Revered to be one of the most prominent Gods in Hindu relegion by the folks of Orissa primarily, if not only, Lord Jagannath of Puri Temple is considered to be an epitome of power and is rightly called the Lord of the Universe.
Worshipped alongside brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, the mythological origin of the Lord has always been subjected to a lot of academic and religious discussions.
The uniqueness of Lord Jagannath’s idol is the fact that it is carved out of neem wood – yes, unlike the usual metal or stone carving of other Hindu idols. The idols of Lord Jagannath depicts the Lord embodying features of a large, square-shaped head, big eyes and unfinished limbs. While millions of devotees pray to the holy mighty in this form – little do many know about the story behind it.
There are many legends associated with the Lord’s unfinished hands and lower limbs. Lord Jagannath is said to be a form of Vishnu.
It is believed that in that King Indradyumna wanted to built a Vishnu temple but he wasn’t certain about the shape of the idol that would represent the Lord. He was then asked by Lord Brahma to meditate and pray to Lord Vishnu himself as to what form would he like to embody.
After deep meditation, Indradyumna appeared in his dream and spoke about a particular floating wood log near Bankamuhana in Puri and His image would be made out of that log. After this dream, Indradyumna rushed to the spot and found the wooden log. However, to his surprise, he couldn’t get his artists to make a idols out of it – no matter what.
The tools of the artisans broke every time when they tried to cut the log. This was the point when Ananta Maharana (carpenter Bishwakarma) appeared and offered to help.
However, Bishwakarma had one condition. He said that he shouldn’t be disturbed while carving out the idol until it is finished. So, for two weeks, he employed himself in the divine task in locked podium without anyone’s interruption. But after two weeks, suddenly the sound of work stopped coming from inside the podium to which wife of Indradyumna – Gundicha said that they must go in and check if he is fine.
Although the King didn’t want it, he had no option but enter inside. However, to their surprise, when they got in, they found no carpenter and only unfinished idols. He immediately repented his act. But a divine voice – probably of Lord Vishnu himself, told the King that he shouldn’t regret and install the unfinished idols as it is and Lord shall make himself visible to the devotees in this form.
Ever since, the idols of Lord Jagannath and his borther and sister are worshipped in unfinished form.