Kartik Diary 20
Eternal Bliss - New Vraja Dham - Nrsimha Caturdasi 2004
Vraja Mandala Parikrama 10
Today we took an early morning bath in the sea. The sky was somewhat overclouded and even send a few drops of rain down to earth.. This gave much relief to everyone being afflicted by the great heat. In the late afternoon it actually started to rain lightly accompanied by the distant rumbling and the flashes of lightning of a thunderstorm. It appeared just like a concert of mrdungam drums.
In the morning we went to the Jagannatha temple for parikrama. The temple tower is 60 meters high but appears even higher as it stands on a hill. The temple dome is crowned by the huge bluish neela chakra made out of eight metals having a diameter of over 11 feet and measuring 36 feet in circumference. On top of the chakra a colourful triangular flag flies in the calm sky to greet visitors to Purusottama Ksetra from a distance. The flag is changed daily and shows different colours. Yesterday it was yellow with a red lying crescent moon and a red dot in it, today it had a light pinkish colour. It is stated in Caitanya Caritamrta that seeing Lord Jagannath's chakra on top of the temple is as good as seeing the deities.
Lord Jagannath's kitchen is said to be largest kitchen in the world. With its 752 stoves it is capable to cook for 100,000 people in one day and 25,000 meals is normal on a festival day. Lord Jagannatha receives one main offering in the afternoon and six offerings throughout the day. Every day a variety of 56 items is offered to the Lord. The temple has 6,000 priests.
The temple has two rectangular walls surrounding it; the outer wall is six meters high and there are four gates on each side. The southern gate is the Ashwadvara or horse gate, the western gate is the Vyaghradvara or tiger gate, the northern gate the Hastidvara or elephant gate and the famous eastern gate or Simhadvara is the lion gate. It is this gate at which Raghunatha Das Goswami used to beg alms.
After circumambulating Lord Jagannatha's temple we went to the Gundica Mandir, which is at the other side of the Grand Road, Lord Jagannath's route of the three chariots at Ratha Yatra. Unfortunately Westerners are not allowed to enter. We therefore went to the near by Nrsimhadeva temple, which is normally also not accessible to Westerners. However there was no one guarding the entrance so I just walked in depending on Lord Nrsimhadeva's mercy. No one stopped me.
To my great surprise a pujari signalled to me to follow him and he brought me right in front of the Lord. When I asked him if I could take a photo he said 'donation' and I pulled out 10 Rupees, however, he seemed not yet satisfied. After repeating this process three more times he allowed me to take the photo. The Lord looked peaceful with Prahlada and Laksmi at His side and for an additional 100 Rupees the pujari lit a candle and revealed the original Ughra (angry) Nrsimhadeva deity right behind Laksmi Nrsimha. It looked like an ancient deity of a bygone age. It is said that whoever visits the Lord at this temple all ones anxieties are removed.
After visiting Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's birth place at the Caitanya Gaudiya Math we returned to our guest house where the very friendly owner had arranged some Jagannath prasadam for us. To our great surprise the prasadam was still hot. We sat down on the balcony, spread out the banana leafs and respected the Lord's remnants. They came in earthen pots and consisted of a large quantity of rice with some dhal, almost a light kitri, dhal, two subjis, a sweet puri-like japati and some type of jalebee. We are supposed to receive some dry maha prasadam tomorrow to take with us and share with all of you on our return to the UK. Lord Jagannath's maha prasadam ki jaya!
While writing this the thunderstorm has come closer, the electricity is off and a heavy downpoor has taken over from the light drizzle. People are running for shelter and even the otherwise slowly and peaceful walking cows are picking up some pace while a lonely cyclist holding an umbrella and a man with a plastic bag over his head are trying to find some shelter. Meanwhile we are sitting peacefully and much satisfied by so much mercy from the 'Lord of the Universe' on the balcony of our 'Shanti Guest House' discussing our plans for our imminent departure from Jagannatha Puri Dham tomorrow evening.
Jay Jagannatha! Jay Jagannatha Puri Dham!
With love and affection,
Your servant in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Gauranga Sundara Das