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Why Venkateswara Devotees Chant Govinda?

Lord Venkateswara or Balaji worshipped in the Tirumala Tirupati Temple is referred to with the name ‘Govinda’ mostly. When pilgrims climb up the Seven Hills, they chant, ‘Govinda! Govinda!’. We can find the tag line, ‘Follow Dharma, Think of Govinda’ all over in Tirumala and Tirupati. The three vertical pious lines are popular as ‘Govinda Namalu’ (Govinda Lines). When Swami is taken out in a procession in the circumambulation streets of the temple, His name Govinda, Govinda, Gokula Nandana (one who is born in Gokul) Govinda will be renting the air.

Govinda Because He Saved Vedas

In the sound “Go” we can find two meanings – (Gochara [visible] Agocharam [invisible] ). It also means something that is describable with words and one which is beyond words. When Somasura [a demon] threw the Vedas into the sea, Lord Vishnu in the avatar of a fish got them back. Therefore, he became Govinda.

Here, sound means ‘Veda Sound’. Sri Venkateswara is Veda Murti [form], Veda Samrakshaka [protector], and protector of all those that follow Dharma. Therefore, in his temple during his Archan, Veda Parayanam (recital) is also done. Vaikhanasa Agama is Vaideekam. Veda means Brahmam. So, we have the tradition of Brahmotsavam, which is there from the beginning. Thus, Govinda has been Veda Rakshak.

Balaji Is Govinda Because He Saved Mother Earth

During KruthaYug, Lord donned the avatar of Adi Varaha Swami and saved Mother Earth from Demon Hiranyaksha. The word ‘govu’ also means ‘bhoomi’ [the earth]. Thus, as the one who pleased Mother Earth, He became Govinda. In commemoration of this story, Tirumala also has the name ‘Adi Varaha Kshetra”. There is a temple for Adi Varaha ‘Adi Varaha Swami’ in the north-west direction of the holy Pushkarini [tank]. He is the one who allotted some land to Sri Srinivasa. That is why, the first bell, the first naivedya [food offering] are offered to Varaha Swami and then to Sri Srinivasa.

Sri Krishna is also Govinda

‘Govu’ means cow. It is clearly mentioned in Sri Bhagavata that Sri Krishna who is brought up in Nada Kula amidst all present cows, is Govinda. Since he is the one who made gopalak [herds boys] happy, he is called Govinda. Vishnu became famous in Dwapar Yuga with the name Govind.

Srimad Bhagavad elucidates the reason for Lord Krishna gaining the name of Govinda. In Brindavan, Nanda Maharaj wanted to perform Indra Yag. But seven year old Krishna resisted it. He suggested that they should perform Govardhan Puja instead. Enraged with this, Indra sent out fierce rain with hailstorms on the kingdom. Then Krishna, lifted the mountain [Govardhana] and saved the residents of Brindavan and the cows. For this, a cow with the name Surabhi showered milk on Krishna present to the delight of rishis, devatas. Since Krishna protected cows and he became popular as Govinda, As such, Sri Krishna continued to be worshipped as Govinda since Dwapar Yug. Even in Kali Yug people chant his name and get ecstatic.

Govinda’s mention in Vaikhanasa Agama

The priests who are chosen to do archana in Srivari Temple begin their Sandhya Vandana rites by saying ‘Achyutaya Namah’ ‘Anantaya Namah’, ‘Govindaya Namaha’. These words mean, I salute to the one “who cannot be destroyed, who is present all the time”. Even Smartha Brahmins too say ‘Govinda, Govinda’. This expression is present in Chaturvisantinamas.

Govinda Stotram in Brahma Samhita

In one of the oldest Hindus scriptures, Brahma Samhita, there are 29 slokas under the caption “Govinda Stotram’. It is clearly shown in this Samhita that by whatever names He is worshipped, the basic tenet is He is Advaita-Sachidananda Swarupam, which is endless. That attitude is Govinda tatva [tenor].

Sri Ramanujacharya and Word Govinda

In the words of Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja ‘Brahmani’ means parabrahma, which means parabrahma/eeshwara tatva is Srinivasa himself. Govinda is responsible for the world creation. It is he that is responsible for all the actions. He is responsible for giving out creation He will be ever-radiating with cosmic youth. Lord Vishnu himself is Govinda.
Since he is Maha Vaishnav Swarup —Vaikhasanas, Pancharatnas, Saivas, Smartas, Dwaitas, Advaitas, Brahms etc., — everyone, every cult is worshipping Sri Venkateswara Swami as “Bhagwat” Swarup [form]. They are fulfilling their promised vows. Devotees believe that Swami will be with his bahkts both in ‘iha’[mundane] and ‘para’ [divine] affairs. That is the reason for their unstinted devotion.

Govinda is at the pivot of this bhakti. ‘Iham’ is indicative of the ‘earth’ and ‘param’ indicates ‘cow’. That is why Sri Venkateswara Swami is entrenched on Seshadri and protecting his own people.

Thus, Govinda has history of ages.

Govinda is in day today affairs

In common man parlance, ‘govinda’ means that something has reached its conclusion. It proves that recalling this energetic and wonderful Vaishnava names, reinforces their faith. Even today, the moment someone says ‘edukondalavada’ [oh, dweller of seven hills] the others join him by saying ‘Govinda’. Such is the power of the expression.

Harikatha Bhagavathar [ballad story tellers of puranas] conclude their session saying “Sri Madrama Ramana Govinda”. Thus, it is very evident that chanting of His name “Govinda” is another energized remembrance of Lords name.

Story of Why Venkateswara is called as Govinda

Once there used to a virtuous Brahmin in a village. Every day, he performed pooja to Gods and offered food to a guest. He and his family would take their food only after the guest had eaten.

Accordingly, one day a guest visited them. After he was given food, the guest asked to gift him their cow, which was much endeared by the entire family.

The Brahmin did not agree to this. Enraged with this, the guest got up and quickly strode out.

The lady of the house did not want to displease the guest and asked her husband to gift it to the guest.

Then her husband went behind the guest calling out, “Swami, don’t be piqued with us, govu inda.” [here is the cow]. His family and the villagers too joined them chanting, “govu inda, govu inda”.

The brahmin went into a temple atop the mountain and disappeared.

The whole area reverberated with the sound, 'Govinda'. It is then realised that Sri Swami himself wanted people to chant his name as ‘Govinda, Govinda’. Since then the same word is so lovingly chanted by the devotees.

Source - May 2018 Sapthagiri Magazine published by TTD article written by Smt. M . Uttara Phalguni