Baishnaba Pani: A Tribute

Abhaya Kumar DasGanakabi Baishnaba Panimight be a household name acrossOdisha because of hisrevolutionary role in thedevelopment of Odia literature, artand culture, but it seems that thelegendary poet’s legacy is now onthe verge of oblivion that too inhis own district. Gana KabiBaishnab Pani’s 141th birthanniversary falls on October 27.He was born in the night of KumarPurnima in 1882 at Kothapadavillage in Cuttack district in a poorBrahmin family to father SudarsanPani and mother Chhaya Devi.He was named as Satrughnaby his parents. In his childhood he
was suffering from variousdiseases and his parents wereunable to provide him treatment.Then they dedicated the child tolord Jagannath under a banyan treeof Badachhata mutt in Puri andchanged his name from Satrughnato Baishnav. Poverty also createdhindrances in his way to geteducation. Baishnav dropped outfrom Class -VII. However, asBaishnab was very sober and fondof singing, villagers came forwardto provide him financial assistance
to continue his studies. He hadgood command over Odia andSanskrirt languages. later, he joinedas a Pala artist and wrote manybooks, including dramas andpoems. It was stated that he was adevotee of Binod Bihari deity and
visited the temple regularly. Hisfirst creation is Meghanada Baddhain 1903 and he dedicated the book
to Binod Bihari. His prominentwritings were based onmythological plots withincorporation of contemporarysocio-economic and political issuesof the society. He was a championof lyric and music. He never forgotto include the problems of thedowntrodden and women.Baishnav was a social reformer anddid not believe in castism as he
married to a girl belonging to a washerman family in spite of hindrancecreated by his family members and
people of higher caste.While struggling withpoverty, fortunately Mahanta ofKothapada mutt allowed him to
join his theatre troupe to act inminor roles in yatra stage. At theage of 21, Baishnab wrote 600books which include 150 yatras,19 farces and 65 anthologies oflyrics, poems, stories and otherliterary pieces. Some of his
popular yatras DronacharyaBaddha in1928, Karna Arjuna in1929, Rangasabha in 1930,Daksha Yajna in 1932,KarnadanaParikshya in 1951, and someother yatra stories are KarnaBaddha, Bijay Basanta, Abu
Hassan farce, Saudagara farce,Natua Mohanty etc. He was verypopular in both West Bengal andOdisha for writing, directing andacting in Odia folk opera.His creations are still playedat different places in the State andalso in radio and television for theentertainment of people.Recognising his contributions tothe Odia yatra and literature, the
Utkal Sahitya Samaj awarded him“Ganakabi” at a function held atBanipitha Sriram Chandra Bhawan,
Cuttack posthumously (10 yearsafter his death) in the presence of agalaxy of prominent writers andpoets. The Ganakabi SmrutiSansad,Kothapada, which wasformed in 1964, observed the birthanniversary of Ganakabi first time.
Presently, a number of institutionsand individuals are observing it.Baishnab Pani is in the heart of
Odias and also will continue toremain forever. He died in 1956.

About Post Author