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Orissa Review * June - 2006

Brahmanda
Chhatradanda - Shree
Jagannath
Somanath Khuntia

When King Indradumna, the king of Avantee, of other planets, and the flowers are also
wanted to know where the real Brahma was, presented by other beings from outer space who
he sent his ministers all over India to find out, come to see this Brahma.
but they returned without success. So to Orissa,
From this record of the o rigin of
known as Utkal, at that time, another minister
Bidyapati was sent. He was told by the tribal Mahaprasad, found in t he palm-leaf
people of Puri. "On the beach in the Neelagiri manuscript Niladri Mahodaya, we can
cave, Brahma is to be found." He was being ascertain quite clearly that this present day
worshipped by their tribal leader Bishwabasu. Jagannath Temple is not only an attraction for
So Bidyapati came and met the chief. But in- people of this world, but for the inhabitants of
spite of all his probings, no information was other spheres, or Lokas, as well.
divulged, no place was even shown, so secret When king Indradumna heard from
and sacred was this Brahma to Bishwabasu. Bidyapati that Brahma was at Puri, he
The minister was feared to stay on for many immediately went there, and wanted a temple
years. With the hope of discovering this
to be built by him. His wish was fulfilled, but
Brahma, Bidyapati married the chief's daughter
then he wondered which deity was to be
Lalita.
worshipped there. He dreamt that a log of
Afterward, Bidyapati was stunned when wood would be floating near the beach. Out
Bishwabasu would return from his worship of of this log, the deities must be made. The dream
Brahma. He gave Bidyapati very fine rice came true. In procession the wood was taken
prasad and other delicacies, curries and fruits to the temple. But again the king wondered. In
not found in Puri at that time. Biswabasu which shape should the deities be carved ?
himself would be smelling of heavenly
Nobody could offer the king any suggestions.
camphor from his arati. Bidyapati saw rare
flowers that were not in season in Puri at that At last an old man came and volunteered
time. So he asked his father-in-Iaw. "Sir, where himself to carve the deities. When asked what
did the fine rice and all these rare flowers come his name was, he said emphatically, "My name
from ? is Viswakarma, the Divine Architect ! I am
Bishwabasu replied. "The rice you are from another world." People all around laughed
getting is Prasad' offered to Brahma by Devas at him thinking him to be a fool. However,

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

King Indradumna assigned the work to him. came. These events are also documented in
Viswakarma made three conditions. ancient epics, palm-leaf scripts, and in texts
written by scholars and sages of the past. Some
1) He must be confined in a room where
are as follows :
he would work for 21 days.
1) Manima Daka Sloka from Niladri
2) He would not take any food or drink
Mahodaya
during this period.
"Rajadhi Rajarajeshwar
3) He must not be disturbed.
Ishwara Thakur, Manima !
Once this was agreed to, Viswakarma Anantakoti Brahmanda
entered the closed chamber. Everybody Ishwara Thakur, Manima !
suspected a trick, as there was no sound of
Chaturdasha Bhubana
any carving. The queen also became
suspicious, thinking that the old man might Ishwara Thakur, Manima !
even have died. Out of great anxiety the door In the daily rituals of the temple this sloka
was opened before 21 days were up. There is recited at the time when Lord Jagannath
was no body there. The old man vanished. Only retires to bed. The meaning is this :
a voice was heard, "Oh king ! worship these "Oh Lord Jagannath !
unfinished deities I have carved. You have You are king of kings !
broken your promise. I came from Devaloka You are master of many universes !
only to make the full form of the deities you You are the controller of all creations !"
wanted to have !"
The khuntia worshipper who recites this
It means the divine craftsman himself sloka then scatters flower petals up into the air
came down to earth to help make the TRIO to welcome all the divine beings who have
known today as Lord Jagannath, Lord come that evening to observe this ritual.
Balabhadra and Mother Subhadra. They have 2) Kadachit Kalindi sloka by Saint
been worshipped in Jagannath Temple, Puri for Adishankar in his Sanskrit verses "Jagannath
more than three thousand years. Astaka"
As these stories about the origin of "Rama, Samvu, Brahma, Surapati
Jagannath Temple reveal, Lord Jagannath is a Ganesharchhit Padam
mystic deity. There are many phenomena Jagannatha Swami, Nayana Pathagami, Bhavatume "
sorrounding him which cannot be explained The meaning is :
by modern science. Not only do sages, seers
and people from different parts of the world Even Gods like Rama, Shambhu (Siva),
come to see him, but also inhabitants of other Brahma the creator, Surapati, the king of Gods,
spheres as well. As he is considered the master Ganesh, the god of wisdom, who all belong to
of the universe. He attracts all. There is Devaloka, worship Lord Jagannath at Puri.
documented evidence to support many of these 3) "Jatta Chhaya Lokamatra
occurrences in the form of eyewitness reports Tribhubana Janata Badhate
and objects left by divine beings when they Na Tritap"

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

This means that the inhabitants of all Paranormal events occur on earth when
Lokas, or spheres are under the protection of beings from these other regions are present.
Lord Jagannath. This sloka is taken from According to the Loka they come from, they
Brahma Geeta (writer not known) appear in different ways.
4) From Kapila Samhita 1. Patala Loka
"Sarba Rahasya Purusottamasya This is a sphere of the underworld which
Deva Na Janati Kuta Manusya." supports life on earth. It is said Vasuki, the
The meaning is that the mystery of Lord snake who holds the world in proper balance,
Jagannath cannot be known by the Devas, so lives in Patala Loka. He comes to Jagannath
what to speak of man ! Temple only during special darshan times. If
he is present, there will be a loud rustle in the
5) From Skanda Purana crowd.
"Byomatit Byomarupa Prakasa 2. Talatala Loka
Byomakar Byapino Byomarudha."
When inhabitants of this Loka come,
The glory of Lord Jagannath is described there will be rays of light of various colours
here. He can take on any shape. He is as which can be seen by the naked eye. These
limitless as the sky itself. He is even beyond beings come in disguise of blind, lame, one-
that. eyed, or other deformed persons. They carry
The whole cosmos of life is divided into flowers in their palms to offer to the deities, in
many spheres or Lokas. These are described the crowd this can be seen easily.
in the palmleaf scripts Lokabimarsa, 3. Rasatala Loka
Lokatattwa and Lokamimansa. As life evolves
from lower to higher forms, consciousness If a strong wind passes through the
becomes more individualised and expansive. crowd and a hot place becomes cool suddenly,
The main Lokas are 21 in number. They are as beings from this Loka have come. They often
follows : come also as children and sing loudly during
Kirtan, even though they know nothing about
The Underworld Lokas : all these things. They smile in the crowd after
1) Patala, 2) Talatal, 3) Rasatala, 4) Bitala, seeing the deities.
5) Mahatala, 6) Atala, 7) Bhutala 4. Bitala Loka
The Earth Lokas : Beings from Bitala Loka come as birds
8) Loka, this earth, 9) Pitruloka, 10) Matruloka although not as vultures, who signify bad days
11) Pretaloka, 12) Bhutaloka, 13) Jakshaloka, ahead when they are seen.
14) Swargaloka, 5. Mahatala Loka
The Higher Lokas Beings from this sphere come as animals
15) Divyaloka, 16) Kinnara Loka, such as cats, monkeys and dogs. As dogs can
17) Gandharvaloka, 18) Devaloka, not enter the temple, if one is spotted inside, it
19) Suraloka, 20) Vishwaloka, 21) Goloka is said to have come from this Loka. If this

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

happens, it is felt that the food that day was temple of Lord Jagannath at dawn when there
cooked in an impure way. All offerings must is less rush. If one finds a man having a similar
be stopped and the food to be prepared again. face to one's father, he is from Pitruloka. If
This dog is called Kutama Chandi. He always one feels attracted to some unknown person,
disappears mysteriously. he is certainly related and has come down from
6. Atala Loka this Loka. Inhabitants of Pitruloka come to the
earth as human beings.
Sages and saints with long beards who
are deep in meditation often come from this 10. Matru Loka
sphere. They even walk into the temple with These beings give the same signs of their
half-closed eyes. Only when looking at Lord presence here, but they are from the mother's
Jagannath Himself do their eyes open fully. side of one's family.
7. Bhutala Loka 11. Preta Loka
Those who sweep the temple floors, Those who commit suicide come to this
make garlands for the deities, prepare the wicks Loka after death. This is the region of bad
and lamps, make the earthen pots for the spirits and beings of evil demonic nature. They
kitchen, and fetch the water are often from this come inside the temple, but only to the outer
region. Their duties are not hereditary, but are
portions, not into the inner altar of the deities.
done purely for spiritual pleasure.
They criticise, joke, and make noise or other
8. Loka, this Earth disturbances in spiritual gatherings there. Their
Ordinary people from all parts of this coming is signaled by a bad smell, like that of
visible world come to Jagannath Temple with a dead body.
a vast variety of wishes, both worldly and 12. Bhuta Loka
spiritual. The word Loka means people. Before
birth all came from other Lokas, according to This Loka is similar to Pretaloka, only
previous habits and activities. They wish to go having the confused inhabitants who have taken
to higher Lokas, by dint of their human birth. their lives by consuming poison.
Inside the temple they come under the influence 13. Jaksha Loka
of beings from these other spheres, who are
People in a crowd wearing gorgeous
also present there, whether they are aware of
dresses are often Jakshas in disguise. They
them or not. Actually, the very purpose of
human birth is to pass through all the Lokas have come to this earth for worldly comforts
by degree. It is also told in ancient scriptures and bad motives, such as how to collect money
of India that the gift of human birth is the from those present in the crowd. They wear
greatest boon God gives. In no other Loka can gold ornaments and precious gems to impress
a being progress spiritually. That is why devas others.
and demonic spirits both long to return to earth. 14. Swarga Loka
9. Pitru Loka Swarga means Heaven. Beings from this
These beings are the ancestors from the sphere have this sign. In darkness suddenly
father's side of one's family. They come to the there will be light. Many people present may

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

experience a divine feeling without any visible Baruna, God of the Ocean, Vayu, God of Wind,
reason at all. Not flowers but petals only will Laxmi, Goddess of Wealth, Saraswat i,
be found scattered on the floor afterwards. Goddess of Wisdom.
15. Divya Loka The sign of their presence is complete
When divine beings of this Loka come, tranquility and peace in the midst of a huge
auras of different colours will fill the crowd. It would appear as if nobody at all was
atmosphere. Even in darkness, these can be there. After they go, flowers of different
seen slightly. Some of the temple lamps varieties are usually found scattered on the
(Dipas) may be mysteriously extinguished at floor of the temple.
that time. Beings from Divya Loka do not come
19. Sura Loka
in form, but only as light and auras. There are
other signs, but mortal man can not have Sura means strength, especially the
concrete experiences of them. divine strength of mother. Beings from this
16. Kinnara Loka Loka come to the temple during darshan time,
known as Sahana Mela. They come in a big
When Kinnaras come to the temple, they rush so that the crowd is forcibly pushed aside
come as dancing girls. They may be seen for them to precede to the deities without any
visibly if one's third eye is open. They are eight difficulty.
in number, the Asta Sakhis : Rambha, Urbasi,
Menaka, Tilottama, Manjujosi, Rochika, 20. Vishwa Loka
Mochika and Sundaree. Those who come from Vishwa Loka
They come as Devadasis also, only to think that Lord Jagannath is just like a human
dance before Lord Jagannath before He goes being. The worshippers of the temple who are
to bed. They are decorated in flowers only, no in charge of decorating the deities with flowers,
ornaments. sandal and beautiful dresses and take great
17. Gandharva Loka pleasure in doing such spiritual things are often
from Vishwa Loka. They seem to be worldly,
During devotional singing these beings with homes and family life like ordinary people
are always present, both inside and outside the
but they are born to serve Brahma, the
temple. They sing in chorus spiritual songs
Supreme.
known as Bhajans, meant only for the deities.
If an ordinary person's singing is especially 21. Goloka
sweet one night, or soft sweet music is heard
From Goloka come Sri Krishna himself
in the midst of silence, a Gandharva is present.
and the gopis. Even though there might be a
According to Nada Shastra, there are ten types
big rush inside the temple, everybody will love
of divine sounds that may be heard inwardly,
the two highest being the sound of the flute the gathering. All present will feel attracted
and OM. towards something unseen and smell soothing
fragrances all around. In the crowd there will
18. Deva Loka be more ladies than men. Most significant of
Many gods come to Jagannath Temple all, all will hear a mysterious sweet laughter
to pray every night, such as Indra, God of Rain, in the air.

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

There are other spheres of Lokas also, 1. the Flag by Hanuman from Mahatala
such as : Loka.
1. Shiva Loka - the abode of Shiva 2. the Chariot itself by a being from Bitala
2. Vishnu Loka - the abode of Vishnu Loka.
3. Brahma Loka - the abode of Brahma 3. the Rope by Vasuki from Patala Loka.
4. Asura Loka - the abode of demons 4. the Wheels by Mother Vimala from Sakti
Loka.
5. Yama Loka - the abode of Yama, the
king of death 5. the Entrance by Gatekeepers Jaya and
6. Naga Loka - the abode of snakes Vijaya from Divya Loka.
7. Graha Loka - the abode of planets 6. the devas sorrounding the Chariot being.
A. From Shiva Loka : Shiva comes on Ram, Laxman, Krishna, Nrusingha,
Snana Purnima day to see the Bathing Narayan, Chintamani, Yoga Maya and
Ceremony of Lord Jagannath. He comes Kubera, all from Devaloka.
in disguise of a sage with trisula. 7. The sages all around the chariot being.
B. Lord Vishnu comes to see Dola Festival, Narada, Vyasa, Suka, Parasar, Rudra,
or Colour Day held in the temple during Vashista and Viswamitra, all from
Holi celebrations in the beginning of Pitruloka.
Spring. He comes as any other devotee
but he would have with him big garlands, The chariots of Balabhadra and Subhadra
to be offered to Lord Jagannath. are guarded by many divine beings also.

C. Brahma comes during Chandan Yatra, Aesthetic Experiences


or Spring Festival. He stays for twenty- Some of the most mysterious phenomena
one days. He can be identified with one reported from time to time by the people of
who recites Vedas in front of the deities. Puri, especially the worshippers (Sevakas) of
D. From Asura Loka : Asuras, or beings of Jagannath Temple, are as follows :
demonic physical instincts come at the 1. Not only do people from all over the
time of rice offering, especially at the world come to see Lord Jagannath, but so do
time of mid-day Bhoga. gods and goddesses. It is believed that these
E. Yama; the King of Death: Someone from devas are most fond of seeing the last ceremony
his Loka comes when a dead body is of the day known as Pahuda, in which
found in the premises of the temple. Jagannath retires to bed. This occurs some time
after midnight. Three beautiful beds made of
On Rath Yatra day every year, not only ivory and decorated with the sweetest-smelling
do people come from all over the world, but flowers, especially white jasmine, are brought
also beings from all Lokas and planets. Lord before the deities. Flowers are scattered all over
Jagannath's chariot, known as Nandighosha, is the beds to the sound of devotional music, and
guarded by the following devas : three miniature golden forms representing

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra are laid twenty-two steps leading to the temple. The
down on the beds to sleep. Then arati-the whole night was passing and her heart becomes
offering of a lamp is done, the flowers are very agitated. It was almost morning. The
scattered all around overhead to be collected sevakas were coming fout rom the temple.
by the gods and goddesses as a token of Lord Devas from all corners of the world had come
Jagannath's blessing. So it is also the duty of that night, as was the custom every night to
all the gods and goddesses to be present at the consult with Jagannath, the Lord of the
time of this ceremony every night. Universe. Now they were going out to execute
One day goddess Charchika of the his will. Only Charchika was left standing at
distant village of Banki arrived late to the the gate. If a deva neglects his duty, he may
function. She was excused by Jagannath, who cause harm to others and must be replaced.
excuses all mistakes, but Balabhadra did not The sin of too much pride is almost
excuse her. "Mother, do you think that the irremediable. Just as Charchika was
rituals of this temple should take place remembering this, Balabhadra came back with
according to your convenience ? You have the sad news no t to allow her inside.
become too proud these last few days. Get out! Balabhadra delivered the message of Lord
You cannot come to see the Pahuda Ceremony Jagannath. "A proud deva should not be
any more." admitted. If you wish to redeem yourself,
Charchika was not prepared to take this render service in the home of Bitarachha
insult from Balabhadra and in anger she replied. Mahapatra, the head priest to whose function
"I am not the proud one. You are the one who you came late, and not to me. Bitarachha
is ostentacious, being gorgeously dressed, Mahapatra alone can exonerate you, if he so
bedecked with royal robes, golden ornaments, desires and is pleased with your service."
and sweet-smelling flowers. I have eight hands, Balabhadra explained, "By the practice
but you with no hands think you are doing of virtuous deeds an ordinary man ascends
everything. Who is the proud one ? You please upwards and may eventually attain the status
let me enter so that I may meet my Lord. Why of a demigod. Such a good soul may be
are you ostracizing me for such a little offence ? regarded as equal to god himself, but only
After that Balabhadra became even because of his goodness, not his high position.
angrier and lost his temper. "Your misbehaviour Do you know this, Mother ?" Charchika
to Bitarachha Mohapatra, the chief priest is of replied, "Yes, I have done wrong. I myself will
grave concern. I am ordered by him to prevent take on the task of serving this man Bitarachha
you from entering the temple any more. How Mahapatra, even though I am a goddess of the
can you do and protect your area Banki, even highest order.
with your eight hands with weapons, if you
It is the right punishment for a degraded
have no discipline ?" Charchika replied, "Oh,
then please go and ask him to forgive me ! I goddess. I will be serving a man who is himself
will not have nay peace if I am deprived of the a servant of Lord Jagannath. Let me leave this
Lord's vision. I will be happy again only when place before others come out."
I am redeemed. " Charchika was left standing Disguising herself as a young widow in
there at the bottom of Baishipabachha, the a white saree, Charchika left the temple for

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

the house of Bitarachha Mahapatra. As she They would ask her, "Why did not you
approached, she saw the old man sitting on go to the temple and have darshan of Lord
the front steps. So she quickly covered her face Jagannath ?" When so many people come from
with a sari piece and respectfully stood at some distant places to see Him, you are living nearby
distance. The old man looked up and thought, and do not go ? "Charchika said sadly," It is a
"who is this lady ? I can see only half of her matter of luck, sometimes one is not destined
face, but she looks so young and radiant! I have to meet him. I will visit the Lord whenever he
never seen her in this area before. "Thinking showers his mercy on me."
like this, he called to her. "Mother, have you
One day a huge storm hit Puri with heavy
come to our house or are you looking for
rain. The whole town was enveloped in
someone in this neighbourhood." The soft
darkness. Bitarachha Mahapatra struggled to
motherly appearance of Charchika made
find his way home and finally reached the door,
Bitarachha Mohapatra regard her as a mother.
knocking loudly. Charchika responded
Charchika pleaded, "I pray that you anxiously. "Oh, what a treacherous night to be
accept me in your house as a servant, as I have out! When it fell dark I lit a candle and sat
no other means of survival, father. As I lay flat waiting, expecting you at any moment. That
on the ground before Lord Jagannath, he candle has just now gone out."
himself ordered me to serve here in your
The head priest had come from the
house."
temple and was completely rain drenched. He
The old man was astonished and with handed over the Mahaprasad to Charchika and
tears in his eyes, he answered." This is your went to change his dress. But there were no
own home, you are so like my own mother. A matches to light the candle in his room. Neither
son can never be reluctant to provide shelter to did he bring a candle from the temple, as it
his mother." Thus Charchika become the maid- was raining too heavily.
servant of the head priest Bitarachha
With surprise he asked "How did you
Mahapatra. Gradually she became accustomed
light that candle, when there were no matches
to the household affairs of the family and took
full charge of the puja room herself, cleaning and all the neighbours had already gone to
the brass puja articles, changing the dress of bed ? Can you light another one ?" Charchika
the deities daily and lighting the lamps. So replied, "Yes there is a way. Allow me to light
perfectly did she act out the role of mother the room." She immediately assumed her
that Bitarachha Mohapatra hardly thought of original form. She stretched one of her hands
his own mother, who had just recently died. to the top of the temple where a lamp was
Time passed. Bitarachha's wife was old and burning and with it she lit the priest's candle.
ailing and so she was very pleased with On seeing this divine vision, Mahapatra
Charchika's help and go od manners. almost felt senseless. He could not believe his
Sometimes people wondered about Charchika, eyes. How could this maid servant assume such
"who is she ? Where did she come from ?" a divine miraculous form ? And so vast and
Sometimes Charchika would be overcome with glorious it was. The whole town of Puri could
feeling when there was talk of Lord Jagannath, be accommodated within the space between
what was the reason for this ? her feet. A deep sense of awe and wonder

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

overcame him. Charchika came back to her priest, Bitarachha Mahapatra, she asked him
normal form in a moment's time, and the room what he wanted. He answered that he had no
was lighted. Mahapatra felt as if his eyes had demand for any worldly things, but only
betrayed him and he was going mad. wanted to see her again. She said, "Go to your
"Do not worry, father," Charchika said. puja room," and then vanished. He went there
Bitarachha Mahapatra told her, pleading, "Oh and saw emerging from the floor a framed
Mother! Please reveal your real identity. I will stone image of the devi herself .
not leave your feet until you do so." Such rare Even today, some six centuries later, this
display of God's divine grace thrilled the priest holy image is there and puja is still being done
through and through. His body became numb. to it daily by the descendants of Bitarachha
So Charchika disclosed everything to him, Mohapatra, the head priest of Jagannath
especially the reasons why she was cast out of
Temple.
the temple.
2. By head priest Pattajoshi Mahapatra,
Mahapatra exclaimed, "Oh Mother,
in the year 1810.
please go back to your original abode. I will
obtain due permission from the Lord for your Vibhisana was one of the brothers of the
reinstatement." With such assurance of demon king Ravana in Lanka during Tretaya
Mahapatra, Charchika disappeared from Yuga. Yet he took shelter at the feet of Lord
Bitarachha's house. It was after midnight and Rama. After the death of Ravana, he was made
the rain had stopped. It was as if everything king of Lanka. He always felt that Rama was
had occurred in accordance with God's plan. the Supreme Lord, and it is believed by the
Charchika once again approached the people of Puri that he comes every day to Lord
main gate of the temple and Balabhadra offered Jagannath, feeling that He is Sri Rama Himself.
her a welcome smile. Because of this, Like all the devas, Vibhisana comes to see and
Charchika realised that one can not retain even enjoy the last ritual at midnight, known as
his position as a demigod if he does not fulfill Pahuda Arati.
his assigned duties and commitments for the
It was in the year 1810, when there was
upliftment of the world, for these are the duties
no electricity and the town was dark at night.
of the demigods. Lord Jagannath ordered, "I
When returning home through the horse gate
am now very happy with you. I will assign
you an additional responsibility, that of caring of the temple, head priest Pattajoshi Mahapatra
for my own car during Ratha Yatra, the great felt somebody walking beside him. The person
Festival of Chariots. Even though the regular was not visible owing to the darkness, but he
Sevakas are there to look after Nandighosa, was so huge, it seemed his head was touching
you will be its deva." the sky. Pattajoshi Mahapatra was totally
overwhelmed. Out of fear, he questioned,
Charchika was silent and only nodded
"Who are you, Sir ?" The answer was, "I am
her head affectionately, then left. It was already
Vibhisana from outer space. I come here daily
morning and Bitarachha Mahapatra appeared
to see the last ritual of Lord Jagannath."
before the deities to offer his regular service.
This event occurred in the year 1368. Before Still the head priest doubted him. He
Goddess Charchika left the house of the head asked again, "Please give me some proof that

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

you are from the outer space !" So Vibhisana to return to his house at 2 A.M. after attending
gave him the huge golden armlet he was the last Pahuda Ceremony of the temple. It was
wearing and vanished. Even now, almost 200 his daily habit to bring from the temple used
years later, this ornament given by Vibhisana flowers and garlands. These he would later
of Devaloka is worshipped in the residence of offer t o lo cal deit ies such as Mothers
Pattajoshi Mahapatra's family. It may be seen Dakshinakali, Shyamakali and Baseli. On his
and verified. The ornament is the size of a way home, he would throw petal to the smaller
wheel of a bullock cart. It could never have temples as he passed by.
been used by a human being. However, one night he forgot to offer
3. By a Mekap worshipper in the temple, any to Shani Temple, the temple of planet
in the year 1890. Saturn. Suddenly he felt someone following
him in the darkness. Dogs also barked and
The Mekap worshipper in Jagannath sensing the presence of some being Khuntia
Temple is in charge of the deities' dresses and looked back. He saw only the head of someone,
the store room known as Ratna Bhandar. Inside but not clearly visible. As if in a humble way,
this sealed room are kept costly pearls, the voice requested, "Just a leaf of the garland
diamonds, emeralds, golden necklaces and used by Him, I am Shani ! (the god of planet
many other precious ornaments used to Saturn).
decorate the deities during Suna Vesha or
He vanished at high speed when only a
Golden Decoration. The deity in charge of this
leaf from the garland was presented to him.
store room is Loknath, who is a form of Lord
Khuntia stood dead still and speechless. Later
Shiva Himself. It is told that anyone who is on when he told his friends of this event, they
greedy and tries to steal any ornaments from said, "Khuntia, you are saved ! He would have
here will one day suffer from leprosy and caused you many difficulties had he not been
everybody in his family will also die. obliged. He is the planet Shani, who comes to
This actually happened once, in 1890. Lord Jagannath, but usually in the disguise of
One Biswanath Mekap stole from the store a lame man or a one-eyed person or someone
room some ornaments, thinking nothing would with a deformed body. You were lucky to meet
happen. In his dream that night, two cobras him, but still we hope you will not meet him
entered his bedroom and he was bitten. His again !"
wife heard someone saying in a loud voice, " 5. By a decoit (thief) from Bihar State, in
We have been sent from Nagaloka by Lokanath the year 1910.
Shiva to punish him."
A thief from the state of Bihar wanted to
Biswanath Mekap died of snake bite and steal the costly Chitta, which Lord Jagannath
all his family members died prematurely and wears everyday over his third eye. The present
he was left heirless. value of this rare gold ornament studded with
priceless gems would be millions of rupees.
4. By Padmanav Khuntia, a worshipper of
This thief was known as Bihari Daku. He went
Jagannath Temple, in the year 1902.
to the temple daily to learn every detail about
Padmanav Khuntia was a very humble the timings of the rituals, as the deities were
sincere worshipper of Lord Jagannath. He used guarded closely. Finally he came to know that

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

after Pahuda, the last ritual of the day, nobody worshippers in the present day. He did not have
is allowed inside the temple. So he made a any educational degrees or diplomas but he
plan. Wearing a black cloth, he hide himself had profound knowledge of the ancient epics
inside the temple one night, just behind the of India. Many people coming from different
sealed doors of the inner sanctum. He was with parts of India revered him as their spiritual
the divine trinity, but with evil motive. After guide. He only ate Mahaprasad, the rice meal
all left, he stealthily climbed the altar where offered to Lord Jagannath. One day for some
Lord Jagannath is worshipped. When he was reason his sons did not bring it from the temple.
about to take off the divine Chitta from the Even though he had not taken any food all day,
forehead of Lord Jagannath, he felt as if bitten he never revealed his hunger. Only his wife
by a thousand snakes ! knew. As she looked sad, Singhari consoled
The next morning worshippers and many her, "He will give, He will send !" But at
other pilgrims saw Bihari Daku lying dead on midnight who would give ? All slept, his wife
the temple floor, surrounded by five cobras, also.
who were also dead. The most aged worshipper After sometime there was a soft knock
present there said, "From Patala or Naga Loka at the door. On opening the door, the old man
devas come up as snakes to guard the deities found a banana leaf in which there were seven
while asleep. types of temple cakes ! Nobody was there. The
6. By Hazuri Balabhadra, grand son of the next morning when he narrated this happening,
great hero and worshipper of Lord nobody believed him. All day long this miracle
Jagannath, Chakhi Khuntia, in the year of Lord Jagannath was very much in mind. The
1940. next night a voice told Singhari in a dream,
"Did you eat everything that was given ?"
"I was standing on the roof of my house
where the temple is more visible," reports 8. By Harihar Guru, who was one of the
Hazuri Balabhadra. It was 5 A.M. I have greatest worshippers of Jagannath Temple.
forgotten the date, but the month was July. I He was called Prakruta Panda, a real
saw strange rays of light coming from the worshipper; for the help he rendered to all.
Chakra on top of the temple, like a clear line This event occured in 1969.
of brilliant light leaving the temple at high Harihar Guru lived in recent times but
speed. This lasted for more than 10 minutes. he was one of the most honest, simple and
Out of great curiousity, I asked my sincere worshipper ever to serve Lord
father, He replied, 'You are very lucky. Only Jagannath. In spite of his limited income, it
you saw the vehicle of some other devas was his habit to help poor people. In fact, he
coming to Lord Jagannath.' "I am thrilled even became poor himself, helping others.
now when I tell you this !" This story was told
He used to come daily to the temple at
to the father of this writer in the year 1940.
4 A.M. by t he west gate, known as
7. By Jayaram Singhari, a worshipper of Byaghradwar or "Tiger's Gate". One morning
Jagannath Temple, in the year 1963. he saw three beautiful ladies also going through
Jayaram Singhari was considered one of the same gate. They had a divine fragrance
the most learned men in the society of around them and were nicely dressed,

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

decorated with flowers but no ornaments. Their mood. As the master of the universe leaves
faces were veiled. It was raining heavily at that His body, all cry, out of deep sadness.
moment, but Guru could not see them wet, even In the early morning hours of the next
though he was completely drenched and day, people found the dead body of Ray. This
shivering from the cold. The three ladies happened in the year 1969. The notes he had
seemed to be going inside as if there were no written of what he had seen was found beside
downpour. Their saris were dry and there was the body.
no sign of their foot prints on the earth.
10. By worshipper Harihar Khuntia, the
Seeing all of this, Guru approached them father of the writer, in the year 1970.
to ask who they were. They simply vanished !
Harihar Khuntia lived to the robust old
Only the sound of soft laughter was heard.
age of 97. He was the spiritual teacher of
When he narrated this episode to his friends,
pilgrims coming from Calcutta (Kolkata).
he was told that the ladies were divine beings
When at Puri he would spent most of his time
from Kinnara Loka.
inside the temple, sometimes sixteen hours a
9. By Krishna Chandra Ray; an Oriya man day. When in Calcutta, he would spend most
from Khurda District, in the year 1969. of his time discussing how Lord Jagannath is
Koili Vaikuntha is the place where old worshipped by all, even by the gods and
deities are buried during Nabakalebara Yatra, goddesses. He was answering to all their
or the great festival of Metamorphosis in which querries. One day there was a very sceptical
man sitting next to him. He putting all sort of
the deities are changed and new ones made.
odd questions to him.
This occurs only after a gap of atleast twelve
years. Dayitapatis, who are considered to be One do ubtful man from Bolpur
the kith and kins of Lord Jagannath, carry the questioned him, 'Is our Kali of Kalighat Lord
old deities out, just like dead bodies. Nobody Jagannath ?' The reply was spontaneous, "You
except them can see this procession. It is said take these flowers I have taken from Lord
that if anyone else sees this event, he will die Jagannath and give it to the goddess Kali ! You
immediately. will see Him in Her. Actually it was done and
the next morning he came running and
Krishna Chandra Ray from Khurda
shouting, "I have seen Him, I have seen Him !"
district considered this to be an act of blind
belief, a silly superstition. So on this special 11. By worshipperJairam Singhari, in the
day he hide himself inside the temple at year 1972.
midnight. When the Dayitas carried the old After Pahuda, the last ceremony of the
deities to Koili Vaikuntha, he saw it all from day, no one is allowed to be inside the temple.
the branch of a tree. The Dayitas returned after Many divine beings come to attend the Lord
burying the deities. The whole atmosphere was at this hour. In the year 1972, Jairam Singhari,
dark and frightening. Ray heard the sobbing a worshipper, who was decorating the deity
of ladies. He saw rays of different colours, but daily, narrated about this occurrence. He saw
nobody was there. It had been told that beings two ladies mysteriously entering the west gate
of other Lokas come in the most sorrowful of the temple after the doors were sealed in

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

the night. They were quietly talking to each worshipper will be reprimanded by the deities
other. From their talk, Singhari overheard that themselves. Some sign of disapproval or some
the name of one was Manjujosha. Later he read bad things must happen. The priests who are
in a reference book called Amar Kosha that the direct worshippers of the deities do not feel
she is one of the eight dancing girls of Kinnara that the images are lifeless wood. Rather they
Loka, a space beyond this earth. are much more vibrant with life force than man,
as they (the deities) do not belong to this world,
12. By worshipper Laxman Mudali in the but other higher spheres where energy is
year 1985. stronger.
On the alter of Ratna Singhasana of the Once a worshipper forgot to do puja to
temple, seven gods and goddesses are Neela Madhava when he was serving the five
worshipped. They all come from spheres deities. When he returned home, he came to
beyond this world. know that his wife has gone mad. She was
Name of Deities Sphere Belonging To found repeat ing only the name "Neela
Madhava, Neela Madhava," over and over
1. Lord Jagannath Vishnu Loka or Golaka, the
abode of Srikrishna.
again. After three days the worshipper realised
the fault he had committed. As ordered in a
2. Lord Balabhadra Shiva Loka, where Lord Shiva dream, he held a yagna or holy fire ceremony.
resides.
Only after that was performed his wife was
3. Lord Sudarshan Swarga Loka or Heaven, the cured of madness. As soon as she regained her
abodes of divine beings. senses, she asked, "Did you forget Neela
4. Lord Neela Kinnara Loka, or abode of Madhava on that day I went mad ?
Madhava divine dancers. According to the
palm leaf script, Indira 13. By Ganesh Mishra, in his book "Santha
Nilamani Tattwa, Neela Mala", about a happening in the 18th
Madhava is a dancing deity. century.
5. Goddess Subhadra Sura Loka-All Suras derive There was a very poor Brahmin whose
strength from Divine Mother. habit was to recite the Bhagavat Geeta to the
6. Goddess Lakshmi Deva Loka -the abode of divine people who would be interested to listen to it.
beings with only divin e His wife was very much annoyed as she was
qualities. without meals often. The husband would say,
7. Goddess Saraswati Bhu Loka, or the Earth. "I have Lord Jagannath to help" But where is
(Or Bhudevi) One of the names of Saraswati He ? One day she was totally upset. Her
is Bhudevi, as she is made of husband was away teaching the essence of
clay for Saraswati Puja every Geeta to the people. In fact his wife was dying
year. of hunger.
The worshippers known as Puja Pandas She saw a black man carrying rice,
perform puja to them daily. These are Puja vegetables and milk shouting, "Where is Geeta
Pandas, one for Lord Balabhadra, one for Panda's house ?" The wife, as her name was
Goddess Subhadra, and one for Lord Jagannath Geeta Panda, came out trembling. The young
and the other four deities. If there is any mistake man told her, "Kindly accept all these offered
in the recitation of slokas or in the text, the by one of your friends."

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

"No please stay a little longer, you can compelled him to go to the house of the friend
eat. My husband will be coming now." "No, I whosoever he was. He under took his journey
have many works, I can not stay." to Puri. It was night already. Their two little
When the brahmin was told about all sons were crying for food. They came just near
these by his wife, he became almost senseless. the temple. Bandhu Mohanty consoled his wife
With weak voice, he said "You, poor lady, you saying. "My friend's palace is too big. He is
saw Him, yo u are so lucky' Oh Lord very rich but it is not right to enter his house
Jagannath !" now as it is night. We will go tomorrow."

14. By Ganesh Mishra, in his book "Santha All slept, being weak, hungry, tired and
Mala", about a happening on July 7- 1902. sad. But his wife did not sleep.

Dasia Bauri from Dandamukundapur, in Suddenly, on a golden tray many kinds


the district of Puri, Orissa took a coconut to of food were brought by a robust man whose
be offered to Lord Jagannath through the priests colour was very black. He left the place very
of the temple. But they out of mockery did not quickly. She fed her sons and when Bandhu
accept the fruit. Dasia was extremely sad, Mohanty was awake from his sleep, he was
cursing the heritage of the worshippers. thunder-struck, hearing everything from his
wife.
Out of pure devotion he stretched his
hands and prayed,"Oh Lord, kindly accept this But the golden plate was missing from
coconut". He was standing outside at the Lion's the temple and found with them. This made a
Gate of the temple. People saw two hands great noise in the small town. The police
emerge from within the temple to take the arrested all the family members and they were
coconut from Dasia. It was He who blessed produced in the court before the king for severe
Dasia in the presence of many. punishment the next day.

15. Recorded in Madala Panji, the temple The king dreamt that very night of Lord
record book in 1818. Jagannath. As if giving order, the Lord said to
him, "Oh King ! When guests come to you, do
This is another true story of a devotee you not entertain them ? So release Bandhu
named Bandhu Mohanty of Jajpur to prove how Mohanty at once; he is my devotee." It was
Lord Jagannath descends from His throne to done, and he was given service as a cook in
help His devotees. the temple.
Bandhu Mohanty was very poor and as Even now, descendents of Bandhu
such he had no support to maintain his family, Mohanty are the main cooks in the kitchen of
consisting of his wife and two sons. His wife the temple and they daily offer food to Lord
asked him out of agony one day that why he Jagannath on a golden Tray.
was not going to his rich friend of whom he
was so proud. The friend about whom Bandhu 16. By Godavari Pujapanda on April 2,
Mohanty mentioned was Lord Jagannath, but 1890.
his wife did not realise the essence of what her A Puja Panda worshipper is one who
husband was saying all the time. So his wife does puja and offers food to the deity. While

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Orissa Review * June - 2006

doing so, in the course of offering, he hold in the temple. I went to eat food prepared by
water in his palm. A priest cannot sanctify the Vedamata with love and loyalty. How can there
offering unless the deity is reflected in the water be any reflection if I am away from my
which he holds. devotee. Now I am in the temple, so offer the
Once it happened that no reflection was food."
seen for some unknown reason. This disturbed Immediately, t he Puja Panda was
all. Nobody, not even the king knew why the informed about the dream of the king, and
deities were angry. Was the Puja Panda everything went well again.
insincere ? Was the food not cooked with
purity ? Not knowing what to do the
worshippers remained sitting on the altar where
Lord Jagannath is seated. The king was
determined not to touch water until he could
know the cause. He dreamt as if Lord Somanath Khuntia lives at Manikarnika Sahi, Hazari
Jagannath was telling him, 'Oh king, I was not Lane, Puri - 752001.

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