The legend behind Mahaprasad and Nirmalya  

By Tarakanta Mohanty

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


Everybody knows that when the 'prasad' in the temple of Lord Jagannath is offered to Goddess Bimala it becomes 'Mahaprasad'. What is the eagerness of devotees of Lord Jagannath to get this Mahaprasad waiting for hours to get it in the temple of Puri! By taking Mahaprasad, they feel that they have earned 'Punya'.

Even the dried Mahaprasad named as 'Nirmalya' has high demand. The people of Odisha preserve it to take even an iota of Nirmalya after performing daily Puja. In Odiya households it is even required at the time of Nirbandha or marriage negotiation. Even the bride and bridegrooms promise by holding Nirmalya that they will stick to this treaty and not to betray each other. Moreover at the time of death, the Nirmalya and holy basil (Tulsi) with water is poured in the tongue and throat of the imminent deceased persons with the belief that by taking these items after their death their soul will remain in peace and there will be no 'Yamadanda' (Punishment) of the Belzibup. This is primarily the Hindu conviction.

There is a legend behind Lord Jagannath’s Mahaprasad. In Treta yuga, after beheading Ravana the ten-faced monster in Srilanka Lord Ramachandra, Laxman and others had just returned to Ayodha and the Praja (subjects) were eulogising their heroic deeds.

Urmila, the consort of Laxman was silently listening to the great happenings. All were unanimous that Laxman was instrumental in the killing of Indrajit. All were discussing that Indrajit who was immensely powerful had got a boon that only a person who had not taken food for fourteen years and who had not slept for fourteen years uninterruptedly could kill him.

There was a meeting inside the palace in the evening to know the truth behind this matter. Lord Rama questioned Laxman, “ O Lakhan since you did not take any food for continuous fourteen years, then what happened to those food packets which I gave you at Panchavati during our stay there?”  Laxman patiently replied, “My Lord, I kept all those packets in the hole of a Sami tree at Panchavati”.

Rama knew everything. But to bring out the glory of Laxman he pretended as if he didn’t know anything. Lord Rama said, “Oh Hanuman go you to Panchavati and bring back those food packets, which have been preserved in the hole of the Sami tree”. Hanuman developed some pride over this matter. He thought, “The Lord is aware of my strength. He knows that I had brought the Gandhamardana in one hand, when Laxman was unconscious.”  He became hesitant to bring those food packets, but at last he performed the journey from Ayodhya to Panchavati. Hanuman saw that those food packets were still intact in the hollow of the Sami tree, but when he attempted to lift those packets he could not even move them and at last returned to Ayodhya and with humble words told his master that he could not lift those packets. Lord Rama could know that due to Hanuman's ego he could not lift those food packets.

Finally Laxman said, “Oh respected brother, I will fetch those fruits from Panchavati”. Laxman with his powerful arrows could bring back those food packets and all were accumulated in front of Rama. Rama was surprised and asked Hanuman to count all the packets of food that were provided to Laxman over fourteen years. Hanuman counted and informed that seven packets were missing.

Eagerly Rama asked Laxman about the missing packets. Laxman most humbly replied, Oh my dear respected brother and Lord! I shall narrate the mystery behind it”. Laxman said, “When you and I heard the news of the death of our dearest father, Maharaj Dasaratha in the forest, you did not provide me with food on that day. When we got the news that Ravana had kidnapped Sita from Panchavati, on that day also you did not supply the food packet. The third occasion was when Mahi Ravana took both of us to Patala to offer as sacrifice before Lankeswari; on that day also we took no food. The fourth occasion was when I became unconscious due to being struck by Indrajit’s arrow and I was not in a state to take food. On the day when Indrajit was beheaded also I had not taken food for fifth time. The sixth occasion was when you beheaded Ravana and you did not take any food since you had committed Brahmahatya as Ravana was a Brahmin and he was the son of Visrarva Rishi. Lastly, when there was national mourning due to death of Ravana in Lanka on the next day we joined the mourning and left Lanka without taking any food”.

Lord Rama was overwhelmed by the supreme sacrifice, dedication and renunciation of Laxman and declared that Laxmana's Vairagya (renunciation) is par excellence.

Then he praised the supreme tyaga (sacrifice) of Urmila, for how she spent fourteen long years without Laxman. 'I had gone to fourteen years exile with my consort Sita. See such a wife who had made supreme sacrifice. She had eagerly awaited the return of Laxman for fourteen years.'

"All praise goes to Urmila", Lord Rama said. “In Ayodhya we have got three thrones, one for me, one for Sita and another throne for Laxman. I order today that the fourth throne will be installed for Urmila”, said Rama. Urmila with folded hands replied, “Lord, I have no desire for any throne. I may be given the opportunity to serve you. I have no other aspiration.”

Rama was pleased and told Urmila to ask for any boon she wanted. Humble Urmila with folded hands said that if you want to grant me any boon, then please grant that in the ages to come there will be neither any temple for me, nor I will be worshipped on any throne. I want to become like an incense stick by which I will give fragrance to all. I will be at your lotus feet for ages to come as Nivedita.

Lord Rama was so overwhelmed Urmila’s selfless devotion that he exclaimed, “Oh Urmila! I grant you this boon that in the Iron Age (Kalikala) when I will be worshipped at Puri Temple, Goddess Laxmi will not be installed by my side. Laxman in Treta yuga has become my younger brother but in Kali yuga he will be my elder brother Balabhadra. You will be Mahaprasad and by your fragrance you will spread the flavour and will be worshipped. Any prasad which will be offered to me will be first be offered to Goddess Bimala and then it will become Mahaprasad and will be taken as Prasad by devotees".

"You will remain as Mahaprasad and Nirmalya for years to come. Devotees will worship you and they will earn punya from you, So Treta’s Urmila is the Bimala in Kali yuga".

Glory to Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra and Bimala. Lord Rama further said, 'In Kaliyuga, you will be worshipped as Annabrahma'.

Urmila further prayed, “When you will be on Ratna Singhasana I will come in the Bay of Bengal as a wave, the ripple (Urmi) to touch your golden feet”. Lord Rama granting this boon said 'Oh Urmila ! Your selfless love and sacrifice is unparalleled and par excellence; it will be immortalized forever.'


Bhaktavatsal Bhagavan ki Jai !!

Mahaprasad ki Jai !!