Ink & Papyrus - BLOG

Rath Yatra

It’s that time of the year again, when Lord Jagannath and his elder brother Balabhadra aka Balaram amongst some, and sister Subhadra, go on their annual vacation, travelling on grand chariots from the Puri temple to their aunt’s place. There have been two versions of the legend that has been on the cards on how the Yatra started.

In one, Indrayumna, the King of Puri, tried to steal the heart of Lord Krishna who was believed to have been immersed in the legendary Dwarka sea after his cremation, and he had reappeared to the tribal people and was living there as an idol. Indrayumna tried to claim this idol for himself but it disappeared. Indradunawas repentant and sought forgiveness from Lord Krishna by worshipping him, albeit in another form.

In the second version, Krishna’s siblings, elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra very much grief stricken, walked into the Dwarka sea, carrying his half-cremated body. At the same moment, in the opposite end of India, King Indrayumna had this dream that Lord Krishna’s body had floated to his shores as a log and that he was to build statues of Krishna, Balabhadra and Subhadra.
Here is the point where the two versions seem to merge with each other.
With King Indrayumna finding his dream to come alive, he decided to build a temple to house the statue. That’s when he began looking for a good carpenter who could carve out of wood to make statues. Vishwakarma, who is believed to be God’’s architect, showed up as an old carpenter and agreed to take on the job. He had but one condition, and that if anyone interrupted during his work, not only would he stop the work midway but will leave never to come back. In another word, vanish.
King Indrayumna agreed but not seeing Vishwakarma come out for food, water or rest, even for weeks, grew impatient and threw the doors wide open. Vishwakarma vanished as he had warned. Not to be deterred, King Indrayumna blessed the half-finished idols and put the ashes of Krishna in one of them and placed all three statues in the temple. Thus, unlike the carefully crafted metal idols one sees everywhere, they were made from wood, cloth and resin, but remained malformed.
And that is how the statues of Krishna, Balabhadra and Subhadra came to be in Puri, Odisha.
Come 12th July Ratha Yatra or Chariot festival will be celebrated once again this year, albeit under restrictions for the pandemic situation, as it was in last year, Sri Jagannath’s image, along with the other two associated deities, will ceremoniously be brought out of the sacrosanctum (Garbhagriha) of his chief temple. Placed in chariots, pulled by numerous volunteers for a distance of nearly 3 km, lakhs of devotees will watch the grand moment throughout the world.
We, at Niyogi Books, were proud to have been involved in publishing and reserving a place in our hearts for Ratha Yatra: Chariot Festival of Sri Jagannatha in Puri, which was authored by translator, composer and creative director Dr Subas Pani, who also has a PhD on Jaydeva’s Geetagovinda. Here is what Dr Pani had to say in his preface – Working for this book has been arduous and at times exhausting. As it is being presented to the readers, devotees and connoisseurs, I feel greatly blessed and fulfilled. All this has been possible only due to the grace of Lord Jagannatha as he has truly steered the project all these years and has ensured its completion.

The book Ratha Yatra: Chariot Festival Of Sri Jagannatha In Puri is my humble offering at his lotus feet. The book is available at all leading bookstores across the country and is also available at

Bookish Santa


Niyogi Books | 10-Jul-2021