By Madhavendu das SSM (Vrindavan - IN)
On Tuesday, August 25, 2009; ISKCON, Vrindavan held Jagannatha Ratha Yatra in Agra; it was second time after 19 years.
24th August 2009 Their Lordships are warmly welcomed in Agra. Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra and Srila Prabhupada arrived in Agra 12:00am to shower Their mercy. It was very gorgeous arrival. Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva, Goddess Subhadra and Srila Prabhupada were in special car along with 51 car processions. Every car was nicely decorated with Jay Jaganntaha flag. Thousand of citizens were waiting in Sultan Ganj Bridge to welcome Their Lordships and Srila Prabhupada, they offered Aratik and Their Lordships was taken shower of 51 kilos Rose petals. The top Agra professional Band party escorted Their Lordships, Srila Prabhupada and all the devotees to Agrasena Bhavan, Kamalanagar, Agra.
25th August-2009 Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra came on the Ratha around 2:00pm. Pujari offered 56 bhoga preparations and Aratik. Devotees were overwhelmed with ecstasy. It was too crowded; more that fifty thousand people took part. Several hundred devotees chanted Hare Krishna Mahamantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare), and glorified Lord’s names. Devotees pulled the ropes of the chariots with great enthusiasm and devotion.
Devotees chanted Nrisimha Mantra then Ratha started proceeding smoothly. The huge, colorfully decorated chariots, are drawn by hundreds and thousands of devotees. First two horses were walking in the front and giving message of Lord Jagannatha is coming, then as usual in every Ratha Yatra in India, Band Party is one of the attractions. After that Radha-Krishna and Sakhi’s small Ratha was there. Delhi Iskcon devotees were doing Sankirtan in front of that. Then Srila Prahbupada’s Ratha was coming and ISKCON Jhasi and Gaziabad devotees were doing Sankirtan. After that there was a Cannon, time to time making big sound and throwing flowers petals in the sky, it was really attractive.
After that ISKCON Vrindavan devotees were doing ecstatic Harinam Sankirtan. Janardana and Caitanya Cakravarti Prabhus kirtan was really making everyone mad.
Festivals of Chanting and Dancing: Whole Agra city was impact by the sound vibration of Jay Jagannatha and Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Devotees ecstatic Kirtan and dancing satisfied every one. They were chanting and dancing more that six hours and still their enthusiasm was increasing. This is top class festivals. Advance devotees are interested in it not only feasting.
People were so excited to touch Jagannatha Ratha, they were coming toward Ratha disobeying all the rules. Management committee was always in tension. Four or five times were really risky but by the mercy of Jagannatha nothing happened. Agra Mayor, Minister of parliaments and many VIP’s came to do Aratiks. Every 5-10 minutes Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadara Mata was welcomed with offerings, Aratiks and kilos and kilos of flower petals were showered on Them.
People were so enthusiastic to pull the Ratha. First time they started pulling before Aratik. It was really havoc, any danger could happen. Again Ratha was pushed back for Aratik. Our Param Prabhu started shouting like anything, to stop and start he was shouting all the way. I hope his voice must be broken. Buffalo fighting’s: while Jagannatha Ratha reached in Daresi Tiraha-a group of buffalos were coming from other side. They were stopped because of Ratha coming and suddenly two buffalo started fighting. People were bewildered, it took half an hour to control the situation and Jagannatha was waiting. Also a big bull entered into the crowd from behind the Ratha and created a big disturbance but nobody injured. Finally 8:30 pm Jagannatha reached His destination, Sanjay Place and HH Prabodhanand Maharaja gave a short speech about Jagannatha Ratha Yatra. Stage program held by Vrindavan devotees with ecstatic Bhajan and Kirtan. Around 10:00 pm Jagannatha’s Maha-aratik held by offering-1100 lamps and breaking 501 coconuts.
The concept of the chariot has been explained in the Kathopanishada in the following words- Atmanam rathinam viddhi sareeram rathamevatu Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi marah pragrahameva cha. The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts. The Skanda Purana glorifies the sanctity of the Rath Jatra in the following words- Gundicha mandapam namam yatrahamajanam pura Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat. Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed. Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja in his famous Vaidehisa Vilasa mentions that the Lord comes out from his sanctum for participating in the Gundicha Jatra, another name of the Festival of Chariots, only for redeeming the fallen, the patita jana who get the opportunity to behold their dearest god at close quarters on this occasion. Similarly, saint poet Salabega waxes eloquent in praise of his dearest dark darling and says that the Lord swaying and moving like a wild elephant arrives at the Grand Avenue and rides his chariot and destroys in a flash all the sins of his devotees, even if these may be grave or unpardonable.