TODAY -

A brief recap of the Jagannath Temple on Rath Yatra

Radhamohan Das *



The Jagannath Temple is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, who is Lord Krishna, in Puri in Odisha State. The present temple was rebuilt from the 10th century onwards at the site of the earlier temple and it was during the time of the first king named Anantavarman Choda Ganga Deva of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. The festivals performed at the Jagannath Kshetra are: i) Ratha Yatra, ii) Chandan Yatra, iii) Snan Yatra; and iv) Naba Kalebra.

The temple was of the Kalinga Architecture and the completion time was in 1161 CE. There are 31 temples and the elevation is 65m (213 ft.). The image of Lord Jagannath (in English, is called 'Juggernaut',) made of wood and it is replaced for every 12 or 19 years by an exact replica.

It is one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites. This Hindu temple was closely associated with many great Vaishnava saints, such as Ramanucharya, Madhavacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Vallabhacharya and Ramananda. Ramanuja established the Emar Matt and Adi Shankaracharya established the Govardhan Matt. Gaudiya Vaishnavism followers have got particular significance to the worship of Lord Jagannathjee. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spent most of his time at Puri by way of close connection with Lord Jagannath in the mood of Radha.

Actually the construction of the Lord Jagannath temple or renovation was done during the time of the king Anangabhima. Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra Rani are the trio deities being worshipped. The inner sanctum of the temple has the status of the above Gods having carved from sacred neem logs known as daru, sitting on the bejeweled platform or ratnabedi, along with those of Sudarshan Chakra, Madanmohon, Sridevi and Vishwaddhatri. The worshipping of these deities pre-dates the building of the temple and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine.

According to legend, the construction of the first temple of Lord Jagannath was started by King Indradyumna, son of Bharat and Sunanda, and a Malava king as mentioned in the Puranas. As narrated in the Puranas: Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana and other Puranas and later odio works, Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped as Lord Neela Madhava by a Savar king (Tribal Chief) called Viswavasu. A Brahman, Vidyapati was directed by king Indradyumna to locate the deity.

Vidyapati married Vishwavasu's daughter Lalita and on the request of Vidyapati, Vishwavasu took his son-in-law blind folded to a cave where Lord Neela Madhava was secretly worshipped.

Then, king Indradyumna went to Odisha (O Dra Desha) and worshipped the deity, but the deity disappeared and the king was disappointed. The king was determined to find out the deity which was hidden in sand and the king then observed fast at Mount Neela unto death till he could find the Lord Neela Madhava.

The king on hearing a celestial voice, “Thou shalt see Him”, performed a horse sacrifice and built a magnificent temple for Lord Vishnu. Narada brought Lord Narasimha Murti and was installed in the temple.

The king had a vision of Lord Jagannath during his sleep and he was directed with an astral voice to make idols out of the fragrant tree on the sea shore. Thus, the king made the three Deities' idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra and also Sudarshan Cakra- out of wood of the divine tree and he had installed them in his Temple.

The king Indradyumna put up for Lord Jagannath, the tallest monument of the world at 1000 cubits high. Lord Brahma consecrated the temple and those God-images. Lord Brahma was pleased of seeing the most beautiful temple for Lord Vishnu. King Indradyumna had no issue of his own and thus the king was the last member of his family. If any family was to have, then he would take pride as the owner of the temple without any work for the society.

The divine images of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra were prepared from that log of wood by the celestial architect, Vishwakarma who appeared as an artisan. Actually, Lord Vishnu appeared Himself in the form of an artisan Vishwakarma to make those idols on the condition that no one should have disturbed Him until the work was finished.

But, the door of the building was opened by the king due to anxiety of seeing those idols after two weeks, breaking the advice that no one should disturb Him. As such, those Divine Idols of Gods are as we worship now, having no hands. However, Lord Jagannath would walk and receive anything offered.

Rath-yatra is also called Chariot festival of huge three chariots taking the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the Bada Danda, meaning the Grand Avenue of Puri till Their final destination at Gundicha Temple. It is a long history of Jagannath Temple regarding the i) Entry and Darshan, ii) Cultural integrity, iii) Structure, iv) Daily food offerings, v) Rosaighara and vi) Festivals.

Lord Jagannatha is the most merciful and compassionate God in the universe. Any adherent of sect or even an outcast participating knowingly or unknowingly in the Rath-yatra festival and touches any part of His body shall have His causeless mercy. He is worshipped by the Vaishnavas as Lord Shyamsundar (Krishna) holding flute with the effulgent body of sky bluish colour bending on knees, waist and neck. He is Krishna displaying one of His pastimes.

May those who take prasadam, the remnants of the Lord, who hear His glories chanted by the pure devotees, or who behold these three chariots (in the case of Jagannath Puri) as they ply along the road-be they pious or most sinful, let it matter not at all – may they receive the benedictions of this all – compassionate Lord.

RATHA-YATRA IN MANIPUR

Maharaj Gambir Singh during his rule in 1825-1834 did introduce Sri Jagannatha Ratha–Yatra in Manipur for the first time. Maharani Maisnam Ningol Kumudini during the year 1832, (exactly Ingen Nongba Panba) of the birth of her son, Maharaj Chandrakirti, had arranged to procure a mango tree from the Heibok-hill through one Brahman coming from Jagannath Puri, Orissa (that time) and the Deity of Lord Jagannath was carved out from the mango tree and the same was done Pran-Prathistha on that auspicious day of Ingen Nongba Panba (1832) for performing the Ratha –Yatra festival on the second day of Ingen.

During the time of Lord Chaitanya (1486 - 1534) the small buildings surrounding the original temple had not been constructed, nor was the high platform in front of the temple. The Sudarshan Disc atop the Jagannatha temple dome indicates that the temple houses deity of Lord Krishna. The Garuda Stambha, inside the Lion Gate and in front of the temple is a column on which the statue of Garuda is situated.

These days, the culture of worshipping Lord Jagannatha, which was started since the 15th century onwards in the East has now been seen in the West too. The worship of Lord Jagannatha is now performed in many places : Paris , London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Florence, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Guadalajara, Sao Paulo, Lima, Barcelona, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Christchurch, Moscow, Kiev, Durban, Mauritius, Tokyo, Hongkong and a host of other places around the world.

What caused this widespread spiritual awakening, and why have foreigners taken interests in an ancient Indian religion ? The history of foreign interest can be traced back to the Golden Avatara, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

He inaugurated the sankirtana movement, and desired that Lord Krishna’s name be chanted in every town and village on earth. And, thus we can better understand how this religious, spiritual and cultural movement spread so far and wide in recent times.


* Radhamohan Das wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on July 01 2022 .



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