juggernaut





Is the word juggernaut derived from Lord Jagannath-India?

By S. Bakthavathsalan, Guragoan, Harayana, India(16th Dec. 2006).

Yes, Lord Jagannath of Puri-Orissa-India has given us the word juggernaut. As you probably know, Lord Jagannath and his consort are usually placed on huge chariots and taken out in procession every year. Lots of people from various parts of the country come to see and participate in this event. Many people line up as volunteers to pull the heavy chariot. Whenever you have a huge crowd, accidents are very commonplace; they are just waiting to happen. There have been several reported cases of people accidentally falling and being crushed by the huge wheels of Lord Jagannath's chariot. A person who was a witness to such accidents was a Franciscan missionary, named Friar Odoric. He visited India in the 14th Century and wrote about his visit to Puri in a journal, which he published in Europe later on. In his journal, Odoric wrote in detail about the huge chariot of Jagannath and how the devotees threw themselves at the chariot wheels allowing themselves to be crushed. According to Odoric, the people were offering themselves as sacrifice to the Lord! The European readers were shocked and horrified when they read this, and began to associate the word "juggernaut" with a huge object that is out of control. The Friar's story of the human sacrifice spread throughout Europe and by the 19th Century "juggernaut" began to be associated with a massive object, which destroyed everything in its path. It was seen as a destructive force. It is interesting to note that "trains", "tanks", and even "automobiles", when they were first introduced were referred to as "juggernauts"!

The word has a negative connotation in English.

Here are a few examples.

* Sandeep is very naive. He thinks it is possible to compete with the juggernauts of the industry.

* Believe it or not, the skinny man standing over there is a political juggernaut.

|Next Question| Previous Question| Vocabulary| English Teacher| Etymology|



From juggernaut to HOME PAGE