Mahima Dharma & Other Religions

Alekha Chandra Samal
Generally religion means a particular belief in God or Gods. It is not possible on the part of human beings to avoid religion altogether. Ideas about religion may differ from person to person and each one may have his or her conception. The word Dharma comes from the Sanskrit word ‘dhri’ meaning to hold. It derives its name from its power to hold, to protect, to keep the stability of societies of people. In the second half of the 19th century, the Mahima Dharma acted as a powerful force to counteract, on one hand the movements of the Christian missionaries and on the other, the appeals of the anglicized Brahmo movement. Mahima Swami, also known as Mahima Goswami and Alekha Swami founded a new religion which is still a popular living faith with an ever growing number of followers in and outside Orissa. It is known as Mahima Dharma or Alekha Dharma. The followers are called Kumbhipatias. Its founder was against idolatry and believed in one formless God. Mahima Swami first appeared at Puri in 1826 and died at Joranda in the district of Dhenkanal in 1876. Mahima Dharma was indigenous to the core and deeply filled with the Indian traditions. Its essential character is humanism. From the period of Ashok up to 16th century AD Buddhism was popular in Orissa. so the influence of Buddhism on Mahima Dharma is accepted by some scholars. N.N.Vasu pointed out that the Buddhists of Utkal styled themselves as Mahimadharmins. Some scholars argue that this religion is more identical with Hinduism S.K. Mohanty holds the view that Mahima Dharma is not a separate religion. It endeavors to reform the existing religious practices and beliefs of the Hindus. As Mahima Swami accepts the authority of Vedas and Upanishads, it is undoubtedly a religious movement of Hindu fold. There are many similarities between the words of Gita and the Mahima Literature. In Gita, Lord Srikrishna has given importance to the protection of the virtuous for the destruction of evil doers, and for establishing Dharma on a firm footing”. Bhima Bhoi says also, “when the people become psychologically morbid, the Lord himself appears to save the afflicted devotees. The law of Karma that as you sow so shall you reap in the Gita is also same with Mahima doctrine. Like other traditional religions, Mahima cult gives ideas about moral values and religious conduct which are very similar with traditional Hindu religion. The Mahimaites lead a very pure life. Like all the Vedic rites and rituals the Mahimaites follow many codes of conduct. Like the Jajna of Vedic form. The main intention of Mahima cult was to remove the social inequalities like casteism in the then society. Bhimabhoi says that there are only two castes – male and female, as everyone is the child of Alekha Brahman. The above discussions reveal that the Mahima cult embraced different ideas from different sources. Still it can be concluded without any doubt that the cult has a philosophical background of its own. In order to bring a change in the downtrodden society, Mahima Swami the founder of the faith, gave emphasis on noble ideas like purity of mind, good conduct, belief in a formless God and rejection of complicated rituals, rigidity of casteism and the supremacy of the Brahmins. Though these ideas may be traced back to Vedic foundation, yet it was the need of the time to purify the society on the above lines and Mahima cult boldly did it. Due to its simplicity and popular principles, the cult has carved a niche in the hearts of the people in different parts of India.
Ex. D.F.O. (Kendu leaf),
Palai, Balichandrapur,
Jajpur, Mob.: 9437257123

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