“The Lord says that everything is resting on Him. This should not be misunderstood. The Lord is not directly concerned with the maintenance and sustenance of this material manifestation. Sometimes we see a picture of Atlas holding the globe on his shoulders; he seems to be very tired, holding this great earthly planet. Such an image should not be entertained in connection with Krishna’s upholding this created universe.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.5 Purport)
The concept is difficult to understand, even after firsthand experience with breaking the limits. After seeing Shri Krishna, the jewel of Vrindavana, the darling son of mother Yashoda, save the residents from one calamity after another, the people were still concerned.
In His latest feat, Krishna held up the recently worshiped Govardhana Hill. This was not some tiny mound of dirt created for fun by the children. It was not the size of an obstacle created for a television game show. It had no resemblance to a miniature volcano submitted for a science class project.
This was a massive tract of land. It was always dear to Krishna, who understands the importance in relation to the cows. That sacred animal was vital to the economy of Vrindavana, and the people had immense respect. They cared for and tended to thousands of cows.
In fact, that was young Krishna’s first job, so to speak. The father, Nanda Maharaja, enlisted the help of his beloved son. The other children in the community were similarly engaged. Everyone would go out and take the calves to the pasturing grounds. If ever the animals should wander astray, Krishna would climb to the top of Govardhana Hill and play His flute. This music would capture everyone’s attention. It was a sound directly sourced in the spiritual world, which is known as Vaikuntha since it is free of anxieties.
Krishna was later seen holding up that hill because of an attack. He had persuaded the residents to shift the worship paraphernalia initially intended for Indra, the king of heaven. The worship would now be for Govardhana Hill. A strange tradition to begin, but Nanda’s son had never steered them wrong before.
Though the chief resident of the heavenly realm, though relied upon to tackle the asuras, though in charge of critical elements of material nature, Indra became petty and jealous. So enraged by the perceived insult, he decided to target the area near Govardhana Hill with rainfall sufficient to destroy the creation.
Rather than take up weapons, at the time Krishna decided to lift the just worshiped hill and hold it up. It became the world’s largest umbrella, carried in the left hand of a small boy, resting on His pinky finger, no less.
Some of the residents were still concerned. It was amazing that Krishna could lift up the hill, but how long would it stay suspended in air? Would not His hand get tired? What if His attention got diverted? A split second is all it would take. Then disaster for every person taking shelter underneath.
They decided to help, and Krishna accepted their service. But as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, the Supreme Lord is never tired in such a role. As the boar incarnation known as Varaha, God rescues the earth from underwater. He holds it up, just as it is currently in orbit today.
There is no fatigue. There is no difficulty. There is no cause for concern. Both literally and figuratively, such work is child’s play for Him. He is responsible for the many universes. He creates, maintains and destroys without issue. A single image says it all.
Narayana lays down to rest in Vaikuntha. The three phases, each having their own past, present, and future, occur in synchronization with His breathing. Upon exhaling the many universes emerge, like bubbles floating in space. Upon inhaling everything goes back into Narayana, who is the source of men. The time in between could be billions of our human years, but to God it is nothing, as His timelines are in terms of eternity.
That one of immeasurable strength, who never tires, who never carries too large a burden, can certainly rescue me from my dangerous predicament of repeated birth and death. This is the real cause of my suffering, and in this human birth I have the ability to both inquire into the problem and take the necessary steps to find a cure, which ultimately leads to the lotus feet of that famous lifter of Govardhana.
A rescuing gift,
When Govardhana to lift.
A wonder so much strength,
To hold for considerable length.
On His pinky finger resting,
But residents worried that fate testing.
For Krishna easy for more to transpire.
In work of the world God never to tire.