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

Kanchi Abhiyan


Once upon a time there was king named Purusottama Deva in the Gonga dynasty who ruled over the state of Orissa. He was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. Every year during Ratha-yatra, the King would personally sweep the road m front of the chariot for the pleasure of Lord Jagannath. He considered the Lord as the proprietor of everything, as the real ruler of the country. He con¬sidered himself a menial servant of the Lord.


One time the King went on a tour to South India. He reached a kingdom called Kanchi, and set up his tent in a garden in the capital city. There, King Purusottama Deva met with the Prin¬cess of Kanchi, Padmavati, and both came to know and like the other. Later, the King was invited to the palace of the King of Kanchi who, along with the queen, was very pleased with Purusot¬tama Deva, and proposed to offer their daughter in marriage to him. Purusottama Deva was very happy with this proposal, and accepted gladly. He then returned to Orissa. After some time, the King of Kanchi sent his minister to Orissa with an official proposal of marriage for his daughter. The minister was received nicely by King Purusottama Deva. It was the time of Ratha-yatra, which was a favorite time of year for the King. The marriage proposal only added to his happiness. 


King Purusottama Deva requested the minister of Kanchi to stay a few days more so that he could attend the Ratha-yatra festi¬val. The'minister saw that it was a good opportunity to experience the festival, and agreed to remain in Puri for a few extra days. On Ratha-yatra day, at the auspicious time, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Lady Subhadra along with Sudarshan Chakra, were brought from the temple to the chariots. Thousands of people had gathered to see the parade, and there was a tumultuous sound of kirtana, drums, and conch shells. The min¬ister of Kanchi saw that the King of Puri was standing m front of the chariot with a broom in his hand. As he started to sweep the road, the minister became confused. Here was a great king sweep¬ing the road like a common man! Although the King was doing it for the Lord, the minister could not understand the greatness of the service. He considered this behavior an insult to a king, as sweeping the road was the duty of the chandalas.


The minister immediately left Puri and returned to Kanchi, informing the King of all he had witnessed, especially how Puru¬sottama Deva engaged in the behavior of a chandala. The minister said to the King of Kanchi, "How can Princess Padmavati marry a man who would behave like a chandala?"The King, without under¬standing the purpose of Purusottama Devas behavior, agreed with his minister, and sent a message to Puri, telling Purusottama Deva that he did not want his daughter to marry a man who sweeps the road like a chandala. This news saddened both Purusottama Deva and Princess Padmavati. Even more upsetting to them was the fact that the King of Kanchi, in the meantime, had arranged Princess Padmavatis swayambara ceremony and had invited every suitable man in the district except the King of Puri. Purusottama Deva was very of¬fended by this, and vowed revenge upon the King of Kanchi. He challenged the King of Kanchi to war. The King of Kanchi was a great worshipper of Ganesh, and he made one condition before entering the battle: should the King of Puri be defeated, he would surrender the deities of Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra, Who would be placed behind Ganesh on the King of Kanchi's altar. Similarly, if the King of Kanchi was defeated, he would surrender his deity of Ganesh, who would be placed behind Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra.


When Purusottama Deva was forced to leave the battlefield when his camp caught on fire, he felt it was a great insult. He was immediately concerned that he would lose the deities from the Ja¬gannath temple, and that They would be placed behind Ganesh in Kanchi. The King began to pray to Lord Jagannath: "O Lord Jagan¬nath! Please help me. Due to being engaged in Your service of sweeping the road, the King of Kanchi was insulted and cancelled my marriage. If I am defeated m this battle, is it not also Your de¬feat? It is a great insult to You! How can You, the Lord of the uni¬verse, sit behind the deity of Ganesh?"

That night, Lord Jagannath appeared to the King in his sleep and told him, "Do not be worried. Go again to fight with the King of Kanchi and his army. This time I will personally help you during the battle." The King awoke, very happy to receive this indication from the Lord that He would personally amend the situa¬tion. He became encouraged to fight again with the King of Kan-chi.


King Purusottama Deva started his journey to Kanchi to fight for the second time. This time Lord Jagannath and Balaram personally went with him to fight on his behalf. Disguised as soldiers, jagannath rode a black horse and Baladeva rode on a white horse. The weather was very hot, since it was the summer month of Vaisakh. As They passed the Chilika lake, it reminded Them of Their thirst. They noticed one old cowherd lady carrying a pot of buttermilk on her head. Her name was Manika, and she was on her way to the market to sell the buttermilk. Both the Lords desired to drink the buttermilk, so they stopped the old lady and drank to Their hearts' content. When they finished, They prepared to leave and continue Their journey. The old lady Manika was very con¬cerned that Jagannath and Balaram were not going to pay for the buttermilk, so she stopped them and asked them for money. They said, "We are soldiers on our way to battle. We have no money with us." The old lady started to cry. The buttermilk was only her livelihood, and the money she earned at the market had to main¬tain her family. When she explained this to Jagannath and Balaram, Jagannath leaned down from His horse and gave Manika a golden ring from His finger and said, "Keep this with you. After some time, our king will pass by this way. When he comes through, give him this ring and ask him to give you the money for the butter¬milk, and he will do so." Reluctantly, the old lady took the ring, and the brothers continued on their journey to battle.


The old lady Manika stood on the roadside awaiting the King's arrival. After some time she saw him approaching with his army. Manika stopped the King and said to him, "Two of your soldiers were going by this road riding a black horse and a white horse. They looked like brothers. They drank my buttermilk but had no money to pay for it." She held her upturned palm towards the King, showing him the golden ring. "They gave this ring to me to give to you. They told me to ask you for the money for the but¬termilk in exchange for this ring. Please take this ring and give me the cost of the buttermilk, so that I might maintain my family!" When the King saw the ring he was very surprised: it was no ordinary gold ring, but Lord Jagannath's diamond ring! Then he understood that both the Lords had gone to Kanchi in die form of soldiers to keep Jagannath's promise. The King saw this as confir¬mation that victory would be his, and he was very happy. He told Manika, "You were very fortunate to have seen Lord Jagannath and Lord Balaram and to serve Them by giving Them buttermilk. I will of course reimburse you as the Lord requested." The King was feel¬ing so magnanimous due to having the Lords fighting in his army that he generously rewarded the woman. He gave her ownership of several villages so that she could live comfortably from the tax of the villagers. The King immediately established a village at the very spot the Lords partook of her buttermilk, and named the village Manika Patana.This village is still there in'Orissa.


The King proceeded towards Kanchi. A huge battle took place between the soldiers of armies. The soldiers of the King of Kanchi saw two new soldiers in Purusottama Deva's army; one was riding on a black horse and one upon a white horse. These two sol¬diers fought so vigorously that no one was able to defeat Them.Many soldiers from the army of the King of Kanchi were killed. The King of Kanchi was defeated.Purusottama Deva arrested Princess Padmavati instead of the King of Kanchi, and in revenge for the cancellation of his mar¬riage to the princess, planned to marry her to a chandala road sweeper. He called for his minister and ordered him to look for one chandala boy to marry Princess Padmavati. Everyone felt very sad to hear this news from the King. Princess Padmavati was especially very sad, because she had real affection for King Purusottama Deva. She knew he was acting out of revenge for her fathers ac¬tions. But King Purusottama s minister was very clever. He told the Kmg to be patient, as it would take some time to find a suitable chandala boy to marry the princess. In the meantime, the minister took Padmavati and gave her shelter at his house. Princess Pad¬mavati felt very unfortunate that she was not destined to be the queen of Orissa. Nor would she be the maidservant of the King. She felt there would be no end to her suffering. Ratha-yatra day was approaching. Thousands of people were coming to Pun for the festival, and everyone in the entire area was happy. But Princess Padmavati was not happy due to thinking always of her upcoming marriage to a chandala boy. One day, the minister came to Padmavati and told here that she should get dressed in her finest cloth because today was her wedding day. As soon as Padmavati heard this, she stared to cry as she thought of spending the rest of her life in the house of a chandala.Thc minis¬ter pacified her, saying, "Please, Princess Padmavati. Do not be worried. Rely on Lord Jagannath. He will help you."


All of the ladies decorated Padmavati very nicely. She rode on a palanquin accompanied by the minister. As it was Ratha-yatra day, the streets were full, and Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Sub-hadra Devi were already sitting in Their chariots. Thousands of people lined the streets, and the sound of nama-sankirtan filled the air. Devotees played mrdanga and kartals and blew conch shells. Everything was ready for the Ratha-yatra to begin. The King of Puri walked to the front of Jagannath's chariot, carrying in his hand a golden broom to sweep the road for the pleasure of the Lord. He swept with great pleasure, his heart filled with devotion for Lord jagannath. When Purusottama Deva finished sweeping, the minister brought Princess Padmavati to the King, and very clev¬erly said to him, "My dear King, I asked you to be patient in find¬ing a suitable chandala for the Princess. I have come to you today to tell you that I have found a street sweeper whom I have deemed suitable to be her husband." The King said to his minister, "Very well, but I don't have time for this. Today is Ratha-yatra. Do as you will." The minister smiled at the King and replied, "But my dear King, the street sweeper I have chosen is you, Your Highness." The King stopped and looked in surprise at his minister, a small smile coming to his lips. The minister continued, "Your Highness, today you are a street sweeper. You instructed me to arrange the marriage of Princess Padmavati with a street sweeper, so I have chosen you." With that, the minister ordered Princess Padmavati to place a gar¬land around the neck of King Purusottama Deva. The King hap¬pily accepted Princess Padmavati as his queen, and praised his min¬ister for his sneaky intelligence. Princess Padmavati was weak with relief, happy to be marrying the man for whom she had so much affection, and who could look after her properly according to her status as a princess.


According to the conditions set down by the King of Kan-chi, the deity of Ganesh was brought to Puri and kept in a temple behind Jagannaths temple. Today that same Ganesh is still there. And to this day, the King of Puri sweeps the road in front of Ja¬gannaths chariot before the start of the Ratha-yatra festival. The deities of Sri Sri Radha-Radhakanta which are wor¬shiped at Gambhira were also brought from Kanchipuram. It is said that They were also worshipped in Jagannaths temple. These deities were worshipped on an altar that was located between Jagan-nath's altar and the room where the bhoga is prepared. The Jagan-nath temple cooks are very expert at making so many nice varieties of foodstuffs for the Lord. After Sri Sri Radha-Radhakanta came to stay in the temple, Lord Jagannath found that so many nice items were not being given to Him. Someone was taking them after they left the room where the bhoga was prepared, before they reached His altar. Lord Jagannath discovered that the deities of Sri Sri Radha-Radhakanta, were eating all the nice foods that had been brought to the temple and prepared in the bhoga room! At this time Lord Jagannath instructed the pujaris to remove the deities from the temple. By the Lord's order these deities were removed and kept in Kasi Mishra's house, which is now known as Gambhira, where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed for eighteen years. He wor¬shiped these same deities of Sri Sri Radha-Radhakanta.