Bhima Bhoi (died 1895)

  • Mystic, poet, and social reformer from east India

    Bhima Bhoi lived in the 19th century in east India, in today's federal state of Orissa. He is not only of great importance for the Mahima Dharma community, of which he was one of the founders, but he is also seen as one of the great poets of the Oriya language.

    Like Sambandar, Mirabai or Kabir, Bhima Boi is a bhakti poet. In his songs he sings about Brahma who can be neither seen nor thought. Brahma is without beginning, without quality, beyond thinking and language.

    But Brahma is much more than an abstract term. Brahma is the essence of all things, the being in everything. He directs everything from within no matter whether they are evil or good beings, living humans or dead objects. Brahma is full of light and heat, he penetrates everything. At the same time he possesses a personality that one can address. In all humility, Bhima Boi also repeatedly takes the liberty of complaining to Brahma. Helpless, he complains about hopelessness when he misses Brahma's intervention.

    To this day many people sing Bhima Boi's songs, full of passionate devotion. They identify with his piety but also with his criticism of social ills. For many underprivileged people from the villages, he is a reformer who sought to free himself from the dominance of the urban elite.