Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Jagannatha Puri (Summary by Vijaykrishna dasa)


His Holiness Guru Prasad Maharaj gave a descriptive class on the mood of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with Lord Jagganath. Maharaj started by quoting the Padma-Purana to glorify Jagannath Puri. The text states that it is harder to attain the place of Lord Jagganath (Jagannath Puri) than to attain heaven because the Supreme Personality of Godhead resides there. Furthermore, the city is called Purushottama by those who are expert knowers of names, because they understand that the Supreme Lord resides there. Those who reside in this holy city are seen by the demigods to have four arms like Lord Visnu. Even if the prasadam of that city is touched by someone of the lowest class (in this instance, a person who deals with corpses), it is still considered worthy to be eaten by Brahmanas or higher castes, because the Supreme Lord resides inside that prasad. The cook who prepared that bhoga is considered to be the embodiment of Laxmi Devi, and the enjoyer of such prasad is considered to be Lord Janardhana himself (another name for Krishna). In this way, this prasad is even difficult for the demigods to attain. By honoring such prasadam, liberation is easy to attain and even the demigods, headed by Brahma, get the rare pleasure of accepting such prasad, what to speak of conditioned souls on Earth. This prasad can destroy mountains of sins and can subsequently install devotion into the consumer's heart. If the prasadam of this city is so great, what to speak of the city itself?


Maharaj quoted Chaitanya Caritamrita (Madhya-Lila 13.119) to glorify Jagannath’s Rath Yatra. It is described that Jagannath and Lord Caitanya would lovingly race each other in the Rath Yatra. Lord Jagannath is Krishna himself and Lord Caitanya has mood of Srimati Radharani. Whenever Lord Caitanya would fall behind the Ratha cart, It is stated that out of separation, Jagannath would stop his cart and wait for Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In this way, we can see this as a parallel to the pastime of Krishna leaving the inhabitants of Vrindavana at Kurukshetra when they had come to take Him back to Vraja. 


Jagannath Snana Yatra is a result of Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subadra revealing their special form to king Indradyumna. At first, King Indradyumna did not understand this form of the Lord, but when Krishna explained that this form is the result of the separation between Himself and the inhabitants of Vraja, especially Srimati Radharani, he understood. Maharaj also emphasized how we should thank Srila Prabhupada for bringing Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subadra to our altars. The Snana Yatra is the bathing ceremony of the Lord, but more importantly of Jagannath, who is the embodiment of separation between Krishna and Radharani. After this ceremony, it is stated that the Supreme Lord entered the pastime of becoming ill. Maharaj explained that the remnants of the Lord Vishnu was mainly given to Laxmi Devi, however, Narada got some, who gave some to Shiva who ate all that he got. Parvati Devi, wanting some of the remnants, prayed to the Lord who told her that in the form of Jagannath, she would have her temple near His own and would have the pleasure of receiving his remnants first. It is described that Lord Jagannath fell sick again, this time during Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s stay at Jagannath. When Lord Jagannath was not available for darshan, Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Amarnath to stay in association with the deity there. 


This deity is special because it is Krishna in a four-armed form, and the story behind this deity is also equally special. During the Spring Rath Yatra, oftentimes Krishna would run away from the gopis and the gopis would be running after him (as described in Caitanya Caritamrita). Once during this pastime, Krishna hid behind some bushes, but one of the gopis saw him. Krishna thought that he cannot let the gopis see him, so he changed his form into the four-armed Narayana. The gopis came and asked Narayana if He had seen Krishna, to which Narayana replied no. The gopis promptly left, but Radharani, feeling separation from Krishna, fell behind and asked Narayana if He had seen Krishna. After looking into Radharani’s eyes, Krishna was forced by himself to return to his two-armed form. This is why the deity at Amarnath is so special and can convey a similar mood of separation to Caitanya Mahaprabhu in comparison to the pastime of Jagannath at Kurukshetra. 


Maharaj emphasized the point that one receives special mercy when they serve Jagannath when he states a short story about King Prataparudra. King Pathaparudra used to sweep the place of Lord Jagannath all the time, and seeing this, Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave him the mercy that he would be able to see the Lord dancing in all sankirtan parties at the time of Ratha Yatra. Maharaja also stated that whenever Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu sees Jagannath, he immediately remembers Radharani’s separation from Krishna at Kurukshetra. Like this, Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes with Jagganath run in parallel to those of Krishna and Radharani. It is also described that Krishna and Radharani would not be able to live without each other for more than one day, so how did they stay in separation when Krishna settled in Dwarka. Well, Krishna resided in the heart of Radharani, and thus both were always close to each other in this way. 


King Pataparudra, seeing how Caitanya Mahaprabhu was dancing in so much ecstasy during Ratha Yatra came close to see him, but when our Lord saw the king, he considered his state of ecstasy to be disturbed. Disheartened, the king said that maybe he would not be able to see this sight again. However, he once again tried when he took the clothes of a devotee, not a king. There is a lesson for us to learn here, whenever we approach the Lord with pride, decorating this body with false ornaments then we cannot intimately see the Lord, but when we take the humble mood of a devotee, then the Lord becomes available to us. Here he was able to massage the Lord's feet while reciting the Gopi-Gita.


Maharaj concludes with a point that Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur states why Jagannath Puri is more intimate than Vrindavana. In Vrindavana pastimes, Krishna and Radharani are always together, but Jagannath Puri represents the mood of separation between them, and thus that increases the love they have for each other.


In short, all of the class was so unique in itself, and with Guru Prasad Maharaj’s knowledge and experience of Krishna bhakti, the class could not be complete without even the slightest detail. I tried to summarize the class as best as I could and I hope you enjoyed reading this summary. Thank you Guru Prasad Maharaj for the super detailed class, and we hope to hear from you soon. Jai Radhe! Jai Krishna! Jai Vrindavana! Jai Jai Radha Gopinatha, Madana Mohan!

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