Lord Jagannath In Light Of Gita
Lord Jagannath is the supreme divinity and the absolute truth, who pervades all existence, both sentient and insentient, though emodied in a significantly half-built wooden form,which is the symbolic presentation of the whole Vendantic philosophy of formlessness and imortality of divine consciousness existent in all creations in mortal forms. The deities – Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan – do not resemble with any other living forms, ever born on earth, but they are symbols of the origin of life on earth in eternity of time; time that is beginingless, endless and performanceless, in the all-conceiving womb of which the creation and destruction, birth and death goes on occuring limitlessly as the waves in the ocean,while the vast and unfathomable ocean lies in complete calmness in its depth, undisturbed by ever-playful transitory waves.
The glories of God is unlimited, berefit of comprehension in its totality. The God is beginingless and endless, birthless and deathless; but everything in this world is born out of him and everything that is born is bound to meet the death. This cycle goes on forever and that is the eternal play or Leela of the God, which He observes without any attachment to it and without any interference in the affairs of the play or the players. A concentrated look at the image of Lord Jagannath reveals that it has been thought provokingly conceptualised and artistically built in tune of the philosophy propounded by Upanishads as well as in the Gita, the summary of all Upanishads, to eloquently communicate the concept of formlessness of the Supreme God Head through a half built form with comparatively big and prominent eyes superimposing the deity to indicate unattached tranqulity of the Lordship.
In 10th Chapter of Srimad Bhagavat Gita, the Supreme God has narrated His glories to Arjun thus: ” I will indeed make known to you my divine manifestations; but I shall name the chief of these only. For the lesser variations in all their detail, there is no end.” The Supreme Reality, the Supreme Truth or the Supreme God, by whatever name you may call it, is all comprehensive, unlimitedly vast, as has been described in the subsequent Chapter XI,—the vision of God in His universal form. Splendidly, that unversal form has been reduced into an unfinished art of Sri Jagannath’s wooden frame!
Defining His devine glories, the God continues to say to Arjun, ”I am the Atman that dwells in the heart of every mortal creature, I am the
begining, the life-span, and the end of all.” Then the God goes on to describe His attributes in superlative terms thus: ” I am Vishnu – I am the radiant sun among the light-givers; I am Marichi- the wind-god; among the stars of night, I am the moon. Among the Vedas, I am Sam Veda; among Devas, I am Indra; of sense organs, I am mind; I am consciousness in the living; I am Shiva, I am the Lord of all riches; I am the spirit of the fire; I am Meru among the mountain peaks. Know me as Brihaspati, leader of the high priests; and as Skanda, the warrior-chief; I am ocean among the waters. I am Bhrigu, the great seer; among words I am the mono-syllable Om; I am Himalayas among all the immovable things; I am Narada, the celestial sage; Chitrarath, the celestial musician and Kapila among the perfected souls. Among horses, O Arjun, you may know me as Uchcaishravas, who was bought forth from the sea of nectar; I am Airavata among royal elephants; I am the king among the men. Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; I am Kamadhenu, the heavenly cow; I am Kandarpa, the love-god; I am Vasuki, the god of snakes. I am also Ananta, the holy serpent; of water-beings,I am Varuna; I am time among those who measure; I am lion among the beasts; among birds I am eagle; among purifiers, I am wind, the shark among the fish; Ganges among the rivers;. I am Sama of the Vedic hymns, Gayatri among poeticmeters, Margasira among the months; Spring among seasons.
There is no limit to God’s manifestations, whatever has been described here by God Himself are only a few of His countless forms. How then the all comprehensive self-complete and subtle Supreme Consciousness be presented in a befittingly gross and visibly complete form other than in the form of an incomplete image of Lord Jagannath, the image that has no end in any of its sides. It appears unending—His head, His feet, His hands, His piercing eyes—nobody knows where they end, as actually they have no end. The human thoughts travel endlessly in search of the Supreme Reality when he deeply looks at the image of the Lord.
At the same time, man gets lost in the vastness of the creation by the very sight of the strangely-built image of the creator. Man is led to realise that the Supreme Soul is the divine seed of all lives, virtually he becomes conscious of his soul within the mortal frame of his gross body constituted by blood and bones. He also realises that the God is Time, Mahakal without end, that sustains and consumes everything in course of time.
Thus the entire philosophy of Gita has been echoed in the consecration of Sri Jagannath in Srikshetra at Puri in Odisha. Nowhere in any temple in whole of India, idols of wood are worshiped as in Sri Jagannath Temple. Nowhere also the idols are such strangely built here. In no other temple two brothers and a sister between them are worshiped as here. No other presiding deities of a temple has, except fulfilling the spiritual pursuit of the devotees, played a prominent role in the history, literature and culture of a land through the ages and has greatly influenced all aspects of life of its people, so much so that poets have described Him as people’s lone leader. He has become a common man’s God. His compassion for the common people is explicitly reflected in all His daily rituals, customs and conduct, in legends and lyrics, in practice and precedence. He has become Patitpavan – the redeemer of the fallen, the downtrodden. These are His worldly aspects meant to mingle and identify Godhood with the mankind, whom He is said to have created in His own image.
In spiritual aspect, He is known as Purusottam – the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the Greatest of the greats, as proclaimed in Chapter X of Gita. He is called Bada Thakur (the great deity) and Mahaprabhu (the great God). His temple is known as Bada Deula (the great temple) , and the road on which He makes His sojourn during the Car Festival is known as Bada Danda (the Grand Road). The sea at Puri is called Mahodadhi (the great sea); the offerings of food to the Lord is called Mahaprasad (the holiest food ) and the lamp that burns in the temple is Known as Mahadeep. Everything is great here. And all these have their singular significance and they pronounce His greatness at the highest level. He is also superlative in His manifested form here with His royal attire and rituals. This half-built form of Supreme Personality of Godhead, Purna Brahma, unravels the mystic cosmic order – the unmanifested formlessness of the Supreme Self, which has been conceptualised in Upanishads and Gita. The whole essence of this concept has been beautifully transcreated in this half-built wooden form.
Thus, in an incomplete form, the self-complete and all-pervading Supreme Self has been embodied as the transmitting medium, the transporting agent and the transparent transcendental reality of Divine Grace, in which all, visible and invisible in the entire creation have been assimilated. Lord Jagannath is, therefore, not identified with any particular faith or cult or sect and has stood as the symbol of synthesis between all schools of religious thoughts. The metaphysical mind, the aesthetic imagination and the emotional heart of man get harmoniously blended and attuned to arrive at the mystical and spiritual heights in Him, where the philosophy of God has been into visible manifestation. In such aspect, Lord Jagannath with His universal approach goes beyond all the narrow boundaries of human bondage and countless contradictions in all walks of human life. In Gita, the God declares. ”My face is equal to all Creation, Loving no one nor hating any; Nevertheless, My devotees dwell within me always; And I also show forth and I am seen within them.”
May there be one Jagat, one Jagannath; One God, one Government and one Divine human race of universal brotherhood and peace – this is the message of Upanishad, Gita and Lord Jagannath in the same tune. And this is more so necessary at present time than ever before in human history.
By Prof Surendra Biswal