The Present work, a revised , re set and
Expanded edition of the 1978 classic
Presents 27 articles contributed by
Research scholars of established merit. It
Deals with a comparatively less studied aspect of Indian culture, namely, the role
And significance of regional Hindu
Tradtions that emerged at the beginning of the early medieval period out of an interaction of elements of classical Hinduism with autochthonous local
Religious practices and beliefs. Among
The regional traditions the cult of
Jagannatha in Odisha is most
Interesting because of its archaic character as well as uninterrupted development until today.
The cult is verily a culture and the backbone of Odishan identity.
Some of the earlier essays have been
Revised and three new added: two on Temple legend by G.C. Tripathi and Ruprect Geib and One on Pilgrimage to Jagannatha by Jacob A. Rosel. All the articles treat various topics pertaining to Jagannatha and the Hindu tradition of Odisha in a coherent and mutually connected manner.
Anncharlott Eschmann (1941-77),
studied in Munich, Marburg and
Heidelberg; Dr. Phil in Comparative
Religion on the Concept of History of the
Aztecs (1970), Senior Research Fellow,
Orissa Research Project, Assistant Prof.
South Asia Institute, Heidelberg (1970-5);
field studies' in Orissa 1970-1, 1974,
1976-7, Representative of the South
Asia Institute at New Delhi 1975-7.
Specialization: Comparative Religion
with special reference to India and
Hermann Kulke, born 1938, Ph.D. in
Indology on the temple city of
Chidambaram (Freiburg 1967), D. Litt.
(Habilitation) on Gajpati kingship and
Jaqannatha cult (Heidelberg 1975).
Professor of Indian History at the South
Asia Institute, Heidelberg University
(1967-88) and Kiel University (1988-
2003). Currently coordinator of the
second Orissa Research Project (1999-
2005). Specialization: South and
Southeast Asian History, Historiography
and Orissan studies.
Gaya Charan Tripathi, born 1939,
Ph.D. from Agra on the Origin and
Development of Vedic Pantheon (1962),
Dr. Phil. from Freiburg on the Legend of
the Dwarf Incarnation of Visnu (1966);
D.Litt. Allahabad University on the Daily
Puja Ceremonies of the Jaqannatha
Temple. Field Director of the first Orissa
Research Project (1970-3), Principal,
G.N. Jha Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth
(1977-2001). Professor and Head of the
Kalakosh Division, Indira Gandhi
National Centre for the Arts, Delhi.
Director, S.L. Institute of Indology, Delhi.
Specialization: Vedic and Classical
Sanskrit, Puranas, Ritual, Textual
Criticism and Orissan studies.
Hermann Kulke and Gaya Charan Tripathi
It is a matter of great satisfaction for us to see The Cult of Jagannath and the Regional
Tradition of Orissa, I being issued in an enlarged and revised edition after nearly
thirty-five years of its first publication and we are immensely grateful to the
Providence which has allowed us not only to witness its growing popularity and
its academic importance over these years through several reprints, but has also
spared us so long as to be able to edit it afresh, to enrich it with a few important
additions and to offer it to our readers in this beautiful, new avatara, having
made it cast aside its previous modest corporeal frame. The work was originally
conceived as a joint publication of the members of a multi-disciplinary first
Orissa Research Project (1970-75) sponsored by the German Research Council
(DFG) and contains in form of relatively short articles their initial findings on
different facets of Odishan Religion, Society and Culture.
While the first edition of the present work was inscribed to the memory
of our dear colleague Dr. Anncharlott Eschmann, the third of the editorial
'trio', who unfortunately had passed away while the work was in progress, the
occasion and the timings of the release of this revised and enlarged edition
of the same brings back strong memories of our revered Guru and mentor at
Freiburg University, Prof. Ulrich Schneider (1925-92), who was the Director of
the first phase (1970-75) of the Orissa Research Project, the findings of which
period are mainly embedded in this book. Hereby we wish to gratefully record
our deep gratitude to him.
The majority of these articles rally most naturally around the towering
persona of Lord Jagannatha who registers his ubiquitous presence in all
aspects of Od ish an history, culture, society, religion and politics-to name only
the few. The subsequent attempts, however, of the scholars of the follow-up
Projects-available in form of monographs or collective articles-have ventured
to look beyond this epicentre of culture and power, that is Puri, and have tried
to bring to fore the specific contributions of regional units and the 'minor'
ethnic as well as religious groups which have gone into making of this whole
complex of cultural phenomenon which forms the specific identity of Odisha.
Present work, which appeared first in 1978, generated-quite unexpectedly-unprecedented interest in Odishan studies and the scholars suddenly
realised that this far-flung eastern state of India, which was considered as a
kind of 'hinterland' of the subcontinent had a strong regional identity of its
own and had much to offer to the scholars of a number of disciplines in terms
of scientific studies of the various aspects of its history and culture. The work
also went a long way to lend a scientific temper to the studies of the Odishan
scholars themselves on Jagannatha and his cult which were, partly at least,
confined and constricted to the traditional accounts till then.
In order to take a kind of inventory of the new contributions on Odishan
studies and to come in to closer con tact with the 'newly gained' lovers of Odishan studies, a conference was organized, two decades thereafter, in 1997 by H. Kulke
and B. Schnepel at the South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg,
the proceedings of which were published under the title Jagannatha Revisited:
Studying Society, Religion and State in Orissa (Manohar, 2001; vol. 1 of the series
'Studies in Orissan Society, Culture and History'). Scholars assembled felt that
the time had come when one should take a re-look at the Odishan studies, evolve
new perspectives and shift its focus to the other unexplored areas of this culture.
The idea of a second Orissa Research Project (ORP) was born. The Project was
sanctioned by the German Research Council in 1999 under the title: 'Various
Identities: Socio-Cultural Profiles of Orissa in Historical and Regional Perspectives' and
lasted till 2005. The team of scholars included some members of the first ORP
along with a sizeable number of new scholars.
Whereas me first ORP focussed on me curt or jagannatna and me temple
city of Puri and the dominant discourses of coastal Odisha, the second
project sought to delve deeper into the inherent vitality and dynamics of
India's regional traditions by paradigmatic studies on the genesis, historical
development, contestation and integration of various sub-regional traditions
of the hinterland." However in spite of this clear shift of emphasis, or perhaps
precisely due to that, the plan to re-edit this first collection of papers on the
Cult ofJagannath was appreciated and considered highly desirable not only by
those members of the first ORP, who were still associated with the second ORP,
but also by its new entrants, since the anthology had acquired a sort of 'classic'
status by this time, being a pioneer study of its own kind, and had inspired quite
a few similar studies on other religious kshetras. The present revised edition is
an outcome of this very desire of the members and, honestly speaking, also of
its persistent demand as a recommended reading in many universities.
Before the volume went to Press, available authors were given choice to
edit or improve their contributions. C.N. Dash practically re-wrote some of
his papers. C.C. Tripathi went through his and H. von Stietencron's papers
carefully. H. Kulke did the same with his papers. Thereafter the typeset copy of
the whole work was twice subjected to a careful scrutiny by us, the two editors.
The present edition is enlarged with the addition of two new articles, the
absence of which was painfully felt by the readers; further an updated new
Bibliography of monographs and papers related to the themes discussed in
the volume which have appeared since 1978 has been added and attention
of the scholars is being drawn in this introduction to some significant new
research in the areas concerned. Further, the language of the volume has been
carefully edited by a competent copy-editor which has not only removed certain
'Germanisms' and 'Indianisms' of the authors present in previous volume, but
has also smoothened out the language and made it, to a certain extent, uniform.
Besides all this, the high standard of production and especially a significantly
improved quality of illustrations at the end is a matter of great satisfaction to us.
The inclusion of the two new articles has been overdue since long as
the absence of their themes, firstly the Indradyumna legend containing the
aetiological account of the 'origin' of the Deity Jagannatha and the establishment
of his first temple by a king of Malwa, and secondly, the organization of
pilgrimage to the temples and the town of Puri were felt as deplorable lacunae
in the first edition. The text-critical study of the Indradyumna legend based on
Odia texts of medieval ages has been the subject of D.Litt. thesis (Habilitation)
of R. Geib which was already published in German in 1975,3 but for personal
reasons, he was unable to contribute an article on it. Fortunately, however, a kind
of preliminary summary of this work in English, meant for a report submitted
to the DFG, was available with us. It has been edited by G.C. Tripathi, turned
into the format of a paper and he added to it, further, the classical version of
the legend in Sanskrit as mainly found in the Purushottama Mahatmya of the
Skanda Purana thus paving ground for an interesting comparative study of
priestly Brahmanic version of the legend with the folk versions of the Odia
poets which were prevalent among the common people during fifteenth to
The readers will also welcome the fascinating study of J.Rosel on pilgrims
and their 'care takers' (the Pandas) to the Temple town of Puri, the relationship
between the two and the plight of the pilgrims once they land in the town. His
description is very authentic and is based on first-hand knowledge since he
stayed for months in the shelters (dharmashalas) made for pilgrims, interacted
with the Pandas and observed the system very closely. This important theme of
the organization of the pilgrimage was missing in the first edition as J.Rosel was
not supposed to publish an article on this subject before submitting his Ph.D.
thesis which dealt with this very subject." We are thankful to him for taking a
second chance after thirty-five years!
Already in 1997, during the preparation of the 'Jagannath Revisited'
Conference at Heidelberg, we were surprised and delighted by the tremendous
proliferation of Jagannatha research during the preceding twenty years, a
development that continues unabated till today as attested and put on record
by the new Bibliography."
The overwhelming majority, particularly of the monographs, however,
still belongs to the traditional 'Odia School', focussing around the greatness
of Jagannatha and His cult, keeping Him at the centre of Odishan history and
depicting him not only as a marked symbol of Odisha's identity but also the
apogee of its culture. They are in a way, a kind of modern Sthala-Mahatmyas
and consider Jagannatha's hegemony as a major prop of contemporary Odia
identity. It may however, be mentioned in passing that in contrast to the influence of the jagannatha cult on the rise of Odishan ‘ nationalism’ in the late nineteenth century ( see below), a comprehensive study of Jagannatha’s impact on contemporary Odisha is still missing.
During the last one and a half century, Indology, both in India and in western
Countries, has produced innumerable contributions to our knowledge of the
great all-Indian Sanskrit tradition. Social anthropologists, on the other hand,
have concentrated their painstaking field work on India's villages, tribes and,
more recently, on urban problems of modern India. Both disciplines thus have
mainly concentrated their research on the 'outer portions' of the continual
spectrum of India's tradition, i.e. its local and all-India aspects. Till recently
both disciplines have tended to avoid the various regional traditions of the South
asian subcontinent, although they form literally not only the 'central portion' of
India's tradition, but also the true melting pot of local and all-Indian traditions.
This trend may be partly due to the vague feeling that the regional traditions
represent neither the 'unspoiled' Sanskrit tradition nor the pure village life, but
a distorted 'provincial' variant of both. The neglect of India's regional traditions
has also been due to the fact that they obviously had fallen between the chairs
of sociological and philological disciplines. This has further been caused by
a gap in the chronological order between the respective fields of research of
he two disciplines. Whereas the Indological field had seldom transgressed
he post-Gupta period, the sources of research of social anthropologists and
sociologists usually do not go back beyond the 19th century. However, it was
exactly this period of about one millennium, roughly between the eighth and
he 18th century, during which the regional traditions of India developed their
distinct premodern characteristics. The present state of our knowledge about
these traditions is, therefore, still quite contrary to their actual importance for
the cultural development of India.
For the last nearly thirty years two concepts have contributed substantially
towards a more differentiated analysis of the social organization of Indian
tradition, i.e. Redfield's concepts of 'the great and the little tradition' and
Srinivas' concept of 'Sanskritization'. Redfield's concept has been of great
heuristic importance for an analysis of the structure of the Indian civilization.
Srinivas' concept opened a new approach to the study of social change and
mobility in the Indian society. From the point of view of Indology and History
the main merit of Srinivas' theory lies in the conceptual framework which helps
to link research on the 'little communities' of india’s villages with the traditional
field of Indology, the great all-India Sanskritic tradition. 'Sanskritization'
thus became a helpful transmission belt between history-oriented and social
anthropological research. It also helped to destroy the myth of india’s villages
being an 'isolated whole' (Srinivas/Shah).
But soon some disadvantages of these thought-provoking concepts became
obvious. On the one hand, they still tended to distinguish too dichotomically
the all-Indian great tradition from the little tradition of India's villages and,
on the other hand, sometimes overemphasized the all-Indian Brahmanical
model of Sanskritization in the context of social change in traditional India.
A thorough reflection on, and critical analysis of, both concepts, therefore,
led to their further conceptual development. The rather static concept of 'the
great and the little tradition' has been modified by several new approaches and methods. Sociologists emphasized continuous processes of 'universalization'
and 'parochialization' (MacKim Mariott) and an uninterrupted tribe-caste
continuum (Bailey, Sinha) and accepted the all-Indian Brahmanical model
of the society as the basis of the local and regional caste system (Dumont).
Furthermore, problems of state formation were discussed by historians in the
conceptual framework of 'nuclear area' of intensive Hinduization (Stein) and
'regional centres' (Rothermund). In tribal central India state formation has
been linked with social change according to the Rajput model ('Rajputization',
Sinha). The results of this study confirm the supposition that Sanskrit has never
been the only medium through which Sanskritization developed and that its
agents were not at all always Brahmins (Staal). Regional languages and regional
variants . (desacara) of the pan-Indian Dharmasastra law books often played a
much more important role in the process of Sanskritization.
In this context, the problems of mutual influence of the various levels of
Indian culture became a central subject for the analysis of its social organization. Questions of the networks and centres in the integration of Indian civilization (Cohn/Marriot), methods of popular instruction (V. Raghavan), and the channels of cultural transmission (Marriot) were thoroughly discussed. Other scholars emphasized in this context the role of sacred complexes (Vidyarthi, Jha) , e.g. places of pilgrimage and temple cities, of sacred specialist, e.g. priests, mendicant samnysasins and pilgrim guides, and of sacred performances, e.g. Rama Lila or Radha Krsna bhajana (Singer) and termed pilgrimage as one of the main unifying forces in Hinduism (Ensink).
It is this context in which the Orissa Research Project analysed in a
comprehensive and interdisciplinary research scheme the 'sacred complex' of
Puri in order to contribute to the knowledge about the origin, development,
and organization of a regional cult and its role in the formation of one of india’s
least known and yet most vivid regional traditions.
Orissa, lying at the north eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal with a site of
60,172 square miles and a population of about 20 million (1971), provides
an excellent field for the study of a regional tradition. With a fertile alluvial
belt along its coast of 300 miles (between 17'48' and 22'34' north latitude),
surrounded by semicircular rugged tracts, dotted with jungle-clad blue hills
of the Eastern Ghats and broken by ravines. and deep valleys, Orissa, on the
one hand, throughout its history formed a geographical unit with its distinct
cultural and political history; on the other, it has three major geographical
outlets which connected her with the neighbouring regions.
The north eastern and southern influences met in Orissa via the sea-coast
and it was also in direct contact with central and north India through the
Mahanadi valley. Although quite secluded, Orissa was thus not at all excluded
from the developments outside its natural borders.
A further advantage for a study of the regional tradition of Orissa is its rather
unbroken cultural development. Perhaps due to its geographical location it was
able to withstand the Muslim onslaught till 1568, more than three centuries
longer than most other parts of north and central India. And even during the
heyday of Muslim rule in India under the Mughals, the distance from Delhi
allowed Orissa to preserve her traditions till 1803, when the British East India
Company defeated the Marathas who had ruled Orissa since 1751.
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