Vrindavan 2016.07.05 (VT): Lord Jagannath, Baldev and Subhadra will come out from the Panighat Jagannath temple tomorrow to take their annual ride through town. Tradition holds that Jagannath falls sick from the bath he took last purnima (Snana Yatra), but after recovering (along with getting a repainting) he is ready to celebrate by taking a ride on his chariot.
The chariots used in the festival are as old as 50 years. Devotees have already started thronging the Jagannath temple in Vrindavan to take part in the millennial tradition.
Temple Mahant Swami Gyan Prakash Maharaj told our correspondent that new chariots were built 50 years ago, as the then chariots were in bad shape. Now they paint and decorate these chariots every year for the Lords.
The height of each chariot is 40 feet from the ground. He also told that the chariots in Jaganath Puri are much bigger than these, but keeping in mind the narrow lanes of Vrindavan, they developed the chariots smaller in size.
The Lords are unwell after taking the bath from 108 pots and fruit juices on June 20. As a result he was going through ayurvedic treatment daily as per the tradition, and will come out tomorrow on his chariot after the morning maha-aarti.
Lord Jagannath first came to Gyan Gudri
Gyan Gudri is the place where the conversation between the Gopis and Uddhav Thakur took place. The Vrindavan Jagannath Yatra is not considered complete without bringing the chariots to this place.
Mahant Gyan Prakash Maharaj told our correspondent that when Sant Haridas came back to Vrindavan from Jagannath Puri with the three murtis, he first stopped directly at Gyan Gudri.
Following the tradition, even today the chariots rest at Gyan Gudri for a while after visiting the Sapt Devalaya.
One day about 500 years ago, Lord Shri Krishna appeared before Shri Haridasji Maharaj, a Vaishnav Mahatma of Vrindavan, and told him that in the month of Ashadh the existing images of Jagannath, Balram and Subhadra Devi would be replaced by new ones. Lord ordered him to bring the old vigrahas to Vrindavan.
The custom in Jagannath Puri is that every thirty-six years or so, the old wooden murtis are replaced by new ones during the anavasar period between Snana Yatra and Ratha Yatra.
Mahatma Haridas ji went to Puri on foot with his disciples. They reached Puri four days before Rath Yatra. Haridas requested Puri temple priest to hand over the old vigrahas as had been requested by Lord Krishna himself. The priest asked him to see the King of Puri, Maharaja Pratap Rudra, to get authorization. The king also refused as he could not break the tradition of immersing the old vigrahas in ocean. Mahatma Haridas ji thought that if he was unable to carry out the orders of his Lord it was better to die. He went to the seashore and entered a deep meditation. At midnight Lord Jagannath ji ordered the King in a dream to hand over the old vigrahas to Mahatma Haridas ji as Lord Krishna wanted to live both in Puri and Vrindavan.
The King gave the old vigrahas to Mahatma Haridas ji. Then he and his disciples brought them in a cart to Vrindavan. He had a temple constructed on the banks of sacred river Yamuna, in the place where Lord Krishna gave his vision to Haridas ji, which is now called Jagannath Ghat. The deities were placed in the temple and have been worshipped there ever since.
This temple is now known as Shri Jagannath Mandir. The atmosphere of the temple is very peaceful and serene. One automatically feels like performing bhajana-kirtan, etc., in the temple premises. The special feature of this temple is that it is open to devotees of all castes, creeds and religions, whereas the entry in the Jagannath temple in Puri is restricted to Hindus only. One gets same blessings of the Lord by visiting the temples of Puri and Vrindavan.
Pastimes of Swami Iswar Puri ji Maharaj:
Swami Iswar Puriji Maharaj was born Indra Raj in Mewra (Rajasthan) on May 7, 1943. His father was Shri Krishna Ram and mother Srimati Devaki Devi. Once he saw a play on the life of Bhakt Meera Bai performed in his own town. This influenced him so much that he started chanting the names of Krishna on beads. He soon began to feel that he could not live without get direct darshan of Lord Krishna. Then, one day he ran away from home, pretending that he was going to school. He was only eighteen years old.
From Mewra he walked to Vrindavan where he came in contact with Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada at the Sri Radha-Damodar temple. Prabhupada gave him diksha and sannyasa. His name was changed to Swami Ishwar Puri according to the traditions of Sadhu Samaj.
Swami Ishwar Puriji studied Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavata, Chaitanya Charitamrita and other holy books in Vrindavan, and afterwards went to foreign countries to preach Vaishnavism. He returned to Vrindavan in 1979 and was taken to the Jagannath Temple that had been constructed by Haridas ji Maharaj.
At that time it was in a dilapidated condition. As he had no viable successors, the Mahant, Baba Ramdas Maharaj, handed over the temple to Swamiji. Over the years, Swami Ishwar Puri ji made many renovations and changed it into a huge and beautiful temple. A Radha Krishna temple was also constructed on the same premises.
Swamiji traveled around India and abroad to collect donations from devotees of Lord Krishna. Funds flowed in generously and freely. In the temple complex a goshala and ashram were also built. The ashram is known as Ishwar Puri Ashram. The pujaris of the temple, sadhus, visitors and devotees are given free boarding and lodging facilities.
The late Swamiji also started many other services such as Mandir Sewa, Go-sewa, Sadhu-sewa, Bird-sewa, Shri Bhagavat Vidyalaya, free homeopathic and allopathic dispensaries, free eye-camps, free services for old men and women, distribution of free clothes to the poor.
Swamiji also established a center known as Bhagwat Dham in Birmingham (U.K.) to spread the message of the Gita and Bhagavata and Sri Krishna Bhakti in other countries of the world.
Swamiji left for his eternal abode on 9th May 2003. Before doing so, he appointed Swami Gyan Prakash Puriji Maharaj as his successor and told him to devote his whole life in the service of Sri Jagannath ji. He told him that he would not need to worry for anything as Lord Jagannath will look after him and the temple seva.
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