Rathe vaamanam drishtva! It is said, those who welcome the Lord Jagannath by seeing him or greeting him, he becomes free from all sins”
The festival of carts or Ratha Yatra is celebrated every year in Jagannath Puri, Odisha whereby the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna manifests his most merciful form for the degraded people of Kaliyuga. Rath Yatra is the chief attraction festival of Jagannath Puri whereby lakhs of devotees come to celebrate the Lord’s festival and get his blessings. It is celebrated every year in the month of Aashadha, the second day of bright fortnight on pushya nakshatra.
The three presiding deities, Sri Baladeva, Sri Subhadra and Sri Jagannath travel from the premises of Sri Mandir and travel to Gundicha Mandir located a few kilometers away at the sea shore, where the Lord made his appearance in the Satyuga of Swayambhu Manu, the first Manu of Lord Brahma’s day.
By Vedic calculations one can determine when the Jagannatha Temple was first built, when the Temple was inaugurated and when the Deities were installed (on their simhasana). According to the authority of Skanda Purana, this period is fifteen crores and thirty-four lakhs (more than 150 million) years ago. From this it is clear that Ratha-yatra began in the time of Svarochisa Manu, the second Manu from the day of Lord Brahma.
The deities of Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra were installed by Lord Brahma himself, who is a great devotee of Lord Sri Krishna. The Lordships have very strange form and this accounts to a wonderful story about why the lord has these forms.
When Lord Krishna was in Dwaraka, he kept on remembering his cowherd friends and the gopis of Vrindavan who had no other means of survival other than Krishna himself. Once the Lord became too anxious to hear about their well-being and went away with Balaram. Meanwhile, the 16,000 queens of Sri Krishna asked Mother Rohini, the mother of Balaram about the anxiety of Krishna. She told them about the Vrindavan past times of the lord and they all became very eager to hear them. But, Rohini devi was afraid, if Krishna hears these past times, he would run to Vrindavan immediately. So, she locked all the doors and windows and asked Krishna’s sister, Subhadra to stand at the door and don’t allow Krishna and Balaram to enter and she started narrating the incidents. Meanwhile, Krishna and Balaram came and asked Subhadra to allow them to enter. When she refused to do so, Krishna by his mystic power opened one of the windows to hear and as soon as he could hear and remember the past times, all three of them manifested the symptoms of eight fold ecstasy. Their hands shrunk, their eyes widened and legs melted. This is the form of Jagannath, Lord Krishna is feeling separation from his dear devotees. When the story was over, Narada Muni came to see the lord’s form but couldn’t see the same. He asked the lord about this peculiar form, to which Sri Krishna replied that this form is especially meant for people of Kaliyuga whereby they can easily attain the supreme perfection of spiritual life.
Thefestival started to mark the pulling of Krishna’s chariot by the Brajwasis from Kurukshetra to take him back to Vrindavan. They let go the horses and themselves pulled the rope of the chariot. The chariots are made from wood without using any iron nail to join pieces together. Three magnificent chariots are prepared which take the lord from Sri Mandir to Gundicha Mandir, where the deity of the lord was prepared i.e. the place where lord appeared. The lord stays there for about a week and then returns back to the temple again. A day before the Rath yatra, the gundicha temple is thoroughly cleaned and washed, which was initiated by Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. People come in huge numbers, just to pull the carts.
Simply by pulling the carts and dancing before the lord makes the person free from all the sinful reactions and makes them very joyful. Lord, being most merciful personally comes out to see his devotees and the people of the world so as to shower his unprecedented mercy on them.
Here is some of the information about the Rathas of the Lordship
- Sri Jagannath
Name of Ratha: Nandi Ghosh Ratha
No. of wheels: 16
- Sri Baladeva
Name of Ratha: Taal Dhvaja Ratha
No. of wheels: 14
- Sri Subhadra
Name of Ratha: Dev Dalan Ratha
No. of wheels: 12
Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple is a landmark vaishnavite temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Mythology has it that Lord Venkateswara appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. Hence the place has also got the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntham and Lord Venkateshwara is also referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam apart from many other names: Balaji, Govinda, and Srinivasa.
Tirupati Temple lies on the seventh peak of the Tirumala Hills -Venkatadri, on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a holy water tank. Hence the temple is also referred to as “Temple of Seven Hills”.The temple is also known by other names like Tirumala Temple, Tirupati Temple, Tirupati Balaji Temple.
The Temple is constructed in Dravidian architecture and is believed to be constructed over a period of time starting from 300 AD. The Garbagriha (Sanctum Sanctorum) is called Ananda Nilayam. The preciding deity, Venkateswara, is in standing posture and faces east in Garbhgriha. The temple follows Vaikhanasa Agama tradition of worship. The Temple is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras and is listed as 106th and the last earthly Divya Desam.
It is estimated that Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth.Visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually on an average), which on special occasions like the annual Brahmotsavam, shoots up to 500,000 per day, makes it the most-visited holy place in the world.
On the Tirupati Hill there are other notable temples and rocks too including a Hanuman Temple. There is one rock arch believed to be 1500 million years old.
Contributed By: Dr. Amitava Mukharjee
(He is the most renowned world economist on poverty alleviation and empowerment today. He has long association with United Nations for launching their initiatives on fight against hunger and providing micro assistance to most marginalised societies. He is a great scholar and has been teaching in University of London and Stanford University. He has travelled over 130 Countries and written numerous books. Deeply religious he has visited various holy shrines. We bring you glimpses of his travelogue.)
Every time you switch on the news channel, you can see clippings of a theft or a murder that took place somewhere in the world. You might even end up seeing some riots or the news about a girl who fell victim to the atrocities of some sick minded people of our society. What’s your first reaction like? “What can we do? It’s kalyug!”, you’d probably say. Really? You might even add how good it would be to have lived during the satyayug when people lived together in peace and harmony and cared for each other. Let me ask you one thing. Is it fair to blame the time or the age we are living in for the innumerous crimes that take place every day in our society? For us to understand this, we first need to realize what we mean by a yug or an era.
According to the ancient texts and scriptures, Yuga in Hindu philosophy is the name of an epoch or era within a four age cycle. The cycles are said to repeat like the seasons. Each yug involves stages or gradual changes which the earth and the consciousness of mankind goes through as a whole. The cycle starts from the satyayug and goes on till kalyug until starting all over again.
It’s believed that the satyayug also known as the “Era of truth” was a time when mankind was governed by gods. During this age, there was no divide between the rich and the poor as there was no need to work. This is because all that people required was obtained by the power of will. The chief virtue of this era was the abandonment of all worldly desires. As a result there was no hatred or sorrow. The people would follow all the rules and regulations sincerely and conduct their dealings in a just and honest manner. Hence this was known as the “Golden Age”.
As of now, we are believed to be living in kalyug or the age of the vice. This is the last of the four ages described in the Hindu scriptures. Lord Krishna foretold that Kali Yuga will be full of extreme hardships for people with ideals and values. Isn’t it true to our world? We realize that the more a person tries to stay close to his ideals the more miserable the life he has to live whereas people who lie and cheat lead a comfortable life, enjoying all the materialistic pleasures the world has to offer.
Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far away as possible from God. It seems true looking at number of crimes in the society and the sorry state of the society in general. The Mahabharata prophesized some events in the kalyug which bear striking resemblances in today’s world. It said that in the kalyug, rulers will become unreasonable and will no longer protect their subjects becoming a danger to the world. They will no longer see it as their duty to promote spirituality. Moreover, lies, greed and wrath will become common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other. Sins will increase exponentially, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish. People will take vows and break them soon after. Gurus will no longer be respected and their teachings will be insulted.
Sounds familiar? This is exactly what’s happening in our world. I don’t know if you believe in the concept of yugs or not. I don’t know if you believe in spiruality or not. But I do know one thing. You cannot and should not blame the time for the poor state of our society. If you want to see a change in our society make it happen. If you say that it’s not possible for a single person to make a change, its true. But as is evident, every achievement that seems big today began with the dream of a single man. Do your bit and see how it sets off a domino effect. Let’s do our bit to make this world a better place to live in. Your tiny contribution counts too!
Contribution By Mihir Ajgaonkar