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Jagannatha Cult: Origin, Rituals, Festivals, Religion & Philosophy

Bidyut Lata Ray (Author)
Synopsis In popular perception, Jagannatha is Krsna -- nay Visnu Himself. He is, thus, not an incarnation (avatara), but Himself the incarnator (avatarin). "Many millions of the avataras emerge out of the body of Jagannatha and get merged again into Him Who is the highest Brahman Himself," sings a later medieval poet of Orissa, while glorifying the Lord. And Jagannatha temple, near the sea-coast of Puri (Orissa), stays not just as one of the greatest religious monuments of India, visited year after year by countless devotees and pilgrims, but the very temple site is revered as Sri-Ksetra or Purusottama-Ksetra owing to the inviolable sacredness associated with it. Despite all the research that has been carried out sofar, the genesis of Jagannatha's cult and the formative phase of His accompanying divinities are veiled in mystery. These deity images at the Puri temple could be, as some scholars hold, a rendering of the abstract Vedantic Brahma into the visual form of 'Daru Brahma' which, in turn, is believed to be a unique blend of different Hindu sects: Vaisnava, Saivas, Saktas, Ganapatyas, Saura, and even Jaina and Buddhist. The Niladari-Mahodayam, a Sthala-Purana is a c14th-century work, which schematically patterned after the Purusottama-Mahatmyam of the Skanda-Purana, offers a vivid description of Jagannatha's cult, the modes of his everyday worship (pujapaddhati), his various festivals and how they are to be observed. For the first time, Dr Ray presents a meticulous, critical analysis of this medieval text -- which, together with a comprehensive introduction, examines the date of its composition and the kind of evidence Niladri Mahodayam affords of Utkal's (Orissa's) historical geography, society, culture, religion and philosophic expressions. The author also underscores the importance of this Puranic piece showing how the daily ritualistic performances in the Jagannatha temple continue till this day to faithfully adhere to the prescriptions of Niladri Mahodayam. Supporting her analysis are 49 illustrative plates. Dr Bidyut Lata Ray is Reader in Sanskrit, Nayagarh College, Orissa.
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About the author

Bidyut Lata Ray

Bidyut Lata Ray (Ph.D) is a noted Sanskrit and scholars who has been researching on Sanskrit and teaching, the subject for over three decades. She has contributed a number of research papers and articles on Jagannatha cult, Vedic and Puranic studies to reputed journals, periodicals and felicitation volumes and published monographs on the subject. She has been conferred with an honorary appointment to the Professional Women’s Advisory Board and to Research Board of Advisors of the American Biographical Institute, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

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Bibliographic information

Title Jagannatha Cult: Origin, Rituals, Festivals, Religion & Philosophy
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1998
Edition 1st. ed.
Publisher Kant Publications
Language: English
isbn 8186218076
length xviii+303p., Plates; Illustrations; Maps; 29cm.