Puri-An Overview || Historical Background of Puri
Historical and Cultural background of Puri
Puri is well known throughout India as a place of pigrimage from the time immemorial and the antiquity of this place is well established. Mention has been made in Rg. Veda (10.155.3) regarding the 'Daruvigrah' of Lord Jagannath . In ancient Indian religion and learning were very closely intermingled and each Dham was also a centre of learning, culture and religion. Puri, being one of the four Dhams of the country, was not an exception to this traditional view. Puri, as a holy place or Tirtha, first finds mention in the Vanaparva of Mahabharata. The sanctity, glory and significance of this sacred city have been elaborately described in the Kuruma Purana, Narada Purana, Padma Purana and the Vishnu Khanda of Skanda Purana. As mentioned earlier, in the 7th Century A.D., Indrabhuti, the founder of the Vijrayana sect of Buddhism flourished in Odisha and in his famous work 'Jhanasidhi', heprayed Lord Jagannath as mainfestation of Buddha in its Mangalacharanam. After Adi Sankaracharya, other four great Vaishnava Achryas from the South, Sri Ramanuja, Sri Vishuswami, Sri Nimbarka and Sri Madhavacharya came to this sacred place of pilgrimage and preached their philosophy of religion as a result of which this city assume greater importance. Thus Puri has been a place of international importance because of its historicity and rich cultural background.
Puri, as narrated in the Mythology
A number of descriptions are found in various Puranas and scriptures relating to the importance and antiquity of Puri. Voluminous works in sanskrit containing accounts of ancient Indian history, culture, mythology, philosophy, religion etc. present detailed picture of the origin of Lord Jagannath and Jagannath Puri. Prominent among the Puranas are the Skanda Purana, the Mastya Purana, the Brahma Purana, the Bamadeva Samhita, the Niladri Mahodaya, even the Ramayana and the Mahabharata describe the importance of Lord Jagannath and Jagannath Dham. Some scholars opine that even Jesus chirst and Mohammed, the world famous founders of Christianity and Islam respectively also visited Puri. The importance of Purusottam Khetra has been narreted in various scriptures.
As per these mythological records, Lord Jagannath was worshipped by the 'Savaras' as Nilamadhav in Niladri, blue mountain on which the present Temple of Lord Jagannath exists. Hence this Tirth has been in existance since 'Satya Yug'. Since the king Indradyumna of that age took initiatives to construct a Temple for Lord Nilamadhav, he performed a great sacrifice at Puri and brought 'Brahma' from Heaven to consecrate the Temple. However, the historicity of these facts is still in question.
Advent of Sri Chaitanya
Puri has been the meeting ground of all branches of Indian philosophy and all kinds of sects of religion from time immemorial. The advent of Sri Chaitanya to Puri during the region of Prataprudra Dev in the 14th Century to Puri generated an atmosphere of spiritualism in Odisha and propounded the significance of Bhakti among the people of Odisha. Sri Chaitanya stayed at Puri for about 22 years and promoted Jagannath cult adopting his own way of devotion and propounded a system of philosophy of 'Achintyabheda Tattva'.
With the advent of Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya, the tradition of Vaishnav cult, which was actually originated in the 12th Century A.D. with the composition of Gitagovindam by Sri Jayadev of Odisha, was highly enriched and reached the climax and a number of Mathas started to be established as centre of spiritualism to accomodate the Vaishnava devotees committed to the spiritual tradition of Puri. As a result, now you find near about 752 mathas are on the record in Puri out of which quite a good number has been destroyed.
Places of Tourist Interests
At the centre of the Puri town is the temple of Lord Jagannath and all arround it are a number of streets. The main road of the town, called Bada Danda, is very wide, and the streets , sahis,spread out somewhat in the shape of a fan with Bada Danda as its handle: Harachandi Sahi on the west, Bali Sahi on the south, Dolamandapa Sahi on the east, Markandeswar Sahi on the north and so on. Besides the main temple Puri has a large number of smaller temples dedicated mostly to Shiva, Kali and Hanuman and numerous religious institutions, mathas.
Puri has a salubrious climate and attracts tourists from all over the world round the year and particularly during the summer months.It has one of the finest beaches of the world and is the home of numerous artisans and craftmen who produce rare and exquisite handicrafts of a large variety.
From all these above mentioned angles, spiritual, cultural, historical and philosophical, Puri, no doubt is a worth-visiting place, which always stands committed to Welcome the tourists not only from India but abroad, irrespective of caste, creed and color, through its everflying Patitapabana Flag and everflowing waves of the Bay of Bengal.
Puri-An Overview || Historical Background of Puri