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Govardhan Hill

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Kusum Sarovar ("Lake of Flowers"), one of the holy sites on Govardhan Hill

See also Govardhana sila and Parikram

Govardhana Hill (Sanskrit: गोवर्धन), also called Mount Govardhana, Giri Raj and Royal Hill, is a sacred Hindu site in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India on a 8km long hill located in the area of Govardhan and Radha Kund,[1][2] which is about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Vrindavan.[3]

Known as Govardhan or Giriraj it is the sacred center of Braj and is identified as a natural form of Krishna (Govardhana sila).[4][5]

Contents

EtymologyEdit

The name 'Govardhana' has two primary translations. In the literal meaning, 'Go' translates to 'cows', and 'vardhana' translates to 'nourishment'. Another meaning of 'Go' is 'the senses' and 'vardhana' can also mean 'to increase' - thus the name is also translated by devotees of Krishna as 'that which increases the senses' in their attraction to Krishna. In this connection, it is believed that the personality of Govardhan blesses the devotee by increasing his devotion (bhakti). Thus, by residing in the foothills of Govardhan Hill, all the senses and the respective duties of a soul attain divinity and are more inclined to perform service to Krishna.[citation needed]

GeographyEdit

Govardhan Hill, located from Radha Kund to south of Govardhan, is a long ridge that at its highest is only 100 feet (30 m) above the surrounding land, contrary to artistic depictions of it as a steep hill. At the southern end of the hill is the village of Punchari. At the crest are the villages of Aniyor and Jatipura.[6]

BackgroundEdit

Govardhan Hill is considered a sacred site because it is the site of the history and legends of Krishna, believed to be embodied in earth of the hill. Krishna and his brother Balaram are believed to have spent much time in the forest, ponds, caves, and the grassland where cows fed. An Eden-like sanctuary, the area's waterfalls, garden-grove (van), arbour (nikunj), water tank (kund), and flora are depicted in scenes of Krishna's adventures and raas with Radha.[6]

SitesEdit

The buildings and structures on the Hill have been built since the sixteenth century. As of 2013, there is no known archaeological evidence prior to that century.[7]

A few of the sites include:

  • The sandstone monument and lake, Kusum Sarovar.[1][2]
  • Giriraj Temple[8]
  • Shri Chaitanya Temple, of red sandstone and with paintings of Krishna and Radha[9]
  • Radha Kund Temple[9]
  • Mansi Ganga Lake[9]
  • Danghati Temple[9]

LegendsEdit

There are legends of Krishna’s saving the hill from a flood, “dalliances with gopis (cow-herdresses)’’ and interactions with demons and gods. Artwork has been created of the Hill represented as a bull and a peacock, Krishna in a cave, the Hill as a mountain of food Annakut, depicted in the floods brought on by Indra, and with the Yamuna River.[6]

The lifting of GovardhanEdit

 
Krishna holding Govardhan Hill from Smithsonian Institution’s collections
 
Temple dedicated to Govardhan

Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their 'dharma', to the best of their ability and not pray or conduct sacrifices for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna's life is mostly glossed over - but it actually set up on the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavad Gita.[citation needed]

It also represents the downfall of Indra, and a new beginning in Hindu philosophy, from a more sacrificial/ appeasement oriented worship, to a more spiritual plane of thought. This evolution of thought in Hinduism was brought about by Krishna, and therefore he has been the most important Hindu deity since then - considered an 'avatar' of the supreme. The more we look at his life story - we find him to be a great reformer of his time.[citation needed]

According to ancient Vaishnava legends the Vedic Deva (demigod akin to guardian angel), Indra (god of rain & lightning) was feared by human beings because he would either give the people no rain or flood them if he was not satisfied with their worship. When Krishna found out, he opposed the performance of sacrificial worship for Indra. He emphasized the importance of karma and doing ones duty. This made Indra angry at the boy Krishna (one of the incarnations of the Supreme God [10]).

Indra thus invoked many clouds to appear in the sky and schemed to flood the region with rains lasting for seven days and seven nights. Krishna in reply then lifted Govardhan Hill, under which all the animals and people of the region took shelter, safe from the rains of Indra's fury. Ultimately, Indra accepted defeat. He offered his prayers and left to his heavenly kingdom.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Dev Prasad (January 27, 2015). Krishna: A Journey through the Lands & Legends of Krishna. Jaico Publishing House. pp. PT 147. ISBN 978-81-8495-170-7. 
  2. ^ a b Henry George Keene (1878). A Handbook for Visitors to Agra and Its Neighbourhood. Thacker, Spink. pp. 71–72. 
  3. ^ "Vrindavan to Radha Kund". Google mpas. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  4. ^ David L. Haberman, River of Love in an Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India, Page 264 ISBN 0-520-24789-2
  5. ^ Kapila D. Silva; Neel Kamal Chapagain (2013). Asian Heritage Management: Contexts, Concerns, and Prospects. Routledge. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-415-52054-6. 
  6. ^ a b c Kapila D. Silva; Neel Kamal Chapagain (2013). Asian Heritage Management: Contexts, Concerns, and Prospects. Routledge. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-0-415-52054-6. 
  7. ^ Kapila D. Silva; Neel Kamal Chapagain (2013). Asian Heritage Management: Contexts, Concerns, and Prospects. Routledge. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-415-52054-6. 
  8. ^ Ritika Handoo (2 December 2016). "Here Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan hill—This can be your travel guide to reach Giriraj Temple!". ZeeNews. Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c d Amit Sengupta (16 June 2015). "Spiritual Soujourn in Govardhan". Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  10. ^ Bhag-P 1.3.28 Archived 2013-01-23 at the Wayback Machine. 'Krishna Is the Source of All Incarnations'.

Further readingEdit

  • Rajasekhara Dasa (2001). Govardhana Hill: India's Most Sacred Mountain. Vedanta Vision Publications. ISBN 978-1-310-32111-5. 

External linksEdit