The Twenty Two Steps Of Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri

To see the Lord of Universe or Lord Jagannath, one has to climb the twenty-two steps (baisi pahacha in Odia) through the lions gate (Simha dwar). Many interpretations are there to symbolize these twenty-two steps which are to be climbed to reach the inner complex of the temple. Different religious interpretations are given to these Holy Steps so that one can feel the sense of sacrificing all sin and be prepared in body and mind to see the GOD with all holiness.

These steps are considered so sacred that pilgrims touch these with their hands with reverence and also allow their children to roll on.

“Nibrati prabrati e dui bhed jaana mana re

E dui rupa aapa barga thile nbrati nhoi nmilei jana tapa

Ananta aapabarga jini yehu brhma bhajanti

Baisi aasakti jinile nirguna brahma milanti”

Sishuveda, sishu ananta das

First Interpretation:

As per yoga shastra, a man possesses 5 types of mana and 25 types of Prakriti. Out of these 25 prakriti, 3 are Apara and 22 are Para prakriti. The 22 para prakriti are:
  1. Kama
  2. Sambhoga
  3. Keli
  4. Lova
  5. Sancaya
  6. Kosa or panjikarna
  7. Abamaya
  8. Himsa
  9. Ersa
  10. Kisunata
  11. Kapata
  12. Mithya
  13. Ghma
  14. Ninda
  15. Ajnata
  16. Krodha
  17. Raga
  18. Dvesa
  19. Ahankar
  20. Mada or parba
  21. Utkantha
  22. Maithuna

A yogi has to cross twenty-two para prakrti to see the lord.

Second Interpretation:

Baikuntha, the place of lord vishnu, is situated above sapta lokas, sapta patala and ashta baikuntha. These are as follows:
Sapta Loka
  • Bhu loka
  • Bhubaha loka
  • Svaha loka
  • Maha loka
  • Jana loka
  • Tapa loka
  • Satya loka
Sapta Patala 
  • Atal patala 
  • Sutal patala 
  • Bital patala 
  • Talatala patala 
  • Mahatala patala 
  • Rasatala patala 
  • Patala 
Ashta Baikunth 
  • Sri baikuntha 
  • Kaibalya baikuntha 
  • Karanamaba baikuntha 
  • Sesasai baikuntha 
  • Svetadeep baikuntha 
  • Parabyoma baikuntha 
  • Garbhodaka sai baikuntha 
  •  Kailasa baikuntha

One has to cross Seven Loka, Seven Patala, and Eight Baikuntha, and hence these are symbolically represented as 22 steps.

Third Interpretation:

It symbolizes the Pancha Matra, Pancha Bhuta, Pancha Vija, Pancha Deva, and Jiva and Parama. Hence 22 steps are there.

Fourth Interpretation:

Further, it symbolizes twenty-two tirthas of Shrimad Bhagbat with ten GODS.
  1. Basudeva
  2. Narayana
  3. Madan-mohan
  4. Ram-krsna
  5. Sridevi
  6. Bhudevi
  7. Bimala
  8. Bhubaneswari
  9. Pancharasa Asta Sattika Bhaba
  10. Tribija
  11. Trisakti
  12. Triguna
Hence calculating all, these are represented in 22 steps.

Fifth Interpretation:

  1. First five steps describe all five sense organs. Eye, ear, nose, tongue, and skin.
  2. Second five steps five breathing prana. Upbreathing(prana), down-breathing(aprana),backbreathing(vyana),out-breathing(udana), andonbreathing(samana).
  3. Third five steps describes the inner beauty. Looks(rupa), aesthetics(rasa), taste(swad),smell(gandha) and noise(sabda).
  4. Fourth five steps are for Pancha mahabhutas. Earth, water, fire, air, and space.
  5. The Twenty-first step is for wisdom.
  6. The Twenty-second step is to forego.
After crossing each of these steps, a pilgrim can see Lord Jagannath.

Sixth Interpretation:

AS PER THE Bhagavata Purana, there are twenty-four avatars of Lord Vishnu. Out of this
twenty-two are considered most important and these in form of steps symbolize salvation.
These are:
  1. Caturasana
  2. Narada
  3. Varaha
  4. Matsya
  5. Yajna
  6. Nara-Narayana
  7. Kapila
  8. Dattatreya
  9. Prsnigarbha
  10. Rsabha
  11. Prithu
  12. Narasimha
  13. Kurama
  14. Dhanvantari
  15. Mohini
  16. Vamana
  17. Parasurama
  18. Rama
  19. Vyasa
  20. Balarama 
  21. Krsna 
  22. Kalki.
According to belief, all sins of the pilgrims disappear when they touch these steps even once.
Seventh Interpretation

As per Jainism, these twenty-two steps of the Puri temple represent Twenty Two
Tirthankars out of twenty-four. The other Two Tirthankars are represented through
the Ratnavedi of the temple and the Grand Road or Badadanda of Puri. When a Jain
devotee enters the temple and starts climbing these holy steps, he touches each step with deep
respect. Baisi pahacha or the Twenty Two steps is the to salvation. In different bhajans, these
steps are described as the place where one can examine himself and affirm his faith in the
Lord of the Universe or Lord Jagannath.

REFERENCES:Various Sources

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