Punish the Vultures and Save Sri Jagannatha from Hereditary Sevayats

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Vultures feed on dead bodies. But Sevayats in Puri Sri Mandir feed on living human beings who come there to see Sri Jagannatha. Vultures quarrel amongst themselves in their respective attempt to pick larger pieces of the dead flesh. Sevayats quarrel amongst themselves to grab larger portion or even the entire amount of money offered by the visiting believers.

In a quarrel amongst these human vultures, the podium of the Deities (Ratna Singhasana) was sprayed with blood that oozed out of nostrils of one of them due to fatal blow from a rival Sevayat on Tuesday.

The ritual of Sahana mela then going on was instantly abandoned and next agenda of rituals was discarded; the podium was washed afresh and purified and visiting devotees were thrown into uncertainty about when to see the Lord.

This is not new in Sri Jagannatha temple. Pandas and other Sevayats have been using the Deities for satisfying their avarice and animal urges. Gullible devotees are helpless victims of unholy activities of the caste supremacists who have shrewdly transformed Sri Jagannatha from Gurudev Buddha, the greatest son of Orissa to Sri Krishna of Dwaraka in course of time.

These fellows have killed the culture of Jagannatha and have made him a toy in the caste game they have been playing. They have buried the historicity of establishment of Guru Buddha as Sri Jagannatha under umpteen legends, all concocted in their attempt to wipe out Buddhism from its place of origin.

In ‘Notes and Queries Suggested by a Visit to Orissa in January 1859’, Rev.J.Long has given the world glimpses of how Gurudev Buddha, the most beloved son of Orissa has been changed into a Hindu Deity by the caste supremacists. He has written,

“Antiquarian enquiries in Nepal, Ceylon and China show that the Buddhism so noted in its regard for enlightening the masses and opposing caste, was for ages predominant all through Orissa both among rulers and the people, though Orissa be now the garden of the Hinduism and Jagannath its Jerusalem. Even Jagannath itself stands on the site of a Buddhist temple and contained the celebrated tooth of Buddha, which was kept there till the 4th century A.D. when it was carried for a short period to Patna, the ancient Palibothra then the capital of North India. It was soon after brought back to Puri, but on an invasion of the country, it was conveyed in A.D.311 by a king’s daughter concealed in her hair to Ceylone, which was then becoming a place of refuge to the Buddhists from the Brahmin’s rage.”

(Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1859, No.III, Vol.XXVIII, pp.185-187).

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, in his book ‘Sri Jaya Deavanka Baissi Pahacha’ (Bharata Bharati, Cuttack, 2005) has discussed in depth how Buddha was reshaped as Sri Jagannatha by Orissa’s the then mass leader and founder of Vajrayana – revered as a king – Sri Indrabhuti by help of the innumerable low-caste followers of Buddha of the Kurma Pataka belt on the bank of Prachi spread up to Puri and beyond on the sea shore and how they have changed the same Indrabhuti to Indradyumna through concocted legends to transform Buddha to Vishnu in the form of Sri Jagannatha and how the soft threads of Orissa’s history are woven in the history of battle of the common man against caste supremacists for worshiping Gurudev Buddha in the form of Sri Jagannatha.

The caste supremacists have played this mischief not in cause of devotion to the Lord; but because this helps them in exploiting the common man.

They thrive as yet on legends and on refusal of entry into the temple to people of lower castes whom they continue to condemn as untouchables. Spiritualism is not their constituency. They are propelled by insatiable avarice.

This avarice of the Sevayats is the root cause of violence often witnessed in the premises of Sri Mandira.

A corrupt and incompetent administration has provided them with the necessary environment to play havoc with human life. They are so organized that reports of judicial inquiry on loss of human life in Jagannatha temple are vanishing from government custody before any action is taken. On October 4, 2010 the government of Orissa has filed an affidavit in the High Court in reply to a PIL that missing of Judicial Commission of Inquiry Report from government records is true. The Report could not be traced despite a thorough search, the government has said.

On the other hand, there is no thorough audit over income and expenditure of Jagannatha temple even though hundreds of crores of Rupees are involved.

History of Jagannatha is the history of evolution of Oriya society and yet no research is funded for regular study on sociological history of Jagannatha. In Jaganta form he was originally being worshiped in Orissa’s tribal democracies and as Buddha had protected and strengthened the tribal democracies by rushing from Orissa to the heartland of Vedic imperialism –Magadha – and had given philosophical credence to matriarchy in vogue in tribal democracies, the tribes of Orissa had felt Buddha’s benevolence in Jaganta that they had further developed into Jaganta-Tha in terms with their matriarch tradition. Shabaripa of Churashi and his colleagues collectively known as Chaurashi Siddhas had started popularizing the Buddha_Jaganta-Tha concept when Indrabhuti captured the idea of propitiating Buddha as Jagannatha by deriving this word from Jaganta-Tha of the tribes (Ibid).

Jagannatha is the embodiment of the science of sociology in context of Orissa. But the exploiters of society do not encourage truth to prevail in his respect. They are engaged only in cultivating superstitions and innovating new ideas to keep people drowned under such superstitions for ever. The offering of money by a devotee that led to bloodshed in the temple on Tuesday was generated basically by superstitions.

In the act of creating and spreading superstitions are engaged 15 thousand Sevayats in Jagannatha temple of Puri. There is no necessity of so many persons for rituals in the temple, if at all the rituals are to go on. A hundred Sevayats are enough for the purpose. Over saturation of Sevayats is the greatest obstacle to order, worship, peace and tranquility in the temple.

If the Orissa Government has any responsibility, it should be its first duty to free the temple from over saturation of Sevayats.

Most of the Sevayats are illiterate and the only expertise they display is discernible in obnoxious words gushing out of their mouths. This must stop. To stop this wrong keep the temple engulfed, the system of hereditary Sevayats needs be discarded. Persons of spiritual / philosophical aptitude and scriptural erudition should be recruited sans any caste preference to manage the rituals and to apprise visitors of socio-anthropological historicity of the Deities if long lasting of the Jagannatha temple system is desired.

The Sevayats are so unsocial that in April 2005 Sri Subhash Goel, President of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the largest body of tour operators in the country, had been so embarrassed by the Pandas in the Puri temple that he had to tell the Press at Bhubaneswar that he would never again visit the temple with his family in future. “Who should like to come to a temple where attendants engaged in worship of the Lord dare to outrage modesty of mothers and sisters in presence of family members?” he had posed.

Instead of demanding punishment for the culprits, different association of Sevayats and local hoteliers condemned Sri Goel by alleging that his allegation before the Press was a non-Oriya design to denigrate Jagannatha Dham of Orissa before outsiders. I had discussed the issue in my column now available in a book captioned Doora Adoora where ways were shown for protection of sanctity of the temple that every Oriya loves to love. But except accepting a few minor points, the principal suggestions were sloughed over.

The untamed Sevayat system has ultimately reached the level of causing bloodshed on the podium of the Deities.

It is time to save Sri Jagannatha from the unholy grip of hereditary Sevayats if originality of the Oriya Nation is to be saved.

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