Tuesday, 16 Nov 2010, 9:00 pm: As I looked out of the vehicle, I saw jute stalks gently swaying in the open fields. Shortly we arrived in Govardhana town. At the point where devotees begin their parikrama (circumambulation of Govardhana Hill) there is a group offering their initial dandavats (prostrated obeisances). Our driver slams on the brakes and our vehicle screeches to a halt. I thought we might have just missed running over someone, but our driver is cool, calm and collected. This happens here every day. Bang in the middle of an intersection human-pulled rickshaws, SUV’s, compact cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, stray cattle and whatnot – all converge and somehow decide who will have the right to pass. Welcome to Govardhana!
Wednesday, 17 Nov, 4:00 am: Even at such an early hour, I see devotees begin their parikrama. Two of us arrive at the heavy metal gate of Bhaktivedanta Ashram. The security guard does not respond to our loud calls. Desperate, we resort to banging the metal lock against the gate. At exactly 4:15 am, I hear the mangala-arati (the first worship in the morning) conch shells blow loudly and reverberate. We are still left stranded outside. This property belonged to the Maharaja of Chattarpur and was used by him whenever he came to Vraja for pilgrimage. I wondered whether any of our current politicians would have the desire to do such a thing today. This king was worshipping Lord Krishna in the form of a govardhana-Sila (stone) in a small shrine. ISKCON devotees have continued that worship and when they were digging a large hole for an underground water tank another Sila was discovered. This white Sila was very similar as the existing Krishna-Sila. Thus, now we have Krishna-Balarama on the temple’s main altar.
At almost 4:55 the guard finally wakes up and lets us in. We enter the temple room to find that the morning services are over, so we decide to chant in front of the sacred tulasi plant. After some time more devotees join, and we all decide to go on the terrace of the ashrama. The terrace affords a panoramic view of Giriraja Govardhana.
Thursday, 18 Nov, 4:00 am: I see a small trickle of devotees about to begin their parikrama. But today I am not surprised rather I expected it. After breakfast prasada at Bhaktivedanta Ashrama, we visit Cakalesvara Mahadeva and the bhajana-kutira (place of worship) of Srila Sanatana Goswami. It is said that because Sanatana Goswami was too much disturbed by mosquitoes he decided to move away. However, Lord Siva intervened and requested him to stay. After that mosquitoes no longer disturbed Sanatana Goswami. As I am narrating this story to our small group, a group of mosquitoes attack my right thigh. My karma what else?!
Friday, 19 Nov, 10:00 am: We are at a very sacred kunda (lake) called Govinda-kunda. While Lord Krishna was performing his pastimes as a cowherd boy, He saw that his community was busy preparing an elaborate ceremony to propitiate Indra, the chief of the demigods. Krishna argued that although Indra is responsible for the rains and therefore the cowherd community should be grateful to him, he is no special well-wisher of them, since his rains also fall in the ocean. Instead, the whole community should worship Govardhana, who is their true friend. Everyone agreed to this proposal. Indra fumed with rage when he heard that a mere boy has stopped his worship, so blinded with anger he ordered his clouds to flood the entire Vraja area and wash it away into oblivion.
At this time, Krishna, who was a mere seven-year-old boy, lifted the entire hill and gave complete protection to all the cowherds and their animals. Now Indra came to realize that this was no mere cowherd boy that he has insulted but indeed he had offended the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus at this place Indra and a host of other demigods performed the sacred abhisheka ceremony of Krishna. Indra called Krishna “the real Indra” and also chanted His glories as Govinda, one who gives pleasure to cows, earth and the senses.
Saturday, 20 Nov, 10:00 am: As we are performing a short parikrama I saw a strange sight. A monkey had lost both his hind legs and was balancing his body on his front legs. It was remarkable that he still managed to not only walk but run!
After coming back to our ashrama, we decide to do a full parikrama of Govardhana tomorrow.
Sunday, 21 Nov, 4:00 am: As I exit our ashrama gate, I see the full moon over Govardhana and offer my dandavats. After attending the full morning program at Bhaktivedanta Ashrama, we chant till 5:30 am and begin our parikrama. After a kilometer or so we turn inward to the dirt road. The cool dirt was very pleasant to walk on. At a lake called Sankarshana-kunda we have to come out and walk on the tar road. At Govinda-kunda we again go back to the mud road. As we cross over to the other side of Govardhana, the sun rises and spreads orange hues all over. At 9:30, we arrive at Radha-kunda and sprinkle reverentially three drops of its water on our heads. At 10:30, we are back at our ashrama and finish the parikrama with dandavats in the holy dust of Govardhana.