5000 years ago, Krishna – an incarnation of the supreme Lord Vishnu – lived in Vrindavan. He took birth to cleanse the Earth, which was crumbling under the burgeoning weight of sinners and their sins. Stories from Krishna’s childhood inspire children to be brave and stand up for what is right. Krishna had many interesting encounters with evil forces and with those who did not recognize that he was an incarnation of the supreme lord Vishnu. This is one such story.
Lord Indra was the king of all gods and the one who controlled rain and thunderstorms. He resided on Mount Meru in the heavens, from where he ruled over all the other gods. But Indra had some vices. He was easily pleased and angered by the acts of those whom he considered beneath him (less powerful gods, mortals and demons). He was so power drunk, he forgot that even gods have a karma of their own. Indra is an example of the fact that power, if not handled with humility, can corrode even gods, let alone a person.
The people of Vrindavan were dependent on agriculture and cattle for their living. Abundant and timely rains were crucial for their livelihood. And this made Indra an important god for the people of Vrindavan. In the years that witnessed good rains, they used to worship Indra for his generosity and hold a grand celebration to thank him. In the drought years, they used to hold perform offerings to appease him and plead forgiveness for any sins that they may have committed.
One year saw particularly good rains and not an inch of land in Vrindavan was devoid of greenery. The villagers, in consultation with Krishna’s father and the village headman – Nanda – decided to hold a festival to thank Indra. On the day of the festival, people got up early, cleaned their houses and decorated the whole village with flowers and lights. Krishna was unaware of the preparations going on and was fast asleep in his house. When he got up, he was pleasantly surprised to see that all the villagers were busy cleaning and decorating every corner of Vrindavan. He came out of his house and inquired the reason for the festivities.
He was astonished to find out that all the villagers were planning this festival to pay obeisance to Indra, as they believed him to be responsible for the rains. Calling out to all the villagers, he told them that it’s not Indra but a nearby mountain – Giri Govardhan – that was responsible for the great harvest. He reasoned that the villagers should be praying to Govardhan, instead of Indra.
The villagers were astonished to hear this. They could never imagine displeasing Indra as they had heard of Indra’s temper. Even the mere thought of angering Indra, scared them.
But Krishna allayed their fears. He told them that, as villagers, their primary concern was to get water for the fields and cattle. “When rain bearing clouds come close to Govardhan, they are stopped by the mighty mountain and shed their water in the form of rain. Our rivers and ponds are filled with this water, and we can use this water in our fields and houses. So tell me, who is responsible for our sustenance – Indra or Govardhan?” asked Krishna.
Everyone could not help but agree with Krishna. Nanda too, reluctantly, agreed. They all started preparing for a ceremony to pray to Giri Govardhan. Nanda, however, was still worried that Indra would get annoyed and might decide to punish the villagers of Vrindavan.
Nanda’s fears were not unfounded. When Indra came to know that the people of Vrindavan had decided to worship Govardhan instead of him, he decided to teach them a lesson. The fact that people had done so at the request of a mere boy, angered him further. He did not realize that the boy was none other that the supreme Lord Vishnu. He invoked all the clouds and ordered them to flood Vrindavan. Soon the people of Vrindavan found themselves facing a heavy downpour. The situation soon worsened and it appeared that Vrindavan would soon be flooded.
All the villagers were very scared and started wondering whether they did the right thing by listening to Krishna. All of them gathered and went to Nanda’s house to meet Krishna and ask for help. Krishna knew that Indra was taking out his anger on Vrindavan. He assured all the villagers that in this hour of need, Govardhan Giri would come to their rescue. He gathered all the villagers and took them to the foot of the mighty mountain.
Then, to everyone’s astonishment, Krishna placed his hand under the mountain and lifted it entirely, balancing it on the little finger of his left hand. He asked everyone to take shelter under the mountain along with the belongings and cattle. Krishna could see that everyone was scared of being under the mountain held by a little boy. To dispel their fears, Krishna started playing his flute with the other hand. The divine music made the people forget their misery and they started dancing with joy.
Indra was shocked to see everyone enjoying under the mountain but his arrogance got better of him and he decided to further punish the boy and all the villagers. He still did not realize that Krishna was no ordinary boy.
It rained continuously for seven days and seven nights. For all that while, Krishna held the mountain aloft on hid little finger.
Wanting to give Krishna some rest, the villagers set up long sticks under the mountain to support it. They requested Krishna to let the mountain balance on the sticks and take some rest. Krishna smiled at their innocence but agreed to their demand.
The moment he moved his finger, all the sticks broke under the weight of the mountain. The villagers at once requested Krishna not to leave the mountain. Once again, they understood that Krishna was no ordinary child but God himself.
(Image Credit) Govardhan Leela depicted at Prem Mandir, Vrindavan
Indra had witnessed all this. He understood his mistake and realized that the child holding the Govardhan mountain aloft, was none other than Lord Vishnu. He ordered the clouds to stop raining. He then mounted his five headed elephant, Airavat, came down from heaven, and prostrated before Krishna, asking to be forgiven for his arrogance and obstinacy. Krishna forgave him.
The people of Vrindavan returned to their homes, completely entranced by all that had happened. While they had known Krishna for many years, they had never experienced the joy of the Lord’s company for so long.
Lessons From The Story of Govardhan Giri
Every story associated with Krishna has a life lesson and this is no different.
This story gave birth to the philosophy of “Karma”. It emphasizes that everyone has been assigned a specific “Karma” and it is their duty to fulfill their Karma. Failure to fulfill one’s Karma leads to failure of fulfilling the purpose of life.
The story emphasized that those who have great power at their disposal also have great responsibility on their shoulders and thus a bigger Karma. Such people cannot revel in their power and forget about those who are apparently less powerful. Even the most powerful of gods do not escape this rule. Indra’s failure to fulfill his Karma (of being kind-hearted towards those who were less powerful than him) lead to the loss of respect for him.
Cover Image: Wikipedia