Some of you are contemplating to also visit Jagannath Puri. Wonderful!
Here is short glorification of Puri - where the Lord Purusottama (the best of all persons) resides in this form of Jagannatha. It is taken from the Chaitanya Bhagavat:
From afar seeing the Jagannatha-temple flag, the Lord became plunged in an ocean of bliss. The wonderful, indescribable Lord loudly roared. His entire body trembled. He looked and looked in the direction of the temple. As He walked, the Lord recited a verse. In this way Lord Caitanya enjoyed pastimes. Please attentively hear half the verse that came from His graceful mouth. The Lord said: "Standing before the temple, a smiling gopa boy with a lotus-face gazes at Me". The Lord said:
prasadagre nivasati purah smera-vaktraravindo mam alokya smita-suvadano bala-gopala-murtih
"Look! in front of the temple a smiling gopa boy gazes at Me." Again and again repeating this verse, Lord Caitanya became agitated. Even Lord Ananta Sesa with His many tongues cannot describe how Lord Caitanya bitterly wept on that day. The Lord would gaze at the temple`s cakra, recite this verse, and then fall to the ground. In this way He offered dandavat obeisances again and again. The whole time He traveled on the path He manifested pure ecstatic love in this way. Therefore I say He is spiritual love personified descended to this world. Only Lord Caitanya, and no one else, has the power to act as He did. Seeing Him, the pious people on the path said, "He must be Lord Naranyana Himself." Surrounding Him in the four directions, the devotees found their eyes flooded with tears of bliss. Everyone else took an hour and a half to travel that part of the road. vercome with ecstatic love, Lord Caitanya took nine hours to travel it. Coming to the town of Atharanala, Lord Caitanya stopped His ecstasy. Becoming peaceful, the Lord sat down with His companions and humbly said to them, "You have been good friends to Me. You brought Me to see Lord Jagannatha. Will you go ahead to see Him, or should I go ahead. You tell Me." Mukunda answered, "You go ahead," Saying, "Good", Lord Caitanya went ahead. His walking defeating the movements of wild lions, Lord Caitanya quickly entered the city of Jagannatha Puri. Anyone who hears of Lord Caitanya`s entrance into Jagannatha Puri will find himself floating in a stream of ecstatic love.
Lord Chatianya arrives in Puri.
By the Lord`s will, at that moment Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya had also eagerly come to see Lord Jagannatha. At that moment Lord Caitanya, who is the life of all the worlds, gazed at Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, and Lady Subhadra. Gazing at Them, Lord Caitanya loudly roared. He yearned to embrace Them. Agitated with bliss, Lord Caitanya leapt again and again. Tears flowed in the four directions from His eyes. Within a moment He fell to the ground, fainting in ecstasy. Who understands the Lord`s fathomless nature? The foolish guards stood up to beat the Lord. In the commotion Sarvabhauma threw himself across the Lord`s back. In his heart saintly Sarvabhauma thought, "A mere human beeing never has power like that. His roaring and His flooding stream of tears show power beyond what is possible in the material world. I think this person may be Sri Krsna Caitanya." Fortunate Sarvabhauma thought in this way. Stopped by Sarvabhauma, the guards stood back, afraid. Simply by seeing Lord Jagannatha and His dear associates, Lord Caitanya fainted. Into what bliss was the king of Vaikuntha plunged? Even the Vedas
personified find it still difficult to know. In the forms of His catur-vyuha expansions it was Lord Caitanya Himself who happily sat on the altar. The same Lord had now become a worshiper, filled with devotion to the Lord. Who can understand the Lord`s power? Still, Lord Caitanya knows the truth about Himself. All this is exlained in the Vedas and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Lord manifested these pastimes to deliver the conditioned souls. This the Vedas declare. Lord Caitanya has then plunged in the ecstasy a Vaisnava feels. He swam in an ocean of ecstatic love. External consciousness was far away. Sarvabhauma protected the Lord. He did not break the Lord`s ecstatic swoon. Finally Sarvabhauma thought in his heart, "I should bring the Lord to my home." Sarvabhauma said, " Guards! Brothers! Pick up this jewel of men.!" The servants who carry Lord Jagannatha during the Pandu-vijaya ceremony then
picked up Lord Caitanya and carried Him. Who can understand the Lord`s pastimes? In this way the Lord went to Sarvabhauma`s home. As the Lord was carried, jubilant shouts of "Hari! Hari!" filled the four directions.
The Lord`s associates arrive
At that moment the Lord`s associates arrived at the Simha-dvara gate. With joyful hearts they met the Lord. Filled with wonder, everyone gazed at the Lord. They all carried Him, passing Him from one to another, as a line of ants carries a grain of rice. In this way many persons carried the Lord. Everyone was filled with bliss. At the Simha-dvara gate the Lord`s associates bowed down before Him. They happily followed the Lord. In this way everyone carried the Lord to Sarvabhauma`s home. The Lord was carried in, but the doors were closed to everyone else. In this way the Lord`s associates met the Lord again. With a happy heart Sarvabhauma gazed at the Lord`s associates. He spoke properly and politely with them. They sat down. They broke apart all His doubts. Saintly Sarvabhauma became very happy. Who was more fortunate than Him? All the Vedas declare His glories. The Supreme Personality of Godhead spontaneously came to his home. Saintly Sarvabhauma gazed at Lord Nityananda and then humbly touched the dust of His feet. Going with some men Sarvabhauma gave them, the Lord`s associates went to see Lord Jagannatha. The men who were to show them Lord Jagannatha then folded their hands and appealed to the Lord`s associates, "Please be peaceful when you see Lord Jagannatha. Please don`t do what your master did before. We do not know what kind of persons you are. Please be peaceful when you see Lord Jagannatha. Only then will we take you to see Him. Only one of your group came before, and it is fortunate that somehow Lord Jagannatha is still on His throne. Why must we say anything more? You yourselves saw it. Is it possible that any other person could have fallen like that and kept the life within his body? The descriptions we heard were all beyond our
understanding. Therefore please be peaceful when you see Lord Jagannatha. This we beg you." Hearing this, the devotees smiled and said, "Don`t worry." Then they all went. Enetering the temple, the joyful devotees gazed at catur-vyuha Lord Jagannatha. Gazing at Lord Jagannatha, everyone wept. They offered dandavat obeisances, circumambulated, and recited prayers. The brahmana priest took garlands from the Lord`s neck and happily placed them around the devotees` necks. Accepting the Lord`s garlands, with happy hearts they quickly returned to Sarvabhauma`s home.
Meanwhile Lord Caitanya was still unconscious in ecstasy. He did not manifest even a single sesame seed`s worth of external conciousness. Sarvabhauma sat at the Lord`s feet. On the four directions the devotees chanted, "Rama! Krsna!" Lord Caitanya`s nature and pastimes are all inconceivable. For nine hours He did not manifest external consciousness.
Then He who is the life of the worlds became conscious. The devotees called out, "Hari!". Now peaceful, the Lord asked everyone, "What happened to Me today? You saw it. Please tell Me." Finally Nityananda told the Lord, "Simply by seeing Lord Jagannatha, You fell unconscious. By divine arrangement Sarvabhauma was there. He picked You up and brought You to his home. Overcome with ecstasy, You did not manifest external consciousness for nine hours today. This person bowing down before You is Sarvabhauma." Lord Caitanya at once embraced Sarvabhauma. Lord Caitanya said, "Lord Jagannatha is very merciful. He brought Me to Sarvabhauma`s home. In My heart I wondered how I would meet you. Now Lord Krsna has easily fulfilled My desire." Speaking these words, Lord Caitanya glanced at Sarvabhauma and smiled. The Lord said, "Please hear the story of what happened to Me today.
Today I approached Lord Jagannatha and I gazed upon Him. Gazing at Lord Jagannatha, in My heart I yearned to embrace Him, holding Him to My chest. I was about to embrace Lord Jagannatha. After that I do not know what happened. By the Lord`s will Sarvabhauma was there today. He protected Me from a great danger. I vow that from today on I will only gaze at Lord Jagannatha from outside. I will not enter inside. Staying behind the Garuda-stambha, I will gaze at the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I am fortunate that today I did not embrace Lord Jagannatha. A great calamity would have fallen on Me." Then Lord Nityananda said, "You avoided a great
calamity. It is not longer daytime.You should bathe at once." Lord Caitanya said, "Nityananda, You should always protect Me. I place My body in Your care." After spending a few moments bathing, Lord Caitanya, His face smiling with ecstatic love, sat down with everyone. Then Sarvabhauma quickly brought many kinds of maha-prasadam, and placed them all before Lord Caitanya. Bowing down before the maha-prasadam, Lord Caitanya sat down to eat with His associates. The Lord said, "Give Me a big portion of mixed vegetables. Give the laddus and nectar drinks to the others." After speaking these words, Lord Caitanya, now tasting the nectar of ecstatic love, ate the mixed vegetables as all the devotees smiled. Sarvabhauma had been the Lord`s personal associate birth after birth. If that were not so, he could not have attained this good fortune. Then Sarvabhauma brought rice on a golden plate and placed it before the Lord. The Lord ate. In the future Vedavyasa will describe the pastimes of ecstatic love Lord Caitanya enjoyed as He honored prasadam. After enjoying endless bliss in His pastime of honoring prasadam, Lord Caianya sat down, His associates around Him on four sides.
Anyone who hears these descriptions of the Lord enjoying happy pastimes of honoring prasadam in Jagannatha Puri will attain Lord Caitanya`s association. In this chapter of Antya-khanda Lord Caitanya goes to Jagannatha Puri. Anyone who hears these pastimes will swim in a stream of ecstatic love. The two moons Sri Krsna Caitanya and Sri Nityananda are my life and soul. I, Vrndavana dasa, sing the glories of Their feet.
[Excerpts from Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura`s "Sri Caitanya-bhagavata -One complete Volume", Translated by Kusakratha dasa, Adi-khanda, Chapter 2 "Return to Bhuvanesvara, Jagannatha Puri, and Other Places" Verses 405-503.]
Recently the Pandas priests of Lord Jagannatha seemed to improve in their relationship with the ISKCON devotees. Due to caste consciousness they had forbidden devotees who were not born in Indian bodies to enter the temples. H.H. Radhanatha Swami wrote us:
"We had a very wonderful yatra to Sri Puridham. About 2,000 devotees from our congregation and temple attended the Ratha Yatra. We had kirtan at the chariot of Lord Jagannathdeva during the procession. This year the procession went for 2 days by Lord Jagannaths causeless mercy. The first day there was about 800,000 people but our kirtan was overwhelmingly ecstatic without disturbance from the crowds around. The second day it was like an ISKCON Ratha Yatra in Puri. We were the only kirtan party present and the pandas and police gave two of the ropes for pulling the Lord Jagannath’s chariot exclusively to our devotees. The next day in the early morning each of our devotees was brought up to all three chariots for the darshan. The dayitapatis also mercifully pulled me to the top of all three chariots and placed my head at the lotus feet of each Diety.
We had nice kathas and visits to the holy places as well."
A week or so ago, Candramauli Maharaja visited Goloka Dhama and showed us the pictures of the Ratha Yatra which HH Radhanatha Maharaja described. It was unbelievable to witness.
My tip... If you can join the yearly Ratha Yatra in Puri in the association of the devotees from the Radha Gopinatha Temple under the able guidance of H.H. Radhanatha Swami, please use that opportunity.