Atibadi Jagannath Das needs no introduction in Orissa.
His consummate work, Bhagabat, is read daily in almost all households in the state and beyond. The celebrated saint-poet has been immortalised in the history of Oriya literature and culture by this unique creation and other works.
Bhagabat, an Oriya translation of Veda Vyasa’s Shrimad Bhagavatam in simple style, is a life-long companion of any Oriya. For centuries, this masterpiece has had universal appeal, illumining the path of knowledge and devotion.
Jagannath Das was born to Bhagaban Das and Padmavathi on Bhadrapada Shukla Ashtami in 1490 AD at Kapileshwar in Orissa. The Vaishnavaits treat him as an incarnation of Sri Radhika and the Shakt adore him as an incarnation of Sri Durga.
At 16, Jagannath Das had completed the study of all Vedas, Vedangas and other scriptures. A scholar in Sanskrit and Oriya, he started reading and narrating stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. People from far and near came to hear his discourses.
Jagannath Das was a poet of high order dedicated to Lord Jagannath, and used to recite in Gujjari raga in his melodious voice near Bata Ganesh in the temple.
He was one of the Pancha Shakhas who pioneered the Bhakti movement in Orissa. The others are Achyutananda, Balarama Das, Sishu Ananta Das and Yosabanta Dash. The authors of this period mainly translated, adapted, or imitated Sanskrit literature.
It was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who conferred upon Jagannath Das the title of Atibadi (too much), out of admiration. In the opinion of Chaitanya, Jagannath Das was the ‘Greatest Bhakta Saint of Orissa’. Today he is known by his short name, Atibadi, all over Orissa.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabho used to listen to story sessions and discourses of Jagannath Das. Once the king requested him to be the guru of the Queen, but Mahaprabho suggested the name of Jagannath Das.
The popularity of Bhagabhat was due to its simplicity and poetic beauty of didactic verse. The venerated work provides guidelines for a simple and guileless life on earth and to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and gain salvation at the feet of the Lord. One in every ten houses of Orissa still treasures the Pothi of Bhagabata on palm leaf, and worships it.
Besides being a monumental work in Oriya literature, the Bhagabat has influenced the socio-cultural life in Orissa, and is looked upon as a book of scriptural-social jurisprudence. People often refer to it while settling a dispute.
Jagannath Das’s literary genius and devotion did not stop with Bhagabat. He wrote many books both in Sanskrit and Oriya.
His books in Sanskrit includeKrishna Bhakti Kalpalata Mala, Upasana Shataka Nityaacharadi Dikshopasana Vidhi, Neeladri Shataka, Nitya Gupta Mata, Prema Sudhambudhi and Shri Radharasamanjari.
His books in Oriya include Sholo Cahupothi, Shatasanga Varnan,Goloka Saroddhar, Ababhuta Chandrika, Srimad Bhagabat,Shaivagam Bhagabat, Gunducha Vijaya, Shri Radhakrishna Mahamatra Chandrika, Neeladri Chandrika and Rasa Kalpa Chandrika
Jagannath Das left his mortal body at the age of 60. However, legend has it that he was often seen at his different favourite places and postures for many more years after his departure......