“When Indra understood that the sacrifice offered by the cowherd men in Vrindavana was stopped by Krishna, he became angry, and he vented his anger upon the inhabitants of Vrindavana, who were headed by Nanda Maharaja, although Indra knew perfectly well that Krishna was personally protecting them. 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.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)
The genesis of the annual tradition known as Govardhana Puja spawns an ever-growing tree of knowledge and insight into the ways of the world around us. This knowledge applies to any period of time. This means that although the first worship of that sacred hill took place thousands of years ago, the lessons derived have as much meaning and impact in today’s world.
The traditional approach is to explain worship of the devas and express the limits to the relationship, but we can try a comparison suited to the modern day. If comparing to organized crime or the way officers in a large and corrupt corporation operate, the message from Indra could be something like the following:
“I love you people so much. Gokula is such a wonderful land. Just see how many cows there are, roaming freely, and without any concern over unnecessary violence. This is a metaphor for how leaders should administer their kingdoms, if you didn’t know.
“The leader must apply taxes. There is no way around it. Otherwise, the treasury will be depleted. Then there will be no resources available to defend against foreign attack. This is the entire reason for having a formal government, in the first place.
“The king should tax in the way of proper cow protection. Take just enough that there is plenty left over. Also, allow the business community to do their thing. If you tie them down, they won’t produce as much. The same with the cows. If they are forced into one place, devoid of love and attention, the amount of resulting milk will not be much.
“The people of Gokula worship me every year. They know who butters their bread, if you know what I’m saying. They know the source of their prosperity. They could do everything else perfectly, but rain is the first ingredient. Rain is my responsibility. These people are smart.
“They just need to worship me at the proper intervals, and everything will be great. They take care of me, I take care of them. Everybody wins. But let me warn you. If any wise guy should emerge among the group, they wouldn’t like to see the result. They would regret their decision. Their friends should ask them a few simple questions.
“Do you like your kneecaps? Do you like eating? If so, you should keep worshiping Indra. If you know what is good for you, this is the path you will follow. Then there won’t be any trouble. You wouldn’t want trouble, would you?”
This may seem like an exaggeration, but when Indra’s yajna was skipped just one time by the innocent people of Gokula, he did much more than put out a hit in secret. There wasn’t someone sent to collect the interest or the payment due. There wasn’t a subtle warning sent in order that they would get the message and regret their action.
Rather, Indra sent the most devastating rain there is. The cloud reserved for the dissolution of the planet, the samvartaka, fixes its GPS coordinates on the area surrounding Govardhana Hill. This is the site of the insult. This is where the people supposedly turned their backs on their greatest benefactor.
At least this was the perception from above. The one who was previously friendly proved that the friendship was based on conditions all along. There was no loyalty discount. There was no consideration given to the innocence of the people and how they follow the advice of Shri Krishna based on logic, reasoning, and the loving nature of the presentation.
On the other side of things, there was friendship without any conditions. In a normal battle between such friends, there is the chance for either side to emerge. If choosing between two relationships, if one side decides to attack out of vengeance, there will be a difficult conflict, after the fact.
The benefit with accepting Krishna’s shelter is that there is no one stronger. He is both the only friend without conditions and the only one who can protect against the strongest kind of envy from supposedly scorned parties.
समो ऽहं सर्व-भूतेषु
न मे द्वेष्यो ऽस्ति न प्रियः
ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या
मयि ते तेषु चाप्य् अहम्
samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
The people of Gokula had a friend they could trust. That friend saved them from the wrath of their former friend, who turned out to be more of a business partner, and a spiteful one at that. There is no higher truth than the son of Nanda and Yashoda, and there is no one who can harm those protected by Him.
After envy to increase,
Samvartaka to release.
From his anger to rile,
A hit of mafia style.
Meaning that friendship none,
Despite repeatedly to come.
But Krishna the victims protecting,
With hill into air projecting.