Lord Jagannath in Mayapur
BY: SUN STAFF
[Photo by Vrindavan Lila devi]
May 19, BHUBANESWAR, ORISSA (SUN) The story of the Mayapur Lord Jagannatha Deities.
Here is the story of the Deities of Lord Jagannath in Mayapur Dhama, as told by Professor Rajkishore Mishra of Bhubaneswar, Orissa: "There is a beautiful temple at Mayapur in the Nadia district of Bengal where the images of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are enshrined. The temple complex was under the private ownership of one Sphatik Chatterjee who died in 1987.
Mr. Chatterjee had seven daughters. The youngest one was Gauri. She was once playing under a big banyan tree near her house. Just beneath the tree there was a big ant-hill. Gauri, hardly five-years-old, while playing there used to hear a voice which was asking her for food and water. The little lass was baffled. When it continued repeatedly, she had to tell it to her father.
Her father, Sphatik Chatterjee, in consultation with some old inhabitants of the Srimant Dwip, came to know about Lord Jagannath's secret sojourn in a hide-out somewhere there during the attack of Raktavahu. The sabaras brought Lord Jagannath to Nadia-Navadwip and had probably deposed him there, in a place by now hidden under an anthill.
Mr. Chatterjee also heard another anecdote about an old devotee, Jagadish Ganguly of Rajapur in Mayapur. Sri Ganguly was contemporaneous to Sri Chaitanya. He used to visit Puri during the Car Festival every year and feel happy in the company of Sri Chaitanya there. It may be mentioned here that Sri Chaitanya had spent almost eighteen years in Puri between 1509 and 1533 A.D.
Sri Ganguly became old and infirm. He became blind and "because of that he was deprived of having the good fortune to take part in the Lord's Chariot Festival in Sri Jagannath-Puri to have the association of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who was living there at that time. Blaming his own misfortune he cried very ardently and decided to give up his life."
An ardent devotee's sincere prayer never goes unheard. Sri Jagannath in Puri became concerned. "That night he appeared in the dream of Jagadish Ganguly to console him. He assured him that He would manifest his Deity to accept his service. He told him - "Tomorrow early in the morning while you will be taking bath in the Ganges, a big log will come floating and touch your body. Then you should take that log to a leper carpenter who lives in a nearby, and get my deity carved by him and install it. You should worship that deity considering him non-different from the master of the Nilachal Dham."
Lo! next morning when Jagadish was taking bath in the Ganges, he could feel something was touching him frequently in the water. He was blind, but remembering the previous night's dream, he managed to have a grip over the floating piece of wood. It was daru, the sacred Log. He felt terribly excited. Then Sri Ganguly made a serious search for a carpenter infested with leprosy in the near-by village. Fortunately, in the present Baun Pukur Bazar at Mayapur he could trace a middle-aged carpenter, who was seriously afflicted with leprosy.
At the strange request of Ganguly the carpenter hesitated in the beginning. His hands were crippled. Besides, he felt that a leper should refrain himself from carving a divine image. Ganguly persuaded him to fulfill the divine ordeal. The leper finally agreed and painfully started his work. It was causing him excruciating pain. The blind devotee was giving him company while the carving was in progress. He used to guide the carpenter from his own reminiscences as to what the trinity would look like.
With the gradual progress of the work, Jagadish Ganguly and the leper-carpenter were slowly recovering from loss of vision and leprosy respectively. Finally the images took shape and were installed.
It is said Sphatik Chatterjee could retrieve these images from underneath the banyan tree of his garden. He used to worship them and around eight years before his death, he transferred the deities to the care of ISKCON in 1979.
There is a long pavilion before the Jagannath Temple of Mayapuri. It contains a number of small chambers. In seven adjacent chambers, the entire story of Jagadish Ganguly, the leper-carpenter, the carving of images, the appearance of the Deities, the six-armed manifestation of Sri Chaitanya are carved with English sub-titles.
The Jagannath consciousness was not confined to the populace of any particular geographical region. It has equal bearing on all sorts of people irrespective of caste, creed or community. The above-mentioned story is one of the illuminations of an ardent soul that craves for a universal experience with the Divine.
The story of a floating daru in the Ganges also reminds us of a Telugu chronicle which narrates the floating of a four-branched tree which came floating from the Dwarka seashore across the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal, where it was retrieved by Indradyumna. Similarly, a dream episode was interspersed in the narrative.
Following is another version of the story of Lord Jagannath's arrival in Mayapur with some additional details, from Salagram.net:
Five hundred years ago, at the time of Lord Caitanya, there lived a very wonderful devotee named Jagadish Ganguli. His residence was in a small village near Mayapur. Although he was advanced in age, still yearly he would make the 900 km journey to Jagannath Puri on foot to associate with his mentor Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, take darshan of his beloved Lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra Devi and participate in the all-auspicious Ratha Yatra festival. One day, less than a month before his scheduled departure for Puri, Jagadish’s plans were foiled. He was stricken with a terrible disease that left him completely blind.
Optimistic and buoyant by nature, this did not dampen his desire to make the yearly padayatra to Puri. He would no longer be able to see the divine, all-merciful forms of Lord Caitanya and Lord Jagannatha, that was for sure. But still he could relish the sound of sweet kirtan and discourses given by exalted Vaisnavas. His friends and associates were not so keen for him to travel. They considered the annual pilgrimage too long and dangerous for a blind man and refused to take him with them. They left without him. This broke the heart of Jagadish. His existence became a constant lamentation and despondency. Somehow he passed his days, calling out for the all-merciful Jagannath to be merciful to him.
Then one night Lord Jagannatha appeared to his devotee in a dream. The Lord told him that on the following day when he went for his daily bath in the Ganges, a log would touch his head and restore his vision. The Lord instructed Jagadish to take that log to a nearby village and request a certain devotee carpenter there to carve a Deity of Lord Jagannatha. The Lord also explained that at first the carpenter would refuse to do the work because he was a leper and his hands were very deformed. It was Jagadish’s task to convince him to do the service. The Lord assured him that when the carpenter had completed the Deity his leprosy would be cured.
At the break of dawn Jagadish woke from his dream and marveled at it. Eagerly he readied himself for his daily bath. He paid his obeisances to Mother Ganges and then entered her sacred waters. Lord Jagannatha’s words were quickly proven true. A log touched his head and promptly restored his vision. Enlivened by the Lord’s shower of mercy, he took the log and quickly proceeded towards the nearby village. After many hours an exhausted Jagadish found the leper-carpenter who flatly refused to carve the Deity.
He showed his deformed fingers and asked his expectant customer, “How is it possible for me to carve the Divine form of the Lord with these hands?” an intense exchange followed, each devotee speaking his mind. Finally the leper agreed to carve Lord Jagannatha.
Jagadish lived with the devotee leper carpenter while he was carving his Lord. He saw him suffering terribly. Blood and pus oozed from the stumps that were once his fingers and his face was distorted by pain. He wanted to stop this torturous work. Somehow or other Jagadish managed to convince him to continue and constantly spoke to him the pastimes of his beloved Lord Jagannatha to distract his mind from the pain. Finally the Deity was completed and to his amazement, the devotee-leper was cured of his leprosy.
In great pomp and celebration, Lord Jagannath was carried to the site of the present temple and His worship was established there. A few nights later Jagadish had another dream. This time Lord Jagannath instructed him to take some nearby neem wood and request the same carpenter to make the Deities of Lady Subhadra and Lord Baladeva.
The devotee carpenter was delighted to offer his service and very soon Their Lordships were installed with great love and attention by their trusted devotee. But then, one fated day Jagadish left his mortal world. His beloved Deities were neglected. Indeed, Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra Devi and Lord Balarama were completely forgotten and over a time Their Temple deteriorated and collapsed around Them.
Some centuries later, a local villager noticed a unique, beautiful blue flower growing on top of a termite hill. Curious, he ventured closer and was amazed to hear a voice calling, “Please, please give Me some water”. Quickly he began digging, eager to search out the owner of the voice that instructed and intrigued him. To his utter surprise he unearthed the beautiful Transcendental Trio - Lord Jagannatha, Lady Subhadra and Lord Baladeva! He was further astonished to see that although the Deities had been residing in the middle of a termite hill, Their wood was miraculously unharmed. This event happened about sixty years ago. Once again a temple was constructed and elaborate worship established.
Then in 1978 the aging Pujari of Their Lordships began to worry. His health was failing him and he was fearful that history would repeat itself. He could not bear the thought of his beloved Lords being neglected and inconvenienced again. He decided to offer Their property to ISKCON. On the Gaura Purnima day of 1978 the most auspicious transaction took place and a beautiful new temple has since been constructed for Their Lordships pleasure.
It is said in the Vedic scriptures that the Holy Dhama of Sri Ksetra or Jagannatha Puri is eternally manifest in this holy place and that all the benefits one can attain by visiting Jagannatha Puri may be achieved visiting the Sri Jagannatha Mandir in Sri Navadvipa Dhama. One of these many benefits is the opportunity to partake of Lord Jagannatha’s famous Maha-prasad. Lord Jagannath’s mercy - in its most delicious form - is waiting for your visit and surely you will be blessed once you visit Their Lordships.