This Ratha-yātrā festival is very old—at least for 5,000 years. Lord Kṛṣṇa along with His elder brother Balabhadra, or Balarāma, and His sister Subhadrā came in a chariot from Dvārakā to Kurukṣetra. We are commemorating this arrival of Lord Kṛṣṇa with His family on this chariot. This function is held in Jagannātha Purī. Mostly you know, in India it is a great festival. And we are introducing this festival in the Western countries along with Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, because the original progenitor of this Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, namely Lord Caitanya, He took very much active part in this Ratha-yātrā festival.
So following His footsteps, we are also introducing this Ratha-yātrā festival in the Western countries. Simultaneously as it is being observed in London, it is being held in San Francisco, Buffalo and...
Devotees: Melbourne, Tokyo.
Prabhupāda: Melbourne, Tokyo and many other places. And India also, in Calcutta also. So this festival, taking part in these festivals, means a step forward for our self-realization. Rathe ca vāmanaṁ dṛṣṭvā punar janma na vidyate. Simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement for stopping the repetition of birth and death.
So I am very glad that you have taken so much trouble to come here. Now you will chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra along with the devotees and take part in honoring the prasādam. The prasādam is also one of the program. Our Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is standing on three principal things: chanting, dancing and eating prasādam. It is not very difficult. It is very enjoyable to chant, dance and take prasādam. And if you like, you can hear a little philosophy of this movement.
Or even if you do not understand the philosophy, even you do not read the books, simply if you take part in these three things, chanting, dancing and taking part in eating the prasādam, your life will gradually progress in spiritual advancement of life. And if you continue this, then some day will come, even in this life it may come, that you will understand what is Kṛṣṇa. And as soon as you understand Kṛṣṇa, then after leaving this body you go back to home, back to Godhead, directly(?).
This is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. Those who have read Bhagavad-gītā, Lord Kṛṣṇa says,
- janma karma me divyaṁ
- yo jānāti tattvataḥ
- tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
- naiti mām eti kaunteya
- (BG 4.9)
Simply by understanding Kṛṣṇa, janma karma..., Kṛṣṇa's appearance, Kṛṣṇa's disappearance, Kṛṣṇa's activities... This Ratha-yātrā is one of the activities of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore to take part in the Ratha-yātrā festival means to associate with Kṛṣṇa directly.
So in this way, if we associate with Kṛṣṇa's name, Kṛṣṇa's pastimes, Kṛṣṇa's qualities, Kṛṣṇa's form, then gradually we transcend this material existence. Janma karma me divyaṁ yo jānāti tattvataḥ. If we simply try to understand about Kṛṣṇa's movement, then the result is, Kṛṣṇa says, tyaktvā dehaṁ. We have to give up this body. But if we give up this body after being elevated into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then Kṛṣṇa says, tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti (BG 4.9). Then, after giving up this body, you haven't got to accept another material body. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti.
Then where shall I go? Kṛṣṇa says, mām eti: "He comes to Me." There is planet beyond this material sky. There is another sky. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: paras tasmāt tu bhavo 'nyo 'vyakto 'vyaktāt sanātanaḥ (BG 8.20). There is another sky, which is eternal. This sky is temporary. Just like your body, my body or anything in this material world, they are temporary. They have got a date of birth, and they grow, they stay, they produce some by-product, then dwindle and then vanishes. That is material nature. But there is another nature, which is called spiritual nature. Even when everything is annihilated, that nature stands.