Sri Ksetra is Vaikuntha on earth, as it is the eternal abode of Lord Jagannatha. It is not part of this mortal world. Jagannatha Puri, per our material vision, is situated on the shore of the Bay of Bengal in Eastern India, in the State of Odisha. The actual significance of this holy place is a mystery to those who are not devotees of Lord Krishna. Millions of pilgrims and those who are devout visit this city every year. The most important event is the annual car festival, popularly known as the Jagannatha Ratha-yatra, when Lord Jagannatha along with His brother, Balarama, and sister, Subhadra, emerge out of Their temple and take a 5-kilometer ride along the wide street to a special garden, known as Gundica. This garden, where a temple is situated, is itself mysterious. This is where the Lord performs His divine pastimes in the association of His loving devotees of Vrndavana, Lord Jagannatha stays in the Gundica temple for nine days, after which He returns to His temple, Sri Mandir Jagannatha Ratha-yatra is one of the biggest religious gatherings in India with an estimated 1-1.5 million people who converge on a single day to witness ‘the journey of the Lord as He is pulled by thousands and thousands of devotees along the road. The scriptures have declared that anyone who witnesses this car festival is assured of liberation from materialistic existence.
From the historical and archeological point of view, many books, essays and articles about Sri Ksetra have been published in both Indian and Western languages. This book, Sri Ksetra, has not been composed just to add another edition following the precedent, but rather in this book the restlessness of such an envious flow of thought has been indirectly exposed. With the intention, aim, and prayer of being smeared by the dust from the lotus feet of the residents of that Sri Dhama which is served by the devotees who are staunchly devoted to Sri Gaura, which is fully transcendental and spiritual, which is the manifestation of the Supreme Lord’s internal potency, which is the most merciful incarnation, and which helps even a person who visits Sri Dhama for his own selfish purpose achieve merciful glance of the exalted devotees, an attempt has been made to compile this literature.
It is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.16
"O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vasudeva."
Since the sober saintly persons constantly carry the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord within their heart, they themselves are the most holy places of pilgrimage. What to speak of them, even those who fix their mind on the eternally pleasant Supreme Lord even once, they too do not again serve the averse household life or home, which usually takes away the power of discrimination, steadiness, patience, tolerance, and peace of mind, but they serve the holy dhama like Sri Purusottama, Sri Mathura, Sri Vrndavana, Sti Dvaraka, which are the residences of the Supreme Lord. In other words, they visit and reside in those abodes in order to worship Sti Hari. According to the statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.87.35), in holy places there is every possibility of being given the opportunity to associate with saintly persons, which is the root cause of developing devotional service to Krsna. By serving these holy places one suddenly receives the opportunity to achieve the service to the great Vaisnavas. And by serving the saintly persons one develops a taste for hearing the topics of Lord Vasudeva.
Even those who travel to the holy places for their own work, they too easily get the chance to see, speak and serve the saintly persons who visit these holy places or who permanently live there. Godless living entities do not have the propensity to search after the great souls and associate with them, but by the influence of the sight of the great souls who are distressed by seeing others in distress, they develop faith in following their behavior. Gradually such a person becomes interested in hearing the glorification of the Supreme Lord from these mahatmas. In this way, even for godless people, there is a possibility for developing the taste for hearing the topics of Hari by serving the great devotees. By hearing the topics of the Lord from the mouth of the pure devotees, a person immediately awakens their attraction for the service of Sri Hari.
Of the twenty-four years that Sri Gaurasundara performed His sannydsa pas- time, the last eighteen years He resided at Nilacala and taught devotional service to the living entities through His own personal examples (CC, Madhya 1.22.) Even during the last six years of His manifest pastime He frequently visited Sri Purusot- tama. Who can estimate Sri Lila Purusottama’s (Sri Gaurasundara’s) waves of the mood of separation of the ocean of transcendental pastimes that were discovered at Sri Purusottama dhama?
With an intense hankering to bathe in the confluence of the ocean of transcendental mellows emanating from Sri Krsna Caitanya’s lotus feet, many great devotees from many countries assembled like a devotion-filled Ganges River at the shore of the blue ocean, which resembled the waters of Kalindi. The shore of the blue sea, the overflow of the ocean of nectarean mellows in the mood of separation, accompanied by the heartfelt and intimate service of Sri Sri Svartipa and Ramaraya, enhanced the beauty of the science of spiritual mellows and transcendental vision enjoyed by the combined form of Rasaraja and Mahabhava (Lord Caitanya.) That is why even today the most sanctified blue sea of Sri Purusottama is singing the magnanimous glories of the beauty of Sri Caitanyacandra’s and His associates’ toenails with liberal sweet melodies, waving dances, and emotional overflow.
O Sri Jagannatha, O crest jewel of Nilacala, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears in the Deity form made of wood, O blackish personality, O Purusottama, please be kind unto me.
O lotus-eyed Lord, O nectar on the shore of the ocean, O Gitikodara [Jagannatha is called Gitikodara because a Salagrama-sila wrapped in fine silk cloth is kept inside the stomach of the Jagannatha Deity], O enjoyer of unlimited pastimes, please protect me.
You bestow nectar from Your lips to Your devotees. King Indradyumna attained Your favor. You are very eager to show affection to Your sister, Subhadra. O younger brother of Balarama, I offer my obeisances unto You.
You have introduced various festivals, such as Your journey to the Gundica temple upon a chariot. O decoration of the chariot to Gundica, You are very affectionate to Your devotees; I bow down unto you. (Sri Sri Krsna-lilastavah, Obeisances No. 103, Srila Sandtana Gosvami)
The inspiration to publish Sri Ksetra came during my visit a few years ago to Sri Jagannatha Ratha-yatra in Jagannatha Puri. The sheer amount of spiritual energy and the devotional atmosphere was so overwhelming that it is impossible to describe with mere words.
Lord Jagannatha is very merciful. His mercy is felt by millions of devotees who thronged the annual Jagannatha Ratha-yatra at Puri dhama. The apex of my visit to the Ratha-yatra occurred the day after when J was able to climb onto the chariot of Jagannathadeva. With the urgings of the pujaris, I embraced Lord Jagannatha, spreading my arm around Him and my head touching His lotus feet.
Placing my head on the lotus feet of Jagannathadeva, | felt it was the perfection of my scanty devotional life!
As you will read throughout this book, even just a visit to Jagannatha Puri assures liberation from material existence and the attainment of Krishna bhakti.
My visit was not just a visit, but being able to embrace the Lord and touch my head to His lotus feet was in itself a perfection. When I did this, within me arose an overwhelming desire to publish a book about Sri Jagannatha and His abode, Sri Ksetra.
As I was deliberating on how to start this immense project, I reasoned that there are already many books published about Jagannatha Puri. However, those books are mainly tourist and pilgrimage guides about places to visit in Puri; most hardly mentioning the significance of such places.
I felt strongly that there must be a book that is more than just place descriptions for curious tourists, but one that shares the intensity and spiritual energy that permeate those places. Those who are born from outside the Vedic culture are not allowed inside Sri Jagannatha temple, but they are given the opportunity to see Lord Jagannatha when He leaves His temple for His annual trip to Gundica temple.
Gundica is a replica of Vrndavana. Krishna as a king lived in Dvaraka, so the inhabitants of Vrndavana had to meet Krishna at the holy place of Kurukietra. Feeling intense separation from Krishna, they began pulling His chariot to take Him back to Vrndavana. Ratha-yatra is Krishna symbolically travelling to Vrndavana when He goes to Gundica temple, a distance of less than five kilometers.
This four-part book Sri Kserra is not just an ordinary pilgrimage guide. It begins from the historical aspect of the manifestation of Jagannatha and the establishment of His temple on the shore of the ocean, popularly known as the blue mountain (Niladri.)
It details all the rituals inside the Jagannatha temple as contained in the ancient book known as Madla Panjika There are also descriptions of various places in Odisha and their connection to Sri Jagannatha Puri.
The most significant aspect of this book, however, is the description of the most merciful Lord, known as the moving Jagannatha, the golden-complexioned Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The publication’s chief aim is therefore to delight the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Gaudiya Vaisnavas will deepen their knowledge of all the associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who participated in the Lord’s pastimes in Jagannatha Puri. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is therefore the central character of this book.
Eminent scholar Sri Sundarananda Vidyavinoda Prabhu wrote the four parts over a few years. We are eternally indebted to him for his intense labor in the compilation and writing of this book.
The first part consists of descriptions of Sri Purusottama—the scriptural and historical informations; the procedures for the worship of Sri Jagannathadeva and the renowned temple. It also includes evidences from the most ancient and authentic literature of the world, the Rg Veda, in particular regard to Sri Jagannathadeva, who is the Supreme Lord Himself in wooden form. Also included is an elaborate descriptions of the varieties of foodstuffs offered to Sri Jagannathadeva, the varieties of servants of Lord Jagannatha, the whole history and a detailed description of Navakalevara, as well as additional information on Sri Ratha-yatra have been included.
The second part of the book describes the various mathas or monasteries of Odhisa, the history of the old mathas of Sri Ksetra; and a list of old and new mathas in the locality of the Sri Purusottama dhama.
In the third part, are the descriptions of all the places visited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates on the way to Jagannatha Puri. There are descrip- tions about Jalesvara, Remuna, Yajapura, and other holy places around it. Cuttack, Saksigopala, Sri Bhuvaneégvara, a thoroughly researched discussion about the tem- ple of Sti Ananta Vasudeva and on Satyabhamapura, Kapotesvara, Dandabhanga River, Kamalapura, Atharanala, Alalafiatha, Bentpura, Konarak in accordance with the evidences found in S77 Caitanya-bhdgavata and in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta af- ter carefully collecting the original information about these places.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAR991 Author: Bhumipati Dasa Cover: HARDCOVER Publisher: Touch Stone Media ISBN: 9788193481448 Language: English Size: 9.50 X 7.50 inch Pages: 592 (3 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.78 Kg