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Kabisurya Baladeba Rath
|Native name||କବିସୂର୍ଯ୍ୟ ବଳଦେବ ରଥ|
|Born||Badakhemundi, Ganjam, Odisha, India|
|Died||Athgarh, Odisha, India|
|Notable works||Kishorachandrananda Champu, Ratnakara Champu, Chandrakala, Sarpa Janana|
Kabisurya (also transliterated as Kavisurya, Kabisurjya) Baladeba Ratha (c. 1789 – 1845) was an Odia poet and litterateur. He wrote in both Sanskrit and Odia. His works are, till today, enjoyed for their devotional quotient. He is the credited founder of the Dhumpa Sangita.
He was born in Badakhemundi, Ganjam, Odisha. His father Ujjwala Ratha was well versed in the scriptures and was a poet himself. Baladeba Ratha's mother died when he was ten years old. He was brought up by his maternal grand father at Khallikote who also taught him Sanskrit and Odia literature. He married at the age of 15. After his father's death, he moved to the nearby Jalantara state. The prince of Jalantara, Rama Chandra Chotray encouraged his literary creations and gave him the title "Kabi-Surya", meaning 'The Sun among Poets.'
Ratha was a musician and scholar in his own right. He composed poems as a Vaishnava, in devotion to Lord Vishnu. He was associated with a group of poets, which included Dinakrushna Dasa and Abhimanyu Samantasinghara - who, though criticised for their verbosity and convoluted diction, have also been appreciated for their emotional and alliterative poems that continue to appeal to the masses even today. His famous works include Kabisurya Granthavali, Kabisurya Geetabali and Kishora Chandrananda Chaupadi-Chautisa, which combines the two literary forms of chaupadi (a poem having four stanzas, though the term came to refer to any short song in latter times), and chautisa (a 34-stanza poem where every stanza begins with a new letter of the Odia alphabet). Kishora Chandrananda Champu is noted for its emotional quotient and the role it played in enforcing the riti school of Sanskrit literature. He was also the author of several champus including Ratnakar Champu, Premodaya Champu and Kishora Chandrananda Champu. Kishore Chandrananda Champu has both Odia and Sanskrit compositions and it was the Odia part of the work that has been credited with cementing his literary reputation in the language.
Ratha is thought to have invented the dhumpa, a bamboo percussion instrument, that accompanies the Odia folk art form of dhumpa sangita. The dhumpa accompanies recitations of his poetic satires which are called dhumpa geet. Many of his poetic pieces, especially the champus are set to dance in Odissi.
Death and Commemoration
Ratha died in Athgarh, Odisha in the year 1845. DasaRathai Das' Kavisurya Baladeva Ratha is a biography that examines his life and contributions to Indian literature. Kavisuryanagar, formerly Boirani, a town in the Ganjam district of Odisha has been named in his honour.
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