Govinda (transl. “finder or observer of cattle”), also rendered Govind, Gobinda and Gobind, is an epithet of Vishnu and is also used for his avatars such as Krishna.[1] The name appears as the 187th and the 539th name of Vishnu in the Vishnu Sahasranama. The name is also popularly addressed to Krishna, referring to his youthful activity as a cowherd boy.

Krishna worshipped as Govinda with his consort Radha in the historic Govind Dev Ji Temple (left), Krishna and the cowherds, c. 1800, Victoria and Albert Museum (right)

Etymology edit

In the word "Govinda", "Govu" means Indriyas. Govinda therefore means the all-pervading, omnipresent ruler of the sense organs, or Indriyas. "Govu" also means 'Vedas'. Hence Govinda is the supreme being who can be known through the Vedas.[2] Govinda can also be translated as "protector of cows".

Interpretations edit

Krishna as Govinda at Sri Sri Radha Govind temple, Ahmedabad

Govinda is a name of Krishna and also appears as the 187th and 539th name of Vishnu in the Vishnu Sahasranama, the 1,000 names of Vishnu.[3]

According to Adi Shankara's commentary on Vishnu Sahasranama, translated by Swami Tapasyananda, Govinda has four meanings:[3]

  1. The sages call Krishna "Govinda" as he pervades all the worlds, giving them power.
  2. The Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata states that Vishnu restored the earth that had sunk into the netherworld, so all the devas praised him as Govinda (protector of the land).
  3. Alternatively, it means "He who is known by Vedic words alone".
  4. In the Harivamsa, Indra praised Krishna for having attained loving leadership of the cows which Krishna tended as a cowherd, by saying, "So men too shall praise him as Govinda."

In the Brahma Samhita, Krishna is praised as Govinda, who is eternal and origin of all living beings.[4]

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, states that Govinda means "master of the senses".[5]

Prayers edit

An 8th century Hindu devotional composition called "Moha Mudgara", composed by Adi Shankara, summarises: "If one just worships Govinda, one can easily cross this great ocean of birth and death." This refers to the belief that worshipful adoration of Vishnu or Krishna can lead believers out of the cycle of reincarnation (samsara) and lead them into an eternal blissful life in Vaikuntha, 'the supreme abode situated beyond this material world' where Govinda (Vishnu) resides. The composition expresses the value of inner devotion to Vishnu.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ (2011-12-19). "Govinda, Go-vinda, Govimda: 33 definitions". Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  2. ^ Bhaja Govindam: Charpat Panjarika Stotram. Pustak Mahal. 20 August 2009. p. 10. ISBN 9788122310740.
  3. ^ a b Sri Vishnu Sahasranama, commentary by Sri Sankaracharya, pgs. 69 and 115, translated by Swami Tapasyananda (Ramakrishna Math Publications, Chennai)
  4. ^ Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati. Sri Brahma Samhita Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati.
  5. ^ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita, a New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1–6. Penguin Books, 1969, p 57 (v 32).

Notes edit

External links edit