Contrary to the findings of history which points out that the cult of Lord Jagannath started from 1112A.D., the Rig Vedic period together with Hindu mythological scriptures unmistakably point out that the cult of Lords stretches back to 3000 B.C. and even beyond that period. Quoting copiously from scriptures about the lords’ existence, it has been proved to be time old than the dull dispensation of pedantic scholars, observes Sugyan Choudhury.
The cult of Lord Jagannath is full of such mystery and is so vast and unending that a complete picture of the same is incomprehensible. But on the whole, on close scrutiny those salient features which come to our mind are noted below.The greatness and humanitarian ethos behind the Jagannath cult:That the cult of Lord Jagannath is nothing but a part of the Vedic civilization is evident from the Rig Veda. The cantos from the Rig Veda “Adaujaru Plabate Sindhutire Apoursham” (10/155) which means that an unborn tree from the water, air and earth the trunk of which floats across the ocean and which is not caused by any subject whosever. And again in the Taitariya Prakarana of Rig Veda the trinity Lords of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra exists outside the south ocean, speaks very much for itself.The origin of Lord Jagannath cult appears too incomprehensible yet it might have originated in Rig Vedic period, which cannot be discarded. In the Utkal Skandh of the Skadh Purana, Lord Brahma has said to have exhorted to the Gods that “Long before my creation, Lord Jagannath shines in His blue saphire colour being resplendent from time immemorial. Today in the second half of my life Lord Jagannath has taken the icon of a demon size one and shall continue in this holy land of Puri till my life ends”. The scriptures have ascertained that one-day in the life of Lord Brahma amounts to 432 crores of years of human era. Likewise 360 days of Lord Brahma contributes to one Brahma year:
It is depicted in the pages of Purana that the tribal king Biswabasu was worshipping the Lord as Nilamadhaba at Nilakandara. Similarly it has been described that Ajasabar was worshipping the Lord as Sabarinarayan in Kalebar dense forest. It is all acceptable that Lord Nilamadhaba and Lord Sabari Narayan are one and the same being identified with Lord Jagannath. Sir Samant Chandrasekhar has mentioned in his epoch-making book “Siddhant Darpana” that anyway in the first half of the creation Lord Jagannath was existing in the form of Nilamadhaba. In the second half of the creation the Lord has assumed the form of Darubrahma underneath beautifully embellished crowned bluewheel of temple of Srimandir. But the said temple may not be possible at the very beginning of the creation of the time.
Although Herman Kulke has placed the origin of Lord Jagannath in 12th century (AD); But from the scripture of Indrabhuti it is proved that Lord Jagannath belongs to the 8th Century. AD. Dr. Benumadhab Padhi has mentioned in his captioned book Darudevata that Lord Jagannath belongs prior to 1200 century AD. From the museum at Karachi 3 deities are opined to have been worshipped from 1st century and their origin belonged to the period of the “Kushan” dynasty. Not only that Nikolas Natovin of Russia has mentioned that Lord Jagannath belongs to before the birth of Christ and was acclaimed as the quintessential Lord through out the envelope of Asian continent. But now historians opined that this temple was constructed in 1112 AD by King Anangbhima Dev. But the cult of Lord Jagannath did exist much before it and safely be accepted.
Noted historian M.M. Ganguli has mentioned out of his research that the cult of Lord was prevalent before 4th century BC. In his opinion Mahabharata was composed before 4th century BC. Dr. Ganguli rests his finding from the pages of the Mahabharata wherein at page 114 of the Mahabharat, the “Mohavedi beside the Mahodadhi or the ocean has been vividly depicted as the sanctum Sanctorum of the Lords.”
In the Balmiki Ramayan preceding the composition of the Mahabharat it has been mentioned that Lord Jagannath belongs to “Ikshaku Kula Daivatam” or that Lord Jagannath belongs to lineage Ikshaku. This means that this ultimately stretches our findings to the face that Lord Ramachandra had instructed Bibhisan to worship the Lord Jagannath. The Rigveda was ascertained to have been composed 3000 years before the . Birth of Christ. Probably this is the reason for which Lord Jagannath was already accepted as the God long long before. Indradyumna, Nadijangbak all point out the evolution of Lord Jagannath cult.
He alone can be the sum total of all beings in very many ways like symbolizing the Amphibians like Kacchap, or Tortoise, Kaka or Crow and the final stage of evolution as a man as exemplified through king Indradyumna.
Although basing on these reasons one cannot arrive at the correct period of origin of the cult of Jagannath, but the antiquity of the lord safely ascertained from the legends are mentioned below. The illustrious descriptions of Krushna Arjuna riding through their chariot Nandighosh and reaching the Bramhapurusha of the great Lord sleeping beside the sea shore unmistakably point out to the same purusa is no one but Lord Jagannath himself. All the abataras or manifestation owe their origin to that great Lord or creator. The incarnations may come out from this world. But according to Utkaliya Baishnab cult all the incarnations come from lord Jagannath, it’s being mentioned that Lord Krishna and Arjun had come to Purushottam Khetra i.e. Puri and observed 3 days penance and paid their obeissance to Lord Jagannath. From the divine scripture of ‘Prem. Panchamruta’ of Bhupati Pandit it is mentioned that King Basudev had come as a pilgrim to visit Lord Jagannath at Puri. During his rest at Puri and on the auspicious day of Hari Uthan Ekadasi, King Basudev was placed with boons from Lord Jagannath; consequently, King Basudev was blessed with two sons, Krishna and Balaram..
The Skandha Purana mentions that King Indradyumna was identified to witness the Lords who were metamorphosed as Darubrahma and by visiting whom the people gained wisdom of self or soul. The Utarkhand of Balmiki Ramayan also points out that the description of Lord Jagannath is evident. It was Lord Ramachandra who after completion of his worldly manifestation had . advised Bibhisan to worship Lord Jagannath belonging to divine Ikshwaku dynasty.
Thus it is concluded that the worship of Lord Jagannath had existed much before the mani-festation of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. As per the rites of the Srimandir, it is seen that the worship of Rama and Krishna takes place, after ..getting the divine dictum in the form of a garland from Lord Jagannath. Thus it can be safely concluded that worship of Lord Jagannath stretches back to long long ages. Many a temple has been either lost to the violent claims of the sea or destroyed by ravages of time but then the presiding spirit and the Sanctum Sanctorum of Lord Jagannath continues to exist here at Puri since time immemorial where all historians and archaeologists admit failures.