From the Jacket
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja is widely regarded as the foremost living authority on the esoteric aspects of bhakti, the path of pure devotion unto Lord Krsna. By constantly traveling and lecturing, he enthuses traveling and lecturing, he enthuses devotees around the world with his eloquent presentation of profound insights and deep understandings. He has published dozens of his translations and commentaries, including Jaiva-dharma, Sri Bhajanarahasya and Sri Brahma-samhita.
Following in the footsteps of his instructing spiritual master and dear friend srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila Maharaja has arranged for Ratha-yatra Festivals to be held both in India and in Western countries. In The Origin of Rathayatra, he reveals the deepest spiritual significance of the Ratha-yatra Festival, based upon the moods of ecstatic divine love experienced by sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as He danced before Lord Jagannatha's chariot.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the great messiah who spread the teachings of Krsna consciousness throughout the entire world. Between 1965-77 he constantly traveled the globe, establishing dozens of temples, asramas and farm communities. He also translated numerous books, including the Krsna book and Bhagavad-gita As It Is, his famous commentary on the great Indian classic.
By establishing annual Ratha-yatra festivals in large cities such as Los Angeles. New York and London, Srila Prabhupada introduced hundreds of thousands of amazed onlookers to the glories of Lord Jagannatha and the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. He encouraged the fortunate participants of these festivals by instructing them, "rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate - simply by seeing the Lord of the Universe on the chariot, one makes progress toward ending his sojourn of perpetual birth and death in the material realm."
Our most worship able Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja began to preach in the West in 1996. In July 1997, he began to observe the Ratha-yatra Festival in the West along with his followers; at the same time that it was taking place in Jagannatha Puri. The festival was observed in Holland in 1997, in England in 1998; in France, England and Holland in 1999; in Wales in 2000; and again in England in 2001 and 2002.
On one accasion, when Srila Maharaja was addressing his international audience, he gave the following explanation for his traveling and holding these festivals: "Today is pratipat, one day before Ratha-yatra. I remember when Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja called for me in his last days. He was going to join his Radha and Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana, and He requested me to help the many devotees whom he had brought from both Western and Eastern countries. In those last days he also requested me to place him into samadhi, which I did. There is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru if they are both qualified; and Srila Swami Maharaja is my siksaguru, so I must obey his order. That is why I am traveling around the world in my old age, by the combined mercy of my diksa and siksa gurus, without any desire for worldly profit."
During each Ratha-yatra Festival, Srila Maharaja thanked and of the festivities, he told his audience, "Previously, I observed Jagannatha Ratha-yatra Festival in Mathura every year. I am not there this year, but I am glad that you have helped me to make a festival here. You were all joing in the kirtanas, and all of you were happy, so I think you'll have the grace of Jagannatha."
In each such week-long festival, Srila Maharaja discussed the quintessence of Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. He explained that entering into the deep meaning of Ratha-yatra enables the devotee to realize the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the secret truths of the tatva (philosophical truths) and lila (pastimes) of Radha-Krsna, and the ultimate goal of serving Them. Toward the end of one of his Ratha-yatra lectures, Srila Maharaja told his audience, "You are lucky to hear all these topics; it is rare that one possesses the good fortune to hear all these truths. Try to take something from what you are hearing. If you take only a hundred-thousandth part of this teaching of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you will be fully successful in life. I have come here only to give you inspiration, and all of you who have assembled here are certainly very fortunate."
It was in France, in 1999, that Srila Maharaja first brought up the idea of publishing this book. After relating the first history of Lord Jagannatha's appearance, he told his audience, "I wanted to publish the history of Ratha-yatra in Bhagavata Patrika and Gaudiya Patrika, our Hindi and Bengali monthly magazines. Now I am thinking that I should make an entire book on this subject, explaining the three reasons behind Jagannatha's appearance. It will be very interesting and helpful for all devotees."
Among the Ratha-yatra Festivals mentioned above, the largest thus far was held in Birmingham on June 24, 2001. Here are some excerpts from a report on the festival, published on www.vnn.org:
The cart procession proceeded to Victoria Square, where a large pavilion had been set up. The organizers of the event, the devotees of the Birmingham Gour-Govinda Gaudiya Matha, also set up a mini-fair just in front of the pavilion, with stalls manned by the local devotees and their friends from many diverse groups. The fair was thus billed, "A Universal Interfaith Gathering," in honor of the Lord of the Universe, Lord Jagannatha.
Birmingham dignitaries who attended the festival included the Council General of the Indian Consulate, the Deputy Mayor of Birmingham, and the president of the National Council of Hindu Temples and Vice Co-chairman of Interfaith Network U.K. Before Srila Narayana Maharaja gave his own talk, they gave speeches in the presence of Srila Maharaja, his devotes, and the thousands of guests. They expressed appreciation for Srila Maharaja's message and the important of the devotee's efforts in bringing Lord Jagannatha to the people of Birmingham. Ms. Wood of Life Foundation Worldwide had brought the world peace flame, which had traveled around the world to five continents and had been presented to the Pope, Nelson Mandela and others who were considered instrumental in bringing about world peace, and she presented it to Srila Maharaja with honor.
The material that comprises this book was taken solely from public lectures that Srila Narayana Maharaja spoke in English on his world preaching tours during the years 1997-2002. Some of the chapters consist of entire lectures. Others are compilations of different lectures and parts of lectures, and they are divided by subtitles. In presenting this material, for the most part we have tried to follow the sequence of the events as they are presented in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapters 12-15, which elaborately describe the Ratha-yatra pastimes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees.
Please forgive us fallen conditioned souls for any mistakes we may have made in presenting Srila Maharajas teachings in this book.
Today I have become very happy. When I first sent the deity of
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu from Navadvipa to England, I was very
worried that He would be quite alone there. But now that I have
come here, I see a great utsava (festival) surrounding Him. He is
not at all alone here. He is in the Gambhira and He is absorbed in
the Chariot Festival. jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra are
here, Nityananda Prabhu and all his associates are here, and even
Giriraja-Govardhana and all the associates of Vmdavana are here.
Vasanta-rtu (springtime) is here, as the scene is full with yellow
flowers, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very happy here, weeping,
"O My Prananatha, where are You? O Krsna, where are You?
Today I am meeting You after a long time; after a long separation."
sei ta parana-natha painu
yaha lagi' madana-dahane jhuri' genu
Sri Caitanya-caritdmrta (Madhya-lila 13.113)
Now I have gained the Lord of My life, in whose absence I was
being burned by Cupid and was withering away.
Today is the observance of gundica-mandira-marjana; it is
the day to cleanse our hearts. Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to
make a seat for jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra - especially
for Vrajendra-nandana Muralidhara Navakisora Natavara. When
He was in jagannatha's temple He never saw jagannatha,
Baladeva, and Subhadra. Rather, He always saw Vrajendra-
nandana Syamasundara playing a flute and wearing peacock
feathers in His turban.
Early this morning, Caitanya Mahaprabhu departed for the
Gundica Mandira with His entire group of associates, headed by
Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acarya, Gadadhara Pandita, Svarupa
Damodara, Raya Ramananda, Kasi Misra, and so many others. He
took all the Gaudiya bhaktas from Bengal, Oriya bhaktas from
Orissa, and all the others, and He requested Kasi Misra, "Tell the
King that, together with My associates, I want to wash the whole
temple and surrounding area. He should not send any of his own
servants. We will do all the cleaning ourselves, and then we will
observe a grand Ratha-yatra Festival. The King can help from
Mahaprabhu Himself took many brooms and clay pots.
Starting from Gambhira, and performing kirtana, He walked
through jagannatha Puri and finally reached the Gundica
Mandira. We also went there many times with our gurudeva, Sri
Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, along with over 500
other devotees, and during Mahaprabhu's participation there
were thousands of parties in that very big area, with hundreds of
people in each party.
On this day you should try to clean your hearts, for there are
so many dirty and unwanted things there. We must try to be
careful to avoid the ten nama-aparadhas, and also vaisnava-
aparadha, dhama-aparadha, seva-aparadha, and so on. After
that, our many unwanted habits, especially lust and anger,
should be driven from our hearts. Bhakti can never manifest if
lust and anger are present, because bhakti is very soft, mild, and
What is the meaning of kutinati? You should at once try to give
up ku (bad habits and activities), those things that are not favor-
able for krsna-bhakti. You must give up even those activities,
objects and persons that are very near and dear to you, if they are
not favorable. Nati means those things that are forbidden for
bhakti, and they are discussed in the first and second verses of
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat
A wise and self-composed person can instruct the entire world if
he can subdue the impetus to speak, the agitation of the mind, the
onset of anger, the vehemence of the tongue, the urge of the belly
and the agitation of the genitals. In other words, everyone may
become a disciple of such a self-composed person.
atyaharah prayasas ca
jana-sangas ca laulyam ca
sadbhir bhaktir vinasyati
Bhakti is destroyed by the following six faults: (1) eating too
much, or collecting more than necessary; (2) endeavors that are
opposed to bhakti; (3) useless mundane talks; (4) failure to adopt
essential regulations, or fanatical adherence to regulations;
(5) association with persons who are opposed to bhakti; and (6)
greed, or the restlessness of the mind to adopt worthless opinions.
You will also have to give up all worship of demigods. As
Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Rupa Gosvami, this should be
uprooted, along with all varieties of worldly desires.
You can even give up narayana-seva, service to Narayana in
Vaikuntha, as well as dvarakadhisa-seva, service to Krsna in
Dvaraka. Offer pranama to Dvarakadhisa and say, "You are the
same Krsna, but do You have a flute or peacock feather? Can You
accept Nanda as Your father and Yasoda as Your mother?" If He
cannot show all these qualifications, then our attitude toward Him
will be, "I offer dandavat-pranama unto You, but from far away."
Offer more pranama to Mathuresa-Krsna, and still more to
Yasoda-nandana Krsna. Offer pranama to Damodara-Krsna. We
want to serve Damodara, but which Damodara? We want to serve
Radha-Damodara. We like Sridama, Subala, Madhumangala, and
all of Krsna's friends. We like the fact that they are Krsna's
friends, but we don't want them to be our friends, because we do
not want to be cowherd boys in our perfectional stage. Beyond
that, we offer pranama to Krsna as the beloved of the asta-
sakhis, but we actually want only one thing. We want to serve the
mood of Sri Rupa Manjari. If you can have a taste for this service,
and if you can make this your objective, then your life will be
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