Naveen Patnaik to propitiate Jagannath before oath taking; but which Jagannath: the Secular or the Communal?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

On bagging fresh mandate, BJD chief Naveen Patnaik is scheduled to take oath as Chief Minister of Orissa for the forth term today. But before taking the oath of office, he is to visit Puri to propitiate Sri Jagannath.

Which Jagannath he is to propitiate is the question; because Jagannath is now not the one that belong to the Oriya orientation. He has become what originally he was not. He has now two aspects: secular and communal. People of Orissa have a right to know to which aspect their Chief Minister adhering.

Originally Sri Jagannath is Buddha, the supreme leader of ancient Oriyas, who, to save the democratic uniqueness of his motherland Tosala (modern Orissa), had rushed to Rajagrha (Magadh) – the heartland of Vedic imperialism – to obstruct the spread of autocracy by uniting the Vajiyan Tribes in the pattern of Orissa’s tribal democracies against empire building.

The Magadh emperor Bimbisar had stopped empire building on being convinced of the irrelevance thereof and had adopted Buddha as his friend, philosopher and guide.

The Vedic chauvinists had instigated his son Ajatasattu to take over Magadh by putting his father behind the bars, which he had done and through his Brahmin minister Bassakar, had tried to dissuade Buddha from obstructing empire building.

Buddha had rejected the request, as a result of which, Ajatasattu had failed to spread his empire beyond what Bimbisar had built.

When Vedic empire had thus to stop at Magadh, the people of Tosala were safe to pursue their democratic practice because of Buddha.

Hence to the inhabitants of his motherland Orissa Buddha became the most revered master and his tenets became their ism.

The entire Orissa became a land of Buddhist practice and his birthplace Kapilavastu (land of red soil – RANGAMATIA) in the Dhauli Guri region of Bhubaneswar became the fountainhead of Buddhism, which was the most insurmountable obstacle to spread of Vedic empire building.

To destroy this fountainhead, Asoka, the wicked emperor of Magadha, had attacked Orissa at Dhauligiri and having been brought to knees in the historic Kalinga War, where Orissa’s women warriors had even overwhelmed him, he had fled with life after adopting Buddhism as his creed. He, however, used this conversion to Buddhism to destroy Buddhism in the guise of spreading the philosophy, which history is yet to note. (Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Sri jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha, Bharata Bharati, Cuttack).

Like Gorbachev destroyed USSR by using Perestroika and Glasnost, Asoka destroyed the atheist uniqueness of Buddhism by making Buddhists accommodate interpolation of theism on their philosophy through the epithet “Devanam Piya” (beloved of the Gods) that Asoka used for himself while posing a great patron of Buddhism (Ibid).

However, Buddha’s support to matriarch democracies of Orissa had encouraged Oriya tribes to revere him as the embodiment of mother Nature and lifted him to the level of deity Jaganta that they were worshiping in a wooden log as a symbol of mother Nature. While doing so, to Jaganta (the wooden log shaped like a female torso representing reproductive qualities of nature) they had added drawings of a pair of ‘Thana’ (breasts) recognition of the mother’s ability to feed her child. Thus Jaganta had evolved as ‘Jaganta-tha’ (Ibid).

The great Buddhist leader of Orissa, Indrabhuti, who founded Bouddha Vajrayan, elevated this Jaganta-tha to Jagannatha, who, to him, was non but Buddha. After demise of Buddha, his followers were projecting him as omnipresent (Gaganopama) and Bouddha Shunyavad was trying to safeguard the Buddhist tenets. But, an object of direct worship was necessary to face the image worshipping design of Brahminism. Indrabhuti in that circumstances had tried to develop an idol of Buddha in a pattern most acceptable to majority of Orissa, the tribals. So, he amalgamated Buddhist tenets to the tribal deity Jaganta-tha and created Jagannath.

In delivering ‘Jnanasiddhi’ the canon to Vajrayan, he first propitiated Buddha as Jagannath in the verse noted below:

Pranipatya Jagannatham Sarvajina-vararchitam,
Sarva Buddhamayam siddhi-vyapinam gaganopamam,
Sarvadam-sarva satvoyahsarvajna varavararjinam,
Bhaktyaham sarva bhavena vaksye tat sadhanam param” (Two Vajrayan works, p.-31).

And since then, Jagannath has remained Buddha to Oriyas. In innumerable Oriya works of letters and scriptures, Jagannath is depicted as Buddha.

Vedic chauvinists have rushed to Puri and established various Maths to transform Jagannath from Buddha to Vishnu, a Hindu deity and Brahmins have promulgated caste apartheid in his abode with the help of their patron kings and post-independence administration. Yet, till date, his worship as well as preparation of Mahaprasad are based on Tantra. His most popular public rituals such as Snana Yatra, Ratha Yatra, Naba Kalebara et cetera are all tantric in charecter he himself is known as the God of Tantra (Bhairav) and Goddess of Tantra (Daksina Kalika).

So, Jagannath at present has two distinctly opposite identities. Originally as Buddha he is entirely secular and under hegemony of the Brahmins, he is totally communal.

Now when foul play of plutocracy has pushed politics into religious polarization, and communalism has replaced political ism as the issue in election, of which Naveen is an offshoot, it is pertinent for him to let people know as to which Jagannath – the the secular or communal – he is going to propitiate before taking the statutory oath of office as the State’s Chief Minister.

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