last updated 9th July 2007

Kazakhstani online petition

Kazakhstani online petition

By Radha Mohan Dasa

Please visit NOW and click the link to the new petition, or go straight to the petition webpage:

Please sign it soon as you can, and please tell as many people as you can about it.

Background: Workers and police arrived on 15th June at the village near Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the embattled Hare Krishna commune is based to demolish twelve more Hare Krishna-owned homes. “The houses were literally crushed into dust. By ten o’clock it was all over,” said ISKCON spokesperson Maksim Varfolomeyev.

The temple, which the devotees have been ordered to destroy, has not been touched but the devotees fear it could be the next target. Human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis is outraged at the continuing destruction. “The authorities are showing that they will do what they want, despite the international outrage at the earlier demolitions of Hare Krishna-owned homes.” He believes the local administration chief “doesn’t care about the political damage to Kazakhstan’s reputation – or to its desire to chair the OSCE.”

ys Radha Mohan das

‘Religious intolerance rising in Kazakhstan’\06\22\story_22-6-2007_pg4_20

ALMATY: Police raids on Hare Krishna followers in Kazakhstan reflect a broader increase in religious intolerance in the Central Asian state, human rights groups said on Thursday.

“Over the past few years we have witnessed rising pressure on religious minorities in Kazakhstan,” Ninel Fokina, head of the Almaty Helsinki Committee, told a news conference. “There are religions in Kazakhstan that have de facto state approval, such as Islam, Russian Orthodoxy, Judaism, Catholicism... But many others are considered non-traditional and there have been efforts to squeeze them out of society.” A Hare Krishna village near the financial capital Almaty has been raided several times since last year and last week police knocked down 12 houses. The group, which follows a form of Hinduism, is accused of acquiring the land illegally. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has criticised Kazakhstan for destroying houses belonging to followers of Hare Krishna, who practice yoga and vegetarianism.

Hare Krishna says its problems started after it bought a 48-hectare piece of land for about $25,000 several years ago. It calculates its value now at $10 million reflecting a rise in land prices due to high oil revenues, and says authorities are using religion as an excuse to take over the asset. “This is barbarity,” said Yevgeny Zhovtis, head of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law. “It’s a big blow to Kazakhstan’s image.” Kazakhstan has said the dispute is purely commercial. “The whole dispute over the land issue ... has nothing to do with religious discrimination, as the Hare Krishna community (has) tried to portray it,” Kairat Abdrakhmanov, the Kazakh deputy foreign minister, told the International Helsinki Federation in a June 15 letter shown to reporters on Thursday. reuters

Read HERE how the original issue began in Kazakstan

Read HERE what the previous articles from November 2006 were

Iskcon Kazakstan




Written by HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami

Dear Maharaj/ Prabujis/ Matajis,

It is my great pleasure to inform all the devotees of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that a great service opportunity has been offered by the temple authorities of Gambhira, in Puri dham, where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spent the final years of His manifested pastimes on this earthly planet. Kasi Mishra's house, also known as Gambhira, and the Radha Kanta math, were both under the care of the Orissa government due to 20 years of litigation. Finally, this litigation problem has been resolved and the management of the institution has been returned to the temple mahanta.

The temple has sustained much damage over the years due to lack of proper maintenance. The whole place is very dirty and the roofs and walls are falling down. The temple roof is also cracking. Additionally, the temple has a lack of proper income for the maintenance of the devotees and for deity puja—and, of course, the more the Gambhira is allowed to deteriorate, the fewer visitors it will have.

At this crucial point, the mahanta of Gambhira has requested ISKCON to extend kind assistence to him in order to protect and maintain this most holy place. Devotees from all over the world come to offer their prayers and obeisances at Gambhira. This is one of the most important places for the followers of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and must be maintained nicely.

Thus, this is a golden opportunity for devotees to render service to this most sacred cause. I request all devotees to kindly donate towards this purpose. There are many things to be fixed at the place. For the time being we have prepared a rough budget, for whatever the most urgent needs are, just to bring the situation up to  survival position. Later on, we will let you know about further opportunities for service in the development of the Gambhira.

For further information contact

Bhakti Purusottama Swami

Phone: ++ 91 9434506434

E mail:

 Caste is not the brahmana


Many great sages have been born of other living entities.

    * Rsyasrnga was born from a deer.
    * Kausika was born from kusa grass
    * Jambuka Rsi was born from a jackal
    * Valmiki was born from an ant hill
    * Gautama was born from the back of a rabbit
    * Apart from these personalities, there are many other wise persons born from other castes who became sages.
          o Vyasadeva was born from a fisherman's daughter
          o Vasistha was born from Ürvasi, and Agastya was born from a pitcher

Therefore caste is not the brahmana.

From Vajra-sücikopanisad, cited in Brahmana o Vaisnava by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.
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The Ratha-Yatra Festival at Jagannatha Puri

By Stephen Knapp (Srinandanandana dasa ACBSP)

Jagannatha Puri, a town of 75,000, is one of the most important pilgrimage centers and one of the four holiest cities in India. These four cities are Badrinatha in the north, Dvaraka in the west, Ramesvaram in the south, and Puri in the east. Badrinarayan in Badrinatha was especially worshiped in Satya-yuga, Rama in Ramesvaram in Treta-yuga, Dvarakanatha in Dvaraka was especially worshiped in Dvapara-yuga, but Lord Jagannatha in Puri can be worshiped by everyone in Kali-yuga. In fact, the importance of Jagannatha Puri, sometimes called Purushottama-Ksetra, is explained in chapters 52 through 57 of the Uttarabhaga section of the Narada Purana. There we find it stated that simply by visiting Puri, which is rarely achieved except for those who have performed many pious acts, and by seeing the Deity of Jagannatha (Krishna), one can easily attain freedom from future births and reach the spiritual abode.

In the middle of this city is the large temple dedicated to Lord Krishna as Jagannatha, meaning "Lord of the Universe." From the Skanda Purana we get information that the original construction of the first Jagannatha temple was in Satya-yuga, millions of years ago. It is related that Lord Jagannatha told Maharaja Indradyumna that He first appeared in the Svayambhuva manvantara of the first part of Satya-yuga, on the full moon day, after being pleased by devotion. This is about 153 million years ago. Then Brahma installed the Deities in the temple. This appearance is celebrated by the Snana Purnima, or Snana-Yatra, which is the public bathing of Lord Jagannatha, His brother Balarama, and His sister Subhadra. The celebrated Ratha-Yatra festival is said to have started in the time of Svarochisha Manu, or the second manvantara period, and is predicted to continue until the end of the second half of Lord Brahma's lifetime. Even in the Ramayana by Valmiki Muni (Uttara Khanda 108.30) it is related that when Lord Rama was getting ready to leave this world he told Vibhishan, Ravana's younger brother, that in His absence he should worship Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Iksvaku dynasty.

The Skanda Purana also fixes the date of the Ratha-Yatra festival, which should be celebrated on the second day of the bright fortnight if the month of Ashadha, a day called Pushyami Nakshatra by astrological calculations. The Padma Purana describes (as related in Sanatana Goswami's Dig Darshini Tika to his Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, 2.1.159) that in Purushottama-kshetra, or Jagannatha Puri, the supremely blissful Personality of Godhead pretends to be made of wood. In this way, although the Lord takes on what appears to be a material form, it is completely spiritual by the causeless mercy of the Lord for the conditioned souls who cannot perceive the transcendental domain.

The main temple building, called Sri Mandir, was built in the 12th century by King Chodaganga Deva, though the site goes back much farther as described above. This is a huge complex where buildings house as many as 5,000 priests and assistants. The whole compound is surrounded by a thick stone wall 20 feet tall that encloses an area 665 feet by 640 feet. The wall has four large gates, one on each side. The additional smaller buildings were added after the 16th century. The main temple, which reaches 215 feet in height, is where we find the six foot tall Deities of Jagannatha, Balarama, and the shorter Subhadra. They stand on a five foot high throne facing the pilgrims as they enter the temple room. Outside the main temple hall are over 100 smaller shrines dedicated to the various demigods. There is an arati ceremony six times a day from 4 AM to 9 PM when devotees come in for darshan of the Deities, in which they sing, chant, or worship the Deities in ecstasy. As many as 50,000 people come to the Jagannatha temple in a day. Unfortunately, foreigners are not allowed into the temple grounds, but you can get a look at the temple from the roof of the Raghunandan Library across the street for a donation.

The temple compound also has a huge kitchen, employing over 650 cooks and helpers who make hundreds of vegetarian preparations for the 54 separate offerings that are given to the Deities every day. After the food is given to the Deities it becomes prasada, or the Lord's mercy. By taking such spiritually powerful food it is said that one becomes more and more spiritually surcharged and free from past karma. Much of the prasada is sold or given to people who depend on the temple. When I had my ricksha driver buy some for me, I got a basket with several clay pots filled with a variety of rice, vegetable, dahl, and sweet preparations. It was absolutely delicious and was enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two days. Taking this prasada at Puri is to partake in a tradition that goes back thousands of years and is considered especially purifying. It is said that only by Krishna's grace does one get the opportunity to receive the remnants of food offered to Him.

The Appearance of Lord Jagannatha

The significance of Jagannatha Puri and the story of how the Deities first appeared goes back many hundreds of years to the time of King Indradyumna, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. It is related that one time in his court the King heard from a devotee about an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, named Nila-madhava. (Nila-madhava is the Deity form of Lord Vishnu.) The King very much wanted to see this form of the Supreme and sent many Brahmanas to search for Nila-madhava. All came back unsuccessful except for Vidyapati, who did not come back at all. He had wandered to a distant town which was populated by a tribe of people known as Shabaras of non-Aryan heritage. He had stayed in the house of Visvasu, and later, at Visvasu's request, married his daughter, Lalita.

After some time Vidyapati noticed that Visvasu would leave the house every night and return at noon the next day. Vidyapati asked his wife about this. Though her father had ordered her not to tell anyone, she told Vidyapati that Visvasu would go in secret to worship Nila-madhava. After repeated requests, Vidyapati finally got permission to go see Nila-madhava, only if he went blindfolded. But Vidyapati's wife had bound some mustard seeds in his cloth so that a trail could be left to follow later. When they reached the shrine, Vidyapati saw the Deity Nila-madhava after the Shabara took off the blindfold, and he felt great ecstasy.

The story continues to relate that while Visvasu was out collecting items for worship, Vidyapati saw a bird fall into the nearby lake and drown. The soul of the bird suddenly took a spiritual form and ascended back to the spiritual world. Vidyapati wanted to do the same and climbed the tree to jump in the lake. Then a voice from the sky declared that before he jumped he should tell Indradyumna that he had found Nila-madhava.

When Visvasu returned to worship the Deity, Nila-madhava spoke and said that He had accepted the simple worship from him for so many days, but now He wanted to accept the opulent worship that would be offered by King Indradyumna. When Vidyapati went back to tell the King, Indradyumna immediately went to find Nila-madhava but could not locate Him. So the King arrested Visvasu, but a voice told him to release the Shabara and that he should build a temple on top of Nila Hill where the King would see the Lord as Daru-brahman, the wooden manifestation of the Absolute.

After great endeavor, King Indradyumna built the temple at Sri Kshetra, now known as Jagannatha Puri, and later prayed to Lord Brahma to consecrate it. However, Lord Brahma said that it was not within his power to consecrate the temple since Sri Kshetra is manifested by the Supreme's own internal potency and is where the Lord manifests Himself. So Brahma simply put a flag on top of the temple and blessed it, saying that anyone who from a distance saw the flag and offered obeisances would easily be liberated from the material world. Nonetheless, after much waiting the King became anxious since Nila-madhava had not manifested Himself. Thinking his life was useless, the King decided he should end his life by fasting. But in a dream the Lord said that He would appear floating in from the sea in His form as Daru-brahman.

The King went to the shore and found a huge piece of wood that had the markings of a conch, disc, club, and lotus. This was Daru-brahman. But try as they might, the men could not budge the wood. In a dream the Lord spoke to the King and instructed him to get Visvasu and put a golden chariot in front of Daru-brahman. After doing this and forming a kirtana party to chant the holy names, and praying for Daru-brahman to mount the chariot, Daru-brahman was easily moved. Lord Brahma performed a sacrifice where the present temple now stands and installed a Deity of Lord Narasimhadeva, the Deity that is now on the western side of the temple.

From the wooden Daru-brahman, the King requested many expert carvers to carve the form of the Deity, but none could do so for their chisels immediately broke when they touched the wood. Finally the architect of the demigods, Visvakarma, (some say the Lord Himself) arrived as an old artist, Ananta Maharana, and promised that he would carve the Deity form of the Lord inside the temple in three weeks if the King would allow him to work behind closed doors. But after 14 days the King became very anxious because he could no longer hear the sounds of the carving. Finally he could stand it no more. On the advice of the queen he personally opened the doors of the temple to see what was happening. Then he saw the forms of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, and Lady Subhadra. But because the King had opened the doors sooner than he was supposed to, the Deities were not completed; Their feet and hands had not yet been carved. Thus, the Supreme manifested Himself in this form.

The King felt he had committed a great offense for having opened the doors before the allotted three weeks had passed, so he decided to end his life. But in a dream Lord Jagannatha told the King that though he had broken his promise, this was just a part of the Supreme's pastimes to display this particular form. The King was told that this form, even though it appeared to be incomplete, was actually the form of the Lord that was meant to be worshiped in this age of Kali-yuga. Occasionally the King could decorate the Deity with golden hands and feet. Yet those devotees filled with love would always see the form of Lord Jagannatha as the threefold bending form of Syamasundara, Krishna, holding a flute. Thus, the Supreme appeared in this form so that people could approach and see Him, especially as He rides through town on the huge carts during the Ratha-Yatra festival.

The Ratha-Yatra Festival

During the Ratha-Yatra festival is the most popular time to go to Jagannatha Puri. This is usually in July when it is very hot. But thousands upon thousands of pilgrims flock to Puri to take part in this auspicious event, which is said to have been celebrated for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest and one of the biggest religious festivals in the world. This is the time when the Deities come out of the temple for all to see. It is also the time when as many as a million people gather in this small city with one purpose: to show their faith and devotion to God in the form of Lord Jagannatha.

As big as this festival is, it can be quite expensive. The only festival in the world that is bigger than this is the Kumbha Mela festival that draws many more millions of people. The Ratha-Yatra festival is financed primarily by the Orissan government with an annual budget of $50,000, which is a very large sum for India. But with the number of pilgrims that come to Puri each year, the temple and surrounding businesses also are benefitted with the extra financial income.

The actual construction of the carts begins two months before the festival day, on the third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha (April-May). More than 600 trees, or 400 cubic meters of wood, are needed for the construction, taken from the local forests along the banks of the Mahanadi River. Using the same simple tools and procedures as they have for the past hundreds of years, once the basic elements are made, such as the wheels, then the actual construction begins only a few weeks before the festival. When I saw the carts a few days prior to the festival, I doubted that they would be finished in time. However, the construction crew works on them night and day, and everything was ready the day before the festival.

In the main road in front of the temple huge stacks of wood are used to assemble the three chariots which will reach up to three storeys tall and will roll on wheels, each eight feet high. The chariots are painted with bright colors and the tops are covered with red, black, yellow, or green canopies. The colors signify which chariot is for which Deity. Lord Jagannatha uses red and yellow, Lord Balarama uses red and green, while Subhadra uses red and black. The Deities are also painted with particular colors that mean something. Jagannatha's blackish color represents faultless qualities; Balarama's white color signifies enlightenment; and Subhadra's yellow color signifies goodness.

Each cart is different. The cart of Lord Jagannatha is called Cakradhvaja or Nandigosha, which means tumultuous and blissful sound. Using 16 wheels, it rises 45 feet tall, and weighs 65 tons. It also carries a figure of Garuda on its crest, and is drawn by four white wooden horses. Balarama's cart is called Taladhvaja, meaning the sound of significantly powerful rhythm. It has 14 wheels, and is drawn by four black wooden horses. It carries Hanuman on its crest. Subhadra's cart is called Padmadhvaja or Darpadalan, which means destroyer of pride. It has a lotus on its crest, uses 12 wheels, and is drawn by four red wooden horses. After the Ratha-Yatra festival the wood from the carts is used as fuel for the big kitchen in the temple, which can last up to nine months.

About two weeks before the festival, the Deities of Jagannatha, Balarama, and Subhadra are given a ritual bath, which is performed on the front main wall of the temple, which allows everyone to observe it from the street below, or one of the surrounding buildings. This is called the Snana-Yatra. After this They play the pastime of getting a cold. They are then taken to a designated area and given special treatments and offerings. They may also be repainted at this time. About every 12 or 19 years the bodies of the Deities are replaced with new ones carved from a ritualistically selected Daru-Brahman in the form of a nima tree. This is known as the Nava-Kalevarna festival. It occurs when there is a leap (additional) month in the Vedic calendar that appears between Snana-Yatra and Ratha-Yatra. This was last performed in 1996, 1977, and 1969. After such an occurrence, the crowd that attends the Ratha-Yatra in Puri expands from the usual 700,000 or so to as many as two-and-a-half million.

As the Ratha-Yatra festival draws near, thousands of pilgrims come to Jagannatha Puri, but as many as a million or more people may be in town on the day of the festival. Some are top officials in the Indian government or other VIPs. Many people begin arriving in front of the temple near the carts on the morning of the festival. At first it is very interesting to wander about looking at the nicely decorated carts and all the pilgrims who have attended. But then the police begin cordoning off the area around the carts. Then there are only certain areas where people can get between the carts and the buildings. This creates bottlenecks which can be very dangerous when too many people are pushing on each other trying to get through. I saw people begin to panic at times because of the pressure on them, and worried mothers had to hold their babies above the crowd to make sure they did not get crushed.

The Ratha-Yatra festival can be both spiritually ecstatic and physically exhausting. Though July is in the monsoon season, if the rains have not arrived yet, it gets very hot. When it is hot, you will be soaked with sweat a few hours after the sun comes up. In fact, from where I was, I saw dozens of Indian people who had collapsed from the heat and had to be carried away from the crowd on stretchers. The heat can take a lot out of you, especially when in a crowd of many thousands. So it is best to have a source of water with you, like a canteen.

A good place to be during the festival, if you do not want to be on the street amongst the people, is on a rooftop. But you have to make reservations and pay for your seats several days in advance. Even then there may not be any guarantee that you will get the seats you want.

I have been at Jagannatha Puri to attend two Ratha-Yatra festivals, once in 1991, and another in 2001. At each one things happened at different times of the day. In 1991 it was around eleven in the morning when the temple priests came out to sanctify the carts. In 2001, everything got started much earlier, and the priests came out before 9 AM. They walk up the gangplanks to the platform on the cart and sprinkle holy water around while circumambulating it three times and chanting specific mantras for purification. Later, the priests bring out the small Deities that will also ride on the cart.

When the big Deities are brought out, first there is Lord Balarama, then Lady Subhadra, and then Lord Jagannatha. Each time excitement suddenly fills the air and many men blow conch shells and bang on drums and cymbals to announce the arrival of the Deities at the main gate of the temple complex. Then the smiling face of Lord Balarama appears through the doorway and the crowd shouts and chants, "Jai Balarama. Baladeva ki jai!" Generally, however, unless you are situated on a tall building, you cannot see the faces of the Deities because there are so many assistants that help move Them. But you can easily see the huge headdress They wear. Once the Deity is on the cart, the headdress is torn off and distributed amongst the people as prasada.

Daityas, strongly built men who lift the Deity, carry Lord Balarama. It is described that they move Him from one large cotton pillow to another, however, I couldn't see any. Lord Balarama is five feet and five inches tall and has an arm span of 12 feet. When carried, there are five men on each arm, with up to 50 men pulling in front and 20 offering support in the back. All of these carriers are Daityas, members of the Dayitapati family who are descendants of Visvavasu. Gradually, taking about a half hour or so, Lord Balarama moves from the temple gate to the chariot and is placed on it so everyone in the crowd can see Him. Then Subhadra, who is less than five feet tall, is also carried from the temple to Her chariot. And finally Lord Jagannatha is brought out. He is five feet and seven inches tall with an arm span of 12 feet, and also needs many assistants to be moved.

In 1991 it was around two o'clock, when the King of Puri arrived in a procession, walked up the planks to the platform and swept the cart with a gold handled broom, and then sprinkles sandalwood scented water on them. He circumambulates the platform three times and is assisted by the priests. He does this to each of the carts. In 2001, however, this took place around 10 AM, and everything that year happened in a much more timely manner.

It should be pointed out here that the way the King sweeps the carts is an example of how the festival has changed over the years. If you read accounts of the Ratha-Yatra festival as described in the Caitanya-caritamrta, there are some major differences in the festival we find today compared to 500 years ago. The King used to sweep the street in front of the carts as they paraded down through the town. The reason he no longer does this is related in a story I was told. It seems that at one time years ago a King of Puri, Purusottama Dev, was to marry a princess who was the daughter of a king, Maharaja Sallwo Narasingha, from the district of Kanchi. When the Ratha-Yatra festival was to take place, the father of the princess was invited, but sent his minister Chinnubhatta Godaranga instead. When he attended, the King of Puri performed the devotional tradition of sweeping the road in front of the carts. The visiting minister, however, rather than being impressed with the devotion of the King for Lord Jagannatha, did not approve of him sweeping the road, even if it was for the Lord. When he reported this to King Sallwo Narasingha, the king objected to the idea of his daughter marrying the King of Puri since he was merely a street sweeper. Purusottama Dev was extremely angry that he, as the servant of Lord Jagannatha, would be insulted for his service like that. So he gathered his troupes and went to Kanchi to teach King Sallwo a lesson. Unfortunately, King Purusottama Dev was badly defeated.

On returning to Puri in such a downcast mood, he stopped at the simple cottage of Saikatacharya, a great ascetic, householder devotee of Lord Jagannatha. This devotee pointed out that the King had forgotten to ask permission from Lord Jagannatha before he went to attack King Sallwo. With this realization, the King returned to Puri and visited the temple of the Lord, crying over his defeat, asking why the Lord had let this happen. He spent the night in the temple, and with doors closed, before the night came to an end, the King heard a voice asking why he was so distraught over such a simple thing. The voice said to go gather his troupes again, and that we two brothers, Jagannatha and Balarama, would go along to fight on the King's behalf. As the news spread, many people, both old and young, joined the King's forces to fight with Their Lordships. However, as they went, the King was filled with some doubts whether Their Lordships were really going with him.

While the King and his army went onward, far ahead were two soldiers that rode on one black horse and one white horse. They stopped to quench Their thirst at a small village near Chilika Lake by buying some yogurt from a devotee named Manika. She offered Them yogurt, but when she asked for payment, they said They had no money. Instead They gave her a jeweled ring and told her to give it to King Purusottama Dev, who would then give her payment.

After some time, the King caught up to the lady, who flagged him down to give him the ring and asked for payment for the soldiers' drink. The king was shocked to see the ratnamudrika ring of Lord Jagannatha and then regained his confidence that, indeed, Their Lordships had certainly come with him. In payment for the ring, the king gave her the whole village, which is still named Manikapatna. After this the king and his troupes were victorious over King Sallwo, and he also took King Sallwo's daughter as well. However, he did not marry her after the insult her father had given him. He instructed his minister to see that she get married to a qualified sweeper. After one year, at the next Ratha-Yatra, the King again performed his sweeping ceremony. At that time, the king's minister announced that the king was the most qualified sweeper, since he swept for Lord Jagannatha, and that the princess, Padmavati, should marry him. Then Maharaja Purusottama Dev married the princess and she later gave birth to a great devotee of Lord Caitanya, who became known as King Prataparudra. Anyway, at some point after this, the King of Puri discontinued sweeping the streets and now sweeps the carts.

The festival parade also used to start in the morning and then stop at noon near the Jagannatha Vallabha Gardens where the Deities would get offerings of food, worship, etc., from the many devotees. There would also be many groups of people singing devotional songs, and though you will still see some people in kirtana groups, there were very few in 1991, while there were several big kirtana parties in 2001, including a large one consisting of the devotees from the Iskcon temple in Mumbai (Bombay).

After the King has swept the carts, they quickly begin to disassemble the gangplanks that lead up to the cart and begin to fasten the wooden horses that point the direction. Many thousands of devotees surround the carts and the people in the front take up the long, thick ropes to pull the chariots down the main road to the Gundicha temple, where the Deities stay for a week. Then the leaders on the carts that ride near the wooden horses direct those who are pulling the ropes to take up the slack. When everything is ready, a whistle is blown by the chariot driver and a hundred people on each of four ropes begin to pull. Then the numerous priests and assistants on the carts that ride along begin to bang on the gongs and cymbals, and suddenly the cart lurches forward and begins to move.

Once the carts get going, you mostly hear the spectators simply shout out, "Jayo, Jai Jagannatha," and raise their hands in the air and watch the cart go by. Many police have to guard the chariot wheels to make sure no one gets too close and is crushed under them. In 1991 it was after five o'clock before Lord Balarama's cart got started and loudly rumbled down the road and soon reached the Gundicha temple. In 2001 it started by about 10:30 AM or so. Subhadra's cart began to move a while later.

Lord Jagannatha's cart did not get started until after six o'clock in 1991, which was quite late, but got started by 11 AM in 2001. However, both times it did not make it to the Gundicha temple until the next day. The people pulled it about two-thirds of the way before it almost ran into some shops on the side of the road. So Lord Jagannatha spent the night wherever the cart had stopped. The following morning the people redirect the cart and continued with the Ratha-Yatra to finish pulling it to the Gundicha temple about two miles down the road from the main temple where the Deities stay for a week before returning to the temple in a similar parade.

Sometimes the chariots mysteriously stop, though everyone is pulling hard. In fact, it is not unusual, as in the case of this festival, that a chariot may stop completely and stay there overnight and then continue the next day. Sometimes if there is difficulty, the local government minister will pray to Lord Jagannatha for forgiveness from whatever offenses the residents of the town may have committed. Then the chariots begin to move again as if they move only by the will of Jagannatha.

The parade is a fascinating event in which to participate and see. But when the chariots get rolling, the crowd gets very intense. You either have to get out of the way to let them by, or struggle, as you get pushed this way and that, to move with the crowd as it goes with the cart. Many people try to pull the ropes and it is not easy, and can be dangerous, to get a place nearby.

The Deities spend the first two nights on the carts outside the Gundicha temple, or wherever else They may be if They do not make it there the first night. During this time, pilgrims can climb up on the carts and see the Deities very closely and even embrace Them. But the priests are quick to charge everyone a certain number of rupees for this opportunity, which makes for a very good business for the priests. When I climbed a cart and was about to give a "donation," as many as five of the attendants grabbed the money at once before I let go of it. And when I did not let go of it right away, they started to get very angry. This was after I had been assured that I could climb the cart to see the Deity of Lady Subhadra and there would be no charge, and I would also be allowed to take a photograph. I indeed was allowed to see Lady Subhadra and even embrace Her, which is a rare event for any pilgrim, what to speak of a Westerner. But after I had given my donation, I took out my camera to take a photograph and a guard immediately came over and objected and ordered me to get down off the cart. So that brought an abrupt end to the episode. Nonetheless, if one can overcome this businesslike atmosphere, it can still be a very devotional and memorable event. And you can also go up on the carts of Lord Jagannatha and Lord Balarama as well, if you can handle the crowds and the many priests who ask for donations, or who want to direct people, sometimes forcefully with the use of sticks. Some people simply stay on the ground and offer prayers and small ghee lamps from a distance. Others climb all three carts to get the personal darshan of all three Deities.

The Deities are then taken inside the Gundicha temple only on the third night. After the Deities' stay at the Gundicha temple, They return a week later to the main temple in a similar parade that is attended by fewer people. This can be a time when you can get much closer to the carts and walk more easily with the parade, providing you have time to stay in Puri for this event. Again, the Deities come out of the Gundicha temple as before and are placed on the carts with much fanfare from the devotees. Then again the King of Puri comes to cleanse the carts, and shortly thereafter the carts are ready to be pulled in a most festive parade back to the main temple. The return trip usually happens all in one day. However, again the Deities stay outside on the carts for two nights, allowing everyone who wants to climb up on the cart for a close darshan. Then on the third night there is the Suna Vesa festival in which the Deities are dressed in gold outfits. Again, the city becomes extremely crowded as people want to see the Deities in the golden ornaments. These include gold crowns, hands and feet, golden peacock feather, gold earrings, different golden necklaces, and ornaments such as a silver conch and gold disk for Lord Jagannatha and golden club and plow for Lord Balarama. These are all solid gold, and all together weigh up to one ton.

No one is allowed on the carts for the gold festival except for the intimate servants of the Deities. The way the crowd works for this festival is that they approach the carts from the main road. The closer to the carts you get, the thicker the crowd becomes. You are then directed by numerous police to walk with the crowd around the front of the carts and then down a side street. The police will also not let you stop along the lanes, but make sure everyone keeps moving. As you walk, you can then look toward the Deities to see Them in Their unique gold ornaments. They look especially powerful dressed as They are like this. Your darshan is only as long as it takes for the crowd to move, and then you must continue on, or come back around again, all of which can take an hour to make it through the crowds. Then as you come back around, the street is divided into two lanes, one for those approaching the carts and the other for those leaving. So you have to continue a ways away before you can begin to come back around. Getting directly in front of each of the carts is the only way you can have a direct line of sight toward the Deity during this event.

After this, the Deities stay on the carts one more day and are then taken into the main temple the following evening, as They were when taken into the Gundich temple. Then the Ratha-Yatra festival is completely finished until next year.

The Internal Meaning of the Ratha-Yatra Festival

The meaning of the Ratha-Yatra parade is steeped in religious sentiment. The form that Lord Krishna takes as Jagannatha is the manifestation of His ecstasy that He feels when He leaves the opulence of His palaces in Dwaraka, represented by the Puri temple, to return to the town of Vrindavan and the simple and pure spontaneous love the residents there have for Him. Thus, there is no difference between Lord Krishna and Lord Jagannatha. So in the mood of separation from His loving devotees, Jagannatha mounts His chariot and returns to Vrindavan, which is symbolically represented by the Gundicha temple. In this way, the esoteric meaning of the Ratha-Yatra parade is that we pull the Lord back into our hearts and rekindle the loving relationship we have with Him. Many great poems and songs, such as Jagannatha-astakam, have been composed describing the event and the highly ecstatic devotional mood one can enter while participating. Many verses are also written in the Caitanya-caritamrita that describe the pastimes Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had during these Ratha-Yatra festivals 500 years ago.

To explain the internal meaning of Ratha-Yatra further, Lord Jagannatha is the embodiment of Lord Krishna's love for Srimate Radharani. While Lord Krishna was living in Dwaraka, he felt great separation from Radharani and the residents of Vrindavana. On the day of one solar eclipse, He traveled to Kuruksetra with His brother Balarama and His sister Subhadra on His chariot. There He met Srimate Radharani and other residents of Vrindavana, all of which wanted to take the Lord back to Vrindavana. While traveling and thinking of this meeting, He entered mahabhava, the highest sentiments of loving exchange. In that state, His eyes dilated like fully bloomed lotuses, and His hands and legs retreated into His body. In this way, the form of Lord Jagannatha is called radha-viraha-vidhura, the separation from Radharani, and also mahabhava-prakasha, the manifestation of mahabhava for Radharani. Lord Caitanya was the embodiment of Srimate Radharani's love for Lord Krishna. So Lord Caitanya taking Lord Jagannatha from the main temple to the Gundicha corresponds to Srimate Radharani's wanting to take Lord Krishna from Dwaraka back to Vrindavana, the place of spontaneous and ecstatic love of God.

It is also explained that by participating in this festival, chanting and dancing, or helping pull the ropes of the chariots, one becomes free of many lifetimes of karma. One can even become liberated due to the spiritual potency of Lord Jagannatha's presence. One of the ways this happens is explained as follows: at the very end of one's life when the memories of his activities pass through the mind, when he remembers the amazing Ratha-Yatra festival his mind stops and focuses on that event. Thus, he dies thinking of Lord Jagannatha and is liberated from material existence and returns to the spiritual world, just like a yogi is transferred to the spiritual strata when his mind is fixed on the Supersoul at the time of death. This is why thousands of pilgrims come to Jagannatha Puri every year for Ratha-Yatra.

Other Places of Spiritual Importance in Jagannatha Puri

While in Jagannatha Puri, there are many other places of interest that pilgrims come to see, so I will describe a few of these. About a quarter mile from the Jagannatha temple, walking toward the beach, is Siddha Bakula. This is where, 500 years ago, the great saint Haridas Thakur used to live and chant the Hare Krishna mantra 300,000 times a day and where Sri Caitanya would visit him. Since Haridas could not enter the Jagannatha Temple, being of a Muslim family, Lord Caitanya took the stick He had used as His toothbrush and stuck it in the ground. It immediately grew into a beautiful shade tree, under which Haridas Thakur lived. Sanatana Gosvami had also stayed here for a time as well.

Haridas attained such an elevated position of ecstasy from chanting the Hare Krishna mantra that even though a beautiful prostitute came to tempt him with sex, he was not interested. Thus, he is called the namacarya: the master of chanting the holy names. In 1991, a small shrine was found here, along with the old and bent tree under which Haridas would chant. However, since then, as found in 2001, there is a nice temple and plenty of walled protection for the tree at this place. The tomb of Haridas Thakur, where you'll also see beautiful Radha Krishna Deities as well as an image of Haridas, is located next to Purusottama Gaudiya Math near the beach. This is an important place of pilgrimage.

A 15 minute walk from here is the temple of Tota-Gopinatha. The Radha Krishna Deities here are especially beautiful, and it is accepted that Sri Caitanya ended his life by entering into the Deity of Tota-Gopinatha. Also near this area is the old house of Kashi Mishra. It is now used as part of a temple and has nice diorama exhibits of Sri Caitanya's life. It is here we find the Gambhira room, which is where Sri Caitanya lived for 12 years. Through a small window you can see Sri Caitanya's original wooden sandals, water pot, and bed.

A short walk to the east of the Jagannatha temple is the Gaudiya Math temple and the place where Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took birth. A little farther east is the Jagannatha Vallabha Garden, which is almost across from the Balagandhi temple which used to be where Lord Jagannatha would stop during His Ratha-Yatra parade to accept food offerings from all the devotees. At this garden, Sri Caitanya had many pastimes and is where He saw Lord Krishna manifest Himself. A little ways away from the garden is Narendra Sarovara, a small lake where many festivals have taken place with Sri Caitanya and his associates. Even now many pilgrims will visit and take a holy bath in this lake. The Govinda Deity from the Jagannatha temple is brought here for festivals where He is given boat rides. There is also a little temple with Lord Jagannatha Deities located here. So if foreigners want to see Lord Jagannatha they can usually come here for darshan, unless it is during the Ratha-Yatra festival.

Farther down the main road of town near the Gundicha Mandir is the very old temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha, which we can enter to view the Deity. This is also where Sri Caitanya engaged in many kirtanas with his close associates. Not far away is Indradyumna Lake where Sri Caitanya once manifested His Mahavishnu form showing His associates His supernatural qualities as an incarnation of God.

About 14 miles from Jagannatha Puri is the Alarnatha temple at Brahmagiri. Lord Alarnatha is a four-handed form of Lord Vishnu. Whenever the Jagannatha Deities in Puri would be removed from the altar before the Ratha-Yatra festival for two weeks, Sri Caitanya would stay here. This is a temple where, at the end of the kirtana hall in front of a Deity of Sadbhuja, there is a large stone slab with the imprint of Sri Caitanya's body. Once when He fell onto the stone in an ecstatic trance, the stone melted leaving the imprint of Sri Caitanya's body as we find it today. Across from the Alarnatha temple is another Gaudiya-Math temple that was established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. It is also here where we find the small Alarnatha Deity that was uncovered during excavations around the main Alarnatha temple. However, once when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was staying at his temple, the priest at the Alarnatha shrine had a dream in which the Lord came to him and said that He wanted to accept the worship of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Then the priest brought the small Alarnatha Deity to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta who worshiped Him, and where the Deity has remained since then. Also in this town of Bentapur we can see the birthplace of Ramananda Raya, a close associate of Sri Caitanya.

Nineteen miles north of Jagannatha Puri is Konarka, a most interesting temple to Surya, the sun-god. Although it is very old and no longer used for worship, many people come here every day. A Surya temple was here as long ago as the 9th century, but the present temple was built in the 13th century to resemble a huge chariot and has 24 gigantic stone wheels all around it. There are also carvings of seven strong horses who pull the chariot, and the temple is covered with many panels of stone figures depicting many aspects of life, such as scenes with hunters, soldiers, ascetics, maidens, birds, elephants, etc. There are also three green chlorite deities of Surya in niches on the outside of the temple, reached by ascending flights of stairs. The interior has been filled in and blocked up to help support it. Outside the temple grounds are many shops who sell food or the usual gamut of nick-nacks.

About six miles from Puri is the Saksi-gopala temple, located between the Jagannatha Puri and Khurda Road Junction railway stations. A new station called Saksi-gopala is there where people get off to visit the temple. The Saksi-gopala Deity is the Gopala Deity who walked from Vrindavan to Vidyanagara, a town located 20 to 25 miles from Rajahmundry on the banks of the Godavari River. How this happened was that two brahmanas were traveling and visiting the holy places. One was poor and young and was serving the older and richer brahmana. The older one was so satisfied with the charitable service of the younger brahmana that he vowed in front of the Gopala Deity that he would give his daughter to the younger brahmana to be his wife. Later, when they returned home, the older brahmana hesitated to fulfill his promise due to pressure from his family. There was some controversy about this between the two brahmanas and in a meeting with the people of the town it was agreed that if the Deity Gopala would come to testify as a witness, the older brahmana would give his daughter as promised.

The younger brahmana went back to Vrindavan and related the situation to the Gopala Deity who finally agreed to walk. He told the brahmana that He would follow him and that the sound of His ankle bells would indicate He was there, but if the brahmana turned around to look, He would walk no farther. So for 100 days they walked toward Vidyanagara, then the sound of the Deity's ankle bells ceased to sound. The brahmana looked back and the Deity was standing there smiling. The brahmana went to gather the people of the town who were amazed to see the Deity. Then the older brahmana agreed to give his daughter in marriage as promised and a temple was built for the Deity. Later the King of Orissa, Purusottama, was insulted by the King of Kataka (Cuttack). So Purusottama fought and defeated the King of Kataka and took charge of the city. He then brought the Gopalaji Deity from Vidyanagara to Kataka and built a temple there. The Deity also stayed in the Jagannatha Temple for some time, but then was moved to a village about six miles from Puri, called Satyavadi. Some time after that a new temple was constructed where we find the Saksi-gopala Deity today. Though the temple does not allow foreigners inside, many people visit this temple with the understanding that whether the Supreme is in the spiritual realm or expands Himself in the material realm in the form of a stone Deity, He can change what is spiritual into material and vice versa whenever He wants. This is why a stone Deity can do what is considered miraculous things, like walk, talk, etc. Thus, it is accepted that the bona fide Deity of the Supreme is nondifferent from the Supreme Himself.

These are some of the significant events and places that we can find in and around the town of Jagannatha Puri.

[Click here] to see some most interesting photographs of the amazing Ratha-Yatra festival at Jagannatha Puri of June, 2001.

(This article is from:

Mission Possible: Up the Carts to the Lotus Feet
2006 - Like a commando team, our group of devotees, in the predawn darkness, drove off in a van for a special, sacred mission. Our secret target: the lotus feet of Sri Jagannatha, Sri Baladeva, and Sri Subhadra. It’s the Day After—the wee hours of the morning following Rathayatra. The carts and the Deities are now parked outside the Gundica Temple. Later this day the Deities will come down and enter their temporary home at Gundica.

We’ve been tipped off that the senior pandas (caste-brahmana priests), recuperating from the Rath parade, will rise late this morning. Little do they know that while the casteism cats are away, Prabhupada’s mice will play.

Ridiculous it is that foreign devotees are barred entry into the Jagannatha Temple. Is Jagannatha Lord of the universe or Lord of whomever the security guards think resembles a Hindu—whatever that is? Millions of Indian tourists and pilgrims funnel through the gate—no guard will ever know if they are cow-killers, dog-eaters, atheists, or murderers. Simply the people have to “look Indian.”

Most male visitors to the temple do not wear traditional devotional attire. Clad in Western-style shirts and slacks, with cigarettes in the back pocket, they move freely within the temple. Foreigners, whether devotees or not, are completely banned. But even if an Indian devotee enters, if he happens to be dressed neatly in dhoti and kurta and wearing neckbeads, japa bag, and fresh tilak, the guards will threatingly challenge: “ISKCON?”

The distorted folk notion is that Jagannatha is for Hindu-born worshippers, and that therefore even Indian members of ISKCON should be shunned, because they’ve helped disseminate throughout India and the world the illusion that Jagannatha is Lord of all, and anyone has the right to see Him.

Although the time is 4am, already 100 Indian pilgrims surround each cart, seeking a close-up experience. One hundred is better than the hundreds of thousands we knew would amass later. Our small party includes HH Radhanatha Swami, HH Sacinandana Swami, HH Chandramauli Swami, the twin Mayapura pujaris, Jananivasa Prabhu and Pankajangrahi Prabhu. From below we watch a few foreign ISKCON devotees, along with the Indian pilgrims, climb the carts. Their white bodies gleaming in the moonlight amidst the swarm of brown and black, if they managed to successfully clamber all the way up onto the main platform, they immediately ran into their next obstacle: the security guards and the pandas. By flashing 1000-rupee bills and thrusting them into the eager hands, the foreign ISKCON devotees suddenly morphed into official Hindus.

Like many temples in Orissa, the Jagannatha Mandira is under government management. That means all salaries for the temple servitors are controlled. Jagannatha’s priests are said to earn officially no more than 100 rupees per month—the equivalent of about $2 USD. Government regulations forbid the priests to hold another job—if they try they can be fired on the spot. Now, at the break of day, while the stodgy senior pandas sleep, the more liberal juniors rake it in—1000 rupees per white head, and step right up for your darshan. Nevertheless, these enterprising younger pandas didn’t allow the foreign devotees to intimately approach the Deity.

Our party had an inside connection: a young panda who appreciated Srila Prabhupada’s bringing Lord Jagannatha and Rathayatra all over the world. Dividing us into two groups, he first escorted Radhanatha Swami, Chandramauli Swami, and me to the back of Jagannatha’s cart. How, just three months after a debilitating car accident, I managed to climb up the world’s largest Rath carts is still a mystery to me. Determined like an Olympic gymnast pursuing a gold medal, I stretched my legs from one beam of wood high up to the next, and then with my arms hoisted myself up, level after level. Finally, we all attained the main platform of Jagannath’s cart. Led by our panda agent, we squirmed our way through the crowd of Indian pilgims desperate to see Lord Jagannatha. “ISKCON?” a security guard challenged. Not answering, we pressed forward to the front of the cart, to the Deity’s throne.

Now we were directly in front of Lord Jagannatha, less than an arm’s length before us. I focused upon the Caitanya-caritamrita’s description of Lord Caitanya’s seeing Lord Jagannatha. God Himself, as His own devotee, teaches us the supreme method for taking darshan of the Lord.

“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very thirsty to see the Lord, and His eyes became like two bumblebees drinking the honey from the lotuslike eyes of Lord Jagannatha, who is Krsna Himself.

“The eyes of Lord Jagannatha conquered the beauty of blossoming lotus flowers, and His neck was as lustrous as a mirror made of sapphires.

“The chin of the Lord, tinged with buff color, conquered the beauty of the bandhuli flower. This increased the beauty of His mild smiling, which was like lustrous waves of nectar.

“The luster of His beautiful face increased at every moment, and the eyes of hundreds and thousands of devotees drank its honey like bumblebees.

“As their eyes began to drink the nectarean honey of His lotus face, their thirst increased. Thus their eyes did not leave Him.” (Madhya 12.211 to 215)

Ignoring the priests outstretched hands for money, I lowered my body, lunged forward, and pressed my head directly at Lord Jagannatha’s lotus feet. With all the sincerity I could muster in my tiny heart, I begged Him: “Please help me to please Srila Prabhupada.”

His Divine Grace so eloquently explains my modus operandi in a Seventh-Canto purport:

“This human form of body is a most valuable boat, and the spiritual master is the captain, guru-karnadharam, to guide the boat in plying across the ocean of nescience. The instruction of Krsna is a favorable breeze. One must use all these facilities to cross over the ocean of nescience. Since the spiritual master is the captain, one must serve the spiritual master very sincerely so that by his mercy one will be able to get the mercy of the Supreme Lord.

“ . . . The spiritual master is certainly very merciful to his disciples, and consequently by satisfying him a devotee gets strength from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore says, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija: [Cc. Madhya 19.151] one must first please the spiritual master, and then one automatically pleases Krsna and gets the strength with which to cross the ocean of nescience. If one seriously desires to return home, back to Godhead, one must therefore become strong enough by pleasing the spiritual master, for thus one gets the weapon with which to conquer the enemy, and one also gets the grace of Krsna. Simply getting the weapon of jnana is insufficient. One must sharpen the weapon by serving the spiritual master and adhering to his instructions. Then the candidate will get the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (SB 7.15.45)

At the carts of Sri Baladeva and Sri Subhadra, we three swamis, led by our panda insider, repeated the transcendental gymnastic process up to the main platform. Thrusting my head down at the lotus feet of Sri Subhadra, I gently prayed for access to the Lord’s internal potency. On the last cart, submitting my lowly head at the lotus feet of Sri Baladeva, I cried out in desperation, “Please give me spiritual strength--on my own I’m so weak and feeble!”

Again let us hear Srila Prabhupada explain, in the same purport, why I made this prayer:

“Significant in this verse are the words jnanasim acyuta-balah. Jnanasim, the sword of knowledge, is given by Krsna, and when one serves the guru and Krsna in order to hold the sword of Krsna's instructions, Balarama gives one strength. Balarama is Nityananda. Vrajendra-nandana yei, saci-suta haila sei, balarama ha-ila nitai. This bala--Balarama--comes with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and both of Them are so merciful that in this age of Kali one may very easily take shelter of Their lotus feet. They come especially to deliver the fallen souls of this age. Papi tapi yata chila, hari-name uddharila. Their weapon is sankirtana, hari-nama. Thus one should accept the sword of knowledge from Krsna and be strong with the mercy of Balarama. We are therefore worshiping Krsna-Balarama in Vrndavana. In the Mundaka Upanisad (3.2.4) it is said:

nayam atma bala-hinena labhyo
na ca pramadat tapaso vapy alingat
etair upayair yatate yas tu vidvams
tasyaisa atma visate brahma-dhama

“One cannot attain the goal of life without the mercy of Balarama. Sri Narottama dasa Thakura therefore says, nitaiyera karuna habe, vraje radha-krsna pabe: when one receives the mercy of Balarama, Nityananda, one can attain the lotus feet of Radha and Krsna very easily.

se sambandha nahi yara, brtha janma gela tara,
vidya-kule hi karibe tara

“If one has no connection with Nitai, Balarama, then even though one is a very learned scholar or jnani or has taken birth in a very respectable family, these assets will not help him. We must therefore conquer the enemies of Krsna consciousness with the strength received from Balarama.” (SB 7.15.46)

An afterthought: Nothing is lacking in the Jagannatha Deites installed at our ISKCON temples. There, anyone of any body-type can have darshan of the Supreme Personality of Godhead without security guards chasing you out because “you don’t look ‘Hindu’.” During Prabhupada’s ISKCON years with us, although he inaugurated Rathayatras all over the world, he refused to enter the Jaganatha Temple in Puri, because his foreign disciples were not allowed to have darshan. Why then did my Godbrothers and I apparently endeavor so mightily to see Sri Jagannatha in Puri?

Please understand that our real reason for visiting Puri was not to craftily circumvent the pandas’ foolish caste restrictions but to lead an ISKCON pilgrimage to all the holy spots associated with gaura-lila and to witness the original Rathayatra. Coincidentally, though, on the Day After, a special chance to intimately approach Lord Jagannatha had arisen—a window of opportunity, on the only day of the year when Sri Jagannatha is publicly accessible outside. So then why not take advantage--why not go for it? As Prabhupada once explained, devotees are the greatest opportunists. We happened to be in the right place at the right time, so we took advantage. Spiritual adventure, for pleasing Krishna’s senses, is also a part of the bhakti experience.

June/July 2006 and Jagannath
Propelled violently, the delicate form of HH Bhakti Charu Swami managed to keep its feet. Behind him glared the Orissan policeman who had so savagely hurled him away from the Rathayatra carts. A few minutes earlier, that same human bulldozer had punched HH Indradyumna Swami in the nose, knocking off his glasses. No need for further demoniac endeavours—this security man had certainly guaranteed himself an easy journey to the hellish planets.

Materially we’re in Puri, a small city of 125,000, near Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa, on the central east coast of India. Spiritually, however, we’re in Sri Purushottama-kshetra, also known as Niladri or Nilacala—the famous home of Lord Jagannatha and His mandira. It’s Rathayatra day. Our small party had special passes allowing our presence in the special cordoned area where the Rath carts waited for the Deities to arrive from the Jagannath Temple nearby.

Their Holinesses Radhanatha Swami, Indradyumna Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Bhakti Charu Swami, as well as Pankajangahi Prabhu, Jananivas Prabhu, and I were eager for a close-up. When Sri Jagannath, Sri Baladeva, and Srimati Subhadra would emerge and mount their chariots, we wanted to be right at their lotus feet. But, as thousands of people watched from the rooftops and streets, the Orissan police were determined to deny us this spiritual delight. We could withstand broiling in the 38-degree tropical sun, but the police’s verbal and physical assaults drove us away. We finally retreated to seats in buildings overlooking the carts.

“Foreigners and Indians aligned with them still aren’t appreciated in Puri by the powers-that-be,” my young assistant Krishnagraja das, a Mayapur gurukula graduate, explained to me. He reasoned that the antipathy stemmed back to the British colonizers’ looting the Jagannath temple of the Deities’ jewels and dispatching the booty to London.

True, a few hundred years ago, British propaganda had wickedly smeared the Jagannath Temple and its worshipable Lord. Attacking Sri Jagannath as "a frightful visage painted black, with a distended mouth of bloody horror," the British Crown distributed their bigotry in publications throughout the world. You can just imagine how Rathayatra sent them even more into a tizzy. Shocked by the annual grand procession of “the horrible, bloodthirsty idol,” the British, from the sacred name Jagannath, then coined the term "juggernaut." Now a normal word in the English language, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary reveals the deep misunderstanding and prejudice sustained from India’s colonial past into the 21st century.


1. any large, overpowering, destructive force or object, as war, a giant battleship, or a powerful football team.

2. anything requiring blind devotion or cruel sacrifice.

3. Also called Jagannath. an idol of Krishna, at Puri in Orissa, India, annually drawn on an enormous cart under whose wheels devotees are said to have thrown themselves to be crushed.

Don’t, however, blame all the ignorance and malpractice on the British. Who now controls many of India’s most venerable and majestic temples? The Indian government. Millions of pious pilgrims still flock to the oldest and largest temples, depositing en total huge sums of money for the worship of the Deity. The state governments then misspend the Deity’s divine funds as they like, for mundane projects and political pockets.

Safe from the Orissan police surrounding the carts, Bhakti Charu Swami and I watched the transcendental pageantry of Rathayatra from a roof directly overlooking Sri Baladeva’s cart. We humbly gazed to our heart’s content as the pandas (caste brahmins who serve the Deities) bore Sri Baladeva, then Srimati Subhadra, and finally Sri Jagannath from the temple to their thrones on their chariots. We saw the King of Orissa enact the ritual of sweeping the floor of the carts, and we also watched the elderly acarya, the sannyasi head, of the local Shankaracarya lineage, surrounded by an official police honour guard, board each cart to perform ceremonies to the Deities.

Yes, the irony has to be tolerated. The modern followers of Lord Caitanya, the greatest devotee of Lord Jagannath, are denied close access to the Deities. HH Indradyuma Swami, who has enacted ecstatic Rathayatras in many cities of the world, is punched in the face, trying to see Sri Jagannathadeva. Meanwhile a staunch lifelong Mayavadi impersonalist is given carte blanche—the royal carpet straight up the carts to the Deities’ thrones.

Lord Caitanya has declared that because the Mayavadi impersonalists misrepresent Vedic knowledge, they are the greatest offenders to the Supreme Lord. Quoting the Gita (16.9), Srila Prabhupada points out to us: “Life in demoniac species awaits the Mayavadi philosophers after death because they are envious of Krishna.” (Cc. Adi 7.130)

We want to subordinate ourselves to the Lord; the Mayavadi leader, however, actually thinks he is Sri Jagannath! His concocted notion is that by his worshipping the Lord, he worships himself, because all is one, and any apparent individuality—whether of the Lord or us—is maya, an illusion to be overcome by austere spiritual practices and Vedantic study. Beaming with imaginary self-satisfaction that by his seeing the Deity, he has just seen himself, the elderly swami, amidst his reverent police escort, finally leaves the scene. Then amidst roars from hundreds of thousands of onlookers, finally, one after the other, the chariots of Sri Jagannath, Sri Baladeva, and Srimati Subhadra begin to roll.

Rathayatra - Carnival of Chariots

Rathayatra, or the Festival of Chariots, has been celebrated for thousands of years in the Indian holy city of Jagannatha Puri. Lord Jagannatha means Lord of The Universe and is non-different to Krishna. He has large eyes and features which seem to be displaying symptoms of ecstatic bliss. Lord Jagannatha, together with His brother Lord Baladeva and His sister, Lady Subadra, are pulled through the streets on chariots.

The festival of Rathayatra represents Lord Jagannatha´s longing to reunite with His dear devotees in Vrindavana, foremost among them, Srimati Radharani. Ratha Yatra signifies the Lord´s love for His devotees. He personally comes to visit His devotees, and the public who welcome Him on the streets. Five hundred years ago, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined incarnation of Radha-Krishna, encouraged all of His followers to celebrate Ratha Yatra with great enthusiasm. Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, was very fond of Ratha Yatra. He would join many thousands of disciples in major cities around the world as they celebrated with elaborate chariot festivals. It is now observed in over 200 cities worldwide.

Anyone who has experienced the Rathayatra in London has surely experienced ecstasy. The mood of the day is charged with devotion, excitement and complete surrender as devotees brush the streets of London before the chariot. The sea of people in the procession call out loudly for the Lord´s attention as they eagerly await their turn to pull the cart or sweep the streets. The entire atmosphere is one of happiness, joy and celebration.

Since 2004, there have been three enormous chariots each carry one of Their Lordships who are attended to by a team of pujaris making offerings to them along the route. The chariots have huge wheels measuring two metres in diameter and carry towers of sixteen metres (52.5 feet) made from coloured cloth so that people from far away can see Their Lordships being pulled through the streets.

Everyone is welcome.

350 Pictures of Ratha Yatra 2007 - ISKCON New York

Ratha Yatra 2007 - ISKCON New York

Rathayatra is celebrated by devotees of Lord Krishna all over the world after being introduced to the west in 1967 in San Franscisco by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his first American disciples. Rathayatra is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness’ biggest street festival - it features three huge, wooden chariots pulled by hand accompanied by singing, chanting, drums, cymbals, and dancing. It ends with a stage show, festival and delicious vegetarian prasadam feast.

You can access the links below to see more than 350 wonderful pictures of this important festival, celebrated last weekend, June 9th on 5th Avenue in New York City.

Slide Show - 350 Pictures Ratha Yatra - New York 2007

Album: pictures by universaliskcon

For more information access the link below:

In Service of Srila Prabhupada: Chaitanya Lila das a. & Sachimata devi dasi (ISKCON - Boston)


A bastion of Hindu caste-ism crumbled this week in the face of more enlightened times. In a landmark ruling, the Orissa High Court in India legislated that Dalits – ‘outcastes’ from the traditional Hindu caste system – could no longer be banned from entering any Hindu temple.

"Every Hindu, irrespective of his caste, has a right to enter any Hindu temple which is open to other persons professing the same religion," a division bench of Chief Justice Sujit Burman Roy and Justice M M Das observed.

The dispute over whether dalits should be allowed to pray in the Jagannath temple in the Keredagada village in Kendrapara district reflects an earlier statement issued by Mr. Pravin Togadia, the international general secretary of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) regarding foreign nationals belonging to ISKCON (Hare Krishna movement) being allowed full access to Hindu places of worship , including the large Jagannath temple in Orissa :

“There is no harm in allowing inside temples foreign nationals who practise Krishna worship. They are like ordinary Hindus who pray to Lord Krishna. They should not be denied the opportunity to offer prayers at Hindu temples,” said Mr Togadia.” (The Asian Age, February 20, 2006).

Anil Bhanot, General Secretary of the Hindu Council UK, welcomed the decision of the High Court:

“Banning people from worshipping in a Hindu temple based on their social status or philosophical belief is completely antithetical to the principles of Hinduism. We therefore welcome this significant ruling of the Orissa High Court and demand that any Hindu temple, whether in India or the UK, which practices such bannings immediately cease this morally unlawful discrimination. Hinduism has a long tradition, grounded in our ancient Vedic scriptures, of accommodating all classes of men and all schools of thought and no one has the right to prevent anyone from offering prayers to God.”

Click to enlarge Mr Bhanot explains how the well meaning scriptural order is turned upside down by Man to appease his arrogance, "at the beginning of civilisation, the first civilised Man, Adi-Manu, says in his Samriti (order), that Brahma the creator has unified 4 functions of a civilised life into Man. Symbolically the illustration is given as Brahmins (education & metaphysics) as Brahma's mouth, the Kashatriyas (defence & politics) as Brahma's arms, the Vaishyas (trade and agriculture) as Brahma's thighs and the Shudras (labour and hygiene) as Brahma's feet. Each function is equally important and Man is not complete without either one of them. Adi-Manu then goes on to say that the feet touch the Mother earth which must be worshipped as Brahma's divine energy. Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha treated all as equals and the Ramayana, the Gita and all other scriptures have several verses to testify that.

Suraj Sehgal
Director for Defence and Security
Hindu Council UK

Tirupati Organization to Win Back Hindus

HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 19, 2007: The Tirumala Tirupati Samrakshana Samithi (TTSS) will try to reconvert to Hinduism those who had converted to other faiths in the State. It will explain the greatness of Sanatana Hindu Dharma and conduct special pujas for the persons who are willing to reconvert to Hinduism. The Samithi will take the assistance of other Hindu organizations and various Mutts to create awareness about Hinduism. "We don't force anybody to reconvert. We accept them if they volunteer since we are not against other religions," said TTSS president T.S. Rao, who is also former director general of police, Andhra Pradesh.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Indian Soldiers Use Yoga to Control Stress-Related Behaviors

SRINAGAR, KASHMIR, August 8, 2006: In an effort to reduce the amount of stress-related behaviors experienced by soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Kashmir, the forces have turned to the ancient tradition of yoga. The news release explains, "Embraced by fashionable Westerners as a way to exercise, yoga has now become a necessary component of India's 17-year-long counterinsurgency effort in the disputed state of Kashmir. While the recent suicides and fratricides among Indian troops in the Army and other forces remain statistically small, the sudden string of such incidents prompted officials to act. India's main counter-insurgency police force in Kashmir has begun requiring its paramilitary troops to de-stress as a way to cope with the tensions of a conflict that shows no sign of ending. Soldiers in butterfly poses may not be what the ancient yogis had in mind but it's already delivering results."

Om Prakesh, a soldier in CRPF who has suffered from depression, says, "Before yoga, there was a chance I could have died. But now, with yoga, it's much better. It is very difficult to work in such a situation, but now I find it is very easy. My mind is at peace."

Dilip Singh, spokesman for the CRPF in Srinagar, says, "After performing operations, our soldiers are under stress, and to get out of that and achieve health, they do yoga. Yoga is adopted to keep the mind in control, so that they remain controlled in their actions.

"The No. 1 killer is always stress, if you don't have stress then you don't have problems. People will be under stress, that is part of our jobs. We can't control the rush of events. But science shows that most ailments are psychosomatic, and whatever the brain transmits, the body will receive. Yoga helps to control this and bring some peace to body and mind," adds Sanjay Singh, second in command of the 1st Battalion, at the CRPF's ultrasensitive Hariniwas complex in Srinagar.

Dr. Bolvin adds, "It is clear government intervention will be required to elicit effective protection for the majority of the sites in the area if these are not to be erased completely over the course of future years."

courtesy of Hinduism Today

History Making Hindu Prayer to Open Senate in July

HPI (Hindu Press International)

WASHINGTON D.C., June 25, 2007: Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain living in Nevada, is scheduled to give a Hindu prayer at the July 12 opening of United States Senate in Washington, DC. It is believed this will be the first time any Hindu prayer will have been delivered in the US Senate since its formation in 1789. According to US Senate website, "...Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. ..During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate's faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation..." Usually the Senate Chaplain delivers the opening prayer, but sometimes guest chaplains are invited from all over the country to read the prayer. According to a Senate Chaplain Office communique, the purpose of the opening prayer is to seek God on behalf of, and for the Senators and the prayer should affirm our rich heritage as a Nation "under God".

courtesy of Hinduism Today

The Call of the Ganges - Varanasi's Timeless Pilgrimage Appeal

VARANASI, INDIA, July 1, 2007: (HPI note: This is a much-better-than-usual article on Varanasi from the tourist's point of view.) There are certain things that are a must do in life. Even if it means pulling out of bed at 4 in the morning to make it to the water's edge in one of India's most chaotic cities. But the draw of India's most famous and revered river -- the Ganga, flowing through Hinduism's most sacred city, Varanasi -- is far too strong and irresistible. The unfolding of a morning on its vibrant ghats bears an unusual kind of magnificence, perhaps because dotted across its facade there is an India that hasn't changed much.

Actually, that's what Varanasi is -- in the commotion of its bazaars, its ghats, its narrow lanes -- you get a sense of a city that seems to hold on to its past. One that has been spared the modernity of tinted glass paned malls and multiplexes -- yes, McDonalds has arrived in this temple town, so has a multiplex -- but thankfully, much of the older part of the city lining the ghats has been untouched.

And it's here on the steps of the most important ghat - the Dasaswamedh Ghat -- that the journey begins. Past flower sellers with marigold, hibiscus, dhatura seeds and beggars who are settling down on the stairs leading to the Ganga, we briefly wade through the river and get into Deepak's boat for a ride that I will remember for a long, long time.

Go to the above source ( read this very long and fascinating story about Varanasi, the Manikarnika Ghat and the modern ecological issues facing India's most famous and holiest of rivers.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Hindu Beliefs and Practices Affecting Health Care

Spiritual Well-Being: Hinduism is a vast and profound religion.  Hindus worship One Supreme Reality, and believe that all souls ultimately realize that Truth, which may be approached through various names and forms.  Spiritual well-being comes from leading a dedicated life based on non-violence, love, good conduct, and selfless service, and ultimately from experiencing the Truth within.  The approach to spiritual well-being varies according to individual temperament.  The Truth may be realized through devotion to a particular aspect of God, self-analysis, austerities, selfless service, or meditation.

Illness, Accident, Injury:    Hinduism ascribes to the theory of Karma (the law of cause and effect).  Each individual creates his or her own destiny by thoughts, words, and deeds.  Illness, accident, and injury result from the karma one creates and are seen as a means of purification.  Karma is believed to accrue over many lifetimes.  Hence, an illness may be seen as a result of actions in this life or a past life.

Birth:  For Hindus, noting the exact time of a baby’s birth is important for the child’s horoscope.  Traditionally, in the East, a baby is born in the home of the wife’s parents with a midwife present, but not the husband.  In an American hospital, the Hindu husband may be present at the birth.  A Hindu baby is breast fed.  Males are not circumcised.  Traditionally, the child is named in a celebration on the 10th day after birth.  In an American hospital, however, the child is sometimes named at birth.

Abortion and Birth Control: Supported by their belief in Karma, most Hindus do not approve of abortion, with no exceptions for rape, deformities, or the like.  However, birth control, natural or artificial, is approved of and practiced.

Special Care of Women:  In an American hospital, a Hindu woman would most likely not request special care.  She would want her husband’s advice on any medical decisions.

Dietary Regulations:  Vegetarianism is recommended in Hindu scriptures, but Hindus are free to choose their own diet.  In India, vegetarian diet is widespread.  Of those who eat meat, most abstain from beef and pork.  In America, many Hindus particularly second-generation, eat meat.  Hot, spicy food is common, particularly with those from South India.  Yogurt and sweets are taken along with meals.  Indian food is fairly salty.  Ghee (clarified butter) is often used for oil.  Coffee and tea are both used.  In the East, eating with the right hand, without utensils, is the traditional method.  In America, eating with utensils is considered acceptable.

Bioethical Decision-Making (Living Will, Advance Directives, Etc.): Hindu tradition does not approve of mercy killing, assisted suicide, or suicide.  Prolonging life artificially is up to the individual.  However, letting nature take its course is common in Hindu tradition.  The making of a living will and/or advance directive (such as for the donation of organs) is likewise up to the individual.

Privacy/Space:  Privacy and the use of space in an American hospital is up to the individual Hindu, in conjunction with the hospital authorities.  Religious practices that would be done in a hospital do not necessarily require privacy.

Connecting With Community/Visitors: Hindu families are traditionally close-knit, in the West as well as in the East.  A Hindu hospital patient would want his or her relatives to visit and close family members to help in the making of any medical decisions, such as whether or not to operate.  If the Hindu patient is connected with a Hindu Temple or Ashram in the U.S., the patient may request the Hindu priest or Guru to visit.

Ethnic (Language) and Cultural Sensitivity: Most Hindus in America speak English, but use their native language with others who speak the same language or dialect.

In Hindu culture, it is common to remove one’s shoes before entering a home, a place of worship, and certain other places.  In an American hospital setting, Hindu visitors may choose to remove their shoes before entering a patient’s room.

If the patient is older than the visiting relative, the  visitor would be expected to stand unless invited to sit by the patient.  Respect for one’s elders is engraved in Hindu culture, along with warm, affectionate family ties.

Personal Devotions and Religious Objects: In a hospital setting, personal devotions may consist of prayer, meditation, and the reading of scripture.  A small picture or statue of a Deity may be used in prayer.  A mantram (a sound vibration representing an aspect of the Divine) may be recited on a mala (prayer beads strung together, similar to a rosary).  Facing North or East would be preferred, but not required.

Holiday Observances:  Most religious holidays are observed according to the particular aspect of the Divine which the Hindu individual or family worships.  For instance, a devotee of Lord Siva would celebrate Sivaratri on the New Moon, usually in February.  A devotee of Lord Krishna would celebrate Krishna Jayanthi, known as Janmashthami, usually in August.  A devotee of God as Divine Mother would celebrate Navaratri for nine nights in September or October.  These are but a few of the many religious observances on the Hindu calendar.

Death, After Death, Bereavement: As in most cultures, a Hindu in America would prefer to die at home.  However, if unavoidable, dying in a hospital would be acceptable.  The dying patient may wish to be alone, with relatives, or with his or her priest or Guru (if possible).  In the chapel of the funeral home, a Hindu priest, if available, would do the last rites.

Both cremation and burial are common depending on local custom.  It is believed that the soul will reincarnate again and again until its karma is exhausted.

Giving in to remorse for the dead is said to make it more difficult for the soul of the deceased to leave the earthly plane.  The ideal is to remember the deceased with happy thoughts, because wherever the soul is, it will receive those thoughts.  Of course, given human nature, mourning for the dead is natural, but excessive mourning is not recommended.

Nepal Kumari Looses Divine Post For Visiting U.S.

KATHMANDU, NEPAL, July 3, 2007: A 10-year-old girl who is worshipped as a living Goddess in Nepal has been stripped of her title for defying tradition and visiting the U.S. Sajani Shakya was one of the three most-revered Kumaris, who are honored by Hindus and Buddhists alike. Chosen after undergoing tests at the age of two, she had been expected to bless devotees and attend festivals until she reached puberty. But she provoked the ire of temple elders by traveling to the U.S. Sajani was a Kumari in the town of Bhaktapur, next to the capital, Kathmandu. She recently went to promote a documentary film in the U.S. Elders said the visit had tainted her purity, adding that they would now begin the search for a successor.

Sajani was one of several Kumaris in Nepal, and among the top three who are forbidden from travel abroad. A Kumari is chosen between the ages of two and four, always from the same Buddhist clan. Tradition holds that she must hold 32 attributes. She lives a confined life, only coming out of her palace three or four times a year until she reaches puberty when another Kumari must be found. This main outing coincides with a festival of thanks to God. Her feet must never touch the ground unless there is a red carpet beneath them. Last November, Nepal's Supreme Court ordered an inquiry into whether the Kumari tradition has led to the exploitation of girls.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Young girl claims she is Kalpana Chawla

Indo-Asian News Service
Khurja (Uttar Pradesh), July 07, 2007

A four-year-old girl who claims her name is Kalpana Chawla and that she died up in the skies four years ago is drawing huge crowds in a village called Khurja in Uttar Pradesh.

Residents of Nar Mohammadpur village, about 35 kms from Khurja, where little Upasana is visiting her relatives, think she might be the reincarnation of the India-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who died when US space shuttle Columbia crashed four years ago.

The news of the girl's claim spread quickly in the area after she spoke to some villagers in Khurja.

"I am Kalpana Chawla," says Upasana, who reportedly fears the sight of an aircraft. She has been telling her illiterate parents that she died in a "crash" up in the skies.

"Upasana has been telling us ever since she started speaking that her name was Kalpana Chawla and that her father's name was Banarsi Das Chawla but we could not figure out anything as we had never heard of Kalpana," Upasana's father Raj Kumar told reporters on Friday.

Raj Kumar is a resident of Pata village of Etawah district where he works as a labourer.

"Yet Upasana's proclamation led us all to believe that she was actually talking about her previous birth," he said. "She claims that the spacecraft was hit by a huge ball of ice that sent it crashing and ended her life."

Upasana was born barely two months after the astronaut's death in 2003.

There's more here too:

JTCd's NOTE: I wonder if anyone has considered a nine or ten month pregnancy between when the astronaut died and the child was born.

Gunmen open fire at Hindu temple

(CNN) -- The dispute over a historic religious site in the northern town of Ayodhya has come to define the often fiery mix of politics and religion in India.

The fight over just who owns the patch of ground has caused deep divisions between Hindus and Muslims and has been at the core of secular violence throughout the past decade.

In December 1992, angry Hindu mobs descended upon the site and tore down the Babri Mosque that had stood there since the 16th century.

The razing of the mosque ignited nationwide Hindu-Muslim riots that left more than 2,000 dead.

In March 1993 a series of blasts in Mumbai killed more than 200 and injured over 1,000.

The bombings were blamed on underworld gangs seeking to avenge the killing of scores of Hindus during the riots.

Tensions over the site simmered until February 2003 when a fire erupted inside a train in Gujarat. The train was carrying Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya, where they had been attending a campaign to build a temple at the site.

More than 50 Hindus died and weeks of bloody sectarian violence ensued. In the rioting that followed, more than 3,000 people -- most of them Muslim -- are believed to have died.

The cause of that fire has remained in dispute.

Many Hindus say the disputed land in Ayodhya was the birthplace of the god Rama -- one of the most revered deities in Hinduism.

Muslims, however, say they have claim to land because the mosque was built there in 1528.

India, which prides itself for its secular freedoms laid down in its constitution, is home to the world's largest Muslim minority population of 140 million.

The surge of Islamic fundamentalism in the past 20 years has been matched by a rise in Hindu nationalism.

Following the violence in 2002, an Indian court ordered archaeological excavations to determine its history.

The archaeologists' report was presented to the Allahabad high court in August 2003 and contained a potentially explosive finding.

The study by the Archeological Survey of India found remnants of an ancient Hindu temple under the rubble of the Babri mosque.

But many Muslims, both in India and abroad, have disputed the findings.

Vedic World Heritage links:

See our pages supporting these views HERE: (Vedik World Heritage)
Western Indologists been exposed page:
How British Misguided the World on Vedic History

Tasty food tempts prisoners to stay in jail\06\22\story_22-6-2007_pg4_20

BANGALORE: Inmates at a prison in southern India are eating so well that many are reluctant to leave while other convicted criminals are trying to move in, a newspaper said Thursday. The Parappana Agrahara prison in Bangalore is crowded with 4,700 inmates, more than twice its capacity, because small-time criminals are refusing to apply for bail, according to the Bangalore Mirror. Juvenile offenders are also overstating their age to qualify as adults and enter the facility, the newspaper added. The reason is the healthy food served by ISKCON, or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a Hindu evangelist organisation, said the paper, whose reporters visited the facility. ISKCON, commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, started serving its pure-vegetarian fare in the jail on May 21 under contract from the prisons department. Lunch and dinner typically include piping hot rice, two vegetables and a spicy lentil dish called sambar and buttermilk. A dessert is added on festival days and national holidays like Independence Day, and also once a week. “When we are getting tasty, nutritious food three times a day here, why should we go out and commit crimes,” said prisoner Raja Reddy, who has been arrested 20 times in 30 years for theft, robbery and burglary. “Our going out of the prison will only benefit pawnbrokers who purchase stolen items at a throwaway price from us, advocates who fleece us to fight our case and the police who collect bribes,” Reddy was quoted as saying. afp

Think Before You Eat


Every day, several times a day, every living being, in whichever part of the world he may be, enjoys a universal ritual - eating.

Most people decide what they eat based mainly on taste, cost, habit, nutrition and convenience. But for those who are a little more thoughtful, here are some other points worth considering.



Let us compare the nutrition values of some common vegetarian foods and
some common flesh foods:

Vegetarian foods (100 gm)

Sr. No.     Name of food stuff Medical calories
1 Cashewnut 596
2 Coconut 444
3 Groundnut 549
4 Cheese 348
5 Ghee 900

Flesh foods (100 gm)

Sr. No.  Name of food stuff Medical calories 
1 Egg 173
2 Fish 91
3 Mutton 194
4 Pork 114
5 Beef 114


Let us compare some of the physiological features of flesh eaters, plant eaters & human beings:

Sr. No Features of flesh eaters  Features of Plant eaters  Features of human beings 
Intestinal tract only 3 times body length, so rapidly decaying meat can pass out of body quickly  Intestinal tract 10-12 times body length, fruits do not decay as rapidly, so can pass more slowly through body Intestinal tract 12 times body length 
2 Small salivary glands in the mouth ( not needed to predigest grains and fruits )  Well developed salivary glands, needed to predigest grains & fruits   Well developed salivary glands needed to predigest grains & fruits 
3 Acid saliva; no enzyme ptyalin to predigest grains  Alkaline saliva; much ptyalin to predigest grains  Alkaline saliva;Much ptyalin to predigest grains.  
4 No flat back molar teeth to grind food  Flat back molar teeth to grind food  Flat back molar teeth to grind food

Clearly the human body is not made for a non-vegetarian diet.


Due to their unnatural diet meat-eating human beings are far more susceptible to diseases and disorders as compared to their vegetarian counterparts. Comprehensive investigations by groups such as the National Academy of Sciences have linked meat eating to cancer, and the Journal of American Medicine reports: “90-97% of heart disease could be prevented by a vegetarian diet.”


Meat eating also has hazardous effects on the environment, such as forest destruction, agricultural inefficiency, soil erosion and desertification, air pollution, water depletion and water pollution.


Consider the following data. One thousand acres of Soyabeans yield 1124 pound of usable protein. One thousand acres of rice yield 938 pound of usable protein. One thousand acres of corn yield 1009 pound of usable protein. One thousand acres of wheat yield 1043 pound of usable protein. Now consider: this one thousand acres of Soyabeans, corn, rice or wheat, when fed to a steer, will yield only about 125 pounds of usable protein.

These and other findings point to a disturbing conclusion: meat eating is directly related to world hunger. A few statistics are as follows -
If all the Soyabeans and grains fed yearly to U. S. livestock were set aside for human consumption, it would feed 1.3 billion people.
It takes 16 pounds of grains and Soyabeans to produce 1 pound of feedlot beef. Therefore about 20 vegetarians can be fed on the land that it takes to feed 1 meat eater.
Feeding the average meat eater requires about 4,200 gallons of water per day, versus 1,200 gallons per day for lacto-vegetarian diet.
While it takes only 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat.
Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer has estimated that reducing meat production by just 10 percent would release enough grain to feed 60 million people.
In summary, millions will continue to die of thirst or starvation, while a privileged few consume vast amounts of proteins wasting land and water in the process. Ironically, this same meat is their own bodys’ worst enemy.

“Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

“When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him, he calls him ferocity.”

George Bernard Shaw

“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”

Albert Einstein

“I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants. “

M. K. Gandhi

“The flesh eating is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to moral feeling- killing. By killing man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity- that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like himself and by violating this his own feelings become cruel.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Flesh eating is unprovoked  murder.”

Benjamin Franklin

“As long as man massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”


“A dead cow or sheep lying in a pasture is recognized as carrion. The same sort of a carcass dressed and hung up in a butcher’s stall passes as food.”

J. H. Kellogg.


The Bhagavad Gita states that foods such as milk products, grains, fruits, and vegetables increase the duration of life and give strength, health, happiness, and satisfaction. Conversely, foods such as, meat, fish and fowl are putrid, decomposed and unclean. They cause numerous hazards to physical health.

The Srimad Bhagavatam, the summum bonum of all Vedic literature, states that meat-eating is one of the four pillars of sinful life. Apart from bringing evere sinful reactions, meat-eating also dulls the human intellect thus rendering it incapable of understanding the higher dimensions of life. Therefore real spiritual life, nay real human life, can not begin unless a human being stops killing his younger brothers, innocent animals, just for the satisfaction of his tongue.


We request all the readers of ‘Spiritual Scientist’ to forward this article to their friends and relatives who may have been misled and victimized by the treacherous propaganda blitz of the meat packing industry. This will help them to think for themselves about their dietary habits and arrive at an intelligent and mature decision.

The Spiritual Scientist Investigating Reality from the Higher Dimensional Perspective of Vedic Wisdom
Published by Bhaktivedanta Academy for Culture and Education (BACE), Pune
Dedicated to His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada,
The Greatest Spiritual Scientist of the Modern TimesMagazine Committee:
Radheshyam Das (M Tech IIT, Mumbai), Director, IYF
Chaitanya Charan Das (BE E&TC), Editor, The Spiritual Scientist

See our World Vegetarian Day Newsletters 2004 - 2005 - World Vege Day

See similar articles at Vegetarianism & beyond:


There was one mendicant.  He had no pot to drink water.  He had nothing.  He was just walking around barefoot with only his hands.  He had no place to live.  So he went to aa pot maker, and he begged repeatedly, "Please give me a pot.  I will use it for various purposes, so please give me."  After 10 months of begging, the pot maker made him a pot and gave it to him.  The mendicant took the pot, and he was looking at it, "I got a pot!  I got a pot!"  And he was dancing this way and that.  But when he threw the pot up into the air in joy, he forgot to catch it.

MORAL:  This is an expression in South India - a beggar begged for a pot for 10 months, and when he got it he just played with it and broke it.  This body is a pot.  We beg for 10 months, and then we get the pot.  Pregnancy lasts 9 months, and then in the 10th month we come out.  But then when we get the pot - "Oh I've got a pot!  I've got a pot!"  And we engage in sense gratification and then "Phut!"  And then one gets another pot.

See similar inspirational snippets HERE:

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Self Help and Motivational pages - Deals and Affiliate programs: -
Myth of the Aryan invasion by Dr. David Frawley: -

The Peace Formula - (By HDG Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

.........many other articles -

and from there go to the Main Index

Iskcon News Articles now available - many topical insights

See more on Darwin and Evolution HERE:

Articles from Back to Godhead Magazine:

Article on Mayapur Floods September 2006

Ganga comes for Darshan by Bhaktisiddhanta Swami

A selection of interesting Krishna conscious articles from New Panihati - Atlanta temple USA:

Paradigms - where things are not all they seem

 The Peace Formula

The Real Peace Formula

See more on Yoga and Meditation HERE:

World Vegetarian Day October 1st yearly &
World Vegetarian Awareness Month of October yearly
...please visit our links and see what you can do to help

World Smoke Free Day
31st May Every Year

yeah kick the butt
...and remember from 10th December 2004 no more smoking in public places in New Zealand by law