Devotees Participate in Gundica-Marjana

Gundica Marjan 2011The observance of Gundica-marjana, the washing and cleansing of the Gundica temple, takes place on the day before Ratha-yatra, in preparation for the arrival of the Lord.

The history of Ratha-yatra goes back thousands of years, to a previous age, but the specific significance of the Ratha-yatra and the cleaning of the Gundica temple for us, was shown by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He was residing in Jagannatha Puri five hundred years ago. In the transcendental mind of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the temple of Lord Jagannatha in Nilacala represented Dvakara, or sometimes Kuruksetra, and the Gundica temple in Sundaracala represented Vrndavana. And for Him, the Ratha-yatra was the process of the residents of Vrndavana meeting Krsna at Kuruksetra and bringing Him back to Vrndavana after a long separation.

Lord Jagannatha, along with His brother Baladeva and sister Subhadra reside in the Gundica temple for eight days after the Rath-yatra and thereafter return to Jagannatha temple in Nilachal (Puri). 

Other than the eight days between the first procession and the return procession, the Gundica temple remains empty during the rest of the year and as a result it accumulates all sorts of dust and dirt.

Thus, in preparation for the Lord’s arrival at the Gundica temple, Lord Caitanya guided his associates to clean the temple. Lord Caitanya personally gathered piles of dust, straw and sand and instructed the devotees by His personal example. He constantly chanted the Holy names of the Lord while sweeping and mopping with his own clothes. He cleaned the temple a second time and thereafter thoroughly washed the temple and the sitting place of Lord Jagannatha. He also cleaned the outside so as to prevent any dust from re-entering the temple. In this way all the quarters of the Gundica temple were completely cleaned and cleared. All quarters were cool and spotless, like one's cleansed and pacified mind. 

The activity of cleansing the Gundica temple is taken as not only a process for cleaning a temple complex, but also as a metaphor for how we should go about cleaning our own hearts. The temple was cleansed to make it a fit place for the Lord to reside. Similarly, each of us has to clean his or her heart to make it a fit place for the Lord. In this age, everyone’s heart is especially unclean. To wash away all dirty things accumulated within the heart, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised everyone to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. The first result will be that the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam). 

Srila Prabhupada has commented that if you clean the temple, you clean your heart; if you polish the deity’s paraphernalia, you polish your heart. Of course, the Lord always resides in the hearts of the living entities (isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati), but we want our hearts to be worthy places for Him to stay and enjoy His pastimes.

Resident devotees, congregation devotees, temple management and a few visitors came together to enthusiastically participate in the Gundica-marjana festival which was observed on 2nd July 2011. While the pujaris cleaned the main altar, several other devotees scrubbed clean Prabhupada’s Vyasasana, the marble pillars, courtyard, stairways, floor and the parikrama path. Many department members also cleaned their respective offices. Thus, they all hoped to clean their heart of the material desires and attachments, and increase their love for Krsna.