Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Govinda Mean?

Govinda is one of the many names of Krishna, the incarnation of the Hindu god, Vishnu, in Vaishnavism and much of the pan-Hindu traditions. The name comes from the Sanskrit go, which means both “Veda” and “cow,” and vinda, meaning “finding” or “gaining.” Therefore, it translates as “finder of Veda” as well as “cow keeper.” The latter refers to Krishna’s occupation as a youth in Gokula, a community of cow herders. He is often referred to as both Gopala (“child cow keeper”) and Govinda.

Govinda is also the name of the teacher of Indian philosophy, Shankara, who is the founder of the monastic order in India and author of commentaries about the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.


Yogapedia Explains Govinda

Although Hinduism has no one set of rules, reverence for cows can be found throughout its major scriptures. Some trace the cow’s revered status back 5,000 years to the young Krishna, who worked as a cow herder.

Legend has it that Krishna lifted the Govardhan hill to protect the cows and inhabitants from the wrath of the god of rain, Indra. Subsequently, Indra accepted Krishna as the supreme deity. Meanwhile, Surabhi, the queen of the cows, rained milk on Krishna to show her gratitude and called him Govinda, lord of the cows.

Krishna’s devotion to cows is honored in the asana gomukasana (cow face pose). The posture is thought to resemble a cow’s face. From a seated position, the legs bend at the knees so they stack on top of each other. The feet rest on the floor outside the hips. The arms stretch behind the back and bend at the elbows so the hands clasp near the middle of the spine.

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