Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
On the Rath Yatra (Car Festival) day, this year, Sri Jagannath will be killed in spirit by help of the nastiest administration that has engulfed Orissa. Enemies of Jagannath Cult for centuries had been trying to do this; but this year they are going to succeed.
The temple administration, dominated by caste supremacists, has decided to infest Pahandi Bije (Sri Jagannatha’s pageant from the Temple to the Car) with recitation of Vedic hymns. This is going to happen for the first time and with this Sri Jagannath is going to get the final deathblow.
Caste supremacists for centuries had been trying to convert Sri Jagannath from Orissa’s Gurudev Buddha to non-Oriya Srikrushna of Dwaraka and consequently to Vishnu of their system, i.e.the Vedic order.
Orissa being the birthplace of Buddha, was the fountainhead of Buddhism. Therefore, proponents of Vedic order, starting from Asoka as recorded history shows, had always attacked Orissa and tried to keep the peoples of Orissa subjugated so that Buddhism would dwindle in its place of origin.
To say in a nutshell, history of Orissa is a history of fight between Buddhist order and Vedic order.
In course of time Orissa had transformed Buddha into Jagannatha and hence history of Jagannatha is a history of fight between Vedic chauvinists and the peoples of Orissa.
Rath Yatra of Sri Jagannatha is the most assertive instance of victory of the peoples of Orissa over Vedic order where, despite the caste supremacists’ conspiracy to display their hegemony with the help of their collaborator kings, it is the peoples in general, the people belonging to working class, shown as untouchable in Vedic order, establish that it is they to whom the deity belongs. So Rath Yatra of Sri Jagannatha is the festival of peoples’ rejection of Vedic order. And this is its uniqueness.
By allowing Vedic recitation in Pahandi Bije, Orissa Government under the anti-Oriya Navin Patnaik has tried to kill this uniqueness. It is an attempt to destroy the Cult of Sri Jagannatha and it is nothing but killing the spirit of Sri Jagannatha.
Who is Sri Jagannatha?
Sri Jagannatha is the worshiped form of Gurudev Buddha, metamorphosed from matriarch component of Buddhist perception of creation.
Followers of Buddhism, after Buddha’s demise, unable to protect their creed from overwhelming whirlwind of gods-spangled system of the anti-Buddha people in power as Sunyavad could not be a practical solution to socio-spiritual quests of commons, were in frantic search of a method of retaining Buddhism, when Orissa’s the then influential intellectual Indrabhuti, revered as the King of Uddiyana, preferred to introduce deity worshiping amongst the people of Orissa, basically Buddists, to counter the impact of countless presence of Gods that Vedic chauvinists were offering for tackling worldly problems of the people.
By then Sabaripa, an ardent follower of Buddhism and an astute leader of indigenous tribes of Orissa in the Sweta valley of Orissa that derived this name from the Dhauli (Sweta) Giri overlooking the area spanning from River Daya to River Prachi, was trying to see in Jaganta (the wooden log worshiped by tribal people of Orissa as the Mother Nature) the matriarch components of Buddhism and as is suggested in Sri Jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha, female breasts conceived as the source of sustenance, were added to that wooden log resembling the torso of a female, reflecting the concept in Oriya “thana” abridged to “tha” thereon, thus editing Jaganta to Jaganta-tha.
Relying upon Sabaripa, Indrabhuti transormed that Jaganta-tha to Jagannatha and in Gnyana Siddhi the scripture he gave to Vajrayana, propitiated Gurudev Buddha as this Jagannatha.
Thus the transformation of Gurudev Buddha to Sri Jagannatha took place in the Kurma Pataka Pur on river Prachi in the Sweta valley of Orissa.
Pataka is a Deshaja (indigenous) Oriya word that means the low caste people.
As even now innumerable turtles are visiting Orissa coast to lay eggs every year, so also in the days of yore they were coming to this coast, specifically to the coast on the estuary of Prachi. Therefore the area had assumed the name of Kurma Pur (the preferred place of turtles) and as it was the habitat of Buddhist Patakas, it eventually became Kurma Pataka Pur. The concept of Jagannatha Buddha having its origin in this area, searching for logs for Navakalevara (new body) of Jagannatha starts only from this area even as yet. So the close circle of Jagannatha is known as Kurma Prachira that forms the inner wall of the Temple at Puri, even though the Vedic chauvinists have transformed Indrabhuti to Indradyumna and Sabaripa to Sabara Biswabasu throgh concocted legends to suppress the Buddhist origin of Jagannatha.
To Gurudev Buddha, there was nothing like low caste. He was the strongest opponent of caste-based division of society and therefore, nearest to him were the low caste peoples (Patakas).
By adopting the Sabara Jaganta-tha as Jagannatha Buddha, and establishing him as the deity for worship by all the Buddhists, Indrabhuti promulgated the caste-less culture in vogue in Buddhist Kurma Pataka Pur in the premises of his Temple.
To the caste supremacists this was not acceptable. Buddha’s deification as Jagannatha was a stiff challenge to the Vedic order specifically as in Jagannatha temple the caste system was done away with.
Therefore, there were repeated attempts to destroy Jagannatha by caste supremacists belonging to Vedic order.
Their attack on Jagannatha was two-pronged: (1) physically through their collaborator kings or emperors and (2) through attempt to transform Jagannatha from Buddha to Vishnu.
When the first method of attack has stopped in course of time, the second method is yet ongoing.
Recitation of Vedic hymns in Pahandi Bije is the last such attack and up till now, the severest.
We shall look at it in depth.