The Vedic scriptures proclaim that the glories of Sri Krishna are unlimited and eternal. The land of Braj (also known as Vraj or Braj bhoomi) is known as a sacred place of great religious importance where Shri Krishna spent his childhood pastimes. Vrindavan also known as Brindavan is a holy sacred town in the Braj region. It is an important pilgrimage place due to its association with legendary epic tales of Sri Krishna. Brajdham draws over 50 million pilgrims every year who go over circumbulatory tours around the sacred hill Govardhan Parvat. The Govardhan Hill is in the list of places protected by Green Tribunal of Government of India.
The Glories of Govardhan Hill
According to the Vedic scriptures, Govardhan Hill is acknowledged as a sacred mountain that descended from Goloka Vrndavana from the Spiritual Worlds. Govardhan Hill is considered as the crown jewel of Braj and the King of all mountains and hence also most popularly known as “Giriraj”. Govardhan Hill is 8 km long located in Govardhan town which is 21 km from the holy city of Vrindavan. Vrindavan is a place of sacred relevance in Mathura district of Indian state Uttar Pradesh. Vrindavan derived its name from Sanskrit words, “Vrnda” meaning Tulsi (Holy Basil) and “Van” meaning forest. Vedas describe Govardhan Hill firstly as the greatest devotee of Sri Krishna and secondly as being non-different from Sri Krishna Himself.
The Appearance of Sri Govardhan Hill In Satya-Yuga
Garg Samhita, a collection of Sanskrit verses describing Sri Krishna Leela narrates the story of the descend of Govardhan Hill from Goloka Vrndavana of the spiritual worlds. Once, Nanda Maharaj (Sri Krishna’s father) asked a question to his brother Sananda on how Govardhana Hill appeared in the holy land of Vrndavana? Sananda replied that King Pandu, father of the Pandavas, had asked this very same question to Grandfather Bhisma, who had narrated the following story from the Garga Samhita: One day, in the transcendental abode of Goloka Vrndavana, Sri Krishna informed Srimati Radharani that She would appear on Earth and during that time, Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani would perform Their transcendental pastimes within the material world. Srimati Radharani expressed she would not be happy on Earth unless Vraja Dhama, Sri Yamuna and Sri Govardhan Parvat were present on the bhoomi. Sri Krishna asserted that Srimati Radharani’s wishes will be fulfilled and that Vraja Dhama, Yamuna River and Govardhan Hill all three will appear on Earth.
Many years before the advent of Sri Krishna’s divine prophesy, in the land of Salmali dvipa, the wife of the great mountain Dronachala gave birth to a son named Govardhana. All the demigods appeared in the sky and showered flowers at the time of Govardhana’s birth. The great mountains, led by the Himalayas and Sumeru, came there to offer their respects. They performed parikrama of Govardhana and accepted him as their king. They offered very nice prayers praising Govardhana for having descended from the spiritual worlds of Goloka Vrndavana, describing him as the “crown jewel of Vraja.”
The great sage Pulastya Muni visited Samali Dvipa at the beginning of Satya-yuga. He saw beautiful Govardhana Hill with lovely creepers, trees filled with abundant fruits and beautiful flowers, auspicious caves suitable for performing austerities, sound of gushing streams and rivers, graceful slopes, nectar trees with sound of peacock calls and chirping birds. Pulastya Muni was mesmerized with the beauty of Govardhan Hill and knew that Govardhan Hill had the power to give liberation. Pulastya Muni visited Dronachala, Govardhana’s father, who with great respect and reverence welcomed Pulastya Muni and asked the sage what services he could render.
Pulastya Muni greeted Dronachala and said, “O Drona, you are the king of the mountains, You are worshipped by demigods, and filled with transcendental medicinal herbs thus restoring people’s life”. I come to you with a request, I am a sage from Kashi. Please give me your son. I do not need anything else.”
Pulastya Muni expressed his desire to take Govardhana Hill to Kashi as there was sacred river Ganges but no beautiful mountain in Kashi. He asked Dronachala to give Govardhana to him so that he could perform his austerities sitting on top of the Hill.
On hearing Pulastya Muni’s request, Dronachala was saddened by the feeling of being separated from his beloved son Govardhana and was unwilling to part with him. To save his father Dronachala from the curse of angry Pulastya Muni, Govardhana heard Pulastya Muni’s request and asked the sage on how the sage could carry Him all the way to Kashi? Pulastya Muni said he would carry him (Govardhana) on his right hand. Govardhana agreed to go with the sage on one condition that if the sage put him down anywhere during the course of entire journey, the sage will not be able to lift him again. Pulastya Muni agreed to Govardhana’s condition and promised he will not place Govardhan anywhere before reaching Kashi. Sage then left for Kashi carrying Govardhana on his right hand.
By the will of Supreme God, Pulastya Muni passed through Vraja dham on his way to Kashi. On arriving in Vraja dham, Govardhana remembering his previous life, said to Himself: “Sri Krishna, The Supreme Godhead, who is Master of countless universe, will descend to Vraja and will enjoy his childhood pastimes. I should not leave this place where Yamuna flows.”
Govardhana knew Vraja was the holy place where he belonged. With these thoughts in mind, Govardhana made himself very heavy in sage’s hand. Overcome with exhaustion, Pulastya Muni did not remember his promise. Tormented by the mountain’s weight, to lighten his burden the sage put him down in Vraja-mandala. After bathing and cleaning himself, the sage returned and asked Govardhana to lift up and sit on his hand. Govardhana did not move a space of an inch. Pulastya Muni with all his mystic strength was unable to lift Govardhana Hill again. After futile attempts to lift Govardhana, Pulastya Muni in a fit of anger cursed Govardhana Hill to sink into ground by the measurement of one mustard seed everyday.
At the beginning of Satya-yuga, when Govardhan first came to Vraja, he was eight yojanas long (64 miles); five yojanas wide (40 miles) and two yojanas high (16 miles). One yojana is 8 miles. It is said that after ten thousand years of the Kali-yuga, Govardhana will have completely disappeared. After narrating the wonderful story of Govardhana’s appearance, Sananda informed Nanda Maharaja that as long as Govardhana Hill and the river Yamuna remained manifest, Kali-yuga would not take its full effect. Sananda also said that anyone who is fortunate enough to hear the description of the appearance of Govardhana Hill would be freed from all sins.
The Legendary Tale of Sri Govardhana in Treta-Yuga
The appearance of Sri Govardhana happened at the beginning of Satya-Yuga. Millions of years later, in Treta-Yuga, Sri Mahavishnu appeared in the seventh avataar as Sri Rama. In the epic tale of Ramayana, Sri Rama and his army constructed a bridge between mainland India and Sri Lanka in order to fight the demon king Ravana and rescue Sri Rama’s consort Sri Sita.
During the construction of Ram Setu Bridge, Sri Hanumanji visited Sri Giriraj Govardhan and requested the sacred mountain to be taken to the ocean to become part of Ram Setu bridge that was being constructed. Sri Govardhana readily and happily agreed to Sri Hanumanji’s request and was delighted to be in service of Sri Rama. On the fifth day of construction of Ram Setu bridge, as Hanumanji carried Sri Govardhana to the ocean, the news arrived that the construction of Ram Setu bridge was complete and the need of mighty mountain was not needed.
Hearing this Sri Govardhana, got very disappointed that he could not be in service of Sri Rama. Sri Rama was moved by Govardhana’s gesture and Sri Rama prophesied that thousands of years later, in Dwarpur-Yuga, He will come back on Earth to fulfill the desires of his devotees in the form of Sri Krishna. And during that time, He will fulfill the desires of Sri Govardhan and lift him with affection for seven days by His own hands. In Dwapur-Yuga, Sri Krishna spent his childhood pastimes in the holy land of Vrndavan. It is during this period, He lifted Sri Govardhana, a legendary tale of most religious importance that is described below.
What is the Significance of Govardhan Pooja?
Govardhan Pooja also known as Annkut pooja is religiously performed across various states in India on the next day of Diwali. It is on this day, Sri Krishna in Dwapur Yuga, lifted Govardhan Hill to protect Brajvasis from the wrath of Lord Indra. Below is the beautiful tale of Sri Krishna Leela.
One day, in the village of Vrndavana, young Sri Krishna saw His father Nanda Maharaja and the other cowherd men preparing for a big sacrifice. “My dear father,” Krishna said, “What is this sacrifice for? I want to know.”
Sri Krishna actually knew that the sacrifice was for Indra, the Lord of heaven. But He pretended to be a curious young boy. Nanda Maharaj thought, “Krishna is too young to understand such complicated rituals.” Under the spell of Krishna’s divine energy, Nanda thought that the all-knowing Personality of Godhead was just his little boy.
But Krishna persisted with His questions. “My dear father, please do not keep secrets with me. Please tell Me. Who is this sacrifice for?”
Nanda Maharaj replied “My dear son, this sacrifice is for Lord Indra, the Lord of heaven. Indra controls the clouds that bring rain. Without rain we can’t grow food grains, vegetables and fruits and our cows won’t have enough grass to graze on. So we’re holding this sacrifice to show our gratitude to King Indra.”
Krishna promptly replied, “But dear father, Why do we need to offer sacrifice to Indra? It is his duty to supply our fields with water. I don’t think you have to offer this sacrifice to Indra. Instead father, let’s hold a big sacrifice to honor Govardhana Hill.”
Understanding how dearly Krishna loved Govardhana Hill, Nanda replied, “All right, son, since You are asking, we shall hold another sacrifice for Govardhana Hill. But for now just let us finish this sacrifice for Indra.”
Krishna kept insisting politely to Nanda Maharaja but Nandji relented. Nand Maharaj said, “All right Krishna, tell us what You want us to do.” Then Nanda and the other simple-hearted cowherd men did exactly what Krishna said. They cooked delicious food, sweets and savouries. After preparing this feast, the cowherd men decorated their cows with silk hangings, gilded their horns, and fed them fresh, green grass. Keeping the cows in front, everyone then circled Govardhana Hill and sang songs in praise of Krishna. Finally, the village brahmanas and pundits chanted Vedic hymns and offered the feast—a huge mountain of food—to Govardhana Hill.
Suddenly, to the amazement of all, Krishna expanded Himself into a colossal transcendental form. All the residents of Vrndavana, bowed down on their knees and offered prayers to Sri Krishna. The giant form of Krishna spoke: “I am Govardhana Hill.” Then He began to eat the mountain of food with great satisfaction. Everyone could clearly see that Lord Krishna and Govardhana Hill were one and the same. To this very day, pilgrims take stones and pebbles from Govardhana Hill and worship them in the same way that brahmana priests worship the Deity form of Krishna in the temples. Out of reverence for Govardhana Hill, devotees of Krishna will not even set foot on its sacred slopes. Instead they walk around the twelve-mile path circling its base—such is their devotion.
Afterwards, Krishna ordered the cowherd men to worship Govardhana Hill every year. When King Indra came to know about Krishna’s Govardhan Pooja and that Sri Krishna stop the sacrifice meant for him, he became furious. “These vrajvasis shall suffer,” he said. “I’ll teach them a lesson and punish Krishna for being so disobedient.”
Indra called his most powerful clouds, the deadly samvartaka, which usually comes to destroy the world at the time of devastation. Indra ordered the clouds, “Go and destroy Vrndavana and flood that whole village! Drown all the cowherd men and all their cows with them. I shall be flying behind you on my elephant. I shall attack Vrndavana with furious storms. Together we shall punish those impudent Vraj inhabitants.”
The dark, portentous clouds appeared over Vrndavana and began hurling down streams of rain. Lightning crashed. Thunder roared. The wind howled and shrieked, driving the rain like piercing arrows. Floods covered all of Vrndavana’s fields and pastures. The men and animals shivered and trembled, and the cows bowed their heads and sheltered their calves beneath them. In complete helplessness all the residents of Vrndavana came to take refuge at Krishna’s lotus feet. They prayed, “O Krishna, You are very kind to Your devotees. Please protect us from Indra’s wrath.”
Sri Krishna said, “Indra is trying to prove his supremacy. He is puffed and arrogant with the power. It is time to teach him a lesson. I will take away his arrogance and bring him back to his senses.” With his tiny little finger, He lifted Govardhan Hill and asked all the vrndavan residents to come under His shelter. All the men, women, children and animals entered beneath the shelter of the great Govardhan Hill. Women used their sticks to render support to the Hill base. The vrndavan residents took refuge for seven days beneath Govardhan Hill and is it believed they did not feel hungry, thirsty or uncomfortable at any point. Such is the divine glory of Sri Krishna.
When King Indra, saw the little Krishna’s mystic powers, he was awestruck. He called off the threatening clouds and stopped strong winds as he realized there was a divine intervention protecting the Vrajvasis. The sky become clear and sun shone brightly. The storm was over. Krishna then asked the vrndavan residents to return to their homes. He then carefully placed Govardhan Hill exactly where it is today.
The demigods from the heavens sounded their conchshells, showered flowers and inhabitants of Vrndavana blessed Sri Krishna with all the love and reverence.
Indra accepting his defeat appeared before Sri Krishna in a secluded forest and his crown fell on Sri Krishna’s lotus feet. Indra said, “My dear lord, forgive me for being so ignorant. I have been an arrogant fool and beg You to forgive me with Your divine grace.” Indra bowed his head and pleaded Sri Krishna for His forgiveness. Sri Krishna accepted Indra’s apologies and asked him to return to His kingdom.
Sri Krishna was very pleased with the worship of Giriraj Govardhana, and hence the Earth became bountiful with natural gifts. The clean rivers nourished the trees and fields, trees bloomed with fragrant flowers and delicious fruits. The happy cows overflooded the land with their milk. The hills and mountains produced potent medicinal herbs and valuable jewels.
Such is the divinity of Govardhana Hill as it is same as Sri Krishna Himself. If you enjoyed reading about Sri Giriraj Govardhana, please drop a comment. It encourages me to wrote more. And do share this blog with your friends and family.
Jai Shri Krishna!