Asit Mohanty & Sibkumar Das
Cyclical phenomena are integral to the existence of the universe as well as our life; be it our life cycle or cycles of nature like water cycle or carbon cycle. This is represented as ‘chakra’ in Indian philosophy. In Yoga and Tantra, the seven ‘chakras’ in our brain and the spinal cord are the points of consciousness through which life force remains active in our body. It is believed that when the consciousness of a human being transcends the six lower chakras and identifies itself with the ‘Sahasrar Chakra’ at the cranium, one reaches the state of enlightenment. An ancient manuscript on Sri Jagananth culture named ‘Mahapurush Vidya’ terms Sri Sudarshan as ‘Sahasrar Sudarshan’.
The deity Sri Sudarshan in Sri Jagannath temple cannot be exact representation of the ‘chakra’ with the same name in the hands of Lord Vishnu. Here it seems to symbolize all the chakras in our spinal cord and brain. That is why it is worshiped in the shape of a wooden pillar rather than in the form of conventional ‘chakra’ or discus in Sri Jagannath temple. The pillar form of Sri Sudarshan worshipped here is nothing but a conglomeration of a series of ‘chakras’ in the same manner that a line happens to be the fusion of points that are smallest form of ‘chakra’.
Sri Sudarshan, also known as ‘Chakraraj’ and ‘Chakranarayan’, plays a pivotal role during Nabakalebara. Sri Sudarshan also finds a place on top of the Jagannath temple in the conventional form of ‘Nilachakra’. As per Puranic scriptures, the first divine ‘daru’ of Sri Jagannath had been washed ashore at ‘Banki Muhana’ beach in Puri. A Nilachakra carved out of stone is worshipped at the spot, which is known as Chakratirtha.
Along with ‘agyaamaala’, explorers of ‘daru’ or ‘darujatris’ come out of Sri Jagannath temple through its ‘Singhadwara’ (Lion’s Gate) and travel to Sri Jagannathballav Math via the ‘Sri Nahar’, the royal abode of Gajapati Maharaja, the king of Puri. Their next destination is Deuli Math at Kakatpur. During this journey, Sri Sudarshan leads the way.
The shape and size of this Sri Sudarshan are similar to the pole-like deity worshipped on the ‘ratnasimhasana’. Its upper portion made up of silver is a replica of the ‘Nilachakra’ placed at the top of Sri Jagannath temple. It remains stored in the ‘bahara bhandara ghara’ or outer store house of Sri Mandir. A wooden handle is attached to this circular Sudarshan. It looks like our primary neural system where the brain is represented by the silver ‘chakra’ and the spinal cord in the form of the bar-like wooden handle. This suggests that our neural system is the basis of our life as well as our every action.
When the ‘banajaga jatra’ team reaches Deuli Math in Kakatpur, Sri Sudarshan is placed on the left side of Mother goddess Mangala during the ritual ‘maajana’ or consecration of the deity. Sri Sudarshan is placed at the base of the neem tree that is selected as a ‘daru’. A yagna takes place at the spot to worship the tools to be used to cut down the tree. The axes used to cut down the ‘daru’ tree as well as a billhook used for symbolic sacrifice of an ash gourd near the ‘daru’ tree are worshipped with ‘astra mantra’ during the yagna. Sri Sudarshan happens to be the deity of ‘astra mantra’. The ‘acharyas’ of this yagna chant the Sri Sudarshan mantra during this symbolic sacrifice of an ash gourd at the spot as well as while passing on the tools for cutting down the tree to the concerned servitor.
The first ‘daru’ tree selected, cut and transported to Sri Jagannath temple is that of Sri Sudarshan. It is followed by those of Sri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and lastly Sri Jagannath. After a ‘daru’ is cut down and transported to Puri on a hand-drawn cart, the representation of Sri Sudarshan that leads the ‘banajaga jatra’ is taken to the next ‘daru’ tree.
The cart carrying ‘daru’ of Sri Jagannath rolls into Sri Mandir in the end. It is led by Sri Sudarshan. During this journey, Sri Sudarshan is tightly bound to the front of the silk cloth covered ‘daru’ of Sri Jagannath. ‘Bahirbanajaga’ or outside rituals related to Nabakalebara concludes when the ‘daru’ of Sri Jagannath reaches Koili Baikuntha inside Sri Mandir. With it, Sri Sudarshan returns to the store house.
Sri Sudarshan represents the essence of consciousness in our body. Sri Sudarshan searches His own ‘daru’ first and ultimately reaches the ‘daru’ of Sri Jagannath to return to His abode. Similarly our consciousness has to discover its own identity as the initial step of spiritual sadhana. But its ultimate goal is to get identified with the ultimate doer or omniscient Sri Jagannath at the time of annihilation of our mortal body to reach the ultimate state of existence.
NEXT: ‘Gitagovinda Khandua’ and Nabakalebara