Shree JagannathAbout OdishaOdisha Info

Bhakta Salabega

Salabega lived in the first half of the seventeenth century. He was born c1607-1608. He was the son of the Mughal subedar Lalbeg who was briefly in charge of Orissa at Cuttack in the early 17th century. On one of his expeditions to Puri, he was overcome with passion looking at the beauty of a Brahmin widow returning from her bath at Dandamukundapur and forcibly abducted her. Salabega was later born to this widow.

It is believed that the poet suffered from some incurable ailment and through prayer to Lord Jagannatha, as advised by his mother, he was miraculously cured. Soon thereafter, he seems to have seen developed disinterest in worldly matters and spent his time in singing praise of the Lord.

Salabega, being the son of a Muslim, was denied entry into the temple but his deep devotion was answered by his dear Lord in
his manifestation as Patitapabana inside the Singhadwara. He was always eager to witness the Rath Yatra so he could get a glimpse of his Dark Darling. Once he was held up on way while returning from Vrindavan during the festival period. Salabega prayed earnestly to the Lord that he should wait for him on the Nandighosha chariot till he reached the Bada Danda so that he would not miss the opportunity of seeing his Lord. The Lord waited there and gave a darshan to Salabega, his dear devotee on the Bada Danda, near Balagandi. The poet is supposed to have been buried at this site and a small memorial stands here even today. Every year the chariot of Lord Jagannatha stops here for a while in memory of this tender relation of the poet and his ishta devata, Lord Jagannatha.

Salabega composed numerous devotional songs. Most of his compositions are prayers and hymns to Lord Jagannatha and Krishna. He also authored songs in praise of Shiva, the Mother goddess and some incorporating mystic thoughts, particularly those conceiving the divine as void. Many of his songs, deal with the Krishna Leela, as given in the Srimad Bhagabat and various Puranas. A good number of these deal with the romantic dalliance of Krishna with the Gopi maidens and Radha, while a few are inspired by the vatsalya rasa, the sweet motherly feeling of Yasoda for child Krishna.

Although the poet was denied entry into the temple, his descriptions of the inner compound and the sanctum are among the most detailed and accurate in the devotional literature of Orissa. His song “Ahe Neelagiri..” is perhaps the best description of Bedha Parikrama or the prescribed circumambulation of the Srimandira. Many of the historical events of the period are recounted in his songs. The poet refers, with deep anguish, to the depredations of the marauders in their attacks on Puri and the repeated attempts to loot and desecrate the Srimandira. These frequently necessitated shifting the deities outside the main sanctum and the poet captures the situation of one such occasion with graphic details in the song “Kene gheni jauchha Jagannathanku…”



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