Saga of fight for Independence
Chapter 9: Jayee Rajguru
Jayee Rajguru alias Jayakrushna Rajguru Mahapatra was born on the auspicious day of Anala Nabami, 29th of October, 1739 in a village called Biraharekrushnapur in the district of Puri to Chand Rajguru and Haramani Devi.
Jayakrushna was born to a noteworthy and savant family. His forefathers were the advisors and spiritual teachers to the king of Khordha and were traditionally called ‘Rajguru’. Jayee Rajguru was an excellent scholar in Sanskrit and a great Tantrasadhaka. He had mastered Vedas, Puranas and scriptures in the early years of his life that he could write thousands of shlokas with ease and was an acclaimed scholar among the pundits.
He was the royal priest, commander-in –chief and the real administrative representative of the king of Khordha, Gajapati Mukundadev –II.
In 1779, Jayee Rajguru was appointed as the head of the administration and the chief of army of Khordha after the death of his father. Jayee was a bachelor and was the Chief Minister-cum-Rajguru of king Dibyasingha Dev-II who soon died. This resulted in the minor son of the late king Mukund Dev-II to ascend to throne of Khordha and Jayee Rajguru acted as the regent.
When the British attacked Odisha and captured several lands and exuded notice to all the kings to accept their dominance and pay taxes, the king of Khordha never accepted their subjugation as per the advice of Jayee Rajguru. He then started writing the neighbouring kingdoms and planning strategies. He succeeded in mobilizing and instigating the Odia soldiers, the Paikas.
The kingdom of Khurda covered near about 15000 sq. miles which was surrounded by 71 forts. In its military system there were the Dalabeheras, Dalais, Nayaks and Paikas. Dalabeheras usually headed the forts. Below the rank of Dalabeheras, Dalais were in charge of special forces, below them Nayaks were in charge of some villages. And finally there were Paikas, who constituted the real segment of the army to fight the battle by skillful use of arms and ammunitions. The lexical meaning of Paika is infantry and their nature of participation is voluntary and obligated. The Paikas under Dalabeheras and Dalais, the king used to have a special force consisting of near about 15000 soldiers under the direct supervision of Jayee Rajguru. The king had about 4000 horses and 2000 elephants besides the infantry.
The clever Britishers made understanding with the Gajapati king of Khurda Mukunda Deva-II to derive free passage and support to defeat Marathas. Though Jayee Rajguru being a visionary resisted the understanding of the British, but subsequently agreed to that under the pressure of the king.
But as usual the treacherous Britishers did not act upon the conditions of the agreement initiated by them. Neither the money was given nor was the control of four praganas handed over to the Gajapati king of Khurda.
On the other hand in 29th November 1803, the Britishers announced a declaration stating that the king of Khurda should acknowledge the British authority and pay a fixed amount as tribute (salami). Jayee Rajguru made the king realise the reasons for which he was against any settlement with Britishers.
Jayee Rajguru advised the king not to sign the declaration. However, as a conciliatory measure Jayee Rajguru decided to meet Kernel Harcourt at Cuttack. Accordingly, Jayee Rajguru met the kernel with 2000 Paikas on 11th March 1804 and caught the kernel by surprise and virtually under seize. Kernel Harcourt paid only Rs 40000 but did not agree for restoration of four praganas justifying that the four praganas were conquered from the Marathas and hence they lawfully belonged to the British. Jayee Rajguru accepted the money with a strategy for spending it to organize more Paikas for a decisive war.
Then in October 1804, it came the final show down with the British. In 22nd November 1804 the Paikas resisted the Britishers at Pipli and Delanga. The confrontation was so terrible that the Britishers were panicked. The Britishers used 10 thousand soldiers of 2nd and 7th division of Bengal and 16th Battalion of Madras under the control of Major Fletcher, Kernel Harcourt, Captain Hickland and Stoner. There was also a strong resistance at Gangapada, Taratua and Tangiapada.
The British authorities were alarmed at the astonishing speed of the war, which threatened their existence for about three weeks. At that juncture Jayee Rajguru was expecting the military help from Marathas, but that did not reach as the messenger was captured at Sambalpur. Jayee Rajguru made his best efforts for the safety of the king as he was the source of unity for the people and Paikas of Khurda.
He arranged the escape of the king to Gangamata Matha of Puri with some confidential instructions for his safety. Despite various resistances of Paikas under the able guidance of Jayee Rajguru, the Khurda fort collapsed. Jayee Rajguru was captured by treachery near the Jungles of Ranpur while he was organizing the Paikas for another onslaught and was sent to Cuttack Jail. The king was also captured on 3rd January 1805.
It is a fact that the king of Kanika, Balabhadra Bhanja and Chakradwaja Sendha of Kujanga made resistance but subsequently could not match to the superior British forces. It was the darkest period of the historical temple of Lord Jagannath that the king’s name was prevented to be recited at the time of rituals and festivals. In a nutshell, with the capture of kingdom of Khurda, the British authority occupied the entire region of Odisha falling within Bengal and Madras.
The trial of Jayee Rajguru was a mockery and with the help of Harcourt’s preplanned King’s prepared letter and planted witness he was found guilty in on 5th December 1806. British had conspired to eliminate Jayee Rajguru by “hanging him to death”. The brave son of mother India, Jayee Rajguru was killed in a most heinous and cruel manner on 6th December 1806. Four sturdy men climbed into a thick banyan tree and knotted his ankles with a rope and slugged the other end with a thick branch and pulled. As soon as his body left the ground, the thick rope began cutting into his flesh and since his two legs were tied with two branches of the tree it parted his body into two parts and he died instantly. Jayee Rajguru sacrificed his life as a martyr for the sake of his motherland. At the time of his brutal killing process it is said that he kept himself calm by reciting a sloka from ‘Bira Saptapadi’ and accepted the death bravely. With his martyrdom the territory of Odisha lost its independence.
When Even Strongest Of Polingar Were Surrendering To British, The Ruler Of Nelkattunseval Fought Against Them Like A Tiger! Know The Story Of ‘Puli’ Thevar An Able Administrator And A Great Warrior!
Dr. Sindhu Prashanth