A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Govardhan Puja

During Diwali, many places in India observe what is known as Govardhan Puja. Let us go through the myth behind the puja first.

Once when Lord Krishna was a child, he saw his father make elaborate preparations for some worship. On enquiring he was told that they were preparing to worship Lord Indra, who was responsible for giving them rain, which led to the welfare of the people. Krishna reasoned with his father and all present, that it was not Indra, but mountain Govardhan who was responsible for the welfare of the people, as it was thanks to the mountain that they got grazing grounds for the cattle. It was the mountain which stopped the clouds and compelled them to rain and also gave them lots of greenery and different plants and shrubs required. Mount Govardhan was also home for numerous medicinal plants which was required for preparing local medicines. It made more sense to worship the mountain instead of Indra. At the end, Krishna convinced the people to stop the worship of Indra and start worshipping Govardhan Mountain. This angered Indra so much that he decided to punish the people of Vrindavan and sent merciless rains leading to days and nights of downpour. People got scared and went to Krishna, saying that they had angered Indra and something needed to be done.

Krishna, then came forward, worshipped the mountain as he had decided and lifted the  mountain in his last finger creating a giant umbrella to save the people from a potential deluge. Lord Indra was thus humbled, and accepted the supremacy of Krishna, and thus was started the practice of Govardhan Puja. Since this episode, Krishna was also referred to as Giridhari – the one who holds the mountain.

The myth makes a very important statement which is writ large in the theory of Mythology. No hero is forever. Indra had been a chief deity during the Vedic times, but by the Puranic age, Indra had lost considerable sheen. Gods like Vishnu (and his different avatars, like Ram, Krishna, etc.); Shiva and other gods had gained prominence. It is human tendency to demean someone to highlight the importance of another. This is exactly what happened to Lord Indra during the Puranic times. Indra who was also sometimes referred to as Devendra (Lord of the gods) was nothing but a caricature of a fallen god. There are numerous instances, where, even asuras have defeated Indra in battles and he has to seek help from Vishnu and other such gods. There is also the famous instance of Ravana’s son defeating Indra and earning the epithet of Indrajeet (literally - one who has achieved victory over Indra) in Ramayana. Such cases of old heroes making way for new are not unheard of in mythology. Many also see this conflict as a conflict of two cults, one gaining prominence at the expense of the other. Subsequently, Indra was relegated to a relatively smaller position of a smaller deity, that of being a god of rains.

Why only Mythology, isn’t the same visible in our real lives too? People who were heroes for our parents were not for us and our idols are not the ones our children look up to. But it is important to mention here that during the Vedic times, and in Rig Veda, Indra had occupied a prime position and a number of myths talk of his bravery and valour.

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