Govinda explained

One of the names of Vishnu is Govinda. The word ‘go’ has other meanings besides cow. The name Govinda occurs in Vishnu Sahasranama twice. Parasara Bhatta lists them as names 189 and 543. Sankara Bhagavadpada lists them as 187 and 539. For the first occurrence, Sankara has three meanings. He takes ‘go’ to mean earth and says that Govinda indicates He who is Lord of the Earth. But Bhatta gives this meaning only for the second occurrence, the 543rd name.

There is a reason, perhaps, for this. The second time the name Govinda occurs is after the name Mahavaraha. The Lord in His Varaha avatara rescued Bhu Devi. So, Govinda as One who has Lordship over the earth might have seemed more appropriate here, said V.S.Karunakarachariar in a discourse. Another of the meanings given by Bhagavadpada is to be seen in the context of the Hari Vamsa. Hari Vamsa says that Indra performed Govinda Pattabhishekam for Krishna, and then said, “I am Indra who is Lord of the celestials. You are Lord of the cows, and hence You are Govinda.” Parasara Bhatta does not bring in the reference to Indra for either of the two occurrences of Govinda. Bhagavdpada also gives an interpretation for Govinda based on Siva’s praise of Krishna, in Hari Vamsa. Here Siva says He who is Lord of the Vedas is Govinda. This could be taken as a reference to Lord Vishnu’s avatara as Hayagriva, in which He rescued the Vedas from the demons Madhu and Kaitabha. In the Madhva school too, the two instances of the name Govinda in the Sahasranama are explained as meaning the One who is master of the Vedas, Lord of weapons, the One who reclines in the ocean, the One who gave eyesight to Dhritarashtra etc. From the three schools of thought, therefore, a wealth of meaning can be obtained for the name Govinda.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 9:25:57 AM |

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