Installation of Sri Jagannatha at Bhaktivedanta Ashram
friends and devotees,
Rama. Please accept my humble pranams.
On May 22nd,
we began the installation ceremony (pranapratishta) of the lifesize deities
of Sri Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balabhadra at our ashram in Bhadrak, Orissa.
The pranapratishta ceremony was conducted by priests from the Puri Jagannatha
temple, headed by Sri Nanda Sharma, and lasted for three days.
On the first
day, akhanda nama kirtan was inaugurated, and devotees went in procession
to the Salandi river to collect holy water for the Kalashas and for the
abhisheka of the deities. Five hundred years ago, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
visited Bhadrak and took bath at the same spot where the devotees collected
the water. As such, this water is very sacred to Gaudiya Vaishnavas.
was done according to the Puri pantha, where the Lord is seen to perform
the lilas of being "born" and then "dying" every 12 years in the navakalevara
festival. Every detail of the birth ceremony is performed for Lord Jagannatha,
including the tying of the umbilical cord and the burying of the embryonic
sack. In Puri there are even specific families who will shave their head
and perform the shraddha ceremony for Lord Jagannatha so that "he can attain
Vaikuntha". For some it is difficult to understand this complex relationship
in light of philosophical expositions on the Lord. This mysterious relationship
is actually based on complete personal love for the Lord, not on ignorance
of His supreme eternal position. Even the great acharya Sripada Ramanuja
was forbidden by Lord Jagannatha to change the system of worship in Puri.
As per the
tradition, the Lord was first invoked in a "delivery room" for His birth.
The birth of the Lord occurred on ekadashi day, the 23rd of May, at which
time devotees were allowed a brief darshan of the Lord without ornaments
or alankaras, having just been born with no clothes. Following His birth,
the priests were to bath Him with pancha gavya and panchamrita. Just as
the doors were opening for the devotees to have their first glimpse of
Lord Jagannatha at His birth, rain began to pour down. It created a very
nice atmosphere with the rain hitting the roof, and the sound reverberating
inside. Later the head priest explained that according to the pratishta
viddhi, Indra and the Devas should first bathe the Lord by showering rain,
and only after this should the priests bathe the Lord. He said out of hundreds
of installations he had conducted (himself being over 80 years old), it
was extremely rare and auspicious for the rain to start at the precise
time that it was supposed to.
the birth of Lord Jagannatha, the deities were bathed with holy water and
sacred substances from the cow (ghee, yoghurt, milk, etc.) from 108 Kalashas.
As the abhisheka began, a rare bird came inside the altar and landed just
inches above Balarama's head. He sat there the entire abhisheka (around
half an hour) just staring at the deities being bathed. This particular
bird is famous for staying in the Jagannatha temple in Puri.
abhisheka, the priests wanted to close the altar, but the bird was refusing
to leave. Finally after failing to get the bird to come out, the priests
decided the bird should spend the night on the altar with Lord Jagannatha.
The next morning, when the priests opened to door to offer naivedyam to
the Lord, the bird immediately flew out on its own, never to be seen again.
time that Lord Jagannatha arrived at our ashram last year, many auspicious
signs have been observed. The day after the deities arrived in Bhadrak,
a large white cobra around 7 feet in length was seen next to the temple
where the deities were staying, and in subsequent days two other cobras
were seen around the same area. In 20 years we have never found cobras
in this area, but due to the arrival of the Lord, the Nagas came for the
Lord's darshan. Within the first month of the deities arriving, many sacred
trees spontaneously started growing around the temple, even though they
were not growing anywhere nearby. One Peepal tree, three Banyan trees,
three Kadamba trees, two Bilva trees, three Champaka trees and many Neem
trees sprouted up around the temple, and are now all growing between 10
to 15 feet tall. The Kadamba tree is especially associated with Lord Krishna,
as He was very fond of playing with the flowers of this tree, which resemble
large round balls. The Peepal tree is worshipped throughout India, and
in the Gita Lord Krishna states, ashvatthah sarva-vrikshanam, "Amongst
all trees, I am the Peepal tree (ashvattha)". In Puri Jagannatha temple
there is a Peepal tree that is considered a Kalpa Vriksha.
the morning on the 24th, the head priest, Sri Nanda Sharma, entered the
garbhagriha, along with one assistant, to perform gupta mantra japa, the
final rituals for the pranapratishta. While chanting the mantras, twice
he fainted. When he came back to consciousness he told the other priest
that he had seen a huge effulgence around Jagannatha and lost consciousness.
Though he is over 80 years old, for the entire three days he went without
eating any food, only absorbed in mantra japa and the pratishta rituals.
On the 24th
the Lord prepared to offer His first alankara darshana to His devotees.
Over the previous two days, the devotees were only able to view the Lord
for 30 minutes during His birth and abhisheka, so they were very anxious
to see the Lord. Finally at 4 pm, following the completion of all the installation
rituals and purnahuti, the Lord was dressed in Badashringar Vesha, and
garlanded with lotus malas consisting of over 2,000 lotuses.
opened with all the devotees singing and dancing, filled with joy to finally
be able to see the Lord. The auspicious sounds of conchshells, drums and
bells filled the air, along with the chanting of the devotees.
there was Bhagavat Katha by sannyasis from ISKCON and Gaudiya Matha, followed
by bhajans by the two most famous singers in Orissa, Pankaj Jha and Kumar
Pankaj Jha, Orissa's most famous singer,
singing bhajans for Lord Jagannatha.
pictures of the installation ceremony are available on our website at the
link below. There are a total of 60 photos, so it may take some time for
all of the pictures to load.
Jahnava Nitai Das,
For more information please visit our website: