Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Kali Puja (Ceremony of Kali) of Orissa is not Diwali or the festival of lamps, as some modern Oriyas tend to take.
It reminds us Oriyas of the battle of our matriarch tribes against Vedic imperialists, specifically against Asoka (Chandasoka) of Magadh on our soil under the Dhauli Hills to save the birthplace of Gurudev Buddha at the nearby Kapilavastu, literally Rangamatia, from desecration.
Gurudev Buddha had gone straight from Rangamatia (the red-soil [Kapila vastu] region) nearby the Dhauli Giri of the then Orissa (Tosala) to the citadel of Vedic imperialism, Rajagriha, to obstruct it in its heartland by organizing the matriarch tribes of northern India in the pattern of Orissa’s tribal democracies that he had personally adopted for his Sangha and had succeeded in his mission.
Bimbisar having accepted Buddha’s advice to stop empire building, the agents of Vedic imperialism had gained over his ambitious son Ajatasattu and put Bimbisara under house-arrest till death. Ajatasattu had tried his utmost through his Brahmin Minister Bassakara to dissuade Buddha from supporting the tribes; but had failed. Till Buddha breathed his last, Magadh had not dared to attack the tribal Sanghas and spread of Vedic imperialism had remained stymied.
Taking advantage of the void created by Buddha’s demise, Vedic imperialism started expanding its area. But, Orissa, the birthplace of Buddha and hence the fountainhead of Buddhism, remained the greatest obstacle to its expansion for centuries. Ashoka, who was known as Chandashoka for his aggressive wickedness and terrible tyranny, was eager to desecrate the birthplace of Buddha to demoralize and terrorize the Buddhists of Orissa and to transfer this soil to dominion of Vedic empire.
Therefore he had come straight to the Dhauli Hills near which Buddha’s village, Rangamatia (meaning the area of red-soil: Kapila Vastu) was situated. Scholar Chakradhar Mohapatra has identified the village Kapileswar in this locality as the ‘real birthplace’ of Buddha and an IAS officer Ajit Kumar Tripathy, who has tactfully used plagiarism to overwrite his name on Mohapatra’s, has sub-captioned such an attempt with the words “Yesterday’s Kapilavastu Today’s Kapileswar”. But literally Kapila Vastu means the village of red soil, which in Oriya is Rangamatia. A village by this name, in the ancient region of Kurmapatakapur on historical river Prachi, is in existence even today. Whether the village Kapileswar identified by Mohapatra or the village Rangamatia is the real birthplace of Buddha is a matter that can be determined by further research. But discernible is the fact that from Rangamatia to village Kapileswar and beyond with Dhauligiri looking over it, the soil of the entire region is reddish in colour (Kapila). So the entire area those days around Dhauligiri must have been known as Kapilavastu, the region of reddish soil. Dhauligiri being the landmark, Buddha had told Bimbisara that he had come straight from Tosala, the land of paddy, prosperity and pride that lies at the foot of the Dhauligiri. (Chakradhar Mohapatra, The Real Birthplace of Buddha, pp.63-64). So, the chanda (wicked) Asoka had tried to desecrate Buddha’s birthplace in Kapilavastu (red soil region) known in colloquial Oriya as Ranga Matia, the people of Orissa had thrashed him in the battle field beneath the Dhauligiri.
Sensing Asoka’s ill motive, peoples of Orissa, belonging to various matriarch democracies, rushed to the rescue of Buddha’s birthplace and gave fierce resistance to the Chandasoka at the foot of the Dhauligiri, known to the world as Kalinga War. Had it not been the fact, the fierce battle could have taken place at the border of Orissa, not at Dhauli.
History has failed to note this point.
History has failed to note that Asoka had not won the Kalinga war.
He had surrendered before the valiant matriarch tribes of Orissa and fled with his life only after openly jettisoning his Vedic creed and accepting Buddhism, to destroy which he had attacked Orissa.
History has failed to note that after fleeing from Orissa by employing the tricks of conversion into Buddhism, Asoka contrived a way to clandestinely achieve the aim that he had failed to achieve through the open war.
Ashoka’s nasty tricks:
Ashoka adopted a stratagem to destroy Buddhism by confusing the Buddhists and by destroying the very heart of the alternative that Buddha had offered. Accordingly, he openly declared Buddhism as the royal creed and sent Shramanas to different places to spread Buddhism and thus gaining confidence of Buddhist as an unquestionable patron of their religion.
Then, as per his strategy, he started injecting slow poison into minds of the Buddhists against the base of Buddhism.
That poison was hidden in the epithet “Devanam Piya” (Beloved of the Gods) that he had decorated himself with.
Through the mischief of this epithet, he slowly but steadily implanted theism on the atheist path of Buddhism.
Exactly as Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika wiped out Communist USSR in modern times, the slow poison that Asoka’s “Devanam piya” concept had spread amongst the Buddhist of his days, whom he had hoodwinked by becoming a follower of Buddha, destroyed the pivot of Buddhism and thus, howsoever softly it might have been, the Buddhists acquiescing into the concept of God, failed to retain the distinction of their path and hence the theist waves of Vedism eventually washed away Buddhism.
But people of Orissa, notwithstanding deliberate silence of written history on this phenomenon, have stocked the streaks of the reality in their cultural heritage, specifically in their celebration of Kali Pooja.
On this day, in every Oriya home, the entire family gives fire salutes to the ancestors of the maternal side, specifically to the matriarch martyrs who had sacrificed their lives in the Kalinga war to save the birthplace of Buddha from the extremely evil invader Ashoka.
The salute is given by invoking the “Badabadua” literally meaning the greatest amongst the greats, Gurudeb Buddha, worshiped as Sri Jagannatha in Orissa.
Patriotic Oriyas gather in front of the Sri Madira, abode of Sri Jagannatha at Puri on the evening of Kali Pooja with Kaunria sticks bundled together and setting fire thereto raise the flame high while saluting the greatest teacher and his followers that had sacrificed their lives in the Kalinga war with the words, “Badabadua ho! Andharare asi aluare ja, Baisi Pahachare gagagadau tha”. The words are set. The words are the same all these centuries. The words are symbolic. They are as symbolic as burning the bonds of Kaunria sticks while uttering these words. The words mean, “O Badabadua! When the dark quagmire of religious dogmas surrounded us, you came. You saved us. You ushered in the reign of light. You left only when the light of knowledge illuminated our minds. Whenever the dark dogmas of religions are revived, please repeat the journey O Lord! Accept now our salute of fire, fire of knowledge, fire of unity O Lord!”
In fact the bundles of Kaunria kathi used for the fire salute are symbolic of the strength of unity that the Oriya ancestors had shown against Aryan aggressors in the Kalinga war.
Kaunria Kathi and Oriya mentality:
A Kaunria kathi is the pith of a Jute Plant and the most fragile stick with a very peculiar characteristic that it may break into pieces, but cannot bend. It has a striking similarity with the character of traditional Oriyas. They may break, but they do not bend. This was established in the Kalinga War. Ashoka had admitted that Oriyas were unconquerable. (“Abijita”: The Second Kalinga Edict)
The fellows that had concocted the story of Ashoka’s victory had to say that on seeing the last Oriya in the battlefield daring death for protection of his motherland, Ashoka was so deeply moved that he relinquished the empire building desire and on the battlefield itself embraced Buddhism.
This is contrary to actual.
In reality, Ashoka had to admit on records that he could not find any Oriya to bend before death notwithstanding the havoc he had wreaked.
This is the disposition that distinguishes Oriyas from others.
Even the British power was afraid of this disposition. While recommending for a truss with the Oriya leaders engaged against the British power in Khurda “insurrection”, Magistrate W. Forrester had informed Commissioner Robert Ker in his Report Dated 9 September 1818 that the “disposition of the inhabitants will always present formidable obstacle to the suppression of these disturbances either by military or police”.
This disposition of the inhabitants of Orissa is inherent.
Every Oriya, proud of his heritage may break, but can never bend.
The pith of Jute Plant, Kaunria Kathi resembles this peculiar character of proud inhabitants of Orissa. It may break, but does not bend.
This is why the Oriyas, proud of their unique heritage, offer fire salute to the greatest son of their soil, Buddha; and with him, to his followers, who had sacrificed their lives in the Kalinga War while trying to protect Buddhism and to save their soil from Vedic imperialism; and to all their ancestors that had given to them peace and prosperity under benevolent matriarchy, conceived together as “Badabadua”, in front of the Temple of Sri Jagannatha as well as in the north-eastern (Aishanya) corner of their respective residential courtyards in the rising half of the night of Kali Pooja. (Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Sri Jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha, Bharata Bharati, Gajapati nagar, Sutahat, Cuttack 753001)
Why in front of the Temple of Sri Jagannatha?
This is simply because Sri Jagannatha is the sculptured statue of Gurudev Buddha, the matchless jewel of the soil of Orissa, whom the Oriyas address as Mani. Ancient leader of Oriya race, Indrabhuti, founder of Uddiyana Tantra, Vajrayana and revered as a king, had metamorphosed Oriya tribes’ Jaganta-tha to Sri Jagannatha while retaining the tribal concept of Buddhist matriarchy embodied therein and for the first time addressing Gurudev Buddha as Sri Jagannatha. (Ibid)
Foul play of Vedic imperialists:
Centuries thereafter, Vedic imperialists had tried to transform Sri Jagannatha from Buddha to Vishnu with the help of Kings and Emperors. Both the sides had their respective interest in this.
The first side was dependent on caste apartheid and deriving its sustenance from disunity of society. Buddha was opposed to caste system. Therefore the caste supremacists were determined to destroy Buddhism from its soil of origin.
Philosophically it was impossible.
So they tried to transform Sri Jagannatha from Buddha to Vishnu.
On the other hand, the second side was based on autocracy. Buddha was out and out against autocracy. In fact he was the greatest epitome of democracy and had developed his Sangha system in such a pattern that had close affinities with tribal democracies of Orissa. So the autocrat kings were against Buddhism. Their survival in power was depending on Brahmanism, the applied philosophy of caste supremacists that had contrived scriptures to project them as embodiments of Vishnu. Conversion of Sri Jagannatha from Buddha to Vishnu was crucial to their continuation in power in Orissa. Hence every aggressive autocrat king of Orissa became strong patrons of Brahmanism and under their organized force, Orissa, the birth land of Buddhism fell into the trap of caste-supremacist mechanism.
Intellectual ways of Buddhists to thwart caste supremacy:
To save the motherland from the pernicious grip of caste supremacists, the Buddhist Siddhas of Chaurashi monastery in the Prachi belt of Orissa, famous as Chaurashi Siddhacaryas, started preaching Buddhism in the speaking tongue of Oriya peoples in a unique manner that blended Buddhist spiritualism with female sex drive which they had deliberately projected as the factor of creation just to rebut the Brahminic claim that the factor of creation was the male, Brahma.
Brahmanism had its philosophical strength in projecting Brahma as the creator. Under its socio-administrative scheme the Brahmins were the incarnation of Brahma on earth. This concept had given birth to the system of caste exploitation, which the Buddhists of Kurmapatakapur area comprising Kuruma and Chaurashi monasteries were trying to thwart.
Contributing to philosophy of creation in matriarch manner, they authored songs akin in style to singing of tribals of Orissa infusing in them the dual meaning of sex and Buddhism. This dual meaning style later got recognition as Sandhya Bhasa. Taking advantage of the dark cloud spread over Orissa when Bengalis were basking under the British hegemony, a few culture vultures like H.P.Sastri had tried to misappropriate the Churashi Siddhacharyas of Orissa for Bengal and the advantage they were enjoying under the British had helped them to misguide history in this matter. We have in these pages a study on these Siddhacharys. Hence we need not elaborate on this in this essay. But this much is relevant to say that behind blending of Buddhism with sex there was the clear intention of thwarting Brahmanism in Orissa. The Siddhacharyas were clearly the strongest obstacle to solidification of caste supremacist control over Orissa. Frustrated, they wanted annihilation of the Buddhists.
Annihilation of Buddhists:
Yayati Keshari, a non-Oriya occupier of Orissan soil, whom history credits with import of 10,000 Brahmins from Kanyakubja to establish Brahminism in Orissa and to convert her indigenous religion Buddhism to Hinduism, had exceeded his predecessors in notoriety by butchering Buddhist monks and destroying Bauddha Stupas in Jajpur as well as in the Prachi valley and in every nook and corner of Orissa over which he had spread his terrorizing jurisdiction. References in this regard are available in the religio-historic scripture Chaitanya Bhagabata authoured by Iswara Das.
Evolution of Badabadua:
As under the Keshari dynasty Buddhists were being brutally butchered and Brahminism promulgated in Orissa, the traditional Oriyas started establishing Badabadua as the ruling deity of their respective houses.
Badabadua was established in the ‘aishaanya kona’ (the north-eastern corner) of their ‘Handishala’ – the room where the senior most female of the house keeps earthen vessels of cooked rice and into which none but the females permitted by her can enter.
Every morning begins with paying obeisance to Badabadua and every evening becomes illuminated with Sandhyadeepa (lamps) offered to Badabadua by the Karttri (most important one amongst the women) of every traditional Oriya household to usher in peaceful nights. Every important event of the house takes place by invoking the blessings of Badabadua. Even when a Naba badhu (a new daughter-in-law) comes to the house, she offers her first obeisance to Badabadua, which can be termed as the first Viksha to Gurudev Buddha at the beginning of conjugal life of the bride.
How this Badabadua is to look at?
It is in fact a mini Stupa made of red soil or pasted with red soil (Rangamati) that resembles the colour of the soil on which Buddha was born. It personifies the greatest son of Orissan soil, Buddha and all the matriarch ancestors of Oriya race who had never hesitated to make supreme sacrifice in support of Buddha and also all the ancestors of the concerned clan.
It is noteworthy that there is no Badabadua in any Brahmin family. That the Badabadua represents Buddha and the Buddhist ancestors of Oriya race, who were in opposition to Brahminism, is established by the very fact of absence of Badabadua in Brahmin families in Orissa.
Even as Vedic imperialists of non-Oriya origin, keeping Orissa in their brutal grip, have converted Jagannath from Buddha to Vishnu and have enforced Vedic rituals in his temple to promulgate their patriarch philosophy, the Oriya race has kept alive the predominance of Tantric rituals in the temple because of Buddha’s support to matriarch democracy and in devoted remembrance of the role of matriarch fighters that had saved Buddha’s birthplace from the attack of Ashoka, the Chanda (wicked) by compelling him to flee from the battle field after openly discarding Vedism and taking refuge under Buddhism at the foot of the Dhauli Hill.
The void in Orissa history, so extensively noted by historians sans any serious attempt to find out facts to fill it up, is relevant to this. This missing part of socio-political history of Orissa has a veiled expression in a matriarch scripture like Sri Durga Saptasati where after killing the Mahishasura, the Devi has eventually taken Kali shape and extinguished the gene of the demon to free the people from the perennial threat of tyranny.
Let us cast a cursory but sociological look at it.
It is well settled that women were the inventors of agriculture. They invented agriculture for providing food to their children. They were carrying and delivering babies and bringing them up. Naturally therefore it is the women who were raising the families. Hence the ancient Indians families were matriarch.
These matriarch families were staying scattered and therefore there was no unity, no solidarity amongst them and there was no society of their own.
When the Aryans invaded India and tried to build up empires, the indigenous matriarch families were unable to obstruct them. The invaders were looting their crops and therefore they were equated with Mahisa, meaning the wild buffalo that destroys the crops.
The scattered matriarch families soon knew that unless they were united, they may not save their crops from the demonic Aryans whom they had nicknamed Mahisasura. They united.
And the united force of matriarch families, led naturally by the females, vanquished Mahisasura, the demonic looter of their crops. Their Durgati or turmoil was thus tackled. Therefore, the united female force was considered Durgatinashini (terminator of turmoil), and is symbolically depicted as Durga.
As hinted to supra, Mahisasura was a symbolic name that stood for the Vedic mafia. There is no mention of Mahisasura or Durga in the Vedas. This means the Durga concept developed after centuries old tussles between Vedic imperialists and indigenous agro-societies.
To appreciate this phenomenon one is to take note of what had happened before Durga annihilated Mahishasura.
The Aryans were trying to subjugate Indian natives. They had developed scriptures in their support. The scriptures called Vedas and elaborated in Upanishads known as Vedanta literature, which, having contrived a caste system to disunite the peoples, had promulgated two streams known as the Brahmana and the Aranyaka that were so coined that Indian natives were to work as slaves of the Aryans forever.
The coiners of these scriptures, designated as Rshi, Maharshi, Brahmarshi etc belonged to the Brahmin caste.
The Brahmins were so named because of their claims to have seen the creator Brahma and obtained the hymns of Vedas from him compiled into scriptures. But every Brahmin who was claiming to have obtained the scripture from Brahma and / or his cohort gods was claiming his absolute private right over the hymns or secret knowledge and if at all he was willing to share the same with any, he was choosing only a person of Brahmin caste and none else in order to keep the knowledge a caste-property of the Brahmins. As for example the epitome of patriarchy, Parshuram, whom the Brahmins project as an incarnation of the god was determined not to share knowledge with non-Brahmins. When Karna in the disguise of a Brahmin had obtained some knowledge from him, he had ensured that at the time of his need that knowledge would be of no use.
Thus when the Brahmins were using private right over whatever knowledge they were claiming to have got from the God(s), all of them had collectively contrived a provision, which stipulated that there shall be no deliverance from the chain of birth unless one studies and follows the scriptures comprising those knowledge even as in the caste system they had promulgated, none other than the Brahmins were entitled to study the scriptures. This trick proceeded to further prescribe that in order to have a better birth after death to graduate into the stage of learning the Vedic hymns, a non-Brahmin was to serve his masters, obviously the Brahmins and their cohorts, in whatever way they desired. Parasara, projected as the grand son of Brahma, had desired the body of Satyavati, the daughter of a fisherman and had impregnated her illegitimately, out of which a son later to be known as Vyasa was born.
Epics are galore in such descriptions.
Buddha of Orissa had challenged this system of exploitation by activating the matriarch tribes. He had rushed from his birthplace Tosala (Orissa) to heartland of Brahminism, Magadha and organized the agro-tribes there in the democratic pattern then in vogue amidst Oriya tribes and adopted by him for his Sanghas, which, in fact, had succeeded in arresting the Vedic empire as hinted to supra.
Thus Buddha was regarded in Orissa as the protector of matriarch democracy. When Chandashoka (the wicked Ashoka) attacked Orissa, this soil being the soil of matriarch democracy, the women had led the battle against the invading tyrant and vanquished him so completely that he had to flee with his life by adopting Buddhism as his creed. As analyzed in this write up supra, Ashoka, the chanda (wicked) had to drop his allegiance to Vedic religion in order, logically, to be initiated into Buddhism. This is symbolic of obliteration of every drop of blood of Raktavirya by the force of Mother Kali who is credited with victory over Chanda and the Mouryas (Stanza 6 of Chapter 8 of Sri Durga Saptasati)
When Chanda is an epithet of Ashoka, the Mouryas are clearly the the soldiers of Ashoka.
The Mothers’ fight with Kali in command against invading demons in Sri Durga Saptasati has symbolic links to this historic episode. This justifies the equation of Kali with Sri Jagannatha (Niladrou Sri Jagannatha sakshat Dakshina Kalika: Tara Tantra) when Buddha, the protector of matriarch democracies of Orissan Tribes, was projected in Jnanasiddhi as Jagannatha by Indrabhuti, leader of Oriya tribes and founder of Bouddha Vajrayana and worshiped in Puri Srikshetra called Niladri.
On this background, the traditional Oriyas offer fire salutes to Gurudeb Buddha worshiped as Sri Jagannatha in Puri in the night of Kali Pooja invoking him as their Badabadua and whosoever of them fails to come to Puri, raises the salute to Badabadua in his / her ancestral home by setting fire to bundles of Kaunrial kathi, on which, interpretations are laid in the earlier paragraphs under the sub-heading ‘Fire salutes’ of this essay.
Hence, Kali Pooja in Orissa is symbolic of the necessity of united battle of the oppressed against exploiters that are set to spread their empires and not Diwali that the exploiters now a days project.