Atop the magnificent twelfth century temple in Puri, which stands 214 ft. in height on the shore, there also stands the King of Wheels, Sudarshan. Sri Sudarshan is 14 ft. in diameter with a thickness of 2 inches, made of an amalgamation of eight metals. The base holding rod is 16 ft. deep into the ‘Kalasa’. Long red and white banners furlor with sea breeze to herald the victory of the Lord of the Universe on this great wheel, ‘Nilachakra’.
There are two circles in the wheel; one is at the centre and the other is the outer. Eight bars connect the inner and outer circles. Swetaswatar Upanishad (1:4) reveals the mystery of the eight bars, that the whole Universe is a wheel and the bars of the wheel are mind, wisdom, selfness, sky, earth, sun, wind and water. These eight factors compose the human body. Bhagavad-Gita (7:4) narrates the same thing, that eight factors are the nature apart from the Supreme entity.
Sudarshan, one weapon in the hand of Lord Vishnu, is regarded as a Deity in Brahma Purana and Skanda Purana. On the ‘Ratna Simhasan’ of Lord Jagannath in Srimandir, Sudarshan is one of the seven Deities. Here the shape is like a pole. Both the wheel and pole shapes of Sudarshan have different historical backdrops. How Sudarshan was created is described in Brahma Purana, which states that to get rid of the wicked demons, all the demigods prayed to Vishnu. He asked them to combine all their energies. Lord Shankar shaped this combined energy into a wheel, which he handed over to Lord Vishnu to kill the demons. In another volume, Pasupata Darshan, it is described that the Universe is a wheel and Lord Shankar is moving around, sitting on this wheel.
During the Car Festival, Lord Sudarshan comes first to the Chariot during Pahandi, being placed in Devadalan, the car of Subhadra. Like Sudarshan, Subhadra symbolizes energy or power. Hence, both perform their journey sitting on the same chariot.
Sudarshan is shaped like a pole. The obvious story of how the wheel transformed into the pole shape is narrated in the Mahabharata, which states that once in Dwaraka, Rukmini and Satyabhama wished to hear the Gopalila of Sri Krishna from Rohini, the mother of Balarama. While Rohini described the romantic episode, she engaged Subhadra to guard the entrance door. During this time, Sri Krishna and Balarama arrived and along with Subhadra, they listened to the enchanting description given by Mother Rohini. They were all plunged into such a great depth of passion that their limbs started melting. The wheel in the hand of Sri Krishna also melted into a pole shape. At this moment Narada arrived here, and finding the three Deities in the form of a pole, he prayed to Sri Krishna to retain this shape in Kali Yuga to save the devotees. That we see in Srimandir today.
Sudarshan is placed in the left of Lord Jagannath on the ‘Ratna Simhasan’. In most of the statues or pictures of Narayan the wheel is placed in the right hand, as described in Sri Vishnu Purana, Brahma Purana, Nrusingha Purana, Agni Purana and Padma Purana. But in Matsya Purana, the wheel is placed in the left hand of Narayana. In Naradiya Pancharatra Paddhati, the wheel is placed in the upper left hand of Keshava and the lower left hand of Narayana. Thus the left side placement of Sudarshan in Srimandir is supported by these ancient sastric volumes.
The wheel is a circle and its ratio to the diameter is 22/7. In modern mathematical science it has a permanent value with the law of nature. When logs are cut to size during the time of Naba Kalevara, first three equal sizes are cut for the three Deities then another is cut one seventh the size of the three. So these are 22/7. Remarkably, it can be observed that this law of nature is carried out from ancient times in framing the size of the three Deities based on Vedic calculations to express a circle of supernatural powers. But it as the discovery of great ancient saints of Indian soil who proved the circle which is being carried out while carving out the images of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan, long before the western scientists. So the mystery of the wheel is elevated to the supreme in Indian philosophy, and the ultimatum ‘Zero’ is the gift of Vedic Mathematics to the modern world.
Omkar is the representative symbol of Param Brahma. Balabhadra is ‘A kar’, Subhadra is ‘U kar’, Jagannath is ‘M kar’ and Sudarshan is half of the alphabetical pronounciation. Sudarshan is worshipped as a source of knowledge during the Bathing ceremony (Snanotsav). It is described in Skanda Purana (19:9) that the weapons in the hands of Sri Vishnu represent knowledge (Chakra), selfness (Padma), majesty (Gada) and sound (Sankha). So Sudarshan is the symbol of knowledge in the hand of Sri Vishnu.
On the Ratna Simhasan of Srimandir, Balabhadra is Rig Veda, Subhadra is Yajurveda, Jagannath is Sam Veda and Sudarshan is Atharva Veda. However, in the opinion of other authors, the Vedas vary with Deities. Though the four Deities appear to differ from each other, they are one Brahma. Sudarshan is also worshipped as the Sun. It is described in Markandeya Purana that on the Nilagiri, the Lord of the Universe is existing in four forms, named Brahma (Subhadra), Vishnu (Jagannath), Ishwar (Balabhadra) and Sun (Sudarshan). Lord Sudarshan is the symbol of immense effulgence.
Sudarshan is also worshipped as Chakra Narayan. There is a temple of Chakra Narayan near the western gate of Srimandir, just opposite to Niladrivihar, inside the flower garden. The statue of eight-handed Narayan sits at the centre of a wheel made of black granite. The eight hands are full of weapons such as the conch, wheel, lotus, mace, bow, arrow, sword and lightning. In the southern entrance of Jagamohan of Srimandir, Narayan also appears in the centre of a wheel, on the top of a pole. Mahalaxmi is sitting on the left thigh of Narayan.
Apart from Srimandir, there are temples in different places where Sudarshan is being worshipped as Chakra Narayan. Eastwards of Sri Jagannath temple in Puri stands Chakra Tirtha on the seashore, where a large Chakra in water is worshipped in the sanctum sanctorum. This Chakra is made of black granite with a statue of Narayan at the centre. At Niali Madhab in Cuttack district the Chakra is worshipped, and there is four-handed Deity here sitting in meditation at the centre. The upper two hands are holding conch and wheel and the lower two hands are in meditation posture. In the village of Vishnupur near Nimapara in Puri District there is a broken temple of Lord Sun in which the Chakra is worshipped.
The statue of Lord Shiva is like a pillar that resembles Sudarshan. Worship of Lord Shiva is worship of Lord Sudarshan. Lord Shiva is the symbol of five. At the end of a Kalpa (four Yugas) the created universe finishes into fire. All the scattered celestial illuminations in the endless space come closer together in a whirling manner spirally, and they unite to form a Chakra in motion. This is described in the Deluge chapter of Sri Vishnu Purana. The modern astrophysical scientists are said to have discovered at least one hundred crores of spiral galaxies in the space, but no theory has been established to date as to from where the power of whirling around come about. Even their supposed “big bang” theory has no link with spiraling. But the great Indian ancient saints have mentioned that creation and destruction of the universe takes place by whirling.
Some astronomical scientists have forecasted the vast universe will come to an end one day by all the celestial bodies coming close together and whirling into a single mass of flame. The same description is found in the Sri Vishnu Purana. This truth has also been discovered in Swetaswatara Upanishad (1:4). Lord Shiva is the Deity of destruction and the whirling effulgence at the end of the universe is Sudarshan Chakra, hence the shape of Sudarshan has been taken as Lord Shiva.
In Ahirbudhnyu Samhita it is mentioned that Lord Nrsimha is consecrated and established with the mantra of Sudarshan. In some other volumes also Sudarshan is compared with the furious glowing Nrsimha appearance of Lord Vishnu. In the volume Niladrish Archana Chandrika, Sri Jagannath is compared with Ramachandra, Balabhadra with Laxman, Subhadra with Sita and Sudarshan with Hanuman. At birth, mother Anjana sent Hanuman to eat the rising sun, So the mouth of Hanuman is compared with the rising sun. As the sun is described as Sudarshan, the Sun, Hanuman and Sudarshan are synonymous.
Architecturally, the Orissan temples are designed in the shape of a human body. The body has six energy centres named charkas, starting from muladhara in the lower part up to the Sahasrara at the top. Sahasrara is described as a lotus where the soul resides and from this the soul uplifts to the Param Brahma, through the nerve Sushumna. In the Sahasrara three vital nerves known as Ida, Pingala and Sushumna control the whole system of the body. In Srimandir, Jagannath is Ida, Balabhadra is Pingala and Subhadra is Sushumna. Subhadra is in between Jagannath and Balabhadra. In Sanskrit, Ida Pingalayorma dhye Sushumna Brahma Rupini, which means ‘in between Ida and Pingala, Sushumna is Brahma’.
When the sense of a Yogi culminates up to Sahasrara Chakra, it is Sudarshan Chakra on the temple where the Yogi attains Brahma, thus losing his personal identity. When a soul attains Brahma, his single identity is vanished. This factor is described in Mundaka Upanishad (3:2:8), which states that different rivers enter into the sea, losing their individual entity or names, thus learned souls enter into Brahma, losing their individuality. In Srimandir when a devotee’s soul reaches Nilachakra, he elevates to the Brahmajoti, so a darshan of Nilachakra on the top of the magnificent temple is believed to be equal to reaching the Sahasrara Chakra in the body through meditation. Thus Sudarshan is worshipped in the Sahasrar Mantra.
A Yogi visualizes the supreme effulgence when his soul is united with Param Brahma. It is the state called ‘united existence’ or ‘Ekadashi’. The Yogi views the blaze in his Sahasrar Chakra atop the body; but to a common devotee in Srimandir, a lamp (Mahadeepa) lightened at the Nilachakra is the symbol of viewing the blaze of Param Brahma (Deepam Jyotih Param Brahma) in the evening of Ekadashi every month. The Lord of the Universe, Sri Jagannatha, is residing in the human body as described in various Upanishads.
Lord Vishnu throws the Chakra to kill some demon or evil doer. When the Chakra revolves round, it either creates some mysterious clue or finishes some existence. In the Mahabharata, Sri Krishna is known as Chakri (The Wheeler). At the end of the Mahabharata war, Belalsen replied that only one wheel has killed everybody. It is the great wheel of time that finishes the creation and that too, is a rotation. The creation begins again and again. When the Universe is created, it is called ‘Day’ and when finished, called ‘Night’ (Bhagavad-Gita 8:18 and 19). When night comes, there is no sun, no moon, no earth, no stars, no sky or nothing else. Only a great ocean of deepest darkness exists (Rig Veda, 10th Mandal, 129 Sukta, 3rd Mantra), hence it is a cycle of creation and destruction. It is the Supreme Wheel — Sudarshan Chakra — in the hand of the Creator/Preserver/Destructor of the Universe. He is Param Brahma, Sri Jagannath.