Friday, July 11, 2014

God Rocks! (Jagannatha Stones)




"Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there."
Gospel of St. Thomas Saying 77


In my quest to "Always remember God - Never forget God", as the Padma Purana advises us, I sometimes come up with some, maybe a little wacky, ideas.  My most recent is Lord Jagannatha stones, or as I like to call them, God Rocks! 

Lord Jagannatha is a form of Lord Krishna. Jagad means universe and natha means Lord. So, Lord Jagannatha means the Lord of the Universe.  Lord Jagannatha's form is quite unique and looks somewhat aboriginal with giant eyes and odd smile. But the story behind it is quite beguiling.  Krishna is known as the Lord of Love, and is famous for his intimate pastimes with the residents of Vrndavana, where he appeared some 5,000 years ago. He was particularly friendly with the Gopis, the milkmaids, and shared many beautiful moments with them. The Gopis were mad after Krishna, and would leave all their duties when they heard him playing on his flute.

Lord Jagannatha with God Rocks
Eventually, however, Krishna left Vrndavana, and eventually settled in to Dwaraka, where he exhibited a very opulent and royal lifestyle.  But the residents of Vrndavana, only remembered him as the darling cowherd boy who enchanted all the residents of their village.

One time, there was an eclipse, and so Krishna, along with many other residents of Dwaraka, went to the holy place of Kurukshetra to take an auspicious bath, thus conteracting the negative influences of the eclipse.  Many of the residents of Vrndavana, hearing that Krishna would be at Kurukshetra, also went, hoping to catch a glimpse of their beloved Krishna.  Once there, Rohini, who is the mother of Krishna's brother, Balarama, was telling the Queens of Dwaraka, who only knew Krishna in His opulence, about His intimate pastimes with the Gopis.  Krishna's sister, Subhadra, was stationed at the door to insure that no one intruded.  Krishna and Balarama came along and stood to either side of Subhadra. Upon hearing about His own intimate pastimes, Lord Krishna went into ecstacy, with His eyes opening wide, his neck disappearing, and his limbs retracting into his body.  Seeing this, both Balarama and Subhadra also went into ecstacy, and this is how this ecstatic form of Krishna came to be.  In fact, this form is called Mahabhava Prakasha, or the manifestation of Extreme Ecstacy.

To most all mystical teachings, the highest platform is ecstatic love for God, and Lord Jagannatha is the manifestation of this Love or Prema.  He is also called Patita Pavana or Savior of the Fallen, as He allows anyone to approach Him with devotion. 

When I first joined the Krishna temple in Seattle, in 1973, Lord Jagannatha was the presiding Deity there, and I formed a great attachment to His beautiful form, eventually becoming His primary caretaker.  Every year, Lord Jagannatha has a royal bath, or snana, and then 'catches a cold' and for a week, no one is allowed to see him, except for his caretaker. So, during that week, all the devotees would ask me, "How is Lord Jagannatha?  Is He feeling better?"  Of course, all these manifestations are simply to increase the devotees' love for the Lord.
That attraction has never gone away, and even today I have a beautiful Lord Jagannatha which I carved and my wife, Abhaya, painted.  (Traditionally, Lord Jagannatha is made from wood, and is therefore known also as Daru Brahman or God in the form of wood.) 

So, what about the Jagannatha stones? Well, another form of God in India are the Shaligram Shilas, ammonite stones from the Kali Gandaki River in Nepal.  Often these stones are decorated with eyes, mouth, ornaments and so on, and I had considered painting one or more of my Shaligram Shilas, but thought, perhaps, I should practice on regular stones.  So, I picked myself up some cheap acrylic paint, some paintbrushes, and went at it.  However, I found it quite addicting, and thought, I could just keep painting Jagannatha stones (God Rocks!) and giving them away, or leaving them places.  No, I am not particularly artistic, but devotion and ability do not have to necessarily go hand in hand.  Devotion is of the heart! 

Recently, my kids went to the beach, and I asked them to pick me up some rocks. So, now i have a whole bag of additional stones, just waiting to manifest a smiling face.  (Oh yeah, Lord Jagannatha is like the ORIGINAL smiley face!)

So...that's what I'm up to - chanting God's name and painting His face on rocks.  Hmmm!?!  I guess it's better than stealing hubcaps! 

And remember......

GOD ROCKS!!!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds Interesting... It is very informative and I Like this Post....

    Shaligram Shilas

    ReplyDelete