Lord Vishnu in form of Alarnath, situated at Brahmagiri, a hilly area, at a distance of 24 km from Jagannatha Puri, once burnt his hand while honoring food offered by a small boy, if you happen to visit there the priest would happily show you the burnt finger of the Lord.
Lord Alarnath (or Alalanath) here is a four-handed Deity of Lord Vishnu showing Abhaya-mudra in His right hand. Ramanujaacharya of the Alwars worshipped this deity; hence the deity is known as Alarnath or Lord of the Alwars.
Long ago Sri Ketan, was a priest who worshiped Alarnath, he lived there with his wife and son Madhu. Sri Ketan and his family only lived on the Prasad, eating the food after offering it to the lord. One day Sri Ketan had to travel to some other village for some urgent work. Sri Ketan asked his son to offer food to the Lord while he was away. Young Madhu expressed his inability to do it as he did not know any mantras or procedure to make the offering. Sri Ketan told him not to worry, if he just places the plate of food in front of the deity and requests the lord to accept the offering, the omnipresent lord will honor the offering.
The next morning, Madhu’s mother called him and handed over the plate to him and asked him to make the offering. Madhu went with the plate and placed it in front of the lord. He prayed and requested
“Lord I do not know any mantras or procedures, I am placing this plate of food in front of you as my father instructed, please honor the food”.
Madhu then went out to play with his friends. When Madhu came back he saw that the food was still there. He was not aware that the Lord honors the food by a mere glance. Madhu then again asked the lord
“You have still not eaten; please accept this Prasad, the way you accept when my father makes the offering.”
He went out to play again. The third time when he came back he found that the food was the way he had kept it. He then started crying and calling the lord
“ Lord, I am a small boy, and I do not know how to make the offering, I am just following the instructions of my father. If you don’t accept the food, my father will be angry with me. This time I am going again please eat the food.”
Madhu now went out to play the third time, now when he had returned the plate was empty. He was very happy that the lord had eaten the food. When Madhu returned home, with an empty plate his mother got furious and asked him where the Prasad was, he said that lord ate it all. his mother slapped him and told him “ you are a son of a Brahmin, you should not lie, if you have eaten the food and shared it with your friends you should accept it” Madhu kept on insisting that “the lord really ate the food” The family had to fast for that day as there was no Prasad.
This kept on happening for three days continuously till Sri Ketan had returned. When Sri Ketan heard what was happening, he got furious and asked his son, what really happened? Madhu said, “I kept the food as you instructed and then the lord ate it all”. Sri Ketan had no faith in his son’s words and he wanted to investigate the truth.
He asked his wife to prepare the lord’s plate. He asked Madhu to make the offering the way he has been making for the past three days. Madhu went with the plate and made the offering. Sri Ketan was hiding and keeping an eye on Madhu.
Lord Alarnath manifested from the deity and picked up a bowl of Kheer (Sweet Rice). Seeing this Sri Ketan was unable to believe his sight, Sri Ketan came from hiding and rushed to the Lord and grabbed His arm to prevent Him from taking it, the hot sweet rice spilled out and fell on the Lord’s body causing burns. Sri Ketan Prayed to the Lord, “How will we eat if you eat all the offerings? We have never heard of a Deity that eats. Being a Deity of stone, how can you eat and talk?”
The Lord then said that he is omnipresent, as said in Bhagavad Gita 10.8 अहं सर्वस्य प्रभवो मत्त: सर्वं प्रवर्तते । इति मत्वा भजन्ते मां बुधा भावसमन्विता: ॥ ८ ॥ aham sarvasya prabhavo ,mattah sarvam pravartate , iti matva bhajante mam, budha bhava-samanvitah. Lord Says I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.
Lord said that he was pleased with the simple devotion of Madhu, and any offerings made without love and devotion does not please the Lord. No matter how opulent the offering or who makes the offering if it is made without complete love and surrender it is worthless. In Bhagavad Gita 9:26, Krishna says पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति । तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मन: ॥ २६ ॥ patram puspam phalam toyam, yo me bhaktya prayacchati ,tad aham bhakty-upahrtam, asnami prayatatmanah. It means If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit a water, I will accept it. The most important is the love and devotion that takes the food to the gods.
The burnt marks manifested by Lord Vishnu on His body is visible even today.
– Mehul Vora