The priceless diamonds and gems used in dressing the Lord are stored in ‘Ratna Bhandara’- a specially guarded and sealed store room. Who’s the security guard of this room? It’s not the Z security or black cat commandoes, rather a mystical team-as revealed in the below incident- protects Lord Jagannath’s property.
In 1890, one Biswanath Mekap, overwhelmed by greed, stole some ornaments. He reasoned: if a few harmless pieces are taken out, no one would know. That night Mr Mekap died in his sleep. His wife screamed for help as she saw two strange, snakes like beings descend from the skies, and pronounce loudly: “We have come from Naga loka, sent by Lord Lokanath, to punish him.” As the personalities disappeared, she panicked. Neighbours arrived, and doctors pronounced Mekap to have died of a snake bite. Interestingly there were no snakes around his house at that time. The wife returned the jewels soon after, but it was too late. She and other family members too died prematurely, and Mekap was left heirless.
The traditional scriptures at Jagannath’s temple in Puri mention that this room (Ratna Bhandara) is protected by two people: the deity of Lokanath- a form of Lord Shiva, and the serpents from Naga loka- another planet unseen to the human eye. When Mekap’s family perished, the priests nonchalantly declared that the alleged curse of the Ratna Bhandara had simply come to pass.
Although there are no serpents visible at the temple premises, strange occurrences have been reported. In 1911, Bihari Daku’s story captured the Nation’s imagination. The news of his death spread far and wide.
Bihari Daku desired to steal Chitta, a jewel adorning Lord Jagannath’s third eye. It’s estimated to be worth millions of dollars. He closely observed all rituals and the timings the priests entered and left the altar. He then made an intelligent plan: wearing a black cloth over himself, he hid behind the sealed doors of the inner sanctum. After all priests left at night, he climbed the altar to pull off the jewel.
The next morning, the priests discovered Bihari Daku’s lifeless body at the altar surrounded by five dead cobras. While devout pilgrims and police was left awe struck, locals coolly revealed that when Lord Jagannath rests at night, deva loka residents (from higher planets) come as snakes to guard the deities.
To be continued…