Saturday, December 10, 2022

Govardhan puja: when Bhagwan Krishna humbled Indradev

Govardhan Puja is an important part of Deepawali celebrations and usually falls on the day after Deepawali. The festival has its origins in Brajbhoomi where Bhagwan Krishna spent His childhood. It marks the victory of Sri Krishna over Indradev when the latter was consumed by arrogance. The puja falls on the Shukla Paksha Pratipada tithi of Kartik month.

It is also known as Annakoot (Annakut) which means mountain of food. On this occasion, 56 varieties (chhappan bhog) of food items including vegetables and sweets are prepared and offered to Sri Krishna after which it is distributed as prasad among devotees. It expresses gratitude to Bhagwan for saving the residents of Gokul from the wrath of Indradev.

Govardhan Puja story and significance

Vishnu Puran says young Sri Krishna once questioned Yashoda maiyya why Gokulvasis worshipped Indradev. She explained that Indradev was responsible for causing the rains and hence he the villagers prayed to him. However, Sri Krishna wasn’t in agreement with His mother. He asked Gokulvasis to pray to mount Govardhan instead of Indradev.

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He reasoned with the villagers that Govardhan was worthy of their worship since it provided all the necessary resources for their survival. The villagers agreed with Bhagwan and offered prayers to Govardhan parvat. Indradev was angered by Sri Krishna’s act of replacing him and honouring Govardhan. He then instructed Varundev, the deity of rains, to inundate Gokul with torrential rains for seven days.

Accordingly, rains began to lash Gokul whose residents turned to Sri Krishna for help. They requested Bhagwan to save their lives. Heeding to their request, Sri Krishna lifted Govardhan parvat on His little finger. Gokulvasis along with other living beings including cows took shelter under the parvat.

Heavy rains lashed Gokul for seven days and nights continuously but the villagers were protected by Sri Krishna. In the end, Indradev was humbled and accepted his defeat. He realised that Bhagwan Krishna was none other than Sri Hari Vishnu. This event is commemorated by Hindus by paying respect to the Govardhan parvat on this day.

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Govardhan puja usually falls the very next day after Deepawali and Sri Krishna as well as Govardhan parvat are worshipped on this day. Devotees worship Govardhan on this day by performing an eleven-mile parikrama (circumambulation) around the mountain and offering chhappan bhog to the parvat. Krishna devotees offer flowers and diyas to temples located in the region.    

PC: pujayagna.com

The significance of the puja is it teaches devotees the importance of respecting nature. It also shows that Bhagwan protects those who surrender to Him with unconditional bhakti.

Bali Pratipada

In Maharashtra, this day is celebrated as Bali Pratipada (Bali Padva). It marks Asura Raja Bali’s visit to the earth. It is associated with Sri Hari Vishnu’s Vamana Avatar. Bhagwan Vishnu took birth as Upendran to keep His promise of winning back the lost kingdom for Aditi’s children.

Mahabali asked what donation he should offer Bhagwan to which the latter replied that all He wanted was a place for meditation (dhyana) for which he required land measuring three of His footsteps.

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As soon as Bali agreed to give what Bhagwan who had come as a Brahmachari (young unmarried boy), assumed the form of Trivikrama (conqueror of all the three worlds). In this form, He encompassed the entire earth with one step and the sky/heavens with the second. Since there was no place left for the third, Mahabali offered his head and Bhagwan sent him to the Sutala (part of Pataal Lok) with the third step.

Bali was not just granted the boon to visit his subjects once every year for three days but Bhagwan Himself is said to have become Bali’s gatekeeper in the Sutala region. “In South India, king Bali is worshipped during Onam and the concept of Onam is same as that of Bali Puja in North India”, notes Drikpanchang. While this event is celebrated during Onam in Kerala, Maharashtra & North celebrate Raja Mahabali’s return a day after Deepawali during Kartik Shukla Paksha Pratipada.

(Featured Image Source: Aaj Ki Khabar)

(This story has been reproduced here with permission from Hindu Post.)

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