An Open Letter From A Devotee To The One And Only Lord Jagannath
My Dearest Lord Jagannath!
I bow down before Thee; expressing my deepest regard and honour for You.
You may be amazed as to why I wrote this letter to You, when I pray every single day of my life; sing for you; yearn for your divine grace; my prayers for You may not be enough, so I do express my deep gratitude and appreciation for You from the core of my heart.
O Lord, You are one and unique. You are one in many and many in one. You are divine yet humanly. You are mysterious and enigmatic. Yet, I perceive You in my love, faith and devotion. My life rolls and revolves around You as time passes… day after day, year after year, decade after decade. I take birth, die and take rebirth. I begin where I end. I perish where I start. You are the sole witness; Your infinite presence inspires me to live, to endure and to sustain in this earth.
You are the only Lord who comes out during Rath Yatra to bestow divine grace to all your devotees irrespective of caste, race and colour, regardless of time and space. Your rituals from Snana Yatra to Anasara; Naba-Yauban to Rath Yatra are grand celebration of life for witnessing your inimitable leelas; pleasure and pain, desire and distress, rejoice and mourning.
Your momentary absence during Anasara creates a great vacuum within me. I wailed when I couldn’t see you on Ratna Simhasan. My heart hollowed, my vision blurred searching You and You only. I was mesmerized when You came again on Your Chariot, embraced You and felt as if a ray of compassion flowing from a cosmic source enthralled my heart and soul, my eyes flooded with tears, I got spell-bound and couldn’t utter a word even though I had many things to tell you.
O Lord, You are the creator, nurturer and protector of this world. Your stories of Gaja Udharana and Mruguni Harana remind us that You have saved all from the menace of life whoever called You with ardent love and devotion. Your arms are ever opened to enfold all — to receive coconut from a devotee like Dasia, serve food to ease hunger of a devotee like Bandhu Mohanty, Your chariot stopped to give darshan to Salabega.
Your insightful stories in Bhagavat to Bhagbat Geeta; Skanda Purana to Dadhyata Bhakti proclaim that from all living to non-living ; from creature to human, all are equal for You. You are not simply an icon or an image, nor a symbol of any particular faith and conviction. You are a magnificent divine power holding our grand ancient philosophy and civilization for centuries.
Biswabasu and Bidyapati are two perennial streams of Your devotion and knowledge. Biswabasu contained You by sheer love and devotion showing the path of Bhakti, and Bidyapati perceived You in knowledge, revealing the path of enlightenment. Your Nabakalebara sensitized our temporal existence in this world. Your Ajnamaala gave the divine directive to your servitors to start Vanayaga, a wonderful journey to find a new body for You as You got old to leave this world. You are our most intimate Lord. How can You be different from us? What a wonderful philosophy of Lord Jagannath?
O Lord, I can’t be a devotee like Viswabasu who caressed You in love and devotion, nor an ardent seeker like King Indradyumna who visualised You as Nrusimha, or an admirer like Chaitanya who perceived You as Govinda, or Matta Balarama whose devotion propelled You to appear in Sand Chariot; nor Achytananda who prayed your kind presence at the last moment of life; or Jagannatha Das who wrote Bhagabata envisioning You as Lord Krishna. How a common soul of mine can realize your eternal presence and divine magnanimity?
O Lord, You are so near and dear to me. You are in my success and failure, trial and tribulation. You are my inner faith and strength, courage and consistency, sense and conscience. You are within me and beyond, here and there, above and below. You inspire me in dreams and desires, enlighten my intellect, cherish like parents, guide like a teacher, walk with me like a comrade. I am none without you. Your mysterious existence has made me rich and affluent. Your feelings and memories, realizations and recollections are the only treasure that I can carry in my life and afterwards.
O Lord, I don’t seek salvation; nor do I desire liberation from this mundane world. I fervently wish to serve You in this life and hereafter. Your invaluable presence in my life is an auspicious bliss, I rejoice to find you in my heart and soul. My body is your temple, my heart is Your Ratna Simhasan, where You take bath in my tears and adorn in my pains and pleasures, the flowers of my wishes and desires enfold and embrace You all the times. You are in me and I am in You. You are the essence and solace of my life.
O Lord, my love, faith and devotion for You would remain unbroken and unshaken in this life and forever.
Praying before You I remain an ardent seeker of Yours.
(Dr Chinmayee Satpathy is a distinguished scholar of Odisha and former Fulbright Fellow and UNESCO Fellow. She is presently a Tagore National Fellow, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India, working on the Jagannath Culture and Philosophy)