Krishna’s Glorification of Action and condemnation of worship of Indra

The story of Krishna lifting the Govardhana Mountain to protect the people of Vraja and in the process humbling the God of rain, Indra, is well known. While this part of the story is certainly the real highlight,the prelude to this story is equally interesting and enlightening.
The story starts with Krishna witnessing the whole of Vraja making elaborate preparations to perform ‘Yajna’ to propitiate Indra,who is the deity capable of yielding rains when needed.
Krishna was quite baffled at the grand scale in which the whole thing was being planned. And at the same time He was also aware of how proud Indra was because of all the powers bestowed on him. Krishna,therefore,wanted to teach him a lesson or two on humility.
He approached Nanda and others and highlighted quite forcefully the importance of ‘Actions’ in life. He says: Actions alone (or karma) are of paramount importance in life. Pleasure,Pain,fear,welfare -all are caused through one’s actions. The gods can only dispense fruits according to the merits of actions performed – neither more nor less. All beings are subject to their nature or ‘Gunas’ ,which in turn determine the quality of their actions. Therefore,Krishna concludes that our Actions(determined by our nature)alone stand for everything in our lives – our friend,enemy,neutral observer,preceptor and even the Almighty Lord. (“Shatrurmitramudasinah karmaiva gururishwarah”).
The Lord goes on to advocate that all of us should worship work alone as one’s deity. He concludes quite emphatically that Indra has nothing to with rain or the lack of it – rather it is the quality of our actions that causes or blesses us with the rain.
Having almost dissuaded Nanda and the other people of Vraja from the worship of Indra,Krishna urges them to worship instead the forest land,the mountain(Govardhana)and the cows for the simple reason that their lives and livelihood are entirely supported by the latter. He also advises them to go ahead and distribute the food and other sacrificial gifts(meant for Indra) among all people living in Vraja – the Brahmanas,the downtrodden, and even animals.

In this part of the story,the Lord is addressing three issues at the same time: Firstly,the gullible people of Vraja are being taught the importance and superiority of Work /Actions over everything else. Secondly,the arrogance of power displayed by Indra is being exposed and punished. And thirdly,the symbolism behind the Lord’s suggestion to worship forest,mountains and and animals is also quite evident. Protection of nature and animals which sustain our lives is being emphasized here. And finally, the virtue of being compassionate to the noble Brahmanas and the downtrodden by distributing food and gifts (instead of offering the same to Indra)is being stressed by the Lord.

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 5:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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