Today is Hera Panchami

Dear devotees,

Hare Krsna.
Dandvat pranam. Jai Srila Prabhupad.

Today is Hera Panchami…a grand festival which takes place on 5th day from Rath Yatra. On the Rath Yatra day, Lord Jagannath leaves the temple in Jagannath Puri (representing Dwarka) and goes to Gundica temple (representing Vrindavan). Before leaving Sri Jagannathji took leave from His wife Lakshmiji and promises her that He would be back next day. But it is now 5th day and there is no news of Sri Jagannathji. So Lakshmiji calls upon her servants and prepares a well-armed party to bring back Lord Jagannath. She goes to the Gundica temple with lot of show and pomp. On reaching the temple, they start beating and arresting the servants of Lord Jagannath and then makes them promise to return the Lord worst case by next day. While returning back from Gundica temple, Mother Lakshmi’s servants attack the Nandigosh cart – the Ratha of Lord Jagannath (which brought Lord Jagannath to Gundica temple) and breaks off a small piece of cart to take back with them.

This is a very sweet pastime which is being celebrated every year at Jagannath Puri. It is unfortunate that due to work pressures and nature of our lifestyle here, we are not able to fully celebrate Rath Yatra by performing such festivals which adds to the sweet taste of Rath Yatra. I sincerely wish that a day would come when we can celebrate Gundica Marjan a day before Rath Yatra and we can do the Hera Panchami festival….but I am not sure if we want to bring back Lord Jagannath from Vrindavan to Dwarka….let the Lord enjoy with his beloved Vrajvasis. Even if we cant personally organize these festivals in detail we can atleast read about them, hear about them, and discuss about them with devotees to sooth our aching heart. The word Hera’ means ‘to see’ and ‘Panchami’ means ‘on fifth day’. So on this day, Mother Lakshmi very impatient to see her beloved Lord Jagannath, marches onto Gundica temple and creates a scene for Lord to return.

This pastime is very beautifully explained in Sri Chaitanya Charitamritam, Madhya Lila, Chapter 14. I would recommend that all devotees should read this chapter today and appreciate the beauty and deep meaning of this wonderful pastime. As you are reading this pastime, try to think of an answer to the following questions (this is how we read pastimes…where we under the guidance of Acharyas/ devotees analyze the deeper meaning of pastimes) –

  • Why did Lord Jagannath not take Lakshmi devi with Him in Rath Yatra to Gundica?
  • Why did He take His brother Baladev and sister Subhadra with Him?
  • Why does Lakshmi devi never gain entrance in Gundica?
  • What is the difference between Dwarka, Kurukshetra, and Vrindavan?
  • What is the mood of Lakshmiji in all 3 places? What kind of ‘maana’ is displayed by Lakshmiji? What is the mood of Vrajvasis, especially Gopis in all 3 places?
  • What is the difference in beauty of Jagannath in Dwarka, Kurukshetra, and Vrindavan?
  • What is the mood of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and how He sees Lord Jagannath, Sri Baladev and Devi Subhadraji?

May Lord Jagannath along with His brother Baladev and sister Subhadra always rule our heart…

your servant,
Padmanabh das

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