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<h2>Chodaganga Deva</h2>


<font color=#990066>For the pleasure of the devotees, the following information is given about the king who built the Jagannath temple. The information is pretty much unedited. My apologies.</font><hr>


Chodaganga Deva (1078-1150), the greatest of the Ganga kings, built a new temple on the ruins of the old one. It is said that King Chodaganga was originally a Shaivite who became a Vaishnava under the influence of Ramanuja when he visited Jagannath Puri. Prior to the time of Ramanuja, there used to be a dog in black stone on the altar. Ramanuja had this dog deity removed, as well as improving temple service in other ways. Many other acharyas visited Puri after Ramanuja, including Madhva in the 13th century.


From various inscriptions it is known that King Anantavarman Codaganga Deva established the present temple some time near the end of the eleventh century. A copper plate inscription made by King Rajaraja III found on the Tirumala temple near the north entrance states that the temple was built by Gangesvara, i.e., Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva:


<center>pAdau yasya dharAntarIkSam akhilaM nAbhis tu sArvA dizaH

zrotre netra-yugaM ravIndu-yugalaM mUrdhApi ca dyaur asau |

prAsAdaM puruSottamasya nRpatiH ko nAma kartuM kSamas

tasyetyAdi nRpair upekSitam ayaM cakre’tha gaGgezvaraH ||</center>


<blockquote>Previous king thought themselves incapable of building an appropriate temple to Lord Purushottam, whose feet cover the three worlds, whose navel contains the entire sky, whose ears contain all the directions, whose eyes are the sun and moon, and whose head is the heaven above. The task that they had thus neglected was finally completed by Gangesvara.</blockquote>


<center>lakSmI-janma-gRhaM payonidhir asau sambhAvitasya sthitir

nAmAsi zvazurasya pUjyata iti kSIrAbdhi-vAsa-dhruvam |

nirviNNaH puruSottamaH pramuditas tad-dhAma-lAbhAd ramApy

etad bhartR-gRhaM varaM pitR-gRhAt prApya pramodAnvitA ||</center>


<blockquote>Lord Purushottam had been sad and ashamed while living in the ocean of milk, in the house where Lakshmi had taken birth even though he was well-treated by his father-in-law. He thus preferred to have a new home on the shore of the salt ocean, seeing which he became joyful. Lakshmi Devi also happily left the home of her father and came to her husband’s new mansion.</blockquote>


Later, King Ananga Bhima Deva II (1190-1198) did much to continue the work of Chodaganga Deva, building the walls around the temple and many of the other shrines on the temple grounds. He is thus often considered one of the builders of the temple. He also did much to establish the regulations around the service to the Deity.


<h3>I. Chudanga Sahi</h3>


"Between the habitation of Madhupur Pattan and the Narendra Tank is a place called Badu Mahapatra Jaga where there is a stone image of Chodaganga Deva. This locality is known as Chudanga Sahi. (Chudanga may be the abbreviated form of Chodaganga, or a corrupted form of “suranga” meaning a hidden tunnel, the image being taken out of Puri through it, believed to have been built by Chodaganga himself.)" (“Sri Purushottam Kshetra – an ingenious planning.” S. C. Mahapatra. in K.C. Mishra (ed.) Studies in the Cult of Jagannath. p. 108)


(Yet another tunnel! I have read a few different accounts of the "escape route" Jagannath took. It seems that this one may have been the most likely. Jagannath would have been taken out the north exit to the Bhargavi River and taken by boat down to the Chilka Lake.)


["It is believed that there is a tunnel underground from the Ishaneshwar temple (near the north entrance) to the Ratnavedi. It is not known why such beliefs are not put to rest by actual investigation." (R. K. Das. Legends of Jagannath Puri. Bhadrak: Pragati Udyog, 1978)]


<h3>II. The conflict between Acharya Someshwara and Nitei Dhobani</h3>


(based on Ramesh Prasad Mohapatra. Temple Legends of Orissa. Cuttack: Orissa Sahitya Akademi, 1989, pp. 42-44)


Once during the reign of Chodaganga Deva, a conflict arose between the leaders of two religious sects over the supremacy of their tutelary deities. One of them was Acharya Someshwar, an advocate of the god Markandeya, and the other Nitei Dhobani, who worshiped Lord Jagannath. Each was adamant in their conviction of the authority of their beloved deity. Each had a goodly number of followers in Puri. Acharya Someshwar was patronized by the Kesari kings and more particularly by Uddyota Keshari who had brought him to Puri and allowed him to settle there.


Nitei Dhobani on the other hand was patronized by King Chodaganga Deva. It is believed that he was able to occupy the throne of Orissa as a result of Nitei Dhobani’s advice and assistance. Nitei Dhobani was an ardent devotee of Lord Jagannath and considered Him to be the supreme deity and all others as His manifestations. She accompanied Chodaganga Deva to Puri and settled there.


The dispute between the two groups grew stronger and eventually reached the ears of King Chodaganga Deva, who tried his best to persuade the leaders to resolve the issue amicably. His attempts to mediate did not have the desired result and ultimately it was decided that the leaders would have to prove the supremacy of their lords in a public test of mystic powers. A date was fixed and both leaders along with their acolytes assembled at a foreordained spot for the test.


Some quantities of husk were brought there at the instance of the king. Whoever was able to produce rice from dry husks in a husking pedal (Dhenki) would be the winner and his or her lord would be accepted as supreme lord of the universe. Acharya Someshwar was first: he examined the rice husks, saluted the husking pedal, and offered prayers to his deity, Aghora Shiva Markandeya. In spite of his best efforts, however, he could produce no rice.


Then came the turn of Nitei Dhobani. Showing great self-confidence and indifference to the failure of Acharya Someshwar, she lifted a handful of husk, chanted prayers to Jagannath with great devotion, and saluted the husking pedal. To everyone's great surprise, no sooner had she commenced pounding the husks than rice came out of them.


The people all around the spot shouted immediately at the top of their voices: "Victory to Jagannath! Victory to Nitei Dhobani!" Ever since then, the people of Puri recognized Jagannath as the Supreme Lord of the Universe and all other gods and goddesses as subordinate to Him.


As a testimony to the veracity of this legend, one can find an image of the husking pedal being worshiped in a shrine at Chudanga Sahi in Puri. Local people say that it is the one used by Nitei Dhobani.


<font color=#AAAA99>[Comment: This is interesting. Chodaganga is usually said to have been influenced by Ramanuja, which is not impossible. This legend, however, opens up the possibility that he was more influenced by an empowered Jagannath devotee named Nitei Dhobani!]</font><hr>


<h3>III. Netai Dhobani and Chodaganga Deva (part I)</h3>


<font color=#AAAA99>K. C. Panigrahi. “The authenticity of the Madala Panji and methods of assessing its historical correctness.” In (ed.) Daityari Panda and Sarat Chandra Panigrahi, The Cult and Culture of Lord Jagannath Cuttack: Rasthrabhasha Samavaya Prakashan, 1984.</font>


Chodaganga, the founder of the Ganga dynasty in Orissa, to whose reign Prof. Mohanti assings the origin of the Madala Panji chronicle, appears as a legendary figure in it. The Panji records most fantastic stories about the ancestry and achievements of this great king. Its states that he was the son of a randi (a widow) and his illegitimate father was named Gokarna. Chodaganga was playing the part of a king in a game with other boys when Vasudeva Vahinipati, the disaffected commander-in-chief of the last Kesari king communicated to him the orders of the Lord Bhubaneswar (Lingaraja) to conquer Orissa and found a new royal dynasty.


The boy Chodaganga then obtained the blessings of his aunt, Netai, the washerwoman, who was a witch and possessed the supernatural power of using even her own legs and her own child as fuel. Netai endowed Chodaganga with her supernatural powers, which enabled him to conquer Orissa very rapidly.


We need not describe several other stories given in the Panji about Chodaganga and his successors. Anybody possessing common sense will easily find in the aforesaid account of the Madala Panji a tangled mass of mythology, untruths, distortions and vilifications. Scholars are aware that Chodaganga was the son of the Ganga king Devendra Varman Rajaraja I and his mother Rajasundari was the daughter of the great Chola king Rajendra Chola. …. (p.96)


<font color=#AAAA99><hr>Some of these will be seen below. The reasons given here by Panigrahi (along with others) leads scholars to doubt internal evidence in the Madala Panji that states the tradition of writing the chronicle began in the time of Chodaganga. The details of this debate are not given here.</font><hr>


<h3>IV. Netai Dhobani and Chodaganga Deva (part II)</h3>


<font color=#AAAA99>The following is from Aniruddha Das “The Madala Panji” In (ed.) Daityari Panda and Sarat Chandra Panigrahi, The Cult and Culture of Lord Jagannath Cuttack: Rasthrabhasha Samavaya Prakashan, 1984.</font>


Maharaja Chodaganga Deva was a mighty king who conquered many countries. The Madala Panji records the events leading to his conquest of Orissa from South India. At the time, Surya Kesari, weak administrator, the last king of the Kesari dynasty, was reigning in Orissa. He had a quarrel with one Brahmin named Vasudeva Ratha over the grant of a piece of land he had made to the Brahmin. (…)


The Madala Panji further records that the Brahmin proceeded to South India and found Chodaganga so absorbed in his games with his playmates that he had no time to listen to him for fifteen days. After waiting patiently all this time, the Brahmin one day finally was able to inform him of Lingaraja’s desire that he become the king of Orissa. When Chodaganga conveyed this news to his mother, she sent him to her friend, Netain Dhobani, so that he could first obtain her advice and blessings.


Chodaganga went to the witch Netai Dhobani and saw her cooking rice, carrying a baby on her lap and holding with one leg inside the fireplace. Before she said anything, she threw the baby into the fireplace. Netai Dhobani uttered tantric mantras over Chodaganga Deva, taught him witchcraft and worship of the Vetalas, ghosts well-versed in witchcraft. Thus Chodaganga was able to defeat Siddheshwar Kalpa Kesari and, dressed as a dancing boy, entered Cuttack. This event took place in the month of Kanya (?), on the the 13th day of the dark fortnight on a Thursday, the very day he ascended the throne of Orissa. (129-30)


<font color=#AAAA99>"dressed as a dancing boy"? </font>




It has been admitted in all the Panjis referred to above that Chodaganga Deva was an adept in black art and tantra. One of the Panjis states that he was gifted with occult power by Netai Dhobani and also that he had control over the Vetalas, the agents of occult power. Netai Dhobani is also named the presiding deity of the city (nAgara-devé) in the Madala Panji. Even today, Netai Dhobani is worshiped by some classes of people, especially in western Orissa.


One of the Madala Panji records that Chodaganga Deva was a man of immoral character, so much so that he impregnated his own daughter Kausalya. For this vice, the queens ultimately killed him by striking him on the head.


In Orissa, we talk loosely of a poor man who is the son of a widow, who suddenly rises to prominence, as raNDI-puA ananta, which means the upstart widow’s son named Ananta. Chodaganga Deva’s name was Ananta Varman.




It is learnt nowadays that the Karanas write the Panji in their own homes. Some forty years back when the recording was still being made with due ceremony, offerings of Lord Jagannath’s prasad used to be made to two images of stone installed in Chudanga Sahi in Puri town on the tenth day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin (Vijaya-dashami). The offering was known as karta kheya, or the offering to the master or the head. The custom was to take Balabhadra’s prasad to be offered to Bimala Devi, the oldest Shakti deity inside the temple premises. A portion of this offering was then taken and offered to the stone images in Chudanga Sahi by the Bodu Mahapatra, an important temple servant. Some was also given to the Hanuman deity and to the image of a female deity called Garedi Suni. All these images are installed inside a small temple.


The two stone images, one of a male and another of a female, are of much significance. The beautiful male figure is seated on a throne and armed with a bow and arrow. On both his sides are the figures of two attendants, one holding the royal umbrella and the other a chamara. On the pedestal are the images of a man with an elephant and another with a horse. The figure so represented is clearly a royal image, and people widely believe that it represents Ananta Varman Chodaganga Deva, the builder of the great Jagannath temple.


The image of the female figure by the side of this male figure is quite helpful in identifying it according to the accounts of the Madala Panji summarized above. Seated on something like a stool, the figure appears to be busy with doing something with an udukhalo, a wooden device commonly used for husking paddy. This also represents a tantric or black magic operation. This image is popularly known as Garedi Suni in the locality, which means a lady practicing witchcraft as narrated in the Madala Panji. Can it not be identified with the Guru Ma of Chodaganga Deva? (138-140)


<hr><font color=#660099>Just to clarify. The Madala Panji was traditionally written on a year-by-year basis. On Vijaya-daçamé day, the Karanas involved in keeping the chronicle would engage in certain rituals which included going to this shrine in Chudanga Sahi. This ritual is cited as a proof that the tradition of keeping this chronicle began with Chodaganga himself. There are some who hold that the Panji dates from the reign of Ramachandra I who reestablished the worship of Jagannath after the debauches of Kala Pahar.


The arguments are complex, but it is likely that much of the early record was indeed lost in the period that followed Kala Pahar and was rewritten in a fashion that mixed legend with history.</font>



[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 06-19-2001).]

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Just a word about other tunnels: There is a Suranga Hanuman deity in the Jagannath Vallabh garden, which supposedly marked the entrance to a tunnel that went into the temple grounds.


Another tunnel supposedly led from the temple to the Shweta Ganga tank. But the one leading northwards was likely the one used for smuggling Jagannath out when He needed to escape.



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A few more comments about Chodaganga Deva:


The reference to "some Panjis" above should be explained. According to the tradition, Chodaganga created 24 families of Karanas to preserve the temple records. Of these, five were entrusted with the writing and preservation of the Madala Panji. They are:



  • Panjia Karan -- preserves the Madala Panji
  • Tadan Karan -- writes the Madala Panji
  • Deula Karan -- enforces the Madala
  • Kotha Karan -- the main compiler
  • Baithi Karan -- assistant

There are also five different categories of Panjis. No one has seen them all.



  • Raja Khanja -- important events of the Rajas. Read on Paush Purnima (Pushyabhishek). Kept by Tadan Karan.
  • Desh Khanja -- Records gifts of land and money. Recorded occasions when Jagannath was plundered. Kept by Kotha Karan.
  • Karmangi. Daily rituals. Important events related to the rituals recorded. Announced daily at the Beherana.
  • Dina Panji -- The daily almanac read by the temple astrologer at the time of the Avakash. These were prepared annually and finalized on Vishuva Sankranti.
  • Besides the Madala, there were other Karans who wrote regional chronicles, known as Chakadas. "All the Kadatas and Chakadas taken together will be about a cartload."

The Madala Panji has not been kept officially for more than 50 years now, though it is still said that there are Karanas who keep an unofficial record.


Overall, there have been some published editions, but these have been based on a limited number of manuscripts. A real thorough study of the Madala Panji using all the different source materials has apparently not yet been done.

<font color=#999999>



[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 06-19-2001).]

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"It is said that King Chodaganga was originally a Shaivite who became a Vaishnava under the influence of Ramanuja when he visited Jagannath Puri. Prior to the time of Ramanuja, there used to be a dog in black stone on the altar. Ramanuja had this dog deity removed, as well as improving temple service in other ways. Many other acharyas visited Puri after Ramanuja, including Madhva in the 13th century."


This paragraph comes from Sundarananda's Sri Kshetra. There is little doubt that Ramanuja and his sampradaya had a great deal of influence on Jagannath Puri. At various times in Puri history.


However, Ramanuja's immediate influence seems to have been rather less than advertised. Ramanujacharya’s visit to Jagannath Puri is recorded in almost all of his numerous biographies. All of them are agreed on one thing, which is also found in the Madala Panji: when there he tried, using the influence he had with the king, to establish the Pancharatra rites in Jagannath worship, but <u>failed</u>.


The Pandas, who were Smartas (see the article on Govardhan Math in this thread: http://www.indiadivine.com/ubb/Forum8/HTML/000009.html) and who also had many particular rites centred on the participation of the Dayitas and other descendents of the original worshipers of Nila Madhava, resisted Ramanuja’s attempts at reform.


They prayed to Lord Jagannath who confirmed the local tradition. The Prapannamritam (15.29-30) says that Lord Jagannath appeared to Ramanuja in a dream and asked him not to disturb the prevailing system. Ramanuja tried to convince Lord Jagannath that the Pancharatra Agamas were superior!


The next morning, he was surprised to find himself in Srikurmam in Andhra Pradesh, without his danda and kamandalu. The Madala Panji says he was brought there by Garuda on Lord Jagannath's orders.


This seems to indicate that he got kicked out of Jagannath Puri!


Sources: Prapannamritam, Divyasuri-carita, Guru-parampara-prabhavam, Sri-Ramanuja-campu, Madala Panji etc.


Happy first day of summer to everyone.


[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 06-21-2001).]

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It seems this is one case of the finite being conquered by the infinite I guess there are some things that the Lord insists He knows better than his Divine servitors.


Jagat Prabhu what do you know about the supposed erotic stone carving within the temple? I heard somewhere that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur had them covered up. If so where did they originate, I'm just wondering if Lord Jagganath objected to Sri Ramanujacharyas changes. Then how did such a change manifest in stone, similar to the Konarak carving?Just curious.



[This message has been edited by dasanudas (edited 06-21-2001).]

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Dear Dasanudas Prabhu,


I have never heard that Bhaktivinoda had anything to do with covering over the erotic carvings, though I would not be surprised, as they were a source of some embarrassment to educated Hindus in the Victorian era.


The book will contain an article on the subject, but I haven't completed my research as yet. The entire Jagannath temple was plastered over with lime 18" thick. The Architectural Survey of India spent twenty years chipping the stuff away. I'll give more details later.



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  • 12 years later...

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