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Orissa Review July - 2010

World Famous Lord Jagannath

Naresh Chandra Rout

Famous deities associated with Indian culture and for the Vaishnavites, Shiva for the Shaivites,
worshipped long since are Vishnu in different Mahabhairab for the Tantrics, Buddha and
forms in four Dhams , twelve Jyoti Lingas Anupurusha (void) for Boudhas and Ganesh for
(Shiva) in different forms and fifty two Shakti the Ganapatya. The rituals, the adornment outfits
dieties in different forms in Shakti Pithas . and festivals support one god in different names
Out of four dhams (sacred land) and adornments. Four gods namely Jagannath,
Badrinath in Badrika Dham of Uttarakhand, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarsan have been
Dwarakadhis in Dwaraka Dham of Gujrat, Sri installed on the raised platform called Ratna Bedi
Jagannath in Puri Dham of Orissa and (sanctum sanctorum). Jagannath stands for
Shrirameswar in Rameswar Dham of Tamilnadu Shrikrishna, Balabhadra is the elder brother,
are being worshipped. Subhadra is the sister and Sudarsan is the all
conquering wheel weapon.
Shri Jagannath in Puri Dham
Subhadra, Jagannath and Balabhadra
Odisha is known to common men of other represent the Trinity of Hinduism i.e. Brahma,
states as the land of Shri Jagannath, who is not Vishnu and Maheswar. The three deities represent
only famous in India but is all over the world.
the entire humanity. Jagannath black in colour
Jagannath temples have been built and car
represents the black race, Balabhadra white in
festivals are celebrated in many places outside
colour represents the white race and Subhadra,
India also.
yellow in colour represents the yellow race. In
Puri Dham close to shore of the Bay of other temples, idols are made of stone or metal
Bengal is known as Shrikshetra (Land of but here the idols are made of specified wood.
prosperity) Sankha Kshetra, Bhouma Kshetra, The eyes of Jagannath are circular and devotees
Purosottam Kshetra (land of the supreme being), therefore call him Chakadola . All these idols are
Nilachal (blue hill), Jamanika Kshetra, Uddiyaman unusual and sculpted in incomplete form. It
Kshetra, Martya Baikunth (Paradise on earth) et indicates that true and complete picturisation of
al. Many ancedotes are cited in support of the God is not possible. It is said God completes his
names. morning works at Badrika Dham, puts on his
Jagannath is the Kalpa Bruksha (boon robes and ornaments at Dwaraka Dham, takes
giving tree), Yogamurti of the Siddhas, Bishnu his lunch at Puri Dham and wears night dress at

Orissa Review July - 2010

Rameswar Dham and goes to bed. Therefore Long time elapsed, by the time the king returned
Mahaprasad or sacred food in large quantities in only to find another king Galamadhab contending
different varieties is available at Puri. Sudarsan, to have built the temple. However Galamadhab
the wheel-weapon, due to influence of Buddhism yielded, the problem was solved, and the three
is shaped like a cut-out part of pillar with a wheel idols were consecrated in the temple. With time
painted on it. Wood is a short living material. the old temple gave way. It is said that construction
Consequently Navakalevar (New idols) are of the present temple was started by Jajati Keshari
made and their installation is celebrated at and completed by Chodaganga Dev in 12th
specified intervals. Every year renovation of the century. There are differing opinions in different
idols is done observing specified rituals. books but historical truth is not available.
Origin of Shri Jagannath Shri Mandir (The Grand Temple)
In this context there are varying opinion One of the many names of spouse of
in legends. The anecdote generally accepted is Jagannath is Shri Shri means prosperity. Campus
as follows:- of Jagannath temple covers 10 acres of land. Two
compound walls surround the temple. The outer
Autochthonous Sabar King Viswabasu wall is called Meghanad Prachir which is 650 ft
was worshipping Nilamadhab in Nilagiri Hill. in length, 644 ft in breadth and 20 ft in height.
Indradyumna, the king of Abanti was a devotee The inner wall is called Kurma Prachir which is
of Vishnu. He wanted to build a temple and install 400 ft in length, 278 ft in breadth and 20 ft in
Vishnu therein. Minister Bidyapati sent by the king height. The height of the majestic temple is 214 ft
to search for Nilamadhab came to Biswabasu. In 8 inch from the level of Bada Danda (Grand
no time Bidyapati and Lalita, the daughter of the Road). The massive temple is full of sculptures in
Sabar king were entangled in love. Consequent Orissan style of architecture. A lime coating was
upon earnest request of both, Biswabasu took provided in the past to protect the sculpture from
Bidyapati to Nilagiri. He stood spell-bound to see effect of saline wind blast on the sea coast.
dazzling Nilamadhab. Thereafter Bidyapati Recently the coating has been removed to expose
stealthily left the house of Biswabasu and rushed the wonderous sculpture. 15 ft high Neelachakra
to Indradyumna to report about the precious (Blue Wheel) made of a compound of 8 metals
discovery. The king galloped with his entourage soars at the top of the temple and very large
to Nilagiri only to see vacant mountatin. He heard pennant, a symbol of relief to the suffering hovers
a heavenly voice that He would float as a tree at the top of the wheel. There are four gates to
trunk at Banki Muhani of the Bay of Bengal. The enter into the campus of the temple. East (Main),
king managed to collect the tree. After failure of West, North and South gates are called Lion,
all artisans, an old artisan volunteered to complete Elephant, Tiger or Khanja and Horse gates. A 33
the idols within a period of 21 days inside a closed ft monolithic sculptured pillar has been installed
chamber. After 15 days the door was opened on in front of the Lion's Gate. This is called Aruna
the insistence of Queen Gundicha in apprehension Stambha which has been shifted from the Konark
of untoward situation when no sound was heard. temple. Idol of Patitapaban comes into view on
The old artisan had vanished leaving behind the right side before entering through the main gate
incomplete and unique idols. The king went to for relief to that all barred from entering into the
Brahma, one of the Trinity, to conscerate the idols. campus. After entry through the Lion's Gate

Orissa Review July - 2010

visitors have to cross Baisi Pahacha (22 steps) to Niladri Vihar, Dhabaleswar Mandir, Koili
go round the campus. Actually there are 17 steps Baikuntha (sacred burial ground), Baikunth
and the name Baisi Pahacha is a mystery. In front Mahadeb Mandir, Arpaana Gopal Mandir,
of Baisi Pahacha stands the grand temple which Mahabir Tapaswee Hanuman Mandir, Bamana
is divided into 5 chambers called Bhoga Mandap, Mandira, Laxmi Nrushingha Mandir, Uttarayani
Nata Mandap, Jagamohan, Bahar Pokharia and Mandir, Sitala Thakurani Mandir, Jhadeswar
Bhitara Pokharia from front to rear. Devotees Thakurani, Beddha Lokanath, Ganesh Mandir,
make obeissance standing behind Garuda Parsunath Mandir, Dhabaleswar Shiba Mandir,
Stambha facing the prime deities. The door Isaneswar Shiba Mandir, Ananda Bazar
between Jagamohan and Bahar Pokharia is called (consecrated food market), Snana Mandap
Jaya Bijay Dwar and the door between Bahara (Both Platform), Chahani Mandap (Gazing
Pokharia and Bhitara Pokharia is called Kalahat pedestal).
Dwar. In Bahar Pokharia there is a pedestal called Bhitara Bedha (Inner Compound Wall):
Anasara Pindi . In between Snana Jatra and Temple and sacred places on the inner
Ratha Jatra, idols are worshipped on this pedestal side of Kurma Parchira are as follows:
for a specified period. In Bhitara Pokharia stand Agneyaswar Mahadeb, Shri Satya Narayan, Shri
the Chaturdha Murti (four idols), Jagannath, Radha Ramana Thakura, Shri Batakrushna
Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarsan on the Mandira, Radhakrushna Mandira, Shri Brahma,
Ratnavedi (Sanctum Sanctorum). Although called Bishnu Maheswara Mandira, Shri Hari Sahadeb
Chaturdha Murti) there are 7 idols, the additional Mandir, Shri Bata Jagannath, Shri Balamukunda
idols being Bhudevi (Saraswati), Shridevi (Laxmi) Mandira, Shri Bata Ganesh, Bata Mangala,
and Nilamadhab. Bhudevi and Shridevi are made Pancha Pandab, Shri Baraha Narayan, Kalpa
of metal and Nilamadhab is made of wood. Bata (Boon-yielding tree), Shri Surya Mandir,
Bhudevi and Shridevi sojourn to specified Anant Basudeb, Kutam Chandi, Khetrapal
destinations during specified festivals as Bije Mahadeb, Muktaswar Mahadeb, Mukti Mandap
Pratima (emmissary). Nilamadhab never moves (Salvation Court), Nrusingha Mandir, Jalakrida
out of Ratnavedi. Mandap, Rohini Kunda, Natua Ganesh, Shri
Bahar Bedha (Outer Compound Wall) : Badri Narayan, Bimala Mandir, Shri Benu
Madhab Mandir, Mandani Ghar, Padapadma
Temples and other sacred places within Deula Naxa (Temple Plan), Shri Sakhigopal, Shri
Meghanad Prachira and Kurma Parchira are as Kanchi Ganesh, Gopinath Mandir, Khirachora
follows: Kasi Biswanath, Shri Ramachandra Gopinath, Bhubaneswari, Shir Nilamadhab,
Mandir, Veta Mandap, Rosa Ghar (kitchen), Shri Beddha Kali, Shri Laxmi Narayan Mandir,
Ramchandra Mandir, Sadabhuj Gourang, Mahalaxmi Mandir, Nabagraha Mandir, Laxmi
Mausima Mandir, Barabhai Hanuman, Gurundi Narayan Mandir, Shir Surya Narayan Mandir,
Gopal, Puruna Nrushingha Mandir, Buddhima Shir Dadhibaman Mandir, Shri Ramchandra
Mandir, Nilachal Upaban (Blue hill garden), Thakur, Pataleswar Mahadeb, Shri Padapadma,
Nirmalya Khala (consecrated rice drying area), Shri Narayan Mandir, Shrimandira Karyalaya
Panchamukhi Mahabir Mandir, Durga Madhab (Temple Office), Shri Radhakrushna Mandir,
Mandir, Sidheswar Mahadeb Mandir, Chakra Garad Ghar (Security Office), Navikata Mandap,
Narayan Mandir, Rameswar Mahadeb Mandir, Deba Seva Mandap, Paduka Kunda, Bali

Orissa Review July - 2010

Bamana Mandir, Shri Nisa Nrushingha Mandir, offered to the Lord that his palms will never be
Ekadasi Mandir, Kaliyug Venddha, Dakshina dry. Although called Chhapan Bhogi (Lord Who
Ghar, Majana Mandap, Indrani Mandir, Shri is served fifty six varieties of food), the number of
Bata Balabhadra Mandir, Shri Ananta Sayan. varieties and quantities all so large that it is not
Rites and Rituals of Shri Jagannath possible to elaborate them here. Kitchen of
Jagannath is said to be the largest kitchen in the
Legendarily luminaries like Shankara-
world. Legends provide varying opinions as to
charya, Ramanuj, Madhabacharya, Chaitanya,
why the offered to Jagannath food is called
Guru Nanak and Kabir have come to Puri and
Mahaprasad. More acceptable opinion says food
have left indelible imprints on rites and rituals and
festivals of Puri. Syncretism of Vaishnab, Shaiba, offered becomes Mahaprasad and after it is
Shakta, mystic tantric and autochthonous rituals reoffered to tantric goddess Bimala. Mahaprasad
are reflected in the Temple. Routine rituals continue comprises two main varieties viz Anna
from 5 AM to 12 midnight. Gopaniya Niti (Secret Mahaprasad (lunch / dinner variety), and Shukhila
rituals), Nakshatra, Bandapana Niti (Rituals in Mahaprasad (Snacks variety), Anna Mahaprasad
woship of stars), Ghodalagi Niti (Rituals for consists of Anna (rice), Dali (Lentils & pulses),
changing apparels and ornaments), Grahana and Dalma (vegetable and pulses), Shag (Spinach),
Parag Niti (Rituals for lunar and solar eclipse), Khata (Pickle), Kanika (Fried rice), Ghia Anna
Ashauch and Durghatana Niti (Purification and (ghee-mixed rice) etc. Only indigenous vegetable
accident rituals) are observed on specified days. are used in the temple kitchen. Potato, Tomato
On Mahastami day, a male goat is sacrificed etc. are not used due to foreign origin. Token
outside the temple premises and the blood mixed Anna Mahaprasad taken in two fingers is called
with rice is offered to Bimala and thereafter the Kaibalya. Dried Anna Mahaprasad is called
temple premises are purified. Deities Laxmi and Nirmalya and it is customary to take a grain of
Saraswati o f sanctum sancto rum and Nirmalya to complete Puja process in the morning
Ramakrushna Madan Mohan, Rama, Lakshman, by the ladies. Very small packs of grated cocoanut
Sita, Hanuman, Narayan, Dolagobinda, Bada mixed with jaggery in a piece of dry leaf is called
Nrushingha and Panch Pandab of Dakshina Sukhili and is available at nominal cost. Pilgrims
Ghara take part in specified festivals on specified distribute Sukhili in villages after return from Puri.
days as representatives of Jagannath. Snana and Sukhili also accompanies betel leaf and nut as a
Anasara rituals, Ratha Jatra (Car festival) and
part of invitation in marriage ceremony and thread
Bahuda Jatra (The retreat festival) are famous
ceremony. Specified Bhog items are supplied by
in India and lakhs of people congregate at Puri.
specified Maths (monasteries) on specified days.
Brief description of festivals is furnished test infra.
Veshas of Jagannath
Bhoga Samagri (Delicacies Offered to Shri
Jagannath) Throughout the year Jagannath,
Lord was so overwhelmed with devotion Balabhadra, Subhadra and their representative
of king Indradyumna at the time of inauguration deities assume different decorated personae on
of the temple that he offered to ask for any boon. different occasions. Main Vesas are as follows:-
The king asked for the boon that such large Chandana Vesha for 42 days from third day of
quantities of food in numerous varieties would be second fortnight of Kartika Month, Elephant or

Orissa Review July - 2010

Ganesh personae on full moon day of Jyestha, Servitors of Shri Jagannath

Rukmini Harana Vesha on 11th day of second It is said Shri Mandir provides for
fornight of Jyestha, Naba Jouban Vesha on new Chhatisha Nijoga or 36 grades of servitors. In
moon day of Asadha, Suna Vesha on 11th day of fact the number of grades of servitors is about
second fortnight of Asadha, Chitalagi and Rahu 250 and total number of servitors is very large.
Rekha Lagi (Ornaments) on new moon day of Raja Seva (Royal service) and other services are
Shraban, Banabhoji Vesha on 10th day of first the two main kinds of service to the temple.
fortnight of Bhadrab, Kaliyadalan Vesha on 11th Gajapati Maharaja is the first and main servitor.
day of first fortnight of Bhadrab, Pralambasura People treat him as roving God. He alone is
Badha Vesha on 12th day of first fortnight of permitted to go inside the temple borne in a
Bhadrab, Krushna Balaram Vesha on 13th day palanquins to the accompanyment of drums and
of first fortnight of Bhadrab, Baman Vesha on 12th trumpet and bow before the Lord in the sanctum
day of second fortnight of Bhadra, Raja Vesha sanctorum. He sweeps Lords' chariots with the
on 10th day of second fortnight of Aswina, help of a gold broom at the time of car festival,
Radhadamodara Vesha from 11th day of second sweeps Dolabedi and Snana Vedi during Dola
fortnight ofAswina to 10th day of second fortnight festival and Snana festival. Daitas (autochthonous
of Kartik and Harihara Vesha on Mondays within servitors) and priests receive betel nut as token
this period, Thiakia or Laxminarayan Vesha on of authorisation by the Maharaja to proceed in
12th day of second fortnight of Kartik, search of wood for Nabakalebara (New Idols).
Bankachuda Vesha and Tribhubana Vesha on He is the Chairman of temple management
13th day of second fortnight of Kartik, Laxmi committe. Other services are taken care of by
Nrusingha Vesha on 14th day of second fortnight the large number of servitors. There are servitors
of Kartik, Rajarajeswari Vesha on full-moon day even to chase crows at the time of cutting, rolling
of Kartik, Shradha Vesha from 14th day of first and grinding vegetable and spices necessary for
fornight to first day of second fortnight of cooking in the temple kitchen. There are also
Margashira, Abhiseka Vesha on full-moon day many kinds of servitors for service outside the
of Pousa, Padma Vesha on Saturday and Tuesday temple premises.
between new-moon day and 5th day of second Snana Jatra (Bath Festival), Rath Jatra (Car
fortnight of Magha, Gajaudharan Vesha on full- Festival) and Bahuda Jatra (Return Car
moon day of Magha, Chacheri Vesha from 10th Festival)
day of second fortjight to full-moon day of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are
Phalguna, Raja Vesha on full-moon day of taken from sanctum sanctorum to bath altar one
Phalguna, Nagarjuna Vesha is adopted in the year by one in ceremonial procession called Pahandi.
in which Panchaka covers six days in place of Bath is also conducted with festive ceremony. It
normal five days upto end of Kartik and lakhs of is said that the three deities suffer from fever after
people congregate to celebrate the festival. the bath. Therefore the deities are confined to
Different personae of one God and syncretism of Anasarapindi up to end of first fortnight of Asadha
different faiths and different idols is reflected in and they are worshipped by Daitas following their
the Vesha s (Note: Months are Indian lunar months rituals. The damage or disfiguration during one
of almanac). year is taken care of by restoration of Idols during

Orissa Review July - 2010

this period. People congregate for Nabajoubana festival is more famous than car festival in terms
Darshan or to set eyes on the youthful Idols on of spendour and convergence of multitude of
the first day of second fortnight of Asadha. On people. Bodies of old idols are cremated in Koili
the second day of second fortnight of Asadha Baikunth (sacred burial ground).
Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarsan
Supernatural Powers of Shri Jagannath
are taken in slow ceremonial procession to the
three chariots which move to Gundicha temple in Jagannath responds to prayer of persons
ceremonial procession called Rath Jatra (Car in distress and therefore one of his names is
Festival). Lakhs of people congregate to take part Artatrana (Great Healer). There are many
in this festival. The deities remain in Gundicha accounts from the devotees depicting relief due
Temple till 9th day of second fortnight of Asadha to grace of Jagannath and instances are: episodes
and worshipped with the same rituals in Shri of Jayadev, Jagannath Das, Balaram Das, Raghu
Mandir. The deities return in Rath Jatra - like Arakshit, Dinakrushna, Salabeg, Dasia Bauri,
procession on 10th day of second fortnight of Bandhu Mohanty, Nilambar Das, Rajkumari
Asadha. The deities remain on the chariots on Bishnupriya, Gita Panda, Paramesti, Ganapati
that day and the next day on which Suna Vesha is Bhatt, Sadhu Mohanty, Raghu Das, Krupana
made. The deities are adorned with precious Panda. Famous example of grace of Jagannath is
apparel and heavy crown and ornaments of gold. Kanchi Abhijan (Kanchi expedition). Princess
The deities retreat to the sanctum sanctorum of of Kanchi was famous for beauty and erudition.
Shri Mandir on 12th day of second fortnight of Purosottam Deb was the Maharaja of Utkal. A
Asadha. The Car Festival is famous in the world proposal was mooted for his marriage with the
for the unique ceremony and huge gathering of princess. Raja of Kanchi declined with satirical
people irrespective of caste, creed, colour, religion remark that marriage with a sweeper who sweeps
etc. Running commentary of the festival is the chariots of Jagannath is not possible. Treating
transmitted in radio and television during the
the refusal as an insult to Lord Jagannath,
Purusottam went on expedition to Kanchi seeking
Naba Kalebar (New Body) blessings of Jagannath. At Adipur near Chilika
As the bodies of four idols are made of lake Manik Gouduni (milk-maid) obstructed the
wood, changing bodies after reasonable period Maharaja pleading for unpaid cost of cheese and
is inevitable. Nabakalebar is made during the year curd eaten by his two leading soldiers riding black
in which the month of Asadha comes in a pair for and white horses producing a gold ring as
reconciliation between lunar and solar months. In evidence. Purusottam identified the ring as that of
the past Naba Kalebar was held in 1912, 1931, Lord Jagannath leading the expedition. It was a
1950, 1969, 1977 and 1996. Observing specified war between Jagannath-led army with that of
rituals Daitas and priests proceed to Kakatpur Ganesh-led army of Kanchi. Purusottam won the
and worship deity Mangala who reveals the war, brought the princess to Puri and instructed
location of appropriate trees for making the idols. his Minister to get the princess married with a
Trees are located, cut to appropriate sizes and sweeper. During next car festival, when
transported to Puri observing prescribed rituals. Purusottam was sweeping Lord s chariot, the
Brahma Pinda (Divine matter) is extracted from clever Minister offered the princess to the
old idols and inserted in new idols. Naba Kalebar Maharaja.

Orissa Review July - 2010

Parting Words In the year 1510 AD, Hussain Saha,

Pre-eminence of Laxmi, the consort of Sultan of Bengal (Kalapahad) destroyed the idols
Jagannath is exemplified in Laxmi Puran . during his attack. Brahma Pinda was secretly
Attracted by the welcome wall painting and removed from the idols and carried to
devotion of Shriya, of low caste, Laxmi went to Kujangagarh before the attack. In 1575 AD,
her house. Jagannath ordered to banish Laxmi Brahma Pinda was salvaged, inserted in new idols
from the temple at the behest of elder brother and installed in renovated temple by Gajapati
Balabhadra as contact with low-caste people was Ramachandra Dev. Therefore he earned the title
forbidden. Laxmi left pronouncing the curse that second Indradyumna.
poverty would rage in Shri Mandir after her In 1620 AD in apprehension of attack
departure. Jagannath and Balabhadra saw by Moghul Commander Ahmed Baig, Brahma
vanishing act of food in Shri Mandir and where- Pinda from the idols was removed and secretly
ever they went. At last they agreed to take food hidden in Gadamanitri area of Banpur. Sacred
from the house of a low-bred woman in a sea- stone was restored in the idols after four years
side house. Items served proved that the food and worship was resumed.
was prepared by none other than Laxmi. In 1687 AD, during the reign of Gajapati
Responding to the apology of the two brothers, Divyasingha Dev, Nawab Ekram Khan under
Laxmi consented to return to Shri Mandir on orders of Aurangjeb attacked Jagannath Temple,
condition that caste-bias would be discarded from caused devastation in the temple premises and
that day. But servitors prohibit entry of Muslims destroyed the Nilachakra bringing down the same
and Christians into the temple. Most probably such from the top of the temple.
prohibition is in practice due to waves of invasions
by Muslims on Orissa, Shri Mandir and other In 1733 AD, before the attack of Taki
Temples and anti-Hindu activities and Khan, the idols were carried in litters to Tekali at
patronisations of Christianism by Christians as a the border of Khalikote kingdom. Idols were
safety measure. restored in the temple after peace prevailed.
All corporeal beings have to undergo Jagannath is not the Lord born out of fear
cycles of weal and woe and Shrimandir and as conceived by Bertrand Russell. He is the
Jagannath are no execeptions. At the time of gurdian, guide and guru to the devotees and the
coronation of Jajati Keshari in the 9th century AD, bond with Him is unbreakable. People go to
Shri Mandir was devoid of the idols. It was Jagannath with betel leaves and nuts to invite Him
ascertained from servitors that the idols were as the first invitee in marriage and thread
secretly transported to Sunupura (Sonepur) and ceremonies.
buried somewhere secretly. The Maharaja
salvaged the Brahma Pinda and conscerated
new idols inserting the same and worship was Naresh Chandra Rout lives at 19, Buddha Nagar,
resumed. Bhubaneswar-6.