About 500 years ago Shri Haridas ji Maharaj, a Vaishnav Mahatma of Vrindavan, one day observed that Lord Shri Krishna appeared before him and told him that in the month of Ashad the existing Vigrahas (idols of Shri Jagannath ji, Shri Balram ji and Subhadra Devi) will be replaced by new ones. Lord ordered him to bring the old Vigrahas to Vrindavan. Mahatma Haridas ji went to Puri on foot with his disciples. After every thirty-six years old Vigrahas are replaced by new ones at the time of Ratha Yatar. Haridas ji reached Puri four days before Rath Yatra. He requested priest of the temple to hand over the old Vigrahas to him as desired by Lord Krishna himself. The priest asked him to see the King of Puri, Maharaja Pratap Rudra, for this. The king also refused as he could not break the tradition of immersing the old Vigrahas in ocean. Mahatma Haridas ji thought that if he was unable to carry out the orders of his Lord it was better to die. He went to sea-shore and soon entered deep meditation. In mid-night Lord Jagannath ji ordered the King in a dream to hand over the old Vigrahas to mahatma Haridas ji as Lord Krishna wanted to live both in Puri and Vrindavan. The king gave old Vigrahas to Mahatma Haridas ji. He along with his discliples brought the vigrahas in a chariot to Vrindavan. On the banks of sacred river Yamuna, the place where Lord Krishna appeared before Haridas ji, which is now called Jagannath Ghat, a temple was constructed. Vigrahas were placed and worshipped. This is now known as Shri Jagannath Mandir. It is one of the most famous and old temples of Vrindavan. Same Vigrahas are still in this temple. The atmosphere of the temple is very peaceful and serene. One automatically feels like performing bhajana-kirtan etc in the temple premises. The special feature of this temple is that it is open to devotees of all castes, creed and religions, whereas the entry in Jagannath temple in Puri is restricted to Hindus only. One gets same blessings of the Lord by visiting temples of Puri and Vrindavan. Lord Jagannath ji is the Lord of the Universe in Kaliyug.
Past times of Swami Iswar Puri ji Maharaj:
Shri Indra Raj was born in Mewra (Rajasthan) on 7th May 1943. His father was Shri Krishna Ram and mother Smt Devaki Devi. Once in his own town he saw a play on the life of Bhakt Meera Bai. This influenced him so much that he started Shri Krishna Nama-japa. He soon felt that he could not live without meeting Lord Krishna. One day pretending that he was going to school, he left the house forever at the age of eighteen years. He walked down to Vrindavan where in Sri Radha-Damodar Temple he came in contact with Swami A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who gave him diksha and sannyasa. His name was changed to Swami Ishwar Puri according to traditions of Sadhu Samaj. He learned Srimad Bhagwat Gita, Bhagwat, and Chaitanya Charitamrit etc. In 1974 he came in contact with a Brijwasi lad of 14 years name Gyani. Swami Ishwar Puriji went to foreign countries and returned to Vrindavan in 1979. He again met same Gyani ji who showed him Jagannath Temple which was constructed by Haridas ji Maharaj. It was in a very dilapidated condition. Baba Ramdas Maharaj Mahant of the temple handed over the temple to Swamiji. Swami Ishwar Puri ji renovated it and changed it into a huge and beautiful temple. This is known as Shri Jagannath Mandir. Shri Radha Krishna temple was also constructed in the same premises. He visited various places in India and abroad to collect donations from devotees of Lord Krishna. Funds flow in generously and freely. A Gau-shala was constructed. In the temple complex an Ashram was also constructed. It is known as Ishwar Puri Ashram. Pujaris of the temple, sadhus, visitors and devotees are given free boarding and lodging facilities. Late Swami ji also started other services viz. Mandir Sewa, Gau-sewa, Sadhu-sewa, Bird-sewa, Shri Bhagavat Vidyalaya, free homeopathic and allopathic dispensaries, free eye-camps, free old men and women services, distribution of free clothes to poor persons including children. Late Swami ji also established a center at Birmingham (U.K.) to spread the message of Bhagwat Gita and Bhagwat a and Sri Krishna Bhakti in other countries of the world. It is known as Bhagwat Dham. A true devotee of Lord Krishna, Swami ji left for his eternal abode on 9th May 2003. When he realized that he will soon leave his earthly body, he appointed Swami Gyan Prakash Puri ji Maharaj as his successor and told him to devote his whole life in the service of Sri Jagannath ji. He need not worry as Lord Jagannath will look after everything.
Life History of Swami Gyan Prakash ji Maharaj:
Swami Gyan Prakash ji Maharaj is following the orders of Golokwasi Swami ishwar Puri ji Maharaj seriously and sincerely. Swami Gyan Prakash Puri ji has been officially appointed as Mahant of the temple by Sadhu Samaj of Vrindavan. He has greatly improved the working and condition of the temple. A Hanuman temple has been constructed. Statue of late Swami ji is installed and a Samadhi Mandir of late Swami ji has also been constructed. A magnificient Gau-shala is also under construction. At present there are more than 150 cown in Gau-shala and they are given very nutritious fodder. Swami Gyan Prakash Puri ji personally looks after the cows. Swami Gyan Prakash Puri ji was born on 12th August 1960 at Vrindavan Dham in a Brahmin family (Bharadwaj Gotra). He was educated and brought up also at Vrindavan. He left his house at a tender age of 14 years in search of Lord Krishna. To manage temple affairs Shri Jagannath Mandir Trust (Regd.) has been formed under the presidentship of Swami Gyan Prakash Puri ji Maharaj. To keep proper control over finances, the accounts of the Trust are annually audited by a Chartered Accountant. Every paisa received or spent is properly accounted for. Shri Bhagwat Dham at Birmingham (U.K.) has also been placed under control of the Trust according to the wishes of late Swami Ishwar Puri ji Maharaj. Late Swami ji, Shri Jagannath Mandir and the aforesaid Trust have no connections whatsoever with ISKCON foundation and its institutions in India and foreign countries including those at Vrindavan.