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Location: Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India

Hare Krishna! Welcome to the Gopal Jiu Publications blog. This will give you some information about Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami, show you some of the ancient tirthas and places we have been researching and visiting here in India, and give you some news and updates on our festivals, seminars and publishing works. You may also be interested in these other links:

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Puri Ratha-yatra 2006

Harinama with HH Indradyumna Maharaja

This year's Puri Ratha-yatra was an amazing experience. HH Radhanath Swami came with a group of 2,000 devotees, mostly from Chowpatty. On Radhanath Maharaja's invitation a number of sannyasis and senior devotees were present including: HH Indradyumna Swami, HH Sacinandan Swami, HH Devamrita Swami, HH Bhakti Caru Swami, HH Candramauli Swami, HG Jananivas Prabhu, HG Pankajangri Prabhu, and HG Dharmatma Prabhu.

This year was very special for me, as I got to fulfill a long cherished desire to do some parikrama in Puri with HH Indradyumna Maharaja. We went with a small intimate group and Sri Prahlada Prabhu led harinama on our way to all of the places. Amongst the other devotees accompanying us were HG Dharmatma Prabhu, Narottam Das Thakur Prabhu, and Jayatam Sila Prabhu.

We started the parikrama with a visit to the ancient deity of Shyamakali. Shyamakali has been the official deity for the gajapati kings of Orissa for hundreds of years. Over her altar one can see the insignia of the royal family of Puri. Of course Kali is not the istadeva or deity of the heart of the gajapati kings. It is a tradition in India for the kings to worship Kali and take her blessings for their rule. Amongst other things, it encourages the citizens to be respectful to Krishna's devotees the devatas.

After Shyamakali, we went to the Asta-sambhu Mahadeva temple. This is another ancient temple connected with the Puri kings. The siva-lingas here are ones that were captured when the kings defeated opposing kingdoms. The Asta-sambhu temple is a small temple on the campus of the Sri Sri Radha Rasik Raj temple. These are the family deities of Maharaja Prataprarudra and were worshiped even before the time of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Also in this temple are Gaura Nitai deities that were personally installed by Maharaja Prataprarudra.

We next made our way through the small back streets to the Kunja Math where we had darsan of the deities of Sri Sri Radha Rasika Raya that were worshiped by Srila Rasikananda Prabhu. There is a very wonderful story about these deities.

Once Rasikananda Prabhu was on his way to Puri to attend the Ratha-yatra festival. On the way many people stopped him to take his darsan and blessings. Because of this he was late, and missed the pahandi ceremony, when Lord Jagannath comes out of the temple. That year an amazing thing happened; after Lord Jagannath was placed on the cart and everyone started to pull it, they found that they were unable to budge the cart. Just as during the time of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when a similar thing happened, they got wrestlers to try to move the cart, but that didn't work, finally they engaged huge elephants to push the carts. But they still would not move.

That night the king of Puri had a dream. Lord Jagannath came to him and said, "I am waiting for my dear devotee Rasikananda Prabhu to come. You will not be able to move my cart until he arrives." Upon awakening the king immediately sent out messengers searching for the sadhu named Rasikananda. They found him a short distance away from Puri and escorted him to the carts. When Rasikananda Prabhu saw that the carts had not moved and he heard about the king's dream, he began to cry. He offered his prostrate obeisances to Lord Jagannath and then approached the cart. He no more than touched the cart, when it started moving on its own.

The king was highly impressed with the devotion of Rasikananda Prabhu and offered him whatever he would like. Rasik replied, "Maharaja, I am just a humble servant, there is nothing that I require from you. However, if you are willing, I would be very happy if you could give to us the deity known as Bhatta Krishna who resides in the Jagannath Mandir."

The king happily fulfilled Rasikananda Prabhu's request and also presented him with some property behind the Gambhira that had been used to grow flowers for Lord Jagannath's seva. Rasikananda installed Bhatta Krishna along with a deity of Radharani in a small temple there that is today known as the Kunja Math. In recognition of Srila Rasikananda Prabhu's worship the deities there are today known as Sri Sri Radha Rasik Ray.

After the Kunja Math we made our way through the alley behind the Gambhira. On the way we were blessed to meet up with HH Radhanath Maharaja and HH Devamrita Maharaja. After speaking with them for a few minutes we made our way to the temple of Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Chandra the beloved deities of Srila Kanai Khuntia Prabhu the associate of Mahaprabhu. From there we had darsan of Sri Sri Radha Krishna the deities worshiped originally by the wife of Kashi Mishra. There are also wonderful stories about these two last deities, I won’t tell them now, perhaps in some later blog.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the samadhi of Gangamata Goswamini. Now lying in disrepair, this important shrine has nearly been lost. It was only recently revealed to us by one of our panda friends in Puri.

Click here to see photos of the deities and our parikrama

Vaishnava kripa prarthi,
Madhavananda Das


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