Gōvinda and Gopāla (Sanskrit/Hindi:
गोविन्द/गोविंद and गोपाल) (also
known as Govind, Gobind and Gopal) are the names of
Vishnu which mean
"The finder of Veda" & "Protector of Veda" as 'Go' means Veda, Cow
and also senses. So Govinda, Gopala means Cowherd or Protector of
Cows, or one who gives pleasure to senses. These names are also
popularly addressed to Krishna, referring to his youthful activity as
a cowherd boy. This name appears as the 187th and the 539th name of
Vishnu Sahasranama. Lord
Vishnu or his complete
Krishna are regarded as the Supreme God in the Vaishnava
tradition and also by much of the pan-Hindu tradition.
Krishnaism is often contrasted with Vedism when
Krishna asks his followers to desist from Vedic demigod worship such
Indra worship. Thus the character of Gopala
Krishna is often
considered to be non-Vedic in one interpretation, while it can also be
based on the popular understanding or rather misunderstanding of the
Rig Vedic texts.
According to Klaus Klostermaier, Kumar Gopijanavallabha,
lover of the Gopis, is the latest stage in the historical process
resulting in contemporary Krishnaism, being added to the worship of
Krishna (the Divine Child Krishna), and the original cult of
Krishna-Vasudeva which may date back to several centuries before the
3 See also
6 External links
Govinda is a name of
Krishna and also appears as the 187th and 539th
Vishnu in the
Vishnu Sahasranama, the 1000 names of Vishnu.
According to Adi Sankara's commentary on the
translated by Swami Tapasyananda,
Govinda has four meanings:
The sages call
Krishna "Govinda" as He pervades all the worlds, giving
Shanti Parva of the
Mahabharata states that
Vishnu restored the
earth that had sunk into the netherworld, or naraga in tamil, so all
the devas praised Him as Govind (Protector of the Land).
Alternatively, it means "He who is known by Vedic words alone".
In the Harivamsa,
Krishna for having attained loving
leadership of the cows which
Krishna tended as a cowherd, by saying,
"So men too shall praise Him as Govinda."
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, states
Govinda means "master of the senses". In the Mahabharata, when
Draupadi's saree was stripped by
Dushasana in the court of
Hastinapura, it is said that
Draupadi prayed towards Lord
was in Dwaraka at that time) invoking him as "Govinda" at the instance
of extreme distress where she could no longer hold her saree to her
chest. For this reason, it is believed that "Govinda" is how the Lord
is addressed by devotees when they have lost it all and have nothing
more to lose. This may be the reason why in colloquial Tamil and
Telugu the slang-term "govinda" sometimes refers to the prospect of
losing or failing in something important. There was a Spanish VisiGoth
Queen, dead in 589 AD, named: 'Goswintha/ Gosvinda', interpreted as:
'The path of cows'.
Statue of Adi Shankara at his Samadhi Mandir, behind
in Kedarnath, India
A famous prayer called the
Bhaja Govindam was composed by Adi Sankara,
a summary of which is "If one just worships Govinda, one can easily
cross this great ocean of birth and death." This refers to the belief
that worshipful adoration of
Krishna can lead believers out
of the cycle of reincarnation or samsara and lead them into an eternal
blissful life in Vaikuntha, 'the supreme abode situated beyond this
material world' where
Govinda (Vishnu) resides. Adi Sankara's Bhaja
Govindam prayer expresses the value of inner devotion to Vishnu.
Phalguna month (ruled by Govinda; this
Govinda is different from the
original Govinda, because he is not the son of Maharaja Nanda)
Works of Jayadeva
^ Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, Ramchandra Narayan Dandekar (1976).
Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar as an Indologist: A Symposium. India:
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. pp. 38–40.
^ Klostermaier, Klaus K. (2005). A Survey of
Hinduism (3rd ed.). State
University of New York Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-7914-7081-4.
Krishna worship is an amalgam of various elements.
According to historical testimonies
Krishna-Vasudeva worship already
flourished in and around Mathura several centuries before Christ. A
second important element is the cult of
Krishna Govinda. Still later
is the worship of Bala-Krishna, the Divine Child Krishna—a quite
prominent feature of modern Krishnaism. The last element seems to have
Krishna the lover of the Gopis, among
Radha occupies a special position. In some books
presented as the founder and first teacher of the Bhagavata
^ a b Sri
Vishnu Sahasranama, commentary by Sri Sankaracharya, pgs. 69
and 115, translated by Swami
Tapasyananda (Ramakrishna Math
^ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita, a New Translation and
Commentary, Chapters 1–6. Penguin Books, 1969, p 57 (v 32).
Hein, Norvin (May 1986). "A Revolution in Kṛṣṇaism: The Cult of
Gopāla". History of Religions. 25 (4): 296–317. doi:10.1086/463051.
Sacred Hindi verses describing Govinda