Lord Jagannath – Lord of the Universe

Lord of the Universe- Jagannath

Jagannath or Jagannatha meaning “Lord of the Universe” is a deity worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists mainly in North Indian states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujrat, Bihar, Tripura and Manipur and by Hindus in Bangladesh. Jagannath is considered as a form of Lord Vishnu or his avatar Krishna in the Hindu Mythology. He is worshipped as part of a complete worshipping on the “Ratanvedi” (jewelled platform) along with his Balabhadra brother and sister- Subhadra.

Neelachala-nivasaya nityaya paramatmane

Balabhadra-subhadrabhyam jagannathaya ten amah ||

Jagada-nanda-kandaya pranatarta-haraya cha

Neelachala-nivasaya jagannathaya ten amah ||

Lord Jagannath - Lord of the Universe

Iconography of Lord Jagannath

The icon of Jagannath is carved and decorated from a wooden stump with large round eyes and stumps as a hand with a conspicuous absence of legs. The worship procedures, sacraments, practices, and rituals of Jagannath do not go in accordance with those of classic Hinduism. Jagannath is made of wood, which is an exception to common Hindu deity statues made out of stone or metal. The origin and evolution of Jagannath worship and the iconography is very unclear; it has been subject to a popular academic and historical debate.

Incarnation of Lord Jagannath

Jagannath lacks clear Vedas reference and is not a member of the traditional Dashavatara concept or classical Hindu pantheon. Although in certain Oriyan literary work, Jagannath has been treated as the 9th avatar, by substituting the Lord Buddha.

Jagannath is considered as a form of Hindu God Vishnu, non-sectarian, and is not associated with any particular denomination of Hinduism entirely. There are several common aspects with Saivism, Smartism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism as well as with Jainism and Buddhism.

The most famous and oldest Jagannath temple is established in Puri. The Jagannath temple at Puri is regarded as one of the Char Dhams in India (Char Dhams consist of the most important Hindu pilgrimage places). The most famous festival, which is related to Jagannath, is the Rath Yatra, where Jagannath, in addition to the other two associated deities, come out of the Garbhagriha of the Bada Deula (Chief Temple). They are also transported to Gundicha Temple that is located at a distance of nearly 3 kilometres in massive wooden chariots drawn by devotees. Coinciding with the Puri Rath Yatra festival at Puri, similar processions are organized at Jagannath temples throughout the world.

A Glimpse of Hindu Temple

The Jagannath Temple located in Puri is a sacred Hindu temple that is dedicated to Jagannath and is located on Eastern Coast of India in the state of Odisha. The temple is an important pilgrimage destination, which every Hindu is expected to make in one’s lifetime. The icons of most Hindu deities are made out of metal or stone, yet, the image of Jagannath is wooden. The temple was built in the 12th century atop it ruins by the progenitor of Eastern Ganga Dynasty and King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva.

Jagannath temple puri
Temple puri, orissa

The temple is famous for its Rath Yatra, which is held once a time in a year and chariot festival in which the 3 main temple deities are hauled on large and decorated temple cars. The temple is linked to the sacred Vaishnava traditions and Saint Ramananda, who was said to be closely associated with the temple.

Here is a list of few activities that are must-watch sights to enjoy while being on the trip:

  • Amazing Views of Sunrise and Sunset
  • Puri Beach and Promenade Beach
  • Visits to Temple on the Way
  • Nandan Kanan Zoo
  • Orissa Modern Art Gallery

Wonders of Jagannath Temple

  • Stand at any place in Puri; you will always find the Sudarshan Chakra facing you.
  • The shadow of the main dome is invisible at any time of the day.
  • Flag always flaps in opposite direction of air.
  • Normally during the daytime, air comes from sea to land and during the evening and vice-a-versa. But in Puri, it is totally the other way.
  • The quantity of cooked food inside the Temple remains unchanged for the entire year. The same quantity of Prasadam can feed between few thousands of people up to 20 lakhs per serve. Still, the food never gets wasted.
  • After climbing the first step, you can’t hear any sound coming from the ocean. But, when you cross the same step from outside of the temple, you will be able to hear the same. This can be noticed clearly during the evening.

The Famous Rath Yatra

Rath Yatra is an Odia Festival, chariot festival and a car festival that involves moving of deities Jagannath Balabhadra, Sudarshan on a Ratha or Rotho, Subhadra, a wooden deula-shaped chariot. These Yatras are notable, which includes the Ratha Yatra of Puri, The Yatra of Dharma Ratha and The Ratha Yatra of Mahesh. The festival marks it commencement in Puri, Odisha.

puri rath yatra
Rath yatra

This famous Yatra starts in the month of June or July when the chariots of Lord Jagannath accompanied by his bigger brother and sister-Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are brought out on the main streets of Puri known as Bada Danda. The Chariots are then taken from the Shri Gunidicha Temple and driven to the aunt’s house (where the deities enjoy a nine days stay) and then are served with sweet pancakes.

At the Temple, the deities stay for a period of nine days. The deities are offered Poda Pitha when they are returning to the temple and when their chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple. This sweet is a type of baked cake that is meant to be consumed by the poor sections only. The observation and celebration of the Rath Yatra Festival date back to the period of Puranas and the contents of which can be found in Skanda Purana, Padma Purana, and Kapil Samhita.

This Yatra is a significant event in the entire state, which is witnessed by various tourists both Indian and Foreigners. During the Yatra, Puri is coloured with most vibrant hues of sheer by enjoyment and joy. It is flocked with devotees, who wish to pay their honour to deities and seek their blessings.

The Universality of Jagannath has carried its western thinkers of the present day. They find the Jagannath Cull as the highest spiritual ideals and a source to express their deepest feelings of emotion mixed with outward ceremonies to satisfy the common mind. The cult of this place is a gift to Orissa humanity to satisfy its desire for social harmony, spiritual peace, and universal divinity.