When the devotees call out lovingly, the Lord reciprocates
eagerly. But, what is the extent of His reciprocation?
eagerly. But, what is the extent of His reciprocation?
Scriprures describe that Lord Jagannatha and His abode Puri are eternal and are never destroyed even during annihilation. God is infinite, and being infinite, He possesses infinite names. Lord Jagannatha also has infnite names. Here we try to explain the most important of His names.
Lord Jagannatha is famous for eating a lot of bhoga and is therefore called Bhoga Khaiya – one who eats a lot of bhoga. Every day, Lord Jagannatha honours 56 different items of bhoga at His temple in Puri. This prasada is then brought to Anand Bazar, literally meaning the 'marketplace of bliss'. Here devotees can buy this maha-prasada and avail of the Lord's mercy. Anyone who has been to this place can never forget the sight of different eatables of varied tastes available in such huge quantities Whether it is sweet or salty, bland or spicy, one will get whatever he wants at this place.
Lord Jagganatha's eyes are big and round. They are always wide open, casting His merciful glance on all His devotees. It is said that the Lord is so kind that He doesn't even blink His eyes, never wanting His devotees to be beneft from His loving glance. Thus, Lord Jagannatha is keen to protect all conditioned souls from all kinds of miseries.
Lord Jagannatha manifests Himself in the form of wood, called daru in Sanskrit. Since He is the Absolute Truth, He is also called Brahman. Thus, Lord Jagannatha is lovingly called Daru-Brahman. The Lord also has many beautiful pastimes with different devotees:
WITH BHAKTA SALABEG
Salabeg, a famous devotee and poet was a Muslim by birth. Once, during Ratha-yatra in Puri, Salabeg was in Cuttack. He intensely desired to see the Lord on His Nandighosa chariot during the Ratha-yatra and driven by this desire, he rushed to Puri. On his walk of more than 90km there were many dense forests and the progress was slow. He started to think he would miss the Ratha-yatra. With deep feelings of longing for the Lord, he made a heartfelt prayer: "Oh Lord Jagannatha! Please wait till I come." The Lord hearing the eager cry of His devotee reciprocated and in deed, the Ratha stopped until Bhakra Salabeg arrived and took the Lord's darsana atop His beautiful carrier Nandighosa.
WITH BHAKTA DASIA
Bhakra Dasia belonged to a family from low caste, and was thus not allowed to enter Lord Jagannatha's temple. One day, driven by love, Dasia purchased one coconut to offer to Lord Jagannatha. But he had an intense desire to offer it to the Lord with his own hands. He pleaded with the pujari(priest) near the gate to allow him inside the temple, but faced denial because of his low birth. After heavy chastisement from the pujari for this unheard-of wish, Dasia became morose and started praying intensely to the Lord, "I will stand right here, waiting for the rest of my life till I get to offer this coconut to You with my own hands." Suddenly, the coconut flew in air and landed inside the temple, straight at the lotus feet of Lord Jagannatha. Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad gita( 9.26), "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." Lord Jagannatha was hungry for the pure love of Bhakra Dasia and by reciprocating with him, showed that the sincerity of the heart is not dependent on external features like caste and birth.
PATlTA PAVANA JAGANNATHA
The name Patita pavana' means 'the deliverer of fallen souls.' Lord Jagannatha is merciful to all fallen souls. Due to a whimsical rule, without any scriptural basis, non-Hindus and foreigners are not allowed to enter His temple. But the merciful Lord grants His darsana even to these devotees. They can feast upon His beautiful form during Gundica yatra (Lord Jagannatha's journey to Gundica), Bahuda yatra (Lord Jagganatha's journey back to His own temple), and Snana-yatra (the bathing ceremony of the Lord). Thus, Lord Jagannatha is merciful to all without any discrimination.
There is even a Deity of Lord Jagannatha by the name Patita Pavana Jagannatha. While entering the Jagannatha temple at Puri from Simha Dvara (lion gate) the Deity of Patita Pavana Jagannatha is at base of the inside temple wall on the right. How He appeared is an interesting story.
Around 1730 AD, there was a ruler in Orissa named Rama Candra Dev. During his reign, a Muslim ruler Suja Khan attacked Orissa and defeated him. Rama Candra Dev although defeated, fell in love with the daughter of Mursid Kuli Khan, the military commander of Suja Khan. Soon, Rama Candra Dev married her and in this way, regained his kingdom.
But with this marriage to a non-Hindu, Rama Candra Dev lost his caste and his right to enter Lord Jagannatha's temple. He could no longer have darsana of the Lord on Ratna simhasana (throne of Lord Jagannatha embedded with different jewels and pearls). Although he was the king, he didn't enforce his authority and break the laws of the temple. But he was also a devotee and he would lament everyday for losing the great fortune of taking darsana of the Lord. The king would come to Simha Dvara and stand in front of the gate for hours crying tears of separation for not being able to take darsana of his beloved Lord Jagannatha.
One day, Rama Candra Dev had a dream in which Lord Jagannatha appeared. Pleased with his sincere cries for mercy, He asked Rama Candra Dev to make an identical Deity which would look exactly like Lord Jagannatha. The Lord said, "Establish this Deity to the right side of the entrance of the temple. There I will be worshipped by My sevayatas (servants). All those who take darsana of this Patita Pavana Vigraha, or the Patita Pavana flag on top of the temple will get liberation from the troublesome material world." After revealing these instructions to the king, the Lord disappeared.
Rama Candra Dev awoke from his dream. It was midnight. He was so overwhelmed with joy that he immediately rush ed ro Lord Jagannatha's temple alone on horseback, without even waiting for his soldiers. Reaching near Simha Dvara (Lion gate) , he paid his full prostrated obeisances to Lord Jagannatha and cried tears of love for Him. Then he chanted again and again at the peak of his voice "All glories to Patita Pavana Jagannatha, all glories to Patita Pavana Jagannatha." Around the same time, the head priest of the Lord was emerging a few other priests and was describing to them a similar dream that he had. Patita Pavana Jagannatha had appeared to him and had instructed him to fulfil the intense desire of king Rama Candra Dev. In due course of time, the Deity was carved and established.
Even today, one can find the Patita Pavana Jagannatha Vigraha established at the entrance of the Jagannatha temple at Puri. It is said that whoever takes darsana of Patita Pavana Jagannatha will never take birth again in this material world.
Thus we see that Lord of the universe, Lord Jagannatha has innumerable loving dealings with His sincere devotees. Before Srila Prabhupada, His mercy was in a way, restricted only to the geographical locations within India, but now Lord Jagannatha's fame is spread all over the world. Now, He rides in great splendour on the most important streets of all the major cities of the world like New York, San Francisco, Washington, Paris, Sydney, London , Mumbai etc.
When the British ruled India, the one thing that would bother them the most was Lord Jagannatha's annual Ratha-yatra festival. The 'cultural inferiority' of Indians would only be highlighted during the festival when the worship of a 'wooden idol' was carried out with such pomp. But, now after Srila Prabhupada's efforts to spread Krsna consciousness throughout the world, something that was strange and incomprehensible to the Westerners has now started to become appealing and sensible. Deity worship, something that reminded them of heathenism is being gradually accepted by them now. The British failed to stop Ratha-yatra in India and now by Srila Prabhupada's mercy Rathayatra is now being celebrated even in the heart of London!
Lord Jagannatha is not just content with His Patita Pavana expansion in His temple, He now crosses the oceans and reaches the most fallen across the lands. What is this except another exchange of pure love between the Supreme Lord and His pure devotee!
Balarama Ananda Dasa, a resident of Cuttack, Orissa has a master's degree in Public Administration. Currently, he resides at ISKCON, Mumbai, where he helps in youth preaching.