Imperishable soul is essentially the source of spiritualism. Real bliss in the mundane world is spiritual happiness which is nothing but the truth. In order to get that happiness one should surrender completely before the Paramatma. Ultimate divine happiness is that when an individual soul gets united with the supreme one. Purusha as mentioned in the Rig Veda, Purusottama as referred to in the “Aagama”, “Purana” and “Jagannatha consciousness” as prevalent among devotees of the world are but the real reflection of spiritual consciousness. Parambramha Paramatma has manifested as the Darubrahma (wooden manifestation) Shree Jagannatha at Purusottama Kshetra.
Since time immemorial the benevolent four deities, in their wooden manifestation appear on the holy Rantasimhasan of Shreemandira at Purusottama Kshetra (presently known as Puri) and bless multitudes of devotees. The sacred seat or Simhasana, on which the mysterious four deities are worshiped, is known as Ratna Vedi, Ratna Mandapa, Antarvedi, Ratnasimhasana and Niladri Mandapa. In Utkal khanda of the Skanda Purana, the significance of Antarvedi has been stated: “Purusottama Kshetra is the embodiment of Lord Vishnu and Antarvedi is like his heart.” According to legend and popular belief the said sacred seat is Niladri Mandapa.
As described in the Skanda Purana Sabara King (tribal chieftain) Viswabasu and Gods from heaven were the first to worship the deity Nilamadhava shining like the effulgence of blue emerald. This deity of ‘eighty one angulas’ height was found holding a conch, a disc, a mace and a lotus in his four hands. Further, going by the description in the said Purana, after the mysterious disappearance of Nilamadhava, the wooden manifestation of Shree Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, Shree Jagannatha and Shree Sudarshana appeared on the most sacred place, i.e., on the Antarvedi, famed as the most holy place of Lord Vishnu. The 4th chapter of the Shree Purusottama Kshetra Mahatmya of Skanda Purana describes it: “As this Antarvedi in the Purusottama Kshetra is extremely sacred, celestial bodies cherish a desire to remain here only. Here everyone feels privileged to have a glimpse of Lord Purusottama.”
Since time immemorial, Shree Purusottama Kshetra (Puri), the place of sportive art of Darubrahma Shree Jagannath, has been known as the most sacred place for the Vaishnavites. Founders of different religious schools, sects and cults have acclaimed the Chaturdha Murti in their own ways. The divine images or the principal deities of Shreemandira have been described in numerous ways in the puranic scriptures.
According to the description in the Utkal Khanda, “Shree Purusottama Kshetra Mahatmya” of Skanda Purana, King Indradyumna came to know about Shree Nilamadhava from Vidyapati, the brother of his royal priest. He along with his family members, fellow citizens and courtiers proceeded towards Nilagiri situated at Purusottama Kshetra. But before reaching Nilagiri the manifest idol of Nilamadhava disappeared. The “Skanda Purana” further describes that during the last part of “Kalpa” (a fabulous concept of time heralding a new creation) a heavy hurricane arose from the Mahodadhi (sea) and, as a result, Lord Nilamadhava was buried beneath heaps of golden sand. The disappearance of Nilamadhava shocked the Gods and they prayed fervently before Lord Vishnu. It was heard through an oracle that Lord Vishnu would again appear at Nilachala.
King Indradyumna of Avanti condemned himself for not getting a glimpse of the idol of Nilamadhava. Consoling the King, Maharshi Narada said, “O King! The sportive art of Lord Shree Hari is unique and unparalleled. Nobody is able to understand his sportive art. Although I am beyond death I could not make out the sportive art of the Lord.” Maharshi Narada further said his father Lord Brahma also rests in the navel-lotus of Vishnu. He also could not understand the mystery of Vishnu (Shree Nilamadhava). But Brahma Himself confessed before me (Narada) that the manifest God comprised four forms and they have their blessings on you. Besides, when Lord Nilamadhava was in His stone form, He also appeared in the company of three others. Nilamadhava has assured that He would appear again in four different images in wooden form.
Brahmarshi Narada, who came to help King Indradyumna, stated that Lord Vishnu, consort of Goddess Lakshmi, has appeared in four different images and intended to oblige him. Human beings would get salvation by visiting the divine appearance of Lord Vishnu.
While King Indradyumna retrieved the holy wooden log from the sea and desired to sculpt the idols, Lord Vishnu appeared in disguise as an age-stricken, extremely old carpenter. He in disguise constructed the four idols within 15 days. These mysterious four idols are of Bhagaban Shree Purusottama Jagannatha (Lord Vishnu), Devi Subhadra, Lord Balabhadra and Lord Sudarshana. The idol of Purusottama or Lord Shree Jagannatha was carved with the symbolic representation of conch, disc, mace and lotus. Similarly the idol of Lord Shree Balabhadra had the symbols of mace, plough, disc and lotus. The idol of Devi Subhadra was sculpted having a posture of abhaya mudra and holding a lotus. Lord Sudarshana found the place in the shape of a divine staff among the deities.
Going by the suggestion of Maharshi Narada, King Indradyumna brought the four divine idols on the sacred chariot constructed by Biswakarma. King Indradyumna discussed at length with Narada, other saints and brahmins about the consecration of Shreemandira and installation of deities on the bejewelled platform.
It has been described in the ”Shree Purusottama Kshetra Mahatmya” of Skanda Purana that it is Rishi Bharadwaja, who conducted the consecration ceremony of Shreemandira and Dhwaja (flag) of the temple and prayed Lord Brahma for infusing life into the idols. Bhagban Narayan by means of His sportive art desired that the holy logs, which bore the signs of conch and disc, should be infused with life. But Brahma could not be at one with the proposal of Narayana. He conducted the consecration ceremony through Vedic rituals.
However, in “Niladri Mahodaya” it is said that Lord Brahma chanted the Sam Veda for Lord Jagannatha, Rig Veda for Lord Balabhadra, Yajur Veda for Devi Subhadra and Atharva Veda for Lord Sudarshana. At the time of consecration ceremony of the temple, Brahma engaged Rishi Bharadwaja as Acharya, Agasty as Brahma, Narada and Basistha as Pracharaka and other sages for chanting of suktas and mantras.
With the help and cooperation of sages and rishis the consecration of Shree Jagannatha Temple was completed. After this, Lord Brahma enthroned the deities on the bejewelled platform. The mirrored reflections of the deities were offered ceremonial bath. The installation of the deities such as Shree Balabhadra, Shree Jagannatha, Devi Subhadra was done with recitation of the Purusha Sukta, Shree Sukta and Devi Sukta respectively.
According to ‘Mahapurusha Vidya’, the sacred Simhasana of Lord Shree Jagannatha symbolises the primordial sound “AUM” or Pranava. The assimilation of Ratna Simhasana and Pranava is unique. A full bloom lotus is perceived on the Pranavatmaka Simhasana. Hence, the Ratnasimhasana is verily a Lotus itself.
Verse 32 of chapter-9 of Mahapurusha Vidya says:
“In the conch-shaped Niladri upon the hundred petalled lotus shape of the Ratnasimhasana, I witness Lord Jagannatha decked in all exquisite adornments, resembling that of a newly-formed cloud who is seated in the company of His elder brother Balabhadra, Sister Devi Subhadra on His right and Chakraraj Sudarshan on His left. Lord Shree Jagannatha is being adored by Brahma, Rudra and Indra. I offer my benediction to this Lord, the Darubramha, the essence of all the Vedas in the company of His dear associates.”
Descriptions in the ‘Skanda Purana’ and the then Puri District Gazetteer give the following information on the four deities enthroned on Ratnasimhasana:
The height of Shree Balabhadra is 85 jaba (a little more than 7 feet) having a conch shape and white in colour. The height of Devi Subhadra is 51.5 jaba. Hers is lotus-like shape and yellow in colour. Shree Jagannatha’s height is 84 jaba and His appearance is in the form of a disc (chakra) and colour is cloudy dark. Shree Sudarshana’s height is 84 jaba. His appearance is mace-like and colour is red. According to scriptures, the deities have been sculpted in tune with Chakra (wheel) yantra, Sankha (conch) yantra, Padma (lotus) yantra and Gada (mace) yantra.
The four deities on the bejewelled throne, although extremely mysterious, it is Shree Jagannatha alone is the epicentre of all ineffable thought cycle. Purusottama Shree Jagannatha symbolises both mundane and cosmic consciousness. He is the primordial deity and self manifest. The deities dispel all woes and bestow incessant bliss. For this only the deities have been described as “Darumaya Brahma” (wooden manifestation of the Brahma) besides the principal wooden deities, metallic images of Shreedevi, Bhudevi and wooden image of Madhava are also found in the company of Chaturdha Murti on the Ratnasimhasana. So these deities are called “Saptadha Vigraha”. Darshan of these deities would surely remove all mundane afflictions and sins and give incessant bliss. These two things are indeed the prime bestowal of Lord Shree Jagannatha.
By witnessing the four deities, venerable acharyas, saints, pandits chant the following Shloka:
“Jagannatha Balabhadra Subhadra Chakrarupine,
Darubramha Swarupaya Chatturdhamurttaye namha”….