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The Tailor and Lord Jagannath
There was a tailor in Delhi whose name was Paramesthi. Al¬though he was very ugly and hunchbacked, he possessed all good qualities and had taken birth in a devotee family. He was a self-realized person, and worshipped Lord Vishnu as his life and soul. He had control over all his senses, was truthful, and free from envy, anger and pride. He was detached from material objects and was • always blissful. He understood the temporary nature of die mate¬rial world, and thus was always engaged in chanting the holy name. His wife, Vimala Devi, was very beautiful, humble and also pos¬sessed many good qualities. She was always engaged in the service of her husband. They had two daughters and three sons.
Paramesthi was very expert in his tailoring job. He was so famous for his good tailoring that the Muslim King of Delhi would send his cloth to Paramesthi. Once the King sent some very expensive cloth embroidered with gold and decorated with pearls and diamonds. The King requested diat two pillows be made from the cloth. He said to Paramesthi, "You should make it very nicely with flower designs sewn onto the cloth. Make sure no one can see the stitching. If you do a good job, I will pay you handsomely." When Paramesthi saw die cloth, he thought to himself, "This cloth looks and smells so nice. It is only suitable for Lord Jagan¬nath. These pillows the King wants sewn are really meant for Lord Jagannath—how can such beautiful cloth be enjoyed by a human being?"
It so happened that Paramesthi received the cloth from the King during the Ratha-yatra period, when Lord Jagannath would ride in His chariot through Pahandi vijaya. Paramesthi started to make the pillows, and when they were ready, he was very satisfied, as the pillows looked so beautiful. Paramesthi closed his eyes dreamily, and began meditating on the Pahandi Vijaya pastime of Lord Jagannath. He saw that Jagannath looked so beautiful. Thou¬sands of people were there to see the Lord and He attracted every¬one's minds. During Ratha-yatra, there is no difference between low-caste and high-caste; devotees from the fourteen planets come to take shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Jagannath. When Jagannath was moved from the temple, He was resting on a pillow. The sevaks moved the pillow forward, and moved Jagannath onto the pillow, and in this way He moved forward, out of His temple and onto His chariot. Paramesthi saw all of this in meditation. Suddenly he saw the pillow burst. He knew the Lord needed another pillow, and so he handed over the pillow he was making for the King, just as if he were standing next to Lord Jagannath. Jagannath took the pillow, and the sevaks. continued moving Him towards His chariot.
When Paramesthi came to his external senses, he saw that he had only one pillow instead of two. He suddenly realized that one pillow had actually been taken by Lord Jagannath! Paramesthi was surprised to see this, and felt himself so fortunate that a pillow he had sewn was used in the Lord's intimate service. He was feeling that Jagannath was so merciful to him. He felt fear along with his happiness: one pillow was missing, and there was no doubt that the King would punish him! Then Paramesthi thought to himself, "This person has become the king due only to the mercy of my Lord. He is powerful due to the power of my Lord. So in reality, what can he do to me?"
While Paramesthi was thinking these thoughts, the King's messenger came with an order from the King to bring the two pil¬lows to the palace. Paramesthi immediately went to the King with the one pillow. He offered his obeisances many times then pre¬sented the pillow to the King. The King looked bewildered and said, "I ordered two pillows. Where is the other pillow? Have not you prepared another pillow? Tell me the truth—what happened to other pillow?" Paramesthi immediately fell at the feet of the King and explained that the other pillow had been taken by Lord Jagan¬nath. "I have only this one pillow with me, which I am giving to you now. Please accept this one and do whatever you want with me." The King smiled, but inside he was seething with anger. He glared at Paramesthi, and said, "Have you become mad?! Where is your Lord Jagannath? How powerful is He? What can He do by His hand? How is it possible for Him to take the pillow from you? Sri Kshetra Pun is so far from here. How is it possible that He could have come so far in one day and take this pillow from you?"
Hearing all these questions, Paramesthi started to chant the holy name of the Lord. He said to the King, "I do not fear death. I will explain to you the potency of Lord Jagannath. He is there in His Daru-Brahma form. But at the same time, He is all over the universe. He is the supreme controller of this universe. He lives at Niladri nagar but is maintaining the whole universe. Whenever you call Him, wherever you are in the universe, He can hear you, even though He is sitting in Pun. According to the devotion of His dear most devotees, He will accept things from them, regardless of the seeming distance between Him and His devotee. He accepts according to mood of the devotee." When the King heard this explanation from Paramestiii, he became very angry. He said, "You sinful, low-caste person! Now listen to me! I do not have a devo¬tional mood, and yet you are filled with bhava and devotion. Now I will put you to death. You can then remember your istha-deva. Let us see then how your Lord can save you!" The King ordered his people, "Arrest this man! Take this hunchback to the prison house and tie him in ropes. Shackle his legs then bolt the door. Do not give him any food. Let him die of starvation. Let us see then how his Lord will save him!"
Paramesthi was carried away and thrown in the prison house. He started to pray to Lord Jagannath. "O Bhavagrahi, please protect me! O Kamala-caran, please protect me! O Jagat-karan, please protect me! O, Protector. Chakrapani! You protected Drau-padi, and You protected Gajendra the king of the elephants when they were in trouble. O Rama-dhanurdhar-dhan! O Knpasrndhu! O Bhakta-vanca-kalpataru! O Dina-natha, E>inajana-bandhu! O Sila-abala-karaka! O Nilacala! O Janaranjan-nayan! O Ghora-vipad-nasan, Prahlada-uddharan! O Hiranya-hruda-vidaran! O Girigovardhan-dhan! O Indra-garba-kharba-kan! Lord Mahadeva and Brahma meditate on Your lotus feet. Your glories are unlimited. How can a wretched person like me be able to know all Your glo¬ries? How can I understand your bhaval You are rarely attained even by great yogis. This universe is Your playground. Please protect me from the punishment of this Muslim king. You may do whatever You like with me, as I have no control over anything."
Praying like this, Paramesthi chanted the Lord's holy name, his eyes closed in meditation, his mind dwelling on the four-armed form of the Lord. Gradually he fell asleep. Lord Jagannath, the Su-persoul, knew the situation of Paramesthi. Lord Jagannath is known as the deliverer of the fallen. He cannot tolerate the suffer¬ing of His devotees. Immediately He reached Delhi and entered the prison house where His devotee was detained. The Lord looked very effulgent, and He cast His merciful glance upon Paramesthi. As soon as the Lord's glance fell upon him, Paramesthi was imme¬diately released from the shackles on his legs and the ropes around his arms. When he opened his eyes, he saw Lord Jagannath before him. That Adimula, the original cause of everything, who is Ab-haya-vara-data, the giver of fearlessness; Bhrutya-kalpataru, He who fulfills the desires of His servants, was smiling at Paramesthi. He said to him, "Why are you worried? As long as I am with you, you need not fear anyone or anything. As long as I have My sudar-shan in My hand, My devotees are most powerful and are well pro¬tected." Then the Lord put His lotus feet on the head of Pa¬ramesthi. Immediately his hunch disappeared, and he became very beautiful. Just see the good fortune of this person! Even Indra, the . king of the demigods, could not receive blessings such as this! Pa¬ramesthi, holding the lotus feet of the Lord on his head, was in so much ecstasy that he could not speak. In this way he was com¬pletely purified.
Then Lord Jagannath went to the house of the Muslim king in Delhi. The King was sleeping deeply, and the Lord ap¬peared near him and said, "Foolish, ignorant King! I have given you this position, yet you are unaware of this. You have punished My devotee for giving Me a simple pillow. Everything in this universe is belongs to Me. He simply returned my possessions to Me. Did he give Me your fathers property? Now I order you to immediately release him from the prison house! Fall at his feet and worship him. If you do not do this, then I will finish you along with your entire family dynasty. I will cut you all into pieces." The Lord started to whip the King s back. After whipping him, Jagannath disappeared from the palace. After being whipped heavily, the King felt so much pain and woke up shouting and cry¬ing. He thought he had been having a nightmare, but then he saw the red marks on his back and understood that it was not an ordi¬nary dream. The King said to himself, "Who could possibly do this? He must be God! He came here to teach me a lesson. He did this for His devotee. If I delay in carrying out His orders, then I will be in great trouble."
Early the next morning, the King went to the prison house and personally unlocked the cell door. He was surprised to see that Paramesthi was free from his bindings. He also noticed that the hunch was gone from his back, and that his appearance was very beautiful and effulgent. He was sitting peacefully and chanting the holy name of Lord Rama. By seeing this, the King, out of fear, picked up Paramesthi and put him on his lap. He offered him a flower garland and chandan, and decorated him with many orna¬ments. He placed a patani sari (turban of respect) on his head. With great humility, the King said, "You are very fortunate and blessed. You have purified this planet. I say to you with the utmost sincerity, from today you will be our family guru."
The King then brought his principal elephant, and Pa¬ramesthi rode around Delhi in a great procession while the King sang his glories. Afterwards, the King took Paramesthi back to the palace. Paramesthi continued to worship Lord Jagannath without any obstacle. At the end of his life, he went back home, back to Godhead.