The most permanent contribution of Orissa to our cultural heritage is Bhima Bhoi, Poet-prophet of Mahima dharma, who wielded his pen against the prevailing social injustice, religious bigotry, and caste discrimination. With his firm belief in one God, one society, one religion, he led this movement from Khaliapali Ashrama. The goal of his mission is "Jagata Uddhara" (liberation of entire world).
The 19th century in India was a period of decadence and disintegration that warranted religious and social reform. Mahima Dharma emerged as a Yuga Dharma (religion of the age) at a time of transition (Yugasandhi). It appears as a Loka Dharma (religion of the mass),when religious discriminations regarding race, caste and class were rife. In the 19th century Orissa, when this religion developed, the society was already ridden with divisive tendencies, casteism, selfishness, savagery and coercion. In the field of religion irrationality and fetishism reigned supreme immorality and corruption were rampant.
Mahima Dharma is contemporary to the socio-religious movement like Brahmo Samaj, Prarthana Samaj and Arya Samaj. Yet Mahima dharam differs very much from these reaction and movement. It rested on indigenous foundation and had nothing to do with external forces. It is exclusively Orissan. In essence it is for mankind and of mankind.
Though Mahima Gosain, Guru of Bhima Bhoi, is said to be the original founder of Mahima Dharma, the devotional catchy Prayer verses composed by Bhima Bhoi are greatly responsible for the spread of Mahima religion. In the history of Mahima Dharma, Bhima Bhoi was to play the role of Vyasa the poet, expounder and propagator ordained by eternal God. Mahima dharma soon gained popularity in the tribal belts of not only Orissa but also neighboring. Andhra Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, Bengal and Assam.
While we know enough about the philosophy and poetry of Bhima Bhoi, his life still remains a mystery in many respects. We don't know for certain when and where he was born, who his parents were, his early education etc. But, it should not be forgotten that Bhima was by birth a Kondh. He spent his early life in modern Rairakhol and Birmaharajpur region of Western Orissa. Now it is an admitted fact that he was born in this region around the year 1850. We are told that Bhima Bhoi was born into abject poverty. During his infancy became an orphan. The neglected boy left to himself.
In his poems there are references 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 Bhima's first brust with Mahima Gosain, who later in his life, became the Great Guru and to whom he dedicated many of his Bhajan and Poem.
As the days went by the poor and hapless Bhima worked under the local farmers. A boy of twelve, he used to tend cattle in the forest to feed himself. Bhima received no formal education, but he had a fantastic retentive memory and a sweet voice. To compose songs and sing them was his boyhood habit. In his locality Bhima Bhoi had already gained popularity as a signer and composer before his conversion to Mahima dharama.
The love-songs of Radha and Krishna, composed to the folk tunes of western Orissa, i.e. Rasarakeli, Dalkhai, Jaiphula etc, are said to be the product of the first flush of his youth.
Bhima Bhoi would sit for long hours outside the village Bhagabata Tungi and later he would memorize every syllable uttered.
In 1862 Mahima Gosain is said to have attend his Siddhi or final realization near the Kapilas hills of Dhenkanal and there after started out on his missionary purpose of spreading the message of Mahima Dharma. At Balasingha near Boudh first he converted Govinda Baba into his disciple.
After this Gobinda Baba became one of his closest associates and the Mahima faith got organized into a popular movement.
Once in the midnight Mahima Gosain and...