Rath Yatra

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Srimati Lalita devi, the most intimate and dear sakhi of Shrimati Radhika, who instructs and guides Shrimati Radhika in her dealings with Shyamsundar and who engages Rupa manjari and others in the service of the divine couple, appeared in this age of Kali as the very dear and intimate associate of Mahaprabhu, Shri Swaroop Damodar. Growing up in Nawadwip with Nimai Pandit,who was his very life and soul, he was known by the name Sri Purushottam acharya, but when Mahaprabhu performed the pastime of taking Sanyas, Purushottam acharya became like a madman and went to Varanasi, where he took sanyas from a Sanyasi named Chaitanyananda. Due to his not accepting the outwardly dress of a sanyasi, except for giving up his brahman thread and shikha, he was called Swaroop, which is a brahmachari name. Thereafter, following the order of his Guru he went to Shrikshetra Puri dham, where he met Mahaprabhu again and falling at his Lotus feet he begged for forgiveness for having gone away. Thereafter, he stayed in Puri with Mahaprabhu, assisting him in relishing the inner moods of Shrimati Radhika, along with Ray Ramananda, by reciting verses from the Gita Govinda, and verses composed by Chandi das and Vidyapati, in accordance with the mood of Mahaprabhu to highten his transcendental ecstacies. While residing there, any work written by any devotee would first be presented for approval to Sri Swaroop Damodar, who would check the consistency of the writings with the shastras, before it could be presented in front of Mahaprabhu. Being extremely dear to Mahaprabhu, Mahaprabhu placed Raghunath das Goswami, when he was present in puri, under the guidance of Sri Swaroop Damodar. After having served Mahaprabhu in this way and after Mahaprabhu brought to an end his manifest pastimes, Sri Swaroop Damodar Goswami left this world on the auspicious dwitiya tithi of the bright fortnight in the month of Asadh.

This day is also celebrated in Shridham Puri and throughout the entire World as Jagannath Rathayatra. On this day, Lord Jagannath, the master of the entire Universe, along with his elder brother Baladev and Subhadra, are seated on Beautiful Chariots constructed of wood, covered with beautiful canopies and decorated with traditional paintings. The Lords are carried from the temple to the Rath by placing them on numerous pillows as they sway back and forth in their majestic beauty on their way as millions of people from all over the world, gathered to take part and take darshan of the Lords on this day, watch on in utter amazement.Thereafter, the king of Odissa comes and taking the role of the servant of the Lord sweeps the path, and all the devotees join in tugging at the ropes of the Chariot to pull it forward. In this way the Lord starts his procession from the Jagannath temple to Gundica temple, where he will stay for a few days. This festival is symbolic of the pastime of taking Shri Krishna from Dwarka to Vrindavan. After having left Vrindavan and plunging all its inhabitants in an ocean of distress, Sri Krishna first sent Uddhav to pacify them and then later onwards Lord Balaram also went to Vrindavan, and seeing the distressed condition of the Vrajavasis he promised to bring Krishna to Vrindavan. However, for a long time after that also Krishna did not return to Vrindavan to desipate the burning fire of Separation of the Vrajavasis. This festival commamorates the pastime when Krishna finally goes to Vrindavan to meet all his beloved Vrajavasis, and remembering these pastimes Shri Chaitanya MAhaprabhu along with all his associated would sing and dance in ecstacy, and Mahaprabhu would display various transcendental sentiments. May the Lord of the Unniverse, Shri Jagannath dev, bestow his causeless mercy upon us all on this auspicious day.