ATIBADI JAGANNATHA DAS, POET THE GREAT
‘Atibadi’ Jagannatha Das needs no introduction to any Oriya, as his consummate work ‘Bhagabata’ is daily read almost in every household of Orissa. In the history of Oriya literature and culture the name of Jagannatha Das has been immortalized as a leading devotee. His unique creation ‘Srimad Bhagabata’ is a pioneering piece of Oriya literature. It continues of evoke spiritual feeling with an established ritual of regular recitation. Oriya ‘Bhagabata Ghara’ bears ample testimony to this fact. One can hardly find a village in Orissa, where there is no ‘Bhagabata Ghara’ and a house, where Jagannatha Das’s unique creation Bhagabata is neither worshipped nor recited. Bhagabata is really the companion of life and death of an Oriya. For ages together this masterpiece is the illuminiser and pathfinder of knowledge and devotion of crores of Oriyas. It’s universal appeal is as old as perennial now. Taking into account al these factors, it can undoubtedly be told that ‘Jagabata Tungi’ was the life or nerve center of the rural life, which can be told, was the village school, library, Judicial court, public relations and discussion of religious discourse.
Historians differ and opine that he was born in 1490 ‘Bhadra Shukla Pakhya’, Radhastami Day about 5 kms away from Puri, in Kapileswarpur Sashana. As per ‘Odissa Sahitya Academy Publication titled Jagannath Das written by Bhagabana Panda, the done of birth of poet Sait Jagannath Das is 1491 and he had a life span of 59 years (1491-1550). Others opine that his exact span of life was sixty years (1492-1552). In the year 1992, just eleven years back 500th birth anniversary was celebrated in Orissa. But notwithstanding this fact it is crystal clear that he was born in 15th century A.D. His father’s name was Bhagaban Das and his mother’s name was Padmavati.
Atibadi Jagannath Das was one such among the five comrades of his contemporaries like Achyutananda, Balarama, Sishu Ananta and Yosabanta Dash who pioneered the Bhakti movement is Orissa. It was Shri Chaitanya the great who conferred upon Jagannath Das, the title of ‘Atibadi’ admirably. As per estimate of Chaitanya, Jagannath Das was ‘Highest Great Bhakta Saint of Orissa’.
Two writers, one Shri Jagabandhu Singh author of ‘Prachina Utkal’ and Pandit Sadasiva Mishra author of ‘Atibadi Jagannath Das’ have compiled the list of books written by Jagannath Das. In the past other writers have accepted and followed the list.
As per Jagabandhu Singh’s list the following books have been authored by Atibadi Jagannath Das. These are
(1) Artha Koili (2) Phulatola Chautisha (3) Duti Bodha (4) Shri Satsanga (5) Tula Bhina (6) Pasanda Dalana (7) Gaja Nistarana (8) Srimad Bhagabata (9) Jagannatha Karika (10) Dhruba Stuti and (11) Manasikhya.
The books listed by Maha Mahopadhyaya Sadasiva Mishra are as follows:
(1) Krushna Bhakti Kalpalata (2) Krushna Bhakti Kalpalata Phalam (3) Nitya Guptamala (4) Upashana Shatak (5) Prema Sudhambudha (6) Nityachar Dikshya Shahitoupasana Bidhi (7) Shir Radha Rasamanjari and (8) Niladrishatakam.
In Oriya-Sholachaupadi, Shaibagam Bhagabat, Satsanga Barana, Gundicha Jije, Golak Sarodhara, Srimad Bhagabata and Tulabhina.
Shri Sadasiva Mishra opines that the following books have also been authored by Atibadi Jagannath Das, although his name is not there. These are Radhakrushna Maha Mantra Chandrika, Advuta Chandrika, Niladri Chandrika, Purnamruta Chandrika and Rasakalpa Chandrika.
Pandit Suryanarayana Dash has prepared a separate list of books, authored by Atibadi Jagannath Das. These books do not find mention in the list of books complied by either Jagabandhu Singh and Sadasiva Mishra. These are Dahi Khela, Bole Hungita, Gupta Bhagabata, Darubrahma Gita, Mruguni Stuti, Itihasha, Purana and Mahabharata.
Raya Bahadur Chintamani Acharya in his book ‘Bhaktakabi Jagannatha Das’ has mentioned and opined that the books like ‘Ramayana & Mahabharata’ has been authored by Atibadi Jagannatha Das.
It was the prior practice that the ‘Purana Pandas’ were reciting the mythologies taken from Sanskrit Books. But Jagannath Das broke this tradition and convention and tried to explain the Sanskrit text translating in Oriya to the devotees. It is heard that Jagannath Das by the grace of Lord Bata Ganesha was translating the Sanskrit text to Oriya. He admits that due to grand mercy of Bata Ganesha he could write Oriya Bhagabat. There is another saying that in order to fulfill the last desire of his mother he had translated from chapter to chapter of Original Sanskruta Bhagabata to Oriya and was daily reciting before his mother.
Shri Jagannatha Das, writing in Prathanma Skandha’s Mangalacharana of Bhagabata has worshipped first his presiding deity Lord Nrusingha-Jagannatha as follows:
Namain Nursingha Charana Anadi Prama Karana
Jahara Adi Madhya Anta Bichara Naghate Jagata
Indirya Artha Na Jananti Satya Je Nitya Prakashanti
Ananda Mane Bedasara Brahmare Kala Je Bistara
Jara Swarup Hrude Chinti Beda Purusa Na Jananti
Satya Paramananda Hari Jaha Bhabile Bhabutari
Tara Charane Nityadhyana Kari Taranti Sugnya Jana
Se Hari Pada Hrude Dhari Prabandhe Gitanada Kari
Ashesha Jagatara Hite Bandai Dasa Jagannathe
I salute your foot. You are the root cause of creation. Nobody is able to know your origin and your end. Oh Paramanada Hari! (Absolute happiness) you if conceived in the mind one can cross this world ocean. You are the truth. Only the absolute truth.
Bhagabat is not only a mythology it is a concept known as ‘Bhagabata Dharma’. The essence of Bhagabata Dharma’ in the language of Atibadi Jagannath Das is:
‘Krushna Arpita Jete Karma
Se Ate Bhagabata Dharma’
All the Karmas performed by Jeeva if offered to Lord Krishna is called ‘Bhagabata Dharma’. Krushna is the nucleus and Jeeva is atom, only a spark of the light house.
Atibadi Jagannatha Das has eulogized Lord Krishna in Bhagabata as Parama Purusha, who is the source of Gnyana, Prema and Bhakti (Knowledge, Love and Devotion). He has revered the name of Lord Krushna in the following words:
- “Kruhan Srabane Bhakti Jara
Se Prani Bhaba Madhye Sara”
- “Krushnara Rasa Katha Jete
Taha Biswasi Drudha Chite”
- “Ke Anta Janiba Tahara
Je Karna Jiwha Sukhakara”
- “Krushna Name Ucharana
Na Sune Jahara Srabana
Tahara Karna Juga Kanthe
Bibare Dishanti Jemante”
- “Krushna Charita Tithapada
Harai Bisya Bisada”
- “Krushna Charane Jaramana
Sansare Sehi Srestha Jana”
- “Krushnara Srabana Kirtan
Ashesh Durita Dahana”
He is blessed who loves to hear the name of Krushna in his ears. By uttering Lord Krishna’s holy name, the tongue becomes sacred. He is the best man on earth who worships Krishna’s feet always. Atibadi has written in Bhagabata that:
‘Jabata Govinda Charana
Yey Jiva Na Pashe Sharana
Tabata Nuhen Kebe Sukhi
Nirata Tapa Traye Dukhi’
Till when the Jiva does not take refuge in the lotus feet of Lord Krushna, he is not happy and suffers from Tritapa (Three sorrows) in that is Adhi Bhowtika, Adhidiabik and Adhyatmic. So as Lord Krishna said to his comrade Arjuna in Gita, that ‘you surrender absolutely in my lotus feet and I will redeem you from all sorrows”.
To an Oriya, Atibadi Jagannath Das’s Bhagabat is like ten commandment of old testament and new testament of the Christians, the Koran of a Musselman, Tripitaka of a Buddhist, Guru Grantha Sahib to a Sikh and Zedovesta to a Zorastrian. His massages in Bhagabata has got its universal appeal. Some of his famous messages contained in Bhagabata are:
- “Dhana Karpanya Sebaphale
Kiba Asadhya Mahi Tale”
Meaning : What is impossible on earth if a man is righteous by donating to the needy and does yeoman service for the poor. He can achieve everything for this righteousness.
- “Dandiba Shakti Jara Thai
Se Puni Khyama Acharai”
Meaning : Even if he has the power to punish the wrong doer he also sometimes forgives. He forgives and forgets and knows that revenge is a wild justice. Khyama or forgiveness is like mother and the mother-earth.
Some of the famous Suktis of Bhagabata written by Atibadi Jagannath Das are as follows:
- “Pranira Bhala Manda Bani
Maranakale Taha Jani”
- “Martyamandale Deha Bahi
Dabata Hoile Marai”
- “Uttama Sange Sanga Jara
Se Kare Uttama Bevara”
- “Govinda Nama Velakari
Hele Tariba Bhaba Bari”
(a) Any auspicious or inauspicious message of the Prani can be
known at the time of his death.
(b) Even gods (Devata) born on earth in human bodies cannot escape death.
(c) The person who has good companion behaves in polished fashion and manner.
(d) If you make the name of Govinda (Krishna) as a fleet you can cross the world of ocean.
In the year, 1500 A. D. when Sri Chaitanya entered the premises of the temple of Lord Jagannath he met Jagannatha Das and from the moment they were tied with the chord of devotion. While near Bata Ganesha, Jagannath Das was translating the text of Bhagabata from original Sanskrit and recited and explained candidly to his devotees in Oriya, Lord Chaitanya was overshelmed with his prudece and embraced Jagannath Das and esteemed him as “Atibada’ really very great for his wonderful devotional sincerity. Till then Shri Jagannath Das was recognized as ‘Atibadi’. Since then Atibadi Vaishnava Sampradaya or community was born. Bada Odiya Math of Puri bears the testimony to this.
Reputed Bengali critic Shri Bijoy Chandra Majumdar in his book titled ‘A Typical Selections from Oriya literature’ has clearly mentioned :
“I cannot too highly speak of what Jagannath Das has done to raise his countrymen to a higher level of moral existence. No poet of old time enjoys so much of popularity that the poet Jagannath Das does. There is not a single Hindu village in Orissa where at least a portion of Jagannath Das’s Bhagabat is not kept and recited daily. When the people learnt that the Bhagabata which is the most sacred of all sacred books, was within their easy reach, the people took the study of vernacular with uncommon zeal and energy. This is why the art of reading and writing is known and practiced by common people more extensively in Orissa than in Bengal”.