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purusottama Kshetra Mahatmya
Purusottama Kshetra is supremely purifying. Here Lord Vishnu resides in the deity form made of daru (wood). He is also known as Daru-Brahma. Who ever takes darshan of His form will be immediately liberated. One who visits Purusottama Kshetra gets the results of traveling to all of the holy tirthas. Bhagavan Jagannath exists everywhere. He is all-pervading. Still, He is there in Purusottama Kshetra in His sakshyata swarup, His original form. This dham is so dear to the Lord that He named it after Himself (Purusottama). This kshetra extends up to ten yojajana, 120 kilometers in diameter. This place manifests from the ocean and is covered by sand. In the middle of this sandy beach there is a blue mountain.
The earth planet was once submerged in the waters of dev¬astation. Bhagavan Varahadeva recovered the earth and settled it properly. Then Lord Brahma started to set all of tirchas and holy rivers. Lord Brahma thought about the plight of the living entities on this planet who are constantly suffering from three kinds of material miseries. Considering their welfare, Brahmaji offered prayers to Parameswar Vishnu, the deliverer of liberation. Lord Vishnu was pleased with the prayers of Brahmaji and appeared before him. His bodily color was blue like a cloud. In His hands were sankha, chakra, gada and padma. He rode on His car¬rier, Garuda. Lord Vishnu told Brahmaji, "I will tell you of a proc¬ess that will fulfill your desires. There is a place situated on the northern side of the ocean and the southern side of the river Mahanadi. It is called Utkala desh. This place is a very secret place, not known to the people in general. There I live in My special form, Purusottama, beyond kshyara and akshyara. Utkala is never affected by creation or annihilation. There is a tree on the top of a blue mountam called kalpa bata. Towards the western side of this tree there is a pond called Rohmi kunda. I am residing at the bank of this pond as Purusottama. Whoever will take darshan of Me here will get liberation without doubt.
"Oh Brahmaji, you should go there and meditate on Me. All of the glories of Purusottama Kshetra will manifest to you auto¬matically. That place is hidden m the Vedic literatures. Under My illusion nobody knows about this dham. Now, by Mv mercy, this dham will be manifest to all. If someone spends time equivalent to one breath there, he will get result of one aswameda vaina. After advising Lord Brahma in this way Lord Vishnu, disappeared. Fol-lowmg the order of Lord Vishnu, Brahmaji went to Nila-chala Dham and started to meditate.
From Pitn-loka Lord Yamaraj came to Nila-chala. Yamaraj was worried that if the Lord freely gave His darshan to everyone that he would lose his service. All of the fallen souls would get lib¬eration and Yamaraj s post would reduce. He came to Nila-chala and offered prayers to Lord Narayana. Lord Narayana was very pleased with Yamaraj s prayers. He indicated to Lamxi Devi, who was seated on His left side, to speak to Yamaraj. Laxmi Devi said, "Oh Suryanandan, Yamraj. It is not possible for us to leave this Pu¬rusottama Kshetra. No one suffers any karma phal in this land. Everyone who lives here, including all of the birds and animals, get free from all of their sinful reactions. Whoever takes darshan of Lord Narayana here becomes free from all karma. You can use your influence anywhere except this place. You may work somewhere else, but not here. Your great-grandfather, Brahmaji, knowing the glories of this dham is also offering his prayers to Lord Gadad-hara."
Yamraj humbly replied, "My dear Laxmi Devi. Whatever you have said I accept as correct. The Lord's desire is final. He is the one who puts the living entities in bondage, and He is the one who delivers them from bondage. He also has created me, as well as heaven and hell. If it is His desire that whoever dies here will get liberation, then please explain to me in detail the glories of living in this place." Laxi Devi was glad for the opportunity to glorify Purusottama Kshetra. She told the following pastimes to Lord Ya-maraj.
Markandeya Rsi and Nila-chala Dham
There was once a rsi called Markandeya. He had received a boon that he would remain alive for seven kalpas (seven days of Brahma). At the end of a day of Brahma, devastation takes place. At that time the whole world is inundated by water. Everyone and everything dies in that devastation. But Markandeya Rsi did not die. He floated in the devastation water. He suffered greatly, being tossed in the fierce waves. After a long time he reached a bank near Nila-chala. He could see that the land was above water level. There was a huge banyan tree standing on this track of land. He was sur¬prised to hear some one calling him saying, "Markandeya! Do not be worried. Come near me." Markandeya was astonished. "Who is calling me? Where is this affectionate voice coming from?" Then Markandeya saw Lord Narayana and Laxmi Devi. He offered his obeisances and prayers to Lord Vishnu.
The Lord spoke to His devotee. "You do not know My tattva, and that is why you are suffering. Oh great sage, climb on top of this tree. There on top of a leaf you will see My childhood form. You may enter into His wide open mouth and stay there hap¬pily." Markandeya was surprised to hear this. He climbed the tree and saw the childhood form of the Lord. The sage cautiously en¬tered His mouth. He saw there the fourteen planetary systems and all of the demigods including Brahmadeva, the Dikpalas, siddhas, gavandharvas, raksasyas, munis, devarsis, oceans, tirdias, rivers, mountains and forests. He saw Sesa naga with His thousands of hoods. He saw there whatever Brahmaji had created. He traveled deep inside the belly of the childhood form of the Lord. Finally the sage came out of the belly through His neck and meet with Lord Narayana and Laxmi Devi again.
Upon seeing Markandeya Rsi Lord Vishnu said, "Markandeya, you should know it for sure that this most wonder¬ful place is My eternal dham. No creation or annihilation takes place here. No material bondage is found here. Whoever enters My abode, with the understanding that I am present here, will not have to take birth again in this material world."
"My dear Lord," the rsi said, bowing his head. "I desire to stay here. Please give Your blessings that I may take up residence in Your dham."
The Lord replied, "I will stay here until the end of the dev¬astation. After that I will create for you one nice place where you can stay peacefully and worship My second form, Mahadeva. Thus by My mercy you can conquer over death." After receiving this boon, Markandeya performed tapasya to please Lord Shiva, who is known as Markandeswar.
The Deliverance of Pundarik and Ambarish
Once upon a time there was a brahmana named Pundarik and a kshatnya, Ambarish who lived in Kurukshetra. They were good friends. Though they had taken birth in good families, they had given up all of their good qualities and always engaged in sin¬ful activities. They never performed their daily duties accordmg to their varna. They drank wine and enjoyed the association of prosti¬tutes. They were not worried about their destination at the time of death. Both of Pundarik and Ambarish decided to go to other countries to earn money. While moving here and there, they reached a place where many saintly people were performing yajna. From a far distance they could hear the recitation of scripture. By seeing these spiritual activities, their minds changed. They became attracted to religious life. "We have committed so many sinful ac¬tivities," the friends lamented. "How can we overcome the reaction of these sins? The sins we have performed are rare to find in scrip¬tures. How can sastra tell us how to be free from the reactions of our sinful activities? Let us ask these great saintly persons who have gathered here for yajna. Surely they can tell us some process on how to be delivered."
Approaching the sadhas with great humility, Pundarik and Ambarish detailed their sinful activities and asked how they could be saved from the punishment of Yamaraj. When the saintly per¬sons heard about their sinful life, the descriptions were so severe that they closed their eyes. No one could prescribe any atonement for such sins. There was one great Vaisnava who was head among all the saints. The saints words gave hope to the distressed men. "Oh son of a brahmana. Oh son of a kshatnya. If you seek deliverance from the reactions of these abominable sinful activities, you must imme¬diately go to Purusottama Kshetra. This place is the best among all tirthas. Here Lord Purusottama has appeared in a most merciful form, bemg pleased by the devotion of His devotee, King Indradyumna. By worshiping Lord Jagannath not only you will be free from sin, but you will get liberation. Just by having His darshan you will be free from the reactions of all sinful activities. Take shelter of Jagadish, Who resides in Utkala Pradesh, on top of the Nila-chala mountain. That most merciful Lord will definitely fulfill your desires."
After hearing this good instruction from the Vaisnava, both Pundarik and Ambarish happily started their journey to Purusot-tama Kshetra. Hearing and repeating the glories of Lord Jagannath, diey became renounced. They gave up bad association and stared to practice devotional service. After some days they reached Puri Dham. They took their holy bath in the ocean and proceeded to the temple. At the entrance they offered prostrated obeisances. But at that time they were not able to see the deities of the Lord. Their hearts thumping with worry, Pundarik and Ambarish decided to fast until they could have darshan of the Lord. They engaged in continuous chanting of the holy names. On the third night they saw some effulgence coming from inside the temple. The devotees continued their fasting and engaged in intense chanting of the holy names of the Lord. On the seventh night, they finally had the dar¬shan of Lord Jagannath. Free from contamination and full of tran¬scendental knowledge and bliss, Pundarik and Ambarish spent the rest of their lives serving Lord Jagannath in His dham.