The temple of Jagannåtha at Puri often appears as contested religious space in medieval biographies of Vaishnava religious leaders. Sri
Caitanya (1486–1534 C.E), who was born in Navadvîpa in Bengal, dominated the religious imagination of the period. In Vaishnava hagiographies of different groups his Bengali followers are described as the reigning power at the most important pilgrimage sites, V®ndavan and Puri. At V®ndavan the followers of Caitanya confronted the followers of Vallabha (1479– 1531 C.E). Vallabhaite texts describe a power struggle over the rights to worship the newly manifested image of Krishna at Mt Govardhana; in their descriptions the Bengalis are summarily ousted from their position of authority at the behest of the god himself. The Bengalis, of course, told a
different version of the conflict. At Puri, the challenge to Caitanya’s supremacy came from the Assamese Vaishnava leader Ûaõkara Deva. (1449–1568 C.E.), and even closer to home, from a loose group of Oriya Vaishnava poets known as the Pañca sakhå or “five friends.” These poet-philosophers, Balaråma Dåsa, Jagannåtha Dåsa, Acyutånanda Dåsa, YaΩovanta Dåsa and Ananta Dåsa, were active in the 16th-17th centuries. They wrote both esoteric philosophical texts and richly emotive devotional poetry. Their writings,
in Oriya, often display a strong consciousness of Orissa as their home territory, and their conflict with the Bengalis could on occasion be described in the language of regional rather than religious rivalry. Jagannåtha Dåsa was responsible for putting the Sanskrit Bhågavata Purå∫a into Oriya, much as Ûaõkara Deva had done for Assamese.
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