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The Unstoppable Lord of the Universe

What’s the meaning of the English word ‘Juggernaut’?


What is the origin of the word?

During the British reign of India, the English Missionaries were frustrated by their efforts to stop the festival of chariots at Puri.

Puri, a coastal town in the state of Orissa, Eastern India, is thronged by millions of worshippers every year for the annual ‘Rath Yatra’ (the festival of chariots). In this traditional festival, which dates to over a thousand years, three huge deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra are carried in a procession amidst loud chanting and festivities.

The British considered it as their thankless ‘white man’s burden’ to put an end to this festival of the ‘idolators.’ Their efforts were like that of young kids throwing pebbles into the ocean to stop the surging waves. Lord Jagannath is unstoppable! And when the English realized the overwhelming waves of devotion shown by the Indians for Lord Jagannath, they borrowed ‘Jagannath’ into their own lexicon; to imply an unrelenting force. Note the phonetic similarities between ‘Jagannath’ and ‘Juggernaut.’

With big, round eyes, Lord Jagannath has charmed His devotees for thousands of years. Millions throng each year to petition the Lord for blessings. The breath taking sight of the carts rattling along with their imposing size, and hundreds of men on the cart, playing drums in a rhythmic manner, leaves one stunned.

One year I was shocked to see an elderly blind couple, stand on the street corner, waiting the whole day under hot sun, for the cart to arrive. They constantly chanted fervent prayers with the enthusiasm of young teenagers. Late in the afternoon when the carts came along, pulled by hundreds, the old couple squeezed themselves to the corner. The blind man gently ushered his wife, while he himself struggled to balance in the pandemonium.

As people got desperate to get a glimpse of the Lord on the cart, this couple was content to sing prayers; they couldn’t see the Lord with their material eyes. I instantly felt they had a special vision; they saw the Lord with the eyes of their heart. After the cart passed them, I humbly asked their realization. The man replied, “We come every year to be seen by Jagannath.” The response left me speechless; I knew most of us came to see the Lord, but here was a couple who wished the Lord saw them.

Srila prabhupada was once asked if he saw God. He humbly replied, “It’s not important to see God; it’s more important to be seen by God.” When we cultivate a sincere desire to serve and please God and His devotees, we are seen by Jagannath.



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