Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri in Odisha holds a special place in the hearts of the millions of Hindu devotees. Puri temple is one of the four Dhamas which a Hindu is advised to visit in his lifetime. The presiding deity, Lord Jagannath, represents an integration of all important Hindu cultures which flourished in India, namely, the Vedic, the Puranic, the Tantric, the Smarta and the Vaisnava. The temple is also one of the most prominent examples of casteless society in India where every caste is allowed entry and perform puja. The temple was brought under the control of the state government by ‘The Puri Shri Jagannath Temple (Administration) Act, 1952’. Gajapati Maharaj Shri Dibyasingha Deb is the chief servitor of the temple, which explains the importance which the Jagannath Puri Temple holds in the eyes of the people from Odisha. Even after being regarded as one of the principal worship sites in the state, the Naveen Patnaik led Biju Janata Dal has failed to provide the necessary security to the temple properties. Naveen Patnaik and BJD have stayed in power in Odisha since 2000 and were preceded by Congress. The recent events have thrown light on the mismanagement of the temple under their rule.
It has come to light that the keys of the Ratna Bhandar of the 12th century Jagannath Puri Temple have reportedly gone missing. This was revealed by the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee member Ramchandra Das Mahapatra on Sunday. The committee had met on April 4th wherein the topic was first recorded that the keys of the inner chambers had gone missing. The Shankaracharya of Puri targeted Naveen Patnaik and Law Minister Pratap Jena for failing to provide security to the temple properties. The Ratna Bhandar of the Jagannath Puri Temple has seven rooms in total of which two are the outer chambers while the rest are inner ones. The inner chambers are rarely used and it is the keys of these chambers which are lost.
The matter was recorded after a team from the Archaeological Survey of India came to inspect the safety and structural stability of the Ratna Bhandar following an Odisha High Court order. The team members of the ASI had to content themselves with visiting just two of the seven rooms as the keys to the other five rooms could not be found. The five rooms of the Ratna Bhandar are rarely used and the ASI team had to conduct a visit to these after a long gap of 34 years. Ramchandra Das Mahapatra has said to PTI that neither the Jagannath Puri Temple Administration nor the government have the keys of the inner chambers.
“The Chief Minister should give a clarification on how the key of the temple’s inner treasury went missing and who is responsible for it,” Odisha BJP spokesman Pitambar Acharya attacked the BJD government and Naveen Patnaik on this mismanagement. Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Puri also vented out his frustration at the negligence of Naveen Patnaik and team in Odisha. Previously too Naveen Patnaik and BJD have received a lot of flak for mismanagement in the state but this is a very sensitive topic. The Jagannath Puri Temple is sacred for the crores of Hindus across Odisha and mismanagement done in the temple could lead to severe results for the Naveen Patnaik led BJD in the upcoming elections. A thorough investigation needs to be done in order to find out the real miscreants who had an active role to play in the mismanagement of temple property.