THE STORY OF AN UNSUNG HERO
The moth hour in the evening passed away from the hamlet’s sight. Calmness and silence slowly pervaded every nook and corner of the village. Shadows of darkness was covering across the post dusk celestial sphere. The stars began to peep in the dark Sky. The birds, animals and all living creatures were preparing themselves to close their eye lids for rest after tiresome day. In the mean time Rama nani was anxiously waiting for the return of her elder brother. She came out of house and called out at the top of her voice. “Jaga, Jaga, Jaga”
Jagannath replied with sincere respect and utmost affection who was living opposite to her house.
“Yes nani, what happened”
“Have you seen my elder brother at river? He has gone for freshening up two hours ago, not yet returned home. What was he doing there? . The meal is ready now, it will get cold if he doesn’t turn in time. It is already late I have to go to bed to get up early in the next morning for my fasting” Rama nani said in disgusting tone.
“He was talking with Subash and Santanu bhaina by the time I returned home. He must be coming now. Maybe on the way.” Jaga replied cleverly to control her impatience.
It was permanent habitual action of Pandit against which his widow sister Rama rebelled every now and then.
Our time passed through hardships, debt, family tensions, boredom, alienation, shame and stigma. The families had to suffer a lot for our failures to fulfill their expectation on us. We could have ameliorated the standard of living of our families, if we had got our jobs in time. Rather we had been cursed by the current of time for our prolonged unemployment. But during those days of misfortune we had been blessed with the association of an erudite writer of a versatile genius who, in course of time, became our best companion although we belonged to a dissimilar age group from the village we hailed. We regarded him as a beacon who advised and guided us during the period of adversity. He was none other than Pandit Sri Anantaram Kar Sharma who trod on our village soil permeating his fragrance of intellect very far and near across the state. He enlightened us through his sagacious wisdom dispelling the darkness that invaded our minds and souls.
Pandit Kar Sharma possessed all the essential qualities of pleasant personality I have ever come across in my life. He was sober and soft spoken person to his merit. Tall and handsome with curly hair, looked like a Greek God alluring others attention. He was affable, agreeable and amiable with all the positive personality and character traits manifesting within him. Notwithstanding this, he bore a physiological idiosyncrasy in him which caused to suffocate his throat compelling him to cough to soothe the irritation by making a double syllable sound written as “ahem” inhaling slightly and then exhaling sharply making a peculiar and unique sound People could realise his gracious presence around them through listening to his signature sound of “khun khun” created Intermittently while discoursing with others. His personal life was full of stress and strain. But he learnt the life lessons from them which disciplined his mind and soul to strive towards the greater and nobler causes in life. He was Gandhian in thought and spirit. Dedicated his life for the freedom of the nation inspired by the call of Mahtma Gandhi to join national freedom movement of the country against British rule. In 1942 influenced by the twin cardinal principles of Gandhian thought-truth and non violence- he leaped into the stream of the quit India movement along with his village mates Maguni Dash and Ladukesh Kar for country’s much desired freedom While preaching the sermon of Mahtma Gandhi among the people of the neighbouring villages they were caught and captured by the British force and were put behind the bar. On incarceration at Russel Konda prison they were flogged and whipped relentlessly for their patriotic but anti-British attitude. After being confined into seclusion he wanted to write books like Mahtma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru who wrote their masterpieces My Story Of Experiments With Truth and Discovery Of India during the imprisonment period in Yerwada prison in Pune and Ahmednagar fort jail, Gujurat. As he was optimistic and ambitious to see the independence of his motherland in near future he wanted the leaders to run the nation providing a good governance to it’s citizens following certain principles after the nation becomes free from the foreign rule. He conceived in jail to translate Sukraniti and Kautilya Arthasastra into Odiya language from the original scripts written on palm leaves in – the written and spoken language of Gods.
In afternoons we assembled in front of Chandrasekhar temple steps to beguile our boredom through friendly discourse and intellectual interaction while reading english daily newspapers to keep ourselves abreast of current social, economy and political development of the country. Everyday on his way to market Pandit Sahib’s eyes were falling on us sitting together deeply engrossed in discussion. . Curious to know the latest breaking news he used to emerge before us to have a cursory glance at the newspaper headlines and articles. After taking part in discussions with us he used to begin withdrawing from our sight for market to purchase the vegetables and grocery items as ordered by his widow younger sister Rama who looked after him during his old age. The walking distance from home to market was hardly one mile-a ten minute’s walk, whereas he took not less than two hours to finish up his assigned task. This happened due to his forgetful trait in his character. Most of the time he forgets to take the necessary things with him but remembers later on the mid way then turns back to collect from home. This happens not for once but for many times in a day. Sometimes he forgets his umbrella, other time he forgets the key of his new house at Jagannath Prasad and so on in different moments in time. For this reason people always discover him spending most of his time on road walking to and fro alone on feet. Most probably his forgetfulness emanates from the sufferings and loneliness he endured during his life time after the death of his beloved wife who departed from him to her heavenly abode after giving birth to four children. After coming of their ages, his children didn’t support him and remained aloof leaving him to live in isolation. But he possessed infinite patience and indomitable will to overcome the difficulties he was besetting with during his tough times. He didn’t allow any negativities to enter into his mind by engaging himself busy in reading and writing. He widely read different authors of different languages asides from reading odia poets and authors like Upendra Bhanja, Kabisurya Baladev, Atibadi Jagannath Dash and many more. Through his constant perseverance he mastered over seven national and international languages which we can’t dream of learning them during our entire period if we happen to take rebirth consecutively seven time after our death. Apart from his mother tongue Odiya he was well versed in sanskrit, hindi, urdu, bengali, telugu, tamil and english. He was a bibliophile who read different kinds of books with great interest though he had only eighth class formal education to his academic qualification. He was an avid reader of classical and contemporary writings of foreign authors like Homer, Aesop, Dante, Aristotle, Darwin, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, T. S. Eliot and Robert Frost. Indian authors like Kalidas, Banabhatta, Bhasa, Panini and Dandi in sanskrit literature, Mirza Ghalib, Samsur Rahman and Qurratul Hyder in urdu literature, Premchand, Amrit Pritam and Mahadevi Verma in hindi literature, Rabindranath, Bankim Chandra and Sarat Chandra in bengali literature, Sri Sri, Viswanathan Satyanarayan, Yanadmuri Veerendranath and many others from telugu and Jayakanthan, Thi Janakiraman and S Ramkrishna in Tamil literature were role models to him. He was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Sukracharya and Kautilya so he translated the Sukraniti of Sukracharya and Arthasastra of Chanakya into odia language. Besides this, he had written a collection of hymns in verse entitled The Parameswar Pachasika and edited The Gita Bijaya Baijanti scribbled by Antaryami Pati for its publication under the Berhampur University. Besides reading and writing he was associated with different organisations in his area for social, political, economy, cultural and spiritual development of the rural mass. We had seen him inaugurating the plays enacted by dramatic societies. We had seen him sitting beside the Chief Minister in political meeting. And we had heard him delivering moral and religious talk from the Bhagvat Gita, Mohabharat And Ramayan.Once in his life he acted as secretary of the Management Committee of local High School when he came in contact with a renowned sanskrit Pandit Sri Banamali Sahitya Bhusan who helped him to translate the Kautilya’ Arthashastra into odia in latter days.
Our village Jagannath Pur Sasan has name for river Boda running incessantly from the time immemorial. It has been flowing towards her destination dancing over the sands and coloured pebbles making rippling and bubbling sound. It is symbol of cleanliness and filth- sin and purity of soul. It is proper place for laughing, playing, dreaming and bathing. It is a pure place where a mother and child can belong together. In our summer evenings the river embraces us in her arms allowing us to sleep on her lap soothing through her gentle breeze. Pandit Kar Sharma had a special affinity with river Boda from his early childhood to old-age through every thick and thin like a mother closely attached to her baby. He frequents to her many times in a day holding a lota in his hand in day time and hanging a lantern in another hand at night time to freshen up himself attending the call of nature and bathing therafter. In many occasions we spent the evening time with Kar Sahib listening to the stories of his experiences sitting on the river bed. I remember once he narrated the stories of Sukracharya and Kautilya on our request whose works he translated into odia language earlier.
He began to narrate the story of Sukracharya. “Sukracharya was one of the greatest mentors of the natives of the nether world. He was highly learned man yet he couldn’t find a suitable position in the Heaven. Therefore he became guru of daityas, danabs and asuras to avenge the Gods for alienating him. He turned demons his disciples to help them to wage war against Gods. Thus he chose to head satans to create havoc and cause destruction. Before waging war against the Gods Sukracharya wanted to get blessed with sanjeevani mantra from Lord Siva so that he could save disciples from death by infusing life into the bodies even after they were killed on the battle field. So he underwent enduring severe penance to please Lord Siva. He gave up his food and hung upside down from a tree inhaling the smoke of burnt leaves as his diet. Indra, the king God tried to disrupt his penance by sending his agents but failed. At last Indra’s daughter Jayanti came forward to interrupt his meditation by adding chillies to the burnt leaves. It caused to ooze out blood from the mouth, nose and eyes of the sage still he remained determined inspire of the pain and injury inflicted on him. Finally Lord Siva was pleased to fulfill his wish by giving him boon by sharing Sanjeevani Mantra- the hymn of immortality with the sage on a condition not to misuse it at any cost in any situation for the welfare of the universe. Jayanti realised her mistake and proposed to Sukracharya for marriage as an opportunity to serve him for her sin. Sukracharya accepted the proposal and married to his enemy’s daughter. Sukracharya waged a war against Gods and triumphed.” Further he continued ” Suukraniti is a part of Dharmasastra and considered as a sukracharya’s systems of Morals. It is a treatise on the science of governance, structured towards upholding the morals through implementing the theories of political science. One time Sukracharya was one of the mentors of Bhishma , the beloved grand father of the Kauravs and Pandavas who taught him political science. ” He narrated in nutshell.
” The story of Kautilya bears a striking similarity to the story of Sukracharya in some respect. Both stories are based on revenge. As per Budhist version when Chanakya was kid he had canine teeth. It was mark of royalty that one day he would become king. He mother was always scared that he would ignore her after getting the throne. For her mother’s sake he broke his teeth to get rid of fear lingering in her mind. One day when Chanakya grew up he went to an alms-giving ceremony organised by Dhanananda at pushpapur. Chanakya was ugly to look with his crooked feet. His appearance didn’t please the king so he insulted Kautilya before the public and banished him from his kingdom. There and then the angry Chanakya vowed before him to dethrone him and fled to the forest to evade the imminent arrest. He helped a pregnant lady in the jungle on the condition that her son would belong to him. The kid was Chandragupta. Chandragupta’s conviction as king was recognised by Chanakya while he was playing with his friends. It took years to prepare an army for an invasion. They attacked Danananda’s capital Pataliputra but were defeated. However they managed to evade capture. One day while wandering the city they overheard the mother scolding her son for putting his finger in the middle of some hot porridge. She said he should have started from the cooler areas around the edges and compared to it Chandragupt’s failed effort of directly attacking from the centre. This time they made allies and attacked the villages around Pataliputra. Soon a successful siege on the capital saw Chandragupta on throne and Dhanananda dead. The incredible story of his revenge brought down Nanda dynasty to see a new empire in the pages of history of India. Later on Chanakya became chief advisor and guardian to Chandragupta Maurya and was known for writing a book on Arthashastra – the science of wealth. But the book Arthshastra has broader scope which includes topics on nature of government, law, civil and criminal Court systems, ethics , economics, marketing and trade. It also includes methods of screening ministers, diplomacy, theories on war., nature of peace and the duties and obligation of king. The text incorporates ancient economic and cultural details on agriculture, mineralogy, mining and metals, animal husbandry, medicine, forest and wild life.
Apart from his interest in language and literature he had a doctor in him who guided the people at the time of their sickness. When I was a boy of seven year’s old a situation Warranted me to approach him at a mid night for treatment of my ailing mother who complained severe pain on her chest. Seeing her condition precarious I proceeded towards his home situated in the extreme end of the village to seek necessary medical help from him. I narrated the symptoms of the disease she was suffering from and came back after receiving two doses of medicine from him. The next morning witnessed her in a good health condition. He was ayurvedic medicine practitioner of his time who served the poor freely. He became well versed with the knowledge of anatomy of body, diagnosis of diseases, recognition of the medicinal plants and manufacture of medicine out of them. To acquire knowledge in this field he had studied voraciously the books on human biology, Charak Samhita, Sushruta Samhita. Saranga Dhar Samhita, Ashtanga Hridayam, and a book on Ayurveda by Vasant Lad. He established an Ayurvedic medicine manufacturing unit named Utkal Ayurveda Pharmacy at Jagannath Prasad Block Head Quaters but it became sick afterwards due to want of running capital.
As life is a mixture of sunshines and rainbows he enjoyed and endured both happiness and sorrows simultaneously in his life with utmost faith in God. He remained calm and maintained composure at the time of adversity. In early ninetie’s Pandit Sri Anantaram Kar Sharma closed his eyes forever after seeing a college founded by our dedicated effort with the help and cooperation of the local youth of our area. His dream of establishing a college was materialised by his sons for which he became proud of himself. At last he died a natural death creating a vacuity in the intellectual sphere. Such a man of flesh and blood comes once in many centuries to this mundane world whose conspicuous absence is felt after their death. People cremated him beside river Boda so that he can have a clear glimpse of his so called second mother even after his death.
Written by Dr. Santanu Kumar Dash, odisha, India.
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