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

Raghu Arakshita


Once upon a time, there was a very rich man named Krishna Mahapatra m the state of Bengal. His wife's name was Kamala, and triey had one son named Raghunath, who was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. Raghunath always served everyone very nicely, and was charitable in nature. When Raghunath reached at the age of sixteen, his parents looked for a girl to marry their dear son. Nearby lived another very rich man named Gangadhar. He had seven sons and one daughter called Annapurna. She was a very aus¬picious girl, endowed with all good qualities. The families made a pact to marry Ragu to Annapurna.


Raghunath was so charitable that he donated all his wealth to poor people, and thus ended up poor himself. Being deprived of wealth, his father left his body. His mother entered into the fire and thus killed herself. Only Raghunath was left behind. He un¬derstood that life is useless. He thought to himself, "What is use of this life? Lord Jagannath is controller of everything. That Lord, the husband of Lamxi Devi, is residing in Nila-chala Kshetra. Bet¬ter I go there and offer my prayers to Him. I will exist there by eat¬ing Jagannath maha-prasad. Even if I will die there still it will be preferable to this. I will get liberation as it is a holy place." Thus Raghunath went to Puri and took darshan of Lord Jagannath. At the altar of Jagannath, Raghunatha prayed, "O my Lord, both my father and mother have died and have left me behind. I am now arakshita, there is no one to take care of me. Now I am Raghu Arakshita. I take shelter at Your lotus feet. I am your slave, your purchased servant. Please do with me whatever You like." Thus he offered his prayers to the Lord and traveled around Puri dhama. He visited different ashrams, and whatever he could find to eat he was happy with. He was living happily by taking darshan of Lord Jagannath daily. Thus many days passed. His father-in-law came to know that Raghunath was now wandering in Puri as Raghu Arak¬shita, and living by begging. The father-in-law thought that Raghu¬nath had become a madman, and thus he became concerned for his daughter Annapurna. How could his daughter be the wife of a person like this? He thought to himself, "It is better I find another boy to give Annapurna in marriage to." There was one rich person named Basu Mahapatra, who had a son. Annpurna's marriage was arranged with the son of Basu Mahapatra, and the date was fixed for the month of Phalguna.


When Annpurna heard about her fathers arrangement to marry her to another boy, she became very worried. She did not want to marry another boy while her husband was still alive. She prayed to the Lord, "O my Lord, you have delivered Gajendra, the king of elephants when he was in danger. You saved Draupadi when she was mistreated by the Kauravas. Please save me now from this danger. Please arrange that I can meet with my husband." Annapurna began to seek out someone who was going to Puri so that they might carry a message to her husband about the situation. She finally found some villagers who were leaving for Puri to take darshan of Lord Jagannath. She wrote a letter to her husband, saying, "My parents are arranging my remarriage with the son of Basu Mahapatra for next month, the month of Phalguna. You must come here immediately and save me from this helpless situation. Whether you come or do not come, know it for sure if you do not reach here within ten days, I will commit suicide. You will be responsible for death of a woman."


She sealed the envelope and sent the letter with one villager. She told him, "Kindly give this letter to my husband, who is living in Puri by begging from house to house." The person started his journey and after some days reached Puri and took darshan of Lord Jagannath. But he had not forgotten about the letter for Raghu Arakshita. He asked everyone he met of Raghunatha's whereabouts. Finally one day, at the Lion Gate in front of the Ja¬gannath temple, he found Raghunatha, and handed over the letter to him. Raghu read the letter and immediately understood the situation of his wife. But what could he do now? There were only 10 days left. From Puri to go her house it would take more than ten days. How could he travel there within a few days? If he didn't reach Puri soon, his wife would commit suicide. Raghunatha went to the temple and offered his prayers to Lord Jagannath, asking Him for help. While he was praying to the Lord, he fell asleep. Lord Jagannath, who is famous as Bhakta-vatsala, could not tolerate the trouble His devotee was going through. Immediately he called Vetal (a goblin) and instructed him to take Raghunatha back to his father-in-law's house while he slept. Vetal put Raghunatha on top of a mystical cot and flew him to the village of Kalavati pura, where his wife was living in her father's house. He placed Raghunatha at the front door and left. Early the next morning, when Raghunatha woke up, he found himself sleep¬ing somewhere different from where he'd fallen asleep. He thought, "I was sleeping in front of the Lion Gate. How did I arrive here? Which village is this? Whose ashram is this?" He asked people who were walking by him where he was. They informed him tliat the village name was Kalavati pura. "You are now sitting in front of the house of Krishna Mohapatra." Raghu understood, and thought to himself, "This was the arrangement of the Lord. Only Jagannath could have done this. Who else has the power to perform such a feat? The whole universe is His playground; this is not a big thing for Him." While Raghu was thinking like this his brother-in-law opened the door and saw Raghu sitting on the doorstep, unclean and wearing torn and dirty cloth. He immediately returned inside and informed his parents. The whole family came to see Raghu. His wife Annpurna was very happy to see that her husband had come back, but the other family members were not so happy to see him. They did not want Annapurna to be with Raghu, but at the same time they could not reject him, as he was her husband. Fear¬ing what passers-by would think if they saw Raghu on the door¬step, they quickly took him inside the house, cleaned him very nicely, and brought fresh cloth for him to wear. Externally the fam¬ily was very nice to him, but in their hearts they were already con¬ceiving of a plan to be rid of him: they wanted to kill Raghu so that Annapurna could be saved from his association and marry the other boy.


A feast was prepared for Raghu. The family made many cakes, and mixed poison into the ingredients. Annapurna, who was a most chaste lady, could understand the plan of her family to kill her husband by making him eat poison cakes. She wrote a note to Raghu, saying, "These cakes have poison inside them. Do not eat them!" She slipped the note inside one cake as she served it to Raghu. When Raghu was served the preparations, first he offered everything to Lord Jagannath then took the remnants. He bit into a cake, and by Jagannaths mercy, the first mouthful contained the note from Annapurna. When Raghu read the note, his only con¬cern was that he had offered Lord Jagannath poison. He thought to himself, "Oh no! I have committed a big offense. But what can be done? This is now Jagannatha prasada. How can I reject it? Even if I die, let me die taking the Lord's prasada. I have to die one day— what better way than by taking the Lord s prasada?' Thinking like this, Raghu ate all the prasada, remembering the name of Lord Go-vinda as he ate.


As soon as he swallowed the cake, the poison entered his body and Raghu fell on the ground. His father-in-law and others were very happy to see that Raghu had died. Annapurna's father -advised his sons, "Before sunrise you must burn him. If anyone asks what happened, tell them he was bitten by a snake." When An¬napurna came to know that her husband had died, she decided to enter into his funeral pyre and kill herself. She sat down and medi¬tated upon Lord Jagannath. Immediately Lord Jagannaths sim-hasana started to shake. The Lord came to know that His devotee was in trouble, and came to save Raghu. He saw His devotee lying dead. Lord Jagannath very affectionately picked up Raghu and placed him in His lap, just as a father picfe up his son. As soon as Raghu felt the touch of the Lord, he came back to life as though from a long sleep. As soon as Raghu awoke, Lord Jagannath disap¬peared. Raghu could understand that the Lord had saved him from the effects of the poison. He sat down and started to chant the holy name of the Lord throughout the whole night.


The next morning, when the family members opened the door of the room where Raghu's dead body was lying, they were surprised to see him sitting and chanting the holy name of Rama and Krishna. They said to each other, "How is it possible that this person, in spite of eating poison, is still alive? He must not be an ordinary person." Realizing this, they all went to Raghu and begged forgiveness. Raghu said to them, "You are all faultless. It is my karma. I must have fed someone poison in a previous life, so that is why I was fed poison. My Lord is Daru-brahma Jagannath. By His mercy only, I have had my life returned to me."


Raghu continued, "Because I have become poor you are planning for Annapurna to marry someone else. If you all want that, then let me go. Or, if you are at all interested in following the patli of dharma, then give me my wife; let me take her with me. Do whatever you like, but I am leaving now." Saying this, Raghu started to leave the house. Everyone ran after him and stopped him from leaving. They asked Annpurna what she wanted to do. According to her desire, they decorated her nicely and let her go with Raghu. Annpurna told Raghu, "You are my husband, my lord. Please take me with you wherever you go." And so Raghu and his wife started the journey to Puri. After Raghu left, the father sent a messenger to Basu Maha-patra's, whose son Annapurna was meant to marry. The messenger told the son of Basu Mahapatra, "We cannot give Annapurna in marriage to you, as her husband returned and claimed her, taking her back to Puri. We tried our best to save her from his hand, but nothing worked. Now they are on their way to Jagannath Puri. Please do whatever you want to do." As soon as he got this message, the son immediately prepared a group of soldiers and sent them to catch Raghu. They found Raghu and Annapurna on the main road to Pun. They said to Raghu, "Who are you to steal this girl? If you want to return to Puri alive, then leave this girl behind. Otherwise we will arrest you." When Raghu looked behind he found many soldiers behind him. Seeing this, Annpurna became very scared. "What will happen now?" she asked Raghu. "They are following us; they will kill you and kidnap me! I am destined to suffer so much. How will we be saved now?"


Raghu replied, "Do not be worried. My Lord is Daru-brahma Jagannatli. This danger is nothing for Him to remove. That Lord who united us, who saved me from the poison, will save us now also. Why are you so scared? Even Brahma and Indra are medi¬tating on His lotus feet to be free from fear. What fear do we have when we have a Lord like Jagannath?"

While Raghu was speaking like this to his wife, two very powerful personalities riding on two horses arrived on the scene. They were decorated like soldiers, and the asked Raghu, "Where have you come from? Where will you go? There is no one with you. So many soldiers are following behind you. Please tell us the prob¬lem." Raghu explained everything to the two solders. Both soldiers guarded Raghu and his wife and told them, "Now you have noth¬ing to fear. Come with us." Lord Jagannath created an illusion be¬fore the soldiers, who were tricked into thinking that Raghu and his wife were surrounded by thousands of forms of Narayana. They all became scared and quickly ran away in fear. Then the two soldiers on horseback brought Raghu and his wife safely to the edge of the province. Raghu was very much obliged. He offered his obeisances, and said to them, "If you hadn't come, we would have been killed. Thank you very much." Raghu could not recognize that the two soldiers were Jagannath and Balarama. But how could he? Even Brahma and Indra are not able to understand the pastimes of the Lord. After saving Raghu and his wife, Jagannath and Balaram went back to Nila-chala Dham to Their temple.


After few days both Raghu and his good wife reached Puri. They went to take darshan of the Lord. They arranged to live in a house near the temple. Raghu was very happy to hear the pastimes of the Lord daily. He visited the temple and attended all of the arati's. He would render some service to the Lord and chant and dance in front of the deities. Every day Raghu would go out to beg, and whatever he received, Annapurna would cook and offer to the Lord. After her husband was satisfied by the prasada, she would take his remnants. She would not even drink water without first feeding her husband. She served Raghu very sincerely.


Raghu was very merciful to all living entities, and would ea¬gerly serve all the Vaisnavas. Gradually his good name spread all over Puri. Even though poor, he had many good qualities. He was a beggar, yet still he would give to anyone whatever they asked from him. Once, some Vaisnavas came to visit Nila-chala-dhama. They took darshan of Jagannath and were looking for some prasada to honor. The local people told them, "Go to Raghu Arakshita's house. He will treat you very nicely, as he always serves Vaisnavas very respectfully." When the devotees arrived at Raghu s house, he was very happy to see so many sadhus at his place. He asked, "How may I serve you?" The sadhus told him they were hungry, and were looking for some prasada to honor. Raghu wondered what to do, as he had no money, and no way of serving these sad¬hus. He went inside and asked his wife, "What should we do now? Sadhus have come to our house. How can we serve them? We have no money with us." His wife said, "No problem. I am giving you all my ornaments. Please take these ornaments and in exchange bring some money from the merchant. We can feed these Vaisnavas nicely." Raghu replied, "I am a poor beggar. If I go to the merchant with valuable ornaments, he will think that I have stolen them from someone. Better you go to meet the merchant and bring the money."


Following the order of her husband, Annpurna quickly went to the merchants house and sold her ornaments. The mer¬chant was of bad character, and very lusty. He became attracted to the beauty of Annapurna and told her, "You need not sell me your ornaments. I will give you money only if in exchange you allow me to enjoy with you." Hearing this, Annapurna fled from the mer¬chants house, and returned to her husband, telling him everything. She said, "You are my husband. Whatever you instruct me I will do." Raghu said, "We must serve these sadhus, so do whatever is necessary to serve them. You must agree to the proposal of the merchant and get money from htm immediately." So Annapurna went to the merchant and returned with money from him. She told him, "Please come to my house during the night. I will fulfill your desires." The merchant was very happy to hear this, and gave An¬napurna the money in advance. Raghu bought many varieties of Jagannath prasada with the money and fed all the sadhus to their hearts' content. They were all so happy to receive so much Jagan¬nath prasada. After taking prasada, they gave their blessings to Raghu, praising him for his generosity, and left his house.


As evening approached, Raghu said to his wife, "Now the merchant will come to our house. You must serve him nicely. You should serve his feet a hundred times better than you serve me." Saying this, Raghu went to other room. Annpurna dressed herself nicely and was waiting in her room for the arrival of the merchant. When he arrived, Annpurna said to him, "My dear merchant, please come inside my room. There is no one else here. Do not fear." But as she spoke she was meditating upon Lord Jagannath, praying to Him, "O my Lord, You are famous for protecting Drau-padi. When I have a Lord like You, I have no fear from this danger." When the merchant entered the room, he saw Annpurna sitting on the bed very blissfully. But she was not alone: Lord Hari was on the bed, and Annapurna was in His lap. It looked just like Lord Hari sitting with Lamxi Devi, or Lord Shiva with Parvati. When the merchant saw this he became bewildered. He was struck with sud¬den realization, and thought, "What I see here is burning fire. What have I done? I was trying to jump into fire. I have developed this nasty desire towards Annapurna, who is just like my mother." Thinking like this the merchant immediately fell at the feet of An¬napurna. Annapurna became surprised to see this kind of behavior. She thought, "This merchant was supposed to enjoy with me. Why is he falling at my feet?" She could not understand anything. She told the merchant, "Please, it is not good that you are falling at my feet. Please get up." The merchant replied, "Oh chaste ady! Please excuse me. I am your son. If the son commits some offense, the mother always excuses him. I am such a fool and rascal that I did not know that you are such a pious and chaste lady. Please bless me.


Raghu was waiting in the next room. He was wondering whether his wife was serving the merchant properly or not. He wanted to make sure she served him as per her promise, otherwise they would remain indebted. He was surprised to see that the mer¬chant was lying at the feet of Annapurna. He asked the merchant, "Why are you falling at the feet of my wife? Please get up." The merchant got up and then fell at the feet of Raghu. He said, "How fortunate are you! Just see how the Lord of the universe is holding your wife in His lap!" Everyone became very surprised to hear this. They looked around, but immediately Lord Hari disappeared from the room. All three of them were in ecstasy with love of Godhead. All of them were embracing each other and glorifying the Lord. The merchant gave them great wealth. Both Raghu and his wife spent their life always engaging themselves in the service of the Lord Jagannath, and at the end of their lives, they went back to Vaikuntha.