MahaPrabhu Shri Vallabhacharyaji and his sons were frequent visitors to the holy city of Puri in Orrisa. Since the Pre-Aryan era, Puri, under various names, has always been a prominent religious centre. The siblings, Lord Shri Balaram, Shri Krshna and their younger sister Subhadraji have been the focus of worship for centuries. According to history, the Lord was initially worshipped by the local aboriginal and later by the Hindus as Lord of Nilachal. Pre-Aryan origins of the cult of JagganNathji can be seen by the iconography of the Lords of Puri. It is also one of the rare places in India where tribals are officially allowed to work and worship in the inner temple. (click here to see an article on this)
Along with Shri Dwarikadhishji, Ranchodji, BadriNathji, Tirupati, and RangNathji, JagganNathji is one of the most ancient Lords (Gods) of India. Guarding the Eastern coast of India, the Lord of Puri has been the centre of learning and religion for centuries. Importance of Puri is emphasised by the fact that Adi Shankaracharyaji founded his Eastern Math here. Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahabrabhuji also centred his sect at Puri. Infact, he is said to have merged physically with the Lord at Puri, just as GopiNathji, the eldest son of Shri Vallabhacharyaji, did.
Impressed by the temple rituals and festivals at Puri, Shri Vallabhacharyaji adopted many practices from here and included them as core of the worship at his new temple in Vraj - the original temple of Shri Nathji. Some of the festivals to come from this are Snaan Yatra, Chandan Yatra, Rath Yatra and the Dolotsava. From the food offerings at Puri, Acharya Shri borrowed mathadi, thor and sakhadi bhog. From the literary traditions, He borrowed the hymns of Jayadeva and the idea of singing classical ragas in colloquial / folk songs.
As a rule, AcharyaShri and His sons travelled around the country to spread the newly established philosophy of the Pushti Marg. This brought them into contact with a number of different kingdoms, different streams of thought and ideas that shaped the India of their times. Puri, being traditionally the Eastern centre of learning and religion, was a natural magnet for the highly learned family of the great Acharya.
There are a number of temple records to show the honours and titles bestowed upon Vallabhacharyaji and his family by the royal court and the council of learned brahmins at Puri. Even the grand-sons and grand-daughters of the great Acharya had great affinity for Puri and it's sophisticated court - celestial and temporal. The family priest of the Vallabh-kula at Puri have kept records of the visits made by the holy family there. One such record shows how Shri GopiNathji came to Puri and helped reverse a drought of many years with his blessings. The rain revived more than just the parched earth - the royal house at Puri was soon blessed with a much needed heir. All this and more is recorded by the government and temple authorities at Puri. Some of the original palm leaf manuscripts are kept in the government museum of Orrisa.
In 1990s, HH Shri Mathureshwarji recited Shrimad Bhagvat Katha in Puri to re-enact what his ancestors have performed several times. Recitation of this most sacred text was the basis of any pilgrimage undertaken by Shri Vallabhacharyaji. At this function, he was shown a number of ancient records kept by the government museums and was even presented with a translated copy of one the originals.
Some interesting videos of rituals at Puri :-
Snana Yatra Vesha of Jaggan-Nathji
Gaja Vesha of Shri Jaggan Nathji
Ratha Yatra of the Lord of Puri
Suvarna Vesh of Shri Jaggan-Nathji – on the last day of the Ratha Yatra (commentary in Oriya)
Ratha Yatra and Suvarna-Vesh (golden attire) of the Lord on His return to the inner temple (commentary in Hindi)
To honour the memory of this relation between the Vallabh-kula and Shri JagganNathji, a gallery has been added to the site to let us have darshan of the Lord at Puri and see some of the festival attire of the Lord.
© Bhagwat Shah
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