When Aurangzeb had ordered to demolish Jagannath Temple
By 1681 Aurangzeb has reached the lowest level of religious bigotry. He issued a firman to destroy Jagannath Temple. He ordered his subedar of Bengal Province ,Amir-ul-Umara to demolish it.
In the course of history, Jagannath temple faced 18 invasions. Aurangzeb’s orders to demolish the temple was the sixteenth. There are multiple accounts as to how the temple was saved. This article mention one of them. So in June, 1681 Auranzeb issues farman to raze the ‘buut-khana’ (temple) of Jagannath. At that time King Divyasingh Deva was the ruler of Khurda. Ekram Khan, the then Nawab of Orissa organized the invasion at the behest of his overlords. The mughal forces entered and desecrated a part of the temple.
King Divyasingha craftily hid the triad of gods in the Bimala Temple, which was located in the precint of the main temple. The triad were shifted one after another to ‘Maa Bhagabati Temple’ at Gadakokal located at Brahmagiri block.
Madala Panji states that the Bije-pratima or the Brahmapadarth (Representatives of Lords) were transferred to Gadakokal. Then the deities were shifted to Banpur located on the other side of Chilika Lake. The deities were returned to Puri in 1699 A.D.
The Mughal officers were somehow bribed out from completely destroying the temple and the thus the temple was saved. Auranzeb was engaged in the western theater due to the Marathas and Southern theater due to Deccan rebelions, so he didn’t set his sights again on the temple. The temple was kept closed for the period and the annual ritual of Rathayatra was kept suspended and was reopened in 1707, with the death of Aurangzeb.
One special thing to note in the history of invasions/desecrations is that, in no case the ‘Brahma’ of the deities were destroyed which continued till today. The servitors played an important role in safeguarding the triad at the time of danger. The Kings have taken care of the temple from destruction by surrendering before the invaders. Unlike other holy places (Kashi, Ayodhya and Mathura), the temple was never completely destroyed or no mosques were built in its place. It is itself a miracle of deities.
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