The Vishnu Purana (abridged)

27,616 words

The Vishnu Purana (Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the (most important) eighteen Mahapuranas. It is also known as Puranaratna ("gem of Puranas"). Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avat...


This happened one autuman.

The cowherds decided to have a yajna to honour Indra. Indra was the ruler of the waters and it was he who sent the clouds. Without the clouds there would be no rain and without rain there would be no grain. What would the cattle eat in that case? This was the reason why the cowherds wanted to worship Indra.

But Krishna told Nanda, “Father, we are not farmers or traders. We live through animal husbandry, we live in the forests. Our gods should be cattle and the mountains. Let us stop this worship of Indra and let us instead worship the mountain Govardhana.”

Nanda and the other cowherds agreed to this and that was how giri yajna (mountain ceremony) started. Curds, rice pudding and meat were offered to the mountain. Hundreds and thousands of brahmanas and guests were fed.

But Indra was very angry because his yajna had been stopped and he called the clouds to him. “Listen to what I say,” he instructed them. “Destroy the cattle with rain and wind. I will come on Airavata and pour down rain as well.”

Wind and rain started. The clouds were everywhere. There was lightning. And thunder and heavy rain. The world became dark and there was water everywhere. Cows and calves began to die.

Krishna had to do something to protect these unfortuante beings. So he uprooted Govardhana mounatin and held it aloft like an umbrella. The entire mountain was thus balanced on only one of Krishna’s hands. The cowherds and the cattle took refuge under the mountain and in the holes that were there. For seven nights Indra showered down rain. But after that he gave up and Krishna returned the mountain to original place.

Having been defeated in his purpose, Indra appeared before Krishna. “You have saved the cattle,” he said. “You are like their Indra. Therefore, from now on, you will be known as Govinda.”

Indra took down a bell from Airavata’s neck. He filled it with holy water and anointed Krishna. And he said, “My son Arjuna has been born on earth. Please look after him and take care of him.”

Krishna assured Indra that he would do so. The two embraced and parted ways.

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