Radhanath Swami: I am grateful to be at this holy event celebrating rath yatra in Mumbai and my special gratitude to everyone who had so kindly come tonight. In one particular lecture, Srila Prabhupad repeatedly calls the rath yatra the ‘feelings’ festival. And he explains what he means. It is a festival of the deepest, most profound spiritual feelings. Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu celebrated every year. He not only observed the rituals, but He literally experienced and lived the essence and the history of this event. It’s the day in Jagannath Puri as has been done for thousands and thousands of years, that Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra are carried upon enormous chariots and pulled by hundreds and thousands of pilgrims and devotees from Jagannath temple to Gundicha. The Jagannath temple in this lila represents… Krishna is Dwarakadhish, the Lord of Dwaraka, who was visiting Kurukshetra. And Gundicha represents Vrindavan. It is the day when the gopis and the gopas visit Krishna in Kurukshetra after many, many years of separation and they are begging Him, pleading with Him to come back to Vrindavan. And the mood of the feelings of bringing Him to Vrindavan is the substance of the rath yatra.


Lord Chaitanya’s mood of loving service:

Every year, the day before rath yatra, Lord Chaitanya observed the Gundicha Marjanam, the cleansing of the Gundicha temple. Because… please understand, almost a year has passed since Jagannath has been in Gundicha. And He’s coming. And Lord Chaitanya among His devotees, they took everything so personally. Lord Chaitanya is a sannyasi. He’s not the superintendent of any of the temples, He’s not the president or the commander or a GBC or anything like that. But He’s a bhakta, He’s a devotee and He cares. My Lord Jagannath is coming to Gundicha. Gundicha must be absolutely, spotlessly clean. Otherwise, how can we bring Him here? This is really a wonderful example. As I said, He had no management, He had no authority in that sense. But He had love. We are bringing the Lord here, beyond sectarian, managerial or geographical authority; it’s a matter of love. And how He cleansed the Gundicha temple… He had 3-4 hundred devotees who had come from Bengal plus all the devotees from Orissa. And Lord Chaitanya personally handed each one of them a broom. What a benediction! Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, He is God, He is the husband of the goddess of fortune. Most people, when they approach God, they want a new car or they want a better job or they want to pass their exams for a good education, for a good economy, they want physical health. Well, here is the Lord giving everyone the highest benediction by handing them a broom. And not western brooms with nice handles but the simple brooms that are tied on the top and you have to get on your hands and knees and sweep. How many of you, if after many, many births and deaths, you finally see God. You ask Him for a broom so that you can sweep the floor of the temple. This is the devotees of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They understood the highest wealth; the greatest benediction is service, very simple service. The Lord is saragrahi. He doesn’t see what you do; He sees the feeling and the intent of how and why you do it. King Prataparudra, he understood the Lord’s mood. The next day of rath yatra, the king who is so powerful and wealthy, he came with a broom in his hand to sweep the chariot and sweep the streets for Jagannath and all the devotees to dance nicely. He understood the mood of the Lord. The highest blessing is to serve. King Prataparudra, even when he was sitting on his magnificent golden throne, he was in the exact same mood as he was, when he was sweeping the street – just trying to serve.


Mahaprabhu’s enthusiasm during Gundicha Marjanam:

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave His devotees very serious instructions of how to sweep. He said, ‘now it is your duty to sweep every particle of dust, straw and sand out from this temple because if there is a single grain of sand on the floor, how could we bring Jagannath to be here? Who are we to bring the Lord to a dirty place?’ this is how He’s training. Not only His devotees then, but His devotees for all time to come. And they were all together. There was Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, who is the greatest Brahmin scholar, sweeping. Swarup Damodar Goswami, the most renounced, illustrious sannyasi, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita prabhu – Balaram, Mahavishnu, great avatars. And Lord Chaitanya is telling them, ‘sweep the floor.’ Do you all know who is Mahavishnu? He exhales and all universes come out of His pores, He inhales and the entire cosmic manifestation goes into a dormant state. He is all powerful. But Lord Chaitanya gives this great avatar a broom, ‘sweep’. And there were simple people; simple farmers, along with great, royal people and scholars. You see, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu didn’t see difference in people according to their caste, or their nationality or their race or their anything. He saw that everyone is an eternal soul. Jivera swarupa hoy Krsnera nitya das. And what makes a person high is not a material position, what makes a person high is a pure heart and an unselfish desire to serve the Lord. This is just the beginning of the story. The Lord’s giving everyone brooms and giving everyone, whatever… the uneducated, the scholars, they are all on their hands and knees – sweep, sweep and sweeping. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, radhabhavadyutisuvalitam naumi krishna-svarupam, who is the original Krishna, who has come with the mood of Sri Radha to taste the sweetness of Her love and distribute it to the world, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself, along with all the hundreds and hundreds of devotees was sweeping. There were mothers and fathers and children and grandparents, everyone was sweeping together in great enthusiasm and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is telling them, ‘sweep more, sweep faster, sweep more thoroughly, every single grain must be removed.’ And He set the example. He had all the devotees make one pile. They all swept all whatever they gathered into a pile and He made a separate pile. And His pile was several times bigger than all four hundred people put together. It is said that when the Lord was sweeping, it was like He had hundreds of hands, He was going so fast, He was so enthusiastic. This was His mood, His devotion. ‘The Lord is coming, it’s very personal. We have to make everything perfectly clean.’ And then they took everything out of the temple; devotees were tired. They were sweeping all day. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, ‘Now, do it again. Look for finer particles.’ And they swept and they swept and they swept. And in those days, Prabhupad writes, there were no hoses to wash the temple. You have to take clay pots and walk all the way about a ten minute walk, fifteen minute walk to Indradyumna sarovar and take a pot at a time and fill it up and carry it all the way to the temple to wash the floor and the walls and the ceiling and everything else. This was the Lord’s enthusiasm. He had hundreds of people, with hundreds of pots, just collecting water, water, water, water and they were all brought there and He… it was like lined up, hundreds and hundreds of pots of water. It was really an exciting experience.


The secret of perfect communication skill:

Then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, ‘now’ and all of a sudden, everyone together started throwing the water on the floor and on the walls and on the ceiling, on the altar, in the kitchen, everywhere. Washing and washing and washing. And nobody said a single word except ‘Krishna’. They were so empowered in communication. There are many classes and seminars on communication skills. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught the very essence of communication skill, that, if we share the same goal, which is to please Krishna, then we can have the deepest, most cooperative and most loving communication. The problem with communication is we all have different motivations. Srila Prabhupad gave an example. If there is a pond of water, and you throw a stone, and the stone, it lands in the water. And circles form and expand from the center point where that stone fell. Now if every stone is thrown in that same center place, all the circles will be in harmony with each other. But if you throw many stones in different places, all the circles will expand and collide and the whole water will become very much agitated. So however good our communication skills may be, as long as we all have our own individual selfish motivations, there is bound to be collision. And then communication is not something of the heart, it’s just something for some mental, strategic, managerial purpose. But because every devotee simply wanted to please Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, every devotee was united for the purpose of cleansing the temple for Jagannath and nobody had any selfish motivation, nobody wanted position, nobody wanted prestige, nobody wanted certain types of profits, they just wanted to serve; samsiddhir hari-toshanam, they just wanted to please Lord Jagannath and because of that, nobody said a word except ‘Krishna’ and when anybody said ‘Krishna’, everybody knew exactly what everybody needed and wanted. Because they were one.


The reason for all problems in this world:

Srila Prabhupad explains, that a bhakta doesn’t want to become one with God in becoming God. A devotee wants to become one with God in having no separate interest but the will of God. And when devotees are united in that way, then we all become one. Because we all have one goal. The reason for all the problems in the world, serious problems between human beings is egotistic, selfish desires. It’s the economical problem, it’s the reason for all these ecological disasters, it’s the reason for marriage problems and divorce, it’s the reason for the fighting between brothers and brothers and sisters and sisters, it’s the reason for wars between nations and hatred between religions. It’s not about religion, it’s about ego. That’s all. We all have our own egotistic differences and we want to use our religion, we want to use our nationality, we want to use our race, we want to use our caste to prove our superiority because we are insecure. Because we have no depth or fulfillment within the heart. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to teach what is fulfillment. Fulfillment is love. Love is the will of God. ‘I am here for You, my Lord.’ Na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam va jagadisa kamaye mama janmani janmanishvare bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi. I don’t want wealth, I don’t want the pleasures of the opposite sex, I don’t want fame and prestige and position or followers. I don’t even want liberation from suffering. I just want to serve You, unconditionally Krishna, birth after birth after birth.’ This was their spirit.


Lord Chaitanya’s teaching through this act of Gundicha Marjanam:

Therefore, if somebody needed water, if somebody, say, wanted to show that this needs to be washed or some old person needed help in lifting the bucket, all they had to do is say ‘Krishna, Krishna’ and everybody understood each other. Because they had pure hearts. And they washed and they washed and they washed and they let all the water out and then Lord Chaitanya with His own cloth was shining and polishing every inch of the place and all the other devotees were doing the same. Through this festival, Lord Chaitanya wanted to teach, this is how we individually and collectively should be endeavouring to clean the temple of our hearts. Mama mana mandire raho nishidhi Krishna murari Krishna murari. The heart is a temple. Krishna explains in Gita, Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ‘rjuna tisthati. I am seated in the heart of every living being.’ If Krishna is in our heart, our heart is a temple. If we love God, our first consideration is to make His living place within ourselves a perfectly clean place. We may be very conscious of wearing clean clothes and taking nice baths and even putting on fine perfumes to smell fragrant for others, that’s alright. But what about Krishna, within our heart? It should be a clean, fragrant place for Him. It shouldn’t be dirty with lust, selfish desires, arrogance, anger, greed, illusion, shouldn’t have the stench of all of our selfish hatred toward others, should be a clean, fragrant place. And individually, it is the first and foremost responsibility of a human being according to the Vedas, athato brahma jijnasa, to clean our heart and make Krishna happy within our heart. And the soul, the atma, when the heart is clear, the soul can see God, within ourselves. And when we see God within ourselves, we can see God within every other living being who is… ‘mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah’, every living being is part of God and as the paramatma, God is seated in everyone’s heart. Real love, for everyone, for all people, for all animals and birds and insects and creatures, for all plants, for the earth, everything is being manifested by the grace of God. To be able to recognize that is only possible when we recognize God within ourselves. And all that’s required is we clean our hearts, we clean that temple. And Krishna reveals Himself.


Cleaning our hearts through the chanting of the Lord’s holynames:

This simple festival of cleaning the Gundicha Mandir is in a very, very simple but profoundly scientific, practical way showing the whole world how to achieve the perfection of life and how to bring real peace and love within this world by cleaning our hearts. But you see, there are so many temptations and so many aversions and so many distractions that keep putting pollution within our hearts. We need each other. We need sangam, we need association of people, who are all united in cleaning the temples of the heart. And this is what the society of devotees is supposed to do. Without selfish motivations, we are all here simply to help to clean the temple of our hearts and in the process, clean the temple of this world of lust and envy and anger and greed and pride and illusion. And the sweeping, the sweeping is done through the chanting of the holy names. cetodarpanamarjanam bhava-maha–davagni-nirvapanam. The name of Krishna is all pure. Om apavitrapavitro-va sarva-vastam gato api va yah smaret pundarikaksham sah bhayabhyantara suchih. Whether one is pure or impure, if one remembers Krishna, one becomes purified, because Krishna is pure. When you come in contact with Krishna, you become purified. Nama cintamanih krsnas caitanya-rasa-vigrahah, Krishna is non-different than His name, all of His potencies, His pastimes, His beauty, His quality, His abode – everything is within His name. In one sense we can say, when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave everyone those brooms, He was teaching them a service attitude, a humble service attitude. And when we have that humble service attitude and then we take the water of the holy name very quickly, we can cleanse our hearts and cleanse the world through the chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Then the next day came the rath yatra. The gopis and the gopas of Vrindavan, many years they had not seen Krishna. How they longed to see Krishna! What a feeling festival this is!! Lord Chaitanya was in the emotions of the eternal residents of Vrindavan, Srimati RadhaRani, specifically.


The inconceivable loving exchanges between Krishna and the Vrajvasis:

Devaki and Vasudev, they gave birth to Krishna at midnight in Mathura but that same night, Krishna ordered Vasudev and Devaki, ‘Take Me across the Yamuna to Gokul mahavan and bring Me to the house of Nanda and Yasoda. For about eleven years, Vasudev and Devaki were simply feeling intense separation from Krishna. They loved Him. Not only was He their own child, but they saw the beautiful supreme personality of Godhead, He totally stole their hearts, He stole their lives, He stole everything. And then He went somewhere else. And Vasudev had to bring Him. He had to bring Him and leave Him there and come back and then they were childless living in prison, simply meditating on Krishna. Meanwhile, the residents of Vrindavan enjoyed almost eleven years of enjoying Krishna’s association. But by His yogamaya potency, Lord Krishna covered His supreme majesty so that He can have intimate relationships with His devotees. They had already achieved, they were eternal residents of the spiritual world. They knew Krishna was God but the love they had for Him as a friend or a parent, or a lover was so deep that the cognizance of Him as God was completely covered.

One day, Balaram and the gopas came to Yasodamayi and said, ‘today we saw little baby Gopal, He was at the Brahmanda ghat, at the Yamuna eating dirt.’ Now if Yasodamayi is thinking Krishna is God, the universal form is eating more than dirt. That was no problem. He was eating all the soldiers as time personified. But she is thinking, ‘He is my child.’ Krishna wants her to think like that because He wants to experience the love of a mother which is so deep and so selfless. Prabhupad explains ‘when you think God is your father, you are asking favours for Him. But when you think of God is your child, you are just giving, giving, giving expecting nothing in return.’ What love that is!

‘Gopal, why You ate dirt?’

‘I didn’t eat dirt.’

Now Krishna is the absolute truth. How could the absolute truth tell a lie? Because the highest truth is the ecstasy of the pure love between Him and His devotees. He was facilitating that.

The gopas, ‘No, no! He ate. We saw.’

Yasodamayi said, ‘why will Balaram… He is always on Your side. Why is He complaining against You?’

Krishna said, ‘If you don’t believe Me, look in My mouth and see.’

Yasodamayi said, ‘Open Your mouth. Let me see.’

Now, if He opened His mouth, the fact is there was dirt there. So what did He do? He distracted her, and not only was the dirt, but when she has looked into His mouth, she saw the whole universe. With all the dirt and all the human beings and all the animals and all the mountains and all the oceans and all the devatas and all the planets, all within Krishna’s mouth and It was this big. This is Krishna. For other avatars, if they want to show something gigantic, the mouth has to really go big. For VamanaDev, to cross over the universe in two steps, He grew into Trivikram, very huge size. But Krishna stays the same size and His mouth is this big and all the universes within and you are asking mathematically ‘how does that work?’ No IIT engineer can figure that one out – how to put the whole universe in this size. But this is acintya shakti. This is why He is God. He can do. And He is doing it just to invoke love. Yasodamayi sees that and she is thinking, ‘what am I… my…’, she folded her hands, ‘maybe Krishna is some supernatural being, maybe, maybe what Gargamuni said is true that He is Narayan.’ But then she was thinking, ‘what am I seeing? Maybe… I am dreaming but that can’t be because my eyes are open. Or maybe I am delirious, but… no,no, I am quite normal in my dealings with everyone.’ Then she started thinking, ‘Garga Muni may say He is Narayan but what does he know? I know Krishna. If I don’t feed Krishna, Krishna cries. Krishna needs me and I know Krishna and I know He is my son and He knows I am His mother and that’s all that needs to be known.’ She rationalized by her love, even though she has seen the universal form, that ‘He is still, it is my little helpless child.’ He closed His mouth and He smiled and she completely forgot about that whole universal form. That was a detail. That didn’t matter. What mattered is ‘Krishna is thirsty for my milk and I must feed Him.’ That’s the nature of the residents of Vrindavan.

And the gopas, they are playing with Krishna as a friend, as equals. Even Brahma was amazed. The gopas are eating the food that their mother cooked for them on the bank of the Yamuna in the cowherd fields of Vrindavan and they are saying,

‘Krishna, this tastes so good’ and they take it right out of their mouth and say,

‘Krishna, try it. This is very good.’

And Krishna is smiling and laughing and saying ‘please give me, give me’

and they are all sharing each other’s laddus. And Brahma is watching,

‘how is this possible. The supreme personality of Godhead is eating the remnants of these cowherd boys?!’

Free, spontaneous, intimate, ecstatic love. And the gopis, they sacrificed everything for Krishna. When they left their homes to meet Him when He played the beautiful fifth note of His flute, Krishna was conquered.

‘You gave up everything for Me. You know nothing but Me. Even in entire lifetime of Brahma, I can never repay you.’ This is how Krishna is conquered and indebted by the sweet, intimate love of the Vrajvasis.

And then He was invited to Mathura in order to have the wrestling match. As He was leaving, Akrura was taking Krishna away, the gopis were laying their bodies in front of the chariot, the cowherd boys were standing like statues, unable to move. Yasodamayi was fainting on the ground like a cow that had just lost her calf, weeping and Nanda Maharaj said, ‘I am going with Him and I will bring Him home.’ But Krishna sent Nanda Maharaj back after Kamsa was defeated and said, ‘I will be back in a few days.’ But about a hundred years passed. Devaki and Vasudev are finally reunited with their son but in the process, Yasoda, Nanda, the gopas and the gopis are in deep separation and they wouldn’t go to Mathura. They wouldn’t go to Dwaraka because they understood, ‘Krishna is happiest in Vrindavan. For themselves, they would go anywhere Krishna was. But they knew Krishna is only really happy in Vrindavan so we have to stay here for His sake.’ But He is not coming back. And finally after these long, long years of feelings of separation, Krishna sent Uddhava to try to pacify, but He couldn’t. Finally, He invites them to Kurukshetra. And they all meet Him. And they were so happy, but so unhappy. Because He is the same Krishna. Srimati RadhaRani is praying, ‘You are the same Krishna and I am the same RadhaRani. But I long to bring You back to Vrindavan. Here You are wearing armour as a royal prince. But in Vrindavan, You have a simple garland of wild flowers and the gunja mala and a peacock feather and a little cowherd stick. Here You are surrounded by elephants and chariots and mighty warriors. But in Vrindavan, You are surrounded by beautiful kadamba trees and chirping birds and humming bees and mooing cows and jumping and frolicking little gopa cowherd boys. I long to bring You back to Vrindavan. Because My heart is Vrindavan’. And Krishna’s heart was Vrindavan. They knew they would have to leave Him soon. What is rath yatra… the chariot of their love bringing Him back to Vrindavan. Srila Prabhupad made it very simple. He said the rath yatra is a feeling festival. In feelings of deep separation from Krishna, we are longing to bring Him back into the Vrindavan of our hearts. And the process is to clean our hearts by our humble service attitude, by living a very pure and moral life, by developing a taste to hear the glories and the teachings of the lord and by chanting the holy names. When Srila Prabhupad brought this rath yatra festival to every major city in the world, what is he giving? He is giving the world the opportunity to understand and enter into the deepest, most profound levels of Krishna prema through the easy process of just being grateful for his gift and in that spirit, to be united in chanting Krishna’s holy names. Thank you very much.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.