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“It is said that of all sacred areas, Vrndavana-dhama is the topmost. But there are so many lila-sthanas (pastime places) in Vraja- which one of them is the highest? According to scriptural authorities Govardhana Hill is the most special.
It was here that, five thousand years ago, Lord Krsna, would go every day with His cowherd boyfriends, herding the cows, and it was here that every day He would meet His beloved gopis, the cowherd girls, who are the most beloved of all His devotees.
The pastime of Krsna lifting Govardhana and holding it aloft on the tip of the little finger of His left hand for seven days is one of His most popular, and it is one of His own favorites. Usually different parts of Vrnadavana-dhama are reserved for particular types of pastimes with particular groups of devotees. Nandagrama is reserved mainly for His exchanges with His parents, mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja and their peers, whereas the forests are often for being with the cowherd boys or the cows. But during the govardhana-lila He interacted with all His devotees simultaneously for a whole week, fulfilling His own desire to be with them, and their desires to have His company
So Govardhana Hill fulfills all the desires of anyone who comes in contact with it. Let us walk around it and experience that for ourselves.”
Bhakti Caitanya Swami is a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada, the founder-Spiritual Master of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. He first visited India in 1976, and since then has visited on perhaps 100 occasions, spending much of his time in Vrndavana. For the past fifteen years he has particularly focused on photographing and videotaping the sacred places of Vrndavana, and has complied one of the most extensive collections of images of this most holy place in existence.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami travels constantly all over the world lecturing on Vedic subjects, and he is widely known for his Vrindavan Parikrama DVD series, a collection of videos produced by himself of the famous holy places of India, especially Vrindavana and Navadvipa Areas.”
As Goloka Vrnadavana is eternal, so naturally all its transcendental features, including Goivardhana Hill, are also eternal. There can be no question of them coming into existence at any point in time. However, for the sake of lila (pastimes) there are descriptions of Govardhana apparently appearing, even in the spiritual world.
Perhaps the best known of these is in the Vedic Pancaratra, Garga-samhita. There, in a discussion between King Bahulasva and Narada Muni, it is described that once in Goloka Srimati Radharani asked Lord Krsna, “Please manifest a special, sweet place near the Yamuna, where We can enjoy the rasa dance.”
Saying, ‘So be it”, the Lord meditated, looking deep within His heart. From there His love suddenly rose and then fell on the ground, growing into a large mountain complete with caves, fast-flowing streams, beautiful trees like kadamba and bakula, and flowering vines like mandara and kunda, all filled with beautiful singing birds.
That mountain then expanded to become a hundred thousand yojanas wide, a billion yojanas long and five hundred million yojanas tall (a yojana is eight miles or about twelve kilometers). It was Govardhana. The hill expanded so much and so quickly that the inhabitants of Goloka became fearful, therefore Krsna slapped Govardhana and chastised him, “Why are you expanding so much? You’re covering everything. Stop!” and Govardhana stopped.
Looking at Govardhana, Srimati Radharani was pleased. She and Her beloved Lord Krsna had beautiful pastimes in a secluded place there.
Garga-samhita further describes how Govardhana, along with the entire Sri Vrndavana Dhama, came to earth at the time of Lord Krsna’s appearance five thousand years ago. This description is found in a discussion between Bhismadeva and King Pandu, recounted to Nanda Maharaja by his brother Sannanda.
As Krsna was about to leave Goloka to come to Gokula Vrndavana on this planet, He told Srimati Radharani, “You must come with Me. We can continue our pastimes there.” Radharani replied, “But how can I come? Even if You’re there, how can I be happy in a place where there is no Vrndavana forest, no River Yamuna or Govardhana Hill? I’ll only come if they come with Us.” So Lord Krsna sent His own abode, including Govardhana and the Yamuna, to this earth.
Sannanda told Nanda Maharaja that Govardhana initially appeared on Salmalidvipa, one of the seven islands that make up Bhu-mandala. Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that there is a salmali tree there, said to be the home of Garuda, the bird carrier of Lord Visnu. In the middle of that island Govardhana took birth from the wife of Dronacala, one of the leaders of the great mountains of this universe. Even though in Goloka he was in a gigantic form, here he became smaller.
When he appeared, all the important mountains, headed by Himalaya and Sumeru, came and bowed down before him. They circumambulated him, worshipped him and offered prayers, glorifying him as the personal mountain of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the king of all mountains. They prayed, “Obeisances of you, who are the crown of Goloka and who sit on Vrndavana’s lap. Obeisances to Govardhana, the umbrella of the Supreme Lord!”
One day the great sage Pulastya Muni passed nearby on pilgrimage and saw Govardhana looking radiant with jewel-covered slopes filled with varieties of birds, deer and other creatures. The hill was covered with fruit-laden trees and flowering madhavi vines. It was filled with the murmuring sounds of flowing streams and waterfalls, and here and there were caves, suitable for performing austerities.
Pulastya appealed to Drona, “You’re the king of the mountains and are worshipped by all the demigods. You’re covered with wonderful, transcendental curative herbs, and are always happy to help people restore their lives. I live on the banks of the Ganges in Kasi, the home of Lord Siva in his form as Visvanatha. It’s such an auspicious place that anyone who dies there, even if he is a great sinner, immediately achieves liberation. However, the place has one short coming –it has no hills or mountains. So, I would like to take your son Govardhana and perform austerities on his slopes there. Please grant my request.”
Drone became overwhelmed with loving emotions for Govardhana, and cried when he heard the sage’s desire. Afraid that Pulastya might curse him if he refused, Drona told his son, “Please go with this saintly person to Bharata-varsa.”
Govardhana said to Pulastya, “I suppose I can come with you, but how will you carry me? I’ am very big. I’m eight yojanas long, five yojanas wide and two yojanas tall.”
Pulastya said, “That’s all right. I won’t put you down anywhere along the way. That’s my promise.”
With tear-filled eyes, Govardhana bowed down before his father and bade him farewell. He climbed into the sage’s hand, and to everyone’s amazement, Pulastya was able to carry him. They travelled slowly, and after some time, when they were finally getting closer to Kasi, they passed through Vraja-mandala. Govardhana’s mind flooded with memories of his previous existence in Goloka Vrndavana and he thought, “This is Lord Krsna’s eternal abode in this world. shortly He will descend here and enjoy unlimited transcendental pastimes in the company of Srimati Radharani. They will perform Their dana-keli-lila (tax-collecting pastimes) and Their pastimes of mana (jealous anger), which I dearly want to witness. I have to stay here.”
Thinking in this way, Govardhana made himself extremely heavy, and Pulastya quickly became tired. Forgetting the agreement he put the hill down on the ground. He took bath in the Yamuna and when he came back he ordered Govardhana to climb back onto his hand, “Get up now. We’re going.” The hill however remained where he was. The sage grabbed hold of Govardhana and exerted all of his mystical powers. But he still could not move the hill. He then implored Govardhana to move, embracing him and speaking the sweetest words, but the hill would not move even the space of a finger. Pulastya said, “Please come. Come! O best of mountains, stop making yourself so heavy. You seem angry. Please tell me why. We must go now.” Govardhana responded, “O sage, please don’t blame me. I’m not at fault. Don’t you remember our agreement? You promised me that if you ever put me down, I could stay there. So now I will never leave this place.”
Having forgotten their arrangement, Pulastya Muni started shaking with anger, his lips trembling. He cursed Govardhana, “You arrogant mountain! You’re not fulfilling my desire. From this day on, you will shrink by the size of a sesame seed every day.”
Sannanda then told Nanda Maharaja, “Pulastya is very powerful, so his curse has come to be. Since that time Govardhana Hill has been shrinking, just as he said.”
So, dear readers, this is the narration of the history of Govardhana Hill given in the Vedic literature Garga-samhita. Today the hill is much smaller. There are more descriptions of how that has occurred in other authorized writings, and another version is described later in this book.
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