Jagannath
Overview
 


Jagannath is a transcendental
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 non-anthropotheistic
Anthropotheism
Anthropotheism is ascribing human form and nature to gods, or the belief that gods are only deified human beings. Associated with classical Greek and Roman beliefs, a type of anthropotheism finds a modern expression in the Mormon world-view of eternal progression. Vestiges of Hebrew...

 Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 god worshiped primarily by the people of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n state of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, and, to a great extent, West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

. In common belief, Jagannath is considered an aspect of the god Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 or avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 and worshipped as part of a triad along with brother Balabhadra deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

 and sister devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

 Subhadra
Subhadra
Image:Jagannath, Baladev and Subadra in Radhadesh.jpg|thumb|right|250px|alt=|Subhadra, flanked by her brothers Balarama and Jagannatha . Deities of the Radhadesh temple in Belgium...

.

The icon of Jagannath is a carved and decorated wooden stump with large round eyes and with stumps as hands, with conspicuous absence of any legs.
Encyclopedia


Jagannath is a transcendental
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 non-anthropotheistic
Anthropotheism
Anthropotheism is ascribing human form and nature to gods, or the belief that gods are only deified human beings. Associated with classical Greek and Roman beliefs, a type of anthropotheism finds a modern expression in the Mormon world-view of eternal progression. Vestiges of Hebrew...

 Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 god worshiped primarily by the people of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n state of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, and, to a great extent, West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

. In common belief, Jagannath is considered an aspect of the god Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 or avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 and worshipped as part of a triad along with brother Balabhadra deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

 and sister devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

 Subhadra
Subhadra
Image:Jagannath, Baladev and Subadra in Radhadesh.jpg|thumb|right|250px|alt=|Subhadra, flanked by her brothers Balarama and Jagannatha . Deities of the Radhadesh temple in Belgium...

.

The icon of Jagannath is a carved and decorated wooden stump with large round eyes and with stumps as hands, with conspicuous absence of any legs. The worship procedures, practices, sacraments and rituals of Jagannath do not conform with those of classical Hinduism. The principal image of the deity at the temple city of Puri
Puri
Puri is district headquarter, a city situated about south of state capital Bhubaneswar, on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa. It is also known as Jagannath Puri after the Jagannath Temple . It is a holy city of the Hindus as a part of the Char Dham pilgrimages...

 in the Indian state of Orissa, is made of wood, which is an exception to common Hindu iconographic
Hindu iconography
Over the millennia of its development Hinduism has adopted several iconic symbols, forming part of Hindu iconography, that are imbued with spiritual meaning based on either the scriptures or cultural traditions. The exact significance accorded to any of the icons varies with region, period and...

 deities of stone. The origin and evolution of Jagannath worship as well as iconography
Hindu iconography
Over the millennia of its development Hinduism has adopted several iconic symbols, forming part of Hindu iconography, that are imbued with spiritual meaning based on either the scriptures or cultural traditions. The exact significance accorded to any of the icons varies with region, period and...

 is unclear and has been subject to intense academic debate.

Arguably, Jagannath lacks any direct vedic
Rigvedic deities
There are 1028 hymns in the Rigveda, most of them dedicated to specific deities.Indra, a heroic god, slayer of Vrtra and destroyer of the Vala, liberator of the cows and the rivers; Agni the sacrificial fire and messenger of the gods; and Soma the ritual drink dedicated to Indra are the most...

 reference and is also not a member of the traditional Dashavatara conception or the classical Hindu pantheon
Hindu deities
Within Hinduism a large number of personal gods are worshipped as murtis. These beings are either aspects of the supreme Brahman, Avatars of the supreme being, or significantly powerful entities known as devas. The exact nature of belief in regards to each deity varies between differing Hindu...

, though in certain Oriya literary creations, Jagannath has been treated as the Ninth avatar, upon substituting Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

.

Jagannath is non-sectarian and has not been associated with any particular denomination of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 in entirety, though there are several common aspects with Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, Saivism, Shaktism
Shaktism
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – the Hindu Divine Mother – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead...

, Smartism
Smartism
Smarta Sampradaya is a liberal or nonsectarian denomination of the Vedic Hindu religion which accept all the major Hindu deities as forms of the one Brahman, in contrast to Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism, the other three major Hindu sects, which revere Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti,...

 as well as Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

.

The oldest and most famous Jagannath deity is established in Puri, in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

. The temple of Jagannath in Puri is regarded as one of the Char Dham
Char Dham
The Chota Char Dham , is an important Hindu pilgrimage circuit in the Indian Himalayas...

 (sacred Hindu pilgrimage places) in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

The most famous festival related to Jagannath is the Ratha yatra, where Jagannath, along with the other two associated deities, comes out of the sanctum sanctorum of the chief temple (Bada Deula). They are transported to the Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

 (located at a distance of nearly 3 kilometres), in three massive wooden chariots drawn by devotees. Coinciding with the Rath Yatra festival at Puri, similar processions are organized all around the world.

Etymology

Etymologically, Jagannath means 'Master, Lord' (nātha) of the 'World, Universe' (Jagata). The word has Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 origin, being a tatsama
Tatsama
Tatsama are Sanskrit loanwords in modern Indic languages like Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Sinhala and Central Dravidian language Telugu. They belong to a higher and more erudite register than common words. That register can be compared to the use of words of Greek origin in English Tatsama...

 in Oriya
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

. It is a relational case
Genitive case
In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

 Tatpurusa
Tatpurusa
In Sanskrit grammar a ' compound is a dependent determinative compound, i.e. a compound XY meaning a type of Y which is related to X in a way corresponding to one of the grammatical cases of X....

 compund word
Sanskrit compounds
One notable feature of the nominal system of Sanskrit is the very common use of nominal compounds , which may be huge , as in some modern languages such as German...

.

In the Oriya language
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

, Jagannath is referred to with multiple names, as Jaga (ଜଗା) or Jagbandhu (ଜଗବନ୍ଧୁ) (Friend of the Universe). Both names derive from Jagannath. Further, on the basis of physical appearance of the deity, the names like Kālia (କାଳିଆ) (The Black-colored Lord), Darubrahma (ଦାରୁବ୍ରହ୍ମ) (The wooden Divinity), Dāruēdabatā ( "The wooden god"), Cakāākhi or Cakānaẏan ( "With round eyes"), Cakāḍōḷā ( "with round pupils") are also in vogue. http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/features/03-08/features970.htm.

Some scholars have suggested that the word is a Sanskritization of a tribal word and have presented arguments concerning the Jagannath's tribal origins. According to author Bijoy C. Mohanty (1980), quoting Misra, in the villages of the Sora people in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, the tribals worshipped a deity called Jaganaelo, meaning "made of wood”.

Metaphysical Attributes

Jagannath is described as an Avataree i.e. the cause of the Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

s, and not merely an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

. The incarnations emanate from Jagannath, who is the cause of all material creation. Therefore, Jagannath does not have any life stories and lila, as contrasting from Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

s like Parshurama, Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, Krisna etc.

As per author Dipti Ray in “Prataparudra Deva, The last great Suryavamsi King of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

”:

“In Prataparudradeva’s time Oriya poets accepted Sarala Dasa
Sarala Dasa
Sarala Dasa was one of the great scholars of Oriya literature whose work formed a perennial source of information for succeeding generations....

's idea and expressed in their literary works as all the Avataras of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 (Jagannath) manifest from him and after their cosmic play dissolute (bilaya) in him (Jagannath). According to them Jagannath is Sunnya Purusa, Nirakar and Niranjan who is ever present in Nilachala to do cosmic play….
The five Vaishnavite Sakhas (Comrades) of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 during Prataparudradeva’s time expounded in their works that the idea that Jagannath (Purushottam
Purushottam
Purushottam is called moolapurush of kudaldeshkar Dhananjay gotri, Bharadwaj Gotri and sankhyan gotri.Purushottam means ideal man. But this Purushottam is just a noun of a person who was devotee of Lord Shiva....

) is Purna Brahman (i.e. god in toto) from whom other Avataras like Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, Krishna, etc., took their birth for lilas in this universe and at the end would merge in the self of Purna Brahman…”

Iconography and Physical Appearance

The most significant of Jagannath's many shrines is the temple at Puri, Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

. In this temple, Jagannath is part of a triad of deities that includes Balabhadra and goddess Subhadra. Apart from principal companion deities Balabhadra, Subhadra, Jagannath is worshipped in the Shree Jagannath Temple of Puri along with Sudarshana Chakra
Sudarshana Chakra
The Sudarshana Chakra is a spinning, disk-like super weapon with 108 serrated edges used by Lord Vishnu. The Sudarshana Chakra is portrayed on the right rear hand of the four hands of Vishnu, who also holds a Shankha in his left rear hand, a Gada in his right fore hand, and a Padma in his left...

, Madhava
Madhava (Vishnu)
Madhava is another name for Vishnu or Krishna and appears as the 72nd, 167th and 735th names in the Vishnu sahasranama.From the Bhagavad Gita it is understood to refer to Vishnu being the husband of the goddess of fortune...

, Sridevi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

 and Bhudevi on the principal platform, Ratnavedi (Ratna: Bejewelled, Vedi: Platform/Pedestal - The bejewelled platform) in the inner sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

Unlike other deities of the Hindu pantheon (gods)
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

, there is no anthropomorphic or artistic aspect to the idol of Jagannath. The idol has not been designed to represent the image of a human being. The image has a massive square head, merging with the chest into one piece of wooden stump without any demarcation of the neck. The arms have been inserted in a line with the upper lip. The eyes are very large and round. The waist is the limit of the body.

It has been hypothesized in the myths and legends that the idols of Jagannath, along with those of Balabhadra and Subhadra are unfinished, as there are no identifiable hands or legs. Such a state of affairs mixed with the hearsay led William Bruton, the first English traveller to Puri, to state that the idol of Jagannatha "is in shape like a serpent, with seven heads". The top upper portions of the deities' heads are triangular in shape, evoking the Trimundi (Triangular head).

The deity of Jagannath is about 6 feet tall. The color is predominantly black and the eyes are round and large. The eyes have three concentric circles - Red on the outer border, white in the middle and black in the center. The image of Balabhadra in the temple is also approximately 6 feet tall. Balabhadra's face is white, his eyes are oval-shaped, and his stump-like arms are at eye level. The Devi Subhadra statue is yellow in hue and stands about 5 feet tall. The goddess's eyes are also oval. The Sudarshana Chakra is approximately the same height as the two male deities and is red in color.

The idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshana Chakra are made of neem
Neem
Azadirachta indica is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil...

 wood.

Within the main compound of Jagannath Temple at Puri, there are over one hundred shrines of lesser importance which are devoted to the demigods in charge of universal affairs or the sub-controllers of the universe. In the midst of these lesser shrines is the main temple, called the Bada Deula (The Big or principal Temple), in which the predominating deity Jagannath appears.

Symbols of Jagannath

The Nila Chakra
Nila Chakra
The Nila Chakra is the discuss mounted on the top shikhar of the Jagannath Temple at Puri. As per custom, everyday a different flag is waved on the Nila Chakra...

 is the most revered iconic symbol
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 in the Jagannath cult. The Nila Chakra is the only physical object whose markings are used as sacrament and considered sacred in Jagannath worship.

Myths and Legends of Origin and Emergence of Jagannath

The legends regarding the origin of Jagannath, which have been recorded in various sources such as Mahabharat of Sarala Dasa
Sarala Dasa
Sarala Dasa was one of the great scholars of Oriya literature whose work formed a perennial source of information for succeeding generations....

, Deula Tola of Nilambar Das, Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya , a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him...

, Brahma Purana
Brahma Purana
The Brahma Purana is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. The extant text comprises 246 chapters. It is divided into two parts, namely the Purvabhaga and the Uttarabhaga . The first part narrates the story behind the creation of the cosmos, details the life and...

, Narada Purana, Padma Purana
Padma Purana
Padma Purana , one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text, is divided into five parts.In the first part of the text, sage Pulastya explains to Bhishma about religion and the essence of the religion. The second part describes in detail Prithvi...

, Kapila Samhita etc., suggest the tribal as well as Brahmanical
Srauta
' traditions are conservative ritualistic traditions of the historical Vedic religion in Hinduism, based on the body of Śruti literature...

 links of the deity in the initial stage.

It should be noted that, despite repeated references to King Indradyumna in the Jagannath lore below, Indradyumna remains a legendary figure and his historicity cannot be established on any safe ground. Some have identified him with the Indradyumna of the Mahabharat and considered him to be quite an ancient figure of the early Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 era. Drawing from poet Sarala Dasa's Mahabharat, Indradyumna can be identified with Indraratha, the Somavamsi king of tenth century A.D. But identification of Indradyumna with Indraratha is at variance with the long-accepted tradition that Yayati I
Yayati
Yayati was a Puranic king and the son of king Nahusha and one of ancestors of Pandavas. He was a great scholar of Vedas. He had five brothers, Yati, Samyati, Ayati, Viyati and Kriti. He had two wives, Devayani and Sharmishtha. Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya, the priest of Asuras ....

, the remote predecessor of Indraratha, built the Jagannath temple at Puri.

The following principal Puranic legends are associated with the emergence of Jagannath:

Traditional Version

The Puranic text Purusottama Mahatmya of the Skanda Puarana http://www.neelkanthdhaam.org/skpu-2.html contains the Indradyumna legend and the origin of Jagannath's wooden idol at Puri.

According to the legends, in the Satya yuga
Satya Yuga
The Satya Yuga , also called Sat Yuga, Krta Yuga and Krita Yuga in Hinduism, is the "Yuga of Truth", when mankind is governed by gods, and every manifestation or work is close to the purest ideal and mankind will allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme...

, Indradyumna was a Lunar Dynasty
Lunar Dynasty
In Hindu mythology, the Lunar Dynasty is one of the three principal houses of the Kshatriya varna, or warrior–ruling caste...

 king of Somavamsa lineage. A traveling pilgrim came before Indradyumna and described the great God Nila Madhava (Blue Vishnu) being worshipped at Nilachal
Nilachal
The abode of Hindu deity Jagannath at Puri is known as the Nilachal or Niladri, [Nila + Achal The abode of Hindu deity Jagannath at Puri is known as the Nilachal or Niladri, [Nila (Blue) + Achal The abode of Hindu deity Jagannath at Puri is known as the Nilachal or Niladri, [Nila (Blue) + Achal...

 (Blue Mountain) in Odra (Orissa). The pilgrim disappeared after telling the story. At the king's request, his priest and his younger brother Vidyapati went in search of the legendary divinity. Vidyapati reached the forest in Savardvipa on the banks of the river Mahanadi
Mahanadi River
The Mahanadi in East Central India. It drains an area of around 141,600 km2 and has a total course of 858 km. The river flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa.-Source:...

. The Savara king, Visvavasu, received Vidyapati and promised to show him Nila Madhava the next morning. Vidyapati did not touch food or water before seeing the Lord. Seeing the eagerness of Vidyapati, the Savara king had him bathed in Rohini-kunda and seated him under the kalpa
Banyan
A banyan is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree...

 tree. There Vidyapati saw Nila Madhava being worshipped by the Devas. Then Vidyapati returned to Avanti
Avanti (India)
Avanti was an ancient Indian janapada , roughly corresponded to the present day Malwa region. According to the Buddhist text, the Anguttara Nikaya, Avanti was one of the solasa mahajanapadas of the 6th century BCE...

, the capital of King Indradyumna.

After listening to Vidyapati’s account, Indradyumna set out for Nila Madhava along with the priest, Vidyapati, and his followers. But as it turned out, Nila Madhava had disappeared on the very day that Vidyapati had returned to Malava. Upon reaching the spot, they found the god missing and the entire area covered with the golden sand of the coast. The shocked king Indradyumna was apprised of the message of Brahma by Narada
Narada
Narada or Narada Muni is a divine sage from the Vaisnava tradition, who plays a prominent role in a number of the Puranic texts, especially in the Bhagavata Purana, and in the Ramayana...

: that the King must worship the deity with one thousand asvamedha yajnas.

The divination of Nila Madhava went on:

"In this world I will not give you darshana in the form of Nila Madhava, but I will manifest in four forms: Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, and Sudarshana chakra. Wait near Cakra tirtha, and a daru
Daru
Daru is the capital of the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. The township is entirely located on an island that goes by the same name, which is located near the mouth of the Fly River on the western side of the Gulf, just north of Torres Strait and Far North Queensland...

 would come afloat. I will manifest in the form of a very large, fragrant, reddish log, and the signs of sankha, cakra, gada, and padma will be seen everywhere on that form. Go there. Take Me out and make four deities from that log. Then you will be able to worship Me."

Upon receiving the devotion of the King, the Purusottama himself took the form of Visvakarma and secretly made the idols of daru (wood). Thereafter, Brahma
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...

 himself established the holy idols on Vaishakha Sukla, on Pushya
Pushya
Pushya is a nakshatra in Indian astronomy. It corresponds to γ, δ and θ Cancri, in the Cancer .-Naming practices:Under the traditional Hindu principle of naming individuals according to their birthstar , the following Sanskrit syllables correspond with this Nakshatra, and would belong at the...

 star.

The traditional version lacks historical support, as the identity of Nila Madhava remain unclear. For this reason, this traditional account of the emergence and origin of Jagannath worship remains a myth only. However, in the Orissa town of Kantilo
Kantilo
Kantilo is a census town in Nayagarh district in the Indian state of Orissa.-Geography:Kantilo is located at . It has an average elevation of 65 metres .-Demographics:...

, there is a temple dedicated to a deity named Nila Madhava, of uncertain genealogy.

Vaishnavite Version

The second legend is associated with the Vaishnava sect and narrates that Krishna appeared before a great devotee, King Indradyumna, and ordered him to carve a deity
Murti
In Hinduism, a murti , or murthi, or vigraha or pratima typically refers to an image which expresses a Divine Spirit . Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped...

 from a log which would eventually wash up on the shore at Puri. Upon finding the sacred log, Indradyumna searched for a craftsman to carve the idols. In due course, a mysterious old Brahmin carpenter appeared before Indradyumna and accepted the commission. In reality, this carpenter was the divine craftsman Visvakarma in disguise. The carpenter insisted that he not be disturbed while he was carving the image of the deity, and then began his work in complete isolation behind closed doors. The carpenter's strict condition was that no one should enter into the temple premises while he was within.

Everyone was anxious about the divine work, including the King Indradyumna and the Queen. Every day they gathered outside the closed door, to listen to the sound of carving. During this time the carpenter never emerged. After a few days of waiting outside the room, all sound suddenly stopped. The impatient Queen, worried about the fate of the carpenter and assuming the worst, opened the doors. The Queen found the idols of the deity half-finished and the carpenter vanished. The divine condition of isolation had been breached, before the idols could receive arms or legs. So they have remained in that unfinished form to the present day.

The Puranic Version

According to the Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya , a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him...

, there was a divine prophesy that King Indradyumna would arrive at the Purushottam kshetra and desire to settle down there after renouncing Samsar. In the legend, Visvavasu led Vidyapati (brother of Indradyumna) across the steep heights of Neelachal mountain and showed him the Rohini-kunda and a kalpa tree to the east of the pond. Jagannath's idol had once been established between the Rohini-kunda and the kalpa vat, where it was now hidden beneath a mound of sand. Tribhuneshwar then instructed Narada that Indradyumna should construct a magnificent temple of Jagannath at the same place.

Narada pointed out a tree that was unique in that it had only four branches on it. Indradyumna, following the instructions, ordered that the divine tree be uprooted and installed on the mahavedi
Vedi (altar)
Vedi is the term for "sacrificial altar" in the Vedic religion. Such altars were an elevated enclosure, generally strewed with Kusha grass, and having receptacles for the sacrificial fire; it was of various shapes, but usually narrow in the middle....

 inside the temple. When that was done, Lord Vishnu manifested himself on the altar as an old carpenter, Vishwakarma.

Here the legend begins to parallel the Vaishnava version above: Vishwakarma agrees to carve four idols for Indradyumna, on the condition that the door of the temple should be shut and nobody should try to enter the temple or disturb the carpenter until the idols were ready. Indradyumna promised to follow these conditions and Vishwakarma began his work. However, out of curiosity, the King (or in some versions, Queen Gundicha) could not help stealing a glance at Vishwakarma’s work. Vishwakarma, upset at the breach of promise, vanished without completing the idols. Thus, Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are still represented with incomplete limbs.

Sarala Dasa (Sarala) Mahabharat Version

According to Sarala Dasa's Mahabharat, the mortal remains of Krishna transformed into wooden form and floated up to the Puri sea shore. Jara Savara, an aborigine, picked it and worshipped it. Subsequently, Indradyumna, the king of Somavamsa, had three wooden images made out of the log and established a grand temple for the images.

Vedic Origin of Jagannath

In the Rgveda, verse 10.155.3, there is mention of a Daru
Daru
Daru is the capital of the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. The township is entirely located on an island that goes by the same name, which is located near the mouth of the Fly River on the western side of the Gulf, just north of Torres Strait and Far North Queensland...

 (log of wood) floating in the ocean. Vedic prayers have indicated for taking shelter in the Daru.

In spite of the fact that Acharya Sayana
Sayana
' was an important commentator on the Vedas. He flourished under King Bukka I and his successor Harihara II, in the Vijayanagar Empire of South India...

, the noted commentator on the Vedas, has categorically interpreted the hymn with Jagannath as the daru floating at the sea shores, some scholars have refuted this interpretation under the argument that the hymn deals with ‘Alaxmi Stava’ of Arayi.

Buddhist Origins

William Bruton, the first English traveler to visit Puri and to see the Jagannath temple, made certain counter-factual observation in 1633 that the image of Jagannatha "is in shape like a serpent, with seven heads" and the holy pagoda is "the mirror of all wickedness and idolatry". Thus, Jagannath became known to Europeans as a pagan divinity of monstrous form. To the Europeans, the iconography of Jagannatha remained a mystery from the time of Bruton’s visit until the 19th century. Bernier
Bernier
Bernier is a surname and may refer to:* David Bernier or Kike Bernier, Puerto Rican fencer* Étienne-Alexandre Bernier, French religious figure and politician* François Bernier, French physician and traveler* Georges Bernier, French humorist...

, who visited Puri in 1667 and left the first reliable description of the Car Festival
Rath Yatra
Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Orissa, India during the months of June or July. Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area...

, but failed to give any account of the image. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was a French traveller and pioneer of trade with India, and travels through Persia , most known for works in two quarto volumes, Les Six Voyages de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and diamond merchant for some important diamonds of the century...

 later on described in detail the priceless jewellery of Jagannatha, which however, he never saw.

With the more enlightened views of the 19th century, the problem of the iconography of Jagannath became a fascinating field for speculation. After the British occupation of Orissa in 1803, the temple and its priests received special treatment from the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

, which decided to protect the institution for economic and political reasons. Europeans were still excluded from the great sanctuary and even General Alexander Cunningham
Alexander Cunningham
Sir Alexander Cunningham KCIE CSI was a British archaeologist and army engineer, known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India...

, one of the doyens of Indian archaeology, had a rather vague knowledge of the appearance of the Puri images, chiefly based, it seems, on secondary sources. The restrictions imposed on non-Hindus did not prevent a number of scholars from observing the strange rites at Puri, which included the suspension of caste-rules during the Car Festival, nor from drawing conclusions concerning the origins of the cult of Jagannath.

As per noted Jagannath cult researcher, O. M. Starza, since the complex rites of the Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

s had given Christian scholars a low opinion of Hinduism, they endeavoured (in their ignorance)(sic) to explain the enlightened features of the Jagannath cult by suggesting that it originated in the noble religion of the Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

. It was thought, for instance, that the temple of Puri occupied almost certainly the site of an earlier Buddhist shrine, without any real evidence to support this view; while General Alexander Cunningham
Alexander Cunningham
Sir Alexander Cunningham KCIE CSI was a British archaeologist and army engineer, known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India...

’s suggestions that the figure of Jagannath was derived from the Buddhist symbol of the triratna or taurine was accepted even by such authorities as the Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

n Buddhist scholar Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese philosopher and metaphysician, as well as a pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, particularly art history and symbolism, and an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West...

.

In the Bhilsa Topes http://www.scribd.com/doc/19750162/The-Bhilsa-Topes-or-Buddhist-Monuments-of-Central-India, Alexander Cunningham
Alexander Cunningham
Sir Alexander Cunningham KCIE CSI was a British archaeologist and army engineer, known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India...

 has identified the Jagannath triad as the Buddhist triad. Cunningham argues that the following two points are sufficient to conclude in favour of the Buddhist triad:
Cunningham asserts that the Brahma Padartha/Mani (Divine Life material) is nothing but a Buddhist relic (Buddha's Tooth).

In the same line, noted writers like W. W. Hunter, A. Stirling, John Beames
John Beames
John Beames was a civil servant in British India and an author. The eldest son of Rev. Thomas Beames, preacher of St James's Church, Piccadilly and grandson of John Beames Esq., a barrister and later bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, Beames was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and Haileybury College...

 and N. K. Sahu in book ‘A History of Orissa’, Dr. H. K. Mahtab in his ‘History of Orissa’, and Dr. Mayadhar Mansinha in his ‘The Saga of the Land of Jagannatha’ opine that it is a Buddhist triad.

In fact, there is no historical evidence of worship of Jagannath at Puri prior to the 10th century A.D. when Yayati Kesari was the ruler. The Buddhist King Indirabhuti's Jnanasiddhi mentions about the place of Jagannath. Pandit Neelakantha Das has mentioned that the Savaras were worshipping the image of Jagannath made of neem wood in a place called Sambal
Sambal
Sambal is a chili based sauce which is normally used as a condiment. Sambals are popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and Sri Lanka, as well as in the Netherlands and in Suriname through Javanese influence. It is typically made from a variety of chili peppers and is...

 (Samal, now in Talcher
Talcher
Talcher is one of the 4 sub-divisions of Anugul district in the Indian state of Orissa . Situated on the right bank of the river Brahmani, the capital of the erstwhile Talcher State is one of the fastest growing industrial and mining complexes of the country.-Geography:Talcher is located at...

 of Angul
Angul
Angul may refer to:* Angul, town in India* Angul district, India...

 District) in Uddiyan, the kingdom of Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

, which was even prior to the rule of Yayati Kesari -I. Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

 has described Jagannath as Buddhist deity in Jnanasiddhi. In the narrative of Indrabhuti, Jagannath was worshipped by the Savaras in one of the Budha Viharas. During the rule of King Sasanka and feudatory chief Madhav Raj-II, many anti-Buddhist campaigns were undertaken. Therefore, the Buddhist Jagannath was shifted before the arrival of Hieun-Tsang and destruction of the Puspagiri Vihar. In this period, Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

 emerged as a worshipper of Jagannath in 717 A.D. There are various opinions about the place where the image of Jagannath was lying buried. The Madala panji
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

 (The temple Chronicles) identifies this place with the village Gopali of Sonepur
Sonepur
Sonepur, also known as Subarnapur, is a town and district headquarters of Subarnapur district of Orissa. Sonepur was formerly the capital of a princely state of British India. The district spreads over an area of 2284.89 km2. It is also known as Second Varanasi of India for its cluster of...

 district of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

. The Madala panji
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

 records legend of king Yayati
Yayati
Yayati was a Puranic king and the son of king Nahusha and one of ancestors of Pandavas. He was a great scholar of Vedas. He had five brothers, Yati, Samyati, Ayati, Viyati and Kriti. He had two wives, Devayani and Sharmishtha. Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya, the priest of Asuras ....

 recovering the wooden images of Jagannath from the Sonepur
Sonepur
Sonepur, also known as Subarnapur, is a town and district headquarters of Subarnapur district of Orissa. Sonepur was formerly the capital of a princely state of British India. The district spreads over an area of 2284.89 km2. It is also known as Second Varanasi of India for its cluster of...

 region where it lay buried for over 144 years. Thereafter, king Yayati
Yayati
Yayati was a Puranic king and the son of king Nahusha and one of ancestors of Pandavas. He was a great scholar of Vedas. He had five brothers, Yati, Samyati, Ayati, Viyati and Kriti. He had two wives, Devayani and Sharmishtha. Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya, the priest of Asuras ....

 reconstructed the wooden images from Sonepur
Sonepur
Sonepur, also known as Subarnapur, is a town and district headquarters of Subarnapur district of Orissa. Sonepur was formerly the capital of a princely state of British India. The district spreads over an area of 2284.89 km2. It is also known as Second Varanasi of India for its cluster of...

 forest tribes.

The book Gyanasidhi written by Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

 was published from Baroda has descriptions about Jagannath worshipped as Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

.
Pranipatya jagannatham sarvajinabararcitam |
Sarvabuddhamayam siddhi – byapinam gaganopamam |
Sarvadam sarvasattwebhyah sarvajna vara vajrinam |
Bhaktyaham sarvabhaven kakshye tatsadhanam vajrinam |

Jagannath is worshipped by the greatest Jainas
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, he is in the form the almighty Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

, full of wisdom and compared to the sky. He offers everything to all the living beigs. He is omniscient and best among the Bajjajanis . I offer my solemn prayer to that Jagannath with devotion and tell the way of his Sadhana
Sadhana
Sādhanā literally "a means of accomplishing something" is ego-transcending spiritual practice. It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Sikh , Buddhist and Muslim traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.The historian N...

.

Many of the ancient poets of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 have also explained Jagannath as the form of Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 and worshipped as Baudhabatara (incarnation of The Buddha).
Sarala Mahabharata:
Baudha rupare kali kalantaka sadhi
:Kutantaka darpaganja ata krupanidhi ||


Darubrahma gita:
Sastha di sa antarena, pada je pani hela khina |
Baudharupa heba pain, padapani chadile tahi ||


Oriya bhagabata:
samudre Melina dia prabhu debaraja
Kalijuge paibe se darubrahma puja
Thakure boile raja hoiluki bai
Kalijuge basibu baudharupa hoi ||


Sunya sanhita:
Nija bansa gheni baudharupare nilachale achi rahi

Ananta guptagita:
Tahun baudharupe bhagabana, rahile purusotama bhubana |
Baudharupe nilagiri mohi ||


The texts of the above prove that Jagannath was worshipped in Puri
Puri
Puri is district headquarter, a city situated about south of state capital Bhubaneswar, on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa. It is also known as Jagannath Puri after the Jagannath Temple . It is a holy city of the Hindus as a part of the Char Dham pilgrimages...

 by the Oriyas as a form of Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 from a long time. Jayadeva
Jayadeva
Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna-an avatar of Vishnu and his consort, Radha, and it is mentioned that Radha is greater than Hari, and is considered an important text in the...

, in Gita govinda
Gita Govinda
The Gita Govinda is a work composed by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva, who was born in Kenduli Sasan near Puri in Orissa. It describes the relationship between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana, and in particular one gopi named Radha...

 also has described Buddha as one among the Dasavatara. Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

, the ancient king of Sambalaka (present Sambalpur district
Sambalpur District
Sambalpur District is a district in the western part of state of Orissa, India. The historic city of Sambalpur is the district headquarters.The district is located in the Mahanadi River basin. It has a total area of 6,702 square kilometers, of which almost 60% of the district is covered in dense...

) of Oddiyan used to worship and proved Jagannth as Buddha. This culture also influenced Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 and Tibbet. That is how Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

deva is also worshipped as Jagannath in Nepal.

Anangavajja, the guru of Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti
Indrabhuti is a name attributed to a number of individuals that have become conflated in the esoteric Buddhadharma tradition of Mantrayana...

 (Also described as Acharjya, Jogi, Jogiswara and Mahacharjya in the Tengur cannons). Pragyonpayabiniscayasidhi, written by Indrabhuti and published from Baroda also has description of Jagannath by Siddha Anangavajja.
Sada parahitascaiva carjayahkampyacetasa |
parjyupasyo jagannatho guruh sarvarthasidhida dah ||

Tribal Origins

Polish Indologist Olgierd M. Starza has reviewed various theories on the tribal, Buddhist, Jain, or Vaishnav origins of Jagannath in The Jagannatha Temple at Puri: Its Architecture, Art And Cult, (1993) (page no.s 53-64) and has arrived at the conclusion that "…several early theories regarding the origin of Jagannatha have been refuted; only the tribal theory remains a possibility..." (page no.72).

The factors responsible for the acceptance of tribal origin theories are as under:

(i) The structure and shape of Jagannath deity is commensurate to a pillar. The Savaras, the earliest tribal inhabitants of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, were tree worshipers, and their rituals involved dancing and singing before the 'Kitung' or 'Jaganata' or God. It has been argued by some authors that when the Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

s migrated to Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, they adopted the local tribal tradition of 'Jaganata' worship, and effected the transformation of the tribal wooden pillar 'Jaganata' to aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

ized 'Jagannath'. In fact, among tribals of Vindhya region, tree or khamba (pillar or post) worship is prevalent.

(ii) A deep association of a class of non-Brahmin, tribal origin servitors, called Daitas, exists with the worship of the Jagannath deities. These Daitas are the hereditary servitors of Jagannath. They are inextricably and exclusively connected with the funeral rites of Jagannath during the Nabakalevara
Nabakalevara
The term Nabakalevara , is derived from the Sanskrit words Naba or new and Kalevara or body, literally meaning New Body...

 (New embodiment/renewal) ritual and bear the sole responsibilities of Snana Yatra
Snana Yatra
The Snana Yatra is a bathing festival celebrated on the Purnima of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha. It is an important festival of the Jagannath Cult...

 and Shri Gundicha Yatra. The instances of worship of Jagannath by Savara is also mentioned in Darubrahma Gita written by Jagannath Dasa in the 16th Century A.D. and in Deula Tola written by Nilambara Das in the 17th Century A.D.

(iii) The images of the Jagannath triad are built out of neem
Neem
Azadirachta indica is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil...

 wood, as opposed to universal use of stone for construction of images of all brahminical
Srauta
' traditions are conservative ritualistic traditions of the historical Vedic religion in Hinduism, based on the body of Śruti literature...

 Hindu deities.

(iv) There is no caste distinction in the cult of Jagannath which is akin to the practices of tribals and significantly different from Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

.

Thus, analysing the legendary association of Jagannath with a class of aborigines, called Savaras, the peculiar shape as a pillar and typical nature of the wooden icon of the deity and his associates, Balabhadra and Subhadra; many scholars have held that Jagannath has originally been a tribal deity of Savara origin.

Anncharlott Eschmann
Anncharlott Eschmann
Anncharlott Eschmann was a scholar of religion.She was born in Munich, the first daughter of Professor Ernst Wilhelm Eschmann, a renowned Professor of Philosophy, and Mrs. Charlott Eschmann, a retired psychotherapist...

 has pointed out that the Nabakalevara
Nabakalevara
The term Nabakalevara , is derived from the Sanskrit words Naba or new and Kalevara or body, literally meaning New Body...

 (New Embodiment) ritual, i.e. the ceremony of periodical renewal of the body of the deity is a tribal custom. Such practices of renewal of wooden deity are found among the primitive tribes like Savaras and Khonds.

British historian William Wilson Hunter
William Wilson Hunter
Sir William Wilson Hunter KCSI CIE was a Scottish historian, statistician, a compiler and a member of the Indian Civil Service, who later became Vice President of Royal Asiatic Society.-Early life and education:...

 in the first volume on the British province of Orissa and the temple of Jagannath has remarked that the aboriginal people worshiped a Blue Stone inside dense forests as Nila Madhava. Hunter
William Wilson Hunter
Sir William Wilson Hunter KCSI CIE was a Scottish historian, statistician, a compiler and a member of the Indian Civil Service, who later became Vice President of Royal Asiatic Society.-Early life and education:...

 in Orissa: Volum I ascribed the blue (Nila) colour to the use of the common chlorite
Chlorite group
The chlorites are a group of phyllosilicate minerals. Chlorites can be described by the following four endmembers based on their chemistry via substitution of the following four elements in the silicate lattice; Mg, Fe, Ni, and Mn....

 schist
Schist
The schists constitute a group of medium-grade metamorphic rocks, chiefly notable for the preponderance of lamellar minerals such as micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is...

 stone of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 hills in which all the ancient images of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 were being made. As per Hunter
William Wilson Hunter
Sir William Wilson Hunter KCSI CIE was a Scottish historian, statistician, a compiler and a member of the Indian Civil Service, who later became Vice President of Royal Asiatic Society.-Early life and education:...

, the Dravidian God, who was offered raw, uncooked food by the primitive tribes. Hunter hypothesized that with the passage of time, the Aryan elements assimilated Jagannath into fold of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 where as per more sophisticated customs, Jagannath is being offered cooked food. The synthesis is clear even at present since worship methods of both these two folds (Tribal and Brahminical) coexist side by side at the Jagannath Temple, Puri.

Pandit Nilakantha Das in “The Orissa Historical Review Journal, April 1958”, opines that Savari Narayana of Madhya Pradesh (Dakshina Kosala), was brought to Puri from Phuljheur of Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh , often called the Heart of India, is a state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal and Indore is the largest city....

 where a wooden deity was worshiped. This Narayana
Narayana
Narayana or Narayan or Naraina is an important Sanskrit name for Vishnu, and in many contemporary vernaculars a common Indian name. Narayana is also identified as the original man, Purusha. The Puranas present divergent views on Narayana...

 of the Savaras and became Jagannath.

Prof. B.C. Mazumder (ed), in the “Typical Selections from Oriya Literature”, 1921, maintains that Seori-Narayana has been located in the Bilaspur
Bilaspur District, Chhattisgarh
Bilaspur district is a district of the Chhattisgarh state of India. Bilaspur city is the headquarters of the district. As of 2011 it is the third most populous district of Chhattisgarh , after Raipur and Durg.- Etymology :...

 district of present Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh is a state in Central India, formed when the 16 Chhattisgarhi-speaking South-Eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh gained separate statehood on 1 November 2000....

 state, which was then in the kingdom of Dakshin Kosala, where in the 7th century A.D. a line of rulers of Hinduized Savara origin, established its rule with Sivpur, in the north of Raipur, for its capital.

Verrier Elwin
Verrier Elwin
Verrier Elwin was a self-trained anthropologist, ethnologist and tribal activist, who began his career in India as a Christian missionary...

, anthropologist, ethnologist and tribal activist, in his book “Religion of an Indian Tribe” has narrated that:

"The god Jagannatha had appeared in Seori-Narayana and an old Savar used to worship him. The king of Orissa had built the great temple at Puri and wished to install Jagannatha in it, and he found a Brahmin to fetch it from Seori-Narayan, but nobody knew where it was except the old hermit, Savar. The Brahmin besought him in vain to be allowed to see the god and even went so far as to marry his daughter, and finally the old man consented to take him blindfolded to the place. The Brahmin, however, tied some mustard seeds on a corner of his cloth and made a hole in it so that they dropped out one by one on the way. After sometime they grew up and served to guide him to the spot. The Brahmin then went to the Seori-Narayana alone and begged the god to go to Puri. Jagannatha consented and assuming the form of a log of wood, floated down the Mahanadi to Puri, where he was taken out and placed in the temple."

As per Elwin there is an alternative Savara legend, according to which there are three most important and prominent kittungs (Gods) - two brothers and a sister, Ramma, Bimma and Sitaboi. Ramma is always coupled with the brother Bimma. The legend maintains that it was from them that the Savara tribe was born. Such a set up has significant resemblance to the Jagannath triad.

The argument, that because there is no caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 distinction inside the Jagannath temple, the images are of Buddhist descent, cannot be accepted on merit. Verrier Elwin has argued that:

"they (The Savars) have no caste feeling, and they do not excommunicate one of their members if he changes his religion. Most of them have no idea of untouchability and accept food even from the Douss (Douss are treated as inferiors)" (The Religion of an Indian Tribe). Though Dr. Mayadhar Mansinha thought it (Jagannath triad) to be a Buddhist triad, in his other book History of Oriya Literature he writes: "Originally a god of the tribal Savaras, and adopted later successively by the Aryan faiths of Jainism, Buddhism, Tantricism and Vaishnavism, Jagannatha bears the indelible impress of each of these cults even today. The traditions and practices which centre in an around this famous temple are also still South Indian or Dravidian to a large extent."

The theory that Jagannath triad is a Vaishnava Cult has been ruled out as there is no semblance of Nila Madhava in the present triad images, nor are three images on the same platform being worshiped by the Vaishnavites. Further, the Brahma Padartha (life substance) has been argued not to be Lord Krishna's mortal remains, since puritanism in the Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

 does not permit mortal remains to be inserted in a sacred image.

Further, the Buddhist relic, i.e. the tooth relic, cannot be the Brahma Padartha (Life material), as the relic has been kept at Anuradhapur in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

.

In connection to the possible tribal origins of the Jagannath cult, a pertinent point has been raised by Pandit Nilakantha Das in "The Orissa Historical Review Journal, April 1958", whereby it has been argued that:

"Before Choraganga actually came to Orissa it appears from tradition that, Nilmadhava so much made of the Nihilists and perhaps accepted by the local Savaras, with whom also perhaps mixed up Uddas, has just been replaced by the image of the neem-wood, called Sawrinarayana. Choraganga instead of disapproving the attempt seemed to take ready advantage of the incident, specially as his Hindu patriotism as well as the imperialistic outlook dictated him to make the powerful Savara element of his newly annexed land completely his own and consequently, the new god more liberal and universally popular among these Savara people as well as the Hindu public. Jaina or Buddhist worship and practice were also retained there in making the offering acceptable by all clans and castes with equal reverence.”

All the above facts and arguments point out to a possible tribal origin of the Jagannath worship.

Tribal Narasimha Origins

As per current predominant thought, Jagannath, embodies the metamorphosis of tribal god into a pre-eminent deity of the classical Hindu pantheon. The icon is carved out of wood (not stone or metal), and the tribes whose rituals and traditions were woven into his worship are still living as tribal and semi-tribal communities in the region. This tribal god may have taken a fairly circuitous route to his present pinnacle, via absorption of local shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

 traditions and merger with the growing popularity of the Narasimha
Narasimha
Narasimha or Nrusimha , also spelt as Narasingh and Narasingha, whose name literally translates from Sanskrit as "Man-lion", is an avatar of Vishnu described in the Puranas, Upanishads and other ancient religious texts of Hinduism...

 and Purushottam
Purushottam
Purushottam is called moolapurush of kudaldeshkar Dhananjay gotri, Bharadwaj Gotri and sankhyan gotri.Purushottam means ideal man. But this Purushottam is just a noun of a person who was devotee of Lord Shiva....

 forms of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 in the region in the medieval era.

As regards to archeological findings, Queen Vasata in the eighth century A.D. built the famous Lakshman temple built in brick at Sripur or Shreepur on the banks of river Mahanadi
Mahanadi River
The Mahanadi in East Central India. It drains an area of around 141,600 km2 and has a total course of 858 km. The river flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa.-Source:...

 in present Mahasamund
Mahasamund
Mahasamund is a city and a municipality in Mahasamund District in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. It is the administrative headquarters of Mahasamund District.The present Mayor is Dr. Vimal Chopra....

 district. Sirpur or Shreepur was then the capital of Dakshin Kosala (Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh is a state in Central India, formed when the 16 Chhattisgarhi-speaking South-Eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh gained separate statehood on 1 November 2000....

 region) kingdom. The Laxman temple is believed to have been built in the 8th century by Vasata, the daughter of King Suryavarma of Magadh. The temple plaque opens with a salutation to Purushottam, also titled Narasimha, suggesting a trend in Vaishnav tradition to stress the ugra (violent) aspect of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

. This possibly culminates with Jagannath, widely revered as Purushottam until the end of the 13th century, which had close connections with Narasimha who became popular in Orissa in the post-Gupta
Gupta
Gupta is a common surname of Indian origin.According to some academicians, the name Gupta is derived from Sanskrit goptri, meaning military governor. A more direct translation of the Sanskrit word gupta is 'secret' or 'hidden'. According to prominent historian R. C...

 period.

After Anantavarman Chodagangadev, who commissioned the temple at Puri, his chief queen, Kasturikamodini, built a temple in his homeland in Tekkali (present Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

), east of his first capital Kalinganagar, in 1150 C.E. The temple was dedicated to the god Dadhivaman, and the inscription reveals that the image installed was of the wooden God, and not the famous Puri Trinity of Jagannath-Balabhadra-Subhadra. Scholars maintain that such fact means that Chodagangadev was a devotee of this god, and as the god’s name is preserved in Tekkali in this early period, it seems likely that Dadhivaman (or the tribal form of this Sanskritised name) was the original name of the wooden God.

As the original wooden God was a unitary figure, temples for the single deity continued to be built even after a Trinitarian image emerged at Puri. Even today there are 344 Dadhivaman temples in Orissa, which perpetuate the original state of the god. The Kondh continue to practice a ritual renewal of wooden posts.

There is also something striking about the figures constituting the Jagannath triad. Subhadra’s image consists of only a trunk and a head, but Jagannath and Balabhadra are larger, with a trunk, over-dimensional head, and arm stumps. But while the heads of Subhadra and Balabhadra are oval with almond-shaped eyes, Jagannath’s head is curiously flat on top and is dominated by enormous round eyes.

Scholars explain this in terms of Narasimha’s association with wooden posts representing tribal deities. In the Andhra village Jambulapadu (Anantapur), Narasimha Svami is worshipped as a pillar to which a sheet shaped in the form of a lion’s head is attached. This lion-head explains Jagannath’s large round eyes, typical of Narasimha on account of his fury (krodh). The head of the Jagannath image makes sense when perceived as a lion’s head, where the emphasis is on the jaws, rather than as a human head.

Certain Facts regarding the Origin and Evolution of Jagannath

The following salient issues emerge from the discussion:

(i) The wooden deity is of very remote ancestry, but the exact lineage has not been established due to paucity of archeological and epigraphic evidences.

(ii) Both the terms Jagannath and Purushottama
Purushottama
Purushottama means "Supreme Purusha", "Supreme Being". Purushottama is also one of the names of the Vishnu. According to the Bhagavad Geeta, Purushottam is explained as above and beyond kshar and akshar purushas or as an omni-potent cosmic being...

 are descriptive epithets. These are derivatives of the description of the supreme Godhead as Purushottama
Purushottama
Purushottama means "Supreme Purusha", "Supreme Being". Purushottama is also one of the names of the Vishnu. According to the Bhagavad Geeta, Purushottam is explained as above and beyond kshar and akshar purushas or as an omni-potent cosmic being...

 in the Bhagavat Gita or Jagannath in Valmiki
Valmiki
Valmiki is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e...

 Ramayan.

(iii) All the rulers of the region had worshipped this deity as their own and had left marks of their own beliefs and rituals into the cult.

(iv) The present triad is a later innovation. Even the Vaishnavite legend of Indradyumna does not mention the triad. The single God may have become a triad because of the different religious outlook that the ruling powers were upholding. During the reign of emperor Kharavela
Kharavela
Khārabēḷa was the third and greatest emperor of the Mahāmēghabāhana Dynasty of Kaḷinga . The main source of information about Khārabeḷa is his famous seventeen line rock-cut Hātigumphā inscription in a cave in the Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar, Orissa.During the reign of Khārabēḷa, the Chedi...

, a single deity Kalinga Jina existed. No evidence or information exists about the pre-Kharavela period. Hence, it has been assumed that since at the time of emperor Kharavela
Kharavela
Khārabēḷa was the third and greatest emperor of the Mahāmēghabāhana Dynasty of Kaḷinga . The main source of information about Khārabeḷa is his famous seventeen line rock-cut Hātigumphā inscription in a cave in the Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar, Orissa.During the reign of Khārabēḷa, the Chedi...

, there was a single deity, the possible assumption of existence of a triad does not stand. The existing triad has been hypothesized alternatively as Vaishnavite trinity of Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra, Shaiva triad of Samkarsana Balaram as Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

, Krishna and Ekanamsa, Buddhist triratna, or Savara triad of Ramma, Bimma and Sitaboi.

Transformation from Unitary Icon to Triad

The Madala Panji
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

 observes that Neela Madhav transformed into Jagannath and was worshipped alone as a unitary figure, not as the part of a triad. It is significant to note that the epigraphic sources refer only to a unitary deity Purushottama
Purushottama
Purushottama means "Supreme Purusha", "Supreme Being". Purushottama is also one of the names of the Vishnu. According to the Bhagavad Geeta, Purushottam is explained as above and beyond kshar and akshar purushas or as an omni-potent cosmic being...

 Jagannath. These sources are silent on the existence of Balabhadra and Subhadra. Such state of affairs has led to arguments that Purushottama
Purushottama
Purushottama means "Supreme Purusha", "Supreme Being". Purushottama is also one of the names of the Vishnu. According to the Bhagavad Geeta, Purushottam is explained as above and beyond kshar and akshar purushas or as an omni-potent cosmic being...

 was the original deity and Balabhadra and Subhadra were subsequently drawn in as additions to a unitary figure and formed a triad.


As per scholars, Devi Subhadra could be subsequent addition upon the resurgence of Shaktism
Shaktism
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – the Hindu Divine Mother – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead...

 as the consort (“Not sister”) of Jagannath. At some point of time the figure of Lord Balabhadra may have been added to satisfy the Saivas to the existing couple Jagannath and Devi Subhadra. At this juncture, a major change had to be introduced into the relationship between the deities since as per traditional Oriya
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

 culture, the elder brother is not permitted even to see the face of younger brother’s spouse. Therefore, as a solution, the erstwhile consort (Shri) of Jagannath was relieved from dual images of Jagannath-Shri and Subhadra, the sister to both to deities was introduced.

In the 1970s there was a joint German-Oriya attempt at a serious investigation to these issues and its results have been published in the magum-opus “The Cult of Jagannath and the Regional Tradition of Orissa”. In a note appearing in JRAS, 1981, pp. 26–39, as per noted historian, Dr. Hermann Kulke has tried of late to prove (with the academic help of Oriya scholars) that the Puri temple had been originally built by Ganga Emperor Anantavarman Codaganga (1078-1147 AD) for Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 (Krisna) and Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

 and that Balarama
Balarama
Balarama , also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an Avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana...

 was introduced there at about 1230 A.D), during the reign of Anangabhima III [1211 - 1239 AD] after Devi Laksmi’s transformation into Subhadra. This is because there is an Oriya convention, according to which the younger brother’s wife (i.e. Krishna's wife Lakshmi) could not have lived in the same house with her husband's older brother i.e. Balarama.

The discus Sudarshana chakra was also a subsequent addition to satisfy the Ganapatyas and Sauras. This could only have taken place over the process of Krishna consciousness was well advanced and given the political importance of the cult after Chodagangadev, only under a special royal impact.

Unique and enigmatic are the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarsan without any parallel in any Hindu shrine. They are not built according to the injunctions in traditional Shilpa Sastras (Iconography). In fact there is no foundation in traditional sculpture for the construction of image of Gods and Goddesses in wood. And thus the four-fold images of Daru-Brahma stand apart of all the other icons in the temples situated even in the precincts of the great temple.

All the hundred odd sub-ordinate deities all compare to traditional icons by and large, being anthropomorphic in form and built according to scriptural descriptions in stone so as to be eternal and immortal.

Yet the strange descriptions of Chaturdha Murti or four-fold deities is the centre of the Jagannath cult and has dominated Oriya
Oriya people
The Oriya, known classically by various names , are an ethnic group of eastern India and of eastern Indo-Aryan stock...

 life, art and culture and in the sense it synthesises all the major cults of India. It is not out of place to mention here that Neela Madhav in his primitive shape is now being worshipped on the hill-top Brahmadri or Brahmachala on the bank of river Mahanadi at Kantilo
Kantilo
Kantilo is a census town in Nayagarh district in the Indian state of Orissa.-Geography:Kantilo is located at . It has an average elevation of 65 metres .-Demographics:...

.

Assimilation and Synthesis

Seemingly, the origin of Jagannath cult is aboriginal, tribal Savara. However, in course of time, the cult has taken an Aryanised form and various major faiths like Saivism, Saktism, Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 have been synthesised into this cult.

In the Puri temple, Jagannath is worshipped as Purusottama or Vishnu, Balabhadra as Lord Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 and Devi Subhadra as Adyasakti Durga
Durga
For the 1985 Hindi Film of Rajesh Khanna see DurgaaIn Hinduism, Durga ; ; meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible"; , durga) or Maa Durga "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress" is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having eighteen arms, riding a lion...

. Finally the fourth deity, Sudarsana Chakra
Chakra
Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

 symbolizes the wheel of Sun's Chariot, which attracts the Saura
Saura
The Saura were a tribe of Native Americans who lived in the Piedmont area of North Carolina near the Sauratown Mountains, east of Pilot Mountain and north of the Yadkin River. They were believed to have spoken a Siouan language....

s. The conglomerate of such attributions are called the Chaturdha Murty or the “Four fold Form’.

Certain scholars like Pandit Nilakantha Das have opined that the three main images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra represent the Jain Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 of Samyak Jnana, Samyak Charita and Samyak Drusti. It is also believed that the soul of Jagannath, most secretly hidden within the image of Jagannath is nothing but Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

. The philosophy of Tantra
Tantra
Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

, which in course of time became an integral part of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 has also significantly influenced the rites and rituals of Jagannath temple.

Jagannath is also worshipped as Purusottama (The best of All). Jagannath is worshipped along with Lord Balabhadra or Balarama who is alternatively considered to be an incarnation of' Shesanaga Vasuki
Vasuki
Vasuki is a Sanskrit name for a naga, one of the serpents of Buddhist and Hindu mythology. He is a great King of the nagas and has a gem on his head. Manasa, another naga, is his sister...

. According to some scholars, Subhadra who is worshipped along with Jagannath is the Goddess Durga
Durga
For the 1985 Hindi Film of Rajesh Khanna see DurgaaIn Hinduism, Durga ; ; meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible"; , durga) or Maa Durga "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress" is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having eighteen arms, riding a lion...

. But some other Vaishnavite scholars regard her as the younger sister of Lord Krishna because of the similar name.

To the right of Jagannath is the Sudarshana chakra, a post-like structure that may have originated in processional Siva lingas, but that also has some parallels in pillars seen in orthodox Vaishnava contexts, in folk settings, and in tribal areas. Author O. M. Starza (1993) provides information about the processional Siva lingas (p. 70), Vaishnava pillars (p. 97 ff.), modern folk parallels to the Sudarshana chakra (p. 102 ff.), and stakes or pillar-like icons in the tribal settings (p. 105 ff.).

On the other hand, the importance or role of Sudarshana chakra, the fourth deity remains unexplained. Such a combination of deities is unique in India iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

.

The Saiva element in the cult of Jagannath are co-related with the doctrine of Tantricism and Shakta Dharma. According to the Saivas, Jagannath is Bhairav. The tantric literary texts identify Jagannath with Mahabhairav. It will not be out of place to mention here that Jagannath sits on the Sri Yantra" and is worshipped in the Vijamantra ‘Klim’ which is also the Vijamantra of Kali or Shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

. The representation of Balaram as Sesanaga or Sankarsana bear testimony to the influence of Shaivism on the cult of Jagannath. It may be pointed out that the third deity, Devi Subhadra, who represents the Sakti element is still worshipped with the Bhubaneswari Mantra.

The tantric
Tantra
Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

 texts also point out the name of Jagannath and his worshipers. According to these texts, Jagannath is Maha Bhairav and Goddess Vimala is the Shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

. The offerings of Jagannath becomes Mahaprasad only after it is re-offered to Goddess Vimala. Similarly, different tantric features of Yantras have been engraved on the Ratna vedi where Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are set up. The Kalika Purana depicts Jagannath as a Tantric deity.

In Vaishnav tradition, Lord Balabhadra is the elder brother, Jagannath is younger brother and Devi Subhadra is youngest sister.

According to the Jain version, the image of Jagannath (Black colour) represents sunya, Subhadra symbolizes the creative energy and Balabhadra (White colour) represents the phenomenal universe. All these images have evolved from the Nila Madhava, the ancient Kalinga
Kalinga
Kalinga is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Tabuk and borders Mountain Province to the south, Abra to the west, Isabela to the east, Cagayan to the northeast, and Apayao to the north...

 Jaina
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

. Sudarshana Chakra is contended to be the Hindu name of the Dharma chakra of Jaina symbol. The term Kaivalya
Kaivalya
Kaivalya , which is the ultimate goal of yoga, means solitariness or detachment.The 34 Yoga Sutras of Patanjali of the fourth chapter deals with impressions left by our endless cycles of birth and the rationale behind the necessity of erasing such impressions...

 (liberation) exclusively common in the cult of Jagannath is derived from Jaina tradition.

Symbolic Representation

Jagannath has been depicted as the symbol of godhead in certain other belief systems and faiths as under:

In Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, the Jagannath form is worshiped as the abstract form of Krishna.

The follower of Shaiva Culture maintain that the original shape of Jagannath was in shape of a Linga. Deity Balabhadra is also named as Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 and Ananta Vasudev.

The Shaktas claim that in tantra
Tantra
Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

 systems, Jagannath has been accepted as Bhairava
Bhairava
Bhairava , sometimes known as Bhairo or Bhairon or Bhairadya or Bheruji , Kaala Bhairavar or Vairavar , is the fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva associated with annihilation...

 & associate deity Vimala represents ‘Bhairavi’. Such a belief is reinforced by the ritual whereby only after offering of the ‘Jagannath Bhog’ at Goddess Vimala, it is considered as Maha Prasad’.

Followers of Buddhism pray Jagannath in mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

 ‘Namoh Jagannath Buddhaya’. In their opinion, Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra represent the Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

-Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

-Dhamma triad. A section of Buddhists believes that the tooth relic of Buddha is kept inside the Jagannath idol at the navel circle. Buddists draw parallel in claiming that the Jagannath Rath-Yatra is like the of Rath Yatra for Buddha. The Buddhists also do not follow casteism in society, which is also followed in the Ananda Bazar of Jagannath.

Jain
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

s believe that the word Jagannath has been derived from the word 'Jinanath’. Jagannath idol resembles with the ancient Jain Idol. The ‘Baisi Pahacha’(22 steps) leading to the temple has been constructed in the memory of 22 tirthankaras or Kevalins
Kevala Jnana
In Jainism, ' or ' , "Perfect or Absolute Knowledge", is the highest form of knowledge that a soul can attain. A person who has attained is called a Kevalin, which is synonymous with Jina "victor" and Arihant "the worthy one"...

. Similarly, the offerings made to Jagannath is called ‘Kaivalya’.

The Kanchi Conquest

One of the most popular legends associated with Jagannath is that of Kanchi Avijana (or Conquest of Kanchi) also termed as Kanchi-Kaveri. According to the legends, the daughter of the King of Kanchi was betrothed to the Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 of Puri. However, when the Kanchi King witnessed the Gajapati sweeping the area where the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra were kept during Ratha yatra, the former considered that as an act unworthy of a King and declined the marriage proposal to the later. Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 Purushottam Deva, deeply insulted at the retraction and attacked the Kingdom of Kanchi, but was effectively repulsed.

Upon defeat, the Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 Purushottam Deva returned and prayed to Jagannath, the deity of land of Kalinga
Kalinga (India)
Kalinga was an early state in central-eastern India, which comprised most of the modern state of Orissa/Utkal , as well as the Andhra region of the bordering state of Andhra Pradesh. It was a rich and fertile land that extended from the river Damodar/Ganges to Godavari and from Bay of Bengal to...

. Moved with the prayer, Jagannath and Balabhadra, left their places in the temple and started expedition to Kanchi on horseback, with Jagannath on a white horse and Balabhadra on a black horse. The legend has such a powerful impact on the Oriya culture
Oriya culture
-Dance:Odissi or Orissi dance and music is classified as a classical music of India. Odissi has a long, unbroken tradition of 2,000 years, and finds mention in the Natyashastra of Bharatamuni, possibly written circa 200 BC...

 that the simple mention of white horse-black horse brings the imagery of Kanchi conquest of the Lord.

On the road, Jagannath and Balabhadra grew thirsty and chanced upon a milkmaid Manika, who gave them butter-milk/yogurt to quench their thirst, and in return, Balabhadra gave her a ring. Later, Purushottam Deva himself passed by with his army. At Adipur near Chilika lake, milkmaid Manika obstructed the Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 pleading for the unpaid cost of yogurt consumed by Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

's two leading soldiers riding on black and white horses and produced the gold ring as evidence. Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 Purusottam Deva identified the ring as that of Jagannath and upon the divine support, enthusiastically led the expedition.

It was a war between Jagannath-led power of Orissa with that of Ganesh-led army of Kanchi. Purushottam Deva won the war, brought the princess to Puri and instructed his Minister to get the princess Padmavati married with a sweeper. http://www.amarchitrakatha.com/epics-and-mythology/purushottam-dev-and-padmavati-768. Some writers opine that the Gajapati also brought images of Uchista Ganesh (Bhanda Ganesh or
Kamada Ganesh) and enshrined at the Jagannath Temple.

This myth has been recounted by Mohanty (1980, p. 7). Das (1982, p. 120) notes that this story is mentioned in a chronicle of the Jagannath Temple, Puri in relation to Gajapati Purushottama. At any rate, the story was popular soon after Purushottama's reign, as a text of the first half of the sixteenth century mentions a Kanchi Avijana scene in the Jagannath temple. There is currently a prominent relief in the jagamohana (prayer hall) of the Jagannath temple of Puri that depicts this scene.

In modern culture, Kanchi Abhijan is a major motif in Odissi dance. http://www.srjan.com/gurujicomposition.aspx.

In Oriya literature
Oriya literature
Oriya is an official language of the state of Orissa, India. The region has been known at different stages of history as Kalinga, Udra, Utkala, or Koshala. The language is also spoken by minority populations of the neighboring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The...

, the Kanchi conquest (Kanchi Kaveri) has significant http://books.google.co.in/books?id=YCJrUfVtZxoC&pg=PA163&lpg=PA163&dq=kanchi+kaveri&source=bl&ots=Kumyn0EJSB&sig=9enG1kOM8Tpb456aE9TUCcE7mCA&hl=en&ei=VdjfTbWMCYKsrAehnbEZ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=kanchi%20kaveri&f=false bearing, in medieval as well as modern literature. The first Oriya
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

 drama written by Ramashankar Ray, the father of Oriya
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

 drama in 1880 is Kanchi Kaveri. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=zB4n3MVozbUC&pg=PA1091&lpg=PA1091&dq=kanchi+kaveri&source=bl&ots=OBYZ0YXr-R&sig=Y6dlQqj_yvdJlcqAoHNR1EdAJm0&hl=en&ei=VdjfTbWMCYKsrAehnbEZ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CEUQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=kanchi%20kaveri&f=false

It has been asserted by researcher J. P. Das (1982, p. 120) that the historicity of this event is not certain.

However, the legendary Kanchi Kingdom has been identified as the historical Vijayanagar Kingdom
Vijayanagara Empire
The Vijayanagara Empire , referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was an empire based in South Indian in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of the Yadava lineage. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts...

. As per historical records, Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 Purushottam Deva's expedition towards Virupaksha Raya II
Virupaksha Raya II
Virupaksha Raya II was an emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire from the Sangama Dynasty.Virupaksha Raya II succeeded his uncle, Mallikarjuna Raya, a corrupt and weak ruler who continually lost against the empire's enemies. Even so, Virupaksha Raya II was no more of a better ruler than his predecessor...

's Kanchi (Vijayanagar) Kingdom
Vijayanagara Empire
The Vijayanagara Empire , referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was an empire based in South Indian in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of the Yadava lineage. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts...

 started during 1476 http://www.orissa.oriyaonline.com/tarini_history.html with Govinda Bhanjha as Commander-in-chief. Gajapati
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 Purushottam Deva invaded Thiruvannaamalai of Tiruvannamalai district
Tiruvannamalai district
Thiruvannaamalai District is one of the 32 districts in the state of Tamil Nadu, in South India. Thiruvannaamalai town is the district headquarters. The district is divided into 7 Taluks/ Chengam, Thiruvannaamalai, Polur, Thandarampattu, Aarani, Vandavasi and Cheyyar. Aarani is famous for silk...

 after crossing river Kaveri.

Reference of Jagannath in various Literary Works and Texts

References and mention of Jagannath have been found in numerous religious texts and semi-religious literary works.

The most ancient reference is found in the 3rd rca
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

 of the 155th sukta in the 10th Mandala
Mandala
Maṇḍala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". In the Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point...

 of the Rig veda. In a sukta there is reference to sacred log (Daru) which runs as thus:

"Ado yad daru plavate sindhoh pare apurusam,

Tada rabhasva durhano, tena gaccha parastaram." (10.155.3 R.V.)

Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 Commentator Sayana
Sayana
' was an important commentator on the Vedas. He flourished under King Bukka I and his successor Harihara II, in the Vijayanagar Empire of South India...

charya has ascribed this sukta to Jagannath in the following manner:

"The exists on sea-shore in a far off place, the wooden image of a deity with name Purusottama;

O ye, by worshipping that wood so indestructible, attain the supreme place.

However, the acceptance of this rca
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

 as referring to Jagannath is not universal. Alternately, it has been argued by scholars that the rca
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

 is Alaxmi Stava only.

In the Uttara Khanda of the Valmiki Ramayana, mention of Sri Jagannath has been found where Sri Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 has advised Vibhisana to devote himself to the worship of the deity, who has been described as the presiding deity of the Ikshvaku
Ikshvaku
Ikshvaku pāli: Okkāka) was the first king of the Ikshvaku dynasty and founder of the Solar Dynasty of Kshatriyas in Vedic civilization in ancient India.-In Hinduism:He is remembered in Hindu scriptures as a righteous and glorious king...

 Kula (Clan) or Surya Vamsa. As a matter of fact, even today, the ritual Vibhisana Bandapana is observed in the temple of Jagannath. Further, in the Kiskinda Kanda of the Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, there are references to the names of Sri Jagannath among other deities.

In the Mahabharata, the tale of King Indradyumna and the tank named after him is a direct reference to the Jagannath lore. In this epic, there is description of Vedi, which is identified by the scholars as Antarvedi
Antarvedi
Antarvedi is a village in Sakhinetipalle mandal located close to Narsapur near the Bay of Bengal coast and Vasistha River, in East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Actually,Antarvedi is at the tip of the confluence of the Vasistha River with the Bay of Bengal...

 or the seat of Sri Jagannath in the Samkha Kshetra
Samkha Kshetra
Samkha Khsetra is the religio-geographic name of the most sacred section of the holy city of Puri, the seat of Hindu deity, Shri Jagannath...

. In the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, a reference has been made to the Jagannath Dharma.

Mention of Sri Jagannath and the Purusottama Kshetra abound in Puranic literature of Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana is the sixteenth purana of the Hindu scriptures. During the period of mahapralaya, Lord Vishnu had taken Matsya Avatar to save the seeds of all lives and Manu...

, Vishnu Purana
Vishnu Purana
The Vishnu Purana is a religious Hindu text and one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. It is considered one of the most important Puranas and has been given the name Puranaratna...

, Agni Purana
Agni Purana
The Agni Purana, one of the 18 Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts, contains descriptions and details of various incarnations of Vishnu. It also has details account about Rama, Krishna, Prithvi, and the stars...

, Padma Purana
Padma Purana
Padma Purana , one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text, is divided into five parts.In the first part of the text, sage Pulastya explains to Bhishma about religion and the essence of the religion. The second part describes in detail Prithvi...

, Narada Purana, Brahma Purana
Brahma Purana
The Brahma Purana is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. The extant text comprises 246 chapters. It is divided into two parts, namely the Purvabhaga and the Uttarabhaga . The first part narrates the story behind the creation of the cosmos, details the life and...

 and Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya , a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him...

.

Also that, in some Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 texts like Kapila samhita, Tirtha Chintamani, Niladri Mahodaya, Rudrayamala, Tantrayamala, Purusottama Tatwa etc. references to Sri Jagannath have been made.

The Jagannath Astakam of Adi Shankaracharya
Shankaracharya
Shankaracharya, is a commonly used title of heads of mathas in the Advaita Vedanta tradition. The title derives from Adi Shankara, a 9th century CE reformer of Hinduism. He is honored as Jagadguru, a title that was used earlier only to Lord Krishna...

 is another important historical literary piece on Jagannath which provides information about the temple and appearance of the deity.

Apart from the above Puranic and other ancient texts, the mention of Jagannath in medieval Oriya literature
Oriya literature
Oriya is an official language of the state of Orissa, India. The region has been known at different stages of history as Kalinga, Udra, Utkala, or Koshala. The language is also spoken by minority populations of the neighboring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The...

 is enormous. Almost every Oriya literature
Oriya literature
Oriya is an official language of the state of Orissa, India. The region has been known at different stages of history as Kalinga, Udra, Utkala, or Koshala. The language is also spoken by minority populations of the neighboring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The...

 literateure like Sarala Dasa
Sarala Dasa
Sarala Dasa was one of the great scholars of Oriya literature whose work formed a perennial source of information for succeeding generations....

, Jagannath Dasa, Jayadeva
Jayadeva
Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna-an avatar of Vishnu and his consort, Radha, and it is mentioned that Radha is greater than Hari, and is considered an important text in the...

, Balaram Dasa, Achyutaand Dasa, Jasobanta Dasa, Ananta
Ananta
Ananta is a Sanskrit word meaning "without end".It may refer to:*Ananta , one of the names of Vishnu.*Ananta , Actor and Producer for Bengali film.*Ananta, a serpent on which Vishnu lies, aka Shesha....

, Upendra Bhanja, Baladeva, Dinakrush Dasa, Kavi Jadumani have composed invocations, prayers pertaining to Jagannath.

In the modern Oriya literature
Oriya literature
Oriya is an official language of the state of Orissa, India. The region has been known at different stages of history as Kalinga, Udra, Utkala, or Koshala. The language is also spoken by minority populations of the neighboring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The...

, Jagannath has been a common reference point, both on historical as well as mythical paradigms. The most acknowledged literary pieces on Jagannath are Nila Shaila and Niladri Vijaya by renowned Oriya
Oriya literature
Oriya is an official language of the state of Orissa, India. The region has been known at different stages of history as Kalinga, Udra, Utkala, or Koshala. The language is also spoken by minority populations of the neighboring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The...

 writer Late Shri Surendra Mohanty
Surendra Mohanty
Surendra Mohanty born in Orissa is an award-winning author who writes in Oriya. He is the recipient of prestigious Orissa Sahitya Academy Award for his novel Nilashaila.- Career :...

, http://www.orissadiary.com/personality/writer/SURENDRAMOHANTY%20.asp with the author receiving the Kendra Sahitya Academy award in 1969 for the novel http://orissa.gov.in/e-magazine/orissaannualreference/OR-Annual-2009/pdf/92-93.pdf.

Epigraphic Evidence of Jagannath and the Timeline

The antiquity of Jagannath is supported by several historical, literary and epigraphic
Epigraphy
Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

 evidences.

318 A.D.: According to William Hunter
William Wilson Hunter
Sir William Wilson Hunter KCSI CIE was a Scottish historian, statistician, a compiler and a member of the Indian Civil Service, who later became Vice President of Royal Asiatic Society.-Early life and education:...

, first appearance of Jagannath in history occurs during 318 A.D. when the priest fled with his image to escape the wrath of Raktabahu and his band of plunderers.

464 A.D.: As per A. B. Mohanty, the holy log was recovered by a King about 146 years later from the jungles of western kingdoms.

475 A.D.: The second reconstruction [First being the reconstruction from Nila Madhav shrine by King Indradyumna) of the Jagannath temple by Yayati Kesari and the renewal of the cult after Yavana invasion of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 in the 5th century A.D., as per Puri's late 16th century Madala Panji
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

 temple chronicles.

Historian K. C. Panigrahi suggested that Puri's legendary account of the claimed invasion of Orissa under the Yavana general Raktabahu in the 4th/5th century A.D. during the reign of the legendary king Sovanadeva (Legendary) may contain a historical reminiscence of the conquest of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 by the Rastrakuta King Govinda III
Govinda III
Govinda III was a famous Rashtrakuta ruler who succeeded his illustrious father Dhruva Dharavarsha. He was militarily the most successful emperor of the dynasty with successful conquests from Cape Comorin in the south to Kannauj in the north, from Banaras in the east to Broach in the west...

 during the reign of the Bhaumakara king Subhakara deva who ruled in coastal Orissa around 800 A.D. And moreover, he pointed out that Jagannath's legendary absence of 146 years in western Orissa (between Raktabahu's invasion and Yayati's 'rediscovery' of Jagannath and reinstallment at Puri) corresponds more or less exactly with the space of time between the historical reigns of Subhakaradeva and Yayati-I, the Somavamsi ruler Yayati Kesari established the first regional kingdom of Orissa. The installation of Jagannath at Puri temple took place several years after Yayati Kesari had come to throne, viz., in Yayati's 9th regnal years. Moreover in both cases the images were renewed outside Puri. Yayati Kesari performed the great 'Vanayaga' ritual in the vicinity of his former capital near Sonepur
Sonepur
Sonepur, also known as Subarnapur, is a town and district headquarters of Subarnapur district of Orissa. Sonepur was formerly the capital of a princely state of British India. The district spreads over an area of 2284.89 km2. It is also known as Second Varanasi of India for its cluster of...

 of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 and Jagannath was finally reinstalled on at Puri only two years after the renewal of the idol. However, In Puri, too, no pre-sixteenth century sources of the Yayati Kesari account are known. Contemporary facts are fully silent about any activities of the Somavamsis at Puri, particularly of Yayati Kesari as builder of the first Jagannath temple at Puri. The silence of early medieval sources would be surprising in view of the many available Somavamsi inscriptions and other literary sources which could have mentioned or even praised Yayati Kesari and his great deeds at Puri. In Purusottama Mahatmya which has contained the Indradyumna legend and the origin of Jagannath's Daru Devata at Puri there is no mention of Yayati Kesari.

That there was an earlier temple of Jagannath at Purushottama Kshetra prior to the present one built by Chodaganga Deva in 12th century A.D., is established by Sanskrit playwright Murari Mishra’s Anargharaghava Natakam (c. 9th century), which refers to Purushottama being worshipped on the seashore. (Orissa Historical Research Journal, Vol. III, No. I, PP. 9-10). In the drama Anargharaghava Natakam, the name Purushottama is used to denote the place. In the Ganga rule the Jagannath temple was rebuilt by Gangeswar or Chodaganga Deva (1078-1147 A.D).

8th century A.D.: In many copper plates dating 8th century A.D, mention of individuals bearing the name of Purushottama also substantiates the wide popularity of Purushottama Jagannath.

810 A.D.: Sankarcharya visits shrine at Puri in course of spiritual conquest over Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and other denominations, and establishes Govardhana Matha
Govardhana matha
The Govardhana matha is located in the city of Puri in Orissa state , and is associated with the Jagannath temple. It is one of those four cardinal mathas said to have been founded by Adi Shankara, and is the eastern matha. As per the tradition initiated by Adi Shankara, it is in charge of the Rig...

 at Puri upon mahavakya Prajñānam brahma (Brahman is Knowledge). Sankarcharya must have come across the image of Nila Madhava as described in Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya , a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him...

 as above, during his visit to Puri.

1078 A.D.: Devayatana of Purushottama finds special mention in Krishna Mishra’s Prabodha Chandrodaya Natakam (c.1078 A.D).

1135 A.D.: Chodaganga Deva began the construction of the present temple in circa 1135 A.D. In the Dasgoba Copper Plate Inscription of the late 12th century, Chodaganga's grandson Rajaraja III praised his grandfather for having built the Jagannath temple which had been “neglected” by previous kings, as per Epigraphia Indica, XXXI, p. 255, which indicates epigraphical evidence of the existence of a Jagannath temple at Puri before the construction of the present temple.

12th Century A.D.: The Vaishnava preachers of the 12th century viz. Sri Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

charya, Acharya Nimbarka
Nimbarka
Nimbarka , is known for propagating the Vaishnava Theology of Dvaitadvaita, duality in unity. According to scholars headed by Prof. Roma Bose, he lived in the 13th Century, on the assumption that Śrī Nimbārkācārya was the author of the work Madhvamukhamardana...

, Acharya Vishnuswami
Vishnuswami
Vishnuswami was a Hindu religious leader. He is primarily known for having started the Rudra sampradaya....

 and Sri Madhava
Madhava
Mādhava may be*a Sanskrit patronymic, "descendant of Madhu ".** especially of Krishna or Parashurama as incarnations of Vishnu, see Madhava *** an icon of Krishna...

charya established monasteries at Jagannath Puri to spread their religious theories.

1210 A.D.: The Gitagovinda of Jayadeva
Jayadeva
Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna-an avatar of Vishnu and his consort, Radha, and it is mentioned that Radha is greater than Hari, and is considered an important text in the...

 mentions of the glory of Jagannath.

1211 A.D.: Emperor Anangabhima deva (1211- 1238 A.D) donated his vast empire to Sri Purushottama Jagannath and declared himself as his servant (Rauta). Due to his efforts several Jagannath temples were set up at different places in Orissa. During the Suryavamsi period (1435-1533 A.D.) the same trend continued.

13th century A.D.: A sculptural piece of Konark
Konark
Konark is a small town in Puri district in the state of Orissa, India, on the Bay of Bengal, sixty-five kilometers from Bhubaneswar. It is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple , built in black granite by King Narasimhadeva-I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is a World Heritage Site...

 temple of the 13th century A.D depicts its builder, King Narasimha-I, offering worship to Siva Linga, Purushottama Jagannath and Durga
Durga
For the 1985 Hindi Film of Rajesh Khanna see DurgaaIn Hinduism, Durga ; ; meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible"; , durga) or Maa Durga "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress" is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having eighteen arms, riding a lion...

.

1328 A.D.: Epigraphic sources reveal that the inscriptions of Bhanudeva II (1306-1328 A.D) of Eastern Ganga dynasty
Eastern Ganga dynasty
The Eastern Ganga dynasty reigned from Kalinga and their rule consisted of the whole of the modern day Indian state of Orissa as well as parts of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the 11th century to the early 15th century. Their capital was known by the name Kalinganagar, which is...

 make the first mention of the name, ‘Jagannath’. (South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. V, No. 1214). Thus, the name Jagannath has been used for the first time in the inscriptions of Bhanudeva-II as in “Puri Copper Plates of Bhanudeva-II”, Ed. D.C.Sircar, JASB, XVIII, I, 1956, P.25. During the reign of Bhanudeva-II, a feudatory chief had made gifts at Sikurmam in the 3rd Anka of Jagannath Deva when Sri Bhanudeva was ruling. (Kalinga Historical Quarterly, I, P.251). According to the Puri Grant of 1313, Bhanudeva granted villages in the 7th Anka of Purushottama Jagannath deva. Thus in a private record Purushottama comes to be called Jagannath. It appears to be the earliest epigraphical reference to the name, Shri ’Jagannath’.

Late 16th century A.D.: The destruction of the 'Darumurti' of Puri's Holy Trinity by Islamic barbarian iconoclast
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

 Kalapahara. According to N'mat Allah's Makhzan-i-Afghan of the year 1612 A.D., "every Afghan, who took part in campaign, obtained as booty one or two gold images, Kalapahara destroyed the temple of Jagannath at Puri which contained 700 idols made of gold, the biggest of which weighed 30 Mans" (M.A.Rahim, History of Afghan in India, A.D.1545-1631).

1590-1592 A.D.: The rise of Ramachandra Deva of Khurda and his renewal of the images of Jagannath at Khurda in about 1587 and at Puri in 1590/92.

It has been argued somewhere that the most important message of the Bisar Mahanty and Yayati Kesari legends to Jagannath's devotees is proclaimed in the very beginning of the Madala Panji
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

 temple chronicle which commences with the words

"Jagannath, the Lord of deities, never abandons Sri Purushottama (Puri) even though crores of Brahma
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...

 (Brahmanda) are destroyed."

Festivals

A large number of traditional festivals are observed at the Jagannath Temple. Out of those numerous festivals, thirteen are important.

01. Niladri Mahodaya
02. Snana Yatra
Snana Yatra
The Snana Yatra is a bathing festival celebrated on the Purnima of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha. It is an important festival of the Jagannath Cult...


03. Ratha Yatra or Sri Gundicha
04. Sri Hari Sayan
05. Utthapan Yatra
06. Parswa Paribartan
07. Dakhinayan Yatra
08. Prarbana Yatra
09. Pusyavishek
10. Uttarayan
11. Basantika Dola Yatra
12. Damanak Chaturdasi
13. Chandan Yatra
Chandan Yatra
Chandan Yatra is a festival of the Hindu god Jagannath held on Akshaya Tritiya at the Jagannath Temple every year. On this day auspicious to Hindus, construction of the chariots for the annual Rath Yatra festival is begun...



An unpublished text Yatra Bhagabata of poet Balunki Pathy lists down the following twelve festivals of Jagannath as of great import:

“[D]olajatra Damanaka Mahokshasya Punya Trutiya,

Manchasnana Rathabara Gatih Sayanam Chayane Dwe,

Parswabrutih Sayana Nibrutih Prabrutih Pusyapuja,

Chaiba Jatra Bidhi Nigadita Dwadaseta Narendra."


Ratha Yatra is most significant of all festivals of Jagannath.

Rath Yatra

The Jagannath triad are usually worshiped in the sanctum of the temple, but once during the month of Asadha (Rainy Season of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, usually falling in month of June or July), they are brought out onto the Bada Danda (The main high street of Puri) and travel (3 km) to the Shri Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

, in huge chariots (Rath), allowing the public to have Darshan
Darshan
or Darshan is a Sanskrit term meaning "sight" , vision, apparition, or glimpse. It is most commonly used for "visions of the divine" in Hindu worship, e.g. of a deity , or a very holy person or artifact...

 (Holy view). This festival is known as Rath Yatra
Rath Yatra
Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Orissa, India during the months of June or July. Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area...

, meaning the festival (Yatra) of the chariots (Ratha). The Rathas (Chariots) are huge wheeled wooden structures, which are built anew every year and are pulled by the devotees. The chariot for Jagannath is approximately 45 feet high and 35 feet square and takes about 2 months to construct (Starza, 1993, p. 16). The artists and painters of Puri decorate the cars and paint flower petals etc. on the wheels, the wood-carved charioteer and horses, and the inverted lotuses on the wall behind the throne (Das, 1982, p. 40). The huge chariots of Jagannath pulled during Rath Yatra
Rath Yatra
Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Orissa, India during the months of June or July. Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area...

 is the etymological origin of the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 word Juggernaut
Juggernaut
A juggernaut in colloquial English usage is a literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable.Originating in ca...

. http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=juggernaut. The Ratha-Yatra is also termed as the Shri Gundicha yatra.
The most significant ritual associated with the Ratha-Yatra is the chhera pahara. During the festival, the Gajapati King
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots in the Chera Pahara (Sweeping with water) ritual. The Gajapati King
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 cleanses the road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion. As per the sublime custom, although the Gajapati King
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 has been the most exalted person in the Kalinga
Kalinga
Kalinga is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Tabuk and borders Mountain Province to the south, Abra to the west, Isabela to the east, Cagayan to the northeast, and Apayao to the north...

n kingdom, still he would render the menial service to Jagannath. This ritual signified that under fiefdom of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King
Gajapati Kingdom
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynasty that ruled over Kalinga , large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in 1434...

 and the lowest of the low devotee. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/maharaja-of-puri-turns-sweeper-for-lord-jagannath/68263-3-1.html

Chera pahara is held on two days, on the first day of the Ratha-Yatra, when the deities are taken to garden house at Mausi Maa Temple
Mausi Maa Temple
The Mausi Maa temple is situated the mid-way of the Bada danda of Puri. It is a small temple dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.As per Jagannath mythology, once Goddess Lakshmi Devi left Shri Mandira, and thus Jagannath and Balabhadra becomes poor and had to go out begging...

 and again on the last day of the festival, when the deities are ceremoniously brought back to the Shri Mandir.

As per another ritual, when the deities are taken out from the Shri Mandir to the Chariots in Pahandi vijay, disgruntled devotees hold a right to offer kicks, slaps and the derogatory remarks to the images, and Jagannath behaves like a commoner.
In the Ratha Yatra, the three deities are taken from the Puri temple in the chariots to the Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

, where they stay for seven days. Thereafter, the deities again ride the chariots back to Shri Mandir in bahuda yatra. On the way back, the three chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple
Mausi Maa Temple
The Mausi Maa temple is situated the mid-way of the Bada danda of Puri. It is a small temple dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.As per Jagannath mythology, once Goddess Lakshmi Devi left Shri Mandira, and thus Jagannath and Balabhadra becomes poor and had to go out begging...

 and the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake which are generally consumed by the poor sections only.

The observance of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath dates back to the period of the Puranas
Puranas
The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

. Vivid descriptions of this festival are found in Brahma Purana
Brahma Purana
The Brahma Purana is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. The extant text comprises 246 chapters. It is divided into two parts, namely the Purvabhaga and the Uttarabhaga . The first part narrates the story behind the creation of the cosmos, details the life and...

, Padma Purana
Padma Purana
Padma Purana , one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text, is divided into five parts.In the first part of the text, sage Pulastya explains to Bhishma about religion and the essence of the religion. The second part describes in detail Prithvi...

 and Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
The Skanda Purana is the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts. The text is devoted mainly to the lilas of Kartikeya , a son of Shiva and Parvati. It also contains a number of legends about Shiva, and the holy places associated with him...

. Kapila Samhita also refers to Rath Yatra. In Moghul period also, King Ramsingh of Jaipur, Rajasthan has been described as organizing the Rath Yatra in the 18th Century. In Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, Kings of Mayurabhanja and Parlakhemundi  were organizing the Rath Yatra, though the most grand festival in terms of scale and popularity takes place at Puri.

In fact, Starza (1993, p. 133) notes that the ruling Ganga dynasty
Ganga Dynasty
Ganga Dynasty is a name used for two unrelated dynasties who ruled parts of India:* The Western Ganga Dynasty, a kingdom in southern India, based in southern Karnataka, from the 3rd to the 10th centuries...

 instituted the Rath Yatra at the completion of the great temple around 1150 A.D. This festival was one of those Hindu festivals that was reported to the Western world very early. Friar Odoric of Pordenone visited India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in 1316-1318, some 20 years after Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 had dictated the account of his travels while in a Genovese prison (Mitter, 1977, p. 10). In his own account of 1321, Odoric reported how the people put the "idols" on chariots, and the King and Queen and all the people drew them from the "church" with song and music. (Starza, 1993, p. 129; Das, 1982, p. 48).

Jagannath Temple at Puri

The Temple of Jagannath at Puri
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

 is one of the major Hindu temples in India. The temple is built in the Kalinga
Kalinga
Kalinga is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Tabuk and borders Mountain Province to the south, Abra to the west, Isabela to the east, Cagayan to the northeast, and Apayao to the north...

 style of architecture, with the Pancharatha (Five chariots) type consisting of two anurathas, two konakas and one ratha. Jagannath temple
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

 is a pancharatha with well-developed pagas. ‘Gajasimhas’ (elephant lions) carved in recesses of the pagas, the ‘Jhampasimhas’(Jumping lions) are also placed properly. The perfect pancharatha temple developed into a Nagara-rekha temple with unique Orissan style of subdivisions like the Pada, Kumbha, Pata, Kani and Vasanta. The Vimana or the apsidal structure consists of several sections superimposed one over other, tapering to the top where the Amalakashila and Kalasa are placed.
http://www.jagannath.nic.in/architecture.asp

Temple of Jagannath at Puri
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

 has four distinct sectional structures, namely -

(i) Deula or Vimana (Sanctum sanctorum
Sanctum sanctorum
The Latin phrase sanctum sanctorum is a Latin translation of the biblical term: "Holy of Holies" which generally refers in Latin texts to the Holiest place of the Tabernacle of Ancient Israel and later the Temples in Jerusalem, but also has some derivative use in application to imitations of the...

) where the triad deities are lodged on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls);

(ii) Mukhashala (Frontal porch);

(iii) Nata Mandira/Natamandapa, which is also known as the Jagamohana, (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall), and

(iv) Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall).
Jagannath temple
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

 is built on an elevated platform, as compared to Lingaraj and other temples belonging to this type. Jagannath temple
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

 is the first temple in the history of Kalinga
Kalinga
Kalinga is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Tabuk and borders Mountain Province to the south, Abra to the west, Isabela to the east, Cagayan to the northeast, and Apayao to the north...

an temple architecture where all the chambers like Jagamohana, Bhogamandapa and Natyamandapa were build along with the main temple. There are miniature shrines on the three outer sides of the main temple.

The Deula consists of a tall shikhara (dome) housing the sanctum sanctorum
Sanctum sanctorum
The Latin phrase sanctum sanctorum is a Latin translation of the biblical term: "Holy of Holies" which generally refers in Latin texts to the Holiest place of the Tabernacle of Ancient Israel and later the Temples in Jerusalem, but also has some derivative use in application to imitations of the...

 (garbhagriha
Garbhagriha
Garbhagriha or Garbha griha is the small unlit shrine of a Hindu temple.Garbhagriha or ' is a Sanskrit word meaning the interior of the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost sanctum of a Hindu temple where resides the murti of the primary deity of the temple...

). A pillar made of fossilized wood is used for placing lamps as offering. The Lion Gate (Singhadwara) is the main gate to the temple, guarded by two guardian deities Jaya and Vijaya
Jaya-Vijaya
Jaya and Vijaya are the two demigod gatekeepers of the abode of Vishnu, known as Vaikuntha .-Curse of the four Kumaras:...

. A 16-sided, 11 meter high granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 monolithic columnar pillar known as the Aruna Stambha (Solar Pillar) bearing Aruna
Aruna
In to Hindu mythology and Hindu scriptures, Aruṇá or Aruṇ is a personification of the reddish glow of the rising Sun, which is believed to have spiritual powers...

, the charioteer of Surya
Surya
Surya Suraya or Phra Athit is the chief solar deity in Hinduism, one of the Adityas, son of Kasyapa and one of his wives, Aditi; of Indra; or of Dyaus Pitar . The term Surya also refers to the Sun, in general. Surya has hair and arms of gold...

, faces the Lion Gate. This column was brought here from the Sun temple of Konark
Konark
Konark is a small town in Puri district in the state of Orissa, India, on the Bay of Bengal, sixty-five kilometers from Bhubaneswar. It is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple , built in black granite by King Narasimhadeva-I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is a World Heritage Site...

. http://www.fullorissa.com/puri/temple_temple.htm

The temple's historical records Madala panji
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

 maintains that the temple was originally built by King Yayati
Yayati
Yayati was a Puranic king and the son of king Nahusha and one of ancestors of Pandavas. He was a great scholar of Vedas. He had five brothers, Yati, Samyati, Ayati, Viyati and Kriti. He had two wives, Devayani and Sharmishtha. Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya, the priest of Asuras ....

 of the Somavamsi dynasty on the site of the present shrine. However, the historians question the veracity and historicity of the Madala records
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

. As per historians, the Deula and the Mukhashala were built in the 12th century A.D. by Ganga King Anangabheemadeva, the grandson of Anantavarman Chodagangadev and the Natamandapa and Bhogamandapa were constructed subsequently during the reign of Gajapati Purushottama Deva (1461-1491 A.D.) and Prataprudra Deva (1495-1532 A.D.) respectively. According to Madala Panji
Madala Panji
Madala Panji is a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri, Orissa state, India. It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or 14th Century AD...

, the outer prakara was built by Gajapati Kapilendradeva
Kapilendradeva
Kapilendradeva or Kapilendra Routray was the emperor of Kalinga-Utkal and the founder of the Suryavansi Gajapati empire which annexed large swathes of territory in Telengana,...

 (1435–1497). The inner prakara called the Kurma bedha (Tortoise encompassment) was built by Purushottama Deva.

The temple is known as the Shri Mandira to the devotees.

As a matter of traditions, it is strictly forbidden for non-Hindus to enter the Jagannath temple.

There are many more Jagannath Temples all over India, with the temple at Hauz khash of New Delhi
Jagannath Temple, Delhi
The Jagannath Temple in New Delhi, India is a modern temple built by the Oriya community of Delhi dedicated to the Hindu God Jagannath. The temple located in Green Park is famous for its annual Rathyatra festival....

, that at Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad also known as Karnavati is the largest city in Gujarat, India. It is the former capital of Gujarat and is also the judicial capital of Gujarat as the Gujarat High Court has its seat in Ahmedabad...

 being the notable ones. One of the lesser known, but older than 300 years, temple is in Kurseong
Kurseong
Kurseong is a hill station situated in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India.Located at an altitude of 1458 metres , Kurseong is just 30 km from Darjeeling...

 in Darjeeling District in North of West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

.

Outside India, in the Besakih temple
Mother Temple of Besakih
The Mother Temple of Besakih, or Pura Besakih, in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Agama Hindu Dharma in Bali., Indonesia and one of a series of Balinese temples.-Architecture:The temple is actually a...

 of eastern Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

 province of Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, an ancient idol of Jagannath has been found.

Images Gallery


See also

  • Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa, India
  • Juggernaut
    Juggernaut
    A juggernaut in colloquial English usage is a literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable.Originating in ca...

  • Krishna
    Krishna
    Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

  • Nabakalevara
    Nabakalevara
    The term Nabakalevara , is derived from the Sanskrit words Naba or new and Kalevara or body, literally meaning New Body...

  • Puri, Orissa
  • Rath Yatra
    Rath Yatra
    Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Orissa, India during the months of June or July. Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area...

  • Vishnu
    Vishnu
    Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....


External links

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