Invasions of the Temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri, Part Two


BY: SUN STAFF - 11.7 2019

Dadhibamana Temple, Sonepur, Orissa 
Temporary Abode of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra

Adaptation of an article by Abhimanyu Dash.

Prof. Surendranath Dash in his article, "Inroads on the Temple of Sri Jagannath" in the book, Cultural Heritage of Odisha(Vol. XII, p. 214), has pointed out five reasons behind Kesodasmaru's invasion of the Jagannatha Puri Temple, as follows:

By the year 1610 A.D. the king of Khurda, Purushottama Deva had acknowledged the overlordship of Delhi. However, he was independent from a practical point of view. This did not satisfy Hasim Khan.

At that time the Mughal officers could not oppress or suppress the semi- independent Hindu kings, and could not acquire much wealth.

The concerned Subedars were always watching an opportunity to abolish the semi-independent Hindu states.

In this line, the more advanced officers were highly honoured.

The status and dignity of these officers were increasing in the Durbar of Delhi.

Kalyan Malla became the next Subedar of Orissa after Hasim Khan. He ruled Orissa in between the years from 1611 A.D. to 1617 A.D. In order to satiate his overlord Jahangir he attacked Khurda. Kalyan Malla, the son of Raja Todar Malla, the revenue minister of Akbar became the Subedar of Orissa in 1611 A.D. after Hasim Khan, and remained in that post till 1617 A.D. He followed the path of Kesodasmaru to satiate his overlord Jahangir. In 1611 A.D. Kalyan Malla marched against Khurda and conquered many territories. Purushottamadeva, the King of Khurda was compelled to surrender before Kalyan Malla. On the eve of this tenth invasion, the Sevayats were frightened and shifted the Triad Deities, Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhardra to the Mahisanasi in the Chilika Lake. Subsequently the place was called 'Brahmapura' owing to the placement of 'Brahma' at that village. ['Brahma' refers to the core piece or element of daru (wood) embodied by the Deities, which is transferred to all newly made Deities.] The Lords were placed upon the chakas (round citadel), so the place was named Chakanasi. The Triad remained there for one year.

King Purushottama Deva expressed his desire to surrender. To maintain peace and order, he concluded a treaty of understanding with Kalyan Malla. Accordingly he offered his daughter as a present to the service of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. He also presented three lakhs of rupees as Peshkash (tribute) to the royal exchequer along with one of his best elephants, Sesnaga, for the use of the emperor.

This raid of Kalyan Malla has been described in Madalapanji, the temple chronicle. But according to Mirza Nathan, the event of sending the daughter by Purushottam Deva is not true, because the Gajapati Kings never keep their daughters at home after their birth. The daughters are generally sent to the house of the maternal uncle. This tradition is maintained even now in the Gajapati family. Therefore it is said that Raja Kalyan Malla might have sent some other girl to the emperor only to please him. [9]

The circumstantial evidences confirm our conviction that the attack of Kalyan Malla was launched to the Puri temple, but not of Khurda. Because according to Madalapanji, at the time of Kalyan Malla's plunder, Lord Sri Jagannath was not in Srimandir, but at Mahisanasi. It is therefore, apparent that before his attack on Puri, the Triad had already been transferred to Mahisanasi.[10]

Kalyan Mall is known to have attacked the Puri temple twice. First time he not only attacked the temple but also looted its treasure. Besides, he had treacherously murdered a minister and 16 skilled generals of the Khurda king. According to the version found in Madalapanji, the king was not at Puri. The second attack might have occurred in 1612 A.D. This time he was retaliated by the valiant Paiks, who chased him up to Cuttack and killed many of his soldiers. As a result of this he did not venture to attack Odisha up to A.D. 1617.[11]

According to Rabindranath Pratihari during the second phase of attack of Kalyan Malla, the Lords were placed in the chap(fleet of boats) at Gurubai Gada from Mahisanasi. The Deities passed a few days beneath the lotani baragachha (Baniyan tree) getting down from the fleet. After that, Their Lordships were worshipped at Dadhibaman Temple.

Jahangir appointed Mukarram Khan as the Governor of Orissa in 1617 A.D. Mukarram Khan waged the 12th attack on the Temple of Lord Jagannath in 1617 A.D. He created a situation of terror with his iconoclastic activities. The priests of the Jagannath Temple carried away the image of Jagannath to Gobapadar in panic. Enraged by Mukarram Khan's iconoclastic activities, Raja Purusottama Deva revolted. Mukarram therefore invaded Khurda. Purushottam could not withstand the attack and fled to Rajamahendri. The kingdom of Khurda was annexed to the Mughal territory for a short time. Afterwards, Purushottama Deva succeeded in installing himself as the Raja of Khurda. On the contrary, Mukarram Khan failed to trace the Deities, fled with riches and gold, but was drowned in the waters. The Deities were kept in a mandap in the precinct of the Bankanidhi Temple for some days and returned to Puri in 1620 A.D.

The thirteenth invasion on the Temple of Jagannath was launched by Mirza Ahmad Beg, the nephew of Moghul empress Nurjahan. Ahmad Beg became the Governor of Orissa in 1621 A.D. He invaded Khurda, as he found that King Purusottam Deva was trying to strengthen his position with the help of the chiefs of Banapur, Ranapur and Karnata (near Banpur), where he died. Thereafter Narasingha Deva, the son of Purusottama Deva, became the new King of Khurda. Ahmad Beg put two terms before Narasingha Deva to accept. The terms were as follows:

(1) the new king of Khurda will acknowledge his sovereignty; and 
(2) Ahmad Beg's family members will be stationed at Cuttack.

The above terms of Ahmad Beg were rejected by Narasingha Deva, so out of anger, Ahmad Beg attacked Khurda in 1621 A.D. Narasingha Deva successfully resisted the Moghuls. At this stage, the rebellious Moghul prince Shah Jahan arrived in Orissa with his army. Ahmad Beg left Khurda for Bengal out of fear. From Cuttack, Shah Jahan proceeded to Allahabad and Oudh across Orissa. This march of Shah Jahan through Orissa caused panic among the priests of Jagannath Temple at Puri. They carried away the Deity of Lord Jagannath to Andharigada in the mouth of the river Shalia, across the Chilika lake. Efforts were made to transfer 'Brahma' to Gadamanitri in the Khurda District. The Deities returned Puri in 1624 A.D. The Triad were reinstalled on the golden throne and Mahaprasad was reintroduced.

The invasion of Amir Mutaquad Khan, alias Mirza Makki, is considered to be the fourteenth invasion. Mirza Makki became the new Governor of Orissa and ruled till 1641 A.D. During his Governorship, Narasingha Deva was treacherously killed by his nephew Gangadhar, who occupied the throne of Khurda. Mirzamakki invaded the Jagannath Temple two times. His commander plundered the temple and the old palace at Balisahi. The invasion took place in the year 1645 A.D.

The fifteenth invasion was waged by Amir Fateh Khan in 1647 A.D. He attacked the temple and plundered valuable gems like diamonds, pearls and gold, etc.

In 1692 A.D., Aurangzeb the Moghul emperor issued an order to destroy the Temple of Lord Jagannath. At that time, Divyasingha Deva was the king of Khurda. Ekram Khan was the Nawab of Orissa who waged this invasion on the temple with the help of his brother, Mastram Khan. The Nawab entered the temple and climbed to the golden throne of Jagannath. The treasure of the temple was looted. The King was unable to face the invader hidden in an unknown place. Lord Jagannath was hidden behind the 'Bimala Temple' in the precinct of the Srimandir. The sibling Deities were then shifted one after another to Maa Bhagabati Temple at Gadakokal, located at Brahmagiri block. As per records of the Madalapanji, the bije-pratima (representatives of the Lord) were transferred to Gadakokal. Then the Deities were shifted to Bada Hantuada in Banpur, across the Chilika Lake. The Deities were returned to Puri in 1699 A.D. This was the sixteenth invasion of the temple of Lord Jagannath.

Muhammad Taqi Khan became Naib Nazim (Deputy Subedar) of Orissa from A.D. 1727 to 1734. During his time he invaded the Temple of Jagannath two times, in 1731 A.D. and 1733 A.D. He invaded the temple with iconoclastic zeal. He invaded to demolish the temple, desecrate the Deities and plunder the Lord's treasure. So the servitors removed the Deities to Hariswar in Banpur, Chikili in Khalikote, Rumagarh in Kodala, Athagada in Ganjam, and finally to Marda of Kodala. Kodala located in Athagada region was considered a safe place for the Deities, as this place was under the rule of Nizam of Hyderabad and not of Mughals. Marda itself was situated inside a dense forest and hills. So the place was invincible for the invaders. The ruler of Athagada, Jagannath Harichandan Jagadev had strong family relation with the Gajapati rulers of Khurda. The Deities were kept at Marda from 29.12.1733 to 31.12.1736. At Marda, a beautiful temple was hastily constructed and arrangement was made for all the rituals of Lord Jagannath. It is believed that even the Rath Yatra was held here with full vigour. The temple is a two-chambered pidha style with jagamohan and vimana.

Marda is considered to be the second home of Sri Jagannath. A regular temple of reasonable size and shape with all architectural features was constructed here within a very short period and regular worship was arranged with full austerity. After the departure of the Deities, the temple continued to remain vacant for centuries. The Deities stayed there for two and half years. The stay of Their Lordships at Athagada is recognized by the lighting of a lamp on every Ekadasi day during the evening, followed by the recitation of a sloka in honour of Harichandan Jagadeva. There did exist a close link between the two ruling families. [12]

The King Birakishore Deva was frightened with the Maratha Bargis. So Maratha Dewan Bahadur Khan wrote a letter to the King in 1752 A.D. with the assurance that no invasion would be launched on the Jagannath Temple during the Maratha rule. The servitors should continue to worship the Deities as usual, without fear. This was the direction of the Maratha Dewan to King Birakishore Deva.

But an unwanted incident occurred at Puri in the year 1881 A.D. The followers of Alekh religion did not recognize Jagannath worship. In that year, a large number of the followers of the Alekh religion came from Sambalpur and Raipur regions to Puri. They entered the Jagannath Temple. According to Utkal Dipika, they brought the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra out of the temple and burnt them on Grand Road at Puri, which was recorded in the records of police. As a result, the invaders were imprisoned.[13]

The most significant feature in the history of invasions of the great Temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri is that in no case were the 'Brahma' of the Deities destroyed, and that remains true up to today. The servitors played an important role in safeguarding the Triad in times of danger. The Kings have protected the temple from destruction by surrendering before the invaders. In Ayodhya, Kasi and Mathura, mosques have been built in place of the temples destroyed during Muslim invasions. At Puri, the Temple of Lord Jagannath remained standing at the time of invasion. No mosque has ever been erected, which is the miracle of the Deities. The people of Puri have suffered, but kept the Temple safe.



9. P.C. Das, "The Afghan and the Mughals", History of Orissa. New Delhi, 1994, pp. 69- 70 
10. Surendranath Dash, "Inroads ", in Cultural Heritage of Odisha, Puri Dist. (ed) G. Mohanty ( Vol, XII, Part-Ill, Bhubaneswar, 2010, p. 215 
11. Ibid 
12. Amiya K. Pattnayak, "Sri Jagannath ", in Cultural Heritage of Odisha, Puri Dist. (ed) G. Mohanty (, Vol. XII, Part- III, Bhubaneswar, 2010, pp. 206-207 
13. Bansidhar Mohanty, Etihasre Sri Jagannath Mandir O Sri Jagannath, Bhubaneswar, 1982, p. 106. Abhimanyu Dash, Lecturer in History, Surajmal Saha Mahavidyalaya, Puri – 752001