Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

Sri Ravindra Narayan Mishra
Former Administrator, Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri


On the ‘Ratnasinghasan’ in Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri, we find seven deities. They are Sri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, Sri Jagannath, Sudarshan, Sri Madhava, Bhudevi and Sridevi (Lakshmi).

Sri Jagannath is otherwise called ‘Purushottama’ and is worshipped as Lord Vishnu/Sri Krishna by the Vaishnavas. Balabhadra dev and Subhadra devi are worshipped by them as His elder brother and younger sister respectively.

But there are different views of different sects regarding the identity of Devi Subhadra. As per the interpretation of the historian Dr. Harekrishna Mehtab, the deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra represent the Buddhist Triratna of Buddha, Saugha and Dharma. In Buddhism ‘Dharma’ is feminine and hence in Triratna Devi Subhadra is ‘Dharma’.

Another historian Sri Prabhat Mukherjee avers that Subhadra is ‘Ekanamsha’ which is another name for Mother Durga. In the Sanskrit scripture Brihatsamhita, ‘Ekanamsha’ is described as
Ekanamsha karyaden baladeva krishnayor madhya…”
This shloka states that the Goddess who is situated between Balabhadra and Krishna is Ekanamsha.

The famous Oriya poet Sarala Das has a different interpretation of Subhadra. In his Mahabharata, he has stated, “Brahmabasibe sange Subhadra rupa dhari”.  Here as per him, Balabhadra is Shiva, Jagannath is Vishnu and Subhadra is Brahma. Hence on the Ratnasinghasan of Sri Mandir, we find the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar in the forms of Subhadra, Jagannath and Balabhadra respectively.

This view of poet Sarala Das is shared by the devotee-poet Yashovanta Das in his book “Prembhakti Brahmagita”, Manmatha Chandrika of Sri Achyutananda and the Vishnu and Markandaya Puranas.

Again, as pointed out in several religious texts, Subhadra represents Radha. Shiva Das another devotee-poet in his book “Radharasamrita Gita” says, “Jyeshta Balarama je kanishta Jagannath jeuri ‘Radha’ Subhadraati nama tara kehyabu’ meaning Balaram is the eldest, Jagannath the youngest and Subhadra is Radha.

In the Durga Sahasranaam Stotra (the thousand names of Sri Durga), we find Subhadra is one of the names of Goddess Durga “Subhadra, Kalpalatika, Krida, Koutuhala Priyaa”.

In the Skanda Purana, we find Brahma in his prayer to Devi Subhadra prays, “Jaya bhadra subhadra tvam sarveshaam bhadadaayine durga…”

In the outer wall of the Bhoga Mandap of Sri Jagannath Temple at Puri, a stone carving of the Trimurti is found in which it is seen that the King is paying homage to a Shiva-linga, Durga and Jagannath.

Thus it is clear that Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannath are worshipped as Shiva, Durga and Vishnu respectively. This interpretation is taken as authentic as without royal approval at that time, the sculptors would not have been able to put this on the outer wall of the Bhog Mandap.

On the Ratnasinghasan of Sri Jagannath Mandir we find the Deities Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannath are seated on three ‘pindis’, (circular stones) On the pindi on whch Devi Subhadra is seated is a diagram of a lotus having sixteen petals. Here, as interpreted by some scholars, Subhadra is none other but Goddess Lakshmi.

Padmaasana sthite devi para-brahma swarupinee…” meaning ‘seated on a lotus O Goddess who art the manifestation of the Supreme Spirit…”

Further it may be mentioned that in “Durga Sahasranaam”, these names are attributed to the Supreme Goddess Sri Durga. These are ‘Bala’, ‘Saraswati’ and ‘Lakshmi’. This indicates that Durga is three-in-one. She is Bala (Parvati), Saraswati and Lakshmi.

All these lead us to see that Devi Subhadra is taken as Sister, Durga, Brahma, Radha, Lakshmi etc. It is rather confusing. We have to accept her as per our interpretation.

In this context, we can recall the shloka, “Sarvam rahasyam purushottamasya debo na jaanati kutah manushyah..” Lord Purushottama (Sri Jagannath) is a divine mystery which is not known even by the Devatas what to speak of humans.
Hence Devi Subhadra is shrouded in mystery. In fact, Lord Jagannath and His cult are all shrouded in mystery! Till dat we do not know what or who Devi Subhadra symbolizes.

Let us wait till all the mysteries surrounding Her are unraveled and a definite non-controversial inference is arrived at.

Jai Jagannath !!

Jai Gurudev !

Jai Jai Sri Radhey !!