Puri” means fullness. This holiest temple town is in the form of a conch. It is also known as Jagannath dhaam-the abode of Jaganath, Purushotama kshetra, Nilachala Nilagiri- the blue mountain, Sri kshetram-the abode of Sri(Lakshmi).
The holy dham vibrates with Mahamantra and other holy names of the Lord. It is also known as “Yamanika tirtha”-the place where Yama,the God of death cannot enter.
The greatness about the holiest shrine Puri is mentioned by LORD
HIMSELF in Narada Purana as:
“PRATIMAAM TATRA TAAM DRISTVAA SVAYAM DEVENA NIRMITAAM
ANAAYAASENA VAI YAANTI BHAVANAM ME TATO NARAAH
The Supreme LORD reveals to Mahalakshmi”
Jagannath Puri is one of the four holy dhaams (Sacred places) located on the eastern part of India near the shores of Bay of Bengal. The other three dhams are Badrinath located in the North, Rameswaram in the South, Dwaraka in the West. Sripad Sankaracharyar, Swamy Ramanujar, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are the prominent acharyars who have visited this place.
The great saint Sankaracharya established a mutt at this place and composed the famous “JAGANATHASHTAKA” in which he prays Lord to help him cross over the ocean of samsara.The temple is situated over Nilachala mountain. Out of the 4 entrances to the temple, the eastern gate is glorified as the “Simha dwaaram”. At the entrance, we can find small replica of Lord Jaganatha and Sri Ganesha. deities .
Rath Yatra is held in the month of Aashada, when the Lord HIMSELF steps out of the temple to give darshan to all the lucky souls. Usually we find Dwaja sthambham in front of all the Sri Vaishnava temples. But at Puri, we find Aruna sthambham. A huge stone pillar is erected on top of which is Aruna,the charioteer of Sun God with folded hands waits for Lord Jaganaths commands . It symbolizes that those who worship the Lord will be enlightened . The figure of Aruna is kept in a height which equals the height of the Lord in the garbagriham.
We have to trek 22 steps to reach the garbagriham which split into sets of 5 more steps. One has to climb 5 steps, walk few distance, again take another flight of 5 steps and so on.
These steps denote that one has to leave aside the 5 worldly fetters-lust, anger, greed, jealousy and pride.
The first five steps represent the five outer sense organs-eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.
The next 5 steps represent the 5 pranas or life airs-prana, apaana, vyaana, udaana, samaana.
The next five steps represent the inner sense or tanmaatras-rupa(sight), rasa (taste), gandha (smell), sabda (sound), sparsa (touch).
The next five steps are tha panch maha bhutas- earth, water, air, fire and ether.
The last two steps represent buddhi or intelligence and ahankara or false ego-the false conception of identifying the soul with the body.
One by one all the must be purified before passing into the Inner sanctum of the temple and having darshan of LORD Jaganath
Huge mud vessels containing offerings to lord that becomes maha prashad (every day 56 items of bhog (food offerings) is offered to the Lord eight times.
Elders point out that the Lord gets up at Tirumala , has lunch at Puri, and relaxes at Srirangam.
The moment one thinks of Puri, he is immediately reminded of the Mahaprashad.
As is customary in all the Sri Vaishnavite temples, we offered our obeisances to (Peria Thiruvadee)Garudazhwan before having darshan of the Lord. Here , Garuda is in the form of a wooden log. In the big hall in front of the garbagriham, there is a pillar which devotees circumbulate .
This is the place where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited this place to have darshan of the Lord, he fell into ecstasy looking at the mohana roopam of the Lord.
He was in a trance for many hours totally absorbed in the Lord. (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is an incarnation of Lord Krishna and Radharani.
He appeared to promote prema bhakti as the easiest means of attaining the Lord in Kali Yugam. He taught that chanting the Lord’s names as in Mahamantra is the easiest way to reach the lotus feet of the Lord .
Most of the teachings of Mahaprabhu connects to the principles of Sri sampradaya followed by JagathAcharyar Swamy Ramanujacharyar’s )
In another instance, when an old lady was struggling to have darshan of the Lord, Mahaprabhu carried her on his shoulders so that she could have Lord’s darshan clearly. This incident in carved in the pillar .
Subhadra, Lord Krishna’s sister , painted in yellow marking auspiciousness is in the middle On HER right is Baladeva in white and to HER left is Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe who is Neelavannan(darkish) in colour Lord Baladeva and Lord Jaganath are on the either sides of Subhadramaata. Near Lord Jaganath’s is Goddess Rukmini Devi’. Lord Jaganath is the tallest among all – Sri Sudarshana chakram also graces the devotees .
The outstretched arms of the Lord were like inviting to embrace us.
The Lord’s eyes are wide open(without eye lids) so that HE can constantly pour HIS abundant grace on us.
A darshan of Lord Jaganath relieves one from the cycle of births and deaths.Holy bath is given only once in a year which is celebrated as Snana Yatra on Jeshta Pournami day before Rath Yathra.
On other days, a mirror is placed in front of the deities and the holy bath (abhishekam is performed to the Lords’ reflection .)
Atmaanam rathinam viddhi shareeram rathamevatu
Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi manah pragrahameva cha
The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts. Rath Yatra is celebrated in Puri in the month of Aashadam(June-July) on the second day of the waxing moon (After Amavasya) in Sukla paksham with great pomp.
Lakhs of devotees assemble at Puri to participate in this and get a chance to pull the chariot unmindful of the stampedes.
A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and saints, poets and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this special festival.
The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages.
THE MAKING OF THE HUGE CHARIOTS
The wooden logs cut from Phassi, Dhausa tree are initially set to float in Mahanadi river and are brought to Puri by road.
Every year new chariots are made for Rath Yatra using these logs of wood. The construction of the 3 chariots starts on the auspicious day of Akshaya Trithyai-(the 3rd day in the bright fornight)in the month of Visakha- about two and half months before the Rath Yatra.
Only the descendants of the original carpenter are privileged to construct the chariots . After performing yaga, the construction of the chariot commences amidst chanting of mantras. During this time,some important events like Chandan Yatra, Snana Yatra and the Lord falling sick take place in the temple.
Lord Jaganath along with Subhadra and Baladeva leave the main temple and go to Gundicha temple which is about 2 kms north of the temple.
The Lordships leave in 3 separate chariots specially made for this purpose and give darshan to all the devotees including the persons who are not allowed inside the temple.
They stay at Gundicha temple for 9 days and return on the 10 th day.
Gundicha temple is also known as Janaka Puri , Yajnavedi(as this was the place where Brahma performed first fire sacrifice), Adapa Mandapam (mandapa where the deities are isolated).
The Lord moves about as per HIS free will the travel time cannot be ascertained.
There were instances where the Ratham would not move for days .
As the three chariots move about simultaneously, the road through which the chariot passes is very wide and is known as Grand Road like in Kanchipuram.
To enact that everyone is same in front of the eyes of the Lord, before the procession starts, in olden times, the king of the state used to clean the way using a golden broom.
(This practice was started by King Prataparudra who was a great follower of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
He expressed his humbleness by sweeping the road before the procession started, he used to press Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s legs to gain his audience.
A narration about Rath Yatra without mentioning Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s leela is incomplete.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after embracing Sanyasrama spent most of his time at Puri in the Lord’s presence . he used to sing and dance in ecstasy for hours together in front ofLord Jagannathar.
Once during Rath Yatra, Mahaprabhu was leading His sankeertana. His disciples were in groups at different locations and chanting the Mahamantra. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in all the nine groups singing and dancing in ecstasy at the same time.
This was observed by His foremost devotees. He thus revealed that he was an incarnation of the Lord in Kali Yuga. Puri is still vibrant with Gaudiya Sampradayam established by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The procession winds slowly through the Grand street and reaches Gundicha temple. This is considered to be Lord’s aunt’s place. Some refer Gundicha as King Indradyumna’s wife.
In the Gundicha temple, the deities are placed in the respective altars and offered puja for 9 days. Devotees throng to this temple to have Lord’s darshan as it is considered to be beneficial for one’s upliftment. On the 10th day when the deities return to the main temple, they are adorned sith golden crowns,necklaces,belts, golden hands, feet and weapons. This is known as “Suna vesa”.
NEELACHALA NIVASAYA NITYAYA PARAMATMANE
SUBHADRA PRAANA NATHAYA JAGAN NATHAYA MANGALAM.
SRIYA KAANTHAYA KALYANA NIDHAYE NIDHAYETHINAM
SRI VENKATA NIVASAYA SRINIVASAYA MANGALAM
May all auspiciousness and unstinting bhakthi to LORD JAGGANTHA be with us
Please forgive this servant of yours for committing any offence by my inabilty to glorify LORD as no words are enough to speak about LORDS opulence.
Our Sri Sri Gour Nitai deities at Thiruvengadam ( Residence ) who had arrived from Sri Jagganath Puri Dhaam ..