Asit Mohanty & Sibkumar Das
‘Adwaita’ is the ultimate goal of Indian philosophy. It proclaims non-dualistic omnipresence of Brahma or Almighty. Indians worship several deities and believe they are the manifestations of the same eternal omnipresent energy. The four idols of Sri Jagannath, Sri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sri Sudarshan are worshipped on the ‘ratnasimhasana’ altar of Sri Jagannath temple.
The element of ‘Nyasadaru’ during the construction of the new idols of these deities sends out the message that the idols may be four and different looking, but the entity worshipped through them is one.
After ritualistic selection and cutting of ‘daru’ trees, the logs are ceremoniously transported, one after another, on hand drawn carts to ‘Koili Baikuntha’ inside Sri Jagannath temple. The first ‘daru’ to reach the temple is that of Sri Sudarshan, followed by that of Sri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and finally that of Sri Jagannath. The ‘Bahirbanajaga’, the set of rituals of Nabakelabara performed outside the temple, ends with it. The construction of new idols from the ‘daru’ logs starts at ‘nirman mandap’ while ‘pratistha yajna’ for idols continues simultaneously.
A piece taken from ‘daru’ of Sri Jagannath becomes the ‘Nyasadaru’, a vital component of Nabakalebara. ‘Nyasa’ is a common constituent in all Indian rituals. It means invocation of divinity in anything, including one’s own self. ‘Nyasa’ is usually done through chanting of mantras and meditation. So, ‘Nayasadaru’ means the piece of wood in which divinity has been invoked. The invocation of the qualities of Almighty divinity in the ‘Nyasadaru’ is called ‘nyasakarma’.
Generally, ‘nyasakarma’ starts from the fifth day of ‘pratistha yajna’ and ends on the ninth day. From the beginning of yajna till end of ‘nyasakarma’, all important rituals are conducted before this ‘Nyasadaru’. In Yoga and Tantra, the cranium of our brain or ‘Sahasrar’ is considered the origin of consciousness in our brain. Consciousness travels from there through numerous channels throughout our body to invoke life throughout our body.
This is metaphorically shown during the consecration of ‘Nyasadaru’ by 108 pots of holy water through a ‘Sahasrar kumbha’ or pot with thousand holes. During this consecration process, mantras from Vedas are chanted for Sri Jagananth, Sri Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra.
“Nyasadaru’ is worshipped with Nrusimha Gayatri and Mantraraj Nrusimha mantra by using 16 kinds of holy materials, which is called ‘shodasha upachara’. The various parts of the body are imagined on the ‘nyasadaru’ piece which is consecrated by syllables of Nrusimha mantra. At least 30 kinds of ‘nyasa’ processes are performed in ‘Nyasadaru’.
After ‘nyasa’ or consecration, ‘prana pratistha’ or invocation of life is done for the ‘Nyasadaru’. Important elements of life like prana (breath), maansa (flesh), rakta (blood) and sense organs are conceptualised in the ‘Nyasadaru’ through ‘prana pratistha mantra’.
After invocation of life, ‘Nayasadaru’ is placed on a small chariot, which is dragged around the main temple structure seven times before it is taken to the ‘nirman mandap’, the designated place for construction of deities. This is called ‘Gupta Rath Yatra’ or secret Car Festival of Nabakalebara year, conducted inside the premises of the temple ahead of the well-known annual Rathyatra festival of Sri Jagannath. The small chariot used to carry the ‘Nyasadaru’ is a miniature replica of ‘Nandighosha’ chariot of Sri Jagannath during the Rath Yatra. It is decorated with yellow and red cloth like the Nandighosha. Although manuscripts say the chariot should have 16 wheels, it had only eight wheels during Nabakalebara, 2015.
At the ‘nirman mandap’, Biswakarma servitors divide the ‘Nyasadaru’ into four parts. These four pieces are used as ‘Brahma kapata’ or door of the core chamber of four new idols. These core chambers contain ‘Brahma padartha’ or the ‘soul material’ that is transferred from the old idols to the new ones.
Through ‘Nyasadaru’ we understand that although seen as four, the entity worshipped on ‘ratnasimhasana’ of Sri Jagannath temple is one and the same. Similarly, every manifestation in this universe is nothing but materialisation of the Omnipresent Almighty. This is the essence of Adwaita philosophy.
Next: Role of Sri Yajnanrusimha in Nabakalebara