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(Hinduism, Sanskrit)

The Supreme Lord Vishnu appearing in His Deity form in the city of Puri in Orissa. The worshipable Deity (arca-vigraha) of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

The origin of the brightly-coloured, simplistic looking Jagannatha Deities is quite interesting. More than two thousand years ago, there was a King by the name of Indradyumna, a devout Vaishnava. He requested a famous artist, Vishvakarma of the Heavenly Planets, to sculpt him status of Krishna as He and His brother and sister had travelled on field of Kurukshetra during a solar eclipse. Vishvakarma agreed -- on one condition: that no-one interrupt his work. The King waited for a very long time, as Vishvakarma worked behind locked doors. However, one day the King, unable to wait any longer, broke in to see the progress. Vishvakarma, true to his word, vanished, leaving behind the uncompleted forms of the three Deities. Maharaja Indradyumna, was so pleased, however, that he began to worship them as they were. Since that time, the three Deities of Krishna, Balarama, and Subhadra, have been worshipped all over India, especially in the province of Orissa, where there is a great temple at Puri. Each year, at Puri, during the gigantic Ratha-yatra fesitval, millions of pilgrims come from all over India to worship the Jagannatha Deities as they ride in procession through the streets on three huge carts.

It is from the Ratha-yatra, and Jagannatha, that the english word juggernaut comes.

Jag"an*nath (?), Jag`an*na"tha (?), n. Also Jug"ger*naut. [Hind. Jagan- nAth lord of the world, Skr. jagannAtha.] (Hinduism)

A particular form of Vishnu, or of Krishna, whose chief idol and worship are at Puri, in Orissa. The idol is considered to contain the bones of Krishna and to possess a soul. The principal festivals are the Snanayatra, when the idol is bathed, and the Rathayatra, when the image is drawn upon a car adorned with obscene paintings. Formerly it was erroneously supposed that devotees allowed themselves to be crushed beneath the wheels of this car. It is now known that any death within the temple of Jagannath is considered to render the place unclean, and any spilling of blood in the presence of the idol is a pollution.


© Webster 1913

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