Gandhigiri of Giridhari

Lesson of Govardhan-Dharan lila


In Pushti Marg, ShriNathji’s form is that of a Krushna lifting the mount Govardhan at the age of 7.  ShriNathji does not age in the minds of his worshipers.  ShriNathji holds aloft the the mount Govardhan by his left hand and to show that this is a long term stint, he has his right hand on his hip, waiting patiently for the time when he can put the mountain down.

Questions that arise in my mind are, first, why did Shri Krushna deliberately provoke Indra by stopping his puja.  Afterall, Shri Krushna came to re-affirm the Sanatan Dharma and yagna of the Gods is part of that tradition.  Secondly, if having provoked Indra to a fight, why did Shri Krushna not defeat him as he had defeated other demons already ?

Having thought for some time, I think the answers are Krushna’s version of Gandhigiri before Gandhiji.

Shri Krushna came to re-affirm Sanatan Dharma.  Rituals are incidental to dharma.  Sanatan Dharma is beyond social and cultural confines.  Dharma afterall is our natural and instinctive duty.  In this case of Indra puja at the end of the rainy season, Dharma, Sanatan Dharma, is for the humans to offer gratitude to those Gods who have been kind enough to provide you with rain which is essential for drinking water and for reinvigorate fertility of the earth.  It is an act of offering thanks.  It is the dharma of the Gods to provide the rains on time, and in sufficient quantity to sustain life on earth.  Gods provide this with or without the express “Thanks” from creatures that live on earth.  Indeed, the plants and animals offer no special thanks at all, but heavens provide rain for them regardless, as that is their Sanatan Dharma to do so.  Humans, having been given some modicum of intelligence, should thank the Gods as part of their Dharma.  Shri Krushna maintained Sanatan Dharma of showing gratitude, he simply transferred that thankfulness and gratitude towards Nature and Govardhan than Indra. 

Being the Devata, whether humans offer the thanks or not, Gods should provide the rain because that is their duty – eternal duty.  They have the responsibility to look after life on Earth with or without gratitude.  Like parents, they would welcome an occasional “Thank you”, but they do not do their duty for those “Thank yous’.”  If the Devata only do their work for the gratitude and adulation from their devotees, they cannot perform their duty impartially.  When Devatas of heaven start to dispense their favours to their chosen few and withhold life giving forces to those they judge to be non-believers, the entire system of natural order and universal laws would break down.  If God has given anyone any power, it is a huge responsibility for that person to use that power responsibly.  Power is there to serve people.  This is the sign of civilization.  Only barbarians use power to dominate.  When powerful people misuse their power, God first tried to remind them of their responsibilities.  If they do not take heed, God finds ways to break the pride of the powerful.  If they still do not change their ways, God punishes them severely.

Children are innocent, fun loving, full of infinite potential and very clear about their sense of "right and wrong".  Hence, Shri Krushna questions the "reasons" behind the worship of Indra.  If the worship is out of fear, superstition, routine, habit or just because "it has always been done that way", such worship is pointless.  You must know what you are worshiping for and why.  It was this which prompted Krushna to interfer in the worship of Indra.  Indra attacked the people of Vraj not because they threatened him, but because he felt "insulted" !  What sort of God gets so angry with his own worshipers that He wants to kill them ?  What sort of example does that give in terms of mercy, understanding, justice, love ? 

Indra and Brahama had overstepped their mark and were mocking the less powerful to show off their power..  Shri Krushna punished them through his own version of Satyagraha to remind them of their santan dharma. 

Likes of Putana and Kansa misused their power and were unwilling to listen to anyone’s advise.  To them, power was there to be used to dominate people.  Such people have to be destroyed to maintain sanatan dharma.

Using Gandhigiri, Shri Krushna provoked the imperial might of Amaravati to a fight.  Gandhiji withheld obedience and financial benefits of the Empire from the British to remind them they were rich and powerful only thanks to the toil of countless Indians.  British did not try to understand why Gandhiji or Indians were doing this.  Instead, they tried to crush Gandhiji and Indians with their imperial might.  Arrogance of the British was crushed when they saw how their international prestige and power vanished with loss of India from their empire.  Gandhiji first reminded the British that they had mistreated Indians for many decades, and should change their behavior.  He wanted to work with the British under Dominion Status, allowing the British to continue a responsible rule of India.  When they refused, Gandhiji instigated Quit India movement.  British could not believe an Indian dressed in dhoti (it is not a loin cloth as their press keeps insisting) could topple their empire.  How wrong were they !

Using Satyagraha, Shri Krushna withheld worship of Indra to remind him that he was there to deliver the bounty of nature to each and every creature on this earth.  Delivery of this bounty wasn’t his favour to be granted, it was his duty to deliver.  Indra’s anger was out of proportion to the perceived insult offered to him.  Vrajvasis had simply transferred their worship from Indra to Govardhan.  They had not insulted Indra.  Instead of coming to understand why the Vrajvasis had done this, Indra tried to use his imperial might to drown them out.  Conversation, communication, compromise were abandoned and instead, imperial indignation was used as an excuse to punish the Vrajvasis. 

Like Gandhiji, Shri Krushna defied Indra but did not crush him.  Instead, Shri Krushna crushed Indra's pride by upholding the mountain for seven days till the rains ceased.  If Krushna wanted, He would have fought Indra.  But he didn't.  He held up the mountain simply to show that no matter what your temper tantrums will be, I wont loose my temper.  I will wait it out and when you calm down, you will see the impotence of your anger.  This was the Ahinsa as practiced by Shri Krushna.  And indeed, Indra does see the futile nature of his anger and apologizes to Krushna for his outburst.

God always tries to teach us, remind us, remonstrate us before punishing us.  If we understand when God is using Satyagraha and Gandhigiri to teach us a lesson, we too can escape divine punishment !  Shri Krushna uses Gandhigiri when sage Durvasa tries to punish king Ambrish.  His Sudrashan  Chakra pursues sage Durvasa till he learns his lesson and apologizes to king Ambrish.  Though Sudarshan can easily cut Durvasa’s head, it doesn’t.  It uses the power of satyagraha and ahinsa to make Durvasa realize his mistake. 

By worshipping Shri Krushna as Govardhan-Dharan (Shri-Nathji), Pushti Marg celebrates this kind, calm nature of Krushna, teaching both mortals and immortals that you must know what you are doing and why.  He teaches us that we should always consider what the consequences of your actions will be.  Above all, Shri Krushna teaches us to forgive even those who offend us.  Gandhigiri teaches us that this forgiveness must come from the point of strength and must not be born from position of someone who is powerless to act.  By holding the mountain aloft for seven days, Govardhan-Dharan’s Gandhigiri teaches us the virtues of patience, because that is the biggest taap. 



Bhagwat Shah © 


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