Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

(Excerpted from the Orissa Review)


Lord Jagannath has influenced the life of the Oriya people from the early Rig Vedic times to the present day. Orissa has been blessed with many stalwart Vaishnava devotees with whom the Supreme Lord of the Universe interacts and reciprocates sweetly. Indeed the devotees of Lord Jagannath enjoy a unique bond with Him.

Long before the advent of Sri Chaitanya in Orissa, Vaishnavism was prevalent in Orissa. A matured shape of Oriyan Vaishnavism appeared mainly in the days of King Prataprudradev through the ‘Pancha Sakha’ or five friends, Balaram das, Jagannath das, Achyut, Josovant and Anant, great devotees of Sri Jagannath Mahaprabhu.

Lord Jagannath is reputed as Bhakta Vatsal, Bhavagrahi, and protector of the devotee for ages together. He is held in high esteem not only by the Hindus but by many realized saints, philosophers and devotees of other religious persuations.

The founders of all religious schools have come to Puri to have darshan of Lord Jagannath and have accepted the Lord as their Ishta.   Even Muslim devotees like Salabeg and Kabir have accepted Him as their Lord.

Bhakta and Bhagavan are inseparable. Lord Jagannath is mad for His devotees in the same degree that they are for Him. He cannot sit silently on his Ratnasimhasan when devotees are in trouble. Often times He creates a situation where His devotees find themselves in difficulty and then He enacts a sweet little drama to bring out and highlight the devotion of that devotee.

Lord has therefore said –

Naaham testhami Vaikunthe
Yogina hridayena cha mad bhaktan
Yatra dhyaante tatra tisthami, Narad.

" Oh Narada , I do not reside in Vaikunth nor even in the heart of saints; I reside in that place where my devotees worship and talk about Me".

Bhakti is of two kinds-Vaidik Bhakti and Prem Bhakti. The devotee of the former type observes rituals and ceremonies, chants the name of lord as many times as prescribed, observes fasts and prays, likes to go on pilgrimage and gives charity etc. He dislikes other kinds of Bhaktas who worships other Devatas. Vaidik Bhakti is also known as Apara Bhakti.

Prem Bhakti or Para Bhakti is something different. A devotee of Prem Bhakti has universal love or Viswaprema. The whole world is Vrindavan for him. He does not like to go pilgrimage or visit temples. He sees the Lord in everything. To him all actions are Leela. He gives himself over entirely to the lord. His whole-hearted offerings are eagerly accepted by the Lord and the devotee becomes His own.

Bhakti or devotion is a kind of Yoga. It means union of the individual soul with that of Paramatma, the Supreme Soul. It is not as easy as it seems. It depends on one's Bhava i.e., sentiment.  Lord Jagannath is Bhavagrahi Janardan.  “O Partha, as devotees approach Me, so do I reciprocate".

Arjuna regarded Lord Krishna as his friend and wanted to make Him his charioteer. Sage Viswamitra treated Him as his disciple, so He became his disciple. In fact, devotion is automatically bestowed upon the devotee who takes refuge in Him. The sentiments of refuge or surrender is the best sentiment out of all other sentiments such as of service, of friendship, of affection and of sweet love. The Lord seems to declare that if a devotee offers his possessions of Him, He offers His possessions to the devotee and if he offers himself to Him, He offers Himself to him also.

Lord Jagannath is always welcoming his devotees. To Him all are equal whether he is a Hindu, Muslim or of some other faith.

Bhakta Salabeg, being a Muslim, is a much celebrated devotee of Lord Jagannath. He composed many heart touching, sweet and melodious songs on Lord Jagannath. He was disowned by his family and community. Then he started roaming around singing bhajans of Lord Jagannath. He visited Mathura, Vrindaban and other holy places and lived the leelas of the Lord.

There was an incident which indicated his depth of devotion to Lord Jagannath. It was the time of Rath Yatra. On his way back to Puri, Salabeg fell ill and prayed to the Lord "Oh, Jagannath please wait on your chariot till I return to Puri". Actually there was an accident for which the chariot of the Lord was detained on Bada Danda and it became possible for Salabeg to see his beloved Lord on the chariot.

Bhakta-vatsal Bhagawan ki Jai !!

Another well-loved story is that of Bandhu Mahanty. Bandhu Mahanty of Jajpur in Orissa was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. He was very poor and it was very difficult for him to even provide for his wife and two sons. Despite such a situation, he always assured his wife that he had a “friend” who would take care of them.

One day his wife insisted that he go to go to his friend to ask him for help. Finally he decided to go to Puri to see his friend. It took four days for them to reach Puri on foot. When they reached it was late night.

Bandhu Mahanty told his family members to rest by the side of the south gate of the temple and in the morning they would go to meet his friend. They were all hungry and finding no other alternative, they all took the liquid starch from the boiled rice of the kitchen of Lord Jagannath, which was deposited in a nearby place. That night Bandhu Mahanty deeply prayed to Lord Jagannath to save his family and slept.

Leela Purushottam Jagannath could not sit silently in the temple. He came out of the temple in late night in the form of a Brahmin with a golden plate filled with Mahaprasad and called loudly, "Oh, Jajapuria Bandhu, He Jajapuria Bandhu."

Hearing this, Bandhu Mahanty came and accepted the Mahaprasad from the Brahmin. The Brahmin also assured him that he would arrange everything in the morning. Bandhu Mahanty gladly ate the Mahaprasad with his family members and took rest keeping the golden plate with him as the Brahmin was not to be found anywhere thereafter.

In the morning when the Lord's golden plate was found with Bandhu Mahanty he was immediately arrested by the temple authorities and severely beaten. The Lord could not tolerate this and at night in a dream He narrated everything to the King Prataprudradev staying at Khurda Garh at that time.

The Lord also instructed the king to release Bandhu Mahanty from prison immediately and “be brought to Me with all veneration and respect”.  He told the King to make all arrangements not just for his comfortable stay but comfort for his entire life as “he was my friend”.

Such are the sweet leelas of Sri Jagannathdev. There are many more tales which reveal how the Lord responds and reciproctes with his devotees, which will be shared here in the coming weeks.



Jai Jagannath !

Jai Guru!

Jai Sri Radhe !