Lord Jagannath is the god of his devotees. He hears the pleas of all who call to him with devotion and dedication. It is the love, affection, and devotion of his devotees that compels him to listen to them. The kindness of Lord Jagannath is not biased. It goes beyond all societal barriers. It is not affected by the religion, caste, or the materialistic qualifications of his devotees. In front of the Lord, everyone is equal. He tests the depth of devotion in the heart of all the devotees, not the position that they enjoy in society. Religion, caste, and creed are man-made, which he disapproves of. He only accepts the bhava (Devotion) of the individual souls and not just the practicing of Sadhana, Fasting, Yoga, or offerings made to appease him. He is a loving God, and can only be reached by love and affection.
Lord Jagannath is believed to be the embodiment of love and affection. He is the breaker of orthodox regressive practices in our society. From time to time he had proved this through his various miraculous acts. When he waits for his Muslim devotee, ‘Bhakta Salabega’, he breaks down the practice of religious discrimination. To break down the norms of caste and creed discrimination in the society, he steps out of his temple to meet his devotees during the Ratha Jatra or the car festival. This is the time when a sea of devotees asks for blessings in front of the chariots of the holy trinity, irrespective of their caste, creed, or religion. He proves to everyone that no societal barrier can stop his devotees from seeing him.
Just like numerous other incredible stories associated with Lord Jagannath and his devotees, the legend of Dasia Bauri is enthralling. The stories of his devotion and Lord Jagannath’s love for him substantiate the fact that it is the devotion and not the materialistic qualification that pleases him.
Two miles away from Puri, Dasia Bauri lived in a village, Bali. Dasia was born in a lower caste, and it was the period when untouchability was highly prevalent. Apart from that, he lived in abject poverty and earned his livelihood by weaving clothes. Though he was uneducated and understood very little of the hymns from the various holy scriptures, he used to hear them with rapt attention during festivals and various religious gatherings. The only thing he used to understand and the chant was ‘Harinam’ or ‘Sankirtana’. He believed that it was his sins of the previous birth because of which he took rebirth in a low caste, and only the recitation of god’s name could save him from the cycle of birth and death.
He was completely devoted to Lord Jagannath. But due to his sheer poverty, he failed to travel to Puri Dham. He did not have a single morsel at his house to eat, but instead of desire for food, he desired to visit Lord Jagannath during Ratha Jatra. Jagannath always hears his devotees. Surprisingly, in the meantime, the village leader arrived at his door who offered him some food and a few kaudis (seashells considered as money during that period) in return of weaving a new cloth for him as he was going to visit Ratha Jatra. Dasia expressed his desire to visit Puri and see the holy trinity in the chariot, to which the village leader agreed very happily.
He was mesmerized after seeing Lord Jagannath for the first time. Even after returning home, his mind was unable to let go of his beautiful face. It was his love for Lord Jagannath that made him see the Lord everywhere and in everything. One day, the Lord appeared to Dasia Bauri in his dream. Jagannath told Dasia not to consider himself low only because he was born in a low caste, saying that for him, all humans are alike. The Lord even asked Dasia to ask for anything that he desires the most, to which Dasia replied that he wanted to always be able to see him, and whenever he would offer him anything to eat, the Lord would have to take it physically. Lord Jagannath granted his wish.
Once, Dasia went to the village to sell a piece of cloth that he had weaved. While showing that to a brahmin, his eyes fell on a coconut tree with coconuts. He wished to offer those coconuts to Lord Jagannath. So, he requested the brahmin to give him a few coconuts. However, the greedy brahmin told him that the price of each coconut equaled that of the cloth that Dasia wanted to sell. Without even giving a second thought, Dasia agreed to it. With one coconut in his hand, while returning home, he met another brahmin who was going to Puri with loads of offerings. Dasia requested him to carry his coconut too. He also asked him to offer his coconut to Lord Jagannath, and to tell him that “Dasia has sent this for you”. He asked the brahmin to return the coconut to him if the Lord did not take it physically. The brahmin laughed at Dasia but didn’t turn down Dasia’s request. The brahmin reached the Puri Dham and offered everything that he carried for the Lord. At last standing behind the Garuda Pillar, he offered Dasia’s coconut. Surprisingly, a bright hand approached, and the coconut disappeared.
As per another folklore, Dasia once went to Puri with some ripe mangoes to offer to Lord Jagannath. At the Lion Gate, or the ‘Singhadwara’, he was stopped by some Pandas, who wanted to offer those mangoes to the Lord themselves. Though they turned aggressive, Dasia remained rigid in his wish and told them that the Lord would only accept the mangoes from his hand and would only eat them in front of him. Everyone laughed at him. However, Dasia, staring with sheer devotion at the Neelachakra, called on Lord Jagannath to take those mangoes. To everyone’s surprise, the bagful of mangoes disappeared. A few Pandas rushed to the ‘Ratnasinghasana’ of the Lord in bewilderment and were stunned to see the remnants of the mangoes, namely the peels and stones scattered everywhere. In utter delight, all the Servitors bowed down in front of Dasia for being able to conquer the heart of the Lord. They adorned Dasia’s neck with the ‘Dhandamala’.
It is also believed that pleased with Dasia’s prayers, Lord Jagannath had shown him a glimpse of all his incarnations or Avatars. Dasia’s love and devotion for the Lord made him immortal. His legends have found a place in many Odia religious literature. Today Dasia is revered because of his dedication towards the Lord.
As it is always said, the saying that Lord Jagannath stays with his devotees and his devotees stay with him, is true in all sense.