Indra, the king of the heavens was outraged when he heard the villagers of Vrindavan had stopped their annual celebrations to honour him. King Indra controlled the rains that fell on Earth. In fact, he ruled over the demigods in charge of the sun, wind, and all natural elements. He was strong, mighty and proud of his powers.
“How dare the inhabitants of Vrindavan insult me in this way? For generations they have prayed to me for rain and made magnificent offerings to please me. My rains are essential for their livelihoods; they need me. These peasants have lost their senses.”
A demigod told how a little blue boy called Krishna was everyone’s darling in Vrindavan. He had easily convinced the elders to cancel the ancient festival for Indra and instead take all food preparations to Govardhan Mountain. Krishna had proclaimed the mountain as the true giver of life because its crystal waters and lush grasses nourished all the animals, especially the cows, who in turn gave pure wholesome milk and all the delicious foods derived from milk.
“This is too much” shouted King Indra, “those people have forgotten who I am!
“Samvartaka* – you control the mightiest clouds in existence – go immediately and drown those proud disobedient villagers. They disrespect me for some foolish talkative child. Who is this Krishna anyway? Go, show them my wrath – show him my power.”
Samvartaka obeyed. The sky over Vrindavan turned black as he unleashed deadly clouds. The seven great winds howled, lightning blazed, thunder rumbled as a group of demigods hurled down hailstones. Storms roared over forests and torrential rain poured in thick columns over the startled inhabitants who ran helter-skelter in panic. Trees crashed, homes and farmlands were flooded while animals and people drowned.
“Help, help us Krishna, you are our only hope. Indra is furious with us. We have no one else but you. Save us, please!”
The villagers called desperately to Krishna. They did not really understand how such a little boy could do all the incredible impossible things he had already done. They did not know (or care) that he was god of all the demigods. They just loved him completely and depended on him for everything.
Krishna smiled thoughtfully. Indra was his special servant** in charge of the heavens. He had also petitioned Krishna to come on Earth to kill all the demons who had taken over the lands. Possessed by pride, Indra now seemed to have forgotten everything.
So Krishna did a marvellous thing; he walked over to the huge Govardhan Mountain and in one swoop, miraculously lifted it off the ground and balanced it perfectly on his little finger. He held it up like a giant umbrella and called everyone to take shelter under it. In wonderment, the inhabitants rushed over and for the next seven days and nights held a festival to celebrate their amazing rescue. Krishna played melodious music on his flute with his free hand while everyone else danced and sang prayers.
Indra continued to press his agents to pulverise the mountain with rain and winds until he exhausted his powers. Defeated, he realised his serious misjudgement. In an instant he called off the rains and hurried down to Vrindavan. Ashamed and embarrassed, Indra took off his glittering crown and placed it at Krishna’s feet. He made heartfelt prayers and sincere apologises for his mistakes.
“Blinded by power and prestige, I forgot myself. I was so angry and disrespectful. I offended you and your devotees. Please forgive me and give me shelter. In truth, all my power and ability comes from you – I am just serving others on your behalf. Please let me never become so intoxicated again.”
*The Samvartaka clouds are mighty clouds that wreak universal devastation on Earth when one age closes and another one starts. These clouds are also represented by a person.
**King Indra is a very powerful and dedicated administrator who controls nature’s elements on behalf of Krishna, who is his master.