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JAGANNATHA RESOLVES A DILEMMA
These pastimes have occurred since ISKCON accepted the responsibility of caring for the Temple
When ISKCON first acquired the temple there was no facility for cooking, so we would cook extra at Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir and the pujarl would take it in a tiffin carrier by bicycle to the Jagannatha Mandir. One day after making the raja-bhoga plate, he realized that he had forgotten to bring tulasl leaves. At that time the old temple was in a very dilapidated condition. The doors could not be shut properly. So he thought to himself, "If I go and pick tulasl then maybe some children would come inside or worse still may be a dog would come in. He was in a dilemma: what to do? But seeing how it was time for the Lord to eat, he told Lord Jagannatha, "Dear Lord, I know that You say that You don't accept any food offerings without tulasl, but please understand the situation and accept this offering anyway." He then made the offering to Lord Jagannatha and went outside to chant the Gayatri mantra. When it came time for the arati, he opened the doors and was about to remove the plate of prasadam, when to his great surprise he saw a ten inch branch of tulasl leaves sticking out of the mound of rice! Jagannatha Swami kijaya! Tulasl maharani ki jaya!
"They have nice prasadam down there..."
This story was told by His Holiness Jayapataka Maharaja. When ISKCON was first given this temple and land, there were many joint owners and most of them had already signed it over to us. However, Jayapataka Maharaja stressed that he didn't want full worship to begin until the remaining persons had signed the deeds. Unknown to him, the pujarl was already offering bhoga that had been brought up from Radha Madhava's kitchen in Mayapur. So upon hearing this instruction, he stopped the offerings. But that night he dreamed that when he was going to wake the Deities', he found They were not there—they were gone! Frantically running outside he spotted them walking across the fields. "Jagannatha, Baladeva, Subhadra!" he shouted, "Where are You going?"
"You are not feeding us, so we are going to Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir," They replied. "They have nice prasadam. down there. Lot's of prasadam.'"
Of course when Jayapataka Maharaja heard about this dream he said, "T didn't know that you were already making offerings otherwise I never would have told you to stop. I just wanted to make sure the temple was ISKCON's before establishing a high standard of worship, but now immediately continue the offerings."
Now we are feeding Lord Jagannatha very opulently with over twenty items for raja bhoga, so we hope He is satisfied and will never leave. Actually, it's an interesting story how we started to offer chappan bhoga. Just after this new temple was constructed we invited some cooks from the Jagannatha temple in Puri to come and teach us how to make the kind of preparations that they offer there. Our devotees learned very nicely, so much so that it is now an internationally acclaimed cuisine!
Sojananivasa Prabhu, the head pujarl of Mayapur temple, wanted to offer chappan bhoga every day, but the temple just didn't have sufficient funds. Regardless, he decided to start anyway. He went before the Deities and told Them, "We are going to offer You chappan bhoga for one month beginning from this purnimd, and if You want us to continue it, then You kindly make some arrangement!" The first day, he took some guests to take the mahd-prasddam and when he explained about his desire, one guest immediately offered to sponsor the next month. Upon returning to Mayapur he was telling one devotee about what had happened and she in turn offered to pay for the next two months. So like that the program has been going on ever since.
To ensure that Lord Jagannatha never goes hungry again we have started a Nitya-seva scheme where devotees and well-wishers give Rs. 25,000/- as a one time donation, which is kept in a corpus fund and interest provides for one day's seva. We are happy to announce that we have received a very good response to this program.
Lord Jagannatha Goes for Walks
Before ISKCON built the present temple, the old temple was buried under a tree that was a combined banyan and peepul tree. The local people say that Lord Jagannatha would go for walks. They never actually saw Him, but they could hear Him, especially on Saturday nights. They would see a glow coming from the temple, a sweet scent would permeate the air, and they could hear jingling sounds, like that of ankle bells. Those fortunate residents understood that the independent Lord was taking a stroll.
Snana-yatra, the Lord's bathing festival, takes place fourteen days before Rathayatra. During that fourteen day period the temple remains closed for darsana on the plea that Jagannatha Swami has caught a cold. It is also an opportunity to repaint the Deities. Some say that the reason that Lord Jagannatha feigns sickness is to take a break from the thousands and thousands of people who visit Puri every day, most of whom ask, "Lord Jagannatha, please fulfill my desires, give me this, give me that." So the Lord takes it easy for a couple of weeks, and along with His brother and sister, peacefully enjoys fine sweet preparations and nectar drinks made from cream, molasses, and invigorating herbs.
Actually it is the biggest festival of the year here and it was started by the desire of the Lord Himself. Once a Gaudiya Matha devotee from Purl came to Navadvlpa to visit the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Upon arriving, he enquired if there was a temple of Lord Jagannatha in the locality. He was directed to Simantadvlpa, where he came and began to worship these Deities. The same night, in a dream, Lord Jagannatha told the devotee, "They don't give Us much to eat here. At least once in a year We should eat nicely! Our snana-yatra is coming soon; try to arrange a feast for Us."
On this order, the devotee arranged a big feast for the Lord and fed all the devotees the Deities' maha-prasadam. This festival has continued up to present day. When ISKCON took over the management of the temple, it was decided to increase the festival by taking a procession from Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. Many hundreds of devotees take their bath in the Gariga, fill a clay pot with Gariga-jala, and then proceed to the Jagannatha Mandir, led by our elephant and a klrtana party. As soon as the devotees arrive, the Deities are placed on a marble sndna-vedi, or bathing platform, which is erected in Their garden. The whole area is covered by a pandal to protect all from the hot sun, and hundreds of devotees bathe Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra with Gariga water or milk. This continues for several hours until the Deities go back to Their temple, where They are dressed in the hdti-vesa (elephant dress), and offered a sumptuous feast and ardti ceremony. After ardti, mahd-prasddam kicharl, subji, and sweet rice is served in the mango grove to the many thousands of devotees and visitors who keep arriving, and the serving goes on and on until the darkness of night brings it to a close.
Because many people are curious to know why Their Lordships are dressed in elephant costumes, we add this story. Of course anyone you may ask in Purl will give a slight variation—or even a large variation!—on this story:
One time a great devotee of Ganesa was visiting the king of Purl, but was reluctant to visit Lord Jagannatha's temple as his principle was to only worship Sri Ganesa. "Lord Jagannatha is non-different than Lord Visnu, Who is the origin of all devatds" coaxed the king, who finally persuaded him to visit the temple. It was Sndna-yatra day, and as he stood before the Deities he said to Lord Jagannatha, "If You are what they say You are, Daru-brahman (wooden Brahman), then kindly show to me that form of Ganesa, whom I worship." Deciding to bestow His causeless mercy, Lord Jagannatha transformed Himself into the form of Ganesa, to the great astonishment and delight of that devotee.
Many years ago, there was an English devotee, Gaura Hari Dasa living here. After one Sndna-yatra festival, after everyone had left, they closed the temple, but from inside the closed altar Gaura Hari heard what sounded like someone sneezing. "Oh no!" he thought; "I must be imagining this!" Then again it came, loud and clear:"Ahhh-chuuh!!" So it's confirmed: Jagannatha does catch cold.
Satadhanya Prabhu, a long time devotee of ISKCON Mayapur, recalls how one time, while returning from Krsnanagar, he felt a burning desire for Lord Jagannatha's darsana, which he admitted was unusual for him. He told the driver of the car to drive there quickly as it was almost one o'clock—closing time. As fate would have it he arrived just as the pujari was locking the temple door. Looking at the pujari and then at the door and back to the pujari he asked in a half expectant voice, "Is it possible to have darsana of their Lords?"
"Yes," replied the pujari as he turned and headed for his room. "Come at four o'clock".
Feeling disappointed, Satadhanya thought, "Well,maybe I can see Them through the cracks in the door." (This incident took place before the present temple had been constructed and the previous temple was quite dilapidated). Save for the glint of some jewelry, the Deities were quite indistinguishable in Their dark room. He tried the wooden windows, but they too were locked. Lying on the ground, he tried to see beneath the doors. For fifteen minutes he was trying, but to no avail. Finally he gave up and walked away despondently. A creaking sound made him turn his head, only to see the temple window swinging open. He rushed back to the windows, where daylight flooded into the altar, illuminating the Deities. Jagannatha's fortunate devotee was awarded darsana to his full satisfaction.
Muslim Girl Regains Eyesight
Many years back, when Jagannatha was in His old temple, there was one young Muslim girl from the village who had very poor eyesight. There were no proper eye doctors available then and the family was too poor to take her to Calcutta for proper treatment. The many doctors she did see all said her condition was incurable. Gradually her vision became worse and worse. Finding no other hope her family decided to seek the shelter of Lord Jagannatha. So they brought her to the temple and told her that Lord Jagannatha had helped many people in the past, and that she should pray for His mercy. With complete faith in Jagannatha, she took carandmrta for seven days and miraculously her vision became normal. Until her last days she would say that even though she is quite old she could still see very nicely.
The Magic Lamp
One evening some students came to the temple and they exclaimed to the pujari how they had heard so many wonderful things about these Deities. "So we thought we have to come and see Them." But at that time it was dark; the temple wasn't so opulent in those days and there was only one candle providing light. They could hardly see the Deities in that dim light so they were disappointed. They told the pujdrl that they came a long way to see the Deities but could hardly see. The pujdrl began to offer the ardti and they decided to leave, but the pujdrl called them to come back. After he had offered the panca-pradlpa lamp and placed it on a ledge near the altar, the flame started increasing in size, until they reached nine or ten inches high, giving off a very bright light that illuminated the whole altar. Then the students came back running in and enjoyed a nice darsana.
Every day during the temple construction, one of the workers would take a slab of marble home. Baladeva appeared to the thief while he was resting and angrily told him, "How dare you steal the marble meant for building Jagannatha's temple! Return it all, or else I will destroy you and your family!" So the next morning the thief shamefully and fearfully returned a cart-load of marble slabs.
"Such a nice brooch!"
Some years after the temple was given to ISKCON, a devotee family moved here. The father's name was Sadhana Siddhi Prabhu. One day, his young son Dalim, came running to his mother crying hysterically. She asked, "What's the matter, what's the matter?!" After he calmed down he told her, "I went to the temple and I saw that Subhadra was wearing a lovely brooch. I wanted to have it, so I went in to take it, but just as I was about to take it from Her, then," he began to sob, "Lord Balarama swung His arm around slapped my face and sent me tumbling out of the room."
Some years ago, Hrday, the eldest son of Prangopal Prabhu (Lord Jagannatha's cook), became so sick that when his father tried to admit him to the local hospital, the doctors told him that the boy was dying and there was no use admitting him. They told Prangopal to either take him home or to Calcutta. Prangopal replied that if the boy was going to die, then better he dies here as they couldn't afford to take him to Calcutta anyway. Reluctantly, the doctors admitted Hrday. After admitting his son, Prangopal came to temple, cooked for Lord Jagannatha, took some caranamrta, tulasi leaves, and flowers from Jagannatha's lotus feet, and prayed to Him, "If at all my son has to die in the hospital, at least give him some good destination." He then returned to the hospital and without anybody's knowledge, put the flowers and tulasi under Hrday's pillow and gave him caranamrta. The next day when Prangopal went to the hospital, he found Hrday healthy. The doctors told him that it was a miraculous recovery and he could take his son back soon. By Jagannatha's mercy, Prangopal Prabhu brought his healthy son back home the next morning.
Jagannatha Arranges a Marriage
There was one lady from a cobbler family named Krsna. She was over forty years old and would come to the temple every day. She wore tilaka, took prasadam, and even performed Ekadasl. She was still not married, so she sincerely prayed to Jagannatha to make some arrangement for her marriage. Thus after some time she got married to a very wealthy man. Now she has two servants and her husband tells her that she need do nothing else other than cook for the Lord. Previously she was so poor that she was working in someone else's house for a little money. After her marriage she came to the temple and told the pujari that now, by Jagannatha's arrangement, she is married and leading a peaceful life which she thought never deserved. "Surely you will get married!"
There was another similar incident where an unmarried woman used to come to visit the temple. Many of us in the temple know her. She once came during the afternoon, and as the curtain for Jagannatha's altar was closed, she thought that was nobody there. Thus she spoke aloud, "Jagannatha, will I not get married?" Hearing this, the pujari, who was inside the altar replied "Yes, surely you will get married." The woman was simultaneously shy and happy to hear this. She had faith that since the voice came from the altar, it was auspicious. She was 35-40 years of age and no one thought she could get married at that age, but by Jagannatha's mercy, even though she was very poor, she was married to a man from a wealthy family near Rajapur. She is happy now and still comes to the temple.
Jagannatha Cures a Child
There was a girl named Hemalata who from birth was suffering from anaemia. No treatment was working. The family happened to move to Jagannatha Mandir. After just three days of taking Jagannatha's prasada, the child became cured from anaemia and was completely healthy. She never had to take any further treatment.
Prahlad, the Temple Guard
In the year 1982, on Balarama Jayanti, a nice festival was held in honor of Lord Balarama. After the program at midday, the temple manager, Sri Svarupa Damodara Prabhu, gave guard Prahlad a pot of mahd-prasddam from the Lord. Instead of honoring the prasddam immediately, he dozed off for a while. When he woke up he found the pot lying next to him—empty. A dog had come by while he slept and eaten the mahd-prasddam.
Understanding his mistake, Prahlad immediately begged forgiveness from 'Bhagavan'. But in his mind he knew that some punishment was coming for his carelessness.The next day, he came for his night patrol, but at about one a.m. he fell asleep. He saw that Lord Jagannatha was speaking from the window: "You have not honored My prasadam, you will have to take some punishment for this." He then caught hold of Prahlad's neck and sitting on his chest, He began to strangle him saying, "There is no other way for you than death!" Jagannatha was very angry. Prahlad recalls, "I was choking and not able to speak any more, I was praying to Him internally, 'My Lord, I know I am an offender, but please forgive me.'" But Jagannatha said, "No! this aparadha has no forgiveness. You have disregarded Lord Balarama's mahd-prasddam. You know that the devotee of the Lord is greater than the Lord Himself. You will have to accept this punishment."
Then Subhadra Devi said to the Lord, "My dear brother, what are you doing? Please stop it." But Jagannatha was riot listening to Her. She appealed to Jagannatha again and again. Then She appealed to Lord Baladeva, "This person is a devotee, he made a mistake, and he is begging forgiveness. Please ask our brother to stop and not kill him for such an offense. Why is He so angry?" Baladeva was only smiling and did not say anything.
Prahlad says, "Jagannatha was still very angry and did not leave my neck, this was going on for almost seven or eight minutes. My tongue was coming out. Still internally I was praying, 'Lord, please protect me. There is no one except You who can free me from this sin.' Subhadra Devi could see that I was about to lose my life, so She took Baladeva by His hand and said, 'Please stop our brother.' Then Baladeva took Jagannatha by His hands and spoke: What are you doing? He has committed a sin, but why such a heavy punishment!' They were speaking like this. And then Lord Baladeva pulled Lord Jagannatha off my body.
"Sweating like anything, I sat up and started to pray for protection. Then Lord Jagannatha instructed me with ten rules and regulations, 'You will do all this for the temple,' He said. After this He left and I stood up and went to the pump and straight away drank so much water. Then I was meditating on this mercy of Lord Jagannatha."
Five of the instructions were:
1) If any person comes with some dust or seed or anything from this place, and says that it is mahd-prasddam, you must accept it. Even if you die, whatever happens to you, I will take care of that.
2) If anybody takes intoxication, gambles, or plays frivolous music, then you must stop him. If they do not listen, then with all force you must try to stop them and I will provide you with all necessary strength.
3) You will never smoke or commit any illicit act on your own.
4) You should not look at any other women with lust.Regard them as your sister or mother. If you see anyone disrespecting any mataji within the campus, then raise your voice against it.
5) If any one steals any property which belongs to the temple, such as bricks, wood, flowers etc., then try to stop that person.
Prahlad added, "The other five are personal, I cannot tell you. From that time onwards and even now, I can still understand in my heart, when I see the Lord, if He is angry or if He is pleased with me. If I have to go somewhere for some family work, I first come to take darsana of Jagannatha, and He lets me know if it will be good or harmful for me."
Stranger In The Night
The same guard was once sitting in one of the mango trees in the orchards at night. There were snakes around and other dangerous things around, so he had climbed up high. Then one person came through the mango orchard and passed by Prahlad walking towards the temple. This person was dressed very nicely, and his hair was well-groomed with scented oil. The guard was very surprised that such a gentleman was walking in the middle of the night through the fields. A little later Prahlad heard the sound of a roaring kirtana. It was late but the sound was coming from the temple. Bells were ringing and ladies were ululating. He told us that this person could have been a demigod, because the temple was actually locked and there was nobody there at that time.
"Where are Our blankets?"
The nights had been increasingly cold, and we hadn't started offering chadars to the Deities. Odana-sasthi is the day when we offer the Deities starched cloth, and this day marks the beginning of winter. This story happened before Odana-sasthi, but still it was cold. The pujarl had a dream that someone was banging on the door while he was sleeping. So he got up and opened the door and he saw the small Deities of Jagannatha, Subhadra, and Balarama lying on their backs on the ground. They were shivering and They asked him, "Why are you not offering us blankets? You have one, what about us? You are sleeping very nicely under your quilt. Don't you think we feel cold?"
"I like you doing My puja!"
Another time, the pujarl was very sick with fever, and as he was putting the Deities to rest for the afternoon, he thought to himself, "I am not going to wake the Deities at four o'clock. I am too sick." So he went and told the guard, "I am going to take rest, I have a fever and 1 won't be doing my service at four. So please don't wake me up." While he was sleeping Jagannatha appeared in his dream and said, "Why are you not doing our puja?"
The pujarl said, "I am very sick with fever and feeling very weak."
Jagannatha said, "You are not too sick to perform klrtana or take prasadam, but for a little fever you want to stop Our service."
The pujari awoke abruptly, but feeling too exhausted he again went to sleep, only to be awakened by the guard banging on the door, "Wake up! It's time to wake the Deities!" "There are just too many omens," he thought. "I have to wake Them up." So he came to the Deity room and as he started waking up the Deities, Lord Jagannatha said to him, "Actually I like you to do My puja, because this other pujarl is not very careful, sometimes he sticks pins in Me. If you look under My chadar you will see." The pujarl lifted up His chadar and on Lord Jagannatha's arm he saw a spot of blood. Another time while the pujarl was dressing the Deities, he was putting necklaces on Jagannatha. He had placed three around the Lord's neck, but the fourth fell to the ground. He picked it up and put it on Jagannatha and again it fell down. Again he picked it up and put it on, but again it fell down. When he tried again, Lord Jagannatha said, "Don't you understand? Three is enough: I don't want anymore!"
He Is So Greedy!
The same pujari told us that shortly after we put a Govardhana slla on the altar, Lord Jagannatha appeared to him in a dream and started complaining in his dream: "That Govardhana slla, He is so greedy you know—He eats everything and He is very quick. He doesn't even wait until it is offered. As soon as the pujarl comes in, He starts eating and He especially likes the sweets. Please do something!"
So now the pujarls have arranged a separate plate for Giri Govardhana.
"Don't touch me with that finger!"
Another time the pujarl told Jananivasa Prabhu that in a dream he was putting the little Deities to rest in bed. So while he was carrying the Deities he had his two forefingers on Lord Jagannatha's eye. Lord Jagannatha said, "Don't touch Me with that finger, this is considered muchi finger, pointing, cursing finger. Don't touch me with that finger, don't do that." Awakening from that unusual dream he began to follow the instruction of the Lord but after sometime he slipped back to his old habits. Then one day he was carrying the little Deities to Their bed and he was doing the same thing. And the Lord then held out His hand extending His forefinger and said, "I have told you, don't touch Me with that finger." So Jananivasa questioned, "How can He show His finger? He doesn't have any hands." This pujdrl immediately and emphatically replied, "Yes, He has, I have seen. I have seen!"
Water in Jagannatha's Milk
One time the milkman was talking to the guard, Prahlad, and complaining that he has so much bad luck. "Every day before I reach the market my milk spoils. Seven days in a row, 40 litres of my milk would spoil." Prahlad asked him, "Do you put water in the milk that you give to Jagannatha? Tell me honestly."
Feeling embarrassed and looking down he confessed, "This is our practice, our business!" "May be that's the reason why," Prahlad said. The next morning, he didn't add any water to Jagannatha's milk. From then on, his milk didn't spoil.
Lord Jagannatha Provides Everything
One morning on entering the kitchen the cook saw that there were no coconuts, which is an essential item for cooking Lord Jagannatha's bhoga. Coconut is used in vegetable preparations as well as in dhal and sweets. "How can I go to the market, I don't have time! But how can I cook without coconut? Oh Jagannatha what am I to do?"
Just then a guest came and handed three big coconuts to the pUjdrl and asked him to offer to Lord Jagannatha. Jai Jagannatha. You immediately arranged to relieve your devotee's anxiety.
Shoes Inside the Temple!
A rich man once visited the temple. It was crowded and he became worried that his fancy shoes might get stolen. So he stuck his shoes in his belt, covered himself with his shawl, and entered the temple. As he bent to offer obeisances, his backbone cracked and he was no longer able to stand straight. Despite undergoing much treatment he never got cured. The next time he visited Jagannatha, he admitted that this happened to him as a result of the offense he committed.