The Mahima Dharma (full name Satya Mahima Alekha Dharma or Satya Sanatan Mahima Dharma, "the true path of indescribable grace") is a Hindu sect primarily prevalent in Orissa and nearby states. It's a strict monotheistic sect, unlike traditional Smarta Hinduism, in which families might worship an array of deities but with one particular Ishta-Deva.
The founder of Mahima Dharma was the one and only Mahima Swami or Mahima Gosain. For many years Mahima Gosain was in deep meditation in the caves at Himalaya. From there Swami travelled to many regions and at last appeared in Puri (Orissa) in 1826 as Dhulia Gosain. By that time Swami settled on the dusty road of Puri. People used to ask him queries on their well being and, surprisingly, it all happened to true. During those days once Swami was invited to Puri Mukti Mandap and confirms Brahma is Nirguna and Sunya.
From Puri Swami moved to hill caves of Khandagiri, Dhauligiri, Nilagiri etc. near Bhubaneswar (capital of Orissa state). During those days Swami lived on water alone for 12 years and people used to call him Nirahari Gosain. In 1838 Swami moved to Kapilash hill of Dhenkanal district of Orissa and spent 21 days in atma yoga samadhi (unification of human mind) with Balkal of kumbhi tree (bark of careya arborea) leaving cloth on a huge round stone. The great seven-hooded snake spread its hood covering His head. The nearby area of the forest was illuminated by the luster of the body of Swami. On the 21st day a tribal, Sadananda of nearby Deogram village, discovered and witnessed the magnificent atma yoga samadhi of Swami and served fruits for 12 years during the stay of Swami at Kapilas hill. Swami was known was Phalahari Gosain on those days. Next Swami spent 12 years with cow milk alone rendered as service by the ruler of Dhenkanal: those days King Bhagirathi Bhramarbar Bahadur. Both king and queen had the luck and opportunity to witness Swami on top of Kapilas hill and served milk on new earthen pots.
During those days Swami moved to Kakanpada village of Rairakhol with his first disciple sidha Govinda Baba and made his appearance to blind Bhima Bhoi and blessed him with eyesight. Bima visualised Swami and next moment with all humbleness prayed Swami to make him blind again as the torture of mankind was intolerable. Swami blessed him for composing poem on Nirguna Brahma to spread the Mahima cult. Swami then went back to Kapilas hill. The journey of Swami to Rairakhol was through sky not by foot.
After spending 12 years in Kapilash hill Mahima Prabhu travelled around 24 years as Brahmabadhuta (wandering meNdicant of supreme order) and spread Mahima Dharma in Orissa and neighboring states before taking samadhi at Joranda, Dhenkanal, of Orissa on the 10th day after the new moon of 1876. The place where Mahima Swami disappeared (merged Himself in the Mahanityapura) is called Mahima Gadi. It is the heart of all Mahima movement around world.
The religion is essentially monotheistic in nature. Mahima religion strictly opposes the caste system and idol worship. The religion strictly forbids adultery, the consumption of any intoxicants, violence, and the consumption of any flesh. Food and water has to be taken before sunset. The Mahima devotee should leave his/her bed around 4am early morning and perform Saran/Darsan before sunrise. Saran/Darsan is the act of complete surrender of self to Mahima Prabhu. The same is repeated three times a day including noon and evening before sunset. They are sometimes mislead as the follower of Surya, the Sun god. It is not true.
The religion has a monastic order. Members of the monastic order, like Buddhist monks, do not constitute a priestly class and have no control over the lay practitioners. They have to lead a life of poverty, celibacy, piety and constant movement, as the monks are not allowed to sleep in the same place on two consecutive nights nor take meal twice from same house in any day. There is strict ordered of Mahima Swami to avoid any kind of idol worship. The Supreme Lord of the indescribable grace (Alekha) is worshiped.
The Mahima principle is derived from Veda and Upanishads. It is believed by scholars that this might be a neo-Vedanta movement. In short, Mahima cult is a revivalism of the Vedantic thrust and a reformist movement of Orissa within the Sanatan Hindu fold.
- Satya Mahima Dharma Itihasa by Brahmabadhuta Biswanath Baba, 1–47
- Philosophy of Mahima Dharma by Brahmabadhuta Biswanath Baba (translated to English by Sri Sarbeswar Das)
- Mahima Dharmadhara by Prof. Satrughna Nath, 55–57
- Banerjee-Dube, Ishita. 2001. ‘Issues of Faith, Enactment of Contest: The Founding of Mahima Dharma in Nineteenth-Century Orissa’. In Kulke, H. and Schnepel, B. (eds.), Jagannath Revisited, New Delhi: Manohar, 149–177.
- Eschmann, Anncharlott 1978. "Mahima Dharma: An Autochthonous Hindu Reform Movement," in Eschmann A., Kulke, H. & Tripathi, C.G. (eds). The Cult of Jagannath and the Regional Tradition of Orissa, New Delhi: Manohar, 375–410.
- Guzy, Lidia 2002. Baba-s und Alekh-s – Askese und Ekstase einer Religion im Werden. Berlin: Weissensee Verlag.