July - 2003
Centuries of myths, legends and history have
mingled into a grand composite culture of Lord
Jagannath, one of the most revered deities of
the Hindu pantheon. In fact the cult of Jagannath
is not a sectarian religion but a cosmopolitan
and eclectic philosophy, which has
assimililated and incorporated in its fold, the
influences of many religious creeds and sects.
Whatever may be the origin of this cult, it is an
admitted fact that this culture is the centre
around which in course of time divergent
currents and cross-currents have revolved. This
cult has been viewed from many perspectivesmetaphysical,
religious, cultural, literary and
so on. However, a discussion on metaphysical
basis or foundation is very difficult in view of
divergent interpretation and thought.
We find the earliest reference to Lord
Jagannath in Puranas and ancient literature,
though the details of His origin are still
shrouded in mystery. According to legendary
sources, Jagannath was originally worshipped
by a tribal (Sabara) known as Biswabasu in
the form of Neelamadhab. The most important
evidence of this belief is the existence of a
class of Sevakas known as Daitapatis who are
considered to be of the tribal lineage and who
still play a dominant role in the various sevices
to Lord in His temple.It is totally a strange
feature, nowhere seen in any Vaishnavite
In course of time, the cult of Jagannath
took an Aryanised form and various major
faiths like Saivism, Saktism, Vaishnavism,
Jainism and Buddhism have been assimilated
into this cult. In Jagannath temple, Jagannath is
worshipped as Purusottama or Vishnu,
Balabhadra as Siva and Devi Subhadra as
Adyasakti Durga. Finally the fourth one
Sudarsana Chakra symbolizing the wheel of
Sun's Chariot attracts the Sauras to the Centre.
Scholars like Pandit Nilakantha Das
are of the opinion that the three main images of
Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra represent
the Jain Trinity of Samyak Jnana, Samyak
Charita and Samyak Drusti. It is also believed
that the soul of Jagannath, most secretly hidden
within the image of Lord Jagannath is nothing
but Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. The
philosophy of Tantra, which in course of time
became an integral part of Buddhism has also
significantly influenced the rites and rituals of
Lord Jagannath is regarded as the God
of the masses. The humanisation of the Lord is
manifested in His Car Festival, which is
otherwise known as Patitapaban Yatra. It may
be pointed out that during Car Festival, the
Gajapati king works as a sweeper and clean
the chariots in which the deities are placed.
Metaphysical Basis of Jagannath Cult
50 July - 2003
Nowhere, we see such a unique feature, where
a king sweeps the Chariot. One thing is clear
from this Car Festival that no labour is
detestable if it is required for a greater cause.
Of course, taking the deities in ceremonial cars
is not a new thing. It is observed in case of
Lord Lingaraj of Bhubaneswar during
Asokastami or in case of Devi Biraja of Jajpur
during Dussehra Puja festival. But the manner
of observance of nine days long ceremony in
case of Lord Jagannath is definitely distinct
and most uncommon.
Offerings to Lord Jagannath popularly
known as Mahaprasad bears testimony to a
classless and casteless society, which is the
main aspect of humanism. It is through
Mahaprasad that friendship is established
among all castes-high and low. Anybody can
take Mahaprasad from the same plate without
any hesitation. Another name of Mahaprasad
is "Kaivalya". It is believed that by taking
Mahaprasad, one can attain Mokshya , salvation
or liberation. It is taken and distributed when
a child is born, in all sacred occasions and
also at the time of death.
As pointed out earlier, Lord Jagannath
is worshipped as Purusottama. He is also
believed to be Lord Krishna. Sarala Das in
his Oriya Mahabharata has described all these
things in detail. Lord Jagannath is worshipped
alongwith Lord Balabhadra or Balaram who
is supposed to be an incarnation of 'Sesanaga'.
According to some scholars, Subhadra who is
worshipped alongwith Lord Jagannath is
Goddess Durga. But some other scholars regard
her as the younger sister of Lord Krishna and
Lord Balaram who is also the wife of Arjuna,
the great hero of Mahabharat. We know that
Krishna is always found to have been
worshipped with His beloved Radha. On the
other hand, the importance or role of
Sudarsana, the fourth deity remains
unexplained. Such a wonderful combination of
deities is very unique in nature.
The Saiva element in the cult of
Jagannath are co-related with the doctrine of
Tantricism and Sakta Dharma. According to
Saivas, Jagannath is Bhairav. The tantric
literary texts identify Jagannath with
Mahabhairav. It will not be out of place to
mention here that Lord Jagannath sits on
"SriYantra" and is worshipped in the
Vijamantra "Klim" which is also the Vijamantra
of "Kali"or "Sakti". The representation of
Balaram as Sesanaga or Sankarsana bears
testimony to the influence of Saivism on the
cult of Jagannath. It may be pointed out that the
third deity, Subhadra, who represents the Sakta
element is still worshipped in Bhubaneswari
The tantric texts also point out the name
of Jagannath and His worship. According to
these texts, Jagannath is Mahabhairav and
Goddess Vimala is His Sakti. The Prasad of
Lord Jagannath becomes Mahaprasad only
when it is re-offered to Vimala. Nowhere we
notice this unique feature except in the temple
of Lord Jagannath. Similarly, different tantric
features of Yantras have been engraved on the
Ratnavedi where Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra
and Devi Subhadra are worshipped. Kalika
Purana depicts Jagannath as Tantric God.
Jagannath is also known as
"Darubramha". In other temples we see that
stone and metal idols are the objects of
worship. But the Jagannath quadruple are
carved out of Neem wood. It is a fact that the
idols being of wood, cannot sustain themselves
for long time. Thus comes the question of the
ceremony of "Navakalevar", Their (idols)
periodical renovation becomes inevitable,
which is called "Navakalevar". This is a unique
ceremony in many respects in the Hindu
Scholars have made an attempt to
interpret the God in their own ways. It is for
this reason that no definite view has been
accepted and Jagannath cult has been
interpreted in many ways. Every religious cult,
whether Hindu or Non-Hindu finds justification
here and this bears testimony to the
metaphysical foundation and uniqueness of
Jagannath cult. But in this context we must not
forget the following words of Rigveda, "Ekam
Sat Vipra Vahuda Vadanti"(Truth is one, the
wise speak of it in different ways).
Sidhartha Kanungo lives at Chaitanya Dham, Sahara
Sahi Lane, Bhuhaneswar- 751006
'Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts.'
Sri Krishna Chaitanya Radha-Krishna nahi anya
updated 16th March 2003
Fasting today until Moon-rise, Feasting tommorow for the appearance of Mahaprabhu
'Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts.' by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura: Shastric Evidence of Sri Chaitanya's Divine Appearance: Gaudiya Kanthahara on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Divine Appearance and mission: Predictions announcing the appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu from all the scriptures:(part 1&2.) Mahaprabhu's pastime and mission, the condensed version....
Sri Gaura Gayatri Vijaya - Establishing the Eternality of Sri Gaura Gayatri
Lord Chaitanya in Five Features - on-line:
Sri Shikshastakam of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
1000 names of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: by Sri Kavi Karnapura
108 names of Mahaprabhu by Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya:
108 Names of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
12 primary names to recite daily - of Mahaprabhu by Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya:
Sri Navadwip Dham Mahatmya of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur:
Tour of Sri Navadwip Dham - Parikrama of the Nine Islands:
Sri Chaitanya Chandamrita - Srila Guru Gopal Goswami (formerly Prabhodananda Saraswati):
The Golden Avatara - Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
Sri Anandotsav - The Jata karman festival of Baby Nimai (Festival of Jagannath Misra - tomorrow)
Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita - Adi, Madhya and Antya lilas:
Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat - Adi, Madhya and Antya lilas:
Lord Chaitanya in Five Features - on-line:
Navadwip Dham Mahatmya of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura:
Navadwip Bhav Taranga:
Teachings of Lord Chaitanya - FREE Download = 232k:
SRI SRI KALYAN KALPA-TARU (THE DESIRE - TREE OF AUSPICIOUSNESS)
a songbook of 62 Bengali songs (Published in
1880) Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur:
Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu: The Fountain of Suddha Bhakti
The evidence of Sruti in connection with Sriman Mahaprabhu
The Tattwa of Mahaprabhu from "Incarnation for the Modern Age"
Sri Gaura Gayatri Vijaya of Sri Chaitanya mahaprabhu
Sri Chaitanya Upanishad - Sri Caitanya-Caranamrta
Fasting on Gaura Purnima - ekadasi style prasadam
Gundicha Marjan page:
Download Chaitanya Bhagavat, Chaitanya Mangala, Chaitanya Upanishad 4 FREE
Download Chaitanya Charitamrita, Chaitanya Bhagavat, Teachings of Lord Chaitanya 4 FREE
Vaishnava Calendar for other events in Mahaprabhu's life:
Mahaprabhu's consorts: Laxmi Priya and Vishnu Priya:
Where He fits in the Brahma-Madhwa-Gaudiya guru-parampara:
Srila Swarup Damodar, the Lord's constant companion:
Sri Navadvipa Dhama. The Home of the Sankirtan movement of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
Sri Gaudiya Stava Stotram:
Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedanta - Gaudiya Vaisnava literature links:
Gaudiya Vedanta page :
Moses to Mahaprabhu by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur:
All About the Future of the Mayapura Project - great site:
About the design of the Mayapur Chandradaya Mandir and project:
West Bengal Home page:
CHAITANYA AND THE MAKING OF BENGALEE COLLECTIVE-CONSCIOUSNESS:
12 Names glorifying Lord Nityananda:
Verses gloryfying Lord Nityananda:
Lord Nityananda's Appearance Day - Nityananda Trayodasi:
"This account originally appeared in a short work by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura entitled, 'Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts.'(dated 20th August 1896.)" This was taken from "Prologue" to "Teachings
of Lord Caitanya"(A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 1974. pages xiii-xxii.) Who better could we find to include here than
the pure unalloyed devotee, and foremost scholar in Vaisnava circles Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to perform this task. He starts
"Caitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Mayapur in the town of Nadia just after sunset on the evening of the
23rd Phalguna (1407 Sakadba), answering to the 18th of February 1486 of the Christian Era. The moon was eclipsed at the time
of His birth, and the people of Nadia were then engaged, as was usual on such occasions, in bathing in the Bhagirathi with
loud cheers of Haribol. His father, Jagannatha Misra, a poor 'brahmana' of the Vedic order, and His mother, Saci-devi, a model
good woman, both descended from 'brahmana' stock originally residing in Sylhet. Mahaprabhu was a beautiful child, and the
ladies of the town came to see Him with presents. His mother's father, Pandita Nilambara Cakravarti, a renowned astrologer,
foretold that the child would be a great personage in time; and he, therefore, gave him the name Visvambhara. The ladies of
the neighbourhood styled him Gaurahari on account of His golden complexion, and His mother called Him Nimai on account of
the 'nimba' tree near which He was born. Beautiful as the lad was, everyone heartily loved to see Him every day. As He grew
up He became a whimsical and frolicsome lad. After His fifth year, He was admitted into a pathasala where He picked up Bengali
in a very short time.
"Most of His contemporary biographers have mentioned certain anecdotes regarding Caitanya which are
simple records of His early miracles. It is said that when He was an infant in His mother's arms He wept continually, and
when the neighbouring ladies cried 'Haribol' He used to stop. Thus there was a continuation of utterance of 'Haribol' in the
house, foreshewing the future mission of the hero. It has also been stated that when His mother gave Him sweetmeats to eat,
He ate clay instead of the food. His mother, asking for the reason, He stated that as every sweetmeat was nothing but clay
transformed, He could eat clay as well. His mother, who was also the consort of a 'pandita', explained that every article
in a special state was adapted to a special use. Earth, while in the state of a jug, could be used as a water pot, but
in the state of a brick such a use was not possible. Clay, therefore in the form of sweetmeats was usable as food, but clay
in its other states was not. The lad was convinced and admitted His stupidity in eating clay and agreed to avoid the mistake
in the future. Another miraculous act has been related. It is said that a brahmana on pilgrimage became a guest in His house,
cooked food and read grace with meditation upon Krsna. In the meantime the lad came and ate up the cooked rice. The 'brahmana',
astonished at the lad's act, cooked again at the request of Jagannatha Misra. The lad again ate up the cooked rice while the
'brahmana' was offering the rice to Krsna with meditation. The 'brahmana' was persuaded to cook for the third time. This time
all the inmates of the house had fallen asleep, and so the lad showed Himself as Krsna to the traveller and blessed him. The
'brahmana' was then lost in ecstasy at the appearance of the object of his worship. It has also been stated that two thieves
stole away the lad from His father's door with a view to purloin His jewels and gave Him sweetmeats on the way. The lad exercised
His illusory energy and deceived the thieves back towards His own house. The thieves, for fear of detection, left the boy
there and fled. Another miraculous act that has been described is the lad's demanding and getting from Hiranya and Jagadisa
all the offerings they had collected for worshiping Krsna on the day of Ekadasi. When only four years of age He sat on rejected cooking pots which were considered unholy by His mother. He explained to
His mother that there was no question of holiness and unholiness as regards to earthen pots thrown away after the cooking
was over. These anecdotes relate to His tender age up to the fifth year.
"In His eighth year, He was admitted into the tola of Gangadasa Pandita in Ganganagara close by the village of Mayapur. In two years He became well read in Sanskrit grammar and rhetoric. His readings
after that were of the nature of self-study in His own house, where He had found all-important books belonging to His father,
who was a 'pandita' himself. It appears that He read the 'smrti' in His own study, and the 'nyaya' also, in competition with
His friends, who were then studying under the celebrated 'pandita' Raghunatha Siromani.
after the tenth year of His age, Caitanya became a passable scholar in grammar, rhetoric, the 'smrti' and the 'nyaya'. It
was after this that his elder brother Visvarupa left his house and accepted the 'ashrama' (status) of a 'sannyasi' (ascetic).
Caitanya, though a very young boy, consoled His parents, saying that He would serve them with a view to please God. Just after
that, His father left this world. His mother was exceedingly sorry, and Mahaprabhu, with His usual contented appearance, consoled
His widowed mother.
It was at the age of 14 or 15 that Mahaprabhu was married to Laksmidevi, the daughter of Vallabhacarya, also of Nadia. He was at this age considered one of the best scholars of Nadia, then renowned
seat of 'nyaya' philosophy and Sanskrit learning. Not to speak of the 'smarta panditas', the 'Naiyayikas' were all afraid
of confronting Him in literary discussions. Being a married man, He went to Eastern Bengal on the banks of the Padma for acquirement
of wealth. There He displayed His learning and obtained a good sum of money. It was at this time that He preached Vaisnavism
at intervals. After teaching him the principles of Vaisnavism, He ordered Tapanamisra to go to and live in Benares. During
His residence in East Bengal, His wife Laksmidevi left this world from the effects of snake bite. On returning home, He found
His mother in a mourning state. He consoled her with a lecture on the uncertainty of human affairs. It was at His mother's
request that He married Visnupriya, the daughter of Raja Pandita Sanatana Misra. His comrades joined Him on His return from pravasa or sojourn. He was now so
renowned that He was considered to be the best pandita in Nadia. Kesava Misra of Kashmir, who had called himself the Great
Digvijayi, came to Nadia with a view to discuss with the 'pandita' of that place. Afraid of the so-called conquering pandita,
the tola professors of Nadia left their town on pretence of invitation. Kesava met Mahaprabhu at the Barokona-ghata in Mayapur,
and after a very short discussion with Him he was defeated by the boy, and mortification obliged him to decamp. Nimai Pandita
was now the most important 'pandita' of His times.
"It was at the age of 16 or 17 that He travelled to Gaya with a host of His students and there took
His spiritual initiation from Isvara Puri, a Vaisnava 'sannyasi' and a disciple of the renowned Madhavendra Puri. Upon His return to Nadia, Nimai Pandita turned religious preacher, and His religious nature became so strongly represented
that Advaita Prabhu, Srivasa and others who had before the birth of Caitanya already accepted the Vaisnava faith were astonished at the change of the
young man. He was then no more a contending 'naiyayika', a wrangling 'smarta' and a criticizing rhetorician. He swooned at
the name of Krsna and behaved as an inspired man under the influence of His religious sentiment. It has been described by
Murari Gupta, an eye-witness, that He showed His heavenly powers in the house of Srivasa Pandita in the presence of hundreds of His followers, who were mostly well-read scholars. It was at this time that He opened a nocturnal
school of 'kirtana' in the compound of Srivasa Pandita with His sincere followers. There He preached, there He sang, there
He danced, and there He expressed all sorts of religious feelings. Nityananda Prabhu, who was then a preacher of Vaisnavism and who had then completed His travels all over India, joined Him at that time. In
fact, a host of 'pandita' preachers of Vaisnavism, all sincere at heart, came and joined Him from different parts of Bengal.
Nadia now became the regular seat of a host of Vaisnava 'acaryas' whose mission it was to spiritualize mankind with the highest
influence of the Vaisnava creed.
"The first mandate that He issued to Prabhu Nityananda and Haridasa was this: 'Go, friends, go through
the streets of the town, meet every man at his door and ask him to sing the name of Hari with a holy life, and you then come
and report to Me every evening the result of your preaching.' Thus ordered, the two preachers went on and met Jagai and Madhai,
two most abominable characters. They insulted the preachers on hearing Mahaprabhu's mandate, but were soon converted by the
influence of 'bhakti' (devotion) inculcated by their Lord. The people of Nadia were now surprised. They said, 'Nimai Pandita
is not only a gigantic genius, but He is certainly a missionary from God Almighty.' From this time to His twenty-third year,
Mahaprabhu preached His principles not only in Nadia but in all important towns and villages around His city. In the houses
of His followers He shewed miracles, taught the esoteric principles of 'bhakti' and sang His 'sankirtan' with other bhaktas. His followers of the town of Nadia commenced to sing the holy name of Hari in the streets and bazaars.
This created a sensation and roused different feelings in different quarters. The 'bhaktas' were highly pleased. The 'smarta
brahmanas' became jealous of Nimai Pandita's success and complained to Chand Kazi against the character of Caitanya as un-Hindu.
The Kazi came to Srivasa Pandita's house and broke a 'mrdanga' ('khola' drum) there and declared that unless Nimai Pandit ceased to make noise about His queer
religion he would be obliged to enforce Mohammedanism on Him and His followers. This was brought to Mahaprabhu's notice. He
ordered the townspeople to appear in the evening each with a torch in his hand. This they did, and Nimai marched out with
His 'sankirtan' divided in 14 groups, and on His arrival in the Kazi's house, He held a long conversation with the Kazi and
in the end communicated into his heart His Vaisnava influence by touching his body. The Kazi then wept and admitted that he
had felt a keen spiritual influence which had cleared up his doubts and produced in him a religious sentiment which gave him
the highest ecstasy. The Kazi then joined the sankirtan party. The world was astonished at the spiritual power of the Great
Lord, and hundreds and hundreds of heretics converted and joined the banner of Visvambhara after this affair.
"It was after this that some of the jealous and low-minded 'brahmanas' of Kulia picked a quarrel with Mahaprabhu
and collected a party to oppose Him. Nimai Pandita was naturally a soft-hearted person, though strong in His principles. He
declared that party feelings and sectarianism were the two great enemies of progress and that as long as He should continue
to be an inhabitant of Nadia belonging to a certain family, His mission would not meet with complete success. He then resolved
to be a citizen of the world by cutting His connection with His particular family, caste and creed, and with this resolution
He embraced the position of a 'sannyasi' at Katwa, under the guidance of Keshava Bharati of that town, on the 24th year of
His age. His mother and wife wept bitterly for His separation, but our hero, though soft in heart, was a strong person in
principle. He left His little world in His house for the unlimited spiritual world of Krsna with man in general.
"After His 'sannyasa', He was induced to visit the house of Advaita Prabhu in Santipura. Advaita managed to invite all His friends and admirers from Nadia and brought Sacidevi to see her son. Both
pleasure and pain invaded her heart when she saw her son in the attire of a 'sannyasi'. As a 'sannyasi', Krsna Caitanya put
on nothing but a 'kaupina' (two pieces of cloth, a loin cloth) and a 'bahirvasa' (outer covering). His head was without hair,
and His hands bore a 'danda' (stick) and a 'kamandalu' (hermit's water pot). The Holy Son fell at the feet of His beloved
mother and said, "Mother! This body is yours, and I must obey your orders. Permit me to go to Vrndavana for My spiritual attainments."
The mother, in consultation with Advaita and others, asked her son to reside in Puri (the town of Jagannatha) so that she
might obtain His information now and then. Mahaprabhu agreed to that proposition and in a few days left Santipura for Orissa.
His biographers have described the journey of Krsna Caitanya (that was the name He got after His 'sannyasa') from Santipura
to Puri in great detail. He travelled along the side of the Bhagirathi as far as Chatrabhoga, situated now in Thana Mathurapura,
Diamond Harbour, 24 Parganas. There He took a boat and went as far as Prayaga-ghata in the Midnapura District. Thence He walked
through Balasore and Cuttack to Puri, seeing the temple of Bhuvanesvara on His way. Upon His arrival at Puri He saw Jagannatha
in the temple and resided with Sarvabhauma at the request of the latter. Sarvabhauma was a gigantic 'pandita' of the day.
His readings knew no bounds. He was the best 'naiyayika' of the times and was known as the most erudite scholar in the Vedanta
philosophy of the school of Sankaracarya. He was born in Nadia (Vidyanagara) and taught innumerable pupils in the 'nyaya'
philosophy in his tola there. He had left for Puri some time before the birth of Nimai Pandita. His brother-in-law Gopinatha
Misra introduced our new sannyasi to Sarvabhauma, who was astonished at His personal beauty and feared that it would be difficult
for the young man to maintain 'sannyasa-dharma' during the long run of His life. Gopinatha, who had known Mahaprabhu from
Nadia, had a great reverence for Him and declared that the 'sannyasi' was not a common human being. On this point Gopinatha
and Sarvabhauma had a hot discussion. Sarvabhauma then requested Mahaprabhu to hear his recitation of the Vedanta-sutras,
and the latter tacitly submitted. Caitanya heard with silence what the great Sarvabhauma uttered with gravity for seven days,
at the end of which the latter said, 'Krsna-Caitanya! I think You do not understand the Vedanta, for You do not say anything
after hearing my recitation and explanations.' The reply of Caitanya was that He understood the sutras very well, but He could
not make out what Sankaracarya meant by his commentaries. Astonished as this, Sarvabhauma said, 'How is it that you understand
the meanings of the 'sutras' and do not understand the commentaries which explain the 'sutras'? All well! If You understand
the 'sutras', please let me have Your interpretations.' Mahaprabhu thereon explained all the 'sutras' in His own way without
touching the pantheistic commentary of Sankara. The keen understanding of Sarvabhauma saw the truth, beauty and harmony of
arguments in the explanations given by Caitanya and obliged Him to utter that it was the first time that he had found one
who could explain the Brahma-sutras in such a simple manner. He admitted also that the commentaries of Sankara never gave
such natural explanations of the Vedanta-sutras as he had obtained from Mahaprabhu. He then submitted himself as an advocate
and follower. In a few days Sarvabhauma turned out to be one of the best Vaisnavas of the time. When reports of this came
out, the whole of Orissa sang the praise of Krsna Caitanya, and hundred and hundreds came to Him and became His followers.
In the meantime Mahaprabhu thought of visiting Southern India, and He started with one Krsnadasa Brahmana for the journey.
"His biographers have given us a detail of the journey. He went first to Kurmaksetra, where He performed
a miracle by curing a leper named Vasudeva. He met Ramananda Raya, the Governor of Vidyanagara, on the banks of the Godavari and had a philosophical conversation with him on the subject of
'prema-bhakti'. He worked another miracle by touching (making them immediately disappear) the seven 'tala-trees' through which
Ramacandra, the son of Dasaratha, had shot His arrow and killed the great Bali Raja. He preached Vaisnavism and 'nama-sankirtana'
throughout the journey. At Rangaksetra He stayed for four months in the house of one Venkata Bhatta in order to spend the
rainy season. There He converted the whole family of Venkata from Ramanuja Vaisnavism to Krsna-bhakti, along with the son of Venkata, a boy of ten years named Gopala, who afterwards came to Vrndavana and became one of the six Goswamis or prophets serving under their leader Sri Krsna Caitanya.
Trained up in Sanskrit by his uncle Prabodhananda Sarasvati, Gopala wrote several books on Vaisnavism.
"Sri Caitanya visited numerous places in Southern India as far as Cape Comorin and returned to Puri
in two years by Pandepura on the Bhima. In this latter place He spiritualized one Tukarama, who became from that time a religious
preacher himself. This fact has been admitted in his 'adhangas', which have been collected in a volume by Mr. Satyendra Nath
Tagore of the Bombay Civil Service. During His journey He had several discussions with the Buddhists, the Jains and the 'mayavadis'
in several places and converted His opponents to Vaisnavism.
"Upon His return to Puri, Raja
Prataparudra-deva and several 'pandita brahmanas' joined the banner of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He was now twenty-seven years
of age. In His twenty-eighth year He went to Bengal as far as Gauda in Mald. There He picked up two great personages named
Rupa and Sanatana. Though descended from the lines of Karnatic brahmanas, these two brothers turned demi-Moslems by their continual contact
with Hussain Shah, the then Emperor of Gauda. Their names had been changed by the Emperor into Dabir Khas and Sakara Mallik,
and their master loved them heartily since they were both learned in Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit and were loyal servants
of the state. The two gentlemen had found no way to come back as regular Hindus and had written to Mahaprabhu for spiritual
help while He was at Puri. Mahaprabhu had written in reply that He would come to them and extricate them from their spiritual
difficulties. Now that He had come to Gauda, both the brothers appeared before Him with their long-standing prayer. Mahaprabhu
ordered them to go to Vrndavana and meet Him there.
"Caitanya returned to Puri through Santipura, where He again met His dear mother. After a short stay
at Puri He left for Vrndavana. This time He was accompanied by one Balabhadra Bhattacarya. He visited Vrndavana and came down
to Prayag (Allahabad), converting a large number of Mohammedans to Vaisnavism by argument from the Koran. The descendant of
those converts are still known as Pathana Vaisnavas. Rupa Goswami met Him in Allahabad. Caitanya trained him up in spirituality
in ten days and directed him to go to Vrndavana on missions. His first mission was to write theological works explaining scientifically
pure 'bhakti' and 'prema'. The second mission was to revive the places where Krsnacandra had in the end of 'Dvapara-yuga'
exhibited His spiritual 'lila' (pastimes) for the benefit of the religious world. Rupa Goswami left Allahabad for Vrndavana,
and Mahaprabhu came down to Benares. There He resided in the house of Candrasekhara and accepted His daily 'bhiksa' (meal) in the house of Tapana Misra. Here it was that Sanatana Goswami joined him and took
instruction for two months in spiritual matters. The biographers, especially Krsnadasa Kaviraja, have given us details of Caitanya's teachings to Rupa and Sanatana. Krsnadasa was not a contemporary writer, but he gathered
his information from the Goswamis themselves, the direct disciples of Mahaprabhu. Jiva Goswami, who was the nephew of Sanatana and Rupa and who has left us his invaluable work of Sat-sandarbha, has philosophized on the
precept of his great leader. We have gathered and summarised the precepts of Caitanya from the books of those great writers.
"While at Benares, Caitanya had an interview with the learned 'sannyasis' of that town in the house
of a Maratha 'brahmana' who had invited all the 'sannyasis' for entertainment. At this interview, Caitanya shewed a miracle
which attracted all the 'sannyasis' to Him. Then ensued reciprocal conversation. The 'sannyasis' were headed by their most
learned leader Prakasananda Sarasvati. After a short controversy, they submitted to Mahaprabhu and admitted that they had
been misled by the commentaries of Sankaracarya. It was impossible even for learned scholars to oppose Caitanya for a long
time, for there was some spell in Him which touched their hearts and made them weep for their spiritual improvement. The 'sannyasis'
of Benares soon fell at the feet of Caitanya and asked for His grace ('krpa'). Caitanya then preached pure 'bhakti' and instilled
into their hearts spiritual love for Krsna which obliged them to give up sectarian feelings. The whole population of Benares,
on this wonderful conversion of the 'sannyasis', turned Vaisnavas, and they made a master 'sankirtana' with their new Lord.
After sending Sanatana to Vrndavana, Mahaprabhu went to Puri again through the jungles with His comrade Balabhadra. Balabhadra
reported that Mahaprabhu had shown a good many miracles on His way to Puri, such as making tigers and elephants dance on hearing
the name of Krsna.
time, that is, from His 31st year, Mahaprabhu continually lived in Puri the house of Kasi Misra until His disappearance in
His forty-eighth year at the time of sankirtana in the temple of Tota-gopinatha. During these 18 years, His life was one of
settled love and piety. He was surrounded by numerous followers, all of whom were of the highest order of Vaisnavas and who
were distinguished from the common people by their purest character and learning, firm religious principles and spiritual
love of Radha-Krsna. Svarupa Damodara, who had been known by the name of Purusottamacarya while Mahaprabhu was in Nadia, joined Him from Benares and accepted service
as His secretary. No production of any poet or philosopher could be laid before Mahaprabhu unless Svarupa had passed it as
pure and useful. Raya Ramananda was His second mate. Both he and Svarupa would sing while Mahaprabhu expressed His sentiments
on a certain point of worship. Paramananda Puri was His minister in matters of religion. There are hundreds of anecdotes described by His biographers which we do not think
it meet here to reproduce. Mahaprabhu slept short. His sentiments carried Him far and wide in the firmament of spirituality
every day and night, and all His admirers and followers watched Him throughout. He worshipped, communicated with His missionaries
at Vrndavana, and conversed with those religious men who newly came to visit Him. He sang and danced, took no care of Himself
and of-times lost Himself in religious beatitude. All who came to Him believed in Him as the all-beautiful God appearing in
the nether world for the benefit of mankind. He loved His mother all along and sent her 'mahaprasada' now and then with those who went to Nadia. He was most amiable in nature. Humility was personified in Him. His sweet
appearance gave cheer to all who came in contact with Him. He appointed Prabhu Nityananda as the missionary in charge of Bengal. He dispatched six disciples (Goswamis) to Vrndavana to preach love in the upcountry.
This he markedly did in the case of Junior Haridasa. He never lacked in giving proper instructions in life to those who solicited
them. This will be seen in His teachings to Raghunatha dasa Goswami. His treatment to Haridasa (senior) will show how He loved spiritual men and how He defied caste distinction in spiritual brotherhood."(Thakura Bhaktivinoda. 20th August 1896.)
Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivas adi gaura bhakta vrinda
Sri Krishna Chaitanya (centre), Sri Nityananda Prabhu (wearing blue), Sri Advaita Acharya (with beard),
Sri Gadadhara Pandit (purple dhoti), Sri Srivas Pandit (with shaven head and saffron dhoti)
Shastric Evidence of Sri Chaitanya's Divine Appearance:
Lord Krishna thought in Goloka, "I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age; nama-sankirtana, the congregational
chanting of the holy name of the Lord in the form of Lord Gauranga. By accepting the role of a devotee, I shall make the whole
world dance in ecstasy, and thus realize the four mellows of loving devotional service. In this way, I shall teach devotional
service to others by personally practicing it, for whatever a great personality does, common people will follow. Of course,
My plenary portions can establish the religious principles for each age, but only I can bestow the kind of loving devotional
service which is performed by the residents of Vraja."
Besides this secondary reason for Lord Krishna to appear once more, taking the form of a devotee, there is another confidential
purpose of a very personal nature. Even though Lord Krishna had tasted the essence of loving mellows by performing His conjugal
pastimes in the company of the gopis, He was not able to fulfill three desires.
Therefore, after His disappearance, the Lord thought, "Although I am the Absolute Truth, and the reservoir of all rasas,
I cannot understand the strength of Radharani's love, with which She always overwhelms Me. Indeed, the love of Radharani is
My teacher, and I am Her dancing pupil, for Her love makes Me dance in various novel ways. Whatever pleasure I get from tasting
My love for Srimati Radharani, She relishes ten million times more, by Her love. Although there is nothing greater than Radha's
love, since it is all pervading, it nonetheless expands constantly and is completely devoid of pride. There is nothing purer
than Radha's love, and yet its behavior is always perverse and crooked."
"Sri Radhika is the highest abode of love, and I am its only object. I taste the bliss to which the object is entitled,
but Radha's pleasure is ten million times greater than Mine. Therefore, My mind becomes mad to taste the pleasure that is
experienced by the abode of love, although I cannot do so. Only if I can somehow become the abode of that love, will I be
able to experience its joy."
This was one desire that increasingly blazed in Lord Krishna's heart. Then, upon seeing His own beauty, Lord Krishna began
to consider as follows: "My sweetness is unlimitedly wonderful. Only Radhika can taste the complete nectar of My sweetness,
by the strength of Her love, which acts just like a mirror whose clarity increases at every moment. Although My sweetness,
being without limit, seemingly has no room for expansion, it shines forth with newer and newer beauty, and thus constantly
competes with the mirror of Radharani's love, as they both go on increasing without admitting defeat." "Devotees taste My
sweetness according to their respective love, and if I see that sweetness reflected in a mirror, I also become tempted to
taste it, although I cannot. Upon deliberation, I find that the only way I can relish My sweetness is to take the position
of Srimati Radharani."
This was Lord Krishna's second desire, and His third desire was expressed while thinking as follows: "Everyone says that
I am the reservoir of all transcendental bliss, and indeed, all the world derives pleasure from Me alone. Who then could give
Me pleasure? I think that only someone having a hundred times more qualities than Myself could give pleasure to My mind, but
such a person is impossible to find."
"And yet, in spite of the fact that My beauty is unsurpassed, and gives pleasure to all who perceive it, the sight of Srimati
Radharani gives pleasure to My eyes. Although the vibration of My flute attracts everyone within the three worlds, My ears
become enchanted by the sweet words spoken by Radharani. Although My body lends its fragrance to the entire creation, the
scent of Radharani's limbs captivates My mind and heart. Although there are various tastes due to Me alone, I become charmed
by the nectarean taste of Radharani's lips. Although My touch is cooler than ten million moons, I become refreshed by the
touch of Srimati Radharani. Thus, in spite of the fact that I am the source of happiness for the entire world, the beauty
and attributes of Sri Radhika are My very life and soul."
"My eyes become fully satisfied by looking at Srimati Radharani, and yet, when She gazes at Me, She feels even greater
satisfaction. The whispering murmur of the bamboo trees that rub against one another steals away Radharani's mind, for She
thinks it to be the sound of My flute. She embraces a tamala tree, mistaking it for Me, and thus She considers, 'I have gotten
the embrace of Krishna, and so now My life has become fulfilled.' When the fragrance of My body is carried to Her by the wind,
Radharani becomes blinded by love and tries to fly into that breeze. When She tastes the betel nut that has been chewed by
Me, She merges into an ocean of joy, and forgets everything else."
"Thus, even with hundreds of mouths, I could not express the pleasure which Radharani derives from My association. Indeed,
upon seeing the luster of Her complexion after Our pastimes together, I consider My own happiness to be negligent. Expert
sexologists say that the happiness of the lover and the beloved are equal, but they do not know the nature of transcendental
love in Vrindavana. Because of the indescribable pleasure which Radharani experiences, I can understand that there is some
unknown mellow within Me that controls Her entire existence."
"I am always very eager to taste the joy that Srimati Radharani derives from Me, and yet, in spite of endeavoring, I have
been unable to do so. Therefore, in order to fulfill My three desires, I shall assume Sri Radhika's bodily complexion and
ecstatic loving sentiment, and then descend as an incarnation."
Desiring to understand the glory of Radharani's love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone relishes through Her
love, and the happiness that She feels upon realizing the sweetness of His love, the Supreme Lord, Gauranga-Krishna, decided
to appear in a form that was richly endowed with Her emotions. First of all, the Lord had His respectable superiors incarnate
on the earth, such as His mother and father, Sri Sachidevi and Jagannath Mishra. In addition, there was Madhavendra Puri,
Keshava Bharati, Ishvara Puri, Advaita Acharya, Srivas Pandita, Thakur Haridas, Acharyaratna and Vidyanidhi.
Before the appearance of Lord Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, all of the devotees in the Navadvip area used to gather at the house
of Advaita Acharya. In these meetings, Advaita Acharya preached on the basis of Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, decrying
the paths of philosophical speculation and fruitive activity, and firmly establishing the super excellence of devotional service.
In the house of Advaita Acharya, the devotees took pleasure in always talking about Krishna, worshipping Krishna, and chanting
the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
However, Advaita Acharya felt very pained to see how practically all the people of the world were devoid of Krishna consciousness
and completely merged into material sense enjoyment. Knowing that no one can gain relief from the cycle of repeated birth
and death without taking an interest in the devotional service of the Lord, Advaita Acharya compassionately pondered over
the means whereby people could become delivered from the clutches of maya.
Advaita Acharya thought, "Only if Lord Krishna personally appears and preaches the path of devotional service by His own
example, will liberation become possible for all people. Therefore, I shall worship the Lord in a purified state of mind and
constantly petition Him with all humility. Indeed, my name Advaita will be fitting only if I am able to induce Lord Krishna
to inaugurate the sankirtan movement of chanting the holy name, which is the only religion for this age."
While Advaita Acharya thought about how to satisfy Krishna by His worship, the following verse came to mind: "Sri Krishna,
who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to one who offers Him merely a tulasi leaf and a palmful of water."
Advaita Acharya considered the meaning of this verse in the following way: "Lord Krishna cannot find any way to repay the
debt which He owes to one who offers Him a tulasi leaf and water. Therefore, the Lord concludes, 'Since there is nothing in
My possession which is equal to a tulasi leaf and water, I will liquidate the debt by offering Myself to the devotee.' " Thereafter,
while meditating upon the lotus feet of Sri Krishna, Advaita Acharya constantly offered tulasi buds in water from the Ganga.
While thus engaged in worship, Advaita Acharya petitioned Krishna to appear by His loud cries, and this repeated invitation
attracted the attention of the Lord, causing Him to descend.
Sri Upendra Mishra, a brahmana who was formerly the gopala named Parjanya, the grandfather of Lord Krishna, was a great
devotee and scholar. One of Upendra's seven sons, Jagannath Mishra, moved from Srihatta to the banks of the Ganga at Nadia,
and then married Srimati Sachidevi, the daughter of Nilambar Chakravarti, who was formerly Gargamuni.
Before the appearance of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Jagannath Mishra (who was formerly Nanda Maharaja) begot eight daughters
in the womb of Sachidevi (who was formerly Yashoda), but just after birth, they all died. Being very aggrieved at the loss
of his children, one after another, Jagannath Mishra worshiped Lord Vishnu, while desiring a son. Thereafter, Sachimata gave
birth to a baby boy named Vishvarup, who was an incarnation of Lord Baladev. Being very pleased, the mother and father began
to serve the lotus feet of Lord Govinda even more devotedly, because they realized that their happiness was by His mercy.
Then, in the month of Maagh (18th February 1486) of the year 1406, Shaka era, Lord Krishna entered the bodies of both Jagannath
Mishra and Sachidevi. Thereafter, Jagannath informed his wife, "I see many wonderful things! Your body seems to be effulgent,
and it appears as if the goddess of fortune is personally residing in our house. Wherever I go, everyone offers me respect,
and even without asking, they give me money, cloth and grains." Sachimata replied, "I also see wonderfully brilliant beings,
appearing in the sky, as if offering prayers."
Jagannath Mishra then said, "In a dream I saw the effulgent abode of the Supreme Lord enter into my heart. Then, from my
heart it entered your heart, and thus I can understand that a great personality will soon take birth."
After this conversation, both husband and wife felt very jubilant, and with great care and attention they rendered service
unto the household Shalagrama-shila.
However, when Sachimata's pregnancy approached the thirteenth month, and still there was no sign of delivery, Jagannath
Mishra became very apprehensive. At that time, Nilambara Chakravarti made an astrological calculation and predicted that the
child would be born that very month, taking advantage of an auspicious moment.
Thus it so happened that on the evening of the Phalguni purnima, in the year 1407 Shaka era, corresponding to the modern
year 1486, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made His appearance at Navadvip. At this time, Rahu considered, "When the spotless moon
of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is about to become visible, what need is there for a moon which is full of black marks?" Thinking
in this way, Rahu covered the full moon, and so all of the Hindus went to the banks of the Ganga in order to bathe and chant
the names "Krishna" and "Hari". While the Hindus were thus vibrating the holy names of the Lord, the Mohammedans jokingly
imitated them. In this way, at the time of Lord Chaitanya's appearance, everyone was engaged in chanting the Hare Krishna
In all directions and within everyone's mind there was peacefulness and joy. In Shantipur, Advaita Acharya and Haridas
Thakur began chanting and dancing in a very pleasing mood, although no one could understand why they did so. While laughing
again and again, they also went to the Ganga, and at that time, Advaita Acharya took advantage of the lunar eclipse to distribute
all kinds of charity to the brahmanas. Upon seeing how the whole world had become jubilant, Haridas Thakur addressed Advaita
Acharya in great astonishment, "Since Your dancing and distribution of charity appears very pleasing to me, I can understand
that You have some very special purpose."
In Navadvip, Srivas Thakur and Acharyaratna, who was also called Chandrashekhar, immediately went to bathe in the Ganga,
and while chanting the holy name of the Lord in great jubilation, they also gave charity by dint of mental strength. Indeed,
wherever they were situated, all of the devotees danced, chanted and gave charity on the plea of the lunar eclipse, their
minds overwhelmed with joy. Even in the heavenly planets, chanting and dancing was going on, for the demigods were very eager
to witness the transcendental appearance of the Lord. (From Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita)
Footprints in the sand
One night I had a dream. I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the skies
flashed scenes from my life. In each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One was mine, and one was the
Lords. When the last scene of my life appeared before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand, and, to my surprise,
I noticed that many times along the path of my life there was only one set of footprints. And I noticed that it was at the
lowest and saddest times in my life, I asked the Lord about it: Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would
walk with me all the way. But, I notice that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints.
I dont understand why you left my side when I needed you most. The Lord said: My precious child, I never left you during
your time of trial. Where you see only one set of footprints, I was carrying you.
Every year thousands of devotees from all over the world
at Puri to witness the largest mass communication
and mobilisation ever - The Rath Yatra of Lorg Jagannath.
too, Puri is all dressed up for the occasion,
but with a slight difference. This is the scared year
when the idols
of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and
Devi Subhadra are renewed.
Though the famous, fabulous RathYatra is held
every year, and televised since 1993, the
idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi
Subhadra are renewed every
12th year. This is thehallowed 12th year.
The Rath Yatra is a glamorous annual event attended by
perhaps the biggest
multitude assembled anywhere in the
world for any single event. It is indeed the greatest
communication event in the
The new idols this year are made of wood coming from
selected neem trees. The wood has been cut from trees
identified in different parts of Orissa strictly
according to the suggestions made in their dreams to some
worshippers. These worshippers are calleddaitas.
The Rath Yatra is a living demonstration of the theories
communication and mass mobilisation. Nowhere in
the world do so many people assemble to witness this
colourful event. They also participate in
pulling the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and
Subhadra. Some try to
immortalise themselves by being run
over under the wheels of the sacred chariots.
It is an unforgettable sight which
shows how mass
enthusiasm results in the generation of energy, both
physical and social. Communication plays a key
role in this wonderful phenomenon. It is spontaneous, it
is forceful and it is dynamic. It makes the millions
pilgrims and others coming to the Rath Yatra to be
energised by a psychological force emerging out of the
devotion towards, and faith in, Lord Jagannath,
the presiding deity of the magnificent festival.
The Rath Yatra communicates
messages directed at a mass
audience which is heterogeneous in character. It is
composed of men, women and children,
belonging to age
groups, religions, sects, castes, creeds and all colours.
The focus of the message radiated by the
Rath Yatra is
secularism. It is reinforced by the philosophy of
Vasudhaiva Kutum-bakam (The World Is My Family) flowing
from the name Jagannath, which means Lord of theUniverse.
In Hindu religion and mythology, there have been
to the use of chariots for a variety of
purposes. In Vedic literature, there has been mention of
the rath or chariot.
The human body has been compared to
a chariot. The rath has been described in the Upanisads
dating back to prehistoric
Our ancient scriptures say that the chariot of the Sun
God is driven by seven horses. The world famous Sun
Temple at Konarak was designed and constructed as a
chariot of the Sun on these lines of thought. Lord Indra
Lord Vishnu had chariots. In the Ramayana, the
Mahabharata and other mythologies, the rath or chariot
has been described
in different scenarios. The Pushpaka
Vimana of Lord Indra has been described in many Puranas.
It is not known how
and why the Rath Yatra was translated
into English as the Car Festival, when the word chariot
should have been used
for rath. By any stretch of the
imagination, one cannot compare a chariot with a car, and
more so when the chariots
of Puri are huge constructions.
Perhaps some colonial British officer had wrongly used
the word car for rath, but
even today in some tourist
literature the Rath Yatra of Puri is referred to as the
Car Festival of Puri. This is both
a linguistic and
communication distortion, demanding urgent intervention
by the concerned departments of the state
Orissa and the government of India. The Rath Yatra, in
English, should be the "festival of Chariots."
some Englishman misspelt Jagannath as Juggernaut, and the
spelling has gone into the dictionary.OTHER RELIGIOUS
The Rath Yatra used to be celebrated according to the
principles of other religious faiths. The Chaitra Yatra
of the Jains was nothing but a Rath Yatra. Khandagiri,
near Bhubaneswar, is one of the ancient centres of Jam
According to some researchers, the Rath
Yatra of Khandagiri was a very ancient festival. In
Ujjain, the Rath Yatra
used to be celebrated according toJain customs.
In Nepal, the Rath Yatra is celebrated by different
Buddhists in Nepal celebrate a Rath
Yatra, known as Machhendra Yatra, in the month of
Chaitra, in which the Hindus
also participate. According
to Oldfield, "The Buddhist festival is evidently adopted
from the Hindu festival of Jagannath
and his brother
Balaram and the Kumari representing their sisterSubhadra."
The Chinese traveller Fahian has given
a detailed account
of Rath Yatra celebrations in different Buddhist centres.
Some researchers are of the view that
the Rath Yatra at
Puri is an imitation of the Buddhist Rath Yatras.
According to one researcher who has translated
into English, "The reader cannot fail to be struck with
the very close resemblance between the Buddha procession
described here, and that of Jagannath, which indeed,
requires no great stretch of imagination to suppose it to
the model and prototype. The time of the year at
which the ceremony takes place corresponds very closely."
Hunter in the Indian Empire has written: "The
car festival is probably a once consciousness
representation of the
Tooth Festival of the Buddhists,
although its original significance has dropped out of
sight." Dr Harekrushna Mahtab
and other scholars have
maintained that the Buddha's teeth have been kept inside
the Daru Brahma, the wooden idol
of Lord Jagannath.
Dr Rajendralal Mitra, while discussing the Rath Yatra of
Puri said: "These facts have no room for
Jagannath and some of his peculiar ceremonial observances
are of Buddhist origin, that the car festival
anniversary of the Buddha's birthday."
Evidence is available showing the celebration of the Rath
in western countries. For instance, in the island
of Sicily there used to be a Rath Yatra. And now, thanks
International Society for Krishna Consciousness,
the Rath Yatra is celebrated in many western countries on
of the one at Puri.
The name of the Lord chariot of Lord Jagannath is
Nandighosa. It has 16 wheels, Lord Balabhadra's
is named Taladhwaja and has 14 wheel. The chariot of
Devi Subhadra is called Devadalana. It has 12 wheels.
three chariots, with their respective flags standing on
the Bada Danda (the long Street) and viewed against the
background of Bada Deula (the big temple) with its flags
flying high, communicate to the millions of spectators,
people of Orissa and to the world at large that
Jagannath is the symbol of secularism manifested in theunity of mankind.
THE JAGANNATH CULTThe Jagannath cult is based on the following principles:
equality of all religions, equality of
welfare of all, and impartial treatment of all. Devotion
to Lord Jagannath is manifested in the spirit
compassion, love for all and equality of all. Folk lore,
folk literature and ancient scriptures say that Lord
is Lord Vishnu and is worshipped in Puri as
Lord Krishna with his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and
his sister Devi
Subhadra. The devotional songs in Oriya
known as bhajans and jananas reflect the devotee's faith
in the powers of
The Odisi dance owes its origin to the temple rituals
observed in the Bada Deula. The Baisi Pahachat
stairs to the temple) is described in the devotional
songs as the place where one re-examines and affirms his
faith in Lord Jagannath. The Ananda Bazar (market of
joy) inside the temple premises is the place where maha
(offerings to Lord Jagannath) is sold. and where
it is a privilege to take it with devotion and joy.
Anand Bazar establishes
equality of all as one of the
principal tenets of the Jagannath cult. The Bada Deula
can be called the largest restaurant
in the world,
cooking varieties of maha prasad for the thousands ofpilgrims everyday.
Lord Jagannath is also taken
as the presiding deity of
the tribe known as Savara. In the Mahabharata written by
Sarala Das, Jagannath has been
known as Savarinarayan.
The Shaivites worship Balabhadra as Lord Shiva.
According to the Skanda Purana, the Shaktas
of Goddess Durga) have been worshipping Devi Subhadra as
Bhadrakali. The Vaishnavas worship Jagannath
Vishnu. Within the Hindu religion, Lord is perceived
differently by different sects.JAGANNATH AND BUDDHA
the 12th century AD, Jayadeva, the famous Vaishnava
poet of Orissa, in his Geetagovinda, has described
the ninth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.
The Buddhists subscribing to the Mahayana philosophy hold
the view that
both the Buddha and Purushottama belong to
mahasunya, having no shape. In the Mahabharata of Sarala
has been described as the Buddha of Kali
Yuga. Other poets have described Jagannath as an avatar
of the Buddha. Dr
Rajendralal Mitra says that when Gaya
was the principal centre of Buddhism, Puri was also
flourishing as an equally
important centre devoted to
Buddhism. According to him, before Vaishnavism
influenced Buddhism, Orissa was already
influence of Buddhism. In short, the Jagannath cult has
a built-in component of Buddhism.
have claimed that Jagannath is Gina. In the
Jain scripture "Jnana Siddhi," Indrabhuti has described
Jagannath as Gina.
The followers of Mahima Dharma having
their centre of learning and worship at Joranda, near
Dhenkanal (Orissa), do
not worship any idol, but they
worship Lord Jagannath. It is easy to establish that
Jagannath attracts people from
all religions and all
sects. All the prophets of different religious faiths
have visited Puri. The Jagannath cult,
embraces, all. It has travelled to different parts ofthe world.
In the province of Bali, Indonesia, where
the majority of
people are Hindus, one finds and feels the presence of
the Jagannath cult. In the Besakih temple,
one in Bali, one finds the idol of Lord Jagannath. But
there is a difference. In the Besakih temple, there
no idols inside, it is totally empty. The idols are
outside the temple premises.
The Hindus of Bali believe
that inside the temple there
should be nothing, and it should be kept neat and clean,
so that the gods and goddesses,
when tired, would come
down to take rest. In the Prambanan temple near
Yogyakarta, one sees the idols of Hindu gods
goddesses. Jagannath is no longer confined to India. In
this context, it is the Jagannath cult which communicates
the message that it is no longer a phenomenon or faith
confined to India. It belongs to jagat, the whole world.
to satellites, the Rath Yatra of Puri is being
telecast on the national hook-up since 1993. People all
over the country
watch the telecasts with pride. Others
outside India can also view them.
What does it communicate? What is the message?
communicates the message that India has a vibrant and
dynamic culture which cannot be debased or distorted by
It also communicates that the people
of India have been sustained by such a powerful culturalforce.
In all these communications,
the central message is that
the people are one. And the focus of the message is that
Jagannath is the symbol of secularism.
A Brief Life Sketch of
Srila Gour Govinda Swami
Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja made his appearance as Braja Bandhu Manik in a vaisnava family on 2nd September 1929. He appeared
in the village of Jagannathapur, not far from Jagannath Puri Dham, in Orissa, India, but as his mother was descended from
the Giri family of the village Gadeigiri, Braja Bandhu spent his childhood there. His grandfather was a paramahamsa whose
only business was to chant Hare Krishna and cry before the local Deity of Krishna known as Gopal Jiu. He taught Braja Bandhu
how to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra by counting on his fingers. In the company of his uncles, Braja Bandhu would travel
from village to village chanting Hare Krishna and singing the songs of Narottam Das Thakur.
From the age of six, Braja
Bandhu worshiped the Deity of Gopal by making garlands, and sometimes, under the light of a candle, by singing hymns for Him
from palm-leaf manuscripts. He would never take any food that was not offered to Gopal.
By the age of eight he had read
the entire Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and could also explain their meanings. At night many
villagers would come to hear his recitation of the Bhagavata, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Thus from the very beginning of his
life he was absorbed in chanting Krishnas holy name, studying vaisnava literature, and worshipping his beloved Gopal. Friends
and relatives remember him as always being very quiet and introspective. He was never interested in playing with other boys
or in going to see cinema shows or theatre.
After the death of his father in 1955, as the eldest son he became responsible
for maintaining the family, and on the request of his widowed mother he entered the grhastha-asrama. He first met his wife,
Srimati Vasanti Devi, during their marriage ceremony. Because of financial constraints he could not enroll formally in University
courses, but he studied privately at night to attend the examinations, obtaining a B.A. degree from Utkal University with
overall second highest marks on the exam. He later also obtained a B.Ed. degree in a similar way and took up the profession
of a schoolteacher. Despite many responsibilities, however, his devotion to Gopal never slackened. He would daily rise at
3.30 a.m., chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, worship tulasi-devi, and speak to his family from the Bhagavad-gita. In school
he would take every opportunity to speak to his students about Krishna and devotional principles. Some of his students would
become his disciples thirty years later.
During school breaks he would take his wife and travel to the Himalayan mountains,
visiting different tirthas and ashrams, and he would sometimes engage in philosophical debates with the mayavadis he found
On 8 April 1974, at the age of forty-five, Braja Bandhu left his home and relatives in search of spiritual perfection.
Giving himself the name "Gour-Gopalananda Das" and carrying only a Bhagavad-gita and a begging bowl, he wandered around India,
visiting many sacred places along the banks of the Ganges River. He was looking for his spiritual master, that person who
could help him develop an understanding of the maha-mantra. Although he had met many sadhus and gurus during his householder
daysOrissa has many prominent sects of Gaudiya Vaishnavashe had not found any whose teachings sufficiently touched his heart.
Still not finding his spiritual master after wandering in this way for one year, he eventually reached Vrindavan, thinking
that his desire would certainly be fulfilled in Krishnas dear abode.
Two weeks after arriving in Vrindavan he saw a huge
signboard which read, "International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada," and he met a group of Western devotees who gave him a copy of Back to Godhead magazine. When he read the
contents describing the glory of divine love for Krishna, his heart became anxious to meet the founder of the movement, Srila
Prabhupada. Gaining entrance to Srila Prabhupadas room, he introduced himself and the first question Srila Prabhupada asked
was, "Have you taken sannyasa?" Gour-Gopalananda replied that he had not. "Then I will give you sannyasa!" exclaimed Srila
Prabhupada. Understanding that Srila Prabhupada knew his heart, he surrendered himself at his lotus feet and soon became Prabhupadas
In 1975, at the opening of ISKCONs Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram mandira in Vrindavan, Srila Prabhupada
awarded him the sannyasa order, sending him to preach in Orissa and to construct a temple on the newly donated property in
The donated land was a jungle full of mosquitoes, snakes and scorpions. It was so far from the city center
that even during the daytime people were afraid to visit. Meditating on the desire of Srila Prabhupada, Gour Govinda Swami
worked with unwavering determination. Sometimes residing in the storeroom of a tea dealer and even sometimes sharing a small
hut with road construction workers, he began translating Srila Prabhupadas books into Oriya as he had been instructed. He
would visit house after house, office after office, in and around Bhubaneswar to collect some small donations, and he constructed
with his own hands a thatched hut on the donated property.
In early 1977 Srila Prabhupada came to Bhubaneswar. Although
the arrangement had been made for him to stay comfortably in the State Guesthouse, Srila Prabhupada at once rejected this
proposal, "I will only stay where my disciple child Gour Govinda has built a mud hut for me." Srila Prabhupada stayed in Bhubaneswar
for seventeen days, during which time he started translation work on the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. On the auspicious
occasion of Lord Nityananda's appearance day he laid the foundation stone of the temple-to-be, his last-founded project.
a visit to Mayapur in 1979, Gour Govinda Swami was attending kirtana one day when he fell to the ground unconscious. He was
carried back to his room followed by several ISKCON leaders and other concerned devotees. Doctors came to examine him but
were unable to diagnose the cause of his condition. One person even suggested that he may have been possessed by a ghost.
Finally, Akinchana Krishnadas Babaji Maharaja, a godbrother of Srila Prabhupada, explained that Gour Govinda Swami was manifesting
the symptoms of bhava, the advanced stage of ecstatic love of God.
When he returned to Bhubaneswar he became even more
absorbed in the mission of his spiritual master. Some western devotees had been sent there to assist him, but most of them
could not tolerate the austere conditions. They were amazed to see how he was never disturbed, how he would eat only once
a day, and how he would never sleep. He would simply preach, chant, and write in his notebooks both day and night.
Srila Prabhupadas order, Gour Govinda Maharaja preached vigorously all over the land of Orissa. The simple pada-yatra festivals
and nama-hatta programs that he started have helped hundreds and thousands of people in the ancient land of Lord Chaitanyas
pastimes discover their spiritual roots and take up the chanting of the maha-mantra:
hare krishna hare krishna krishna
krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
Srila Prabhupada gave Gour Govinda Swami three principal
instructions: to translate his books from English into Oriya, to build the temple in Bhubaneswar, and to preach all over the
world. Carrying out these instructions was Gour Govinda Swamis life and soul. He had a strict policy of not eating until he
had completed his quota of translation for the day. Devotees would be struck to see how even after undergoing long international
flights Gour Govinda Swami would always insist upon first doing the translation work given him by his spiritual master before
he would eat or sleep. This was a practice he maintained up to his very last day.
In 1985 Srila Gour Govinda Swami first
traveled overseas for preaching. He had so much enthusiasm for speaking krishna-katha that he continued this every year for
the following eleven years, despite a crippling leg injury and great personal inconvenience.
Although he was always very
meek and humble in his personal dealings, in his classes on Srimad Bhagavatam he would roar like a lion, smashing the pride
and cutting the misconceptions from the hearts of his listeners. Krsna-katha was his life and soul. He would often say, "The
day that goes by without krsna-katha, that is a very bad day." In the course of his lecturing he would inevitably burst into
song, nourishing everyone with the devotional sentiments of joy, humility and surrender as expressed in the prayers of Srila
Bhaktivinode Thakur and other acaryas.
Gour Govinda Swamis knowledge of scripture was formidable. He would substantiate
everything he said with evidence from all over the Vedic literature. Sometimes he would question a disciple and if the disciple
could not answer with reference to the scriptures he would immediately exclaim, "He is a cheater! Dont be a crooked person.
A vaisnava quotes authority."
In this way Gour Govinda Swami always preached fearlessly, never compromising the conclusions
of the scripture in the name of being practical. "One who cannot see Krishna," he would say, "is a blind man. He may speak
about Krishna, but in his mind he is speculating. Therefore his words will never be effective. A real sadhu never speaks theoretically."
Gour Govinda Maharaja always kept a diary, making daily entries without fail. Each entry would conclude in the same way:
"Whatever service this servant has performed today, Gopal knows." Every day he would pray to Gopal in his diary, "Please give
me the association of like-minded devotees."
In 1991, on Rama Navami, the auspicious appearance day of Lord Ramachandra,
after sixteen years of determined endeavor, Gour Govinda Maharaja fulfilled the instruction of his beloved spiritual master
Srila Prabhupada by opening the magnificent Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram temple in Bhubaneswar. Since that time the Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram
mandira has grown into a flourishing project that every year attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.
He never gave
up his simple lifestyle. Until his last days he continued to live in the small mud hut next to the one he had built for Srila
Prabhupada in 1977. Several times he was requested by devotees to expand his managerial responsibilities, but he always refused,
saying, "I am not a manager, I am a preacher." However, when the land in Gadeigiri, where he spent his childhood and where
his beloved Gopal resided in a simple structure, was donated to ISKCON, he did take up the responsibility of one more project,
that of building Gopal a magnificent temple.
Gour Govinda Swami said, "I have opened a crying school here in Bhubaneswar.
Unless we cry for Krishna, we cannot get His mercy." This was the message he preached so vigorously all over the world during
the last ten years of his manifest pastimes.
In late January, 1996, he mentioned, "Srila Bhaktisiddhanta said that this
material world is not a fit place for any gentleman. Therefore, because he was disgusted, he left this world prematurely.
I may also leave. I dont know. Let me ask Gopal. I will do whatever He wants." The next day Gour Govinda Swami went to Gadeigiri
to see his Gopal. After returning, for the next four days he preached more powerfully than ever to thousands of people who
flocked to the Prabhupada Centennial festival in Bhubaneswar. Then he left for the annual ISKCON management meetings in Sridham
On 9 February 1996, the holy appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, two senior ISKCON devotees
requested an appointment in the early evening to see Gour Govinda Maharaja. They had never spoken personally with him before
but had become very eager to hear from him after reading some of his books. They inquired, "Why did Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stay
in Jagannath Puri?" Delighted by their question, he began to explain the confidential significance of Mahaprabhus pastimes
in Puri. He lovingly described the pain of separation felt by Radha and Krishna when Krishna was away from Vrindavan. This
moving pastime appears in chapter eight of The Embankment of Separation. Enchanting all the devotees in his room with the
nectarean topics of Krishna, he gradually unfolded the pastime to the point where Radha and Krishna were finally united after
Their long separation. He described how Krishna became so ecstatic upon seeing Radharani that He manifested a form with big
round eyes and shrunken limbs, Lord Jagannath. At that time the devotees noticed that tears had come to his eyes and his voice
had become choked up. Barely audibly, he said, "Then the eyes of Krishna fell upon the eyes of Radharani. Eye-to-eye union."
Unable to continue, he apologized with folded hands, "Please excuse me. I cannot speak." He then gave his final instruction:
"Kirtana! Kirtana!" The devotees present began to chant as their spiritual master calmly lay back on his bed, breathing slowly
and deeply. A servant placed a picture of Gopal Jiu in his hand. Then, gazing lovingly at that picture of his worshipable
Deity, Gour Govinda Swami called out, "Gopal!" and departed for the spiritual sky to be united with his beloved Lord.
day before Srimad Bhagavatam class, Gour Govinda Swami would sing an Orissan song he had learned as a boy. Now his prayer
paramananda he madhava
anande bolo hari hari
name vanda vela
pari karibe caka-dola
mana-mo rahu nirantare
mana mo nirantare rahu
ha-krsna boli jiva jau
ha-krsna boli jau jiva
mote udhara radha-dhava
mote udhara radha-dhava
"O supremely blissful Madhava! The nectar is coming from Your lotus feet. Drinking that nectar, I blissfully
sing Hari! Hari! Taking the name of Hari, I am binding a raft on which Lord Jagannath will ferry me across this ocean of material
existence. May my mind always remain at the lotus feet of that Lord Jagannath who has very large round eyes. In this way,
I call out, Alas! Krishna! and give up my life. O husband of Radharani, please deliver me."