Sri Aurobindo Ashram Sri Aurobindo A Centenary Tribute, Section V - Sri Aurobindo's Impact on Oriya Literature
M. N. Sahoo (Paper presented at the Regional Seminar, Calcutta, June 1972.)
Ramachandra inspired Valmiki, Sri Krishna inspired Vyasa, and in modern times Lenin, Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo too have inspired likewise many authors… Since long many sages and thinkers like Shankara, Ramanuja, Kabir and Chaitanya have come to Orissa to pay their homage to Lord Jagannatha the National Deity of Orissa, and they have also preached their ideologies here. The highly receptive mind of Orissa has been influenced by their philosophy. Buddhism, Jainism, Advaitism and Vaishnavism have influenced the ancient and medieval literature of Orissa. The Shunya Cult and Brahmoism have already been reflected in the 18th and 19th century literature. But one can see clearly that the tendency of Orissa's intellectual development, religious aspiration, or social outlook is to grow towards a more and more integral and spiritual consciousness rather than to stick to a narrow sectarian idea or to a fanatic ideology. It may be for this reason that the impact of Sri Aurobindo's integral philosophy has so widely and deeply spread out in Orissa within a few years. Oriyas are by nature very optimistic and more receptive to abstract ideas, and they are the people who strive to live always with brighter dreams and a pious imagination. Since a long time saintly poets like Achutananda, Yasobanta, Hadu and Bhima Bhoi have dreamt of Satyayuga that would very soon approach the earth. Their followers still cherish the faith that the Divine-Kingdom will soon be established on this earth which will then be the abode of truth, light, wisdom, peace and bliss…
Well, this is no mere Utopia, for many people living in the Ashram and outside are experimenting with this system of Yoga to achieve the higher consciousness and transform their lower nature. Naturally, the writers in Orissa who were awaiting such an ideal have very warmly embraced it.
Fifteen years ago, two or three people of Orissa felt an enchanting attraction for Sri Aurobindo: these were the late N. K. Dass a businessman, L. M. Ghose an ideal teacher, and Dr. H. K. Mahatab the then Chief Minister of Orissa and an original thinker and writer. Then Sri K. C. Pati (now Prapatti), a teacher of philosophy, came into contact with Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, accepted it as his life's ideal, left his State, and joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram. There he established the Navajyoti Karya-laya and published a first-rate magazine Navajyoti in the Oriya language with the assistance of Ramakrishna Das and Dr. Raghunath Pani. Prof. Manoj Das, an eminent young socialist poet, scholar and story-writer of Orissa, joined the Ashram with his wife Pratijna and brother-in-law Biswambhar Samant. They all worked together and published books and booklets in Oriya with original articles on Sri Aurobindo's literature and philosophy. Afterwards many intellectuals, poets, writers, and artists like Prof. Rajakisor Ray, Mrs. Nandini Satpathy and her husband Devendra Satpathy, Mr. Chittaranjan Das, Dr. Sudhakar Acharya, Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, Sri Nimai Mohapatra, Prof. Chandra Sekhar Rath, Ramanath Panda, Mrs. Vidyutprava, Prof. Hrudananda Ray and Prof. Pramod Kumar Mohanty and B. L. Pattnaik accepted Sri Aurobindo as their master, guide and philosopher, and with the leadership of Prof. Prapatti and Sri Ramakrishna Das, they made it a social cultural and spiritual movement throughout the State. Within these seven or eight years, nearly two thousand study circles are working all over the State in cities, towns and villages. Thousands of our people, common and uncommon, are in a way converted to this new way of life and are determined to change the social and individual consciousness to a higher order. They are engaged in their own way in Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga to make themselves ready for the progress of evolution towards a supramental stage.
For the benefit of these awakened mass of readers, Navajyoti Karya-laya has published nearly forty books and more than fifty booklets in Oriya. Besides, regular journals and magazines like Navajyoti, Pathachakra Patra and Nava Prakash are published with original and translated articles of a very high standard. In Orissa different study circles also have published books, journals and souvenirs regularly each year at the time of their annual functions. Along with these, Satyasri edited by Biswambhar Samant and Ravi Padhi, the Oriya Aurovillian edited by Amar Singh and Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, and Ahil Vart Patrika edited by Moheswar, Bhim Singh and others are being published regularly from Orissa, and many philosophical, social, political and literary articles based on Sri Aurobindo's philosophy are being published there. Prof. Manoj Das is writing regularly in the Sunday Samaj under the heading of "Sandhan and Samikhya" articles on various subjects from the angle of Sri Aurobindo's thought. Likewise Dr. H. K. Mahatab, Prof. Prapatti, Dr. S. K. Acharya, Nimai Mohapatra and Mohapatra N. Sahoo are writing articles based upon Sri Aurobindo's philosophy in Prajatantra, Jhankar, Sarnanda and Samabesta, the literary magazines of Orissa.
All the works of Sri Aurobindo are being translated in commemoration of his centenary under the guidance of Navajyoti Karyalaya. The Life Divine has been translated by the renowned essayist Sri Chitta-ranjan Das, Essays on the Gita by Lalitmohan Ghose and others, and Savitri the great epic by Nimai Mohapatra. Dramas written by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are being translated by different authors, and enacted by Sri Biswajit Das and Mr. Gobind Tej the noted modern dramatists of Orissa.
There is no doubt that Navajyoti Karyalaya through its publications has created a new phase in our literature by its fresh contents and expression. One can very well mark in these books a new trend in language and style to express completely a new thought process, feelings and realisations. Old words like Atimanasha, Adhimanasha, Aloka, Gativritti, Chetana, Virodhi Sakti, Nischetana, Rupantar, Deha, Prana, Mana, Chaitya Purusha, and numerous other words, old and new, have taken a new connotation in meaning and have acquired new intensity in essays, poems, stories and dramas. Our prolific writers and poets like Prof. Chandra Sekhar Rath, a story writer and essayist, and Sri Sitakanta Mohapatra, a noted poet and essayist, have been clearly influenced by Sri Aurobindo's philosophy in their essays and poems. In their writings we get a new way of analysing things and arriving at a new point of conclusion, and in their poems — particularly in the poems of Sitakanta Mohapatra — we get surely a freshness in idea, realisation and expression of a meditative mood, mostly oriented by Sri Aurobindo's philosophy of higher consciousness.
Two of the most prolific story-tellers, like Prof. Manoj Das and Prof. Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, have already used new forms to express new materials in their stories. They have started to understand the incidents, situations and characters in the light of a completely new Aesthetic sense aroused in them by the Master. They have left the old way and their writings are remarkably distinguished from that of others in their form and spirit.
In poetry, Ravi Padhi, Manoj Das, Jivan Pani, Bhagaban Naik
Vidutprava and Pramod Mohanty have expressed new ideas and feelings with new
types of images with a flavour of purity, freshness, and aspirant optimism in
the line of Sri Aurobindo's aesthesis. Page-110 Burma