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Juggernaut

or Jaggernaut. A Hindu god. The word is a corruption of the Sanscrit jagannâtha (lord of the world). The temple of this god is in a town of the same name in Orissa. King Ayeen Akbery sent a learned Brahman to look out a site for a temple. The Brahman wandered about for many days, and then saw a crow dive into the water, and having washed, made obeisance to the element. This was selected as the site of the temple. While the temple was a-building the rajah had a prophetic dream, telling him that the true form of Vishnu should be revealed to him in the morning. When the rajah went to see the temple he beheld a log of wood in the water, and this log he accepted as the realisation of his dream, enshrined it in the temple, and called it Jagannâth.

“The idol Jaggernat is in shape like a serpent, with seven heads; and on each cheek it hath the form of a wing, and the wings open, and shut, and flap as it is carried in a stately chariot.” —Bruton: Churchill's Collection.

The car of Juggernaut. An enormous wooden machine adorned with all sorts of figures, and mounted on sixteen wheels. Fifty men drag it annually to the temple, and it is said to contain a bride for the god. Formerly many were crushed to death by the car; some being pushed down by the enormous crowd; some throwing themselves under the wheels, as persons in England under a railway train; some perhaps as devotees. By British police arrangements, such immolation is practically abolished.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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