Why are the Pastimes in Govardhan superior to the Pastimes in Vrindavan?
Before Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur
left the world, he told his disciples to arrange a place for him in Govardhan
and that he would go there and do his bhajan
, his internal culture of direct seva
. And mysteriously one panda
, one of the locals who was arranging this, his name was Balaram, [he] was known as Balaram Panda. He had a vision on the evening of December 31st, January 1st 1930 [at] 6.37. He said, “I had a vision [that] Prabhupad
came here saying, “Balaram, I have come.” He said, “Is there some news about Prabhupad?” And he was told that he has just left the world.
So, one of the reasons he expressed this place [is] because it is the ultimate aspiration of all the Gaudiyas
in the Rupanuga line
“Giri-varam aho Rādhikā-Mādhavāśāṁ
,” (Mukta-charita: 4)
the aspiration to serve, Radha-dasyam, serve the holy lotus feet of Srimati Radharani
in that divine abode,
vṛndāvana haite śreṣṭha govardhana-śaila
giridhārī-gāndharvikā yathā krīḍā kaila
It’s mentioned again, Saraswati Thakur quoted in Prapanna-jivanamritam
of Srila Guru Maharaj
. [There is] always gradation. What is superior? What is higher? What is deeper? More profound? More yielding superior substance?
“Vṛndāvana haite śreṣṭha Govardhana-śaila
,” superior to Pastimes
are the Pastimes in Govardhan. Sometimes Srila Gurudeva would mention that in the upper world. Well, I should preface this by saying that Saraswati Thakur’s motto was: “Pūjalā rāgapatha gaurava bhaṅge
That the path of raga-marg
, the higher plane, that remains above and we take our position one step removed. In that he’s saying [that] from Govardhan, early in the morning in their divine forms, secret identity, the groups of assistants meet and collect flowers and they go from Govardhan to Radha-kunda
and serve in Radha-kunda and then return to Govardhan. So Govardhan is a special place, the ultimate special place for everyone aspiring in this line.
Why all the cowherd men were worshiping Indra?
And we just read in the Bhagavatam
, we’re told before [about] the significance of the wives of the brahmans
, the vipra-patnis
. They’re doing a yajna
and [are] approached by the cowherd boys in the name of Krishna
, they don’t yield anything and the wives give everything, including themselves.
So that’s just before, what? Another yajna is now taking place. Krishna and Balaram were wandering around—so that [was] one yajna, but now time has come for another yajna.
But what is this? Nanda Maharaj
, Krishna’s father and the other cowherd men are gathering all the ingredients together to perform Indra-puja, to worship Indra
. Indra means ‘King’ in Sanskrit.
The Indras actually have different names. It means the ‘King of Heaven’, in this context ‘The Rain God’, ‘The God of Natural Resources’, the rains the clouds etc.
Why are they doing this? Are they just foolish people, ignorant people? Or is this thoughtfully systematic? The modern idea [is that they] use words like ‘harness’: we need to harness the natural [energy]—that means like what you put on a horse to get them to go in a particular direction.
They are always talking about subduing nature, harnessing the forces of nature to make them serve man. This is the modern humanistic idea, but these are not just primitive peoples as the western eye, academic eye, racist eye likes to cast them—as just some ignorant people who don’t understand science and how things work.
No, they believe [that] we benefit from the sun, the moon, the air, the water, we’re benefiting from all of these natural resources, [so] some tribute should be offered, some recognition, [to show] that we appreciate the sun, we appreciate the moon.
Not that we are thinking, “How can we make the moon serve us, and the sun, serve us? We gotta get solar energy to serve man and the needs of man!”
Everything is always to serve the needs of man, that’s their idea of seva
. But here they’re thinking in a nice way, a very simple hearted but profound [and] natural way. They are thinking, “Well, we benefit from natural resources, including the rain: the rain comes and like we see here and then there is nice green grass, the cows eat the green grass, they convert the grass into milk and we’re cowherd people and with that milk we somehow eke out a living. We use what we need for ourselves and we trade it to others who make cloth and things, so to express our appreciation we do the Indra-puja—we worship Indra every year and offer so many things that are available to us and hoping that nice rains will come to make the nice grass, the sweet grass for the cows.”
Krishna wants to check the pride of Indra and reveal the glorious of Govardhan Hill
But everything that Krishna does is multipurpose, multidimensional. So, Krishna wants to achieve several things. One is to check the pride of Indra. No pride in the heart of a devotee
shall the Lord tolerate
. So, because of his big position he may become forgetful that he is also a jiva-soul
. Check the pride of Indra, that ahankar
of being the King of Heaven. Also [Krishna] wants to reveal the glories of Govardhan, Giri, Giriraj
, Adriraj—Mountain. That this specific mountain is unlike any other mountain, in fact—it’s Krishna Himself and Krishna in a unique way.
themselves sing in the Bhagavatam
hantāyam adrir abalā hari-dāsa-varyo
mānaṁ tanoti saha-go-gaṇayos tayor yat
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.21.18)
This Adrir-raj, Govardhan, the King of the mountain is “hari-dāsa-varyo,”—the best of the servants of Hari, of Krishna.
The parallel between Giriraj Govardhan and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
That’s very unique. Krishna’s realising [that He is] Govardhan, but here it says [that] Govardhan is also a servant. The Lord, and the Lord in the serving mood. Guru Maharaj
says [he is] like Mahaprabhu
, “Antaḥ Kṛṣṇaṁ bahir gauraṁ darśitāṅgādi-vaibhavam
,” (Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Ādi, 3.81)
Mahaprabhu is Krishna, but Krishna as a devotee of Krishna as well. So, he makes some parallel between Giriraj Govardhan and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
And those gopis
[are] saying, “yad Rāma-Kṛṣṇa charaṇa-sparaśa-pramdaḥ
,” by the touch of the lotus feet of Rama
, Giriraj Govardhan becomes very happy, very ecstatic and [they] are supplying so many necessities for service: the grass, waterfalls, caves all the different things that are necessary for divine Pastimes.
Krishna convinces everyone to worship Govardhan Hill
So, Krishna approaches Nanda Maharaj and the cowherd men, and he tells them in a naughty way. They’re jnana-sunya-bhaktas, they’re very simple hearted folk. Krishna can speak very sophisticated philosophy, although He is a seven year old boy and such personalities their age is determined as 1.5, so He’s like 11 or 12 for all intents and purposes. And He’s saying,
“What is this sacrifice that you’re doing?”—they’re getting everything ready. [They say],
“Oh, this is the annual Indra-yajna that we do every year.”
“Is it just a tradition you do and no-one really understands why, or is there some purpose behind it?”
And they explain what I’ve just told, “The rains come from Indra, that produces the green grass, the cows eat the grass, produce milk. We are cowherd folk, we make our living off of these things milk, butter, yogurt, curd—all that.”
And Krishna starts playing with their minds philosophically saying, “Well, actually it rains everywhere. It rains on the rocks, it rains on the road, it doesn’t just rain where there’s grass and if you say [that] you’ll do the sacrifice and then he’ll give the rain, then that means he’s not really in a position to do that—it’s dependent upon what you do.”
“So, that means that actually, work, karma
is the superior thing—this is the philosophy of karma-vada
, where people say, “I don’t know if there’s a God or not, but I know what’s right and what’s wrong—I do what’s right. And by doing what’s right, if there’s a God I’m doing the right thing and if there’s no God—I’m doing the right thing. So, doing the right thing is the ultimate thing.” [laughs]
That’s karma-vada and in that way they conveniently eliminate God. “God’s not a factor here, we’re just doing what’s right. You know what’s right, I know what’s right—let’s do that.” People get into arguments about God, religion, all these things—just forget about it. Just do what’s right. And if there is a God you’re doing the best thing and if there’s not you’re still doing the best thing. So, lets not get into all this God stuff.” That’s what Krishna’s telling them. [All Laugh]
He’s saying, “And also, that God who rewards activities: no activities—no reward. Then He can’t do anything, because you didn’t do what you’re supposed to do.”
He’s saying many many things, like that, and they’re listening. Krishna says, “Really, look, as cowherd people, go-wallahs, we get everything from Govardhan Hill, that’s where we get all the good grasses, the good waterfalls, the water, “pānīya-sūyavasa-kandara-kandamūlaiḥ
,” many things. Everything we need is there. So really what we should be doing—worship Govardhan and the cows.” He’s eliminated everyone else and put apart Govardhan and the cows. “So what we should do really, is just take all these ingredients that you’re collecting for the Indra-yajna and just offer it to Govardhan Hill. And worship the cows and worship the brahmans
too, because they are important.
govindāya namo namaḥ
(Viṣṇu Purāṇa: 1.19.65)
”So, worship the brahmans, cows and actually take care of everybody we should have a big festival: even the dog eaters the dogs—just feed everyone, and then with our cows circumambulate Govardhan Hill and we’re done. Then we’re good and everything will be fine.”
And Nanda Maharaj
is going, “Ok.” [laughs] They all agreed, they don’t even go [questioning]. Because Krishna’s so charming and sweet and attractive.
Once I saw a play in Vrindavan
. We usually don’t promote these things, but they have these children’s plays but in these children’s plays, you can imagine they’ve been doing this in India forever. So, some little child, looks like a Deity, is Krishna, another one is Radha
and it’s all in Hindi and they’re like: “[Maharaj imitates Hindi accent and speech].” [laughs] And then they’re talking, they decide all these things. They look like Radha and Krishna as children in a play, and they do all these Pastimes. But if they look cute and irresistible then you can imagine the original, how charming is Krishna.
And there we saw Radha and Krishna and they had lotus flowers and then Radha and Krishna gave Prabhupad
a lotus flower. Hare Krishna. They looked like Radha and Krishna giving Prabhupad a lotus flower which was very extraordinary. But, anyway, without any arguments, because they are jnana-sunya-bhaktas
, [they] don’t need to know or have a big discussion about it. [If] this is what Krishna wants—they do it.
Indra has fallen into Krishna's trap
They take all of that and make the Govardhan Puja, and Indra is so insulted and he thinks, “What is the audacity of this boy! To tell these people! They do this every year, they’ve done it every year forever and now he talks to them and tells them to stop my puja
and worship Govardhan Hill
. I need to teach these people a lesson!”
He’s fallen into Krishna’s trap, because it says, “Mahendra-mada-bhit
,” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.26.25)
you can say [that] Krishna is going to lift the mountain of ego of Indra and he’ll be better for it.
Indra sends clouds and rains to attack the devotees
So [for] Indra
, who are friends and resources? Hurricanes, clouds... You know, they have cloud 9, have you heard of cloud 9? In English, when things are going very nice, you say: oh I’m on cloud 9.
They’re actually a particular type of clouds. There are Cumulus, Stratus, Cirrus, many different types of clouds. But in Sanskrit they get into it, there are more, like Samvartaka—clouds that come in the world. There’re many different types of clouds.
So, Indra sends them all to Vrindavan [it] starts raining like it’s the end of the world, and all the cows are shivering, the waters rising and all the cowherd people. The cows are crying, the cowherd ladies and everyone are approaching Krishna, “Krishna! Listening to you, now look at what happened!” And Guru Maharaj made the point, that this is about Krishna consciousness: you try to move in the direction of Krishna consciousness
and suddenly the world is against you. [laughs]
Krishna lifts Govardhan Hill and gives shelter to everyone underneath
Like Guru Maharaj’ve said, “They’re not going to have a parade when you say: I’m now going to try to become a devotee
of Krishna. They are not going to say: oh, now we’re going to have a parade on Thursday! Celebrating this wonderful [news].” They might be having a parade in the spiritual world
, but in this world they’re just thinking [to] send the clouds.
All different types of opposition to your attempts to follow the inspiration
we get from Krishna. And what do they come in the form of? We have heard Guru Maharaj say: acquired tendencies, Prejudice
, all these things [will] come: oh, you shouldn’t do that, look, you have live in the world, and get a job, an education, and don’t take these spiritual things too seriously.
At any rate the place is being inundated, thunder, lightening, raining and all the Vraja-vasis
are in distress, and Krishna’s in His house actually. They are coming, [knocking and calling,]: “Mother Yashoda
, we need to talk to Krishna right away!” [laughs] Krishna comes, He’s wearing a turban, it looks very nice, and He has different types of sakti
(fulfilling His desires), lila-sakti
and there’s samhariki-sakti
[which] makes a path from His house to Govardhan Hill so He doesn’t get a drop of water on His clothes or His turban. It’s not like He is there [getting wet]—nothing, totally pure path. And then Krishna goes. Why? “Vraja-jana-pālana asura-kula-nāśana
protecting His devotees.
deve varṣati yajña-viplava-ruṣā vajrāsma-varṣānilaiḥ
sīdat-pāla-paśu-striy ātma-śaraṇaṁ dṛṣṭvānukampy utsmayan utpāṭyaika-kareṇa
śailam abalo līlochchhilīndhraṁ yathā
bibhrad goṣṭham apān mahendra-mada-bhit prīyān na indro gavām
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.26.25)
The gostham, go-sthita the place where the cows stay the gosthi. Krishna comes and with His left hand lifts up the Govardhan Hill and calls everyone to take shelter underneath. Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur says, “What about those who were on the top already?” [laughs] He said [that] they go above the clouds, so where they are the sun is shining, it’s very nice.
All the Vraja-vasis
, everyone comes underneath and we know that for seven days Krishna is holding that and all the gopi
-girls are very impressed, and Mother Yasoda is very worried, [thinking], “How can he hold it for so long?” Other cowherd men are there [holding sticks and calling], “I think we need more sticks over there in the corner!” “Yeah, alright!” [laughs]
They’re men! They know how to do these things. [laughs] Like you see how they hold up building [sounds of exertion]. They really think they’re doing it. And Krishna is there, and Mother Yashoda [is] pushing butter in His mouth for strength. [laughs] Krishna [is] looking out of the corner of His eye to Radharani and [the] Vraja-gopis
and sometimes starts to tremble! A little drama. [laughs]
But [after] seven days, Indra has some realisation. [He] stops all the rains and the clouds, he’s feeling so foolish, because the aprakrita-lila
of Krishna is very difficult to understand. “Muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ
,” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.1.1)
it says in the beginning of the Bhagavatam
: the devas
are bewildered. [In] the very first verse it says that: “muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ
,” the suras
are bewildered in trying to understand Krishna. So, from that one statement there will come the Brahma-vimohan-lila
, from one statement will come the Indra— the Govardhan Pastime and many other things.
How can Krishna lift a mountain?
So, everything stops, and Krishna says, “Now, it’s ok everybody can go home.” They go home, [and] Krishna puts it [back] exactly where it was. [When someone asked], “Well how can you go that?”—there are many different ways you can do it actually, but Guru Maharaj said, just to give an example, [that] when we would see the men going into outer space or they would go on the moon
and they start hoping around or lifting up things that are very heavy here are very light there, why? Because of gravity. So, Krishna’s controlling gravity, it was mentioned earlier in the Bhagavatam
[in] Pralambasura Chapter. Like they have string theory now, talking about strings (let’s not get into it), but there it says [that] yes, strings are going this way and strings are going that way. They weave and that’s how everything is held up. This already is as a side remark in the Pralambasura Chapter.
But Guru Maharaj is saying, “Krishna can release [it], He has control on gravity, He can release it. So that suddenly it’s practically floating.” Achintya-sakti
, how can we think we’re going to understand anything about God, if we’re always going to try to measure with our little brain. Saraswati Thakur
called it ‘puppy brain’. When you see puppies they go [Maharaj imitates puppies and how they are eating], but sometimes it’s stool. They start biting into stool, they don’t know the difference between stool and food. Puppy brain.
So, with a ‘puppy brain’ we’re talking about God, and God can do this, or not do that, or “Is there a God?” and all that. This is all foolish, and silly. So, we have to offer ourselves, saying, “If you want to reveal something to me, please do!” Seva
. “Pariprasnena sevaya
,” (Bhagavad-gītā: 4.34)
out of service necessity. Nanda Maharaj, [and others] don’t start quizzing Krishna, grilling Krishna, they’re just inclined because they’re irresistible drawn in attraction for Him to do what He wants.
Then Krishna tells everyone, “Now, lets have a big festival and circumambulate Govardhan Hill with the cows and calfs.” So, they have the Govardhan Puja, and they see [that] everyone is making things and offering them [to Him] to eat and Krishna is also amongst the group making offerings, but then suddenly they see that the Govardhan Hill is Krishna, and arms start coming out.
In one place a really long arm comes out to accept an offering, in another place a little arm, thousands of arms, millions of arms,
sarvataḥ pāṇi-pādaṁ tat
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke
sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati
Krishna and Govardhan—same and different
say this [and] now He’s demonstrating it. All these arms! And then He’s eating everything. And so they’re [looking at Krishna and at Govardhan]—same-same, but different, achintya-bhedabheda
: Krishna is Govardhan Hill and He’s Krishna! And it’s that Govardhan Hill where later Madhavendra Puri
installs Gopal, Sri-Nath-jiu Gopal. He’s in that position.
Guru Maharaj is saying [that] the materialists are always trying to see the infinite as finite. To explain away the mysterious. Whereas devotional culture is to see the infinite
in the finite. To trace everything back to the central conception of the infinite, which is the aprakrita-lila
So, infinite and finite means, we take one stone from Govardhan [and it is] full Govardhan. Whether it’s the one that Mahaprabhu
gave to Ragunath Das Goswami
, if we believe those pujaris
at Gokulananda it’s this big [Maharaj indicates something small in size]. And they say from keeping [it] on his heart, there was [a] thumb print. It was like that, fully Giriraj
. Our Giriraj Govardhan [and] so many [others].
The Appearance of 'Junior Giriraj'
got land in Govardhan, they’re digging up to make buildings and then they find this giant stone! And they bring in old people, and they look and they verify, that it’s also Giriraj. It was discovered right on the land, the big Giriraj. But Gurudev, ever perfect in his movements [and] thinking thought: we’re in Govardhan, we’re not competing, there have been Giriraj in Govardhan for thousands of creations
, what to speak of thousands of years and people go to certain places. So, his Giriraj there, he gave that and Guru Maharaj's bhajan-dayita
of Dayita Das Saraswati Thakur
—everything perfect. He called [Him] Anu Giriraj, because anu
means ‘Junior Giriraj’ to give respect to all the other Girirajs, that’s how perfect is the thinking and the type of sweet, loving devotional mood in the heart of Srila Gurudev
, not to try and overshadow anyone, but like humbly say: our Giriraj [is] Anu Giriraj. Although He’s very big, which is also humourous.
Why are we aspire for the shelter of Gupta Govardhan?
So, here also we have Giriraj Govardhan and we like to be eternally under the shelter of Srila Guru Maharaj’s conception. He went to Nabadwip
bibhrat sambhāti gaṅgā-taṭa-nikaṭa-navadvīpa-kolādri-rāje
, Kolerdanga is an old name for the Math area. When we first went, when you go to the train station, you want to go to Chaitanya Saraswata Math
, you just say ‘Kolerdanga Math’. Now they say ‘Jol Mandir’, but in those days we’d say Kolerdanga Math and they’d know. The place called Kolerdang, means Kuliya means Nabadwip, the original Nabadwip.
And Guru Maharaj said, that Kolerdanga used to be very high, like a Hill [and] the spiritual experts have said [that] there’s Vrindavan and there’s a parallel in Nabadwip. So it means [that] Nabadwip is Gupta Vrindavan, ‘gupta’ means hidden, so there’s Gupta Govardhan, so that place there is identified as Govardhan.
That’s why he says: where’s the location of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math? “Bibhrat sambhāti Gaṅgā-taṭa
,” on the banks of the Ganga, “Navadvīpa-Kolādri-rāje
,” Adriraj means Gupta Govardhan. On the banks of Gupta Govardhan in Nabadwip, which is also the aparadh-bhajaner-pat
, where all the offenders were forgiven their offences, so how perfect is that? And here we like to be eternally sheltered under that conception of Srila Guru Maharaj, so this place will also be known as Gupta Govardhan
, and we have our Giriraj Govardhan, and within view: you can look out the window and see a represention of Govardhan, and we like that, and our program here is a little hidden, [laughs] a little gupta
by nature. Theistic media studios where we’re trying to extend the grace, the mercy of Giriraj Govardhan through digital media, in many different ways, so we like to keep our focus in that way.
There’s the famous saying of Christ
about Saint Peter, and here I’m not about to explain to Russian people what Russian words mean, but in English there’s a word ‘petrified’, ‘petra’ means like ‘rock’, so Peter comes from ‘petra’, it means rock. What is the word for rock in Russian?
Audience: [Russian] Камень.
Goswami Maharaj: All right, so it doesn’t work. Forget it, it doesn’t matter what it means. I’m telling you something different. In english ‘petra’ means ‘rock’, like ‘petrified’. Christ said, “On this rock I build my church,” meaning Peter, because of ‘petra’, forget about Ruskii right now, these are just other words.
So, on the Giriraj Govardhan conception, is our church, on this conception we build our church, on Gupta Govardhan. And that means magnanimous distribution, as well. And we can speak about that maybe more this evening.
Jaya Giriraj Govardhan ki jaya! Govardhan Puja Maha-Mahotsava Tithi ki jaya!