This year, and last year at the same time, from the middle of November until the middle of December, I was attending two retreats in the valley of the Govardhan Hill, in the most sacred part of Sri Vrndavan Dham, in India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the district of Mathura.
Devoted people come from all over the world to worship this holy place by performing parikram (circumambulation) around its fourteen mile perimeter. Some of them bow down flat on the ground with their arms extended in front of them. Then they mark the place where their fingers touched and move forward to the place that was marked to offer their obeisances again from that marked spot. In this way, worshipping the sacred place of Radha and Krsna’s divine pastimes in humble circumambulation.
Govardhan is said to be shaped like a peacock, with the two most sacred lakes, Sri Radha Kund and Sri Shyam Kund as the two eyes of the peacock. As a seven-year-old child, Krsna is said to have lifted Sri Govardhan up as an umbrella as easily as a child might lift a tiny mushroom over his head. In order to protect His beloved residents of Vrndavan from a violent rain storm caused by the anger of Indra, the demigod in charge of rain, little Krsna held the hill aloft for seven days while the cows, cowherds and cowherd damsels (the gopies) happily took shelter underneath.
As the playground of the inconceivable, joyful and charming pastimes of Krsna in Vrndavan, Govardhan is considered to the greatest devotee of Krsna, fulfilling all of His desires by supplying grass for the cows, caves for secret play, and colorful unguents and minerals for decorating the face. Govardhan is also considered to be not different from Krsna Himself, in the same way that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is considered both a devotee and the Lord Himself playing as a devotee.
In Bhakti, we worship the relationships of Krsna with His devotees as more sacred than Krsna Himself. How can we believe such impossible things? Through the sweetness of rasa, or the tastes of relationship, all becomes revealed and, each day, still more sweet than it was the day before, through the medium of hearing about the ever-increasing love of the residents of Vrndavan. Beyond the rational mind, these pastimes begin to be felt through the heart of a sincere devotee who tries to hear about them with respect and love.
Sri Giri Govardhan Kijaya!
All the best,