Shri Jagannath Temple has 6 Upadevalayams.
A Ganesh temple situated just under the Kalpabata is known as the Kalpa Ganesh.The image carved in white marble stone is popularly believed to be the fulfiller of wishes of those devotees who chant the Bija Mantra of Ganesh for 108 times here.
As a leader of the Ganas, Ganesh is also called Ganapati. In the later mythology, Ganesh has been referred to in the name, Vinayaka. Association of Ganesh with Siva and Parvati has been referred in the Puranas , where he is called Ambikanandana. Almost all the temples of India bear the image of Ganapati and the Orissan temples are no exception to it. He is represented as a Parsvadevata in many Siva temples of Orissa and in some places, there are independent temples built for his worship.
The images of Ganesh found in Orissa can be divided into two broad groups, because of the presence of the mouse, the characteristic mount of the god. The first variety of Ganesh images are without the mouse and they are seated, rarely standing, holding in the four hands a radish, a Japamala, an upraised Kuthara and a bowl of Sweets. The snakes are shown as the belt and the Upavita. The second variety of image is shown with the mouse, and the god has a standing position, holding in the upper right hand a broken tusk, in the lower right hand a Japamala and in the lower left hand a Kuthara placed upside down. A snake is shown as the Upavita and the head wears a Jatamukuta.
The images of Ganesh found in the temples of Orissa fall into three categories, i.e., Asina (seated), Sthanaka (standing) and Nrutya (dancing) from the point of iconography. Asina Ganesh image is seen to be seated in Bhadrasana and in some cases in Padmasana like Parvati. The number of Sthanaka Ganesh is rare in Orissa. Among the three categories, the dancing Ganesh images surpass the other two forms in artistic excellence.
The day dedicated to the worship of Ganesh is known as Ganesh Chaturthi which is the fourth day in the light half of the month of Bhadrav.
Lord Kashi Vishwanatha
The Kashi Vishwanath temple lies just to the immediate left of the Baisi Pahacha(22 steps).The temple is presided by Lord Shiva and it is customary to have a darshan of Lord Shiva and worship Him before proceeding on to have a view of Lord Jagannath.
Legend: As per Shiva Purana, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of Harmony) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the Jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either direction. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshiped till the end of eternity. The Jyotirlinga is the supreme part-less reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The Jyotirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. There are 64 forms of Shiva, not to be confused with Jyotirlingas. Each of the twelve Jyotirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity – each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha(pillar), symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve Jyotirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, in Deoghar, Jharkhand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
The Manikarnika Ghat on the banks of Ganges near to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha, a revered place of worship for the Shaktism sect. The mythology of Daksha Yaga, a Shaivite literature is considered as an important literature which is the story about the origin of Shakti Peethas. It is said that Shiva came to the Kashi Vishwanath Shrine through Manikarnika after the death of Sati Devi.
Her name finds place in Matschhya Purana, Kapila Samhita, Skanda Purana (Utkal khanda). Maa Bimala is considered to be Bhairabi and Jagannth, Bhairaba. The food (Prasad) offered to Lord Jagannath is reoffered to Vimla. Every year Durgh Puja is celebrated here.
One of the important Sakti centres of the country, the temple of Bimala is held in high esteem among the tantric cult.
Another line in Sanskrit states that Bimala is a great goddess and Jagannath is an awesome appearance of Lord Shiva : Bimala tu Mahadevi Jagannathastu Bhairava. That Bimala is a great goddess being an appearance of Durga goes without saying. But to say that Jagannath or Vishnu is an appearance of the awesome aspect of Shiva and for that matter Bimala is his consort needs explanation. The question raised is how Vishnu can be Shiva. But the answer is not difficult to find. The three primordial principles of creation, preservation and destruction representing the Hindu deities of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not mutually exclusive, but inclusive. They are not watertight compartments, but are continuous and all-embracing wholes. In other words, Vishnu is not different from Shiva. So Ramakrishna Pramahansa once declared that Jagannath is only Shiva and his idol is only a Shivalinga and should be worshipped as such. Similarly, one can say that Bimala is Laxmi, the consort of Vishnu, because both are parts of the same mother principle. It is because of this reason again that Puri is regarded as a meeting point and melting pot for the worships of both Vishnu and Shiva, of Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati, an idea which finds extensive elaboration in scriptures. The Brahma Puran in particular speaks of the sameness of Vishnu and Shiva in its account of sage Markandeya. So let us come back to our basic argument. Bimala is a great goddess whose worship at Puri is of supreme importance for the Hindus. Out of the fifty-two places sacred to the worshippers of the mother principle, the very first one is Puri where the feet of Goddess Sati, an incarnation of Durga fell on earth when Vishnu chopped her body off with His wheel in order to pacify Shiva, who was angry due to his first consort Sati’s untimely death. In this story we see a philosophy, a synthesis between principles and a comprehensiveness and the all-embracing nature of Hinduism. It also speaks of the oneness of godhead in a diversity. So Bimala’s presence at Puri not only makes this sacred place the first of the holy spots for the worshippers of the mother principle, it also preaches comprehensiveness, the basic tenet of a great religion. The last but not the least question is why Sati’s feet should fall at Puri and not at any other place on earth. In answer one may say that this is the postulate of a scripture which cannot and should not be questioned. You may either accept or not accept it.
Bimala’s temple is situated at the right hand western corner of the tower of Jagannath, just by the side of the Rohini Kunda. The temple’s closeness to the Rohini Kunda is a testimony to its ancientness, because Rohini Kunda is one of the two most ancient relics existing in the precinct, the other being the holy banian tree named Kalpavata. The Bimala temple is similar in structure and height to the Nrusimha temple near Muktimandap which, according to historians, was built in the ninth century. As one enters the Bimala temple one sees the idol of a majestic lion, Durga’s animal vehicle riding an elephant which signifies the victory of good over the mighty evil. The great Salabeg, a Muslim poet of the seventeenth century, sings the glory of the spot in one of his beautiful songs on Jagannath written in Oriya language. The entrance to the sanctum sanctorum is decorated with figures of Shaivite and Shakta deities. The various appearances of Goddess Durga as well as paintings depicting the goddess’s role in subduing the demons attract the devotee’s attention most.
The inner temple houses the principal idol of the goddess which is said to be a sixth century structure because it is bereft of elaborate decorations. The goddess possesses not too comely and not too angry a face and wields two arms holding a pitcher said to contain nectar in one hand and a rosary in the other. That she does not wield weapons is an evidence of the benevolent nature of the goddess. She is, therefore, a goddess of goodness, of godly traits of long life and devotion. So she is in the most peaceful appearance of Goddess Durga. No separate food items are usually cooked for the goddess for ritual offering. But the cooked food offered to Jagannath in various rituals becomes mahaprasad or the famed Jagannath rice only after being specially offered to Bimala. So after the puja of Jagannath a little of his offering is given to Bimala in a ritual. Bimala is described, therefore, in scriptures as a goddess who lives on the remnants of Jagannath’s food. There is a legend in the background of this practice. Once Shiva, a god of the Hindu trinity, went to Vaikuntha in order to meet Vishnu. But the latter had just taken his food, a few grains of which had fallen on the ground. Shiva picked up a sacred grain and swallowed it quickly, hoping supreme good. But a half of the grain had fallen on his beard of which he was completely oblivious. Next, Shiva went to his abode after which Narada, the sage of devotion, came to him. When the latter saw the sacred grain on Shiva’s beard he quickly grabbed it and swallowed within no time. After this came Shiva’s consort Parvati who knew through her mind’s eye that Shiva had first swallowed the precious thing without giving her a share to which as Shiva’s consort she was entitled. She was crestfallen and suffered a great remorse. Next she went to Vishnu and complained. Vishnu told her that in the Kali Age she would sit as Bimala at Puri and eat everyday the remnants of his food. From the very first day of the Kali Age this practice is continuing.
Mahaprasad or Jagannath rice which is offered to Bimala in the ritual in order to add extra sanctity to it is strictly a vegetarian stuff. But Bimala is offered separately non-vegetarian food stuff once in the span of a year. The time is Durga Puja which is celebrated in the month of Asvin or October, the period when Bimala is remembered for good she brought to mankind, as the great Saptashati Chandi describes, by slaying the demon Mahishashura. It is believed that during the period this benevolent Bimala displays a destructive appearance, due to which for pacification she is not only offered non-vegetarian food stuff but also given animal sacrifice both of which are very secret rituals observed strictly in the presence of selected worshippers. When the puja is performed the doors of Jagannath, a non-violent and vegetarian god, are bolted. His Vaishnavite worshippers are debarred from entering the temple. The animal, one he-goat, is brought across the outer south-western corner boundary wall and sacrificed in between the idol of lion and the outer temple of Bimala. Fish caught from Markand pond are also cooked at one side of the Bimala temple, offered to the goodess according to Tantric rituals and subsequently distributed among the selected worshippers. This is called Bimala parusa or Bimala’s cuisine. All these rituals should be completed before dawn when Jagannath’s doors are opened for arati. Now-a-days this practice of offering non-vegetarian food items to Bimala and the animal sacrifice is vehemently objected to by critics. But those who defend the tradition point out that this is in agreement with the all-embracing nature of Jagannath cult. If human kind will dispose off violence and non-vegetarian food altogether, the practice will go, as Jagannath temple is nothing but a mirror to our society.
As Bimala assumes her awesome aspect during the Durga Puja, women are debarred from entering the temple during this period, since menfolk think that they, being the fair sex, will be afraid of seeing Bimala in her destructive appearance during the period. And in the past, some weak-hearted women might have been mentally harmed by visiting Bimala during the period. This simple practice is believed and observed by thousands of women worshippers. But once an interesting event took place. A respectable Bengali lady who happened to be the wife of a powerful Union Minister insisted on going inside the temple during the Durga Puja. She was of course told about the practice. But perhaps due to her misplaced socialistic and feminist leanings she told that the practice was an outcome of a male-domination and discrimination which she wanted to fight through direct action. So she cried hoarse and foul and created an ugly scene. However, with much of difficulties she could be pacified by the devotees and at last she went back without hurting the age-old practice of the temple. It should be remembered that it is the temple traditions, whether reasonable or much harmlessly half-reasonable and unreasonable which separately or togather have saved the Jagannath cult, the great Puri temple, its attractive rituals and festivities throughout ages. They survived the onslaughts of various happenings in history. Hence to abolish them whimsically at the spur of a moment is not perhaps correct.
This is one side of the drama. There is the other side too, which is a piece of my personal experience. Once near Muktimandap during one of my occasional sojourns to the Jagannath temple a well-educated and well dressed Bengali couple asked me in a flawless English accent where the Bimala temple is situated. I pointed my finger at the temple and also accompanied them, as my next destination was the same temple. In course of our conversations I came to know that the couple were officers of the Indian Administrative Service. When I heard this I kept a distance and kept mum assuming that they must be sceptical people, taking Hindu gods and goddesses as objects of fun. But to my utter surprise, they observed all the formalities; they respectfully touched the idol of lion; purchased the local candle stuff and garlands for the deity. And at the appropriate spot started reciting from the scriptures in immaculate Sanskrit. Both were adept in pronouncing Sanskrit words flawlessly. The temple dome reverberated their recital; the atmosphere of the temple was filled with an extra religious piety for the moment. I was further surprised because of easily known reasons. I exclaimed, a modern affluent couple could be so knowledgeable and so pious ! My devotion to Bimala was increased a thousand fold. I bowed to her most respectfully and walked by with my heart full of religious piety.
It is for this reason that the people of Orissa take pride in having the Bimala temple in their place. They say that it is the first of the sites sacred to the goddess and a visit to it is a must for all types of devotees. So people throng the temple in large numbers singing the super hymns of the great Saptashati Chandi, composed by the ageless sage Markandeya, Debyapara-dhakshya-mapanastotram by the great saint of Kerala, Shankaracharya and Vimalastakam by Purusottam Rakshit. So let us conclude this essay by singing a hymn to her by the last named devotee
You are the maker of beams of the rising moon.
You are the destroyer of fear.
You are the goddess of the site where the feet fell.
You are the object of the wooden Brahma Jagannath’s joy And are the owner of three worlds.
You are indeed the true consort of Shiva.
You stir the devotee’s emotion; you are supreme.
You cover the whole universe; you are the Mother.
Save me Bimala; for you are the giver of eternal joy.
You are the very queen of Laxmi’s sovereignty.
The temple of Vimala is situated in the south-west corner of the inner enclosure of the Jagannath temple complex of Puri. It seems to be an old structure and has nothing striking in it from the architectural point of view. It is a temple usually visited by the Tantrics who attach more importance to it than the main Jagannath temple. Goddess Vimala is considered as the presiding deity of the Purusottama kshetra. She is described as the Bhairavi and Jagannatha the Bhairava.1 This temple seems to have been constructed during the Ganga period and it is likely that it has been built over the ruins of an earlier temple. The Madala panji states that the temple of Vimala was constructed by Yayati Keshari.2 Structures of the temple are built in both sand stones and laterite stones. The temple faces to the eastern direction.
The words, “Laxmi” and “Mahalaxmi” have one and the same meaning as described in the Vedas. As also commonly understood, the words are synonymous with the concept of happiness and prosperity in life. In the Rig Veda, the word, “Laxmi” is described as a primordial divine force of the cosmic creation. Laxmi is also portrayed as the symbol of delusion. She is adored as the cause of the divine procreation. In Yajurveda, She is referred to as Devi-incarnate on earth. She is depicted as a symbol of energy and plentifulness. In Atharba Veda, Mahalaxmi is described as “Sri” and the causative divine force of goodness in life. In Saptasati- Chandi, Devimata is described and worshipped in the forms of Mahalaxmi, Maha Saraswati and Mahakali. Mahalaxmi is portrayed as a divine force representing the all-pervading “Mayasakti” of Lord Narayan. It is stated in this connection that without Mahalaxmi, the preservation of the universe is not actually possible.
In the Grand Temple, Puri, the deity of Mahalaxmi has a different significance. In the “Shastras” the Grand Temple is also known as “Srimandir”. “Sri” means Laxmi; which means that the Grand Temple at Puri is also known and adored as the temple of Mahalaxmi. As described in the “Shastras” on Jagannath Culture, it is Mahalaxmi who prepares the ‘Prasad’ offered to the deities seated on the divine altar of the sanctum of the Grand Temple.
There is a separate temple in the Grand Temple, Puri belonging to Mahalaxmi. She is separately worshipped here with the daily offerings differently prepared. At a different place in same temple, she is seen as sitting on the lap of Nrusingha which means that Nrusingha is another form of Lord Narayan. Thus seen, Mahalaxmi is worshipped in Sri Mandir as a positive divine force and as a symbol of material and spiritual prosperity. She is also worshipped as a symbol of good fortune and joyous dispensation in life.
There are seven deities on the divine platform of “Srimandir” and Mahalaxmi is one among them. Of the seven deities, the images of Sri Balabhadra, Devi Suvadra, Sri Jagannath, Sri Sudarshana and Sri Madhav are made of Neem-wood. The images of the other two deities namely Bhudevi and Sridevi are made of a precious metal. Here, Sridevi represents Mahalaxmi, Who is worshipped as the main deity of ‘Srimandira’. Her image actually adds to the lustre of the spiritual surrounding. The devotees, who visit the temple to worship Lord Jagannath and the other deities, first offer adulations to Mahalaxmi in Her prominent temple. This is because Mahalaxmi is the Mayasakti of Lord Jagannath. She is worshipped in the temple in Her Vidya-Maya form.
As described in the “Mahabharat,” a popular scripture of the Hindus written by Vyasa, Mahalaxmi as a divine force symbolizes the Bibhuti of long life tinged with the divine qualities of spiritual well-being and material prosperity in life. The author has emphasized these divine qualities in reference to the life of Duryodhana as a blessed devotee of Mahalaxmi. Vyasadeva has described in this scripture that Duryodhan enjoyed all these qualities in his life as long as Mahalaxmi was seated on his shoulders. He met his downfall and breathed his last in the battlefield of Kurukshetra when he rose to the sinful height of avowed injustice shorn of compunction and penitence in his royal dispensation. This state of life in the ‘Shastras’ is known as “Laxmichhada” i.e a state of life bereft of Mahalaxmi’s benign protection.
Similarly, as described in the Ramayana written by Sage Valmiki, the demise of Ravana could only be possible after he was estranged from the divine blessings of Devi Mata which also includes Mahalaxmi in one of Her incarnated forms on the earth.
In Laxmipurana, it is stated that Sri Jagannath and Sri Balabhadra had become ‘Laxmi Chhada’ when They were estranged from the sympathy and the loving care of Mahalaxmi. They got back their divine lustre only after they gained the loving care of Mahalaxmi. This episode overwhelms the readers when they read Laxmipurana written by Balaram Das. Laxmipurana is based on a spiritual story which runs as follows:-
Maa Laxmi is the divine consort of Lord Jagannath. As stated above, She is the Maya Shakti(the power of delusion) of the Lord. She is very sprightly in her divine appearance. But She is very quick and brisk in Her nature. In no place, She likes to stay long. Importantly, She gets impressed and unimpressed in quick succession.
Hindu women observe this spiritual ritual on every Thursday in the month of Margasira every year. This ritual is known as “Mana Basa Gurubar”. This is observed for the prosperity of the family and the long life of the family members. It is described in Laxmipurana that Mahalaxmi on every such occasion moves along to the places of Her devotees in quick succession and offers Her blessings to the devotees where She is immensely pleased with their devotion.
As stated in Laxmipurana, on one such occasion, Mahalaxmi visited the house of low caste woman known as Shriya Chandaluni. She was performing the ritual with utmost devotion. Getting up very early in the morning, she had daubed her place with cow-dung water and painted the floor of her cottage with different designs in rice-water known as “Jhoti”. Mahalaxmi visited her place in course of Her spiritual rounds. She was immensely pleased with Shriya’s devotion and good spiritual behavior. As a mark of satisfaction, She blessed Shriya with prosperity in material gains.
Shri Balaram, the elder brother of Lord Jagannath, did not approve of Mahalaxmi’s action. She did not approve of Mahalaxmi visiting the cottage of a low-caste woman. He directed Jagannath not to allow Mahalaxmi to enter the temple on Her return. At this, Shri Jagannath was greatly flabbergasted. He did not expect this sort of behavior from his brother. He was helpless at that moment. Feeling abandoned, He had to carry out the instructions of His brother.
When Mahalaxmi returned, She learnt everything from Her maidens. She did not approve of the disposition of Her consort and also his elder brother. At last, Sri Jagannath and His brother became the victims of Mahalaxmi’s anger. Mahalaxmi deserted the temple and the two brothers were deprived of the oblations in the temple as Mahalaxmi was not present in the Grand Temple to cook Their “Prasad”.
At last the two brothers left the Temple. In disguise, They begged from door-to-door. Deprived of Their divine lustre, They were looked down upon by the people. Nobody gave them any offering. They had to go without food for several days. Even They were deprived of water from the public wells. At some places, people chased Them and threatened them with dire consequences. They didn’t approve of the two brothers begging as They looked quite healthy and able to earn Their living by working as labourers. Shorn of other details on this score, later They came to the temple due to the compassion of Mahalaxmi. Thereafter, They were properly looked after by Mahalaxmi but by then, They had realized Their mistakes.
“Mana-basa-Gurubar” is a very famous ritual among Hindu women. Laxmipurana eulogizes the divine compassion of Mahalaxmi as the only divine source of everybody’s good fortune and prosperity. This also establishes the idea that Mahalaxmi loves the devotion of Her worshippers, irrespective of caste. So, caste is no barrier in any ritualistic practice of Hindu religion, particularly in the propitiation of goddess Mahalaxmi. This eclectic attitude prevails upon the service-pattern of Jagannath Temple where the devotees irrespective of caste partake of the Mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath together.
Mahalaxmi is the Alhadini-Sakti of Lord Jagannath. She is always seated in His heart. When the Lord is absent from the Grand Temple during Ratha Yatra, Mahalaxmi is worried in Her behavioral disposition. On one occasion, She comes out of the Grand Temple during Ratha Yatra function and meets the Lord in the Gundicha Temple. She makes an appeal to Him to return to Srimandir early. On another occasion during this period, She again meets the Lord in His chariot in front of the palace of Gajapati Maharaj. This divine meet is popularly known as Laxmi-Narayan Bhet. Here again, Mahalaxmi welcomes the Lord to the Grand Temple without further loss of time.
There is another aspect of this spiritual story. This reveals that when the Lord after completion of the Yatra returns to the Grand Temple after alighting from His chariot, Mahalaxmi, overpowered by Her vanity as the supreme goddess of the temple, does not allow the Lord to enter the sanctum although His elder brother Balaram and younger sister Subhadra were already inside the temple. For some time, they had aspersions and counter aspersions. In course of exchange of Their accusing remarks, Mahalaxmi at last states “Prabhu, you will have to now make a pledge that in future, you will not move out of the temple. And, unless you make a commitment in this order, you won’t be allowed into the sanctum.” That was an unusual demand from the side of Mahalaxmi.
Mahaprabhu states very politely “Bhadre, I am bound by a divine commitment to my devotees. I give public audience to countless fallen devotees at least once a year. So this sojourn of mine is known as Patitapaban Yatra. You also visit your devotees on all Thursdays during the month of Margasir every year. And you should also take my sojourn during Ratha Yatra in that spirit.” With this argument, Mahaprabhu at last convinces Mahalaxmi. This is an irrefutable submission of the Lord to Mahalaxmi. In context of the Lord’s pleadings, Mahalaxmi has no other go than to accept His viewpoint. Mahalaxmi finally opens the door of the sanctum and Jagannath goes inside. This is an important ritual of the temple.
This ritual has an important sociological significance. This emphasizes the efficacy of an impeccable relationship between a wife and a husband in the usual course of their life. A wife has a right to misunderstand her husband if the latter plans out a programme meaning a longtime absence from home although in the company of his own brother and sister. There should be no iota of misunderstanding between a wife and her husband in any social or filial matter. This is the whole idea behind this episode. The cult of Jagannath reveals the implication of this ideology in reference to our day-to-day life. This is an important aspect of Jagannath Culture.
As stated earlier, there is a separate temple for goddess Mahalaxmi on the premises of the Grand Temple. This is an important landmark in the history of Vaishnavism in Odisha. The emergence of Jagannath religion has virtually coincided with the emergence of Laxmi worship in the Grand Temple, Puri. There have developed in this respect a series of legends and religious myths which highlight Mahalaxmi as the presiding goddess of the Grand Temple. It is believed that construction of the Mahalaxmi Temple dates back to 9th century AD. Mahalaxmi was thereafter worshipped in the iconic form as the presiding goddess of the temple. Adored as the goddess of fortune, affluence and prosperity, She was later worshipped in every Hindu household in Utkal Pradesh. This ritual is now followed as an important Hindu worship in every nook and corner of Odisha.
The image of Mahalaxmi, worshipped in Her temple is made of chlorite stone. She is seated here on a double lotus-pedestal in “Padmasan” as the presiding image of the Laxmi Temple. She is a four-armed deity holding fully blossomed lotus flowers in Her two upper hands. Her lower left hand is found holding a “ratna” in Varada” pose and the lower right hand found in “Avaya-Mudra” blessing Her devotees seeking Her “darshan” in Her temple. Added to the above position, there are two elephants-one on either side of the image-standing on lotus flower. The elephants are found anointing the deity with water from inverted jars. The image of Mahalaxmi is also covered with clothes and flowers. She is adorned with various ornaments. It is said that the height of Mahalaxmi is 3ft shorn of Her adornment. She is about four and a half feet high in Her full-fledged adornment.
As per the traditional ritual, the temple of Mahalaxmi is opened after the opening of the doors of the Grand Temple. The servitor of Mahalaxmi Temple known as ‘Khuntia’ performs the divine ablution of the deity. He baths the image of Mahalaxmi in sweet scented water prepared out of various fragrant-objects like ‘chua’ (a scented oil), sandal-paste, vermilion, Sri Karpura(scented camphor), scented Collyrium etc. He also adorns the deity with various ornaments and flowers dressed in perfect “Odisi” style. This is a unique divine practice. After morning oblation i.e “Sakala Dhupa”, the image of Mahalaxmi is next decorated with a garland of Sri Jagannath along with the graceful flowers decorating his nose known as Naka-Fula. With the decoration as above, Mahalaxmi, as described in the Rig-Veda, looks like “Hiranyabarna Harinim” which means that Mahalaxmi presents a radiant charming divine-form looking exquisitely beautiful in turmeric colour imbued with splashes of golden shade.
In the matter of general worship of the deity, a peculiar practice is being followed in the temple of Mahalaxmi on the premises of the Grand Temple at Puri. The practice is like this. A devotee going to the Grand Temple for ‘darshan’ of the Lords is bound by a customary practice. The devotee first needs to have ‘darshan’ of Mahalaxmi in the outer hall of Her temple. He sits there for a while. The ‘Sebayats’ say that Mahalaxmi is ‘chanchala’ in Her nature. As stated in Laxmipurana, She is very fast and quick in all Her actions. Even She does not remain present on Her divine alter constantly for a pretty long time.
So the popular belief is that during the period of a devotee’s visit to Mahalaxmi Temple, the goddess may not be present on Her divine throne and so the devotee has to wait for sometime to have Her ‘darshan’ as Mahalaxmi is in the habit of returning to Her divine alter at frequent intervals.
Sadguru Jagi Vasudev has a different view in this regard. He says that a temple is not simply a sacred place of worship because of consecration of a certain god or goddess. A temple is prima facie a divine centre of energy. It abounds in the proliferation of different spiritual vibrations. The devotee sitting in the temple has an immaculate influence of a well-accomplished spiritual environment. Normally the devotee roams very high in his spiritual emotion. At least, he has a tendency to do so and this is a steady path of alleviation to fulfillment of his spiritual goal. Here the devotee stoops to meditation and sits calmly to pray to god for spiritual blessings. Here again, he has the urge of an immaculate mind which ultimately leads him to positive thoughts. All the negativity in him is automatically annihilated by vibrant divine inspirations. All temples are attuned to this spiritual order. Under such circumstances, it is necessary that a devotee visiting the temple of Mahalaxmi should sit in its outer hall for a while remembering the name of the goddess for his spiritual well-being. Stretching this analogy to the temple of Mahalaxmi further, we may also hold that whatever be the traditional practice in this regard, a devotees sitting in Mahalaxmi temple is bound by a spiritual necessity. Mahalaxmi is the Alhadini-Sakti of Sri Jagannath. A devotee before entering the main temple of the Lord, needs to have the blessings of His Maya Sakti so that the mind of the devotees is not otherwise disturbed; it is mobilized in a positive order when he goes to the main temple of Sri Jagannath.
This is the whole philosophy of Mahalaxmi worship in the Grand Temple at Puri. In Vaishnavism, Sri Jagannath and Mahalaxmi are inseparable in all spiritual rituals. Presence of Sri Jagannath is inconceivable without Mahalaxmi’s presence by His side. Even in the car festival, Mahalaxmi is associated with all the ancillary rituals of the function. All the rituals related to Mahalaxmi during Ratha Yatra actually add to the lustre of the festival.
The Navagraha are the nine planets of Vedic Astrology, also known as Jyotish. The Sanskrit word ‘nava‘ means nine and the word ‘graha‘ means ‘to seize’ or ‘to grasp.’ The planets are called grahas because they are the holders and dispensers of the karmic lessons of life and they are the evolutionary forces that teach us to grow and harmonize with the cosmic order.
How do Grahas Affect Karma?
In the same way that the daily weather can affect our feelings and especially our ability to get things done (karma), on a cosmic scale, the Navagrahas affect the “cosmic weather” from which our local planetary and regional weather is derived. If a planet brings rain, our crops grow. If a planet brings heat and drought, many perish.
Navagraha Characteristics and Personalities
Each graha has a full complement of energies that match human characteristics. For example, Surya (the Sun) is considered a krūra graha, or harsh personality, because he is so hot and one can’t even look at him directly. At the same time, Soma (the Moon) is considered a saumya graha, or cooling personality, because the moon brings delight and coolness to the mind and the Earth.
Worship and its Benefits
“Brahma, Vishnu and Siva always contemplate the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, the North Node and the South Node. May all the constellations remain in Peace.” – Cosmic Puja.
The Navagrahas are powerful spiritual influences. The Hindu Panchanga is the spiritual calendar that reveals their times of influence through the yearly cycle of spiritual practice (sadhana). The Hindu Panchanga lists daily times for key festivals and prescribes suggested worship, or the avoidance of certain influences, in order to make our lives easier and help us to keep focused on the spiritual path.
In addition to sadhana for various Navagrahas and their Ruling Deities, like Shiva, Durga, and other devas, there are methods, or spiritual practices, called upāyas that may be prescribed by the Jyotishi (Vedic Astrologer) in order to promote greater peace for a specific individual according to their karma.
In the Hindu Mythology, the Navagrahas have an exalted position in a persons life as they exert a great influence and it is said that the proper worship of these 9 planets can greatly tone down their malefic influence and thus grant peace and prosperity in a persons life. The entire place where the Navagraha is installed in a temple is a black granite stand and the Navagrahas are also black granite with the facial features not so well formed, but they are well decorated with the most favored colored cloth of the particular planet. entire pedestal that they are placed on has small channels that lead the water, milk, curd, yoghurt and oil abhisheka that the idols are regularly done to a clean place. The oil from the shani oil abhishek is collected to light the lamps in the temple. So on and so forth.
As per Hindu customs, the Navagraha are typically placed in a single square with the Sun (Surya) in the center and the other deities surrounding Surya; no two of them are made to face each other. In South India, their images are generally found in all important Saiva temples. They are invariably placed in a separate hall, on a pedestal of about three feet in height, usually to the north-east of the sanctum sanctorum.
There are 2 kinds of installation of the planets when arranged in this fashion, known as Agama Pradishta and Vaidika Pradishta.
In Agama Pradishta, Surya occupies the central place, Chandra on Surya’s east, Budha on his south, Brihaspati on his west, Shukra on his north, Mangala on his south-east, Shani on his south-west, Rahu on north-west and Ketu in the north-east. In Vaidika Pradishta, Surya is still in the centre, but Shukra is in the east, Mangala in the south, Shani in the west, Brihaspati in the north, Chandra in the south-east, Rahu in the south-west, Ketu in the north-west and Budha in the north-east.
The different grahas have different preferences:
Surya- Sun: Wheat for daan, Red colour, center facing East
Chandra- Moon: Rice for daan, White colour, South east facing of Sun
Guru-Jupiter: Indian Yellow Split Peas(Kabuli chana), Yellow color, Facing North
Budh- Mercury: Green Gram, Green Color, facing North East
Shukra-Venus: Soya Gram, white color, facing East
Mangal-Mars: Bengal Gram, Red color, facing South
Shani-Saturn: Mustard Seeds, blue color, facing West
Rahu- North Node: Black gram, Black color, facing South West
Ketu-South Node: Horse gram, Multi color, facing North West
Sree Mandira has four gates. And in each Gate there stays Hanuman in a different image performing a different service for his Master. Hanuman protects the temple staying at the four gates.
In the east- where there is Lions Gate, Hanuman is worshipped there as ‘FATE HANUMAN’. In the north gate Hanuman sits in padmasana, holding chakra in four hands, and is worshipped as ‘ASTABHUJA HANUMAN’. In the south gate Hanuman is seven feet tall and worshipped as ‘BARA BHAI HANUMAN’. In the western gate Lord Hanuman is around Four feet height and known as ‘KAN PATA HANUMAN’
There is a beautiful story behind this western gate deity. This gate is near the temple of Maa Mahalaxmi. It is said that Lord Jagannath remaining busy in HIS royal activities and listening to the lakhs of devotees come to him daily, does not find a moment to spend with HIS beloved wife Maa MAHALAXMI. Apart from that maintaining the customs MAHALAXMI never comes to her husband’s place as because HIS elder brother is always present there. When everything calms down following the traditions, during middle of the night, Lord Jagannath gets out to meet HIS wife.
Mahalaxmi is the daughter of the Ocean GOD. Shree Mandira is situated at the sea shore. The sound of the sea always creates a deep vibration. And again during night when everything is calm the sound of the sea is most vibrant and disturbing. That disturbed Lords romantic mood.But since Ocean God is HIS father in law HE never complained about it. But toleration too, has a limit. One night Lord was very much disturbed by the sound of the sea and sarcastically commented on the ocean God’s lack of commonsense. Mahalaxmi did not utter a word but was hurt deep inside.
All romance starts and ends with Lord. He realized immediately that his dear wife was hurt by his words. He cajoled Mahalaxmi and next day ordered his dear one Hanuman, near the western gate to ensure that the sound of the sea never enters the meghanada pachery- the boundary wall of Sree Mandira.
Being ordered by his Master, Hanuman made the entire boundary wall sound proof and being explicitly loyal always put his ears on the wall to ensure that the sound of the sea has been seized.
As he has put his ears all the time to ensure the temple soundless- he is known as KANPATA HANUMAN.
It is an astonishing fact that during night when one stands before the temple listens the sound of the Sea. But most surprisingly the sound is never heard inside the temple.
That is the wonderful manifestation of GOD’s power.