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Webinar on ‘The Place of Bhima Bhoi in Indian Santha Tradition’

The Bhima Bhoi Research Chair, KISS Deemed to be University organized a webinar on ‘The Place of Bhima Bhoi in Indian Tradition’ on 16th July 2021. The virtual event was graced by Professor Basanta Kumar Panda, Director, Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Odia, Government of India.

Welcoming the hybrid gathering, Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice Chancellor, KISS-DU presented a genesis of Santha tradition, works, and philosophy of Bhima Bhoi. Professor Behera said, “It has been mentioned in the Wikipedia page that only two universities have instituted Research Chairs on Bhima Bhoi: Gangadhar Meher University (GMU), Sambalpur and KISS-DU. We have already signed a MoU with GMU and the same association can be taken to the next level by bringing out an edited volume of the works of Bhima Bhoi by the Research Chair Professors of both Universities. I propose that both the Universities should hold more meaningful discussions in the coming days to frame the roadmap of the Research Chairs. We should emulate the motto of Bhima Bhoi in our lives as this Dharma is to be practiced and not preached”.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor N. Nagaraju, Vice-Chancellor of Gangadhar Meher University (GMU), Sambalpur said, “Bhima Bhoi is a poet and philosopher who has worked on inclusion, and both the Universities may explore indigenous-centric research areas in this regard and bring out publications from the perspective of critical studies. Contextualizing the Mahima Dharma should be our focus. Let these two institutions, who have signed MoU, explore this important poet whose works resonate with the relevance of humanity.” Professor Nagaraju concluded by emphasizing the need for taking research on Mahima Dharma and Bhima Bhoi to the next level of analysis and publications. He opined that with the physical and intellectual infrastructure of KISS-DU, we can collaboratively bring out critical research work which will propel the research activities to new heights.

Dr. Prashanta Kumar Routray, Registrar, KISS-DU did the honours of introducing the esteemed guest on the occasion – Professor Basanta Kumar Panda, who is a recipient of many prestigious awards and has many recognitions to his credit. In his address, Dr. Routray said, “The research activities of the Research Chairs have soared with time after addressing the teething issues. This could be possible only due to team efforts. The life, story, motto, philosophy, and works will be transacted by the young generation through various research activities under the tutelage of the Research Chairs. Prof. Achyuta Samanta, Founder, KIIT & KISS has established these Research Chairs and it is our responsibility to make the best use of this opportunity through various research and documentation activities”, concluded Dr. Routray.

Professor Basanta Kumar Panda underlined the background and significance of the topic and spoke about the history of Santha tradition. In his address, he said, “It is disappointing to know that very little work has been done on the life and works of Bhima Bhoi and the wheels of research started rolling in the past few decades. I am elated to learn that both the Universities have signed MoU to propel research and I will be happy to extend support in this regard.” He explained in detail the ethico-metaphysical fabric of Mahima Cult and stressed the agony and ecstasy of Bhima Bhoi in Santha tradition. Professor Panda quoted the epic by Bhima Bhoi, ‘Stuti Chintamani’, and analyzed it to exhibit his philosophy and perception of life. He also threw light on the spiritual transformation of Bhima Bhoi since childhood and his contribution in founding and popularising Mahima Cult. Citing references from writings, he opined that elements of humanity, mankind, compassion, and sympathy have been found. Professor Panda concluded by painting an overview of literature over centuries to showcase the significant place of Bhima Bhoi in Santha tradition.

Earlier, Professor Harish Chandra Sahoo, Chair Professor, Bhima Bhoi Research Chair said, “This subject can be explored from four different aspects: sociological; literary; philosophical and historical. We will work collaboratively with the Bhima Bhoi Research Chair at Gangadhar Meher University to bring out a volume and in this regard, I am thankful to Prof. Achyuta Samanta for establishing these four Research Chairs for knowledge production and propagation.” According to Professor Sahoo, humanity and the liberation of the world were the central themes of the poetic creations of Bhima Bhoi and he concluded by quoting the famous line by the mystic poet Bhima Bhoi “Mo Jeevan pachhe narke padi thau, jagata udhara hou” (Let my life remain inglorious, but let the world achieve salvation). Professor Pradip Kumar Panda, Chair Professor, Bhima Bhoi Research Chair from GMU stated, “I appreciate the proposal of the Vice-Chancellors of both the universities to conduct collaborative research on Bhima Bhoi as we know that ‘spiritual literature’ is an integral part of the entire gamut of literature.” He underlined the requirement to make a comparative study of Bhima Bhoi with his contemporary like Gangadhar Meher, Fakir Mohan, Madhusudan Rao, and the like and concluded his speech by expressing his concern about how Santha Kabi Bhima Bhoi has not received due appreciation as a poet of eminence in Odia literature.

Among others, Professor Jugal Kishore Mishra, Chair Professor, (Madhusudan Das and Biju Patnaik) Research Chair; and Professor Bijayananda Singh, Chair Professor, Gopabandhu Das Research Chair from KISS-DU also spoke on the occasion. Professor Harish Chandra Sahoo proposed the vote of thanks to all those who contributed to making the webinar a grand success.

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