The story illustrates that for Lord Jagannath, it is the dedication of the devotee alone that matters, not his or her elegance or stature or position. Mania was of low caste, barely clad and crude, awkward and uncouth in his worship, yet the Lord recognised his pristine devotion and took him into his fold.
In modern times style is far more importance than substance and external appearance has become more vital than intrinsic values. Today a person is recognised by what he has than what he is. In such a scenario, the love Lord Jagannath bestows on Mania can be a real source of learning and inspiration.
Mania Das was a poor man of weaver caste who lost his family all of a sudden. As a result of this brutal tragedy he suffered complete detachment from all worldly things and sought refuge at the lotus feet of Lord Jagannath.
‘After losing everything that I had, I have no desires left. All I want to do is to devote every moment of my life to singing the praise of my Lord,’ he kept repeating to himself as he walked towards the Jagannath Temple at Puri.
Clad in a loin cloth he entered the Sri Mandir. There, in an area called Sri Jagmohan, Mania began to sing and dance in complete abandon. His passionate chanting and dancing irritated and angered the Pandas who were chanting the Puranas.
“Hey you filthy outcaste! How dare you enter the Lord’s chamber and indulge in this lunatic behaviour? Can’t you see you are disturbing us and interfering in the sacred rituals we are performing for the supreme Lord of the Universe?” the Pandas shouted and threw him out of the temple.
Bitterly hurt at this treatment he stood outside the Sri Mandir refusing to eat or drink anything and even declining the Mahaprasad.
Lord Jagannath was deeply moved by the plight of his passionate devotee. He appeared before the Raja of Puri in a dream.
“O’ King, I am deeply disturbed by what is happening in my temple. My faithful devotees are being ill treated and their attachment towards me is being scorned.”
The Lord then went on to narrate the story of Mania Das to the King.
“O’ King, I want you to give Mania the Mahaprasad and with due respect, escort him inside the temple. I also want that Mania be given complete freedom to sing, dance and celebrate as per his free will in Sri Jagmohan. Remember that to me the pure and pristine devotion of devotees that comes straight from the heart is far more important than rituals which are performed mechanically.”
The Raja of Puri obeyed the Lord’s wishes and the tradition of devotees chanting, dancing and celebrating with gay abandon in Sri Jagmohan continues till today.
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