Guru Nanak’s Analysis of Lord Jagannath Broader and Universal Outlook


Legend shows that Nanak arrived at Puri with his disciple ‘Mardana’. Nanak reached Puri beach in the evening near the present Swargadwar. He sat down in meditation. Mardana was hungry but as he was a Muslim he was not allowed to enter into the Jagannath temple for the Mahaprasad. So the disciple of Nanak blamed Nanak for selecting such a place where they had to face starvation. Suddenly at that time somebody appeared and offered food and drink carrying in utensils of gold. In the early hours of morning however there was a commotion in Jagannath temple that the gold utensils of the Lord were missing. The news was given to Raja. Nanak appeared to Raja in his dream that night. So when Raja knew regarding the occurence of theft, he gave a broad smile and marched towards sea-beach in a procession to welcome the saint. Raja found that the saint was in meditation and the gold utensils were lying close by. Then the king and his party gave a hearty reception to the saint who had come to Puri to pay his homage to the Lord Jagannath. Nanak was invited to pay his visit to the temple at the time of Arati in the evening.

That evening, he entered the temple reciting the Lord’s name. On the very entrance to Nata Mandir, he was suddenly charged with divine ecstasy. He originally believed in the formless worship of the Lord. But the symbolic image of Lord Jagannath was neither of any “Akar” nor was it “Nirakar”. Seeing this “Kimakar” (of which form ?) image of the Lord, he was simply astonished and was overwhelmed with deep reverence for the Lord. He understood the universalism of the Lord and believed in the symbolic cult of Jagannath. He started the ‘Namakirtan’ of the Lord in his own way. Basically, Nanak believed in the formless worship of ‘Nirakar’ Bramha and hi motto was ‘Ek Omkar Satnam’. It means that he believed in ‘Omkar’ or ‘Pranava Brahma’ which has no form and stressed on the ‘Satnam’ or the true Namakirtan of the Lord. So, in his teachings, there is a blending of Vedic thoughts with the idea of the Namakirtan of personal God. But, after seeing Jagannath for the first time, he could not reject him on the ground that he was incompatible with his philosophy. The ‘essence of the Vedas’, as He is called, appeared to Guru Nanak in the Pranava form and he could only start the Namakirtan. Just at that time, the Arati ceremony had started. All devotees stood up and gazed at the Lord with great devotion. But Nanak was so charged with ecstasy that he could not mark these reactions of the people. With great pleasure, he was seated in his previous posture and tears were rolling down his eyes.

A section of the priests marked this indifference of Nanak. They whispered to themselves as to his credibility and devotion to the Lord. When the Arati was over, they met with Nanak and asked him why he did not stand at Arati time. They further opined that mere rosaries and a garb don’t make a monk. In their view, his actions had amounted to disrespect for the Lord.

Guru Nanak had by that time understood the real potentialities of Lord Jagannath. He had seen the touch of universalism and Vedic symbolism manifest in the wonderful image of Lord Jagannath. So he replied to the priests :
“Dear brothers ! Does our Jagannath only exist here and in this wooden image? Is He not dazzling in the aura of his own greatness, inside all of all creation.”
While uttering these words, he became highly emotional and looking at the Lord, he started to sing a few stanzas from a Sikh composition. The meaning of the stanza reveals that he had a broader view of the Lord and that he considered Jagannath as the manifestation of the Divine Power.

The English translation of the stanza follows:

“Oh Jagannath, the Lord of the universe,
the entire sky is the plate of your Arati, the Sun
and Moon are two lamps, which are burning there.
The stars are the flame dazzling with sparks,
the Sandal wood fragrance caused due
to Malaya wind is your Dhupa, the wind
bearing its fragrance is flaming your fans. Oh
Lord of Light, the trees are offering flowers
for your Arati, oh Lord the liberator, this Arati
of yours is undescribable. The bells of this Arati
are only sounded through the Anahat Dhwani (relentless sound).”

As Nanak was originally a preacher of the Bhakti cult, he universalised Jagannath after realising his true potentialities. The Sadhus, the priests and the general public were stunned to hear such devotional songs of the Lord from Guru Nanak. This instance points out Nanak’s analysis of Jagannath from a broader and universal outlook. It further signifies that Nanak had established Jagannath in the inner chamber of his heart.


Source : sikhiwiki




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