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Religious Leaders from ancient Odisha

Numerous leaders were born in the soil of Odisha and made our state proud of them. Leaders in Odisha consisted of political leaders, religious leaders, spiritual leaders and social leaders. In today’s context, I’m going to discuss about religious leaders. Some of the religious leaders from Odisha are:-

1)Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – He was born on 18th February,1486 at Nabadwip Dham, presently called Nadia, West Bengal.This vedic religious leader was the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a religious sect. People revered him as the incarnation of Lord Krishna. His followers celebrate his birthday as Gaura Purnima. His actual name was Vishvambhar and he was quite mischievous during his young days. Being a brilliant student, he became an eminent scholar at an early age. Chaitanya chanted and sang Lord Krishna’s names and had great interest in studying Sanskrit. He met his guru, Ishvara Puri at Gaya, from whom he received initiation with the Gopala Krishna mantra. He spent his last 24 years in Puri,Odisha, the temple city of Jagannath in the Radhakanta Math. Prataprudra Dev was the Gajapati King at that time. He believed Chaitanya to be Krishna’s avatar and became an enthusiastic patron and devotee of Chaitanya’s sankeertan gatherings. He died on 14th June,1534.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

2)Jagannatha Dasa – He was one of the 5 great poets, the Panchasakha, in Odia literature. He was born in 1491 at Kapileswarpur,Puri,Odisha on the day of Radhastami in a Brahmin family of Kaushiki Gotra. Jagannatha had a chance meeting with Chaitanya under the Kalpa Bata. The meeting turned into lifelong friendship. Chaitanya admired Dasa and called him Atibadi. In those days, people flocked Jagannath Temple to worship the Lord and listen to the Bhagawad Gita. But the temple priests charged money for reciting the holy book.One day, Jagannatha’s mother visited the temple for the same but came back crying because the temple priests humiliated her as she had no money to pay for recitation. Jagannatha was deeply hurt seeing his mother in tears and so promised her that he would write Bhagawad Gita in Odia language which is popularly called Odia Bhagabata in today’s date. His work includes 12 volumes and each volume consists of 10 to 30 chapters.
Atibadi Jagannatha Dasa

3)Bhima Bhoi – He was a saint, poet and philosopher from Odisha. He was born in 1850 on the day of Baisakh Purnima at Jatesingha in Sambalpur,Odisha. He was a poet-prophet of Mahima Dharma and wielded his pen against the then prevailing social injustice and caste discrimination. His works include Stuti Chintamoni, Brahma Nirupana Gita and Nirveda Sadha. There are references in his poems to the fact that when Bhima was only four years old, he saw a wandering yogi with the divine signs of Sankha and Chakra on his arms, begging for rice holding an earthern pot. That was when Bhima met Mahima Gosain for the first time, who later became his Guru and to whom he dedicated many of his bhajans and poems.
Bhima Bhoi

4)Jayadeva – He was a Sanskrit poet during the 12th century. He was born in 1170 and died in 1245. He received his education in Sanskrit poetry from a place called Kurmapataka, possibly near Konark in Odisha. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and his classical work, Gita Govinda, is the greatest of the sringara kavyas. His work has 24 ashtapadis and 72 slokas in wonderful Sanskrit. He also institutionalised the Debadasi System in temples of Odisha.
Jayadeva

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