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Salabega Story – Miracles – Odia Poet – Devotee of Jagannatha

A revolutionary 17th Century Odia Poet, Salabega was a great devotee of Jagannatha and is a household name in Odisha. Though he was born a Muslim, he displayed great devotion to Jagannatha. It is said Krishna cured the wound of Salabega and Jagannatha waited for his arrival during the famous Ratha Yatra. His life was filled with miracles associated with Lord Krishna.

Story Of Salabega

Salabega was a highly skilled warrior during his young age and this helped him in joining the Mughal army. He became famous for his exemplary skills with weaponry.

Once he was wounded in a war, the doctors expressed their inability to cure him.

Unable to endure the physical pain, he broke into tears before his mother, who prompted him to surrender to Lord Jagannatha. Salabega was initially reluctant to follow the Hindu path, but his mother convinced him that if he prayed with sincerity and dedication, he would surely be cured on the 12th day of his dedicated prayer. And on the 12th day, he had a strange dream in which he saw Lord Kishna sitting beside his bed and offering him vibhuti (sacred ash) to use on this wound.

On waking up, he found that the wound had healed and that he was fully cured. He immediately decided to become a sannyasi (ascetic) and proclaim the glory of Lord Krishna.

Then he went to Puri but was refused entrance into the temple of Jagannath due to his Muslim birth. Thereafter he went on foot to Vrindavan wherein he lived the life of an ascetic.

Salabega sought the company of sages and saints holding philosophical discussions on the nature of Truth, and spent his days singing bhajans in praise of Lord Krishna.

Once he returned to Puri desiring to see the Ratha yatra festival of Lord Jagannath, but on the way he suddenly fell ill. Feeling helpless and realising that he would not reach Puri in time to see the Ratha yatra festival, he offered prayers to Lord Jagannath petitioning Him to wait until he arrived.

On the day of the return Cart festival, Nandighosa, the cart of Lord Jagannath, did not move until Salabega's arrival.

The place where the cart remained stationary to give darshana to Salabega was later used by Salabega for composing his many bhajans in honour of Lord Jagannath. His body was cremated there after his death.

The Samadhi of this great devotee is still standing on the Grand road in Puri near Balagandi. In honour of him every year during the cart festival, the cart of Lord Jagannath stays for a while near his Samadhi.

Literary Works of Salabega

During his short stay at Puri, he composed heart throbbing bhajanas about the childhood pranks of Krishna and his amorous sports with the cowherd girls (gopis).

His most famous work was Patitapavanastaka. The most talented poet of the times, he also composed a large number of bhjanas in praise of Rama, Shiva, and Shakti in the Brajaboli, Bengali, Odia and Sanskrit languages.

As many as 120 of his compositions have been traced from old palm-leaf manuscripts, as well as from the songs sung often by beggars on the streets of Odisha.

Source –
  • Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX page 101 – IHRF
  • Salabega (1996) N Mohanty – Sahitya Akademi Kolkata
  • Bhakta Salabega and Lord Jagannatha in Orissa Review (1997) Vol .I and P.R. Vol.LIII No.2 Dept of Publications, Govt of Odisha
  • Jagannath under Muslim Rule (1994) H Kulke – Unmana Souvenir of Akhil Bharat Jagannath Consciousness Conference.