Bhubaneswar: As the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is all set to examine structural condition of Ratna Bhandar of Srimandir on March 26 and 27, the unsolved mysteries behind restriction on opening of the treasury of the centuries old shrine of Lord Jagannath will come to fore.
Following Orissa High Court order for inspection of Ratna Bhandar, everyone’s eyes are on the secrets relating to it, where the gold, jewelries, most precious gems, diamonds and other valuables have been preserved.
Here are few things to know about Ratna Bhandar of Lord Jagannath temple.
According to Shree Jagannath Temple Record of Rights (RoR), the Ratna Bhandar is located at plot number 5 and 6. While the Ratna Bedi of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra is at plot number 1, Bhitar Pokharia at plot number 2, Anasara and Ballavpindi at plot number 3, Panikunda at plot number 3(A), Lord Lokanath and goddess Durga at plot number 3(B), Bhitar Kath Argali at plot number 4, place for oil and utensils at plot number 4(A), Palank Ghar at plot number 7(A), rest room of deities during chaturmas (four months) at plot number 7(B), Changada room of deities at plot number 8(A), place for keeping holy basil at plot number 8(B), Jay Bijay gate (south) at plot number 9, Jay Bijay gate (north) at plot number 9(A) and Jagamohan Nata Mandir at plot number at 10.
The Ratna Bhandar of Srimandir consists of seven rooms, said eminent Jagannath cult researcher Pandit Surya Narayan Rath Sharma.
The Ratna Bhandar is a part of rituals at the temple. It is closely linked to sentiments of devotees; he said adding that there is a need for discussion for opening the Ratna Bhandar.
Currently, three rooms out of seven are being used for various rituals of deities. The jewelries and valuables, which are used during Suna Besha of Lord Jagannath, are stored in these three rooms. However, nothing is clear about rest of the rooms were precious ornaments and gems are suspected to have been stored.
According to RoR-4, 1952 of Srimandir, there are 150 varieties of gold jewelries including three Haridakanti Malas (a kind of ornament) wighed around 120 tola inside the Bahar Bhandar (open treasury). Besides, precious gems including diamond and other ornaments of gold and silver are also kept inside the Ratna Bhandar.
As per ancient Madala Panjika, King Anaga Bheema Deb had donated 2.50 lakh madha gold (1 madha = half tola = 5.8319 gram) for making varieties of jewelries for Lord Jagannath at Srimandir. The rulers belonging to Surya Vansh in Odisha had also offered valuable gold for the deities.
The scripture found on Digvijay Dwara of the temple says that Gajapati Kapilendra Deb had donated a huge amount of gold and ornaments in 1466 AD.
Eminent hostorian R D Banerjee in his book ‘History of Odisha’ has mentioned that most of the gold and ornaments donated by King Kapilendra Deb to the temple were used till 1893. After death of Gajapati Mukunda Deb, his adopted son Lalmohan Deb was coronated as Gajapati Ramachandra Deb in 1926. During the period, he had prepared a list of jewelries, ornaments and assets preserved at the Ratna Bhandar. The list was kept at Puri Collectorate record room.
Earlier, the Ratna Bhandar was opened in 1964 and 1984. Reports said that the ASI had faced adverse situation during opening of doors of Ratna Bhandar in the year 1984. After opening two doors, they ASI officials came to hear frightening sound of poisonous snakes from inside the treasury. Finally, the ASI decided not to open the doors out of scare.
Reports said that there a restriction to keep the jewelries and valuables at Ratna Bhandar. Only three persons are entitled to have the key of the treasury. While one key is with Puri Gajapati, other two keys are with Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and Bhandar Mekap (official) respectively. The Bhandar can only be opened after notice of the SJTA for a particular ritual of the deities. The jewelries and ornaments are brought from the store and kept inside in presence of the representatives of Puri Gajapati and SJTA.
However, there is a belief that opening of the mysterious Ratna Bhandar is vice. It will only bring disaster and Lord Jagannath will never forgive for the deed, said a 65-year-old servitor Narasingha Pujapanda, who is in service of the temple in the past 45 years.