Worshiping Govardhana Hill
KRSNA BOOK CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
While engaged with the brahmanas who were too much involved in the performance of Vedic sacrifices, Krishna and Balarama also saw that the cowherd men were preparing a similar sacrifice in order to pacify Indra, the King of heaven, who is responsible for supplying water. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita, a devotee of Krishna has strong and firm faith in the understanding that if he is simply engaged in Krishna consciousness and Krishna’s transcendental loving service, then he is freed from all other obligations. A pure devotee of Lord Krishna doesn’t have to perform any of the ritualistic functions enjoined in the Vedas; nor is he required to worship any demigods. Being a devotee of Lord Krishna, one is understood to have performed all kinds of Vedic rituals and all kinds of worship to the demigods. One does not develop devotional service for Krishna by performing the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies or worshiping the demigods, but it should be understood that one who is engaged fully in the service of the Lord has already fulfilled all Vedic injunctions.
In order to stop all such activities by His devotees, Krishna wanted to firmly establish exclusive devotional service during His presence in Vrindavana. Because He is the omniscient Personality of Godhead, Krishna knew that the cowherd men were preparing for the Indra sacrifice, but as a matter of etiquette He began to inquire with great honor and submission from elder personalities like Maharaja Nanda.
Krishna asked His father, “My dear father, what is this arrangement going on for a great sacrifice? What is the result of such a sacrifice, and for whom is it meant? How is it performed? Will you kindly let Me know? I am very eager to know this procedure, so please explain to Me the purpose of this sacrifice.” Upon this inquiry, His father, Nanda Maharaja, remained silent, thinking that his young boy would not be able to understand the intricacies of performing the yajna. Krishna, however, persisted: “My dear father, for those who are liberal and saintly, there is no secrecy. They do not think anyone to be a friend, an enemy or a neutral party, because they are always open to everyone. And even for those who are not so liberal, nothing should be kept secret from the family members and friends, although secrecy may be maintained for persons who are inimical. Therefore you cannot keep any secrets from Me. All persons are engaged in fruitive activities. Some know what these activities are, and they know the result, and some execute activities without knowing the purpose or the result. A person who acts with full knowledge gets the full result; one who acts without knowledge does not get such a perfect result. Therefore, please let Me know the purpose of the sacrifice you are going to perform. Is it according to Vedic injunction? Or is it simply a popular ceremony? Kindly let Me know in detail about the sacrifice.”
On hearing this inquiry from Krishna, Maharaja Nanda replied, “My dear boy, this ceremonial performance is more or less traditional. Because rainfall is due to the mercy of King Indra and the clouds are his representatives, and because water is so important for our living, we must show some gratitude to the controller of this rainfall, Maharaja Indra. We are arranging, therefore, to pacify King Indra, because he has very kindly sent us clouds to pour down a sufficient quantity of rain for successful agricultural activities. Water is very important: without rainfall we cannot farm or produce grain, and without grain we cannot live. Therefore rain is necessary for successful religious ceremonies, economic development and, ultimately, liberation. So we should not give up this traditional ceremonial function; if one gives it up, being influenced by lust, greed or fear, then it does not look very good for him.”
After hearing this, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the presence of His father and all the elder cowherd men of Vrindavana, spoke in such a way as to make heavenly King Indra very angry. He suggested that they forgo the sacrifice. His reasons for discouraging the sacrifice performed to please Indra were twofold. First, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita, there is no need to worship the demigods for any material advancement; all results derived from worshiping the demigods are simply temporary, and only those who are less intelligent are interested in temporary results. Second, whatever temporary result one derives from worshiping the demigods is actually granted by the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita: mayaiva vihitan hi tan. Whatever benefit is supposed to be derived from the demigods is actually bestowed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Without the permission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot bestow any benefit upon others. But sometimes the demigods become puffed up by the influence of material nature; thinking themselves all in all, they forget the supremacy of the Personality of Godhead. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is clearly stated that in this instance Krishna wanted to make King Indra angry. Krishna’s advent was especially meant for the annihilation of the demons and protection of the devotees. King Indra was certainly a devotee, not a demon, but because he was puffed up, Krishna wanted to teach him a lesson. He first made Indra angry by stopping the Indra-puja, which had been arranged by the cowherd men in Vrindavana.
With this purpose in mind, Krishna began to talk as if He were an atheist supporting the philosophy of Karma-mimamsa. Advocates of this philosophy do not accept the supreme authority of the Personality of Godhead. They put forward the argument that if anyone works nicely, the result is sure to come. Their opinion is that even if there is a God who gives man the result of his fruitive activities, there is no need to worship Him because unless man works He cannot bestow any good result. They say that instead of worshiping a demigod or God, people should give attention to their own duties, and thus the good result will surely come. Lord Krishna began to speak to His father according to these principles of the Karma-mimamsa philosophy. “My dear father,” He said, “I don’t think you need to worship any demigod for the successful performance of your agricultural activities. Every living being is born according to his past karma and leaves this life simply taking the result of his present karma. Everyone is born in different types or species of life according to his past activities, and he gets his next birth according to the activities of this life. Different grades of material happiness and distress, comforts and disadvantages of life, are different results of different kinds of activities, from either the past or present life.”
Maharaja Nanda and other elder members argued that without satisfying the predominating god one cannot derive any good result simply by material activities. This is actually the fact. For example, it is sometimes found that in spite of first-class medical help and treatment by a first-class physician, a diseased person dies. It is concluded, therefore, that first-class medical treatment or the attempts of a first-class physician are not in themselves the cause for curing a patient; there must be the hand of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, a father’s and mother’s taking care of their children is not the cause of the children’s comfort. Sometimes it is found that in spite of all care by the parents, the children go bad or succumb to death. Therefore material causes are not sufficient for results. There must be the sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nanda Maharaja therefore advocated that in order to get good results for agricultural activities, they must satisfy Indra, the superintending deity of the rain supply. Lord Krishna nullified this argument, saying that the demigods give results only to persons who have executed their prescribed duties. The demigods cannot give any good results to the person who has not executed the prescribed duties; therefore demigods are dependent on the execution of duties and are not absolute in awarding good results to anyone. So why should one care about them?
“My dear father,” Lord Krishna said, “there is no need to worship the demigod Indra. Everyone has to achieve the result of his own work. We can actually see that one becomes busy according to the natural tendency of his work; and according to that natural tendency, all living entities—either human beings or demigods—achieve their respective results. All living entities achieve higher or lower bodies and create enemies, friends or neutral parties only because of their different kinds of work. One should be careful to discharge duties according to his natural instinct and not divert attention to the worship of various demigods. The demigods will be satisfied by proper execution of all duties, so there is no need to worship them. Let us, rather, perform our prescribed duties very nicely. Actually one cannot be happy without executing his proper prescribed duty. One who does not, therefore, properly discharge his prescribed duties is compared to an unchaste wife. The proper prescribed duty of the brahmanas is the study of the Vedas; the proper duty of the royal order, the kshatriyas, is engagement in protecting the citizens; the proper duty of the vaisya community is agriculture, trade and protection of the cows; and the proper duty of the sudras is service to the higher classes, namely the brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaisyas. We belong to the vaisya community, and our proper duty is to farm, to trade with the agricultural produce, to protect cows or to take to banking.”
Krishna identified Himself with the vaisya community because Nanda Maharaja was protecting many cows and Krishna was taking care of them. He enumerated four kinds of business engagements for the vaisya community, namely agriculture, trade, protection of cows and banking. Although the vaisyas can take to any of these occupations, the men of Vrindavana were engaged primarily in the protection of cows.
Krishna further explained to His father, “This cosmic manifestation is going on under the influence of three modes of material nature—goodness, passion and ignorance. These three modes are the causes of creation, maintenance and destruction. The cloud is caused by the action of the mode of passion; therefore it is the mode of passion which causes the rainfall. And after the rainfall, the living entities derive the result—success in agricultural work. What, then, has Indra to do in this affair? Even if you do not please Indra, what can he do? We do not derive any special benefit from Indra. Even if he is there, he pours water on the ocean also, where there is no need of water. So he is pouring water on the ocean or on the land; it does not depend on our worshiping him. As far as we are concerned, we do not need to go to another city or village or foreign country. There are palatial buildings in the cities, but we are satisfied living in this forest of Vrindavana. Our specific relationship is with Govardhana Hill and Vrindavana forest and nothing more. I therefore request you, My dear father, to begin a sacrifice which will satisfy the local brahmanas and Govardhana Hill, and let us have nothing to do with Indra.”
After hearing this statement by Krishna, Nanda Maharaja replied, “My dear boy, since You are asking, I shall arrange for a separate sacrifice for the local brahmanas and Govardhana Hill. But for the present let me execute this sacrifice known as Indra-yajna.”
But Krishna replied, “My dear father, don’t delay. The sacrifice you propose for Govardhana and the local brahmanas will take much time. Better take the arrangement and paraphernalia you have already made for the Indra-yajna and immediately engage them to satisfy Govardhana Hill and the local brahmanas.”
Maharaja Nanda finally relented. The cowherd men then inquired from Krishna how He wanted the yajna performed, and Krishna gave them the following directions. “Prepare very nice foods of all descriptions from the grains and ghee collected for the yajna. Prepare rice, dhal, then halava, pakora, puri and all kinds of milk preparations, such as sweet rice, rabri, sweetballs, sandesa, rasagulla and laddu, and invite the learned brahmanas who can chant the Vedic hymns and offer oblations to the fire. The brahmanas should be given all kinds of grains in charity. Then decorate all the cows and feed them well. After performing this, give money in charity to the brahmanas. As far as the lower animals are concerned, such as the dogs, and the lower grades of people, such as the candalas, or the fifth class of men, who are considered untouchable, they also may be given sumptuous prasadam. After nice grasses have been given to the cows, the sacrifice known as Govardhana-puja may immediately begin. This sacrifice will very much satisfy Me.”
In this statement, Lord Krishna practically described the whole economy of the vaisya community. In all communities in human society—including the brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaisyas, sudras, candalas, etc.— and in the animal kingdom—including the cows, dogs, goats, etc.—everyone has his part to play. Each is to work in cooperation for the total benefit of all society, which includes not only animate objects but also inanimate objects like hills and land. The vaisya community is specifically responsible for the economic improvement of the society by producing grains, by giving protection to the cows, by transporting food when needed, and by banking and finance.
From this statement we learn also that although the cats and dogs, which have now become so important, are not to be neglected, cow protection is actually more important than protection of cats and dogs. Another hint we get from this statement is that the candalas, or the untouchables, are also not to be neglected by the higher classes and should be given necessary protection. Everyone is important, but some are directly responsible for the advancement of human society and some are only indirectly responsible. However, when Krishna consciousness is there, then everyone’s total benefit is taken care of.
The sacrifice known as Govardhana-puja is observed in the Krishna consciousness movement. Lord Caitanya has recommended that since Krishna is worshipable, so His land—Vrindavana and Govardhana Hill—is also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Krishna said that Govardhana-puja is as good as worship of Him. From that day, Govardhana-puja has been going on and is known as Annakuta. In all the temples of Vrindavana or outside of Vrindavana, huge quantities of food are prepared in this ceremony and are very sumptuously distributed to the general population. Sometimes the food is thrown to the crowds, and they enjoy collecting it off the ground. From this we can understand that prasadam offered to Krishna never becomes polluted or contaminated, even if it is thrown on the ground. The people, therefore, collect it and eat with great satisfaction.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, therefore advised the cowherd men to stop the Indra-yajna and begin the Govardhana-puja in order to chastise Indra, who was very much puffed up at being the supreme controller of the heavenly planets. The honest and simple cowherd men, headed by Nanda Maharaja, accepted Krishna’s proposal and executed in detail everything He advised. They performed Govardhana worship and circumambulation of the hill. (Following the inauguration of Govardhana-puja, people in Vrindavana still dress nicely and assemble near Govardhana Hill to offer worship and circumambulate the hill, leading their cows all around.) According to the instruction of Lord Krishna, Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd men called in learned brahmanas and began to worship Govardhana Hill by chanting Vedic hymns and offering prasadam. The inhabitants of Vrindavana assembled together, decorated their cows and gave them grass. Keeping the cows in front, they began to circumambulate Govardhana Hill. The gopis dressed themselves very luxuriantly and sat in bull-driven carts, chanting the glories of Krishna’s pastimes. Assembled there to act as priests for Govardhana-puja, the brahmanas offered their blessings to the cowherd men and their wives, the gopis.
When everything was complete, Krishna assumed a great transcendental form and declared to the inhabitants of Vrindavana that He was Himself Govardhana Hill in order to convince the devotees that Govardhana Hill and Krishna Himself are identical. Then Krishna began to eat all the food offered there. The identity of Krishna and Govardhana Hill is still honored, and great devotees take rocks from Govardhana Hill and worship them exactly as they worship the Deity of Krishna in the temples. The followers of the Krishna consciousness movement may therefore collect small rocks or pebbles from Govardhana Hill and worship them at home, because this worship is as good as Deity worship. The form of Krishna who began to eat the offerings was separately constituted, and Krishna Himself, along with the other inhabitants of Vrindavana, offered obeisances to the Deity as well as Govardhana Hill. In offering obeisances to the huge form of Krishna and Govardhana Hill, Krishna declared, “Just see how Govardhana Hill has assumed this huge form and is favoring us by accepting all the offerings.” Krishna also declared at that meeting, “One who neglects the worship of Govardhana-puja, as I am personally conducting it, will not be happy. There are many snakes on Govardhana Hill, and persons neglecting the prescribed duty of Govardhana-puja will be bitten by these snakes and killed. In order to assure the good fortune of the cows and themselves, all people of Vrindavana near Govardhana must worship the hill, as prescribed by Me.”
Thus performing the Govardhana-puja sacrifice, all the inhabitants of Vrindavana followed the instructions of Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, and afterwards they returned to their respective homes.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-fourth Chapter of Krishna, “Worshiping Govardhana Hill.”
Devastating Rainfall in Vrindavana
KRSNA BOOK CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
When Indra understood that the sacrifice that was to be offered by the cowherd men in Vrindavana had been stopped by Krishna, he became angry, and he vented his anger upon the inhabitants of Vrindavana, who were headed by Nanda Maharaja, although Indra knew perfectly well that Krishna was personally protecting them. As the director of different kinds of clouds, Indra called for the Samvartaka. This cloud is invited when there is a need to devastate the whole cosmic manifestation. The Samvartaka was ordered by Indra to go over Vrindavana and inundate the whole area with an extensive flood. Demonically, Indra thought himself to be the all-powerful supreme personality. When demons become very powerful, they defy the supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead. Indra, though not a demon, was puffed up by his material position, and he wanted to challenge the supreme controller. He thought himself, at least for the time being, as powerful as Krishna. Indra said, “Just see the impudence of the inhabitants of Vrindavana! They are simply inhabitants of the forest, but being infatuated with their friend Krishna, who is nothing but an ordinary human being, they have dared to defy the demigods.”
Krishna has declared in the Bhagavad-gita that the worshipers of the demigods are not very intelligent. He has also declared that one has to give up all kinds of worship and simply concentrate on Krishna consciousness. Krishna’s invoking the anger of Indra and later on chastising him is a clear indication to His devotees that those who are engaged in Krishna consciousness have no need to worship any demigod, even if it is found that the demigod has become angry. Krishna gives His devotees all protection, and they should completely depend on His mercy.
Indra cursed the action of the inhabitants of Vrindavana and said, “By defying the authority of the demigods, the inhabitants of Vrindavana will suffer in material existence. Having neglected the sacrifice to the demigods, they cannot cross over the impediments of the ocean of material existence.” Indra further declared, “These cowherd men in Vrindavana have neglected my authority on the advice of this talkative boy who is known as Krishna. He is nothing but a child, and by believing this child, they have enraged me.” Thus he ordered the Samvartaka cloud to go and destroy the prosperity of Vrindavana. “The men of Vrindavana,” said Indra, “have become too puffed up over their material opulence and are overconfident due to the presence of their tiny friend, Krishna. He is simply talkative, childish and unaware of the complete cosmic situation, although He is thinking Himself very advanced in knowledge. Because they have taken Krishna so seriously, they must be punished. They should be destroyed with their cows.” In this way Indra ordered the Samvartaka cloud to go to Vrindavana and inundate the place.
It is indicated here that in the villages or outside the towns, the inhabitants must depend on the cows for their prosperity. When the cows are destroyed, the people are destitute of all kinds of opulences. When King Indra ordered the Samvartaka and companion clouds to go to Vrindavana, the clouds were afraid of doing this mischief. But King Indra assured them, “You go ahead, and I will also go, riding on my elephant, accompanied by great storms. And I shall apply all my strength to punishing the inhabitants of Vrindavana.”
Ordered by King Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrindavana and began to pour water incessantly, with all their strength and power. There was constant lightning and thunder, blowing of severe wind and incessant falling of rain. The rainfall seemed to fall like piercing sharp arrows. By pouring water as thick as pillars, without cessation, the clouds gradually filled all the lands in Vrindavana with water, and there was no visible distinction between higher and lower land. The situation was very dangerous, especially for the animals. The rainfall was accompanied by great winds, and every living creature in Vrindavana began to tremble from the severe cold. Unable to find any other source of deliverance, they all approached Govinda to take shelter at His lotus feet. The cows especially, being much aggrieved from the heavy rain, bowed down their heads, and taking their calves underneath their bodies, they approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take shelter of His lotus feet. At that time all the inhabitants of Vrindavana began to pray to Lord Krishna. “Dear Krishna,” they prayed, “You are all-powerful, and You are very affectionate to Your devotees. Now please protect us, who have been much harassed by angry Indra.”
Upon hearing their prayer, Krishna could also understand that Indra, being bereft of his sacrificial honor, was pouring down rain that was accompanied by heavy pieces of ice and strong winds, although all this was out of season. Krishna understood that this was a deliberate exhibition of anger by Indra. He therefore concluded, “This demigod who thinks himself supreme has shown his great power, but I shall answer him according to My position, and I shall teach him that he is not autonomous in managing universal affairs. I am the Supreme Lord over all, and I shall thus take away his false prestige, which has risen from his power. The demigods are My devotees, and therefore it is not possible for them to forget My supremacy, but somehow or other he has become puffed up with material power and thus is now maddened. I shall act in such a way to relieve him of this false prestige. I shall give protection to My pure devotees in Vrindavana, who are at present completely at My mercy and whom I have taken completely under My protection. I must save them by My mystic power.”
Thinking in this way, Lord Krishna immediately picked up Govardhana Hill with one hand, exactly as a child picks up a mushroom from the ground. Thus He exhibited His transcendental pastime of lifting Govardhana Hill. Lord Krishna then addressed His devotees, “My dear brothers, My dear father, My dear inhabitants of Vrindavana, you can now safely enter under the umbrella of Govardhana Hill, which I have just lifted. Do not be afraid of the hill and think that it will fall from My hand. You have been too much afflicted from the heavy rain and strong wind; therefore I have lifted this hill, which will protect you exactly like a huge umbrella. I think this is a proper arrangement to relieve you of your immediate distress. Be happy along with your animals underneath this great umbrella.” Being assured by Lord Krishna, all the inhabitants of Vrindavana entered beneath the great hill along with their property and animals, and they all appeared to be safe.
The inhabitants of Vrindavana and their animals remained there for one week without being disturbed by hunger, thirst or any other discomforts. They were simply astonished to see how Krishna was holding up the mountain with the little finger of His left hand. Seeing the extraordinary mystic power of Krishna, Indra, the King of heaven, was thunderstruck and baffled in his determination. He immediately called for all the clouds and asked them to desist. When the sky became completely cleared of all clouds and there was sunrise again, the strong wind stopped. At that time Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, known now as the lifter of Govardhana Hill, said, “My dear cowherd men, now you can leave and take your wives, children, cows and valuables, because everything is ended. The inundation has gone down, along with the swelling waters of the river.”
All the men loaded their valuables on carts and slowly left with their cows and other paraphernalia. After they had cleared out everything, Lord Krishna very slowly replaced Govardhana Hill exactly in the same position as it had been before. When everything was done, all the inhabitants of Vrindavana approached Krishna with feelings of love and embraced Him with great ecstasy. The gopis, being naturally very affectionate to Krishna, began to offer Him yogurt mixed with their tears, and they poured incessant blessings upon Him. Mother Yasoda, mother Rohini, Nanda and Balarama, who is the strongest of the strong, embraced Krishna one after another and, from spontaneous feelings of affection, blessed Him over and over again. In the heavens, different demigods from different planetary systems, such as Siddhaloka, Gandharvaloka and Caranaloka, also began to show their complete satisfaction. They poured showers of flowers on the surface of the earth and sounded different conchshells. There was beating of drums, and being inspired by godly feelings, residents of Gandharvaloka began to play on their tambouras to please the Lord. After this incident, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, surrounded by His dear friends and the animals, returned to His home. As usual, the gopis began to chant the glorious pastimes of Lord Krishna with great feeling, for they were chanting from the heart.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twenty-fifth Chapter of Krishna, “Devastating Rainfall in Vrindavana.”
Lord Krishna, as the teacher of human society, personally showed by His acts that the mercantile community, or the vaisyas, should herd cows and bulls and thus give protection to the valuable animals. According to smriti regulation, the cow is the mother and the bull the father of the human being. The cow is the mother because just as one sucks the breast of one’s mother, human society takes cow’s milk. Similarly, the bull is the father of human society because the father earns for the children just as the bull tills the ground to produce food grains. Human society will kill its spirit of life by killing the father and the mother. It is mentioned herein that the beautiful cows and bulls were of various checkered colors—red, black, green, yellow, ash, etc. And because of their colors and healthy smiling features, the atmosphere was enlivening. (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad Bhagavatam 3:2:29. purport.)
pita-mata mari’ khao——eba kon dharma
kon bale kara tumi e-mata vikarma
pita-mata—father and mother; mari’—killing; khao—you eat; eba—this; kon—what kind of; dharma—religion; kon bale—on what strength; kara—do; tumi—you; e-mata—such; vikarma—sinful activities.
“Since the bull and cow are your father and mother, how can you kill and eat them? What kind of religious principle is this? On what strength are you so daring that you commit such sinful activities?”
Everyone can understand that we drink the milk of cows and take the help of bulls in producing agricultural products. Therefore, since our real father gives us food grains and our mother gives us milk with which to live, the cow and bull are considered our father and mother. According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers, of which the cow is one. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu challenged the Muslim Kazi, “What kind of religious principle do you follow by killing your father and mother to eat them?” In any civilized human society, no one would dare kill his father and mother for the purpose of eating them. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu challenged the system of Muslim religion as patricide and matricide. In the Christian religion also, a principal commandment is “Thou shalt not kill.” Nevertheless, Christians violate this rule; they are very expert in killing and in opening slaughterhouses. In our Krishna consciousness movement, our first provision is that no one should be allowed to eat any kind of flesh. It does not matter whether it is cows’ flesh or goats’ flesh, but we especially stress the prohibition against cows’ flesh because according to sastra the cow is our mother. (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta Adi-lila 17:154. text and purport).
"According to the Vedic social system, as soon as one takes birth he becomes indebted to so many persons. We are indebted to the rishis, or great sages, because we derive knowledge from their transcendental writings, such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam, compiled by Srila Vyasadeva. The authors of the scripture know past, present, and future, and we are urged to take advantage of such invaluable knowledge. Thus we are indebted to the sages.
We are also indebted to the demigods, for they manage the affairs of the universe, supplying it with every essential—sunshine from the sun-god, Surya; moonshine from the moon-god, Candra; air from Vayu; and so on. Each element is controlled by a particular demigod.
We are also indebted to ordinary living entities from whom we take service. For example, we take milk from the cow. According to Vedic understanding, the cow is considered one of our mothers because we drink her milk, just as at birth we drink our mother’s milk. The Srimad-Bhagavatam lists seven mothers: our own mother, the wife of our teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a brahmana, the wife of the king, the nurse, the cow, and the earth. We are indebted to all seven of these mothers, and also to our father, brothers, friends, relatives, and forefathers."(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Second Chance book - chapter 17 "The Moment of Truth")
"Similarly, this Bhagavad-gita is the essence of all Vedic literature, just like milk is the essence of the blood. Blood... The milk is nothing, but it is cow’s blood transformed. Just like mother’s milk. The mother’s milk, wherefrom it comes? It comes from the blood, but transformed in such a way that it becomes nutritious to the child, tasteful to the child. Similarly, cow’s milk also, a most nutritious and valuable food. So it is compared that this Bhagavad-gita is the milk of the cow of Vedic literature. And the milkman is Krishna Himself. And the drinker of the milk is..., we are, Arjuna, through Arjuna. So these things are there." (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 3rd June 1968. Bhagavad Gita lecture. Montreal.)
"Personified dharma, he’s inquiring from the cow. He’s addressing cow, amba. Amba means mother. So cow is our mother. Why mother? Because from practical point of view, we drink milk. So how mother... How cow is not mother? She’s mother. We are taking her milk. There are seven mothers according to Vedic civilization:
atma-mata guroh patni
dhenur dhatri tatha prithvi
saptaita matarah smritah
Real mother, from whose womb we have come to this world, real mother, atma-mata. Then guroh patni, wife of the teacher or spiritual master, guroh patni. Brahmani, the wife of a brahmana. Atma-mata guroh patni brahmani raja-patnika, and the wife of the king, or the queen. She’s also mother. Dhenu, the cow. Cow is also mother. And dhatri means nurse. Nurse is also mother. Tatha prithvi, and the earth, the earth is also our mother. That we say in country, in the country which we take birth, we say desa-matrika. In Sanskrit it is called desa-matrika. That is also mother. Mother land, mother language. So this... So many mothers we have got, out of which, cow is also mother. Therefore she’s addressed as amba. Amba means mother. Still in Gujarat province, they call amba. And in U.P., United States, er, United Province, in India, they also call amba, or in a broken language they call amma. Still... That is from very long time, mother is... Amba-devi. There is a... From Amba-devi, there is a big temple of Mother Durga, Kali, in Bombay. So this Amba-devi was pronounced by the Englishmens as Bamba-devi, and from Bamba-devi it has come to “Bombay.” Actually, there is a big temple of Amba in Bombay. From that name, instead of Amba, they have become Bamba. Just like from Sindhu, they have called, they have designated the inhabitants of Sindhu-desa as “Hindu.” The Muhammadans, they pronounce s as h. So from “Sindhu,” it has come to “Hindu.” Otherwise, this “Hindu” name is not mentioned in any Vedic literature. It is given by the... This name is given by the other foreigners. Especially the Arabian countries, they used to call this nation, Bharata-varsha...
Actually, Hindu is not a religion. Hindu is a name given by the foreigners. The religion is, of India, varnasrama-dharma, following the institution of four varnas and four asramas. That is varn... Or sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma means eternal, eternal religion. Religion of human being is one. That is called sanatana. A living entity is described as sanatana. Mamaivamso jiva-bhuto jiva-loke sanatanah. In the Bhagavad-gita you’ll find sanatanah, and Krishna is also addressed in the Eleventh Chapter as sanatanas tvam. And there is another place, or spiritual world, which is also called sanatana. In the Bhagavad-gita you’ll find, paras tasmat tu bhavo ’nyo ’vyakto ’vyaktat sanatanah. So this sanatana term is very important. The living entity is sanatana and God is sanatana and the spiritual world is sanatana, and the process by which your lost relationship with God established and you go back to home back to Godhead, that is called sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma. That is our eternal relationship with God." (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 15th January 1974. Srimad Bhagavatam lecture SB 1:16:19. Hawaii).
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