[June 24, 2023 is the celebration of Herā Pañcamī in Jagannātha Purī, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a question and answer session of devotees with Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on July 6, 2016. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
LOVING EXCHANGES BETWEEN LAKṢMĪ AND JAGANNĀTHA
Followers of the vidhi-mārga, see that Lord Jagannātha went away to Guṇḍicā [promising Lakṣmī that He would return soon]. Since He did not return for five days, Lakṣmī goes to investigate the reason for this on the fifth day, although She will not bring Him back by force. This is called Herā Pañcamī [‘Herā’ means to see and ‘pañcamī’ is the fifth day of the lunar cycle].
Lakṣmī goes with a lot of pomp on a palanquin via Badā Ḍanḍā (the Grand Road) to Guṇḍicā, accompanied by Her maid-servants, elephants, horses, hand torches and many musical instruments. But upon reaching there, She is not allowed entry as She does not possess the qualification to enter Vṛndāvana. Lakṣmī’s entry into Guṇḍicā is blocked. This makes Her very angry, so She breaks some portion of Jagannātha’s chariot [Nandighoṣa] and then returns [secretly], taking the back lanes via Herā Gohiri Sāhi. Upon returning, Lakṣmī sits on a beautiful pavilion called Chāhāni Manḍapa, in front of the temple, waiting to see if Jagannātha [as a caring husband] will return and protect Her or whether He has renounced Her.
[During the return Ratha-yātrā] When the Ratha approaches Rājavādi, the residence of Lakṣmī’s father, Her father receives his son-in-law and arranges for his daughter to meet with Him. Lakṣmī comes there and meets with the Lord and circumambulates Him. She then returns to the temple, and shuts the door. She doesn’t let Jagannātha enter the temple. Although at one end She shuts the temple door, on the other end She repeatedly keeps inquiring, “What is the mood of the Lord?” [This interaction takes place when all the three chariots return from Guṇḍicā and are outside the Śrī Mandira.] She is told, 'There is no reaction (vikāra) on the black Lord (Kālā Ṭhākura). But the senior Lord (Baḍā Ṭhākura—Lord Balarāma) comes across as if He will draw the whole of Purī and drown it in the ocean.” Then Lakṣmī [being gripped with fear] says, “Who ordered to close the door for the others? I never gave such orders. The doors are only closed for the black Lord (Kālā Ṭhākura). We can allow Śrī Baladeva and Subhadrā-devī to enter.”
Then Lakṣmī poses a question when someone from outside asks to open the door, “Who are you? Where have you come from?” In response, She is told, “He is the Lord.” Lakṣmī retorts, “If He is the Lord, then how come He is outside His royal palace? The King or the Lord always resides in His Royal Palace.” Then the Lord responds, “I had assigned Lakṣmī the responsibility to look after the Kingdom and its subjects, however She failed. So in order to see if everything is carrying on nicely, I have to go and check the Kingdom.” [The door is still not opened as Lakṣmī is still angry.] Eventually, to pacify Lakṣmī, the Lord says, “I have brought rasagullās [a popular Indian dessert made from cheese balls dipped in sugary syrup] for You from Bengal and sārīs from Benares.' He indeed brings those articles, it is not for namesake. [In the honor of this home-coming pastime called Nilādri Vijaya] that day rasagullās are offered to Jagannātha. Otherwise rasagullās are never offered to Jagannātha as bhoga inside the temple.
After this, He is allowed entry into the temple. Those who follow maryādā-mārga only like such pastimes. When Jagannātha is waiting outside the temple, He is not offered conventional bhoga as He is offered inside the temple. Such an offering is called niṣapuri prasāda. He partakes fruits. Villagers offer ciḍwā bhāṣā, prepared by softening ciḍwā (flattened rice) first with coconut water, and then adding coconut, clarified butter, jaggery, clove, cinnamon, and cardamom. Anna-bhoga (rice, vegetables, etc.) is not offered.
So during this period the local women observe Lakṣmī-vrata, wherein they do not consume grains. In our Purī maṭha, khicaḍī would be distributed as prasāda, but these women folk would not honor khicaḍī. They would ask, “Do you take grains during this time?” Since they were doing Lakṣmī-vrata and Jagannātha was not eating grains/rice, they would say, “How can we have it?” We would reply, “We do not follow their procedures; we follow the mood of the worship of Vṛndāvana.”
MAHĀPRABHU ESTABLISHED BOTH THE MOODS – VIDHI AND RĀGA
There are two associates of Mahāprabhu – Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita and Svarūpa Dāmodara. [On the day of Herā-Pañcamī, Mahāprabhu instigated a debate between Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita and Svarūpa Dāmodara to clearly delineate the difference between the two moods of devotional service.]. Thus Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita, who exhibited the opulent mood (maryādā-bhāva) of worship, glorified the mood of Lakṣmī saying 'See, how opulent our Lakṣmī-devī is.’ And Svarūpa Dāmodara responded by elucidating the supremacy of the mood of the vraja-gopīs. Svarūpa Dāmodara said to Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita, “You don’t even understand the mood of Vṛndāvana.” [Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas only endeavor to take the Lord to Vṛndāvana as they are attracted to the mood of Vṛndāvana.]
Making both Svarūpa Dāmodara and Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita as mediums, He gave the teaching. Svarūpa Dāmodara is a Vraja-vāsī and Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita is a Purī-vāsī.
It is not possible to understand all these by our own endeavors, only when we go along with the praṇayi-bhaktas, under their shelter, we can understand this mood.