Appearance of Lord Jagannatha : The Merciful Lord of the Universe

Radhamohan Das
It was on the auspicious occasion of a solar eclipse that the residents of Vrindavana including Nanda Maharaja, Yasoda Rani, Rohini, Radharani and the gopis got an opportunity of seeing Lord Krishna at Kuruksetra for the first time since the day He left for Mathura to enjoy His pastimes.
Though, Lord Krishna promised Radharani and the gopis that He would return soon from Mathura after performing some of His pastimes in Mathura and outside Vrindavana, He did not return to Vrindavana, instead He moved to Dvaraka to further continue, His transcendental pastimes. At Kuruksetra, the residents of Dvaraka and Vrindavana like Vasudeva, Devaki, the two Lords Krishna and Balarama, Nanda Maharaja, Yasoda Mayi, Rohini, Radharani, the gopis and others were present together to bathe in the holy-lakes on the auspicious day of a solar eclipse.
Taking the opportunity of their presence, Rohini, Lord Balarama's mother wanted to narrate the unbearable sufferings that the Vrajavasis, particularly Radharani and the gopis got due to their separation from Lord Krishna for a long time. Rohini did not want both Krishna and Balarama to hear her narration directly, fearing that such talks would cause the Lords intense pains of separation if by chance They happened to come nearby. She then posted Subhadra at the entrance of the temporary camp and asked her not to let Krishna and Balarama into the tent. But, the Lords listened their talks through the door from outside. As They began hearing, Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama and even Subhadra who stood between the two Lords became motionless.
They were completely dumbfounded and immersed in the tense thoughts of Radha, the gopis, and all Vrajavasis who suffered unbearably for a long time due to their separation from Lord Krishna. Their eyes grew bigger and bigger in amazement, and other parts of Their bodies – arms, legs and necks withdrew into Their bodies, so much so that Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra appeared just like the Deities of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Subhadrarani that millions of devotees and pilgrims are worshiping at Jagannatha Puri and in many cities of the world.
Lord Jagannatha now parades in many cities, towns, villages etc of India and abroad to bestow His unlimited and causeless mercy. This is one inconceivable and transcendental pastime of Lord Krishna to appear Himself in this divine form as Lord Jagannatha, the merciful Lord of the Universe. Narada Muni was fortunate to be present during that wonderful pastime of Lord Krishna at Kuruksetra. The following is another transcendental pastime of Lord Krishna, in which He appeared as Lord Jagannatha from a sacred and transcendental log, which was originally a kalpa-vriksa. King Indradyumna of Avantipura, the glory of the Surya-vamsa and the jewel of the Ksatriyas kings, and also the monarch of the universe in many thousands of years ago, was a great devotee and fifth in the line of Lord Brahma.
He conquered in all directions and possessed wealth, power, fame & sovereignty without limit. But, he regarded his vast kingdom as a vacant desert because he was bereft of Lord Krishna, who alone could fill his heart with joy and serenity. He thought that his wife, citizens, kingdom are the creations of that artful maya. He confused illusion with reality, because these creations are not the true identities. In reality, we are not these bodies, nor can we truly own anything connected with our bodies.
He then made a solemn pledge to dedicate his thoughts, words and deeds toward seeing face to face the Supreme Person, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He decided to worship Lord Nila Madhava, the Deity of Lord Vasudeva, in the form of a Supreme Person, as he believed that worshipping God as the impersonal absolute was troublesome. Lord Nila Madhava was believed to have been worshipped as the Deity of Lord Krishna during the first fifty years of Lord Brahma's life and during the second half of Lord Brahma's life, Lord Krishna was worshipped in the divine form of Lord Jagannatha. Lord Nila Madhava desired that He be worshipped by king Indradyumna in great opulence and royal manner. Accordingly, he built a magnificent temple at Niladri mountain, since then the Lord become known as Jagannatha.
By the grace of Lord Krishna, king Indradyumna could see Lord Krishna who appeared in his dream and He told the king that the time for His advent as Lord Jagannatha had come. The king was directed to go to Bankimuhan, a sandy beach where He would arrive as a great log floating down in the Milk of Ocean from the island of Svetadvipa. That sacred and transcendental log was originally a kalpa-vrksa, which manifested as Lord Jagannatha. At Bankimuhan, the wooden log marked with four symbols of Lord Visnu, after His long journey was resting. King Indradyumna found the log as immovable as the mighty Himalayas. Hundreds of men and elephants could not dislodge and lift it.
One Virabhadra, a sabara, an outcaste and a swine herd, but a great devotee of Lord Nila Madhava lifted the sacred log easily after he offered his obeisances. The sacred log was then brought to Gundica in a grand procession.
On the request of king Indradyumna, Visvakarma, the celestial architect started carving as other mundane carvers failed to use their mundane tools to carve the log. The celestial carver who was the brahmana Ananta Maharana in the disguise of Visvakarma promised the king to finish carving the Deity within 21 days on condition that he should not be interrupted under any circumstances.
 As no sound of chisel was heard even after only 7 days left, the king thought that Lord Jagannatha's welfare was in doubt. King Indradyumna, therefore grew impatient and he deliberately threw the doors of Gundica open. He then found Jagannatha, Subhadra, and Balarama, alongwith the Sudarsana Cakra revealed in the unfinished forms of the Deities and also Visvakarma disappeared.
There were markings of the conch shell and disc on the incompletely engraved Deity of Lord Jagannatha and a club and plow on that of Lord Balarama. Seeing the incomplete forms of Deities, king Indradyumna lamented. He thought that the carving of the Deities by the celestial carver could not be completed with the disappearance of the celestial carver due to his interruption.
The king wanted to give up his useless life that night itself as he was responsible for disfiguring the divine form of Lord. Suddenly a voice was heard saying, “Indradyumna, My dearest devotee, I am Jagannatha, eternally present as Purusottama in this wooden form. I have appeared in this way to fulfill the vedic promise that though I am without hands and feet, I accept My devotees' offerings and walk about to bestow My blessings upon the people of this earth. I have especially enjoyed this sweet pastime in which you broke your promise to Me. Devotees who have achieved the highest degree of love see Me as Syamasundara, the Original Personality of Godhead, holding a flute. Still, if you prefer to worship Me in opulence you may ornament Me with hands and feet made of gold and silver. But you should know that I am already the ornament of all ornaments."
Narada Muni told king Indradyumna that the disappearance of the celestial carver was part of the Lord's pastime to make him increase the love of God.

(To be contd)