Kuhu on the occasion of Orissa’s most famous Folk Festival of Agro-Magic: Ratha Yatra

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Ratha Yatra is Orissa’s most famous folk festival of agro-magic.

I greet you friends with a picture of SriJagannatha drawn instantly by my elder granddaughter Adwiteeya Mohapatra (Kuhu), born to my daughter Suchismita.

She reads in Class III at DPS-Kalinga.

SriJagannatha by Adwiteeya Mohapatra, Class III, DPS-Kalinga

Denial of Naba Jauvana Darshan means Annihilation of SriJagannatha

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Naba Jauvana Darshan is the central pivot on which the cult of Sri Jagannath stands. Since his evolution from the Buddhist matriarch concept, Vedic chauvinists have been trying to destroy him. The foolish Government’s willingness to do away with Naba Jauvana Darshana this year, when the whole world is awaiting the Navakalevara ceremony, the philosophy on which SriJagannatha stands would be severely affected.

The way Sri Jagannath is being misappropriated by reactionaries in India and the way powerful electronic media is supporting this misappropriation by intoxicating people with all sorts of superstitious propaganda in an environment that has been vitiated so much with self-centrism, that, the common people, who have neither the orientation nor the time to think beyond personal hearth and entertainment, may fail to grasp the conspiracy cooked up by caste-supremacists to wipe out the unique distinction of SriMandira of being the only place of applied Buddhism.

Denial of Naba Jauvana Darshana to the people is the latest and the severest onslaught perpetrated by the caste-supremacist mafia on cult of Jagannatha. The phenomenon has been discussed in many postings in ORISSA MATTERS.

One such posting is linked to this post to help understand the nasty design.

Who are the Daitas and why are they being denigrated this Navakalevar?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Of all our tribes, there was a sect that was worshiping Buddha, the saver of Tribal democracy, as Sauri Narayan (Surya Narayan), because he was revered as Surya for being the giver of light (knowledge) to everybody, besides being a man of the Sun Clan (Aditya Gotra).

That, Buddha was being worshiped in Orissa as the Sun, is proved by the very fact that, in the Sun Temple at Konarka, Buddha was the deity.

Konark was the temple that was built by Langula Narasingh when almost entire India, Bengal in particular, was engulfed by Muslim invaders. It was constructed as an instance of Oriya pride after defeating the invading Muslims.

A greater disaster had not till then befallen the Muslims in any part of Hindustan, confesses Muslim historian Minhaj-i-Siraj who had also joined the war that was, to him, a ‘holy war’. A great number of Muslim warriors had attained martyrdom, he has written (The History of Bengal, Muslim period, 1973, Dr. K. R. Quanungo,pp.48-52).

To Prof. K. C. Panigrahi, the Konarka temple was designed to exhibit his (Narasingha Dev’s) power, prestige, opulence, devotion and perhaps to commemorate his victory also” (History of Orissa, Kitab Mahal, 1981, pp.413-14).

In speaking of Konarka, the world famous Art Critic E. B. Havell has said, “Here Indian sculptors have shown that they can express with as much fire and passion as the greatest European art the pride of victory and the glory of triumphant warfare, for not even the Homeric grandeur of the Elgin marbles surpasses the magnificent movement and modelling of this Indian Achilles, and the superbly monumental war-horse in its massive strength and vigor is not unworthy of comparison with Verocchio’s famous masterpieces at Venice!” (Ernest Binfield Havell, Indian Sculpture and Painting , Elibron Classics reprint. Paperback, Based on 1908 edition by John Murray, London. p. 147).

This splendid temple of Surya Narayan was dedicated to the cult of coition espoused by Buddhist Sahajayana as its founder Langula Narasingh was a votary of the Buddhist tenets of Langudi Monastery (Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Sri Jaya Devanks baisi Pahacha, pp.28-30).

Therefore, when Hindu chauvinists destroyed Konarka temple, the then king emperor of Orissa transported the Sun statue along with a statue of Jagannatha, which was being worshiped there as the visible form of Buddha, into the SriMandira complex, along with the Aruna Stambha (pivot of rising sun) for inclusion in the Jagannatha system.

When the Aruna Stambha has been installed before the Singhadwara (The main entrance to SriMandira), the Sun statue is installed in a separate temple inside the Kurma Bedha, known as Dharma Raja temple, and also, Surya Narayan temple. We know, Buddha and Surya are known as Dharma.

Priests, who belong to Brahmin caste only are keeping it under close watch. They do not allow anybody enter into the temple. When I wanted to see what is there in the temple, I had to give the priest an amount of journalistic money to procure his cooperation.

I saw the small image of Jagannatha there and to my astonishment, I saw the Sun God (Surya Narayan) being also worshiped, because some flowers were seen on his podium.

To my shock, I found the Sun God was behind a barricade of iron rods. I wanted to know why he was thus arrested. The priest, who was eager to eject me out of the temple, but a bit cooperative for the money I had given, told me that, that image was of Surya Narayan brought from Konarka temple by Purusottama Dev’s son Narasingha Dev. As the general public is not permitted to see him, since then he is kept behind the bars.

I was not surprised, because Purusottam Dev was a great patron of Brahminism and during his reign the Konarka might have been destroyed.

But I was thrilled beyond description to see the image of the Sun to whom the Konarka temple was dedicated. Out of reverence for the epitome of Oriya pride – the God of Konarka – I wanted to perform a Pradakshina (move around the pedestal of the God in devotion); but the priest disallowed me, informing that, that was never permissible.

My curiosity grew and, as a journalist, I though it prudent to locate the reason of keeping the Sun God behind iron bars, with prohibition on public entry, by entering into the barricaded area at any cost.

I gave the priest a hundred rupees note to buy his clandestine service while cajoling him to help me perform the Pradakshina.

He swallowed his reluctance, cautiously opened the barrier door and gave me a lamp to use in my round journey and went to guard the entrance advising me to come out quickly.

As I entered into the secluded inner chamber, to my astonishment I found, Gurudev Buddha was beautifully carved in a sitting position in the backside of the Sun image.

I had no camera with me to take a picture of the Buddha-Surya image, but the secret was bare before me.

People should wake up and force the administration to withdraw the barrier created inside the Dharma Raja temple and allow everybody to see how Buddha was being worshiped as Surya Narayan.

As to tribes, utterance of the word ‘Surya’ was a bit difficult, they were calling Buddha as Sauri Narayan and that was so popular that the word ‘Sauri” has been accepted as a synonym of Surya.

Being worshipers of Sauri Narayan, they were known as Saura or Sa’ara in colloquial term which later became Sabara.

I am inclined to give a firsthand accounts on them.

In Tigiria, there are three Sabara villages surrounding my own village ‘Nizgarh’. One of them, standing on the boarder of my agricultural land, is known as ‘Nuagarh Sa’ara Sahi’ and the second one situated near Gopinathpur Shasan is known as ‘Kadalibadi Sa’ara Sahi’ and the third one, near Baliput, is known as ‘Kendupalli Sa’ara Sahi’. The inhabitants are called Sa’ara or Sabara. They are all Sun worshipers.

In my childhood days, they were singing glory to the Sun to the tune of ‘Ghumura’ on Sundays in general and on Pousa Purnami (Full moon day of Pausa) in particular. In the month of Pausa, when harvested paddy crops were being sun-dried for storage in ‘Kothi’, non-Brahmin women, particularly of land-owning families, were offering special ‘Puja’ to Surya Narayan on every Sunday, called ‘Pausa Ravibar’ and the Sa’aras were being invited to play ‘Ghumura’ to please the Sun God. The ceremony was called ‘Pusa Ravibar Osa’ or ‘Pausa Ravibar Brata’.

Epic writers have tried to vitiate this Osa / Brata with legends. In “Brata Sahitya” at pp. 102-04, while narrating the Pousa Ravibar Brata with the same legends, Sri Aurobindo Pattanaik has given a slight hint to what is a real facet of this festival. He has written, “Keteka Lokagita Madhya Eha Sahita Prachalita / Ehi Gitagudikare Ashlilata Lakshya Karajae /” which means, in Pousa Ravivar Osa, the folk artists (our Sabaras) sing vulgar songs. And, we know,  vulgar yet ceremonial songs are sung in context of agricultural activities. “It is an essential agricultural rite”, notes D. N. Majumdar in ‘The Affairs of a Tribe’. I have shown in this work how the vulgar ‘Dahuka Boli’ in Jagannatha’s Ratha Yatra belongs to fertility cult. On this premise, specifically putting reliance on Sri Pattanaik’s narration above, it is clear that the Sabaras of Orissa, on basis of the songs they sing, belong to Bouddha Kamavajrayana by creed. And, in Buddhist Orissa, in agricultural households, where Buddha is worshiped as Badabadua, the Sabaras, who are popularly known as Sauras or Sa’aras, are traditional worshipers of Sauri Narayan and hence, at the end of sun worship on the Sundays of Pousa, on Pousha Purnima, they were, in my childhood days, being honored as priests.

After independence, slowly as Garjat culture got lost in the labyrinth of non-agricultural pursuits, and sanctity of harvest declined, the Sa’aras of Tigiria have lost their class distinction and their heritage has been ruined. In an environment that never suits them, they have gone into the trap of liquor and I doubt, if any of them in present generation can recall their distinguished past. I gather, now only on the full moon day of Pausa, they stay content by just a ceremonial beat of Ghumura that they designate as “Anukula”.

My only purpose behind this description is to show that Sa’aras are original worshipers of Buddha as Sauri Narayan and their sect name Saura / Sa’ara / Sabara has been derived from their class devotion to Sauri Narayan.

They are Buddhists in whom the Brahmins have all along seen their strongest rivals. This rivalry is more defined in context of SriJagannatha. When Sauri Narayan or Dharma Raja or Buddha became Jagannatha, and, due to royal mischief, particularly at the time of Purusottam Dev, Jagannatha became also a Hindu deity by superimposition of Hindu rituals over Sabari Tantra in which only Jagannatha was being worshiped till then, attempts were made to hide the Sabara dominance in the Jagannatha system and the Savaras were projected as Daitas, which they, in that situation, had accepted, because their master was also known as Dayamaya.

They agreed to be known as Dayaita in acknowledgement of their inseparability from Dayamaya Buddha, exactly as, in typical parlance of Oriyas, the people of warrior class inseparable from their weapon ‘Khanda’ (the sword) are called Khandaiata.

This Dayaita has become Daita in short. Therefore, when they locate the Daru and make a camp there to cut the identified tree for the Daru to be used in Navakalevar, the said camp is called Sabara Palli and the entire Navakalevar gets executed under Sabari Tantra known to Tantrikas as Bouddha Tantra.

In view of the points analyzed above, Sri Jagannatha belongs to the Daitas, because it is they that had made Buddha the Sauri Narayana, which subsequently has become SriJagannatha, when Indrabhuti synchronized the tribal Jagantaa-Tha with Surya Narayan and created Jagannatha out of this synchronization, giving the omnipresent Buddha a form for physical worship. Because of the synchronization, Jagannatha is yet made of wood and his color is deep dark as the brightest sun appears to the naked eyes. Because of them, SriMandira is yet a citadel of applied Buddhism, of caste-less environment, of Sabari Tantra as medium of SriJagannatha’s core propitiation.

Sankaracharya and his cohort caste-supremacists, Gajapati Divyasingh Dev, and chief temple administrator Suresh Mohapatra et all do not want Sabari Tantra to stay in vogue, as otherwise SriMandira shall stay a place of applied Buddhism. Therefore, they have been using tricks to discredit the Daitas in the guise of mismanagement of Brahma transfer and by creating mass confusion, to hijack SriMandira for the Sankaracharya.

Thinking Oriyas must rise against this mischief, if their uniqueness is to be preserved.

Investigation into Role of Sankaracharya-Gajapati-Suresh Mohapatra Gang is Essential. Political Acrobatics Never

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Now the hidden motive is discernible. Voice has been raised through media to put Sankaracharya in charge of Jagannatha till at least the end of the Car Festival. It means, the fiasco in transfer of the so-called Brahma was designed to create a situation to help Sankaracharya gain hegemony in the management of the affairs of SriJagannatha.

Since collective wisdom of the people of Orissa had forced Gajapati Divyasingh Dev (1793-98) to evict Sankaracharya from the SriMandira system, the successive heads of Gobardhan Math, the single role of which was to train the Brahmin priests in tricks of vitiating the Cult of Jagannatha with caste-supremacist cult, have been trying to grab again the great temple of applied Buddhism.

The incumbent Sankaracharya Nischalananda, the anti-Oriya, who hates Oriyas because of their inherent aversion to treatment of Jagannatha like any other god of Hindu pantheon; and because of that, has inherent hatred for Oriya language and Oriya culture which undoubtedly is Jagannatha culture, has been trying since long to sit at the helm of Jagannatha affairs, so that whatever remnants of Buddhist origin of the greatest deity of the Oriyas are still alive could be completely destroyed.

Despite around four decades of stay in Orissa, living with Orissa’s water, air, food and salt, Nischalanand, who has never wanted to learn and speak in Oriya (journalist Deviprasanna Nayak in conversation), has been issuing threats to Orissa government in the name of religion; and taking advantage of emergence of religion revivalists in Indian power after Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee gang completely discredited the Congress, has seemingly succeeded in checkmating the Daitas – the strongest protectors of Jagannatha’s Buddhist origin so far – by using the chief administrator of the temple Suresh Mohapatra (IAS) and Gajapati Divyasingh Dev, the two agents of Brahminism, after which his protégés have started sounding that now as the State Government has mismanaged the Brahma replacement, it should abdicate its role in matters of SriJagannatha and handover the authority to Sankaracharya.

Puppet media mostly run by corporate houses and hence subservient to the exploitative class, have dumfounded the general public with anti-Daita publicity meticulously built up with calculated dexterity of shrewd scribes and executed with unprecedented ferocity of a class of aggressors, the like of which was never witnessed in Orissa.

Victims of this nefarious design are the Dayitas, the last remnants of Buddha’s Oriya origin and the protectors of the real cult of Jagannatha.

The media as a whole is involved with such shenanigans that a senior journalist has publicly posed a question: “Are they Dayitas or Daityas?” to which, dummies have promptly answered: “Daityas (demons)”!

In aggravating the situation, Gajapati Divyasingh Dev, the spiritual sovereign ruler of Oriya hearts, who, because of being the hereditary first servitor of SriJagannatha, is so dear to indigenous inhabitants of this splendid soil, that, when a child is born, in his/her horoscope the first name to be inscribed is his, has, sadly vomited innuendos against the Daitas, apparently to discredit them to the pleasure of caste-supremacists.

As expected, communalist BJP has been with Nishchalanand.

But surprisingly, the non-communal Congress has also joined the boggy of the culture-vultures to precipitate mass disliking for the Daitas, lest thereby its paralyzed grip on Orissan politics could fetch any new flow of blood.

All those politicians, except the Communists, and all those netizens except the rationalists, and all those intellectuals who are afraid of seeing beyond the legends lest the doors of the hail opens for them after death, and all those bragging sophomores, sans any knowledge on anthropocentric manners of Jagannatha, are busy in adding their strength to motivated media to denigrate the Daitas.

But these fellows have not yet used their collective intelligence, if any, to let the people know, under whose orders, agent provocateurs had entered the secluded place to disturb the so-called Brahma transfer. Motivated media as a whole is busy in diverting people’s attention from the real issue.

Keeping a close watch on behaviors of media, we reach at five highlights: (1) Gajapati Divyasingh Dev is bitterly unhappy over Chief Minister’s silence on mismanagement of Brahma transfer and has hurled allegations of incompetency at him; (2) The sanctity of Navakalevar has been violated by link of Daitas with the ruling BJD; (3) Daitas in excess numbers have entered into the secluded area of Brahma transfer and violated the sanctity of the secret function; (4) Chief Administrator Suresh Mohapatra (IAS) is squarely responsible for the mismanagement; and (5) Authority over the temple of Jagannatha needs be vested in the hands of Sankaracharya.

Media should have taken up these points to apprise the people of reality; but it has not happened. This prods us to put our views on these points seriatim.

(1) When we look at the Gajapati, he has no legitimate authority to issue political comments. He is the ornamental head servitor of Jagannatha and his conduct in the context of Jagannatha is bound by protocols. Beyond that he has no legitimate role. Hence, he should not have allowed himself to issue political comments in media against the Chief Minister in a style more congenial to public prejudice against Daitas than cleansing the muddy environment, which the crabby elements have created to mislead the  innocent believers. On this premise, and further to what we have said in a preceding post referred to bellow, it seems that Gajapati Divyasingh Dev has been working in nexus with Sankaracharya to create an environment for him to establish his hegemony in affairs of Jagannatha to benefit of caste-supremacists.

(2) Political membership of any Daita never hampers the sanctity of any function of Jagannatha. Daitas are not 24 hour servants of the temple. Their responsibility is legally limited and they are free to join politics as they like. Father of the present Gajapati, late Birakishore Dev was a member of Orissa Legislative Assembly from Khurda constituency by embracing Jana Congress when his uncle, my close friend Raj Raj Dev was elected to Assembly from Brahmagiri as a member of the Swatantra Party and both of them were active against Biju Patnaik, father of the present Chief Minister. No ceremony of Jagannatha was affected by their political link. On the other hand, Minister Arun Sahu’s rest in a Savarpalli with Daitas or Minister Damodar Raut’s presence on a site of identified Daru or Minister Maharathy’s driving the Daru cart may be symbolic of the State’s intimate involvement with the great festival, but cannot be termed as offenses against the  sanctity of the Daru, as no such action is defined as illegal and offensive.

(3) It is admitted that four Daitas were authorized to change the secret Brahma. It is admitted that after Gajapati left the temple paying his last respects to the images to be buried after transfer of the “TejomayaDhatu”(the so-called Brahma) to new images, everybody present inside the temple system was ousted and the entrances were locked. To the shock of the four designated Daitas, around 40 persons had entered into the secluded area without any authority and any necessity. These transgressors acted as agent provocateurs to derail the schedule in blatant disregard to secrecy and sanctity of the event. As the inordinate delay continued to torment the general public, it was the duty of the Gajapati to enter into the temple as the first servitor of Jagannatha and find out the reason of delay. Then he could have seen who were the trespassers that were derailing the ceremony and should have hand them over to the police for penal prosecution. The authorized Daitas were ready to identify them. But the Gajapati did not discharge this basic duty and thereby helped the agent provocateurs hijack the day. It would be impossible now to book the said agent provocateurs.

(4) Suresh Mohapatra is the only person on whose secret orders the agent provocateurs must have entered the temple to derail the ceremony. Admittedly the temple system was subjected to “sodh” after the Gajapati had left. All persons present in the temple premises at that time were driven out and the doors were closed, guarded by temple police. The entire temple was surrounded by the police forces of the State Government. In that condition, no single person could have opened any door to enter into the temple. But around forty persons had admittedly entered. This was possible in only two situations. If the Gajapati should have wanted or if the Chief Administrator of the Temple should have wanted, the guarding police could have allowed them entry, otherwise never. In the instant case, Gajapati was not present, as, he being the most revered of all whom people take as the living form of Jagannatha, his presence could never have been suppressed. So, even though it cannot be said that he did not know of the scheme, it can never be said that the agent provocateurs had entered the temple under his orders. Then the only man who could have helped the trespassers was IAS officer Suresh Mohapatra, the chief Administrator of the temple, who was present on the spot. His secret instruction to someone at an entrance gate to allow the agent provocateurs to enter into the temple might not have marked as unusual at that time. Were he not to hide the truth, he should not have conducted the post-offense inquiry. Being in the center of suspicion and public disapproval, he should have asked someone else to conduct the inquiry and subjected himself to that inquiry too. His conduct is generating more suspicion in public mind.

(5) These sequences have paved the way for the caste-supremacists and their pet media to demand for handing over the temple system to Sankaracharya Nischalanand, the ethical enemy of the Cult of Jagannatha.

In lead article “Navakalevara:Legends and Reality”, the mischief of Brahma has been discussed and it has been further discussed how media is making the situation irresponsibly confusing in interest of hidden masters in another article captioned “Media act Instigator: People misled in matter of Navakalevara”. One may gain further insight into the clandestine conspiracy by visiting “Parasites activate their design: Sankaracharya invited to Bath and Rath festivals of SriJagannatha”.

Shamefully, a non-communal party like the Congress has allowed itself to be swayed away by the hidden agenda of Sankaracharya and his gang in discrediting the Daitas to the advantage of caste-supremacists who want to destroy the Buddhist origin of Jagannatha and dismiss Applied Buddhism from the Jagannatha system.

If, SriJagannatha is to be preserved in his original magnificence, emphasis should be put on investigation into Role of Sankaracharya-Gajapati-Suresh Mohapatra Gang. Political acrobatics should never be encouraged.

Know in Reality: Snana Yatra (Ceremonial Bath) of SriJagannatha

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
“Magi Olagi” is a symptom of shamelessness in Oriya wisdom. It points out, whosoever obtains salutation or invitation by begging for the same is a shameless person.

The anti-Jagannatha Sankaracharya has shamelessly obtained an invitation to go to the podium of bath (Snana Bedi) of SriJagannatha by blackmailing the inherently immoral and wicked government of Orissa that runs by a chief minister who has no knowledge on Orissa’s cultural heritage, even her language.

To make the Snana Yatra known on its real perspective I deem it proper to discuss the festival by posting an excerpt from my book Sri Jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha. My Oriya visitors who would appreciate it may please help non-Oriya friends of their respective circles understand the phenomenon.

Snana Yatra_Page_1Snana Yatra_Page_2

Seeking Shankaracharya’s advice was a great conspiracy against Jagannath Culture; Unfortunately the High Court has approved it

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

SriJagannatha is the creation of Oriya’s social evolution, not of any Hindu dictum. So, seeking and obtaining advice of Shankaracharya, an epitome of Hindu fundamentalism, in matters relating to Rath Yatra, was fundamentally wrong.

Unfortunately, as “correctness” of the “opinion of HH Shankaracharya” was not the issue “before” it, the High Court of Orissa has issued an order on June 20, that has scope to be misused by the caste-supremacists to the total detriment of Jagannath Culture.

History of Sri Jagannath is the history of battle between Shankaracharyan chauvinism and the people of Orissa. History has witnessed how the people of Orissa, in an unprecedented revolution, had forced Gajapati Purusottam Dev to withdraw his nefarious design to transform SriJagannath from Buddha to Vishnu and had thrown into the dust the statues of Adi Shankarachary and his disciple the first Mahanta of Gobarddhan Pitha by pulling them out from the Ratna Singhasana of SriJagannatha, where Purusottam Dev had consecrated those statues, promulgating their worship along with Lord Jagannath. People of Orissa, in their wisdom, had ejected Shankaracharya out of SriMandira; and rightly so, as he represents caste-supremacism and Vedic chauvinism when Jagannath, created by Buddhist Vajrayan, epitomizes casteless solidarity of the people and tenets of Tantra. Till now, since the days of Prataprudra Dev, the people of Orissa have disallowed the Shankaracharya to have any say on management of the system of SriJagannath. Now, he has succeeded to enter into the system through the backdoor by the High Court judgement where why he was not yet having any authority over the Jagannath system was not deliberated upon.

We publish here below the judgement ( Order Dated 20.06.2014 in W.P. ( C ). No. 10457 of 2014) for immediate public perusal.

This petition by way of PIL seeks direction to implement the decision of the Jagannath Temple Managing Committee constituted under the provisions of Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 (‘the Act’) on the issue of climbing the chariots during Car Festival, 2014.

2. The case set out in the petition is that as per the traditions of Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri, Rath Yatra (Car Festival) is held every year when the presiding deities leave the ‘Shrimandir’ premises and journey to the ‘Sri Gundicha’ temple on the ‘Bada Danda’ in chariots or ‘rathas’ specially constructed for the purpose which are pulled by devotees using ropes. The ritual culminates with the return of the deities to Shrimandir known as ‘Bahuda Yatra’.

A question arose as to whether it was permissible for the devotees to climb atop the Rathas (chariots) when the deities are installed thereon for having a darshan of the deities or to touch the deities after the chariots reach Shri Gundicha Temple and before the deities are taken therein.

The said issue was referred by the Managing Committee for opinion of HH Shankaracharya, Puri on the understanding that HH Shankaracharya, Puri was the final advisor on the issue of rituals of the deities as per the statutorily recognized record of rights. HH Shankaracharya, Puri, vide his opinion dated 6.11.2013 opined that “none other than the Sevaks (who perform rituals or seva-puja over the Chariots during Ratha Yatra), the Shankarcharya and the Gajapati Maharaja are authorized to climb on to the Chariots and the devotees should have darshan from the Badadanda without climbing on to the Chariots”.

The said opinion was accepted by the Managing Committee and a sub-committee was constituted to suggest the modalities for implementation of the opinion which required co-ordination with various stakeholders and law and order arrangements. It also required bringing about consensus with the sevayat community, some of whom had opposed the said opinion.

The Managing Committee also referred the matter to the State Government to guide the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) for implementation of the above decision of Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya. The petitioner represented to the State Government seeking implementation of the decision but since no response was received, this petition has been filed.

3. Having regard to the sensitive nature of the issue and taking into consideration the urgency of the situation, as the Car Festival is to commence from 29.06.2014, notice was issued for taking up the matter today itself and learned counsel for the Temple Administration was required to produce the documents about the Record-of-Rights.

4. We have heard Mr. Jayant Das, learned Sr. Advocate appearing for the petitioner, Mr. Ashok Mohanty, learned Advocate General for the State Government and Mr. B.N. Rath, learned counsel for the Temple Administration.
5. Mr. Rath has handed over a compilation of documents in Court today which include letter dated 11th November, 2013 from the chief Administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri to the Principal Secretary, Law Department, Govt. of Odisha on the subject ‘High Level Meeting to discuss on the implementation of the recommendation of Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya on the issue of climbing on to the holy Chariots during Rath Yatra’ .

6. Learned Advocate General has produced the stand of the Government in the form of the letter dated 19.6.2014 of the Principal Secretary to the Government, in the Law Department, addressed to the learned Government Advocate.

7. The stand of the Government indicated in the said letter is that in the meeting held on 11.06.2014 presided over by Hon’ble Minister of Law, Govt. of Odisha, which was also attended by the Principal Secretary to Government in the Home Department; Principal Secretary to Government in the Law Department; Chief Administrator, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri; Special D.G. of Police, Odisha; Collector, Puri; and Superintendent of Police, Puri; and representatives of Daitapati Nijogs, it was decided that no one except the Sevaks and others connected only with the Seva Puja will be allowed to climb the holy chariots on three days i.e. on the day of Ratha Yatra, Bahuda and Suna Besha.

However, on the other days the existing practice may continue.
The decision was taken keeping in view the security, safety and convenience of the pilgrims /devotees and the administration of police arrangements.

8. The question for consideration is whether the State Government is justified in practically reversing the decision of the Managing Committee of the Temple to go by the opinion of HH Shankarcharya while considering the issue of its implementation.

9. Learned counsel for the petitioner referring to the averments in the petition and provisions of the Act submitted that issue of religious rituals is the statutory duty of the Managing Committee as per Section 15 of the Act and the State Government cannot substitute its views on the subject of religious rituals.

Power of the State extends only to secular functions and not to religious rituals. It was submitted that the rituals are recorded in the record of rights which have been notified in the Official Gazette dated 14.10.1955 and 3.9.1956 vide Law Department’s Notifications No. 5660-JTA-3/55-JTA dated 12.10.1955 and No. 5039-JTA-3/55-JTA dated 23.08.1956 respectively.

Prior to the said Act, the management of the Temple was vested in Gajapati Kings. Thereafter, the management of the temple affairs vested in the Managing Committee of which Raja of Puri was designated as Chairman and an Administrator was appointed by the State Government to function as the Secretary of the Managing Committee.
The constitutional validity of the Act was dealt in a judgment of this Court in Ram Chandra Deb Vs. The State of Orissa, AIR 1959 ORI 5, which was upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Raja Bira Kishore Deb, hereditary Superintendent Jagannath Temple, P. O. and District Puri Vs. The State of Orissa, reported in AIR 1964 SC -5- 1501.

The Hon’ble Court observed that the Act provided only for the management of the Temple’s secular affairs and did not interfere with its religious affairs which had to be performed as per the Record-of-Rights. The Record-of-Rights covers the rituals associated with the Rath Yatra, which is an annual affair.

10. Learned counsel for the Temple Administration submitted that the stand of the Managing Committee is reflected in the letter dated 11.11.2013 which is reproduced below:

“The Managing Committee of Shri Jagannath Temple, Puri was seized of the issue of devotees climbing on to the holy Chariots during the renowned Rath Yatra and this being a religious matter had elicited opinion of Sri Shankaracharya of Puri as to who is authorized and who is not to climb the Chariots and have darshan and touch the Lords in the Chariots. There were some unfortunate incidents of complaints of misbehaviour meted out to few devotees during the celebrations in 2011 and 2012. Morevoer, with ever increasing number of devotees year after year, security risk persists while allowing devotees on to the Chariots.

“Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Pitha, Puri has finally communicated his decision in the matter and has opined that “none other than the Sevaks (who perform rituals or seva-puja over the Chariots during Ratha Yatra), the Shankarcharya and the Gajapati Maharaja are only authorized to climb on to the Chariots and the devotees should have darshan from the Badadanda without climbing on to the Chariots”.

“The concluding part of the opinion of the Shankarcharya is enclosed for your ready reference. The Managing Committee in its meeting held on 7th November, 2013 in principle accepted the recommendations of Jagadguru Sri Shankarcharya and constituted a sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of Chief Administrator, SJTA with Collector, Puri, Superintendent of Police, Puri; Endowment Commissioner, Odisha; Additional Secretary, Law Department, Government of Odisha and the Administration (Niti), SJTA as its convener to suggest modalities for implementation of such recommendations by Sri Shankaracharya.

“Implementation of the above suggestion of Sri Sankaracharya, no doubt, needs coordination of various stakeholders and demands various administrative and Law & order arrangements.

“Bringing consensus from the Sevayat community will also be a daunting challenge before the SJTA as few Sevayat groups namely, Daitapati Nijog has openly opposed the move. We in the SJTA are ready to whatever best is possible to ensure a smooth Chariot Festival with maintenance of law & order. With the above backdrop, I request you to kindly place the matter before Government, convene a High Level Meeting to discuss on the issue and guide the SJTA for implementation of the above decision of Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya.”

11. It is submitted that the help of the State Government has been sought only for implementation of the decision based on the opinion of the HH Shankaracharya, Puri and not the issue of religious rituals.

12. Learned Advocate General fairly stated that the State Government did not intend to interfere on the issue of religious rituals but was only concerned with law and order situation and smooth handling of the event without interfering with the decision of the Managing Committee on the issue of rituals in any manner. He pointed out that the Managing Committee had the duty not only to arrange for performance of rituals but also to provide facilities for proper performance of worship by the pilgrims.

13. In view of the above submission by the learned counsel, nothing remains to be decided by this Court, notwithstanding the stand of the State Government which is in conflict with the opinion of the HH Shankaracharya, Puri and the decision of the Managing Committee as reflected in the letter dated 11.11.2013.
The stand of the learned Advocate General is that the concern of the State Government is only to maintain law and order and not to interfere with the religious rituals. Once it is so, the stand of the Managing Committee to go by the opinion of the HH Shankaracharya, Puri has to prevail as far as rituals during the car festival are concerned.

Any contrary opinion of the State Government will obviously be in-operative. The State Government may however perform its duty of maintaining law and order and providing all necessary assistance for smooth conduct of the Car festival in accordance with the decision of the Managing Committee on the issue of rituals which is based on opinion of HH Shankaracharya, Puri and correctness of which is neither subject matter for consideration of State Government nor before this Court.

14. The petition is disposed of accordingly.
A.K.Goel, Chief .Justice, Odisha High Court 
Dr A.K.Rath, Judge, Odisha High Court 

As we support the idea of keeping away the deity from being touched by anybody on the chariot, we strongly oppose to the Shankaracharya riding on the chariot, as thereby Hindu hegemony would completely engulf SriJagannatha, who was created by Indrabhuti with the sole purpose to save the people from Hindu hegemony which divides the people on caste basis and aims at keeping people bound to the belief in fate so that the system of exploitation goes on unhindered, to the advantage of upper-caste Hindus and their patrons.

We have been, and we will discuss why Shankaracharya has no real affinity with what SriJagannath stands for.