Who Is Lord Jagannath?
The Legendary origin of the Lord is traced back to Mahabharata. According to Mahabharata, the Kurushetra war resulted in the death of all the 100 sons of Gandhari. On the night before Duryodhana’s death, Lord Krishna visited Gandhari to offer his condolences. Gandhari felt that Lord Krishna knowingly did not put an end to the war. In a fit of rage and sorrow Gandhari cursed that Krishna along with everyone else from “Yadu” dynasty would perish after 36 years. Krishna himself knew and wanted this to happen as he felt that Yadavas have become ”Ädharmi” so he ended Gandhari’s speech by saying Thathastu.
Later at a festival fight broke out between Yadavas who killed each other. His elder brother Balarama gave up his body using Yoga. Krishna retired into the forest and started meditating under a tree. The hunter “Jara Sabar” mistook Krishna’s partly visible left foot for that of a Deer and shot an arrow wounding and killing him. When Jara realised he wept for the mistake on which Krishna told Jara “O Jara you were Vaali in your previous birth, killed by myself as Rama in Tretayayuga. You are reincarnated as hunter in Dvapara Yuga and had a chance to revenge your killing and since all acts are desired by me you need not worry for this.
On hearing this terrible news the five Pandava brothers quickly arrived on the scene. Lord Krishna gave them some good advices and took away heavenly power of Krishnakala from Arjun the best of Archer when Arjun pulled out the arrow from the wounded Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna left his mortarial body. The Pandavas carried the body to the Bay of Bengal and cremated there. The whole body was destroyed except for the heart which remained intact and indestructitic. The body was thrown in to the sea.
Jara was watching the scene of obsequies in agony. He followed this unburnt part thrown in to the sea emanating brilliant lustre, but finally able to fetch it. He was surprised that unburnt part had turned into blue stone. This blue stone was worshipped by him in a cave secretly and thereafter by his family heads in succession and continued till Sabar chief Viswabasu.
Nilamadhav was worshipped in secrecy and in deep forest. Even “Devatas” used to come at night and worship Lord Nilamadhav.
In the meanwhile Raja Indradumnya (Indradumnya a legendary figure and his historicity cannot be established on any safe ground). King of Solar dynasty in Satyayuga ruling the city of Avanti in Malaya a great devotee of Lord Vishnu came to know of Nilamadhav and wanted to consecrate the extraordinary deity of Lord Vishnu. He deputed Brahmi Priest Vidyapati who married the daughter of Sabar Chieftain and marked the route to the cave where Nilamadhav was being worshiped. After locating the route he returned to Avanti and informed the King Indradumnya about Nilamadhav. The King with his army accompanied by “Narada” marched to the secret spot. But to everyone’s surprise there was no deity to be found at the spot. Furious King imprisoned “Viswabasu” the tribal chief and began his return disappointed. Crestfallen devotee of Lord Vishnu received a divine message to free the tribal chief and perform Aswamedha Yagna. Narada assured the King of Lords blessing.
The king went to Nilagiri and performed the Yagnam. Lord Nilamadhav appeared in dream to King Indradumnya and informed Lord will appear in the form of Daru (Log of sacred wood) in the sea.
“I will manifest in the form of a very large fragrant, reddish log and the signs of Shanka, Chakra, Gada, Padma will be seen everywhere on that form. Go and take me out and make four deities and then you will be able to worship me.” On the next day the King got information about the floating of Daru with four branches.
The Daru was brought and placed on ‘Mahavedi’. When Narada was discussing about crafting of deities a divine voice announced that the God himself will prepare his own image. While the king was thinking about this an old carpenter ( said to be Lord himself in form of Viswakarma) appeared and offered to prepare the idol on condition that the door of the temple should remain shut and no one should enter or disturb for 21 days inside the temple. The king agreed to this condition. After 15 days when no sound of construction of image came from the room, the king and queen being impatient and doubtful opened the door and found the images remains unfinished and the carpenter has disappeared. In the meanwhile a heavenly voice declared “Oh king dress these four deities with silken garments, and establish the images on “Mahavedi”. Accordingly the king worshipped the Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan uttering three “Suktas of the Rig Veda” which are symbols of Brahman. From that day traditional has associated with worship of deities at Purushottam known with the name of Indradumnya.
Jagannath is the cosmic sustainer. He is the lord of suffering humanity and bestower of salvation. He extends warm embracement and responds to all beyond caste, creed and religion. He is the remover of sin, purifier of the fallen. He is the spirit for universal love, equality, fraternity and universal goodwill. The manifestation of knowledge, power, major strength energy and self sufficiency- the sadgunas . He is the lord of the masses of Vaishnavas, Saivas, Jains, Buddhists, Sikh, Dravidians, Svaras, Aryas.
Jagannath responds to prayer of persons in distress and therefore one of his names is Artatrana (Great Healer). There are many accounts from the devotees depicting relief due to grace of Jagannath and instances are: episodes of Jayadev, Jagannath Das, Balaram Das, Raghu Arakshit, Dinakrushna, Salabeg, Dasia Bauri, Bandhu Mohanty, Nilambar Das, Rajkumari Bishnupriya, Gita Panda, Paramesti, Ganapati Bhatt, Sadhu Mohanty, Raghu Das, Krupana Panda. Famous example of grace of Jagannath is Kanchi Abhijan (Kanchi expedition). Princess of Kanchi was famous for beauty and erudition. Purosottam Deb was the Maharaja of Utkal. A proposal was mooted for his marriage with the princess. Raja of Kanchi declined with satirical remark that marriage with a sweeper who sweeps the chariots of Jagannath is not possible. Treating the refusal as an insult to Lord Jagannath, Purusottam went on expedition to Kanchi seeking blessings of Jagannath. At Adipur near Chilika lake Manik Gouduni (milk-maid) obstructed the Maharaja pleading for unpaid cost of cheese and curd eaten by his two leading soldiers riding black and white horses producing a gold ring as evidence. Purusottam identified the ring as that of Lord Jagannath leading the expedition. It was a war between Jagannath-led army with that of Ganesh-led army of Kanchi. Purusottam won the war, brought the princess to Puri and instructed his Minister to get the princess married with a sweeper. During next car festival, when Purusottam was sweeping Lord s chariot, the clever Minister offered the princess to the Maharaja.