Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
People of Orissa are so loyal to their revolutionary poet Sri Jaya Dev that they have named the stairs of Sri Mandira, the temple of Lord Jagannatha at Puri as Baisi Pahacha in honor of the poet’s twenty-two love lyrics that later day compilers have captioned as Gita Govinda. But in Orissa the immortal poet continues to be vandalized by the occupiers of power.
Looking into the past we see that Emperor Purusottam Dev was the first from the throne to have tried to play the vandal tricks on Sri Jaya Dev. He had used his sovereign powers to promulgate his own work captioned Abhinav Gita Govinda in Sri Mandira by discarding daily recitation of Sri Jaya Dev’s Astapadi lyrics before Sri Jagannatha.
The brave people of Orissa had refused to tolerate this vandalism and had raised their voice most vehemently against the mighty Emperor. The mass upsurge was of such sharp velocity that the sovereign ruler had to relent, had to withdraw his book and had to restore the poet’s Asthapadi lyrics to the original status.
Nowhere in whole of the world common peoples of a Nation had so strongly stood with a poet of their soil and nowhere in the entire world a ruthless Emperor, in order to escape peoples’ wrath, had to withdraw his own work and to restore the poet’s work in a temple system the management of which was under his imperial control.
But while thus stepping back, the shrewd Emperor had legitimatized massive interpolations in the poet’s original work to pave way for the Brahmins to hijack Sri Jaya Dev into their nefarious fold with an ulterior motive to obliterate the Buddhist aura the Astapadi love lyrics were known for.
I have discussed this phenomenon in depth in my published work Sri Jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha (the twenty-two stairs to Lord Jagannatha that Sri Jaya Dev had created). The hard edition is published and marketed by Cuttack’s eminent publishing house “The Bharata Bharati” and the e-edition is placed in orissamatters.com as well as in scribd.com. We will later return to this phenomenon in course of this serial presentation.
But at this stage it suffices to say that the people of Orissa had refused to remain silent over the tricks Purusottam Dev and his Brahmin ministers had played.
They renewed their agitation against the Emperor and despite having created many legends to impose Krushna of Dwaraka as Sri Jagannatha in place of Buddha of Orissa and to convince the peoples of the Lord’s approval of his action, Purusottam Dev had not succeeded in silencing their protests.
The people did not rest till his son and successor Emperor Prataparudra Dev issued an irrevocable order that no other work of letters can ever replace Sri Jaya Dev’s love lyrics in the ritual of dance and music before the Lord.
People of Orissa had celebrated this victory of theirs by throwing away the images of Adi Samkaracharya and his disciple Padmapada from the podium of Sri Jagannatha where the Brahmins had consecrated those images as a mark of their caste supremacy and in a brute design to impose legitimacy on conversion of Buddha Jagannatha to Krushna Jagannatha.
It is quite thrilling to try to fathom what a great peoples’ upsurge that must have been that could embolden the common man of Orissa to kick out the images of Adi Samkara and his disciple Padmapada from the Ratna Simhasana of Sri Jagannatha and to break them with utmost contempt into pieces and to throw those pieces to the dumping yards by the pavements of Puri.
This wonderful mass rise against practitioners of caste apartheid crowned with Emperor Prataprudra’s irrevocable orders that nothing but the lyrics of Jaya Dev (who had authored them as the literature of Buddhist Sahajayana in order to curb the culture of caste apartheid) could ever be allowed recitation before the Lord had so effectively exterminated the hegemony of Brahminism in Sri Mandira system that the Brahmins had to remain content with a limited role to play.
Thus under Prataparudra Dev the Buddist aura of Sri Jaya Dev and his Astapadi lyrics were restored. Caste apartheid had waned.
But religious revivalism having taken new wings as India has fallen into the labyrinth of plutocratic chaos, a new phase of attempt to extinguish the entire Buddhist aura that holds the real identity of Sri Jaya Dev has begun with official help.
Notwithstanding the poet’s own description and notwithstanding ancient literary evidences showing Kenduvilwa on the sea near the city of Puri as Sri Jaya Dev’s birthplace, modern agents of Brahminism have been trying to establish a Brahmin village called Kenduli near Bhubaneswar as the poet’s birthplace.
When the State Exchequer as well as Bureaucracy of the State was for the first time used in this campaign, we had, in these pages, deemed it proper to object to that offensive endeavor and to urge upon the Government to desist from cooperating with false projection of the most uniquely socio-philosophic revolutionary poet of Orissa.
Orissa’s history has been wronged by vested interest attempts to eclipse Sri Jaya Dev’s real identity with a creed he never belonged to by a section of regional chauvinists amongst the Bengalis as well as by the caste chauvinists amongst the Oriyas.
So, we had in these pages tried to apprise the State Government of Orissa of the necessity of keeping the State machinery away from attempts to push Sri Jaya Dev into the fold of the culture of caste apartheid.
But instead of paying attention to our culturally competent pleadings, the State is increasingly being used to play patron to the caste supremacist design to hijack Sri Jaya Dev again into the culture of caste apartheid. The role of the State Government last week in celebration of his birthday can be nothing but an affront to Sri Jaya Dev and his creed.
It is being marked that at par with official attempts to legalize Sri Jaya Dev’s placement under a caste fold, caste apartheid has increasingly raised its ugly fangs in Jagannatha temples at different places in Orissa. And also it has started infesting Oriya society as a whole.
How long the State shall continue under confusion and how long Sri Jaya Dev shall continue suffering official vandalism in his own State with savage violation of the creed he had propounded in his love lyrics?
Should we not cogitate if at all we have any love for our culture?