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Evolution of Lord Jagannath

Lord Jagannath:Evolution of the lordLord Jagannath, the ruling deity of Orissa is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu and finds mention in the Skanda Purana,Brahma Purana and other Puranas. The lord adorns the Ratna Sinhasana along with his brother Balram and sister Subhadra in the world famous Jagannath temple of Puri. It is owing to his glorious presence that Puri is also one of the four revered Piths of Hinduism. The luminous aura of the Lord keeps sparkling with various legends and myths associated with him and his temple.

Although mythological evidences suggest that the present day Idol was created by Lord Vishwakarma , scholars hold the view that present day Trinity is just an evolution of the Lord over a period of time. They cite the example of a Temple found in the Cuttack District in Orissa belonging perhaps to the seventh century A.D., where the images of Lord Jagannath and Balabhadra only have been carved and Subhadra is not to be seen there.

Proponents of Saktism, it can be safely assumed with respect to the above arguments, at the time of the great resurgence of Saktism in the 7th Century had been successful in installing an image of Mother Goddess (Durga or Sakti) in the  Jagannath Puri Temple by the side of Lord Jagannath. Some other scholars are apt to point that installation of the image of Durga or Sakti (who is also known as Bhadraa, Mangalaa etc.) might have taken place during the visit of Sankaracharya to Puri. In the Konark Temple built in the 13th century A.D. (about a century later than the Puri Temple), there is a panel of three images. Jagannath is seen in the middle and to His left is the Mother Goddess, while to His right is a Linga (phallus). This particular image is taken as the base to arrive at the conclusion that the “Trinity” in fact is an indicator to the unity of Vaishnavism, Saktism and Saivism, which at some point or other have left their footprints on the history of Orissa.

Another hypothesis of this unity in the temple of the Lord is cited by scholars in the name of Lord Balabhadra,the elder brother of Lord Jagannath. According to this theory, Bhadra or Durga is widely accepted to be the sister of Lord Krishna and is known as Subhadra. Now one of the names of the Lord Siva is Veerabhadra. Somehow, at a time of Vaishnavic efflorescence, He was transformed into Balabhadra. (The second half of this name i.e., ‘Bhadra’ was retained and the first half was substituted by Bala). When He was thus called Balabhadra, He, was introduced as the elder brother of Srikrishna or Lord Jagannath.

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