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Scholar’s works await recognition

Balasore, Dec. 25: The literary history of 14th century Sanskrit scholar and saint Sridhar Swami lies in obscurity here. He is known to be the earliest writer to hail from Balasore. At present, nothing is found at his birthplace, except a statue at Mayurgram village in Remuna block, around 20km from the district headquarters.

Swami was an acclaimed Sanskrit litterateur and had combined the advaita teachings of Shankar with the emotions of the Bhagavad Gita. It is believed that he laid the first foundation of the Vaisnava Bhakti movement in Bengal on the basis of Gita.

According to an author, Faraquhar, around 1400 AD, the mahanta or priest of Sanskrit monastery, Govardhan Pitha, in Puri wrote a commentary on Bhagavad Puran, Bhagavad Bhavartha Deepika.

His commentary on Bhagavad influenced other writers of his era, especially the Odia poet, Jagannath Dash. It is believed that Dash followed Swami’s commentary while composing Bhagavad. Bhakti mystic Chaitanyadeb was deeply influenced by the spiritual personality, an ardent devotee of Lord Nrushinga, as his guru. In one of Chaitanya’s versions, he had said: “Sridhar Swami prasadete Bhagavad jani Jagat guru Sridhar Swami ke guru kare mani.”

Swami’s childhood is little known, yet according to a researcher, Umakanta Panda, he left for the heavenly abode at Kapilash in Dhenkanal.

Though no profound research has been done yet to know more about the literary works and Swami’s life, foundation work for construction of a temple began at Mayurgram about four months ago. A statue is also built here on the land donated by his family members.

“We came to know that the great saint belongs to our family after a saint from Bengal, Sivananda Swami, visited our home a few years ago stating it is the birth place of Sridhar Swami,” said 65-year-old Annapurna Pati, a member of the family.

A local village committee, formed under the name of Sridhar Swami Smruti Parishad, has been celebrating his birth anniversary every year on Magha Saptami since 1966. Since 15 years, the day has been celebrated in association of Odisha Sahitya Akademi.

“Hardly any literature is found on Swami. The original manuscripts are not found and whatever literature written on him got washed away in floods,” said Ramakanta Majhi, a parishad member.