Photo Tour Report
On October 16th, after a successful parikrama of many holy places in Vrndavana, over one thousand pilgrims participating in the Vraja Mandala Parikrama moved from Vrndavana to Govardhana, to Sri Sri Giridhari Gaudiya Matha, where they will reside until the end of Kartika on November 2nd.
On October 17th all the pilgrims performed parikrama of the long side of Govardhana, where Dan Ghati, Dan-nivartana Kunda, Govinda Kunda, Rasa-sthali, Raghava Pandita’s cave, and Surabhi Kunda are situated.
Above: Navala and Apsara kundas, at the tip end of Giriraja Govardhana. They are the liquid forms of Srimati Radharani (Apsara) and Sri Krsna (Navala).
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja met the parikrama party at Surabhi Kunda, where he spoke a few words to the parikrama pilgrims in his eager audience and then took prasadam with them all. By radio transmitter and headphones, his Hindi hari-katha was simultaneously translated into English by Akhilesh dasa Adhikari. And from English, by the same process, it was simultaneously translated into Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, and other languages.
He said, “Don’t come to Govardhana with any material desires. Some people make piles of bricks (representing an opulent home) and pray for a house; some tie together two branches of a tree with a cloth, and pray to marry a good spouse. Don’t ask anything from Giriraja Govardhana. Whatever you ask him for, he will give; but if someone asks nothing from him, that person is personally followed by him. If material facilities are desired, like a son, wealth, or marriage, he gives that. If, on the other hand, someone wants to become Srimati Radhika’s maidservant, he fulfills that also, but only after a lot of consideration of that person’s qualification.
“We are performing Govardhana parikrama. We went to Krsna’s rasa-sthali (the place of His rasa dance), and now we have come to Surabhi Kunda. On the way we went to Dan Ghati, where Krsna extracted tax from the gopis. Then we went to the place where the gopis took revenge. You must have heard the pastimes of these places when you were there.
“After that, the parikrama party went to Govinda Kunda, which is where the demigod Indra worshipped Krsna. Indra had developed some pride because he felt he was the provider of rain for the Vrajavasis. On the request of child Krsna, Indra’s worship was stopped and the paraphernalia which was to be used for Indra was offered to Govardhana instead. Greatly angered, Indra ordered the clouds that were generally engaged for universal destruction to shower torrential rains upon Vrndavana’s inhabitants.
“At that time, in order to save Vraja, Krsna lifted Giriraja Govardhana on His left hand for seven days and seven nights, like an umbrella. After all the Vrajavasis entered beneath Giriraja, Indra sent some messengers to see if all of Vraja was destroyed. Instead of seeing destruction, the messengers saw that everyone was very peaceful, enjoying dancing and singing. They saw that the dust was blowing, which meant the atmosphere under Govardhana was dry.
“Indra thought, ‘I have been told that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but I did not listen. He then went to Brahmaji, who told him, ‘You have committed a mistake, and I have also made some mistakes in the past. If you take with you a surabhi cow of Vrndavana, and properly apologize, then you will be excused for your offense.’
“Indra then went there with a surabhi cow and his own elephant, Airavata, whose trunk was filled with Ganga water, and there he performed abhiseka of Krsna. Indra gave Krsna the name Govinda there, which has many meanings. One meaning is: ‘He who is protecting and increasing the happiness of the cows.’
“Sankarsana kunda was also made nearby. Sandilya Rsi and Krsna’s grandson Vajranabha also made many ponds and installed Deities in Vraja. They developed Vraja in many ways, and in modern times we are also protecting Vraja. Our doctor from Mathura, Dr. Sanjaya, has now developed this kunda beautifully. The kunda’s water was very dirty before. Dr. Sanjaya had a desire that many people from many places would come here, so he had the kunda dug up and many beautiful stone stairs constructed. He is also offering us prasadam today.”
Dipavali, *[See endnote 1] the festival of lights, was celebrated on the evening of October 17th. All the devotees went to Manasi Ganga after evening class and offered their lamps to Manasi Ganga.
The Annakuta festival *[See Endnote 2] was held on October 18th. After morning class Srila Maharaja worshipped Mother Cow, as well as the brahmanas and Vaisnavas.
Srila Maharaja performing abhiseka of Sri Giriraja (bathing with water, milk, yogurt, sugar and honey).
Srila Maharaja has been giving class mornings and evenings. In the evening he continues to speak on the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the morning he is speaking on the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam – the history of the disappearance of Krsna’s associates from this world, and Krsna’s instructions to His associate Uddhava, which Srila Maharaja said has even more specialities than Bhagavad-gita.
[*Endnote 1 (from Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja’s lecture in Varsana, Vrndavana, India, on October 12, 1996)
Dipavali means a time of happiness. When Lord Rama defeated Ravana and reached Ayodhya, a big Dipavali festival was performed there. Sri Vamanadeva wanted to cheat Bali Maharaja. He did not cheat him; rather, He gave His mercy although it seemed that He was cheating. When Bali Maharaja was offered a benediction from the Lord, he requested, “Always remain in my home.” In this way the Lord Himself was ‘cheated.’ Lord Vamanadeva was very glad and He agreed to stay there forever. Due to great happiness, Bali Maharaja then asked all his associates to hold a Dipavali festival, and that was the first Dipavali. When Krsna defeated Duryodhana and returned to Dvaraka, a Dipavali was also celebrated there.
Lord Krsna, along with Mother Yasoda, Nanda Baba, and all the other Vrajavasis came to Manasa-ganga and personally celebrated this festival. In other words, they themselves offered dipa (a lighted ghee wick) and rendered many other services.
Dipavali also means light. If there is no bhajana of Krsna there is darkness, and in Krsna Consciousness there is light. We celebrate this function in order to give up darkness and bring the light of bhakti, pure devotion. This is the same celebration. Real happiness comes from playing karatalas and mrdangas. If one hears this, maya will go away at once. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu brought the sankirtana movement to this world to drive out maya. Sri Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu celebrate this Dipavali Themselves, and we should try to follow Them.
[*Endnote 2 (from Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja’s lecture in Badger, California, May 18, 2003]
Today is Annakuta Mohotsava, a very auspicious day. This day is observed in India during the month of Kartika. Many of Krsna's other sweet pastimes were also performed in the month of Kartika. In this month, under the guidance of Nanda Baba, the Vrajavasis observed Govardhana puja. They did this having given up the puja of Indradeva, and that resulted in Krsna lifting Govardhana Hill on His little finger. Yasoda-devi bound Krsna in this very month, which is how the song Sri Damodarastakam originated. Kartika is also the month in which Krsna and the gopis performed Saradiya Rasa (Autumn rasa-lila).
After Krsna lifted Giri Govardhana, Indra understood that his torrential rain would have no effect, and thus he began to repent his actions. He thought that Krsna would punish him, and that the only way to save himself would be to take shelter of Surabhi cow. Surabhi would be able to please Krsna. She would pray to Krsna on his behalf, "Please excuse him." No one else would be able to achieve this. Krsna considers Himself the servant of the cows and always supports them. It would therefore be easy for Surabhi to please Him. If Surabhi would not go, Krsna would not be pacified and would therefore punish him. Indra thus took shelter of Surabhi, walking behind her, and they both approached Krsna.
Krsna said, "Oh, Mother, you have come!" Surabhi said, "Yes. I have brought my son with me. I request that You please excuse him." Surabhi began to supply large quantities of milk. Indra, the demigods, and the great sages present then began the abhisheka (bath) of Krsna, just as we did here today. Krsna then became very happy and said, "In the future I don't want to have to tolerate your nonsense activities. For your own good you should go to Navadvipa, and there, in the company of Surabhi, perform austerities. In that way you will be excused." Indra thus understood that Krsna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Until the time of that abhiseka, Krsna was known as Yasoda-nandana and Nanda-nandana Krsna. Now, He would also be known as Govinda. “Go” indicates gopa, gopi, go (cow), govatsa (calf) and Veda. Krsna gives pleasure to all these “gos” and He also protects them; therefore His name is Govinda. Govinda and Govardhana are in the same line. He has the same duty and the same function as Giriraja Govardhana (vardhana means ‘to nourish’).
Now our Govardhana-puja is completed. Giriraja is Krsna Himself; and moreover, He has come from the heart of Radhika. He can fulfill our every desire very easily, and he can even give krsna-prema. He very rarely does so, but he can.
We should also remember that the Annakuta Mohotsava was also performed by Srila Madhavendra Puripada, as we saw in the drama play. Madhavendra Puri went to Vrajabumi,Vrndavana, and there he stayed on the banks of Govinda-kunda at Govardhana. One day, after taking his bath, he sat beneath a tree on the banks of Govinda-Kunda. Krsna came there in the form of a cowherd boy and said to him, "Oh, why are you sitting here starving? No one starves here. My mother has sent some milk. Please drink it."
Madhavendra Puri thought, "Throughout my entire life I have never been attracted by any human, and especially to any lady, but now I am attracted to this boy. Who is He?" He took the milk and he began to weep, his heart melting. Then he cried, "Oh! That cowherd boy was actually Krsna, and now He has left me." And he wept bitterly.
In the last part of the night Madhavendra Puri had a dream. In that dream he saw that same boy, that very Gopala, come to him and say, "I have been waiting in this bush for you for a very long time; and now you have come. I’m feeling very hungry and very hot. Please make a temple for Me, and perform My abhiseka ceremony and Annakuta festival (the festival in which there is cooked rice stacked like a small mountain) so that I shall feel satisfied." When Madhavendra Puri awoke, he fixed his mind on executing the order of the Lord. After his morning bath he gathered some of the villagers and together they went to the kunja where Gopala was waiting, and that kunja is still there today, nearby Govardhana. After clearing away the thick bushes, they very easily dug Him out and took Him to the top of Govardhana Hill. They erected a throne from stones there – one piece for the seat and one to support Him from behind. Then they began to worship Him.
Annakuta was performed for several months. Many wealthy persons from Mathura heard that Gopala had arrived and they became very happy. They brought all types of paraphernalia, such as gold, cloth, scents and bhoga. Cooking was performed for Thakurji daily, and for many months hundreds of thousands of people honored the maha-prasadam of Gopala at that place.
After two years, Gopala again came in a dream to Madhavendra Puri and said, "I’m satisfied by your offerings, but My body is still hot. Can you bring malaya-candana sandalwood from Jagannatha Puri?" Thus, Madhavendra Puri once again set off to fulfill the desires of the Lord.
We are very lucky to be in the line of Madhavendra Puri. Every year in the month of Kartika, we observe the Annakuta Mohotsava (festival) of Giriraja Govardhana, and hundreds of devotees attend. There we worship Giriraja Govardhana Himself, not one piece (as Govardhana-sila). Actually, although a piece of Govardhana and Govardhana Hill Himself are one, still, Govardhana Hill in Vrndavana has a special glory.
In Vrndavana we worship Govardhana with many pounds of milk, ghee, and yogurt, with many types of preparations – even more than here in Badger. Many of you have been to our Kartika-vrata and have personally seen this festival. We are fortunate to take part. We will continue to perform this festival every year; and we will do so until our life in this world is over. We cannot obtain pure bhakti without the mercy of Govardhana.
Many sweet pastimes take place at Govardhana. For example, Srimati Radhika, Lalita and Visakha and the other gopis are on their way to the fire sacrifice of Bhaguri Rsi. During their journey there is a discussion with Krsna, in which Krsna tries to check them and make them pay a toll tax. Later the gopis defeat Him, and He has to apologize. There is so much history there, and it is all coming in our mind and hearts.
Wherever you are, you can worship Giriraja by mind and pray:
samrajyam apnoti ca vairino pi
sakrasya yah prapa balim sa saksad
govardhano me disatam abhistam
"May Govardhana Hill fulfill my deepest desire – to attain the darsana of Sri Radha and Krsna’s lilas. By Sri Krsna’s mercy Govardhana became the emperor of all mountains and received the offerings meant for Indra despite Indra’s enmity."
(Sri Govardhanastakam, verse 1)
yatraiva krsno vrsabhanu-putrya
danam grhitum kalaham vitene
sruteh sprha yatra mahaty atah sri
govardhano me disatam abhistam
"Demanding a tax, Krsna quarreled for several hours at Dan Ghati with the daughter of Vrsabhanu Maharaja. Even the Srutis (Vedas personified), who should be heard, are eager to hear that sweet prema quarrel. May that Govardhana fulfill my desire that I also can hear that verbal battle." (Sri Govardhanastakam, verse 3)
These prayers will do as much for you as worshipping Govardhana Himself because there are many moods contained within them. Try to pray in this way. This is bhajana.