Is Govardhana Krishna or devotee of Krishna?
From: Pancha Pandava P
Edited By: Anshu Todi Mataji
Question: Sometimes it is said that Govardhana is Krishna Himself and other times it is said that he is Haridas Variya, the greatest of all devotees. So who is Govardhana exactly? Is Govardhana Krishna or devotee of Krishna?
Answer: In the spiritual world everything is an expansion of Krishna. Because Krishna expands as Balrama and the whole spiritual world expands from Balrama. So in one sense, everything in the spiritual world is non-different from Krishna. And of course there are varying levels of non-difference. We know that Radha Rani is also an expansion of Krishna radha krsna eka aatma dui deha dhari; Chaitanya Charitamrita says Radha Rani and Krishna are one soul. They have taken two bodies for the purpose of anyonye vilasa kori, for the purpose of performing pastimes. Is Radha Krishna one or two? If we look at the pastimes they are clearly two.
They are two distinct personalities. Not only they are entirely different in the way they appear, but also, they are two distinct persons in the way they think, in the way they live, in the way they interact. Because two are different there is such a possibility of loving relationship. So this means that in the spiritual world when the point of Lila comes up the non-difference aspect is not focused on. The focus is on that aspect where the difference between people is bringing relish in the relationship.
In the last chapters of Bhagavatam (87-88) it is described how Mahavishnu wants to take darshan of Krishna. Vishnu and Krishna is the same person. So why does Maha Vishnu wants to take darshan of Krishna? Why does he kidnap the Brahmana’s sons so that Arjuna along with Krishna will come to Maha Vishnu’s abode? That is because from the rasa point of view Maha Vishnu also wants to take darshan of Krishna. Although they are the same person, but Krishna is rasaraja. And Maha Visnu wants to relish that rasa, that reciprocation of rasa with Krishna. So in the spiritual world whenever there is a talk about pastimes, the focus is more on the concept of difference and less on oneness.
Radha Rani and Maha Vishnu are understood to be directly God. We worship them as God. But then it is also said that all the gopis are manifestations of Radha Rani in different bodies. They are the kaya of Radha Rani that is expanded. So the gopis are the expansion of Radha Rani and Radha Rani is the expansion of Krishna. And what is the relationship between the Krishna and gopis? It will appear as if they are also Krishna? We know that the gopis are exalted devotees of Krishna. So this means rather than seeing things in terms of absolute differences, we see a gradation with varying level of non-difference and difference in the spiritual world.
So with respect to Govardhana, when the Lila is to be performed it is emphasized that Govardhana is a devotee of Krishna. Anand Vrindavan Champu and Gopal Champu both describe the ecstasy of Govardhan when there was an opportunity to serve Krishna. When Krishna lifted Govardhana, he made sure that not a single drop of water falls on the Brijbasis. He was in great ecstasy when he got the opportunity to protect all the Brijbasis and there by serving Krishna during Indra’s downpour.
When the ecstasy of Govardhana comes in picture, we see how Govardhana is relishing ecstasy in service to Krishna just like a devotee. Before Krishna lifted Govardhan a sacrifice and a bhoga was offered. At that time Govardhana himself manifested a form and accepted the offerings that were made. Not only did he had the offerings but also asked for more and more offerings and ate them all also.
Meanwhile, Krishna said, O Govardhana appeared here! Let us offer obeisances. And Prabhupada explains in the Krishna book that when Govardhana manifested a visible form it was different from Krishna. And that’s how Krishna could tell all the Brijbasis,”This is Govardhana; let us offer obeisances to him. ”
So when we worship Govardhana shila which is non-different from Krishna it is considered to be like Deity worship only When we want to talk about difference and non–difference, we have to understand that in the spiritual world the primary focus is on Lila. It is Krishna Himself who manifests as Govardhana and as Govardhana; He manifests the mood of a devotee. Just like Balramaji, is He God or a devotee? He is God who is playing the role of a devotee. Similarly Govardhana is Krishna Himself; it is the expansion of Krishna. When the pastimes are going on and rasa is to be relished, at that time neither Govardhana nor the devotees were relishing, they focus on the fact that Govardhana and Krishna are the same. They focus on how Govardhana is serving Krishna and relishing the service to Krishna. When Govardhana for a specific purpose, for a specific Lila, Krishna and Govardhana are to be manifested, the non difference becomes manifest.
So in summary Govardhana is Hari who is manifesting as Hari Das variya. He is God Himself who has taken the role of top most devotees to participate in his own pastimes.