The present work is a learned discourse, exact and generic, on the relevance of the Cult of Jagannath to contemporaneous culture over a thousand years. As such it purports to be a unique work - the pioneer one on the history and culture of the Cult of Jagannath - twined with a deep sensitivity towards its philosophy and relevance in a broad spectrum of sectarian synthesis. It brings to light the history of the monasteries at Puri, their founders' (from Sankara and Ramanuja to Nanak and Chaitanya), deification of the Cult as continuity, the consequential socialization of ideas and creative arts and the myriad gestures of this tradition (in the traditional context while revealing their powerful contemporary relevance) inclusive of Aryan Dravidian synthesis, the 'Mahaprasad' brotherhood of man and an inarticulate sense of belonging to its past, present and future.
The history of Orissa, and important and indispensable component of the history of India, is generally incomprehensible without a proper study of the Cult of Jagannath and Puri. Indeed, the former is inalienable from the latter. In bringing to light the sectarian synthesis through the monasteries at Puri vis-à-vis the Cult of Jagannath, the history and culture of Puri, the history of the Car-festival and Navakalevara and the history and culture of the Cult under Mughal, Maratha and British rule, this research work is indeed the first of its kind till date.
The work has meticulously sifted the legendary elements to give reliable residuum of facts. As such, the micro-historical study is hoped to go a long way towards a macro-structural study of the history and culture of India as a whole. The work is at times, inter-disciplinary in nature taking into considerations sociological and philosophical aspects as well. As such, as a founding stone of Orissa History and Culture as a whole, the book would be a base for all subsequent historico-cultural researches on the subject.
About the Author:
Dr. Himanshu S. Patnaik was born in 1947 and did his post-graduation in History in 1967 from the Utkal University. He got his D. Litt. from the Utkal University, under the guidance of Dr. M.N. Das on 'Growth of Religious Institutions and Practices from Sankara to Chaitanya'. Dr. A.L. Besham and Prof. Herman Kulki also took keen interest in his research which took the author twelve years of sincere effort to complete.
A Senior teacher with 24 years of teaching at the post-graduate level, he is admired by one and all. He has many books, monographs and other publications to his credit. He has been active as a guide to many scholars at the Ph.D. and M.Phill level. He has participated in many national and international seminars and has acquitted himself with credit in all of them. At present he is a senior reader in the Post-Graduate Department of History of Utkal University.
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