Summary: Rathayatra season is now upon us in America. This provides a very special opportunity to meditate again and again, as we participate in each Rathayatra, upon the very deep and profound moods of devotion which this lila of the Lord is exhibiting. Kirtana and dancing with great devotion before the Lord in His deity form is to be done for His pleasure. In fact, the Lord is very much pleased by this form of offering of our devotion to Him, even more so than offerings of the finest of ornaments, clothing, flowers, etc. The divinity of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is indicated in this section of Caitanya caritamrta in a number of ways, particularly in His manifesting 7 simultaneous forms of Himself, one in each of the 7 kirtan parties. This pastime parallels the rasa-lila of Sri Krishna, who simultaneously manifested multiple forms to enjoy dancing with each of the many gopis. Likewise, in both pastimes, those who were within the Lord's dancing lila felt that He was with them alone, not knowing that He was simultaneously manifesting Himself in mutliple forms. Such is the intimacy afforded by the Rathayatra pastimes!
After Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His divinity, He then manifested the utmost perfection of symptoms of love for Krishna, in His mood as the best of His own devotees. His ecstatic symptoms are detailed, which further attracted the mind of Lord Jagannath, like the Lord's dancing had just done. Then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mood abruptly shifted and moved to yet another level of intimacy and intensity. An internal absorption in an intensified Vraja mood of separtion erupted. His dancing in different positions around the cart of Lord Jagannath, in front and behind, signaled to Krishna the mood of Radha's testing Him as to His real feelings for the residents of Vrndavan. "You have neglected us, but have you forgotten us?" The purport to Text 114 explains this dramatic lila very wonderfully. Krishna was controlled, completely stopped in His tracks, by Radha's intense and uncontrolled love for Him.
1) When we see the opulence of gorgeously decorative deity worship, our devotion is naturally stirred in a particular way, appreciating with love welling in our hearts how nicely the Lord is being cared for. In His mood of ecstatic love, how did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu see the opulence of Lord Jagannath on Rathayatra day in a different way?
2) From the passages found here, re-describe in your own words what you understand from the phrase, "Rathayatra is an enactment of Radha's desire to bring Krishna from Kurusetra back to Vrndavan."
[NOTE: on a more basic level of devotion which each of us can enter into is the mood of Rathayatra as an enactment of bringing Krishna back into our hearts, ie from forgetfulness to love. Gundica marjana is the cleansing of our hearts, making our hearts inviting for the Lord to come into and reside there. When Rathayatra comes, you can meditate upon the event as it is taking place in this mood of prayer.]
Reading Assignment a) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 13.98-100 and b) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 112, c) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 113, and d) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 114-119
a) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 13.98-100
Everyone was astonished by the dancing of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and even Lord Jagannatha became extremely happy to see Him. The car came to a complete standstill and remained immobile while Lord Jagannatha, with unblinking eyes, watched the dancing of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The goddess of fortune, Subhadra, and Lord Balarama both felt great happiness and ecstasy within their hearts. Indeed, they were seen smiling at the dancing. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced and jumped high, eight wonderful transformations indicative of divine ecstasy were seen in His body. All these symptoms were visible simultaneously.
b) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 13.112
After Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had performed His devastating dance for some time, His mind entered into a mood of ecstatic love. After abandoning the dancing, the Lord ordered Svarupa Damodara to sing. Understanding His mind, Svarupa Damodara began to sing as follows.
c) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 13.113
TRANSLATION "Now I have gained the Lord of My life, in the absence of whom I was being burned by Cupid and was withering away."
PURPORT This song refers to Srimati Radharani's meeting with Krishna at the holy place of Kurukshetra, where Lord Sri Krishna and His brother and sister came to visit when there was a solar eclipse. It is a song of separation from Krishna. When Radharani met Krishna at Kurukshetra, She remembered His intimate association in Vrindavana, and She thought, "Now I have gained the Lord of My life. In His absence I was being burned by the arrow of Cupid, and thus I was withering away. Now I have My life again."
d) Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 13.114-119
TRANSLATION When this refrain was loudly sung by Svarupa Damodara, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu again began rhythmically dancing in transcendental bliss. The car of Lord Jagannatha began to move slowly while the son of mother Saci went ahead and danced in front. While dancing and singing, all the devotees in front of Lord Jagannatha kept their eyes on Him. Caitanya Mahaprabhu then went to the end of the procession with the sankirtana performers. His eyes and mind fully absorbed in Lord Jagannatha, Caitanya Mahaprabhu began to play the drama of the song with His two arms. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu was dramatically enacting the song, He would sometimes fall behind in the procession. At such times, Lord Jaganntha would come to a standstill. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu again went forward, Lord Jagannatha's car would slowly start again. Thus there was a sort of competition between Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Jagannatha in seeing who would lead, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so strong that He made Lord Jagannatha wait in His car.
PURPORT In his Anubhasya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura describes the ecstasy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as follows. After giving up the company of the gopis in Vrndavana, Sri Krishna, the son of Maharaja Nanda, engaged in His pastimes at Dvaraka. When Krishna went to Kuruksetra with His brother and sister and others from Dvaraka, He again met the inhabitants of Vrndavana. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalita, that is, Krishna Himself assuming the part of Srimati Radharani in order to understand Krishna. Lord Jagannatha-deva is Krishna, and Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Srimati Radharani. Caitanya Mahaprabhu's leading Lord Jagannatha toward the Gundica temple corresponded to Srimati Radharani's leading Krishna toward Vrndavana. Sri Ksetra, Jagannatha Puri, was taken as the kingdom of Dvaraka, the place where Krishna enjoys supreme opulence. But He was being led by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Vrndavana, the simple village where all the inhabitants are filled with ecstatic love for Krishna. Sri Ksetra is a place of aisvarya-lila, just as Vrndavana is the place of madhurya-lila. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's following at the rear of the ratha indicated that Lord Jagannatha, Krishna, was forgetting the inhabitants of Vrndavana. Although Krishna neglected the inhabitants of Vrndavana, He could not forget them. Thus in His opulent Ratha-yatra, He was returning to Vrndavana. In the role of Srimati Radharani, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was examining whether the Lord still remembered the inhabitants of Vrndavana. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu fell behind the Ratha car, Jagannatha-deva, Krishna Himself, understood the mind of Srimati Radharani. Therefore, Jagannatha sometimes fell behind the dancing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to indicate to Srimati Radharani that He had not forgotten. Thus Lord Jagannatha would stop the forward march of the ratha and wait at a standstill. In this way Lord Jagannatha agreed that without the ecstasy of Srimati Radharani He could not feel satisfied. While Jagannatha was thus waiting, Gaurasundara, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in His ecstasy of Srimati Radharani, immediately came forward to Krishna. At such times, Lord Jagannatha would proceed ahead very slowly. These competitive exchanges were all part of the love affair between Krishna and Srimati Radharani. In that competition between Lord Caitanya's ecstasy for Jagannatha and Jagannatha's ecstasy for Srimati Radharani, Caitanya Mahaprabhu emerged successful.