“As the director of different kinds of clouds, Indra called for the samvartaka. This cloud is invited when there is a need to devastate the whole cosmic manifestation. The samvartaka was ordered by Indra to go over Vrindavana and inundate the whole area with an extensive flood. Demonically, Indra thought himself to be the all-powerful supreme personality.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)
A particular faith argues that you must believe in a certain savior in order to reach heaven. This is a reference to the afterlife. When the present stay within the particular body accepted at the time of birth completes, to where will the individual go? What will be their destination, and is that travel final? Is there no punishment for sinful deeds and is there no reward for adherence to principles of religiosity?
The phrase, “Died and went to heaven,” refers to the general promise of religion. Follow a different way, generally categorized as faith, in order to be rewarded at a later date. Suffer today in order to enjoy in the future.
From studying a particular group of people during a famous act in defiance of religious principles, we see that heaven in the common sense is not all it is cracked up to be. Whereas the direct association of a particular person can turn the surrounding realm into a place superior to any conceived heavenly area.
1. Didn’t have to fight asuras
The area of study for this analysis is Gokula-Vrindavana some five thousand years ago, as described in Vedic texts like Vishnu Purana, Hari-vamsha, and Shrimad Bhagavatam. The people were wealthy in the sense that they had millions of cows, protected and well-cared for. There was no scarcity in terms of the necessities of life.
It was a farm community, so the people lived a simple life. The reference point for comparison is the heavenly region described in Vedic literature. Known as svarga-loka, there is a similar kind of society, with a notable distinction. Material enjoyments are available at an advanced level. Staying in a single place for thousands of years. Intoxicating beverages and beautiful companions. Increased ability and sometimes jurisdiction over the important elements constituting the manifest world.
The king of svarga-loka is known as Indra, so he would be eligible for the most enjoyment. One issue is that he must contend with the asura class. Indra is the leader of the suras, or the good guys, whereas the asuras are rooted in sinful life. The good and the bad have been at odds since before anyone can remember.
The people of Vrindavana lived with asuras in their presence from time to time, but they were not expected to provide defense. They could roam about freely, not having to take up arms against powerful enemies of real religion.
2. Didn’t rely on the yajna of others to survive
A prominent aspect of Vedic culture is yajna. The sacrificial fire is the symbolic correlation. Pour oblations into this fire at prescribed times, chanting specific mantras, and you could receive a wide variety of benefits, ranging from wealth to a long duration of life.
There are people on the other side of the yajna. In other words, there is the person conducting the sacrifice and then someone enjoying. The Supreme Lord is the real enjoyer, Yajneshvara, but in the visible sense the suras are the ones who benefit.
In other words, people like Indra rely upon the yajnas conducted on earth. The oblations feed the strength. The people of Vrindavana, meanwhile, did not need others to conduct yajna in order to survive. They were independent in this sense, though they surely relied on the elements of nature governed by the demigods, such as rain and sunlight.
3. Were not envious of the events occurring in other realms
If you rely upon the oblations poured into the sacrificial fire ceremonies conducted on earth, it means that even after going to heaven you are not free of distractions. Though you have won a higher realm, you must peek back occasionally, to meet your self-interest.
This can also lead to feelings of envy, such as with the first Govardhana Puja. The people of Vrindavana skipped the Indra-yajna in favor of the nearby hill known as Govardhana, which was dear to the cows. Indra became incensed at the perceived insult. Meanwhile, the people did not care so much about what went on in heaven. They were happy living where they were.
4. Were protected by Krishna
The suras have to fight the asuras, but the people of Vrindavana were protected by Krishna. This was a reward for many lifetimes’ worth of pious activities, culminating in pure devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is never bound to any temporary realm or what takes place in them.
Indra’s rage rose to such heights that he felt the need to retaliate. He directed the samvartaka cloud to wash away the area surrounding Govardhana, where the people had congregated because of the recent worship ceremony. Krishna protected them, however. He lifted the hill and held it high above His head to serve as an umbrella.
This means that Krishna’s association is the real heaven. In His company you won’t have to rely on the yajnas conducted by others. You won’t have to defend against wicked asuras, and you won’t be envious of what others are doing in a material realm. You can be safe and secure, happy in knowing that the most powerful one is there to show His lotus-like face.
Basking in His grace,
Showing lotus-like face.
With asuras dealing already,
So better attention steady.
Not like heaven defective,
Where envy reflective.
That in rage samvartaka sending,
But hill into air extending.
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