THE RITUAL OF GOVARDHAN PUJA IN VRINDAVAN - ISKCON Kolkata

THE RITUAL OF GOVARDHAN PUJA IN VRINDAVAN
Govardhana Puja is celebrated in the month of Kartika (October – November) to commemorate the pastime of Lord Sri Krishna lifting the Govardhan Hill to protect the residents of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra.
When the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna saw the residents of Vrindavana preparing for Indra-yajna, He suggested that they should forgo the worship of Indra and instead worship the Govardhana Hill. On coming to know of this, Indra became angry and sent a devastating rainfall over Vrindavana. Krishna picked up the Govardhana Hill with His little finger and it gave shelter to all the inhabitants of Vrindavana. Indra became conscious of his offense and begged for forgiveness from Krishna. Thus the Supreme Lord established that a devotee who is surrendered to the Supreme Lord and engaged in devotional service is free from all obligations and need not worship any demigods for material favors. This pastime is known as Govardhana Lila and is described in the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.
As per the instructions of Krishna and following in the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavana, this festival is celebrated every year in the month of Kartika. Devotees prepare varieties of foodstuffs with grain and ghee (like rice, dhal, halva, pakora, puri, etc.) and all kinds of milk preparations (such as sweet rice, rabri, sweet balls, sandesh, rasagulla and laddu). The food is stacked like a small hill and offered to the Lord. Then it is distributed to everyone as prasadam. Hence, this festival is also called Annakut Festival.
Devotees also worship the cows on the day of Govardhana Puja. Krishna is known as Gopala – the protector of cows. There is also a prayer in Vishnu Purana (1.19.65) that states: namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca. Here Krishna is described as the well-wisher of the cows and the brahmanas. The cows are decorated and fed well. Keeping the cows in front, devotees circumambulate the Govardhana Hill.
The Deity of Lord Sri Krishna is decorated in Giridhari alankara, holding the Govardhana Hill on the little finger of His left hand. The devotees of ISKCON KOLKATA make a replica of Govardhana Hill with egg-less cakes and a variety of cookies prepared in the temple’s own bakery. The Govardhana cake is offered to the Deities of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama and later distributed to all the devotees. The cows are well decorated and offered worship. An arati is performed for Gopala, the protector of the cows. Devotees sing various songs like Yashomati Nandana. The Govardhana pastime is narrated to everyone. A grand arati is performed for Krishna Balarama while the devotees sing Shri Govardhanashtakam – eight verses glorifying the Govardhana Hill.

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REASON FOR GOVARDHAN LILA

It is stated in the Chaitanya Charitamrita (a biographical account of the Life and Teachings of Lord Chaitanya written by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami) that a devotee who is engaged in the service of Krishna is free from all obligations. He has no other duty to perform. He need not perform any ritualistic functions enjoined in the Vedas; nor is he required to worship any demigods. Krishna wanted to firmly establish this principle during His presence in Vrindavana.
When Krishna saw the residents of Vrindavana arranging for Indra-yajna (a traditional ceremony to please Indra, the chief-of-demigods, who is responsible for supplying water) He suggested that they forgo the worship of Indra and instead worship Govardhana Hill.
When Indra understood that the sacrifice which was to be offered by the cowherd men in Vrindavana had been stopped by Krishna, he became angry. He ordered Samvartaka (the cloud of devastation) to go over Vrindavana and inundate the whole area with an extensive flood. Riding on his elephant Airavata, he personally came to punish the inhabitants of Vrindavana.

Ordered by King Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrindavana and began to pour water incessantly, with all their strength and power. There was constant lightning and thunder, blowing of severe wind, and incessant falling of rain. The rain seemed to fall like piercing sharp arrows.
All the inhabitants of Vrindavana prayed to the Supreme Lord Krishna and took shelter at His lotus feet. Lord Krishna immediately picked up Govardhana Hill with one hand, and asked everyone to come under the umbrella of Govardhana Hill along with their properties and animals. For one week, they remained there without being affected by hunger, thirst or any other discomforts. Indra was astonished to see the little boy Krishna holding the Govardhana Hill on His little finger and protecting Vrindavana from the devastating rainfall. He immediately called for all the clouds and asked them to desist. The sky became completely cleared of all clouds and there was sunrise again, the strong wind stopped. All the inhabitants of Vrindavana came out and Krishna replaced the Govardhana Hill in its place.
Indra, the King of heaven, became conscious of his offense before Krishna; therefore he stealthily appeared before Him and immediately fell down at the lotus feet of Krishna and offered his prayers.

GOVARDHAN ASHTAKAM
PARA 1
krsna-prasadena samasta-shaila-
samrajyam apnoti cha vairino ‘pi
sakrashya yah prapa balim sa sakshad
govardhano me dishatam abhistam
May Govardhana Hill, which by Krishna’s mercy became the king of all mountains and received the respectful tribute of its arch-enemy Indra, fulfill my desire.
PARA 2
sva-prestha-hastambuja-saukumarya-
sukhanubhuter ati-bhumi-vrtteh
mahendra-vajrahatim apy ajanam
govardhano me dishatam abhistam
As it was held above the earth it became so filled with happiness by experiencing the softness of its beloved Krishna’s lotus hand it did not even know it was being struck by Indra’s thunderbolt. May Govardhana Hill fulfill my desire.
PARA 3
yatraiva krsno vrshabhanu-putrya
danam grhitum kalaham vitene
sruteh sprha yatra mahaty atah sri-
govardhano me dishatam abhistam
Trying to collect a toll, Krishna quarreled with King Vrishabhanu’s daughter. The personified Vedas yearn to listen to that quarrel. May Govardhana Hill fulfill my desire.
PARA 4
snatva sarah svasu samira-hasti
yatraiva nipadi-paraga-dhulih
alolayan khelati charu sa sri-
govardhano me disatam abhistam
Bathing in a nearby lake, the elephant of a pleasant breeze, covered with pollen of kadamba and other flowers, gracefully plays there. May Govardhana Hill fulfill my desire.
PARA 5
kasturikabhih sayitam kim atrety
uham prabhoh svasya muhur vitanvan
naisargika-sviya-shila-sugandhair
govardhano me dishatam abhistam
Does the sweet fragrance of Govardhana come from the musk deer who relax there? From the Lord who plays there? Or is it Govardhana’s own natural scent? May Govardhana Hill fulfill my desire.
PARA 6
vamsha-pratidhvany-anusara-vartma
didrkshavo yatra harim harinyah
yantyo labhante na hi vismitah sa
govardhano me dishatam abhistam
Searching there for Lord Hari on the path of His flute music, the astonished deer do not find Him. May Govardhana Hill fulfill my desire.
PARA 7
yatraiva gangam anu navi radham
arohya madhye tu nimagna-naukah
krsno hi radhanugalo babhau sa
govardhano me dishatam abhistam
As the Divine Couple traveled on the Ganges there, the boat began to sink in the middle. Krishna was splendidly handsome as Radha clung to His neck. May Govardhana Hill fulfill my desire.
PARA 8
vina bhavet kim hari-dasa-varya-
padashrayam bhaktir atah shrayami
yam eva saprema nijesayoh sri-
govardhano me dishatam abhistam
Without taking shelter of the feet of the hill that is the best of Lord Hari’s servants and full of love for the divine king and queen, how is it possible to attain pure devotional service? May Govardhana Hill fulfill my desire.
PARA 9
etat pathed yo hari-dasa-varya-
mahanubhavashtakam ardra-cetah
sri-radhika-madhavayoh padabja-
dasyam sa vinded achirena sakshat
May the reader of these eight verses glorifying Lord Hari’s greatest servant, his heart melting with pure love, quickly attain direct service to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.

 

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