Fakir Mohan Senapati

13 Jan 1843
14 Jun 1918
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Fakir Mohan Senapati (13 January 1843 – 14 June 1918) born on January 13, 1843, at Mallikashpur in Balasore, played a leading role in establishing the distinct identity of Odia, a language mainly spoken in the Indian state of Odisha. Fakirmohan Senapati is regarded as the father of Odia nationalism and modern Odia literature. Born to Laxman Charan Senapati and Tulsi Devi Senapati, Fakirmohan dedicated his life to the progress of Odia language in the later 19th and early 20th century. The story of Fakirmohan is indeed the story of the ‘Renaissance’ of Odia literature. Besides he was a social reformer and educator who used his pen to criticize and correct the aberrations prevalent in the society. He is called the father of Odia fiction. In his native place, school, colleges and universities are constructed in his memory like Fakir Mohan College, Fakir Mohan University etc..

He is aptly called the Thomas Hardy of Odisha.{{by Dr.Mayadhar Mansinha} Though he translated from Sanskrit, wrote poetry, and attempted many forms of literature, he is now known primarily as the father of modern Odia prose fiction. The four novels of Fakirmohan, written between 1897 and 1915, reflect the socio-cultural conditions of Odisha during the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. While the three novels, ‘Chha maana Atha Guntha’, ‘Mamu’ and ‘Prayaschita’ explore the realities of social life in its multiple dimensions. ‘Lachhama’ is a historical romance dealing with the anarchical conditions of Odisha in the wake of Maratha invasions during the eighteenth century. Chha Maana Atha Guntha is the first Indian novel to deal with the exploitations of landless peasants by the feudal Lord. It was written much before the October revolution of Russia or much before the emerging of Marxist ideas in India. Fakir Mohan is also the writer of the first autobiography in Odia, “Atma Jeevan Charita” .

His “Rebati” (1898) is widely recognized as the first Odia short story. “Rebati” is the story of a young innocent girl whose desire for education is placed in the context of a conservative society in a backward Odisha village, which is hit by the killer epidemic cholera. His other stories are “Patent Medicine”, “Daka Munshi”,”Adharma Bitta”etc. “Randipua Ananta” also a nice creation of him.

He wrote a long poem, Utkala Bhramanam, that first appeared in 1892. Literally meaning Tour of Odisha, this poem, in reality, is not a travelogue but a commentary on the state of affairs in the Odisha of that time, written in a satirical manner.

Vyasa Kabi Fakir Mohan Senapati played a major role towards the formation of Odisha and the acknowledgement of Odia language during the British period. Vyasa Kabi Fakir Mohan Senapati married Leelavati Devi in the year 1856 when he was only thirteen. She died when he was twenty-nine. In summer 1871, he again married to Krushna Kumari Dei about whom he says, It seemed as if God had sent me Krushna Kumari to relieve me of all my miseries and bring me happiness and prosperity. Krushna Kumari died in 1894 leaving behind a son and a daughter. His son’s name was Moini Mohan Senapati.

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