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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhakti Purushottama Swami > Lord Shri Jagannatha at Puri > Ganapati Bhatta

Ganapati Bhatta


There was a brahmana by the name of Ganapati Bhatta who lived in a small village called Kaniari in the state of Karnataka. He was a great devotee of Lord Sri Hari and was very merciful to oth¬ers. He was free from greed, had no attachment to sense gratifica¬tion, and was well-versed in all the scriptures. All of his senses, in¬cluding the mind, were completely under his control. He only wor¬shiped Lord Vishnu, and had no interest in worshiping any demi¬gods. He knew that Lord Jagannath is all-in-all, the controller of everything. Anyone who takes shelter of His lotus feet will be freed from material bondage. Without the mercy of that Parambrahma, no one can be delivered. Ganapati Bhatta was always thinking, "If I can see that Parambrahma in His transcendental form with my own two eyes, then my life will be successful."


One day Ganapati Bhatta was reading Brahma Pnrana about how the Lord manifested in Nilagiri in His transcendental form. If one sees Him in this form, he will be freed from material bondage and will get liberation. He will not face Yamaraj ever again. When Ganapati Bhatta read this, it touched his heart. Then he under¬stood this life is useless. He thought, "What is the use of wife, children and wealth? Parambrahma has manifested on this earth in Nilagiri. I am spending my time uselessly, being unaware of this fact. Why should I be so foolish to stay here after knowing that the Lord has manifested in Nilagiri? As long as I have strength in my body, my wife, all these children and relatives will be with me. No one will accompany with me when I leave this body. When I become old, my children and wife will think I am great burden upon  them. In this material world, no one is the friend of any one."


Ganapati Bhatta thought, "Better I go to Nilagiri and take darshan of Parambrahma so that I can get liberation." Thinking in this way, he left his house and started the journey to Pun. He was living on what he attained through begging on his way to Puri, and was happy to get whatever was available. Sometimes he fasted be¬cause food was not available to him. He would pacify his hunger by eating some leaves and drinking water. Finally Ganapati Bhatta reached Athara Nala, a place just at the entrance of Puri. It is be¬lieved that once someone crosses this place to enter Pun dham, they will not face any punishment from Yamaraj. Ganapati Bhatta purified himself by taking darshan of that place and sat down to meditate upon Brahman. Later Ganapati Bhatta saw some people returning from Puri. They were looking very happy and holding pots of Jagannath prasada in their hands. Ganapati Bhatta asked them, "Kindly tell me where you have all come from? Why are you all so happy? What have you achieved?"

The travelers replied, "O dear brahmana, we are returning from Nila-kandar (Jagannath temple). There we spent five days, taking darshan of Parambrahma. Now we are all going to our homes, very happy and satisfied. It is very rare to have darshan of the Lord. After taking darshan of the Lord, what else is there to achieve?"

Hearing this from the travelers, Ganapati Bhatta was very-surprised. He asked them, "Have you really seen Brahman?" They replied, "Yes, we took His darshan."After this exchange, the travel¬ers continued on their way. Ganapati Bhatta thought to himself, "This cannot be true that Brahman is here. They have not seen Brahman. If they had, why are they coming back? They should have all merged into Brahman. That is what I have heard from the Pa¬rana: that any one who takes darshan of Brahman at Nilagiri im¬mediately attains liberation. So how can these people be going back to their houses even after getting darshan of Brahman?" He asked many people who were coming from Puri. They were all coming back after taking darshan of the Lord. Ganapati Bhatta became very confused. He opened the Pu-rana and checked it again and again. He saw that the Pur ana clearly mentioned that Brahman resides in Puri. If one sees Him, he will get liberation immediately. Ganapati Bhatta was very con¬fused and thought, "What should I do now? Now I do not know what to do. I do not know what is right and what is wrong. Better I commit suicide and give up this body. But then again, it is not good to commit suicide."


Lord Jagannath understood the mind of Ganapati Bhatta. He came to meet with Ganapati Bhatta in the form of an old brah-mana. He asked Bhatta, "Where have you come from? Where are you planning to go? Why are you sitting here and looking so sad? Bhatta replied, "My dear brahmana, please listen. I read in the Pu-rana that Brahman is in Nilagiri. Just by getting darshan of Him one attains immediate liberation. But now I found there is no Brah¬man in Puri." The Lord in the form of old brahmana asked Ganapati Bhatta, "How did you decide that there is no Brahman in Puri?" Bhatta replied, "As far as I know, if someone sees Brahman then he is supposed to merge into His body and thus get libera¬tion. But now I have seen many people coming back from Puri even after seeing the form of the Lord. From this I conclude that there is no Brahman there. If there was, then after taking darshm of Brahman all of these people would have attained liberation." Hear¬ing this, the He smiled and replied, "Lord Hari is known as kal-pataru. That means He fulfills everyone desires. These people had come with a desire to go back to their house so the Lord fulfilled their desire. Otherwise how can He be vanca-kalpataru, a wish ful¬filling tree? If some one comes here thinking to be happy here, or to get liberation or to go back to His abode to serve Him, they will get the result according to their desire. Please do not think that there is no Brahman here." After saying this, the Lord in the form of the brahmana left Ganapati Bhatta. He prepared himself to enter Puri dham.


He reached the Lion Gate of the Jagannath temple and took darshan of Patita-pavana. Coincidentally that day was Deva-snana purnima. Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra were brought to snana-mandap (the bathing platform) for taking bath (abhishefc). Many pujaris were pouring water on the deitites of the Lords. Thousands of devotees were there calling, "Jaya!Jaya! All glories! All glories!" Many demigods were there dis¬guised in human form. Ganapati Bhatta was a believer of the Ga-~ nesh form of the Lord. Ganapati Bhatta took darshan of the Lord Daru-brahma. But he did not see the elephant face of the Lord. He had strong faith that Brahman had a face like an elephant. But here he saw some different face. He thought the deities could not be Brahman since they did not have elephant faces. Dissatisfied, he left the place without even offering obeisances. He was very disap¬pointed. He was convinced that Br-ahman had a face like an ele¬phant. Understanding his firm conviction, Lord Jagannath immedi¬ately appeared to Mudirath, the representative of the King of Puri. The Lord told him, "My devotee came from a great distance to see me. But now he is going back, being very much disappointed at not seeing the elephant-faced form of Mine. You go immediately and call him back. Tell him that he should come back and have darshan of My form with an elephant face."


Mudiratha immediately got up and ran to bring Ganapati Bhatta back to Puri. He explained to Ganapati Bhatta, "Lord Daru-brahma is able to give chatwbarga, four kinds of benedic¬tions. Please take darshan of the Lord. All your desires will be ful¬filled. The Lord is here in the form of Daru-brahma in Nilagiri to fulfill everyone's desires. Why are you so foolish, going back with out taking darshan of the Lord?" Bhatta replied with great anger, "Where is Brahman? Why are you cheating me? I did not see an elephant face. How can there be Brahman without an elephant face? If I do not see a trunk on the face, I do not accept this as a deity of Brahman. I do not care what you say. Why are you trying to bring me back?" Mudiratha replied, "You must give up your wrong impression. Just come back and look very attentively. You will see the elephant face of the Lord. There is no doubt about this."


After hearing this, Ganapati Bhatta returned to the temple. He looked upon the Lord, and there he saw the face of an ele¬phant. There was a very big trunk and one beautiful tusk on His face. Manifesting His wonderful Viswarup, the Lord called His devotee. Bhatta offered his respectful obeisances and prayers. "O my Lord Gajanana, Daru-brahma, Ganapati, Lord of everyone! Now I am satisfied to have Your darshan. All my doubts are dispelled. Now I have one request to You: from today onwards, whenever you come to this snana-mandap on this day, please manifest this form and give Your darshan to everyone." After saying diis, Ganapati Bhatta fell on the ground meditating upon Daru-brahma. He im¬mediately merged into the body of the Lord. Everybody could see his soul entered into the body of the Lord like lightning. The crowd was shouted, "All glories! All glories!" Even today, Sri Jagan-nath, Sri Baladeva and Srimati Subhadra are dressed in hati-vesa after taking Their bath on Snan Purnima day.


Just see die greatness of the Lord Jagannath! This Lord is worshiped by Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. Just to satisfy His devotee, He accepted an elephant face. That is why He is known as bhava-grahi, one who accepts the mood of His devotee.