NEELACHALA NIVASAYA NITYAYA PARAMATMANE
SUBHADRA PRAANA NATHAYA JAGAN NATHAYA MANGALAM.
All glories to Swami Ramanuja
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
On this auspicious eve of “JAGANNATH RATH YAATRA” held all over the world , Adiyen wishes to share some info which was gathered during my visit to the holy dham, Jagannath Puri during May 2007. Adiyen visited Mayapur dham-the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Puri, Srikoormam and Simhachalam during this trip.
The photographs posted are from the RATH YATRA done during 2013 , 2014 at ECIL ,Hyderabad
The greatness about the holiest shrine Puri is mentioned by LORD
HIMSELF in Narada Purana as:
“PRATIMAAM TATRA TAAM DRISTVAA SVAYAM DEVENA NIRMITAAM
ANAAYAASENA VAI YAANTI BHAVANAM ME TATO NARAAH
The Supreme LORD reveals to Mahalakshmi”
Jagannath Puri is one of the four holy dhaams (Sacred places) located on the eastern part of India near the shores of Bay of Bengal. The other three dhams are Badrinath located in the North, Rameswaram in the South, Dwaraka in the West. Sripad Sankaracharyar, Swamy Ramanujar, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are the prominent acharyars who have visited this place.
The great saint Sankaracharya established a mutt at this place and composed the famous “JAGANATHASHTAKA” in which he prays Lord to help him cross over the ocean of samsara.
Goudiya sampradaya avatara purusha Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at this place for more than 12 years after taking up sanyas. There are many divine pastimes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at this place who attained salvation by merging with the Lord here.
Another goudiya saint Haridas, a very great devotee and a disciple of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at this place under a tree and used to utter Maha mantra 3 lakhs times daily without which he wouldn’t partake any food. Let us now go to the temple .
“Puri” means fullness. This holiest temple town is in the form of a conch. It is also known as
Jagannath dhaam-the abode of Jaganath,
Nilachala or Nilagiri-the blue mountain,
Sri kshetram-the abode of Sri(Lakshmi).
The holy dham vibrates with Mahamantra and other holy names of the Lord. It is also known as “Yamanika tirtha”-the place where Yama,the God of Death cannot enter.
The temple is situated over Nilachala mountain. Out of the 4 entrances to the temple, we entered through the eastern gate the “Simha dwaaram”. At the entrance, we can find small replica of Lord Jaganatha and Sri Ganesha. deities .The non-hindus are not allowed inside the temple and hence they can have darshan of this deity here.
Only once in a year, during Rath Yatra which is held in the month of Aashada, the Lord HIMSELF steps out of the temple to give darshan to all the lucky souls. Usually we find Dwaja sthambham in front of all the Sri Vaishnava temples. But at Puri, we find Aruna sthambham. A huge stone pillar is erected on top of which is Aruna,the charioteer of Sun God with folded hands waits for Lord Jaganaths commands . It symbolizes that those who worship the Lord will be enlightened . The figure of Aruna is kept in a height which equals the height of the Lord in the garbagriham.
Walking through the huge temple complex, we ascended 22 steps to reach the garbagriham split into sets of 5 steps. One has to climb 5 steps, walk few distance, again take another flight of 5 steps and so on. These steps denote that one has to leave aside the 5 worldly fetters-lust, anger, greed, jealousy and pride. The first five steps represent the five outer sense organs-eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.
The next 5 steps represent the 5 pranas or life airs-prana, apaana, vyaana, udaana, samaana. The next five steps represent the inner sense or tanmaatras-rupa(sight), rasa (taste), gandha (smell), sabda (sound), sparsa(touch). The next five steps are tha panch maha bhutas- earth, water, air, fire and ether. The last two steps represent buddhi or intelligence and ahankara or false ego-the false conception of identifying the soul with the body. One by one all the must be purified before passing into the Inner sanctum of the temple and having darshan of LORD Jaganath.
We had to wait in a queue to have darshan of the Lord. The curtains were drawn as it was time for maha bhog (neivedyam). We saw many devotee cooks carrying huge mud vessels containing offerings to lord that becomes maha prashad (every day 56 items of bhog(food offerings) are given to the Lord eight times. Elders point out that the Lord gets up at Tirumala , has lunch at Puri, and relaxes at Srirangam. The moment one thinks of Puri, he is immediately reminded of the Mahaprashad.
The 56 Types of Prasada’s offered in Puri Jagannath Temple, Puri as per the priests briefing
- Ukhuda ( Sugar coated pup rice)
- Nadia kora (Coconut ladu)
- Khua (condensed milk)
- Dahi (Yoghurt)
- Pachila kadali (Ripe Banana)
- Kanika (Flavoured Rice)
- Tata Khechudi (Dry Khechudi)
- Mendha Mundia (A kind of cake)
- Bada Kanti (Fried Cake)
- Matha Puli (A kind of Pan cake)
- Hamsa Keli (Sweet cake)
- Jhili ( Thin pan cake like Dosa)
- Enduri ( Idli)
- Adapachedi (Ginger Paste)
- Saga Bhaja (Fried leafy vegetables)
- Kadali Bhaja (Fried Plantain)
- Maric Ladu (Chilli Ladu)
- San Pitha ( Small size Cake)
- Bara (Donalds)
- Arisha (Sweet fried cake made of rice flour)
- Bundia (Sweet granules made of gram flour)
- Pakhal (Water rice)
- Khiri (Milk Rice)
- Kadamba (A kind of sweet)
- Pat Manohar (Name of a sweet)
- Takuaa (Sweets shaped like tongue)
- Bhaga Pitha (A kind of cake )
- Gotai (A kind of salty cake)
- Dalma (Dal with vegetables)
- Bada Kakara (Large Fried sweet cake)
- Luni Khuruma (Salty Biscuits)
- Amalu ( Malpua, Sweet Puri)
- Suar Pitha (Poda Pitha, Baked Cake)
- Biri Buha (Black gram cake )
- Jhadai Nadaa (Small ball shaped cakes)
- Khasta Puri (Strong fried cakes)
- Kadali Bara (Fried Plantain)
- Sana Arisha (Small fried cakes)
- Sakar (Chatni)
- Podo Pitha (Panned Cake)
- Kanji (Sour Rice)
- Dahi Pakhal (Curd rice )
- Bada Arisha (Large size Fried cake)
- Tipuri (Three stage fillings)
- Sakara (Sugar candy)
- Suji Khir (Milk with samolina)
- Muga Sijha (Boiled green gram)
- Manohar (A kind of sweet)
- Magaja Ladu (A kind of sweet)
- Pana (Sweet Drink)
- Anna (Rice)
- Ghia Anna (Ghee rice)
- Dali (Sweet Dal)
- Besar (Mixed veg. curry)
- Mahur (Veg. curry with mustard seeds)
- Saga (Leafy vegetables) ( This info is reproduced from a Book)
Divine points to note …
1. The Flag always flaps in opposite direction of Wind.
2.From any place in Puri dhaam you will always find the Sudarshan Chakra (Chakra at top of Temple) facing you.
3.Normally during day-time, air comes from sea to land & during evening, the vice-versa occurs. But in Puri it’s totally opposite.
4.No bird or planes fly above the Temple.
5.The shadow of the main dome is invisible at any time of the day.
6.The quantity of cooked food inside the Temple remains same for the entire year. But that same quantity of prasadam can feed few thousand people & 20 lac people, Still it never ever gets wasted.
7.In the Temple kitchen, 7 pots are kept on each other & cooked on firewood. In this process the contents in the top pot get cooked first & then the bottom one.
8.After entering from Singhadwara first step (from inside of the Temple), we can’t hear any sound produced by the ocean. But, when we cross the same step (from outside of the Temple) we can hear it. This can be noticed clearly during evening
We were informed by the kind devotee about the history of this temple and the LORDSHIPS which we heard from a advanced devotee during our first visit. The same along with few more interesting incidents were narrated by the saint devotee while waiting in the queue.
DETAILS ABOUT THE LORD’S MANIFESTATION:-
Lord Nilamadhava, appeared in a dream to King Indradyumna, who was a great devotee , and ordered him to build a temple. Startled by the dream, the king rose quickly and summoned his council of ministers . He explained about his dream and described the Lord’s features to them and ordered them to go in different directions and find out the whereabouts of the Lord who had appeared in his dream. A minister named Vidyapati in the course of his search went deep inside a forest in search of the Lord and somehow learnt that the Lord was in the custody of a sabara(a local tribe) named Visvasu. To gain access, he stayed in their house for few days and got married to Lalita, the Sabara’s daughter. He noticed , Sabara used to leave home in the afternoon and return the next morning adorned with scented flowers etc. Lalita revealed the secret that her father goes to worship Lord Nila Madhava in the deep woods. After persistent request, Sabara finally agrees to take him for having darshinam of the Lord to Vidyapati . But to avoid any future problems , she then bound Vidyapati’s eyes with cloth and took him inside the forest. Vidyapati managed to carry some mustard seeds which he dropped all through the way. Once they reached the place ,Vidyapati was dumbstruck and mesmerized looking at the beautiful self manifested vigraham of the Lord.
When Visvasu left Vidyapati to collect fruits nuts and roots for the Lord, he felt the tranquility of the place and observed that even a bird who lost its life in that place attained moksham. He returned back to Sabara’s house. Later under some pretext, he escaped from that place , returned to the kingdom and informed the king about the Supreme Lord’s manifestation who was overjoyed and keen to have darshinam . Heading an army, the king along with Vidyapati reached the place. They could easily identify the route as fresh grass had grown where Vidyapati had sown the seeds. On reaching the place, the king found that the Lord had disappeared from that place and the King being upset , immediately arrested Visvasu for fooling him . An akashvaani ( divine oracle ) addressed the king and said that Visvasu was innocent and he could not worship the Lord as Nila Madhava but assured that Lord would reveal HIMSELF as ‘Daaru Brahmam”-the Absolute Truth in wooden form, and advised the king to construct a temple on Nilachala mountain. The king accordingly undertook the task of constructing a huge temple , cleared pathway and laid roads, kept golden kalasams on the spire of the temple . Considering that Brahma alone was eligible to do the consecration ceremony, he went to Brahmaloka and waited for his audience. Meantime, many years passed by unnoticed as one human year is one day in Brahmalokam.
Due to passage of time, the temple got submerged into sand and was later discovered by Galamadhava. When King Indradyumna returned with Brahma, Galamadhava disputed with the king claiming he had constructed the temple. An old crow which was living for many ages confirmed that Indrayumna constructed the temple and Galamadhava redeemed the temple from the sand dunes. Brahma ordered Galamadhava to stay outside the temple city on the west side of Indradyumna lake. When Indradyumna requested Brahma to do the consecration, Brahma said that the place was governed by Lord’s own potency and he was not eligible to sanctify the place. He simply placed a flag on the spire of the temple blessing that mere darshan of the flag would bestow moksham. The king was disheartened that his prayers were not being answered as the Lord had not manifested HIMSELF. The Lord appeared in his dream advised him to go to a place known as Bankimulan where he would see a wooden log(Daaru) bearing the marks of Vishnu- conch(Sankhu), disc(chakram), club(gadam) and lotus(padmam) floating in the sea and ordered him to placee a golden chariot in front of the log. The king could carve out a vigraham from the log . The king along with his retinue reached the place and his joy knew no bounds when he found the log floating in the sea. A miracle was in store. The king’s servants could not even move the log from its place. The dejected king once again prayed to the Lord who appeared in his dream and advised him to bring his primary devotee-Visvasu,the sabara who worshipped HIM as NEELAMADHAVA
As instructed, the king brought Visvasu. Visvasu and Vidyapati stood on either sides of the Daaru, a golden chariot was placed in front of the Dhaaru and amidst Nama sankeertan , the king prayed to the Lord. The log was easily shifted to the chariot and was carried to the sacrificial place with due honors. Brahma did a yagnam invoking Lord Narsimha Swamy’s blessings. The present altar of the Lord is on this sacrificial site. Lord Narasimhar sannidhi is on the western side in the temple premises. After taking Brahma’s permission, the king called for many sculptors to carve out Nilamadhava Lordships from the wooden log but as soon as the sculptors tried to start their work, their chisel would break into pieces. The king was once again dismayed at this. The king who was very sad surrendered and prayed for Lord’s intervention. At that time, an old sculptor arrived at the place and offered to undertake the job with the condition that he should be left alone for 21 days with the divine log and no one should disturb him. The king agreed to this . The divine sculptor instructed 3 other sculptors about the construction of the chariots for the Lord and locked himself in a room with the wooden log. After fourteen days passed, the king could no longer hear the sound of tools. Worried about the old sculptor’s welfare as he had not taken any prasad for 14 days and as the sound of chipping stopped, at the constant behest of the queen, the king opened the door and to his shock found that the old sculptor had disappeared .
Instead of one Lordships , there were now 3 half-finsihed murthis with arms outstretched , eyes wide open with no eyelids , made from that divine log. The fingers and toes were unfinished. The king realized that the old sculptor was Lord HIMSELF and regretted for breaking his promise. To atone for his sin , he decided to end his life by lying on kusa grass and went to fast unto death. The Lord once again appeared in the king’s dream and said that HE is eternally present in Nilachalam as Daru brahmam, it was HIS wish to remain in that form saying that HE is Brahmam, the Absolute Truth and didn’t require material arms and feet like others to accept offerings. As stated in Vedas, the Lord can move about without the help of HIS limbs, HE can eat without HIS hands, HE can see without eyes, HE can hear without ears. The Lord proclaimed that to a sincere devotee, HE would give darshan as Lord Krishna holding flute and added that for the king’s satisfaction, he can decorate the Lord with golden and silver limbs.
(This made me recollect how Lord appeared as a sculptor and chalked out the image of Dwarakadeesh at Dwarka and disappeared when the doors were opened. The idol of Dwarkadeesh is also incomplete with eyes closed). The king prayed to the Lord to allow the descendants of the old sculptor to carve the deities and the chariots henceforth. The Lord further declared that the descendants of Visvasu, the sabara who used to worship HIM as “Nila Madhava” should henceforth serve the Lord. They may be called “My dayitas”. The descendants of Vidyapati born out of his brahmana wife would be the temple priests and the descendants of Vidyapati born out of his sabara wife, Lalita should cook for the Lord and be known as sooyaaras. The Lord granted the king’s request to give darshan throughout the day except for 3 hours and accept the various varieties of offerings to the Lord and remain without descendants so that no one would claim rights over the temple.
We now moved into the earthly vaikuntam after hearing to the divine leela .True LORD loves his devotees as the devotee saint was patient to reveal all the vaibhavams of the temple . The whole temple was vibrating with the sounds of bells which were rung while offering neivedyam to the Lord. When the Lord partakes the offerings , even the priests do not stay inside the garbagriham. They wait for sometime outside the garbagriham for allowing the Lord to have bhogam. Later aarthi is given to the Lord. (The Lord is also offered pan(beetel leaves) every night) Usually, there is heavy rush at this time because devotees get a chance to partake the Lord’s mahaprasadam. Chanting dwayam and Mahamantram, we went inside the temple. Devotees were thronging to have darshan and some pandas were literally pushing the devotees to clear the crowd. However adiyen and family had the opportunity to have darshan of the Lordships from close quarters and all our imagination was seeing LORD KRISHNA smiling at us and showering his abundant grace .
INSIDE THE TEMPLE:-
As is customary in all the Sri Vaishnavite temples, we offered our obeisances to (Peria Thiruvadee)Garudazhwan before having darshan of the Lord. Here , Garuda is in the form of a wooden log. In the big hall in front of the garbagriham, there is a pillar which devotees circumbulate . This is the place where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited this place to have darshan of the Lord, he fell into ecstasy looking at the mohana roopam of the Lord. He was in a trance for many hours totally absorbed in the Lord. (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is an incarnation of Lord Krishna and Radha. He appeared to promote prema bhakti as the easiest means of attaining the Lord in Kali Yugam. He taught that chanting the Lord’s names as in Mahamantra is the easiest way to reach the lotus feet of the Lord . Most of the teachings of Mahaprabhu connects to the principles of Sri sampradaya followed by JagathAcharyar Swamy Ramanujacharyar’s ) In another instance, when an old lady was struggling to have darshan of the Lord, Mahaprabhu carried her on his shoulders so that she could have Lord’s darshan clearly. This incident in carved in the pillar .
We also circumbulated the pillar and touched with reverence the huge photo of Mahaprabhu near the pillar.
After thus obtaining devotees’ blessings, we waited patiently for sometime for the crowd to clear. Singing the Mahamantra, we went towards the garbagriham to have closer view of the Lordships. Here the Lord gives darshan with HIS brother and sister.
Subhadra, Lord Krishna’s sister , painted in yellow marking auspiciousness is in the middle . On HER right is Baladeva in white and to HER left is Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe who is Neelavannan(darkish) in colour Lord Baladeva and Lord Jaganath are on the either sides of Subhadramaata. Near Lord Jaganath’s is Goddess Rukmini Devi’. Lord Jaganath is the tallest among all – Sri Sudarshana chakram also graces the devotees . The outstretched arms of the Lord were like inviting to embrace us. The Lord’s eyes are wide open(without eye lids) so that HE can constantly pour HIS abundant grace on us. A darshan of Lord Jaganath relieves one from the cycle of births and deaths. However, to have a closer and longer darshan of the Lordships, it is better to approach through pandas who have access to the garbagriham . Please note that there is strict division of labour in the temple and not all of the devotees can gain entry into the garbagriham. The moment we enter the temple, pandas would approach and introduce themselves about their job in the temple. Else one can have darshan standing in front of the garbagriham. Holy bath is given only once in a year which is celebrated as Snana Yatra on Jeshta Pournami day before Rath Yathra. On other days, a mirror is placed in front of the deities and the holy bath (abhishekam is performed to the Lords’ reflection .)
We visited the other shrines in the temple . It is customary in Puri temple for the pandas to get a share in the Mahaprashad as their hereditary right which would be sold for some monetary benefit.Lord Jaganath prashad is very sacred and even the leftovers can be had by others. Even a morsel of the prashad taken by devotees bestows mental and spiritual satisfaction apart from appeasing hunger. Devotees wait patiently to have the maha prashad. It is believed that if a dying person has a morsel of the prashad, he is sure of going to Vaikuntam. (This practice of prashad distribution can be seen at Nathdwara also). Its taste is unique and cannot be described in words. The taste is matchless. The prashad instills Lord Krishna bhakti on the person who eats it. This prashad satisfies one’s hunger and also the spiritual quest. The moment one partakes the prashad, he feels that his life is complete as he derives a mental satisfaction which is indescribable. This was adiyen’s experience and am sure that others who have tasted it would agree with me.
After relishing the Mahaprasadam, we proceeded to visit the remaining smaller shrines in the temple precints like Narasimhar shrine, Adisankaracharyar’s shrine with his disciples and finally reached Koila Vaikuntam. We did not go to this place during our first visit. This is one of the most interesting places in Puri .
Koila Vaikuntam:- This place reminded us of Rasa kreedai place in Vrindavan. Situated on the northern side near the Elephant gate, this highly sanctified place is quiet and well maintained. Every inch in this place is sacred and devotees are supposed to use the pathway alone. All the remaining places are to be kept untouched. “Koila” means burial ground and Vaikuntam is “the Lord’s eternal abode where everyone desires to go.
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I was wondering why does the Lord who is eternal , omnipresent , one who is free from births and deaths, one who is the cause of everything” be buried and queried the devotee who was guiding us.
Adiyen is sharing the devotee’s reply . The images of the Lord were carved out from a divine wooden log which was found floating in the sea by a divine carpenter and placed in the temple. The images of the Lord were left incomplete due to the king’s intervention before the stipulated time. Lord HIMSELF proclaimed to King Indradyumna that it was HIS divine will to stay in that form at Nilachalam as “DARU BRAHMAM”-ABSOLUTE FORM-one who is beyond Forms and HE is ever present in this place. This log is procured from Neem tree which is known for its longevity for about 30 years. As per Divine will, every 12 years, the deities have to be changed and new ones replaced with the same features. The deities come to this place secretely carried by by the Dayitapatis ,-designated persons to this place and kept here. This is known as Nava kalevara yatra . No one other than the designated persons happen to witness this ceremony, During this event, the entire town of Puri will not have power supply and the whole town will be immersed in darkness . The devotee ended his narration saying that people in Puri consider Jagannath as their own family member. He pointed out to a place which was sprinkled with turmeric and kumkum saying that previously, the old deities were kept here. We prostrated at that place and took some holy earth from that place to be kept in our altar. The devotee did not disclose any other information about this. But Adiyen had a chance to go through information from satpurush which is being reproduced
NAVA KALEVARA YATRA
This is carried out once in twelve years provided it is a leap year with 28 or 29 days in July.
The details about the temple rituals and deities are mentioned in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts written on palm leaves and kept in temple to which only three head priests have accessibility. They are Niladri Mahodaya-deals with the origin of the temple, Rudra Yamala-rituals connected to Balarama, Tantra Yamala-rituals connected to Subhadra and tantra practices to be followed in the temple, Brahma Yamala-rituals connected to worship of Lord Jagannatha.
The descendants of Visvasu,Vidyapati and Dayitapati will serve the Lord during this time for about two months and for one month during Rath Yatra.
The preists undertake the search party after midday pooja is offered to the Lord . The search party comprises of one member from Pati Mahapatra family, 20 Dayitapatis, 1 Lenka, 9 Maharanas, 16 Brahmana, 3 Deulkaranas, 30 police officers and 3 Inspectors of police.
12 foot garland known as Dhanva mala is offered to each of the three deities. The head priest gives the garland to the oldest member of the Pati Mahapatra family who will lead the procession of foot carrying the mala on his arms or on his head. When the tree is found, the garland is kept on top of a coconut offering in front of the fire sacrifice.
Descendants of Bhairacha Mahapatra family, Dayitapatis and Pati Mahapatra will beind a piece of Jaganatha’s garments on their heads as turban indicating that Lord Jagannath HIMSELF is going with them.
The Mekap family will bless the members of the search party with Lord’s sandals on their foreheads
The Lenkas and Maharanas who are the descendants of the original carpenter are also adorned with Jagannath’s garments on their turbans.
The procession begins from the altar, go to the king’s palace to take permission, reach Kakatpur and other place and stay at Vimala temple having prashad from Vimala temple or arrange to get from Puri. The search party stays here while the oldest Dayitapati sleeps inside the temple till he gets a dream about the location of the tree. The tree for each of the four deities including Sudarshana Chakram will be in different places.
The exact location of the neem tree from which the deities are to be carved are mentioned in the manuscripts which will be affirmed by the divine will in the head priest’s dream.
The neem tree must be grown in a graveyard near a Shiva temple and a pond and must not have been nested. The tree should have three or four barks. The marks of Vishnu-conch, chakra, gada, padmam must be found on the trunk of the tree.
When the tree is found with all the auspicious marks, a yagnam is performed and a coconut and the garland worn by the Lord are offered in the sacrifice.
On the next day, the Pati Mahapatra will touch the tree to be used for Lord Jagannatha with a golden axe, followed by Dayitapati who will touch it with silver axe. Lastly, the head carpenter of the Maharana family will touch it with an iron axe. During the tree cutting,mantras from all Vedas are recited and 108 names of the Lord are recited particularly Patala Narasimhar names because HE saves devotees from all problems.
The whole trunk of the tree is brought to the temple in a wooden cart dragged by the Dayitapatis with the help of other members of the group.
These logs are kept in Koila Vaikunta in the temple premises on the northern side near Elephant gate. This place has strong doors and thick walls.
Three oldest carpenters will be the main sculptors and 50 others will assist them. The carpenters lock the door from inside and noone including the chief priest is allowed to see or enter the premises during these 21 days. The carpenters are not allowed to eat or drink in the holy place, they go to the temple courtyard to eat and sleep in the night. They do not leave the temple during these 21 days. While the carpenters are on the job, akand bhajan(nonstop singing ) goes on in front of the door and the priests keep continuously chanting the Vedic mantras. The whole place reverberates with the myriad names of the Lord.
Once the idols are ready, they are carried into the Inner sanctum and placed in fron t of the old deities facing them. No food offering is made to the Lord. No one is allowed inside including the head priest. Only the three oldest members of the Dayitapati family will be present inside the temple on the holy day of Great Transformation Rite. As they worshipped Jagannatha as Nila Madhava first, they alone have the privilege to conduct the ceremony.
The ceremony takes place three days before Rath Yatra.
The three Dayitapatis must remain unshaven from the first day of the search party procession as this day is considered to be the disappearance ceremony. While mourning their father’s demise, the sons do not shave for 10 days out of respect for the deceased. Likewise till the old deities are buried and new ones are sancitified, the Dayitapatis observe this practice of mourning. After the new deities are installed, they whitewash their house as they consider Lord Jagannath to be the head of their household.
They must be blindfolded and bind a piece of Lord Janganath’s cloth around their hands before the transfer can begin. The three Dayitapatis fast and meditate for the whole day inside the temple. Only after midnight does the transfer of” Life Force” from the old diety to the new diety takes place in total silence. They can neither see or touch but only feel a strange feeling when Brahmam gets transferred from the old idol to the new one. They say it is difficult to describe the transformation.
The old deities are carried on the shoulders of the Dayitapatis and laid to rest in the Koila Vaikunta before dawn. As the old deities were the abode of Brahman for 12 years, they are laid with honors in three separate places for the three deities but all the previous Lord Jagannathas are laid to rest in the same place , one on top of the other.The actual spot are unmarked. During this time no one is allowed to enter this area and no one is allowed to see. The government of Orissa has ordered complete power cut on this day throughout Puri.
On the morning of the second day, the whole town of Puri will seem lifeless. The old deities have left them and they are yet to have darshan of the new ones.
The new deities are immediately seated on the altar known as Ratna Simhasana. On this second day, the daily routing of the temple begins finally after a lapse of 58 days. Flowers and bhoga are offered to the deites and puja is done. Devotees can come inside and have darshan.
On the third day, the new deities emerge from the temple for the biggest Ratha Yatra which attracts 6 times the normal crowd. Nava Kalevara Yatra is the holiest of all the festivals in Puri.
Before leaving the temple premises, we once again prayed LORD for Punar Darshanam. The devotee who accompanied us pointed out to a place in front of the temple as the place from where the world famous Rath Yatra would start. On the way to Gundicha temple, he informed us about the various celebrations and their significance which are mentioned below:-
Rath Yatra, Chandhan Yaatra , Snana Jhatra and Nava-kalevara Yatra are the most important festivals in PUri.
1) NILADRI MAHODAYA:- Celbrated in the month of January on full moon day, it commemorates the first installation of the deities . On this day, the deities are decorated in gold.
2) CHANDAN YATRA:- Starting on Akshaya Tirdihiya which falls in peak summer, the utsava murthis of the Lordships(Krishna playing flute) are taken in the evenings for a boat ride in nearby Narendra kund everyday. The utsava murthis of five nearby Siva temples representing Pandavas are also kept with these murthis. The utsava murthis along with the Pandavas are given ceremonial bath in a small temple constructed in the midst of Narendra sarovar and brought back to the temple. This culminates with the Snana Jatra in the temple.
3) SNANA JATRA:- As the idols are made of wood, thirumanjanam is performed to Jagannath, Subhadra and Baladeva only once in a year on Jeshta Pournami (early June) approximately 17 days before Ratha Yatra. On that auspicious day, the deities are brought out from the sanctum sanctorum , give darshan to all the assembled devotees. They are then placed in a mandapam within the temple premises. 108 kalasams of water brought from Sona Kua(golden well) are poured on each deity amidst chanting of Vedas. People throng to have darshan of the Lord at this time because the Lord would be confined in garbagriha for two weeks as HE would catch cold and convalescence . During these 2 weeks , there is no darshan for the public. Even the head priests cannot enter into the sanctum sanctorum. Only three special patta chitras, traditional Orissan paintings of natural colours on cloth stiffened with starch, known as Anasara Pattis, are strung on a bamboo screen hiding the deities from public view, can be seen by the public.
Only the descendants of Vidyapati and Lalita known as “Daityas” are allowed entry . During these 15 days, the Lord is offered only fruits, roots,leaves and berries as a treatment for THEIR sickness. These daityas alone have the privilege of serving the Lord during HIS sickness , during Rath Yatra and during Nava kalevara yatra.
4) BAHUDA:- The Return Chairot Festival held after 9 days from Rath Yatra
5) HARI SAYANA EKADASI:- Sleeping Ceremony of the deities in July. This occurs after Rath Yatra. The deities take rest in the afternoon as the days are longer than the nights.
6) DAKSHINAYANA:- The dieites are turned slightly to the right like a person turning in bed while resting.
7) PARSVA PARIVARTANA:- deities change their “beds” or altars on which they sleep.
8) HARY UTTHANA EKADASI:- deities stop sleeping in the day time as nights are longer than the day. This is in winter.
THE CREATORS RATH YATRA
Atmaanam rathinam viddhi shareeram rathamevatu
Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi manah pragrahameva cha
. The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts. Rath Yatra is celebrated in Puri in the month of Aashadam(June-July) on the second day of the waxing moon (After Amavasya) in Sukla paksham with great pomp. Lakhs of devotees assemble at Puri to participate in this and get a chance to pull the chariot unmindful of the stampedes.
( a documentary shared by devotees )
A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and saints, poets and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this special festival. The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages.
There are 3 to 4 incidents which can be related to Rath Yatra.
1) Once during Solar eclipse,lORD Krishna along with HIS consorts,brother, sister and parents accompanied by Pandavas went to Kurukshetra to have snaanam in Surya Kund during eclipse. The gopis and yadavas from Vrindavan also went to Kurukshetra to meet their Krishna who left them many years back. This meeting of Krishna with gopis was most memorable. The consorts of Krishna wanted to know more about the Lord’s pastimes and the gopis’ unflinched devotion to their lord and requested Rohini to narrate the acts performed by child Krishna (Krishna leelas) in Vrindavan. After much persuasion, rohini decided to enclose the information and ordered Subhadra to stand as guard at the entrance. The consorts of Krishna were completely absorbed in Krishna consciousness and Subhadra was no exception to this. She stretched both her hands out blocking the entrance and didn’t notice the arrival of Krishna and Balarama. Krishna and Balarama were also lost in thought listening to their childhood activities. At that time Sage Narada who appeared there was overwhelmed to see the sight of seeing Krishna with HIS brother and sister and prayed to the Lord to continue to give darshan and redeem men . Lord granted HIS wish and thus manifested as Jagannatha along with Subhadra and Baladeva at Puri.
2) There is another story connected with this WORLD FAMOURS Rath yatra. On the second day of the waxing moon during summer and before onset of monsoon, Krishna along with Balarama and Subhadra goes to a garden on a holiday leaving behind their consorts in the temple itself. They visit the garden palace known as Gundicha mandir and enjoy themselves completely away from their family and temple servants. Rukmini Devi comes in search of the Lord three days later in a covered palanquin to Gundicha mandir and requests the Lord to return. The servants of the Lord obstruct HER passage which angers HER. In a fit of rage, Rukmini breaks a piece of Jagannath’s cart . Later SHE gets pacified and after taking meal leaves the place. This is celebrated as “Hera Panchami”.
The Lord returns to the main temple with HIS siblings on the tenth day. When the Lord goes to meet HIS consort, Rukmini, SHE displays anger and shuts the door on the face. She pays back with the same coin. A quarrel between Rukmini’s servants and Jagannath’s servants takes place and only after the Lord apologises for HIS mistakes, Rukmini gets convinced and joins the Lord. This is similar to the “Mattai adi” utsavams in South Indian temples like Srirangam, Kanchipuram etc. (In Srirangam during Panguni utsavam, Lord Ranganathar leaves Srirangam without informing Thayar to spend a night with Kamalavalli Nachiyar at Uraiyur and returns the next day. So Thayar closes the door and only after Ramanujar’s intervention, SHE accepts Perumal. Later Perumal and Thayar give darshanam together. In Kanchipuram, during Vaigasi Brahmotsavam, Perumal leaves HIS abode to meet Malayala nachiyar and returns back the following day. The doors are shut and only after persuasions , Thayar forgives Perumal for HIS act. Perumal at that time gives darshanam along with five naachiyars for a whole day in Thayar’s sannidi)
3) After killing Kamsa in Mathura, Krishna along with Balarama and Subhadra sat in a chariot and went round the streets of Mathura. This incident is considered as the reason for celebrating this festival.
4) The residents of Vraja saw Krishna and Balarama seated in a chariot while Akrura was driving them to Mathura.
5) The residents of Vrindavana celebrated this when they saw Krishna along with HIS brother and sister together at Kurukshetra.
THE MAKING OF THE HUGE CHARIOTS
The wooden logs cut from Phassi, Dhausa tree are initially set to float in Mahanadi river and are brought to Puri by road. Every year new chariots are made for Rath Yatra using these logs of wood. The construction of the 3 chariots starts on the auspicious day of Akshaya Trithyai-(the 3rd day in the bright fornight)in the month of Visakha- about two and half months before the Rath Yatra. Only the descendants of the original carpenter are privileged to construct the chariots . After performing yaga, the construction of the chariot commences amidst chanting of mantras. During this time,some important events like Chandan Yatra, Snana Yatra and the Lord falling sick take place in the temple.
The details about the chariots is given below:-
Details Jagannath Baladeva Subhadra
Name of the chariot Nandighosa-Nandi means ananda or bliss, ghosa means “tumultuous sound”. Taladhvaja –Tala means rhythm and dhvaja means ensignia or distinguishing symbol Devadalana or Darpadalana- Dalana means “crushing or destroying”
Significance Sound of the wheels of this chariot even heard once gives eternal bliss. The sound is simila to Siva’s cosmic dance . Baladeva helps us in attaining the Lord She rids us of our pride. The sound eliminates our evil qualities thus making us qualify to reach the Lord.
No.of horses Four dark coloured horses repres-enting Sankha (purity), Sveta (honesty), Hrdaikya (equal mindedness), Balataka (ever readiness) Four white coloured horses namely Tivra (strength), Ghora (constancy), Dirgha (timelessness), Srama (Work) 4 red coloured horses-Rochika(Attraction), Mochika(Salvation), Jita(victory), Aparajita(which is beyond the mind)
Height 445 feet 447 feet 43 feet
No. of wheels 16 14 12
Colour of the Canopy (Decorative cloth ) on the chariot Red and Yellow Red and Blue Red and Black
Name of the charioteer Matali Daruka Arjuna
Name of the flag on the chariot “Triloka Mohini”- to attract people from all places “Unmani”-uplift “Naadaambika”-to arouse God Realization in all who see it
No.of wooden pieces used in making the chariot 832 /763/ 593
The entire expense of this Ratha Yatra is borne by Orissa Government. Lord Jaganath along with Subhadra and Baladeva leave the main temple and go to Gundicha temple which is about 2 kms north of the temple. The Lordships leave in 3 separate chariots specially made for this purpose and give darshan to all the devotees including the persons who are not allowed inside the temple. They stay at Gundicha temple for 9 days and return on the 10 th day. Gundicha temple is also known as Janaka Puri , Yajnavedi(as this was the place where Brahma performed first fire sacrifice), Adapa Mandapam(mandapa where the deities are isolated). The Lord moves about as per HIS free will . the travel time cannot be ascertained. There were instances where the Ratham would not move for days . As the three chariots move about simultaneously, the road through which the chariot passes is very wide and is known as Grand Road like in Kanchipuram.
To enact that everyone is same in front of the eyes of the Lord, before the procession starts, in olden times, the king of the state used to clean the way using a golden broom. (This practice was started by King Prataparudra who was a great follower of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He expressed his humbleness by sweeping the road before the procession started, he used to press Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s legs to gain his audience. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was reluctant to see the king whom he thought was engrossed in worldy pursuits. By doing such acts, the king won Mahaprabhu’s grace. ) This custom is still prevalent even today. In Puri, Orissa Chief Minister does it, in Gujarat, the present Chief Minister Narendra Modi swept the way and this year in Hyderabad, the Governor swept the way when the procession started from Jagannath temple at Banjara Hills.
The procession starts at the stipulated time with devotees pulling the chariot. Everyone feels blessed to pull the chariot amidst shouting “JAI JAGANNATH” “JAI BALADEVA”, “JAI SUBHADRA”. The entire place gets electrified with the chanting of the Lord’s names.
A narration about Rath Yatra without mentioning Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s leela is incomplete. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after embracing Sanyasrama spent most of his time at Puri in the Lord’s presence . he used to sing and dance in ecstasy for hours together in front ofLord Jagannathar. Once during Rath Yatra, Mahaprabhu was leading His sankeertana. His disciples were in groups at different locations and chanting the Mahamantra. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in all the nine groups singing and dancing in ecstasy at the same time. This was observed by His foremost devotees. He thus revealed that he was an incarnation of the Lord in Kali Yuga. Puri is still vibrant with Gaudiya Sampradayam established by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The procession winds slowly through the Grand street and reaches Gundicha temple. This is considered to be Lord’s aunt’s place. Some refer Gundicha as King Indradyumna’s wife. In the Gundicha temple, the deities are placed in the respective altars and offered puja for 9 days. Devotees throng to this temple to have Lord’s darshan as it is considered to be beneficial for one’s upliftment. On the 10th day when the deities return to the main temple, they are adorned sith golden crowns,necklaces,belts, golden hands, feet and weapons. This is known as “Suna vesa”.
As per Skanda Purana:-
Gundicha mandapam namam jatrahamajanam
pura Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat.
Meaning :- Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed.
THE LEELAS OF LORD JAGANNATHA:-
With the little knowledge adiyen gathered , out of enthusiasm, adiyen has penned down the information known to me with the bhagavatas. I accept that Lord’s activities and greatness cannot be restricted to a small article like this but adiyen accepts my inability and ignorance in trying to describe the Lord of Universe. Kindly pardon me for the mistakes which I would have unintentionally committed.
Adiyen concludes this write up with the mangala slokam:
NEELACHALA NIVASAYA NITYAYA PARAMATMANE
SUBHADRA PRAANA NATHAYA JAGAN NATHAYA MANGALAM.
SRIYA KAANTHAYA KALYANA NIDHAYE NIDHAYETHINAM
SRI VENKATA NIVASAYA SRINIVASAYA MANGALAM
May all auspiciousness and unstinting bhakthi to LORD JAGGANTHA be with us
Please forgive this servant of yours for committing any offence by my inabilty to glorify LORD as no words are enough to speak about LORDS opulence.
Our Sri Sri Gour Nitai deities at Thiruvengadam ( Residence ) who had arrived from Sri Jagganath Puri Dhaam ..
Videos : Courtesy OdishaTV, Indiadivine.org
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan