Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu once visited Vrindavan, where he observed the Holi festival. After his return to bengal, he pondered deeply and decided to introduce the festival but in a different form. It came to be known as Dolyatra.
What is the significance of Dolyatra? Winter is over, and people are active once again. They plan to do so many things for the benefit of society. Similarly, when they think of Krishna, their minds are filled with joy. The very thought of Krishna produces ripples of joy in people’s minds, and these vibrations of joy also produce a corresponding vibration in Krishna’s mind. They think, “Oh Krishna, i love you – but you also loveme, that i know.” In this way the ripples of joy in their own minds also create vibrations of joy in His mind.
Shri Chaitanya said to his followers, “Go to the Krishna temple on that day, and apply red powder and red colour to Krishna. Then you should play with the red powder and colour amongst yourselves.” And those who gave red powder and colour to others would also feed them with malpoa, the delectable sweet. So it is neither Holi festival nor Phaguya – it is the Dolyatra of Shri Krishna.
In the days of Mahaprabhu, the prevailing rule was to seek the prior permission of the person to whom you were going to give the red powder. If that person gave permission, then only could you smear him with coloured powder, and then treat them to malpoa.
In Sanskrit there are two similar words: varna and raga. Though the meanings are approximately the same, they are not completely synonymous. Varna means colour, what is called rang in Bengali. But the word varna does not indicate the colour which will colour other objects as well; an object has its own colour but its colour may not necessarily dye other objects. But the word raga menas that particular colour which can dye other objects also. So the inner spirit of the science of colour in Vaishnavi Tantra is this – that each and every expression of this universe has its own rhythm, its own vibration, its own sound, and its own colour, and thus it has its own form as well. And as it has its own sound, it has a particular sweetness of its own.
When Tantra was first formulated, there was only one science of tantra; but later various cults emerged according to their respective philosophical viewpoints. Each had a different name although their inner spirit was the same: for instance, Buddha tantra, Jaina tantra and, in later times, Shaiva tantra, Shakta tantra, Ganapatiya tantra and Vaishnaviya tantra. The inner idea of Vaishnaviya tantra is that there is form and colour – both raga and varna – in the rhythmic expressioins of Param Purusha, and those cosmic rhythms also have a sweet sonic vibration.
The sonic vibration is instrmental in giving expression to various other forms in this universe as well. To find the answer to questions of “why”, just as the devotees run towards His sonic expression which the Vaishnavas call His flute sound, they also run towards the expressions of His colour. They thin, i will colour my mind with the same colour in which He manifests Himself before me, and move towards Him. If i can colour my mind in His colour, i will be very close to Him.
The Speaking Tree, Page: 18, 19, March, 2011