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Govardhan Puja
27. October 1992. - Nandafalva


The Govardhan Festival is very edifying for all of us. The whole Truth is written in a very colourful and heart-touching, but very simple story. What we gain from it, is that it is not worth taking shelter with anybody in the world, except God. It is obvious that the moral of this story is important for us, because it was written for our spiritual use, and it is repeated year after year for this reason, not only in India but all over the world in lectures and different performances.

The Govardhan story illustrates human faults. The character who is inclined to make mistakes is called Indra in the story, but actually he personifies all of us. Indra thought that he was the Lord of everything, the center of the universe, and he thought that the most important duty of people was to glorify him and pray to him. He expected this from people, and we can say, this kept him alive. This illness afflicts all of us, too. We all suffer from this disease. We mould the world according to our own selfish interests. We would like everything in the world to serve us. We make categories accordingly, and we condemn or reward everything from the point of view of whether it serves our interests or not. As Indra was the slave of this faulty conception and suffered from it, we also suffer from these ideas in this world, not only in our present life, but in previous lives. And as long as we continue to think in this way, our condition will not change.

Our happiness will become reality when we are free from this selfish view of life and understand the origin of everything: God Himself. Then we shall serve Him with thanks and love. Indra recognized his mistake and understood who Krsna really was. Our task is the same in this human life: to recognize God, to realize Him and to be conscious of Him. Indra saw Krsna as a boy. Of course not everybody makes the same mistake, but as a misconception, it applies to everyone, since in one way or another we all see God for something or someone other than He really is. One person thinks of Him as an abstract thought, another as the product of human fantasy, and yet others take Him for a philosophical principle. So it means there are a lot of faulty conceptions of God.

There are people who think Him an impersonal, all-pervading energy, and deny His personal identity. So in some way, we all see Him incorrectly, just as Indra didn't understand who He really was. Indra saw Him, but he couldn't realize His real identity. Similarly, we also can see God every day, it is true; we cannot see Him directly but in an indirect way, in His creation, in the world. But in spite of this, we often ask whether God exists or not, and if He does, where He is? But it's easy to see Him everywhere, if one is not the slave of egoistic ideology. Although there are lots of things that are close to us and remind us of God, we cannot see Him. This is just the same as Indra, who couldn't recognize the Lord, although he was standing right in front of Him.

Indra only found Krsna when a great change occured in his heart, when he became humble, and when his real spiritual character awakened in his soul. He realized it was a mistake to expect people to glorify him and pray to him. He understood that he was not in the center of the universe, but only a tiny part of it. The spiritual character or the real nature of the spirit is that somebody has a natural, positive attitude to God. A person understands that he or she is a tiny part of the Whole and at the same time, admitting God's greatness and holiness, one also glorifies Him happily. So when this real spiritual nature emerged victorious in the heart of Indra, at that moment he saw Krsna in another way. Indra not only understood that God existed, but that he hadn't seen Him before, and then Indra realized that he had tried to imitate God's role.

This very edifying story has been illustrated in many ways in the world. We can find parallel stories in the Bible and in the Tragedy of Madach or in Milton's Lost Paradise: why does the soul come into this world, and why does it suffer? Somehow every story offers a similar comment: we try to play God's role or we try to force it on ourselves. This wrong conception causes us different suffering, troubles and worries. Of course in many cases it is not exactly a matter of, „I want to be God.” That is not the issue. Perhaps someone never thinks that. But the mentality by which someone expects another's service and glorification or forms the world according to oneís own benefit, this mentality shows that somehow, directly or indirectly, that person wants to place himself in God's position.

Krsna's teaching in this story is very important. He says: „Maharaj Nanda and inhabitants of Vrndavan! Break with tradition and don't make sacrifices to the demigods!„ It's well known that nearly every religion has a particular mundane feature. Krsna turns our attention to the highest level: let's not follow the mundane side of religion, nor the rituals which otherwise can help for some people at a certain level. But if we want to achieve the most elevated spiritual ideal, letís not adopt the mundane religious aspects such as worship of demigods, but let's be devoted to the origin of the world, the pure transcendental God. In this respect, Indra represents the demigods. And the demigods, as we know from the teaching of the Gita, are respected by people for different material benefits.

People desire lots of money, power, success, a high reputation and career; everything that is appreciated in the material world. All knowledge and science that we have learned since our childhood invite us to gather these material goods that we need for happiness. This means serving those things. So in this story Indra actually personifies material life. Of course there are different explanations for this. As we know, the different planets are in connection with different demigods: the Moon is with Chandra, the Sun is with Surya, and so on. From a certain point of view, we can interpret the story as hope of people in the stars, astrology, destiny, and other material sciences. People often think that destiny punishes or rewards us according to our fortune. If we are lucky, we are rewarded, and if we are unlucky we are punished by unknowable and unfair destiny.

There are few of us who are aware that destiny or providence doesn't punish or reward, but we punish and reward ourselves. If we realize this eternal truth, we can turn our life in the right direction. Walking on this path we won't complain, „O, why was fate so unfair to me; why do I suffer so much; why do I have to live in such difficult conditions?” If we are on the right track, we won't have such feelings, but we'll enjoy spiritual peace, harmony and other joys of spiritual life.

So the essence of the story in short is: don't have faith in the material sciences, material welfare or in blind fortune, but believe in that Person Who stands over everything, Who is the source of everything including the different spiritual and material energies. He is the origin of the world. And our duty is to find the right relationship with Him. When we have found it, we will have a harmonious relationship with the whole world - including the material world.

Therefore this story has far greater significance than we first notice. It is worth meditating on the lesson of it, the conclusion which is open to us and blesses us. By meditating on it we can be sure to gain a new treasure which does not just open our spiritual eyes, but will illuminate our whole life, showing the way to God, Krsna, and make our life perfect.

Swami B. A. Narayan

 
 

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