"Great deed!" I thought proudly; then Krsna made me bite the dust.
This event took place during the Lord Jagannatha Rathayatra held this year in Puri I was with a group of ISKCON devotees who were visiting the holy dham during that time. "Bharat,' one of my friends told me, "One who pulls the ropes of the carts of Lord Jagannatha Ji is sure to go back to Godhead. Therefore, whatever happens, don't miss this golden chance."
Although I agreed to his proposal but I soon realized that, it is easier said than done. Lakhs of pilgrims arrive at Puri on the day of Rathayatra and all of them want to pull the ropes. To safeguard the Deities and the carts, security forces form a ring around the carts and allow only a limited number inside. Tens of thousands of people jostle to pull the ropes and accidents, trampling, and stampedes are common events. It is definitely not a job for the weak and the meek.
On the day of Rathayatra, our ISKCON devotees gathered together in a big group and were chanting and dancing infront of the cart of Lord Jagannatha. When it was time to pull the cart of Lord Balarama, I managed to get through the security ring and pushing around my way reached the ropes. After pulling them for some distance, I sneaked out. Then I saw some fellow devotees who could not enter inside the ring. "Tough luck," I said to them, but within my heart, I felt somewhat triumphant.
Similarly, when the cart of Subhadra Devi began to move, I got to pull the The teeming millions on the day of rathayatra ropes while many others of my fellow devotees missed the chance. My chest swelled with pride at my accomplishment.
Now I was confident that I had the prowess to pierce through the vast crowd and reach out to Lord Jagannatha's cart. Sure enough, very soon I managed to get hold of the ropes.
I glanced at the countless devotees who were struggling hard to be in my position but were unable to do so. I was surveying the vast sea of humanity lost in my own thoughts of vanity, when suddenly the head priest Signaled the beginning of parade. Within a split second, the teeming mass of humanity collectively gave a mighty heave. The jerk caught me unaware and swept me off my feet. I fell down. Reflexively, my hands tightened a round the rope and I held on, hanging precariously on to it. I tried to stand but the convoy moved too fast for me to get a footh old . Thousands of people were all around me pullin g, pushing, shoving, and jostling to hold on to just an inch of rope even for a Single moment. None seemed to notice me. I was dragged along with the giant caravan.
I shouted for help, raising my left hand and frantically waving it. In the loud cacophony of bells, gongs, mrdangas, and kirtan none heard my cries. My arms began to ache and I knew I could not hold on for long; I was moments away from sure death. A gloomy vision appeared before me in which I saw thousands of people running over my body and crushing me to death. I gave up all hopes of survival and darkness began to loom before my eyes
Suddenly a tall, dark, well-built person , who was behind at least three rows of men, grabbed my raised hand and with a single jerk pulled me out. The moment my feet touched solid ground I broke down uncontrollably. It felt like a second life; so close was I to death ! After some moments, I turned to thank my savior, but he had disappeared; I looked around but couldn 't find him. I stood there for some moments and then walking past the vast crowd, I came to a clear area, fell flat on ground, and offered heartfelt prayers and obeisance to the Lord of the Universe.
I had learnt my lesson. Until then I had only heard that the Lord does not like His devotee to become proud. Now I had practical realization.
Whatever ability we posses to perform any extraordinary deed has its origin in the Lord. He provides us with the body, which performs action; He gives us the strength and the inspiration with which we pursue the goal; and He creates the resources and the objects in the world around us through which we can materialize that activity. Thus, nothing actually belongs to us.
This should help us develop a mood of humility. We should increase our dependence on the Lord and gratitude for all His gifts. A simple faith in our relation with Him in servitude is enough to attract His mercy. This will give us the right attitude to chant His holy name and finally go back to Him, back to Godhead.
Bhakta Bharata Bhalsavar works as an assistant accountant and is an actor and writer of stage plays and TV serials.