(9) दुःस्वप्ने स्मर गोविन्दं, Duswapne smara Govindam
Remember Govinda to avoid nightmares
Kamadhenu bathes Krishna in Milk -
Govinda Pattabhishekam
Enter the temple shrine of Tirupathi and you will probably be greeted with a multitude of people shouting "Govinda Govinda Govindaa". Though I had always joined in the chorus, it was not until sufficiently later in life that I realized why the devotees called Him Govinda. Like the 7th Naama, Naaraayana, the name Govinda is also replete with inner meaning. The root word is of course 'go', but 'go' by itself could stand for 'earth', 'cow', 'speech' or 'the Vedas'. Aacharyas thus give us four different meanings of Govinda depending on what 'go' denotes. "गवां स्तुति गिरां विन्द: गोविंद: स उदाहृत:, Gavaam stuti giraam Vindah Govindah sa udahruthah"- He is the recipient (Vinda) of innumerable words and phrases of praise from all classes of people, mortals and the celestials, and hence He is Govinda. Also,"नष्ठां वै धरणीम पूर्वं अविन्दं वै गुहागतां, गोविन्द इति तेनाहं देवैर वाग्बिर अभिष्ठुत:, Nashtaam vai dharaneem poorvam avindam vai guhaagataam, Govinda iti tenaaham devair vaagbirabhishtuthaha" Bhagavaan says in the Shanthi parva of the Mahabharatha : "I first rescued (avindam) the earth (Dharani, Go) who was hidden at the very depths of the ocean. Hence both the Gods and the Vedas praise me as Govinda". Govinda could also mean the one who is reached by the chanting of the Vedas or the one who is the abode of the Vedas as is told in "गावो वेदवान्यो यं विन्दन्ति लभन्ते, यत्र वा अवतिस्थंटे स गोविन्दो भगवान विष्णु:, Gaavo Vedavaanyo yam vindanti labhante, yatra vaa avatisthante sa govindo bhagavaan Vishnuhu".

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The Harivamsa gives yet another variation of Govinda as "गौरेशा तू यतो वाणी तां च विन्दयते भवान| गोविन्दस्तु ततो देव! मुनिभिः कथ्यते भवान !, - Gauresha tu yato Vani taam cha vindayathe bhavaan.Govindastu tatho deva! Munibhih Kathyathe Bhavaan." i.e. you are the lord of all words (gau), who pervades them and gives them the power and hence the munis call you Govinda. And finally, there is perhaps the most well known meaning of Govinda, pertaining to probably one of the best Krishna Leelas – Govardhana Giri Dharanam. When Krishna uprooted the Govardhana Giri and used it to shelter the cowherds and cows of Gokula from the torrential rains of Indra, Indra eventually accepted defeat and came down from the heavens praising Krishna thus "अहं किलेंद्रो देवानां त्वं गवां इन्द्रताम गतः | गोविंद इति लोकास्त्वां स्तोष्यन्ति भुवि साश्वतम || Aham Keelendro Devaanaam tvam gavaam indrataam gatah. Govindam iti lokaastvaam Stoshyanti bhuvi Saashvatam." "I am Indra, the leader of the Devas. But now you have attained the leadership of the Cows. Hence from now, let all men of this world praise you as Govinda". Since He was the leader and protector of all the cows, He came to be known as Govinda.
But how would Govinda-Smarana help us to avoid nightmares? I can come up with two possible reasons for this. Firstly, the divya-roopa of Govinda is quite different from any of the other forms of Vishnu. He is shown without any of the Panchayudhaas, either with or without a flute, and is often represented as supporting the Govardhana Giri. Most importantly, He is shown to be surrounded by cows – cool, white and pure cows, which look towards Him with innocence. The scene is calm, serene and very inviting. Surely, meditating on this form will leave no space for any terrible dreams to even approach us. The brain will sense this calming scene alone and hence the subconscious will be subjugated into a sense of peace and silence. Another possible explanation is that, just like the Lord herds all the cows by keeping them close to Him and not allowing them to stray, He will herd our subconscious minds too, keeping terrible thoughts at bay, thus giving us an undisturbed sleep.
Govinda is believed to be the dearest name of the Lord, for this name reminds Him of His pleasant childhood pastimes by the banks of the Yamuna. It is said "गोविन्दात् मृत्यु बिभेति, Govindaat Mrithyu Bibhethi" i.e. When even death is afraid of Govinda, what problems can mere nightmares pose? Just like He came rushing to Draupadi's desperate cry of 'Govindaa', so will He rush to our rescue too.


சிற்றஞ் சிறு காலே வந்துன்னைச் சேவித்து உன்
பொற்றாமரை அடியே போற்றும் பொருள் கேளாய் !
பெற்றம் மேய்த்து உண்ணும் குலத்தில் பிறந்து நீ
குற்றேவல் எங்களைக் கொள்ளாமல் போகாது
இற்றைப் பறை கொள்வான் அன்று கான் கோவிந்தா!
எற்றைக்கும் ஏழேழ் பிறவிக்கும் உந்தன்னோடு
உற்றோமே யாவோம் உனக்கே நாம் ஆட்ச்செய்வோம்
மற்றை நம் காமங்கள் மாற்று ஏல் ஓர் எம்பாவாய். – திருப்பாவை(29)