On Their Feet Away From Puri
BY: SUN STAFF
Jun 27, BALASORE, INDIA (STATESMAN)
Lord Jagannatha Deities with hands and feet worshipped outside of Puri.
Contrary to the usual structure of Lord Jagannath, there is a temple in Balasore, 12 km from the district headquarters at Remuna, where the deities have legs and feet. The three deities ~ Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra ~ are worshipped adjacent to another temple, that of Kanak Durga. These deities are believed to be worshipped for centuries.
While the uncommon structure has made this Jagannath temple a unique one, different people have different views on the legs and feet of the deities. But two theories seem to dominate.
The people of the northern parts of the state were deeply influenced by the Vaishnavite movement after the renaissance. It was started by Chaitanya Dev. The devotees of Lord Chaitanya see every god in the shape of Lord Krishna and are ardent lovers of Lord Jagannath, too. So they created these deities with legs and feet because they wished to see Lord Jagannath in the shape of Lord Krishna.
These idols have been secretly worshipped since the 16 century, in a jungle called Kantapala near Hatiaganda. It is said that they were brought to Remuna by a monk named Harigulam Das, as directed by Lord Jagannath.
While the deities were initially housed in a hut for a few years, it as transformed to a temple with the help of locals and the district administration.
“Since my childhood, we have been hearing that the deities were made by the followers of Chaitanya Dev,” the temple priest said.
There is another theory. A tough lieutenant of a ruler of Bengal, Taquee Khan, had attacked Orissa. The king submitted before Lord Jagannath and prayed so that his motherland could be saved from the invaders.
It is said that Lord Jagannath appeared in the king’s dream and assured him of help in the battlefield. The king was able to resist the attack of Taquee Khan’s huge force and pushed them back. Later, the king of Orissa wanted to worship Lord Jagannath in the form in which he appeared in his dream. Though the theories prevail among the people without historical proof , it is widely believed that this is the Kalki - the tenth (last) avatar or incarnation of god as per Hindu mythology.