HE IS THE NATIONAL DEITY OF THE ORIYAS

(The research on Lord Buddha’s real birth place continues)

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In the entire world, the Oriyas are the only people who have a National Deity: Sree Jagannatha.

Every Oriya belongs to Him and He belongs to every one born in an Oriya family. You will not find a single Oriya who is away from Him. He is the synonym of belief in God. He stands for toleration. He is the beloved of believers and the quest point of nullifidians. To every Oriya He is the final answer to every philosophical search, spiritual or social. In every Oriya family every birth is celebrated with invocation of Him and every death is held desirable if the final rituals are performed in the Swargadwara at Puri, His abode. The Gajapati Maharaja, who reigns over every Oriya heart as the traditional sovereign of Orissa notwithstanding the constitution of sovereign India and whose name and era constitute the first part of the horoscope of every new born Oriya child, heads the list of the servants of this Lord to whom his predecessors had dedicated their State in its entirety. No where such a land and its people have thus been dedicated to a particular Deity

This Deity of the Oriya Nation is Buddha himself. It could never have happened had Buddha not been the greatest leader of the soil of Orissa; had the entire race of the Oriyas not been his ardent follower and not taken refuge in him.

History has made a Himalayan mistake by projecting a place in the Himalayan belt as Buddha’s birthplace – Kapilavastu. But, in reality, born in Orissa’s Kapilavastu- the ‘red soil’ area near Bhubaneswar, Buddha who was regarded as Bhubaneswar (Lord of Earth) himself, had gone from this soil to the heartland of Vedic activism in the Himalayan belt to fight spread of Brahmincal hegemony under patriarch autocracy and had stood firmly with the autonomous tribal democratic units there, which were still in existence. When on behalf of Ajatasattu, his Brahmin minister Vassakara met Buddha to dissuade him from supporting the Vajjians, he not only refused to be influenced, but also, in front of the minister declared that as long as the tribes retain their democratic system, they shall not decline. He suspected that emperor Ajatasattu might attack his followers who were providing philosophical support to the free tribes against the socio-economic design of Vedic imperialism. And therefore sent his close associate Ananda (in whose memory the Puri Temple has its Ananda bazaar) to call all his followers to the central Assembly Hall. As the Bhikkhus assembled, he went on giving guidelines on how to frustrate imperialistic assault through unity, fraternity, and collective wisdom. Revelation of this in Maha Parinibbana Sutta gives us an idea on why Buddha chose the Himalayan belt as his place of activities.

He had carried with him the Tosala outlook of Orissa, which he had philosophized, with the tenets of Samskhya – the unique school of thought emanated, again from Orissa, his birthplace, in order to combat the Vedic philosophy that was propelling Brahminical hegemony and greedy autocracy over the soil. When Vedas were putting premium on heaven, he, therefore, was putting emphasis on earth. This is evident from the ‘Bhumisparsha Mudra’ accepted as uniquely his own. He had built up his Sangha system in the pattern of ‘Ganarajya’ in vogue in the then Orissa. And spread of Brahminical hegemony had stopped even in the Himalayan belt because of mass acceptance of his tenets. The principal source of those tenets was Orissa, known as Kalinga Ganarajya even up to the time of Ashok.

The Magadh emperor’s attack on Kalinga was because of this politico-philosophic rivalry. He had attacked Kalinga Gana Rajya not because of any physical attraction for Karubaki as is being propagated, but simply because the matriarch autonomy of this Ganarajya, probably under the leadership of Karubaki, having had its tenets from the ideals of Buddha, had been continuing as a threat to the patriarch imperialism Magadh was standing for. Legends have been floated to suppress this fact from the eyes of later generation. And, history has not tried to find out the truth.

Ashok, whose aim was to destroy Buddhism and who did his best to do that, has been wrongfully and deliberately projected as the man who spread Buddhism beyond the seas. We shall discuss this aspect later. But at the moment, this much can be said that the matriarch republic system of Orissa which was strengthened and spread by Buddha got so shattered during the reign of Ashok that thereafter it could not publicly surface for centuries until rise of Indrabhuti whose adherence to matriarchy gave birth to the Vajrayan school of Buddhism and transformation of Buddha to Lord of Universe, Lord Jagannath.

Indrabhuti, the king of Uddiyana, which later transformed into Orissa’s previous name ‘Udisha’, was founder of the Vajrayana branch of Buddhism. In ‘Jnanasiddhi’ the scripture he gave to Vajrayana, Jagannatha was propitiated as Buddha. The work began with the following verse:

Pranipatya Jagannatham Sarvajinavararchitam
Sarva Buddhamayam siddhivyapinam Gaganopam
Sarvadam sarva satvevyah sarvajnam varavajrinam
Bhaktyaham sarva bhavena vaksye tat sadhanam param”(Chapter-1/verse-1&2)

(Lord Jagannatha who is Buddha in entirety, and who as all pervading siddhi is compared to the sky, is worshipped by all the highest Jinas; He is the giver of all, the omniscient of the essence of all and the best of all the Vajrayanists. After bowing low before Him with all my feelings and devotion, I now enunciate His great Sadhana. )

After demise of Buddha, his followers had come to believe that their Guru had transformed his physical visibility to an invisible reality. His worldly existence had changed to an existence in void. From physical presence he had transformed in to omnipresence. The Mahayan sect had gathered strength. But the new concept was too philosophic for the common man to comprehend and traces of decline of mass appeal of Buddhism became discernible. The advocates of Vedic society were busy in spreading idol worship and because Brahminical scriptures were abundant in assuring relief from suffering through worship of specific deities whose images were built up purposefully, the common man was getting more inclined to their worship, unmindful of the Buddhist tenets. Through idol worship the Vedic sect was strengthening patriarchy, the Vedic Gods being entirely male and patriarch. The matriarch pattern of tribal life of Orissa was threatened to the core and the agro-culture to which the Oriyas in general belong was heavily impaired. Orissa being the base and mainstay of Buddhist philosophy, Buddhism proper suffered a great setback as Brahminical influence kept Orissa engulfed. Seeking a ready remedy, Indrabhuti tried to salvage Buddhism by tactful use of idol worship. He tried to retransform the omnipresence of Buddha to a form of physical presence for better concentration of the followers by creating the image of Jagannath. He made Buddha the Supreme one amongst all the deities conceivable by coining the word ‘Jagannath’ and made it clear that this new word stands for Buddha, the ‘Guru’. He then proceeded to provide the formulas for achieving ‘Siddhi’ of His worship. In the process he built up an environment of worship of female deities in total contrast to spread of male deities by Vedic propagandists. He developed the tenets of Vajrayana in consonance with the original Buddhist identification of the female factor as the cause of creation as against the male factor speculated by Vedas. He therefore contemplated the image of Jagannath in the form of a female.

(to continue …. )

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