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Snana-yatra (bathing) of Lord Jagannatha

Today is a very super excellent auspicious day as it is Lord Jagannatha’s public bathing festival, snana-yatra maha-mahotsava. Today is also Srila Sridhara Thakura and Srila Mukunda Datta’s tirobhava-tithi (disappearance day).

I will briefly speak a few words on Lord Jagannatha’s public bathing festival, snana-yatra maha-mahotsava. While Lord Krishna resides in Jagannatha Puri, He performs sweet lilas like a human being, manava-lila. He also manifested in Jagannatha Puri as daru-brahma, meaning He manifested in a wooden form— daru-brahma Bhagavan. And that same Krishna appeared in this Kali-yuga in the form of Shachinandana Gaurahari, called sachala (moving) Bhagavan.

So Lord Jagannatha, also meaning Krishna, performed sweet lilas as a human being. For one month prior to this day, we celebrated His candana-yatra maha-mahotsava. That is when Lord Jagannatha felt so much heat in His body, that devotees cover His body with sandalwood paste.

There are so many pastimes taking place in Jagannatha Puri where Lord Jagannatha is completely absorbed as a human being in His manava-lila, He enjoys all kinds of transcendental pastimes with His pure devotees. And now during the month of June, Jyaishtha, the hottest month in India, it is so hot that the Lord feels uncomfortable. For this reason, the Lord is performing this lila known as His public bathing festival or snana-yatra maha-mahotsava.

During this festival, devotees take Lord Jagannatha out of the temple and put Him in one very nice and beautiful bathing place, called snana-vedi. There, devotees’ worship Him with water, and they especially arrange for waters to be brought from different holy places. They also add different kinds of ingredients to the water, like camphor.

In this way, Lord Jagannatha bathes in these holy waters, and all the devotees nicely glorify Him. And after perhaps two or more hours of Lord Jagannatha’s bathing, devotees will also begin pouring water over His head. Meanwhile, Brahma, Shiva and all of the demigods and demigoddesses are also offering stavas and stutis (praises) to Him.

So this very nice and beautiful snana festival takes place where Lord Jagannatha is bathed. Afterwards, Lord Jagannatha is dressed in very beautiful cloths and enters His temple, Jagannatha temple. Afterwards, Lord Jagannatha performs a sweet lila, known as His sickness lila. The Lord has a runny nose and also a high fever— this pastime is called anashana-vrata. And during that time, He does not want to give darshana to people outside, only to those inside like the dayitas (Lord Jagannatha’s servants).

The dayitas, those in the line of Vidyapati’s Sabari wife, Lalita, who were considered low caste, would worship the Lord inside. They would offer Him many kinds of ingredients mixed with hot water. During His sickness pastimes, the Lord does not want to eat, He just takes kadha, which is a special Indian juice where hot water is mixed with many kinds of jadi butis, medicinal herbs. In this way, Lord Jagannatha performs these sweet lilas in His temple.

During the days of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord would feel pangs of separation from Lord Jagannatha. Lord Jagannatha would go to Alarnatha, and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told His servant Govinda, “I have to go to Alarnatha. In Alarnatha there is a beautiful lila taking place.”

When Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu arrived there, He took darshana of Lord Alarnatha— the Lord in His Vishnu form holding shankha, chakra, gada and padma (the conch, club, disc and lotus). Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then laid down completely on His lotus feet, causing the stone beneath Him to completely melt! If you visit Jagannatha Puri and go to Alarnatha, you can see the stone which was completely melted by the eight limbs of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu— There, the imprints of His hands, legs, knees, feet and toes are still visible.

There are so many pastimes there, similar to this alarnatha-katha, which I believe takes place around two weeks from now. After this lila, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu returns to His temple. Then Lord Jagannatha performs another pastime. He tells His consort Lakshmi-devi, “I have to let My body recover. For this reason, I have to go to one place, a lonely and solitary place.” This lila is called His ratha-yatra maha-mahotsava.

So, Lord Jagannatha goes from Jagannatha Puri to the Gundicha temple. According to our Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, Lord Jagannatha actually goes from Kurukshetra to Vrindavana. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Shukadeva Gosvamipada very nicely described this kurukshetra-lila-katha-prasanga. The Jagannatha ratha-yatra-katha is very sweet and shows how Lord Jagannatha, meaning Krishna, goes from Kurukshetra to Vrindavana.

Kurukshetra is known as a place of opulence, aishvarya-bhumi, and Vrindavana is called the place of sweetness, madhurya-dhama. In this lila, there are so many shikshas or teachings on how an ordinary sadhaka can develop his bhajana and sadhana, and enter from vaidhi-marga to raganuga-marga. First, sadhakas have to enter vidhi-marga. Another name for vidhi-marga is aishvarya-bhumi or aishvarya-marga— meaning opulence. Then, with the association of a pure devotee, step by step, one will develop his bhajana and sadhana, slowly removing his anarthas and finally entering raga-bhakti— especially, entering vraja-raganuga-bhakti.

vidhi-mārga-rata-jane svādhīnatā-ratna-dāne

rāga-mārge karāna praveśa

Shuno, he rasika jana (4)

by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

[To the person fixed in the regulative principles, the holy name gives the jewel of independence, placing him on the path of spontaneous devotion (raganuga-bhakti).]

For this reason, on the day before ratha-yatra, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu performs another pastime called gundicha-marjana-lila. In this pastime, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu very nicely teaches us this lesson— showing us how to clean our hearts.

There are many sweet pastimes on how Lord Jagannatha manifested His form. Lord Jagannatha’s form is called a mahabhava form. Meaning, in this form, Krishna’s body is completely melted from the fire of His separation from Srimati Radhika. As Srimati Radhika feels pangs of separation from Krishna, Krishna also feels pangs of separation from Srimati Radhika.

Our acharyas very nicely explain that if you go to Jagannatha Puri, at the same time, you will find two virahi (those who are separated)— meaning, two separation moods. One is krishna-viraha-vidura Radha, and the other is radha-viraha-vidura Krishna. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is thinking, “I am Radha, and now I am feeling pangs of separation from My beloved Krishna.” And Lord Jagannatha, who is Krishna, is feeling pangs of separation from Radha. Srila Gour Govinda Gosvami Maharaja also mentions this radha-viraha-vidura Krishna and krishna-viraha-vidura Radha.

During the time of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He would meet Lord Jagannatha during the ratha-yatra festival. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He is Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is Krishna, Svayam Bhagavan, ‘antar krishna bahir gaura’. Internally, He is Krishna, but externally, His fresh complexion is actually the complexion of Srimati Radhika. In His Gauranga svarupa, Srimati Radhika completely covers Krishna’s body. Thus, internally He is Krishna, and externally, Srimati Radhika. This is why Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is known as the combined form of the Divine Couple Radha and Krishna.

So, when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was staying in Jagannatha Puri, He would feel pangs of separation from Krishna day and night. This is because Mahaprabhu was thinking, “I am Radha, and now My beloved has left Me.” Day and night, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would cry, and He would ask Svarupa Damodara and Raya Ramananda:

kāhāṅ mora prāṇa-nātha muralī-vadana kāhāṅ karoṅ kāhāṅ pāṅ vrajendra-nandana

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila 2.15)

[Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to express His mind in this way: “Where is the Lord of My life, who is playing His flute? What shall I do now? Where should I go to find the son of Maharaja Nanda?]

kāhāre kahiba, kebā jāne mora duḥkha vrajendra-nandana vinu phāṭe mora buka

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila 2.16)

[“To whom should I speak? Who can understand My disappointment? Without the son of Nanda Maharaja, My heart is broken.”]

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu implored, “Where will I go? Where will I meet with My beloved Krishna, who always keeps the peacock feather on His turban and keeps the flute on His hand? I want to see His very nice beautiful smiling face. Where is He? What will I speak about My own sorrow? How can I open my heart? Who can realise My heart?”

In this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu felt pangs of separation from Krishna, day and night. And in the same way, Lord Jagannatha is always feeling pangs of separation from the Vrajavasis. Among all the Vrajavasis, He feels pangs of separation the most from Srimati Radhika. Thus, radha-viraha-vidura Krishna and krishna-viraha-vidura Radha.

This is such a sweet lila, how Lord Jagannatha would go from Kurukshetra to Vrindavana, as the gopis pulled the chariot rope of Lord Jagannatha, bringing Krishna to Vrindavana. This lila is very nicely explained in Chaitanya-charitamrita.

[Jaya Jagannatha Deva ki jaya!]

Jaya Shachinandana Gaurahari ki jaya!

Jaya jaya Sri Radhe!

Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!

Date: 5 June 2020 Location: Zoom


Transcriber: Radha-sundari dasi (UK) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Proofreading: Chandrika dasi (UK), Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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