Shankha-kshetra Panchatirtha: Mahodadhi
BY: SUN STAFF
Dec 28, 2010 CANADA (SUN) Shankha-kshetra: Five sacred bathing places in the Holy Dham of Jagannatha Puri.
Mahodadhi Tirtha is the fifth and foremost sacred body of water included among the Panchatirtha of Jagannath Puri Dham. The Sea off the east coast of Puri is known as the Bay of Bengal. Mahodadhi (the great sea), the sacrosanct stretch of ocean that is part of Shankha-kshetra, is six kilometers in length. It runs from Swargdwar, the cremation ghat, to Chakra Tirtha.
While there are varying legends about which tank the log eventually floated into and was retrieved from, there is agreement all around that the daru-brahman from which the original Deity of Lord Jagannath was carved first washed ashore at Mahodadhi Tirtha. From there, it is said to have washed into either the Indradyumna Tank or the Rohini Kunda.
Another holy site along the coast of Shankha-kshetra is Chakra Tirtha, which marks the spot where the Mitani River flows behind Srimandira, the ancient Jagannath Temple, passing under the Athara Nala, and joining Mahodadhi at the site of the holy wheel. Some scholars believe this is the place where the daru-brahman washed ashore.
The six kilometers of coastline designated as Mahodadhi Tirtha is a beautiful, wide, straight stretch of beach. Here in Shankha-kshetra, the Sea is considered to be the father-in-law of Lord Jagannatha, whose daughter is Laksmi Devi.
Mahodadhi at Shankha-kshetra is mentioned in the Skanda Purana. While most closely associated with Lord Jagannath, mahodadhi is also a name for Govinda, meaning 'fathomless like the ocean'.
Mahodadhi Tirtha is located about one kilometer south of the great Jagannath Temple. The beach is always crowded in the morning and evening with local devotees, pilgrims and tourists. Many devotees offer prayers to the Sun god here, and some carry Tulasi Devi on their heads, immersing her in the sacred waters at Mahodadhi.
Mahodadhi is especially busy during Kartika, and on the full-moon day of Kartika, throngs of pilgrims come to take holy bath. During the last five days of the month of Kartika, Lord Jagannath's Suna Vesha is a highly sought after ritual to be observed. After taking bath at Mahodadhi, the devotees throng to the temple's sanctum sanctorum for this darshan, also known as Rajadhiraj Vesha.
The Puri Shankarites of Sri Govardhan Peetham perform Sagar-Ganga arati daily at Mahodadhi Tirtha for the general well being of the world and mankind, and many other religious groups can be found regularly making offerings to Mahodadhi and Lord Jagannath here.
Mahodadhi Tirtha Arati Mandap
[Photo courtesy Ajaymohanty @ Flikr]
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