Understanding The Ratha Yatra
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura
The ecstasy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as follows. After giving up the company of the gopis in Vrindavan, Sri Krishna, the son of Maharaja Nanda, engaged in His pastimes at Dwaraka. When Krishna went to Kurukshetra with His brother and sister and others from Dwaraka, He again met the inhabitants of Vrindavan. Sri Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu is rādhā-bhāva-dyuti- suvalita, that is, Krishna Himself assuming the part of Srimati Radharani in order to understand Krishna. Lord Jagannathadeva is Krishna, and Sri Krishna ChaitanyaMahaprabhu is Srimati Radharani.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhus leading Lord Jagannatha toward the Gundica temple corresponded to Srimati Radharani’s
leading Krishna toward Vrindavan. Sri Kshetra, Jagannatha Puri, was taken as the kingdom of Dwaraka, the place where Krishna enjoys supreme opulence. But He was being led by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Vrindavan, the simple village where all the inhabitants are filled with ecstatic love for Krishna. Sri Kshetra is a place of aiśvarya-līlā (pastimes in opulence), just as Vrindavan is the place of mādhurya-līlā (pastimes of sweetness). Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhus following at the rear of the ratha indicated that Lord Jagannatha, Krishna, was forgful of the
inhabitants of Vrindavan. Although Krishna apparently neglected the inhabitants of Vrindavan, He could not actually forget them. Thus in His opulent Ratha-yātrā, He was returning to Vrindavan. In the role of Srimati Radharani, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was examining whether the Lord still remembered the inhabitants of
Vrindavan. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu fell behind the Ratha car, Jagannathadeva, Krishna Himself, understood the mind of Srimati Radharani. Therefore, Jagannatha sometimes fell behind the dancing Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to indicate to Srimati Radharani that He had not forgotten. Thus Lord Jagannatha would stop the forward march of the ratha and wait, standing completely still. In this way Lord Jagannatha agreed that without the ecstasy of Srimati Radharani He could not feel satisfied. While Jagannatha was thus waiting, Gaurasundara, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in His ecstasy of Srimati Radharani, immediately came forward to Krishna. At such times, Lord Jagannatha would proceed ahead very slowly. These reciprocative exchanges were all part of the loving affairs between Krishna and Srimati Radharani. In that competition between Lord Chaitanya’s ecstasy for Jagannatha and Jagannatha’s ecstasy for Srimati Radharani, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu emerged successful.
—An excerpt from the Anubhāñya Commentary of Śrīla
Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrī Caitanya Caritamrta,
Madhya-līlā, Chapter 13, text 119.