Essence Of Ancient Ritual Navakalevara
Rig Vedic Vishnu as Lord Krishna in Dwaparyuga has been accepted as Lord Jagannath being the undisputed Lord of the Universe in Kaliyuga by the Hindus across the globe.
Rig Vedic sukta. ‘Ado Yaddaru Plavate Sindhoh pare apurusam tadarabhasava durhano tena gaccha parastaram’ and the reference in Atharva Veda. ‘Ado Yaddaru Plavate Sindhoh Madhye …. refers to the Daru (wood) floating in the sea, through which the God ‘Daru Brahma’, another name of Jagannath was made. Jagannath is thus the ‘Daru’ in which exists the ‘Brahma’, Daru is destructible while Brahma is not. Over a period of time the destructible Daru gets a makeover to a new Daru while the ‘Brahma’ gets transferred to the new body. The process of the samadhi of the Daru of the four deities of Jagannath cult inside the premises of the ‘Srimandira’ (Jagannath Temple) and the transfer of the indestructible Brahma from the old to the new exterior is known as Navakalevara.
Madalapanji, the Jagannath Temple Chronicle informs about the first ever Navakalevara being held sometime between 1575 and 1577 AD, during the reign period of the founder of Bhoi dynasty Shri Ramchandra Deb. While the second and the third editions were done in 1593 and 1608 A.D. respectively, the subsequent Navakalevara were held in 1625, 1646 1665, and 1684 A.D. with the exception in 1698 when this process had only been maintained symbolically. The Navakalevara rituals continued uninterrupted in 1714 A.D., 1730 A.D., 1749 A.D., 1768 A.D., 1790 A.D., 1809 A.D., 1828 A.D., 1855 A.D., 1874 A.D., and 1893 A.D.
In the 20th Century this Navakalevara processes were held in 1912, 1931, 1950, 1969, 1977 and 1996. The present edition of Navakalevara is incidentally the first ever Navakalevara of the 21st century and is the 25th edition. It was held this year under the period of Gajapati Divyasinghadeva.
Navakalevara symbolises the ultimate truth of death. This process is Lord Jagannath’s unique feat to make people understand ‘Martyamandale deha bahi devata hoile marai’, meaning any who is born in this world must die no matters if He is the God. In the Sankhya Yoga Chapter 2 verse 22 of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna explains a disturbed Arjun when he did not want to wage war against his own relations and kill them.”
‘Vasamsi jirnani Yatha Vihaya
Navani grihnati naro parani
Tatha Sarirani Vihaya jirnany
Anyani Samyati navani dehi’, meaning, like a person puts on new garment, giving up old and worn out ones the soul similarly accepts new material bodies giving up the old and worn out bodies.
Thus ‘Jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur
Dhruvam janma mrutasya cha
tasamad apariharye’r the na tvam socitum arhasi;
meaning, for one who takes birth, death is certain and for the one who has died, the birth is certain. This cycle of birth and death is being described in Moha Mudgara ‘Punaropi Janmam Puraropi Maranam, Puraropi’ janani jathare sayanam, meaning one has to be born to die and again to be born from the mother.
As per the Puranas and other holy scriptures during the twin months of Asadha Lord Krishna breathed his last being killed by Jarasawara. When his friend Arjuna put fire in the funeral pyre, the body of Lord Krushna was not fully burned. Then came an instruction through a divine voice to immerse the half -burned navel in the sea. The same half -burned navel of Lord Krishna is believed to have turned into a Daru which came ashore in the eastern coast. Legends say that King Indradyumna got the instructions in his dream to bring the Daru and make the Vishnu idol for worshipping. Legends further speak of Indradyumna to have brought the Daru in the month of Joda Asadha (twin Asadha month) and ordered for making of idol with that Daru.
Navakalevara has remained a unique event for the fact that Lord Jagannath like every mortal changes His worn out body. The making of idol of Jagannath, from a selected Daru has been properly described in Sruta Samhita. Neem tree has been the ideal choice for making of the idol and the Samhita prescribes the tree to be old and having a large trunk, situated either near a river, an ashram or a burial ground. The tree should have symbols of Counch, Wheel, Club and Lotus (Samkha, Chakra, Gada. Padma) on its body with no nest for the birds there and with the snake residing at its base.
The tree should be straight without any branch coming out of its at least till 10 to 12 ft height. The Samhita also describes the colour of the wood to be black for Jagannath, white for Balabhadra, Yellow for Subhadra and red for Sudarshana. The entire process of Navakalevara has been divided into five divisions.
Banajaga and Daru Anweshan (Going in search of Suitable tree), the second part is Daru Chhedan, Anayana and Nirmana (cutting, bringing and construction of the idol). The third, fourth and the final parts are Brahma Paribartan and Maha Anasar (Gupta Karma) transfer of Brahma under a veil of secrecy, Patali (burying the old idols in Koili Baikuntha inside the temple) and the Navakalevara darshan (giving darshan to devotees in new body) respectively.
In the specified year for Navakalevara, Daitapati (believed to be relative of Lord Jagannath), Pati Mahapatra, Brahmana (Priest), four Swain Mahapatra, a Lenka, a Deulakaran, a temple guard (all servitudes) take the permission from the Lord (Agyan Mala) on the 10th day of bright moon fortnight of the month of Chaitra go to the Gajapati who then gives him bettle nuts and coconuts received from Visvabasu (the earliest worshipper of the Lord) Rajaguru. After this the whole team goes in search of Daru. In the first leg of their search the team walks upto Kakatpur and rests in Deulimuth. Legends relate Goddess Mangala to have been worshipped in Deuli before being taken to the newly constructed temple. Next day the team takes a dip in the river Prachi and delivers all the items of Puja brought from Puri. The team waits there praying Goddess for instructions to go in search of Daru. Usually on the second day of their prayer the Daitapatis go out in search of Daru for Sudarshan, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannath in that order.
After selection of the tree, the cutting symbolically starts with a golden axe then a silver axe by the Daitapati. Only after that Visvakarma (the creator of the idol of God) starts cutting the tree by touching it in an iron axe, after which the cutters cut the tree. Only the selected portions (Chaupata) were cut for the making of idols. The same process is being followed for all the Darus.
Once the Darus are collected those were brought to the temple in specially made carts known as Sagadis (8 hath(Hand) [ hath=1 ½ ft ] long with 4 wheels). The Darus then are kept in Koili Baikuntha inside the temple before Davasnan Purnima (The full moon day). These Darus are kept in the specially made workshops (Karma Kutira) in the northern direction of the temple for making the idols. Temporary houses (Ankuraropan, Nirmama Mandap, Yajna Mandapa, two Adhivasa rooms, one Nyasadaru room) for creation, construction, sacrificial arena and resting were made specially for the construction of idols. For next 11 days regular yajnas are performed. On the 14th day of the no moon fortnight after the Yajna (Purnahuti), the transfer of Ghata (Brahma transferred from the old idol to the new one) takes place in the last phase of the Amavasya (No moon night). Three Badagrahi (servitudes) take the Brahma from the old idol and put it in the specified hole and close it (Brahma randhra, Nyasadaru). Despite speculations by scholars no one has given any satisfactory answer to the query whether the Brahma is a piece of ivory, a stone (salagram), a tooth (Probably that of Lord Buddha). After the transfer of the Brahma, the old idols are buried under a specified place in the Koilibaikuntha (under Sialilata). This process is known as Patali.
From the 14th day of the no moon fortnight (Krushna Chaturdasi) to the 9th day of full moon fortnight (Sukla Navami), a while paste (Sweta Angaraga) is being used on the body of the new idol. Once that is over on the no moon day (Amasya) the Lord celebrate Netroutsava (that day the new idol is believed to get the sight). Then comes the ‘Navajauvana’ (New Youth) for the Lord and devotees get the darshan still in his Anasara Pindi (the place where new born babies are kept).
With this Navajauvana comes the process of Navakalevar to an end. Jagannath being the Lord of the people, his process of changing the bodies is thought to have been designed by his mortal devotees, of course with His blessings and permission.
By Dr. Achyuta Samanta