Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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JAGANNATHA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'Lord of the world.'

A particular form of Vishnu, or rather of Krishna. He is worshipped in Bengal and other parts of India, but Puri, near the town of Cuttack, in Orissa is the great seat of his worship, and multitudes of pilgrims resort thither from all parts, especially to the two great festivals of the Snanayatra and Rathayatra, in the months of Jyaishtha and Ashadha. The first of these is when the image is bathed, and in the second, or car festival, the image is brought out upon a car with the images of his brother Balarama and sister Subhadra, and is drawn by the devotees.

The legend of the origin of Jagannatha is peculiar. Krishna was killed by a hunter, and his body was left to rot under a tree, but some pious persons found the bones and placed them in a box. A devout king named Indradyumna was directed by Vishna to form an image of Jagannatha and to place the bones of Krishna inside it. Viswakarma, the architect of the gods, undertook to make the image, on condition of being left quite undisturbed till the work was completed. After fifteen days the king was impatient and went to Viswakarma, who was angry, and left off work before he had made either hands or feet, so that the image has only stumps. Indradyumma prayed to Brahma, who promised to make the image famous, and he did so by giving to it eyes and a soul, and by acting as high priest at its consecration.

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM