By Srikanta Mohanty: “Kahe Salabega hina Jati re mu Jabana, Sriranga charana tale karuachi Janana”-the immortal lines from the devotional song of great seventeenth century devotee and poet, Salabega, still stir the hearts of millions in Odisha. Scion of Mughal Subedar, Lalbeg, and Brahmin mother from Dandamukundapur, near Puri, Salabega, epitomizes true devotion to Lord Jagannath. As the fable about his birth goes, his beautiful widow mother from the religious place of Puri, was forcibly taken by his Muslim father-who was the in-charge of Odisha and then residing at Cuttack. Enamored by the irresistible beauty of the widow Brahmin lady, he abducted her and later the great poet-saint was born to them.
True devotion is above caste, creed, and faith and complete surrender to Lord Jagannath could carry one beyond any suffering. The life of poet and saint proves this axiomatic truth beyond any doubt. As one anecdote describes, Salabega, suffered from incurable ailment and he was told by his mother to recite the prayer in praise of the Lord and his heart-felt prayer was answered as the ailment vanished.
As history is the mute witness, Salabega was not allowed by the priests to enter inside shrine of Puri. But as Lord Jaganntaha has always shown that He is above sectarianism, His boundless compassion for this great devotee does not find any parallel in history. Legend has it that the great devotee was once held up in his trip from Vrindavana to the holy place Puri to watch his dear Lord during “Rathyatra (Car Festival) due to illness but Jagannath heard the prayer from the bottom of the heart of His ardent devotee. During the festival, the ‘ratha(car)’ of Jagganath stopped abruptly only to move again on the arrival of the great devotee.
“Kabir and Salabega are two unique characters in their matchless love and dedication for the supreme Lord. More I delve in the stories about their lives, I come up with precious gems in true spirituality. We are secular right from our beginning and intolerance is only by-product of mind. Salabega is the true epitome of devotion towards Krishna and Jagannatha and the stories from his life still inspire the Buddhists, the Jains, the Saivitees, and almost every offshoot of our religion and others.”-says Parshuram Das, whose has the passion of singing Salabega’s songs right from his childhood.