Category Archives: Leela – Spiritual pastimes

Jagannath Puri temple history (Part 3) – Appearance of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva & Subhadra

jagannath puri

In the previous article, we explained how Lord Neela Madhava disappeared from the general view being totally covered under the sand. We also came to understand how King Indradyumna was pacified learning that the Supreme Lord Vishnu would soon manifest Himself in the form of Daru-Brahma. Request you to browse through the earlier article for a detailed description of these mysterious events surrounding Jagannath Puri dham. This article is a humble attempt to present the subsequent developments.

#1 Narada Muni instructed King Indradyumna to install the deity of Lord Narasimha deva that was uncovered from under the Aguru tree. King Indradyumna did likewise. Sughata, the son of Viswakarma (the celestial architect ), created a beautiful temple within four days. Lord Narasimha deva was installed in that temple as per the directions of Narada. Deities of Bhu-devi and Lakshmidevi were also installed along with Narasimha deva.

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Indradyumna Sarovar, Jagannath puri

indradyumna sarovar

Millions of years ago during Satya-yuga, King Indradyumna had performed ashvamedha-yajna (horse sacrifice) here at Indradyumna Sarovar. At that time he honored the assembled Brahmins by donating thousands of cows. While all those cows were standing here, their hooves made a deep depression upon the earth; creating a large lake. This Lake subsequently became filled with water and cow urine. Since then it has become a tirtha, a purifying place of pilgrimage. Skanda Purana says that this is the best of all tirthas. Chandana Yatra and Sitala-sthali festival are pompously celebrated here. There are 3 main temples here: Indradyumna Maharaja’s temple on the left side near the tank, a large Saksi Gopala temple on right side and Nilakantesvara Mahadeva Shiva temple mid-way down the stairs leading to Indradyumna sarovar.

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Narendra Sarovar, Jagannath Puri

narendra sarovar

Narendra Sarovar is a large water body (873 feet long and 743 feet wide) located to the northeast of Jagannath temple in Puri, next to the Jagannath Vallabha garden. This pond is also known as ‘Chandan Pukur’ because the Chandan-yatra of Lord Jagannath takes place here. Narendra Sarovar is said to have been founded by King Bhanu Narasingha deva of Ganga dynasty. It was named after his mentor Nakhaposi Narendra Mahapatra. The representative deities of Lord Jagannath come here every evening for 21 consecutive days during His Chandan-yatra, starting from Akshaya-Tritiya (in the month of Vaisakha or April/May) up to Suklastami-tithi in May/June (Jaistha) to enjoy His boating pastimes (Nauka Leela). The boat ride on this serene lake helps relieve the intense summer heat and provide the Lordships with some comfort.

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Gangamata Math – Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya’s House, Jagannath Puri

gangamata sarvabhauma

Gangamata Math is situated to the south of the Jagannath temple on the bank of the Sweta Ganga tank in Jagannath Puri. This was previously the residence of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. The initial encounter between Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has been described by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in the sixth chapter of ‘Amrita Pravaha bhasya’.

The deliverence of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya

On entering the temple of Jagannatha, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu immediately fainted. Seeing this, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya took Him to his residence. Meanwhile, Gopinath Acarya, brother-in-law of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, met Mukunda Datta and spoke to him about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sannyasa and His journey from Bengal to Jagannatha Puri. After listening about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s fainting and Him being carried to the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, people swarmed to catch a glimpse of the Lord. Nityananda Prabhu and other devotees visited the Jagannatha temple, and when they returned to the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had regained His external consciousness. Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya welcomed everyone and distributed Jagannath Maha-prasadam with great care. The Bhattacharya then became acquainted with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and arranged for His accommodations at his aunt’s house. His brother-in-law, Gopinath Acarya, proved that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was Krishna Himself, but Sarvabhauma and his many disciples could not accept this. However, Gopinath Acarya convinced Sarvabhauma that no one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead without being favored by Him. Gopinath established through scriptural references that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was none other than Krishna. Yet, Sarvabhauma did not take these words very seriously.

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Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s bhajan Kutir, Jagannath Puri – Iskcon Bhakti kuti

bhaktivinoda thakura's house bhakti kuti

Iskcon Bhakti Kuti is situated beside the sea, near Haridas Thakura’s samadhi, in the well-known area of Swargadwar, in Jagannath Puri. ‘Bhakti Kuti’ is the original name that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur gave to his bhajana Kutira. This is the same area where the sapta-rishis (seven celestial sages) had performed severe austerities and hari-bhajana millions of years ago. The place is now administered by Iskcon who have founded a beautiful temple at the site. Radha Giridhari jiu and an enchanting deity of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bless all who visit this sacred place. A pure Sattvik restaurant is now located on the ground floor of the temple premises. Deities of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur grace the simhasana in the temple hall.

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Birthplace of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Jagannath Puri

birthplace of bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati thakur

On the 6th of February 1874 AD at 3.30 pm, Bimala prasad Datta (later renowned as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura) appeared in this world, at a place not very far from the Jagannatha temple in Puri. He was the fourth son of Bhaktivinoda Thakura (Kedarnath Dutta) and Srimati Bhagavati Devi. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, an exalted Vaishnava acharya, was then posted as the regional governor. He was also in charge of the administration of the Jagannath Puri temple. Sri Bimala Prasad Datta exhibited thirty-two bodily symptoms of a great personality, at the time of his birth. He was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck like a Brahmin’s thread, perhaps a sign of his glorious mission. Analyzing his horoscope, a renowned astrologer commented, ‘I have done many horoscopes in my life, but never before have I witnessed a horoscope filled with all the signs of a great personality. This child shall become world-famous as a brilliant teacher of life’s ultimate goal’.

When Bimala Prasada was just six months old, Lord Jagannatha’s Rathayatra cart had halted in front of Srila Bhaktivinoda’s house in Puri for three continuous days. It could not be moved. The cart began moving only after little Bimala was brought before Lord Jagannath. As soon as Bimala came out, a garland fell off from the Lord’s neck and wrapped the child. This was taken as a sign of special favor by the Lord. The child’s grain ceremony was observed on the cart and it was done with Jagannath Maha-Prasad. 

Bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati Thakura

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Chataka Parvata, Jagannath Puri : Non-different to Giri Govardhan

chataka parvata puri

The Chataka Parvata is a sand dune located near the temple of Tota Gopinath, in the Gourbatsahi area of Jagannath Puri. After His sannyasa, Sri Chaitanya had shifted to Jagannath Puri from Bengal about 500 years ago. On one occasion, while He was going to take a bath in the sea, He mistook this sand dune to be Giri Govardhan of Vrindavan, the sacred hill renowned for Krishna’s pastimes. Crying out the following verse which was originally recited by the Gopis, He rushed towards the Chataka Parvata –

hantayam adrir abala hari dasa varyo
yad rama Krishna charana sparasa pramodah
manam tanoti saha go ganayos tayor yat
paniya suyavasa kandara kanda mulaih
(Srimad Bhagavatam 10.21.18)

(The Gopis of Vrindavan exclaimed) Of all the servants of the Lord, this Govardhana Hill is the best! O my friends, this hill supplies Krishna and Balarama, as well as their calves, cows, and cowherd friends, with all kinds of necessities including drinking water, soft grass, caves, fruits, flowers, and vegetables. In this way, the hill offers its respect to the Supreme Lord. Being touched by the lotus feet of Krishna and Balarama, Giri Govardhana appears very jubilant.

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Gambhira, Jagannath Puri – Residence of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

gambhira jagannath puri chaitanya

Gambhira is the house of Kasi Misra where Lord Chaitanya resided for the last twelve years of His manifested pastime. Gambhira is situated at Balisahi, to the southeast of Jagannath temple in Puri. The place has also come to be referred to as the ‘Radha Kanta Math’ because ‘Radha Kanta’, a beautiful deity of Sri Krishna, is also worshiped at this place. After accepting His sannyasa, Lord Chaitanya shifted from Bengal to Jagannath Puri. He initially stayed at the residence of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. But later, after He returned from His tour of South India, He accepted the Gambhira, the house of Kasi Misra, as His residence. It is described in Chaitanya Charitamrita, how the house of Kasi Misra became the residence for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya requested the King for a nice, peaceful and solitary place for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that would also not be far from the Jagannath temple, King Pratap Rudra deva considered and replied that Kasi Misra’s house would be the ideal place for the Lord’s stay.

raja kahe – aiche kasi misrera bhavana
thakurera nikata, haya parama nirjana
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 10.21)

The King replied, ‘Kasi Mira’s house is exactly what you require. It is adjacent to the Jagannath temple and also secluded, quiet, and serene’.

When Kasi Misra heard of the King’s desire, he considered himself to be very fortunate and was thrilled that Lord Chaitanya, the master of all devotees, would reside at his home. Lord Chaitanya was very pleased to see the residential quarters of Gambhira, in which all His necessities were taken care of. When Kasi Misra fell at the lotus feet of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and surrendered himself, Lord Chaitanya embraced him and revealed to him His four-armed form.

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Jagannath Puri temple history (Part 2) – Neela Madhava disappears

jagannath

In the previous article, we described how in Satya Yuga, King Indradyumna, ruler of Malav, was apprised of the glories of Purusottama Kshetra (Jagannath Puri) by an exalted saint who had previously visited the holy dham on pilgrimage. King Indradyumna had then sent Vidyapati, brother of the royal priest, in search of Sri Neela Madhava. After traveling for days, Vidyapati arrived at the Nilgiri hills where he met with an exalted Vaishnava named Biswabasu. Biswabasu showed him around the place and with his help, Vidyapati finally attained the darsana of Lord Neela Madhava. Request you to browse through the earlier article for a detailed description of these mysterious events. This article is a humble attempt to present the subsequent developments.

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Jagannath Puri temple history (Part 1) – King Indradyumna searches for Neela Madhava

jagannath puri temple history

#1 In Satya Yuga, there was a King named Indradyumna who ruled over a Kingdom identified as Malav. He was of exemplary character and a great devotee of Vishnu, the Supreme Lord. He belonged to the same lineage as Lord Brahma and was his twenty-fifth descendant.

#2 King Indradyumna once asked his royal priest if there was any holy place in this world where he could behold the Supreme Lord with his own eyes. 

#3 The temple priest then summoned numerous people who had undertaken extensive pilgrimages to holy places. He placed before them the same question that the king had asked him the other day. One of the pilgrims exclaimed that he indeed knew of a place where one could behold the Supreme Lord. 

#4 Alluding to the present Indian state of Orissa, the pilgrim described that towards the south of this state, on the shores of the ocean, existed Sri Purusottama kshetra (the land of Purusottama – the Supreme Lord). Within Purusottama Kshetra lies a mountain named ‘Nilgiri’ and it is encircled with dense forests on all sides. On the top of this mountain, exists a giant banyan tree that is sometimes also referred to as ‘Kalpa-vata’. To the west of this place, is a beautiful lake called ‘Rohini-Kunda’ whose blessed waters grant liberation to whoever touches it. To the east of the Nilgiri mountains, Lord Vasudeva is worshiped in His enchanting deity form (Neela Madhava) that is embellished with blue gems. The blue Deity is exceedingly effulgent and beautiful. Anyone who bathes at Rohini Kunda and then beholds this beautiful deity achieves freedom from this material world. Towards the west of this deity lies an ashram called ‘Sabara Deepak’.

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