From the chapter “The Real Judgement of Love” in Heart and Halo:
There is one story I heard from my godbrother Vaikanasa Maharaj, who was a brahmana scholar of Orissa, about an incident which occurred in recent history, in connection with the Jagannatha Temple at Puri, where it was customary that no khechuranna (kitri) used to be offered to the Lord.
- A drawing of Lord Jagannath
Once there was a raid by the Mohammedans on Orissa, and one of the girls of the royal family was abducted for the pleasure of the Mohammedan general, by his soldiers. He later left the state, but that girl was left on the outskirts of some village or town, and there she gave birth to a child who was a great devotee. It was a very peculiar thing; the girl was also a devotee, but somehow she had to undergo such a horrible experience. She gave birth to a child and he lived on the outskirts of that town. When he grew up he used to cook kitri, that is, rice and beans cooked together, boiled into a half-liquid consistency, and he used to offer that to Jagannatha from afar. By dint of his devotion, Jagannatha had to go there and accept that kitri offering.
One day the boy was perhaps late in his offering; Jagannatha took the kitri but the time was then late for the temple offering, so He had to run back to install Himself in His position in the temple, and a particle of that kitri was on His lips. The pandas, the pujaris (the priestly class) noticed: “What is this? How has this happened? We can detect this is not the proper offering to Jagannatha; then how is it here on His lips?” So it was referred to the leader of the pandas and he also searched, but he could not ascertain the cause. Then it was taken to the king and he also investigated it, “Who has taken this food and smeared it on the mouth of Jagannatha?”
- The Jagannath Temple at Puri, India
Finally the priest who had been in charge at the time of the offering of food in the temple was apprehended: “You are responsible! You were in charge of the temple at the time of Jagannatha’s offering, then how has this impure thing come in His mouth? You must explain or you will be punished.” The man was innocent and he said, “I do not know anything; I do not know anything!”
Then, when he was about to be punished, Jagannatha came in a dream to the king as well as to the leading priest: “That man is innocent; don’t disturb him. On the outskirts of the town is My devotee. He offered that food to Me, and I ate it, but the time was late and I had to hurry back to occupy My position in the temple, so My mouth was not cleansed. This is the name of that boy. He is living there; he is My devotee, and I have taken this food there.” And it was as a result of the Mohammedan’s exploitation of the princess that this devotee appeared. So, Krishnabhakti, devotion to Krishna, does not care for the formality of purity or impurity by any worldly considerations; it is independent.
Krishna-bhakti is so powerful and does not care for anything. Jagannatha accepted the offering of that boy who was considered to have the worst fate, a cursed fate. The princess was taken by the Mohammedan, and her issue came in the form of that boy, so he was the “curse of the cursed.” But his offering attracted Jagannatha so much. So, love is wonderfully above everything, surpassing all. Mahaprabhu asked us to accept the path of love, which means giving one’s heart, one’s self. It is so powerful, nothing else can attract Krishna. He is very greedy to eat this love, this prema. He lives on prema. He is the Lord of love. That love has its inner existence; it is the inner existence of all of us. He is Love personified, and there is a tinge within us also; and like ‘birds of a feather,’ love likes love.