The Appearance of Govardhan

BY: SUN STAFF - 13.11 2023

Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana
Bhagavat Purana, Jaipur, c. 1840

Govardhan-puja is observed on November 13th.

In honor of Govardhana-puja, observed in the month of Karika, we offer a detail study of this beautiful painting from an illustrated Bhagavat Purana in Jaipur, c. 1840. Govardhana Hill is the abode of many happy animals, including peacocks, snakes and monkeys. There are different stories about the manifestation of Sri Govardhana in different yugas.

It is said that when Lord Rama's monkey army was carrying stones to construct the bridge to Lanka, that Sri Hanuman himself carried Govardhana from the Himalayas for the bridge. As Hanuman transported Govardhana over the region of Vraja, his associates Nala and Neela, who were organizing the actual building of the bridge, announced that their work was complete, and no more stones were needed. Hanuman therefore deposit Govardhana in Vraja Mandala, and there it stayed. Lord Rama promised that in the Dvarpara-yuga, He would Appear as Sri Krishna, and His pastimes would include holding up Govardhana for seven days and seven nights, to protect the residents of Vraja.

There is another story of the Appearance of Govardhana Hill, from Krsna-lila, given in the Garga Samhita. Upon Nanda Maharaj's inquiry, Upananda the older brother of Nanda Maharaj, related the appearance of Govardhan in Vrndavan. In answer to a question from King Pandu, Bhismadev explained:

"While in Goloka Vrndavana Krsna informed Srimati Radharani that She should now appear on earth as it was time for Them to perform Their different pastimes within the material world. Srimati Radharani replied that unless Vraja Dhama, the Yamuna and Govardhana Hill were present there, She would not be very happy. Krsna told Radharani that She need not worry, and informed Srimati Radharani that Vraja Dhama, the Yamuna and Govardhana Hill had already made Their appearance on the earth planet.

In the Satya Yuga, in the land of Salmali dvipa, the wife of the great mountain Dronacal gave birth to a son named Govardhana. At the time of Govardhana's birth all the demigods appeared in the sky and showered flowers upon him. Great mountains, led by the Himalayas and Sumeru, came there to offer their respects. They performed parikrama of Govardhana and accepted him as their king. They offered prayers praising Govardhana for having descended from Goloka Vrindavana, describing him as the 'crown jewel of Vraja.

Some years later, at the beginning of Satya yuga, Pulastya Muni went to Salmali dvipa. Seeing the beautiful Govardhana Hill covered with many lovely creepers, flowers, rivers, caves and chirping birds, Pulastya Muni felt that that Govardhana hill was capable of giving liberation, so he went to King Dronacal, who immediately offered his respects and inquired from the sage what service he could render. Pulastya Muni informed Dronacal that he was from Kasi and was on pilgrimage to all the holy places. He explained that even though the sacred river Ganges flowed through Kasi, there is no beautiful hill within the city. He asked King Dronacal to give his son, Govardhana, to him so that he could perform his tapasya while sitting on top of the hill.

Hearing Pulastya Muni's request, Dronacal, who was not willing to part with his son, started to shed tears in thought of separation from his beloved Govardhana. Not wanting to see Pulastya Muni become angry and curse his father, Govardhana asked the sage how he would carry him all the way to Kasi. The sage replied that he would carry him in his right hand. Govardhana then agreed to go with the sage on one condition: If Pulastya Muni put him down anywhere during the course of the journey, he would not be able to lift him again. Pulastya Muni agreed. Carrying Govardhana in his right hand he left for Kasi.

Pulastya Muni passed through Vraja on his way to Kasi. On arriving in Vraja, Govardhana decided that he should remain in Vrndavan. By his mystic power he was able to influence Pulastya Muni to attend to the call of nature. Pulastya Muni then put Govardhana down and went off to attend to his needs. In returning, he found he was unable to lift Govardhana again despite all of his efforts.

In great anger Pulastya Muni cursed Govardhana to sink into the ground by the measurement of one mustard seed every day, Govardhana's originally being 64 miles long, 40 miles wide, and 16 miles high when he first came to Vraja in the beginning of Satya yuga. It's explained that after 10,000 years of the Kali yuga, Govardhana will have completely disappeared."

After narrating this story of Giriraj Govardhan's appearance, Upananda explained to Nanda Maharaja, that as long as Govardhan Hill and the river Yamuna remained manifest, Kali yuga would not take its full effect. He also explained that anyone who is fortunate enough to hear the description of the appearance of Govardhan Hill would be freed from all sins.

In glorification of Sri Sri Giriraj Govardhan, Srila Raghunatha das Goswami in his Govardhanasraya Dasakam writes:


Who will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill, the best of mountains, the friend of Gokula, the charming bumblebee that for seven days stood on the graceful whorl of the lotus flower of Lord Krsna's hand and protected Vraja from the mouth of the Indra-crocodile raining a great monsoon?


What pious person will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill, Whose peak is the place of pastimes for Lord Krsna, the Master of the surabhi cows, and near which is blissful Govinda kunda, where a surabhi cow, followed by humbled Indra bearing the waters of the celestial Ganges, bathed Lord Krsna and secretly crowned Him king of the surabhi cows?


What pious person will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill, which is glorified by the great sages, and which is encircled by the lakes Siri kunda, Brahma kunda, Hara kunda, Apsara kunda, Priyaka kunda, and Sri Dana kunda, which are splendid with the happiness of pure love and more dear to Lord Hari than the celestial Ganges and a host of other sacred places?


Who will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill, which is charming with cows, deer, birds, and trees, and which is the place where the lakes Jyotsnamoksana kunda, Malya kunda, Hara kunda, Sumanah kunda, Gauri kunda, Balaridhvaja kunda, Gandharva kunda, many other lakes, many swiftly-moving mountain streams, many lion-thrones for amorous pastimes, many places for Lord Hari's other pastimes, and the cowherd boy Lord Hari Himself, are all splendidly manifest?


Who will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill? He who always devotedly carries on his bowed head the lake known as Syama kunda, which is millions of times greater than the Ganges, and which was born from the foot of Lord Krsna, becomes more dear to the Lord than even the demigod Siva. He who in the same way carries the jewel known as Radha Kunda attains the full mercy of Lord Krsna. He becomes the most dear and glorious of devotees.


Who will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill, where the Divine Couple enjoy Their pastimes of payment for rescue, and where the Manasa Ganga flows? In the Manasa Ganga the Supreme pilot Madhava took sweetly beautiful Radha on His boat, and when She, Radha, frightened by a great storm, prayed that He calm it, He claimed from Her as a fee for Her rescue, the fulfillment of His amorous desires.


Ah, what pious person will not take shelter of lofty Govardhan Hill, the beautiful and transcendental place of the rasa dance, where Sri Radha, accompanied by Her beautiful friends worshiped by hundreds of goddesses of fortune, and the splendid, nectar arm of Lord Krsna playfully resting on Her neck, dances in the springtime rasalila?


Who will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill where, blossoming with happiness at the outrageous joking words of Their friends, perpetually wounded by the swift arrows shot from the corners of Their cruel, smiling eyes, and laughing at the crooked words of the ever-new danakeli quarrel, the youthful Divine Couple displayed so many transcendental pastimes?


Who will not take shelter of graceful and auspicious Govardhan Hill, where, accompanied by Sridama and His other friends, playing with Sankarsana, and carefully herding the cows, Lord Krsna happily sings, and where Lord Krsna enjoys amorous pastimes with Radha in the rasa dance arena and deep in the hidden caves?




Who will not take shelter of Govardhan Hill, the crowned king of all mountains? For the people of Vraja's sake Lord Mukunda neglected the sungod's daughter Yamuna, a host of other lofty hills, the wish-fulfilling forest of Vrndavana, and the town of Nandisvara, and respectfully worshiped Govardhan Hill.


By the mercy of Govardhan Hill these ten beautiful verses about Govardhan Hill, which grant residence at Govardhan Hill, have come from the mouth of a blind old man. The pleasure of Govardhan Hill, which is my life and soul, and which is a beautiful jewel-mine of transcendental virtues, is the ripe fruit I seek from my labor in writing these verses.

Srila Raghunath Das Goswami in his Stavavali prays:

"O Govardhana, O King of mountains, O hill, the best of Hari's servants, whose nectarian name flows from the moonlike mouth of Sri Radha; O hill that the Vedas declare to be the tilak marking of Vraja, please grant me a residence near to you."