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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhakti Purushottama Swami > Lord Jagannatha in Simanta > Introduction



Almost everyone in India knows Lord Jagannatha. His annual cart festival (Rathayatra) in Puri, draws millions of people,

making it one of the biggest festival in the world. However, surprisingly few know why the Lord appears in such an extraordinary form...

Lord Jagannatha's manifestation in Puri and the reasons behind His most unusual form


Many thousand's of years ago King Indradyumna, a great devotee of Lord Visnu, yearned to see the Lord face to face. He received the news of a deityincarnation of Lord Visnu named Nila Madhava, who told His pujarl that He would like to be worshipped in a royal style by King Indradyumna. When the kingarrived, however, the Deity was gone. A voice from the sky announced to the king that he should construct a temple on top of the Nila hill and the Lord wouldmanifest Himself there in a wooden form. Following the order, King Indradyumna had the temple built and established a town around it called Ramakrsnapura.His desire was that Lord Brahma consecrate the temple, so he traveled to Brahmaloka to meet with Lord Brahma. But as the time span is different onBrahmaloka, many centuries had passed by the time King Indradyumna arrived back to earth, and the temple had been buried by a sandstorm. Two kings hadreigned over the land since Indradyumna left, and during the reign of the second, King Galamadhava, the temple was uncovered. When King Indradyumnareappeared claiming he had constructed it, no one believed him. However in a banyan tree near the temple was a crow, Bhusandi, who had lived through manyages and had observed the construction of the temple. Bhusandi confirmed the king's story. Indradyumna then prayed to Lord Brahma to consecrate the templeand surrounding area known as Sri Ksetra. But Lord Brahma said, "This place is manifested from the Supreme Lord's internal potency; the Lord eternallyresides here and He manifests Himself when He desires. It is not within my power to install the Lord here."


Upon hearing this Indradyumna became restless. He waited and waited and waited until his impatience turned into despondency; thinking his life was useless hedecided to give it up by fasting. Then Lord Jagannatha appeared to him in a dream and said, "My dear king, give up your anxiety: tomorrow I shall comefloating in from the sea in My wooden form as Daru-brahman at the place called Bahkimuhan." The next day amidst a joyous kirtana, Daru-brahman was washed upon the beach, and brought to King Indradyumna in a golden chariot. He called many expert sculptors, but none of them was able to touch Daru-brahman: as soonas their chisel touched the log of wood, it broke into many pieces. Then one day, an artist who introduced himself as Ananta Maharana offered to carve theDeity. According to some, this Ananta was the Lord Himself, while others say that he was Visvakarma, the architect of the devas who had come to renderservice to the Lord. He promised that the Deities would be ready in twenty one days, provided he could work alone behind locked doors. Daily, the king wouldpace back and forth in front of the temple doors in great anticipation. But on the fourteenth day, his hopes turned into anxiety for no longer could he hearthe tapping of the artist's tools. Although his ministers again and again forbade him, he forced open the locked doors. The sculptor was nowhere to be seen!And Daru-brahman was now manifest in three formsóJagannatha, Subhadra, and Baladeva. Moving closer, the king noticed that the hands and legs of the Deitieswere unfinished."Oh no!" he exclaimed, "What have I done! Why was I so impatient?! Now the Deities are unfinished and the sculptor has disappeared. I am agreat offender."


Thinking like this, once again he decided to give up his life by fasting. When half the night had passed, Lord Jagannatha appeared in his dream and spoke asfollows: "In this material world, I descend in twenty-four incarnations along with My abode. I have no material hands or feet, but with My transcendentalsenses I accept all the items offered in service by my devotees, and for the benefit of the world I move from one place to another. You have broken yourpromise, but that is just a part of the sweetness of My pastime to manifest this Jagannatha form which protects the words of the Vedas, which declare,'Without legs He moves,' and, 'Without hands He accepts.' Yet those devotees whose eyes are anointed with love will always see Me as Syamasundara holding aflute. But if your desire is to serve Me in opulence, then from time to time I may be decorated with hands and feet made of gold and silver. You should knowfor certain, however, that My limbs are the ornaments of all ornaments".


Hearing the words of Lord Jagannatha in his dream, King Indradyumna became fully satisfied and prayed to Him thus:

"Let the doors of Your temple be closed for only three hours daily, so that all the residents of the universe may have Your darsana. Further, let it be thatall day long Your eating may go on and Your lotus fingers may thus never become dry."


Lord Jagannatha replied, "Tathastu." So be it.

Another deep explanation given by Lord Caitanya


A more esoteric reason behind the unusual form of Lord Jagannatha is recorded in the book Mahdbhava-prakdsa by Sikhi Mahiti. In Gambhira (Sri CaitanyaMahaprabhu's residence in Purl), Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya asked Mahaprabhu about the extraordinary feature of the deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva,and Subhadra and He explained to them as follows:


Once, when Rohini Devi, the mother of Lord Balarama, was visiting Dvaraka, Lord Krsna's queens surrounded her and asked her to speak about Krsna's pastimesin Vrndavana before He was married. They said, "Sometimes we hear Him talking in His sleep. With a sweet voice He calls out the names of His friends likeSridama and Subala, and the names of His cows. Sometimes He calls, 'O Lalita, Visakha; O Sri Radhe!' And other time He says, 'Mother, please feed me freshbutter.' Sometimes He cries, then wakes up and sobs for hours. How special are those residents of Vraja! Please tell us about them."

Rohini agreed, but said that Krsna must not hear her words, otherwise He would be overcome with emotion and may rush away to Vrndavana. So it was arrangedthat Krsna'ssisterSubhadraDeviwouldstandguardoutsidethe room. With one ear pressed to the closed door, Subhadra became so absorbed in Krsna's astoundingdealings with the Vrajavasis, which are all filled with emotional love, that she didn't notice Krsna and Balarama approaching.' Indeed, in her ecstatictrance, she was even unaware of her own bodily transformation. Her eyes had become wide and her limbs shrunk into her torso due to intense spiritual emotion.Being expert in physiognomy, when Krsna and Balarama saw the condition of Subhadra Devi, They immediately knew something extraordinary must be going oninside the room, so They also began to listen.


In a very short while, due to feeling the highest spiritual emotions (mahabhava), Krsna and Balarama experienced similar transformations. At that time NaradaMuni appeared. Amazed at this sight, he began to dance and chant in great jubilation. When Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra regained their external senses,Narada Muni exclaimed in great wonder, "Oh Lord! I have seen many of Your transcendental forms but never have I beheld such a wonderful form of mahdbhdva.Please, oh Lord, kindly manifest this form in such a way that everyone may have this extraordinary darsana."


Thus by the mercy of the Lord's great devotee we are now able to behold and serve the Lord in these wonderful Deity forms of Jagannatha, Baladeva andSubhadra.