The Significance of Guru Purnima

The Significance of Guru Purnima

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Guru Purnima is the festival of reverence, dedication, and respect towards the Guru (teacher). In the word Guru, ‘gu’ means ignorance and ‘ru’ means person who destroys. The word Guru means the person who destroys the ignorance of the heart. There is a belief that Krishnadvaipayan Vyas was born in Ashada Shukla Purnima in Uttarashada Nakshatra. Hence, Ashadh Shukla Purnima is famous as Guru Purnima or Vyas Purnima. The Ashadh season marks the arrival of the monsoon season. On this occasion, Guru takes the disciple out of darkness with the light of his knowledge.

Importance of Guru

This festival is ideal for the upcoming generations to explain the importance of teachers and educators in life. In ancient times, students used to live in the ashram and get education from their guru and the guru used to give this education for free. History has also been a witness to the fact that the disciples used to take every word of their Guru’s as orders. Everyone considered themselves grateful for going under Guru sharan (shelter).

The Guru were adept in Shaastra (scriptures) and Shastra (using weapons). The knowledge imparted by guru not only replete the disciple with the art of living daily Life but also guides the disciple towards the ultimate goal of this life at the same time.

What does Lord Krishna say in Bhagavad Gita regarding Guru?

According to Srimad-Bhagavatam,

tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta
jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ
brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam (ŚB 11.3.21)

The one who is inquisitive to gain knowledge about the ultimate goal of life needs to take Guru Sharan.

How to take Guru Sharan?

In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna has explained the method of gaining knowledge from Guru by taking his shelter-

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ (Bg. 4.34)

If one wants to gain divine knowledge, he has to follow the principle of tad viddhi pranipatena which means one should try to understand the truth by approaching a spiritual master. The one who is not humble cannot take shelter under anyone. So, it is crucial to take shelter to understand that supreme knowledge by pranipata (by approaching a spiritual master). So, here the question occurs: where will I find such an authoritative person whose shelter I should take. It’s vital to do a little test before taking shelter. Or else, there have been incidents where people have suffered with ill effects because of surrendering to someone out of superstition even in the present.

How to find a Guru?

Never take shelter of the worthless being. Now how will you find whether he is wise or worthless? This is also mentioned in the scriptures. It has been described in the Mundaka Upanishad as follows-

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet srotriyam brahma- nistham (MU 1.2.12)

This śrotriyam means one who is coming in the Guru-Shishya Parampara (disciplic succession). But the question arises what is the proof that he is coming in the disciplic succession? Brahma nistham. Brahma nistham implies that he is completely convinced about the absolute truth. 

What is the method of taking shelter – pranipata? Pranipata means clear, with no doubt. If you find such a person, surrender yourself to him. Only such a person can illuminate the path of our ultimate goal. Serve him, ask questions to him and clear your doubts. Surrendering to Guru means surrendering to God because Guru is the representative of the Supreme Lord. You can question Guru for understanding but not for arguments or debates. This is called pariprasna. And if we do not adopt this process and keep wasting our time only in speculation and meaningless matters, then it will never be possible.

What Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says about the Guru?

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu tells about who is the GuruGuru means yei Krishna tattva -vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya, that is, anyone who knows Krishna is a guru.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), represents one such Brahma-nishtha disciplic succession, which means, an unaltered form of transcendental knowledge passed by a line of spiritual teachers starting from Lord Krishna and in present, it has been passed on to us by Srila Prabhupada through Vyasadeva, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

On this auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima, let all pay honour to our respective teachers.


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Why Lakshmi Got Angry During Jagannath Rath Yatra ?

Why Lakshmi Got Angry During Jagannath Rath Yatra ?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The path to Supreme Lord Krishna’s devotion is filled with joy. And when we lose our way to this delightful and blissful path, then Lord Krishna reappears on the earth from his eternal abode. He always wins our hearts with his Divine Play, like his name ‘Krishna’, which means ‘all attractive’.

He always rules our hearts with his divine qualities. With his causeless mercy, Lord wants us to meditate on his lotus feets rather than this materialistic world. This causeless mercy of Lord Krishna is signified in the form of the marvellous event ‘Lord Jagannath Rathyatra’.

About Jagannath Rath Yatra festival

Jagannath Rath Yatra festival is centuries old and celebrated every year. Jagannath Rath Yatra is devoted to Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Baldev and his sister Devi Subhadra. Rath Yatra is a beautiful pastime of the Lord. A few years back, Jagannath Rathyatra was primarily observed in Odisha, West Bengal, and nearby states with great zeal and devotion.

However, it is celebrated worldwide due to the devotional flame of Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of ISKCON. Going beyond the geographical and cultural boundaries, the Rath Yatra festival signifies the meaning of spiritual love and devotion.

The anecdote behind the appearance of great Lord Jagannath is as pleasant as the context of Rath Yatra. In many temples, during Shobha Yatra, all the Deities are brought out of the temple. But downright, the purpose of Lord Jagannath is always different whenever he comes out of his temple.

Lord Jagannath is so merciful that he comes out of the temple to bless the people, especially those beings who are engrossed in material gratification and cannot pay a visit to the temple for Lord darshan. Lord Jagannath’s compassion for devotees is unmatched.

Story Behind Jagannath Rath Yatra festival

Many years after the departure of Supreme Lord Krishna from Vrindavan, the gopis meet Shri Krishna in Kurukshetra.

Many people from far-flung had gathered in Kurukshetra on the occasion of the solar eclipse. Gopis had an intense yearning for Shri Krishna the moment they met him. But gopis wanted Shri Krishna to spend time with them in the Kunj of Vrindavan rather than Kurukshetra. So gopis built a chariot in their minds, and began pulling it by their love and hands rather than by horses.

Thus, there is fervent love of the gopis in the Rath Yatra. The Rath Yatra signifies Kurukshetra as the starting point and the Vrindavan as the destination.

Significance of Rath Yatra 

It is believed that during Rath Yatra, we help the gopis in their love and labor while pulling the chariot of the Lord. The intensity of devotion in our hearts can also be felt while helping the gopis who are full of devotion. Pulling Shri Jagannath’s chariot affectionately signifies taking him to Vrindavan and inviting him again to our hearts.

On the Dwitiya of the month of Ashadh, Lord Jagannath comes out of his main temple in Puri and travels to the house of his mausi (aunt) Gundicha. Thousands of people assemble on the way for his darshan and pull the chariot.

In Puri, Lord Jagannath is worshipped along with his elder brother Baldev and sister Subhadra. All the three brothers and sisters go there to their respective places with great pomp. The Yatra starts with conch, trumpet, dhol, and drums.

How Pilgrims Recognize Chariots of Lords?

Pilgrims recognize each chariot by seeing the various symbols and signs of the three chariots. Lord Jagannath’s chariot is of red and yellow colour consisting of 16 wheels whose deity is Shri Narsingh. This chariot is known as Nandighosh or Garudadhwaja or Kapiladhwaja.

The chariot of Lord Baldev is of red and green colour in which there are 14 wheels whose deity is Sheshnaag. This chariot is known as Taladhwaja or Langaladhwaja. The Subhadra’s chariot is imprinted with red and black lotus marks whose Goddess is Jayadurga. This chariot is known as Darpadalana or Padmadhwaja or Devadalana.

Spending Time in Gundicha Temple 

According to tradition, the king or the high-grade officer of the kingdom starts the chariot after cleaning the road ahead with humility and honour. All three siblings delight in Gundicha temple just like they do in Kunj of Vrindavan. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the countless servants of the temple.

Goddess Lakshmi Gets Angry  

On the Panchami of Ashadh Shukla Paksha (known as Hera Panchami), Goddess Lakshmi visits Gundicha temple to meet Lord Jagannath. But due to not getting darshan, she breaks a part of the chariot out of anger and comes back to the main temple. The Lord returns on the ninth day of the Rath Yatra, and Goddess Lakshmi meets the Lord with her servants. To appease the goddess, Lord Jagannath presents his garland to her.  

Eventually, Lord Jagannath returns on the day of Dwadashi. Showing her anger, Goddess Lakshmi shuts the door. But she opens the door after Lord accepts his defeat.

First Rath Yatra Held Outside India in 1967

In this way, Puri’s custom Rath Yatra is executed which is meant for bringing people close to Supreme Lord. This Rath Yatra takes out the divine love of the Supreme Lord from the temple and sprinkles it not only in the whole town but in the entire world. It gives us an opportunity to take our devotional love from separation to union.

It’s all because of the deep devotion His Divine Grace Abhay Charanarvinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, founder-acharya of ISKCON, that this festival has become worldwide. ISKCON held the first Ratha-yatra festival abroad in 1967 along the streets of San Francisco and sanctified its soil.

Celebration of Rath Yatra Worldwide

Today, other than India, the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath is taken out in every corner of the world, including London, France, Germany, Boston, and Australia. Due to which many people are moving on the path of devotion to the Supreme Lord. Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra is organized in all the temples of ISKCON with great enthusiasm.

After the Rath Yatra, the mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath is also distributed to the devotees. If they receive it with reverence, the devotees will indeed receive his blessings. Therefore, all of us should be a part of this event and invite the very kind and pious Lord Jagannath into our hearts.

Rath Yatra Procession at Delhi

A special Rath Yatra Festival is organized at ISKCON Delhi every year. A huge procession is carried out on the streets of Delhi amid the roaring kirtan. 

Devotees perform the sacred maha-mantra and dance. Then, thousands of devotees pull the rath of the Lords to get mercy. It is an intriguing sight and a joyful experience.

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Story Behind Panihati Cida Dahi Festival

Story Behind Panihati Cida Dahi Festival

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Panihati Cida Dahi festival

Panihati cida dahi festival, also known as chippad rice festival or Danda Mahotsav (festival of punishment) is celebrated yearly on thirteen days of the full moon in the month of Jyestha (May-June). 

Behind this festival of punishment, there is an intriguing story of Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami and lord Nityanand Prabhu. This story narrates the ecstatic love of God and his benevolence toward his devotees and religious maniac. The votary’s devotion and ecstasy of loving god are transcendental. 

The Godly ‘Raghunath Dasa’

Srila Raghunatha Dasa was born 1495 in Krishnapur near Saptagram. His father was a wealthy opulent Zamindar Govardhan Mazumdar whose family’s affluence and prosperity were equivalent to that of Deva Indra. 

Raghunath Dasa was one of the six Goswamis of Vrindavana who was not interested in the mundane and materialistic world. He always found himself detached from this materialistic world and wanted to abandon all the material pleasure of this world at a very early age. He was looking for a life full of spirituality. 

First meeting of Nityanand Prabhu and Raghunatha dasa

Then the time arrived when Raghunath Dasa ran to meet the lord Nityanand Prabhu for the first time when he came to stay in Santipura after renunciation. 

Raghunath Dasa expressed his desire to leave home and devote his life to the serve lord in front of Nityanand Prabhu but he denied him to do so and said, “Within your heart, you should keep yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man. Thus Krishna will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of Maya. You may see Me at Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri when I return after visiting Vrindavana. By that time you can think of some trick to escape. What kind of means you will have to use at that time will be revealed by Krishna. If one has Krishna’s mercy, no one can check him.” (By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. Madhya-līlā Chapter 16, Text 236-239)

By hearing this, he gave up the idea of renunciation and engaged himself in his routine without any interest. 

The reason calling it ‘Dand Festival’ or ‘Festival of Punishment’

In this way, two years passed, and one day, Raghunath Dasa heard that Nityanand Prabhu had come back again and stayed in a nearby village named Panihati. Raghunath took the permission of his father and went to see him. 

He reached Panihati village and saw that Nityanand Prabhu was sitting on a rock under a Banyan tree which is next to river Ganga and was surrounded by his devotees, many kirtana performers and followers. Raghunath Dasa was surprised to see the magnificence of Nityanand Prabhu.

 He was hesitating to go forward to see him as he thought himself to be unqualified and paid his obeisances from a distance. Some of the devotees noticed Raghunath Dasa and informed Nityanand Prabhu about him. Lord Nityanand called him and said, “You are a thief. Now you have come to see Me. Come here, come here. Today I shall punish you!” (CC Antya 6.47) 

Raghunath Dasa was hesitating to go near the lord. Nityananda Prabhu ordered his servant to catch him and present Raghunath Dasa in front of him. The gracious lord put his lotus feet on the head of Raghunath Dasa and said, “You are just like a thief, for instead of coming near, you stay away at a distant place. Now that I have captured you, I shall punish you”.( CC Antya 6.50) 

“Make a festival and feed all My associates yoghurt and chipped rice.” Hearing this, Raghunath Dasa was immensely pleased by heart. (CC Antya 6.51) 

Arrangements did for the celebration.

Raghunath Dasa instantly sent his men to bring all the ingredients and eatable items and made arrangements for the celebration. Chipped rice, Bananas, Milk, sweet dishes, yoghurt and many more edible items were brought.

As the people heard that a fabulous festival would be celebrated, all the Brahmans and villagers started coming to enjoy this festival. A great number of people arrived from the village itself and also from nearby villages too. Seeing the crowd, Raghunath Dasa ordered more items and large earthen pots to put those items. 

At one place, chipped rice was soaked in hot milk in large earthen pots. Half of the rice was mixed with yoghurt, sugar and bananas, and the remaining half of them got mixed with condensed milk flavoured with camphor and butter. 

 A blissful festival scene

After all this delicious food was ready to eat, lord Nityanand returned wearing new clothes and sat down on a raised platform. Seven Large pots with chipped rice were brought and placed in front of him. On that platform, other prominent associates gathered him with succulent chipped rice. Lord Nityanand honoured other learned scholars, Brahmans and priests and invited them to sit with him on that raised platform. 

Two earthen pots served with two kinds of chipped rice given to all other devotees and associates who were present there. Other devotees sat on the ground around a raised platform surrounding lord Nityanand. When the place became full, and people did not get to sit, they went to the bank of river Ganga with their two pots. When the river bank also got filled, and there was no vacant place to sit and eat, people got down into the Ganga water and began eating their chipped rice. Twenty men were employed to serve food. Such was the scene of the festival celebration. 

Divine pastime of Nityanand Prabhu with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

When chipped rice was served to all, Nityananda Prabhu meditated and brought Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. As Chaitanya Mahaprabhu arrives, lord Nityanand stood up. They were both standing together and watching how the people were enjoying the festival with chipped rice. Then, experiencing transcendental bliss, they both moved around among the devotees. 

Nityanand Prabhu took morsels of chipped rice from each devotee’s pot and fed Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with his own hand. In the same way, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also pushed some morsels of chipped rice in the mouth of Nityananda Prabhu. People could not understand what Nityananda Prabhu was doing because no one could see the Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu. Only some fortunate could see the presence of lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu there. 

Manifestation of Krishna and Balram

Experiencing the pleasure of this scene, a smile came on the face of Nityananda Prabhu. Then he sat down with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and offered him a full pot of chipped rice to eat. They both together were eating the chipped rice as if Krishna and Balram themselves are eating. Then Lord Nityananda Prabhu ordered, “All of you eat, chanting the holy name of Hari.”

Suddenly the whole universe reverberated with ‘Hari Hari’. The remnants left by the lord were distributed among devotees, associates and followers as Prasad. 

In this way, Nityanand Prabhu blessed the Raghunath Dasa and showered his grace upon him. 

Raghunatha Dasa was fortunate that the Lord himself came to eat chipped rice served by him. The leniency and mercy of the lord are enigmatic. Remembering the mercy of Lord Nityanand on Raghunath Dasa, we celebrate this chipped rice festival or festival of punishment every year. Devotees visit the Panihati on this festival, which is today’s West Bengal near Kolkata city. Chipped rice is distributed among visitors and devotees as Prasad on this festival. 

Do visit the Panihati with your family at this coming cida rice festival and enjoy this celebration. Surrender yourself in God’s devotion and experience the pleasure of ecstatic love of God.