‘Triguna-Ankura’ and its significance in Nabakalebara

Asit Mohanty & Sibkumar Das

The ‘yajna’ performed near the selected ‘daru’ trees during Nabakelabara are termed ‘Banajaga’. ‘Bana’ means forest and ‘Yajna’ is also known as ‘jaga’. So, ‘Banajaga’ is the ‘yajna’ performed in the woods. This name may raise eyebrows in modern times. But when this term was coined during ancient times, ‘daru’ trees were searched for in the forests near Puri.

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According to Indian philosophy, the ‘yajna’ is not confined to ritualistic sacrificial worship or fire worship. It has a wider and deeper significance. The word ‘yajna’ is derived from its Sanskrit root ‘yaj’, which has three meanings. They are ‘devapujan’ or worship of deities, ‘saògatikaraña’ or realisation of unity and ‘dana’ or charity. So, our ancestors had tried to make members of the ‘banajaga yatra’ team accept it as a worship of divinity and charity towards society through a perception of unity with the Almighty. An understanding of this truism diminishes the egos of servitors involved in ‘banajaga yatra’.

‘Ankuraropana’ is a key ritual which marks the beginning of any ‘yajna’. Plants were initiators of life on this earth. Every plant grows out of a seed as seedling. “Ankuraropana’ is the sowing of seedlings to mark the beginning of a ‘yajna’. The ‘Ankuraropana’ process during the ‘yajna’ performed near a selected ‘daru’ tree is named ‘Triguna-Ankuraropana’ for a special reason. Twelve earthen pots of three types are used in the process in a symbolic representation of the trinity of Hindu mythology.

Four pots named ‘Sarab’ are considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Four other pots called ‘Palika’ become the dwelling place of Lord Vishnu and four ‘Panchamukhi’ pots are meant for Lord Brahma. Holy seedlings are sown in these pots termed ‘ankurpatra’.

The ‘yajnashala’ or makeshift abode of ‘yajna’ near the ‘daru’ tree has four doors. Three ‘ankurapatras’ (pots containing the seedlings) representing the three deities of the Trinity are placed at each of these doors. As they represent the Trinity, they are named ‘Triguna-Ankura’. To delve into the spiritual essence behind this ritual, we have to understand the Trinity. The Divine Trinity of mythology, Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara (Shiva) denote three aspects of existence. Any object, being or action has a beginning, sustenance period and ultimately destruction. Brahma represents birth or beginning, Vishnu sustenance and Shiva represents destruction.

But Almighty divinity is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Its realm goes far beyond the Trinity described above. To enter this realm, one has to transcend the Trinity to reach the state of omnipresence. Placement of ‘Triguna-Ankura’ or seedlings representing the Trinity at the four doors is a pointer towards it.

‘Triguna-Ankura’ also denotes the trinity ‘gunas’ of Indian philosophy. Here ‘guna’ means quality or attribute of somebody. These three are ‘sattva’, ‘rajas’ and ‘tamas’. ‘Sattva’ represents goodness as well as constructive and harmonious attributes in someone, ‘rajas’ represents passion and action, while ‘tamas’ represents ignorance, destruction and chaos. All these three ‘gunas’ are present in everyone and everything in different proportions.

But these three ‘gunas’ are just external manifestation of our real identity and transcends them. Placement of ‘Triguna-Ankura’ at the doors of the ‘yajnashala’, where rituals begin for the process of Nabakalebara, hints that the essence of life is also beyond the trinity of ‘gunas’.

In the second chapter of Bhgavad Git,a it is written ‘traigunyavishaya Vedah nistraigunyo bhavarjuna/ nirdvadvo nityasattvastho niryogakshema atmavan’. It roughly means “Vedas deal with the subject of three ‘gunas’. So, O Arjuna, transcend these three ‘gunas’. Be free from all dualities and anxieties to be established in the self to for ultimate gain and safety”.

The ritual of ‘Triguna-Ankura’ during Nabakalebar is a subtle message for our spiritual evolution. Tthe essence of life is beyond the trinity of deities and gunas. The real evolution of our consciousness starts when we cross the boundary of this trinity and see them only as a manifestation of the Omnipresent.


Next: Symbolism of Yajna and Bali in Nabakalebara


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