Rath Yatra Procession invites Hundreds in the Hills of Uttarakhand
By Bhakta Aseem
Uttarakhand is famous as ‘Devbhoomi’ , ‘The Land of Demigods’. It has many beautiful and serene valleys. Definitely a heaven for the yogis! But we are not yogis, we are Krsna bhaktas! Srila Prabhupada’s Krsna Consciousness movement is so nice that any other process than bhakti yoga looks so petty for this age. Anywhere we preach and people are so much attracted towards this timeless philosophy i.e. The Science of Krsna Consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada says in one of his lectures:
“Spread this Krishna Consciousness movement. Parama ananda- kanda. People will be happy. Our mission is to see sarve sukhino bhavantu, everyone become happy…… Su-shukham kartum avyayam”
The people in the mountains live a very simple life. Their life is closer to and related with nature. Krishna Consciousness movement is so natural for them. We are talking of a town namely Chakutia in Almora district, approx. 120 km from Ramnagar in plains and 50 km from famous hill resort Ranikhet. Recently we organised Lord Jagannath Baladev and Subhadra devi Chariot festival here on 20th Sept 2017.
Chaukhutia is situated besides the streaming Ramganga river, surrounded by hills covered by Banj oak and pine trees. This town especially looks beautiful within the terraces of fields all along the Ramganga, which during this time of the year were covered by fully grown paddy. The Ramganga forms the major riverine system of the famous Corbett National Park, which is home for the Bengal tigers, Leopards, elephants and crocodiles. You might be amazed to know that it is not a very rare sight to spot the Indian leopard roaming near the Hare Krishna temple in Bhatkot, Choukhutia. The Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath , Baladev and Subhadra have been residing here since two years, but the Lords Rath yatra festival has been continuing since last six consecutive years.
Local people which include a group of enthusiastic young boys wait each year for the Lords divine Rath yatra festival. The village matajis too have a very loving relationship with their beloved Lord. They hold regular kirtan programs. Their daily practice is to bring some small offering for the Lord. The people of the hills are known for their simplicity and the people here are no exception. Their mood and the spirit of service reflects their simplicity and love for the Lord. The Ratha yatra gave all the devotees a chance to glorify the ‘ Lord of the Universe’.
Srila Prabhupad says:
“Observe many festivals, that will keep both public and devotees alive. Temple means festivals and festivals means chanting and distribution of prasadam.” (SPL to Tamala Krsna, 8 Aug, 1973)
The devotees arrived from various parts of India a day in advance. They went out for a nagar kirtana in the hilly town, intimating people to get ready to welcome Lord Jagannath. On the day of Rath yatra, all the devotees were exited and can be seen running around for the final preparations. A group of devotees helped prepare bhoga offerings for the Lord. The lordships were finely dressed for the Ratha. A sumptuous offering of 108 bhoga items were offered to Sri Sri Jagannath Baladeva and Subhadra . After the offering, the Lordship Sri Sri Jagannath Baladev and Subhadra mounted on to the Ratha amid a tremendous roar of jubilation. The sun shone brightly. A flood of people converged from surrounding villages into the town to greet the Lord. The boys went ecstatic in the uproarious kirtan. About 2500 people took the darshan of the Lord and as many honored full prasadam. The Ratha had started from the Hare Krishna temple, Bhatkot and after meandering through the hilly town finally halted outside a temple hundereds of years old, a devi temple, just besides the Ramganga. This temple looks really antique in its craftsmanship and its location surrounded by big banyan trees. There was a wonderful bhandara (love feast) for the people besides the river in the temple compound. Everybody looked happy and joyful.
Another point to mention is that the people here have a great liking for reading spiritual books. Each year hundreds of Prabhupada books are distributed during the Rath yatra program. Srila Prabhupada gives a lot of emphasis on book distribution.
The following day was 2 day trip to Badrinath dham, all the visiting devotees went to take darshan of the lord Nara Narayana, near about 200 km away. Meanwhile another team of devotees went for a seminar arranged for the engineering students in the Dwarahat engineering college. About 250 students attended the seminar and few bought prabhupad books. Srila Prabhupad liked student preaching very much. He said:
“This book distribution program is so very important. Also you should try and increase your programs at the schools and colleges and try to have a regular credited course in the University also.”(SPL to Gaura Hari, May 29th 1971)
The overall response from the people was very encouraging. Many new people came forward this year to give their contribution in the services. The Yatra gave a boost to the enthusiasm of the devotees. The festivals provide so nice a chance to serve the lord together and become so joyful.
SPL to Aniruddha, 7TH JULY,1968:
“…. Now you can understand the specimen of transcendental pleasure in which the human society as a whole can take part and realize transcendental bliss. The car festival was very simple. After all, it is a car with four wheels, but it attracted the people so enthusiastically because there was His Lordship, the Jagannath.”
Govind das Brahmachari had been single handedly preaching here, his birth place, since many years. Govind Prabhuji gives full credit of the preaching programs to His Holiness Subhag Swami ji Maharaj under whose able guidance he has been trying to spread this divine message of Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupad says that Krishna consciousness is dormant in everyones heart. The simpler one is, easier it is for him to revive the dormant krsna consciousness. The faith and Love the people have here for the Lord is really commendable. We hope that it is just a beginning. Hopefully we can see Srila Prabhupada’s mission spreading throughout Uttarakhand in the near future.