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Why are idols of Lord Jagannath armless?

25 June, 2019 02:11:59
Why are idols of Lord Jagannath armless?

Thousands of years ago, King Indradyumna, a great devotee of Lord Vishņu, yearned to see the Lord face to face. He received the news of incarnation of Lord Vishnu or Nila Mädhava, who told his pujari that he would like to be worshipped in royal style by King Indradyumna. When the king arrived, the deity had disappeared. A voice from the sky announced to the king that he should construct a temple on top of the Nila Hill and the Lord would manifest himself there in a wooden form. Following the order, King Indradyumna had the temple built and established a town around it called Ramakrsnapura. His desire was to meet Lord Brahma and so he travelled to Brahmaloka. But, as the time span was different on Brahmaloka, many centuries had passed by the time Indradyumna was back to earth. The temple had been buried by a sandstorm. 

Two kings had reigned over the land since Indradyumna left and the temple was unearthed during the reign of the second, King Gãlamadhava. When King Indradyumna claimed that he had constructed it, no one believed him. However, there was a crow, Bhusandi, who had lived through many ages in a banyan tree near the temple ages and had observed the construction of the temple. Bhusandi confirmed the king's story.

Indradyumna then prayed to Lord Brahma to consecrate the temple, but he refused. Indradyumna became restless. He waited until his impatience turned into despondency. He wanted to give up his life by fasting. Then Lord Jagannatha appeared in a dream and said, “My dear king, give up your anxiety: tomorrow I shall come floating in from the sea in my wooden form as Daru-brahman at the place called Bankimuhan.” The next day amidst a joyous kirtana, Daru-brahman was washed upon the golden beach, and brought to King Indradyumna on a chariot. He called many expert sculptors, but none of them were able to touch Daru-brahman. As soon as their chisel touched the log of wood, it broke into many pieces. An artist who introduced himself as Ananta Mahãrānā, offered to carve the Deity from those floating pieces of wood.

According to some, this Ananta was the Lord Himself while others say that he was Viśvakarma, the architect of the devas who had come to render service to the Lord. He promised that the Deities would be ready in twenty-one days, provided he could work alone behind locked doors. On the fourteenth day, the king’s hopes turned into anxiety because he could no longer hear the tapping of the artist’s tools. He forcibly opened the locked doors. Daru-brahman was now in three forms-Jagannätha, Subhadra, and Baladeva. Moving closer, the king noticed that the hands and legs of the Deities were unfinished. It remained like that and even today we find the idols without arms. 

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