Makers of Modern Odisha: Fakir Mohan Senapati

Born on January 14, 1843, in Balasore’s Mallikashpur district. Laxman Charan Senapati is the father, and Tulsi Devi is the mother. He was instrumental in establishing Oriya’s distinct identity as a language and literature. Fakirmohan Senapati is widely regarded as the founder of modern Oriya nationalism and literature. He devoted his life to the advancement of the Oriya language in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Fakirmohan’s storey is, in fact, the storey of Oriya literature’s “Renaissance.” Apart from that, he was a social reformer and educator who used his pen to criticise and correct society’s aberrations. He is often referred to as the “father of Oriya fiction.”

He is appropriately dubbed “Thomas Hardy of Orissa.” Fakirmohan’s four novels, written between 1897 and 1915, reflect Orissa’s socio-cultural conditions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While the three novels, Chhamana Atha Guntha, Mamun, and Prayaschita, delves into the complexities of social life. Lachhma is a historical romance set in Orissa in the aftermath of Maratha invasions in the eighteenth century. He is the author of several memorable short stories, including ‘Rebati,’ ‘Patent Medicine,’ and ‘Randipua Ananta.’ Fakir Mohan is also the author of Oriya’s first autobiography,’Atma Jeevan Charita’.

Fakir Mohan’s first original poem, titled ‘Utkala Bhramanam’ (Orissa Tours), was published in 1892. It is not so much a travel book as it is an unusual and humorous survey of prominent contemporary figures in Orissa’s public life at the time. Puspamala (The Garland), Upahar (Gift), Puja Phula (Flowers of Worship), Prarthana (Prayer), and Dhuli are his other published original poems (Dustgrains). Fakir Mohan Senapati translated the entire Ramayana and Mahabharat by himself. In Orissa, he is popularly known as’Vyasakabi’ for translating both the’Ramayan’ and the’Mahabharat’ single-handedly and for his wide versatility in the world of letters. He was also bestowed the title’Saraswati’ by the king of Bamra, the feudal state at the time. A great lover and pioneer of a new era in Oriya literature, he founded the Utkala Bhasa Unnati Bidhani Sabha in 1867 to instil a new sense of awareness among the people of Orissa and to promote the Oriya language. On June 14, 1918, he died.