Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Darsana of Sri Jagannathaji’s Ratha-yatra in Sri Jagannatha Puri

Darsana of Sri Jagannathaji’s Ratha-yatra in Sri Jagannatha Puri

Later that year, during the month of Asadha (June–July), almost two hundred and fifty pilgrims under the leadership of Sri Guru Maharaja left Howrah station in a reserved coach and headed first for the Balesvara railway station and from there to Sri Remuna. In Remuna they took darsana of Sri Ksira-cora Gopinathaji. Srila Guru Maharaja recounted the pastime of Sri Madhavendra Puri and Ksira-cora Gopinatha as told in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.

“Sri Madhavendra Puri is the first sprout of the desire tree of bhakti-rasa. Sri Nathaji was so satisfied with Sri Madhavendra Puri’s service that He appeared on the slopes of Sri Govardhana near the village of Anyora. Sri Madhavendra Puri fulfilled Sri Nathaji’s desire by worshipping Him for one month with abhiseka and annakuta festival with extensive offerings of bhoga. Thereafter, also by the desire of Sri Gopalaji, Madhavendra Puri walked from Vrndavana to Jagannatha Puri to procure Malayan candana (sandalwood) to offer to Sri Nathaji. On the way to Puri, he arrived here in Remuna in the late evening. Bhoga had been offered to Thakuraji. The curtain opened and he had darsana of the astonishing deity of Sri Gopinathaji. In front of the deity were pots of ksira-prasada, condensed milk. Such a wonderful fragrance was coming from the ksira offered to Thakuraji that Sri Madhavendra Puri’s mind became attracted. He thought, ‘If I could taste only a little of the prasada, I could prepare such a delicious ksira for my Sri Nathaji.’ Meanwhile, the curtain closed. Sri Puri Gosvami then went to some place in the nearby market to perform bhajana. At night he heard a voice calling out, ‘Who is Madhavendra Puri?’ Sri Gopinathaji’s pujari was calling him in a loud voice. Sri Madhavendra Puri stood up and said, ‘I am Madhavendra. Why are you calling me?’

“With great humility, the pujari placed a pot of ksira in Madhavendra Puri’s hands and said, ‘Great soul, after I put Sri Gopinathaji to bed, I closed the curtain and went to sleep in my small room. At midnight Sri Thakuraji came to me in a dream and said, ‘My devotee is performing bhajana somewhere in the market. I wanted him to taste some of My prasada, but he never asks anyone for anything. He is a topmost niskincana Vaisnava who never begs for his living. I have hidden one of the twelve pots of ksira for him under My clothes. Take it and give it to him now.’ After this dream I woke up, opened up the curtain and went inside the temple. It is most amazing! One pot was there inside Thakuraji’s clothes. I had removed the offered pots and purified the altar with my own hands. How could one pot remain in spite of this? I closed Thakuraji’s door again and brought the pot here to you. Never before have I experienced such a thing as this.’

“Sri Madhavendra Puri also became very joyful and happy when he heard this, but he thought, ‘Everyone will know about this incident in the morning and a crowd will come here for my darsana.’ Fearing this fame, he fled Remuna in the dark for Jagannatha Puri. In this world such a devotee is exceptional and blessed. From that time, the name of Sri Gopinathaji was changed to Sri Ksira-cora Gopinatha – Gopinatha who steals the condensed milk.

“Madhavendra Puriji reached Sri Puri-dhama and took darsana of Sri Jagannatha. He then obtained the Malayan sandalwood for his Gopalaji, put it [in a basket] on his head and started walking back towards Sri Vrndavana-dhama. On the way, he came to Ksira-cora Gopinatha’s Remuna again. It was night and he soon dozed off. Gopalaji came to him in a dream and told him, ‘Stay in Remuna and rub the Malayan candana on Gopinatha’s whole body. If you perform this service, the heat of My body will also be removed, because I am that same Gopinatha.’ Sri Puri Gosvami did so, and after receiving Sri Gopala’s permission he again returned to Vrndavana. Bhagavan is conscious of the hardships that His devotees undergo to serve Him, and He performs such transcendental pastimes to increase the glory of His devotees in this world.”

The pilgrims were fascinated by this pastime. After listening to the story, they took darsana of Sri Rasikanandaji’s samadhi nearby. Then they visited Bhubanesvara, where they took darsana of Sri Lingaraja, Sri Ananta Vasudeva, Bindu-sarovara and other places. Finally they reached Sri Puri-dhama. They stayed in Puri for fifteen days and took darsana of Alalanatha, Saksi-gopala, Konarka and other places. On Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s disappearance day they were invited to a large assembly in the Sri Jagannatha-vallabha garden. Srila Gurudeva, the president of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, gave a splendid philosophical lecture full of tattva concerning Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s transcendental character, his erudition and the bhakti-sastras that he composed. The learned scholars of Puri were very impressed by this lecture.

The next day was sri gundica-marjana, after which came sri ratha-yatra, sri hera-pancami, Sri Jagannatha’s return yatra and so on. Everything was observed with kirtana and lectures. The pilgrims also had the opportunity to have darsana of Sri Jagannatha, Gambhira, Siddha-bakula, Haridasa Thakura’s samadhi, Tota Gopinatha, Cataka-parvata, Yamesvara Tota, Lokanatha Siva, Puri Gosvami’s well, Narendra-sarovara, Indradyumna-sarovara, Gundica Mandira, Cakra-tirtha, Svargadvara and various other places. In the end, everyone returned home fully satisfied with the wonderful hari-katha they had heard and the beautiful darsanas they had received.

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