The story of Govardhan Parvat, also known as Govardhan Hill, is a significant episode from Hindu mythology, primarily found in the revered scripture, the Bhagavata Purana. This tale centers around Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and his extraordinary act of lifting the massive Govardhan Hill.
The setting of this story is the tranquil village of Vrindavan, a place imbued with divine love and devotion, where Lord Krishna spent his early years. It was a time when the residents of Vrindavan revered Lord Indra, the god of rain, with great fervor. They believed that it was he who provided them with the life-sustaining rains, ensuring the fertility of their fields and the prosperity of their community.
One year, as the monsoon season approached, the villagers were busy preparing for a grand festival in honor of Lord Indra, expressing their gratitude for the bounty of rains that he bestowed upon them. Krishna, however, questioned this tradition. He asked the villagers why they worshipped Indra, who was just one among the many deities, instead of worshipping the very earth they stood on, which provided them with sustenance and shelter.
Krishna urged the villagers to direct their devotion towards Govardhan Hill, which he explained was a personification of the fertile land, and the source of their livelihood. He emphasized that the earth, the cows, and the mountains were all forms of the divine, and worshipping them was as important as paying homage to any god.
Krishna's words resonated deeply with the villagers, and they were moved by his wisdom and compassion. They decided to follow his advice and organized a grand worship ceremony in honor of Govardhan Parvat, adorning it with colorful flowers, incense, and offerings of food.
This act of defiance did not sit well with Lord Indra, who was accustomed to receiving the lavish praises and offerings from the people of Vrindavan. Angered by this perceived ingratitude, he decided to teach the villagers a lesson. In a fit of rage, he summoned the clouds and unleashed a torrential downpour upon Vrindavan.
The rains were relentless, and the villagers faced impending disaster. Crops were washed away, homes were flooded, and the entire village was on the verge of being submerged. The people turned to Lord Krishna in their time of despair.
Krishna, recognizing the gravity of the situation, decided to protect the villagers and their livelihood. In a remarkable display of divine power, he assumed the form of a colossal figure and, with the strength of his little finger, lifted the mighty Govardhan Hill as if it were a mere umbrella. The villagers and their cattle sought refuge beneath this mammoth shelter, finding safety from the torrential rains.
For seven days and seven nights, Lord Krishna held Govardhan Hill aloft, providing a sanctuary for the beleaguered villagers. Witnessing this awe-inspiring feat, the residents of Vrindavan were filled with awe and gratitude for their beloved Lord.
Meanwhile, Indra, the king of the gods, watched in astonishment as his fury was met with such divine intervention. He gradually realized the futility of his actions and the error of his ways. Acknowledging his arrogance, Indra finally relented and ceased the rain.
With the cessation of the downpour, Lord Krishna gently placed Govardhan Hill back in its original position. The villagers emerged from beneath the hill, unharmed and filled with profound reverence for their savior.
This extraordinary event marked a pivotal moment in the lives of the residents of Vrindavan. It reinforced their understanding that true devotion lies not in the rituals performed in honor of deities, but in recognizing the divinity inherent in all aspects of creation. Lord Krishna's act of lifting Govardhan Hill became an enduring symbol of his boundless compassion and his unwavering commitment to the welfare of his devotees.
The story of Govardhan Parvat continues to be celebrated annually by Hindus during the festival of Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut, which falls on the day after Diwali. Devotees construct elaborate representations of Govardhan Hill using various food items, offering them to the divine as a gesture of gratitude for the abundance provided by the earth. This tradition serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring message of Lord Krishna's act - the importance of recognizing the sanctity of the natural world and the boundless love that the divine extends to all beings.