Legendary origin – Puri and the shrine of the Purushottama has been described vividly in Bhramana Purana, Narada Purana and Utkhal Khanda. As per the Puranas king, Indradymna ruled over the Malava country in Satha Yuga (the age of truth). He was a great devotee of Vishnu. Once he came to know about Purushottama on the shore of the southern sea. He was informed that on the Nilachala (blue hills), the image of Vasudeva made of blue Sapphire was being worshipped by the Sabaras (a tribal clan). The king appointed Vidyapati (brother of family priest) to locate and visit the site. Vidyapati met Viswabasu (the chief of the tribe). Vidyapati had a divine darshan of Nilamadhaba, and he also had witnessed the Rohini Kunda (holy pool) and Kalpabata (sacred Banyan tree).
King Indradymna paid a visit after hearing the Vidyapati experience along with family, ministers and priests. Bhraman deputed Narada to assist the king. Bhraman had known that in future, the lord (Vishnu) would conceal his present image of Nilamadhaba and reveal himself in the form of Purushottama, assuming a wooden image.
The king performed one thousand Ashwamedha Yajna (sacrifice), a massive divine Log of the wood appeared on the seashore before the final offering. The king brought the log of wood to the Mahavedi (high altar). Then Vishu himself appeared in the garb of a carpenter and carved the image. The king wrapped the image in the silken cloth painted in described colours and constructed a temple near Kalpabata. As per the advice of Narada, he then went to Bhramaloka (abode of Bhraman) and built the temple. Images were installed there. Indradymna then introduced the daily and special festivals rituals per the order of the lord.
Ancient Age – Before Jagannath, the lord was worshipped as Purushottama. The word is derived from Sanskrit ‘Purusha’ and ‘Uttuma’. The god Purusha is the creator of the whole world; he is also the protector and destroyer of the world. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna himself says that there are two Purushas in the world – “Kshara Purusha & Akshara Purusha”. But he is above both the Purushas and is called Purushottama. Puri is the most illustrious seat of Purushottama, and Vishnu is worshipped in the name and character of Purushottama in puri only.
In Uttara Kanda of Ramayana, there is a reference to the Jagannatha Iksaku dynasty’s family deity. As per the description, Rama advised Vibishna to worship him regularly.
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