The nature of God is that He has unlimited qualities. It is not that He is without qualities. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Person describes Himself: "Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution." In the Vedic scriptures His qualities are described as "nirguna," that is, they are beyond estimation. We can at least know that everything which we are seeing now is His quality, His energy. Therefore earth, stone and wood are His energy, and all colors are His energy. They are described as belonging to the Lord's external or inferior, material energy. But when this energy of the material world is combined according to authoritative direction, and a shape of the Supreme Lord is carved or shaped from it, then it is no longer material, it is spiritual. That is the version of all Vedic literatures. In this way, by the Mercy of the Absolute, a firm, easily worshipable link can be set up between the spiritual kingdom and those spirit souls who have temporarily fallen into the ignorance of material suffering.
"A crude example may be given here: We may find some mailboxes on the street, and if we post our letters in these boxes, they will naturally go to their destination without any difficulty. But any old box, or an imitation, which we may find somewhere, which is not authorized by the post office, will not do the work. Similarly, God has an authorized representation in the Deity Form, which is called "Archa Vigraha."
For the ease of His parts and parcels who are estranged from Krishna Consciousness and trapped in the material world, He descends as incarnation in the Form of the most merciful Deity, such as Lord Jagannath. The Absolute Truth is inconceivable, beyond the reach of the philosopher's speculation, but the devotee who is willing to go back to Godhead can have easy access to Him. He can offer Him foodstuffs and eat the sanctified remnants, he can dress Him and glorify Him on the Rathayatra car journey. None of this is done whimsically or with any material sentiment, but strictly according to the rules chalked out by the great spiritual masters, who have themselves never disdained the presence of the Lord in the Deity form.
The name Jagannatha literally means the Lord of the Universe. King Indradyumna first established the temple of Lord Jagannatha here on the Nilachala hill with the Deity being installed by Lord Brahma himself.
The present temple was begun by King Chora Ganga deva and finished by his descendant Ananga Bhima deva during 12th century.
The unique position of Jagannatha Puri
Puri is called as Sri Purusottama Dhama, the abode of Lord Vishnu on earth. Other names are Sri Ksetra, Nilachala and Jagannatha Dhama. Puri is about 2 km wide and 4 km long.
The Jagannatha temple here is one of the most important temples in India. The worship of Lord Jagannatha is so ancient that there is no idea how long it has been in existence and the present temple is only one in a long succession of previously built temples that have been destroyed in due course of time.
It is said in the Narada Purana (Uttara Khanda 52.123), that the Supreme Lord Narayana told Lakshmi Devi: “In that great abode known as Purosottama-ksetra, which is rarely achieved among all the three worlds, the Keshava Deity, who was fashioned by the Supreme Lord Himself is situated. If men simply see that Deity, they are easily able to come to My abode”
The annual ratha yatra of Lord Jagannatha is held every year on ashada shukla dvitiya. Their Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra are taken on three massive chariots from the main Sri mandir to the Gundicha temple. The event signifies the gopis and the residents of Vrindavana taking Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra to Vrindavana.
The scriptures state
Rathe cagamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate: "Simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement in stopping the repetition of birth and death."