Worshiping Govardhana Hill
While engaged with the brahmanas who were too involved in the performance of Vedic sacrifices, Krsna and Balarama also saw that the cowherd men were preparing a similar sacrifice in order to pacify Indra, the King of heaven, who is responsible for supplying water. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta, a devotee of Krsna has strong and firm faith in the understanding that if he is simply engaged in Krsna consciousness and Krsna's transcendental loving service, then he is freed from all other obligations. A pure devotee of Lord Krsna doesn't have to perform any of the ritualistic functions enjoined in the Vedas; nor is he required to worship any demigods. Being a devotee of Lord Krsna, one is understood to have performed all kinds of Vedic rituals and all kinds of worship to the demigods. Just by performing the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies or worshiping the demigods, one does not develop devotional service for Krsna but one who is engaged fully in the service of the Lord has already finished all Vedic injunctions.
Krsna ordered a stop to all such activities by His devotees, for He wanted to firmly establish exclusive devotional service during His presence in Vrndavana. Krsna knew that the cowherd men were preparing for the Indra sacrifice because He is the omniscient Personality of Godhead, but as a matter of etiquette, He began to inquire with great honor and submission from elder personalities like Maharaja Nanda and others.
Krsna asked His father, "My dear father, what is this arrangement going on for a great sacrifice? What is the result of such a sacrifice, and for whom is it meant? How is it performed? Will you kindly let Me know? I am very anxious to know this procedure, so please explain to Me the purpose of this sacrifice." Upon this inquiry, His father, Nanda Maharaja, remained silent, thinking that his young boy would not be able to understand the intricacies of performing the yajna. Krsna, however, persisted: "My dear father, for those who are liberal and saintly, there is no secrecy. They do not think anyone to be a friend or enemy because they are always open to everyone. And even for those who are not so liberal, nothing should be secret for the family members and friends, although secrecy may be maintained for persons who are inimical. Therefore you cannot keep any secrets from Me. All persons are engaged in fruitive activities. Some know what these activities are, and they know the result, and some execute activities without knowing the purpose or the result. A person who acts with full knowledge gets the full result; one who acts without knowledge does not get such a perfect result. Therefore, please let Me know the purpose of the sacrifice which you are going to perform. Is it according to Vedic injunction? Or is it simply a popular ceremony? Kindly let Me know in detail about the sacrifice."
On hearing this inquiry from Krsna, Maharaja Nanda replied, "My dear boy, this ceremonial performance is more or less traditional. Because rainfall is due to the mercy of King Indra and the clouds are his representatives, and because water is so important for our living, we must show some gratitude to the controller of this rainfall, Maharaja Indra. We are arranging, therefore, to pacify King Indra, because he has very kindly sent us clouds to pour down a sufficient quantity of rain for successful agricultural activities. Water is very important: without rainfall we cannot farm or produce grains. We cannot live if there is no rainfall. It is necessary for successful religious ceremonies, economic development and, ultimately, liberation. Therefore we should not give up the traditional ceremonial function; if one gives it up, being influenced by lust, or greed or fear, then it does not look very good for him."
After hearing this, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the presence of His father and all the cowherd men of Vrndavana, spoke in such a way as to make heavenly King Indra very angry. He suggested that they forgo the sacrifice. His reasons for discouraging the sacrifice performed to please Indra were twofold. First, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita, there is no need to worship the demigods for any material advancement; all results derived from worshiping the demigods are simply temporary, and only those who are less intelligent are interested with temporary results. Secondly, whatever temporary result one derives from worshiping the demigods is actually granted by the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita: mayaiva vihitan hi tan. Whatever benefit is supposed to be derived from the demigods is actually bestowed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Without the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot bestow any benefit upon others. But sometimes the demigods become puffed up by the influence of material nature; thinking themselves as all in all, they try to forget the supremacy of the Personality of Godhead. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is clearly stated that in this instance Krsna wanted to make King Indra angry. Krsna's advent was especially meant for the annihilation of the demons and protection of the devotees. King Indra was certainly a devotee, not a demon, but because he was puffed up, Krsna wanted to teach him a lesson. He first tried to make Indra angry by stopping the Indra-puja, which was arranged by the cowherd men in Vrndavana.
With this purpose in mind, Krsna began to talk as if He were an atheist supporting the philosophy of Karma-mimamsa. Advocates of this type of philosophy do not accept the supreme authority of the Personality of Godhead. They put forward the argument that if anyone works nicely, the result is sure to come. Their opinion is that even if there is a God who gives man the result of his fruitive activities, there is no need to worship Him because unless man works He cannot bestow any good result. They say that instead of worshiping a demigod or God, people should give attention to their own duties, and thus the good result will surely come. Lord Krsna began to speak to His father according to these principles of the Karma-mimamsa philosophy. "My dear father," He said, "I don't think you need to worship any demigod for the successful performance of your agricultural activities. Every living being is born according to his past karma and leaves this life simply taking the result of his present karma. Everyone is born in different types or species of life according to his past activities, and he gets his next birth according to the activities of this life. Different grades of material happiness and distress, comforts and disadvantages of life, are different results of different kinds of activities, either from the past or present life."
Maharaja Nanda and other elderly members argued that without satisfying the predominating god, one cannot derive any good result simply by material activities. This is actually the fact. For example, it is sometimes found that, in spite of first-class medical help and treatment by a first-class physician, a diseased person dies. It is concluded, therefore, that first-class medical treatment or the attempts of a first-class physician are not in themselves the cause for curing a patient; there must be the hand of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, a father's and mother's taking care of their children is not the cause of the children's comfort. Sometimes it is found that in spite of all care by the parents, the children go bad or succumb to death. Therefore material causes are not sufficient for results. There must be the sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nanda Maharaja therefore advocated that, in order to get good results for agricultural activities, they must satisfy Indra, the superintending deity of the rain supply. Lord Krsna nullified this argument, saying that the demigods give results only to persons who have executed their prescribed duties; therefore demigods are dependent on the execution of duties and are not absolute in awarding good results to anyone.
"My dear father, there is no need to worship the demigod Indra," Lord Krsna said. "Everyone has to achieve the result of his own work. We can actually see that one becomes busy according to the natural tendency of his work; and according to that natural tendency, all living entities--either human beings or demigods--achieve their respective results. All living entities achieve higher or lower bodies and create enemies, friends or neutral parties only because of their different kinds of work. One should be careful to discharge duties according to his natural instinct and not divert attention to the worship of various demigods. The demigods will be satisfied by proper execution of all duties, so there is no need to worship them. Let us, rather, perform our prescribed duties very nicely. Actually one cannot be happy without executing his proper prescribed duty. One who does not, therefore, properly discharge his prescribed duties is compared with an unchaste woman. The proper prescribed duty of the brahmanas is the study of the Vedas; the proper duty of the royal order, the ksatriyas is engagement in protecting the citizens; the proper duty of the vaisya community is agriculture, trade and protection of the cows; and the proper duty of the sudras is service to the higher classes, namely the brahmanas, ksatriyas, and vaisyas. We belong to the vaisya community, and our proper duty is to farm, or to trade with the agricultural produce, to protect cows or to take to banking."
Krsna identified Himself with the vaisya community because Nanda Maharaja was protecting many cows, and Krsna was taking care of them. He enumerated four kinds of business engagements for the vaisya community, namely agriculture, trade, protection of cows and banking. Although the vaisyas can take to any of these occupations, the men of Vrndavana were engaged primarily in the protection of cows.
Krsna further explained to His father: "This cosmic manifestation is going on under the influence of three modes of material nature--goodness, passion and ignorance. These three modes are the causes of creation, maintenance and destruction. The cloud is caused by the action of the mode of passion; therefore it is the mode of passion which causes the rainfall. And after the rainfall, the living entities derive the result--success in agricultural work. What, then, has Indra to do in this affair? Even if you do not please Indra, what can he do? We do not derive any special benefit from Indra. Even if he is there, he pours water on the ocean also, where there is no need of water. So he is pouring water on the ocean or on the land; it does not depend on our worshiping him. As far as we are concerned, we do not need to go to another city or village or foreign country. There are palatial buildings in the cities, but we are satisfied living in this forest of Vrndavana. Our specific relationship is with Govardhana Hill and Vrndavana forest and nothing more. I therefore request you, My dear father, to begin a sacrifice which will satisfy the local brahmanas and Govardhana Hill, and let us have nothing to do with Indra."
After hearing this statement by Krsna, Nanda Maharaja replied, "My dear boy, since You are asking, I shall arrange for a separate sacrifice for the local brahmanas and Govardhana Hill. But for the present let me execute this sacrifice known as Indra-yajna."
But Krsna replied, "My dear father, don't delay. The sacrifice you propose for Govardhana and the local brahmanas will take much time. Better take the arrangement and paraphernalia you have already made for sacrificing Indra-yajna and immediately engage it to satisfy Govardhana Hill and the local brahmanas."
Maharaja Nanda finally relented. The cowherd men then inquired from Krsna how He wanted the yajna performed, and Krsna gave them the following directions. "Prepare very nice foodstuffs of all descriptions from the grains and ghee collected for the yajna. Prepare rice, dhal, then halava, pakora, puri and all kinds of milk preparations, like sweet rice, sweetballs, sandesa, rasagulla and laddu, and invite the learned brahmanas who can chant the Vedic hymns and offer oblations to the fire. The brahmanas should be given all kinds of grains in charity. Then decorate all the cows and feed them well. After performing this, give money in charity to the brahmanas. As far as the lower animals are concerned, such as the dogs, and the lower grades of people, such as the candalas, or the fifth class of men who are considered untouchable, they also may be given sumptuous prasadam. After giving nice grasses to the cows, the sacrifice known as Govardhana-puja may immediately begin. This sacrifice will very much satisfy Me."
In this statement, Lord Krsna practically described the whole economy of the vaisya community. In all communities of human society, and in the animal kingdom, among the cows, dogs, goats, etc., everyone has his part to play. Each is to work in cooperation for the total benefit of all society, which includes not only animate objects but also inanimate objects like hills and land. The vaisya community is specifically responsible for the economic improvement of the society by producing grains, by giving protection to the cows, by transporting food when needed, and by banking and finance.
From this statement we learn also that cats and dogs, although not so important, are not to be neglected, cow protection is actually more important than protection of cats and dogs. Another hint we get from this statement is that the candalas, or the untouchables are also not to be neglected by the higher classes. Everyone is important, but some are directly responsible for the advancement of human society, and some are only indirectly responsible. However, when Krsna consciousness is there, then everyone's total benefit is taken care of.
The sacrifice known as Govardhana-puja is observed in the Krsna consciousness movement. Lord Caitanya has recommended that since Krsna is worshipable, so His land, Vrndavana and Govardhana Hill, are also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Krsna said that Govardhana-puja is as good as worship of Him. From that day, Govardhana-puja has been going on and is known as Annakuta. In all the temples of Vrndavana or outside of Vrndavana, huge quantities of food are prepared in this ceremony and are very sumptuously distributed to the general population. Sometimes the food is thrown to the crowds, and they enjoy collecting it off the ground. From these instances, we can understand that prasadam offered to Krsna never becomes polluted or contaminated, even if it is thrown on the ground. The people, therefore, collect it and eat with great satisfaction.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, therefore advised the cowherd men to stop the Indra-yajna and begin the Govardhana-puja in order to chastise Indra who was very much puffed up at being the supreme controller of the heavenly planets. The honest and simple cowherd men headed by Nanda Maharaja accepted Krsna's proposal and executed in detail everything He advised. They performed Govardhana worship and circumambulation of the hill. (Following the inauguration of Govardhana-puja, people in Vrndavana still dress nicely and assemble near Govardhana Hill to offer worship and circumambulate the hill, leading their cows all around.) According to the instruction of Lord Krsna, Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd men called in learned brahmanas and began to worship Govardhana Hill by chanting Vedic hymns and offering prasadam. The inhabitants of Vrndavana assembled together, decorated their cows and gave them grass. Keeping the cows in front, they began to circumambulate Govardhana Hill. The gopis also dressed themselves very luxuriantly and sat in bull-driven carts, chanting the glories of Krsna's pastimes. Assembled there to act as priests for Govardhana-puja, the brahmanas offered their blessings to the cowherd men and their wives, the gopis.
When everything was complete, Krsna assumed a great transcendental form and declared to the inhabitants of Vrndavana that He was Himself Govardhana Hill in order to convince the devotees that Govardhana Hill and Krsna Himself are identical. Then Krsna began to eat all the food offered there. The identity of Krsna and Govardhana Hill is still honored, and great devotees take rocks from Govardhana Hill and worship them exactly as they worship the Deity of Krsna in the temples. The devotees therefore collect small rocks or pebbles from Govardhana Hill and worship them at home, because this worship is as good as Deity worship. The form of Krsna who began to eat the offerings was separately constituted, and Krsna Himself along with the other inhabitants of Vrndavana began to offer obeisances to the Deity as well as Govardhana Hill. In offering obeisances to the huge form of Krsna Himself and Govardhana Hill, Krsna declared, "Just see how Govardhana Hill has assumed this huge form and is favoring us by accepting all the offerings." Krsna also declared at that meeting, "One who neglects the worship of Govardhana-puja, as I am personally conducting it, will not be happy. There are many snakes on Govardhana Hill, and persons neglecting the prescribed duty of Govardhana-puja will be bitten by these snakes and killed. In order to assure the good fortune of the cows and themselves, all people of Vrndavana near Govardhana must worship the hill, as prescribed by Me."
Thus performing the Govardhana-puja sacrifice, all the inhabitants of Vrndavana followed the instructions of Krsna, the son of Vasudeva, and afterwards they returned to their respective homes.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-fourth Chapter of Krsna, "Worshiping Govardhana Hill."
Devastating Rainfall in Vrndavana
When Indra understood that the sacrifice offered by the cowherd men in Vrndavana was stopped by Krsna, he became angry, and he vented his anger upon the inhabitants of Vrndavana, who were headed by Nanda Maharaja, although Indra knew perfectly well that Krsna was personally protecting them. As the director of different kinds of clouds, Indra called for the Samvartaka. This cloud is invited when there is a need to devastate the whole cosmic manifestation. The Samvartaka was ordered by Indra to go over Vrndavana and inundate the whole area with an extensive flood. Demonically, Indra thought himself to be the all-powerful supreme personality. When demons become very powerful, they defy the supreme controller, Personality of Godhead. Indra, though not a demon, was puffed up by his material position, and he wanted to challenge the supreme controller. He thought himself, at least for the time being, as powerful as Krsna. Indra said, "Just see the impudence of the inhabitants of Vrndavana! They are simply inhabitants of the forest, but being infatuated with their friend Krsna, who is nothing but an ordinary human being, they have dared to defy the demigods."
Krsna has declared in the Bhagavad-gita that the worshipers of the demigods are not very intelligent. He has also declared that one has to give up all kinds of worship and simply concentrate on Krsna consciousness. Krsna's invoking the anger of Indra and later on chastising him is a clear indication to His devotee that those who are engaged in Krsna consciousness have no need to worship any demigod, even if it is found that the demigod has become angry. Krsna gives His devotees all protection, and they should completely depend on His mercy.
Indra cursed the action of the inhabitants of Vrndavana and said, "By defying the authority of the demigods, the inhabitants of Vrndavana will suffer in material existence. Having neglected the sacrifice to the demigods, they cannot cross over the impediments of the ocean of material miseries." Indra further declared, "These cowherd men in Vrndavana have neglected my authority on the advice of this talkative boy who is known as Krsna. He is nothing but a child, and by believing this child, they have enraged me." Thus he ordered the Samvartaka cloud to go and destroy the prosperity of Vrndavana. "The men of Vrndavana," said Indra, "have become too puffed up over their material opulence and their confidence in the presence of their tiny friend, Krsna. He is simply talkative, childish and unaware of the complete cosmic situation, although He is thinking Himself very advanced in knowledge. Because they have taken Krsna so seriously, they must be punished and so I have ordered the Samvartaka cloud to go there and inundate the place. They should be destroyed with their cows."
It is indicated here that in the villages or outside the towns, the inhabitants must depend on the cows for their prosperity. When the cows are destroyed, the people are destitute of all kinds of opulences. When King Indra ordered the Samvartaka and companion clouds to go to Vrndavana, the clouds were afraid of the assignment. But King Indra assured them, "You go ahead, and I will also go, riding on my elephant, accompanied by great storms. And I shall apply all my strength to punish the inhabitants of Vrndavana."
Ordered by King Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrndavana and began to pour water incessantly, with all their strength and power. There was constant lightning and thunder, blowing of severe wind and incessant falling of rain. The rainfall seemed to be falling like piercing sharp arrows. By pouring water as thick as pillars, without cessation, the clouds gradually filled all the lands in Vrndavana with water, and there was no visible distinction between higher and lower land. The situation was very dangerous, especially for the animals. The rainfall was accompanied by great winds, and every living creature in Vrndavana began to tremble from the severe cold. Unable to find any other source of deliverance, they all approached Govinda to take shelter at His lotus feet. The cows especially, being much aggrieved from the heavy rain, bowed down their heads, and taking their calves underneath their bodies, they approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take shelter of His lotus feet. At that time all the inhabitants of Vrndavana began to pray to Lord Krsna. "Dear Krsna," they prayed, "You are all-powerful, and You are very affectionate to Your devotees. Now please protect us, who have been much harassed by angry Indra."
Upon hearing their prayer, Krsna could also understand that Indra, being bereft of his sacrificial honor, was pouring down rain that was accompanied by heavy pieces of ice and strong winds, although all this was out of season. Krsna understood that this was a deliberate exhibition of anger by Indra. He therefore concluded, "This demigod who thinks himself supreme has shown his great power, but I shall answer him according to My position, and I shall teach him that he is not autonomous in managing universal affairs. I am the Supreme Lord over all, and I shall thus take away his false prestige, which has risen from his power. The demigods are My devotees, and therefore it is not possible for them to forget My supremacy, but somehow or other he has become puffed up with material power and thus is now maddened. I shall act in such a way to relieve him of this false prestige. I shall give protection to My pure devotees in Vrndavana, who are at present completely at My mercy and whom I have taken completely under My protection. I will save them by My mystic power."
Thinking in this way, Lord Krsna immediately picked up Govardhana Hill with one hand, exactly as a child picks up a mushroom from the ground. Thus He exhibited His transcendental pastime of lifting Govardhana Hill. Lord Krsna then began to address His devotees, "My dear brothers, My dear father, My dear inhabitants of Vrndavana, you can now safely enter under the umbrella of Govardhana Hill, which I have just lifted. Do not be afraid of the hill and think that it will fall from My hand. You have been too much afflicted from the heavy rain and strong wind; therefore I have lifted this hill, which will protect you exactly like a huge umbrella. I think this is a proper arrangement to relieve you from your immediate distress. Be happy along with your animals underneath this great umbrella." Being assured by Lord Krsna, all the inhabitants of Vrndavana entered beneath the great hill and appeared to be safe along with their property and animals.
The inhabitants of Vrndavana and their animals remained there for one week without being disturbed by hunger, thirst or any other discomforts. They were simply astonished to see how Krsna was holding up the mountain with the little finger of His left hand. Seeing the extraordinary mystic power of Krsna, Indra, the King of heaven, was thunderstruck and baffled in his determination. He immediately called for all the clouds and asked them to desist. When the sky became completely cleared of all clouds and there was sunrise again, the strong wind stopped. At that time Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, known now as the lifter of Govardhana Hill, said, "My dear cowherd men, now you can leave and take your wives, children, cows and valuables, because everything is ended. The inundation has gone down, along with the swelling waters of the river."
All the men loaded their valuables on carts and slowly left with their cows and other paraphernalia. After they had cleared out everything, Lord Krsna very slowly replaced Govardhana Hill exactly in the same position as it had been before. When everything was done, all the inhabitants of Vrndavana approached Krsna and embraced Him with great ecstasy. The gopis, being naturally very affectionate to Krsna, began to offer Him curd mixed with their tears, and they poured incessant blessings upon Him. Mother Yasoda, mother Rohini, Nanda, and Balarama, who is the strongest of the strong, embraced Krsna one after another and, from spontaneous feelings of affection, blessed Him over and over again. In the heavens, different demigods from different planetary systems, such as Siddhaloka, Gandharvaloka and Caranaloka, also began to show their complete satisfaction. They poured showers of flowers on the surface of the earth and sounded different conchshells. There was beating of drums, and being inspired by godly feelings, residents of Gandharvaloka began to play on their tambouras to please the Lord. After this incident, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, surrounded by His dear friends and animals, returned to His home. As usual, the gopis began to chant the glorious pastimes of Lord Krsna with great feeling, for they were chanting from the heart.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-fifth Chapter of Krsna, "Devastating Rainfall in Vrndavana."
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.