In the country of India, there is a little town called Brindavan. It is a famous and a very holy place for it is associated with the birth of Lord Krishna. The holy God was born there 5000 years ago. He was born on the earth as an ordinary human being, to punish the wicked and protect the good.
It was the rainy season. The sun was smiling weakly behind dark clouds. Brindavan, then a charming village, was transformed into a lush heaven with healthy, greener vegetation and plenty of rains for the people. Everyone in the village was happy.
Krishna woke up with a start. It was not yet morning, but the sounds coming from the streets were loud and noisy enough to wake one up. Curious, he got up and peeked outside his window.
A crowd had gathered before his house. Several men and women were sweeping the streets clean. The roads were being decorated with garlands and lamps. Krishna was surprised at the sight, as he had seen since his birth that in the rainy season, the villagers slept till late in the morning.
“Is it a festival today? Or is anybody getting married?” he wondered. But he couldn’t remember any such occasion.
He left his home to take a bath in the river. While coming back, he saw his father Nanda overseeing the men in the streets.
“Father, what is happening on the streets?” Krishna asked his father.
“The Gopalas are preparing to celebrate a festival to worship Lord Indra,” said Nanda. “This year, there has been a rainfall more generous and everybody is happy with the fertile crops. Since Indra is the God of rains, we should thank Him for being so gracious in his blessings!”
“How do you say that Lord Indra is the one who’s causing rains, Father?” Krishna frowned in disagreement.
Nanda looked at his son in alarm.
“Of course it’s Indra who’s causing the rains, son. He is surely the reason for our good fortune. He’s the God of the Clouds and he rules them… so he is the one who has blessed us with good rain this year,” he replied hesitantly to his son.
“No, father!” refused Krishna firmly, “you’re all mistaken. Govardhan Mountain is our real friend. More than the clouds above, the mountain in our village has helped us.”
“How can you say that?” asked Nanda, looking at his son in disbilief.
“The fertile mountain sends the signals in the air and creates clouds that drift over the Brindavan and give us rains.” replied Krishna. “So whom should we praise and worship? Not Indra, but Govardhan!”
Nanda and the other Gopalas at work gasped in surprise. How could Krishna dismiss Lord Indra, God of the Clouds and direct them to worship a mere mountain instead! This was the first time that they heard about such a thing.
“Yes, father,” continued the boy. “Who gives us medicine in the form of magical herbs and plants? Who sends us clean water and air from the top of its peak? “And who gives us good grass for our cows, so that they give us milk that’s sweeter than honey? It is Govardhan!”
The initial surprise and doubts of the Gopalas were beginning to disappear. They now began to see Krishna’s point.
“So why should we not worship the mountain?” Krishna continued. “It is wiser to give thanks to something which is right before us, rather than some deva who lives comfortably in the heavens.”
Hearing Krishna’s words, the Gopalas were totally convinced. They all agreed to worship Govardhan that year, instead of Lord Indra. But Nanda was apprehensive, for he feared that this shifting of loyalty might incur the wrath of God upon them.
And his fear came true. Up in the skies, Lord Indra was listening to this conversation in anger and fury. “So that little cowherd boy has stopped the celebrations in my honour!” he thought in indignation.
Lord Indra’s pride was insulted by the Gopalas’ decision to worship Govardhan, instead of him. In his anger, he decided to punish the people of Brindavan.
“All these years I have heard their plea and helped them to prosper. And is this what I get in return? It’s time they know who the real God is here! I’ll send the most dangerous rains and thunderstorms to Brindavan,” he thought cruelly. “They will destroy the whole village of Brindavan. Let them see who saves them then!”
What he thought he soon realised in action. Using his divine powers, Lord Indra created clouds that seemed to be darker than the midnight sky. They looked devilish and fearsome.
“Go and destroy Brindavan!” he ordered.
And they heeded their Master’s command. Without any delay, they grouped together to form a menacing army of clouds and raced towards the village where Krishna and several innocent families lived.
“This will be enough for them” thought Indra and laughed aloud.
After a delicious lunch, the people of Brindavan were dozing in their homes. Suddenly they heard a terrible sound.
Everybody was alarmed and came out of their homes. What they saw outside took their breath away.
It was noon in Brindavan, but nobody could say it was so. The whole village had become pitch dark. The sun was nowhere to be seen. Instead, black and terrible looking clouds had invaded the village. They enveloped the whole place in a thick mist, darkening the day, making it gloomy.
The clouds looked evil and menacing, but they stood suspended in air and didn’t rain. It seemed as if the clouds were waiting for somebody, or rather, for some signal.
The people of Brindavan watched in fear and awe. They were spellbound. Nothing like this had ever happened in their lives!
Krishna heard the frightened voices of the villagers. He was curious and came out of his house. But as soon as he stepped out, there was a great roar and the black clouds poured rains over Nanda’s house. It seemed as if this was what the monstrous clouds had been waiting for.
The demonic clouds seemed to have some fiendish scheme. From Nanda’s house, they quickly spread themselves over the town. The dark sky seemed to open with a vengeance. Hard rain came down in torrents, flushing away the cattle and the frail huts. The mere thatched roofs were no match for the terrible downpour.
“Run! screamed a man in terror and people started to run for their lives. They ran in all directions, to save their family and belongings. But even escape seemed difficult for the Brindavan people. The hard and blinding rain lashed over their faces, as if giving slaps for some unknown offence. Nowhere could they take any shelter for nothing seemed to be strong enough against this mighty cloudburst. The innocent and helpless people wailed in the face of such a calamity. They prayed for some divine help.
But the clouds were merciless. They now had the support of blinding lightning and ear-splitting thunder.
Every now and then, lightning struck a fertile tree and destroyed it. Thunder rumbled throughout the ordeal, shaking’ people’s nerves and panicking them. Nanda felt helpless on seeing his people panic.
“Do you see, son? This is no ordinary rainstorm. This seems to me to be the punishment of our transgression. It is difficult to escape the wrath of Gods. That is why we worshipped Lord Indra all these years, Krishna,” he said to his son gravely. “Because we decided to ignore Lord Indra this year, he’s punishing us. Now, innocent people are suffering because of your idea… what to we do now?”
Krishna looked at the skies. “Ah, vain Indra!” he thought in fury. “I understand your plan. You want to teach us a lesson, don’t you? But first, you need one! And soon I will crush your ego.”
Thinking so, Krishna laid a reassuring arm on his father.
“First, we need to focus on making the people see reason, Father,” he said and walked to the centre of the town. Using his most commanding voice, he called out:
“O people of Brindavan. Look at me. Do not run. Do not panic!”
The Gopalas looked at Krishna miserably. They had known the boy for long. They knew that he was not an ordinary mortal and possessed some mysterious powers. But what can the boy possibly do in such a situation?
“This is all our fault!” somebody murmured. “We insulted Indra and now he’s punishing us,” continued another.
“Yes uncle Guran, what you say is right. This is indeed an evil plot of Lord Indra,” replied Krishna, looking at the man. “But like before, Govardhan would help us once again. Come this way and I will show you how!” he declared and led them to the mountain.
Krishna looked up and smiled at the clouds. And in a blink of the eye, he lifted Govardhana Mountain, like an umbrella over the people.
People forgot to breathe. A small boy had lifted a mountain on his little finger!
Up above, Indra was bewildered. “How can a mere child lift a mountain?” he thought. He hadn’t ever seen such a feat achieved by anybody, leave alone a child.
“You should have understood it by now. But you did not. Pride and arrogance has clouded your common sense, Indra!” sounded the voice of Brahma.
Lord Indra looked at the God of Creation in confusion.
“Don’t you know that Krishna is a divine child?” continued Brahma. “Aren’t you aware that he’s an incarnation of Lord Vishnu? Shame on you!”
Indra was humbled and stopped the rains. As a sign of his apology, he ordered the clouds to shower rose petals from the skies. Then the applause began.
Every Gopala whooped in delight at their darling boy for his strength and wisdom. They now saw what a godly child lived amidst them. They composed songs in praise of the Lord, singing of this miraculous feat. Shouts of “Long Live brave Krishna!” seemed to echo everywhere.
And it continues even today.