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Lord Jagannath’s Pastimes- Part 4

In the early twentieth century, the wealthy and haughty Dhananjay Mehta from Hyderabad was humbled by Lord Jagannath. He had challenged the priests and cooks of Jagannath to make a delicious offering to the Lord that would cost not less than 10,000 gold coins. The temple management team was baffled; how could any single eatable cost so much? Even if they cooked the best sweet or savoury, that wouldn’t’ cost more than a thousand gold coins. If they failed, it would mean Mehta is so big and powerful that even the Lord of the universe is not qualified to reciprocate with his service. The cooks and priests prayed to Jagannath to help them. They desperately wanted to maintain the honour of the Lord.

That night the head priest had a special dream. Lord Jagannath instructed him to tell Dhananjay Mehta that he’d like to eat just one Paan (Beatle nut) that contains Gajamani paste.

Gajamani is a special pearl found in the rarest of the rare celibate, male elephants. Elephants are rarely celibate. And of thousand such celibates, hardly one would have that pearl on his forehead. In effect, Lord Jagannath’s proposal meant Mr. Dhananjay Mehta would have to buy many elephants, and kill them to see if they have that pearl on their forehead. Then make a paste of it, and add it to the Paan.

Dhananjay was humbled; he realized just this one Paan would cost him over a million gold coins.  Soon news spread that Dhananjay Mehta, a proud and wealthy businessman can’t afford to sponsor even one small betel nut for the Lord of the universe. The businessman was indeed poor in comparison to the wealthiest Lord Jagannath. He begged forgiveness from Lord Jagannath and rendered menial service to the devotees at Puri, to atone for his proud and offensive attitude.

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