Journey to Spiritual Places with Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami describes Krishna lifting Govardhan Hill, 2014 Yatra, Hampi, Day 3, Evening

on February 2, 2015 in Humpi-Udupi Yatra 2014 with 17 Comments


The Significance of Govardhan Puja

Sri Giriraj Govardhan made during Radhanath Swamis Hampi Yatra

Sri Giriraj Govardhan made during Radhanath Swamis Hampi Yatra

Hare Krishna,

This is my great fortune to be with all of you this evening. Thank you for being here. Every year in the month of karthik, we come together for pilgrimage, often times to Vrindavan Dham or Mayapur Dham or other such holy places. It has been our tradition for last several years, that on this sacred day of Govardhan Puja, we spend before, and the whole morning, cooking offerings and making beautiful preparations to celebrate. And the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people all together on little clay or cow dung cookers with cow dung paddies, cooking thousands and thousands of offerings and so many assisting in so many ways. But here the organizers of yatra said, “It is not possible.” So we climbed the mountain instead. Govardhan is Giriraj, the king of all mountains, the most sacred of all mountains. In fact we have with us Mother Kamagiri, Kamagiri means Govardhan, it is the mountain that fulfills all most inner most spiritual desires. In Vrindavan, Govardahan Puja is perhaps the most celebrated of all festivals. There is approximately 5000 temples in Vrindavan area, some are ancient and enormous and others are very small in people’s homes. But, without exception, practically everyone prepares for many days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months for this Govardhan Puja. Why is this so important? Sri ChaItanya Mahaprabu, for several years he wore around his neck, kept close to his heart, the single stone from Govardhan hill.

Radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam

In the mood of Sri Radha, in a role of his own devotee, Krishna in the form Lord Chaitanya, in his Radha bhav was seeing that single stone as identical, the self-same Saccidānanda body of Lord Sri Krishna.

Radhanath Swami speaking at Hampi yatra

Radhanath Swami speaking at Hampi yatra

ishwara param krishna, sat-chit-ananda vigraha
anadir adir govindaya, sarva karana karanam

Krishna is the Supreme controller of all controllers, this verse tells this. In his body, he is not a temporary manifestation of the all-pervading brahman. His body is sat chit ananda; it is eternal, full of knowledge, full of bliss. It is the highest realization for those who perfect their lives. The body and the personality of Krishna is the source by which all pervading impersonal brahman is emanating, the highest truth. With Krishna’s transcendental form and personality forever in the spiritual world, he is performing lila, intimate spiritual pastimes with his devotees. That sat chit ananda, that personality of Godhead is the source of everything that exists, the cause of all causes.

Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

And therefore he is the supreme object of worship for the eternal soul within all hearts. And Srimad Bhagvatam explains,

 Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam

Not only is The Lord the source of brahman and Paramatma, but endless incarnations have appeared within this world to reestablish the principles of religion. The Lord descends to protect the devotees and to annihilate ignorance, the asuras. The Lord appears with his name with all of his potencies. Sri Chaitanya Mahprabhu, he especially exemplified in his teachings and though his devotees that the greatest benediction for all humanity is that the absolute truth, the all attractive, object of all love has descended within the sound of the name. But he also taught us that this simple little stone from Govardhan hill was the body of Krishna. And, with such love, that Govardhan Sila was always covered with the tears of the ecstatic prema of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and to his most intimate loving and exemplary devotee Raghunath Das Goswami, he gave that Govardhan Sila as a gift. The paramguru of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Madhavendra Puri, he worshipped Gopala or Srinathji, the form of Krishna lifting Govardhan Hill. And this Srinathji or Gopal deity was one of the, is forever one of important forms of the Lord within our tradition. By Lord Chaitanya himself, Rupa and Sanatan Goswami, all of our acharyas, in the Pusti Marga of Sripad Vallabhacharya and all his descendants, the highest expression of love and worship is the form of Srinathji, the lifter of Govardhan Hill. On Gurupurnima, hundreds and thousands of Brajwasi perform the parikrama of Giriraj every year. Even Sankaracharya, who actually was Lord Shiva, who internally in his heart was a very, very great devotee of Krishna but he taught many lessons according to various purposes he was assigned for. In Jagannath Puri, the name of his math is Govardhan Math. Srila Prabhupad in his last days, he expressed his desire to his devotees, even though he could not even walk, he could not even sit, he said, “Take me on parikrama of Govardhan hill.” His doctor said, “If he goes, he will die, it’s not possible.” Prabhupad said, “What better way is there to die than circumambulating Govardhan?” but his loving disciples somehow convinced him not to go.

But during Prabhupad’s lives, he established Govardhan puja festival in hundreds and hundreds of temples all over the world. Today in China, in Russia, in so many countries of Africa, in the middle east, in Australia, in South east Asia, every country of Eastern Europe and Western Europe, all over America, South America, people are celebrating Govardha Puja same way. The same way as Krishna originally instructed about five million back by making mountains of food offering and offering it to Krishna and remembering the beautiful pastime that is spoken by Sukadeva Goswami in Srimad Bhagvatam, and has been elaborated upon from various other scriptures and acharyas. So in order to join our brothers and sisters all over the world we will also try to briefly recount this beautiful pastime.

When Srila Prabhupad was apparently in very weak health in around 1968, he just had several dozen followers and he went to Stinson Beach near San Fransisco. And he went to a place where the ocean in New Jersey where devotees took him, trying to regain his health but it was not improving. So Srila Prabhupad requested, “Take me home to Vrindavan and there, according to Radharani and Krishna wish, they can either take me home to the spiritual world or they can make me better.” So when he was about to leave, everyone was crying and Srila Prabhupad smiled. They said, “How are we going to spiritually survive without you?” Srila Prabhupad said, “If you are chanting Hare Krishna and I am chanting Hare Krishna, we are always together, neither time or geographical limitations could ever separate us.” That oneness of heart is the spiritual truth. The festival of Govardhan Hill, its evening now here in India, that means except for in Australia, amongst all the rest of the world its after noon or morning. So there are hundreds and thousands of devotees enthusiastically preparing for Govardhan Puja and they will all be coming together to read or discuss this beautiful story. So with your permission we will go now join our brothers and sisters throughout not only the world but the universe.

At the time in Vrindavan, Krishna is just about 7 years old and he sees his father and other gopas. They are making elaborate preparations for a religious ceremony. There were brahmans arranging yagnas and there was all kinds of food being moved to various places and preparations for the cooking of the food, decorations. Little Gopal asked Nand Maharaj, “can you tell me––” Krishna knew everything.

Radhanath Swami Describes the Inconceivable Nature of Krishna

Radhanath Swami speaking at Hampi yatra

Radhanath Swami speaking at Hampi yatra

Before I can tell you, this story is so special because it has such essential lessons that are critical for anyone who truly wants to advance in pure devotional service. There are teachings, it’s also a story of how Krishna can take and transform even the most difficult crisis into the most blissful opportunity. Now sometimes because there are so many beautiful lessons and stories, some people think its not really a history, its just allegorical. That great saints and sages have written these stories for people who like stories just to teach us so many nice lessons. Well, Krishna is so complete and perfect, he teaches us all those lessons in history but at the same time for devotees who have deep faith in the inconceivable nature of the absolute truth, they deeply relish the historical relevance because achintya sakti for those who, with true and deep faith in God in being the source of everything that exists, we accept his inconceivable potencies, what are the potencies Krishna manifests right in the world around us. We are seeing all life, every human being is just coming from little seed, incredible miracle. We see the sun, it just seems to be rising around at the same time every day and setting off around the same time every day. It’s millions of times larger than this little earth planet and the earth and so many other planets are in orbit and the sun neither gets too closer or too far. And the rays of the sun are evaporating water, making clouds creating rain, entering into earth which is just full of so many minerals and so many other invaluable elements. And fruit is grown in fruit trees, incredible, one little seed this big, you plant it in the ground and few years later its a mango tree and there are thousands and thousands of mangoes blossoming on the tree and each mango has another seed that could create any other tree. It is inconceivable, unbelievable, how things work.

“When the source of everything that exists, the ultimate engineer of all the miracles of creation comes to this world, why should we think anything is impossible? If Krishna could put your body, your intelligence and all your creative power in a little tiny microscopic seed that transforms from your father to your mother, what is that he can’t do. So if Krishna wants to lift a mountain, all we could do is say Jai Shri Krishna.” –Radhanath Swami

Materialistic people who have very, very–– they don’t even see the realities around them. They think, how can a little child hold up the mountain, and the same God is holding up the earth. He is bigger than the biggest, smaller than the smallest. Through just one of his simple laws of gravity, what’s he is doing in this earth and the planets floating in space are not even within gravity. Everything literally everything from the smallest electron, neutron, atom molecule to the vastest oceans made out of these molecules to the biggest planets in the outer space everything, if you analyze that close enough, it is totally inconceivable, incredible and miraculous.

It’s only when we do not tune in to the reality and truth around us whether materially or spiritually that we think everything is ordinary. Nothing is ordinary; everything is Krishna’s shakti. Even the scientists, no matter how many years and centuries and millennium they study, they could never figure out enough. There is always more deeper, farther, more incredible. And that’s just the material energy, what is the nature of spiritual energy where everything is eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss, everything is of the substance of love or ecstatic love.

“So when Krishna comes to this world, his pastimes on one level they teach us so many good philosophical, moral and cultural lessons but on another level, they are so charming, they are so amazing that if we just believe that this is my Lord, it awakens our love for him.” –Radhanath Swami

“Our faith is not based on blind belief. Atheism is really based on blind belief. It’s really blind to believe that everything is just kind of coming out of nothing, out of bangs. We are hearing so many bangs today. Some of them are little bangs; some of them are big bangs. But even if there were a big bang, its not that those fire crackers just appeared, somebody made them.” –Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami on the Practicality of Faith in Krishna

Devotees at pandal listening to Radhanath Swami's katha.

Devotees at pandal listening to Radhanath Swami’s katha.

Yes, sarvakaranakaranam, why is it so hard to believe, that everything has a creator? Its common sense, its harmonious with every experience we ever had, every human being that’s ever lived throughout the history has had the same experience that’s where we see there is a cause.

Krishna is the cause of all causes and he reveals himself in so many ways, in so many places. And that’s the cause and the source of all great religions of the world. But when we want to take God as someone, as something very ordinary, beyond our egos, and not be willing to humble ourselves before the almighty, inconceivable, unlimited power and beauty of God, then fight over whose God is better .So when Krishna performs its lila, it’s fun, its exciting. In The Journey Home, a book that I recently wrote, I tell one story when I was living with the devotees of Ram. They didn’t speak English, I didn’t [speak] Hindi, but they would spend hours every day discussing Ramayan. It was just five or six sadhus and I was just be listening. I didn’t understand the content but I could feel the emotions that they were having. Sometimes they look like they were being terrorized, they were so afraid, they were just talking and other times they were laughing, so hysterically they were rolling on the floor, its a stone floor. And other times they were weeping, crying and other times they just were practically jumping up and dancing.They were so happy, and I asked “What are you talking about? Tell me, tell me!” and they wouldn’t tell me, but I could understand that the pastimes of the Lord, for those who have faith, is the most incredible experience because it is the highest reality. Krishna, who is the Supreme controller of all controllers, all the various aspects of God we read about in other scriptures who create and punish and everything else, they are all expansions of Krishna. But in order to invoke very deep, sweet and intimate love, he appears like an ordinary child and the residents of Vrindavan, they had already realized God as the Supreme ultimate power. All realizations of the absolute truth are contained within their love, but there was something even more, madhurya rasa and intimate sweetness where they could love Krishna or the absolute truth with such freedom; like a friend to a friend, like a parent to a child, or a like a lover to their beloved.

Krishna Inquires From Nand Maharaj

So Krishna asked Nand Maharaj, “What are you doing? Tell me about this ceremony. Even though you may think that I am just a little boy and I may not understand, but still I want to know and you should not keep secrets from your relatives and close friends. Tell me everything!” and Nand Maharaj explained that: “This is a tradition that our family. Our community for many, many generations have been following, it is called Indra Puja. Because we are agricultural community and we depend on the rain for our livelihood and the deva, the particular deputed agent of the one Supreme Lord who provides rain, is Indra.” So he is giving, we show our gratitude by offering him our worship.” Krishna is in the heart of every living being.

īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe arjuna tiṣṭhati
vedāhaṁ samatītāni vartamānāni cārjuna.

He knows everything within everyone, and he promises in Gita:

kaunteya pratijanihi
na me bhaktah pranasyati

That, “I will protect my devotee.” Indra is a devotee, how is Krishna going to protect him? Indra is being honored, he is being worshipped, he has so much power, he has so much beauty, so much knowledge and so many living beings are depending on him. Indra was seeming to have become proud and Krishna wanted to liberate him from that pride and in the process that fulfills so many purposes for so many people for the rest of eternity. So Krishna said to Nand Maharaj, “Yes we should be grateful for the devas because, as we have been discussing, Lord Ram told that there is no vice that is worse than to not be grateful.”

“Gratitude is divine and it facilitates real devotion. If we are ungrateful, we can never find any peace or happiness in our heart.” –Radhanath Swami

We are always expecting something more and something else but if we have grateful heart.

Tatenu kampam susumikshu manu,

Whatever may come, Krishna, thank you, how may I serve you in this situation? And if we are actually grateful to Krishna, we will be grateful to everyone in whatever way they help us. Srila Prabhupad, he was speaking, when he first came to the west, to people, many were drug addicts, atheists, they were eating all kinds of slaughtered animals. After each one of Prabhupad’s–– Prabhupad was giving the highest truths to them, he was giving them tradition, culture, philosophy to transform their lives and what were they giving in return? Nothing. But after every talk that Prabhupad gave, he ended by saying, “Thank you very much” and he meant it. He was grateful for all those people because they were engaging him in Krishna’s service. To be grateful to our parents, to be grateful to our friends, to be grateful for the sun and the moon and the wind, to be grateful for the food that we have,

Sarira avidya-jal,

We say the prayer before we eat because we are grateful, we will die without food. The yogis do surya namaskar, the brahmans chant gayatri mantra to show our gratitude to the Lord who has given us the grace of the sun that keeps us alive and gives us light. We have so much to be grateful for and so many to be grateful for. So Indra puja–– it’s the culture of the vedas to teach us gratitude but the Srimad Bhagvatam is the highest purana. It teaches that if you water the root of the tree, the water goes to every part of the tree, all the leaves, branches, twigs, flowers. Similarly all the devas, all the demigods, all our forefathers, all, everybody that helps us in every way they are all getting their energy from the root, from Bhagvan. When we render loving service to Krishna, then we fulfill our debts to everyone. But at the same time, to actually offer that loving service to Krishna and focus on watering the root of the tree by pleasing the Supreme Lord, we naturally see that everything is connected to him, so we have gratitude and honor and respect and the will to serve all beings. This is sanatan dharma. So Krishna wanted to show that by pleasing him, all the demigods are satisfied, but he was not presenting himself as God, he was presenting as the son of Nanda. He said, “Father, ultimately everything happens by our karma” and on relative level this is truth too. In the Christian Bible, it is said, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” For every action there is an equal corresponding reaction, this is a law of nature just like the gravity, what goes up, must come down. If you cause harm to someone, harm will come to you. It is just a matter of time. If you give happiness to someone that happiness is going to come to you. So Krishna said, “The demigods, all they could do is just deliver the karma that you have. So why should we waste our time worshipping Indra? We are good people, we have good karma, we don’t need Indra. After all look, the ocean. The ocean is not doing Indra Puja and the ocean does not even need water, it’s raining on the ocean. What kind of Indra–– and there is mountain. Mountains are not doing Indra Puja, they don’t need, but it’s raining on the mountains too. So actually, we know we are good people, the agent of our karma all the demigods could do is just be instruments of our own karma. But in actuality because in the varnasram system, we are vaisyas, we are protecting cows and growing crops in agriculture fields, that’s how we make our livelihood and survive. Govardhan Hill is providing so much grass and so much fresh water and providing so many crops for us, forget Indra. Take all of the paraphernalia for that puja and worship Govardhan Hill and lets worship the cows and lets worship the brahmans because they are the ones who are blessing us and they are right there living among us.” Nanda Maharaj, ultimately he just wanted to please Krishna, so he said, “Yes.” And then Krishna, he actually engineered the whole Govardhan Puja.

The Govardhana Puja Lila Told by Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami speaking at Hampi yatra

Radhanath Swami speaking at Hampi yatra

He gave very specific instructions of how it should be done. He said, “Let’s take everything that we have for Indra and use it for the worship of brahmans, the cows and Govardhan hill. We will cook mountains and mountains of nice food, rice and sabjis and rotis and halava!” (And Prabhupad gives the whole list) “And the brahmans could chant their mantras and do their yagnas and we will make all this food and offer it all to Govardhan Hill and we will have singing and dancing and music, and then we will circumambulate Govardhan Hill altogether.” So it was beautiful. Everyone in Vrindavan was blissful organizing the Govardhan Puja and they made huge, huge mountains of bhoga and they went to offer it to Giriraj Govardhan. And little Krishna who was standing next to Nand and Yasoda, he wanted to show how Govardhan Hill was non-different than him. And as he was standing as a little child he manifested simultaneously a gigantic form sitting on top of Govardhan Hill. And then Krishna said, “you see, Govardhan, the mountain is manifesting himself as a person to accept our offerings.” And little Krishna bowed down to Giriraj and all the brajwasis bowed down to Giriraj and then Govardhan Hill accepted, within the moment, all the offerings. The lakes and the mountains of bhoga disappeared and then Giriraj with a thunderous voice because he was a mountain.

“You may say, impossible, mountain becomes a persona and talks and eats? It’s almost impossible to think that you can think it’s impossible. If God wants to eat and be a mountain, Jai Sri Krishna. Its the simplest thing to understand, and he is enchanting our hearts by doing it.” – Radhanath Swami

“Aniyor!” He called out, “Give me more!” But they prepared everything in their stock in the whole village and he was saying, “Aniyor! Give me more!” So Krishna arranged for the gopis to offer a tulsi leaf with love and devotion, and Govardhan said, “I am satisfied.” and Krishna said, “Just see, he has eaten everything that we prepared within a moment, and then the next moment everything appeared again just as it was before.” All the mountains and the lakes of bhoga were food stuffs but now it was mahaprasad ,Giriraj mahaprasad, Annakutt. And Krishna arranged that everyone was fed prasad, wonderful prasad, whoever they were; the brahmans, the kshatriyas, the vaisyas, the sudras, the people who had no caste, all the cows were given, all the donkeys and buffaloes, and the dogs and the cats.

“Everyone was sumptuously fed prasad, which is an important principle. Krishna is the father and mother of all living beings and Krishna wants everyone to be happy. So as devotees, as human beings on every level with spiritual focus, we want to see everyone happy. And prasad is such a special way of making happy because even people who don’t believe in anything, they like prasad. Prabhupad said, “Prasad is our secret weapon” and because the grace of God is within that food after it is offered with love and devotion, it’s transformed the spirit potency. So it nourishes the body for health and in good intelligence because its vegetarian and that’s healthy and at the same time it purifies the soul because Krishna’s grace is within that. It awakens the love of the soul. So whether one is a human or an insect or an animal or a fish, a devotee is eager to give prasad to everyone because devotee wants everyone to be happy, and at the same time, amanina manadenato offer all respect.” –Radhanath Swami

Vasudeva leper, he was compassionate even to the worms that were eating his body away because he was seeing the atma, the Krishna, a part of Krishna within the heart of everyone. So a part of Govardhan Puja is this: offering respect and joy to everyone in all species. And after this incredible joyous festival, everyone was dressed in their best, the gopis were decorated so nicely for Krishna’s pleasure and to inspire each other and the gopas were the same way. They decorated the cows with gold on their horns, they plated their horns gold and silver on their hoods and they put silk embroidered coverings on their backs and they did the same for the bulls and the calves. Everyone was decorated, even the monkeys were blissful and they also circumnutated Govardhan Hill singing and dancing together.

It was the most blissful festival for everyone because it pleased Krishna. Ultimately all the brijwasis saw how happy Krishna was and Krishna revealed that he is non-different than Govardhan Hill, that Govardhan Hill was his own body and that every stone of Govardhan Hill is Krishna, and at the same time Govardhan Hill is playing the role of the greatest devotee of Krishna.

Radhanath Swami Tells of Indra’s Wrath

So after the Govardhan Puja came to a conclusion, the brajwasis, seeing Krishna’s happiness, they were overwhelmed with joy. But Krishna had another plan and that was to make Indra thoroughly miserable. He was totally insulted because everything was already arranged and prepared for him and he told his associates, “And this talkative little seven year old boy Krishna, what I expect every year for generations and generations every single year on this particular day, they do this grand puja for me, and they offered it all to the cows and a mountain.” Really an insult.

“You see when we expect things, we are very vulnerable to suffer because the nature of this world is you don’t know what you want. That’s why gratitude can give us happiness in any situation. When we are grateful to God, to Krishna, whatever may come, we have so much to be grateful for. We keep our mind on the positive blessings that we receive and they are always there but with an ungrateful heart, we expect people to treat us in a certain way and if they don’t we become very– we become depressed or we become arrogant or we become angry or we become frustrated. We expect circumstances to go the way we want them to go. Yes but destiny doesn’t work that way.” –Radhanath Swami

Even little tiny things could agitate us so much when they don’t go our way, but if you don’t expect them to go certain way, they don’t really bother you. So here is Indra, because he was expecting this worship, he was totally insulted when he didn’t get it. He got so angry, he lost his intelligence because, dhyayato visayam pumsam Krishna tells in Gita, when you have these material desires or kama, when they are not fulfilled because of your attachment that they will be fulfilled, you become angry and anger causes the bewilderment of memory, from bewilderment of memory, intelligence is lost. Indra is a great devotee. He forgot that this little boy is God, Krishna, who is the supreme source of everything including everything he has and everything he knows. He called the sampataka clouds; these are the clouds that especially come at the time of universal devastation. He ordered the clouds, “Rain down and destroy all of Vrindavan!” Hare Krishna. In Vrindavan, very quickly enormous dark clouds covered the sky, practically put the whole of Brajbhumi in pitch darkness even in the middle of the day. That’s what type of clouds they were. They covered every inch of the sky and they were so thick and so dark, not a single ray of the sun could come through. But Krishna’s toenails manifested moon like radiance that actually gave light everywhere. From these massive clouds, the Brajwasis were looking up, there was thunder, such a deep roar of thunder, really deafening. And then lightening, limitless crisscrosses of lightning bolts flying in all directions. It was really fearful. The rain started coming down, not in drops, but pillars. It was like a gigantic river that has been dammed, and the dam breaks and the water just rushes down. That’s the way water was falling from every inch of the sky. It was pouring down like a massive, massive, the whole sky became a waterfall. The winds were enormous and it became freezing cold as the thunder and lightning were reverberating in all directions. The cows, their only concern was their little calves. With the hanging flesh that they have under their neck, they were covering their little baby calves whether to try to protect them from the rains and the winds. The cows were crying, crying in pain, trembling from the cold, trying to protect their little calves’ lives, and the massive pillars of rains falling, they were roaring, and the Brajwasis, they all ran to little Krishna. He was just their friend, their son, their lover but when there was danger, there was no other shelter but him. Previously there was an enormous forest fire and Krishna just swallowed it. “So Krishna, he saved us from fire, now please save us from this water. After all, you are the one who told us to do this Govardhan Puja, and now Indra is really, really angry. He is trying to destroy us!” Krishna smiled. He lifted the Govardhan Hill, just like a child lifts a mushroom, or like a huge elephant lifts a blade of grass and he held the Govardhan hill over his head, he stood on a little hill before he did it. He held the Giriraj, he held it with a little finger of his left hand, which is really an insult to Indra. And, very blissfully, he said to the Brajwasis, “Now under Govardhan Hill see, its just like our home, its our village. Giriraj is so happy that we gave him Annakutt ceremony, he has become just like an umbrella to protect us and there is a beautiful pastures under Govardhan Hill for our cows to graze on, and there are lakes and there are swans, so nice here. Everyone come and let’s have festival under Govardhan hill! Bring your cows, and let everyone come.” And all the Brajwasis rushed under Govardhan hill, and Krishna said, “As I am lifting the hill––” When he lifted there was an enormous sound that reverberated all over the world, and Krishna explained that, “Govardhan, because he was so pleased with us, as he was being lifted earth fell all over around from him and created like a wall so that none of the water could get in that was falling on the ground.”

The Intimacy of Govardhana Lila

Devotees at pandal listening to Radhanath Swami's katha.

Devotees at pandal listening to Radhanath Swami’s katha.

As they were all standing under the Govardhan Hill, they were gazing upon Giridhari. With his arm raised holding the hill effortlessly, he smiled upon them. Kavi Karnapurna, in his Vrindavanchandra Champu, describes that every single devotee, every calf, cow, bull, gopa, gopi, brahman, everyone there, the peacocks, they all saw Krishna just gazing with love on them. Krishna is Rasabihari, even though he was standing and everyone was in a circle around him –limitless people– everyone was seeing Krishna just looking personally to them and smiling upon them. His smile was beaming with ecstasy, and each person under Govardhan Hill was reciprocating with Krishna according to their natural love, and he was reciprocating with them. The gopis, seeing the beautiful form of Krishna and his smile and glance upon them, they took that vision of Krishna into the very core of their heart and embraced him, and he embraced them in response. He was satisfying all of their most intimate desires continuously, and the gopas they were joking with Krishna, laughing with Krishna, playing with Krishna, each one of them in their own ways. And the servants of Krishna, they were offering so many things, and constantly Krishna was reciprocating with them. And the cowherd men and ladies who were of Nand and Yasoda’s age, Krishna was with parental love, they were looking at Krishna and Krishna was reciprocating as their own personal child. Nobody wanted that rain to ever end. Everyone was just with Krishna; it was so beautiful. As Krishna was holding Govardhan Hill with little finger of his left hand, with his right hand, just to give further happiness to everyone, he began to play his flute. Murali and Madhumangal one of his cowhered boyfriends, he said, “Krishna don’t play your flute, please don’t play your flute because we have seen what happens when you play your flute. Everyone becomes in ecstasy. Giriraj, when he hears the sweet song of your flute, he might become ecstatic and fall unconscious and fall off your little finger and then everyone will be destroyed! We have seen, when you play your flute, the song is so sweet that rocks and solid objects melt in ecstasy and become liquid and liquid in ecstasy become solid. So the sweet song of your flute– if Giriraj melts in ecstasy then we will all drown!” And another cowherd boy, because they were all joking together, he said, “No! No! Giriraj is very sober person and great, great mahatmas, great saints, even when they are in ecstasy, they keep it very internal; they do not reveal it externally.”

There are so many beautiful pastimes that took place underneath Govardhan Hill. Meanwhile on top of Giriraj, the samvartaka clouds were extending their full extent of all their energies. They were sending such enormous winds to try to somehow or the other blow the mountain off the tip of Krishna’s little finger, but they couldn’t. So much rain was pouring down, lightning bolts by the millions were striking against the Govardhan Hill. But all the animals on Govardhan hill, they were happy, they were just smiling and dancing around as if nothing was happening. Its described that for seven days and seven nights Indra was devastating the Govardhan Hill, but with all of his strength, he could not move a single grain of dust from Giriraj. He could not remove a single flower or leaf from any tree, and Giriraj was getting brighter and brighter and more effulgent. Why? Because underneath Giriraj, he was being touched by the finger of Krishna. And Krishna smile of being pleased with Giriraj thrilled Govardhan Hill so much that Govardhan was––

param dristva nivartate

The happiness of being touched by Krishna and Krishna being so pleased with giving Govardhan so much happiness that all the thunderbolts, the windstorms, and the massive rains was insignificant. Eventually Yasoda Mayi, she was very, in her motherly love, she was saying, “Krishna, you look so tired, your stomach looks so caved in!” All the others were thinking, No, No, he looks so happy and making us so happy. But Yasoda, she is saying, “No No! He is my child, he is revealing himself in this way. Please eat something! Put your flute down and eat some food!” And she was making cakes and tambalas and so many things and telling the cowherd boys, “Subala, please give this to Krishna.” Krishna was smiling and, to reciprocate with Yasoda Mayi’s love, he put his flute down for some time, and he was eating and chewing and holding up Govardhan Hill. It describes that outside there were rainbows and downpours, and there were clouds, and underneath the hill, Krishna’s complexion was like rain cloud, his peacock feather was like rainbow and his smile upon every one of the Brajwasi was like an unlimited downpour of happiness. Finally, the samparvatak clouds, they went to Indra and said, “We are on the verge of death and exhaustion, we give up.” But Indra became even more angry. With all of his powers he was trying to somehow or the other cause some harm to Krishna. Indra could not even separate a leaf from the tree and everyone was happy. Everyone was singing underneath Govardhan hill but finally Indra understood that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of my lord, the Lord of all the gods, and all the rain went away. Giridhari told the cowherd men and the ladies, he said, “Now the sun is shining, the rain has ended, everyone go back to your homes.” The boys herded the cows out from Govardhan Hill, but when they saw Krishna is still standing there, they didn’t want to leave him and the limitless cows ran back, made a circle around Krishna, and Krishna, with his eyes he was lifting Giriraj; with his eyes, he herded each and every one of the cows personally, out from the underneath. Then, effortlessly he just dropped the great mountain of Govardhan exactly where it was before. And then, with his friends, he went around to inspect how everything in Vrindavan was. Everyone was just talking about Krishna; it was really something to talk about. That’s why we have Srimad Bhagavatam. Nastaprayesu abhadresu, when we hear Srimad Bhagavatam about Krishna, about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, about the various avatars, about Ram lila, so many things to talk about to enchant each other. So they were all meditating upon and discussing how wonderful is Krishna.

Radhanath Swami on Indra’s Repentance

Indra was feeling so guilty, he was sober, his arrogance was totally smashed. “I tried to kill God. I tried to destroy all Krishna’s beloved devotees and the cows and his whole village.” He didn’t know what to do. He approached Brihaspathi, his guru. His guru said, “You are in big trouble, better you go to Brahma.” He approached Brahma. Brahma said, “You are in big trouble. You will be forgiven only when someone who is loved by The Lord intercedes on your behalf to ask Krishna to forgive you. Krishna loves the cows, go to Surabhi, the mother of cows.” Here is Indra, the all powerful, wealthy, worshipable, God of the heavens, humbly coming before a cow asking her: “Please approach Krishna and ask him to forgive me.” So Surabhi said, “Let us go together.” And Indra walking behind, coming behind, Surabhi approached Krishna. Krishna went to a secluded place where nobody else was around to not to humiliate Indra any more than he already did. And Surabhi, the cow, said to Krishna that Indra is repentant, please forgive him.

There is a place called Surabhi Kunda as part of the Govardhan parikrama, very sacred and important place because that is where Krishna forgave Indra because of the appeal of Surabhi.

“This is a holy principle, that in this material world, due to our egos, we have committed so many offenses to Krishna for so many births, we don’t even know what they all are. But if someone who loves Krishna prays to Krishna, on our behalf, to forgive us, then Krishna is sure to forgive us. That is why the connection with a guru, the connection with saints and vaishnavas is so important to us.” –Radhanath Swami

Hiranyakasipu was forgiven for everything he did and given liberation because of the prayer of Prahalad: “Narsimhadeva, please forgive him.” Durvas muni was forgiven because of the prayers of Ambarish Maharaj, Jagaya and Madhaya were forgiven because of the prayer of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. But we have to be sincere like Indra. Indra humbled himself before Surabhi. He recognized her superior position over his, simply because of her simplicity, her devotion. She didn’t have the knowledge and the riches and the glorification that he had but she loved Krishna and Indra recognized that, and he humbled himself with a completely sincere heart to Surabhi. And Krishna recognized, “Indra has humbled himself before my devotee, I will forgive him.” And he instructed Indra to learn his lesson, and Indra and all the other devas honored Krishna and perform the beautiful abhishek for him. The Govardhan Puja represents forgiveness. It represents how Krishna protects his devotee by showing us what’s really of value. Surabhi represents simple devotion.

“Whether we are a king of heaven or whether we are a little cow, if we have simple devotion, we can please Krishna.” –Radhanath Swami

Thank you very much

Radhanath Swami performing Hare Krishna kirtan at Hampi yatra

Radhanath Swami performing Hare Krishna kirtan at Hampi yatra


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