I’m writing this on my way back from Govardhan Puja festival at my temple in New York. It was a really lovely festival, embedded in the monthly six hour kirtan. There were many new faces but it was so nice to greet and embrace so many friends while I was there. This summer I went to the temple two or three days a week but now I’m lucky to go once a month. And, indeed, I am lucky. It really makes my heart full to enter the abode of Sri Sri Radha Muralidhara, perhaps especially when it’s a rarity! I’ve grown to like my worship and lifestyle at college, and see the merits in not traveling too much, but appreciate having enough space in my schedule to be able to spontaneously make a temple trip occasionally.
I think I’ve figured out an acceptable answer to this question of what the Govardhan Lila is about. I’m not surprised that this is what I came up with, because I often take this meditation on holy days. It’s also only a part of the meaning and majesty of the Govardhan Lila, of course, but it’s working for me right now. Without further ado: the Govardhan Lila enabled a deeply intimate expression of community, with all of the Vrajabasis together in a full week of joyous and loving mutual exchanges. They were all expressing their different sentiments for Krishna freely (even the gopikas who are normally more elusive!) and were supporting each other.
This, I think, is the model for a spiritual community. When we come together, it’s a refuge from the world. We try to support and encourage each others’ expressions of service to God and each others’ emotional, spiritual, and relational health. We share similar goals but tend to differ on how those should be expressed (in this example, the mothers and fathers are not thrilled with their daughters’ crushes on Krishna, or how their sons run around playing with Him and making trouble all the time). Yet when God is present in a community, it’s when we’re trying to appreciate and support each other with honesty, sincerity, and love.