IDOLS: Shape & Significance

Jagannath is also known as “Darubramha.” In other temples we see that stone and metal idols are the object of worship. But, the Jagannath quadruple are carved out of Neem Wood. It is a fact that the idols being made of wood, cannot sustain themselves for long time. Thus comes the question of “Navakalevar.” Their (idols) periodical renovation becomes inevitable, which is called “Navakalevar.” This is a unique ceremony in many respect in the Hindu religious worship. Lord Jagannath is “Nirakar” having no “Akar” or specific shape of His own. He has no legs but two parallel incomplete hands. He has two round eyes. He is black in complexion and does not have ears. All these things bear testimony to His symbolic form. As pointed out earlier, Jagannath has two round eyes. He is therefore, called “Chakadola”. These two round eyes represent the Sun and Moon. We all know that the Sun and the Moon remove darkness and gives us light. Similarly, Lord Jagannath removes darkness from our mind. He is the embodiment of knowledge and source of wisdom. Secondly, we know that circle does not have a beginning nor an end. In the same manner, the round eyes of Lord Jagannath teach us that He does not have a beginning nor an end. Thus we can say that He is Anadi (no beginning) and Ananta (no end). Lord Jagannath has no ears except two round eyes. Famous Oriya poet Kabi Surya Baladev Rath has, therefore, compared Him with Snake who has got no ears. lt symbolizes that a good administrator should not rely upon the words of others which may misguide him. Hence, he should be sure of things by perceiving those through his own eyes. Lord Jagnnath is called “Mahabahu”. He has two stretched parallel hands without having palms. It presupposes that a man who surrenders to Him is embraced by Him and He ultimately protects him(the man). One thing deserves Special mention here. Lord Jagannath’s hand are parallel which prove His unlimitedness. We have read in Geometry that the two parallel lines cannot meet at a point. They may meet an unimaginary and an unlimited point. Thus, His hands are symbolic. Some scholars have even gone to the extent of saying that the three colours of the Deities (Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra) represent the three basic races of the world namely, black, white and yellow. Hence, the Trinity of Puri represents the mankind. The tantric texts also point out the name of Jagannath and His worship. According to these texts, Jagannath is Mahavairav and Goddess Vimala is His Sakti. The Prasad of Lord Jagannath becomes Mahaprasad only when it is reoffered to Goddess Vimala. No where we notice this unique feature except in the temple of Lord Jagannath. Similarly, different tantric features of Yantras have been engraved on the Ratnavedi where Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are worshipped. The Saiva elements in the cult of Lord Jagannth are correlated with the doctrines of Tantrism and Sakta Dharma. According to Saivas, Jagannath is Bhairav. As pointed out earlier, the tantric literary texts also identify Jagannath with Mahabhairav. The representation of Balaram as Sankarsan or Sesanaga bears testimony to the influence of Saivism in the cult of Lord Jagannath. It may be pointed out that the third deity Subhadra, who represents Sakta element is still worshipped with Bhubaneswari Mantra. Lord Jagannath is also known as “Darubramha”. In other temples we see that stone and metal idols are the objects of worship. But the Jagannath quadruple are carved out of Neem wood. Its a fact that idols being in wood, cannot sustain themselves for long time. Thus comes the question of the ceremony of “Navakalevar.” This is a unique ceremony in many respect in Hindu religious worship. Iconology of Lord Jagannth gives us many indications. It is symbolic. Sholars have made an attempt to interpret the God in their own ways. It is for this reason that no definite view has been accepted and Jagannath cult has been interpreted in many ways. Every religious cult whether Hindu or Non-Hindu finds justification here. But in this context we must not forget the following words of Rig Veda ‘Ekam Sat Vipra Vahuda Vadanti”(Truth is one, wise speak of it in different ways).