Role of the Mathas in the Daily Rituals of Lord Jagannath
BY: BHASKAR MISHRA
Feb 16, PURI, ORISSA (SUN) There are many mathas who are responsible for conducting ritual services daily and on festive occasions in the Jagannath Temple. Although these mathas have their respective presiding deities and Mahantas, most of their works are confined to the temple. Since such Mathas were established by the Gajapati Kings, they are generally know as Rajangila Mathas. Some of the Rajangila Mathas and their duties and functions are listed below.
Bada Jhadu Matha: to sweep the Garbhagriha (sanctum, sanctorum), Anasarapindi and Jagamohan of the temple.
Sana Jhadu Matha: to sweep the Kurum Bedha court-yard and Natamandap.
Sunagosain Matha: to clean the suna well and Ratna Singhasana walls. Supplying the padak and Alaka (one type of flower ornament) daily.
Dagara Matha: to inform the general public and the officials of the temple if there is any breach of ritual performances or any other religious principles connected with the sevapuja of the Lord Shri Jagannath.
Chhauni Matha: to give religious advice and to indoctrinate in the pious ways the Rajas and their family members at the time of their visit to the Jagannath Temple.
Puranasabha Matha: to recite texts from various Puranas and preach the philosophy of Jagannath culture.
Kadali Patuka Matha: to supply the strands from plantain (banana tree) trees for making flower garlands which are offered to Sri Jagannath Mahaprabhu.
Kothabhog Matha: to keep in the store the stock of ghee and molasses bought out of the income of the temple and look to the management of cooking of bhoga to be offered to The Lordships.
Kalitilaka Matha: to supply tilaka to the Vaisnavas of the Chaturh Sampradaya.
Besides those listed above, many other leading mathas of Puri are closely associated with the daily rituals of Shri Jagannath and some of the important festivals. Jagannath Ballav Math, Raghabadas Matha, Badachhata matha, Bada Oriya Matha, Sunagosain Matha, Sri Ram Das (Dakhina Parswa) Matha, Uttarparswa Matha, Emar Matha, Radhakanta Matha, and Jhadu Matha may be included among them.
Besides the daily rituals, these mathas also extend assistance in the Ratha Yatra, Snana yatra, Chandan yatra, Jhulan yatra, Navakalebar ceremony, and other festive occasions by offering Pankti and Pana bhog, Vesha materials, cleaning of Ratnasinghasan, supplying of canopy and Chaka Apasara, Phuluri tele (til oil), Sandalwood paste for Sarbanga rituals, flower garlands, Tulsi leaves and other puja materials, besides performing Sankirtana with devotional music, and chamer, allat Services.
The Record of Rights compiled under the Puri Shri Jagannath Temple (Administration) Act of 1952 enshrines in detail the nitis to be performed by certain Mathas. Daily services performed by the Mathas are as follows:
1. Gobardhan Matha: Gobardhan Peetha, a monastery or Matha established by Adi Sankar at Puri about 9th Century A.D. plays an important role in the rituals of Shri Jagannath temple, Puri. Sankaracharya Matha has a number of rights in the temple rituals. Jagadguru Sankaracharya, Peethadhisa of this Matha has the authority to offer his opinion on the ritualistic system of the temple and he is the head of the Muktimandap (an assembly of Sasan Brahmins). The Khei which is granted to this Matha as a daily routine is unique and rarely enjoyed by any other Matha of Puri. Sankaracharya at the time of their visit to the temple are given some special privileges by the Temple Administration.
2. Oriya Matha: to supply the daily Ballava bhoga and performing upachara chamara, allata services.
3. Badachhata Matha: to recite devotional songs with music daily at the time of Mangala Arati and Badasinghar Pahuda rituals.
4. Jagannath Ballav Matha: to supply the Masala (torch) during the Abakash rituals, Ballava Bhog and Khuamanda, Tilak, Jhumpa (one type of flower ornaments) for Badasinghar Vesha, Khatani bhog (Arnna Mahaprasad); to perform chamara services as per tradition.
5. Papudia Matha: to perform Sunabenta chamara (fly whisk) and allata (fan) services.
6. Chaulia Matha: To perform Chamara Seva, supply the pijuli (Guava) for Gopallaballav bhog (the services are discontinued since long).
7. Raghaba Das Matha: To perform Upachara Chamara and allata services, supply of Ballava bhog and Khatani bhog.
8. Gangamata Matha: to perform Sunabenta Chamara and allata services.
9. Radhakanta Matha: to perform upachara chamara services and daily Sankirtana parikrama inside temple premises.
10. Rebasa Matha: to perform upachara chamara and allata services, offering of Khatani Bhog.
11. Emar Matha: to supply the Ballava Bhog, Chandrika and Chausara (one type of flower ornaments) for Badasinghar vesha, to perform upachara chamara and allata services.
12. Radhaballava Matha: to perform upachara chamara and allata services.
13. Trimali Matha: to perform chamara and allata services. Supplying the dihudi (torch) at the time Abakash and Gopalaballav Bhog rituals.
14. Ramaji Matha: to perform chamara services.
15. Sanachhata Matha: to perform chamara and allata services.
16. Rajguru Goswami Matha: to perform chamara services during Abakash and Dhupa puja period.
17. Venkatachari Matha: to perform chamara and allata services.
18. Nua Matha: to perform chamara and allata services.
19. Chhauni Matha: to perform chamara and allata services.
20. Balaramkot Matha: to perform chamara and allata services.
21. Sriram Das Matha: to perform chamara and allata services, supply of flower ornaments for the deities of the temple.
22. Uttarparswa Matha: to perform Chamara and allata services and supply of five seer materials for preparing maha bhog to the temple every day.
23. Mangu Matha: to perform Chamara services.
24. Jhanjapita Matha: to perform sebapuja of the 'Padapadma' by the inmates of the Matha.
Besides this, certain mathas such as Govardhan Matha, Badasantha, Radhakanta Matha Jeerswami Matha, Badachhata Matha, Jagannath Ballav, Emar, Uttarparswa, Dakhinaparswa, Sidhabakula, Gangamata, Haridas Thakura Samadhi, Rebasa, Chhauni, Radhaballav, Bada Oriya Mathas etc. have the right to offer Khatani bhog (cooked food offering) to the deities daily.
It is ascertained from the Temple Record of Rights that there are 86 ovens in the temple's kitchen allotted to several Mathas, including Emar, Sankarananda, Gangamata, Kausalya Das, Bada Santha, Sri Ram Das, Laxmibhadra (languli), Panjabi, Baula, Jagannath Ballav, Raghaba Das, Radhakanta, Bada Oriya, Mahiprakash, Bada Jhadu, Khajuria, Dukhishyama Babaji, Haridakhandi, Uttarparswa, Trimali, Achari Matha.
Similarly more than 30 Saragharas (store houses) are found recorded in the names of some Mathas like Sankaracharya Matha, Sankarananda, Papudia, Achari, Jagannath Ballava, Uttarparswa, Rebesa, Sibatirtha, Emar, Bada Oriya, Radhaballav, Mahiprakash, Kotha Bhoga, Raghaba Das Matha etc.
According to record of rights of the temple, Radhaballav Matha and Jhanjapita Matha have their special establishments in the temple, presently known as "Radhaballava Temple" and "Padapadma Chaura" over plot No.176 and Plot No.132, 133 and 134. In the past different Gajapati Maharajas and Superintendent of the Shri Jagannath Temple had given rights through sanandas and royal charter in favour of some Mathas connected with the rituals of Lord Sri Jagannath allotting store houses, ovens in the kitchen, Chamara and allat services, Pankti and Khatani bhog, etc. for the smooth performance of the daily rituals of Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu.
Presently some of the Mathas have been deprived of the services and some have discontinued the services altogether. Even some of the Mahantas are not performing the chamara and allata services, which are their most important and sacred duties. Some of the Mahantas are occasionally performing the services only to keep up the tradition.
1. Shri Jagannath Temple Record of Rights, part-II.
2. Purira Matha Sanskruti (Oriya) - written by B. Mishra.
3. Sri Jagannath - Research Bulletin No.IV, 1985 edited by Dr. P.Ray, S.C.S. College, Puri.
4. Orissa Review, Navakalebar Special Issue, 1996.
5. District Gazetteer, Puri, 1977 Bhaskar Mishra is the Officer on Special Duty in Shri Jagannath Temple, Puri.