Installation of New Lord Jagannath Images


Sep 26, BHUBANESWAR, ORISSA (SUN) — Images of Sri Jagannath Installed Outside the Sanctum Sanctorum in the Grand Temple at Puri.

The images of seven gods have been installed on the Ratnavedi in the Grand Temple at Puri. Famous among them are the four gods known as "Chaturdha Murty", referring to Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, and Sudarsan. The images of all four Deities are made of Neem wood.

Sri Jagannath is adored as Lord Purusottam, the Lord of the Universe. In the traditional form of adoration, He is symbolic of all religions, all creeds and all doctrines of the world. Jagannath, in that way is a mysterious manifestation of God on earth. The study of the Jagannath Triad, therefore, holds much interest among the scholars and readers of Jagannath religion. Though many things have been spoken and many pages written about the great Lord, He still remains an enigma to all scholarly minds. His ways of worship are amazingly mysterious. Every item, every component and every feature of the religious shrine taken together constitute a sacred realism.

Every such phenomenon has an esoteric reasoning in the background. The Jagannath Triad, in that way, is an inexplicable yet a fabulous corroboration of a great Divine Existence on earth. Puri, for that reason, is known as Martya Baikuntha. Anybody who dies here, it is believed, has a direct sojourn to heaven.

Peculiarly enough, besides the main Lord on the Ratnavedi, four other images of Jagannath Mahapraphu have been consecrated at four different places in the Grand Temple. Two of them are within the inner compound (Bhitar Bedha) and the remaining two have been consecrated at places covered by the outer compound (Bahar Bedha) of Jagannath Temple. Each such Deity has both historic and spiritual reasonings for its existence. The purpose of this article is to signify the implication of these four images in relation to Jagannath Religion and their mode of worship in the Grand Temple.

The history of Jagannath religion, it may be mentioned, has provided ample space to all plausible reasonings pertaining to existence of these Deities in the Temple. We may discuss them with required references in the following lines of the article. The four images of the Lord, as aforesaid, are identified by different names.

The one installed in Gumuta Griha at the main entrance of the temple is worshipped as Patitapavana Jagannath. The Lord in this Form is consecrated here for the worship of one and all, particularly those who cannot enter the Temple premises for inadvertent religious reasons. History would say that the Temple had the necessity to install this Deity in the Gumuta Griha near the eastern gate of the Temple when the crown-ruler of the Temple, Ramachandradev (1732 to 1743 AD), under duress of inadvertent circumstances had to marry a Muslim maiden who was one of the daughters of Murshid Khan, a Muslim Commander, to save the Temple from destruction by the Muslim rulers of the time. Nevertheless, the Lord was the Pujya Ista of Ramachandra Dev. He had the inherent institutional right to the worship of the Deity as the Gajapati King of Utkala. How could that system be maintained? That was the concern of pundits of the time.

By marrying a Muslim maiden, the King had ruptured his religion. He became irreligious by his very behaviour. But sympathising with the King's ardent allegiance to Jagannath Dharma, and the Chaturdha Murti on the Ratnavedi of the temple, the pundits had to make an alternative arrangement by way of a viable solution to the problem. An image of the Lord, as described above, was installed near the Simhadwar of the Temple as Patitapavana Jagannath, and the King had the privilege of darshan of the Lord from the grand road, known as Badadanda. Since that day, it is said that Lord Jagannath is worshipped as Patitapavana Jagannath at this place.

We have another image of the Lord near the western Gali of the Temple. He is installed here in a small shrine known as Charidham Mandir. Some also call it by the name of Rameswar Mandir. The image of Sri Jagannath is installed here among the representative images of Badrinath, Rameswaram and Dwarika. It is said in this connection that Sankaracharya had consecrated all the four images in this shrine. There is a saying that if anybody has the darshan of the four Deities here, he or she will have the benefits of sacred visits to all the four pilgrim centres in one round. Poor and old pilgrims who cannot afford to visit the four pilgrim centres may have the darshan of the four Lords over here. This is the religious significance of the shrine. The image of Jagannath installed here is worshipped as the Tirtheswar of Puri.

We may now discuss the other two images of Sri Jagannath, installed within the inner compound (Bhitar Bedha) of the Temple. In the temple of Neelamadhab, we can see one such image of Lord Jagannath. He is installed in this temple by the side of Neelamadhab Mahaprabhu, the main Deity of this subsidiary shrine. The image here is 3ft. high. The two Deities installed together go on to reveal that worship of Neelamadhab was the primary mode of adulation in the Grand Temple in the earlier years of Jagannath Religion.

The next in importance is the image of Sri Jagannath installed in a subsidiary shrine to the south of Kalpabata, the age old Banyan tree of the Grand Temple. The image here is adored and worshipped as Bata Jagannath.

The age-old Banyan tree is worshipped in the Temple as Kalpa Bata. The Tree has been existing here since time immemorial. Kalpa Bata is also known to the devotees by the names of Banchha Bata, Akhyaya Bata, Bedanasan Bata, Bansi Bata, and so on. The image of Sri Jagannath installed here is named after this age-old Banyan tree as Bata Jagannath. Not only this, but many other Deities like Bata Krishna, Bata Ganesh, Bata Mangala and Bata Markandeya have also been installed in the vicinity of this shrine, named after the said Banyan Tree.

As described in Nitya Karma Paddhhati, Kalpa Bata is worshipped as a god with the spiritual aura of Lord Vishnu. The devotees believe that Kalpa Bata, worshipped with profound faith and devotion, is graced to fulfill all their wishes. It is evident from the Puranas that during the period of deluge, Rishi Markandeya had prayed to and worshipped Lord Vishnu, reposing on a leaf of banyan tree [Vat Krishna]. In this analogy, Lord Vishnu, by the order of traditional worship, is associated with the Banyan tree. The Kalpa Bata of the Grand Temple is thus the replica of Lord Jagannath. And so, whosoever is worshipping this Holy Tree shall be believed to be worshipping Lord Jagannath, the presiding Deity of the Grand Temple.

It is also believed in this connection that when the Temple of Lord Jagannath was consecrated by Anangabhima Dev, the then Gajapati King of Orissa, he had planted a Banyan tree near the Havan Mandap on the temple premises. The Kalpa Bata is the said Banyan tree existing since that time. It is glorified over all these years as the sacred symbol of Lord Vishnu. Batabihari Jagannath has come to be adored as the replica of Lord Jagannath of the Ratnavedi.

Bata Jagannath is 5ft. high, evidently a little smaller than the main image of the temple. The other two Deities, namely Balabhadra and Subhadra, have not been installed on the alter of this shrine. Although the practice of Jagannath Triad is in vogue in the cult of Sri Jagannath in general, Sri Jagannath at many places in Orissa is worshipped alone. Where he is worshipped alone, he is known as either Syamasundar, Patitapavana, or Dadhibaman according to the local mode of worship and devotion.

His car festival in these places is observed shorn of Balabhadra and Subhadra. For example, in Mirjapur under Dharmasala Block in the district of Jajpur, the car festival is celebrated with Sri Jagannath alone, known as Syamasundar. Likewise, in village Digapahandi in Ganjam district, the car festival is observed at two places in this village. At one place, it is observed with the Jagannath Triad. At the other place, it is observed only with the image of Sri Jagannath known as Dadhibaman.

In the temple of Sri Bata Jagannath, an image of Mahalaxmi has been installed on the alter on the left side of Sri Bata Jagannath. Be that as it may, the shrine here is important from the point of view of a noteworthy customary practice. In the temple of Bata Jagannath, there is vat-like water place containing water to subserve a sacred purpose in the practice of worship in the temple. The robes of the Deities are washed and cleaned at this place. In the western corner of the verandah of this temple there is another such stone vat containing water. Here, the servitors of the Lord wash their hands and legs before going to the main temple for the worship of the Deities.

It may be mentioned here that because of Sri Bata Jagannath, the Grand Temple of the Lord had been protected on more than one occasion in the past against the invasions of Muslim rulers. During his reign, Rama Chandra Dev-I had a meeting with his principal counsels, like Somanatha Bhatta Mishra and the Paricchas of the Temple. This was a crucial meeting during his time. It was decided in that meeting that whenever there was to be a Muslim invasion of Puri, the servitors were to shift Sri Bata Jagannath to the Kalahata entrance of the temple to project the idol from the outside invaders, as the main idol of the Temple. As the Gajapati king observed, the main idols of the temple could thereby be protected against defilement.

That situation actually arose on more than one occasion in the past and the Jagannath Triad had been saved from dishonour by Muslim invaders. This is evident from the invasion of Kalapahad to the Grand Temple. Kalapahad led out an invasion to Puri Temple in 1568 AD. In his expedition, he succeeded in lifting the idol of Jagannath. It is said in this connection that he burnt the same on the bank of the Ganga. This demonic action had a devilish effect on the body of Kalapahad. His son therefore floated the half-charred Daru in the water of the Ganga. The Daru came floating in the holy water and people who saw it floating thought it to be a charred piece of firewood. Later, Bisar Mohanty a devotee of the Lord, identified the same as a piece of the Divine Daru. He preserved it in the wooden case of his Mridanga, a drum beaten by both hands during repetition of God's name, known as Samkirtan. This Daru, it is said, was ordered by Rama Chandra Dev, the then Gajapati king of Utkala, for preservation in the temple of Bata Jagannath. In 1576 AD, Rama Chandra Dev got the new Divine images prepared and consecrated on the Ratnabedi of the Temple. From that time onwards was started the system of Mahaprasad in the Grand Temple in a regular way.

Thus, as evident, the image of Bata Jagannath comes into prominence when the image of the Lord is absent from the Ratnabedi of the Grand Temple. Such situations generally arise during festivals like Ratha Yatra. As per Puranic descriptions, King Indradyumna had begged from Lord Brahma a boon of universal worship of the Lord according to which the Lord was to be available to his devotees every day and at every moment for general worship in the Grand Temple. In the analogy of this spiritual boon, Bata Jagannath is doubtless an alternative divine arrangement. Accordingly, He is always available to the devotees for universal worship in the Grand Temple.

On the day of Snana Purnima, the Anasara rituals are observed in the temple of Bata Jagannath. This is almost akin to the practice being followed in the main Temple. The ritual of Nabakalebara is also observed in the temple of Bata Jagannath. The shrine here is entitled to receive a piece of Daru for this purpose from the Daru collected for Lord Jagannath. The Pinda of Bata Jagannath is buried in Koili Baikuntha during this ritual, akin to the practice being followed in the cases of the Jagannath Triad. Here, Annaprasad is not oblated like the practice observed in the main Temple. The servitors offer dry bhog to Bata Jagannath, which includes Ballav (a type of dry sweetmeat), Kakara Pitha, (a type of sweet rice cake) and Kora, (a type of sweet coconut round roll).

Atibadhi Jagannath Das, the famous devotional poet of Bhakti cult, had written his famous Oriya Bhagabat and other holy scriptures sitting in front of Batabihari Jagannath. He was also daily reading out the Bhagabat and explaining the meaning of the sacred couplets to the devotees who were assembling there to listen to the great poet. Not only this, but it was here that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had met Jagannath Das, and conferred on him the title "Atibadhi", for his erudite spiritual expositions on the famous Bhagabat in Oriya.

Atibadhi was functioning here as a professional Puran Panda. It is for this reason that Bata Jagannath is spiritually adored as Bhagabata Kalia in the Grand Temple. Acharya Baladev Vidyaratna had written here his famous commentary on Brahma Sutra, known as Govinda Bhasyam. It is believed that Chandan Hajuri, a devotee of the Lord, by singing prayers and worshipping Bata Jagannath, had attained spiritual realisation in his life.

Lord Jagannath has the spiritual aura of utmost divine resplendence. He is adored as the symbol of all religions and all creeds of the world. He has appeared at Puri as Patitapavana to atone the sins of his devotees. Bata Jagannath also appearing as Bata Patitapavana has a similar spiritual disposition. He is the replica of the main Lord in the Grand Temple. Here, many religious thinkers had exhibited their intellectual climax by worshipping the Bata Thakur in the form of Daru Brahma of the main Temple.

Source: Orissa Review


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