Lord Krishna’s lifting of Goverdhan Mount inaugurates the ethos of shringara bhakti, the pivotal concept of madhurya or sweet love with Krishna being the paragon of sweetness. He admonishes the people of Vraja not to become a prey to ritualistic Vedic worship of Indra Pujan but instead engage in a more humanistic dharma of love by worshipping Goverdhan.
This year Annakoot (a festival celebrated on the day following Diwali by placing foodstuffs in front of an idol of Vishnu-Krishna) or Sri Goverdhan Puja falls on 29th October 2008.
Sri Giriraj: Mount Blessed by Lord Krishna’s Touch
Lively noise of festivities, startling sound of delightful applause, loud rejoicing, feet of devotees dancing in ecstasy, the scenario heralds an exceptional site; it is Sri Giriraj awash with dark and pale boulders. Laden with trees and blossoming flowers, animals stand still entranced on its slopes. Deer roam, peacocks dance in ecstasy, birds sing passionately and cows with love-laden eyes hunger for a glimpse of the Lord. The elements of nature are perceived as living beings, white clouds feel privileged, and earth is blessed because Krishna has chosen to walk on her, bamboo trees are proud that they are chosen by Krishna for his music. All of them are instilled with one mood one emotion which pervades the atmosphere that of ecstatic devotion. Sri Goverdhan is the most fortunate of all the mounts in the world since Lord Krishna is forever wandering on its slopes.
The mellifluous sound of his flute draws the gopis, out of their homes in a romantic dalliance with Krishna. More than a musical instrument; the flute is the breath of love and a call to eternity. Along with his most beloved Kishori Sri Radha and the gopikas Lord Krishna comes to the lowlands of Giriraj, a witness and creator of their divine love.
To protect his devotees, Lord Krishna has adorned this massive form of the Mount. All six seasons flourish in their most glorious state in the boulders, caverns and the nikunjas draped with blossoms and creepers. This idyllic and sensuous landscape provides the perfect setting for the sweet love of Lord Krishna. During the day he grazes cows with his gopas and at night dallies romantically with the gopis. Kamdev, God of love, and his wife Rati blush on observing this madhurya or sweet love.
The lowlands of Sri Giriraj has been the prime devotional site of ashtachap kavis (eight Krishna poets who lived in Goverdhan during the later sixteenth century) all said to be disciples of Shriman Mahaprabhuji and Gosai Vithal Nathji. Highly revered Usha Bahenji, Lord Krishn’a own Sakhi, was sent to earth for expressing his leelas or divine play. The experiences bestowed by her are treasured amongst the slopes of the mount till date.
Sri Giriraj is extremely fortunate because Lord Krishna lifted it on his little finger for seven days at a stretch to protect Brajwasis from the fury of Indra’s devastating rain. As mentioned in the Puranas the mount was cursed and shrank inch by inch. Though it’s seven kos length, the blue-hued boulders, dense foliage, mushrooming kunds and sarovars attracts thousands of devotees till date. The deity of Braj, it fulfils all their desires. Followers religiously circumambulate the mountain on Purnima and Amavasya with several ascetics and saints residing in its lowlands to pray.
While many of us worship Goverdhanji at home, those particularly venturing to Mathura -Vrindavan-Giriraj for this festival should make their itinerary accordingly. Soon after celebrating Diwali with their loved ones, people visit Mount Goverdhan in honour of Lord Krishna's feat of lifting Sri Giriraj to shelter the denizens of Vraja from the downpour of Indra’s fury.
Soon after the prayers and aarti as per customary tradition, 56 sumptuous delicacies were ceremoniously raised in the form of a mount before the deity as bhoga (offerings of food). After the Lord relished the feast, it was the Vrajwasis turn to approach the mount of food and savour prasad. The Lord's leela or divine play made it a grand feast for residents of Goverdhan and they relished it thoroughly. Soon after the Lord asked them to take a round of the mount, which measures 21kms or 14 kos. Modern day physicians would term it as a digestive after meal walk.
Lord Krishna gave the boon that from now onwards Goverdhan was no more a mount but his svarupa or living presence and any person who takes a parikrama or circumambulation of Sri Girirajji will be certainly blessed with the fulfilment of all his desires. Ever since, the parikrama of Sri Girirajji is undertaken by millions of devotees almost daily, not just the annual one on the day of Annakoot or the monthly circumambulation on every Poornima (the night or day of full moon) when followers throng the site. Please do visit Sri Goverdhan of Vraja sometime and experience the divine ecstasy yourself.
Sri Giriraj is blessed because it here that Lord Krishna spreads his joy and expresses his love. If one circumambulates the mountain just once he is expiated from all sins. Finally attaining his favoured deity, he goes to Vaikuntha because Shr Radha’s Pranvallabha or Lord Krishna adorns the peak of Shri Govardhan.
Non Resident Indians would be eagerly desirous to know the significance of Annakoot. The Srimad Bhagavatam reveals -
"Actually, after lifting the huge Sri Goverdhan Mount for seven days at a stretch, prior to Diwali, the Lord put it back on earth and asked the denizens of Gokul to worship it. Lord Krishna now appeared in two forms -
* Firstly as Sri Goverdhan Mount, the deity to be worshipped
* Secondly as a resident to offer a feast to him!
The text 'Garg Samhita' clarifies:
"O Govardhana, O king of mountains, O hill whose nectarine name-
the best of Hari's servant – flows from the moonlike mouth of Sri Radha,
O hill that the Vedas declare to be the tilaka marking of Vraja, please grant me a residence near to you."
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's ardent disciple Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami has beautifully written the 'Stavavali' on Girirajji. His Sri Govardhana Vasa Prarthana Dasaka contains ten appeals for residence at Govardhan.
Lord Krishna is a great teacher demonstrating the principles of life practically! Worship of Goverdhan, the local deity has social coupled with environmental significance. A true asset to the denizens of Vraja it provides them:-
*Land to stay and build houses.
*Fodder as well as pastures to cattle, their wealth.
*Other benefits reaped in the form of crops.
In other words Lord Krishna persuades them not to erode the local surroundings but rather preserve nature, protecting greenery and the environs where they reside! Long before environmentalists raved about saving earth from the evils of pollution and other man related problems, Lord Krishna sowed this concept of nature -preservation!
Rather the miraculous feat of lifting Goverdhan as a child, merely seven years of age is a stern warning to all self proclaimed gods of Kaliyuga. Lord Krishna did kill demoness Pootana when just six days old and demons Shakat plus Trinavart at the age of three months. He gave salvation to Yamlarjun Trees when just eight months old. The deadly snake Kaliyanaga attained salvation by the Lord aged six years. Vatsasur, Bakasur, Aghasur and Pralayambasur were put an end to when the Lord was six years, while Sudarshan , Chandrachud ,Arishatasur ,Keshi and Vayomasur were exterminated when Lord Krishna was ten years of age! He saved the denizens of Braj from davanal or the wild-fire and his father Nandbaba from Varunlok in the same year.
Lord Krishna imparted divine knowledge to his parents Devakiji-Vasudevji even before birth as Lord Vishnu, as a one year old child to mother Yashoda, in his fifth year to Lord Brahma, in the seventh year to Lord Indra and in the tenth year to uncle Akroorji .
And after leaving the idyll of his youth behind in Vrindavan Lord Krishna proceeded to Mathura to fulfil his dharma as Vishnu’s avatara on this earth, the list of his heroic acts is simply endless. The killing of elephant Kuvalayapeer, musclemen Mushtik & Chanur,Shankhasur, the evil Kansa, Jarasandh ,Kalyavan ,Shambarasur, Bhaumasur,Paundrik & Kashiraj, devil monkey Diwid, Shishupaal, Shalva, Dantravaktra, Vidurath, Balval, Vrikasur and so on are renowned the world over.
Acquiring the chausath kalas or 64 arts, the Lord constructs a luxurious kingdom in Dvaraka. Grants salvation to Muchukund, darshan to Jambantji (of Ramji era who fought against Ravana) and behaves ideally with poor friend Sudamaji.
Lord Krishna bestows divine knowledge to Lord Yama, King Yudishtar during the Rajsuya Yagna, to Lord Shiva while defeating Banasur and his parents before bringing their six dead sons (or Lord's own brothers!). He reveals the nature of time and duty to Arjuna on the field of Kurukshetra during the Mahabharata war in the Bhagwad Gita and grants divine knowledge to Udhavji in the 11th Canto of the Srimad Bhagvatam.
Just confront these self-proclaimed gods of Kalyuga with the truths mentioned above; can they possibly perform any of these miraculous feats? Leave alone the fact that Lord Krishna incarnated in Vraja in the guise of a cowherd to spread joy and delight to his devotees. Demonic forces continually attacked the area but he always triumphed in these encounters because of his innate divinity. And the fraudulent imposters are solely responsible for cynicism in God-fearing Indians and NRIs at large. Can we raise our voice against such shameless frauds, the self-centred elements?