Saheed Jayee Rajguru was born on October 29, 1739 in an eminent scholarly family in the village Bira Harekrushnapur, near Puri, Orissa. His forefathers were the advisors and spritual teachers to the king of Khurda and were traditionally called “Rajguru”. Saheed Jayee Rajguru’s original name was Jaykrushna Mahapatra. After his appointement as “Rajguru’ to the king he popularly came to be known as Jayee Rajguru.

Jayee Rajguru was an outstanding Sanskrit scholar and intellectual of the 18th century. Upholding the tradition of Sanskrit learning of his forefathers, he mastered Vedas, Purnas and other scriptures in the early years of his life. He could write thousands of shlokas with ease and was an acclaimed Vidwan among the pundits.

Jayee Rajguru was appointed as a scholar in king’s court and then became Rajguru after the death of his father Chand Rajguru. This was a time when the state of Orissa was experiencing infighting among the smaller kingdoms and severe drought. When the state was passing through such uter chaos, the king Dibyasingha Deb-II died resulting in a bitter race for succession. Jayee Rajguru ensured tha the late king’s minor son Mukund Deb-II, ascended to the throne of Khurda. As the king was minor, Jayee Rajguru became the regent and took the actual control of the state affairs into his hands in 1798. He introduced many changes in the administrative system and uplifted the sagging morale of the soldiers.

After the British attacked Orissa and occupied the major pockets in 1803, they issued notice to the rulers of smaller kingdoms to accept subjugation and pay taxes to the British; the king of Khurda never signed the notice as per the advice of Jayee Rajguru. Knowing the army for the war and appealed to the people for sacrifice to save their motherland. He also mobilized the support of other neighbouring kingdoms by unifying them for a combined defence strategy against the British. Soon his effort took the turn of a mass movement with every household contributing a solider called Paika, trained in different war skills and people grouping themselves under the leadership of Jayee Rajguru.

A study of the available literature indicates that Jayee Rajguru was not only a great visionary and astute strategist but he himself possessed superior warfare skills, and knowledge of weaponry. Probably for the first time in India he used guerilla warfare to counter the British firepower. Knowing the limitations of conventional weapons against a strong force like British, he encouraged the development of firearms in villages and tried to popularize this experimentation by various means.

He attacked the British force in 1804 banks of river Mahanadi and with this news, many such attacks followed on the British troops at various places. The British force suffered a severe set back at the hands of Paikas (Oriya Soldiers of Khurda) and called in additional battalions from Madras to reinforce its troop. The final battle, “Battle of Barunei” took place in December 1804 on the foothills of Barunei between the British army soldiers led by Jayee Rajguru. The forte remained under seize for three days and in fiercely fought battle, a handful of Paikas in the forte surprised the 7000 strong British army. The battle skill, valour and sacrifice made by Jayee Rajguru and his followers are now a part of living folklore of Orissa. The British resorted to Divide and Rule policy by tempting a few of the locals by offering large tax free land holding in return for information on Jayee Rajguru, his battle plan and inside information of the forte. As a result, Jayee Rajguru was captured and arrested. Thus the last independent forte of India fell to the British. But sensing the danger of his capture, Jayee Rajguru moved the King to a safe hideout with the help of his trusted lieutenants, so that the symbol of sovereignty of his land remained safe. The king, who was also considered as the Gajapati Maharaja (the representative of Lord Jagannath) was held with highest reverence by the people. Jayee Rajguru’s commitment and loyalty to the king and his motherland till the last moments of his life, was quite evident from this.

The British took Jayee Rajguru to far off Medinipur for trial, because his presence alone was sufficient to spark off fresh rebellion in the state. After the trial by the British court, he was awarded capital punishment for waging was against the state. Jayee Rajguru did not appeal for mercy and fearlessly told the court that fighting for freedom of ones own motherland was never a crime and accepted the death sentence. On December 6, 1806 Jayee Rajguru was made Shaheed in a brutal manner. His legs were tied to two different branches of a banyan tree and the branches were let off splitting his body in to two parts. Thus came the end of a saga of patriotism and courage.

Shaheed Jayee Rajguru had remained bachelor all his life for the cause his motherland and he is the first martyr in the national freedom struggle from Orissa and one of the earliest martyrs in the country.

However, his life long fighting against British Rule has no significance in Indian History. In addition, the concerned authorities including bureaucrats are turning a blind eye in this connection. According to sources, as he is not from North India and belongs to Orissa, far off places from Delhi, capital of India, he is being neglected from national point of view. It is also alleged that Govt of India is putting damp squib towards the deeds of this valiant freedom fighter. Owing to set this legend in the national map of martyr list, it has been strongly voiced by Oriyas including intellectuals. It is not the matter of accusing the concerned authorities to showcase Mandal Pandey as national hero. Much before Mangal Pandey, great freedom fighter Jayee Rajguru fought for his country against British legacy and hanged by British ruler. But ignoring another freedom fighter from the deserved position is proving another blunder. However, time is so far, when Indians will aware of the concerned Oriya freedom fighter.