7.06.2008

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, Bhubhaneshwar


Amidst the entire fan fair that surrounds the mela of the Jagannath Rath Yatra, the three deities Krishna Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balabhadra make their way out of the shrine of Puri. Whether they go on vacation or to their aunt’s house or to Krishna Jagannatha’s birthplace is still a speculation on the original myth. What appears to be a complex mammoth wooden structure covered with cloth to almost look like the very temple on the move could hold far more significance than just a wooden structure that transports the Gods to their heavenly abode. It is unfortunate that the emphasis is put on the Rath Yatra or Rath Tana which starts in the afternoon and not on the invoking ceremony in the morning that is the Ratha Prathistha of the Rathas themselves.

The Rath is made to look like a temple, that which traditionally represents the original temple with a platform. The wooden platform has wheels embedded within it with ropes that get pulled by the devotees. This is no ordinary Rath, it is the very character of the Lord Jagannatha Krishna enshrined into the wood that makes up this giant structure.

What’s obvious about this Rath is the towering vimana(roof) that houses the deity within with horses that pull this chariot. What is not obvious is the shape of the floor of the Rath which is far more symbolic than a few logs of timber held together. The Rath Yatra may appear to be a joy ride for the Lord and his family on three Raths being pulled all the way for Puri Jagannath mandir with drum beats and song, with folk dance and color celebrating the journey of the Lord, but it is a little more than just all the fun.



The answer to this might be found in the Brihat Tantra Sara, a large compilation of Tantrik texts that suggest that Krishna appears as a full bloomed tantrik devata with his own yantra/mandala. This yantra has the Krishna Mantra in the center:

Krishnaya Govindaya Klim sadhya Gopijanavallabhaya Svaha|

This mantra which is the essence describing the potency of Lord Krishna Jagannatha is the epicenter of the mandala the form of which can also be the “naksha” or floor plan of the Rath. The Rath where the main idol of Lord Krishna is kept is within the center of the floor plan. Surrounding it is an imaginary six pointed star, where the beeja mantras of Krishna, i.e. Shreem and Hrim alternate each other thrice, as part of the design of the mandala symbolic in nature and embedded within the floor and could be given life to during the morning ceremony. Scattered in logical order around the points of the hexagonal star are the letters of Sri Krishna:

Klim Kri shna ya Na mah

Within the 8 petals of the yantra is the longer mantra of Shri Krishna:

Namah Kamadeva| ya Sarvajanapriya| ya Sarvajan| sammohana| ya Jvala Prajvala| Sarvajanasya Hri| dayamavamsham| Kurukura Svaha||

Surrounding the 8 petals are the Matrikas or the letters of the sanskrit alphabet and in the angles of the protecting walls are the beeja mantras Shreem and Hrim again.

The Rath is sacred; the floor of the Rath is of a peculiar shape, a shape that has approximately 12 pointed ends which form this protective wall resembling the Krishna Mandala, and also reflects the temple ground plan on which the wooden temple stands. The sacred space between the protective external walls and the hexagonal star in the center contains the very letters of praise to Lord Jagannatha, within the lotus flower with 8 petals around the circle of potency, but what we see are a crowd of priests who are seen all over this sacred space.

This is the character of Lord Krishna Jagannatha, this is His power, and this is Him represented by the entire Rath from the floor to the shikhara of the Rath. What we see is the schematic tribal version of the Lord within this sacred space, completely decorated and seated atop his Rath, and though this vision of the Lord sits at the epicenter of this mobile throne, the very essence of the Lord is symbolized all across the flood and in the air that surrounds Him.

The Rath is the very embodiment of Lord Krishna Jagannatha and his family, it is the very element of their presence as they sway through the air purifying it with sound and light. The Lord in all his prana, housed in this very Rath drives through the Indian countryside of Puri. This land is blessed, to see the very Lord mingle with his people.

Related topics:
Jagannathpur temple - Ranchi - anything but Juggernaut.

Courtesy:

Religiousworlds.com. © 1975-1999. All rights reserved.

15 comments:

JC said...

Hi Kavitha, it's a timely presentation with Rath Yatra being in news...

As ‘I’ had earlier indicated elsewhere, the human palm indicates ring finger to represent SUN (white colour of sunlight that is associated with ultraviolet and infrared energies, or ‘fire’, and forms the base) at number 4 (IV, also read on the left-hand palm); middle finger represents Venus (blue colour associated with poison and Neelkantha Shiva, or Kartikeya, or Neelamber Krishna) at number 6 (VI, also read on the right-hand palm), and also we have seen how recently a mysterious hexagonal formation is observed on the North Pole of the ring-planet Saturn; and index finger represents Moon (Yellow colour, associated with amrit or immortality and Peetamber Krishna) at number 8, the symbol of infinity when written horizontally…and also representing the formless creator, zero (0) when thumb (1) is joined with index finger (8), thus ‘108’ in fact indicates in a code language the essence of all physical forms ‘0’, the Absolute Truth…Also each finger is seen to be divided into three parts, perhaps thus reflecting the three aspects of each planet related with creation, sustenance and destruction...man itself believably being a yantra :-)

The above features seem to get reflected in the Yantra, perhaps as a graphical representation of creation of physical universe…

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

Kavitha Joshi uncle ,
I was just wondering why lord Jagannath is attributed with Vishnu & Krishna simultanuously.While Bakbhadra & Subhadra clearly associate with Krishna on the return journey the temple gate is closed on the Lord by his celestial consort Laxmi & this domestic tiff is settled by offering a rasagulla & then only the lord can return to his Ratna Sinhasana...This is clearly an indication of Vishnurupa.

kavitha said...

Hi Joshi Uncle,Anilji,

The palm of the hand seems to tell a lot more about us, life, the universe than what we, the untrained eyes try to observe. While the association of the palm with the yantra is interesting, i am floored by the simpler logic of 108.

It has always been a question in my mind as to why 108 is such an important count in numerology. The analogy is very beautifully described.

This post of mine, is speculative in content. I only hope am right, for there is no reason to be wrong since the logic quite falls in place as of now, until i am enlightened at a much later date to explain this phenomenon better or just scrap it and look at it again in new light.

Its interesting to note, that most of those who made the Raths, just follow a set of rules and may not even know why those rules have been set. Thats the beauty of Hinduism these days, we all know what to do but we don't why we do it. :)

As regards Joshi uncle's analogy on the palm itself being a yantra, i would like to add to that by saying the entire body is a yantra with the spinal cord at the epicenter, the energy centers are along it with the Kundalini prana moving along it. We are moving temples ourselves, we are a Rath in symbolism carrying our very own Atman or divinity within us.

Isn't the Rath yatra a personification of the self?

Regds
Kavitha.

JC said...

Hi Dr. Anilji, and Kavitha, The ancient astrologers divided ‘India’ into three parts to reflect the three aspects, or Trilok, on earth. Himalayan range represented ‘swarga’ or ‘heaven’ that is the abode of Vishnu who according to them reclined from west to east along the trend of the Himalayas that was believably dotted with ‘shakti peethas’ or ‘energy centres’ in conformation with belief about existence of similar chakras within human body as the model of the universe. Yogis the seekers of ‘Truth’ generally therefore physically withdrew to the ‘Devlok’ in the Himalayas…

Even Shiva, the ‘Destroyer’ or ‘Bhootnath’ the Lord of ghosts’, whose original abode was believed at Kashi that is Varanasi, after His marriage with Parvati the daughter of Himalayas, believably shifted to Mount Kailash – thus detached and more evolved because of the eternal company of His better half, who made Him hand over charge of sustenance of life on earth to her favourite son Ganesha, their ‘elephant-headed’ son…

In short, ‘Hindus’ at some stage realized ‘Krishna’ the reincarnation of Vishnu - the one who believably was responsible for sustenance of life on earth - as ‘sahastra surya’ that is 1,000 times more powerful than the light of our Sun that is ‘Brahma’. And, thus ‘Natkhat Nandlal’ the mischievous Krishna became more popular in the fertile Ganga-Yamuna belt, that was believably ruled by Moon the source of all potable waters on earth…and Moon’s crescent was indicated on the forehead of Shiva to help angry (Rudra) Destroyer to chill – remain cool headed eternally in the interest of life on earth!

JC said...

The story of Devki-Vasudeva’s sion Yogiraja Krishna’s birth in Dwaperyuga in a prison in Mathura on the bank of River Yamuna - as their eighth and lucky child who escaped from the prison - indicates cryptically brain in humans, in essence, as the abode of Krishna. This in the words of Yogis points to the essence of Moon (Peetamber Krishna as the most evolved one) housed at the ‘sahasrara chakra’…And, ‘we’ know today also that the brain is the main controller of all actions (mansa, karma, vacha – that is – thoughts, physical actions, and speech respectively). Information related with the ‘external world’ is apparently received in the brain normally through the five physical senses provided in the external body of all humans. However, it is ‘Krishna’ who resides in the brain, as the representative of Vishnu, that eventually analyses the data thus collected from time to time. Thus human behaviour apparently improves/ deteriorates with time depending on the analyses carried out in the brain…The general essence of acquiring wisdom is expressed in the saying to the effect, “No one ever became wise reading books. It is ‘love’ that makes one wise.” The Yogis expressed it with the realization that every human being, irrespective of caste, creed and sex etc to be one of the innumerable images of the one and only God, and Krishna (meaning black or dark) being mischievous and mysterious the truth eludes the average being…

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

Hi Joshi Uncle,
Amongst the numbers 1 to 0 which one is your favourite.from time to time you have been explaining the significance of these numbers to us.So I am just curious about this.

JC said...

‘Hi Dr Anilji, Sorry for the delay, for the PC had recently been acting funny and needed some repairs!

Regarding numbers, we all know that the electronic computer works on the binary system using 0 and 1. That is to say that numbers ‘0’ & ‘1’ could be said to be the original couple for Yoga of formless and the apparent form: ‘0’ represents the formless, the omnipotent and omnipresent whose influence extends to infinity (but alone it feels helpless, perhaps), and ‘1’ represents ‘Aditi’ the Sun, the ‘numero uno’ (the ‘dispeller of darkness’) that predominantly occupies the infinite space as stars, thus forming the ‘milky ocean’ (in the words of ‘Hindus’, indicating infinity formed of one infinite times)…

However, ‘navgraha’ indicates numbers ‘1’ to ‘9’ (within ‘0’ that is 360 degrees of space/ earth) that help represent infinity through their various permutations and combinations…
Thus all numbers are playing useful roles in the ‘drama’ of life…But, ‘8’ (a symbol representing in physical terms a number that tends to infinity that is associated with Krishna, like the tangent theta curve that tends from 0 to infinity) is called ‘child of fate’ (Krishna-like), although in terms of physical forms ‘9’ represents the biggest number, but it represents Saturn, the ring planet that is apparently assigned the role of ‘the supreme judge’…
My favourite number is ‘8’, for that happens to be my own ‘destiny number’ (determined from the date of birth)!

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

Joshi uncle,The other PC(Chidambaram) seens to be also in some trouble after the numbers game that is going on in Delhi.It is altogether a different game of numbres than the one that we are discussing!Does the number 0 represent Earth?

JC said...

Yes, the ancient astronomers depicted earth as the centre of the universe ('0'). 'Hindus' also called earth as a lie or 'jagat mithya', perhaps indicating it as a mere projection, or 'truth' that is essence. You are right PC is also one of the characters in the drama engaged in the number game - just as 272 as the score the UPA is chasing in the nuke game!

JC said...

Dr Anilji, I might add further that in an individual’s day-to-day life, the three aspects (called physical, mental, and spiritual), or the three axes around which a three-dimensional physical form develops, are believed by ‘numerologists’ to get represented by the date, month, and year of one’s birth. And the ‘destiny number’ is obtained by the total sum of these three figures, each one of which is first reduced to one single number. For example, if the date is 23, it gets reduced to one single digit number 5 (2+3). If the month of birth is November, that is the eleventh one, or 11, it would reduce to 2 (1+1). And, say the year of birth is 1975, it would reduce to 1+9+7+5 = 4 (22)…
The above date, 23 November 1975, would thus be represented by 5, 2, & 4, the total of which works out to 11 and thus 2 (1+1) as its destiny number… Each of these then could also be related with some particular planet of our solar system whose known property could thus be believed to get naturally reflected in the apparent behaviour of a given individual…
Being interested in the essence or ‘satva’, I haven’t attempted in-depth study of numerology. As a wild guess, therefore, perhaps the governing one in the above example would be 5, that is the highest one in the hierarchy, like the engine that plays the role of pulling the weaker members of the train, that is, the remaining numbers 4 and 2, which also would perhaps be seen to play important roles in certain aspects of day-to-day life of that particular individual…
[Perhaps thus 9th month, that, is September gains importance, in so far as ‘spirituality’ is concerned as it gets reflected in observance of ‘Teacher’s Day’ in ‘India’ on September 5, which also happened to be the date of birth of S. Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President of independent ‘India’, whereas January/ October, as the number 1 month, could be said to be the leader of ‘material’ or apparent physical world: In the ‘modern Indian history’, Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri were born in October].

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

Joshi uncle,An interesting bit of information!I am in total agreement on Dr.Radhakrishnan representing the spirituality,but mahatma Gandhi in my humble opinion did the same so why he should represent the material aspects of Modern Indian Politics.In fact the materialism in Indian Politics started after Lal Bahadur Shasri's tenure as PM.

JC said...

In ‘my’ opinion, in the drama, Mahatma Gandhi was originally detached, a ‘spiritual person’ in the normally accepted sense. His involvement in the ‘physical struggle’, outwardly at least, was a result of personal insult to him by the Colonial British System of administration. Angered, he thus physically led the masses, or acted as an engine for material gains by the ‘native Indians’…eventually to hand over the reins to JLN and others, like LBS, that followed him thereafter…

Manish Madhav said...

Adbhut!!! I am myself considered to be knowing few things about the land of the lord of the universe, the legends... however never noticed that the 'plan' of the chariots reflect such a beautiful yantra!!!

Amazing...

Anonymous said...

Hi Kavitha,
Fantastic post and discussion of the Yantra.I have only two things to add; First, the yantra itself has got the mantra wrong in the eight petals.This is the same Yantra that is in the shivshakti Web site of Mike Magee.

Second,I have read somewhere the numerological importance of 108 is from the first three number raised to their own power.

eg: 1x1;2x2x2;3x3x3x3 when multiplied give 108.

1x1=1x2=2x2=4x3=12x3=36x3=108

1= Unity
2=Dualism
3=Trinity.

Pankaj

vishnu joshi said...

Nice post about Jagannath rath yatra.