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Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa

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Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
Jagannatha Puri, a town of 75,000, is one of the most important pilgrimage centers and one of the four holiest cities in India. These four cities are Badrinatha in the north, Dvaraka in the west, Ramesvaram in the south, and Puri in the east. Badrinarayan in Badrinatha was especially worshiped in Satya-yuga, Rama in Ramesvaram in Treta-yuga, Dvarakanatha in Dvaraka was especially worshiped in Dvapara-yuga, but Lord Jagannatha in Puri can be worshiped by everyone in Kali-yuga. In fact, the importance of Jagannatha Puri, sometimes called Purushottama-Ksetra, is explained in chapters 52 through 57 of the Uttarabhaga section of the Narada Purana. There we find it stated that simply by visiting Puri, which is rarely achieved except for those who have performed many pious acts, and by seeing the Deity of Jagannatha (Krishna), one can easily attain freedom from future births and reach the spiritual abode.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
In the middle of this city is the large temple dedicated to Lord Krishna as Jagannatha, meaning "Lord of the Universe." From the Skanda Purana we get information that the original construction of the first Jagannatha temple was in Satya-yuga, millions of years ago. It is related that Lord Jagannatha told Maharaja Indradyumna that He first appeared in the Svayambhuva manvantara of the first part of Satya-yuga, on the full moon day, after being pleased by devotion. This is about 153 million years ago. Then Brahma installed the Deities in the temple. This appearance is celebrated by the Snana Purnima, or Snana-Yatra, which is the public bathing of Lord Jagannatha, His brother Balarama, and His sister Subhadra. The celebrated Ratha-Yatra festival is said to have started in the time of Svarochisha Manu, or the second manvantara period, and is predicted to continue until the end of the second half of Lord Brahma's lifetime. Even in the Ramayana by Valmiki Muni (Uttara Khanda 108.30) it is related that when Lord Rama was getting ready to leave this world he told Vibhishan, Ravana's younger brother, that in His absence he should worship Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Iksvaku dynasty.

The Skanda Purana also fixes the date of the Ratha-Yatra festival, which should be celebrated on the second day of the bright fortnight if the month of Ashadha, a day called Pushyami Nakshatra by astrological calculations. The Padma Purana describes (as related in Sanatana Goswami's Dig Darshini Tika to his Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, 2.1.159) that in Purushottama-kshetra, or Jagannatha Puri, the supremely blissful Personality of Godhead pretends to be made of wood. In this way, although the Lord takes on what appears to be a material form, it is completely spiritual by the causeless mercy of the Lord for the conditioned souls who cannot perceive the transcendental domain.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
The main temple building, called Sri Mandir, was built in the 12th century by King Chodaganga Deva, though the site goes back much farther as described above. This is a huge complex where buildings house as many as 5,000 priests and assistants. The whole compound is surrounded by a thick stone wall 20 feet tall that encloses an area 665 feet by 640 feet. The wall has four large gates, one on each side. The additional smaller buildings were added after the 16th century. The main temple, which reaches 215 feet in height, is where we find the six foot tall Deities of Jagannatha, Balarama, and the shorter Subhadra. They stand on a five foot high throne facing the pilgrims as they enter the temple room. Outside the main temple hall are over 100 smaller shrines dedicated to the various demigods. There is an arati ceremony six times a day from 4 AM to 9 PM when devotees come in for darshan of the Deities, in which they sing, chant, or worship the Deities in ecstasy. As many as 50,000 people come to the Jagannatha temple in a day. Unfortunately, foreigners are not allowed into the temple grounds, but you can get a look at the temple from the roof of the Raghunandan Library across the street for a donation.

The temple compound also has a huge kitchen, employing over 650 cooks and helpers who make hundreds of vegetarian preparations for the 54 separate offerings that are given to the Deities every day. After the food is given to the Deities it becomes prasada, or the Lord's mercy. By taking such spiritually powerful food it is said that one becomes more and more spiritually surcharged and free from past karma. Much of the prasada is sold or given to people who depend on the temple. When I had my ricksha driver buy some for me, I got a basket with several clay pots filled with a variety of rice, vegetable, dahl, and sweet preparations. It was absolutely delicious and was enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two days. Taking this prasada at Puri is to partake in a tradition that goes back thousands of years and is considered especially purifying. It is said that only by Krishna's grace does one get the opportunity to receive the remnants of food offered to Him.

The Appearance of Lord Jagannatha

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
The significance of Jagannatha Puri and the story of how the Deities first appeared goes back many hundreds of years to the time of King Indradyumna, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. It is related that one time in his court the King heard from a devotee about an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, named Nila-madhava. (Nila-madhava is the Deity form of Lord Vishnu.) The King very much wanted to see this form of the Supreme and sent many Brahmanas to search for Nila-madhava. All came back unsuccessful except for Vidyapati, who did not come back at all. He had wandered to a distant town which was populated by a tribe of people known as Shabaras of non-Aryan heritage. He had stayed in the house of Visvasu, and later, at Visvasu's request, married his daughter, Lalita.

After some time Vidyapati noticed that Visvasu would leave the house every night and return at noon the next day. Vidyapati asked his wife about this. Though her father had ordered her not to tell anyone, she told Vidyapati that Visvasu would go in secret to worship Nila-madhava. After repeated requests, Vidyapati finally got permission to go see Nila-madhava, only if he went blindfolded. But Vidyapati's wife had bound some mustard seeds in his cloth so that a trail could be left to follow later. When they reached the shrine, Vidyapati saw the Deity Nila-madhava after the Shabara took off the blindfold, and he felt great ecstasy.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
The story continues to relate that while Visvasu was out collecting items for worship, Vidyapati saw a bird fall into the nearby lake and drown. The soul of the bird suddenly took a spiritual form and ascended back to the spiritual world. Vidyapati wanted to do the same and climbed the tree to jump in the lake. Then a voice from the sky declared that before he jumped he should tell Indradyumna that he had found Nila-madhava.

When Visvasu returned to worship the Deity, Nila-madhava spoke and said that He had accepted the simple worship from him for so many days, but now He wanted to accept the opulent worship that would be offered by King Indradyumna. When Vidyapati went back to tell the King, Indradyumna immediately went to find Nila-madhava but could not locate Him. So the King arrested Visvasu, but a voice told him to release the Shabara and that he should build a temple on top of Nila Hill where the King would see the Lord as Daru-brahman, the wooden manifestation of the Absolute.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
After great endeavor, King Indradyumna built the temple at Sri Kshetra, now known as Jagannatha Puri, and later prayed to Lord Brahma to consecrate it. However, Lord Brahma said that it was not within his power to consecrate the temple since Sri Kshetra is manifested by the Supreme's own internal potency and is where the Lord manifests Himself. So Brahma simply put a flag on top of the temple and blessed it, saying that anyone who from a distance saw the flag and offered obeisances would easily be liberated from the material world. Nonetheless, after much waiting the King became anxious since Nila-madhava had not manifested Himself. Thinking his life was useless, the King decided he should end his life by fasting. But in a dream the Lord said that He would appear floating in from the sea in His form as Daru-brahman.

The King went to the shore and found a huge piece of wood that had the markings of a conch, disc, club, and lotus. This was Daru-brahman. But try as they might, the men could not budge the wood. In a dream the Lord spoke to the King and instructed him to get Visvasu and put a golden chariot in front of Daru-brahman. After doing this and forming a kirtana party to chant the holy names, and praying for Daru-brahman to mount the chariot, Daru-brahman was easily moved. Lord Brahma performed a sacrifice where the present temple now stands and installed a Deity of Lord Narasimhadeva, the Deity that is now on the western side of the temple.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
From the wooden Daru-brahman, the King requested many expert carvers to carve the form of the Deity, but none could do so for their chisels immediately broke when they touched the wood. Finally the architect of the demigods, Visvakarma, (some say the Lord Himself) arrived as an old artist, Ananta Maharana, and promised that he would carve the Deity form of the Lord inside the temple in three weeks if the King would allow him to work behind closed doors. But after 14 days the King became very anxious because he could no longer hear the sounds of the carving. Finally he could stand it no more. On the advice of the queen he personally opened the doors of the temple to see what was happening. Then he saw the forms of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, and Lady Subhadra. But because the King had opened the doors sooner than he was supposed to, the Deities were not completed; Their feet and hands had not yet been carved. Thus, the Supreme manifested Himself in this form.

The King felt he had committed a great offense for having opened the doors before the allotted three weeks had passed, so he decided to end his life. But in a dream Lord Jagannatha told the King that though he had broken his promise, this was just a part of the Supreme's pastimes to display this particular form. The King was told that this form, even though it appeared to be incomplete, was actually the form of the Lord that was meant to be worshiped in this age of Kali-yuga. Occasionally the King could decorate the Deity with golden hands and feet. Yet those devotees filled with love would always see the form of Lord Jagannatha as the threefold bending form of Syamasundara, Krishna, holding a flute. Thus, the Supreme appeared in this form so that people could approach and see Him, especially as He rides through town on the huge carts during the Ratha-Yatra festival.

The Deities

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
Lord Jagannath, the symbol of universal love and brotherhood is worshipped in the Temple alongwith Balabhadra, Subhadra,Sudarshan, Madhaba, Sridevi and Bhudevi on a Ratnabedi platform.

The Deities of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan are made of margosa wood. Lord Balabhadra Lord Jagannath's elder brother, and Devi Subhadra is his younger sister.

When one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha, the deities change their bodies. This is known as Navakalebar or New Body Ceremony. Last four new body ceremonies of the Lords was celebrated in the year 1950 , 1969, 1977 and 1996. On such occasions Puri witnesses the largest crowd in her fold.

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
The Chariot Festival of Puri Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is a major Hindu festival. Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra Festival is celebrated on Ashadhi sudi bije. Rath Yatra festival is also known as the Chariot Festival is one of the most famous festivals of Orissa. This fabulous chariot festival celebrated for 8 days is held at the famous Jagannath Temple in the city of Puri in Orissa, India

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra parade is an awfully colorful festivity, in which people take part actively. The idols of God Jagannath and his brother Balabhadra and his sister Subhadra, enshrined in the Sri Mandira, are brought out and placed on their respective chariots in the Rath yatra. The main chariot is 14 meters high and 10 meters square with 16 wheels.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
The idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra are wearing the beautiful shiny clothes. These chariots are pulled by the Thousands devotees and the idols are taken to Gundicha Temple. The gods stay at this temple for seven days and then return to Sri Mandira, in a similar procession.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is chariot journey of God Jagannath which observed in the month of Ashadh and is an event that celebrates the annual visit of the God to his birthplace. The Yatra is considered as a main part of festivities and ceremonies of each temple and is measured as a special and sacred event. In this festival chariots, elephants, trucks, motor vehicles, acrobats and gymnasts are colorfully decorated. And temples are decorated by beautiful designed and colorful flowers.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
Jagannatha's chariot is called Nandighosha, which is Yellow in color, 45 ft high and has 16 wheels, each one seven feet in diameter. About 4,200 devotees draw the chariot. Balabhadra's chariot is called Taladhvaja, which is blue in color and has 14 wheels. Subhadra's chariot is the smallest, with 12 wheels and is called Deviratha.

Lord Jagannath Temple - Puri - Orissa
The Legends behind the Yatra festival has been celebrated since ancient times. Some Hindus believe that Jagannatha is an incarnation of Vishnu. Since Vishnu has four arms, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshana represent Vishnu's four arms.

The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra Festival time is very special in India. The whole Rath Yatra is a symbolic humanization of God. After the festival, the Raths are wrecked and bits are used for firewood in the kitchens or sold to pilgrims as relics. New Chariots are made every year to stiff specifications of make laid down in temple's olden manuals

Puri's Rath Yatra is a divine feat, an absolute climax of a year's devotion and prayer for devotees who throng this beach city for the grand event.

For many days, visitors watch the progress of the constructions of the three giant cars. These heavy wooden pyramids on wheels are up to 15 meters high. The wheels are more than 2 meters in diameter. Touching the wheels in the course of the procession means salvation for most pilgrims.

Hundreds of artisans are involved in the process. Carpenters, carvers and painters swarm over the rough frames and soon countless deities are eternalized in wood. The Orissa government supplies the wood for these massive structures.

The building site, on the Grand Road, resembles a huge fairground during this time. Pulling the giant chariots is not an easy task. The police perform several test runs before the main day.

The festival commemorates Krishna's journey from Gokul to Mathura. But that is just one part of the story. It also marks the day of Rig Veda, the day the oldest Veda was revealed. The central characters in this unique spectacle are the deities Jagannath and his brother and sister, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Long before the gods make an appearance, the Grand Road, which stretches for more than a mile from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Mandir (the Garden House), is packed.

The king of Puri, Dibyasingh Singh Dev, is present as the gods emerge from the temple. And no wonder, his ancestors first chanced on the Jagannath cult, when the Gonds, an indigenous minority, practiced it in the Orissa jungles. It is his honor to clean the chariots with sandalwood water and a golden broom.

Around midday the gods are lodged safely in their vehicles. Household articles and personal effects of Jagannath and his siblings follow the deities on board their chariots. Each god takes his/her own toothbrush.

Balabhadra's car is the first to be pulled.

The giant chariot is loaded with temple priests. Pilgrims and temple workers jostle and fight for the ropes of Balabhadra's car. Devotees have been known to jump under the wheels of the chariots, to die in the god's sights. Priests smash coconuts against the wheels of the car, and then hand the broken, blessed shells to the pilgrims. Soon all three cars, floating in a vast sea of humanity are conveyed down the Grand Road, stopping and starting. The cars take an enormous effort to pull; they look unmaneuverable and once at good speed, are almost impossible to stop.

When the cars reach the Garden House, the gods take a week-long break, before being reloaded onto the cars in a similar fashion and returned to the Jagannath Temple. Once the second leg of the procession is concluded, the gods are covered in gold, in a last frenzied ceremony before the cars are broken up and used for firewood inside the kitchens of the Jagannath temple.

Jagannath Puri : Location

The town of Puri is situated along the seashore(i.e. the Bay of Bengal) in the State of Orissa.

State Capital Bhubaneswar is the nearest Airport otherwise known as " Biju Pattnaik Airport". The distance is 65 Kms. from Puri and can be covered in an hour by car. Indian Airlines operates flights from Delhi, Calcutta, Visakhapatna, Hyderabad, Raipur, Mumbai and Chennai.

Being a terminus on the SouthEastern Railway, Puri is directly linked with Delhi, Calcutta, Ahmadabad, Patna, Baidyanath Dham and Tirupati by train. Besides one can go to Khurda Road junction to the state capital Bhubaneswar to rail his way to Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai.

Only 60 Kms. away from Bhubaneswar by State Highway No-8, Puri has got a 35 Kms. Marine drive road way to Konark. The State capital is situated on both sides of Calcutta – Chennai National Highway No-5.

Temple Info

Puri 752001, India
Tel: 91-674-2511166
Fax: 91-674-513842

For More Details Visit : Rath Yatra | Temple

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