The significance of Rath Yatra is as deep as the devotional sentiments associated with the sweet leela (i.e., past time) of Lord Krishna and the Gopis of Braj. Most people are familiar with the Rath Yatra legend as observed in modern-day times across different parts of India and the world populated by the Indian diaspora. Did you know about the first Rath Yatra in the history of mankind? Capture the sweet ras from this exquisitely beautiful Leela that was narrated by Swami Mukundananda!
In the Dwapar Yug, when Shree Krishna left Braj, He rendered the pain of separation upon Radha Rani and the Gopis for a hundred years even though He loved them dearly. While the separation was only external, because the mind of the Gopis was already in Yog or union with God, the divine separation made their pure love even more intense and selfless. One hundred years after the separation, the Gopis of Braj experienced the bliss of divine love for their beloved Shree Krishna!
When there was a solar eclipse, as per the tradition, thousands of devotees gathered at the Brahma Lake near Kurukshetra to bathe in the Kund (i.e., pool). It was believed that bathing in this holy pool accrued as much virtue as conducting an Ashwamegh Yagya. As part of His pastimes, Shree Krishna also went to Brahma Kund with his 16,108 queens as did the other Yadus. Radha Rani and the Gopis also went from Braj to the lake. When they saw Shree Krishna after a span of a hundred years, their joy was boundless! However, they did not experience the same kind of sweet, sublime and divine bliss when they saw His opulent form as the King of Dwarka. So, they requested Him to return to Braj with them so they all could experience the Braj Ras in His loving form as their beloved Shyamsunder! Shree Krishna had a similar experience so He agreed.
The Gopis built a chariot upon which Shree Krishna, Shree Balaram, and Subhadra Devi were seated. The Gopis pulled the chariot all the way from Kurukshetra to Braj. Shree Krishna experienced such divine ecstasy from the selfless love and intense devotion of the Gopis, that He reached the state of Mahabhav Samadhi (i.e., divine ecstatic bliss). His internal state was revealed when His eyes dilated and His body became motionless. Observing His divine ecstatic state, Shree Balaram and Subhadra Devi also went into Mahabhav Samadhi. When the chariot reached Braj, all the Brajwasis (i.e., citizens of Braj) once again experienced the bliss of their beloved Shyamsunder and His divine siblings as the Lord shed His opulent form and assumed the form of a friend, child and beloved!
This was the first Rath Yatra in the Yug history. But how did the Rath Yatra become popular in the modern era?
As beautifully narrated by Swamiji, in His eternal leelas, Shree Krishna is always mesmerized by the depth of Radha Rani’s love for Him and wants to experience it Himself. He also wonders what it is about Him that attracts Radha Rani to Him like a magnet, where every pore on Her skin emanates the Lord’s name. Shree Krishna also marvels at the nature of Radha Rani’s bliss when She engages in His devotion. In order to experience Radha Rani’s deep and intense love, Shree Krishna descended on earth in the avatar of Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, with the highest form of Madanakhya Mahabhav that resides exclusively in Radha Rani’s heart.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to live in Puri (in modern-day Odisha, India), where the tradition of Rath Yatra was already established. Once a year, the deities of Lord Jagannath (i.e., Shree Krishna), Shree Baladev (i.e., Balaram ji), and Subhadra Devi would be seated on separate chariots and the devotees would pull them all the way to the Gundicha Temple. The deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladev ji and Subhadra Devi are presented in the same state of divine ecstasy as they had experienced in Dwapar yuga.
At the Rath Yatra, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to dance with His disciples in deep devotional sentiments, chanting the Lord’s names and glorifying Him. Mahaprabhu ji, in Radha bhav, would perceive Lord Jagannath as “His Krishna” and experience similar divine ecstasy. His love was so intense that the heat emanating from His body melted the stone frame of the temple entrance where He had placed His fingers.
To this day, tens of thousands of devotees of Lord Jagannath, pull the chariot to the Gundicha Temple in Puri to celebrate the occasion of Rath Yatra.
Swamiji has compassionately created an opportunity for people to experience the bliss of Rath Yatra by making the procession accessible to the entire DFW community.
The Rath Yatra at the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas (Allen) is celebrated by having the Divine Vigrahs of Shree Radha-Krishna and Jagadguru Shree Kripalu ji Maharaj on a modern-day chariot!
We invite everyone to participate in the Rath Yatra with Swamiji to experience the bliss of a lifetime! All the festivals at the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas (Allen) are very inclusive. Do join us to chant, sing, and dance to the soul-stirring live kirtans and live music with drums and cymbals. Rejoice in the blissful dance-drama during the procession from the Temple to the city streets. Experience even greater bliss as your eyes savor the vision of Swamiji dancing, singing and filling our hearts with immense joy!
The Rath Yatra is free for all participants even if they did not register for the Spiritual Retreat & Family Camp. Seva opportunities are available for anyone interested in supporting the Temple.
Date & Time: July 8, 2023 (Saturday) from 6:00 to 9:00 PM CDT
Location: Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas, 1450 N Watters Rd, Allen TX 75013
Catch a lovely glimpse of the Rath Yatra at JKyog's Spiritual Retreat & Family Camp 2022.
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