Posted on July 17, 2009 by Raghava

Book Distribution in Puri Dhama
Report written by: Sulata dasi
On the morning of the Ratha Yatra, we all set out in the blistering heat towards the main road that joins the Jagannatha Mandira to the Gundica Mandira. Today, that same road, which is usually filled with locals going about their daily duties, would be host to millions of pilgrims from all over India and a handful from other areas of the world, all eagerly awaiting darsana of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra on their journey back to Vrndavana, Gundica.

In his morning class, Premananda Prabhu emphasized the importance of having the right mood throughout this special day. He said that we should fully give up all mundane talk and only do sankirtana, just like Mahaprabhu and His parikaras. He explained that by this sankirtana, we can attract Lord Jagannatha and that in our present condition we have no qualification to pull Him back to Vrndavana. Pulling the ropes of the cart will not purify our hearts, but sankirtana will.That day was particularly humid and the ocean breeze that Puri is famous for was notably absent, but the excitement and anticipation of receiving the sweet and merciful darsana of Patita Pavana Sri Jagannathdeva, helped us to forget the austere weather conditions.

We decided that the devotees who had not previously attended the Ratha Yatra should watch Jagannatha ascend the cart and that the others should pay their pranamas, have darsana, and make their way to the book stall.

AA few days before we arrived, Vamsi Vadana Prabhu, temple president of Srila Gurudeva’s Puri Matha, and Janardan Prabhu, a local devotee, had worked hard to arrange two stalls, one next to the Gundica Mandira and the other strategically placed on the main road. In the morning, Vamsi Vadana Prabhu and other brahmacaris, took hundreds of books to each location ready for distribution, and Premamanda Prabhu arranged for kitchari prasada for the thousands of pilgrims. .

By the time we arrived at the stall, the main road was already full of pilgrims. We grabbed an armful of books, put on our hats to protect us from the sun’s powerful rays, and plunged into the sea of pilgrims. We were immediately mobbed by eager devotees. It was really quite remarkable, as Orrisa is a very poor state and has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in India. The books seemed to fly out of our hands, sending us running back to the stall, for more books full of transcendental knowledge. The crowd was so dense and the weather was so extremely hot and humid that we had to retreat to the side of the road every half hour for some air and a drink of water.

All the pilgrims were very pleasant, and even though they only spoke scant English and Hindi, somehow we managed to communicate with them. It was an incredible feeling to be part of Mahaprabhu’s movement, under the guidance of Srila Gurudeva, carrying His message in our arms to thousands of devotees on the day that Krsna makes His way back home to His beloved Vrajavasis.At about 2 p.m. Baladeva Prabhu’s cart rapidly approached our stall and we had to quickly pack everything away. In a matter of minutes, the space we had occupied would be filled with thousands of devotes pulling the ropes of Jagannatha’s cart.After packing our books away, we joined Srila Gurudeva’s kirtana party, who were singing and dancing for the pleasure of Baladeva Prabhu. For the next few hours we were all absorbed in singing the holy names. No picture or video can capture the wonder of this festival and no words can describe how it felt to perform sankirtana on such an occasion.

At one point, Srila Gurudeva’s kirtana party were sandwiched between ISKCON and Caitanya Sarasvata Matha. Held high in the air above the heads of the dancing devotees were pictures of Srila Svami Maharaja, Srila Gurudeva, and Srila Sridhara Maharaja, all eternal devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who were carrying Krsna back home to Vrndavana, on the chariot of their hearts. For me, this was the highlight of the whole festival. I felt proud and fortunate to be sheltered by such a matchless Guru-parampara and happy to witness that by the arrangement of Mahaprabhu, all the kirtana parties came together as one family.When Jagannatha finally arrived, the skies opened up and rain began to fall. Jaya Jagannatha!The next day we all went back to area of the Gundica Mandira and spent the whole afternoon, evening, and night (until 12 a.m.) distributing books from the stall and within the crowd. Even the Mathura-vasi girls, who had never previously distributed books, fearlessly penetrated the crowd carrying the message of eternal happiness under their arm. On that day, even rickshaw, and pan wallas bought books from us. One rickshaw walla was so happy with the book that he said to me, “If you serve Jagannatha like this, you will always be happy.” Then he kissed the book and touched it to his forehead.

Late that night Baladeva Prabhu, and Subhadra devi entered the Gundica Mandira. Then, at about 1.15 a.m. Jagannatha also disappeared into Gundica Mandira, leaving behind the smell of His flower crown and the trail of His lotus feet in the dust. I felt sad knowing that it would be another year before I would have His darsana again, but I was happy and grateful He had allowed me to speak and distribute His glories on that day.Jaya Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra!Jaya Srila Gurudeva, the greatest philanthropist, who is giving freely in charity, the gift of krsna-prema to those who are willing to accept it.
Jaya transcendental book distribution.