The annual chariot festival in Puri in the state of Odisha in India is one of the remarkable events. During this festival the three main deities Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balabhadra, and their sister Goddess Shubahadra are taken out of the temples in chariots and it marks the chariot festival in which thousands and thousands of devotees participate. Many believe that witnessing or participating in the chariot festival gives a sense of moksha (salvation). Dr Prasanna Kumar Patasani is a native of Odisha state in India. He is an author of more than 60 books, and also an educationist, politician, yoga expert and a philosopher. One of the titles of his books is Lord Jagannath which is a collection of verses paying devotion and gratitude to Lord Jagannath, and notes the religious significance of the lord and the universality. In his book, Lord Jagannath, Dr Patasani writes: ‘The Jagannath cult is not merely a religious notion, it is a way of life. In transgresses barriers of caste, creed, religion and race to embrace the entire humankind. The image symbolize the three colours of humankind – black, yellow and white.’ Listen to the podcast:
UNIVERSAILITY OF LORD JAGANNATH:
Dr Prasanna Kumar Patasani finds the universality of Lord Jagannath, and the meaning in the colours of three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Goddess Shubhadra. He writes in his book ‘Lord Jagannath’: ‘The images are made of timber, thus signifying their commitment to the environment. They are incomplete with hands and limbs are not formed, which designates respect for the differently abled.
‘Lord Jagannath does not distinguish between his devotees. No religion is entirely perfect. A genuine religion has no caste, no creed, no colour. It is an all-uniting and all-pervading embrace. If we exist in our oneness – heart, we will feel the essence of all religions, which is fondness of God.’
To this day, Dr Patasani carries with him a wand – a short stout stick wrapped in fabrics, which is a blessing wand from his guru. He is also credited for campaigning to make Odia language and Odia script as a classical language for it is more than three thousand years old. According to him, spiritual wisdom, according to him, ‘Goddess Laxmi, the mistress of spiritual wisdom, teaches us to open our eyes to the wisdom residing within us and shut not our eyes to the light of wisdom from the sun of knowledge.’