Who is Lord Jagannath?
Jagannath is a Hindu god who, together with his brother Balabhadra and sister devi Subhadra, is worshipped in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh as part of a trio. In Odia Hinduism, Jagannath is the highest god, Purushottama, Para Brahman. Jagannath is a Hindu god who is a combination of Krishna and Mahavishnu. To some, he is a symmetry-filled tantric form of Bhairava, a violent manifestation of Shiva linked with destruction, who appears as Krishna or Vishnu's avatar in some of the legends.
Hindu believe him to be almighty, sacrosanct, and formed of sweat and blood at the same time He is a companion and a guide, and is affectionately referred to as ‘Madhabha,' ‘Jaga,' or ‘Kalia' ( meaning black, denoting his colour).
In modern Puri depictions of Vishnu's ten avatars (incarnations), Jagannatha is frequently shown as one of the ten, rather than the more commonly acknowledged Buddha.
Legends of Lord Jagannath
Wooden Icon of Lord Vishnu
It is believed that King Indradyumna ruled Puri Odissa in India, long ago, and Vishnu appeared to him in his dreams and asked him to build a temple for him. Indradyumna then began looking for the best representation of the deity, and he came upon a picture known as Nilmadhav, or the blue Krishna. Nilmadhav was the Shabar tribals' god, who resided deep in the woods. The issue was that the picture was concealed in a cave in the Nilachal Hills, and only one man, a tribal leader named Vishwavasu, knew where it was.
Vidyapati, a Brahmin lad, was dispatched by King Indradyumna to locate the idol. After marrying Vishwavasu's daughter, the astute young man persuaded the chief to show him the idol. He then retrieved Nilmadhav's image and presented it to Indradyumna. When impoverished Vishwavasu learned of the image's disappearance, he fell to his knees in despair, and Lord Nilmadhav, witnessing his anguish, returned to his cave. However, before returning, the deity instructed the king to construct the temple and then collect a floating log of wood from the sea. The deity's image had to be carved out of this timber.
When the temple was completed, the log was discovered in the water, having sailed all the way from Dwarka, Krishna's capital city. The wood, however, was so heavy that no one could lift it, so the tribal chief Vishwavasu was summoned once more, and he brought it to the shrine. Now it was time to carve this sacred log known as Brahmadaru, which no sculptor could even scratch with their chisels. The architect of the gods, Vishwakarma, then came before the king in the form of an elderly man, answering Indradyumna's requests. He agreed to perform the work on one condition: he would carve the picture in twenty-one days and no one would be allowed to interrupt him.
The old guy then shut himself in a chamber, where the sound of hammering and chiselling could be heard. The twenty-one days had not yet passed when Indradyumna's queen Gundicha noticed that there was stillness within the room and assumed the elderly man had died. Indradyumna and Gundicha opened the door in their panic, only to find an empty chamber with three half-completed pictures. This is the narrative behind the strange images that greet worshippers in the garbha griha of the temple share .
Kanchi Conquest legend of Lord Jagannath
Legend has it that the King of Kanchi's daughter was engaged to the Gajapati of Puri. The Kanchi King was astounded to see the Gajapati King clean the area in front of the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra during the Ratha yatra. The King of Kanchi denied the marriage proposal, believing that sweeping was unworthy of a King, and refused to marry his daughter to a 'Sweeper.' Gajapati Purushottam Deva was extremely offended by this, and in order to reclaim his honor, he attacked the Kingdom of Kanchi. His attack failed, and the Kanchi Army defeated him and his army.
Jagannath and Balabhadra were thirsty on the way and came across Manika, a milkmaid who offered them butter-milk/yogurt to satisfy their thirst. Rather of paying her debts, Balabhadra handed her a ring with instructions to collect them from King Purushottam. Purushottam Deva himself came by later with his troops. The milkmaid Manika halted the King at Chilika Lake, appealing for the unpaid cost of yogurt taken by His army's two foremost warriors riding black and white horses. As proof, she presented the gold ring. The ring was identified as Jagannath's by King Purusottam Deva. The king joyfully led the expedition, seeing this as a sign of heavenly backing for his mission.
The minister awaited the yearly Ratha Yatra, when the King washes Jagannath's chariot ceremonially. He proposed marriage to King Purusottam, describing the King as a God's Royal Sweeper. The Princess was thereafter married by the King.
Why the idol of Lord Jagannath has no hands, legs and ears?
According to legend, Tulsidas, the poet, once visited Puri in quest of Lord Ram, whom he called Raghunath. He was terribly dissatisfied after completing his darshan of Lord Jagannath. He walked away because he felt depressed.
Tulsidas then proceeded to Malatipathpur, a hamlet. He sat down beneath a tree and began to cry. A passing youngster approached him and inquired as to the cause of his distress. The poet revealed to the kid that his Raghunath, whom he adored, had escaped him at Puri, and that he was virtually invisible in what he saw at the temple.
Tulsidas was then told that Raghunath is an offshoot of Param Bramha, who can move without feet, see without eyes, and listen without ears, Tulsidas realized his error at that point and returned to Puri to find Raghunath.
This helps to explain why Jagannath lacks ears, hands, and feet.
Another tale surrounds the idol's lack of ears, legs, and hands.
The temple was formerly presided over by a Vishnu statue with four hands carrying the characteristic shankha, chakra, gada, padma, conch, wheel, mace, and the lotus fashioned of blue sapphire Neelam, thus the name Neela Madhab, according to legend. Even now, Jagannath is revered as Neela Madhab.
Daru idols, or those fashioned of Neem wood, include Jagannath, Balbhadra, and Subhadra. It's conceivable that neem was chosen because of its resilience to all types of rot. Sandal paste is used to religiously embalm the idols. Sandalwood's therapeutic qualities protect the idols from fungus development while also providing a pleasant scent surrounding the Garavaglia.
This could also be the reason why idols do not have ears and limbs.
Lord Jagannath and the faith he represents
Jagannatha symbolizes a synthesis of all major Hindu civilizations that existed in India, Nepal and Bangladesh including Vedic, Puranic, Tantric, Smarta, and Vaisnava, as well as Jainism, Buddhism, and indigenous tribes' traditions. Jagannatha is revered by Vaisnavas of all schools, including Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Caitanya or Mlidhva Goudiya, Radha Vallabhl, and Atibadi Odisi. The Mahaprasada (the gifts to the deities at the Puri temple) is a Hindu marvel in that it is devoid of any caste prejudice. Mahaprasada is served from the same dish to people of all castes without hesitation.
Some academics believe that the Buddhist origins of Jagannath devotion are also true.
They believe that the three deities represent the Buddhist Triratna, which includes Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. In the Gyanasiddhi book on Vajrayana, Buddha is referred to as Jagannath. It is also generally believed that a danta (tooth) of Buddha has been preserved in the hollow of the wooden figure of Jagannath. The sacred tooth of Buddha is transferred to a new image at the Nabakalebara ritual of the deities, and the old images are buried in the koilibaikuntha located in the bahara-bedha (outside circle) of the temple.
Lord Jagannath's vehicle festival is a reenactment of Lord Buddha's tooth celebration. Puri was known as Dantapuri, and Lord Jagannath's temple was erected over the remnants of a Buddhist stupa.
In the Puri temple, however, Buddha and Jagannath have remained one and the same.
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