Puri’s Jagannath Temple
- January 23, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Puri’s Jagannath Temple
Section: Art and Culture
Context: Odisha Governor has backed the entry of foreign nationals inside the world-famous Jagannath Temple in Puri, wading into a debate that has lasted for decades and periodically triggered controversy.
About Jagannath Temple:
- The temple is believed to be constructed in the 12th century by King Anatavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.
- Jagannath Puri temple is called ‘YamanikaTirtha’ where, according to the Hindu beliefs, the power of ‘Yama’, the god of death has been nullified in Puri due to the presence of Lord Jagannath.
- This temple was called the “White Pagoda” and is a part of Char Dham pilgrimages (Badrinath, Dwaraka, Puri, Rameswaram).
- There are four gates to the temple- Eastern ‘Singhdwara’ which is the main gate with two crouching lions, Southern ‘Ashwadwara’, Western ‘VyaghraDwara and Northern ‘Hastidwara’. There is a carving of each form at each gate.
- In front of the entrance stands the Arunastambha or sun pillar, which was originally at the Sun Temple in Konark.
- Jagannath, Lord of the Universe, comes to Bada Danda (the Grand Road) along with his siblings during the nine-day Rath Yatra (car festival) in June-July every year, an occasion when non-Hindus can have His darshan.
- As the deities go on a sojourn to the Gundicha temple, their birthplace, devotees from around the world throng Puri for a glimpse of the Lord.
- Jagannath PuriYatrais the most famous Vaishnavite rituals observed in India and abroad.
- On the occasion, devotees pray to three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Lordess Subhadra
- Only Hindus are allowed inside the shrine to offer prayers to the sibling deities in the sanctum sanctorum. A sign at the Lion’s Gate (main entrance) of the Temple clearly states: “Only Hindus are allowed”.
Why no non-Hindus?
It has been the practice for centuries, even though there is no clearly articulated reason for it.
Some historians believe that multiple attacks on the Temple by Muslim rulers might have led the servitors to impose restrictions on the entry of non-Hindus. Others have said that this was the practice from the time the Temple was built.
Patitapaban darshan: Lord Jagannath is also known as Patitabapan which literally means “saviour of the downtrodden”. So all those who are barred from entering the Temple because of religious reasons get the privilege of a darshan of the Lord in the form of Patitapaban at the Lion’s Gate.
In 1984, the servitors famously opposed the entry of Indira Gandhi inside the Temple, saying she had married a non-Hindu.
In November 2005, Thai Princess Maha Chakri Srinidhorn, who was on her maiden visit to Odisha, viewed the Temple from the outside because foreigners are not allowed.
In 2011, a proposal by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, then adviser to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, supporting the entry of non-Hindus into the Temple to boost Odisha’s tourism potential, triggered a major controversy. Mohapatra had to withdraw his statement.