The Buddhism connection –
It is at the time of the annual ceremony of the rath yatra during which Jagannath of Puri leaves his temple with his siblings to go visit their aunt, that the city relapses fully into the ancient personality of the land of Odisha, a rare mixing bowl of diverse cultures and religions.
Nine hundred years ago a Ganga king raised a fantastical temple to Jagannath, an avatar of Vishnu. But the real history of this grand deity goes back thousands of years. The image of Lord Jagannath is identified by scholars as belonging to an aboriginal tradition in which a humanised physical representation of a deity is rare. So the vigraha or idols that are taken out in the splendid rath yatra do not portray Jagannath as a young lad with a flute flanked by Radha or crawling on all fours as a baby. These are strangely powerful images: mostly large faces with huge disc like eyes, stumps for arms on either side, and no legs.
Buddhism too is somewhere a part of this cult. The Tibetan Buddhist Lama Taranatha describes how, by the 10th century, after repeated onslaughts on Buddhism by mainstream Hinduism (revived by Adi Shankaracharya), Buddhism lost a lot of ground in the North and thereafter sought refuge in Odisha, Bihar and Bengal.
By the late 12th Century, as Islamic forces closed in, the Buddhists probably abandoned the seminaries and their priceless libraries. Unfortunately they seem to have been totally isolated from the lives of the common folk in the area. Thus when a Muslim general, before setting their libraries on fire, enquired of the locals about the kind of books the libraries contained, he drew a blank.
By the time the Ganga rulers came to power in Odisha, stray seeds of Buddhist thought had latched on to other local religions like the Dharma sect of the Savara tribals, who came to worship a formless deity they called Niranjan or Neel Madhav.
The cult of Lord Jagannath later subsumed the cult of Niranjan and one of the new names acquired by Jagannath was Neel Madhav.
Wrote Ramai Pandit of the Munda tribal community in his Shoonya Purana:
“A Shoonya, formless and destroyer of a thousand impediments
Above everything, the greatest giver of boons
Is our Lord Niranjana.”
Mahaprasad -# 2 Dahi Pakhaala & recipe : –
Do You Know?Just like in the Odia household ,even the lord of the Odias,Badathakura Shri Jagannath also loves Pakhala.
Sometimes curd floats within the Pakhala and sometimes the sweet fragrance of Ghee spreads in the atmosphere.
There are different types of Pakhala dishes served to Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath. They are –
- 1 cup Rice
- 2.5 cups + 6 cups water
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 1/2 tsp Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 2 tsp Grated Ginger
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida / Hing Powder
- 2 Green Chilli (Finely Chopped)
- 15 Curry Leaves
- 2 tsp or more Salt
- 2 cups Curd
- 1 tablespoon grated coconut (optional)
- 2 Citron Leaves (optional)
- Cook rice with 2.5 cups water. Pour 6 cups water. Leave it atleast overnight.
- After the rice water gets fermented(atleast 12 hours), mash the rice with your clean hands. Add curd and mix well with clean hands.
- Heat oil. Pop up mustard. Add in the cumin seeds. Saute.
- Now add ginger, hing, green chilli and curry leaves. Saute.
- Add this seasoning and salt to the rice & curd mixture.
- Garnish with grated coconut and citron leaves
- Offer Dahi Pakhal to Lord Jagannatha.
Article by Radharani Panda