Krishna Prema`s Food for Thought 2018 # 14
Pulling the Lord back into our Heart
Today we will celebrate Ratha Yatra - Lord Jagannatha`s Chariot Festival. One of the most blissful events of the year for every devotee of Krishna. For me personally, this festival has something like an external and an internal aspect. In one sense it is the Festival of Mercy. Lord Jagannatha comes out on the streets and blesses everyone who sees Him. As Pujaris on the chariot we make sure that everyone gets the Lord`s mercy especially in the form of fruit Prasada. During the three hour procession along the Zurich lakeside, we distribute several hundred kilograms of sanctified fruits. Lord Jagannatha is known as patita pavana, the savior of the most fallen. Knowing this, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur had recommended the worship of Jagannatha for the preaching in the western world. Srila Prabhupada, following in his Guru's footsteps, was very fond of Jagannatha and by his endeavors today there are Ratha Yatra Festivals around the world, such as in Moscow, New York, Sydney, Paris, etc and of course also here in Zurich!
For people in general Ratha Yatra is an opportunity to get in touch with the Lord. And our duty as servants of Krishna is to facilitate this sharing of mercy. This could be compared to the distribution of fruits in order to nourish others with Krishna Consciousness. On the other hand, Ratha Yatra is also all about relishing the fruit ourselves in order to nourish our own Krishna Consciousness. For the devotees of the Lord, this festival is an opportunity to deepen our relationship. It is all about expressing our love towards the Lord. Ratha Yatra is actually the festival of pulling the Lord back into our hearts.
In Caitanya Caritamrita we find beautiful descriptions of how Mahaprabhu, in the mood of the gopis, danced in front of Lord Jagannatha`s chariot feeling pangs of separation and addressing the Lord: “You are the same Krishna, and I am the same Radharani. Although We are both the same, My mind is still attracted to Vrindavan-dhama. Here at Kurukshetra You are dressed like a royal prince, accompanied by great warriors, but in Vrindavana You appeared just like an ordinary cowherd boy, accompanied only by Your beautiful flute.“ 1These feelings of Srimati Radharani were manifested by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and therefore He invited Krishna to return to Vrindavana. That is the purport of the Ratha-yatra carts going from Jagannatha Puri to the Gundicha temple. 2 Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna in the mood of Srimati Radharani. So He was always absorbed in the mood of viraha, feelings of separation. Viraha means external separation. Externally, Krishna is away. But internally, in the core of the heart, Krishna is there. That is viraha, separation.
Jagannatha Puri is also known as Virpralamba Kestra, because this is the place of feeling separation from Krishna. Srila Gour Govinda Swami beautifully explained about the two crying forms: Krishna is Mahaprabhu and He is Jagannatha - sei krishna, sei gaura, sei jagannatha - there is no difference between them. But Mahaprabhu’s mood is different. Krishna in the mood of Radharani is Mahaprabhu. Krishna’s form as Gaura is krishna-viraha-vidura-rupa - feeling pangs of separation from Krishna. He who is Krishna is feeling pangs of separation from Krishna. Krishna crying for Krishna means Gaura. This is tattva. Jagannatha is Krishna, but crying for Radha. That form is radha-viraha-vidura-rupa, with big, big dilated eyes and His hands and legs shrunken like a tortoise. In that form Krishna is feeling pangs of separation from Radha.(…) Two crying forms, - crying for Krishna and crying for Radha. So Jagannatha Puri Ksetra is vipralabha-ksetra -The place of feeling separation. 3
While pulling the chariot during Ratha Yatra Festival, we should ask ourselves: How much do I feel separation from Krishna? How much do I cry for Krishna? How much has Krishna become my only goal in life? How much is He my number one priority in life? Krishna is attained by those who cry for Him. Chanting and crying. That's the price we have to pay to purchase Krishna. Mahaprabhu was teaching us how to feel separation, how to cry for Krishna. „Those who sing My names and who cry in front of Me, I am purchased by them, for Janardan is not purchased by anything else.“ 4
1 - Caitanya Caritamrita Madhya Lila 13.126-129
2 - Caitanya Caritamrita Madhya Lila 13.147
3 - Lecture 11/07/1994 in Bhubaneswar - from `Sri Krishna Kathamrita` Vol.3 No.1
4 - Adi Purana - from `Nava Vrindavana` - SGGS Publication