This Jagannatha temple is situated in the Saradanga area and the deity here manifested five hundred years ago. At present Lord Jagannatha along with Lord Baladeva, Subhadra-devi and Sudarsana is worshiped here under the management of ISKCON. The appearance of these deities is described in the book The Pastimes and History of Lord Jagannatha in Rajapur as follows: At the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a devotee named Jagadisa Ganguli lived in a small village near the present day Mayapur. Jagadisa was a highly elevated Vaishnava and even though he was very old, still every year he would make the 900 km journey on foot to Jagannatha Puri in the Bay of Bengal. He would travel with other devotees from Bengal to meet their most dear Lord Caitanya, have darsana of Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra-devi, and participate in the ecstatic Ratha-yatra. After four months they would return to their homes in Bengal. One day Jagadisa’s happiness was ruined. He was stricken with a serious disease that left him totally blind. When he realized that he could no longer see the divine forms of Lord Caitanya and the Jagannatha deities, he became very depressed. Worse yet, his friends considered the annual pilgrimage to Puri too long and too dangerous for a blind man and they refused to take him along with them. Jagadisa remained in Navadvipa in constant lamentation and despondency. Out of hopelessness he even considered committing suicide. Then one night Lord Jagannatha appeared to Jagadisa in a dream. The next morning, the Lord told him, when Jagadisa went for his daily bath in the Ganga, a log would touch his head and restore his vision. The Lord told Jagadisa that he should take that log and go to a nearby village where a devotee-carpenter lives. The Lord explained also that the carpenter would refuse the work because he was a leper and had deformed hands. Jagadisa would have to insist, and convince the carpenter to do this work.
On completion of this job, the Lord assured, the carpenter’s leprosy would immediately vanish. Upon awakening, Jagadisa was amazed at his dream. He immediately left for his morning bath in the Ganga and became ecstatic when a log touched his head and restored his vision. He took the wood and went to a nearby village,where he searched and searched until he found a leper carpenter. Jagadisa implored the leper to carve a deity of Lord Jagannatha from the wood, but the carpenter flatly refused. He showed Jagadisa his deformed fingers and asked him, “How is it possible for me to carve the divine form of the Lord with these hands?” But Jagadisa insisted. He explained to the leper that his leprosy would be cured once he finished the carving. Finally the leper agreed. Jagadisa stayed with the leper as he was working and saw him suffering terribly. Blood and pus oozed from the stumps that were once his fingers and he wanted to quit the work. But Jagadisa encouraged him and enabled him to forget his agony long enough to finish the deity of Lord Jagannatha. The very moment he finished, his leprosy disappeared. Jagadisa took the deity to a site near the present Jagannatha temple and established His worship there. A few nights later, Jagadisa had another dream. This time Lord Jagannatha instructed him to take some near by neem wood to the same carpenter and have him make deities of Subhadra and Balarama.
Jagadisa did so and installed Them in the temple next to Lord Jagannatha. Legend has it that after the demise of Jagadisa Ganguli, the Lord, being dissatisfied with the neglectful state of His worship, decided to end His manifest pastimes. Suddenly there was an outbreak of cholera. The inhabitants of the surrounding area assembled at the temple and prayed to Prabhu Jagannatha to have pity on them and save their lives. That night, Jagannatha came to the head priest in a dream and said, “One of the housewives of the Ganguli family, who is characterless, dared to dishonor Me. For this offense everyone in the Ganguli family and the village will die if they do not leave the place.” The next morning the villagers found the members of the Ganguli family dead and immediately deserted the entire area. Since there was no more worship at the temple, Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra, and Balarama were forgotten, and save for the flat roof over Their heads, the temple fell down around Them and was soon covered by the surrounding jungle. For reasons mysterious to most, the Lord appears and disappears according to His own sweet will.
Indeed He states that one who understands the mystery of His appearance and activities does not take birth again in the material world. Centuries after the demise of the Ganguli family, villagers noticed auniquely beautiful blue flower growing on top of the snake-infested ruin that was once Lord Jagannatha’s temple. When they went near the mound they heard a voice calling, “Please give Me water, I am thirsty! Please give Me water.” But because the temple had no owner people were reluctant to go near it due to fear of poisonous snakes and other wild beasts. The deities remained neglected. It wasn’t until about 1958 when the Lord, who once again desired to be worshiped, called for Jaimini Ghosh.
Jaimini Ghosh (from the nearby village of Bahadurpur) was only a young man at that time and he recalls: “One evening on my way to Navadvipa, I was passing along the road just outside the Jagannatha temple, when a bamboo tree crashed across the path. Feeling an uncanny presence, I suspected the work of some ghost and I knew that if I stepped over the tree, something would happen to me. Gripped by fear, I crouched to the ground and in that terrified condition I lost consciousness.” He awoke to an assuring voice saying, “It’s alright now, you may proceed, there is no more danger.” Jaimini said, “Why did you do that to me?” “I didn’t,” replied the voice. “I saved you, I am your friend.” Suspicious, Jaimini replied, “If you saved me, then help me get to my uncle’s house in Navadvipa.” As if he were being carried, young Jaimini effortlessly sped down the jungle path, along the main road, across the Ganges (without a boat) and arrived safely at his uncle’s house. Shortly after, the same voice spoke to him, revealing Himself to be Lord Jagannatha, and told Jaimini to begin His worship by offering Ganges water, milk, and batasa (sugar sweet). Jaimini called Phatik Chatterjee, who was the owner of the land on which the temple was situated, and told him everything. Phatik, with his son-in-law Ram and other villagers, cleared away the jungle and lifted Jagannatha from under a termite hill. Although the deities had been residing in the middle of a termite hill, Their wooden forms were miraculously intact, Their bodies having been packed in frankincense.
Only some parts of the bodies of Baladeva and Subhadra had to be repaired by a sculptor who used neem wood from a tree in Phatik Chatterjee’s garden. A small temple was constructed for Them (which still can be seen at the site next to the Siva-linga and banyan tree) and Phatik Chatterjee became the pujari for Their Lordships. In 1979, the aging pujari felt he may not be able to go on for long with the worship of his beloved murtis and consequently donated the temple and property to ISKCON on Gaura-purnima day. By the kind contribution of various devotees a wonderful temple has been constructed, surrounded by nice gardens and mango groves. These historical deity forms of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra have been here at least 500 years.
We shall try now to narrate some of Their pastimes, for Lord Jagannath is sometimes very active.
a) History of Lord Jagannath is Sri Simantadwip is not different from the Master of Sri Nilacala Dham (Jagannath Puri) himself. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has re-established this truth by historical facts is his book Sri Navadvipa Dham Mahatamya (“The glories of Navadvipa Dham”). The following is a story from that book. A long time ago, one demonic person named Raktabahu appeared in the region of Orissa. He was very sinful and irreligious. At that time Raktabahu was breaking temples of the Lord left and right. Thus be created a big panic in the hearts of the pious people in Orissa. When the devotees of Lord Jagannath in Puri came to know about the mischievousness of Raktabahu, they became very much afraid. They immediately approached Lord Jagannath, “O worshipful Lord”, the devotees asked, “We are in great anxiety knowing that a miscreant named Raktabahu is breaking down all temples and the Deities inside. He is now proceeding towards this direction. He may come at any moment and attack your temple. If that happens, then we will have to give up our lives, because we’ll never be able to tolerate any action against You. Please, save us from this danger by making proper arrangements for the protection of Your divine form and the temple, O Almighty Lord!” Being thus approached by his devotees, Lord Jagannath appeared in the dream of head-priest that night and spoke to him as follows, ” My dear pujari, I am completely overwhelmed by perceiving the ardent love and devotion that you devotees have for Me. You all love Me more than your ownself. This is the symptom of a pure devotee. Actually nobody can harm My divine form or My temple. I certainly need not to worry about that at all. Just by my powerful will I can keep all miscreants away from the place where I stay along with My beloved devotees. But in order to bless My devotees and to reciprocate with them, many times I accept this kind of “hardship” willingly. In this way My devotees’ love and attachments for Me increases manyfold. And since this is their desire, I will establish their love for Me in a more prominent way.”
“Tomorrow, therefore, please, remove the Deties of Myself, Lord Balaram and Subhadra Devi and set out for Bengal. You should take the path through the jungle so that you can easily escape Ratkabahu, who is coming by the main road. Do not fear, that I will always protect you!” The Lord then disappeared from the dream and the head-priest woke up. He immediately broadcasted the message, which stirred the devotees up, and they all started to make the proper arrangements for the Lord’s journey. The traditional system on Jagannath Puri in connection to the Lord’s service is that the devotees from different sections of society are assigned for different kinds of services. For instance, brahmanas are responsible to worship the Deities of the Lord. Other devotees cook for the Lord’s pleasure. Those devotees known as the “sabaras” are assigned to perform the service of carrying Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Devi from one place to another when Their Lordships leave their temple to attend certain festivals like snana-yatra, etc. When the message reached the Sabaras that the Lord wants to leave for Bengal, they immediately made all necessary arrangements in order to leave the next morning. They walked all-day and just before dusk set in, they settled in a suitable place. There they collected fruits, flowers and leaves from the jungle and worshiped Their Lordships. Finally they put Them to rest, and after honoring the Lord’s maha-prasadam they put them to rest. The next morning, after the Deities had been worshipped, the Sabaras again started for their next destination. In this way, they spend eleven days. On the twelfth day they arrived in Simantadwip, one of the nine islands of Navadwip Dham. On this day also, the Sabara devotees performed their service in the same way as they had done before and then took rest. That night, Lord Jagannatha appeared in the dream of the head of the Sabaras and expressed His desire to settle on this very spot because this place was most suitable, being transcendental in all respects. At once, the Sabara devotees made all efforts for the proper arrangements to fulfill the Lord’s desire of staying there permanently. The Sabara Vaisnavas went on serving the Lord for generations to come. Due to their pure love and devotion they all attained liberation and finally went back to home, back to Godhead, to Lord Jagannath’s eternal abode in the spiritual sky. Till today the Sabara’s village is located near the Jagannatha temple and is known as Sabara’s Danga, “the place of the Sabaras.” But gradually, by the influence of time, the Lord’s Deities and His temple went out of sight, but the Lord never left the place. That was exhibited later, during the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
b) Lord Jagannath didn’t want to leave! Some brahmanas from a local village, felt that they could offer Lord Jagannath a better standard of worship and they wanted to worship Him in their village. Therefore one day they came and stole Lord Jagannath. While carrying the Lord across the fields they all suddenly felt the need to answer natures call, so they put Lord Jagannath down and went to pass water. But upon returning they found that they could not lift Lord Jagannath anymore, so they went and brought some more men to help them but try as they may, they just could not budge the Lord. Then they realized that He didn’t want to leave Rajapur, so they came back and sorryfully told the priests, “your Deity is out in the field and wants to come back”. So two pujaris came and picked Him up and carried Him back home.
c) Lord Jagannath goes for walks Before we had this temple, the old temple was under the nearby mixed banyan and pepul-tree, and the local people living in the first house here said that Lord Jagannatha would go for walks, they never actually saw Him, but they could hear Him, especially Saturday nights. They would see a glow coming from the temple and sweet scent would permeate the air. They could hear jingling sounds, like that of ankle bells. Those fortunate residents understood that the independent Lord was taking stroll.
d) Epidemic: Another time there was a very serious epidemic in this area, a lot of people were getting sick a some of them were dying. Lord Jagannath appeared in a dream to the pujari and He told him of a medicine that would cure this disease. So in the morning he called all the villagers and told them to gather the ingredients to make this medicine but one ingredient they couldn’t find because it doesn’t grow in this area. But later on in the day, a small boy came, carrying a branch and he gave to the pujari’s wife and said, ” I have brought this for your husband, but he is not here, so I am giving it to you.” So when the pujari returned and saw that branch he became very excited and said, “Oh that’s just what we want, this is the last herb we need to make this medicine! Who has brought this?” – “Oh, a very charming little boy brought it. I don’t think he was from this village, for I had not seen him before.” So they made that medicine and everybody became cured. From that day Lord Jagannath has earned great respect even from the non-Hindus.
e) Offense to the maha-prasadam Lord Jagannath is very popular here. He is known as a very powerful Deity amongst all the different villages in this area, even the Muslims sometimes worship Him. On snan-yatra they bring their offerings. We have a big feast on that day. So they all bring milk and eatables to offer to Lord Jagannath. One time on snan-yatra, this was about 15 years ago, two rikshaw drivers came. One rikshaw driver took some kitchari prasadam and he also took some for his friend, who was a Muslim and didn’t want to come in. The rikshaw driver said to his Muslim friend, “I brought you some prasadam anyway”, but his friend threw it on the ground and said, “We don’t eat these things.” The Muslim at that night in a dream saw: Lord Balaram was sitting on him, squashing him and beating him like anything, and the man was becoming very fearful. Subhadra was there too. She was laughing and She was saying, “Kill him, kill him!” Also Lord Jagannath was there and he said, “No, no, no don’t kill him.” And Lord Jagannath was laughing. The next day this Muslim came very humbly before the Deity and offered some worship for Lord Jagannath and also asked for some maha-prasadam kitchari. But there was nothing left. “There must be a little” he pleaded. So the pujari went and searched the pots and found a little bit, and he happily took that.
f) The young Muslim girl :There was another incident with a young Muslim girl, who was showing the soles of her feet to the Deity of Lord Jagannath, and the other children said, ” don’t do that, this is the Thakur, you shouldn’t do that.” Then she replied , “what do I care for this?” But very soon after she got a disease on her feet and then it spread up to her legs; You can still see that woman in her village now. She can’t walk properly anymore, she has to move around on her knees. So everyone here is a little bit respectful, fearful of Lord Jagannath.
g) Why go to Puri? Once a pilgrim traveling from the north fell asleep on the train. He was on his way to Purusottam Ksetra Puri to take darshan of Lord Jagannath. In his dream the Lord spoke and told him, “My dear devotee, there is no need for you to go all the way to Puri for I am residing very near by here. Just get off at the next station and walk towards the north-west, there you will find a temple where you can have my darshan to your full satisfaction. The next station was Bhadurpur, so excitedly he got down and started to walk in this direction, and taking help from the local people he soon found his way here and happily worshipped these wonderful forms of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra.
h) Snana-yatra Festival: Snan-yatra or the Lords bathing festival takes place 14 days before Ratha-yatra. During the 14 days period the temple remains closed for darsana on the plea that Jagannatha Swami has caught a cold. It also enables the Deities to be repainted, or renewed. Still others say that the reason that Lord Jagannatha feigns sickness is to take a break from the thousands and thousands of people who visit Puri everyday, most of who are asking, “Lord Jagannatha, please fulfill my desires, give me this, give me that.” So Lord takes it easy for couples of weeks, and along with his brother and sister they peacefully enjoy fine sweet preparations and nectar drinks made cream, molasses and invigorating herbs. Actually it is the biggest festival of the year here and it was started by the desire of the Lord. Since ISKCON has taken over the management of the temple, we decided to increase the festival by taking a procession from Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. Many hundreds of devotees take their bath in the Ganga and fill up a clay pot, then balancing it on their heads proceed to walk to the Jagannath Mandir being led by out elephant “Gulab Kali” and a kirtan party. As soon as the devotees arrive, the Deities are placed on a marble “snan-vedi” bathing platform which has been erected in Their garden The whole area is covered by a pandal to protect from the hot sun, and hundreds of devotees bath Them with Ganga water or milk. This goes on for a few hours until the Deities go back to Their temple, where They are dressed in the hati-vesha (elephant dress), and offered a sumptuous feast and aroti ceremony. After aroti, mahaprasadam khichari, subji and sweet rice is served in the mango grove to the many thousands of devotees and visitors who keep arriving, and the serving goes on and on until the darkness of night brings to a close. Because many people are curious to know why Lord Jagannath, Baladev are dressed in elephant costumes, we add this story. Of course you may ask in Puri, will give a slight variation or even a completely different one from this. One time a great devotee of Ganesh was visiting the king of Puri, but was reluctant to visit Lord Jagannatha’s Temple as his principle was to only worship Sri Ganesh. Lord Jagannath is non-different than Lord Visnu, Who is the origin of all devatas. This pilgrim was coaxed by the king, who finally persuaded him to visit the temple. It was snan-yatra day, and as he stood before the Deities he asked Lord Jagannath, “If You are what they say You are, Daru Brahman (wooden Brahman), then kindly show to me that form of Ganesh, whom I worship.” Deciding to bestow His causeless mercy, Lord Jagannath transformed Himself into the form of Ganesh, to the great astonishment and delight of His most fortunate devotee.
Darsana times: 7.30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4-8 p.m.
Directions: Continue up Bhaktisiddhanta Road from Chand Kazi’s samadhi. Around the first corner and up a short distance, you will see a signboard for the Jagannatha temple on the left side of the road. Take the road opposite this signboard and proceed until you see a beautiful lion gate on your right side (around 15 minutes walking). From ISKCON it is approximately four kilometers and takes about 40 minutes by rickshaw.
Presiding deities: The beautiful Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, Lady Subhadra and Sudarsana-cakra.
Points of interest:
Diorama display: This is on the left side between the main gate and the temple. It depicts the pastime of Lord Jagannatha’s appearance in this deity form.
Old temple: The far right end of the property is where the original temple used to be. Kalpa-vriksha tree: Next to the old temple is a kalpa-vriksha (wish-fulfilling) tree. The local people have worshiped Lord Siva and Parvati here as long as can be remembered. It is said that Lord Siva and Parvati came here to perform austerities and are still present. Many people have had their desires fulfilled by praying here and leaving a stone hanging on the tree. Vaishnavas can pray to Lord Siva and Parvati for krishna-prema.
Siva-linga: Lord Siva is under this tree in the form of a large linga known as Kshetra-pala. One day, when ISKCON first took over the temple, the pujari was making an offering to Lord Jagannatha. He pushed aside this stone with his leg thinking it was an ordinary stone. Immediately after doing that he developed a heavy headache and began vomiting. He cycled back to ISKCON but was so sick and weak he collapsed and fell off the bike a number of times. At ISKCON he was advised to return, worship the linga, and beg forgiveness for this offense. He did that and was immediately cured. It is quite cool in this area and one day in the summer of 1994, a pujari came here to get relief from the midday heat. While resting he had a dream in which he saw a male figure like Lord Siva. This person asked the pujari for something to drink saying, “I am very dry and thirsty. You should at least give me some milk to drink.” The pujari woke up and saw the the sila was indeed very parched and dry. Since then the devotees offer this Siva-linga milk, tilaka, and bael leaves every day.
In Navadvipa-bhava-taranga Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated: “Further north is the enchanting place known as Saradanga. Here the leader of the Sabara race, out of fear of the demon named Raktabahu, secretly resides along with a deity of the Lord of Niladri, Jagannatha. May I always behold this place with my very eyes.” At present this place is called Saradanga. Once the demon Raktabahu attacked the Jagannatha temple in Puri. Jagannatha’s devotees brought the Lord here and secretly stayed at this place. His Grace Pankajanghri Prabhu has described this event in more detail in his book The Pastimes and History of Lord Jagannatha in Rajapur: Lord Jagannatha of Sri Simantadvipa is not different from the Master of Sri Nilacala-dhama (Jagannatha Puri) Himself. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has re-established this truth with historical facts in his book Sri Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, “The glories of Navadvipa-dhama.” The following story is mentioned in that book: Around the seventh century, one yavana king named Raktabahu appeared in the region of Orissa. He was very sinful and irreligious and caused great devastation, destroying temples and terrorizing the hearts of the pious people of Orissa. When the devotees of Lord Jagannatha in Puri came to know about the mischievousness of Raktabahu, they became very much afraid. They immediately approached Lord Jagannatha: “O worshipful Lord,” the devotees prayed, “we are in great anxiety knowing that a miscreant named Raktabahu is breaking down all temples and destroying the deities inside. He is now proceeding in this direction. He may come at any moment and attack Your temple. If that happens, then we will have to give up our lives, because we’ll never be able to tolerate any action against You. Please, save us from this danger by making proper arrangements for the protection of Your divine form and the temple, O Almighty Lord!” Being thus approached by His devotees, Lord Jagannatha appeared in the dream of the head priest that night and spoke to him as follows: “My dear pujari, I am completely overwhelmed by perceiving the ardent love and devotion that you devotees have for Me. You all love Me more than your own selves. This is the symptom of a pure devotee. Actually nobody can harm My divine form or My temple. I certainly need not worry about that. Just by My powerful will I can keep all miscreants away from theplace where I stay with My beloved devotees.
But in order to bless My devotees and to reciprocate with them, many times I accept this kind of ‘hardship’ willingly. In this way My devotees’ love and attachment for Me increases manifold. And since this is their desire, I establish their love for Me in a more prominent way.Tomorrow, therefore, please, remove the deities of Myself, Lord Balarama, and Subhadra-devi and set out for Bengal. You should take the path through the jungle so that you can easily escape Raktabahu, who is coming by the main road. Have no fear, I will always protect you!”
The Lord then disappeared from the dream and the pujari woke up. He immediately broadcast the message, which stirred the devotees, and they all started to make the properarrangements for the Lord’s journey.
The traditional system of service to the Lord in Jagannatha Puri is that devotees from different sections of society are assigned to various services. For instance, brahmanas are responsible for worship of the deities. Other devotees cook for the Lord’s pleasure. Those devotees known as the Sabaras perform the service of carrying Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra-devi when Their Lordships attend certain festivals like snanayatra, etc. When the message reached the Sabaras that the Lord wanted to leave for Bengal, they immediately made all necessary arrangements for departure the next morning. They walked all day and just before dusk set in, they settled in a suitable place. There they collected fruits, flowers and leaves from the jungle and worshiped Their Lordships. Finally they put Them to rest, and after honoring the Lord’s maha-prasada they themselves took rest. The next morning, after the deities had been worshiped, the Sabaras again started for their destination. In this way they spent eleven days, and on the twelfth they arrived in Simantadvipa, one of the nine islands of Navadvipa-dhama. That night, Lord Jagannatha appeared in the dream of the head Sabara and expressed His desire to settle in this very place, which was transcendental in all respects. At once, the Sabara devotees made all efforts for the proper arrangements to fulfill the Lord’s desire to stay there permanently. The Sabara Vaishnavas went on serving the Lord for generations to come. Due to their pure love and devotion they all attained liberation and finally went back to Godhead, to Lord Jagannatha’s eternal abode in the spiritual sky. Till today the Sabaras’ village is located near the Jagannatha temple and is known as Sabara-danga, “the place of the Sabaras.” Gradually, by the influence of time, the deities and the temple disappeared from sight. The Lord, however, never left that place.