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The tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam relates many of Krishna’s amazing pastimes. Of these, “The Lifting of Govardhan Hill” is one of the devotees’ favourites.
It tells the story of how Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill in Vrindavan for seven days and seven nights, balancing it on the tip of his small finger and thus providing a huge umbrella under which all the residents and animals of Vrindavan could find shelter from the devastating rainstorm sent by Lord Indra (god of rain and king of heaven) upon their village. When Lord Indra realized that only the Supreme Lord could defeat him in such a mystical way, he surrendered to Krishna.
Traditionally in Vrindavan, this very merry festival is celebrated by cooking very large amounts of food offerings which are then arranged in the form of Govardhan Hill. It is called Anna (grains) Kuta (mountain) and takes place on the day after Diwali.
In ISKCON, devotees have developed unique offerings of halvah and sweets beautifully arranged in a replica of Govardhan Hill. Sometimes a Govardhan shila is placed on top of the hill. Devotees jubilantly circumambulate the hill of sweets and worship it as Govardhan Hill itself. A sumptuous feast is served on the occasion.
At the Krishna-Balaram Mandir the festival starts at around 11 a.m with worship of the cows in the goshalla, followed by circumambulation of the replica Govardhan Hill, lecture and feast.
At Hare Krishna Land, Phoenix, if the festival falls on a weekend or public holiday, it is celebrated with an early afternoon programme but if it falls on a weekday it is celebrated in the evening.
Please visit our website regularly so that you may find out our exact festival schedule.
“O Govardhan, you are decorated with beautiful pavilions of pearls and jewelled thrones shaded by trees, along with caves and valleys, where Krishna always plays with Balarama and the cowherd boys. I also long to witness those transcendental games. Kindly allow me to reside close to you”.
Srila Raghunath Das Goswami
Sri Garga Samhita,
Canto Three, Chapter One
The Worship of Sri Giriraj
Text 1 Sri Bahulasva asked Narada: Why did Lord Krishna lift Govardhan
Hill as a child playfully lifts a mushroom.
Text 2 O best of sages, please tell that wonderful and glorious transcendental pastime of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Text 3 Sri Narada said: As citizens pay an annual tax to their king, so the gopas, farmers all, at the end of each monsoon season offered a tribute to Indra.
Text 4 Noticing the arrangements for the indra-yajna, as the gopas listened, Krishna asked a question of King Nanda.
Text 5 Sri Krishna said: What is the result of this worship of Indra?
Do they say it brings a material result or a spiritual result?
Text 6 Sri Nanda said: Worship of Indra brings both sense gratification
and liberation. Without it a person cannot be happy in this world.
Text 7 Sri Krishna said: Indra and the other demigods enjoy living in
Svargaloka because of their past karma. When their good karma is exhausted they
again enter the world of humans. Please understand that worshiping them does
not bring liberation.
Text 8 Even the demigod Brahma is afraid of that, so what may be said
of fruitive workers on the earth? They are are actually wise say that endless
time is the most powerful, the supreme.
Text 9 With all their heart renouncing all material pious results, the
wise take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and worship Him with
the best of pious deeds. They, and not others, attain final liberation.
Text 10 The cows, saintly persons, fire-gods, demigods, Vedas, and principles
of religion are all potencies of Lord Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
They who, instead of worshiping the demigods, worship Lord Hari, attain happiness
in this life and the next.
Text 11 The hill named Govardhan is the king of the kings of the kings
of mountains. It was born from Lord Hari’s own chest. It has come here
by the power of Pulastya Muni. By seeing it one becomes free from having to
take birth again in this world.
Text 12 First worship the cows, brahmanas, and demigods, and then make
a great offering to Govardhan Hill. That offering is the king of yajnas and
it is very dear to Me. If you do not desire to make that offering, then do whatever
Text 13 Sri Narada said: Among them the elderly gopa Sannanda, who throughly
knew the real principles of religion, became very pleased. As bewildered Nanda
listened, Sannanda spoke to Lord Krishna.
Text 14 Sri Sannanda said: Dear son of Nanda, You are wealthy with a
great treasury of transcendental knowledge. How should the hill be worshiped?
Please truthfully tell.
Text 15 Sri Krishna said: A person who controls his senses and engages
in devotional service should collect the ingredients for the worship, anoint
Govardhan Hill with cow-dung, . . .
Text 16 . . . and, as he chants the mantras for the thousand-headed Purusa,
with other brahmanas bathe the hill with Ganga water and Yamuna water.
Text 17 Then he should bathe the hill with streams of white milk, panamrta,
fragrant flowers, and then Yamuna water again.
Text 18 Then he should offer splendid garments, food, a great throne,
many garlands and ornaments, and many lamps.
Text 19 Then he should circumambulate the hill, offer obeisances, and
with folded hands recite this mantra:
Text 20 namo vrndavanakaya tubhyam goloka-mauline purna-brahmatapatraya
namo govardhanaya ca
Obeisances to you, who are Goloka’s crown and the lap where Vrndavana forest
grows! Obeisances to Govardhan Hill, the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s
Text 21 Then he should offer a handful of flowers and then, as mrdangas,
karatalas and other musical instruments make sweet sounds, he should offer arati
to Govardhan Hill.
Text 22 Then he should chant the mantra that begins with “vedaham”,
and then he should throw a shower of grains. In this way he should worship the
hill. Then with great faith he should place a hill of food near Govardhan Hill.
Note: The mantra here is Sri Svetasvatara Upanisad 3.8:
vedaham etam purusam mahantam aditya-varnam tamasah purastat
tam eva viditvati-mrtyum eti nanyah pantha vidyate ‘yanaya
“I know that Supreme Personality of Godhead who is transcendental to all
material conceptions of darkness. Only he who knows Him can transcend the bonds
of birth and death. There is no way for liberation other than this knowledge
of the Supreme Person.”
Text 23 Then he should offer four, six, and five cups of Ganga and Yamuna
water mixed with tulasi leaves.
Text 24 Then, with a peaceful heart, he should serve Govardhan Hill by
offering it a feast of fifty-six kinds of food. Then with fragrant flowers he
should worship the fire-gods, brahmanas, cows, and demigods.
Text 25 After feeding the exalted brahmanas with fragrant and delicious
foods, he should also give excellent foods to the others, even down to the dogeaters.
Text 26 Then he should have the gopas and gopis dance among the cows
and call out “Victory!” In this way he should perform a festival to
worship Govardhan Hill.
Text 27 Now please hear how this worship should be performed when one
is not near Govardhan Hill. One should make from cow-dung a model of Govardhan
Text 28 Human beings on this earth should decorate thet model with many
flowers, blades of grass, and a network of vines, and regularly offer worship
Text 29 A person who has a mountain of gold but does not use it to worship
a stone he has taken from Govardhan Hill, goes to a terrible hell.
Text 30 A person who regularly worships the Lord’s form as Salagrama-sila
is not touched by hell as a lotus leaf is not touched by water.
Text 31 An exalted brahmana who reularly serves a stone from Govardhan
Hill attains the result of having bathed in all the holy rivers and lakes in
the seven worlds.
Text 32 A person who year after year elaborately worships Govardhan Hill
attains all happiness in this life and liberation in the next.
Canto Three, Chapter Two
The Great Festival of Sri Giriraj
Text 1 Sri Narada said: Hearing Sri Krishna’s words, Nanda, Sannanda, and
the other rulers of Vraja were filled with wonder. Abandoning what they had
done, they performed the worship of Govardhan Hill.
Text 2 O king of Mithila, taking many offerings, King Nanda, Yasoda, their two
sons Krishna and Balarama, and Garga Muni, all eager and joyful, went to worship
Text 3 Quickly climbing on a wonderfully decorated great elephant chained with
golden shackles, Nanda went, with the many cows and with the wealth of the autumn
harvest, to the edge of Govardhan Hill. He looked like Indra Himself, accompanied
by his beloved.
Text 4 Bringing the ingredients for the performing the yajna, the Nandas, Upanandas,
and Vrsabhanus, along with their wives, children, and grandchildren, went to
Text 5 Dressed in splendid garments and jewel ornaments, and eager as a cakori
bird or a bumblebee, as She rode in a palanquin with Her friends, Radha looked
like Saci herself.
Text 6 O king, nicely decorated, gracefully moving two beautiful camaras, accompanied
by millions of gopi friends, and their faces splendid as two moons, Radha’s
best friends, Lalita and Visakha, gloriously stood by Her side.
Text 7 Then Rama, Viraja, Madhavi, Maya, Yamuna, and Ganga, accompanied by thirty-two,
eight, and sixteen groups of gopis, arrived.
Text 8 In their previous births these gopis had been the women of Mithila, the
women of Kosala, the personified Vedas, the great sages, the women of Ayodhya,
the Yajna-Sitas, the women of the forest, . . .
Text 9 . . . the women of Vaikuntha, who have Rama as their leader, the women
of the highest Vaikuntha realm, the women of various effulgent realms, the women
of Dhruvaloka and Lokacala, . . .
Text 10 . . . Laksmi’s friends splendid with three transcendental virtues,
the women riding in airplanes, vines and plants, jalandharis, the daughters
of the ocean, the daughters of King Barhismati, the women of Sutalaloka, . .
Text 11 . . . the apsaras, and all the serpent king’s daughters. Now, as
girls of Vraja, nicely decorated, and their hands splendid with many offerings,
they approached Govardhan Hill.
Text 12 Then the gopa men, adolescents, and boys, dressed in yellow garments,
wearing turbans crowned with peacock feathers, decorated with beautiful necklaces,
gunja, and forest garlands, and holding new flutes and sticks, came.
Text 13 Hearing of the Govardhan festival from my mouth, carrying the Ganga
in his matted locks, wearing a necklace of skulls, his body anointed with the
powder of bones, decorated with a necklace and bracelets of many snakes, . .
Text 14 . . . reeling from having drunk dhattura poison, acompanied by Parvati
and his many associates, and riding on his carrier Nandi, Lord Siva came to
the circle of Govardhan Hill.
Text 15 Many thousands of rajarsis, viprarsis, surarsis, siddhesas, yogesvaras,
paramahamsas, and brahmanas came to see Govardhan Hill.
Text 16 O king, its stones jewels, its many peaks golden, and its form splendid
with intoxicated bees, beautiful caves,and swiftly-flowing streams, Govardhan
Hill was like a great elephant.
Text 17 Then, manifesting humanlike forms and bearing auspicious gifts in their
hands, the mountain kings, headed by Mount Meru and Mount Himalaya, offered
their respectful obeisances, bowing down to the humanlike form of Govardhan
Text 18 Following Krishna’s instruction, Nanda, the king of Vraja, had
many brahmanas worship Govardhan Hill. Then Nanda worshiped the brahmanas, fire-gods,
and cows, and then gave a very opulent offering to Govardhan Hill.
Text 19 Pleased by the earnestly singing Nandas, Upanandas, Vrsabhanus, gopas,
and gopis, Lord Krishna circumambulated Govardhan Hill, the king of mountains.
Text 20 As the demigods showered flowers and the Vrajavasis showered grains,
Govardhan Hill, the great king of the kings of the kings of mountains, glistened
with great glory, as if it were a great monarch in the midst of a yajna.
Text 21 Manifesting a gigantic form different from His own, Lord Krishna appeared
from the midst of Govardhan Hill. Declaring, I am this hill,” He ate the
entire hill of food that was offered.
Text 22 Seeing Govardhan Hill’s great power and opulence, and their hearts
full of joy and wonder, the gopas and gopis asked the hill to grant them a benediction.
Text 23 They said, “The gopas know that You are the Deity worshiped by
the kings of mountains. Nanda’s son Krishna has shown Your true nature
to us. Please grant that day after day our relatives, friends, and cows may
Text 24 Manifesting a handsome divine form decorated with crown and armlets,
Govardhan Hill, the king of the kings of mountains, said, “So be it,”
and suddenly disappeared.
Texts 25/26 The Nandas, Upanandas, Vrsabhanus, Balarama, Sucandra, King Vrsabhanu,
King Nanda, Krishna, all the gopas, gopis, and cows, the brahmanas, the siddhas
and yogesvaras headed by Lord Siva, as well as everyone else bowed down and
worshiped Govardhan Hill. Then, happy at heart, and all their desires fulfilled,
they returned to their own homes.
Text 27 In this way I have described to you Sri Krishnacandra’s transcendental
pastime of offering a great festival to worship Govardhan Hill, the king of
the kings of mountains. This wonderful and purifying narration frees the people
from the greatest sins.
Canto Three, Chapter Three
The Lifting of Sri Govardhan
Text 1 Sri Narada said: When from my mouth he heard that his sacrifice had been
stopped and a festival for Govardhan Hill performed in its place, Indra became
Text 2 Unleashing the samvartaka clouds used at the time of cosmic destruction,
Indra sent them to destroy Vraja.
Text 3 The clouds thundered with anger. They were many wonderful colors, some
black, some yellow, some green, . . .
Text 4 . . . some the color of an indragopa insect, some the color of camphor,
and some the color of blue lotuses.
Text 5 Furious, they showered raindrops as big as elephants and thunderbolts
as big as elephants’ trunks.
Text 6 Big as mountain peaks, millions of rocks fell. The wind threw away many
trees and houses.
Text 7 O king of Mithila, the earth was filled with ferocious, terrifying, and
devastating sounds of thunder.
Text 8 The entire universe, with the seven planetary systems and the expanses
of outer space, echoed with the sounds of thunder. The elephants holding the
directions trembled. The stars fell to the circle of the earth.
Text 9 Wishing to save themselves, the gopas and their families, with the children
in front, ran to Nanda’s palace.
Text 10 Terrified, the people of Vraja bowed down before the two Supreme Lords,
Krishna and Balarama, surrendered to Them, and took shelter of Them.
Text 11 The gopas said: Balarama! Balarama! O mighty-armed! Krishna! Krishna!
O master of Vraja! Save, save Your people from these calamities brought by Indra!
Text 12 By Your word we stopped the indra-yajna and offered a festival for Govardhan
Hill. Now Indra is angry. What should we do? Please tell us!
Text 13 Seeing the gopas, gopis, cows, calves, and all of Gokula very upset,
calm and peaceful Krishna spoke to the gopas.
Text 14 Sri Krishna said: Don’t be afraid. With your dependents go to Govardhan
Hill. He accepted our worship. He will protect us.
Text 15 Sri Narada said: After speaking these words, Lord Krishna went, with
His own people, to Govardhan Hill. Lifting the hill, Krishna playfully held
it aloft with one hand.
Text 16 As a child effortlessly holds a mushroom, or as an elephant holds a
lotus in its tongue, so Sri Krishna, the prince of Vraja, the kind Supreme Personality
of Godhead, held Govardhan Hill.
Text 17 Lord Krishna said to the gopas: Father, mother, kings of the gopas,
take your relatives, associates, household paraphernalia, wealth, and cows,
and go beneath the hill. There you need not fear Indra.
Text 18 When they heard Lord Krishna word’s, the gopas took their families,
cows, and household paraphernalia, and went under the hill.
Text 19 O king, when Krishna asked, Balarama and all the boys His age steadied
the the hill with their sticks.
Text 20 Seeing a great flood of water coming, in His mind Lord Krishna ordered
Lord Sesa and the Sudarsana-cakra to come under the hill.
Text 21 Brilliant as ten million suns, the Sudarsana-cakra hovered above the
hill and drank up the falling streams of water as Agastya Muni drank up the
Text 22 Coiling Himself around the hill, Sesa stopped the incoming flood as
a shoreline stops the waters of an ocean.
Text 23 For seven days Lord Krishna steadily held Govardhan Hill. As if they
had become cakora birds, the stunned gopas gazed at Lord Krishnacandra.
Text 24 Mounting his maddened elephant Airavata, and accompanied by his armies,
furious Indra went to the circle of Vraja.
Text 25 Wishing to destroy Nanda’s village, Indra threw his thunderbolt
from far away. Krishna suddenly paralyzed both the thunderbolt and the arm that
Text 26 Terrified, Indra fled with the demigods and samvartaka clouds as if
he were an elephant wounded by a lion.
Text 27 Suddenly the sun rose. The clouds were gone, the winds stopped, and
the streams carried very little water.
Text 28 The ground dried up, the sky became clear, and the animals and birds
Text 29 By Krishna’s order the gopas, taking their wealth and cows with
them, slowly emerged from under the hill.
Text 30 Then Krishna, the lifter of Govardhan Hill, said to His friends, “Go
out.” They said to Him, “You go first. We will hold the hill with
our own strength.”
Text 31 Then Lord Krishna, the lifter of Govardhan Hill, shifted half of the
hill’s weight to the talkative gopa boys.
Text 32 That burden made the gopa boys fall, devastated, to the ground.
Text 33 With one hand Krishna picked them all up. Then, as everyone watched,
with a playful flourish Krishna set the hill down where it was before.
Text 34 O king, the gopas and gopis, now understanding that Nanda’s son
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, worshiped Him, showered Him with
unbroken grains of rice, offered Him many foods made with milk and yogurt, and
humbly bowed down before Him.
Text 35 O king, then Nanda, Yasoda, Rohini, and the gopa elders headed by Sannanda,
embraced Krishna, gave Him great wealth, and, filled with kindness and love,
spoke many benedictions blessing Him.
Text 36 O king, singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments, the people
of Vraja approached Lord Krishna and worshiped Him. In this way all their desires
Text 37 Then the jubilant demigods showered beautiful flowers grown in the beautiful
Nandana gardens, and the Gandharvas and Siddhas in the higher planets sang the
glories of Sri Krishna, the lifter of Govardhan Hill.
Canto Three, Chapter Four
The Coronation-Bathing of Sri Krishna
Text 1 Sri Narada said: Then, accompanied by the demigods, Indra went
to a secluded place on Govardhan Hill and bowed down before Lord Krishna.
Text 2 Sri Indra said: You are the master of the demigods, the supreme controller,
the Lord who is perfect and complete, the oldest, the supreme person greater
than the greatest and above the material energy, the Supreme Personality of
Godhead, Lord Hari. O master of the spiritual sky, O master of the universes,
please save me! Please save me!
Text 3 You are the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, perfect and complete,
who descends as the ten avataras. Desiring to protect the Vedic scriptures and
the cows of piety, and desiring also to kill the demons headed by Kamsa, You
have taken birth in this world.
Text 4 O master of the spiritual sky, as a father forgives his son, please forgive
me, a proud fool bewildered by Your illusory potency, a fool who has become
a great reservoir of offenses to You. O master of the demigods, O home where
the universes dwell, please be kind to me.
om namo govardhanoddharanaya govindaya gokula-nivasaya gopalaya gopala-pataye
gopi-jana-bhartre giri-gajoddhartre karuna-nidhaye jagad-vidhaye jagan-mangalaya
jagan-nivasaya jagan-mohanaya koti-manmatha-manmathaya vrsabhanu-suta-varaya
sri-nanda-raja-kula-pradipaya sri-Krishnaya paripurnatamaya te ’sankhya-brahmanda-pataye
goloka-dhama-dhisanadhipataye svayam-bhagavate sa-balaya namas te namas te.
Om. Obeisances! Obeisances to You! Obeisances to You, the lifter of Govardhan
Hill, the pleasure of the cows, land, and senses, the Lord who resides in Gokula
as the protector of the cows, the master of the gopas, the husband of the gopis,
the lifter of the elephant among mountains, an ocean of mercy, the creator of
the universes, the auspiciousness of the universes, the home where the universes
dwell, the enchanter of the universes, the enchanter of many millions of Kamadevas,
the lover of King Vrsabhanu’s daughter, a lamp shining in King Nanda’s
family, all-attractive Sri Krishna, the perfect and complete original Supreme
Personality of Godhead, the master of countless universes, the master of the
transcendental abode of Goloka, the companion of Balarama!
Text 6 Sri Narada said: A person who, rising in the morning, recites these prayers
of Indra attains all perfections. Dangers will not make him fear.
Text 7 After offering these prayers, Indra folded his hands and, accompanied
by all the demigods, bowed down before Lord Krishna.
Text 8 Then, on beautiful Govardhan Hill, the surabhi cow born from the milk-ocean
bathed the gopa-king Krishna with great streams of milk.
Text 9 Its four trunks filled with celestial Ganga water, the intoxicated elephant
Airavata bathed Lord Krishna.
Text 10 Then the joyful devas, kinnaras, gandharvas, rsis, and personified Vedas
offered prayers to Lord Krishna and showered HIm with flowers.
Text 11 When the coronation bathing of Sri Krishna was completed noble Govardhan
Hill became to melt with joy.
Text 12 Pleased, the Lord left the mark of His lotus hand on the melting hill.
O king, even today that handprint can be seen on Govardhan Hill.
Text 13 O king of Mithila, know that the footprints Krishna left there are a
great holy place that destroys the people’s sins.
Text 14 O king of Mithila, next to Lord Krishna footprints were the surabhi
Text 15 O king of Mithila, the celestial Ganga water that bathed Lord Krishna
on Govardhan Hill became the Manasa-ganga lake, which destroys all sins.
Text 16 O king, the streams of the surabhi cow’s milk that bathed Lord
Krishna on Govardhan Hill became the Govinda-kunda lake, which destroys the
Text 17 Sometimes the water in that lake tastes like delicious milk. One who
bathes there attains Lord Krishna’s feet.
Text 18 Circumambulating Lord Krishna, bowing down, making many offerings, calling
out, “All glories!” and showering Him with flowers, the happy demigods
returned to their celestial abode.
Text 19 A person who hears this narration of Sri Krishna’s ceremonial bathing
attains a result much greater than the result of ten asvamedha-yajnas. He attains
the supreme creator’s transcendental abode.