“O sober Vidura, King Indra, his honor having been insulted, poured water incessantly on Vrindavana, and thus the inhabitants of Vraja, the land of cows, were greatly distressed. But the compassionate Lord Krishna saved them from danger with His pastime umbrella, the Govardhana Hill.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.2.33)
Goswami Tulsidas says that even a successful effort is useless if there is no protection afterwards. Imagine working so hard to purchase a brand new car. It was something you wanted for a long time. On the first day, after making the full payment, you drive it recklessly and get into an accident. There is no insurance in this hypothetical situation.
From the total loss of the vehicle the effort that went into purchasing was nullified. For such reasons insurance policies exist. Home, auto, boat, renter’s, life – the idea is to protect those things which are valuable. There is also something called umbrella insurance. If any of the other policies fail to fully cover you in a case where you become liable for damages incurred to someone else, the umbrella policy kicks in. It’s a way to get added security.
Tulsidas says that only when there is love for Shri Rama’s lotus feet is there any real guarantee of protection. Rama is Bhagavan, God as a person. Another manifestation of the same person is Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one. From His pastimes in Vrindavana we have many instances of the amazing umbrella protection that Bhagavan provides.
1. Swallowing the forest fire
Danger can strike at any moment. It is not prejudiced. It does not consider its potential victims and then alter its course accordingly. Fire insurance is important to have, but how do you get protection in a forest?
The cowherd boys were about to be engulfed by flames. There was no other way out; they prayed to Krishna. Their dear friend had saved them many times prior, and so this was no different. He simply devoured the entire fire; it went into His mouth. Crisis averted.
2. Killing Aghasura
One translation for the Sanskrit word asura is “demon.” The word is a simple negation; it means the opposite of someone who is devoted to God. Krishna’s lila gives a crystal clear picture of levels an asura reaches as far as sinful life goes. One asura after another came to Vrindavana, with one intention. They wanted to kill Krishna. These historical incidents are also highly symbolic. The asura mentality is to deny the existence of God. If devotion should ever thrive in a particular area, the asura is not against using extreme violence to stop the practice.
The Sanskrit word agha refers to sins, and so the Aghasura demon was particularly bad. He had the aroma of sin associated with him. He came to Vrindavana and cleverly masked His form. He was a giant serpent, but made himself appear to be like a giant cave.
The cowherd boys one day travelled into that faux cave, and the toxic fumes of sin from the demon caused them to pass out. Krishna found out what was going on and travelled into the same cave, which was actually the asura’s mouth. From within He tore through that demon, killing him and saving the friends from danger. Another act with tremendous symbolism, the incident gave further proof Krishna can never be associated with sin. Rather, His presence alone can purify an area.
3. The aftermath of Govardhana Puja
A forest fire, a cave that is really a serpent’s mouth – add torrential downpour to the list. This came unexpectedly, something like right after going to church. It emanated from Indra, who is the king of the suras. You expect bad behavior from Aghasura and his ilk, but the demigods? Shouldn’t they be on Krishna’s side?
Any person living in the material world is susceptible to greed and envy, and so the only true safety comes from Krishna’s association. He gave protection this time by creating the world’s largest umbrella. He lifted the just worshiped Govardhana Hill and held it aloft for seven straight days. The rain and flood insurance wasn’t used for rebuilding what was destroyed; it protected against any damage to begin with.
Such is the potency of Bhagavan’s association. Even in the indirect way, where seemingly He is not visible in the manifest form, the same power is there. For this reason the wise souls always stay connected to Him through devotional practices like chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In case reckless with new car to behave,
Insurance policy from liability to save.
Against fire and flood damage defending,
Umbrella for everything else extending.
Krishna, Supreme Lord providing already,
Like largest hill on finger resting steady.
And Aghasura of toxic sinful fume,
Forest fire into mouth to consume.
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