,

Ajatha pakshad iva maataram khagah stanyam yata  vatsadhara ksudhartha: |
Priyam priyeva vyushitam vishanna Manoravindaasksha didrukshate tvaam” || (6:11:25)


Vritrasura refers to three kinds of bhaktas and starts from a bhakta who knows that his ultimate goal is to attain the Lord but is not aware of the path akin to the fledglings who want to be with their mother but helpless since they have no wings yet. The second class of devotees are the ones who also want to attain the Lord and also know the path but are tied down by bonds of relationship and are unable to break them and reach out to the Lord akin to the calf which is tied to a pole. It verily knows that it has to go to its mother to drink the milk when its hungry but it is unable to cut asunder the rope and reach out to its mother. The third class of devotees are that of Sadhus and Jnanis who yearn for the Lord’s divine love and compassion and pine for the Lord to come and take them.


But the order in which Sage Suka places these three leelas of the bhagwan is just reversed when compared to Vritrasura’s sloka. The Gopi Vastra Uddharana is placed first. The Gopis are epitome devotees of the Lord and are Jnani. The Gopis aren’t the “Arivondru illatha aayar chirumiyar”. who are very much in terms to the fact that the one standing in front of them is the in-dweller in everyone’s heart. Inspite of knowing this, the Gopis undergo the Kathyayani Devi Pooja praying to the Lord to protect them verily as their husbands – “pathim me kuruthe namaha”.  The Gopis pine for the Lord to take control of their life even though they know that the Lord is with them all the time.

Na khalu gopikaa nandano bhavan,
Akhila dehinam antharathma druk,
Vikhana sarthitho viswa gupthaye,
Sakha udeyivan sathwatham kule.


It definitely makes more sense for someone to do a pooja if they are far from Vrindavan. Gopis, being  Vrindavana Vasis are not satisfied with that relationship; they want a more close relationship and want the Lord to lead their lives.

The second comes the Vrishni Patni Uddharana. There is a famous term – ‘bhaya bhakti’ and this aptly fits the Yagni Patnis. They are scared of their husbands (bhaya) and they  do bhakti to Lord Krishna. Their husbands are very much in Brindavan and they are not with terms to the fact that it is verily the Lord who has come down as Krishna. They perceive  him as a mere cow-herd and they are in search of something superior – “Stanyam yatha vatsa tharA sudhArthahA”.  The Brahmanas are performing a Yaga with the opinion that they will be bestowed with some Amrutha from the Swarga loka, whereas  Lord Krishna’s lips being the moon and the amrutha from the Lord’s  lips is flowing like a river. The fortunate ones to drink this Amrutha are the wives of these Brahmanas. The Lord bestows devotion to the Brahmanas verily through their wives who realized their mistake and were in remorse and thus offered their salutations to the Lord.

tasmai namo bhagavate kṛiṣhṇAyAkuṇṭha medhase
Yan mAyA mohita dhiyo bhramAmaḥ karma vartmasu [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.23.50]

The Yagna Patnis are bound to their husbands even though they know that Lord Krishna who is “Poornam brahma sanAthanam”  is right next door . They are unable to cut asunder their family bondage and they continue to sit in the Yaga Shala and witness their husbands performing the sacrifices.  In this case, the Lord needs to come to them and comes with his friends (sakhya bhAva).

shyamam hiranya-paridhim vanamalya-barha-dhatu-pravala-nata-venam anavratamse
vinyasta-hastam itarena dhunanam abjam karnotpalalaka-kapola-mukhabja-hasam [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.23.22]

Lord Krishna along with his brother Balarama and other Gopas took the cows for grazing very closeby to the place where the Brahmanas were performing spiritual sacrifices. The Gopas started to feel hungry and the Lord sent them to the Yaga Shala for food. When the Gopas went and supplicated the Brahamanas they were severely reprimanded and sent them away. They then went to the wives of the Brahamanas and asked for food.  The Lord comes along with his friends and his hand resting on a friend’s shoulder.   He first sends his friends (who are verily Bhagavatas) to the Yaga Shala. He bestows Bhagavata’s (the Gopas) darshan for the Yagna Patni’s and then he blesses them with his darshan.

The wives decided to leave the Patnishala and run unto the Lord  after abandoning their husbands in the Yaga shala – ‘Tyaktva bandhu bhayascha  sarvAn niyamam yuyam samAgachathaa ‘.   They carry with them all the delicacies that they prepared to offer it to Lord Krishna. The Lord along with the other Gopas relished all the food brought by the Yagna Patnis.

aho vayam dhanyatha esham na shA dhishistriyaha
Bhaktaah yaa saam mathir jaathaa hasmAkam nischalA harau

The Brahmanas later realized that their wives  were not present in the Patni Shala and after coming to know that they went see Lord Krishna, they were angry with their wives for not seeking their permission to go and see the Lord.  A thought later strikes them that if they have gone and met Krishna even without getting their permission, they realize that Krishna must indeed be the Lord.

A Mahatma says that the Brahmanas are trying to reach the Swarga Loka which is verily the abode of Lord Indra, whereas the ocean of Amrutha is right in from them.

Amrutha rasa baram thE vaktra chandram mukunda
Dvija vara nikarastE dhristum ichanthi naiva
Visi da niya ma yukta na charantasya yagnan
Amrutham amaraloke pAthum ichanthi hantha

The Lord’s lips are akin to Chandra and the yagna Patnis are bestowed to partakhe the divine nectar [amrutha] coming from the Lord’s lips.  The Lord then bestows devotion [bhakti] to the Brahmanas  through their wives.

The Brahamans realize that Krishna is indeed the Lord and thus offer their obeisance unto hi,.

tasmai namo bhagavate krishnashnAyAkunta medhase
Yan mAyA mohita dhiyO bhramAmah karma vartmasu [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.23.50]

The Brahmanas are Bhagavatas who are trying to reach Swarga, which is verily the abode of Lord Indra. They are tied down by their pride, who verily control their wives.  They being Brahamans, wouldn’t perceive anyone from another race  to be the Lord.  The Lord absolved the ego in all these Brahmanas.

The Lord then did a root-cause analysis. Krishna wondered about the egoistic Brahmanas and realized that the Lord whom they worship, Indra is full of ego and decided to teach him a lesson. He absolves the pride of Lord Indra through yet another divine play – ‘Govardhana Uddharana’.

Diwali was around the corner and one day comes back home after all herding the cows.  The way the Lord protects the cow-herds (Gopas) is akin to the mother-bird protecting its fledglings. Just like how the fledglings have no way to reach to their mother bird, the Gopas have no way out and cannot do anything in that state  and they cry out – ‘Govindam sharanam yayu‘ and the Lord protects them  akin to ‘Ajatha pakshad iva maataram khagah stanyam yata  vatsadhara ksudhartha’.  The Lord shows the true nature of the devotees, the Gopis being true Jnanis and the Gopas are verily ‘arivondrum illadha ayarkulam’. The term ‘Arivondrum’ means ‘abalAnam Ashaktanam’.  The Gopas have surrendered unto the Lord.

‘Aklishta krishnam aklishta kaarinam’- The Lord has various different agendas and he accomplished all of them in one leela.  The Lord had eaten a sumptuous meal cooked by the Yagna Patnis during Yagna Patni Uddharana and wanted to eat his own kind of food with lots of savories and  the food cooked by the residents of Gokula and that was the first reason why he wanted to perform  Govardhana Uddharana. The second in the agenda was to annihilate Lord Indra’s pride and the third reason was to protect the Vraja Vasis. He wanted to keep the Govardhana Mountain on his head and the reason is indeed very beautiful. Lord Krishna loves all the Haridasas and Govardhana Mountain was the greatest Hari dasa as proclaimed by the Gopis – ‘hanthAya madri abalA hari dasya varyaha’.  

Kulasekara Azhwar sings ‘padiyAi kedanthu un pavazha vAi kAnpena’ and Govardhana hill protects everyone and acts like a stone so that people can jump on him, while he enjoys the Lord’s beautiful lips. He provides all kinds of resources to residents of Gokula.

At one instant of time, Lord Krishna went to Govaradhana Hill and sat on the hill. Govardhana hill developed Mathru Bhavam (Vatsalyam) as soon Krishna sat down and started to caress him. He starts to think himself as Nanda Baba since the child comes and sits in the lap of the father.  

“Vatsalya yukto hari sangamena
Nandathi ayam gokula raja varyaha
atmAnam aruyha cha nandasoonou
Kridathyayam nandathi shaila raja”

Krishna, who was seven years old is caressed by Govaradhana Hill, and he massages the Lord’s feet. Here the term ‘Nandathi’ as two meanings. ‘Nandathi’ means happy and it also means that ‘he becomes Nanda’. Govardhana Hill –  ‘Nandathi ayam gokula raja varyaha’ is a loving Nanda who caresses Krishna with all the lush grass and fondles Krishna in a loving manner.  

The Lord during his incarnation as Varaha, when he came out of Brahma’s nose,  he verily became the son of Brahma. But he is supposed to be the father of Brahma and so Brahma was in a state of quandry as to whether he is Lord’s son or his father . He finally perceived the Lord as his son during Varaha avatar. Krishna took Govardhana Hill as his father.  Vasudeva carried the Lord on his head and here the Lord carried Govardhana mountain on his head. He wanted to carry his father. He could  neither lift Vasudeva nor Nanda Baba and so he lifted Govardhana Hill.

Bhagavan api tathraiva baladevana samyuthaha‘– The Lord enacted this divine play with the help of his brother, Balarama .  The other divine play where the Lord enacted on his own was Rasa Leela. Since the Lord performed this divine play, one should not ponder as to how the Lord lifted the mountain.  Sage Suka beautifully expounded this divine play by saying that Lord Krishna along with his brother Balarama(Baladeva) went to the place where Indra Yaga was being performed and enquired about the proceedings to his father, Nanda Baba.  He replied to Krishna that it was Indra Puja-’Parjanya bhagavan Indra’, who is verily the one bestows all goodness. Krishna realized that the worship to Indra was performed out of fear and exhorted Nanda Baba that devotion should not be done out of fear.  

Nanda Baba agreed to what Krishna told, however he mentioned that  it is not correct to stop some ritual that has been done for many years.  Krishna after hearing what Nanda Baba mentioned, convinced him that it is not correct to perform Puja for Lord Indra. Nanda Baba was also convinced at this point and asked Krishna as to what they should do with all the delicious food items that has been freshly prepared.

They have made food items with different pulses, milk items [papayasam] and savories.

pacyantAm vividhAḥ pAkAh sUpAntAḥ pAyasAdayaḥ
SamyAvApUpa-saṣkulyah sarva-dohas ca gruhyatAm [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.26]
hUyantAm agnayaḥ samyag brAhmaṇair brahma vAdibhiḥ
annam bahu guṇam tebhyO deyam vo dhenu dakshinAh [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.27]

They had also prepared a lot of special dishes with rice in addition to variety rice. The Lord ordained Nanda Baba to offer worship to Govardhana Mountain by offering all the food items  and cirumambulate the Mountain, Brahamanas and the cows.

svalankṛutA bhuktavantaḥ svanuliptAḥ suvAsasah
pradakshinAm cha kuruta go viprAnala parvatAn  [Srimad Bhagvatam 10.24.28]

After convincing Nanda Baba to offer worship to Govardhana Hill, he tells his father to go ahead with Govardhana Pooja only if he wishes and that it was only his idea. The Lord assured his father that this Pooja is indeed the most favorite for the cows, Brahmanas and Govardhana hill. This pooja is the most accepted one by me as well- ‘mahyaṁ ca dayito makhaḥ ‘ and here Krishna subtly shows that he is indeed the Lord.

etan mama mataṁ tāta kriyatāṁ yadi rocate
ayaṁ go-brāhmaṇādrīṇāṁ mahyaṁ ca dayito makhaḥ  [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.30]
kAlAtmanA bhagavatA sakra darpa jighAmsayA
proktam nishamya nandAdyAḥ sAdhva gruhnantha tad vachaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.31]

All the residents of Vraja performed Pooja to Govardhana Hill as advised by Krishna. The Lord took a huge form of Govardhana Hill (Pitha putrasya jaayathe) and relished all the exotic food offerings offered by the Gopas and Gopis.

krishnas tvanyatamaM rUpam gopa vishrambhaṇam gataḥ
sailo smIti bruvan bhUri balim Adad bṛuhad vapuḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.35]

After the Pooja and offering their obeisances to Govardhana Hill, everyone went back to their homes.

tasmai namo vraja janaih saha cakra AtmanAtmane
aho pashyata sailOsau rUpI no anugraham vyadhAt [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.24.36]

Back in Indra Loka, Indra realized that there was no Indra Pooja.

indras tadAtmanaḥ pUjAm vijNAya vihatAm nrupa
gopebhyah krishna nAthebhyo nandAdibhyaS cukopa ha [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.1]

He was furious and  called the clouds who are verily the Bhagavatas. The  huge cloud Samvartaka was summoned who are responsible for rains, and ordained them to go to Gokulam.

ganam sAmvartakam nAma meghAnAm chAnta kArIṇAm
indraḥ prachodayat kruddho vAkyam cAhesa mAny uta [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.2]

Hearing this, Samvartaka clouds were overjoyed.  They were doing Tapas in Indra Loka to go and meet Lord Krishna. These clouds have to remain in one place without any job for many eon of time [yugas]. They will be summoned only towards the end of the Yuga. At the end of Chatur Yuga, there is a paralaya and the clouds are ordained to show their presence only at that time and shower heavy rains. There is no way of Bhagavath darshanam for these Samvartaka clouds.  The Lord’s descent to Gokula was also to shower his grace and compassion on these Samvartaka clouds.

The clouds began rumbling right from Indra Loka and were headed to Gokula like how devotees are headed to take part  in Lord’s  Utsavam.

ganA ganEti garjhitE  ganE samA kulam janaM

Indra scolded Krishna for stopping the Pooja to him and thus offended him.

aho ShrI mada mAhAtmyam gopAnAm kAnanaukasAm
krishnam martyam upAshritya ye chakrur deva helanam [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.3]

It is a fact that the clouds cannot rain by themselves.  They need someone to trigger them. Only if winds activate them, clouds can rain.  Indra had not summoned the winds so the clouds couldn’t rain. But they were eager to go to Gokula and have the darshan of the Lord.

aham chairAvatam nagam AruhyAnuvraje vrajam
Marud gaṇair mahA vegair nanda-goṣṭha jighAmsayA [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.7]

Lord Indra ordained the clouds to pour torrential rain in Nanda Gopa’s settlement and told them that he will follow them in Airavata along with the wind gods.  The clouds reached Gokula. Even though Indra told them that he will also come to Gokula, he never told them the exact time. Indra sent the clouds, thunder and winds but he was still in Indra Loka. He first sent all the Bhagavatas to have the darshan of the Lord.  The wind-gods poked the clouds and the heavy rains began to flood Gokula.

vidyotamAnA vidyudbhih stanantah stanayitnubhih
tIvrair marud gaṇair nunnA vavrushur jala SarkarAh [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.9]

The clouds propelled by winds flinged hailstones.

sthUnA-sthUlA varsha dhArA munchatsvabhreshv abhIkshnasah
jalaughaih plAvyamAnA bhUr nAdrishyata natonnatam [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.10]

The whole land of Gokula was inundated with floods and it was water everywhere and only boats could go in the water. An important precept in this sloka – ‘nAdrishyata natonnatam’; there was equality everywhere. There was absolutely no difference between between the high and the low and that is when everyone realized that all are equal.

athyAsArAthi vAtena pasavo jAta vepanAh
gopA gopyas cha sItArtA govindam sharaṇam yayuh [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.11]

All the residents of Gokula, along with the cows shivering in the cold went and surrendered to Lord Krishna. They went and requested the Lord to protect the cows from the severe rains.  They had covered the heads of the calves and surrendered unto Krishna.

Siraḥ sutAms cha kAyena pracchAdyAsAra pIditAh
vepamAnA bhagavatah pAda moolam upAyayuh

krishna krishna mahA bhAga tvannAtham gokulam prabho
trAtum arhasi devAn nah kupitAd bhaktha vatsala

SilA varsAti vAtena hanyamAnam acetanam
nirIkshya bhagavAn mEnE kupitendra kritam harih [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25-12-14]

As soon as the people of Vraja surrendered to the Lord, he pondered.

apartv aty ulbaṇam varsham ati vAtam silA mayam
Sva yAge vihatE smAbhir indrO nAshAya varshati [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.15 ]

Krishna lifted the mountain in order to protect his people who verily consider him to be their Lord and who are verily under the Lord’s protection.

tasmAn mac charanam goshtham man nAtham math parigraham
gopAye svAtma yOgena so yam me vrata Ahitah [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.18]

The Lord thus lifted and held aloft the Govardhana mountain with one finger. He lifted as though he lifted a mushroom; ‘chatrAkam iva bAlakah’.  He called out to everyone and asked them to take shelter under the hill. Everyone were scared to go below since they were concerned that the hill may slip and fall from Krishna’s finger.  The Lord assured everyone that the mountain will stay tight in his finger grip and assured them not to worry since they have already surrendered unto him. He convinced them that it will protect them from all miseries and everyone enjoyed being in Lord’s shelter for seven days.

ity uktvaikena hasthena kritvA govardhanAchalam
dadhAra lIlayA vishnus chatrAkam iva bAlakah [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.19]
athAha bhagavAn gopAn he amba tAtha vrajaukasaḥ
yathopajosham visata giri gartham sa go dhanAh [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.25.20]
na trAsa iha vaḥ kAryo madh hastAdri nipAtanAt
VAta varsha bhayenAlam tath trAnam vihita hi vah [Srimad Bhagvatam 10.25.21]

The satsang concluded with prayers and Namasankirtan.


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