We are gathered on the auspicious occasion of Sri Govardhana-puja at the feet of Sri Giriraja Govardhana. Many of you may know the history, related in Srimad-Bhagavatam: One day Sri Krishna noticed that the cowherd men were collecting paraphernalia for worship. As the omniscient Supersoul, the Lord already understood the whole situation. Still, as a matter of etiquette, He humbly inquired from His elders, headed by Nanda Maharaja, what their purpose was. He said that no secrets should be kept by saintly persons, and certainly not from friends and relatives. Nanda Maharaja answered that the paraphernalia was being gathered for the worship of King Indra, because King Indra sends rains that sustain all creatures.
Krishna proceeded to give many arguments against the Indra-yajna, and although many of the arguments came in the category of Karma-mimamsa, which is not really the philosophy of Srimad-Bhagavatam or Krishna consciousness, Krishna put them forward just to stop the impending sacrifice and curb Indra’s false pride. Then Lord Krishna proposed that the paraphernalia for the worship of Indra be used for the worship of the cows, the brahmans, and Govardhana Hill. And as will be revealed later in the pastime, Krishna demonstrated that Govardhana Hill was actually Krishna Himself.
Now I shall read a few verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam in which Lord Krishna explains the worship of Govardhana Hill that He wanted the Vraja-vasis to perform.
Canto 10, Chapter 24, “Worshiping Govardhana Hill”:
na nah puro janapada
na grama na grha vayam
vanaukasas tata nityam
My dear father, our home is not in the cities or towns or villages. Being forest dwellers, we always live in the forest and on the hills.
Lord Krsna here points out that the residents of Vrndavana should recognize their relationship with Govardhana Hill and with the forests of Vrndavana, and not worry about a distant demigod like Indra. Having concluded His argument, Lord Krsna makes a radical proposal in the following verse.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
Indra is one of the powerful demigods. The Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other scriptures explain that there is one Supreme Lord, Krishna (isvarah paramah krsnah), but that He has many powerful servants whom He entrusts with the management of different universal affairs. Thus, Krishna is like the king and the demigods are like His ministers. As in the ordinary world there is a minister or secretary in charge of energy, so there are demigods in charge of various necessities of life. For example, Indra is in charge of the rain, Vayu is in charge of the air, and Varuna is in charge of the waters. The goddess Sarasvati is in charge of knowledge and culture and music. And on another level, Brahma is in charge of creation, and Shiva is in charge of destruction. These different demigods are servants of Krishna, just as ministers are servants of the king.
If we pray to a demigod or worship a demigod, he may give us some material boon, but in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that such worship is avidhi-purvakam, not proper, and that such worship is actually meant for Him. Because Krishna is in the heart of every living entity, He is also in the hearts of all the demigods. So even if we pray to a demigod, the demigod has no power to grant the prayer without the sanction of Krishna within the heart. In other words, the demigods are not independent.
When we chant the holy name, we’re advised to avoid certain offenses (nama-aparadhas). The first is to blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the holy name. And another offense is to consider the names of demigods, even the most powerful ones such as Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, to be equal to or independent of the names of Lord Vishnu. So, the demigods are not equal to Krishna, or Vishnu, and they’re not independent of Him. If we think that they are on the same level, we are involved in committing an offense. And if we commit offenses when we chant the holy name, we don’t get the result that we’re meant to get from chanting.
Generally, impersonalists think that the demigods are equal to Krishna; they think that the Supreme ultimately is impersonal and that the same impersonal One comes in various forms—as Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Durga, or Ganesh. And they say that ultimately one has to go beyond these different forms to merge and become one with the impersonal God, or Brahman. But devotees find such a proposal to be repugnant, because the life and bliss of a devotee come in serving the Lord. If the devotee were to merge and become one with the effulgence of God, then where would be the chance for service? Therefore, great devotees pray that they would rather live in hell than merge into the brahmajyoti, because at least in hell they can serve and glorify Krishna, which is their real happiness and life.
So, whether one is an impersonalist who thinks that we are actually meant to go beyond the different forms and merge into and become one with the impersonal effulgence of God, or whether one is just an ordinary materialist who thinks that there are many equal gods who bestow different benedictions and that according to the particular benediction one wants, one can choose a particular god to worship and get the result, the fact remains the same: Krishna is the Supreme Godhead, and all others are His servants (ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya [Cc Adi 5.142]). Pure devotees have no desire to gain any material reward for their worship. They just want to serve Krishna in love, for His pleasure. And the happiness they get from such pure devotional service far exceeds—by millions and trillions of times—even the happiness that one can get from impersonal liberation, what to speak of the insignificant happiness one can get from material facilities in this world of death.
So, devotees simply want to serve Krishna in love, and the residents of Vrindavan agreed to worship Govardhana Hill not because of all the arguments that Krishna gave, but because of their love for Him. As mentioned, Krishna’s arguments were really meant to provoke Indra and ultimately to curb his false pride. Otherwise, the devotees of Vrindavan were so in love with Krishna that they would do whatever He wanted just to please Him, out of love. No other reason was required. And that is the specific qualification of the devotees of Vrindavan: they love Krishna naturally and spontaneously, not because He is God. They do not place any condition, that if Krishna is God we will love Him but if He is not God we will not love Him. They don’t even bother about whether He’s God or not. They just love Him as the beautiful son of Nanda and Yasoda, and just to please Him they are ready to do whatever He wants.
Continue reading »