BUDDHA THE GURU DEV, SRI JAYA DEV AND SRI JAGANNATHA

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Buddha the great teacher was threadbare opposed by the Brahmins with who hand-in-glove were the ruling warriors. The basic cause of this antagonism was Buddha’s campaign against the acts of inhumanity practiced by Brahmins on the sacrificial grounds.

Sri Jaya Dev, the silent but steady promoter of the Kama Vajrayana branch of Buddhist philosophy, took a very tactful step to nose lead the Brahmins and the warriors to accept the Lordship of Buddha in the form He was known for.

He decided to sing glory to Keshava, the God who had vanquished the demon (one who desecrates the Sacrificial alter) called ‘Keshi’ and helped the Brahmins. Addressing this Keshava, he sang glory first to the Matsya incarnation of the same God describing that Lord Keshava had taken shape of a fish in order to save the Vedas from the demons. This naturally pleased the Brahmins. Then he sang glory to the next incarnations of Keshava, viz. the Kachchapa, the Shukara, the Narahari, the Bamana, the Bhrugupati and the Rama.

He attributed such characters to these incarnations as would please the Brahmins.

Then he brought the incarnation of Haladhara, the expert user of plough. Philosophically the Brahmins were against the use of plough because it was symbolic of the strength of matriarchy. But they had to accept Haladhara as in the glory to him, their own revered Lord Keshava was praised.

Thereafter, in the most tactful manner, Jaya Dev made Buddha acceptable to the Brahmins.

He lauded Buddha for His total opposition to killing of innocent animals in the sacrificial altars under the Vedic system and described Him as the most kind-hearted one who disapproved rituals of sacrifice because of the cruelty that carried. (“nindasi yajna-vidher ahaha sruti-jatam / sadaya-hrdaya darsita pasughatam”) and then he depicted the ultimate incarnation of Kalki, who was meant to extinguish the enhancers of anguish.

Thus, the eighth and the tenth incarnations were placed in the ‘Dasavatara stutee’ in order to supplement the scheme of Buddhism when the ninth stanza was made to make Buddha acceptable to the Brahmins as their Lord.

As Sri Jaya Dev succeeded, the Oriya Tribe, who by that time was in deep anguish over transformation of his ‘Buddha Jagannatha’ to ‘Vishnu Jagannatha’, immediately started projecting Jagannatha as the Lord Buddha in every possible folk forum.

Oriya women in every household celebrated the month of Kartika as the month of export of Buddhist tenets from His birthplace Orissa to lands like Bali and transforming this month into a month of non-violence started depicting Sri Jagannatha in muruza art before chaura where the medicinal plant Tulasi representing the plant-world gets worshiped in every non-Brahmin Oriya household.

The non-Brahmin Oriyas were not ordained by any Law, but started sending their first invitation to Sri Jagannatha for happy events in the family like the marriage of daughters or sons, after the Lord Buddha worshipped in every non-Brahmin house in the Aishanya Kona of the Handishala in form of a Stupa made of reddish soil under the name Badabadua is ceremonially asked for and grants permission for the marriage.

In every nerve center of collective activities of the Oriyas, temples for Sri Jagannatha were built up under the impact of this spreading social activism.

And highly popular poets tried to keep on records that the dearest teacher and leader of the Oriya tribe, Gurudev Buddha is Sri jagannatha Himself.

Oriya literature of post-Jaya Dev period gives us ample proof of this.

Describing why Sri jagannath has no leg or hand, the ‘Daru Brahma Gita’ tells us, “Bauddha rupa heva jani/ pada pani chhadile Gosain” (Knowing that He has to take a Bauddah shape, the legs and hands were discarded).

Refraining the King from worshipping Him as Vishnu, He declared that in the present era, He is Buddha. To take Him in any other form would smack of madness. (“Thakure Boile Raja hoilu ki bayi, Kali juge basibum Buddha rupa hoi”)-Deula Tola)

The Supreme Lord told to Achyuta that in the era of Kali, he would take birth as Buddha. (“Boile Achyuta tumbhe shuna ambha vani/ Kali yuge Buddha rupe prakashibu puni”)-(Shunya samhita)

The great Sarala Das, in Sabha Parva of Mahabharata declared that Jagannatha is Buddha who has taken this shape to save people of the world from eclipse of sin.(“Samsara janamku tariba nimante/Buddha rupare bije achha Jagannathe”)

Thus, Sri Jaya Dev, the immortal proponent of the Sahajayana sect of Buddhism, reestablished Buddha Dev in the heart of the Oriya nation as Sri Jagannatha and even compelled the Brahmins to accept Buddha as the Supreme Lord.

When the trick he played later bewildered the clever Brahmins, they had resorted to a counter trick.

Patronized by the King as they were, the State power had also come to their aid. Jaya Dev was either clandestinely killed or deported away from the state. The total silence over his demise, if at all that was natural, in contemporary literature or literary annals, is a pointer to this possibility.

After his departure from his homeland, be it through homicide or deportation, agents of Brahminism started trumpeting that Sri Jaya Dev was a Hindu saint, a born Brahmin, and a Vaisnav by cult. And to prove this, they had interpolated Jaya Dev’s ‘Astapadi’ songs, written in Sanskritized Oriya, with stanzas in intricate Sanskrit and had edited his work with these interpolated stanzas giving the compilation a Vashnavite title-‘Geeta Govinda’.

And, in order to establish this identity of the poet, they had invented and spread innumerable legends on his life that has totally misled the world so far.

The Bengalis, knowing nothing of this Jaya Dev and the cult he belonged to in his lifetime, also manufactured legends in an attempt to misappropriate the poet for Bengal. So reality has remained buried in respect of Sri Jaya Dev.

It is shocking that a new wave of conspiracy to keep his Buddhist identity blurred forever has started lashing the land of the poet under negative activism of a new batch of agents of Brahmanism. And, this time, these agents being in powerful positions, the administrative machinery of the State has been pressed into their aid. I have discussed this mischief in my book Sri Jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha, to be published in December this year by Bharata Bharati of Cuttack over and above my researched write-ups in the print media.

As “truth must prevail”, I am sure, the truth-seekers must rise to the occasion and start looking at Sri Jaya Dev afresh from the pivotal point of ‘Keshav’ becoming Buddha in his ‘Dashavatara Stutee’.

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