Krishna and the Govardhan Hill
A long time ago, there was a beautiful little village called Brindavan in North India. Herdsmen, whose only occupation was to graze goats and cattle, lived in this pretty little village.
The chief of these herdsmen was Nandagopar. Krishna was the foster son of Nandagopar and his wife Yasodha.
He grew up in the company of his brother Balaraman.
The Ever Mischievous Child
Krishna was a mischievous little child. There was no end to his pranks and strange games.
To the north of Brindavan was a hill called Govardhan. Krishna and the children of the herdsmen used to take their cattle to the hill and let them graze on the rich green grass.
The Festival of Indra
Every year, in the months of November and December, the herdsmen used to hold a festival for Indra. Indra is the king of the Devas including the Varna Deva (Lord of water) and Vayu Deva (Lord of wind).
Therefore this festival was held to worship Indra so that he might bestow plentiful rain for them. That year too, preparations were in full swing to celebrate the festival. The chief of the herdsmen, Nandagopar was supervising the festival preparations.
Indra is the ruler of all the three worlds. This fact made him very proud and he became arrogant. As a result, he ignored the worship of the Three Murthis – Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu. Krishna who was aware of Indra’ arrogance wished to teach him a lesson.
He went to his father who was looking after the festival preparations and said to him, “Father, let us not hold this festival for Indra”.
Nandagopar was surprised and asked, “why do you say that?” line “Father, the Three Moorthies are greater than Indra. They are the ones who perform the three important acts of creation, protection, and destruction and look after the existence of the worlds and the lives.
“There is no place where they are not present. They are omnipresent.
They are here even in this Govardhan hill, looking after us benevolently. Moreover, the Govardhan hill has an important place in the lives of us, the herdsmen.
It gives us pure water, gives rich green grass for our cattle to graze. So, we should hold the festival for this Govardhan hill and perform pooja in its name“ said Krishna.
The Festival for Govardhan Hill
Can there ever be a refusal to Krishna’ utterances?
Nandagopar consented. He ordered that preparations should be made to hold pooja and festival for Govardhan hill the next day.
All the people got together. They cleaned up the Govardhan hill; planted plantain trees, put up streamers made of mango leaves and created Rangolis of many colours and hues; they lit up ghee lamps. Govardhan hill looked heavenly.
The next day, the Govardhan festival began. Men, women, and children of Brindavan put on new clothes and gathered at the foot of the hill. Women cooked Pongal (sweet rice) made of newly harvested rice. They prepared a feast of vegetables and fruits.
Men lined up their cattle, bathed and decorated them, applied sandalwood paste on the foreheads of the cattle and performed pooja for them.
The priests erected yagna saalai (tent)at the foot of the hill and kindled a fire pouring ghee and putting scented items like akil and sandalwood in the fire. They chanted mantras and performed pooja.
The sweet rice and the delicacies that were prepared were heaped at the foot of the hill. This food heap looked like another little hill beside the Govardhan hill.
Nandagopar called his son Krishna and said to him, “on, Krishna… The food has been heaped here as you instructed. Will the God residing in Govardhana hill accept the food we have offered?
Krishna smiled his usual benign smile and replied, “He will certainly accept the offering”
Saying this, Krishna himself took the form of the God of the Govardhan hill.
The God of the Govardhan Hill
He appeared as a beautiful and tremendously large figure on top of the hill. He consumed the food heap in a second. Then he blessed all the herds people assembled there and vanished.
The people who had witnessed the God of Govardhan himself appearing in person and accepting the offering were greatly delighted. Their joy knew no bounds.
They celebrated the event dancing and singing. Then they all feasted together and returned home happily.
The Rage of Indra
While the people of Brindavan were brimming with happiness, in Indralok, Indra was fuming with anger. He was enraged that the herds’ people had ignored him and performed pooja for a hill.
He wanted to revenge on the herds’ people and Krishna who was guiding them and giving them suggestions. He was blind with fury and forgot that Krishna was the avatar of Lord Vishnu himself.
Indra ordered the Varna Deva to form rainy clouds over Brindavan and caused a heavy downpour of rain and thereby destroyed Brindavan.
Then he called Vayu Deva and ordered him to perpetrate severe tornadoes and to cause destruction to the dwellings of the people of Brindavan.
Great Strom and Heavy Downpour
A great storm raged in Brindavan. The rain poured heavily. The hurricane was severe. The houses were submerged in the floods. Trees and huts came down in the ferocious wind that kept blowing endlessly.
The herdsmen, women and children ran helter-skelter with no place to give them shelter. Cows and domestic animals wailed pitifully. People wailed and lamented, “Is there no one to save us?”line They all approached Krishna seeking safety and shelter. Krishna consoled them smilingly.
“Oh, dear father, mother and my own herds people, none of you need to worry. This is a dangerous game that Indra is playing. But the Govardhan hill which accepted our offering will now save us. Come, bring your cows and your domestic animals. We shall all go to the Govardhan hill,” he said.
The Lifting of Govardhan Hill
While Krishna led the way, Nandagopar, Yasodha and the rest of the herds people followed him. Cows, goats, hens, dogs, cats and other domestic animals followed them.
Krishna who led the crowd reached the Govardhan hill.
Not even hesitating a second he lifted the hill in his two hands. He lifted the big hill as easily as a child would lift its doll.
Krishna, who lifted the hill above his head, let it rest on the tip of the little finger.
Then he called out to his people affectionately. The people of Brindavan sat under the hill along with their domesticated animals. Govardhan hill turned out to be an umbrella of safety for the thousands of people under it.
Outside, the heavy rain continued to lush. The wind roared at its utmost. But the people of Brindavan were all safely and happily retrenched in the custody of Krishna, under the Govardhan hill.
The rain continued pouring like this for seven days. But the people of Brindavan were not worried.
Indira, the humble
Indra who realized he had been defeated, was ashamed. He felt retribution for having forgotten the truth that Krishna is the avatar of Lord Maha Vishnu who is the protector of all worlds.
He stopped the rain and wind and called back the clouds. The rain stopped. The herds’ people returned home, overjoyed, with their cows and other domestic animals.
Indra came running and fell at the feet of Krishna and asked to be forgiven.
“Indra, I am happy you have at last realized the truth. You had to suffer because you forgot the three Moorthies, and became arrogant. At least from now on, shed your arrogance, and discharge your duties in a straightforward manner. Never forget God. Then you will never have any worries” Krishna thus advised Indra.
The herds’ people happily welcomed Krishna who came back to Brindavan. They sang songs narrating the greatness of Lord Krishna, danced, sang and lived happily.