Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra
Diary 4-10 July 2005 by Malini Devi Dasi

The police see me and try to usher me away, wishing to 'save' me, and I let go for about five seconds - then decide I'd rather stay here with Prabhu than face the millions by myself, looking for our party which I may not find. So, coming around, I find another space, and manage to get one arm to the rope. The devotee also yells that I should go, but it isn't even so bad! I feel no panic, only exhilaration from the chaos and the thrill from pulling that transcendental rope.

Soon Prabhu lets go, and I follow him towards the left side, with an urgency to reach a safe place. Then we easily spot our banner and join our group. I feel so happy and full of strength! True magic! By the time we reunite I am so adrenalised that roles reverse and I am looking out after other devotees now.

The devotees dance energetically in circles between Jagannath's and Subhadra's cars - and then rest for a while.

age nrtya kare gaura lana bhakta-gana
ratha rakhi' jagannatha karena darasana

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees were dancing in front of the car, and, having stopped the car, Lord Jagannatha watched the dancing.
(Madhya 13.195)

stambha, sveda, pulaka, asru, kampa, vaivarnya
nana-bhave vivasata, garva, harsa, dainya

When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu danced, He displayed various blissful transcendental changes in His body. Sometimes He appeared as though stunned. Sometimes the hairs of His body stood on end. Sometimes He perspired, cried, trembled and changed color, and sometimes He exhibited symptoms of helplessness, pride, exuberance and humility.
(Madhya 13.84)

ratha sthira kaila, age na kare gamana
animisa-netre kare nrtya darasana

The car came to a complete standstill and remained immobile while Lord Jagannatha, with unblinking eyes, watched the dancing of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
(Madhya 13.99)

"sei ta parana-natha painu
yaha lagi' madana-dahane jhuri' genu"

"Now I have gained the Lord of My life, in the absence of whom I was being burned by Cupid and was withering away."
(Madhya 13.113)

Suddenly, just after she says this, our group ushers us forward at great speed. All around people are running but the crowd is not as congested and pressing as it had been, and we move easily and swiftly. I look back towards Jagannath and see that He is gaining on us! We run more and more forward, faster and faster, ands still He is gaining on us! I am completely bewildered! I can't but sing, "Jaya Jagannath', as He is obviously playing such Pastimes there, and I am somehow participating.

rathe cadi' jagannatha karila gamana
dui-parsve dekhi' cale anandita-mana

As Lord Jagannatha rode in His car and saw the beauty on both sides, His mind was filled with pleasure.

'gauda' saba ratha tane kariya ananda
ksane sighra cale ratha, ksane cale manda

The pullers of the car were known as gaudas, and they pulled with great pleasure. However, the car sometimes went very fast and sometimes very slow.

ksane sthira hana rahe, tanileha na cale
isvara-icchaya cale, na cale karo bale

Sometimes the car would stand still and not move, even though it was pulled very vigorously. The chariot therefore moved by the will of the Lord, not by the strength of any ordinary person.
(Madhya 13.26-28)

I even feel a little peckish, and within minutes a coconut appears, freshly broken and entrusted into our hands, "Prasadam!" What can I say? Sweet and easy on the stomach Jagannath Prasadam - perfect!

Kirttan continues incessantly, and I play some karatals enthusiastically on the side as some of our group, led by Sripad Bhakti Prapanna Tirtha Maharaj, dance in circles. I have one eye on them and one eye on glorious Jagannath's beaming face. The light begins to fade from the sky and we move up and up the road at intervals, almost to near the Gundicha.

jagannathe netra diya sabe nace, gaya
kirtaniya saha prabhu pache pache yaya

While dancing and singing, all the devotees in front of Lord Jagannatha kept their eyes on Him. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then went to the end of the procession with the Sankirtana performers.
(Madhya 13.116)

Dancing is resumed as night falls and Jagannath's car comes along.

An amazing phenomenon happens that really knocks it home how obvious it is that Jagannath's car moves at His own sweet will rather than according to the strength of the 'pullers.'

People are constantly frantically tugging on that rope, yet sometimes Lord Jagannath would stop for ages in one spot, completely unmoving. One Didi notes how far ahead Baladev's and Subhadra's cars are by comparison. As the Lord moves, we move forward, and they are indeed far ahead.

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
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