MANAS DAS narrates the Divine love story of Lord Jagannath and Maa Mahalaxmi that is talked about in the whole universe

The air is calm. Maa Mahalaxmi has composed herself from the shock of separation. Lord Jagannath has subtly made Her understand the importance of the trip. She peeps out of the window. It’s dark. The night seems too long.

The silence inside the temple is overwhelming. In the many temples in the Shree Mandira, the atmosphere is grim and sad. Although the deities are dressed as always and the rituals and chanting continue, there’s a melancholic tenor in the ether.

That’s because the Lord isn’t there. Lord Jagannath is on a tour with elder brother Balabhadra and darling sister Subhadra. In His absence, emptiness prevails in Shree Mandira. But this silence and emptiness filled Maa Mahalaxmi with amazing patience and pulsating love.

Manas Das

The day He finally left to visit his aunt, Gundicha Maa,  Mahaprabhu waited till His sister Mahamaya Maa Subhadra and elder brother Prabhu Shri Balabhadra arrived and occupied their designated chariots Darpadalana and Taladhwaja.

When brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra reached their chariots, daita sevakas prayed  to Mahaprabhu, “Mahabhaga! It is time we depart.” Mahaprabhu nodded His head in agreement.

Chanting loudly, ‘Jai Jagannath’, His nearly fifty sevakas bound Him with silk and carried Him on their shoulders from the bed to the main courtyard of the temple.

It was mid-day. The sun had cooled its rays, and Varunadeva softly drizzled. Mahaprabhu walked to His chariot Nandighosh, slowly dancing rhythmically. But Mahaprabhu was looking back repeatedly. As if looking for something valuable, which he had left behind.

In His subtle vision, Mahaprabhu Jagannath found Maa Mahalaxmi sitting alone, hurt and dejected, as she was left alone in the Shree Mandira. For a moment, Mahaprabhu became still. The growing anger of Maa Mahalaxmi touched His core.

Mahaprabhu shifted His gaze and walked fast to cross the first bhoga dwara. Now sitting in his chariot Nandighosh, Mahaprabhu looked at scores of His devotees, whom he was seeing after a gap of two years. With tears in their eyes, they were smiling and chanting His name.  

For a moment the universe paused. Everyone experienced His gaze. A slight drizzle made the union romantic. It seemed that all the deities were lined up in the sky; everyone on earth just became statues, with the ocean at a distance, remaining silent.

In the silent temple, Maa Mahalaxmi broke down like a little girl. She felt her Lord had not thought even for a while, how she would spend her time without Him in their huge castle. Then Maa Vimala, the security head of the temple and on whom Maa Mahalaxmi leans on in times of sorrow, appeared and consoled Mahalaxmi.

She stroked her hair lovingly and said, softly, “Oh dear! Don’t you know how much He loves you? Didn’t you see His moist eyes and how he repeatedly looks back? You know the tradition … with his elder brother accompanying Him He cannot take you with Him.”   

Gundicha Temple

Maa Vimala tried to console her and promised to make all arrangements on the fifth day of his departure, when she could visit Mahaprabhu in disguise, and express all her anguish and anger.

Meanwhile, the chariots started rolling on the grand road. As the head of the family, Prabhu Balabhadra was inspecting the overall arrangements, the safety of their sister and well-being of innumerable devotees who had joined in the journey.

Following him was chariot Darpadalana, which started rolling, carrying Subhadra. After a while, Subhadra knew her dearest brother Mahaprabhu Jagannath would start his journey.

Maa Mahalaxmi standing near her window with Maa Vimala could see Mahaprabhu waving from the sky; and Nandighosh started rolling with huge sounds of conch and resounding sounds of bells and drums.

For a moment, it seemed as if Maa Dharitri too trembled with immense joy, when the chariot Nandighosh rolled like a huge ship among the waves of devotees in the ocean of Badadanda (the grand courtyard) carrying Lord of the Universe, Mahaprabhu Jagannath on it.

The sounds gradually diminished and Maa Mahalaxmi went inside her castle with a heavy heart. For the last five days, Maa Vimala was watching the grieving Mahalaxmi. Giving her company constantly, Maa Vimala played the role of mother, caring for Mahalaxmi when she was down with the sorrow of separation.

An artist’s impression of Maa Mahalaxmi and Lord Jagannath

On the fifth day, she inspired Maa Mahalaxmi to visit secretly the Lord in His temporary abode, and assured her that she would make all arrangements. Maa Vimala organised relevant utilities, security and a vehicle for Mahalaxmi’s secret visit to Gundicha temple. She advised the maids to be careful and vigilant so that no one would know that Mahalaxmi had gone out of Shree Mandira.

When the evening darkness enveloped the sky, Maa Vimala saw Mahalaxmi off very secretly to Gundicha Temple, in a covered palanquin with a set of very trusted sevayats. With a long veil on her head, Mahalaxmi stood at the entry gate of Gundicha temple, when the Lord was being adorned in His evening attire.

Sandal wood paste, a tulsi garland, essence of camphor and many other adorable types of attire were at the Adapa Mandap. The Lord and His main sevaka could smell Mother’s presence, the moment she reached the gate. A smile appeared in the corner of the Lord’s lips.

The chief priest ran to the main gate and received Mother, offered her aarti and also served her favourite dish ― sweet curd. He led Maa Mahalaxmi through a less crowded path and chose a secluded spot for her, from where she could see Mahaprabhu Jagannath. Mother just stood in the last row of Jaga Mohan, where the Lord was sitting on the Adapa Mandap.

Love is always expressed most beautifully through the eyes. Maa looked at Mahaprabhu with a focused, loving gaze. All the emotions were expressed through that gaze. The moment both the Lord and Mother looked at each other, breathing of the earth paused. The ocean enveloped the sky. The whole universe dissolved into one drop.

In soundless sound, Lord whispered:

“Hey! You came so far all alone!

I know the reason.

Don’t you know how am I missing you, too?

Please do not be sad, oh Mahalaxmi!.

I am on my way back soon.

This separation also pinches me, why don’t you believe me.

Soon we shall be meeting at our castle.”

Mahalaxmi looking at her Lord was silent, engulfed as she was with a serene, sacred feeling. She just stood there and from under the veil that was put on her face looked at the Lord, her eyes still and her heart full of ecstatic waves of love.

Hera Panchami in Odisha

Through her eyes she said: “I know dear Lord! How important this journey is for you. I know how eager your devotees and your aunt were. I have come here to invite you to Shree Mandira. It is already many days, and the temple has become a silent ocean in your absence. Please complete your commitments soon., Prabhu! And come back home!”

The Lord again whispered: “My tour is almost complete. Look at my chariot; it has turned towards our home. I am on my way back. Now you return back before Brother Balabhadra finds you here. While returning, take all care so that no one sees you. Otherwise this secret trip of yours shall be discussed in the universe. I am sending you my garland and some sweets you like most. Please accept them and rush back home safely.” .

The chief priest brought to Maa Mahalaxmi the sweets and the garland that the Lord kissed. With the touch of the garland, she was overwhelmed with the Lord’s presence. She stood there silently for a few minutes and then rushed back through the main gate with her guards. While returning, she picked a piece of wood from the Lord’s Chariot to show Maa Vimala as a memento of her visit.

But she remembered the Lord’s words: her visit will be the “talk in the universe.”

She chose a different, lonely path, and rushed back to Shree Mandira. Maa Vimala was anxiously waiting for the end of the adventure she had initiated.

Before she could ask anything, Maa Mahalaxmi handed her the broken wood piece of chariot Nandighosh and rushed to her castle. The blue sky atop the Nilachakra, was smiling with great reverence.

Jai Jagannath

(Author’s Note: Hera Panchami is a tithi that comes during the car festival. On that day, Goddess Laxmi secretly visits Gundicha temple to meet Mahaprabhu Jagannath and on her way back breaks the chariot of Shri Jagannath as a token of her anger. The author has imagined the entire proceedings with great devotion and love. Jagannath culture only shares profound devotion, surrender and love.)

Manas Das is a graduate in Law, with a Science & Cost Accounting background from Cuttack, Odisha. He is a well-known poet and writer and writes both in Odiya and in the English language. Hailing from a cultured, humble family and pushed into entrepreneurship, he set up and managed a pharmaceutical manufacturing company for 44 years. He lives with his wife Lipipuspa in Odisha, and is blessed with a son and a daughter.

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