Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
“Rathastham Bamanam drustwa punarjanma na lavyate”.
By finding the Bamana on His chariot, one shall have no reason for rebirth, this is what the above much quoted stanza says.
But due to decadence in cultural research, the original meaning of the stanza has been lost. The sociological aspect that gave birth to this conception has been buried under spiritual jargons. To understand the real meaning of the quoted stanza we ought to have a critical look at it.
Bamana is one of the ten incarnations of God according to world famous poet of Orissa, Sri Jayadev. If so, why only Bamana is revered in this particular stanza that goes on to say that seeing Him on the chariot there shall be no reason for rebirth?
Let us first see what does the word ‘rebirth’ mean. The learned persons are known as twice born in India. The first birth is coming out of the womb of the mother in a state of knowledgelessness. When one acquires knowledge he gets recognition as ‘twice born'(Dwija). This is the state of ‘rebirth’. So, when one acquires the complete knowledge, for him, there remains no reason for rebirth.
Now let us come to the word Bamana. It means the small shape of a big sort, particularly human. The stanza has depicted Sri Jagannath as Bamana. Why so? And why finding Him as the Bamana on the chariot one’s knowledge is considered to be complete?
The answer lies in the name of Sri Jagannatha. Literally the name means ‘Lord of the Universe’. But, in the system of Sri Mandira, the abode of the Lord, Sri Jagannatha is four in one. Integrated in Him, the other three are ‘Sudarshana’, ‘Subhadra’ and ‘Balabhadra’. These three are His three other inseparable facets.
To understand the significance of these facets one is to watch the colour they bear. When Sri Jagannath is black in colour, Sudarshan is slightly red, Subhadra is yellow and Balabhadra is white. If we look at the world, the entire human race is distributed within these four colours. And, in the body of Jagannath all the four colours are placed. Hence, not only He carries with Him all the facets of human world, but also He personifies all the four facets. In a nutshell, He is symbolic of the entire human race. Therefore He is considered to be the small shape of the entire humankind, the Bamana.
On the second day of the bright phase of Asadha, He comes into the fold of the people of the world of all colour, creed and culture. This is His world famous chariot journey or Ratha Yatra. Anybody belonging to any region or religion of the world, and in any physical condition, can mingle with Him during this unique Yatra.
It is no less symbolic.
Agricultural activities in this part of the globe are heightened during the month of Asadha. Amongst all the activities the human race pursues, agriculture is the most fundamental, because this provides the food on which the human race lives. So, His car festival carries universal significance of the human activities and emphasizes on the common cause of human society.
If one understands this much, what more knowledge he needs to know about how to act for building up of an integrated world on the basis of universal love and brotherhood? It is commonly believed that man takes a rebirth to live in a better world. If we follow the ethics Sri Jagannatha stands for, and the common cause His car festival cultivates, our blind ally with religions, the root cause of disintegration of human race, shall stop and a new world of universal brotherhood based on understanding and tolerance will emerge. When, thus, the Jagannath culture succeeds, the world where we live in would be the best place to live in and there shall be no reason for rebirth to live in a better world. This would be emancipation as contemplated in the quoted stanza.
Welcome to the Ratha Yatra of Puri and Glory to this unique universal truth that manifests in Orissa so enchantingly and always.