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.
(To continue)

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  1. Pingback: BUDDHA THE JAGANNATHA « Orissa Matters

  2. There is no confusion between buddha, Krishna and Jagannatha. They are all the same. Please don’t confuse people. Its dedicated and devotion of people who treat the lord of the universe in its own way. Yes, he is buddha and Krishna and he is everything.

    Regarding, puri temple people being supercaste, all community has good and bad and I agree that there is some difference in Puri esp in the temple. However, in this case, I don’t agree with you. Am saying this as am no road side person nor someone who has read some texts and wiki to comment something like this. Yes, am pretty much person connected to Puri and they do respect Jagganth as Buddha whom they regard as one other incarnation of Vishnu. My dear friend many people like me have been passing our most of the life doing research and PHD’s on Jagannath culture and till today we are still understanding and you write in your article who is Jagannath? Only Jagannath is the one who can answer it….

    There are several stories where I can challenge and show evidences that the Lord of Universe has shown his devotees in various form Buddha, Ganesh, Krishna, Kali, Shiva etc. If you look back only Krishna in its universal form has shown something similar to this to Arjuna and hence, one of the reasons why Jagannath is Krishna for many…Can anyone categorize Jagannath to any particular sect or cult.

    Apart from that, if you look at history, of Buddha not many buddhist have faith that Buddha has direct transformation to Jagannath. However, there is a faith that a relic of Buddha’s tooth was in Puri and it was later taken to Sri Lanka. Having said that, I know puri sevaits also have faith that the salgram of Jagannath represents a similar relic. If you look at devotion, you would only think of Jagannath not who says what. Please focus on devotion.

    • dear rakesh babu,
      thanks for your reaction on the report on Sri Jagannatha in orissamatters. please appreciate that whatever i am posting on these pages is a part of my ongoing research on Sri Jagannatha where stress is on study of his evolution as the national deity of the oriya race. so no interim discussion is encouraged. i hope, you will please feel that your devotion to him is not being challenged. i am trying to find out the missing link in orissan history and to that end my research on Sri Jagannatha is addressed.i would be thankful if you can feed me with any relevant data, sans emotion and devotion, based on sociological interpretation. however, you may please peruse a new write-up at the following link:

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