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The Rathayatra cycle in Puri

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<hr><font color=#2f4f2f>Today is Gundicha-marjana. I thought I'd share a part of Mandala Media's forthcoming book on Puri, which deals with this particular lila. I'm sorry I missed Chandan Yatra and Snana Yatra, etc. Maybe next year. I hope that you enjoy it and that it whets your appetites for the book when it comes out.</font><hr>


<h3>Cleaning the Gundicha Temple</h3>


The Gundicha temple lies about three kilometers northeast of the Jagannath temple, not far from the Indradyumna Sarovar. It is surrounded by a massive wall, about twenty feet high, and castellated at the top like the fortresses of Northern India. Its principal gateway, a handsome structure with a fine pointed roof adorned with lions, looks towards the main temple.


"Inside one catches glimpses of long straight walks and groves of bright evergreen trees, with the ancient shrine at the end of the vista. A glory of tropical foliage, vocal with birds, overtops the lofty wall with every shade of green, from the slender-stemmed, feathery elegance of the coronetted palm, to the solid masses of the mango, and the hoary majesty of the banyan tree."


In the Utkala-khaNDa of the Skanda Purana, it is said that the images of the three deities, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, were made at the Mahavedi (“great altar”) or Yajna Mandap (“sacrificial pavilion”) after King Indradyumna performed a thousand horse sacrifices. This then is the birthplace of the Jagannath Trinity and so is also called Janma Sthan or Janaka Puri.


According to the Purushottama Mahatmyam, King lndradyumna installed a Nrisingha deity before performing these sacrifices. There is a temple of Nrisingha inside the Gundicha compound, so it is sometimes referred to as Nrisingha Kshetra.


The most popular name, however, is Gundicha Mandir, Bari or Mandap. According to legend, it was named after the wife of Indradyumna. This is Lord Jagannath’s country house, and on the Rathayatra day, Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra ride their respective cars from the Boro Deul to the Gundicha Bari. Just as the main temple is referred to as Nilachala, the Gundicha temple is also sometimes called Sundarachala. For devotees who follow the mood of Lord Chaitanya, the Gundicha temple symbolizes the land of Vrindavan.


After Krishna left Vrindavan for Dvaraka, He became so involved with city life that He apparently forgot the country folk who had so loved Him throughout His childhood. Many years later, He met them again at Kurukshetra. When Radha and the other residents of Vraja saw Krishna in the opulence that characterized His life in the Yadu royal family, they felt a strong desire to take Him back with them to His childhood home. Absorbed in the mood of Srimati Radharani, Mahaprabhu saw Nilachala – Lord Jagannath’s main temple – as the manifestation of Dvaraka, and when pulling the Lord’s chariot to Sundarachala (Gundicha), He believed He was taking Him back to Vrindavan, where He truly belonged.


However, before Lord Jagannath can be brought to the Gundicha temple, it must be cleaned – from the Jagamohan to the temple floor and the altar. In keeping with His mission to teach the world the path of devotion, Lord Chaitanya Himself would take His companions to Gundicha and clean it with them.


<center>zrI-guNDicA-mandiram Atma-vRndaiH

saMmArjayan kSAlanataH sa gauraH

sva-citta-vac chItalam ujjvalaM ca

kRSNopavezaupayikaM cakAra </center>


The golden Lord swept and washed the Gundicha temple with His personal companions, making it as fresh and bright as His own heart and a fitting place for Lord Krishna to sit. (CC 2.12.1)


In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, it is said that as the Rathayatra festival approached, Mahaprabhu called for Kashi Mishra, the temple manager Tulasi Paricha and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, to ask them for permission to clean the Gundicha temple.


Upon hearing the Lord's request, the temple manager said, “My Lord, we are all Your servants. It is our duty to immediately fulfill Your every desire, for the King has ordered us to do so. Even so, my Lord, it is beneath You to engage in this kind of work. If You still wish to do it, we will take it to be one of Your inscrutable pastimes. You will need many waterpots and brooms to clean the temple, so if You order me to do so, I shall immediately arrange to have them brought to You.”


As soon as the Lord indicated that this was indeed His desire, the Paricha arranged for the delivery of a hundred brooms for sweeping the temple and a hundred new waterpots for washing it.


Early the next morning, the Lord gathered His personal associates and smeared sandalwood pulp on their bodies with His own hand as a way of preparing them for this holy service. After personally giving each of them a broom, they started off to the Gundicha temple.


When they arrived, they immediately got down to work. They first swept the inner temple completely, including the walls and ceiling. They then removed the Deities’ throne from its platform, washed both platform and throne, and then replaced it. The Lord and His companions cleansed and swept all the buildings in the Gundicha compound, big and small, finishing with the Jagamohan.


<center>cAri-dike zata bhakta sammArjanI-kare

Apani zodhena prabhu zikhAiA sabAre

premollAse zodhena layena kRSNa-nAma

bhakta-gaNa kRSNa kahe kare nija-kAma</center>


<blockquote>All around Him were a hundred devotees with brooms in their hand. around the temple. Mahaprabhu both swept Himself and told the others what to do. As He lovingly cleaned the temple, the Lord joyfully sang Krishna’s holy names. Similarly, all the devotees also chanted as they carried out their own duties. (CC 2.12.84-5)</blockquote>


Covered with dust and dirt, the Lord’s body became transcendentally beautiful. At times, He shed tears of love and even used these tears to clean the temple. The devotees cleansed the bhoga mandira, where the Deity's food offerings are placed, then the yard and all the residential quarters.


After this, the Lord used His own cloth to carry the straw, dust and grains of sand that had been piled up and threw them outside. All the devotees joyfully followed His example.


<center>prabhu kahe ke kata kariyAcha sammArjana

tRNa dhUli dekhilei jAniba parizrama</center>


<blockquote>The Lord told them, “We will be able to tell who has worked hardest at cleaning the temple by comparing everyone’s piles of dust and dirt.” </blockquote>


Naturally, the Lord’s pile was the biggest!


The Lord’s intent here was to teach all of us that if anyone wants to invite Lord Sri Krishna to sit on the throne of his heart, he has to make sure that it is pure and suitable for devotional service. If the heart is full of weeds, dust and pebbles, then it is no place for the Lord. The things that contaminate the heart are desires for anything but pure devotional service – fruitive ritual, impersonal philosophy, and other kinds of yogic practice that lead one away from bhakti.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati has discussed this matter in his commentaries on the Chaitanya Charitamrita (2.12.135), which should certainly be consulted by everyone wishing to plunge the depths of this divine mystery. He explains the cleaning of the Gundicha temple according to the fundamental definition of pure devotion given by Srila Rupa Goswami:




AnukUlyena kRSNAnu-

zIlanaM bhaktir uttamA</center>


<blockquote>The highest category of devotion or bhakti is defined as the culture of a favorable attitude to Krishna, devoid of all material desires and without any adulteration by monistic philosophy or fruitive action. (BRS 1.1.11)</blockquote>


“Other desires” (anyAbhilASa) are like thorns that wound the delicate makeup of exclusive devotion. The wind of our material entanglements carries the dust of such fruitive desire into our hearts, making it impossible to see our true selves. Our entanglement in material life is such that cleaning our hearts is not easy. We are like the proverbial elephant that immediately rolls in the dirt after it has bathed. However we try to purify ourselves, selfish desires always seem to have a way of insinuating themselves into our hearts almost immediately afterwards. The only agent for cleaning the heart is loving devotion for the Lord. When the heart has been thus cleansed with love, the Lord eagerly takes up residence there.


Mahaprabhu taught us to gather up the dirt of other desires, the pebbles of dry, speculative philosophical thinking, and other litter and throw them all outside the confines of the temple of our hearts. Still, unless they are removed even further, a strong gust of wind may carry them all back inside. Not only that, but though we may be able to remove the visible dirt and litter when cleaning, we cannot always remove the fine dust that clings to the cracks. The fine dust that pollutes our hearts consists of things like the desire for prestige or an attachment to self-centred religious activities like going on pilgrimage or living the life of a hermit. When such activities take precedence over the demands of pure devotional service, they are just another contaminant – even though they may still be officially in the sattvic mode.


The heart becomes a fit place for the Lord to take His seat only when all desire for sense enjoyment, personal liberation or mystic powers is eliminated from it, when it has been cleansed of any desire for the satisfaction of one’s own senses and is completely dedicated exclusively to the satisfaction of His senses. When the heart of the devotee becomes like this, then it becomes an attractive place of repose for the Lord, a garden of delight for His pleasure.


Similarly, the gopis’ hearts are completely dedicated exclusively to the satisfaction of his senses and so they place Krishna there in the chariot of their hearts and take Him off to Vrindavan. This is stated in the Chaitanya Charitamrita (2.21.107): caRi gopIra manorathe manmathera mana mathe – “Krishna rides the chariot of the gopis’ minds and churns the mind of the mind-churner, Cupid.”


Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had the entire temple cleansed of the dirt that had accumulated during the year and then washed it again. Even after cleaning the temple twice, He personally inspected its every corner, and if He saw a mark or a stain, He rubbed it with His own cloth until it was gone. The temple was thus a bright as a mirror or a jewel. In this way the Lord showed just how hard we must work to rid our hearts of even the slightest contaminant in order to become worthy of pure devotional service. A pure devotee’s heart is like Vrindavan, where the majestic Lord of the Universe puts aside all His supremacy to rejoice in the intimacy of love.


As the devotees were cleaning, the Lord, the world teacher, would come to them and take them by the hand to show them exactly how He wanted the work done. He profusely praised those who were doing a good job, and lovingly chastised those whose work was not done in a spirit of total absorption in desire for the happiness of the Beloved. He would take such a devotee’s hand and show him exactly how He wanted it to be done. Such a show of compassionate affection won the hearts of the devotees, who become increasingly enthused to do an even better job for His sake. The merciful Lord thus showed that those who are most successful at cleaning their own hearts and who then show others how it can be done are the most dear to Him.


Finally, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, also showed by this pastime that the best means to clean the heart is to loudly chant His holy names. Indeed, the cleaning of the Gundicha temple is best explained according to the first verse of the Çikñäñöaka -- ceto-darpaëa-märjanam. One cannot rid gold of its inner impurities without placing it repeatedly in the fire, nor can the gold of the consciousness be purified without internalizing the spiritual fire of Krishna’s name and form.


The Holy Name is eternal, pure, complete in itself and outside the clutches of the material energy. The Holy Name is in no way distinct from Krishna himself and thus all of the Lord’s energies are present in the Name. The Lord is so merciful that He makes himself available in His name, but the Holy Name itself is even more merciful than the Lord. For this reason, one can chant the Holy Name in any circumstances, whether clean or unclean, without consideration of time or place. This has made the Holy Name easily available to every living being.


The scripture says that even the indirect light of the sun-like Holy Name can erase the darkness of the worst kinds of sins: hanta yan-näma-bhänor äbhäso’pi kñapayati mahä-pätaka-dhvänta-räçim (BRS 2.1.103). Thus Bhaktivinoda Thakur instructs us, “Just worship the Holy Name, meditate on the Holy Name, make the Holy Name the central thing in your life (nAma bhaja nAma cinta nAma kara sAra).”


The process of cleaning the Gundicha temple is done chiefly by chanting the Maha Mantra loudly. In the ceto-darpaNa-mArjanam verse, Lord Chaitanya says that the Holy Name cleans the mirror of the mind, or the Gundicha temple of the heart. Therefore, everyone, man or woman, can engage in cleaning the Gundicha temple.


This custom of cleaning the Gundicha temple in the way Mahaprabhu had instituted it had unfortunately been practically discontinued until Charan Das Babaji incited all the Maths in Puri to join together to revive the tradition in the early 1890’s. The Jhanj Pitha and Radha Kanta Maths continue to lead this festival up to the present day, cleaning the Gundicha temple to the accompaniment of appropriate kirtans based on the descriptions found in Chaitanya Charitamrita.


The cleaning of Gundicha is traditionally followed by water sports in the Indradyumna Sarovar.



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The most important festival held every year in Sri Kshetra is the Rathayatra. It has many other names, such as Nava Yatra, Gundicha Yatra, Nandighosh Yatra, Patita Pavan Yatra and Mahavedi Utsava. In the Utkala-khanda, Lord Jagannath tells Indradyumna, “On the Asharh Shukla Dvitiya, place Subhadra Devi, Balaram and Myself on chariots and celebrate the Nava Yatra. Take Me to Gundicha, the house where I was born, and where you performed a thousand Ashwamedha sacrifices.” (Utkala-khanda, 29.32-34)


One legend says that Queen Gundicha requested the king to organize this festival in order to enable the sinners and the untouchables, who are ordinarily devoid of their entrance to the temple, to have darshan of Lord Jagannath for their salvation. As a result, the festival also took her name.


The role that Lord Jagannath plays in the life of modern Orissa is made very clear by the many dignitaries who are present every year, usually including the Chief Minister, members of his cabinet, several central government ministers, high court judges and other highly-place civil servants such as the Inspector-General of Police.


During the Rathayatra period, the Emergency Act is implemented and, according to its conditions, all departments of the Orissan government are assigned specific responsibilities related to the festival.


The Rathayatra festival is held every year on the second day of the waxing moon of the month of Asharh.


<center>ASADhasya dvitIyAyAM rathaM kuryAd vizeSataH

ASADha-zuklaikAdazyAM japa-homa-mahotsavam

ratha-sthitaM vrajantaM taM mahA-vedI-mahotsave

ye pazyanti mudA bhaktyA vAsas teSAM hareH pade

satyaM satyaM punaH satyaM pratijnAtaM dvijottamAH

nAtaH zreyaH-prado viSNor utsavaH zAstra-saMmataH </center>


<blockquote>On the second day and eleventh days of the waxing moon in the month of Asharh, a great chariot festival should be held, with fire sacrifices and chanting of mantras. Anyone who sees Lord Jagannath travelling on His chariot during this festival and feels joy and devotion will surely attain the Lord’s abode. Truly, truly, I promise you, O best of the Brahmins, nowhere in the scriptures will you find a festival more beneficial than this one. (Brahma Purana)</blockquote>


<h3>Consecration of the chariots</h3>


On the day the Gundicha temple is cleansed, the three raths are still standing where they were constructed, on the Grand Road in front of the Gajapati king’s palace, Sri Raj Nahar. After Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra have been given their morning meal, their prasadi flower garlands are taken from the temple to the chariots, accompanied by the clamoring of conches, bells and trumpets. After the chariots have been garlanded, they are pulled one by one to the temple’s main entrance. The first to be placed there is Balaram’s chariot, Taladhvaja, then Subhadra’s Darpadalana, and finally Jagannath’s Nandighosh.


After the evening offerings and arati, or Sandhya Dhupa, three water jugs, which in olden days used to be made of gold but now are made of the eight-metal alloy known as aSTa-dhAtu are brought out through the Singha Dwar. They are used to crown the three chariots, after which flagpoles and flags made of prasadi cloth are assembled above them.


When the water jugs (kalasa) and flags have been placed at the tops of the raths, the Deities are dressed in their bedclothes (Boro Sringar) and garlanded. After the bedtime arati, they are dressed again in special clothes for the next day when they will be placed on the rath in the Pahandi Vijaya ceremony. These clothes are known as the senA-paTA-lAgi (“military dress”) and zukla-sajja (“white costume”).


Once the finishing touches on the chariots’ decoration have been made, the ritual inauguration (ratha-pratiSThA) ceremony is held according to the traditions described in the Madala Panji. This sequence of rituals is summarized in the following verse of NilAdri Mahodaya:


<center>vandApanAM tataH kuryAd

AjnA-mAlyaM rathAn prati

dattvA rathAn samAnIya

tat-pratiSThAM samAcaret </center>


<blockquote>After welcoming the chariots, the Deities’ AjnA-mAlA must be placed on them. After so doing, the ritual consecration of the chariots must be performed. </blockquote>


These Vedic rituals take place on the pavilion above the main entrance, called the Chahani Mandap. They consists of painting a beautiful mandala in the shape of a lotus flower with thirty-six petals. First, the god Varuna is worshipped. This is then followed by the Sankalpa Vidhi, or pronunciation of mantras indicating the firm intention to perform the Rathayatra festival.


Next, the sacrificial priests are appointed in the AcArya-brAhmaNa-varana. A sacred water-pot is placed on the mandala, a piece of new cloth placed around its neck and mango-leaves and a coconut in its mouth. This water pot is consecrated and Lord Nrisingha worshipped there. This is followed by a fire sacrifice into which oblations of ghee are given, accompanied by one thousand and eight repetitions of the appropriate mantras. This goes on without much care being paid to it by the pilgrims, whose attention is fixed on the cars themselves.



[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 06-23-2001).]

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<h3>Rathayatra Day</h3>


Ideally, on Rathayatra day, mangal arati is held as usual at 4:30 AM. At 4:35, mailam takes place: the deities are undressed and changed into bathing clothes. The bathing ritual continued until 5:00 while the daily fire sacrifice is held in the kitchen area. At 5:30, the deities are dressed. Surya Puja, worship of the Sun-god, is held at 5:45, and at 6:00 the gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya are worshiped.


In the meantime, the Pandas prepare the raths for the Lords’ arrival with ritual acts of purification like sprinkling panca-gavya over them. After this has been done, the police form a cordon around them to prevent all those not involved in the Lord’s service to approach them.


The deities are served with their morning meal at 7:30, the Gajapati sends a golden plate containing a number of ingredients (coconut, betel nut, flowers, aguru, camphor, durva grass, unhusked rice) to their Lordships Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra, inviting Them to mount the chariot.


Previously, the pahandi system was used, as will be described next. Sometime in the last fifty years, however, this has been discontinued. Nowadays, a big pole is fixed to the backs of Jagannath and Baladeva and used to manhandle them onto the carts. Subhadra and Sudarshan continue to be carried, as they always have.


The priests tie a silken rope (paTTa-Dori) around Jagannath and Balaram’s waists. Then, after making flower offerings, they take the Deities down from the altar throne amidst cries of “Manima, manima!” Simultaneously, hundreds of other temple servants make a great noise with gongs, drums, and kettle drums. Some of the heads of Puri’s religious institutions or maths and temple priests hold the royal umbrella over Jagannath’s head while others fan with huge fans covered in silverwork (alata), fly whisks and panakriti or trasa. And, in the midst the clamorous sound of the devotees’ cheering and hand cymbals crashing that filled the sky, Lord Jagannath’s pahandi begins.


With the sounds of the Pahandi Vijaya, the hundreds of thousands of devotees waiting outside the temple gates feel their hearts overflow with excitement. The entire scene is so filled with emotion and joy that it is beyond words.


Krishna Das Kaviraj describes the Pahandi Vijaya as experienced by Lord Chaitanya:


<center>advaita nitAi Adi sange bhakta-gaNa

sukhe mahAprabhu dekhe Izvara-gamana

baliSTha dayitA-gaNa jena matta hAtI

jagannAtha-vijaya karAya kari hAtAhAti

kataka dayitA kare skandha Alambana

kataka dayitA dhare zrI-padma-caraNa

kaTi-taTe baddha dRDha sthUla paTTa-DorI

dui dike dayitA-gaNa uThAya tAhA dhari

ucca dRDha tulI saba pAti sthAne sthAne

eka tulI haite tvarAya Ara tulIte Ane

prabhu-padAghAte tulI haya khaNDa khaNDa

tulA saba uRi jAya zabda haya pracaNDa

vizvambhara jagannAthe ke cAlAite pAre

Apana icchAya cale karite vihAre

mahAprabhu maNimA maNimA kare dhvani

nAnA-vAdya-kolAhale kichui nA zuni</center>


<blockquote>Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his prominent devotees like Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Acharya joyfully watched Lord Jagannath as he was being taken to his car.


The powerful Dayitas, as strong as intoxicated elephants, carried Lord Jagannath manually from the throne to the car. Some of the Dayitas held the Lord’s shoulders and others took His lotus feet. Lord Jagannath was bound at the waist by the paTTa-DorI, a strong, thick rope made of silk. A number of Dayitas stood on either side of the Lord and lifted Him with the help of this rope. Thick cotton pillows had been placed along the path from the throne to the car and they lifted Lord Jagannath from one of these to the next. Sometimes the pads broke when struck by the Lord’s heavy foot, making a heavy, cracking sound and sending the cotton contents floating in the air.


Lord Jagannath is the maintainer of the whole universe, so who can make Him move? He only moves if He wishes to do so for the sake of His pastimes. Lord Chaitanya called out the words "MaNimA MaNimA," but could not be heard on account of the tumultuous sounds being made on various musical instruments. (CC 2.13.7-14) </blockquote>


It is said that Jagannath’s ratha Nandighosh does not move without the express wish of Jagannath Himself. Even at the time of Pahandi, it sometimes becomes impossible to lift Jagannath onto the chariot. For instance, in a story carried in many Orissan newspapers after the 1972 Rathayatra, it was reported that Jagannath started to become heavier and heavier as He was being carried to His chariot. It thus became impossible to lift Him onto the rath in the traditional way. This created a commotion amongst the crowds of people present there. Finally the Gajapati, Divyasimha Deva, approached the Lord with folded hands and requested Him, “O Supreme Lord! Excuse me, if it please You, would You come onto the chariot?” Then, magically, the Lord became weightless and it was no longer difficult to lift Him.


<center>sudarzanaM puraskRtya balabhadraM tataH param

subhadrA ca tato nItvA jagadIzaM surezvaram</center>


The Dayitas first carry Sudarshan, then Balaram and then Subhadra onto their respective chariots. Sudarshan is brought out in a rush as the Dayitas carry him out running and place him on Subhadra’s chariot. Lord Jagannath follows. Before leaving Maha Lakshmi Devi behind on the altar, Lord Jagannath gives her assurances, saying, “I would have been happy to bring you along, but because My big brother is with Me, I cannot. But don’t be sad, I will be coming back very soon.”


With all the deities now established on Their raths, the city’s goldsmith community comes to present the three deities with special ornaments, called citA, to be placed on their foreheads. This is also done by the Lenkas and Paiks in the midst of gongs ringing and conch shells blowing. The rule is that every year at the time of the Snana Yatra, these ornaments as well as the Deities’ jeweled armlets and leaf-like earrings are removed and kept under lock and key until the day of the Rathayatra. Jagannath’s tilak jewel is embedded with diamonds, that of Subhadra with emeralds, and that of Balaram with lapis lazuli.


After this, the servants known as Kotha Suansias place two chests containing clothes, ornaments and materials required for the nine-day journey on Jagannath's chariot. Their Lordships are dressed in silken clothes (Patakhandua) and draped with flower garlands. The Brahmins of the Sixteen Shasans come out in a solemn procession carrying three tulasi crowns that are placed on the Deities’ heads. All these ceremonies are supposed to be completed by noon.



[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 06-23-2001).]

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<h3>Chera Pahara</h3>


Then begins the next important ritual phase of the Rathayatra festival, called Chera Pahara (cherA paharA). During this ceremony, the Gajapati king sweeps the cart all around the Deity. First a delegation of highly-placed members of the Orissan Government, representatives of the police department and temple priests go to the Raja Nahar royal palace where they announce to the king that Lord Jagannath has been placed in his rath.


The Gajapati is still revered throughout the Hindu world because of his relation to Lord Jagannath, His full title includes reference to all the territories that were under Gajapati rule at the height of the Orissan empire under Purushottam Deva and Prataparudra Deva, when it included large parts of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and even Karnataka. The Gajapati is even considered to be a portion (aMza) of Lord Vishnu and is sometimes called “the walking Jagannath.”


The king mounts a rich palanquin worked in silver and gold and embedded with jewels. He is accompanied by the royal guru, the royal priest and other Vedic Brahmins and his bodyguard corps. They carry parasols, fans, whisks, gongs, and drums, as well as the thirty-six kinds of royal paraphernalia (raja-pariveza). Many thousands of pilgrims crowd around to catch sight of the King.


Then, as the king proceeds from his palace to the Lord’s chariot, the official panegyrists and eulogists recite Sanskrit verses of praise while crowds of people cheer with shouts of “jaya, jaya”. When he approaches the cars, the Dayitapatis welcome him and lead him to the chariot of Balabhadra. Other temple servants respectfully wait for him in the chariot with the paraphernalia needed for Chera Pahara. The Muduli stands ready to present him with the golden broom and the silver waterpot. The Mekap holds a golden perfume stick, vermilion paste, a yaktail whisk and camphor; the Gara Badu a water-pot, the Dayanamali white flowers, and the Ghatuari sandal-paste and a silver incense holder.


The king mounts Lord Baladeva’s chariot and pays his full, prostrated obeisances. He offers the Lord a handful of flowers and a camphor flame. Then he sweeps the platform all around the Deity with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles it with sandalwood water and powder. When he has finished sweeping, he once again prostrates himself before Balaram. This ritual is repeated on Lord Jagannath’s car, and then finally on Lady Subhadra’s. In King Prataparudra’s time, the Gajapati would sweep and sprinkle sandalwood water on the entire path from the altar in the temple right up to the chariots, but now he only performs this service on the chariots themselves.


Mahaprabhu was greatly pleased with the King’s act of humbling himself in front of Lord Jagannath, as seen in Krishna Das Kaviraj’s description of the Chera Pahara:


<center>tabe pratAparudra kare Apane sevana

suvarNa-mArjanI lanA kare patha sammArjana

candana-jalete kare patha niSecane

tuccha sevA kare basi rAja-siMhAsane

uttama hanA rAjA kare tuccha sevana

ataeva jagannAthera kRpAra bhAjana

mahAprabhu sukha pAila se-sevA dekhite

mahAprabhura kRpA haila se-sevA haite</center>


<blockquote>While the Lord was being carried from the throne to the car, King Prataparudra personally engaged in the Lord's service by cleansing the road with a gold-handled broom. He also sprinkled the road with sandalwood-scented water. Though he sat on the royal throne, the king engaged in such menial service for the sake of Lord Jagannath. Although the King was the most exalted person in the kingdom, still he consented to do this menial service for the Lord. He thus became the recipient of Lord Jagannath's blessings. Mahaprabhu became very happy on seeing the King engaged in this service and so the King also received Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy as a result. (CC 2.13.15-18) </blockquote>


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<h3>The Pulling of the Chariots</h3>


After the King has completed the Chera Pahara, the charioteers are placed on the raths. Matali first mounts Lord Baladeva’s rath, then Arjuna, who is Subhadra’s charioteer, and then Daruka, who drives Lord Jagannath’s chariot. The staircase (cAr mAl) made from tal trees is taken down and the horses are “hitched” to the chariots. Balaram’s horses are black; their names are Tivra, Ghora, Dirgha and Svarnanabha. Subhadra’s horses, Mochika, Rochika, Jita and Aparajita, are red. Lord Jagannath’s horses are white; their names are Shankha, Balahaka, Shveta and Haridashva.


Then the pulling ropes are attached. The rope that pulls Balaram’s chariot Taladhvaja is the great serpent Vasuki himself. Subhadra’s chariot Darpadalan is pulled by the serpent Svarnachura and Lord Jagannath’s chariot by the Shankhachura serpent. The first person to ceremoniously pull the rope is the king himself.


Finally, at around two o’clock, as hundreds of thousands of devotees, pilgrims, tourists and curiosity seekers look on, in the midst of a joyful noise made with drums, bugles, trumpets, conch shells and gongs and the loud singing of kirtan in numerous groups coming from the different maths of Puri, thousands of devotees lovingly pull the three great chariots slowly on their way to the Gundicha temple--first Balaram, followed by Subhadra and Lord Jagannath.


As the chariots started on their way, two helicopters belonging to the Orissan Government and the Indian Army fly over them and release baskets of flower petals, showering Lords Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra with flowers like the gods did in the past. As one looks down on the scene, it seems as though three great ships are floating along in an ocean of people. The Boro Danda fills with hundreds of kirtan groups in front of each of the raths singing songs glorifying Lord Jagannath in ways suitable to their own understanding.


Nowadays, most of the pulling is done by pilgrims, and since the road has been improved, it generally takes only a single day for the three great cars to reach the Gundicha house. Until fairly recently, the Boro Danda was a sandy road, often made difficult to manage on account of rains. The wheels would sink deep into the sand and the journey would thus take several days. The pilgrims were often exhausted by the long trip to Jagannath Puri and though they would be able to muster up the energy to pull the chariots for the first few hours, after toiling for some time under the tropical July sun, their zeal inevitably flagged before the garden house was reached. The cars would then be deserted by the devotees and had to be dragged along by the professional pullers.


The professional cart-pullers were known as Kalaberiyas, were needed to help the Lords reach Their destination. The Kalaberiyas numbered in the thousands – 1400 pulled Jagannath’s cart, 1200 pulled Balaram and another 1200 were assigned to Subhadra. They were peasants from the neighboring divisions who passed this service down from generation to generation, in return for which they were given free room and board in Puri during the festival.


On the return journey, the Kalaberiyas were even more necessary. On the one hand, the Gaudiya Vaishnavas find the trip to Gundicha more attractive, in light of their understanding of it as the return of Krishna to Vrindavan. The return Rathayatra festival (Bahura), held nine days later, signifies Krishna’s voyage back to Dvaraka and thus is an occasion for sadness. Furthermore, pilgrims were often eager to return home after the Rathayatra and would not stay for Bahura. Though as many as 100,000 devotees would be present for the Rathayatra, very few would still be around nine days later. One British wit observed nearly two centuries ago that but for the professional car-pullers, Lord Jagannath would “infallibly stick” at His country-house.


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Halfway between the Sri Mandir and Gundicha is the place named Balgandi. Tradition holds that the deities arrives here at noon, though this rarely happens as they do not usually start their journey until well after noon. The three Lords are fatigued from travelling in the hot sun and stop here for a short while before going on to complete their journey. To cool them down, they are bathed in the customary fashion, by pouring water over their reflections in a mirror, and are offered sandalwood paste and camphor. The priests make a breeze with peacock fans and offer them cooling drinks and seasonal fruit like dates, bananas, coconut, jackfruit and mangoes. Milk sweets are also offered and finally, the Lord is given spiced pan to round out the meal. This offering is called the Balgandi bhoga. A full list of the items offered at Balgandi is given in the Chaitanya Charitamrita:


<blockquote>The King sent Mahaprabhu prasad from the Balagandi bhog, made up of uncooked food with milk sweets and fruits. It was all of the finest quality, and there was no end to the variety. There was curd, fruit juice, coconut, mango, dried coconut, jackfruit, various kinds of bananas and palm fruit seeds. There were also oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, almonds, dried fruit, raisins and dates.


There were hundreds of different types of sweetmeats like manoharA-lADu, sweets like amRta-guTikA and various condensed milk preparations. There were papayas and sarabati, a type of sweet, juicy orange, and also crushed squash. There was also regular cream, fried cream and a type of fried bread made with cream.


There were also sweets like hari-vallabha and sweets made of senoti flowers, camphor and malati flowers. There were pomegranates, sweets made with black pepper, others made with fused sugar, and fried sweets boiled in syrup. There was lotus flower sugar, a kind of bread made from urad dhal, crispy sweetmeats, sugar candy, fried rice sweets, sesame seed sweets and biscuits made from sesame seeds. There were sweetmeats made from sugarcane candy in the form of oranges, lemons and mangoes along with fruits, flowers and leaves.


There was yogurt, milk, butter, buttermilk, fruit juice, a preparation made of fried yogurt and sugar candy, and salty mung dhal sprouts with shredded ginger. There were also various types of pickles lemon pickle, berry pickle and so on. It is quite impossible to describe everything that was offered to Lord Jagannath. (CC 2.14.25-34) </blockquote>


As it cools off later in the afternoon, the chariots slowly set off again, reaching the Gundicha temple by evening. On arriving, they are offered arati and bhoga. They remain on the cart throughout the night and the next evening are moved in another Pahandi Vijaya down from the chariots and into the Gundicha temple, taking their places on their respective thrones. The three deities remain there seven days and finally on the Sayana or Bahura Ekadasi day return to the Nilachala temple.


In 1983, there was a great deal of rain on the day of the return Rathayatra and so the movement of chariots was very slow. Baladeva and Subhadra reached the Singha Dwar by the evening, but Lord Jagannath spent the night directly in front of the Chaitanya Gaudiya Math. Jagannath continued on His way the next morning and reached the Singha Dwar before noon. The three Deities remained there for three days, being served and worshiped by the public. Then, on the full moon day of Shravan, the Deities were brought into the temple and placed back on their usual altars.


While the Deities are on their cars, they do not take full meals with rice (anna-bhoga). They are made offerings of fruits and sweets, known as nisakaRi bhoga. Over the entire Rathayatra period, Lord Jagannath is dressed in the different costumes of His ten incarnations, or Dasavatar Vesh.


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<h3>The return journey</h3>


On the seventh day of the Rathayatra festival, the sandhyA-darzana or “evening audience” festival is held. On the eighth day, the chariots are prepared for the return journey. This return journey, also known as Bahura, Punar Yatra or the Ulta Rath, takes place on the following day.


Generally speaking, the return journey takes place on the Ekadasi, nine days after arriving at the Gundicha temple. However, under certain circumstances, the return trip takes place on the Dasami, i.e., one day early. This is because the Vaishnavas always take into consideration the overlapping of solar and lunar days when determining fasts and feasts. This is stated in the Chaitanya Charitamrita in the Lord’s instructions to Sanatan Goswami:


<center>ekAdazI janmASTamI vAmana-dvAdazI

zrI-rAma-navamI Ara nRsiMha-caturdazI

ei sabe biddhA-tyAga abiddhA-karaNa

akaraNe doSa kaile bhaktira lambhana</center>


<blockquote>Vaishnavas observe Ekadasi, Janmastami, Vamana Dvadasi, Sri Rama Navami, and Nrisingha Chaturdasi. However, if these lunar days overlap with the solar day, they should be put off, for only then will their observance bring devotion. Not observing them at all is a serious fault. (CC 2.24.336-7) </blockquote>


When the raths arrive at Shraddha Bali, they stop in front of the Ardhamshini Devi temple, which is also known as Jagannath’s maternal aunt’s (Mausi Ma) house. There Jagannath is fed offerings of poRA-piThA or “burnt cakes.”


It is said that in the thirteenth century, the King Narasingha Deva had the bridge built at Atharonala or Shankhua River. A branch of this river known as the Malini River used to separate the Gundicha temple from the Grand Road or Boro Danda. This made it necessary to build six chariots for the Rathayatra, three on each side of this river. The Deities were transferred across the stream by boat.


The queen’s name was Shraddha Devi. She had a bridge built across this river and made the sandy bed of the river suitable for the chariots. The sandy area thus took on the name Shraddha Bali (bAli means sand). The river has long since dried up.


From the Mausi Ma temple, the rath continues without stopping until it comes to the Marichika Devi temple, about 400 meters from the Singha Dwar and near the royal palace. Here, Lakshmi Devi comes from the temple in a palanquin to greet Jagannath Deva.


Accompanied by the king, she first goes to the place near the temple wall called the Chahani Mandap (“observation post”) or Bhet Mandap (“meeting place”). She then comes closer to the chariot and makes a circuit of it. Jagannath greets her with an AjnA-mAlA, presented to her by the Dayitapatis, and she in turn offers him the bandApanA, i.e., rice, durba grass and a lamp, after which she goes back to the temple. This ritual is known as Lakshmi-Narayan’s bheTa or meeting.


The chariots then continue on to the temple’s main entrance. Upon arriving, the Deities are offered the adhara-paNA bhoga, a specially prepared sweet drink. In the midst of ecstatic chanting of the Holy Names, the Rathayatra festival comes to an end.



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<h3>Niladri Utsava</h3>


Finally, the next day on the Dvadasi, Jagannath is moved back into the temple. This festival is called the Niladri Utsava. On this occasion, Lakshmi Devi has a fit of jealousy and refuses to allow Jagannath back into the temple. Lakshmi’s representatives, the Devadasis or Maharis, argue for some time with the Dayitas, who represent Jagannath. Lakshmi’s servants get the upper hand in the argument and when the Dayitas admit defeat, the Maharis open the gate and let Lord Jagannath pass and return to His throne.


The Gaudiya Vaishnavas desire the service of the gopis in Vrindavan. They therefore feel greater joy at Lord Jagannath’s journey to Gundicha, which they see as Krishna’s return from Dvaraka to Vrindavan. They feel less enthusiasm about his return to the main temple, which is like his leaving Vrindavan to go back to the city.


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<h3>The history of Rathayatra</h3>


In some academic circles, it is said that the Rathayatra festival was originally a Buddhist custom that was adopted by the Hindus. The noted archeologist Dr. Rajendra Lal Mitra said that the Rathayatra was derived from Buddhist festivals commemorating the birth of the Buddha. To support his argument, he refers to the accounts of the Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsien (ca. 400 AD), who described just such a cart festival. However, other archeologists and historians have shown that festivals of this sort were not the exclusive property of the Buddhists. The Shaivas and Jains have also celebrated the festive journeys of their gods both in the past and present. Even Roman Catholics in Europe took their religious symbols and icons out for a procession on certain holy days, sometimes using vehicles of various sorts. Thus Henrietta Caraciolo mentions a type of Rathayatra she saw in Sicily –


<blockquote>A colossal car is dragged by a long team of buffaloes through the irregular and ill-paved streets. Upon this are erected a great variety of objects, such as the Sun, Moon, and principal planets, set in rotary motion and diminishing proportionately in size as they approach the summit of the structure. This erection is in itself really imposing, sumptuously decorated and put in movement in honour of her who gave birth to the God of Charity. But its functions recall to mind the famed car of Jagannath. </blockquote>


Many chariot festivals are held throughout India in most of the different sects of Hinduism, but none is as famous as Jagannath’s Rathayatra. It is impossible to say how long the custom has been going on.

<h3>Suicide at the Rathayatra</h3>


Uon their return home, early European travelers to India reported seeing or hearing of suicides at the Rathayatra, the very idea of which captured the imaginations of their European public. Stories of people throwing themselves under the wheels of Jagannath’s carts in a religious frenzy were rife and especially used in anti-Hindu propaganda by the Christian missionaries, who made the name of Jagannath synonymous with organized self-slaughter. The word “juggernaut” entered the English language as meaning “an irresistable, destructive force.” Thus, even in Christian prohibitionist literature, the image of Lord Jagannath’s cart was used as the very symbol of evil –


<blockquote> “It is called the Gin Jagannath, and represents a hideous moving palace, with a reeking still at the roof, and vast gin barrels for wheels, under which unhappy millions are crushed to death... The vast cloud comes sweeping on in the wake of the horrible body-crusher.” </blockquote>


Though there were undoubtedly cases of such suicide, they were comparatively rare. there were no doubt cases of death by trampling, which came up from time to time even in the 19th and 20th centuries, not only at the Rathayatra but at other events like Nava Yauvana.


In 1872, Hunter reported that he had made an index of all recorded cases and attested that the number of suicides had always been insignificant, the few that did occur were for the most part cases of diseased and miserable objects¯who took this means to put themselves out of pain.”


Certainly, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu disapproved of the practice, even in cases where one was suffering, such as that of Sanatan Goswami. Sanatan once came to see Mahaprabhu in Puri, taking the route through the jungle from Vrindavan. After drinking contaminated water, he came with scabies. The running sores on Sanatan’s body depressed him terribly and he began to plan suicide in his despondency, thinking that due to his low birth and his now disgusting physical condition he would not only be unable to go near the temple and see Jagannath, but would also be deprived of Mahaprabhu’s darshan. All in all, he thought it would be better to throw himself under the wheels of Jagannath’s chariot and be crushed to death while watching Mahaprabhu dance.


One day, the all-knowing Mahaprabhu came to see Sanatan at Siddha Bakul and suddenly confronted him with his intention to commit suicide during the Rathayatra festival. He said,


<blockquote> “My dear Sanatan, if I could attain Krishna by committing suicide, then I would give up millions of bodies without a moment's hesitation. However, we cannot attain Krishna simply by giving up the body, but only through bhajan. Other than devotional service, there is no means by which to attain Krishna.” (CC 3.4.55-6) </blockquote>


Mahaprabhu taught the world through Sanatan that suicide is an act of the mode of ignorance that cannot be used to attain Krishna. It is only through the cultivation of pure devotion in practice that one can attain the Supreme Lord. The best forms of bhajan, or worship, are known as the nine kinds of devotional service, or nava-vidhA bhakti. The best of these is the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna, Harinam sankirtan.


Furthermore, Mahaprabhu taught that a devotee who has surrendered to Him gives up ownership of his own body to the Lord, who then acts through him to realize His own purposes in the world:


<blockquote> “You have already surrendered yourself to me, so your body is now my personal property. Why do you want to destroy another’s property? Are you unable to distinguish right from wrong? Your body is an important instrument through which I shall accomplish many things.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.4.76-8) </blockquote>


Hunter argued that this vision had made inroads into the general Orissan culture, where even suttee, where widows immolated themselves on the funeral pyre of their dead husbands, was not widely practiced as elsewhere in India. All in all, then, these reports may be considered to have been greatly exaggerated.


Even so, accidents are always possible in a large crowd and participants in the Rathayatra should be careful. With today’s improved communications and the resulting increased numbers of pilgrims – more security measures are taken by the federal and state governments to insure that no one is trampled underfoot or falls under the carts, either by accident or intent. At the Rathayatra in 2000, sixty platoons of armed police and six of the Rapid Action Force were deployed for crowd control during the festival, which was attended by 800,000 people.


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<font color=#0000FF>Dear Prabhus,


This is a preliminary version of the text, so there may still be mistakes of fact and inadequacies of expression.


I would be very happy to get any further precisions, perceptions, experiences, details, that you may be able to add to the above account.


I would appreciate any feedback. Thanking you in advance,


Your servant,


Jagadananda Das.



[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 06-23-2001).]

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This was the next best thing to being there Brought back some nice memories, and made my sunday morning. It's relieving just to read facts without someone chalenging every point that is brought up. I could almost smell the chandan and aguru.And those palaquins of scented flowers.

A brahman gave my first daughter Lord Balarams sacred thread at the snana festival when they bathed them once. At the time we didn't even realize the potency of that gift.


I think it would be interesting to delve into the ban on us outcastes, not that I disagree, it could just clarify the temples position on it, and where it stems from. I know there is a strong movement to let the western vaisnavas in, like some of the south Indian temples.

There are a number of tales of westerners sneaking in for dharsan, I have a friend who told me one western lady got in and when they discovered her in there they thru every preparation that was being offered out and recooked the whole meal for apr. 50,000 pilgrims. Serious offence.

Then I hear they use some fishermen to cook, as the kitchens for major distribution are so hot that vegetarians blood boils quicker than the fishermen who eat fish.


Then also because many of them are not controlled in their senses, lust develops, and this accounts for many of the madmen wandering the streets after they spin out of the kitchens. It's hard for me to conceive the standards they have. I'm elated whenever I make it to the altar with an offering these days.


Jagat I was thinking if there is any way to contact the present Gajapati Maharaj, He could truly help your project, I know he is a very pious gentleman and a true vaisnava at that, he has real respect for audarya devotees altho I'm not sure how the recent publicity has been received locally, but he has a remarkable attitude of humility for a king in the lineage of Prataparudra, he's also very well educated. An all round pukkha Vaisnava.

He came personally to the opening of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Puri and Srila Govinda Maharaj and he have a very friendly relationship. He has shown a deep appreciation of Srila Sridhara Maharajs' realization and also Srila Swami Maharajs efforts to give Jagganath to the world.

I did have his Email and website with a contact for him personally but I can't seem to find it these days. I really feel he would have all the inside information, of course the only consideration is how does one approach a real king?

If Jagganath wills, everything is possible.

Tell him you're a western street cleaner Posted Image

Jaya Jagganath Balaram and Srimate Subadradevi


[This message has been edited by dasanudas (edited 06-23-2001).]

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Allen Ginsberg got in.A little fat, a beard and a bohemian jewish look faked 'em out.


It's just racist crap but it's their temple.Maybe someday they'll learn the purport to Lord Jagannatha as in Lord of the universe.


Until then we can go on worshiping the Lord everywhere else;that is, in everyone and everything.


Of course, I would like to touch a certain pillar.



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I have a very nice chapter on this issue in the book, called "Patita Pavan."


I have been thinking about it, and in some ways, it may be a blessing in disguise. The following is from a book called Antiquities of Orissa by R. L. Mitra. Vol. II. 1880.


<blockquote>All the four outer gates of the sacred enclosure are left open till a late hour at night, but the rule is that except in the case of special permits granted by the Khurda Raja, pilgrims should enter by the eastern gate, turn to the left in the inner enclosure, circumambulate the great tower once, thrice and even seven times, generally thrice, and then enter the dancing hall by the north. Proceeding in front of a log of sandalwood that cuts off further approach, they behold the Lord of the Universe in the sanctum in front.


Persons paying a large sum are allowed to cross the bar and enter the sanctum. Persons having special permits, which cost from Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000, enter by the southern gate and have the right of getting the inner enclosure cleared of all other visitors for the time they stay in it. They, of course, have the right of entering the sanctum.


The sanctum is so dark that without the aid of a lamp, nothing is visible within it even at midday. Going thrice around the temple at noon and with the sun glaring on the whitewashed houses all around and devoting the greater part of the time looking upward towards the cornice and the tops of the temples and other erections to which the attention is constantly drawn by the priests, the eyes of the pilgrims get so dazed that it is impossible to immediately see anything placed in a very dark corner afterwards. Thus, even in the best of circumstances, the poor pilgrims standing before the sandalwood bar see very little. Even those who get beyond the bar cannot see much at first or until their pupils adjust themselves to the light. The priest attribute this to the effect of sin, which renders carnal eyes unfit to behold the divinity. When that sin is destroyed by devotion, the divinity becomes visible.


An amusing anecdote is generally related of this miracle. The late Raja Sukhamaya Raya of Calcutta was noted for his thrifty habits and lax morality. He stood at the temple door, but could see nothing and was reminded of his sins. He returned to his lodging, prayed all day and night, promised to make amends by defraying the cost of a metalled road from Cuttack to Puri and of rest houses and dispensaries at Puri, Cuttack, Jajpur and Balasore.


The next day, he entered the temple without the circumambulation, which he had already performed the day before, and beheld the divinity in all his glory!


The Raja kept his promise and the present high road to Puri from Cuttack, a distance of over fifty miles, and the rest houses and hospitals at the places named above, bear witness thereof. They cost him several lakhs of rupees.


I visited the temple at 1 p.m., and going round it once, entered the temple. But with the effect of the bright light without and the glare of a lamp held before my eyes, I could see very little of the images, even when standing in the middle of the sanctum. I did not, however, say anything of my failing sight, but asked one of the priests to take me by the hand and enable me to perform the circumambulation of the throne of the divinity. I went around the throne thrice, keeping my eyes completely closed and this sufficed either to wash off my sins or to take off the contraction of my pupils and I saw with the aid of the lamp held away from me the images as well as possible.


A shrewd priest with whom I afterwards talked on the subject admitted that he and others of his fraternity were well aware of the miracle, often appealed to, being due to the sudden transition from light to darkness.</blockquote>


More follows...

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There is not often direct criticism of the priests by pious people. The atheists don't bother, I guess. One book, The Legends of Jagannath Puri by R. K. Das (Bhadrak: Pragati Udyog, 1978), does have some interesting observations. I don't know if they are still applicable today. I am refering to chapter 13, "Administration of Jagannath Temple at Puri." It is too long to give the whole thing here, but I will give some of the salient features.


<blockquote>Duties create rights and not vice versa. Performance of an assigned duty perfectly well is the crux of the whole matter, which brings in reward in some form or another. Normally, such continuance of faithful performance of a duty creates a situation making the performer eligible to a reward; equally, non performance of the duty debars the recipient to claim that reward. This is the social system of mutual "give and take" principle.


Those who serve Jagannath, specifically, as their duty, to whatever position they belong, surely deserve reward in the form of monthly remuneration or permanent land gifts, but when they fail to be true to their assigned duty and thereby cause hindrance to the routine performances of temple procedure of rituals, they by their own actions, expose themselves to be reprimanded in the form of non-eligibility to the reward. Not only that, the break in the daily routine causes much inconvenience to the devoted pilgrims and ascetics who assemble daily to attend on Lord Jagannath as giver of alms. For the fault of a few servants of God, the entire mass of devotees cannot be made to suffer. It is undemocratic.</blockquote>


<font color=#2F4F2F>Alms here refers to Maha Prasad. I think that the Orissan Government, which takes a greater interest in these things than it used to, tries to make sure that things go on time better than in the past. The Rathayatra is certainly more "efficient" than it ever was, with one-day yatras being the norm.


idAnim mulam anusaramah --</font>


<blockquote>Nowadays there are institutions in South India where regular training is imparted to train up archakas for ritualistic performances according to Vedic canon. It is absolutely necessary now according to developing trends of cultured society to have our priests well-versed in ritualistic rhymes and hymns to give satisfaction to the worshiper's mind and soul. None can claim the priesthood by inheritance only.</blockquote>


<font color=#2f4f2f>I have been wanting to reiterate a pet peeve of my own. One that I haven't posted in a couple of months. It was brought to mind by Bhutabhavana's posting of the Portland newspaper article today. I visited the Montreal temple two weeks ago and was exposed to the ghastliest sandhya arati I can ever recall. The lead singer was banging away on heavy kartals singing a tune that only he knew. The confused congregation each sang the tunes that they knew with the result that I almost cried from the rasa-virodha.


Then I listened to Gita class given by a Polish devotee, a nice fellow, but whose command of English and knowledge of philosophy are about on an equal level. He finished each sentence with a querying look at his audience, as if to ask, "Is that OK?" The temple president translated into French.


I was left with the thought, "These people know absolutely nothing about spiritual experience and how to communicate it."


Whoops, I am way off topic. My point was, oh yes, training! Every temple should have trained musicians to make a "joyful noise unto the Lord." Speakers should prepare their sermons ahead of time so that they are effective. But no one has been allowed to develop these arts, for some reason.


Anyway, punaH mUlam anusarAmaH.</font>


<blockquote>The modern society, which is steeped in democratic principles, can never tolerate the fault of a few leading to the sufferings of many. The rule of the majority is the modern concept. Therefore, as J. R. Lowell said, "New occasions teach new duties." We will have to face the situation boldly for summum bonum -- the greatest good to the greatest number for smooth conduct of daily service of rituals and ceremonies. The servants or sevaks must fulfil their duties faithfully, failing which their rights are forfeited. Unless this is enforced rigidly, no improvement in administration is feasible, because the sevaks have long lost their moorings in devotional attitude of mind.


The word sevak has been derived from the root sev, which means giving pleasure or happiness to the person to whom the service is rendered. The service is to give happiness not as a matter of right, but out of Bhakti -- devotion, or love. When that BHakti is lacking in performance of a certain duty, the performer is not a sevak in the true sense of the term.


However much the present day attendants of Lord Jagannath try to align themselves to the status of the 16,000 gopis of Vrindavan serving Sri Krishna (Jagannath), the hard facts obtaining now are very different from what it was at Vrindavan in ages gone by. The allusion is irrelevant and inapt. Such ideas should not be given scope to spread any further, rather should be nipped in the bud persuasively till visible change in the devotional duty sphere is perceptible.</blockquote>


<font color=2f4f2f>The saying is given that those who were monkeys in Ayodhya and gopis in Vrindavan have become priests of Jagannath in the Age of Kali.


I realize this quote is getting rather long, but bear with it. A Nijog (niyoga) refers to the individual types of service. Chodaganga established 36 categories of seva, each controlled by particular families and their descendants. (This was the way that continuity was assured in the past.) Sangha in the paragraph that follows, refers to a trade union.</font>


<blockquote>The symptom of separation and forming of unions without the advent of devotion is already visible in the formation of Nijog Sanghas, etc. The Jagannath temple is not an industry. The Supreme Court of India has delivered their judgment denying the fact in the recent appeal to the learned body of judges. Consequently the tendency to form trade unions or sanghas is not appropriate to the discipline of the great religious house, which smacks of the absence of devotion and introduction of combined claim for the fulfilment of rights at the cost of duties and discipline of service. The spirit of social service and devotional attitude to the Lord have been thrown out to the winds and combined effort (union or combined pressure) to gain a selfish end has gradually crept in.


Therefore, the administration must be vested with ample powers to debar the recalcitrant and indisciplined elements' entry into the temple precincts and forfeit their rights to remuneration and to appoint forthwith substitutes for performance of ritualistic duties smoothly. So long as this power is not exercised on the spot vigorously, the fear of punishment in case of non-attendance to duty will not revive. A temple sphere of peace and tranquility should be aimed at.</blockquote>


<font color=#2f4f2f>One should know, however, that the sevaks receive very little remuneration from the temple. Basically, they get maha prasad and maybe a small sum every year. Otherwise they are dependent on pilgrim donations.


The other thing is that most sevas have been so splintered up into the expansion of families, that most of the Bahar Sevaks, etc., have to make the most of the opportunities given them to extract money from pilgrims. If you want to get rid of the harrassment of pilgrims by Pandas, you have to restrict the number of people responsible for any particular service and then give them a reasonable income for their service.


Who'd have thunk that I'd be posting strike breakers' literature on the internet?</font>


<blockquote>The threat of punishment is not congenial to the temple sphere, but when spiritualism and devotion to God are absent, there is no way out than threat or coercion to keep going the religious ceremonies of the Great Temple for the benefit of the religious public.


The Jagannath Temple Management Committee is an autonomous body constituted under the Sri Jagannath Temple Management Act. This body through the administrator should scrupulously exercise the penal provisions without fear or favor. They must keep in view always with the changed vision of society that the majority (pilgrims, sages, ascetics and public) cannot suffer for the negligent indulgences of the few (Sevaks). Here the new occasions teach new duties as has been rightly said.</blockquote>


<font color=2f4f2f>Now here we come to the crux of the matter -- why I posted this in the first place -- so the devotees wouldn't feel so bad about not getting in.</font>


<blockquote>The greatest resentment is shown in the disorderly conduct of the Pandas in rushing the pilgrims to the sanctum and the wayward system of fleecing the devotees during the course of circumambulating the various altars on the periphery of the main temple. The rush and bustle created within the temple walls, with the shouting of the flower dealers and persuasion of the Panda guides definitely create an atmosphere of complete chaos where physical strength only prevails, much to the chagrin of the devoted pilgrims who have come so far to have a peaceful darshan of Lord Jagannath.


The serenity of the atmosphere which is conducive for prayer and communion with God is totally marred. Consequently, the very purpose of pilgrimage is defeated, leaving behind in the mind a sour taste and a bitter feeling of the journey and expense.


Here the social obligation of systematizing the whole procedure of darshan becomes a necessity. Equal opportunity for all in the sphere of darshan can be obtained by introduction of a queue system on the principle of "first come, first served." Initially, it will not be palatable to all, particularly the pilgrim guides, but its benefits will soon be appreciated, as it has come to stay in our present society from purchase f a mere ticket in railway platform to a bus journey...</Blockquote>


<font color=#2f4f2f>Anyway, gotta stop here. Have a nice day.</font>




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Rath Yatra 2001 –‘Puri inundated’


by Rashbeharidas

(VINA) 23nd June, 2001, Puri.


The rains like this came after 12 years. But this was 9 days ago. Now with Rath –Yatra approaching, its an inundation of another kind - Divine Transcendental Name of Jai Baladev! Jai Subhadra! Jai Jagannath!!! Nitai-Gauranga! Hari Bol!


In the run-up to the Rath-Yatra, a Harinam procession (Nagar-Sankirtan) was taken out by His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, from Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math (Regd.), Grand Road, Puri, the Holy Birth-Place of Jagadguru Srila Bhakti Siddhanta SARASWATI thakur. Srila Saraswati Thakur is the original founder of all Gaudiya Maths and Gaudiya missions. His birth place is Puri, presently the principal branch math of Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math.


Devotees from different Gaudiya Missions from different parts of India and abroad followed the procession dancing to the tunes of Mridanga, Kartals, Kansa and chanting Jai Baldev! Jai Subhadra! Jai Jagannath!!! Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare! The Global Saraswat Gaudiya Family!


The ecstatic Kirtan and dancing by Srila B. B. Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, 78, who is also the Vice-president of the WVA (World Vaishnava Association), reminded the times of Sree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who inundated Puri with His Divine Love, 500 years ago. The preceptorial-channel has kept the spirit of Divine Love alive!


By Krishna's arrangement, during the time of Maharaj's stay in New York, 1997, Lord Jagannath decided to go on His annual sojourn through the streets of downtown Manhattan. Maharaj's party accompanied the procession in a limousine driven by a very nice gentleman named Ramesh Patel (who just happened to be a limo driver). At one point, Maharaj asked from the back seat, "Where is Rashbihari?He is up ahead, pulling Lord Jagannath's cart." Maharaj then asked, "Is it correct to say 'pulling' or 'drawing' in the English language?Probably 'pulling' is more appropriate."Maharaj chuckled and said, "How can we either pull or draw Lord Jagannath? Lord Jagannath acts only according to His own initiative. We have no potency in and of ourselves to do anything, what to speak of compelling God to move. The cart moves by His inconceivable potency, when Lord Jagannath decides, not when we decide."


The Harinam procession was taken to Sri Jagannath Mandir, Sri Ganga-Mata Goswamini Math, the place of Sarwabhoum Bhatacharya, Radhakant Math (Gambhira), Siddha-Bakul, Narendra Sarovar, Attharnalla, Gundicha, Nrisingha Mandir and Indradyumna sarovar.


Gajapati Maharaj Sri Divyasingha Dev, the descendent of Sri Pratap Rudra Maharaj, visited Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, and inaugurated the Annual Rath Yatra Function of the Math by lighting-up the ceremonial lamps.


The Rath-yatra theme was elaborated in the discourses of Srila B. B. Tirtha Goswami Maharaj.


The excitement of the Car-Festival is overpowering all! It’s the ride by the Global Lord of the Lords – Jagannath Swami Nayan Pathgami…


It is cloudy today, it rained heavily yesterday night. Quite pleasant this year. All Mercy of the Prem Murti of Lord Krishna – Jagannath Dev!


Devotees all over! So Many colours, ecstatic faces, different melodies of Kirtan, cries, bells, sirens, all sound like an orchestra!

Hey Gopinath! Hey Gopinath! Vrindavane Chalo Hey Gopinath!! In the hearts of devotees here, the bliss of Rath-Yatra is just inexplicable.


The spiritual mission of Lord Sree Chaitanya Deva was amply demonstrated when He inundated old Bengal, Orissa, Southern India and North India with Krishna Prema (Transcendental Divine Love) distributed to all human beings irrespective of caste-creed. As well as to all other species of animated beings ( He even made beasts and birds chant the Holy Name of Sri Krishna). At 12 noon today, all the three deities – Sri Balbhadra, Subhadra and Lord Jagannath Dev have boarded the respective Raths – Taaladhwaja, Padmadhwaja and Nandi Ghosh!


At 2 P.M., the Raths were approaching the Birth-Place of Srila Saraswati Thakur. The devotees started vigorous Sankirtan on the Grand Road, outside Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math. Led by Srila B.B. Tirtha Goswami Mj, with chants of Jai Baldev! Jai Subhadra! Jai Jagannath!


First came Baldev withPandas drumming vigorously! The Sankirtan came to the highest pitch!


Then beautifully decorated Chariot of Devi Subhadra passed by the Math, the cries of – ‘Subhadra Devi Jaida Jaida!’ rattled the skies of Puri.


After a long Sankirtan and continuous Nritya (Ecstatic Dancing) by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, who used to lead Harinam Sankirtan right from Sri Jagannath Temple to the GUNDICHA MANDIR, during the time of the struggle for getting the site of the holy Birth-place of Jagad Guru Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta, in the 70s’.


The bright colours of the Raths are just dazzling! About 500,000 persons are here in this Car festival to feel the mercy of the Lord of the Universe!


Just at 4.35 P.M., the Nandi-Ghosh Rath of Jagannath Dev passed by the Math. The climax of the Kirtan came with Hari Bol chants!

Srila B. B. Tirtha Goswami Maharaj offered obeisances and stepped inside the Math – and it started drizzling! We rushed for an umbrella. It was cloudy since morning but only after all the chariots crossed the Birthplace of Srila Saraswati Thakur, it started pouring down. He takes care!


Yours in the service of the Supreme Lord, GOKUL, INDIA.




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I kind of like it in some ways the way it is Like temples churches and mosques all around the world it tends to create vibralamba if you are away from the deity, and hence as you say make an effort to see Krsna everywhere .

Had Mahaprabhu thought it nessacary He could have changed it for Srila Hari das and Sri Rup and Sanatan instead He came personally to feed Hari das, now that is a place of sweet mercy- Siddha Bhakul and it is guarenteed one could chant a few rounds there without disturbance.

Like it has been pointed out how do you pray introspectively in a hustling crowd of thousands of fanatical pilgrims. Just imagine the Hajd in Mecca. No wonder The Lord has a grin from ear to ear.

Even tho it's hilarious I was nearly trampled to death at Kumba Mela once and some of those elderly matajis at Banke Biharis in Vrndavan are quite a competing force to be reckoned with for a simple dharsan of the Lord. They'll rip you out of the way when the fervour's rising. What about the wailing wall in Jerusalem. Strange what this religion does to people!!


If that's Garuda stamba you referr to prabhu Outsiders have that blessing,but still it's a beggars battlefield.


Originally posted by Maitreya:

Allen Ginsberg got in.A little fat, a beard and a bohemian jewish look faked 'em out.


It's just racist crap but it's their temple.Maybe someday they'll learn the purport to Lord Jagannatha as in Lord of the universe.


Until then we can go on worshiping the Lord everywhere else;that is, in everyone and everything.


Of course, I would like to touch a certain pillar.




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Dandavats Prabhuji,


Sorry to be so late in getting back to you.


I just got back a couple of days ago from Puri and am trying to catch up with my email and editing.


Radhanath Swami and 2,000 devotees (mostly from Bombay) came to Puri for Ratha-yatra. Chandramali Swami, Mahanidhi Swami, Sukadeva Maharaja, Padmanabha Goswami (Yogeswar Prabhu), Parivrajak Swami and Deena Bandhu Prabhu (ACBSP) all came.


Radhanath Swami got a special cordon pass that allowed him inside the inner area by the carts while the pahandi was going on. He kindly brought me with him.


The kirtans were wonderful. Door Darshan (the all-India TV station) gave a lot of coverage to our ISKCON kirtan.


There was a lot of nice association, wonderful kirtans and prasadam. We sold

two or three hundred books and magazines (almost exclusively Krishna Kathamrita. The Bombay devotees really like KK). We also got around a hundred requests from devotees who want to to Bindu.


After Rathayatra, Radhanath Swami asked me to take everyone around on parikrama which we did for two days. Afterwords, on the request of Deena Bandhu Prabhu, we took him to Gadeigiri and then Satyabhamapur. He was very enlivened and so was I. He is very nice association.


I hope that all is well for your bhajan. I'll get back to you soon. I'm just catching up on my email.


Your servant,


Madhavananda Das<font color=#f7f7f7><small>


[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 07-04-2001).]

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