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Talicha Mohapatra Sambad
There was a brahmana in Puri named Talicha Mohapatra. He was one of the pujaris of Lord Jagannath, and was very expert in all the scriptures. He was always clean and very fixed in his sad-hana. He was humble, sober, and was very dear to all the devotees. He always fed poor people and was fond of hearing krsna-kadia. He was engaged the whole day, from morning to night, in the per¬sonal service of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra. These dei¬ties were everything to him.
One day the King came to Puri along with his entourage. When he entered the temple through the Lion Gate, some pujaris ran to inform Talicha Mohapatra about the arrival of the King, who wanted to take darshan of the deities. Talicha Mahapatra rushed to the deity room to make sure the King received proper darshan, but he saw that the deities were not wearing flower gar¬lands. Usually when the King came to the temple he would ask for maha-prasada garlands of the deities. Mohapatra thought, "It is a great discredit for me that the King will not get Jagannathprasada." He was very worried. Finally he took a flower garland from his own neck and put it on Lord Jagannath.The King arrived at the altar and took darshan of the dei¬ties. As usual, after taking darshan, the King asked the pujari, "Can I please have some flower garland prasada?' The pujari washed his hands and took the flower prasada from the Lord, handing it to the King. The King received the prasada with humility and devotion, and then left for his palace.
The flower garland was very beautiful. It was prepared out of jui flower, a special flower that is pure white with a strong fra¬grance. The King, while sitting on his throne, gazed upon the flower garland, and suddenly found one long black hair. He thought, "This is very strange. How can this hair be in the garland? Jagannath has no hair on His head. This brahmana must have taken the flower garland from his own head and put it on Lord Jagan¬nath, and then gave it to me, telling me it was the prasada of the Lord." The King was very upset. He ordered the presence of Mo¬hapatra immediately. When Mohapatra was brought in front the King, he saw that the King was trembling in anger and hissing like a snake. The King said, "I found a hair in the garland of the Lord. Tell me, when did the Lord develop hair on His head? Tell me the truth, otherwise you will face death." Mohapatra became very scared and prayed, "Lord, please protect me. I know this King is very strict. Who knows what kind of punishment he will give me! Better I lie and save myself from his punishment." So he told the King, "Yes. It is true. For some time now the Lord has been grow¬ing hair."
Then King said, "Tomorrow morning I will go to temple and you can show me personally that the Lord has grown hair on His head. If it's true, then all auspiciousness to you. But if you cannot show me hair on the Lords head, then you will be thrown out of my country. You know very well how strict I am in punish¬ing someone."
Talicha Mohapatra went back to temple and engaged him¬self in the service of the Lord. After finishing his services he of¬fered his prostrated obeisances and prayed, "O great-armed Lord, what more can I say to You? You have given such a big position to an ordinary person like me. As a result, now Your greatness is in question. Even if one pacifies and kisses a dog, or feeds nectar to a snake, at some time they will definitely vomit poison. A sinful per¬son like me was never fit to serve the Lord. Those lotus feet where Brahma and Shiva place their heads; those lotus feet which are served by Laxmi Devi constantly; the water washing those lotus feet which is carried by Lord Shiva, which has purified three planetary systems; those lotus feet which are rarely obtained by Suka, Sanatana, and Sanaka; those lotus feet which are served by all the great demigods; those lotus feet which are meditated upon by all the great yogis—I have a chance to serve those lotus feet even though I have an ordinary human body. I am worse than an insect and not eligible for this great service.
"O my Lord, You are Bhavagrahi, and I am an ordinary proud man. I am too puffed up. I could not recognize the Lord and so I committed such sinful actions. I dared to put flowers from my head onto Your head. I am still here to say this. By now You should have chopped off my head with Your Sudarshan-cakra. You kill me; I have no objection. But I do not want to live and be pun¬ished by the King. What more should I tell you? You are always en¬gaged in the welfare of Your devotees. I have heard that for devo¬tees You accept so much trouble. To prove this You are holding the mark of Srivasta on Your chest. I have seen this by my own eyes. That is why I have no fear. You are very merciful." The pujari con¬tinued, "You know that by the end of the night the King will take me and give me heavy punishment. How can I tolerate that? Better to take poison and commit suicide before I get caught by the King." After saying this, Mohapatra closed the temple doors and went back to his residence. He kept one glass of poison next to his bed, with a plan to drink it by the end of the night if the Lord did not arrange to protect him. He went to sleep expecting some miracle.
Lord Jagannath understood the mind of His devotee. He came to the place where Talicha Mohapatra was sleeping. The Lord appeared to him in his dream, and said to him, "Why are you so scared? After serving Me you have nothing to fear. As long as I am here at Nila-chala, what can this King do to you? Even if ten mil¬lion kings come they cannot harm you. Why are you so afraid of this King? Why do you think that I have no hair? Am I bald-headed? Don't you see I have also hair on My head? Do not be fearful. Tomorrow you go to temple. You can see I have so much hair on My head, which you can show to your king."
Mohapatra woke up and saw there was no one next to him. He thought that the Lord must have given His mercy in the form of a dream. Long before the end of the night he took his bath and went to the temple. He opened the door and looked at the Lord. He was surprised to see the Lord had long, thick black hair on His head, decorated with so many nice flowers. The hair was very long, reaching His waist and touching the ratna-simhasan. After seeing this, Mohapatra was very happy. Then he engaged himself in the service of the Lord. Now he was free from the fear of the King and his punishment.
Early in the morning the King came to the temple and said to Mohapatra, "Show me the hair on the head of the Lord." Then Mohapatra replied without any fear, "What is there for me to show you? You just go near the Lord and see for yourself whether He has hair on His head or not." The King went behind the Lord and was surprised to see the long, curly black hair of the Lord reaching down to His waist. The King asked the pujari, "How did you fix this hair on the Lord's head? Did you fix some hair with the help of glue, or is this real hair that the Lord has grown?" Moha¬patra said, "You can check yourself whether it is false hair or real hair." The King pulled a few of the hairs from Jagannath's head. Immediately blood started to flow from the Lords scalp. When the King saw this he fainted, falling to the ground. When he awoke, he ran to the Mohapatra and caught hold of his feet, saying, "Please save me. I am such a fool. I have now become a great offender of the Lord. Now I am doomed. How could I have known that the Lord has so much mercy upon you? Now I understand that the Lord is non-different from His devotee. Any offense done to a devotee the Lord accepts as if it has been done to Him. I am the greatest fool to commit this offense. I have jumped into the fire and eaten poison by offending you." The King fell at the feet of Mohapatra. The pujari picked him up and said, "You have no fault. This is the greatness of the Lord. He has forgiven my offenses and has shown His mercy to me." While they were talking like this, they both went behind the Lord. But they saw there was no hair on his head. The King said, "O my Lord, You can do anything. Your glo¬ries are unknown even to the devas. How can I understand Your mood? Please excuse my offenses. You are equal to every one. You have no enemy and no friend."
After offering his prayers, the King donated gifts of great opulence to the pujari and left happily for his palace. People were surprised to see this glorious pastime of Lord Jagannath. Talicha Mahapatra engaged himself in the service of the Lord. These are the glories of Lord Hari. He is the life and soul of His devotees. He is always with his devotees to help them in their troubles. The Lord is the friend of His devotees. He is always thinking about His devotees.