Aug 06, 2013 CANADA (SUN) Lord Jagannatha Deities with hands and feet worshipped outside of Puri Dham.
In a recent Feature, we explored the Gopinath Temple of Remuna, which resides in the nearby village of Balasore. Today we are visiting another temple there -- this one, the abode of an ancient Deity of Lord Jagannath, whose Form has legs and feet.
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 siblings -- Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra -- are worshipped in a shrine adjacent to another temple, that of Kanak Durga. The Deities are believed to have been worshipped here for centuries.
While the uncommon form of Their Lordships has made this Jagannath temple a unique one, there are differing views as to the reason for the manifestation of legs and feet on the Deities.
The people of the northern parts of Orissa state were deeply influenced by the Vaishnavite movement after the renaissance started by Chaitanya Dev. The devotees of Lord Chaitanya worship all deities as manifestations of Lord Krishna, and are ardent lovers of Lord Jagannath, too. One version of history has it that the early followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu created these Deities with legs and feet because they wished to see Lord Jagannath in the shape of Lord Krishna.
These Deities are believed to have first been secretly worshipped, since the 16th Century, in a jungle village 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 is now 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 which suggests that 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 on 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 had appeared in his dream. Still others, albeit without any evidence, believe that Lord Jagannath in Balasore is also non-different from Lord Kalki.
Lord Jagannath's abode at Balasore is situated on the bank of the river Sono, at about 7 km. to the south-west of Udala. It was once the capital of the Raja of Kaptipada, said to have belonged to the Birata family. Presently it is the headquarter of Kaptipada subdivision. The most famous temples here are those of Lord Jagannath and Kanaka Durga. During the Rathayatra festival, local devotees worship both Deities, without division.
Sources: 2006 article by the 'Statesman'