“When Indra saw that Nanda Maharaja was worshiping Govardhana Hill, he became very angry and sent vicious clouds to inundate all of Vrindavana with a flood. Krishna then showed Indra that his power was not even competent to deal with the little finger of His left hand. Therefore Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill with the small finger of His left hand and used it as an umbrella to save all the people of Vrindavana from Indra's torrents.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Lord Kapila, Vs 42 Purport)
There is a way to measure the strength of something or its impact in comparison to something else. In one method, you place two different objects on a scale and see which one is heavier. The heavier one has a greater mass, and therefore is superior in one sense. The same can be done with testing tensile strength, wherein the two objects are measured to see how much force can be applied in stretching before they break. There is one person, however, who defies all measurement. Hence one of His names is Adhokshaja. Instead of solely relying on theoretical understanding for acceptance of this fact, we can also look to historical incidents.
Case in point: a torrential downpour matched up against the pinky finger on the hand. Not just any hand either; the hand of a young child, less than ten years of age. At this point skepticism is sure to arise:
“Why would you ever want to compare those two things? The rain can cause flooding in minutes, which creates an emergency situation. The pinky finger on the hand of a small child can barely do anything. If you’re carrying plastic bags full of groceries from the supermarket, you’re not going to hold the handles with your pinky fingers. The bags would fall down immediately, as the pinky is not strong enough to hold a bag filled with a gallon of milk and other items. Why then is there any reason to juxtapose the pinky finger and the rain?”
A long time ago a pinky finger in the hand of a child proved to be much stronger than a torrential downpour. Accounts of the incident are found in several Vedic texts, which are the ancient scriptures of India. On initial hearing we’re tempted to discount the incidents as mere mythology. “Oh, those stories must be exaggerations. Just like Greek mythology and the legends we hear from American Indians, these things relating to a pinky finger defeating a devastating flood are overblown. Perhaps something more believable happened, and in the course of time the incident got blown up in proportion.”
Of course we can apply the same skepticism to any event and to any description we hear. The doubting soul will not receive any benefit from hearing the Vedic texts with this attitude, however. With a little faith extended in the beginning, so many benefits arrive afterwards. This fact was proved in the very incident itself. One year a small farm community decided to pass over tradition in favor of a new ritual. That newly attempted ritual was the doing of a young child, who was known as the darling of the town. He requested it of His father, and since the father was the leader, the rest of the citizens agreed.
There were no issues with the new ritual. In fact, everyone had a great time. They brought so many wonderful food preparations to a hill known as Govardhana. The items of sacrifice were previously slated for the annual tradition of choice, but now they got shifted to a different beneficiary. The hill is an inanimate object, but the citizens trusted the judgment of the young boy, who seemed to have a magical charm. At the very least, the hill provided grass to the cows, who sustained the residents with the resulting milk products. There was no harm in at least appreciating the hill in this way.
The beneficiary of the annual tradition that was skipped over did not like this new ritual. In retaliation, he ordered a torrential downpour to hit the residents. This occurred right after the inaugural worship of the hill. Whether we want to believe that a person is behind such events of nature is not very important in this discussion, as the rain itself is very powerful. We know that it can rain in tremendous quantities. It is thus a valid object of reference for comparing strength.
The young boy who was responsible for the worship of the hill attempted to save the day. He lifted the just worshiped hill with His hands and then held it above His head with His pinky finger. He then called out to the frightened residents to come and take shelter underneath the hill. There was skepticism of course. How was the young child going to continue to hold up the hill? How did He lift it in the first place? Gravity itself would be no match for the young boy, what then to speak of the continuous rain pouring down.
The residents took a leap of faith with the initial worship of the hill, and so they followed that with faith in the young boy’s promise of protection. They stayed underneath the hill for seven days and were thus saved from the flooding. The king of heaven, the person responsible for the flood, in defeat offered his respects to the young boy.
In this comparison the pinky finger in the child’s hand easily defeated a force so powerful that no machine of scientific advancement exists to stop it. The young child was none other than Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the detail behind the foggy notion of a Supreme Lord, a God for all of humanity. Rather than say God is great and leave the rest up to the imagination, the Vedas attempt to quantify that greatness by relaying accounts of historical incidents. From the lifting of Govardhana Hill, we can at least say that God’s pinky finger is stronger than any force any human being or celestial can use to do harm to any other person. And if you are favored by such a person, whose favor is earned easily through simple devotion, then you will be protected by someone whose power is so great that it cannot be accurately measured by any scientific instrument.
Torrential downpour to Vrindavana sent,
Indra’s rain young Krishna’s pinky against.
Seems like silly things to compare,
How against rain a tiny finger will fare?
In God there are qualities beyond measure,
Has immense strength and a beauty to treasure.
From His hands to the sky Govardhana went,
Pinky held up hill, defeating rain from heaven sent.