Things to know about Alarnath Temple, Puri
Lord Alarnath temple is situated in Brahmagiri of Puri district , Odisha.The temple is just around 28 km from Lord Jagannath Temple,Puri. The place well known among the devotees of Lord krishna. The road that runs on the western side of Narendra pond (pokhari) leads to Brahmagiri , where stands the temple of Lord Alarnath .‘Chilika’ lies on the north western side of Sri Alarnath temple and the Bay of Bengal lends its beauty on the east southern side, mango, vakul and coconut trees around the temple add to its grandeur. Lord’s idol is made of Black granite stone and is about five and a half feet height.
The temple becomes more crowded during the krishnapaksha of Ashadha, after the Snana Yatra when lord Jagannath cannot be seen in Puri. During this period, popularly known as Anasara or ‘Anavasara’ (literally meaning no opportunity to see the lord of Puri), instead of having darshan in Jagannath Temple, peoples believe that Lord Jagannath during this time manifests as Alarnath Dev, at the Alarnath temple in Brahmagiri.
History says : In 1610 A.D., Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at Alarnath during anavasara period of Lord Jagannath. Anavasara is the two weeks period when Lord Jagannatha take rest in isolation from the rest of the world after suffering from fever due to the annual bathing festival (Snana Yatra). Lord Chaitanya claimed that he visualised the appearance of Lord Jagannath in Alarnath and spent a long period in worshipping the deity here. It is believed that those who can not worship Lord Jagannath during his stay in the sick chamber can get the blessings of the deity if they visit the Alarnath temple.
It is explained that in Satya Yuga, Lord Brahma came and worshipped Lord Vishnu here on top of a hill. One day Lord Vishnu appeared and said, “I am very pleased with your worship. Make a four-armed Deity of Me holding shankha (conch shell), chakra (disk), gada (club), and padma (lotus). The Deity should be made from a piece of black stone. Also install a Deity of Garuda”. Lord Vishnu also said, “This place will be called Brahmagiri (Brahma’s hill) because you have worshipped me here”. According to mythology, the rulers of Alwar in Rajasthan had established the temple here. The temple was later known as Alwarnath or Alarnath.
As Explained in the website of Alarnath Temple :
Sri Vigraha’s Love of Devotees: There is a Legend relating to the eruption marks on the right hand, on the face, on the chest of the Lord. In the long past a poor Tamil Kama Brahmin priest named Sri Ketan was serving the Lord on bagging alms. He had a 12 yr old son Madhasudan by name. On one occasion, the Tamil priest remained absent for a long time as he was out to a distance place, The boy was serving and doing pooja in the absence of the father. One day the boy prepared ‘Khiri’ in the Kitchen and took the container and placed it before the Lord. He offered it as “Naivedya’ to the Lord and closed the door of the temple. There after, boy played with other children for some time. Then he came and opened the temple door and found that ‘Khiri’ had remained in the container as he had placed it. The boy felf that the Lord had not accepted his offer of Khiri and so began to cry in grief. He prayed to the Lord.
Oh Lord! Please eat this Khiri, Father has been to a foreign land I don’t know the process of Pooja and offerings, So I am praying at your lotus feet.
The boy’s this emotional entreaty moved the heart of the Lord. To please the boy, the Lord accepted and ate the ‘Khiri’. The container fell empty. The boy returned home in joy. On seeing the empty Container the mother asked the boy- where is Prasad ? The boy replied “The Lord ate up the “Khiri’. How will then be any Prasad ? A doubt cropped up in the mother’s mind. She thought like this.
‘Even though her husband does the offering after this sixteen procedures of Pooja, Prasad reaches home in the container, How is it that the Lord ate up and emptied the pot without any utterance of Mantra’ ?
On the second day, the mother watched the offering made by her son through a small hole on the door. To her utter astonishment, she found that the Lord descended from the Singhashan and began eating the Khiri.
After some days when the priest Sriketan returned home his wife told him about this matter. The mind of the Brahmin was filled with suspicion, So he also watched through the hole the offering of ‘Khiri’ made by his son to the Lord and was amazed to see the Lord part taking ‘Khiri’. To prove the truth, innosence and simplicity of the boy the Lord started eating the ‘Khiri’ even through it was too hot. While the Lord was in the state of eating the hot ‘Khiri’ the Brahmin opened the door and as a result the hot khiri spilled over the body of the Lord which left these eruption marks for all times. The Lord bore the brunt owing to his love for his devotee.
Priest Sriketan implored to the Lord if you eat away all the ‘Prasads’ how will we live? The Lord replied “I ate up the Naivedya’ as the boy offered it with love and I appear before you also because of the boy’s love and reverence. The Lord asked the priest to beg him any boon that he liked. But the priest instead of listening to the Lord went on repeating his question. As a consequence the Lord got annoyed and cursed him to be extirpated along with his clan. He took Madhusudan, his dear devotee to Baikuntha or heaven.
After this event, due to the absence of priest the Lord remained un worshipped for several years. When Gajapati Maharaja Sri Purusottam Dev was returning home after his Victorious Kanchi campaign, he visited the Lord and got to know about plight. He made the arrangement for his pooja by sending two Brahmin families from Bashista gotra and one family from Bhara dwaja gotra. These three Brahmin families carried on the pooja of the Lord according to the scriptures. The kind made all arrangements for the maintenance of the servitors. The Progenitors of these three families are carrying on the Pooja system with pump and ceremony to this day.