Why Krishna is Called Govind

The name Govind appears in the 187th and the 539th verses of Vishnu Sahasramanam Stotram. The literal translation of this Sanskrit term means the lord of cows (Go – cows and Vind – Lord, leader or ruler). The most popular interpretation says this name reminds us of Krishna’s pastime as a cowherd in Gokul as a young boy. Another explanation sees the term ‘Go’ as symbolizing the entire creation or particularly the humans. Therefore, the term could mean the lord of humans or creation.

The appellation

The sages address Sri Krishna as Govind since he is an all pervader and nurtures the entire cosmos with his divine energy. In the Shanti Parva of Mahabharat, we have a reference that says Lord Vishnu rescued the earth which sank into the nether worlds by taking the form of boar. Therefore, the Devas praised him as Govind (protector of the earth). The term Govind can also mean one who is known only through the Vedas. Harivamsa makes a note of Indra praising Lord Krishna as the cowherd in Gokul who said, “Let men too praise the Lord as Govind”.

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In Mahabharat, Draupati, the wife of the Pandavas called out Krishna for help when she was being disrobed for humiliation in the middle of the royal court. At the final stage when she felt she was helpless and could not save herself, she cried out the name of Krishna as Govind. It is said Krishna appeared there at once to protect her honor by indefinitely lengthening the sari she wore. This incident came to be addressing Krishna as Govind when people turn to him for protection being helpless. In this connection, Govind also means the Lord of senses.

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