23 Nov PURI PARIKRAMA PART TWO
Compiled And Sent By Her Grace Chitrangada Devi Dasi
On 23rd November 2010, all of us woke up with only one thing in our mind.. LORD JAGANNATH! . So after mangal arati and the usual morning rituals, the Kuala Lumpur (KL) yatra gathered in front of ISKCON Puri and walked together bare footed, relishing every step that we took which would certainly take us to the abode of our most beloved Lord. My heart was palpitating, there was a sense of excitement and anxiousness….inexplicable joy…A dream coming true by the mercy of my Spiritual Master and Vaisnavas.
We were chaperoned by a senior mataji from Malaysia who was familiar with the Do’s and Dont’s of getting into Sri Mandir. She kept warning us,”Don’t speak English and just speak Tamil and when they ask you where you come from, just say Chennai” My friend immediately turned around and stared at me and said “Chitrangada don’t open your mouth and even speak in Tamil!” We had like a 100 instructions by the time we had first sight of the chakra at the top of the beautiful temple structure. Like I mentioned earlier, I had not even a tinge of fear that we would not be able to go in, not because we were of Indian bodies but I was confident that my Lord is the most munificent, benevolent and Loving God, He will not turn us away….
After sorting out the chappal and mobile phones, we walked towards the Temple entrance. I was the last one at the back. I just wanted to absorb everything, every smell, every sound….I proceeded to wash my legs and headed towards the majestic doors of the Temple. I thought, I am FINALLY here…..Thank you Guru Maharaja! Thank you Jagannath!…and the first drop of tear trickled from the corner of my tainted eyes…The feeling was overwhelming. I am sure many of you can relate to it and have felt this bursting feeling of bliss…sheer bliss. Then I proceeded to walk up and saw Patitapavan Jagannath.
At the entrance, the pandas were busy swinging their short bamboo sticks and hitting devotees on their heads. No one was able to tell me the significance of this particular “activity”. However, contrary to what I expected, the pandas were quite nice to me. One old wrinkled brahmana called me when I walked pass him and instructed me to take darshan of the Lord at the entrance and then rubbed camphor on my closed eyes. He didn’t ask me for any laxmi but smiled a toothless grin. My first omen. My eyes were now anointed by the servant of the Lord, a gate-keeper from Vaikunta and my sense of smell was made more keen with aromatic camphor. I felt blessed. H.H. Purushottam Swami mentioned that every step we take in Puri is equivalent to taking one step in Vaikuntha…so one can only imagine what being at the entrance of these majestic doors felt like….
As the distance became shorter and shorter to walk into the main sanctum, the feelings too became more and more intense. The trickling tears became a swollen river. Lo! and Behold.!…I had the first darshan of my Lord Jagannath….by this time, no words, no thought, nothing was existent…only love…just love for the Lord. Amidst the shoving and pushing, we were all bestowed with the gift of having full darshan of Their Lordships. In a trance and totally oblivious to my shameless tears, I managed to stay putt for 3 seconds. One panda sitting up at the alter, probably feeling some pity for me, stretched his hands to place tulsi in my hands. I realized much later that I didn’t REALLY see Baladev Bagavan or Subhadra Ma . I only remember seeing the Lords beautiful eyes and pointed tip nose and most sweetest smile…..after that everything was done in a daze….
I went through the first half of the day like that…spell bound and hankering to see Them again. I prayed that I could see Them 3 times at least before I leave. I was determined to see Them again. After visiting the surrounding temples which housed many Deities in the compound and honouring the famous Jagannath Prasad, we proceeded to congregate at the Totta Gopinath Temple for registration at 2.00pm. We were welcomed by H.H. Purushottam Swami Maharaja who showered us with so much care and affection and HG Ananga Mohan prabhu, the leader for the International Group. The KL was the largest (30 devotees) in the International group followed by the Goa devotees. I was very happy to see Ananga Mohan prabhu who was also a catalyst for my journey to Jagannath Puri. In Ujjain, during Guru Maharaj’s Vyasa Puja celebrations he spoke so sweetly about Lord Jagannath’s pastimes very mercifully advised me how to prepare myself spiritually for the parikrama. Such is the mercy of the vaisnavas. By taking shelter of the vaisnavas, we are always protected and facilitated by Guru and Krishna.
After Jagannath Temple, the other temple that remains entrenched in the mind and heart is the Totta Gopinath Temple. I still feel the softness of the sand that we sat on, the cool atmosphere provided by the shady trees and the screeching sounds of the monkeys. This is a” must visit” Temple for every devotee. Yes, this is the very place Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu merged into the most worshipful Deity, Gopinatha. One immediately feels the surrealism of this holy place. Mahaprabhu Who is in the mood of Srimati Radharani comes on Purnima with his devotees to have His pastimes here in this very garden.
The pastimes of the Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Gadadar Pandit is so nectarian. Only by the mercy of vaisnavas, we are able to taste this nectar. Many a times I have read these pastimes but when I sat there in the very garden of Lord Gopinath, I could genuinely relish the pastimes, like how Gadadar Pandit cooked spinach and tamarind from this garden to cook a nice subji for the Lord or how Nityananda prabhu would bring the rice and both He and Gadadar pandit would serve the Lord with love in this very same garden. My heart stirred at the narration of these pastimes.
Maharaja explained how Srimati Radharani lamented with pain in her heart that she was not able to experience the joy and mood of being with Krishna like His gopa friends, Sridhama and Sudhama, so due to this intense desire, She manifested as Gadadar Pandit and was always with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and never wanted to leave Him. When Maharaja narrated the intense feeling of separation experienced by Gadadar Pandit when Mahaprabhu left him behind to travel to West Bengal and how Gadadar Pandit cried and begged to go with Him, everyone was moved. It all happened here…at Thotta Gopinath.
I confess that I selfishly envisioned hearing these pastimes from the lotus mouth of my spiritual master. Wouldn’t it be so very very wonderful to hear these sweet pastimes from Guru Maharaja? The scriptures are nectarian in itself but Guru Maharaja has a very sweet and reflective way of narrating these past times that churn the heart….every mood is caught and the refined texture of his speech embellishes the recitation. I pray that one day Lord Jagannath arranges for us to hear His pastimes from our Guru Maharaja in the beatific atmosphere of Ksetradham. It was said that in Ksetradham we see the Lord with our ears.
We were served sumptuous prasadam supervised under the able hands of HG Padmanayan prabhu. The efforts and hard work of these devotees cannot be left unmentioned as even with poor logistics and limited man-power, they still manage to take care of all of us very nicely. After lunch we were invited to attend the Inauguration and Maha-Sagara arati at 5.00pm followed by a cultural programme at the sea front. So that gave us enough time to have an hour’s rest and to hit the beach by 4.30pm to get the best seats…..yes…right in front of the stage. We were informed that H.H. Jayapataka Swami Guru Maharaj was coming to join us that evening. Spirits were high and we were all geared to begin the parikrama with a bang!
It was a wonderful day, moments captured and never to be forgotten. Tomorrow everyone meets at Totta Gopinath’s Garden for greetings, speeches, kirtan and drama followed by breakfast. After breakfast we will begin our parikrama to the various holy sights and temples.
I end Part 2 with the wonders of Jagannath Temple as explained by Ananga Mohan prabhu; (1) The flag on the top indicates the sea side, (2) The Temple was constructed in a way that the main Sri Mandir’s shadow never falls anywhere (3) no birds fly over the top of the Temple (4) The air never stops ventilating in the Temple (5) One can never hear the sound of the waves or sea in the Temple (6) Mahaprasadam never gets contaminated or stale in the Temple (7) Everyday the same amount of bhoga is cooked for the Lord (8) The Temple above the ground is only 10% of the Temple, the remaining 90% is still below and being held up by Sri AnanthaSesa (9) The Lord owns all lands that are visible from the flag top (10)…I forget…..(will check with prabhuji and revert)
Thank you once again for bearing with me and please forgive me if I have made any mistakes in my attempt to please the vaisnavas. I will write about Day 2 and 3 soon. Ie 25th and 26th November. The parikrama ends on the 3rd day with a 19km walk circumambulating Sri Jagannath Puri Dham.
All Glories to Jagannath Baladev & Subhadra.
All Glories to Guru Maharaja
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada who gave us the gift of Jagannath worship.
Chitrangada devi dasi