Lord Jagannath: Temple History and amazing facts about Jagannath!
Amidst the beautiful beaches and cerulean seas of the city of Puri in Orissa, lies there a magnificent temple of Lord Jagannath, the mystical form of Lord Vishnu in local folkore.
This temple is one of the most popular and major temples of India and it is highly revered by Hindus infact it comes in the Char Dham temples. It is a very revered Vaishnavite temple. Built by King Anantavarman of Chodaganga dynasty of Orissa, this temple stands till today with utmost resilience and magnificence. The Jagannath temple is one of the 108 Divya Deshams or Sacred temples of Vaishnav people.
It has been a great center for many spiritual and religious movements such as the bhakti cult of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Dharmic renovations of Shri Adi Shankaracharya and the Krishna consciousness movement of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada more commonly known as ISKCON in present time.
Although the Jagannath temple was built by King Anantavarman in tenth century, the Vigrahas or Idols of the Lord are believed to be much older than the temple. The presence of this temple is believed to be from the time of Lord Krishna in Dwapara Yuga.
Today, in this blog post, I will tell you about the legend of Shri Jagannath and its temple history along with some amazing facts about this temple which many people don’t know. If you want to know more about such fabulous temples, read our blog post: 9 mysterious temples in India.
Story of Shri Jagannath Temple
The story of Jagannath temple dates back to the time of Lord Krishna in Dwapara Yuga. It is believed that when the funeral of Lord Krishna was being done, it was found out that the heart of his body didn’t burned at all and it was alive even after burning as well.
It is believed that Lord Krishna came in the dream of his beloved friend Arjuna and advised him to throw that heart in a nearby river. Arjuna when saw that heart, did the following as advised by Lord Krishna.
The heart instantly turned into a beautiful blue diamond when it touched water. This diamond is known as Nil Madhava. It is then after many years, a very pious king, Indradyumna while taking holy dips in a river, saw that blue diamond.
Indradyumna was a very powerful and wealthy king of Orissa and was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. He performed many Yajnas and worships to please Lord Vishnu and get his Bhakti. One day Lord Vishnu came in his sleep and he was advised by Lord Vishnu to take that blue diamond and put it in an idol of Lord Jagannath and after that establish that idol in a temple.
It is believed that the Idols of Lord Jagannath was made by Sage Vishwakarma himself and he instructed the architecture of the temple as well.
The temple of Jagannath was hence established and the Bhakti tradition started from there. Devotees kept coming to have Darshan of their Lord. Even today, the temple remains always flooded with devotees.
The temple history of Shri Jagannath
Though the original temple was built by King Indradyumna, the present day temple complex was built by King Anantavarman of Chodaganga dynasty in 10th century. After it was build, it has been invaded by many muslim fanatics and foreigners.
One such example is aurangzeb who was one of the Muslim fanatics. He tried to destroy the temple many times, However he was defeated everytime.
One more time in 1568, this temple was invaded by General Kalapahad, a superintendent of the Nawab of Bengal Sultan Karani. However the priests of the temple smuggled the main deities out of the temple and hid them in Chilika Lake. After that it was gradually restored by King Ramchandra Deva I.
The Jagannath temple is a highly revered Vaishnavite temple and it is one of the 108 Divya deshams of Vaishnav people. It is also one of the Char Dhams or the 4 most sacred temples of Hindus.
The temple has been revered by many saints such as Adi Shankaracharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shri Ramanujacharya, etc. Shri Adi Shankaracharya even established a monastery in Puri known as Puri Matth.
This temple has also served as a center for the Bhakti movement of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and ISKCON of Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada.
Amazing facts about Lord Jagannath
Alon with being beautiful, the temple of Jagannath is also a mysterious one. There are some amazing phenomena which happens there and which even science can’t explain!
These things defy the laws of physics and science. Some people say that these are just myths and are not possible but then also many who went there have experienced these things in real life. All the facts which I will share here may seem to be impossible but they are true!
So here I’m going to tell you 6 amazing facts about Lord Jagannath temple which many of us don’t know.
- Usually you have seen that a flag or a sail of ship flows in the direction of wind. But in Jagannath temple, the flag which is placed at the top, always flows in the opposite direction of wind.
- The Sudarshan Chakra which is placed at the pinnacle of the temple is made up of heavy metal and it weighs over 1000 kilograms! Nobody knows that how an object which is so heavy is placed over that height in the era when there was no electricity or technology.
- There is one more fact about the Sudarshan Chakra. It is experienced that when you see the Chakra from front, back, sideways or any angle; the Chakra will look as same! Even scientists don’t know how this happens but it is experienced in real life.
- The flag of temple is daily changed. The main priest of the temple climbs the temple atop and replaces the old flag with new flag. It is believed that if the flag ritual is missed for even a single day, the temple will be shut for 18 years.
- There is a ritual in Jagannath temple which involves the Idol of Jagannath. Once in every 19 years, the Idols of Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are changed. During this time, a blackout is announced in the city.
- The priest takes the mysterious object “Nil Madhava” from the Idol of Lord Jagannath, and places it in the new Idol of Lord Jagannath. While doing this, he ties a black cloth around his eyes and prevents himself from seeing it as part of the ritual.
- Kanapata Hanuman is located on the western gate of Jagannatha Temple (Vyaghra dvara). After marrying Laxmi devi who is the daughter of the ocean, the Lord became the son-in-law of the ocean. During the night the waves of the ocean make a loud sound that is heard all over Puri. One time this sound entered Jagannatha’s temple, thus disturbing the Lord’s sleep. Lord Jagannatha ordered Samudra not to make any sound which might disturb Him. Since then, the sound of Samudra crashing on the beach never again entered Jagannatha’s Temple. Lord Jagannatha engaged His devotee Hanuman to stand at the south gate and listen attentively and ensure the sound never entered the mandira. “Kanapata” means to engage the ears (kana) for hearing. Thus Hanuman is known here as Kanapata Hanuman.
- At a distance of 7 kilometers from Jagannath Puri, there is a small temple named Shri Bata Mangala Devi. “Bata” in Odiya language means “Way”. Mangala Devi is believed to guide the pilgrims coming for the Darshan of Lord Jagannath. When Lord Brahma had first visited the Puri Dham, Mangala Devi showed her the way to the temple. Whenever the devotees visit the Jagannath temple, they first visit this shrine and take the blessings of Shri Bata Mangala Devi.