New Delhi: A function commemorating the 211th Martyrdom day of Jayee Rajguru is being organized at the Constitution Club, New Delhi at 6:30 PM on 6th December,2017 by Saheed Jayee Rajguru Foundation in Collaboration with Odia Samaj and Odisha Forum. Shri Venkaiah Naidu , Vice President of India will attend the function as the Chief Guest. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship will be the Guest of Honour. Shi Braja Kishore Tripathy, Former Union Minister and Advisor to the Foundation will deliver the welcome address. Other dignitaries will include Shri Biswabhusan Harichandan, Former Minister of Odisha.
A book ‘ Jayee Rajguru and Anti-Colonial resistance in Khurda’, authored by Dr.Bijay Chandra Rath, Historian, will be released on the occasion. The Commemoration will focus on a glorious yet less known chapter of the history of India’s war of independence against the British. The coastal districts of Odisha were the last independent territories of India to be conquered by the British only in the year 1803. Incidentally, the very next year i.e in 1804, the people of Odisha had risen in revolt against the British, marking the beginning of the great PAIKA BIDROHA. Popularly known as the Khurda Uprising -1804, it was truly a landmark of people’s uprising in many senses than one. The hero of this earliest uprising was Jayakrushna Mahapatra or more popularly known as Shaheed Jayee Rajguru (1739 – 1806).Contrary to the prevailing notion, the seeds of the war of Independence against the British rule were sown much before the Sepoy Mutiny, which has been termed as the first war of independence. The might of the British army was thus challenged for the first time in the holy land of Lord Jagannath, where Jayee Rajguru, a learned regent of the minor King of Puri raised a brave army of native warriors, known as Paikas and fought the foreign rulers till his last breath. He remained steadfast and unbending in his mission. Ultimately vanquished by the mighty British he was heinously hanged with both his legs tied to the retracting branches of a banyan tree. This early war of independence scripted by Jayee Rajguru is an episode of great heroic sacrifice to protect the honour of motherland and free it from the subjugation by foreign rulers, but this has unfortunately remained hidden in history. The movement may not have been as wide spread geographically but it deserves resurrection and recognition. Although the history chronicled mostly by the British writes has not much highlighted this great episode, Jayee Rajguru and his war against the British as well as his martyrdom has lived through centuries in the folklores of the region and is now being revived by various scholarly studies.
Brief Biosketch of Shaheed Jayee Rajguru
The life of Shaheed Jayee Rajguru is a shining example of rare courage, steely determination and selfless sacrifice. A deep sense of patriotism and intense antagonism towards foreign rule were essential elements of his personality. He was one of the first to resist the British rule in Khurda in Orissa. For his courage of conviction and opposition to alien domination, he had to make the supreme sacrifice when he was executed by the British in 1806. Jayee Rajguru was born on 29 October 1739 in a prominent and scholarly family in the village Bira Harekrushnapur, near Puri in Orissa. His forefathers were advisors and spiritual teachers to the king of Khurda and were traditionally called “Rajguru”. Originally named Jayakrishna Mohapatra, he came to be popularly known as Jayee Rajguru after his appointment as “Rajguru” to the Kind of Khurda after the death of his father Chand Rajguru. When the race for succession ensured after the death of the ruling Kind of Khurda Dibyasingha Deb-II, Jayee Rajguru ensured the accession of the late King’s minor son Mukund Deb-II to the throne of Khurda. As the kind was a minor, Jayee Rajguru became the Regent and took the actual control of the affairs of the state into his hands in 1798. In this capacity, he introduced many changes in the administrative system; he also took several social measures to uplift the sagging morale of the states’ soldiers. Jayee Rajguru was an outstanding Sanskrit scholar and intellectual of the 18th century. Upholding the tradition of the Sanskrit learning of his forefathers, he mastered the Vedas, Puranas and other scriptures in the early years of his life. He could write thousands of scholars with ease and was an acclaimed Vidwan among the pundits. His keen and ceaseless interest in the study of Sanskrit earned for him the reputation of an erudite scholar in Sanskrit literature. He also read most of the Hindu religious scriptures as well as those of other religious. The ‘Ramayana’, the ‘Harivamsa’ and other epics of Hinduism greatly influenced his ideas and thoughts. Jayee Rajguru was of the opinion that justice was the foremost religious, and he strictly followed the path of justice throughout his life. After the British forces attacked Orissa and occupied its major pockets in 1803, they issued notice to the rulers of smaller kingdoms to accept subjugation and pay taxes to the British treasury. As per the advice of Jayee Rajguru, the King of Khurda never signed the notice. Realizing the imminent danger of war with the Britishers, he prepared the army for such an eventually and appealed to the people to get ready for sacrifice to save their Motherland. He also enlisted the support of other neighbouring kingdoms by unifying them for a combined defence strategy against the British forces. Soon, his efforts took the form of a mass movement with every household contributing a soldier, trained in different war skills, and people grouping themselves under his leadership. Jayee Rajguru was a forceful speaker too. Through his fiery speeches, he could inspire his audience with burning patriotism. He moved from place-to-place to organize secret societies. He also trained people in the art of warfare and advocated a violent revolution against the British conquerors. Jayee Rajguru attacked the British forces in 1804 on the banks of the river Mahanadi and with this news spreading far and wide, many such attacks followed on the British troops at various places. Having suffered a severe setback at the hands of the Rajguru’s forces, the Britishers called in additional battalions to reinforce their strength. The final battle, the ‘Battle of Barunei’, took place in December 1804 at the foothills of the Barunei mountain between the British and the soldiers led by Jayee Rajguru. The fort was seized for three days and in a fiercely fought battle, a handful of Rajguru’s soldiers in the fort fought gallantly against the 7,000-strong British army. The battle skill, valour and sacrifices of Jayee Rajguru and his followers are remembered by the people of India even today. In such a scenario, the Britishers resorted to the “divide and rule” policy by tempting a few of the locals by offering large tax-free land holdings in return for information about the whereabouts of Jayee Rajguru and his battle plans. As a result, Jayee Rajguru was captured and arrested. But sensing danger of his capture, Jayee Rajguru moved the king of Khurda to a safe place with his trusted lieutenants, so that the symbol of sovereignty of his land could be protected against the Britishers. Jayee Rajguru exhibited his abiding love and eternal loyalty of the highest order to the Motherland by protecting the King from the humiliation, even at the cost of his own life. The Britishers took Jayee Rajguru to far off Medinapur for trial, as they were apprehensive that his trial might spark a rebellion in the state. After the so called ‘trial’ by the British court, he was awarded capital punishment for waging war against the state. It bears eloquent testimony to the courage and bravery of Jayee Rajguru that he did not appeal for mercy and forcefully told the court that fighting for the freedom of one’s Motherland was never a crime. On 6 December 1806, Jayee Rajguru attained martyrdom, bringing to an end a life ennobled by patriotism, courage, ingenuity and bravery. He is acknowledged as the first martyr from Orissa in India’s freedom struggle and also one of the earliest martyrs in our national movement. Daring to challenge the British rule in those early years of British colonialism in India was indeed a risky proposition. His revolt represented the beginning and his heroic resistance inspired several well known tribal movements in the later years. The Kol rising in 1832 and the Santhal movement of 1855-56, which laid the genesis of an epoch-making event – the 1857 War of Independence – drew largely from the Rajguru’s revolt. It speaks volumes of Shaheed Jayee Rajguru’s popularity, bravery and ardent nationalist spirit that even after two hundred years of his martyrdom, he is reverentially remembered and widely respected by a grateful nation. Shaheed Jayee Rajguru will always remain an inspiration for the people of India as the one who was an ardent patriot, a valiant freedom fighter and a great national hero.