The Shrimad Bhagabata is one the most sacred Hindu text composed by Maharshi Byasadeba. It embodies the essence of the Hindu-way of life. Several millenniums after it was written, the vignettes of wisdom and enlightenment contained it its pages remain as relevant today as they were ever before.
It is believed that the man who recites, the man who listens to and the man who asks questions on Bhagabata – all attain salvation by the grace of the Lord. Mahatma ( also known as Atibadi ) Jagannath Das, a great saint and a friend of Sri Chaitanya, translated the Bhagabata into odiya. The Odiya Bhagabata, however is more than a mere translation of the original text in Sanskrit. It contains the observations and elaborations of Jagannth Das which make it a rare religious text which is easily understood by even a common man. The Bhagbata tungi a place where the Bhagabata is read and listened to, is an integral part of village life in Odisha even to this day, unlike the original Bhagabata, Jagannat Das divided his version into 365 sections – each section meant to be read on a particular day of the year.
As per convention, the recitation of Bhagabata starts on Bhagabata Janma Day ( full moon day of Bhadrab) and ends a day before the next Bhagabata Janma, making it a year-long cycle, In almost every village of Odisha, Bhagabata parayana and prabachana are organised on special religious occasion to familiarise the common people with the teaching of the great treatise, Recitation of Bhagabat is a regular occurrence during times of natural calamities like foods, droughts and cyclones in Odisha . Even now, it is read out to a person on his death-bed in most Odiya Homes – the underlying belief being that recitation of Bhagabata would encourage the person to chant the name of the phenomenon of Bhagabata recitation in Odisha is that it never ‘ends’, it only increases ( badhiba). It signifies the eternal nature of the ancient religious text and emphasises it continuing relevance in day-to-day life.