Lord Jagannath is mysterious. His deeds are miraculous. Those who come across Him have been endowed with mysterious and miraculous experiences.
I happened to be one of those, who at hours of crises in life or when saddled with problems, think of Him to seek protection and get solution. With sincere faith when a seeker looks for Him, he gets instant results.
The utmost favour that the Lord has bestowed on me is the opportunity to give running commentary of His car festival since 1959, when I was a lecturer at Bikram Dev College. Because of His grace only, I have been doing this job on radio and TV till today, even after my retirement as director, education, in 1992.
My mother, a great devotee of Sri Jagannath, while introducing Him to me in my childhood said, that He is Lord Vishnu. To my queries why has he assumed this form, my mother had explained that the divine carpenter Viswakarma, who was commissioned to carve out images out of the divine log that was floating on the sea, wanted the king Indradyumna not to open the door, for a period of 21 days. This time was required to carve out the idols in a complete way. While the carpenter was busy carving the images, no sound was audible, after some days and out of anxiety, the king had forcibly opened the door and found the deities to be incomplete.
During the running commentary and also in course of my discussion during the car festivals on various occasions, I have been trying to explain that the deities are not incomplete but “complete” in themselves. They are the symbolic representations of three aspects of the highest divine consciousness called as Brahma in Upanishads that depict the philosophical aspects of the Vedas.
Vasudeva or Purusottam, now known as Shree Jagannath, is the highest entity from whom emerges the Shankarshan, known as Balabhadra, who represents the visible creation. Vasudeva or Purusottam or Jagannath is the supreme, who, while transforming himself as the living world, also transcends it, the transcendental stage being known as Purusottam. The feminine deity in between Jagannath and Balabhadra is the feminine principle known as “Prakriti” through whom the Supreme manifests as the living and non-living objects in the Universe.
While I was narrating and analysing the positions of the Trinities worshipped at Puri during a meeting in the US, friends from Iskcon asked one of the organisers saying, “Why is he not calling them as brothers and sisters?”
In course of time, the worship of Vasudev, Shankarshan and Ekaanansa or Durga, got transformed as Krishna, his elder brother Balaram and sister Subhadra. This is due to the predominance of Vaishnavism and also Chaitanya movement.
Over time, Krishna assumed all the present names of the Lord Vishnu, including Krishna, Vasudev, Purusottam and Jagannath. These names started being used for Jagannath and Krishna both.
With the Sri Chaitanya movement at its peak, the deity of Purusottam, who was popular throughout India and was known as Jagannath, became Krishna in His daily worship and rituals.
To the people of Odisha and to many devotees throughout India, Lord Jagannath is Krishna, who has incarnated with a wooden body carved out of neem tree with specific divine symbols.
He is a living god and one who thinks of Him alone, gets Him. The persons who seek fortune gets it, pursuers of fame obtain it. Crisis ridden gets solutions and seekers of salvation are guaranteed to find the way to achieve it.
The world was without a Living Master after Krishna left the world. “It is He, Krishna has come back as Lord Jagannath,” said Chaitanya.
He, who is shown as the symbol of omnipotent and omniscient “Brahma”, is now the darling of masses and is worshipped as Darudevata or Lord with wooden body.
In my so-called long association with Him, I have felt that the formless has assumed form for the sake of mankind. Sri Krishna has come back to us as a deity, who is a living God. He listens though devoid of ears, moves with no visible legs. The Bramha, who is achievable through penance, is easily accessible and available through devotion.
A personal touch will perhaps not be out of place here when the writer of this essay is trying to narrate how the Lord is nearer to His devotees.
While I was on a flight with some of my friends, they wanted to know whether my ticket had been booked by my son or daughter staying in the US. My reply was that it was neither by my son, nor daughter. In fact, the ticket was booked by the dearest friend, philosopher and guide — Lord Jagannath.
An invitation was extended to me in 1995 to visit US and deliver lectures at different places on the occasion of car festivals organised by the Odia community living there. Before my preparation for getting a visa, I was told that the organisers would like to postpone the invitation to next year. The postponement was because a Union minister, who happened to be an Odia, was in the US and would be available during the festival in Nashville, US. I felt being let down.
I felt an attempt was made to insult me deliberately. Instead of blaming the organisers, I blamed my Lord Jagannath in one of my poems narrating my wounded feelings as a result of His design.
I looked at His image and said: “Let your wish be fulfilled.”
Five years later, another invitation was extended to me. It was told that the invitation was from the American Society of Odisha that was having its meeting at Nashville on July 4, a day before the car festival was to be held there. The Jagannath Society had also invited me. I found My Lord has not let me down.
He listened and I got the redress. The divine wheel of justice moves slowly and smoothly. Upholder of Draupadi’s honour had held me aloft, proving it again that He listens when called sincerely. The return ticket for coming back to India was lost when I was busy in a heated argument with an American-African officer. I had to catch the plane to New York in the last leg of my journey. I had to face an embarrassing situation and also a financial problem. I sincerely prayed to Him to bail me out of the problem. Only because of His intervention, I got the chance to come as a speaker to the US. My prayer was heard.
A relation of mine, who was in the Indian Embassy, came to know about my plight and wrote to the British Airways to allow me to board the plane. The British Airways complied with the request. My crisis manager, Lord Jagannath, came to my rescue as usual.