An overwhelming or unstoppable force: “With the newly empowered juggernaut of the Pentagon bureaucracy gaining momentum, the president was no longer in control” ( James Carroll )
Origin of juggernaut
Hindi jagannāth title of Krishna from
Sanskrit jagannāthah lord of the world jagat moving, the world
) ( earlier present participle of jigāti he goes
; see gwā-
in Indo-European roots.) nāthah lord
( from nāthate he helps, protects
For centuries, the Indian city of Puri has held an annual festival in honor of the god Krishna, worshiped under his Sanskrit title Jagannāthah,
“Lord of the World.” In the middle of the rainy season, devotees transport highly adorned figures representing Krishna, his brother Baladeva, and his half-sister Subhadra from the temple where they usually reside to another temple some two and a half miles away. There, Krishna enjoys the new locale until his return a week or two later. Krishna and his siblings are transported in three chariots—massive towerlike structures about 45 feet high, mounted on many wheels, and lavishly decorated. Thousands of devotees pull the chariots with ropes and are cheered on by a crowd of over a million pilgrims. Worshipers try to obtain blessings by touching the ropes, and some have been crushed in the throng or have fallen under the wheels. Early Western observers in colonial India greatly exaggerated the number of these deaths, however, and sensationalized reports of the incidents led to the borrowing of Jagannāthah
into English as juggernaut,
“an irresistible force that rolls unstoppably over its victims.”
- A literal or metaphorical force or object regarded as unstoppable, that will crush all in its path.
- (UK) A large, cumbersome truck or lorry, especially an artic (typically used somewhat disparagingly).
- An institution that incites destructive devotion or to which people are carelessly sacrificed.
From Hindustani Hindi जगन्नाथ/Oriya ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ/ Urdu جگنّاتھ (jagannāth), from Sanskrit जगन्नाथ (jagannātha, “lord of the universe”) (Jagannath), a title for the Hindu deity Vishnu's avatar Krishna. English form influenced by suffix -naut (“sailor”).
From British colonial era in India, witnessing the Rath Yatra (chariot parade) at Puri, Orissa. The festival features a huge annual procession, with a wagon of the idol of Lord Krishna. Pulled with ropes by hundreds of devotees, the wagon develops considerable momentum and becomes unstoppable.