The Omnipresence of Lord Jagannath

by Tapaswini Harichandan

God is omnipresent. That’s what we have heard since our childhood. But has anyone actually encountered the Super Being? There have been many personal accounts of such encounter of many around the world, and I would like to share one such account from my family. This story is of an encounter with Lord Jagannath witnessed by my maternal grandparents.

‌My grandparents used to tell us stories whenever they used to visit our home. It’s been many years since both of them have left for heavenly abode. But I still remember how we five siblings would request grandfather to tell us stories. These stories would range from various topics but the one that was favourite for all of us were stories of ghost and supernatural stuff. This gave us goosebumps and made us more interested in the story. Back then, we had no YouTube, Netflix or any other video streaming platforms that could entertain us. Hence these stories played a big role in our entertainment.

In one of their visits to our home, we insisted him to narrate us some freshly new ghost stories. Grandfather paused for a while on hearing the request, and then he said, “Children this time I will tell you a different story. Actually it’s not a story, it’s a real thing happened to me & grandma. After listening to this story, you all will be shocked and stunned”. Hearing this we all got excited, and agreed to listen. He said that this story is about an incident that he and grandmother witnessed during Rath Yatra in their home in Puri.

Before going into the story, let me explain about Puri and Rath Yatra. Puri is a pilgrimage destination well-known for the temple of Lord Jagannath, the supreme deity of Odisha. For Hindus, Puri is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in India, with religious life revolving around the great Jagannath temple. According to the Hindu calendar, Rath Yatra is observed on the second day of Ashadha month (June or early July). In ancient literature, this day is referred to as ‘Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya’. Every year on that day, Puri experiences pilgrimage of more than million devotees. Rath Yatra is a festival in which the idols of Lord Jagannath, along with His brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Goddess Subhadra, are placed in three chariots which are pulled by millions of devotees to another temple (Mausima temple). This event attracts people all around Odisha and outside. My grandparents were part of this pilgrimage too.

Encounter with God

Sharing his first encounter with God, my grandfather said, “During our course of stay in Puri, we used to go to the temple to offer prayers, light diyas, sit there for a while and then eat the holy prasad (Abhada) served in the temple. After this, we used to come back to our place of stay. But one day, we couldn’t go to the temple as I was down with high fever. I suggested Grandma to go, but she insisted to stay with me and not leave me alone in this health condition. Hence, we decided to eat some dry fruits as we never consume home-cooked food during Rath Yatra festival. Next day, we did the same thing, although my fever had reduced but I didn’t have enough strength to visit all the way to the temple and have the prasad. We slept at the usual time. During the middle of the night, suddenly there was a knock on the door. I and Grandma woke up. It was strange for someone to knock on the door at 1 am in the night. I wondered who could it be? Could it be a thief? as people knew we stay here alone. Again there was a knock. Grandma said, “Don’t open the door, I am scared”. I said “Don’t worry, let me see who it is, and the security must be with him. So relax, let me open the door”. Hence I got up and opened the door. When I opened, there was a mysterious glow everywhere. It was like a beam of light thrown upon at me from every angle. I was unable to see anything. Then after few seconds, I noticed a figure coming out from the light and approaching towards me. When he came close, I saw a man in a priest’s attire standing at the doorstep and smiling at me, there was an unusual glow on his face.

I asked him “Who are you? Why did you come here at the middle of the night? Where is the guard? How come you were allowed inside?” Hearing my list of questions, he again smiled and said in a relaxing and somber tone “Relax, you are not well, don’t stress yourself too much”. It was such a sweet voice. But I was shocked. How did he know I wasn’t feeling well? Then I asked him, “How did you know I am not well? I didn’t tell to anyone.” He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I know you didn’t have proper food since last two days since you couldn’t visit the temple. Here, I have brought some temple food for you, take it. By saying this, he bent down a little and kept two earthen pots near the door. I was puzzled by how much this person knew about my condition. I bent down to pick the pot. When I got up to ask him further questions, he was not there. It was like he vanished in thin air. Moreover, the strange light was also not there. It was pitch-black night.

I suddenly went into a state of shock, my whole body became numb and my mind froze. I stood at the door like a statue. I came to sense with grandma’s push on my shoulder. “Hey! what happened to you?“ she sounded very concerned seeing me in a state of shock. “Who was there at the door? Why are you standing still like a statue?”

“I told grandma to wait for me as I rushed outside towards the gate to ask the watchman about this mysterious person. When I reached the main gate, the watchman was strolling there with his stick. Seeing me he immediately came to me and asked me, “Sir what happened? Is everything alright? Why did you come out in the middle of the night?” “But I asked him, who was the person? why did you allow him inside without accompanying him?”. He gave me a blank stare, and his immediate response was “What?” Then he assured me that he didn’t allow anyone inside, neither had he seen any person with the description I mentioned nor anyone even came to the gate at the mentioned time. “Hearing this, I was speechless. I returned back to our home. While returning I thought everything was a dream. When I arrived near the door, I saw grandma was standing there with a clueless face. Seeing me she immediately asked me, “Why did you go to the watchman? Who had come? And who gave these pots?”

“Pots?” I had totally forgotten about the earthen pots since I was in a state of shock. I touched the pots, it was still warm. I realised all this wasn’t a dream. It’s real. I took them inside the room. I kept them on the dining table and then sat on the chair. I wanted to sit and cool myself off. I asked grandma for a glass of water. She asked me “are you fine? you are sweating a lot!” I told her “I don’t know. Please don’t ask me anything now….my mind is not working.”

Then grandma said, “Let me see what is inside these earthen pots”. The pots were covered with a banana leaf. Grandma removed the leaf. As soon as she removed the leaf, she exclaimed, “Oh God! this smells exactly like the temple prasad!”. She seemed very excited. She quickly served us the prasad in that banana leaf. There was an aroma of pure ghee coming out from the food. I then tasted the prasad. I went crazy. “Oh God! the taste is the same rather more testier than the prasad we have at the temple”.

Since we hadn’t eaten properly in the last two days, we both finished it within minutes. “I then narrated the entire incident that happened at the door to grandma. Hearing this, she was shocked as well. She looked at me and then whispered, “Do you think it might be the Supreme Deity who came down to give us the food?” Hearing this, I asked her, “Why? What makes you think that?” She replied, “Because, I have heard somewhere God can’t see any of his children sleeping in an empty stomach.” We both fell silent for a good amount of time. We thought and then realised it could be a possibility. “I told myself, this must be Lord Jagannath”.

Grandma teared up then and there. We went to bed, but I am sure both of us didn’t sleep that entire night. From that day, we kept the 2 earthen pots in our puja room and offered flowers daily. By this, Grandfather stopped.

We were all looking and listening at him without even blinking. We were shocked as well. We also got the equal goosebumps. Grandma & grandpa left for their home after some days with the promise that they will soon return with more exciting stories. It’s still not sure if God is omnipresent or not. But this account of my grandparents kind of makes me believe that God is omnipresent.

(Author can be contacted at 9566043538)

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