Balasore, August 10 (Odisha.in) 'Manme base bhagwan' (God lies within the heart) - that moved Julian Parker, an American born Hindu convert to take an innovative step for the Dalits and Non-Hindu devotees across the globe.
While in Puri Jagannath temple the debate over denial of entries for non-Hindus continues over the years and in Kendrapara district the dalits are still finding it hard to enter into the Keredagada Jagannath temple, Parker has set an example for others by allowing dalits and non-Hindus into the Jagannath temple built by him.
In fact, the 35 feet temple which has been built at a cost of Rs 26 lakhs by Parker and his associates in Kuansh village in Orissa's Bhadrak district is open for all irrespective of caste and religion. Though earlier a few dalits and non-Hindus were offering flowers inside the temple, now a large number of devotees are thronging here regularly.
"The Jagannath temple was built in response to the Puri temple's policy barring non-Hindu devotees from entering the temple and worshiping the deities. I would be happy if as many dalits and non-Hindus take the opportunity to offer pujas in this temple without any hesitation," Parker, who is renamed as Jahnava Nitai Das after adopting Iskan, told.
Parker originally hails from Los Angeles, USA but has been living permanently in Bhadrak since 1993. He has founded Bhakti Vedanta Ashram, which has three branches in India.
According to the temple administration, on and average a hundred dalits and non-Hindus offer pujas in the temple daily. "During some special occasions even thousands of such devotees offer puspanjali to deities. On such occasions each devotee is provided with flowers and deepams (clay lamps) free of cost to offer at the feet of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra," said Radha Madhav Sahu, a member.
The non-hindus were also seen happy while offering flowers to the Lord. "Since we heard about Jagannath interest developed to see him and offer prayers. But never had thought that we could touch the God as because here in India temple entry is prohibited for foreigners.
However, we are very fortunate that we besides touching the Lord also offered flowers at his feet," said Meade Roberts and William Fox, both are citizens of USA.
The temple is also offering devotees the rare chance to enter the inner sanctum, usually reserved only for temple priests, each full moon day. The opportunity is unique, as this temple does not discriminate against anyone based on caste or community.
"In recent times we have seen the corrupt practice of caste discrimination at several Jagannath temples in Orissa. In response to this injustice, we felt it is necessary to invite people from all castes and communities to enter our Jagannath temple and worship the Lord. As we all are human beings and God's children," pointed out Parker.
Justifying his stand he says, "In the Bhagbat Gita Krishna says a learned priest sees all living entities equally: panditah
sama-darshinah. Unfortunately today we are seeing that the priests are not learned, and instead they act against the teachings of Gita by discriminating against God's children. Such practices are not at all supported by our Hindu scriptures."