Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath
As we all know and as it is accepted by eminent historians world-wide that the two Hindu mythological verses, viz. “The Ramayana” and “The Mahabharata” are world’s first epics followed by Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”. The “The Ramayana” has a legendary character, “Ram” as its protagonist, who despite being the incarnation of Lord undergoes sufferings and sorrows which human beings experienced during their lifetimes. Whenever demons dare and selfish and sinful activities overshadow sacrifice, service and religiosity, Lord Himself takes birth to reestablish religion, peace and order.
Under such circumstances and social suppression engineered by demons led by the wicked Ravan, Lord Ram was requested by the Lords of Heaven to take his birth in the mundane world and to destroy evil altogether. Ram was born in Ayodhya to King Dasharath as his eldest son who was tipped to be coronated as the new king of Ayodhya with Dasharath deciding to call it a day. As per the ancient kingly tradition, the eldest son becomes the king and the decision of King Dasharath was justified and correct.
Kaikeyi a selfish woman?
But it was not to be as Dasharath's favorite queen, Kaikeyi longed to make Bharat, her son, to become king in lieu and conspired to send Ram to the forest for a 12 year tours. But so was the love of Bharat for his brother that he made a pair of shoes made of wood put on by Ram as the king and he himself sat down on the throne of worshiping the pair of shoes from the top of it. Another brother, Laxman accompanied Ram to the forest along with Sita, the goddess wife of Ram. Whether time or a story, the narrative depicts the love of a brother for a brother and the virtues of truthfulness and sacrifice.
Many readers hate Kaikeyi, the favorite queen of Dasharath as a contemptuous character and a selfish woman who had her eyes on the throne and power. However, the circumstances under which she did this has seldom been analyzed and realized. According to Hindu mythologies, the world cycle consists of four periods i.e. ‘Kali Yug’, ‘Dwapar Yug’, ‘Treta Yug’ and ‘Satya Yug’. Of these four periods, the first and the last one’s are two extremes as the second one leads to the third and the fourth. “Kali Yug” is about selfishness, treachery, strife and religiosity leading to a perfect social order. Lord Ram’s story is of “Treta Yug” when the social order was near perfect, electrified by a religious social set up.
Mythological interpretation and legends:
In this age, it was quite unbecoming of Queen Kaikeyi of becoming so selfish and ruthless, especially, when her son Bharat himself never aspired for kingdom and comfort. Queen Kaikeyi’s love for Ram was immense and immeasurable. According to mythological interpretation, Ram himself told Kaikeyi, his aunt, that he had descended to this earth with a mission to end the evil deeds of Ravan and to save mankind from his tyranny. Ram had to go to his kingdom to kill him to put an end to human suffering. He had never come to become a king. He reminded Queen Kaikeyi of two boons that King Dasharath promised her, i.e., 14 year deportations of Ram and Bharat becoming king for that period.
So, there was a secret understanding between Ram and his aunt and this worked as planned. Another legend tells us that Queen Kaikeyi heard a pair of parrots talking to each other that Ram’s coronation would not go well with the subjects of Ayodhya kingdom as ‘Rahu’ and ‘Ketu'. Two evil stars were active during that period. As Queen liked Ram as much as and even more than her son; Bharat, she, in order to save Ram and his subjects, thought of the plan of sending him away from the locality and sacrificed her son despite knowledge of ill omen.
The ultimate sacrifice and the truth behind it:
We cannot blame King Dasharath either. The king carries all sins of his subjects on his shoulders and Dasharath had to sacrifice his son who was the cynosure of his eyes. He had all his blessings for his son despite his banishment and was dead silent in tears. On the other hand, Kaikeyi was a woman of impeccable character and extreme in all respects. Ram himself, after the banishment order, showered words of praise for Queen Kaikeyi and termed her as courageous lady with exceptional capabilities. Ram wished that Kaikeyi became his mother again. Actually, in “Dwapar Yug”, Kaikeyi was born as Yasoda, the mother-designate of Lord Krishna, his real mother being Devaki who was in prison along with her husband Basudev.
The filial love of Yasoda for Krishna despite his pranks is unmatched in real life. She was mad for the love of the child and was always restless and hectic for him. This shows how delirious was Kaikeyi alias Yasoda was in her love for Krishna. Again, in the “Kali Yug”, Kaikeyi became the aunt of Ram, born in the city of Puri of Lord Jagannath and is worshiped as ‘Mausima’. The “Mausima Temple” of Puri is on the road side in between the temple of Lord Jagannath and the “Gundicha temple”, exactly at the same distance between the two. “Mausima” is otherwise known as ‘Ardhasani’ or ‘Ardha Soshani’ with two idols of deities “Chhaya” and “Maya” at either side built of stone carving.
The Goddess of "Mausima" if Puri:
"Mausima" or “Ardha Soshani” resembles the Deity “Subhadra” of the Trinity of Lords Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra fame. The timing of the temple is between 6 AM to 9 PM. There is provision of offering of ‘Maha Prasad’ daily at 9 PM from the temple of Lord Jagannath and Mausima (aunt) sleeps after dinner as the temple is closed for the day. Statues of two big lions adore the front gate or the entrance of the Temple. Besides, the temple has idols of ‘Shiva’, ‘Hanuman’, ‘Nrusingha’, ‘Dasabatar’, ‘Nabagraha’, etc. The goddess Mausima is completely vegetarian. Any devotee intending to offer rice, dal, vegetables curries, etc. can offer so, but no non-vegetarian item is offered.
The invisible river:
Many many years ago, ‘Malini’ river was flowing across ‘Balgandi’, the place where Mausima temple is situated and the river bifurcated the main road leading to Gundicha temple, making it impossible to drag the three chariots of Lords, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra of Puri straight near the Gundicha temple. So, in the olden times, six chariots were constructed, three-each remaining on either side of the river and the Lords were carried in big boats from one side to the other. It is believed that ‘Ardha Soshani’ swallowed the river altogether and now no river exists and three chariots. Instead of six, suffice. Whatever be the faith or hearsay, the river existence once has changed its course and dried up altogether thereafter which has eased the process of ‘Car Festival’ since then.
The savior of tribal people:
Mausima is thought to be the savior of tribal people living in the ‘Malini’ river bank from flood fury, saving their cottages, properties and life. So, Mausima goddess is regarded as the tribal goddess. She was worshipped in every tribal hamlet. She is modelled upon Goddess Subhadra as she is the sister of the mother of Goddess Subhadra. The importance of mausima is felt due to the influence she exercises on Lord Jagannath during the world famous ‘Car Festival’ when the three chariots take a halt at the temple during the return journey of the Lords, known as “Bahuda Yatra” and it is a filial sense that Mausima offer Lord Jagannath ‘Poda Pitha’ or ‘Charcoal cooked cake’ which is both aromatic and tasty.
A pilgrim or a tourist to the city of Puri comes to see the sea beach and Lord Jagannath, but he should also, see a number of very old famous temples and holy ponds of Puri is replete with, if he has time to do so at his disposal. Many of these temples and ponds have weathered centuries of rain and sun, not to speak of the hostile climate during the Mughal and the British rules. “Indradyumna”, “Sweta Ganga”, ‘Parvati Sagar’ and ‘Narendra’ among the sacred ponds of Puri and the holy temples of Lord ‘Lokanath’, ‘Kapal Mochan’, ‘Shyamakali’ and ‘Mausima’ must be visited not for religious fervor, but for their architectural finesse and primitive character and historical significance.
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