Asit Mohanty & Sibkumar Das
‘Agyaanmaala’ marks the beginning of the elaborate and intricate Nabakalebara rituals of Sri Jagannath. This again is a compound word. In his book ‘Sridarubrahmanka Agyaanmaala Rahasya, senior servitor of Sri Jagannath temple Rabindranath Pratihari ’ has dwelt at length on this word. According to him, it is formed by the conjunction of two Sanskrit words ‘agyaan and mala’ joined through the word condensation process of ‘karmadharaya samasa’. ‘Agyaan’ means order or directive. ‘Mala’ denotes garland. So, ‘agyaanmaala’ is a garland depicting a particular directive.
Odia dictionary ‘Purna Chandra Odia Bhasakosha’ mentions its meaning as a garland of flowers sent as a directive from a deity to the concerned person to do a particular work. A simple garland of flowers used by the deity thus becomes a revered representation of the directive of divinity. As per modern science as well as Yoga and Tantra, our brain controls our body by directives sent through garlands of neurons or neural network. ‘Agyaanmaala’ of Sri Jagannath makes us remember this. Every animate and inanimate object in this universe exists and acts as per the directives or ‘agyaan’ of the ultimate doer passed on through ‘mala’ or a network of consciousness.
Four ‘agyaanmaalas’ received from four deities on the ‘Ratna Simhasana’ (bejewelled altar) of Sri Jagannath temple on the day of Chaitra Shukla Dashami of Indian calendar flags off the ‘Banajaga Jatra’, the search for the right ‘daru’ or neem tree by ‘Daitapati’ servitors for construction of new idols. The process of ‘Banajaga Jatra’ involves the search and identification of ‘daru’ trees and bringing back their logs to the Sri Jagannath temple.
The ‘Agyaanmaala’ tradition of Sri Jagannath temple has a scriptural and spiritual basis. It is believed that despite being the ‘karta’ or ultimate energy behind everything, the Almighty God is also ‘akarta’ or non-doer. God is not attached to any happening. He is the ‘sakshi purusha’ or only the witness and every happening is His ‘leela’ or play through various manifestations. In accordance with the tenets of Bhagavad Gita, ‘agyaanmaala’ reminds the servitors involved in the Nabakalebara rituals to remember that every action of theirs is nothing but the wish and directive of the Almighty. No humans should try to claim that they are the doers of these rituals.
The tradition of ‘agyaanmaala’ also tries to depict that in the eyes of Almighty there is no difference between living and non-living. In his book on ‘agyaanmaala’, RN Pratihari has mentioned 139 known and unknown ‘agyaanmaalas’ of Sri Jagannath temple.The glossary of his book lists 39 animate, inanimate and ‘chalanti pratima’ or proxy-idols that receive ‘agyaanmaala’. As per this list, there are 27 ‘chalanti pratima’ or proxy-idols and eight animate and inanimate entities that receive ‘agyaanmaala’ of Sri Jagannath for various rituals and festivals. The person who dons the garb of Ravana for the ‘Ravana Vadha’ celebrations in Puri’s Bali Sahi on Baisakha Krushna Dwitiya day gets an ‘agyaanmaala’ touched to the ‘Ratna Simhasana’ altar of Sri Jagannath temple. For the coronation ceremony or ‘abhishek utsav’ on Sri Ram Navami day, an ‘agyaanmaala’ reaches the ‘ratnapaduka’ or bejewelled sandals of Sri Ram.
The tree chariots meant for the famous annual Rathayatra of Sri Jagannath temple receive ‘agyaanmaala’ from the deities. ‘Agyaanmaala’ is provided for four ‘daru’ or neem trees to be selected for construction of idols during the Nabakalebara. The four ‘agyaanmaala’ are accepted by the respective ‘badagrahis’ of th four idols of Sri Jagannath temple on Chaitra Shukla Dashami day of the Indian calendar of Nabakalebara year. ‘Badagrahi’ is the leader of ‘daitapati’ servitor group responsible for a particular deity or chariot.
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