Open in App
Open in App

Benefits of Ratha-Yatra

Another special detail was Prabhupada's introduction of Ratha-yatra. The Nectar of Devotion states that Vaishnavas should observe festivals in glorification of the Lord. As a small child, Prabhupada had been attracted to this particular festival and had celebrated it with his parents and friends. He also knew that Lord Jagannatha was most merciful and that by enacting this pastime, the Lord of the Universe would bless the Westerners, who had practically no chance of hearing Krishna conscious philosophy. In San Francisco, the devotees one day discovered small Jagannatha murtis at an import store. Prabhupada had Syamasundara dasa carve larger deities and then he installed them in New Jagannatha Puri, San Francisco. Looking out his window one day, Prabhupada saw a flatbed truck and asked the devotees to take the Jagannatha deities on procession in the back of a truck, and to distribute prasadam. After this first small Ratha-yatra, Prabhupada gradually introduced the festival in most of the large cities of the world. Even in his purport to Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya-lila 13.9, Prabhupada mentions the newspaper article about the 1973 London Ratha-yatra: "ISKCON Ratha-yatra is rival to the Nelson Column in Trafalgar Square. Just as the residents of Puri compare the Ratha-yatra car to Mount Sumeru, the residents of London considered the car rival to the Nelson Monument." Prabhupada did not invent the Ratha-yatra; it was already present in Vedic culture. But he successfully applied it to the Western setting. Ratha-yatra was a particularly wonderful idea. It was something Westerners could easily relate to a parade, a festival, a feast and Prabhupada knew that those who saw Lord Jagannatha on His cart would get great spiritual benefit.



Reference: Prabhupada Appreciation by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami