The book entitled Mahaprabhu. Sri jagannatha : The Lord of Universe is an earnest endeavour by the author to present an exhaustive and authenticated account on Sri Jagannatha Sanskruti in Orissa since long lore. All possible care has been taken for presenting the history, evolution and genesis of Sri Jagannatha Sanskruti, including the controversies regarding the multifarious concept of the construction of the temple with its dates are primary importance. This book definitely reveals the research field for the scholar's, historians, researchers, indologists for carrying their indepth research works.
The book covers Sri jagannatha Sanskruti in all over the district of Orissa with the temple structure activities. The book has been devided in to thirty two chapters including an introduction carrying with, origin of main temples, the concept of patitapavana, the concept of Dadhivamana, daily rituals, fair and festivals, Navakaleuara Veshas of Lord, Art and Architecture and Chhatish Niyoga concept etc.
At the end a comprehensive glossary, bibliography, index and 85 colourful illustrations provided for ready reference.
In short it is a scholarly and monumental work marked by accuracy, precision and sound Judgment. This book no doubt encompasses the rank among the most outstanding contribution in the history of the culture in Orissa in general and Sri Jagannatha Sanskruti in particular.
Surendranath Dash, M.A.,Ph.D. born in llthJanuary 1949 at Ratanpur (Khurdha), educated at Ravenshaw College, Utkal University, Orissa, India. Acclaimed as a popular teacher for over three decades and more in Rajdhani College, B.J.B. (Auto) College and P.G. Dept. of Oriya, Utkal University. To his credit the author has guided a score of scholars both in M.Phil, Ph.D and D.Lit., on Sri Jagannatha Culture and literature. He has written five volumes on different aspects of Sri Jagannatha Sanskriti and treaties, etc. All these books have been contained the token of philosophy, rituals, fair and festivals etc. on Sri Jagannatha Chetana. Besides, participating in national and international seminars from time to time regularly. The author has published more than fifty research papers in different research Journals, books, proceedings and volumes.
Currently engaged in further research work on Sri Jagannatha temples in the world and lexicography , on Sri jagannatha funding by U.G.C. He is associated with many national, regional and intellectual organizations. Particularly, the founder secretary of Shri Jagannatha Research Institute, Bhubaneswar, Orissa. He has visited two countries i.e., U.K. and Arab in search of research materials. Prof Dash has retired from Utkal University as Prof. and Head Deptt. of Oriya on January 2009.
When I was the Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University (1998-2001), Prof. S.N. Dash was teaching a course on Sri jagannatha Culture and Literature. I was happy to know that he had submitted a project to UGC on Sri jagannatha temples in Orissa: A Field Study. By His kind grace the project is now complete and Prof. Dash is now able to bring out a book entitled Mahaprabhu Sri jagannatha: The Lord of Universe with great pleasure, compiled by Prof. Dr. S.N. Dash, P.G. Dept. of Oriya, Utkal University under the auspices of UGC Major Research Project. The existence of sixteen hundred thirty eight, (1638) Sri jagannatha temples in the nook and corner of the state till date clearly indicate that Lord Sri jagannatha has been considered as the presiding deity of the Oriya's since time immemorial. These temples have played an important role in the socio-political and cultural life of the people through ages. Prof. Dash's study, which attempts to make a deep study on the history of the temples, legends behind the gods, iconography, art and architecture, daily puja and rituals, pattern of visits of the temples by the pilgrims on different occasions and their linkages with Sri jagannatha temple at Puri. It presents Lord Sri jagannatha as a great unit.ing force of national integration among the people of Orissa, in particular and the people of the world in general, irrespective of their caste, creed, colour, and sex etc.
I hope the findings of the study would definitely throw light on further research on Lord Sri jagannatha and His mysterious origin in furtherance of brotherhood and establishment of a casteless society.
Sri jagannatha Temple at Puri is one of the important religious centres in India. The tradition of daily worship and other rituals connected with the religious service of the temple have remained unbroken throughout the cultural development in Orissa. This can be visualized in every sphere and it has also a long lasting impact on the socio-cultural life of India and abroad as well.
The precise date of commencement of the tradition is uncertain. There are two distinct opinions on the matter came into the exestance, one is Aryan, which traces back to the origin of this tradition in the Vedas and the other is non-Aryan, which believes that the tradition grew from the primitive form of worship of the indegenous tribal folk. Both may be true and we may agree that at one point of time, the two traditions joined together to constitute a single socio-cultural force to govern not only India but also Orissa through the ages.
The tribal origin of Sri jagannatha is corroborated by Skanda Purana, which is treated as an authentic source material regarding the origin of Sri jagannatha worship at Puri, which devotes a full section running about sixty chapters called Utkal Khanda or Purusottama Mahatmya of its second division such as the Vaisnava Khanda. It says that Sri jagannatha in the present form was installed by king Indradyumna of Malava, who came all the way from that country with his family, ministers, priests, prominent citizens and a large contingent of army to pay a darsana to Nilamadhava which was being worshipped secretly by Savara Chieftain Visvavasu in the form of a stone image. But he could not see Nilamadhaoa, who disappeared when Indradyumna, accompanied by Narada was coming to Puri on the way. The legend credits Indradyumna to fashioning of wooden images for worship at Puri, construction of a huge temple to house for the deity and introduction of the daily rituals and twelve festivals for Sri Jagannatha. In fact, this legendary king Indradyumna was responsible for the combination of the two traditions mentioned above and commencement of public worship of Sri jagannatha.
The Skanda Purana says that Indradyumna could acquire a sacred log from the seashore in a strange manner and Visvakarma, the divine architect appeared before him in guise of an old carpenter to carve out four images out of the sacred log. But Brahma Purana and Narada Purana recognize only three wooden images carved in this initial stage popularly known as Sri Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra constitute the Trinity.
Origin of Main Deities
It is the ripe time for us to discuss on the main deities of Sri jagannatha Trinity. The concept is a challenging one as it demands a thorough analysis of literary records, legends, sculptural prescriptions, actual ritual practices followed, folk art, aesthetic representation in colour designs etc. Enough confusion now prevails among the scholars, historians, indologists about the real nature of the deities. A few scholars have claimed Sri jagannatha belongs to different faiths like Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Many have traced his origin to tribals. And many enthusiasts claiming themselves as Sri jagannatha traditional preachers expounded the idea that Sri jagannatha is not only pre-Vedic but also pre-historic. The contradicting ideas about the deities find one at a loss of accepting any of these ideas. To crown the whole mess, the most impersonal sculptural figuration combined with bold striking colour design to be found no-where in India, has led people to project their own ideas of God on the images.
The origin of Sri jagannatha refers to the literary sources, i.e, Buddhist, Jaina, Savara, Vedic or Brahrnanical ete. The western scholars like Mr. Stevenson, Prof. Wilson, James Fergusson and General Cunningham were in early advocated the Buddhist origin of Sri jagannatha. It is known from history that Buddhism had a strong foothold in Orissa from the pre-Christian era. According to Rajendra Lal Mitra, in his monumental work Antiquities of Orissa "during the four centuries preceding the Christian era, Orissa in general and the district of Puri in particular was under the domination ofthe Buddhists". After the conquest of Kalinga by Asoka in c. 261 B.C. Buddhism must have got an extra impetus under royal patronage. It is also evident from the accounts Si-yu-ki of the famous Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsang that Mahayana form of Buddhism flourished in Orissa in the 7th century A.D. The advocate of the Buddhist origin of Sri jagannatha believe that Puri was an ancient seat of Buddhism and the worship of Sri jagannatha is a relic of some Buddhist cult. The story of Buddha's tooth-relic, as it is found in the 12th century in Sinhalese works like Dathavarhsa, Dhammakitti Thera, indicate on the origin of Sri Jagannatha. It is mentioned in this story that the sacred tooth of Buddha remained for centuries at Dantapura in Kalinga. This Dantapura was identified by some scholars with Puri. Sir Alexander Cunningham in his works The Stupa of Bharhut and The Bhilsa Topes, advocated the view that the figures of Sri Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balabhadra had been derived from the Buddhist Tri-Ratna or Tripple-Gem signifying Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, set up together in one of the Sanchi sculptures. The Indian scholars like N.N. Bose, R.L. Mitra, H.K. Mahtab and others have also supported the Buddhist views of Sri Jagannatha. By referring to a stone of Asokan pillar with the symbols of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha at the top recently discovered at Bhubaneshwar and now preserved in Ashutosh Museum of Calcutta. H.K. Mahtab observes, 'The symbols are a little different from those found at Sanchi and other places but at Bhubaneshwar the symbols are almost exactly like the images of Sri jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Bhubaneshwar, the ancient temples city was prevalent since the Asokan period." According to H.K Mahtab the Savaras of Orissa were converted to Buddhism during the reign of Asoka and worshipped the Tri-Ratna symbol placed in a Buddhist Stupa at Puri. Later in the 7th or 8th century when Buddha was considered as an Avatara of Visnu, Sri Jagannatha was also considered to be an Avatara of Visnu. Gradually, Buddhism lost itself in Vaisnavism.
Late Pandit Nilakantha Das the nationalist historian is the chief exponent of the Jaina origin of Sri jagannarha. According to him Sri jagannatha is primarily a Jaina institution. He has tried to identify the Nilamadhava legend with the famous Kalinga Jina of Orissa. Thus Sri jagannatha, in its appear was in the coast of Kalinga (present Orissa) as a piece of black stone which called Kalingajina or symbol of Jina in Kalinga. Later on it was somehow analyzed and the name Nilamadhava was given to it. Late Pandit Das believes that under the stress of the Sunya or nihilistic theory which developed out of the Mahayanic system of Buddhism, 'The Jaina symbol, i. e., the stone called KaliIiga Jina, was explained as Nila (black, nothingness) Ma (mother, creative energy) and Dhava (white, i.e., the phenomenal universe)." Thus, the images of Sri jagannatha (of black colour representing Sunya), Subhadra (the creative energy), and Balabhadra (of white colour representing the phenomenal universe) have evolved from the concept Nilamadhava or the old Kalinga Jina". He further adds, "Nilamadhava, therefore, represents a philosophy which means from a nomenal nothingness and was produced a full phenomenal appearance, and this was on account of Ma (mother element or producing principle). Sudarsana, according to him, is the Hindu name given to the old Jaina symbol Dharmachakra, and Kaivalya (liberation), a term exclusively common to Sri Jagannatha, has been derived from Jaina sources. Late Kedarnath Mohapatra, distinguished historian and Pandit Binayak Misra are among the other advocates of the Jaina views of Sri Jagannatha. These two scholars have even tried to identify Indradyumna, the legendary founder of the Sri jagannatha worship at Puri, with Kharavela, the great Jaina emperor of Kalinga. jagannatha is regarded as Daru Brahmii i.e., godhead manifested in a wooden image. The worship of Daru as Brahmiin is traced to the Vedic sources, and to' the Bhagavat Gita. Late Pandit Nilakantha Das in an article, The Cult of Jagannatha, writes, "It may be mentioned here that in the Vedic literature of Rgveda the word 'wood' (Daru) is used to indicate the material of which the Universe (Jagat) is made. Sri jagannatha is specifically known as Daru Brahma (world substance symbolized in wood) both in the Puranas and by the local tradition of Orissan people. Sri Jagannatha has also been identified with the mystic bijamantra "OM". M.M. Ganguly opines that Buddhism is an off-shoot of the Hindu religion and the idea of the Tri-Ratna has been copied from the triliteral syllable aum "OMM" and hence, is due to the resemblance of the figures of the Brahmanical Triad of Sri jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama to the holy Pranava. Mr. Paterson also traces the origin of Sri jagannatha to the adoration of the mystic syllable a.u.m. coalescing into OMM. P. Mukherjee in his book The History of Medieval Vaisnauisni in Orissa apparently admits the deformed uncouth figures of Sri jagannatha to be due to its Savara origin but traces the influence of Krsna-Vasudeva worship of the Bhagavat cult on Sri jagannatha during the Gupta rule which was marked by the spread of Vaisnavism in all over India. According to him, in 5th century A.D. Sankarsana and Vasudeva came to be known as Sri jagannatha and Balarama in Orissa. The Brhat Samhita of Varahamihira (6th century A.D.) enjoins to place Ekanarnsa between Baladeva and Krsna Ekanamsa karya devi baladeva Krsnyormadhye), In Harivamsa, Ekanamsa is spoken of as the daughter of Nand a, and also as the sister of Balarama and Krsna. So, under the influence of the Bhagavata Cult Ekanamsa came to be worshipped as Subhadra and was placed between Balabhadra and Sri jagannatha.
Many arguments and counter arguments have been put forth by the scholars in support of their respective views regarding the origin of Sri jagannatha as referred to above, but no one has been able to deny the intimate association of the Savaras with Sri jagannatha worship even from its very inception. The story of finding Visnu with the Savaras appears in different forms in Oriya folk-lore, medieval Oriya literature and the Puranas. One of the version of the story is briefly as follow.
"After Visnu saved the world from the deluge in his Varaha Avatar incarnation, Brahrna asked Him the means of salvation of all creatures. Visnu said, "I am being worshipped as Nilamadhava on the Blue Hill in Purusottama Ksetra. The highest form of salvation could be attained by beholding me there. This was a cause of apprehension to Yama, the god of death, as he could not discharge his duties properly. On Yama's request Visnu assured him to disappear from the Blue Hill after some days."
The sacred Rohini Kunda was situated to the west of the wall bestowing Kalpa Vrkaya whose branches had spread for one Krosa. The shrine of Nilamadhava was situated to the west of the Kunda, known to all excepting the Savara who worshipped him and the gods who came to pay their daily oblations at this altar. In Satya yugathe pious and learned king Indradyumna of the Solar dynasty ruled in Avanti. He was anxious to see Visnu. A wandering Sarhnyasin informed him that God Himself was being worshipped as Purusottama on the Blue Hill in Odra desa. Indradyumna sent Vidyapati, the brother of his family priest, to Utkala as his emissary. Vidyapati came to Utkala and settled in a Savara village situated on the west of the Blue Hill. After being acquainted with Visvavasu, the fowler, Vidyapati revealed to him on the secrets of his mission and entreaced him for a sight of Nilamadhava. He also told the fowler that his royal master would not touch food until his return. Out of compassion for the king Visvavasu took Vidyapati through a narrow track and showed him the shrine of Nilamadhava. After seeing Nilamadhava Vidyapati returned to Avanti.
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