His Holiness Vishnujana Swami, an early disciple of Srila Prabhupada explains all about Lord Jagannatha, the festival Ratha Yatra and Krsna consciousness behind it.
To explain a little bit about our festival today, the philosophical significance is also very, very enchanting. These Deities you see here on the top of the stage are -- Lord Jagannatha, the blackish-colored Deity, Subhadra in the middle, His divine energy, and Baladeva on the far right-hand side, His expansion. These three Deities of Krishna are considered materially as incomplete. They appear to be like incomplete dolls, or dolls that weren't quite fashioned completely and then were painted. And the beauty of these Deities is that thousands of years ago, a King who was a great devotee of Lord Krishna was anxious to have a form of the Lord within his house, and he asked that another great devotee carve the beautiful form of Krishna so that he could engage his material senses in the service of Krishna, even in his home. This is the purpose of Deity worship, to engage our material senses in the service of Krishna. We can cook for the Deity, dance for the Deity, sing for the Deity, in this way the whole house becomes centered around the Deity. So this devotee King asked a great demigod from another planet to carve the form of Krishna, so beautiful that it would enchant his mind. And the demigod from the heavenly planet agreed to carve the form of the Lord, if the King would not interrupt him while he was carving this form. He wanted to meditate in perfect tranquility while he was carving the form of the Lord. But the king was so anxious to see the Deity that was being carved, he broke down the door and the demigod immediately disappeared and left the Deities apparently in an unfinished state. But because from the very conception of the mind of the carver devotion and love was there for Krishna, therefore Krishna had agreed to appear in the form even though it was materially incomplete. So these Deities of Krishna, His sister Subhadra and His divine brother, Balarama, these Deities are actually, completely the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This may be difficult to understand, but just like in the Bible, most of you have read parts of the Bible at least, you know that Moses was experiencing God in the form of a burning bush. So sometimes people blame us, they say, "You Hare Krishna people, you are idol worshipers," but Moses then is a bush worshiper. You see? [laughter] If God wants to appear in a bush, He can, and if He wants to appear in a pillar of fire, a pillar of smoke, or sound, or wood, or stone, or a tree, or your heart, He can do whatever He pleases. So don't try to limit Him, saying that "God can't do this" and "God can't do that" -- He can do whatever He likes.
So Krishna is perfectly present in the form of Lord Jagannatha, perfectly present. And this festival that we had carrying these Deities through the park, originally this festival, some of you that were with us say several years ago, you remember going all the way to the ocean, don't you, some of you that were here. Well, this is the theme of the festival, actually: it's a sea journey with Lord Krishna, and the theme is "bringing Krishna into your heart." That's the theme of this festival.
Now, how to attract Krishna. Krishna has unlimited beauty. Krishna has unlimited knowledge. Krishna has unlimited wealth, unlimited fame, unlimited renunciation. So how to attract someone that has all these opulences? How to attract Him is by love. He is very difficult to attract because He is attracting everything. How to attract the all-attractive? By love, by pure devotion. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita to Arjuna, He says, "Arjuna, I can be understood, as I am standing before you, only by unmotivated devotional love, devotional service." So if we want to capture Krishna, we want to bring Krishna into our heart, you see, then we have to develop unconditional love, unmotivated love for Krishna. That's the theme of this festival. That let everyone come and pull the cart of the Lord and bring the Lord into his heart. This theme has actually been ordered by our Spiritual Master to be executed in over 200 cities a year. He's asking us to take these carts apart and then set them up in some other city, and do the same festival over and over again, until all of America has the opportunity to bring Krishna into their heart.
This festival is very significant. A child can understand it. Externally, it's a very beautiful festival and internally for one who actually pulls the cart, dances and chants and sees the form of the Deity on the cart, he feels himself becoming free from millions of lifetimes of karma. He feels that by clapping and dancing, all the reactions of many lifetimes are washed away from his consciousness, and he can actually experience an emotional desire to love Krishna, to bring Krishna with him everywhere.
This festival was held 5,000 years ago during Lord Krishna's appearance on this planet. Lord Krishna came to a field during a solar eclipse, and during that solar eclipse everyone was bathing in the water for purification, taking advantage of the auspicious moment. And the greatest devotee of Krishna, Her name is Radha. If you look over here on the left-hand side of the stage there are two Deities of the divine couple, Radha and Krishna. This divine couple is the source of all couples in this material world and in the spiritual world. And this greatest devotee of Krishna, Radha, She saw Krishna dressed in His battle array as a king, but She desired to bring Him back to the rural atmosphere, the village atmosphere, the forest atmosphere of intimate love. And therefore Radharani's mood of seeing Krishna dressed in battle array is that She wants to bring Him back to the most intimate pastimes of love of Godhead. The most intimate pastimes are called the pastimes of Vrindavan. If you read this Krishna Book, you'll see a beautiful book display over here, and there's one book called the Krishna Book and it deals with the unlimited, beautiful pastimes of Radha and Krishna, this divine couple, and of Krishna's rural pastimes in the forest of Vrindavan. That Vrindavan is still there in India as a wonderful, holy place. It has over 5,000 temples in it, and our Spiritual Master was living there before coming to this country. The atmosphere of Vrindavan is the most intimate love for Krishna, and actually Vrindavan is being created right here today, because by this chanting, by this dancing, our hearts are actually melting and we're getting the opportunity to develop the most intimate love for Krishna. By Lord Chaitanya's mercy, you saw the two figures of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda, the two brothers chanting and dancing. They began this chanting and dancing 500 years ago, and it's been spreading and predicted to spread all over this universe -- not just this planet, but all over this universe this wave of love for Krishna is actually flowing on. So we're pioneers of Lord Chaitanya's prophecy; everyone here is actually becoming part of His prophecy, and in every town and every village, on every street corner, people will gather together singing and dancing and solving all the problems of life.
So go on like this, singing, dancing together -- whenever you get together in each other's homes, instead of simply gratifying each other's senses, why not sit down together and dance together and meditate on the Absolute. Just imagine if every time we went into a house, our friends gathered together with us and sung the glories of the Absolute. How wonderful our consciousness would become, and how many of the problems of our consciousness and the world would be solved! So this is our warm invitation to all of you, that you join us in developing our consciousness. The Hare Krishna movement has established a beautiful center in Berkeley. They're also establishing a new center here in San Francisco, you'll have to ask the devotees where the new center is going to be. So there'll be two centers of the Hare Krishna movement, and you'll be more than welcome to come and join us in chanting and dancing. If you can't do it at your friend's house, at least come to the temple and do it with us, 'cause we do it every night, every morning, in fact we do it twenty-four hours a day. So you're welcome to come to any of our communities and join us in this blissful process.
Again, for those of you that are actually interested in experiencing what a monk's life is like, there are several of the older disciples of the Krishna Consciousness movement in these buses, and you're welcome to talk to them and ask them questions about what it means to become a monk for a while. Hare Krishna! We'll begin chanting some beautiful songs.
Ratha-Yatra Address, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco -- Summer 1975