Places of Spiritual Importance in Puri Dham, Part Two
BY: SUN STAFF
Indradyumna Tank, Puri
Jul 01, 2011 CANADA (SUN) A two part summary of tirthas in the holy Puri Dham, adapted from an article by Saumya Ranjan Swain.
Continuing our exploration of the sacred sites at Jagannatha Puri Dham, down the main road of town near the Gundicha Mandir is a very old temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha, which we can enter to view the Deity. This is also where Sri Caitanya engaged in many kirtanas with his close associates. Not far away is Indradyumna Lake, where Sri Caitanya once manifested His Mahavishnu form, showing His associates His supernatural qualities as an incarnation of God.
Lord Vasudeva Narayana at Alalanatha Temple, Brahmagiri
About 14 miles from Jagannatha Puri is the Alalanatha Temple at Brahmagiri. Lord Alalanatha is a four-handed form of Lord Vishnu. Whenever the Jagannatha Deities in Puri would be removed from the altar before the Ratha-Yatra festival for two weeks, Sri Caitanya would stay here. This is a temple where, at the end of the kirtana hall in front of a Deity of Sadbhuja, there is a large stone slab with the imprint of Sri Caitanya's body. Once when He fell onto this stone in an ecstatic trance and the stone melted, leaving the imprint of Sri Caitanya's body as we find it today. More on the Lord's pastimes at Alalanatha can be found here.
Across from the Alalanatha temple is another Gaudiya Math temple that was established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, in which resides the small Alalanatha Deity that was uncovered during excavations around the main Alalanatha temple. Once when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was staying at this temple, the priest at the Alalanatha shrine had a dream in which the Lord came to him and said that He wanted to accept the worship of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Then the priest brought the small Alalanatha Deity to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, who worshiped Him. The Deity has remained here since then.
Nearby in Bentapur is the birthplace of Sri Ramananda Raya, an intimate associate of Sri Caitanya's.
About six miles from Puri is the Sakshi-Gopala temple, located between the Jagannatha Puri and Khurda Road Junction railway stations. A new station called Saksi-gopala is there where people get off to visit the temple. The Saksi-gopala Deity is the Gopala Deity who walked from Vrindavan to Vidyanagara, a town located 20 to 25 miles from Rajahmundry on the banks of the Godavari River. How this happened was that two brahmanas were traveling and visiting the holy places. One was poor and young and was serving the older and richer brahmana. The older one was so satisfied with the charitable service of the younger brahmana that he vowed in front of the Gopala Deity that he would give his daughter to the younger brahmana to be his wife. Later, when they returned home, the older brahmana hesitated to fulfill his promise due to pressure from his family. There was some controversy about this between the two brahmanas and in a meeting with the people of the town, it was agreed that if the Deity Gopala would come to testify as a witness, the older brahmana would give his daughter as promised.
The younger brahmana went back to Vrindavan and related the situation to the Gopala Deity who finally agreed to walk. He told the brahmana that He would follow him and that the sound of His ankle bells would indicate He was there, but if the brahmana turned around to look, He would walk no farther. So for 100 days they walked toward Vidyanagara, then the sound of the Deity's ankle bells ceased to sound. The brahmana looked back and the Deity was standing there smiling.
The brahmana went to gather the people of the town who were amazed to see the Deity. Then the older brahmana agreed to give his daughter in marriage as promised, and a temple was built for the Deity. Later the King of Orissa, Purusottama Dev, was insulted by the King of Kataka (Cuttack). So Purusottama fought and defeated the King of Kataka and took charge of the city. He then brought the Gopalaji Deity from Vidyanagara to Kataka and built a temple there. The Deity also stayed in the Jagannatha Temple for some time, but then was moved to a village about six miles from Puri, called Satyavadi. Some time after that a new temple was constructed, and that is where we find the Saksi-Gopala Deity today. Though the temple does not allow foreigners inside, many devotees visit the temple to get darshan of the Supreme Lord.
These are just some of the significant sites located in the area of Jagannatha Puri Dham.
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