24. Worshiping Govardhana Hill
24 / Worshiping Govardhana Hill
While engaged with the brähmaëas who were too involved in the performance of Vedic sacrifices, Kåñëa and Balaräma also saw that the cowherd men were preparing a similar sacrifice in order to pacify Indra, the King of heaven, who is responsible for supplying water. As stated in the Caitanya-caritämåta, a devotee of Kåñëa has strong and firm faith in the understanding that if he is simply engaged in Kåñëa consciousness and Kåñëa's transcendental loving service, then he is freed from all other obligations. A pure devotee of Lord Kåñëa doesn't have to perform any of the ritualistic functions enjoined in the Vedas; nor is he required to worship any demigods. Being a devotee of Lord Kåñëa, one is understood to have performed all kinds of Vedic rituals and all kinds of worship to the demigods. Just by performing the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies or worshiping the demigods, one does not develop devotional service for Kåñëa but one who is engaged fully in the service of the Lord has already finished all Vedic injunctions.
Kåñëa ordered a stop to all such activities by His devotees, for He wanted to firmly establish exclusive devotional service during His presence in Våndävana. Kåñëa knew that the cowherd men were preparing for the Indra sacrifice beause He is the omniscient Personality of Godhead, but as a matter of etiquette, He began to inquire with great honor and submission from elder personalities like Mahäräja Nanda and others.
Kåñëa asked His father, "My dear father, what is this arrangement going on for a great sacrifice? What is the result of such sacrifice, and for whom is it meant? How is it performed? Will you kindly let Me know? I am very anxious to know this procedure, so please explain to Me the purpose of this sacrifice." Upon this inquiry, His father, Nanda Mahäräja, remained silent, thinking that his young boy would not be able to understand the intricacies of performing the yajïa. Kåñëa, however, persisted: "My dear father, for those who are liberal and saintly, there is no secrecy. They do not think anyone to be a friend or enemy because they are always open to everyone. And even for those who are not so liberal, nothing should be secret for the family members and friends, although secrecy may be maintained for persons who are inimical. Therefore you cannot keep any secrets from Me. All persons are engaged in fruitive activities. Some know what these activities are, and they know the result, and some execute activities without knowing the purpose or the result. A person who acts with full knowledge gets the full result; one who acts without knowledge does not get such a perfect result. Therefore, please let Me know the purpose of the sacrifice which you are going to perform. Is it according to Vedic injunction? Or is it simply a popular ceremony? Kindly let Me know in detail about the sacrifice."
On hearing this inquiry from Kåñëa, Mahäräja Nanda replied, "My dear boy, this ceremonial performance is more or less traditional. Because rainfall is due to the mercy of King Indra and the clouds are his representatives, and because water is so important for our living, we must show some gratitude to the controller of this rainfall, Mahäräja Indra. We are arranging, therefore, to pacify King Indra, because he has very kindly sent us clouds to pour down sufficient quantity of rain for successful agricultural activities. Water is very important; without rainfall we cannot farm or produce grains. We cannot live if there is no rainfall. It is necessary for successful religious ceremonies, economic development, and, ultimately, liberation. Therefore we should not give up the traditional ceremonial function; if one gives it up, being influenced by lust, or greed or fear, then it does not look very good for him."
After hearing this, Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the presence of His father and all the cowherd men of Våndävana, spoke in such a way as to make heavenly King Indra very angry. He suggested that they forgo the sacrifice. His reasons for discouraging the sacrifice performed to please Indra were twofold. First, as stated in the Bhagavad-gétä, there is no need to worship the demigods for any material advancement; all results derived from worshiping the demigods are simply temporary, and only those who are less intelligent are interested with temporary results. Secondly, whatever temporary result one derives from worshiping the demigods is actually granted by the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gétä, mayaiva vihitän hi tän. Whatever benefit is supposed to be derived from the demigods is actually bestowed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Without the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot bestow any benefit upon others. But sometimes the demigods become puffed up by the influence of material nature; thinking themselves as all in all, they try to forget the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Çrémad-Bhägavatam, it is clearly stated that in this instance Kåñëa wanted to make King Indra angry. Kåñëa's advent was especially meant for the annihilation of the demons and protection of the devotees. King Indra was certainly a devotee, not a demon, but because he was puffed up, Kåñëa wanted to teach him a lesson. He first tried to make Indra angry by stopping the Indra Püjä, which was arranged by the cowherd men in Våndävana.
With this purpose in mind, Kåñëa began to talk as if He were an atheist supporting the philosophy of karma-mémäàsä. Advocates of this type of philosophy do not accept the supreme authority of the Personality of Godhead. They put forward the argument that if anyone works nicely, the result is sure to come. Their opinion is that even if there is a God who gives man the result of his fruitive activities, there is no need to worship Him because unless man works He cannot bestow any good result. They say that instead of worshiping a demigod or God, people should give attention to their own duties, and thus the good result will surely come. Lord Kåñëa began to speak to His father according to these principles of the karma-mémäàsä philosophy. "My dear father," He said, "I don't think you need to worship any demigod for the successful performance of your agricultural activities. Every living being is born according to his past karma and leaves this life simply taking the result of his present karma. Everyone is born in different types or species of life according to his past activities, and he gets his next birth according to the activities of this life. Different grades of material happiness and distress, comforts and disadvantages of life, are different results of different kinds of activities, either from the past or present life."
Mahäräja Nanda and other elderly members argued that without satisfying the predominating god, one cannot derive any good result simply by material activities. This is actually the fact. For example, it is sometimes found that, in spite of first-class medical help and treatment by a first-class physician, a diseased person dies. It is concluded, therefore, that first-class medical treatment or the attempts of a first-class physician are not in themselves the cause for curing a patient; there must be the hand of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, a father's and mother's taking care of their children is not the cause of the children's comfort. Sometimes it is found that in spite of all care by the parents, the children go bad or succumb to death. Therefore material causes are not sufficient for results. There must be the sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nanda Mahäräja therefore advocated that, in order to get good results for agricultural activities, they must satisfy Indra, the superintending deity of the rain supply. Lord Kåñëa nullified this argument, saying that the demigods give results only to persons who have executed their prescribed duties; therefore demigods are dependent on the execution of duties and are not absolute in awarding good results to anyone.
"My dear father, there is no need to worship the demigod Indra," Lord Kåñëa said. "Everyone has to achieve the result of his own work. We can actually see that one becomes busy according to the natural tendency of his work; and according to that natural tendency, all living entities--either human beings or demigods--achieve their respective results. All living entities achieve higher or lower bodies and create enemies, friends or neutral parties only because of their different kinds of work. One should be careful to discharge duties according to his natural instinct and not divert attention to the worship of various demigods. The demigods will be satisfied by proper execution of all duties, so there is no need to worship them. Let us, rather, perform our prescribed duties very nicely. Actually one cannot be happy without executing his proper prescribed duty. One who does not, therefore, properly discharge his prescribed duties, is compared with an unchaste woman. The proper prescribed duty of the brähmaëas is the study of the Vedas; the proper duty of the royal order, the kñatriyas, is engagement in protecting the citizens; the proper duty of the vaiçya community is agriculture, trade and protection of the cows; and the proper duty of the çüdras is service to the higher classes, namely the brähmaëas, kñatriyas, and vaiçyas. We belong to the vaiçya community, and our proper duty is to farm, or to trade with the agricultural produce, to protect cows, or take to banking."
Kåñëa identified Himself with the vaiçya community because Nanda Mahäräja was protecting many cows, and Kåñëa was taking care of them. He enumerated four kinds of business engagements for the vaiçya community, namely agriculture, trade, protection of cows and banking. Although the vaiçyas can take to any of these occupations, the men of Våndävana were engaged primarily in the protection of cows.
Kåñëa further explained to His father: "This cosmic manifestation is going on under the influence of three modes of material nature--goodness, passion, and ignorance. These three modes are the causes of creation, maintenance, and destruction. The cloud is caused by the action of the mode of passion; therefore it is the mode of passion which causes the rainfall. And after the rainfall, the living entities derive the result--success in agricultural work. What, then, has Indra to do in this affair? Even if you do not please Indra, what can he do? We do not derive any special benefit from Indra. Even if he is there, he pours water on the ocean also, where there is no need of water. So he is pouring water on the ocean or on the land; it does not depend on our worshiping him. As far as we are concerned, we do not need to go to another city or village or foreign country. There are palatial buildings in the cities, but we are satisfied living in this forest of Våndävana. Our specific relationship is with Govardhana Hill and Våndävana forest and nothing more. I therefore request you, My dear father, to begin a sacrifice which will satisfy the local brähmaëas and Govardhana Hill, and let us have nothing to do with Indra."
After hearing this statement by Kåñëa, Nanda Mahäräja replied, "My dear boy, since You are asking, I shall arrange for a separate sacrifice for the local brähmaëas and Govardhana Hill. But for the present let me execute this sacrifice known as Indra-yajïa."
But Kåñëa replied, "My dear father, don't delay. The sacrifice you propose for Govardhana and the local brähmaëas will take much time. Better take the arrangement and paraphernalia you have already made for sacrificing Indra-yajïa and immediately engage it to satisfy Govardhana Hill and the local brähmaëas."
Mahäräja Nanda finally relented. The cowherd men then inquired from Kåñëa how He wanted the yajïa performed, and Kåñëa gave them the following directions. "Prepare very nice foodstuffs of all descriptions from the grains and ghee collected for the yajïa. Prepare rice, dahl, then halavah, päkorä, puri and all kinds of milk preparations like sweet rice, sweetballs, sandeça, rasagullä and läòòu and invite the learned brähmaëas who can chant the Vedic hymns and offer oblations to the fire. The brähmaëas should be given all kinds of grains in charity. Then decorate all the cows and feed them well. After performing this, give money in charity to the brähmaëas. As far as the lower animals are concerned, such as the dogs, and the lower grades of people, such as the cäëòälas, or the fifth class of men who are considered untouchable, they also may be given sumptuous prasädam. After giving nice grasses to the cows, the sacrifice known as Govardhana Püjä may immediately begin. This sacrifice will very much satisfy Me."
In this statement, Lord Kåñëa practically described the whole economy of the vaiçya community. In all communities of human society, and in the animal kingdom, among the cows, dogs, goats, etc., everyone has his part to play. Each is to work in cooperation for the total benefit of all society, which includes not only animate objects but also inanimate objects like hills and land. The vaiçya community is specifically responsible for the economic improvement of the society by producing grains, by giving protection to the cows, by transporting food when needed, and by banking and finance.
From this statement we learn also that the cats and dogs, although not so important, are not to be neglected. Cow protection is actually more important than protection of cats and dogs. Another hint we get from this statement is that the cäëòälas or the untouchables are also not to be neglected by the higher classes. Everyone is important, but some are directly responsible for the advancement of human society, and some are only indirectly responsible. However, when Kåñëa consciousness is there, then everyone's total benefit is taken care of.
The sacrifice known as Govardhana Püjä is observed in the Kåñëa consciousness movement. Lord Caitanya has recommended that since Kåñëa is worshipable, so His land, Våndävana and Govardhana Hill, are also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Kåñëa said that Govardhana Püjä is as good as worship of Him. From that day, the Govardhana Püjä has been still going on and is known as Annaküöa. In all the temples of Våndävana or outside of Våndävana, huge quantities of food are prepared in this ceremony and are very sumptuously distributed to the general population. Sometimes the food is thrown to the crowds, and they enjoy collecting it off the ground. From these instances, we can understand that prasädam offered to Kåñëa never becomes polluted or contaminated, even if it is thrown on the ground. The people, therefore, collect it and eat with great satisfaction.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, therefore advised the cowherd men to stop the Indra-yajïa and begin the Govardhana Püjä in order to chastise Indra who was very much puffed up at being the supreme controller of the heavenly planets. The honest and simple cowherd men headed by Nanda Mahäräja accepted Kåñëa's proposal and executed in detail everything He advised. They performed Govardhana worship and circumambulation of the hill. (Following the inauguration of Govardhana Püjä, people in Våndävana still dress nicely and assemble near Govardhana Hill to offer worship and circumambulate the hill, leading their cows all around.) According to the instruction of Lord Kåñëa, Nanda Mahäräja and the cowherd men called in learned brähmaëas and began to worship Govardhana Hill by chanting Vedic hymns and offering prasädam. The inhabitants of Våndävana assembled together, decorated their cows and gave them grass. Keeping the cows in front, they began to circumambulate Govardhana Hill. The gopés also dressed themselves very luxuriantly and sat in bull-driven carts, chanting the glories of Kåñëa's pastimes. Assembled there to act as priests for Govardhana Püjä, the brähmaëas offered their blessings to the cowherd men and their wives, the gopés.
When everything was complete, Kåñëa assumed a great transcendental form and declared to the inhabitants of Våndävana that He was Himself Govardhana Hill in order to convince the devotees that Govardhana Hill and Kåñëa Himself are identical. Then Kåñëa began to eat all the food offered there. The identity of Kåñëa and Govardhana Hill is still honored, and great devotees take rocks from Govardhana Hill and worship them exactly as they worship the Deity of Kåñëa in the temples. Devotees therefore collect small rocks or pebbles from Govardhana Hill and worship them at home, because this worship is as good as Deity worship. The form of Kåñëa who began to eat the offerings was separately constituted, and Kåñëa Himself along with other inhabitants of Våndävana began to offer obeisances to the Deity as well as Govardhana Hill. In offering obeisances to the huge form of Kåñëa Himself and Govardhana Hill, Kåñëa declared, "Just see how Govardhana Hill has assumed this huge form and is favoring us by accepting all the offerings." Kåñëa also declared at that meeting, "One who neglects the worship of Govardhana Püjä, as I am personally conducting it, will not be happy. There are many snakes on Govardhana Hill, and persons neglecting the prescribed duty of Govardhana Püjä will be bitten by these snakes and killed. In order to assure the good fortune of the cows and themselves, all people of Våndävana near Govardhana must worship the hill, as prescribed by Me."
Thus performing the Govardhana Püjä sacrifice, all the inhabitants of Våndävana followed the instructions of Kåñëa, the son of Vasudeva, and afterwards they returned to their respective homes.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-fourth Chapter of Kåñëa, "Worshiping Govardhana Hill."