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Govardhan Puja 20 Oct 2017

October 20

Worshiping Govardhana Hill KRSNA BOOK CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

While engaged with the brahmanas who were too much involved in the performance of Vedic sacrifices, Krishna and Balarama also saw that the cowherd men were preparing a similar sacrifice in order to pacify Indra, the King of heaven, who is responsible for supplying water. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita, a devotee of Krishna has strong and firm faith in the understanding that if he is simply engaged in Krishna consciousness and Krishna’s transcendental loving service, then he is freed from all other obligations. A pure devotee of Lord Krishna doesn’t have to perform any of the ritualistic functions enjoined in the Vedas; nor is he required to worship any demigods. Being a devotee of Lord Krishna, one is understood to have performed all kinds of Vedic rituals and all kinds of worship to the demigods. One does not develop devotional service for Krishna by performing the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies or worshiping the demigods, but it should be understood that one who is engaged fully in the service of the Lord has already fulfilled all Vedic injunctions.

In order to stop all such activities by His devotees, Krishna wanted to firmly establish exclusive devotional service during His presence in Vrindavana. Because He is the omniscient Personality of Godhead, Krishna knew that the cowherd men were preparing for the Indra sacrifice, but as a matter of etiquette He began to inquire with great honor and submission from elder personalities like Maharaja Nanda.

Krishna asked His father, “My dear father, what is this arrangement going on for a great sacrifice? What is the result of such a sacrifice, and for whom is it meant? How is it performed? Will you kindly let Me know? I am very eager to know this procedure, so please explain to Me the purpose of this sacrifice.” Upon this inquiry, His father, Nanda Maharaja, remained silent, thinking that his young boy would not be able to understand the intricacies of performing the yajna. Krishna, however, persisted: “My dear father, for those who are liberal and saintly, there is no secrecy. They do not think anyone to be a friend, an enemy or a neutral party, because they are always open to everyone. And even for those who are not so liberal, nothing should be kept secret from the family members and friends, although secrecy may be maintained for persons who are inimical. Therefore you cannot keep any secrets from Me. All persons are engaged in fruitive activities. Some know what these activities are, and they know the result, and some execute activities without knowing the purpose or the result. A person who acts with full knowledge gets the full result; one who acts without knowledge does not get such a perfect result. Therefore, please let Me know the purpose of the sacrifice you are going to perform. Is it according to Vedic injunction? Or is it simply a popular ceremony? Kindly let Me know in detail about the sacrifice.”

On hearing this inquiry from Krishna, Maharaja Nanda replied, “My dear boy, this ceremonial performance is more or less traditional. Because rainfall is due to the mercy of King Indra and the clouds are his representatives, and because water is so important for our living, we must show some gratitude to the controller of this rainfall, Maharaja Indra. We are arranging, therefore, to pacify King Indra, because he has very kindly sent us clouds to pour down a sufficient quantity of rain for successful agricultural activities. Water is very important: without rainfall we cannot farm or produce grain, and without grain we cannot live. Therefore rain is necessary for successful religious ceremonies, economic development and, ultimately, liberation. So we should not give up this traditional ceremonial function; if one gives it up, being influenced by lust, greed or fear, then it does not look very good for him.”

After hearing this, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the presence of His father and all the elder cowherd men of Vrindavana, spoke in such a way as to make heavenly King Indra very angry. He suggested that they forgo the sacrifice. His reasons for discouraging the sacrifice performed to please Indra were twofold. First, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita, there is no need to worship the demigods for any material advancement; all results derived from worshiping the demigods are simply temporary, and only those who are less intelligent are interested in temporary results. Second, whatever temporary result one derives from worshiping the demigods is actually granted by the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita: mayaiva vihitan hi tan. Whatever benefit is supposed to be derived from the demigods is actually bestowed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Without the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot bestow any benefit upon others. But sometimes the demigods become puffed up by the influence of material nature; thinking themselves all in all, they forget the supremacy of the Personality of Godhead. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is clearly stated that in this instance Krishna wanted to make King Indra angry. Krishna’s advent was especially meant for the annihilation of the demons and protection of the devotees. King Indra was certainly a devotee, not a demon, but because he was puffed up, Krishna wanted to teach him a lesson. He first made Indra angry by stopping the Indra-puja, which had been arranged by the cowherd men in Vrindavana.

With this purpose in mind, Krishna began to talk as if He were an atheist supporting the philosophy of Karma-mimamsa. Advocates of this philosophy do not accept the supreme authority of the Personality of Godhead. They put forward the argument that if anyone works nicely, the result is sure to come. Their opinion is that even if there is a God who gives man the result of his fruitive activities, there is no need to worship Him because unless man works He cannot bestow any good result. They say that instead of worshiping a demigod or God, people should give attention to their own duties, and thus the good result will surely come. Lord Krishna began to speak to His father according to these principles of the Karma-mimamsa philosophy. “My dear father,” He said, “I don’t think you need to worship any demigod for the successful performance of your agricultural activities. Every living being is born according to his past karma and leaves this life simply taking the result of his present karma. Everyone is born in different types or species of life according to his past activities, and he gets his next birth according to the activities of this life. Different grades of material happiness and distress, comforts and disadvantages of life, are different results of different kinds of activities, from either the past or present life.”

Maharaja Nanda and other elder members argued that without satisfying the predominating god one cannot derive any good result simply by material activities. This is actually the fact. For example, it is sometimes found that in spite of first-class medical help and treatment by a first-class physician, a diseased person dies. It is concluded, therefore, that first-class medical treatment or the attempts of a first-class physician are not in themselves the cause for curing a patient; there must be the hand of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, a father’s and mother’s taking care of their children is not the cause of the children’s comfort. Sometimes it is found that in spite of all care by the parents, the children go bad or succumb to death. Therefore material causes are not sufficient for results. There must be the sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nanda Maharaja therefore advocated that in order to get good results for agricultural activities, they must satisfy Indra, the superintending deity of the rain supply. Lord Krishna nullified this argument, saying that the demigods give results only to persons who have executed their prescribed duties. The demigods cannot give any good results to the person who has not executed the prescribed duties; therefore demigods are dependent on the execution of duties and are not absolute in awarding good results to anyone. So why should one care about them?

“My dear father,” Lord Krishna said, “there is no need to worship the demigod Indra. Everyone has to achieve the result of his own work. We can actually see that one becomes busy according to the natural tendency of his work; and according to that natural tendency, all living entities—either human beings or demigods—achieve their respective results. All living entities achieve higher or lower bodies and create enemies, friends or neutral parties only because of their different kinds of work. One should be careful to discharge duties according to his natural instinct and not divert attention to the worship of various demigods. The demigods will be satisfied by proper execution of all duties, so there is no need to worship them. Let us, rather, perform our prescribed duties very nicely. Actually one cannot be happy without executing his proper prescribed duty. One who does not, therefore, properly discharge his prescribed duties is compared to an unchaste wife. The proper prescribed duty of the brahmanas is the study of the Vedas; the proper duty of the royal order, the kshatriyas, is engagement in protecting the citizens; the proper duty of the vaisya community is agriculture, trade and protection of the cows; and the proper duty of the sudras is service to the higher classes, namely the brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaisyas. We belong to the vaisya community, and our proper duty is to farm, to trade with the agricultural produce, to protect cows or to take to banking.”

Krishna identified Himself with the vaisya community because Nanda Maharaja was protecting many cows and Krishna was taking care of them. He enumerated four kinds of business engagements for the vaisya community, namely agriculture, trade, protection of cows and banking. Although the vaisyas can take to any of these occupations, the men of Vrindavana were engaged primarily in the protection of cows.

Krishna further explained to His father, “This cosmic manifestation is going on under the influence of three modes of material nature—goodness, passion and ignorance. These three modes are the causes of creation, maintenance and destruction. The cloud is caused by the action of the mode of passion; therefore it is the mode of passion which causes the rainfall. And after the rainfall, the living entities derive the result—success in agricultural work. What, then, has Indra to do in this affair? Even if you do not please Indra, what can he do? We do not derive any special benefit from Indra. Even if he is there, he pours water on the ocean also, where there is no need of water. So he is pouring water on the ocean or on the land; it does not depend on our worshiping him. As far as we are concerned, we do not need to go to another city or village or foreign country. There are palatial buildings in the cities, but we are satisfied living in this forest of Vrindavana. Our specific relationship is with Govardhana Hill and Vrindavana forest and nothing more. I therefore request you, My dear father, to begin a sacrifice which will satisfy the local brahmanas and Govardhana Hill, and let us have nothing to do with Indra.”

After hearing this statement by Krishna, Nanda Maharaja replied, “My dear boy, since You are asking, I shall arrange for a separate sacrifice for the local brahmanas and Govardhana Hill. But for the present let me execute this sacrifice known as Indra-yajna.”

But Krishna replied, “My dear father, don’t delay. The sacrifice you propose for Govardhana and the local brahmanas will take much time. Better take the arrangement and paraphernalia you have already made for the Indra-yajna and immediately engage them to satisfy Govardhana Hill and the local brahmanas.”

Maharaja Nanda finally relented. The cowherd men then inquired from Krishna how He wanted the yajna performed, and Krishna gave them the following directions. “Prepare very nice foods of all descriptions from the grains and ghee collected for the yajna. Prepare rice, dhal, then halava, pakora, puri and all kinds of milk preparations, such as sweet rice, rabri, sweetballs, sandesa, rasagulla and laddu, and invite the learned brahmanas who can chant the Vedic hymns and offer oblations to the fire. The brahmanas should be given all kinds of grains in charity. Then decorate all the cows and feed them well. After performing this, give money in charity to the brahmanas. As far as the lower animals are concerned, such as the dogs, and the lower grades of people, such as the candalas, or the fifth class of men, who are considered untouchable, they also may be given sumptuous prasadam. After nice grasses have been given to the cows, the sacrifice known as Govardhana-puja may immediately begin. This sacrifice will very much satisfy Me.”

In this statement, Lord Krishna practically described the whole economy of the vaisya community. In all communities in human society—including the brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaisyas, sudras, candalas, etc.— and in the animal kingdom—including the cows, dogs, goats, etc.—everyone has his part to play. Each is to work in cooperation for the total benefit of all society, which includes not only animate objects but also inanimate objects like hills and land. The vaisya community is specifically responsible for the economic improvement of the society by producing grains, by giving protection to the cows, by transporting food when needed, and by banking and finance.

From this statement we learn also that although the cats and dogs, which have now become so important, are not to be neglected, cow protection is actually more important than protection of cats and dogs. Another hint we get from this statement is that the candalas, or the untouchables, are also not to be neglected by the higher classes and should be given necessary protection. Everyone is important, but some are directly responsible for the advancement of human society and some are only indirectly responsible. However, when Krishna consciousness is there, then everyone’s total benefit is taken care of.

The sacrifice known as Govardhana-puja is observed in the Krishna consciousness movement. Lord Caitanya has recommended that since Krishna is worshipable, so His land—Vrindavana and Govardhana Hill—is also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Krishna said that Govardhana-puja is as good as worship of Him. From that day, Govardhana-puja has been going on and is known as Annakuta. In all the temples of Vrindavana or outside of Vrindavana, huge quantities of food are prepared in this ceremony and are very sumptuously distributed to the general population. Sometimes the food is thrown to the crowds, and they enjoy collecting it off the ground. From this we can understand that prasadam offered to Krishna never becomes polluted or contaminated, even if it is thrown on the ground. The people, therefore, collect it and eat with great satisfaction.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, therefore advised the cowherd men to stop the Indra-yajna and begin the Govardhana-puja in order to chastise Indra, who was very much puffed up at being the supreme controller of the heavenly planets. The honest and simple cowherd men, headed by Nanda Maharaja, accepted Krishna’s proposal and executed in detail everything He advised. They performed Govardhana worship and circumambulation of the hill. (Following the inauguration of Govardhana-puja, people in Vrindavana still dress nicely and assemble near Govardhana Hill to offer worship and circumambulate the hill, leading their cows all around.) According to the instruction of Lord Krishna, Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd men called in learned brahmanas and began to worship Govardhana Hill by chanting Vedic hymns and offering prasadam. The inhabitants of Vrindavana assembled together, decorated their cows and gave them grass. Keeping the cows in front, they began to circumambulate Govardhana Hill. The gopis dressed themselves very luxuriantly and sat in bull-driven carts, chanting the glories of Krishna’s pastimes. Assembled there to act as priests for Govardhana-puja, the brahmanas offered their blessings to the cowherd men and their wives, the gopis.

When everything was complete, Krishna assumed a great transcendental form and declared to the inhabitants of Vrindavana that He was Himself Govardhana Hill in order to convince the devotees that Govardhana Hill and Krishna Himself are identical. Then Krishna began to eat all the food offered there. The identity of Krishna and Govardhana Hill is still honored, and great devotees take rocks from Govardhana Hill and worship them exactly as they worship the Deity of Krishna in the temples. The followers of the Krishna consciousness movement may therefore collect small rocks or pebbles from Govardhana Hill and worship them at home, because this worship is as good as Deity worship. The form of Krishna who began to eat the offerings was separately constituted, and Krishna Himself, along with the other inhabitants of Vrindavana, offered obeisances to the Deity as well as Govardhana Hill. In offering obeisances to the huge form of Krishna and Govardhana Hill, Krishna declared, “Just see how Govardhana Hill has assumed this huge form and is favoring us by accepting all the offerings.” Krishna also declared at that meeting, “One who neglects the worship of Govardhana-puja, as I am personally conducting it, will not be happy. There are many snakes on Govardhana Hill, and persons neglecting the prescribed duty of Govardhana-puja will be bitten by these snakes and killed. In order to assure the good fortune of the cows and themselves, all people of Vrindavana near Govardhana must worship the hill, as prescribed by Me.” Thus performing the Govardhana-puja sacrifice, all the inhabitants of Vrindavana followed the instructions of Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, and afterwards they returned to their respective homes.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-fourth Chapter of Krishna, “Worshiping Govardhana Hill.”
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Date:
October 20