“My dear brothers, My dear father, My dear inhabitants of Vrindavana, 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.” (Lord Krishna, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)
Things weren’t looking good. The people put their trust in Him. They decided to forego the annual tradition in favor of a new one. What could they do? They were helpless against His charming smile. He had not let them down thus far. Who could have predicted what was to come? It wasn’t the rainy season, after all. It was not like a hurricane was in the forecast. From the looks of things, the darling child of Nanda and Yashoda had gotten them into the worst calamity. On the occasion of Govardhana Puja we remember how following the Supreme Lord is never a bad idea. Even if there are ominous signs on the horizon, the end is always auspicious. Rest assured, if God gets you into a mess, He will get you out of it.
The same is not true with others; and that is not a criticism against them. Man has four inherent defects. One of those defects is the tendency to commit mistakes. The person who accurately predicted the outcome to the last election boasts about their acumen on political matters, but they really only made an educated guess. They can’t predict every single election. They are not all-knowing.
The issue is that we put faith in so many people. We believe what the broadcasters on television and radio tell us. We place trust in our parents, grandparents, teachers, and superiors at work. Yet it is highly possible that such people can lead us astray. When we find ourselves in trouble as a result, there is no guarantee that the people trusted will lead us out of danger. They can help only to the best of their ability, and since they are not the Supreme Lord, that ability is limited.
In Vrindavana a long time ago, the tradition was to worship Indra, the king of heaven. It wasn’t that big a deal; just sacrifice some time to show appreciation for the rain. Without rain there wouldn’t be grains. Without grains, man would have a difficult time surviving. They could eat fruits if required, but even those rely on the rainfall. Such sacrifices are recommended in the Bhagavad-gita, which is the guidebook for the human race. It is not just a Hindu scripture, as spirituality is presented as a science, with inviolable laws no different than the basic laws of science.
annād bhavanti bhūtāni
yajñād bhavati parjanyo
“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)
There is nothing wrong with showing respect once a year to the higher forces like the king of heaven. Even if a person is a staunch atheist, they would have to admit that rain doesn’t appear through the work of human beings. An atheist worships the material nature in the mood of exploitation, so for them to pay honor to the rainmaker is to show some gratitude for a change.
This one year, Nanda’s son proposed something different. Nanda was the king of the farm community. The people were not looking to exploit nature. They lived simply, tending to the cows and worshiping the Supreme Lord. Through Krishna’s persuasion, Nanda decided to worship the nearby Govardhana Hill. The father wanted to perform both pujas, but Krishna insisted that the sacrifice for Indra be skipped this year.
Nanda and the people followed Krishna. They did so happily. They made many different preparations of food and offered it in grand fashion to Govardhana Hill. Krishna was so satisfied that He took the form of the hill and declared that the same worship should reoccur annually. The people were happy, and people of all classes were fed the prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy.
Then the trouble started. Indra was none too pleased that the people skipped the puja in his honor. There was no such thing as a loyalty discount with him. Rather than just remain angry and withhold rain for a while, Indra decided to retaliate right then and there. He sent the samvartaka cloud to devastate the area with rainfall. That’s exactly what ensued, as the people started to wash away in the torrential flood.
Krishna had gotten them into this trouble, and so He would get them out of it. Realizing what Indra was doing, Krishna took the same Govardhana Hill and lifted it up. The hill was massive, as it takes many hours simply to go around by foot. Yet the Lord held it up with the pinky finger on His left hand for seven straight days. Long before the Guinness Book of World Records came to be, Krishna created the largest umbrella known to man. The people were saved and Indra defeated. The king of heaven later apologized for his mistake.
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
Govardhana Puja gives a tangible example to support the concluding promise of the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna says that a person should abandon all varieties of religion and simply surrender unto Him. Even if it seems like the decision will lead to trouble, Krishna will protect. Who could be more powerful than the king of heaven? Who could use more force than the person who can send a cloud of devastation to any area? The answer is Krishna, the all-attractive son of Nanda and Yashoda, the beloved of the people of Vrindavana, the lifter of Govardhana Hill.
From Indra’s flood away to drift,
To save people Govardhana to lift.
King of heaven responsible for rain,
From skipped puja now instilling pain.
Following Krishna of bluish bodily hue,
Trouble first, but Lord there to rescue.
By His adorable form don’t be fooled,
Three worlds by His potency ruled.