The Youngest Religion of World Originated in Odisha
Sikhism( commonly referred youngest religion of India) is a monotheistic religion that originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, based on the revelation of Guru Nanak. But it is astonishing to know that the youngest religion that was blossomed in the holy land of Joranda, near Dhenkanal of Odisha is none other than mahima religion…..
Joranda is the religious headquarters of ‘Mahima Dharma’, which reverberates the message of love and universal brotherhood of Mahima Gosain. The founder of Mahima Dharma was Mahima Swami, or Mahima Gosain. The first known report of Mahima Swamy’s existence was in 1867 in the newspaper Utkala Deepika in Odisha.
For many years, Mahima Gosain was in deep meditation in the caves at Himalaya. From there, Swami travelled to many regions and at last appeared in Puri (Odisha) in 1826 as Dhulia Gosain, where Swami settled on the dusty roads of Puri. People used to ask him queries on their well being and, surprisingly, it all happened to be true. It is believed once Swami was invited to Puri Mukti Mandap and there he confirmed Brahma is Nirguna and Sunya.
From Puri Swami moved to hill caves of Khandagiri, Dhauligiri, Nilagiri etc. near Bhubaneswar (capital of Odisha state). During that period Swami lived on water alone for twelve years and people used to call him Nirahari Gosain. In 1838, Swami moved to Kapilash hill of Dhenkanal district of Odisha and spent twenty-one days in Atma Yoga Samadhi (unification of human mind) with balkal of the kumbhi tree (bark of careya arborea), leaving his clothes on a huge round stone. A great seven-hooded snake spread its hood covering his head. The nearby area of the forest was illuminated by the luster of the body of Swami. On the 21st day, a tribal, Sadananda of nearby Deogram village, witnessed the magnificent Atma Yoga Samadhi of Swami and served him fruits for twelve years during the stay of Swami at Kapilash hill. For this, Swami came to be known as Phalahari Gosain. The next twelve years Swami survived on cow’s milk alone, rendered as service by the ruler of Dhenkanal, King Bhagirathi Bhramarbar Bahadur. Both the king and the queen had the opportunity to witness Swami on top of Kapilash hill and would serve him milk in new earthen pots.
More and more people across the country and the globe are drawn to the cult which believes in simple living, love and compassion for the living beings and communal worship for world peace. It does not accept the authority of the Vedas and call it “Nirveda”.
The followers of Mahima Cult, saints, lead a life of poverty, celibacy, piety and constant movement. Like Buddhist monks, they don’t constitute a priestly class and don’t control over the lay devotees. They don’t worship any idol; instead the supreme Lord of the indescribable grace (Alekha) is worshipped. They are forbidden to adultery and violence, and consumption of any intoxicants and meat. They leave their beds at 4 AM and perform saran/darshan before sunrise. It is an act of complete surrender of self to Mahima Prabhu. This is repeated 3 times a day including noon and evening before sunset. They wander everyday because they are not allowed to sleep in the same place on two consecutive nights, nor take meal twice from same house in any day. They are a tiny community of monks, wearing only a small saffron coloured cloth to cover their loins and knotting their hairs.
Thousands of sadhus, sanyasins and devotees of both the sects such as the Kaupinidahri (wearing loin clothes) and the Bakaldhari (wearing the bark of tree) reach Joranda on the auspicious occasion of Magha Mela to offer their prayer for world peace. The devotees pour tonnes of pure ghee on the sacred fire chanting “Brahma Alekh” or “Mahima Alekh”. The Fair reflects the ideals of Mahima Gosain who envisioned a classless society free from exploitation of the weak and poor by the feudal ruling chiefs and the landed gentry. His efforts also aimed at opposing the idea of large-scale conversion of Hindus to Christianity during the British rule in India.
Mahima Gosain ignited the ‘Akhanda dhuni’ (uninterrupted fire) on Magha Purnami for the welfare of universe and since then the ‘Akhanda dhuni’ is burning without any interruption.
Later, Swami moved to Kakanpada village of Rairakhol with his first disciple Sidha Govinda Baba. It is said he made an appearance to a blind Bhima Bhoi and blessed him with eyesight. Upon seeing the Swami, Bhima, with all his humbleness, prayed to the Swami to make him blind again as the torture of mankind was intolerable for him. Swami blessed him to compose a poem on Nirguna Brahma to spread the Mahima cult. After this, Swami retired back to Kapilash hill. Many believe the journey of Swami to Rairakhol was through air, not by foot.
After spending twelve years in Kapilash hill, Mahima Prabhu travelled around for twenty-four years as Brahmabadhuta (wandering mendicant of supreme order) and spread Mahima Dharma in Odisha and the neighboring states, before taking Samadhi at Joranda, Dhenkanal, of Odisha on the 10th day after the new moon of 1876. The place where Mahima Swami disappeared (merged Himself in the Mahanityapura) is called Mahima Gadi. It is the heart of all Mahima movement around world.
After the death of Mahima Gosain in 1876, his disciples endowed the Mahima Gadi Mandir, the open temple (the temple with a void at the top), on his grave yard with the symbol of a serpent on the top. It is also called the ‘Shunya Mandir’ (temple of void) as no idols are worshipped. Meanwhile, the devotees have erected Ekoisihatia Mandir, Ghanta Mandir and Dhuni Mandir in the holy shrine. The atmosphere at the Joranda Mela reverbs with the sound of ‘Alekh Brahma’ by devotees in rhythmic tone staunchly believing that these devotion will refine our earth and will provide the people with all their basic needs that are required for in their daily lives.
A woman devotee puts it simply, “Irrespective of caste, creed and religion and with no sense of untouchability, all culminate together for the fair. A strong bond of universal brotherhood is created and noticed here. The most important thing here is ‘equality’.”
Dr. Manoj Mishra