A Talk by Giriraj Swami
March 15, 2008
Today we will travel with Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra in procession, and we will chant the holy names of the Lord and dance for His pleasure. So we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Thirteen: “The Ecstatic Dancing of the Lord at Ratha-yatra.”
sa jiyat krsna-caitanyah
sri-rathagre nanarta yah
yenasij jagatam citram
jagannatho ‘pi vismitah
May the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna Caitanya, who danced in front of the car of Sri Jagannatha, be all glorified! By seeing His dancing, not only was the whole universe held in wonder, but Lord Jagannatha Himself became very much astonished.
jaya jaya sri-krsna-caitanya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda
All glories to Sri Krsna Caitanya and Prabhu Nityananda! All glories to Advaitacandra! And all glories to the devotees of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!
jaya srota-gana, suna, kari’ eka mana
ratha-yatraya nrtya prabhura parama mohana
All glories to the listeners of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta! Please hear the description of the dancing of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu at the Ratha-yatra festival. His dancing is very enchanting. Please hear of it with great attention.
panca-dasa dina isvara maha-laksmi lana
tanra sange krida kaila nibhrte vasiya
For fifteen days the Lord [Jagannatha] had remained in a secluded place with the supreme goddess of fortune and had performed His pastimes with her.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
The fifteen-day period of anavasara is also called nibhrta, in honor of the solitary place where the supreme goddess of fortune lives. After living there a fortnight, Lord Jagannatha took permission from the goddess of fortune to leave.
tanhara sammati lana bhakte sukha dite
rathe cadi’ bahira haila vihara karate
Having taken permission from the goddess of fortune, the Lord came out to ride on the Ratha car and perform His pastimes for the pleasure of the devotees.
In this connection, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments that as an ideal husband, Lord Jagannatha remained fifteen days in a secluded place with His wife, the supreme goddess of fortune. Nonetheless, the Lord wanted to come out of seclusion to give happiness to His devotees. The Lord enjoys Himself in two ways, known as svakiya and parakiya. The Lord’s conjugal love in the svakiya-rasa relates to the regulative principles observed in Dvaraka, where the Lord has many married queens. But in Vrndavana the conjugal love of the Lord is not with His married wives but with His girlfriends, the gopis. Conjugal love with the gopis is called parakiya-rasa. Lord Jagannatha leaves the secluded place where He enjoys the company of the supreme goddess of fortune in svakiya-rasa, and He goes to Vrndavana, where He enjoys the parakiya-rasa. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura therefore reminds us that the Lord’s pleasure in parakiya-rasa is superior to His pleasure in svakiya-rasa.
In the material world, parakiya-rasa, or loving affairs with unmarried girlfriends, is the most degraded relationship, but in the spiritual world this type of loving affair is considered the supreme enjoyment. In the material world everything is but a reflection of the spiritual world, and that reflection is perverted. We cannot understand the affairs of the spiritual world on the basis of our experience in the material world. The Lord’s pastimes with the gopis are therefore misunderstood by mundane scholars and word-wranglers. The parakiya-rasa of the spiritual world should not be discussed except by one who is very advanced in pure devotional service. The parakiya-rasa in the spiritual world and that in the material world are not comparable. The former is like gold, and the latter is like iron. Because the difference of the two is so great, they cannot actually be compared. However, just as a knowledgeable person can easily distinguish gold from iron, one who has the proper realization can easily distinguish the transcendental activities of the spiritual world from material activities.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
Fifteen days before the Ratha-yatra festival in Puri, Lord Jagannatha is brought from inside His temple onto a rooftop of the complex and is bathed, in public view, in the ceremony called Snana-yatra. After the bathing ceremony the Lord retires to a secluded place in an area inside the temple reserved for the supreme goddess of fortune. For fifteen days she serves Him with great love and devotion, and after that period, called anavasara, the Lord wants to come out of seclusion to give pleasure to His devotees, and with the permission of the goddess of fortune He goes out in the procession called Ratha-yatra.
The temple of Lord Jagannatha in Nilacala is compared to Dvaraka, where Lord Krsna lives with His married queens, and the temple at Sundaracala, called the Gundica temple, after King Indradyumna’s wife, is taken to represent Vrndavana. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His internal mood is Srimati Radharani when She feels separation from Krsna after He leaves Vrndavana for Mathura and Dvaraka. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mood during the Ratha-yatra is that of Srimati Radharani wanting to take Krsna back to Vrndavana. In krsna-lila, after Krsna had gone to Dvaraka and resided there for some years, a solar eclipse took place. And as recommended in the Vedas, many people went to Kuruksetra to take bath. Eclipses are considered inauspicious, and to counteract the inauspiciousness people submerge themselves in sacred bodies of water and chant the holy names of the Lord. When Krsna was informed of the eclipse He decided, “We shall go to Kuruksetra to observe it”–because Kuruksetra is a holy place (kuru-ksetre dharma-ksetre). And when the news spread that Lord Krsna was going to Kuruksetra, devotees from all over the world decided that they would go too–not so much to observe the rituals for the eclipse but to see Lord Krsna. So devotees, jnanis, yogis, saints, sages, and kings from all over India went to Kuruksetra. And the residents of Vrndavana decided that they would go too. So Nanda Maharaja, Mother Yasoda, the elders of Vrndavana, the cowherd boys, the young gopis–they also went. It was an emotional exchange when Krsna met with His mother and father from Vrndavana after such a long separation, and He became so choked up that He could hardly speak. Yet within His heart, He was most eager to meet the young gopis, and eventually He excused Himself to approach them. But when they met, Srimati Radharani and the other gopis could not feel the same pleasure that they experienced with Him in Vrndavana, because there was no Yamuna River, no Vrndavana forest, no Govardhana Hill. And instead of the humming of bees and chirping of birds, there were the sounds of horses and elephants and chariots rattling. And instead of Krsna being dressed in His yellow dhoti (pitambara), with a peacock feather in His hair and flute in His hand, He was dressed as a royal prince, accompanied by great warriors and surrounded by all opulence. So even though He was the same Krsna and She was the same Radha, They could not enjoy the same happiness, and thus Srimati Radharani wanted to bring Krsna back to Vrndavana so They could relish the same ecstasy They had enjoyed in Their youth.
The Ratha-yatra festival as observed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers is the emotional exchange between Srimati Radharani and Lord Krsna in which Radharani wants to bring Krsna back to Vrndavana. This is the internal mood of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As Sri Caitanya-caritamrta explains, Sriman Mahaprabhu appeared for two reasons. Internally, He wanted to experience Srimati Radharani’s love for Krsna–the glory of Her love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone relishes through Her love, and the happiness that She feels in His love. Ultimately, He wanted to broadcast the glories of Srimati Radharani’s love for Him and try to repay His debt to Her. And externally, He wanted to propagate the yuga-dharma for Kali-yuga–hari-nama-sankirtana.
We shouldn’t think that one purpose of the Lord is higher than the other. On the absolute plane, they are equal. Because Krsna is absolute, there is no difference between His inside and outside. In conditioned souls there is a difference between the soul within and the body without, but in Krsna, who is absolute spirit (sac-cid-ananda-vigraha), there is no difference between His inside and outside. Similarly, on the absolute platform there is no difference in value between the internal and external reasons for the Lord’s descent.
Lord Jagannatha, as Krsna, wants to reciprocate Srimati Radharani’s love for Him, and He wants to give mercy to all of His devotees and indeed to all living entities. And both take place during the Ratha-yatra. Generally devotees go to the temple to see the Lord, but people in Kali-yuga are so fallen that they have no time to go to the church or temple–or no inclination. So the Lord comes out of the temple to give mercy to the devotees and fallen souls.
The Lord comes out in two forms: one is the Deity, Lord Jagannatha, and the other is the holy name, the hari-nama-sankirtana. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta states that the holy name of Krsna, the Deity of Krsna, and the original form of Krsna are all the same. There is no difference between them.
‘nama’, ‘vigraha’, ‘svarupa’–tina eka-rupa
tine ‘bheda’ nahi,–tina ‘cid-ananda-rupa’
“The Lord’s holy name, His form, and His personality are all one and the same. There is no difference between them. Since all of them are absolute, they are all transcendentally blissful.” (Cc Madhya 17.131) In the Ratha-yatra, the Lord gives His association to the devotees and even to ordinary conditioned souls as the Deity–Lord Jagannatha–and as the holy name, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra–both of which are the Lord Himself. The Lord also gives His association in the form of His chariot and the ropes that pull the chariot, because on the absolute platform the Lord’s paraphernalia and the Lord are the same.
The king of Orissa at the time of Mahaprabhu was Maharaja Prataparudra. He was a great devotee, and many of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s associates wanted to arrange for Lord Caitanya to meet him, but because Caitanya Mahaprabhu was playing the part of a sannyasi in a very strict society, He refused to meet the king. He heard the glories of the king, but He said, “Still, the king has one fault: he is a king.” The very name king suggests material opulence and sense gratification. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as a sannyasi in that culture, did not want to be associated with a king. He did not want His reputation to be tarnished. Even then, the devotees appealed to the Lord to be merciful to the king, because they knew how attached he was to Lord Caitanya; he was ready to give up his kingdom and live as a mendicant if he did not get Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy. Within the court of the king were many of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s intimate associates. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya was the chief priest or spiritual advisor of King Prataparudra, and Ramananda Raya was the king’s governor in South India. The king was so kind and generous that he relieved Ramananda Raya of his service as governor and allowed him to come to Jagannatha Puri to serve Caitanya Mahaprabhu. These devotees informed Caitanya Mahaprabhu of the king’s good qualities and strong desire to obtain His mercy. Still, although His heart was softened, Caitanya remained adamant.
Finally, Nityananda Prabhu made a proposal. He suggested that Caitanya Mahaprabhu send a piece of His worn cloth to the king, which would give the king hope that Mahaprabhu would indeed show him mercy. And when the king received the cloth, he began to worship it exactly as if it were Lord Caitanya Himself. On the absolute platform, the Lord and the Lord’s paraphernalia are the same. They are equally worshipable. In fact, the worship of the Lord’s paraphernalia and associates may be even more favorable than the worship of the Lord directly. Lord Siva told Parvati,
visnor aradhanam param
tasmat parataram devi
“O Devi, of all types of worship, the worship of Lord Visnu is best, and better than the worship of Lord Visnu is the worship of anything belonging to Visnu.” (Padma Purana) Thus the king, with great bliss, received the cloth and worshiped it as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself.
On the absolute platform, the Ratha-yatra car and the ropes of the car, as the Lord’s paraphernalia, are worshipable, and if people touch the car or the ropes, they benefit as if they were touching the lotus feet of the Deity–the Lord Himself. So, the Lord is extremely munificent in distributing His mercy during Ratha-yatra. And when He smiles and casts His glance upon His devotees and all other souls as He passes in the procession, they receive His most sublime mercy and love.
The Ratha-yatra is a very jubilant festival, because the Lord is coming out to give His darsana, His audience, to His devotees–to give His mercy. And as Srila Prabhupada said, it is a very feeling festival. Srimati Radharani, meeting Krsna in Kuruksetra after such a long separation and then not finding the same happiness, is tugging Him back to Vrndavana.
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu observed the Ratha-yatra festival, He would sometimes recite a verse from mundane poetry, and no one could understand the reason; no one could understand the inner meaning. In the verse the beloved says to her lover, “I am the same person as when we met in our youth, and you are also the same person, but where is the tree beside the river where in moonlit nights we enjoyed together? I want to go back there.” Again and again, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would recite the same verse:
yah kaumara-harah sa eva hi varas ta eva caitra-ksapas
te conmilita-malati-surabhayah praudhah kadambanilah
sa caivasmi tathapi tatra surata-vyapara-lila-vidhau
reva-rodhasi vetasi-taru-tale cetah samutkanthate
“That very personality who stole away my heart during my youth is now again my master. These are the same moonlit nights of the month of Caitra. The same fragrance of malati flowers is there, and the same sweet breezes are blowing from the kadamba forest. In our intimate relationship, I am also the same lover, yet still my mind is not happy here. I am eager to go back to that place on the bank of the Reva under the Vetasi tree. That is my desire.” (Padyavali 386, quoted as Cc Madhya 13.121)
Apart from Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, practically no one could understand the meaning of that verse. But one year Srila Rupa Gosvami happened to be present at the Ratha-yatra, and he heard the Lord singing the verse. After the procession he returned to his quarters and on a palm leaf wrote his own verse explaining the original verse, stuck the leaf in the thatched roof of his hut, and went to bathe in the sea. In the meantime, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to his hut to meet him. Three great personalities–Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, and Haridasa Thakura–were not allowed to enter the Jagannatha temple. Haridasa Thakura was born in a Muslim family, and Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami had served in the government of Nawab Hussain Shah and had intimate association with Muslims. Thus they were all considered to be fallen–unqualified. So, Caitanya Mahaprabhu would go to visit them daily, and on this occasion He happened to notice the palm leaf stuck in the thatch. He took the leaf and read Rupa Gosvami’s verse–a very beautiful verse in which he describes Srimati Radharani’s feelings on meeting Krsna at Kuruksetra, echoing the poetic verse that Mahaprabhu had recited. Here, Radharani says to Her friend, “He is the same Krsna, and I am the same Radha, but without Vrndavana We cannot experience the same happiness. How I wish to take Him back with Me to Vrndavana.”
priyah so ‘yam krsnah saha-cari kuru-ksetra-militas
tathaham sa radha tad idam ubhayoh sangama-sukham
mano me kalindi-pulina-vipinaya sprhayati
“My dear friend, now I have met My very old and dear friend Krsna on this field of Kuruksetra. I am the same Radharani, and now We are meeting together. It is very pleasant, but still I would like to go to the bank of the Yamuna beneath the trees of the forest there. I wish to hear the vibration of His sweet flute playing the fifth note within that forest of Vrndavana.” (Padyavali 387, quoted as Cc Madhya 1.76)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was astonished: “How could Rupa Gosvami know My intention?” Later, Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed the verse to Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, His personal secretary and most intimate associate in Puri. Svarupa
Damodara understood the purport of that apparently mundane verse, but no one else did, and he kept it confidential. So, Lord Caitanya asked him, “How could Rupa Gosvami know My heart?” And Svarupa Damodara Gosvami replied, “He must have received Your special mercy. Otherwise, no one can know Your heart.”
Srila Prabhupada remarks that he received a similar blessing from his guru maharaja. One year he wrote a beautiful essay for his guru maharaja’s Vyasa-puja ceremony, which he read at the Bombay Gaudiya Matha, along with a poem he composed in appreciation of his guru maharaja. One verse in particular pleased his guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:
Absolute is sentient
Thou hast proved
Thou hast moved
That verse went to the essence of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s realization of his preaching mission. And just as Lord Caitanya showed Rupa Gosvami’s verse to Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would show Prabhupada’s verse to his confidential devotees: “How could he have understood my intentions?”
Thus, by the mercy of Srila Rupa Gosvami, the confidential, internal mood of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at the Ratha-yatra was revealed, and this confidential information was compiled and elaborated upon by Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami in his Caitanya-caritamrta. Kaviraja Gosvami did not personally witness Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, but he resided in Vrndavana and heard about them later. After Caitanya Mahaprabhu and most of His close associates disappeared, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was heartbroken and considered, “What is the use of living without Mahaprabhu and His associates in Puri?” So he decided to go to Vrndavana to commit Vaisnava suicide, to jump from Govardhana Hill. But before doing so, he wanted to offer respects at the lotus feet of Rupa and Sanatana.
When he met them, they appealed to him, “Don’t do this. Better you stay with us.” They accepted him as their younger brother, as their third brother. “Because you were with Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Jagannatha Puri, you know all about the Lord’s later pastimes. You should narrate them to us.” He agreed, and every day he would discourse for three hours about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes in Puri–and one devotee in the audience was Kaviraja Gosvami. Also, both Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami took notes when they were with Mahaprabhu. (In a similar way, Srila Prabhupada’s personal attendants also took notes, and thus we have Hari Sauri’s Transcendental Diary, TKG’s Diary, and other such works.) So, Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami took notes, and Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami got their notebooks. And based on what he had heard from Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and learned from the notebooks and other authoritative sources of information, he compiled Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and disclosed these most confidential facts about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s internal mood at Ratha-yatra.
Externally during the Ratha-yatra, there was tremendous hari-nama-sankirtana. We shall read about that now, to just get some idea of it and perhaps to gain some inspiration in our own performance of hari-nama-sankirtana.
suksma sveta-balu pathe pulinera sama
dui dike tota, saba–yena vrndavana
The fine, white sand spread all over the path resembled the bank of the Yamuna, and the small gardens on both sides looked just like those in Vrndavana.
rathe cadi’ jagannatha karila gamana
dui-parsve dekh’ cale anandita-mana
As Lord Jagannatha rode in His car and saw the beauty on both sides, His mind was filled with pleasure.
The pullers of the car were known as gaudas, and they pulled with great pleasure. However, the car sometimes went very fast and sometimes very slow.
In the first Ratha-yatra in ISKCON, celebrated in San Francisco with a flatbed truck as the chariot, the truck developed some difficulty and stalled going up a hill, and the devotees didn’t know if they’d get it to work again. At the time, Srila Prabhupada was ill, recuperating at Stinson Beach, outside San Francisco, and was unable to attend the Ratha-yatra. But the next day, when the devotees came to visit and report to him about the Ratha-yatra, they told him about the crisis with the truck stalling. And Srila Prabhupada remarked, “This is Lord Jagannatha’s pastime. The same thing happened when Lord Caitanya attended the Ratha-yatra in Puri. And now that Ratha-yatra has come to the West, this pastime of Lord Jagannatha’s has come too.”
Sometimes the car would stand still and not move, even though it was pulled very vigorously. The chariot therefore moved by the will of the Lord, not by the strength of any ordinary person.
As the car stood still, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gathered all His devotees and, with His own hand, decorated them with flower garlands and sandalwood pulp.
Paramananda Puri and Brahmananda Bharati were both personally given garlands and sandalwood pulp from the very hands of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This increased their transcendental pleasure.
They were considered senior to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and He worshiped and served them on the same level as He served His spiritual master.
Similarly, when Advaita Acarya and Nityananda Prabhu felt the touch of the transcendental hand of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, They were very pleased.
The Lord also gave garlands and sandalwood pulp to the performers of sankirtana. The two chief performers were Svarupa Damodara and Srivasa Thakura.
There were altogether four parties of kirtana performers, comprising twenty-four chanters. In each party there were also two mrdanga players, making an additional eight persons.
When the four parties were formed, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, after some consideration, divided the chanters.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu was also an expert organizer.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acarya, Haridasa Thakura, and Vakresvara Pandita to dance in each of the four respective parties.
Svarupa Damodara was chosen as the leader of the first party and was given five assistants to respond to his chanting.
The five who responded to the singing of Svarupa Damodara were Damodara Pandita, Narayana, Govinda Datta, Raghava Pandita, and Sri Govindananda.
advaitere nrtya karibare ajna dila
srivasa-pradhana ara sampradaya kaila
Advaita Acarya Prabhu was ordered to dance in the first group. The Lord then formed another group with Srivasa Thakura as the chief man.
In the first group, Damodara Svarupa was appointed chief singer, and the responding singers were Damodara Pandita, Narayana, Govinda Datta, Raghava Pandita, and Govindananda. Sri Advaita Acarya was appointed as a dancer. The next group was formed, and the chief singer was Srivasa Thakura.
The five singers who responded to the singing of Srivasa Thakura were Gangadasa, Haridasa, Sriman, Subhananda, and Sri Rama Pandita. Sri Nityananda Prabhu was appointed as a dancer.
Another group was formed consisting of Vasudeva, Gopinatha, and Murari. All these were responsive singers, and Mukunda was the chief singer.
Another two persons, Srikanta and Vallabha Sena, joined as responsive singers. In this group, the senior Haridasa [Haridasa Thakura] was the dancer.
The Lord formed another group, appointing Govinda Ghosa as leader. In this group the younger Haridasa, Visnudasa, and Raghava were the responding singers.
Two brothers named Madhava Ghosa and Vasudeva Ghosa also joined this group as responsive singers. Vakresvara Pandita was the dancer.
There was a sankirtana party from the village known as Kulina-grama, and Ramananda and Satyaraja were appointed the dancers in this group.
There was another party that came from Santipura and was formed by Advaita Acarya. Acyutananda was the dancer, and the rest of the men were singers.
Another party was formed by the people of Khanda. These people were singing in a different place. In that group, Narahari Prabhu and Raghunandana were dancing.
Four parties chanted and danced in front of Lord Jagannatha, and on either side was another party. Yet another was at the rear.
There were altogether seven parties of sankirtana, and in each party two men were beating drums. Thus fourteen drums were being played at once. The sound was tumultuous, and all the devotees became mad.
All the Vaisnavas came together like an assembly of clouds. As the devoteeschanted the holy names in great ecstasy, tears fell from their eyes like rain.
When the sankirtana resounded, it filled the three worlds. Indeed, no one could hear any sounds or musical instruments other than the sankirtana.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu wandered through all seven groups chanting the holy name, “Hari, Hari!” Raising His arms, He shouted, “All glories to Lord Jagannatha!”
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu then exhibited another mystic power by performing pastimes simultaneously in all seven groups.
Everyone said, “Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is present in my group. Indeed, He does not go anywhere else. He is bestowing His mercy upon us.”
Actually, no one could see the inconceivable potency of the Lord. Only the most confidential devotees, those in pure, unalloyed devotional service, could understand.
Sri Krsna, during the rasa dance, also expanded Himself, to be by the side of each gopi. He dealt with each gopi in such an affectionate and personal way that each thought, “Krsna is with me. Krsna cannot leave me. Krsna favors me.”
Lord Jagannatha was very much pleased by the sankirtana, and He brought His car to a standstill just to see the performance.
King Prataparudra was also astonished to see the sankirtana. He became inactive and was converted to ecstatic love of Krsna.
When the king informed Kasi Misra of the glories of the Lord, Kasi Misra replied, “O king, your fortune has no limit!”
The king and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya were both aware of the Lord’s activities, but no one else could see the tricks of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Only a person who has received the mercy of the Lord can understand. Without the Lord’s mercy, even the demigods, headed by Lord Brahma, cannot understand.
rajara tuccha seva dekhi’ prabhura tusta mana
sei ta’ prasade paila ‘rahasya-darsana’
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had been very satisfied to see the king accept the menial task of sweeping the street, and for this humility the king received the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He could therefore observe the mystery of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s activities.
The mystery of the Lord’s activities is described by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Lord Jagannatha was astonished to see the transcendental dancing and chanting of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and He stopped His car just to see the dancing. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu then danced in such a mystical way that He pleased Lord Jagannatha. The seer and the dancer were one andthe same Supreme Person, but the Lord, being one and many at the same time, was exhibiting the variegatedness of His pastimes. This is the meaning behind His mysterious exhibition. By the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the king could understand how the two of Them were enjoying each other’s activities. Another mysterious exhibition was Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s simultaneous presence in seven groups. By the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the king could understand that also.
The king was eager to have Lord Caitanya’s darsana, but because he was a king Caitanya Mahaprabhu refused to meet him. But when the king offered menial service to Lord Jagannatha, sweeping the road in front of Him, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s heart softened, and He gave the king such specialmercy that he was able to perceive the mysterious activities of the Lord in Ratha-yatra. Now, we might take it lightly that the king swept the road in front of the Deity, but it was no small thing then. In fact, the king was criticized by other royalty: “What kind of a king is this? He is sweeping
the street.” But the king didn’t care about mundane reputation. He sincerely rendered menial service to the Lord. And because of his humble service, Lord Caitanya, who is not different from Lord Jagannatha, gave him some special mercy to actually be able to observe the mystery of the Lord’s activities.
saksate na deya dekha, parokse ta’ daya
ke bujhite pare caitanya-candrera maya
Although the king had been refused an interview, he was indirectly bestowed causeless mercy. Who can understand the internal potency of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu?
As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was playing the part of a world teacher, He did not agree to see the king, because a king is a mundane person interested in money and women. Indeed, the very word “king” suggests one who is always surrounded by money and women. As a sannyasi, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was afraid of both money and women. The very word “king” is repugnant to one who is in the renounced order of life. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu refused to see the king, but indirectly, by the Lord’s causeless mercy, the king was able to understand the Lord’s mysterious activities. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s activities were exhibited sometimes to reveal Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and sometimes to show Him as a devotee. Both kinds of activities are mysterious and appreciated only by pure devotees.
There are many mysteries here. Vasudeva Ghosa, a great poet and singer among Mahaprabhu’s associates (mentioned in Text 43), has written, jei gaura sei krsna sei jagannath: “He who is Gaura is He who is Krsna is He who is Jagannatha.” Lord Caitanya is Krsna, Lord Jagannatha is Krsna, and Krsna is Krsna, but They assume different forms and different moods to reciprocate in loving pastimes–even with each other. And King Prataparudra, by the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, could see and understand all this. He could also see that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu expanded Himself into multiple forms and was moving amidst the seven kirtana parties. Not everyone could see that. So that was also the Lord’s special mercy upon him. But the greatest mercy, which the king had long desired, was bestowed upon him later, when Lord Caitanya went to rest in a garden nearby. There Caitanya Mahaprabhu finally gave him personal audience (darsana). He embraced the king, and together they cried in ecstatic love.
When at Balagandi the chariots halted for some time to allow devotees to offer food (bhoga) to Lord Jagannatha, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers, exhausted from their dancing, went to relax in a nearby garden. At that time, the king, shedding his royal dress, assumed the garb of a Vaisnava. He entered the garden and began to massage Mahaprabhu’s legs very expertly–and to recite for Him the Gopi-gita, the thirty-first chapter of the Tenth Canto, “The Gopis’ Songs in Separation from Krsna,” which served to enhance Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mood at the Ratha-yatra. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was already ecstatic, but when He heard the king recite the Gopi-gita, He became delighted beyond limit and repeatedly said, “Go on reciting. Go on reciting.” And when King Prataparudra came to recite the verse beginning tava kathamrtam, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as if He didn’t know who the king was, rose in ecstatic love and embraced him. And, taking a phrase from the verse, He exclaimed, “You are the most munificent! You are the most munificent!”
tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
kavibhir iditam kalmasapaham
bhuvi grnanti ye bhurida janah
“My Lord, the nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those who are always aggrieved in this material world. These narrations are transmitted by exalted personalities, and they eradicate all sinful reactions. Whoever hears these narrations attains all good fortune. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Those who spread the message of Godhead are certainly the most munificent welfare workers.” (SB 10.31.9, quoted as Cc Madhya 14.13)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had been moved by the king’s humble, expert service, and He gave him His mercy–His personal audience–while at the same time preserving the integrity of the sannyasa-dharma practiced at the time.
Such is the mercy of guru and Krsna. One can see Caitanya Mahaprabhu as guru and Lord Jagannatha as Krsna, and as Srila Prabhupada said, by the combined mercy of guru and Krsna one can become completely successful in devotional
service. Because of the king’s humble, menial service to Lord Jagannatha, Lord Caitanya also became pleased with him, and by the combined mercy of guru and Krsna the king’s devotional service became successful. Thus we can see how by humble service one can please the spiritual master and the Lord, and how by their mercy one can attain success in Krsna consciousness.
In devotional service there is no distinction between higher and lower, because all service is absolute. On the absolute platform there is no difference between cleaning the toilet of the devotees and cleaning the paraphernalia of the Deity. And if someone renders service in a humble mood (trnad api sunicena), feeling himself lowly and fallen, the Lord will be especially inclined to give him mercy. As it is said, “Those who exalt themselves are humbled, and those who humble themselves are exalted.” This is a great lesson to be learned from the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Jagannatha at the Ratha-yatra.
To conclude this chapter of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami quotes a verse from Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Caitanyastaka (7):
ratharudhasyarad adhipadavi nilacala-pater
sa-harsam gayadbhih parivrta-tanur vaisnava-janaih
sa caitanyah kim me punar api drsor yasyati padam
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced down the main road in great ecstasy before Lord Jagannatha, the master of Nilacala, who was sitting on His car. Overwhelmed by the transcendental bliss of dancing and surrounded by Vaisnavas who sang the holy names, He manifested waves of ecstatic love of Godhead. When will Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu again be visible to my vision?” (Cc Madhya 13.207)
And he blesses his readers and listeners:
iha yei sune sei sri-caitanya paya
sudrdha visvasa-saha prema-bhakti haya
“Anyone who hears this description of the car festival will attain Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He will also attain the elevated state by which he will have firm conviction in devotional service and love of Godhead.” (Cc Madhya 13.208)
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Jagannatha Ratha-yatra ki jaya!
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ki jaya!
Gaura-bhakta-vrnda ki jaya!