Oct 21, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A commentary on the glories of Jagannath Puri Dham by Bhagaban Mahapatra, for 'Orissa Review'.
The greatness of Purusottam Kshetra is narrated in Skanda Purana (Vaishnav Khanda), which is the largest of all Puranas. It contains eighty-eight thousand and one hundred slokas (stanzas). Once, while sage Jaimini was describing about the greatness of Purusottam Kshetra to the assembled sages, all of them curiously asked him "Where is Purusottam Kshetra?" Jaimini replied, Purusottam Kshetra is situated at the eastern coast of Bharatvarsha and to the south of the river Mahanadi which is in Utkal. There is a Nilagiri mountain at the sea coast known as Tirtha Raja Mahodadhi.
Odra desha Iti Khyate Barshe Bharatsamgyake
Dakhinasyodadhestire khetram Sripurusottamam
(Sloka 23, Ch. 7 Skanda Puranam)
All the persons of this land are devotees of Lord Vishnu. This holy place never experiences natural calamities of any kind. This Purusottam Kshetra is graced by the presence of a majestic wooden idol Vishnu, i.e. Lord Jagannath. During ancient time, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Varaha, liberated Prithivi (Bhu Devi) from the depth of Rasatala from the clutches of a mighty demon, Hiranyaksha, and Prithivi had then gained normalcy. Lord Brahma thereafter resumed the task of creation with forests, mountains and holy places wherever necessary in a beautiful manner.
Being affected with the task of creation and wondering about the means by which the human beings could get escape from the three major types of sorrows, that is adibhoutika, adhidaivika and adhyatmika, Lord Brahma prayed to Lord Vishnu for guidance, and the latter directed him to go to Purusottam Kshetra for solution. 'This Kshetra is the holiest of all places in the world. Those who have fully devoted to Me take birth in this Kshetra. This place is not affected by deluge. I dwell at this holiest place leaving all my kith and kin as Lord Purusottam.'
Sarbasangaparityaktastatra tishami dehabhut
Surasurabatikramya barteham Purusottame.
(Sloka 36, Ch. 1 of Skanda Purana)
In that Kshetra there is one Banyan tree known as Kalpa Bata, and near to that tree there is a holy pond called Rohini Kunda. Anybody who gets a chance to take a holy dip in Rohini Kunda or get in contact with the water of that pond gets absolved from all of his sins in life. O Brahma! You pay your visit to that place so that you will be able to know the virtuous of the place.
Lord Brahma went to Purusottam Kshetra as per the instruction of Lord Vishnu. On reaching Purusottam Kshetra, Lord Brahma could see Lord Vishnu in the same form as he could see at the time of prayer and meditation. At this moment Lord Brahma saw a thirsty crow come, and after taking bath in Rohini Kunda and seeing the celestial body of Lord Vishnu, his crow image was changed alike of Vishnu. Lord Brahma was astonished and thought that like the crow, all would be freed from the vicious cycles of birth and death.
Suryanandan Lord Dharmraj (Yamaraj) also equally thought that his power of causing death had no effect on people living in Purusottam Kshetra. Worried with this, Yamaraj rushed into Purusottam Kshetra and prayed for Lord Vishnu's intervention in the matter. Being satisfied with the prayer of Lord Yamaraj, Lord Vishnu glanced at Goddess Laxmi to advise Yamaraj. Goddess Laxmi replied: "Your aim and desire will not be fulfilled here; because this Purusottam Kshetra is our dwelling place and We will remain here always. Further whoever enters this place, whether the man, animal, birds and insects, their sins will be completely absolved like cotton sets in fire. Those who reside here are not under your control."
Yamaraj then wanted to know the area of the Purusottam Kshetra. Goddess Laxmi said: Purusottam Kshetra resembles like a conch shape voluted towards the right hand side and its area is ten square miles, of which about six square miles are inside the sea, for which the sea is known as Tirtha Raj. The remaining portions of Kshetra are graced by the presence of Lord Shiva. They are Yameswar, Kapalmochan, Markandey, Isaneswar, Nilakantha, Khetrapala, Bilweswar and Bateswar. Man becomes liberated from the gravest sins on worshipping the above eight Lord Shivas.
Further, the Purusottam Kshetra is well protected by eight Goddesses from all the eight directions. The names of these eight Goddesses are Mangala, Alamba, Kalaratri, Marichika, Ardhasini, Chandarupa, Sarbamangala and Khetreswari Vimala. At the center of this conch shaped Kshetra Lord Vishnu manifests Himself in the form of a wooden structure as Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Mother Subhadra and Chakraraj Sudarshan to bless all in the world.