Vaikuntha Ekadashi in

Continuing the pilgrimage in Easter India, from Assam, Pujya Sri Swamiji arrived in Bhubaneshwar Airport on 7th January 2010. He was warmly received by devotees, who made the arrangements in a very short span. (Perla Balaji, Mahesh Kumar, Hemant Dash, Dr. Gopala Chandra Kar and Ramesh had organised the trip.)

Important Places of Orissa

This region is known as Utkala Desha and Kalinga Desha, since time immemorial. Great dynasties and emperors ruled the state, such as Ashoka. (It was the travesty of battle at Kalinga, that caused Emperor Ashoka to eschew violence and follow non-violence principles of Buddha).

Traditionally, Orissa (pronounced as Udeesa, in local dialect) is known as a Vishnu Kshetra, due to the location of Jagannatha Swamy at Puri, which is one among the holiest shrines of India. However, there was a Shiva and Shakti Kshetra, even before Jagannatha Temple was built in 12th Century.

Local Pundits explain that – this region is blessed with four mighty temples representing the four instruments in the hands of Lord Vishnu. The Architecture also corroborates this narration.
• Shankha (Conch) - Puri Jagannatha (Great Temple, attracting millions of people every year during annual Ratha Yatra and monthly Ekadashi)
• Chakra (Discus) – Konarka Surya Temple (Dilapidated, yet world renowned Unesco Heritage site)
• Gadaa (Mace) – Jajpur (Odyaana Kshetra of Girija Devi Temple)
• Padma (Lotus) – Bhuvaneshwar (Linga Raaja Swamy temple)

In His previous trip, Sri Swamiji had visited the first two temples in Puri and Konark. This trip completed the set of remainder of Pilgrimage, as Sri Swamiji visited Jajpur and Bhubaneshwar
Jajpur – As explained earlier in the story of Sati Devi, the Shakti of Mother Goddess descended at various places, including this town. It is said that the navel of Devi, had fallen at this ancient town, where a Yagna was also performed. (In fact, the term is derived from Yagna, Pur = town. Hence, Yajna Pura was its ancient name)

This place is referred as Odyaana in Shaakta Sampradaaya (pantheon of Devi worship). Odyaana is a traditional ornament, worn on the hips covering the novel. Yoga Shastra (Hatha Yoga in particular) specifies that, Odyaana Bandha (absolute control of the body thru the navel part, also called as Uddiyaana) causes an exalted state. Coupled with Moola Bandha and Jaalandhara Bandha, this Yogic Practice is most significant in achieving total control over the body, for the Yogi, leading to the awakening of Kundalini Shakti.

Hence, this is a very important place of pilgrimage for both Yoga Practioners and Devotees of Devi, for the advancement of Yoga Abhyaasa (Practice), material and spiritual life.

Naabhi Gaya

Another important aspect of this place is Pitru Karma. Gaya in Bihar state is actually referred as Shiro Gayaa and Pithapuram in Andhra Pradesh is referred as Paada Gayaa. This place is referred as Naabhi Gayaa. It is said that Gayaasura (a demon, with Sattvik (pious) nature acceded to the request of deities to perform a Yagna on his body. Keeping his promise, he left his gigantic mortal body, extending over thousand miles. Moved by his sincerity, he was granted a boon that, the name of Gaya should be perpetual and made it mandatory for everyone to chant the name of Gaya, during Shraaddha (ceremonial rites to deceased souls.) Accordingly, every devout person performs Shraaddha at either of these Gaya Kshetras.

Thousands of Shiva Temples are located in a diameter of 10 km; in the delta of River Vaitarani. Vitarana is Distribution; this river is symbolic of distributing the results of our deeds. Garuda Puraana says, that Vaitarani is the ford in Naraka (Hell), before reaching Lord Yama, who decides the status of the departed soul, judging the deeds.

Even today, a well named Naabhi Kunda is located near the main temple of Goddess, where Pinda (Morsels of Rice/ Flour) are offered in the memory of departed souls. It is said that, the well never gets filled up, in spite of the fact that hundreds of people offer Pinda each day.

Visit to Jajpur

Pujya Sri Swamiji, visited the temple at 11AM and offered Puja to mother Goddess Girija Devi, also known as Viraja (One without any blemish). After Visiting Bagala Mukhi and Eeshaneshwara Shiva temple, Sri Swamiji visited the million Shiva Linga miniatures in the ancient enclosure. Seated in the Mukti Mantapa, Sri Swamiji prayed for the well-being of all the devotees. Food arrangements and logistics were arranged by Ex- Municipal Chairman, Sri Jajaati Kesari Das.

Program in Bhubaneshwar

The name Bhubaneshwar (Bhuvaneshwara) means the Lord of the World. (Bhuvana = World, Eeshwara = Lord); which in essence stands for the majestic temple of Linga Raaja, another name of Shiva. Though the name suggests that this is Shiva Temple, it is a Hari Hara Temple, as the Temple Dome neither bears the sign of Trishoola (Trident, the symbol of Shiva) nor the Chakra (Discus the symbol of Vishnu); but has the Dhanush of Raama.

This temple constructed in the 11th Century by Kings Jajaati Kesari, Lalaatendu Kesari has an interesting legend. Prior to the construction of Puri Temple, Lord Jagannatha was residing at this place. He had appeared in the dream of the King and asked for one hundred thousand temple to be built, in the honour of many deities. As instructed by the God, Vishwakarma, the divine sculptor had nearly completed the enormous task. But, before the last temple (dedicated to Vishwa Karma), the imposed deadline expired. Then, Lord Jagannath moved to Puri.

The kings were dumbstruck, with this punishment and sought a remedy as the temples were to be consecrated. At this juncture, Lord revealed that this temple should be dedicated to Lord Shiva, who would be seen in the form of a Great Linga. (Linga also means the cause. Linga Raaja is the greatest cause, which means the cause of all the causes of existence.) It was further announced that, this temple would bear resemblance to Shaiva and Vaishnava pantheons, with Garuda & Nandi idols. Accordingly, the kings excavated the ground beneath the sanctum sanctorum and found a mysterious rock. Following the guidance of the Lord, they consecrated the rocks, as a manifestation of Saaligraama and Shiva Linga.

Sri Swamiji visited the Temple on 12th January, at 10.30 AM to offer Abhishekam to the deity. (Dhanurmasa Puja, typical to Vishnu Temples are observed here with great enthusiasm.) He was accompanied by Sri Giridhar Gamang, the former chief minister of Orissa and ardent devotee of Sri Swamiji.

Public Programs

Realising the importance of Sri Swamiji’s visit, local devotees from Andhra Associations in Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack had invited His Holiness to bless them. Obliging their request, Sri Swamiji blessed local devotees at Andhra Cultural Association Building in Bhubaneshwar on Sunday evening. In His message, Sri Swamiji advised devotees to watch the morning discourses telecast in Television Channels.

On Monday evening, Sri Swamiji visited the Venkateshwara Temple run by Aikyata, a Telugu Association based in Cuttack (the cultural capital of Orissa). In his message, Sri Swamiji announced that this visit was miraculous for many reasons. The annual visit to Andhra Pradesh, is replaced by the visit to the Eastern States. (The tour was cancelled due to volatile situation in the state.) To compensate the loss, Sri Swamiji dedicated the merit of this pilgrimage tour to Assam and Orissa to the devotees of Andhra Pradesh, for their devotion.

Before proceeding to Bhubaneshwar, Sri Swamiji visited the residence of Dr. Gopal Chandra Kar, an eminent doctor of the state. Jajpur MLA, Sri Pranav Prakash Das visited His Holiness and sought blessings.

Girija Devi Temple in Jajpur, Orissa

Sri Swamiji received by Management of Girija Devi Temple

Sri Swamiji praying to Mother Goddess

The Temple Gopura

Abhishekam to Lord Shiva in Girija Devi Temple Complex

Naabhi Kunda is located near the main temple of Goddess, where Pinda (Morsels of Rice/ Flour) are offered in the memory of departed souls. It is said that, the well never gets filled up, in spite of the fact that hundreds of people offer Pinda each day.

Girija Devi Temple Priest offers Parasadam to Sri Swamiji

Members of Telugu Association in Cuttack offer respects to Sri Swamiji in Sri Venkateshwara Temple

Devotees listen to Sri Swamiji's discourse

Sri Giridhar Gamang, the former chief minister of Orissa speaking to Sri Swamiji

Sri Swamiji addressing the gathering at Andhra Samskriti Samiti in Bhuvaneshwar on 10th January 2010

The renowned Linga Raja Swamy Temple in Bhuvaneshwar