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Jagannath (far right) with his brother Balarama (far left) and sister Subhadra (center) in Radhadesh, Belgium

Jagannath (Sanskrit: जगन्नाथ jagannātha Oriya: ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ) is a Hindu deity, a form of Vishnu. The oldest and most famous Jagannath deity is in the city of Puri, in Orissa, India (the city is known to many as Jagannath Puri after the Jagannath Temple) where each year the famous Rath Yatra festival takes place. Jagannath is worshipped by Hindus all over India. The Jagannath Temple in Puri is regarded as one of the four most sacred Hindu pilgrimage places in India.



Jagannath is derived from Jagannātha[1] a Sanskrit name used to describe a form of Krishna. The term means 'master, lord' (nātha) of the 'World, Universe' (jagat).

Traditional stories

There are two interesting stories associated with this deity. First is the story of how Krishna appeared to a great devotee of the lord, King Indradyumna and ordered him to carve a deity from a log he would find washed up on the sea shore of Puri. He searched for a carpenter to make the deities. King Indradyumna found a mysterious old Brahmin carpenter who appeared and took the responsibility and took a few days to accomplish that. Surprisingly the carpenter insisted that he would not be disturbed while he was carving the deity and start working behind a closed door. Everyone including the King and his Queen were very much anxious and came every day to the closed door and there was sound of working. After 6-7 days of waiting anxiously outside his room, but after some time, all sound stopped. The impatient Indradyumna's Queen worried what had happened and assuming the worst, opened the doors - only to find the deity half-finished and the carpenter vanished! The mysterious carpenter was none other than Vishvakarma, the heavenly architect. The king was distraught as the deity had no arms and legs. Utterly repentant that he had interrupted the carving, the king was only pacified when the muni (sage) called Narada appeared and explained that the form the king now sees is a legitimate form of the supreme personality of godhead. The second story here was narrated to further explain and remove any doubts and confusion.

The second reason for Lord Jagannath's appearance is the story of how Krishna was eavesdropping on the gopis as they spoke amongst themselves of His pastimes, and how much they loved him. Sister Subhadra was instructed to keep watch and ensure Krishna wasn't nearby while the gopis spoke of Krishna. But after a while Subhadra was so overwhelmed by the gopis' devotion and their stories that she became completely engrossed in listening. She didn't see the brothers Krishna and Balarama approaching. As the brothers listened their hairs stood on end, their arms retracted, their eyes grew larger and larger, and they smiled broadly in ecstasy. That is why Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra look like they do.

This form is worshiped by Vaishnavas as the abstract form of Krishna. The deities - Jagannath, Balabhadra (Balarama) and Subhadra (Krishna's sister) are usually worshipped in the temple, but once in every Asadha Masa (Rainy Season, usually June or July), they are brought out onto the main high street of Puri and travel (3 km) to the Mausimaa Temple, allowing the public to have Darshan (holy view) of the deities as they pass. This festival is known as Ratha Yatra. The Rath carts themselves are huge wooden structures built new every year and are pulled by the millions of pilgrims who turn up for the event from all parts of the Globe. The festival commemorates Krishna's return to His home in Vrindavan after a long period of separation from the people there.

The Temple of Lord Jagannath

The Temple of Lord Jagannath is one of the major temples in India. The worship of Lord Jaganatha is so ancient that there is no accurate record of how long it has been going on. It is strictly forbidden for non-Hindus to enter the Jaganatha temple. The temple known as Shrimandira to the devout is built in Kalinga style of architecture.It consists of a tall shikhara (dome) housing the 'sanctum sanctorum' (garbhagriha). A pillar made of fossilized wood is used for placing lamps as offering. The lion gate (Singhadwara) is the main gate to the temple, guarded by two guardian deities Jaya and Vijaya. A memorial column known as Aruna Stambha faces the main gate. This column was brought here by the Raja of Khurda from the sun temple of Konarak.

Once a year, Jaganatha, along with his brother Baladeva, and sister Subhadra, are taken out of the temple and pulled on huge chariots through the streets of Puri. It is from these huge chariots that the English word 'juggernaut' originates.[2] Millions of devotees from a variety of different traditions attend this festival every year, including the King of Puri, who sweeps the path in front of Lord Jaganatha cart.

There are many more Jagannath Temples all over India. One of the lesser known temple is in Kurseong in Darjeeling District in North of West Bengal. This temple is as old as almost 300 years. This very old temple also organises the Rath Yatra along with the Rath Yatra of Puri.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ See

External links

Simple English

Jagannath is a form of god Krishna. The biggest temple of Jagannath is located in Puri, Orissa state, India. He is worshipped in Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, and some parts of eastern India.


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