Several religious texts suggest that Lord Jagannath is the ‘Birata Purusha’. Priests offer flowers to Lord Jagannath, the main attraction of Srimandir, by reciting ‘Purushasukta’ of Bajasaneya Samhita. Religious scholars consider Purushasukta as the most precious Sukta, described in Veda.
Bajasaneya Samhita describes Jagannath as the ‘Paramatma’ (supreme soul) and ‘Jagatkarta’ (master of the whole universe). The ‘Purushatatwa’ of Veda has been converted into ‘Purushottamtatwa’ in Upanishads.
Purushatatwa also finds a mention in the 15th chapter of Srimad Bhagwat Gita. Lord Jagannath has been described as ‘Sripurushottam’ (supreme entity) in several religious texts including the Gita. A number of Sanskrit scriptures call Jagannath as ‘Sahasrashirsha sa sakhyat adishesha sanatanam’. That means, Jagannath is the origin and end of the universe. He is considered as the ‘Sanatana’ or ‘Chirantana’ (eternal entity).
According to Srijagannath Sanskrit University research officer Dr. Surendra Kumar Mishra, Purushasukta finds a vividly description in Veda and it is very difficult to understand the philosophy of Jagannath culture without knowing the Purushasukta.
The Purushasukta has clearly stated Lord Jagannath as the ‘Parambrahma’ (supreme soul) or the creator of the universe. Other religious texts have described Jagannath as ‘Sarvasaktimaan’ (omnipotent) and ‘Sarvabidyamaan’ (omnipresent).
According to religious scholars, the supreme soul had descended on the earth during Ashwamedha Yagya, organised by King Indradyumna.
The supreme soul had taken the shape of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Sudarshan according to his own will. Similarly, the supreme soul also descends to the ‘Daru’ (holy logs) amid yagya and offerings during the Nabakalebara festival.
According to Srimandir tradition, Brahmin priest recite Purushasukta before carrying out the deities from Ratna Mandap (sanctum sanctorum) during Snana Purnima and Rath Yatra rituals. They also recite Purushasukta while taking the deities on ‘Pahandi’ procession during Srigundicha Yatra and Bahuda Yatra. Similarly, Purushasukta is recited before the presiding deities of Srimandir during all special pujas and ‘besas’ (incarnations).
The Pusrushasukta has remained the part and parcel of Jagannath culture since its beginning. Even, Brahmin priests recite Purushasukta during the Banajaga Yatra ritual of Nabakalebara, says Mishra.