Puri: There are a number of mutts in the holy town of Puri. However, Balak Ramdas Mutt stands out from others. It is so because the mutt has a Pakistan link.
According to culture expert Surendra Kumar Mishra, saints and devotees from different parts of the country used to walk to Puri to have blessings of Lord Jagannath back in the day. Here, during their stay, some of them accepted Lord Jagannath as their supreme Lord and stayed on at Puri. The then Gajapati kings of Puri allowed them to stay in the holy town and granted them land rights. Balak Ramdas was one among such saints.
“Balak Ramdas was born in a Brahmin family in Lahore. Since his childhood days, he remained unattached towards his family and eventually left his house. After spending quite some time in the forests chanting the name of Lord Ram and meditating, he became famous as Balak Ramdas and developed a following. He travelled many holy places before visiting Puri but could not get inner peace anywhere,” Mishra says.
Describing his journey to Puri, the culture experts adds, “It was during his pilgrimage to several places that he had a desire to visit Puri. The day came and he along with some of his followers started their journey via Delhi. During that time, the Mughal Badshah imposed restrictions implying that no fakir can travel in a procession with followers while beating drums. It hurt Balak Ramdas to the hilt. To teach the Badshah a lesson, he tried to inundate Delhi using his magical powers. Terrified, the Badshah not only apologised Balk Ramdas but also gave him jewels and also arranged for his and followers safe travel to Puri.”
Mishra said the incident has a mention in ‘Dardhatya Bhakti’, an ancient holy book.
Upon reaching Puri, Balak Ramdas had a darshan of Lord Jagannath and found inner peace. He expressed his desire before the Gajapati king to stay on in Puri.
The Gajapati arranged a place for his stay at an elephant stable at Saradhabali towards the north of Gundicha temple. There he got a mutt built, placed a statue of Lord Jagannath inside it and started worshipping him as an incarnation of Lord Ram. There he also installed ‘Rameswar Jyotirlinga’ and spent his last days in the mutt. The mutt became famous as a meeting place of believers of both Vaishnavites and Shaivites.
The mutt started to be known as Delhi Balak Ramdas mutt. Balak Ramdas took his last breath while meditating in this mutt. Mishra says, ‘Dardhyatya Bhakti’ mentions all these events.
“Soon after the establishment of the mutt, many devotees from Lahore and nearby areas visited this holy town in general and the mutt in particular. This mutt went a long way in fostering cultural bonds between both the places,” Mishra informed.
There are 274 mutts and ashrams in the holy town of Puri. But the Balak Ramdas mutt still carries the identity of being a Pakistani saint’s mutt- albeit the seer belonged to undivided India.