Gold, gems, crowns stored in treasury

Puri: The Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee’s resolution to open Srimandir Ratnabhandar (treasury) has invited mixed reactions from the devotees as well as servitors.

Some devotees and servitors support the resolution which will enable the temple administration to open Ratnabhandar and examine its structural status as part of a renovation drive at Srimandir Jagamohan.

Many others, however, oppose the move on the ground that the SJTA and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will face a tough task to relocate the ornaments and other precious items stored at the temple treasury. They also argue that inspection of Ratnabhandar amidst social media glare may pose security threat to the 12th century shrine.

Amidst all these arguments and counter arguments, religious scholars and researchers claim that the royals of Orissa and others from the Indian sub-continent had donated huge quantities of gold and silver and precious and rare gems to Srimandir.

Eminent researcher on Jagannath culture Surendra Kumar Mishra claimed that King Anang Bhimadev of Ganga dynasty had donated a number of gold bars and at least 10,000 gold coins to Lord Jagannath after conquering the area between Rusikulya River and Rajamahendravaram (now Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh).

According to Mishra, Kapilendra Dev, the founder of Gajapati dynasty in Orissa, had gifted gold, silver, diamonds, bloodstones and sapphires to the Lord. Gajapati kings Purusottam Dev and Prataprudra Dev had also gifted gold and precious items to Srimandir after successful expeditions to South India. “Lord Jagannath and his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra were first adorned with gold ornaments on their respective chariots at the fag end of annual Rath Yatra during the rule of Kapilendra Dev,” Mishra said.

The royals of Nepal had also donated generously to Jagannath temple. “The royals of Nepal have been accorded a special status at Srimandir. Many rulers of the Himalayan kingdom, including Tribhuban Vir Vikram Saha, had gifted precious gems to Lord Jagannath. A rock edict at the Jay-Bijay Gate of Srimandir gives some idea about the donations made by Gajapati rulers to the shrine,” claimed Mishra, a former research officer at Sri Jagannath Sanskrit University.

It is believed that the erstwhile ruler of a kingdom near modern-day Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh had donated several packets of gold and other precious items to Srimandir after getting cured from a disease.

Moreover, the seafaring merchants of medieval Orissa had presented precious gems to Lord Jagannath after successful voyages to Java, Sumatra and Bali islands of modern-day Indonesia. “Folklore has it that a merchant had gifted a rare chrysolite to Lord Jagannath after collecting the same from an uninhabited island. The rare gem has been embedded into a headgear for the Lord,” Mishra said.

Many religious scholars claimed that a king from Bengal had gifted a huge necklace studded with gems to Lord Jagannath after surviving a murder bid. They believe that all these gifted items have been stored in the inner chamber of Ratnabhandar.

Rabindra Narayan Mishra, a former Srimandir administrator, meanwhile, claimed that several crowns have been stored in the inner chamber of Ratnabhandar. “Many kings had surrendered their crowns to the Gajapati kings after facing defeats in war. The Gajapati rulers had donated all these crowns to Srimandir,” said the former administrator who had the opportunity to visit the inner chamber of Ratnabhandar during an inspection in 1984.

According to the former Srimandir administrator, one cannot find any dirt, spider’s web or insect in the inner chamber of the treasure room. “It is believed that some large serpents are guarding the inner chamber. Earlier, the temple administration used to offer Mahaprasad to these snakes. Now, the practice has been abandoned,” he claimed.


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