Jagannātha, Baladeva, Subhadrā, and Sudarśana are present in Jagannātha Purī. None of them have eyelids, ears, legs, arms, hands or feet. Even still, the jīvas have love and affection for Jagannātha. How can the jīvas maintain a relation with the Lord? For this, He gives His prasādam. If people eat mundane food they will be destroyed, therefore, Lord Jagannātha eats continuously day and night. He takes and distributes many different preparations. In this way He feeds all living beings. This food is soul food and soul protein.
How can the jīvas grow, gain spiritual understanding and become liberated from the body? How can they cut off all material affection and attachment? It is very important for the jīva to know these things, as all embodied living entities only think for the maintenance of their body, not thinking about the soul. There are countless jīvas, but none of them are thinking about the soul.
In Kṣetra-maṇḍala all jīvas get ātmā-śakti. Jagannātha eats mahā-prasāda all day and night and distributes this to all beings. Who comes? There is no guarantee. Lakṣmī-devī cooks day and night with 500 stoves. She works very hard, daily cooking with new pots.
Sometimes Varuṇa-deva comes as the ocean into Purī. He says, “You took my daughter in marriage, please give me her darśana. She is busy day and night cooking; she never gets to meet with me.” He comes up to the door of the temple and says, “Sasura is asura.”
Jagannātha called Hanumān and told him, “Sit here. This ocean comes every day to meet his daughter. He gave her in marriage as kanya-dāna. Why does he have so much attachment? When the ocean comes, roar loudly and scare it away.”
Hanumān roared and the ocean went back on our four sides. When Hanumān left again, then the ocean returned. Again Jagannātha called Hanumān and bound him and said, “Don’t leave here.” He bound Hanumān otherwise he would go here and there. That place is called Beḍi Hanumān where Jagannātha said, “You will stay here.” Hanumān stays in his mandira and eats and sleeps there. How much does he eat? Unlimited food of Jagannātha comes to Hanumān.
Varuṇa-deva waits eagerly for darśana of his daughter. All the devatās came and prayed to Jagannātha. He said, “Okay Varuṇa, take your daughter.” Then a crocodile came and took her on its back.
Lakṣmī was afraid that someone would come and become near and dear to Him and in this way no longer keep a place for her. For an entire month He never called her. Jagannātha has no hands or feet. Lakṣmī gives food and cooks and gives Him cloth and everything else. Now who would carry out all these duties?
Another cook said, “We are only jungle residents, we can only make khicarī for Jagannātha.”
They cook dāl in milk, then add jungle rice, dried fruits and honey. Jagannātha takes this khicarī for the whole month. On the day of saṅkrānti, Lakṣmī came and saw that the doors were closed and locked. She sat there and all the devatās came, but Jagannātha didn’t open the door. Then to please Jagannātha, they gave her one month worth of gifts for Jagannātha. She sat by door from the early morning. Many people came and brought things to please Lord Jagannātha. Then she came and prayed, “Please open the door. We brought so many things. All the devatās gave nice cloth, shawls, sweets and savories.”
The guards asked Jagannātha, “It is getting late, can we let Lakṣmī in?”
Jagannātha said, “No need.”
They said, “She brought many gifts.”
Jagannātha said, “Where did she bring them from.”
“Her father gave.”
They then opened the gates and so many items were brought in.
Jagannātha said, “Distribute everything. Eat nicely. Whatever cloth you want take.”
When Lakṣmī comes on saṅkrānti, she cleans all the kitchens and then cooks for the Lord. Jagannātha then has a bath out in the open air. The heat in the body would dissipate from bathing indoors, so He told them to take Him outside and the devatās bathed Him there. All the ṛṣis came and bathed Jagannātha.
All kings and demigods come to bathe the Lord. Then Jagannātha told Lakṣmī, “Now I am in pain, I’ll sleep. Call a doctor.”
The foresters all dressed up as doctors and made jungle drinks and they said, “We are doctors, we came for Jagannātha’s service.”
“How long will it take for Him to be well?”
“At least 15 days.”
Then for 15 days they made drinks just like those found in Vraja. They also gave medicated sweet balls. Outside they burn incense and fragrances to trick Lakṣmī. She sits outside the door and thinks, “My husband is so sick!”
Nārada came, and she asked him, “My husband is sick, what should I do?”
Nārada entered the inner room where Jagannātha was lying being served by the dayita-patis. Some were massaging, some giving drinks and some decorating Him. It was a nice festival going on inside. But Lakṣmī sits outside whilst inside there is a big festival. If she tries to go in, the doctors stop her at the door, and say, “Jagannātha needs peace and rest. He is very ill.”
Nārada asked Jagannātha, “How will You get better?”
Jagannātha said, “I am on My last breath. Take Lakṣmī back and give her to someone else.”
Lakṣmī was mortified. Dhanvantari and gave medicine for Jagannātha. Jagannātha remains sick for 15 days and doesn’t take any regular bhoga during that time. The king and pious people of that area do not take any grains. They only take the remnants of Jagannātha’s medicine prasādam. The Pandas are all very healthy and strong. Whoever likes Lakṣmī and is in her party doesn’t get this medicine, only the Vrajavāsīs’ party get.”
Only take mahā-prasāda in Jagannātha Purī. Taking mahā-prasāda in Purī is bhajana. This mahā-prasāda is very merciful. There is only one restriction, Mahāprabhu said, “Don’t take the mahā-prasāda of Jagannātha on Ekādaśī.”
Lakṣmī said, “If you are not eating then I will curse you.”
Mahāprabhu replied, “No problem, thousands of Lakṣmīs appear from the foot dust of the Vraja-devīs every day. By following Ekādaśī the Vraja-devīs are pleased. Take prasāda on all other days, but not on Ekādaśī.
The Pandas brought mahā-prasāda to Mahāprabhu to test him. Mahāprabhu did parikramā of the mahā–prasāda and sung its glories and honored it the next day after Ekādaśī.
One day Mahāprabhu was given mahā-prasāda in maṅgala-āratī. He went to Sārvabhauma Paṇḍa’s house. Sārvabhauma had just woken. Without taking bath or chanting mantra he woke and honored the mahā-prasadam. There is no need for ācamana, āhnika and snāna.
Mahāprabhu saw him eat and became very happy. He said, “Now Bhagavān will be pleased with you for you respected His mahā-prasāda.”
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from a Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from email@example.com )