Snana Yatra

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The most merciful Lord of the universe, patita-pavana Sri Jagannatha-deva, blessed the Purnima tithi in the month of Jyestha by choosing it as the auspicious day of His appearance as daru-brahma, to bestow upon all his causeless mercy. He appeared in this form to accept service form His great devotee Maharaja Indradyumna. 

Maharaja Indradyumna, having heard of an exquisitely beautiful deity of the Lord named Nila-Madhava, became intensely eager to serve that deity. He could not, however, locate the whereabouts of the Lord and was therefore highly distressed. 

In his desperate search for the Deity of the Lord, who had completely stolen his heart, he sent his ministers in all directions to search for the Lord and gave them a time limit of three months to report back to him with their findings. After three months of restless waiting, the king heard that all his ministers bar one had returned. None of them had good news, and the king became disheartened. The one minister who had not returned was Vidyapati, who had headed in the Eastern direction. The king was anxious about Vidyapati but held on to the hope that perhaps Vidyapati had found some clues that would reveal the deity’s whereabouts and for that reason was not yet able to return. He thus decided to wait for Vidyapati. 

Vidyapati, a young brahmana, had all good qualities. In his search, he had reached the eastern sure, where he saw a beautiful village and decided to stay there the night. He was directed to the house of the chief of the village who was a sabara, or from a lower caste. At the same time, he was a very qualified and intelligent personality. His name was Visvavasu. 

When Vidyapati arrived at the house of Visvavasu, he was informed by Visvavasu’s daughter, Lalita, that Visvavasu was not home. Lalita requested Vidyapati to wait outside till her father returned.  Visvavasu finally arrived, a divine fragrance emanating from his limbs. Visvavasu welcomed Vidyapati and invited him to stay for a few days. He instructed his daughter to take good care of Vidyapati and serve him, which she did very expertly. 

In due course of time they developed affection for each other and were married with the approval and blessings of Visvavasu. Vidyapati was always curious about the divine fragrance that permeated the atmosphere when Visvavasu came home. He asked his wife Lalita where her father would go in the morning, to return only in the evening. 

She was hesitant to tell him anything, as she had promised her father she wouldn’t tell anyone, but after some persuasion, she informed her husband that her father would go every day to worship the deity of Nila-Madhava. Hearing the name of Nila-Madhava, Vidyapati felt great joy and requested her to ask her father to take him to have darsana of Nila-Madhava. 

At the next opportune moment, she made this request and her father, though reluctant, agreed, on  the condition that he will blindfold Vidyapati, both going and coming. Vidyapati agreed. 

The next day, they set out, Vidyapati blindfolded. He had taken with him a small bag of mustard seeds, but the bag had a hole that dropped the seeds on the way. In this way, later, Vidyapati would be able to trace their path, as the seeds would, in due course of time, grow into mustard plants. 

Together, Visvavasu and Vidyapati arrived at the cave where Visvavasu used to worship Nila-Madhava. Vidyapati thus received darsana of the most gorgeous Lord and felt great joy at heart. 

After their return to the village, Vidyapati left for the kingdom of Maharaja Indradyumna. He informed him about Nila-Madhava. Upon hearing this news, the king and his party  became ecstatic and followed the mustard plants and very soon arrived at their destination. Too everyone´s great distress, however, the deity had disappeared. This plunged Visvavasu in deep grief, as he was now bereft of his service. A celestial voice proclaimed that everything that had occurred was by the will of the Lord and that soon a special log of wood would float to the shore of the ocean. The voice said that the Lord wants to accept worship from the king, this time in a form made of that wood. 

Soon, three logs of wood were found in the ocean, and the best of architects were called upon to carve the form of the Lord, but as soon as they started to carve, the tools would break. No one was able to carve the form of the Lord, which again put the king in great anxiety. 

One day, the Lord himself came as an old brahmana and said that he would carve the deity but on the condition that for 21 days no one would enter the room. But after 14 days the king entered the room, as he was concerned about the brahmana who had not taken any water or food in two weeks. Also, no sound had been heard coming from the room. But the brahmana was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the incomplete deities of Jagannath, Baladeva, Subhadra and Sudarsana cakra were there. Seeing that the deities had not been completed, he regretted having opened the door and felt deeply aggrieved at heart. He was consoled by a celestial voice proclaiming that the lord wanted to be worshiped in this very form. Therefore, the worship of the Lord started in this way and every year on this auspicious day, the Lord is bathed profusely, to celebrate the appearance day of the Lord. 

Mukunda-datta

This day also marks the auspicious disappearance day of Mukunda-datta, who was an intimate associate of Mahaprabhu and the famous singer Madhu-kantha in krsna-lila. Born in the Cattagrama district, in the village of Chanhara, he was a good friend of Nimai from his very childhood, and Nimai would often debate and argue with Mukunda-datta. After coming back from Gaya, Nimai experienced great ecstatic feelings of love and would listen to Mukunda datta’s melodious singing of krsna-lila. Also it was Mukunda datta who took Gadadhara Pandit to Pundarika Vidyanidhi, from whom Gadadhara Pandit took initiation. At the time of Mahaprabhu’s sannyasa, Mukunda-datta was one of the only few devotees who knew of the Lord’s decision to take the renounced order of life  and made the necessary arrangements to assist Him. 

Once, while in Puri, Mahaprabhu refused to see Mukunda-datta, as he was displeased by Mukunda-datta’s occasional visit to hear from Mayavadi speakers. This made Mukunda-datta greatly distressed and he inquired when the Lord would give him darsana. The Lord replied that only after a million years would he be able to see Him. Hearing this Mukunda-datta began to dance happily, thinking at least in a million years he would be able to see Mahaprabhu again. Hearing about this Mahaprabhu became pleased and called him immediately. Thereafter, Mukunda-datta stopped hearing from any speakers who were not Vaisnavas. We pray to his lotus feet to please bless us with the service to the lotus feet of Sri Gaura Hari. 

Kholaveca Sridhara

The great devotee named Kholaveca Sridhara, who was very dear to Mahaprabhu and is the cowherd Kusumasava in krsna-lila, also left this material world on this auspicious day. Although he was very poor and would earn his living by selling banana cups, he would spend half of his earnings in the service of the Ganges and with the remaining would somehow fulfil his necessities. Once, Mahaprabhu offered to fulfil his desires, but being fully satisfied in krsna-prema, he considered his present facilities to be sufficient and only prayed for service at Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet. The Lord would often joke with him and take fruits, flowers and vegetables from him and would drink water from his broken pot. In this way Nimai would perform many pleasing and joking pastimes with Sridhara. Also just before Nimai took sannyasa, Sridhara presented a squash to mother Saci, and she made a squash sweet rice with it for Mahaprabhu. This preparation was very dear to Him. Although poor, Sridhara was a dear devotee of Mahaprabhu. He showed by his example that it is not material possessions that bind the Lord but rather pure love and devotion. On this glorious day, we humbly pay respectful obeisances to his lotus feet and pray to develop unflinching devotion to the feet of Sacinandana Gaurahari.