Deity form of the Lord is the most munificent manifestation of the Lord for conditioned souls like us. We can easily access Lord Jagannath in his deity form. We can easily relate to him. We can offer service to him. We can pray for his mercy. Rath Yatra is a special occasion where Lord Jagannath’s munificence and compassion is multiplied several times.
Compassion without any conditions
In normal days, Lord Jagannath gives his darshan to only those who come to his temple. The darshan is also available at specified times. Generally devotees and pious people come to take his darshan and receive his grace. On the day of Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannath himself comes out to gives his darshan and practically throughout the day. He also openly accepts whatever is offered to him. He comes out with his devotees to attract the conditioned souls who are otherwise lazy and averse to take his darshan and offer him service.
Compassion foregoing all comforts
Lord Jagannath is worshipped with great care and provided utmost comfort. He has his personal time to take his meals prepared with great love and offered at several intervals. He has his personal time to relax and spend with his confidential associates. He stands in a comfortable and pleasant atmosphere. On the day of Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannath forgoes his comfortable and pleasant accommodation and takes to the road amidst the sweltering heat and restless mass of people. He sacrifices his private time and association of his confidential and intimate associates and gives his full time to bestow his compassion to the conditioned souls.
Compasing bypassing all rules
Traditionally, main deities are never taken out in procession. They permanently stay in the place where they are installed. The utsav deities which are generally small in size are taken in procession. That too they are also taken in procession for a short time. Lord Jagannath’s desire to attract conditioned souls and offer his sweet shelter is so intense so that he goes out in his full opulence and majesty to attract their hearts.
Compassion bypassing all restrictions
Traditionally, some classes of devotees are not allowed to take darshan and offer service in the temple. On the Ratha Yatra day, Lord Jagannath opens himself fully to everyone without any bar of caste, color and nationality. He looks forward to meet these devotees and sometimes patiently waits for them. In fact even at the onset, the Lord accepts service from dayatapatis who are from sabara caste which is considered outside the varnasrama system.
On this occasion of Rath Yatra, let us pray to Lord Jagannath for unmotivated love to his lotus feet and to become an instrument of his compassion to the conditioned souls of this world.