Snāna-Yātrā Lecture ISKCON Zürich

Snāna-Yātrā Lecture ISKCON Zürich


Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

The Following Lecture was given by His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja on Tuesday 25 June 2013 at ISKCON Zürich  (On the day of Snana Yatra )

The lecture begins…

This Zürich temple’s main Deities are Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra and Gaura Nitai. So, you can well imagine, like they have a big festival today for Jagannatha’s Snana-yatra. Actually that is why I am a little late today for the class. I had to go downstairs participating in the Snana-yatra or bathing Lord Jagannatha ceremony. Anyway, I am happy to be here with you all. Here that time is seven past four here and after I give this class at five thirty, I have to give another class downstairs which is a kind of a Sunday feast lecture.

Since today is Snana-yatra, I decided to speak on Lord Jagannatha’s Snana-yatra festival. As you all know this Snana-yatra festival means the bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannatha. When Lord Jagannatha appeared it was in Satya-yuga as a result of King Indradyumna’s intense desire to see the Lord. But in Satya-yuga the Lord’s Deity is not manifest. One had to see the Lord in Satya-yuga in the core of his heart. This is how the Lord appears in different ages. In Satya-yuga He appears in the core of the heart through meditation. Krite YadayateVisnu. Meditation is the process and when one achieves…[break]…. In Treta-yuga the Lord appears from the sacrificial fire. When the sacrifice is properly performed then the Lord used to appear and everybody present..[break]… In Dvapara-yuga only the Lord manifest [break] prior to Dvapara-yuga this facility of rendering service to the Lord in the form of the Deity was not possible. And in Kali-yuga one gets some even greater benediction Not only just serving the Lord. [break]

So, what I was actually saying, I will repeat it I was just pointing out how the Deity of the Lord manifests in Dvapara-yuga only. In Treta-yuga and Satya-yuga usually the Deities are no there. So in Satya-yuga there is no Deity of the Lord. One king of Avanti, King Indradyumna, he became very eager to see the Lord, but he was a king and it was impossible for him to go and meditate in the forest. His ministers became very concerned how to fulfill the desire of the king. So a brāhmaṇa appeared there and he announced that the Lord is present on the shore of the saltwater ocean in the mountain called Niladri mountain, in the form of Nila Madhava. Before anyone could ask where the Niladri mountain was, where Nila Madhava was present, that brāhmaṇa disappeared. The king then decided to find out where the Deity of the Nila Madhava was. He sent his brāhmaṇa priests in different directions to search for the Lord. After some time, after a long search all the brāhmaṇas came back. The only person who did not return was the head priest, a young brāhmaṇa called Vidyapati.

So; Vidyapati was searching for the Deity of the Lord. He became very tired and he ended up in a village of the Shabaras. Shabaras are the outcaste, those who are below the varnashrama system. One who is born outside of the varnashrama system. There are various types of people, those who are outside of varnashrama and they are considered to be uncivilized. Their occupations are generally not very dignified. Shabaras, they generally reside by the forest and their main occupation is hunting and collecting things from the forest. Generally a brāhmaṇa would not go to a house of a Shabara. But Vidyapati, becoming very, very tired and hungry, he just approached this Shabara village and he knocked at the door of a house and a girl came out and she mentioned that; that was the house of her father, who was the leader or the king of the Shabaras. His name was Vishavashu. And he is not at home but seeing a brahamana at the door she invited him to come. And she offered him a place to rest and food to eat. And when the Shabara king Vishavashu came back, he saw a brāhmaṇa has become his guest. So; it was a very good fortune for a Shabara and he requested him to stay for some time because he could see that he was very, very tired. And Vidyapati being extremely tired, he decided to stay and accept Vishavashu’s invitation. And while he was staying there Vishavashu developed some attachment to this young brāhmaṇa and he requested him to marry his daughter. So Vidyapati accepted that proposal and he got married to Lalita.

Then Vidyapati noticed that at night Vishavashu used to go out and come back in the morning. He wondered, where does he go at night? So he asked Lalita:”Where does your father go at night?” So Lalita then told him:”My father goes to worship Nila Madhava.” Vidyapati practically jumped with joy getting that news but he did not display his excitement. He requested Lalita, “Can you place ask your father to take me to see Nila-Mahdava?” Lalita then requested her father. Vishavashu became very, very upset when he found out that Lalita told Vidyapati about Nila Madhava. Because according to the Vedic custom a non-brāhmaṇa cannot worship the Deities. That is the scriptural injunction. What to speak of a non-brhamana, he is a Shabara, an outcaste. He is considered to be so fallen and degraded in society, that if anyone even touched a shabara he will go and take a bath. Sometimes if these strict brāhmaṇas even touched the shadow of a shabara, they will go and take a bath. So for him to worship the Lord could be a punishable act actually. That’s why Vishavashu was very secretive about his worshiping Nila Madhava. This is another point, from this anecdote we are actually seeing that worship of the Jagannatha Deity is not in the vaidhi-bhakti but in the raganuga-bhakti. Vaidhi-bhakti means following the rules and regulations. Now there is no consideration of rules and regulations, just love. Raganuga-bhakti is just a spontaneous loving relationship with the Lord, rendering devotional service to the Lord just out of spontaneous love. Let us see, we may try to explain this at the end of this class.

Then Lalita told her father:”Look, he is my husband, how can you hide anything from him?” Vishavashu agreed:”Okay, I will take him but on one condition that I will take him there blindfolded.” Then Lalita told Vidyapati and Vidyapati agreed. He said:”Fine, I will go blindfolded.” And; before leaving Vidyapati asked for some mustard seeds. He took the mustard seeds and tied them up in a piece of cloth. While Vishavashu was taking him, leading him blindfolded through the forest, Vidyapati kept on scattering those mustard seeds on the way. They eventually arrived there and Vishavashu opened the blindfold. Then he saw the beautiful Deity of the Lord, Nila Madhava, the blue form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He then was just spellbound, looking at the Deity. Then Vishavashu told him:”Look, now I am going to go collect the ingredients for the worship, fruits and flowers from the forest. So, you wait until I come back. While Vidyapati was sitting there waiting for Vishavashu to come back, he saw that in the nearby pond a crow just died and fell in the pond. And as that crow’s body touched the water of that pond, the crow developed its four-armed spiritual form and went back to Vaikuntha. So seeing that, Vidyapati saw the potency of this place. Leaving his body while touching the water of that pond, even the crow develops its spiritual form. So he decided to give up his body, plunging himself into the water. But when he was about to do that, he heard a voice saying:”Vidyapati, this is not the time for you to give up your body. King Indradyumna is waiting for you to carry the message of Nila Madhava. So he decided not give up his body. In the mean time Vishavashu came back and as he started to worship, Nila Madhava heard the voice of Vishavashu saying:”Vishavashu, for so many years I have taken your service, now I will take the service of King Indradyumna.” Actually the parabdha, the half a day of Lord Brahma had just completed and that is why Nila Madhava was going to become Jagannatha. So Nila Madhava did not explain all that, He just told him that now He will take the service of King Indradyumna. Hearing that, Vishavashu became very, very upset. He was so attached to the Lord that he became very upset. And he thought that Vidyapati must have convinced the Lord not to take my worship and take the worship of the king. So he immediately attacked Vidyapati, telling him “I would have killed you, but because you are my son in law I will spare your life. But I will tie you up to a tree and let the animals come and eat you up.” He tied him up to a tree. When Vishavashu went home, Lalita was surprised to see that he came home alone. So she asked:”What happened to my husband?” So Vishavashu narrated the entire incidence. Lalita ran to the forest calling out to her husband and finally she found him. She released him from his bondage. Then Vidyapati went to Avanti and reported to the king.

King Indradyumna, upon receiving that news of Nila Madhava, he just came to that place with his army and entourage. In the mean time, those mustard seeds that Vidyapati scattered while he was going to the temple of Nila Madhava, sprouted into the mustard plants. Seeing those plants he could actually track the way to the temple. But unfortunately when they arrived at the temple they found that the Deity was missing. So King Indradyumna thought it must be the Shabara king, Vishavashu who is hiding the Deity, Nila Madhava. So he interrogated, tortured, seized the Shabara village, inflicted various kinds of punishments but still Vishavashu was silent. When he was asked:”Where is the Nila Madhava?” He did not say anything. Then finally one night king Indradyumna had a vision, a dream and the Lord appeared to him and told him:”Why are you unnecessary torturing the Shabaras? I disappeared myself, they are not hiding. And you won’t be able to see Me in this form. But I have already appeared in the ocean, in the form of a transcendental log. So you take that log and carve my Deities and that will be my transcendental form and you worship that form.” So Indradyumna immediately jumped out of his bed and ran to the ocean. And true to that statement he found a log. And he tried to pull that log out of the water but he could not. Then he got his entire army, his entire force, all the animals, horses to pull the log out but still they could not. And then again he got the instruction in a dream:”Let Vidyapati and Vishavashu hold two ends of the log and that is how you will be able to pull it out of the ocean.” So Indradyumna went and requested them and true to that statement, where thousands of elephants and horses could not pick up, these two persons, Vidyapati and Vishavashu very easily lifted that log and brought it to the land. Then King Indradyumna had now the responsibility to get the carver to carve the Deity. And many carvers came but surprisingly, as soon as they tried to work on the log, as soon as they tried to touch the log, their instruments, chisel and hammer, their instruments would immediately be broken to pieces. Nobody could even make a scratch to the log.

Then finally, an old man arrived there and introduced himself to the king as Ananta Maharana. He said:”I am a carver and I have come here to carve the Deity of the Lord.” The king was surprised. Such an old man, all those expert carvers could not even make a scratch on the log and this old man could bearly stand and walk. But he said:”Okay, fine, if you want to give it a try, you can try to carve.” But Ananta Maharana said:”Look, there is a condition. I will work behind closed doors. Until the work is finished, nobody should enter the room. If anybody enters the room before the work is finished, then I will immediately leave the place. The king said:”Fine”. So then Ananta Maharana started to work and from outside the king could hear the work going on. He was very satisfied that finally someone is able to carve the Deity. And then after some time, one day that sound stopped. The king could not hear the work anymore. So he became very surprised and worried, concerned. So out of great anxiety he just opened the door and he found that three incomplete forms are standing there and the carver, Ananta Maharana is not there. And the king thought:”Well, I committed such a grievous crime, I broke the promise. I promised that I would not enter the room until the work was completed. And it is because of me that the Lord’s form, Deities are not completed. He decided to give up his body while fasting. In this way the king just sat down and stopped eating and drinking. Three days went by and on the third night the king heard a voice. The voice said:”King Indradyumna, don’t think that this is my incomplete form. This is My eternal transcendental form, sac-cid-ananda. In this form I am present in Vaikuntha eternally. So just install Me in this form and worship Me. In this way Lord Jagannatha actually appeared. The understanding is that Nila Madhava stays until the end of the first prarabda and then for the second half of Lord Brahma’s day He appears as Lord Jagannatha. So it was at that time. That prarartha actually takes place during SvayambhuvaManu’s period. That is thismanvantara that it happened. So this is how Lord Jagannatha appeared and then a maha-abhisheka was performed. Hundred thirty pots of water were brought to bathe Lord Jagannatha. In some other places it says 108 pots. Lord Jagannatha is bathed with 108 golden pots with water and, that is the standard.

Generally in Jagannatha Puri this celebration take place in the temple. Jagannatha comes out in a jewel studded platform. He is placed outside the temple and the abhisheka takes place there. And at that time Jagannatha gives darshan to everybody. One does not need to go in the temple, Jagannatha comes out. And this alter is so high that even from outside the temple everyone can see it, Jagannatha Swami abhisheka ceremony. This ceremony actually takes place on the Jyestha Purnima, on the agrahayan month. Agrahayan month, in Sanskrit it is called Jyestha. It is the Jyestha, the second month, the summer month, two months of summer. At the end of Jyestha on the full moon day this ceremony takes place. Then for fifteen days Jagannatha actually goes in anavasha. The saying goes that Jagannatha after being bathed in so much water that He catches a cold. Then Jagannatha goes to a sick room. There He does not accept worship, He does not accept any offerings of food, only medicinal broth like soup, fruits and fruit juice for fifteen days. After that He comes out, a Ratha Yatra festival. This is how this ceremony actually takes place. It’s a very beautiful ceremony. In Jagannatha Puri millions of people come.

As I was saying, Jagannatha is very special. In that respect we can consider that Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to give raganuga bhakti. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Jagannatha Puri after taking sannyasa. Because, Lord Jagannatha is the Deity of raganuga bhakti. [break]. There are two types of bhakti: viddhi bhakti and raganuga bhakti. In simple words viddhi bhakti is the devotional service following the rules and regulations of the Vedic scriptures. Raganuga bhakti is the worship out of love. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is more attracted to worship out of love than the scriptural injunctions. Here you see that Lord Jagannatha or Nila Madhava was accepting the worship of the Shabara king, an outcaste, whereas the scriptures say that only the brāhmaṇas can worship the Lord. A non brāhmaṇa cannot worship the Lord. But here a Shabara king worshiped the Lord. [break]…

After Jagannatha appeared His worship was conducted by Vidyapati’s side and Vishavashu’s side, the brāhmaṇa side and the Shabara side. [break].. side is called dvaitas. Dvaitas actuallly means lover. Here Kṛṣṇa  is just concerned about the love of His devotees. And Kṛṣṇa  came as Caitanya Mahaprabhu to distribute that love, love and devotional service, prema-bhakti. And that’s why Jagannatha is so special to the line of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself took shelter of Lord Jagannatha. And then more specifically, when Srila Prabhupada went to the West, the first Deity that appeared was Lord Jagannatha. Lord Jagannatha appeared. And that also, Lord Jagannatha appeared in a miraculous way. Some devotees they went to some curio shop and they found Indian figurines, strange looking figurines. So they thought:”Okay, let’s give it to Swamiji”. And as soon as Prabhupada saw that, Prabhupada offered full obeisances. Everyone was surprised. And then Prabhupada asked:”Are there other forms also like that?” And they said:”Yes, there are two other forms like that.” Prabhupada said:”Go and get them!” So they went and got Baladeva and Subhadra. So this is how Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra appeared in ISKCON. You can see how the Lord through his arrangements… [break]…And then Prabhupada told Shyamasundara Prabhu, who was a carver also, Prabhupada asked him:”Can you carve these Deities also?” And so Shyamasundara Prabhu carved the first Deities in ISKCON, Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra. Those first Deities were installed in San Francisco temple. Temple means a store front, a small little place. That was how Jagannatha appeared in ISKCON. And then Prabhupada started that Ratha Yatra festival in San Francisco. And then gradually Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver. And today Ratha Yatra festival is conducted in more than three hundred cities in the world. So this is how Lord Jagannatha has appeared in the world of ISKCON.

But another consideration is that although Mahaprabhu came to give raganuga bhakti but the point is that Kṛṣṇa  wants to be worshiped following the rules and regulations of the scriptures, vaidhi-bhakti.


païcarätra-vidhià vinä

aikäntiké harer bhaktir

utpätäyaiva kalpate [BRS. 1.2.101]

Even if that devotion is very nice but if it is not following the rules and regulations of the scriptures it will simply create a disturbance. So that is the injunction of the scriptures. So the point is, the Supreme Personality of Godhead must be worshiped following the rules and regulations of the scriptures. Therefore Prabhupada taught us how to worship Lord Jagannatha following the rules and regulations of the scriptures. We must worship Caitanya Mahaprabhu following the rules and regulations of the scriptures. We must worship Lord Jagannatha following the rules and regulations of the scriptures. But that worship will lead to raganuga bhakti. You served Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality Of Godhead, as a devotee following the rules and regulations of the scriptures and that devotion will turn into raganuga bhakti. And raganuga bhakti will enable us to go to Vrindavan. Here also we should be very careful. We should not just jump into raganuga bhakti. When we have served Caitanya Mahaprabhu following vaidhi-bhakti eventually we will see Caitanya Mahaprabhu as Radha-Kṛṣṇa . Because Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Radha-Kṛṣṇa . So when we see Radha-Kṛṣṇa  we are embarking into Vrindavan. So that is the significance of Snana-yatra, that is the significance of Lord Jagannatha worship. And that is how wonderfully Lord Jagannatha appeared in ISKCON. So we are very fortunate that we have somehow been rewarded with this wonderful benediction. And very mercifully also Srila Prabhupada gave me sannyasa on this day in Vrindavan. I told that also that in Vrindavan I was serving Srila Prabhupada. And in Vrindavan it used to be hot and serving Srila Prabhupada meant literally the whole day being engaged. So I decided to observe Nirjala Ekadasi. Nirjala Ekadasi was just three days before, so I observed Nirjala Ekadasi. It was tough, it was the first time. I remember observing Ekadasi, that also in the middle of the summer in Vrindavan. And the day after that I got the news that Prabhupada decided to give me sannyasa. In a way I feel that it was observing Ekadasi that gave me the good fortune of this, that was in 1977; about 36 years ago. In that way today, it is my thirty sixth anniversary of my sannyasa. That is very nice. Does anyone have any questions?

Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa ! All glories to Srila Prabhupada.Gaura premanande! Hari Haribol!


Transcription: Ramananda Raya das, Editing: Hemavati Radhika dasi