Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Of all our tribes, there was a sect that was worshiping Buddha, the saver of Tribal democracy, as Sauri Narayan (Surya Narayan), because he was revered as Surya for being the giver of light (knowledge) to everybody, besides being a man of the Sun Clan (Aditya Gotra).
That, Buddha was being worshiped in Orissa as the Sun, is proved by the very fact that, in the Sun Temple at Konarka, Buddha was the deity.
Konark was the temple that was built by Langula Narasingh when almost entire India, Bengal in particular, was engulfed by Muslim invaders. It was constructed as an instance of Oriya pride after defeating the invading Muslims.
A greater disaster had not till then befallen the Muslims in any part of Hindustan, confesses Muslim historian Minhaj-i-Siraj who had also joined the war that was, to him, a ‘holy war’. A great number of Muslim warriors had attained martyrdom, he has written (The History of Bengal, Muslim period, 1973, Dr. K. R. Quanungo,pp.48-52).
To Prof. K. C. Panigrahi, the Konarka temple was designed to exhibit his (Narasingha Dev’s) power, prestige, opulence, devotion and perhaps to commemorate his victory also” (History of Orissa, Kitab Mahal, 1981, pp.413-14).
In speaking of Konarka, the world famous Art Critic E. B. Havell has said, “Here Indian sculptors have shown that they can express with as much fire and passion as the greatest European art the pride of victory and the glory of triumphant warfare, for not even the Homeric grandeur of the Elgin marbles surpasses the magnificent movement and modelling of this Indian Achilles, and the superbly monumental war-horse in its massive strength and vigor is not unworthy of comparison with Verocchio’s famous masterpieces at Venice!” (Ernest Binfield Havell, Indian Sculpture and Painting , Elibron Classics reprint. Paperback, Based on 1908 edition by John Murray, London. p. 147).
This splendid temple of Surya Narayan was dedicated to the cult of coition espoused by Buddhist Sahajayana as its founder Langula Narasingh was a votary of the Buddhist tenets of Langudi Monastery (Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Sri Jaya Devanks baisi Pahacha, pp.28-30).
Therefore, when Hindu chauvinists destroyed Konarka temple, the then king emperor of Orissa transported the Sun statue along with a statue of Jagannatha, which was being worshiped there as the visible form of Buddha, into the SriMandira complex, along with the Aruna Stambha (pivot of rising sun) for inclusion in the Jagannatha system.
When the Aruna Stambha has been installed before the Singhadwara (The main entrance to SriMandira), the Sun statue is installed in a separate temple inside the Kurma Bedha, known as Dharma Raja temple, and also, Surya Narayan temple. We know, Buddha and Surya are known as Dharma.
Priests, who belong to Brahmin caste only are keeping it under close watch. They do not allow anybody enter into the temple. When I wanted to see what is there in the temple, I had to give the priest an amount of journalistic money to procure his cooperation.
I saw the small image of Jagannatha there and to my astonishment, I saw the Sun God (Surya Narayan) being also worshiped, because some flowers were seen on his podium.
To my shock, I found the Sun God was behind a barricade of iron rods. I wanted to know why he was thus arrested. The priest, who was eager to eject me out of the temple, but a bit cooperative for the money I had given, told me that, that image was of Surya Narayan brought from Konarka temple by Purusottama Dev’s son Narasingha Dev. As the general public is not permitted to see him, since then he is kept behind the bars.
I was not surprised, because Purusottam Dev was a great patron of Brahminism and during his reign the Konarka might have been destroyed.
But I was thrilled beyond description to see the image of the Sun to whom the Konarka temple was dedicated. Out of reverence for the epitome of Oriya pride – the God of Konarka – I wanted to perform a Pradakshina (move around the pedestal of the God in devotion); but the priest disallowed me, informing that, that was never permissible.
My curiosity grew and, as a journalist, I though it prudent to locate the reason of keeping the Sun God behind iron bars, with prohibition on public entry, by entering into the barricaded area at any cost.
I gave the priest a hundred rupees note to buy his clandestine service while cajoling him to help me perform the Pradakshina.
He swallowed his reluctance, cautiously opened the barrier door and gave me a lamp to use in my round journey and went to guard the entrance advising me to come out quickly.
As I entered into the secluded inner chamber, to my astonishment I found, Gurudev Buddha was beautifully carved in a sitting position in the backside of the Sun image.
I had no camera with me to take a picture of the Buddha-Surya image, but the secret was bare before me.
People should wake up and force the administration to withdraw the barrier created inside the Dharma Raja temple and allow everybody to see how Buddha was being worshiped as Surya Narayan.
As to tribes, utterance of the word ‘Surya’ was a bit difficult, they were calling Buddha as Sauri Narayan and that was so popular that the word ‘Sauri” has been accepted as a synonym of Surya.
Being worshipers of Sauri Narayan, they were known as Saura or Sa’ara in colloquial term which later became Sabara.
I am inclined to give a firsthand accounts on them.
In Tigiria, there are three Sabara villages surrounding my own village ‘Nizgarh’. One of them, standing on the boarder of my agricultural land, is known as ‘Nuagarh Sa’ara Sahi’ and the second one situated near Gopinathpur Shasan is known as ‘Kadalibadi Sa’ara Sahi’ and the third one, near Baliput, is known as ‘Kendupalli Sa’ara Sahi’. The inhabitants are called Sa’ara or Sabara. They are all Sun worshipers.
In my childhood days, they were singing glory to the Sun to the tune of ‘Ghumura’ on Sundays in general and on Pousa Purnami (Full moon day of Pausa) in particular. In the month of Pausa, when harvested paddy crops were being sun-dried for storage in ‘Kothi’, non-Brahmin women, particularly of land-owning families, were offering special ‘Puja’ to Surya Narayan on every Sunday, called ‘Pausa Ravibar’ and the Sa’aras were being invited to play ‘Ghumura’ to please the Sun God. The ceremony was called ‘Pusa Ravibar Osa’ or ‘Pausa Ravibar Brata’.
Epic writers have tried to vitiate this Osa / Brata with legends. In “Brata Sahitya” at pp. 102-04, while narrating the Pousa Ravibar Brata with the same legends, Sri Aurobindo Pattanaik has given a slight hint to what is a real facet of this festival. He has written, “Keteka Lokagita Madhya Eha Sahita Prachalita / Ehi Gitagudikare Ashlilata Lakshya Karajae /” which means, in Pousa Ravivar Osa, the folk artists (our Sabaras) sing vulgar songs. And, we know, vulgar yet ceremonial songs are sung in context of agricultural activities. “It is an essential agricultural rite”, notes D. N. Majumdar in ‘The Affairs of a Tribe’. I have shown in this work how the vulgar ‘Dahuka Boli’ in Jagannatha’s Ratha Yatra belongs to fertility cult. On this premise, specifically putting reliance on Sri Pattanaik’s narration above, it is clear that the Sabaras of Orissa, on basis of the songs they sing, belong to Bouddha Kamavajrayana by creed. And, in Buddhist Orissa, in agricultural households, where Buddha is worshiped as Badabadua, the Sabaras, who are popularly known as Sauras or Sa’aras, are traditional worshipers of Sauri Narayan and hence, at the end of sun worship on the Sundays of Pousa, on Pousha Purnima, they were, in my childhood days, being honored as priests.
After independence, slowly as Garjat culture got lost in the labyrinth of non-agricultural pursuits, and sanctity of harvest declined, the Sa’aras of Tigiria have lost their class distinction and their heritage has been ruined. In an environment that never suits them, they have gone into the trap of liquor and I doubt, if any of them in present generation can recall their distinguished past. I gather, now only on the full moon day of Pausa, they stay content by just a ceremonial beat of Ghumura that they designate as “Anukula”.
My only purpose behind this description is to show that Sa’aras are original worshipers of Buddha as Sauri Narayan and their sect name Saura / Sa’ara / Sabara has been derived from their class devotion to Sauri Narayan.
They are Buddhists in whom the Brahmins have all along seen their strongest rivals. This rivalry is more defined in context of SriJagannatha. When Sauri Narayan or Dharma Raja or Buddha became Jagannatha, and, due to royal mischief, particularly at the time of Purusottam Dev, Jagannatha became also a Hindu deity by superimposition of Hindu rituals over Sabari Tantra in which only Jagannatha was being worshiped till then, attempts were made to hide the Sabara dominance in the Jagannatha system and the Savaras were projected as Daitas, which they, in that situation, had accepted, because their master was also known as Dayamaya.
They agreed to be known as Dayaita in acknowledgement of their inseparability from Dayamaya Buddha, exactly as, in typical parlance of Oriyas, the people of warrior class inseparable from their weapon ‘Khanda’ (the sword) are called Khandaiata.
This Dayaita has become Daita in short. Therefore, when they locate the Daru and make a camp there to cut the identified tree for the Daru to be used in Navakalevar, the said camp is called Sabara Palli and the entire Navakalevar gets executed under Sabari Tantra known to Tantrikas as Bouddha Tantra.
In view of the points analyzed above, Sri Jagannatha belongs to the Daitas, because it is they that had made Buddha the Sauri Narayana, which subsequently has become SriJagannatha, when Indrabhuti synchronized the tribal Jagantaa-Tha with Surya Narayan and created Jagannatha out of this synchronization, giving the omnipresent Buddha a form for physical worship. Because of the synchronization, Jagannatha is yet made of wood and his color is deep dark as the brightest sun appears to the naked eyes. Because of them, SriMandira is yet a citadel of applied Buddhism, of caste-less environment, of Sabari Tantra as medium of SriJagannatha’s core propitiation.
Sankaracharya and his cohort caste-supremacists, Gajapati Divyasingh Dev, and chief temple administrator Suresh Mohapatra et all do not want Sabari Tantra to stay in vogue, as otherwise SriMandira shall stay a place of applied Buddhism. Therefore, they have been using tricks to discredit the Daitas in the guise of mismanagement of Brahma transfer and by creating mass confusion, to hijack SriMandira for the Sankaracharya.
Thinking Oriyas must rise against this mischief, if their uniqueness is to be preserved.