Every human being is a chariot, and that chariot journeys ever on. From morning to evening, from the first day of life till the last day, this “Ratha Yatra” moves on. But where are we going? Where will the journey end? — that we do not know. Our chariot never ceases, yet we know not where it goes.
Jagannath’s chariot dispels our ignorance, and shows us our real destination. Sri Gauranga revealed our path in a wonderful way, when he appeared in this world and came to Puri. Of Mahaprabhu’s 48 years of lila on earth, he spent the last 24 in Puri Dham.
Sri Gauranga and his companions traveled the chariot’s path together. Their state of mind as they traversed the path is a lesson for us. Accepting everyone as his own companion, Sri Gauranga brings Sri Jagannath Dev and his two shaktis from Kurukshetra to Vrindavan.
Kurukshetra is the land of war, Vrindavan the land of peace. We human beings spend the majority of our lives in Kurukshetra. But we don’t want to stay in this land of war; this place full of constant violence, hatred and revenge. Here there are only uprisings and downfalls, victories that end in losses.
We want to leave this place. Without knowing it, we want to go to the land of love, where there is only love. There is no cruelty there, nor pettiness, pride, or selfishness. There is only a pouring out of oneself; an offering of oneself for the happiness of others.
We have never known such a loving world, but we want to go there. In every way we long to go there. And most assuredly, that land exists. It is called Vrindavan. That perfect land is filled with glorious beauty and adorned with pure sweetness.
The chariot of each of our lives wants to go with Mahaprabhu and his companions, from this Kurukshetra to the land of love, Vrindavan. We want this, but we don’t realize that we want it.
Today, the day of the Ratha Yatra, we need to realize and contemplate this great truth. From Kurukshetra to Vrindavan: this is the day when, meditating on this fact and holding it within our hearts, we must pull the chariot of all our souls by the rope of mercy, to the eternal land of Vrindavan.
Puri’s other name is Sri Kshetra. The word “Sri” means Lakshmi. Sri Kshetra is Lakshmi’s domain. But Vrindavan is Shri Vrindavaneshwari’s land. Radharani’s land. The forest of joy, the woodland of ras. Lakshmi has money and power, but there is no ras in it. Radharani has no money, but she has the forest. And in that forest is “shyamlata” (beauty of love or a tree found only in Braj), abundant bliss, sweetness and beauty. Nowadays, civilization is striving for Lakshmi only in the form of material wealth and power. Because of this, Saraswati is weeping. Radharani has turned her face away, and hidden her divine form in the secret bower.
Today on Ratha Yatra, we will vow to change this situation. Today, we shall not long for wealth or honour, but for heart and soul. We shall trade the battles of violence for the intoxication of love. Today, there will be not the cruelty of anger, but the embrace of affection. Chanting ‘Jai Jagannath! Jai Jagadbandhu!’ with a feeling of harmony and friendship towards all, making all our own, we shall long to merge in the nectar of immortality.”
-Dr. Mahanambrata Brahmachari