The Story of Shri Krishna lifting Govardhan Hill
Once, Krishna and Balram came to Brija after spending some fun time in the forest. All the gopas were very joyful and excited about the Indrotsava. Seeing this, Krishna became curious and asked, “What is this utsav about?”
One of the older gopas answered him, “Indra is the lord of the Devtas and clouds. He’s the protector of the entire world. It is due to him that the rain comes. Because of the rain, all our crops are lush, our cattles have enough grass to graze on, there is no shortage of water. It is at the command of Indra that the clouds gather and rain. Shri Krishna! The rain brings life to this earth and Devraj Indra is the one who brings rain. That is why this rainy season is the time to worship Indra Deva. All the kings worship Indra dev with great joy and we should do the same.”
Krishna listened to the gopas very intently and then said, “Arya! All of us are gopas living in the forest and our livelihood depends on ‘godhan’ which is why cows, forests and mountains should be our devta. A farmer’s livelihood is farming, in the same way our livelihood is taking care of the cows. The forests provide us with everything and the mountains protect us. We’re dependent on all of these and this is why I’m of the opinion that we should perform a Giriyajna. We should gather all the cows near the trees or the mountain, perform a pooja and collect all the milk in an auspicious temple. The cows should be ornamented with peacock feathers and ‘mukuts’ and then worshipped with flowers. Let Devtas worship Devraj Indra and we’ll worship Giriraj Govardhan.”
Listening to Damodar’s wise words, all the gopas decided to put an end to Indra Utsav and begin Govardhan pooja. Everyone was excited for this festival. The entire Gokul was full of happiness. Lots and lots of milk was collected, ripened fruits were gathered in a large quantity, so many savoury dishes were lined up and like this, the Giriyajna began. Many obalations were offered. At the end of the yajna, the brahmins were satisfied with the donations they had received. Shri Krishna himself took the form of the mountain deity and accepted all these offerings. Standing on the top of the mountain, he said, “I’m completely satisfied,” and started laughing loudly.
All the gopas bowed to the mountain deity and said, “Bhagwan! We’re your servants. Please tell us what to do.”
Shri Krishna, in the form of a mountain deity replied, “If you’ve kindness within you, then you should worship me in the cows and I’ll bless you with everything. Now, you should perform a parikrama around me with all the cattle. It will make me really happy.”
As soon as these words were spoken, all the gopas with their cattle stood around the mountain for the parikrama. Then cheerfully, they started going around the mountain. Some gopas were guiding their cattle, some were dancing with the sticks in their
hands, the air was full of happiness. In this way, the parikrama came to an end and all the gopas returned to Brija with their cattle.
Devraj Indra was enraged that the Indra Utsav was put to a stop. He called a ‘gana’ of the clouds, named Samvartak and said to him, “Due to Shri Krishna, the people of Vrindavan did not celebrate my festival. Now, it is my order that you torture their livelihood, the cows with heavy rain and storm day and night. I’ll come with you and use my vajra and lightning to create such a storm that no one has ever seen before.”
And thus the wrath of Indra took a terrifying form. There were dark clouds all around Brija, the lightning was illuminating the grey sky which made the atmosphere even more frightening. There were heavy rains, trees were uprooted, the rivers were roaring with the rainwater, it almost seemed as if the hour of destruction was upon them.
All the gopas were scared out of their wits. The cows were crying loudly, and due to the cold they couldn’t move their body. They hadn’t eaten for days now and became very weak. Some of the cows died in this manner.The other cows fell to the ground due to the harsh rain. Some were trying to protect their calves but were failing miserably. All in all, the condition of the cows had become pathetic, they were shivering from fear, cold, weakness. Nobody but Shri Krishna could help them now. Looking at the destruction of cows and the gopas in such a gruesome way, Shri Krishna was full of anger towards Indra. After thinking for some time, Shri Krishna said to himself, “I’ve decided how to protect the cows and gopas from rain. I’ll uproot the Govardhan mountain with all its forests and create a safe for everyone who seeks shelter.” Saying thus, Shri Krishna uprooted the govardhan mountain and held it in one of his hands. All the gopas, the cows and other Brijwasis took shelter under the mountain. They were finally safe from the wrath of Indradev. Not even Vajra could penetrate the safe haven created by Shri Krishna.
The rage of Devraj Indra rained upon them for seven nights when at last Indra finally gave up and stopped the clouds. The sun was shining brightly again and the sky had become azure again. All the gopas and the cows returned to their homes happily and Shri Krishna placed the Govardhan mountain back in its rightful place.
Indra was amazed at this feat of Shri Krishna and wanted to meet him. On his Airavat, he descended to Prithvilok and found Shri Krishna sitting on a rock near Govardhan. Looking at Shri Krishna, Indra was in awe of him, his eyes couldn’t get enough. He went near Shri Krishna and said with reverence, “O Mighty Shri Krishna! What you’ve done to protect the cows is divine. In my anger, I made it rain for seven nights and no one in this entire world would’ve been able to stop me if it wasn’t for you. You’ve amazed everyone yet again. I’m the Indra of the Devtas and you’re the Indra of cows, which is why everyone will call you by the name of ‘Govind’. Also, I give to you, the half of the rainy season, known as ‘Sharad ritu’, when people will
worship you. I’ve come here for something else as well. Slay Kansa, Keshi and Aristasura and rule over the kings. Also, a part of me is born from the womb of Kunti and is just like me. Protect him, respect him and make him your friend. He’ll always obey you and won’t be able to live happily without you. This Kuntikumar is the world’s greatest archer and the battle of Mahabharat will depend on him. HIs name is Arjun. Treat him with the same affection with which you treat me. Both of you will gain fame together.”
Listening to this, Shri Krishna was moved to emotion and said, “Devraj! I’m happy to see you and all that you’ve said will be fulfilled. As for Arjun, I know all about him and about all the other sons of the great Pandu too. I’m well aware of the sons of Dhritarashtra as well. So don’t worry and be assured. With me, no one will be able to defeat Arjun. After the battle of Mahabharat, I’ll return the Pandavas to my aunt Kunti safely. And Arjun shall have all my affection.” Happy with the words of Shri Krishna, Devraj Indra went back to Swargaloka again.
This is the story of how Govardhan Pooja began and there is another interesting fact to know about. During the time, Shri Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain, people presented him with food 8 times a day and he held the mountain for seven days, which means he had 56 meals which now has come to be known as ‘Chhappan Bhoga’.
For more such interesting stories, stay tuned to the Sutradhar app.