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Know why Gajapati Maharaja was not allowed for entry into Odisha’s Sri Mandir

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Puri: Amidst a long debate triggered on entry of non-Hindus into Jagannath temple in Puri, history witnessed even the Gajapati Maharaja – the first servitor of lords – was not allowed to enter into the centuries old Hindu temple Sri Mandir.

According to Madala Panji (the palm-leaf chronicles of the Jagannath temple), Gajapati Maharaja Ramachandra Deb was restricted for entry into the Jagannath temple because he had married to a Mughal soldier’s daughter Rejiya.

As the then Gajapati had tied the knot with a non-Hindu woman and was deprived of all the services that he was entitled to do for the deities inside the temple, the Patitapaban Jagannath idol was placed at Gumuta Gruha standing at the Singhadwar (main entrance) of the temple where he was having darshan of the Lord Jagannath.

It could sound like a story, but it had historical evidence that Gajapati was barred from entering into Sri Mandir because of his wedding with a Muslim girl.

In fact, Gajapati Maharaja Ramachandra Deb was forced to marry the then Mughal soldier’s daughter Rejiya to protect Sri Mandir from Muslim militants’ attack and safety of Jagannath culture, said former Mukti Mandap adviser Durga Prasad Mohapatra.

Once on request of Rejiya, the king had visited the shrine for darshan of the deities. While entering into the temple as the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, the Mukti Mandap scholars urged him to be refrained from doing his service to the lords, he said quoting the Madala Panji.

As the king had married to a Muslim’s daughter, he lost all the rights to offer prayer to the lords inside the temple, he said.

The then Gajapati also accepted the Mukti Mandap’s proposal and Patitapaban Jagannath idol was placed at Gumuta Gruha of the temple.

Since the period of time, Patitapaban Jagannath idol is being worshipped for the non-Hindus at Gumuta Gruha facing the Singhadwar. The devotees belonging to other religions are also having darshan of Lord Jagannath standing in front of main entrance of the temple, Mohapatra said.

It’s unfortunate to consider allowing people belonging to other religions into the temple where Gajapati Maharaja was restricted from entering into it, he said while expressing his views on the suggestions by the Supreme Court of India on entry of non-Hindus into Sri Mandir as part of bringing reforms.

The fact is also described in Madala Panji, said researcher Bhaskar Mishra.

Gajapati was banned from entering into Sri Mandir in view of traditions of the temple, said historian Kharavel Mohanty adding that there is historical evidence about the incident.