Written By Shraddha NS (Grade 10)
Lord Jagannath, also known as Lord Puri Jagannath, is a revered deity worshipped in the state of Odisha, India. The story of Lord Jagannath is steeped in mythology and has captivated the hearts of millions of devotees for centuries.
According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Jagannath is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. The tale begins with King Indradyumna, a devout ruler of Malwa Kingdom, who desired to have a glimpse of Lord Vishnu in his divine form. After performing rigorous penance, he received a divine message instructing him to carve four idols from a sacred Neem tree.
To accomplish this task, the king sought the help of a skilled sculptor named Vishvakarma. However, the sculptor put forth a condition that he would need complete solitude while crafting the idols and nobody should disturb him. The king agreed to the condition and placed the sculptor in a locked room with the Neem tree.
Days went by, and the anxious king decided to check on the progress of the sculptor. But to his astonishment, he found an unfinished idol of Lord Jagannath, with only the head carved. The sculptor apologized, saying that the divine form of Lord Jagannath could not be captured completely by human hands.
Undeterred, the king decided to proceed with the incomplete idols. He entrusted the task of decorating the idols to a mysterious man named Ananta Maharana, who claimed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s serpent companion, Lord Ananta. The king agreed to Ananta Maharana’s condition that he would work in complete darkness and that nobody should see him during his work.
Days turned into nights, and finally, the idols were ready. But nobody, including the king, had seen the final form of the deities. Ananta Maharana warned the king that he must never open the door of the sanctum sanctorum during the installation of the idols, as it would break the divine spell.
During the installation ceremony, the king’s wife, Queen Gundicha, became curious and impatient. She urged the king to open the door and see the idols. Overwhelmed by her insistence, the king gave in to her demands and opened the door.
To their astonishment, they found the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra without hands and feet. The king realized that his impatience had caused the deities to manifest in their incomplete form. Despite this, the king and the devotees considered these forms of Lord Jagannath as divine and worshipped them with utmost devotion.
Thus, Lord Jagannath became a symbol of unity, love, and inclusiveness. Every year, millions of devotees from all walks of life gather in Puri, Odisha, to witness the grand Rath Yatra, where the deities are taken in procession on lavishly decorated chariots. It is believed that those who have the privilege of pulling the chariots are blessed with good fortune and divine grace.
The story of Lord Jagannath teaches us the importance of patience, faith, and devotion. It reminds us that the divine can manifest in ways that may not conform to our expectations, but that doesn’t diminish their divinity. Lord Jagannath continues to be revered as a powerful deity, spreading love and blessings to all who seek his grace.
Featured Image Courtesy – Rudraksh Ratna