About the influence of Chaitanya on Orissa the historian R.D. Banerjee (History of Orissa,vol I, Prabasi Press, Calcutta 1930, p.330) wrote:
"Suddenly from the beginning of the l6th century a decline set in in the power and prestige of Orissa, with a corresponding decline in the military spirit of the people. The decline is intimately connected with the long residence of the Bengali Vaishnava saint Chaitanya in the country. If we accept only one-tenth of what the Sanskrit and Bengali biographies of the saint state about his influence over Pratiparudra and the people of the country, even then, we must admit that Chaitanya was one of the principal causes of the political decline of the empire and the people of Orissa. Not only that, the acceptance of Vaishnavism, rather Neo-Vaishnavism, was the real cause of the Muslim conquest of Orissa twenty-eight years after the death of Prataparudra."
Food for reflection.
"The origin of Bhoi dynasty and formation of Khurda kingdom can be traced back to those days when the power of Suryavansi Gajapatis declined with the breaking of the Orissan Empire. But all these happened under the force of circumstances. The degradation of administration under the Suryavansi kings were slow and gradual. The first ruler of the dynasty Kapilendra Dev was an able ruler and empire builder. His son and successor Purusottam Dev, though was a great defender of foes, lacked proper vision. He was followed by Prataprudra Dev, who was largely responsible for the downfall of his own empire. He bought peace by selling his freedom. His patronage to Vaishnavism became instrumental for devastation of military power, giving a scope for decline and dissolution. The death of Prataprudra, weak successions to throne, internal squabbles and foreign interventions brought disaster. The first two weak successors were Kalua Dev and Kakharua Dev, who were sons of Prataprudra Dev. Taking advantage of their weakness, Govinda Vidyadhar, the Prime Minister became the de fecto ruler of Orissa. But he was followed by still more weaker rulers, like Chakrapratap, Narasingha and Raghuram, who were killed one
after another due to acquisition of power and treachery of Mukunda Harichandan, Commander of Cuttack Fort. After a political assassination, Mukunda Dev captured the throne. But his authority was challenged by another minister and General, Danardana Vidyadhara. Meanwhile, the Afghan intrusion to Orissa made the situation more critical. However, Mukunda Dev could retain the power. After the death of Mukunda Dev, Ramachandra Dev; son of Danardana emerged as the natural leader and retrieved the lost glory of his father. He founded a new kingdom and a
new dynasty. The dynasty is known as 'Bhoi Dynasty' and the kingdom as 'Khurda Kingdom'. The suitable place that was chosen by Ramachandra Dev-I for his capital was Khurda, which had natural and strategic importance. It was situated in between Puri and Cuttack. During this period, the Khurda kingdom was covering an
extensive area of 13,935 sq. miles that was stretching from river Mahanadi in the North to the borders of Khimidi in the South and from Khandapada Daspalla region in the West to present Jagannath Road in the East. So geographically, it was forming the Gateway between the North and South. It was therefore, during the period of Ramachandra Dev-I that, Khurda kingdom became the largest territorial
entity in Orissa."
From Cultural Profile of the Khurda Kingdom by Saroj Kumar Panda, Orissa Review, May 2005.
Perhaps there is even politics going on in the beginnings of the Gaudiya sect in Puri? Or perhaps the dominance of rustic love over kingship in the teachings of Gaudiya Vaishnavism was really a sign that the people were fed up with aishvarya kingshipness anyway and longed for something else? It would seem from the above that the picture is a little more complicated. King Prataparudra had inherited an already crumbling kingdom and he was attracted towards non kingly rustic Krishna bhakti, and was fondly remembered by Bengali Gaudiyas. We see the devotional king was perhaps too passive and weak in a certain sense and was inclined towards Bengali cultural influence in Orissa. But the kingdom was crumbling anyway due to his fathers legacy, what could he do? He seemed so eager for peace that he stooped low to even buy it and sacrificing kingship privileges too in the process. Is that so bad? Perhaps so from a kingly duty point of view. The crumbling of the Suryavamsi kingship line may well have not only been Prataparudra’s fault, and not merely the fault of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and Chaitanya either, which perhaps came at such a troublesome decline of a Puri kingship lineage, which although crumbling anyway, was destined for another one, which patronised Vaishnavism too.
Anyway I find in Satyaraja’s comparative study, ‘Gaudiya Vaishnavism: Contemporary Scholars…….’ Chapter; The Bengal of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, by Richard Eaton, a general tenor that Islamic incursions were not simply based on Islamic fanaticism but also Islamic and Hindu alliances of rival factions which were usually Vaishnavism friendly. Maybe to some Vaishnavs an Islamic good rule is better than say a hostile to Vaishnavism Shakta ruler for instance. Perhaps Vaishnavism adapts to whichever rule is around which serves its purpose so it can get on with its esoteric practises. The general tenor of the Prataparudradev biog within Gaudiya biogs is one of a king whose interest in rule, power and kingdom becomes lesser due to meeting Chaitanya and Chaitanya himself was even reluctant to at first go near the worldly king. So in a sense the wordly power crumbled and the spiritual increased. And we do see that that worldly rule does succeed in the end over Islamic rule anyway so from the Indian nationalist position, things were not so bad in the end after the Afghan incursion associated with Bengal. But maybe I am wrong in this charitable interpretation? Maybe Chaitanya Vaishnavism was instrumental in the dissolution of wordly power centered in Puri? But maybe Jagannatha used this because he was fed up with too much aishvarya?
In regards to the aboriginal shamanic and Shaivite past of Jagannatha we have the view found in Bidyut Lata Ray’s Jagannatha Cult : Origin, Rituals, Festivals, Religion and Philosophy ( A Critical Study of Sthala Purana ‘Niladri Mahodayam’).
Lata Ray mentions how;
“Inscriptional and archeological evidence and the contemporary rituals in the hinterland of Puri and within the Jagannatha cult also give Narasimha a dominant role in the Vaishnava typology of Hinduization and consequently in the early development of Jagannath Cult. For a different view, however, H.V. Stientencron who contends that none of the Madhava images of the Praci valley is older than 10th century and who advocates in the favour of the Saiva component of the evolution of Lord Jagannath. He has emphasised on the Ekapada Bhairava images of Orissa as the origin of the Lord. Obviously, Narasimha’s role as a predecessor of Jagannatha is contested with reference to the Ekapada Bhairava.”
“The Jagannath figure was developed from the identification of a tribal deity represented through a wooden post with Narasimha. Narasimha’s popular iconography, a head with arms, was added to the aboriginal post. The original cult which was developed from and belonged to that tribal substratum practises the rituals and renew the wooden images (Navakalevara ceremony) with the use of Mantraraja – Nrsimha-Mantra. The Purusottama-Mahatmyam of Skanda Purana speaks, “There has never been nor will ever be a mantra more effective than this. Worshipped with this mantra, Vishnu is immediately pleased.” The Niladri Mahodayam, with the same view, narrates that Brahma, while consecrating the wooden images, saw the god in his Narasimha form…….With the first wave of Vaishnavism in Orissa, the worship of Narasimha was acknowledged by Saivism. The Simhanatha temple is an early example of such an integrated worship in Orissa. Narasimha, namely a figure with a lion head, is depicted as being in reality Siva, holding a trident and associated with a tribal cult. Narasimha was not only incorporated into Saivism, but also associated with Bhairava.” Introduction, pages 18 and 19.
She indicates there is more to Jagannatha’s composite origins than only Bhairava-ised aboriginal shamanic and tribal traditions. She indicates that Jagannatha arose out of a Narasimha-Bhairava-ised aboriginal post-pillar cult instead. Thus the Jagannatha Deity’s roots are from an eclectic fusion of Vaishnavism and Shaivism eclectically blending with tribal shamanic pillar-post worship.
Another interesting thing found within the pages of Lata Ray’s work is;
“Thus, different scholars have opined differently regarding the origin and development of the Jagannatha-triad and the cult as a whole. Basing on the historical background of the cult, may of them have endeavoured to trace it down to its origin. They have completely overlooked the vast field of puranic material as well as the traditional legends with a clue that these sources provide unscientific evidences.” (preface page vii).
She aims, along with another scholar who preceeded her, Dr G. N. Mahapatra (whose focus was primarily on the Purusottama-Ksetra-Mahatmyam of the Skanda Purana) to correct this bias. Is this that same old bias of the British and European raj like scholarship which dismisses the puranas as myths legends and exaggerated accounts (in a negative sense) in university established Jagannath scholarship, even up to 1998 when Lata’s book was first published?
Here is an interesting article on Orissan tribes Click to view attachment
I also mentioned how the residents of Puri are pious ganja smokers. Check this one;Click to view attachment
Those also intersted in Pancha sakhas may find this of interest too;Click to view attachment
As a curious side line, the Jagannatha cult has its oracular systems too;Click to view attachment
I am familar with the Mahima Dharma site and have some of it copied on files in my computer. they seem a bit anti Deity Murti, anti God as form and even Jagannatha as an inner visualisation form leading to something higher. Interesting however. I am also in the process of getting the Kulke, Tripathi and Eschmann sources through my library too. Cheers any way Angrezi.
The Sicily connection is mentioned in serious scholarly works on Puri Temple. It is in Lata's book mentioned before, and it is in some of the Orissa Review articles, I cannot remember. It was not part of some general universal list of all things resembling Jagannatha to become some popular one religion under us scam. Out of all places in India where Ratha Yatra is named to have taken place, Sicily is mentioned and no other country around the world. I will look into this more. Who knows, maybe there was a Jagannatha worshipping people who emigrated in times past?
Babu, If American Indians are ofended by suggesting their culture was linked with ancient India, then Asian Indians would be offended that their culture is from elsewhere too? Maybe it is wrong to be offended in the first place and take insults. Better to be open to historical truth. Sounds like certain American Indians are nationalists. Not all shamanic cultures and old ways are good too, there was war mongering, human sacrifice and all types going on there too as it is in city cultures (mind you city cultures tend to be the most greedy for land though).
There are also some interesting views in regards to the position of Krishna and Jagannatha. As Chaitanya (or his sucessors) saw Jagannath as an incomplete Jagannatha, Divakaradasa’s Jagannatha Caritamrta presents Krishna as the sixteenth part of Lord Jagannatha. This is mentioned in Lata Ray’s Jagannatha Cult. Also Jagannatha is also seen as the originator of Vishnu, in the same way but different to those who see Krishna as the originator of Vishnu. Thus in these bhakti traditions Jagannatha is the source of Vishnu and through Vishnu, Jagannatha incarnates into the various avatars of yugas. An interesting difference and also similarity and alternative to the positing of a source of Vishnu (within Vishnu and higher) within not only the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition but also the Nimbarka and this other Orissan version.
Also interesting is how Jagannatha is accompanied by sunya, the void as Krishna (I may be wrong and am speculating from lack of resources) is accompanied by Brahman. This however would be wrong if Jagannatha is a manifestation of sunya as some vedantins see Krishna as a manifestation of Brahman. But what of the inverse?
And what is the subtle differences between the sunya void and the impersonal Brahman? This surely would be a fascinating study. Sunya as the body rays of a Jagannatha, the source of all incarnations, including Krishna. This would be an alternative on the Krishna who is molten gold and has as His body rays Brahman tradition. Or is it just Brahman becomes Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu as Sunya becomes Jagannatha, but with subtle differences in regards to realism and illusion?
My Reflections on Jagannath History; (inspired by Ganja-natha!)
There is more to the Jagannatha cult than the history of the Deities. It is also the history of philosophies, concepts and terminologies, rituals, categories, architectural symbolism, stories etc etc, which have wrapped themselves around this beautiful figure. Some older and some younger, ancient and modern, historical and contemporary. And it is also the dimensions of the temple and associated temples, groundplans, other Deities interconnected and all their respective branches attracted to their forms too. It is also the history of a people, not to mention soma-haoma alchemical cooking recipes surviving, along with oracular tools and other quaint curious traditions of storytelling laced with astrology, ‘myth’ and history, both exaggerated and also alchemically refined in the base matter of story telling. The language that speaks the tying together of the heavens, the earths, astrology, myth, symbol, number and history is usually either passed off as idle mythmaking, exaggeration (although this does exist too), primitive history with lack of scientific insight, mere politically motivated design of control, etc etc. Thus the modernist view imposes on the past and misunderstands its riddles of wisdom, its reasons behind its writings, its techniques. These become forgotton even by the tradition which preserves and sometimes inadvertently breathes new life into them and resurrects them in new climes and times, resonant and in harmony with what they once were.
This is all a natural path or dance, where in a sense mundane history has no part to play. It is fulfilled in such a dance of schemes and themes in the drama of not just cold calculating minds, but also deft minds dancing in bliss in the joy of truth, making truth of the past beautiful, joyful, blissful, ananda, and teachings of love within the background of the heavens and the earth and all their categories and techniques of measure, balance and harmony. I think that Jagannatha embodies this way of truth manifesting through the ages and He has inspired me to write this and His tradition seems to embody this principle of ongoing unfolding truth through all the ages.
And finally as a curious aside, Chaitanya may well have been simply a bhakta in the tradition of Sridhar Swami of Puri, a bhakti which harmonises with Advaita to a certain degree. But if this is so Chaitanya's bhakti version did not survive, but Sridhar's bhakti of Puri did survive elsewhere;
Srimanta Foundation;Click to view attachmentClick to view attachmentClick to view attachmentClick to view attachmentClick to view attachmentClick to view attachment