Friday, January 18, 2008

77. Natha cult at Mangalore

The Kadri Manjunatha temple at Mangalore in the present form was founded by Jogi Matsendranath of the Natha pantha (=cult) during the rule of King Kundavarma Alupa (ca. 968 CE). The Natha cult sprang from the Mahayana school of Buddhism but revived the Shaiva tradition. It marks the waning stages of Buddhism in southern India and transition of faiths from Buddhism back to mainstream Hinduism. The Jogis and the Jogi Mutt of Kadri are involved with the administration of Kadri temple since historical days. The place was known as ‘Kadarika Vihar’ during the hay days of Buddhism in Mangalore. The word ‘Natha’ means lord, owner or God.
The name Manjunatha generally means the Lord of the Snow (Himalaya or Kailasa). But, in the evolutionary terms, originally it may be the Natha representation of Manju Ghosh (Manjushri) Bodhisattva, a key disciple of Gautama Buddha. In the later case it follows that the Kadarika Vihara initiated as centre of spirit worship that eventually graduated into the worship of Lord Shiva, the Manjunatha.

Mangala of Pingala
Most of the published materials suggest that the name ‘MangaLoor’ or ‘MangaLur’ came after Malabar queen ‘Mangale’ came to this town and died here. We may have to make small corrections in this anecdote, after perusing the version provided by Jogi Anandanath (2003) of Kadri Jogi Mutt.

The queen who relinquished her regalities and followed Jogi Gorakshanath to Kudala was ‘Pingaladevi’ ( not Mangale or Mangaladevi ) according to Jogi Anandanath. Her original place was described as ‘Strirajya’(literally means ‘Womens kingdom’, possibly an allegory for the matriarchial, women dominated state in Kerala).She was disciple of Jogi Matsendranath and was the first Yogini (=female Jogi). She was actively involved in the propagation and activities of the Natha-pantha and introduced several female disciples to the Natha cult.
On the occasion of Kumbha mela at Triambakeswar, near Nasik, Maharastra, she was traveling from Kerala on foot with Jogi Goraksha Natha along the coastal path to attend the festival that recurs every twelve years. (The number twelve has auspicious significance in the Natha cult). Goraksha Nath was the eminent disciple of Matsendra Nath. Goraksha Natha halted in the southern part of (present Mangalore) town near Jeppu by installing his ‘danda’(ceremonial stick), at a place that became known as ‘Goraksha danD’.
Queen Pingaladevi attained ‘mangala’ in a nearby location. (Attaining ‘mangala’ apparently is an idiom used by Natha Jogis for death. Like Veerashaivas use the word ‘lingaikya’ or ‘shivaikya’ for death.).The specific timeline has not been given in the report for any of these events.
The word ‘mangala’ has several meanings, like (a) auspicious-[ceremony,marriage etc]- (b) fort (c) end (end part of events like bhajana session or yakshagana) and (d) end of life (death).
Thus, the location where ex-queen Yogini Pingaladevi attained ‘mangala’ (=end of life) was later named as ‘Mangalapura’ and a shrine was built there.
It follows that the worship of Mangala was initially a spirit cult in honour of the expired Yogini. Subsequently in the history, the Mangaladevi was accepted as a form of Durga or Shakti. Thus this is a clear case of eventual conversion of spirit cult into deity cult of mainstream Hinduism.

Jogi Anandanath (2003) “Nathapantha kStetra Jogi maTa, Kadali, MangaLoor”.(in Kannada). Natha pantha prachara samiti, Mangalore. p.10+99.

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Books for Reference

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A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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