His-Story of 200 Years…

Nowadays there is a lot of buzz all round the state of Odisha following the results of the Panchayat election where the incumbent BJD of Naveen Pattnaik though has more than 50% of the seats is on a backfoot and the challenging BJP of Narendra Modi with only 35% of the seats is celebrating “Vijaya Utsav” for taking a step forward in ‘Congress Mukt Bharat(Odisha)’.  But there is one man, Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bhramarbar Ray infront of whom the leaders of BJD, BJP, INC bow down. If you think he is the Governor of Odisha, you are wrong. He is not even the erstwhile king of Puri or some other princely estate of the state. Then who is he?? What is his-story?? Why it is important to know about him.

In 1803 the English took over the erstwhile Orissa from the Marhattas almost 50years after the British Rule was established in neighbouring Bengal and infact whole of India in 1757. The Marhattas were no less blood-suckers than the British so the change in administration didn’t have any major reaction in the public mind-who were least politically conscious at that point of time. In 1804 the Britishers snatched the management of Jagannath Temple of Puri from the then King Mukunda Deva-II, as they had their eyes on the vast landed property and other incomes of the temple.

From the times the Kings of Orissa were sovereign powers, the custom of “Paikas” was well established as a mechanism of defence-should the occasion arise. The Paikas were farmers during peace and formidable mercenaries during war. They knew fighting well, both in the open field and in the jungles. They had had fought a good many bloody battle with the Mughals and did not prove inferior to any infantry which the Marathas ever brought into the field during their government of the province. Such a body of local landed militia was a tower of  strength to any Government hence the vast agricultural lands and estates given to them in return of their military service was never disturbed by anyone till the Britishers came. The Britishers could have used such militia to their benefit, but by a fatal and shortsighted policy, Major Fletcher had been allowed to resume their service lands shortly after confiscation of Khurda estate. Deprived of the land which they enjoyed from time immemorial, they were subjected to the grossest extortion and oppression at the hands of the Sarbarakars and other Government Revenue officers, the tyrannies of a corrupt and venal police and deprivation of the rights to manufacture salt from sea-water ruined the livelihood, thus a fire of revolt amongst the Paikas was kindled and all they needed was a leader.

In March 1917, about 400 Kandha tribals of Ghumusur area came marching towards Khurda, they first attacked the police station of Banpur and burnt all government buildings, looted 15,000 rupees and marched forward. The tribe was joined by the Paikas of Khurda under the leadership of Buxi Jagabandhu who was the former General of King Mukund Dev. As the Paikas were marching towards Khurda . The rebellion under the leadership of Buxi spread to other areas like Puri,Pipili,Cuttack and remote villages. The british troop unprepared for such an attack suffered heavy losses at the hands of the paikas. On 18th April,1817 Gajapati Mukunda Dev was proclaimed to have regained his reign with formal ceremonies being performed by the Panda of Puri.The entire southern odisha was by then under the control the Paikas and Buxi Jagabandhu issued orders in name of the king. Soon the rebel got support from the Kings of Kujang and Kanika and reached almost a major part of the state.

The paika rebellion was not just an organized military movement but was a mass movement that involved the remotest of the remote villages. The impact was such that the britishers had to initiate development work in the state. This movement inspired nationalist leader even before 1857’s Mutiny and created a national awareness about independence. History may not have credited Buxi and the Paika’s  for lighting the first war of Indian independence but the Odias should take pride in their this glorified past and that will be the real tribute to Buxi Jagabandhu on the occasion of 200 years of India’s First War for Independence.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Vajpayee lives within…

The crowd was cheering “Jab tak Suraj Chand rahega, Atalji tum Amar rahoge” and just then a coffin draped in the tricolour came out of the gates of BJP headquarters on the Gun-Carriage truck and the cheers just burst louder with petals of rose falling on it as if the Lords in the heaven were paying their tribute to “Bhishma Pitamah” of India, and then I saw a face,blackened due to the embalment with white silvery hair as fresh as they could be with a mark of that known ‘serious serene silence’ on his face. It was BHARAT RATNA SHRI ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE. For a moment it carried me into years of nostalgia where I forget the place where I was standing, and just as my hand brought out the few petals of flower which I had carried all the way from Pushkar along with the threads of the Ajmer-sharif, the voice from within said “Ye…achi baat nahin hai” (in the typical style of Atalji),just then a SPG staff took the thread and the petals from my hand and laid it on the coffin. This was that moment where along with that coffin the most identical memory of my childhood was also going, tears rolled down my eyes,as a part of me rested in peace,I silently marched along the procession,making its way through the sea of humanity.

Rarely are people paid tributes in their own words but rarely do people like Atal Bihari Vajpayee also take birth. The only words that could have described his journey in the best way were his own, as in a lifetime there can be only one Vajpayee. That line “मेंजीभरजिया, मेंमनसेमरूँ, लौटकरआऊँगा,कूचसेक्योंडरूँ”. He lived his life fully to see his prophecy come true about a day when his LOTUS will bloom all over India and today even when death knocked at his door step he kept it waiting till the end of Independence Day so that the Tricolour doesn’t fly at half-past and the country mourns his death instead of celebrating the birth of India. When have you or when will you now see in this century the President, the Vice President,the Prime Minister and around 30Governors of different states, 23CMs from different regions and nearly Thousands of lawmakers marching behind the corpse of a statesman? When will you see heads of 7 SAARC countries and their representatives coming down to pay a leader floral ridge on behalf of the citizens of those countries? When will now ever the diametrically opposite ideologues stand hand in hand,shoulder in shoulder to pay their homage to a leader with a Pan-Indian appeal. When the top LEFT WING leadership keeping aside all differences enters the headquarters of The RIGHT WING, when the congress workers put up posters condoling the grave loss,it speaks volume about the person. Certainly he was the one and the only Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji.Again in his own words “में अटल भी हूँ और बिहारी भी हूँ”

Amongst the crowd that had gathered to pay their respect and have a glimpse of their beloved leader there were many who were of my age group or as I may say “the kids of the 90s”. Those were genuine loves and affections pouring out on the streets of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg. Most of them may have never had the privilege to meet Vajpayeeji in person because by the 90s he was the PM of India. To be honest whether for 13days or 13months or , for that time period of 13years(1996-2009) he was there in our concise as India’s one and only Prime Minister figure. Vajpayeeji self-exiled from public life in 2005 after BJP celebrated its Silver Jubilee, but thanks to the soft spoken and rule book type Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh, we kept on missing the voice, the poems and the persona of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ,whenever someone mentioned about the Prime Minister of India. BJP may be boasting about “Modi-wave” or “Shah-Neeti” but not to forget even in his silence and exile,his mere presence was a reason why many first time voters in 2014 actually voted for the BJP because it’s “Atalji’s Party”. I am no political expert but I can certainly say that even in the years to come this lot will still support the BJP as long as the mere name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee is attached with it. I have not seen Gandhi, Nehru or MGR who as I have heard had some of the biggest number of funeral attendees, but they were all actively active when they died so sudden emotional outburst is obvious, but our Atalji was out of sight for 11years yet he ruled our hearts and minds. He lived,he lives and he will continue to live with us through his poems, through his speeches and through his wits and humours.

Anyone who aspires to become an orator should follow Atalji for it takes guts to silence once worst critic without even using a single derogatory word.That famous speech during the ‘96 no-confidence motion where people said “वाजपेयी तो अच्छा है, मगर पार्टी ग़लत है” to this his one lined reply “अच्छा तो अछे वाजपेयी का क्या करने का इरादा है?” Was powerful enough to shut all his critics and impactful enough for all his admirers. Probably this is why the sea of humanity that poured in to see Vajpayee was chanting “People’s PM”. He was truly the People’s PM and only he could have given this country its People’s President in the name of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

The youth of today especially those of my generation, those born in the 90s will remember Vajpayeeji as the PM who brought cellphone and internet to our lives and thus it was obvious that #Vajpayee ruled the Trends of every damn social media from Twitter to WhatsApp, Google to Facebook, Instagram to Quora, YouTube to Smule it was all coloured in the flavour of this great Son of India. Many of which probably Vajpayeeji himself never saw in his active lifetime. By the time Facebook came in and around 2009-10 Atalji had delivered his last public speech in 2007 yet Facebook was flooded and is being flooded, hopefully continues to remain so on every 25th of December to wish Atalji “Happy Birthday”. Alas! Wish he was fit enough then to have at least read all that love, may be his health would have had some positive effect. The roads on which we smoothly travel today all around Indian and the roads that brought close the villages of our country to basic amenities of life are all but the brain child Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was like 70 or more when he became the Prime Minister of India but with his vast experience of over 40years of being in opposition he grasped the real need of this country and gave its economy the real boost, our defence the timely sharpness and our neighbours the right message of peace. Rail-Road-Air all connectivity improved like never before in his period and then he dreamt of connecting the River- this if implemented ,probably the floods of Kerala and droughts of Bundelkhand will be a matter of past. Be it the dream of Chandrayaan or the coining of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan” all of it shows why Vajpayee according to me should be called the “Father of Morden India”. Gandhi- the father of independent India saw a dream which was truly lived in person, spirit and power by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This is the legacy, this is the euphoria, this is the flavour of Vajpayeeism that kept him in our mind and heart even in his absence from public life.

Today when all these emotions were marching along the streets of New Delhi, the world was griefing the loss of a second Mandela and India was probably bidding farewell to its real “Bharat Ratna”, the only Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was not Gandhi, he was not Nehru, he is even not Indira and certainly Modi will never be he, he is the one and the only. “Atal” in his identity and “Bihari” in his acceptability….

Many great writers,poets and leaders remember Vajpayeeji in many ways but in the last 72hrs I have been churning about one thing, how do I remember Vajpayee.? A child who lived his entire school and college life with a nickname of “Vajpayee”, I was speechless as to what I have to say. Many of my old friends, teachers and others who knew me and my passionate love for Vajpayeeji as a mimickry artist of his,called me up to condole me, I wondered why? I am not even the distant of the distant relative of Vajpayeeji,nor am I a BJP lawmaker or ordinary worker…but then when those petals from my hand fell on his coffins the picture of 1999 flashed before my eyes, wearing a white kurta and dhoti,above it a golden ‘Nehru-coat’borrowed from my politician grandfather and a lens-less thick framed specs I stood in my colonies annual fancy dress competition and said “Aap sabko Atal Bihari Vajpayee ka namaskar………[winks][winks]….”. Since then Vajpayeeji became my identity. What school, what home, what friends or neighbourhood all started calling me ‘Vajpayee’ so much so that for years I thought he actually lived with me. Vajpayeeji may have given his last public address as latest as 2007 but I have last mimicked him as latest as 2017. With every passing time the aura of Vajpayee and the persona of Atalji started getting into my character and a lot of my lifestyle,my thinking and my working revolved around Atal Bihari Vajpayee. As and as i started reading him and his works, he drew me closer to him, his poems would send a current of emotions across my body and his powerful speeches at times made my hairs stand. That time I was not mature enough to understand the physical achievements of Vajpayeeji but I was, I am and I will always remain a mad follower of Atalji. As a child people idolise their parents, or someone very prominent in their family or in their close circle but for me that place was only for Atalji. He was my conscience keeper and soul-guide. While copying his style of speaking don’t know when he became my style of living,but it’s true he is my guiding star.

The first time I saw Vajpayee ji speak live was in 2002 during some government function in Bhubaneswar and that day when I saw my hero speak, I felt ashamed that I am trying to copy this great man, he is unique, for years I tried to ditto the action and voice tone for his that poem “क़दम मिलाकर चलना होगा” but it’s difficult even today. Then the last time I saw him speak was in 2004 when he had come to Odisha for the election campaign,this time I was lucky enough to see him as close as possible and by luck the flag of the BJP which he had waved at the crowd came to me by somemeans and since then it’s become an integral part of my room. Everyday since then for years that flag has taught me lessons from Vajpayeeji’s life and that is how the invisible bond between Atalji and me grew. When the news of his getting admitted to AIIMS came in June I could not stop myself from going to see him, this time I entered AIIMS as a doctor, all arrangements were made by one of my friend to let me reach that very secured and isolated ward, but as and as i was approaching the ward while discussing the health parameters, I lost the zeal to see my leader in such a state of apathy, that Atalji who once said “झुक नहीं सकते… यूँ कहिए थोड़ा मुड़ गए थे” was lying there at the mercy of advance medical science.

There were times in my school when I was at the peak of my popularity and a lot of it had to be owed to the Aura of Vajpayeeji but then soon I lost some of my best friends in those peak days,there was this sense of betrayal and grief that had engulfed me, then came this poem of Atalji before me-

टूटे हुए सपनो की सुने कौन सिसकी?

अंतर मान को चिर व्याथा पलकों पर ठिठकी

हार नहीं मानूँगा,रार नयी ठानूँगा

काल के कपाल पर लिखता मिटाता हूँ

में गीत नया गाता हूँ।”

And since, whenever I have fumbled in any phase of my life these lines of Atalji guided me to write and fight with my destiny.Vajpayee became an integral part of my existence, he is there in every possible manner before me, be it my computer’s home screen or my own writing everything had a mark of his. Recently in my graduation years when I was heading one of the largest events of my university the biggest challenge before me was to carry all the factions with me. The unity of all the small and big groups of the college was a key to our success, thank to the college politics. While in search of guidance when I looked upon my idol, I got the answer छोटे मन से कोई बड़ा नहीं होता, टूटे मन से कोई खड़ा नहीं होता।”. His large heartedness and empathy for all and apathy for none is not a lesson to be learnt by politicians of today alone, the generation of today and the future must imbibe these qualities of acceptance,humility and benevolence in order to make this world a better place. “वसुधेय कूटुंभकम” is a term many are using now a days, its easy to preach but only a few like Atal Bihari Vajpayee can practice it, live it.

I can go on and on about Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the emotions that are flowing now are too intense to be expressed in words. When the news of Atalji’s failing health started making rounds, as a student of medical science I was knowing that his sufferings are nearing an end but somehow I like the million others was wishing he lived a little longer even in his this silence. Today as India’s that grand old umbrella finally bowed down the heat was scorching and the rains were raging havoc at some places but still once again the nation had come together to shout “राज तिलक की करो तैयारी, अब की बार अटल बिहारी”. In that procession that carried the mortal body of Atalji to its final resting place,my childhood also took rest. Officially having completed the Vedic Age group of Brahmacharya Ashram I was just a day older into my 26th year and that last living memory of my childhood bid us good bye. Yet my leader, my idol even made death wait for his permission. Just like Bhisma Pitamah waited for the ‘Uttarayana’ the Pitamah of our time waited till the end of celebrations of ‘Independence Day’ and then fullfilling his own wish as expressed in one of his poems he himself opened the doors for the waiting death-

“पृथ्वी लाखों वर्ष पुरानी

जीवन एक अनंत कहानी

पर तन की अपनी सीमाएँ

यद्यपि सौ शरदों की वाणी

इतना काफ़ी है अंतिम दस्तक पर,

ख़ुद दरवाज़ा खोलें!”

CHECK, CHUCK OR CHOKE: Choice is Yours…

A couple of weeks back when I was strolling in the busy streets of New Delhi a group of young, energetic and happening professionals attracted my attention. It was a group of some 8-10 IT/MBA professionals,probably waiting for the DTDC bus. It was like any other group of young indians busy discussing on various national and international issues. Must say that our generation of young Indians is definitely a very intellectual GENERATION in terms of being informed- thanks to social media. But then suddenly I could see circles of white smoke ascending into the already polluted air of Delhi from within the group. Speaking in the colloquial style “laundey hain to dhuyan to hoga hi” which refers to a sad reality about the boys here in Delhi or for that any big metro/city/town.In today’s date if we just take a random survey we will come across this astonishing fact that out of every 10men visiting a tea stall there will be atleast 7such people who will be asking for a “butt”. This butt itself is a big environmental hazard in our country, reports suggest that the a city like Bengaluru alone suffers from a burden of around 31 lakh littered cigarette butts every day!!… Bengaluru is the IT-capital of India and without any biasousness towards any profession I would like to say a major chunk of this litter comes from this population. The sad part is that a majority of doctors are also into this,despite being the most informed lot about the pros and cons of smoking.

Let’s now comeback to the group of these young professionals I was talking of.Usually on seeing such circles of smoke I tend to ignore it out of utter dejection that“nothing will happen” in this country. So many ads are being made about the ill effects of smoking, year long people are campaigning against it but still the result is a dismay. But there was something very striking about this group- out of the 8-10people in this group some 5-6 were girls and the rest were boys and to my surprise the “smokes of freedom” as some may call it were coming from the mouths of those girls. Now it’s not that I am watching this event from a sexist/racsit point of view, unlike many pseudo-feminist who would like to spoil the essence of this whole post, I am looking at it from the point of view of a concerned feminist and a worried doctor.

For so many years in our anti-smoking campaigns we have some how forgotten this concept that our generation has now evolved over time,it’s not the same old era of conservatives where the women were not allowed to come out of their houses, rather it’s the era of liberal democracy where men and women together build and carry the wheel of progress. Today while it’s a pride that women is equalling and in many places bettering than the men but then we can’t be blind of this fact that with growing modernisation our lifestyle habits are also changing, so are our addictions changing and their effects. Today while we continue our strong campaign against “smoking and tobacco” we need to change some of our advertisements, so to quote the WHO report which say “ ABOUT 200million of the world’s one billion smokers are women. The tobacco industry aggressively targets women in order to increase its consumer base and to replace those consumers who quit or who die prematurely from cancer,heart attack,stroke,emphysema or other tobacco-related disease.”

The report further says that girls and boys start using tobacco for different reasons, and tobacco use harms women and men differently. Approximately 1.5million women die every year from tobacco use. Understanding and controlling the tobacco epidemic among women is an important part of any tobacco control strategy.

Now when an organisation as big as the WHO and an report as important as the WHO’s “Gender equality is good for health” raises some serious concerns about the growing epidemic danger of smoking and tobacco towards our mothers,sisters and daughters, it won’t be wrong if we talk specifically about the female smoking. Some people who would like to read it in the very narrow minded ambit of “gender biasness” I would like to request them that for a moment keep your ‘pseudo feminist feminism’ aside and think about the larger positive impact

Globally around 40% men smoke as against only 9% of women, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait to take action and ask women to quit smoking until their ratio comes up to near 40%. Isn’t it easier to control 9% more quickly than 40%?? Most of the figures or reports that’s available till date are of countries like UK and USA but that doesn’t mean India should also wait till we see similar figures in our country. To control this fast growing addiction we first need to analyse the reasons that is leading to this:[as per WHO independent survey]

  1. Many more girls than boys smoke in the false belief that it is good way to control weight.
  2. Overcoming Low Self esteem: for years women were given less respect in our men dominated social customs and laws and from these years of suppression the aggression to overcome this low self esteem,many girls took smoking/tobacco as an easy to go substance.

Tobacco control strategies must recognise that boys’ and girls’decision to start tobacco are influenced by different cultural,psychological and socialeconomic factors. For example let me share with you a small incidence from my personal life:

There was a female helper in our house who was chronic alcoholic/ tobacco addict. She was working in our house for nearly two decades but suddenly for last 6-7years she began having behavorial changes and her situation grew so grim that we finally had to admit her to a rehab to save her life. Even then her treatment was damn difficult as she was having severe withdrawal symptoms.The reason behind her this indulgence to alcohol/tobacco was a very common familial problem in the lower economic slums of India. Her husband was cheating on her and later he married the other lady and banished this maid from her own house, in depression she first started taking alcohol and later on this depression became her reason for aggression to look more dominant than her husband. Sadly this is the reality in India!

3. The next big reason why WHO is specifically worried about the effects of smoking on the health of women is because they are the soft targets of the tobacco industries: A report suggests that the tobacco industry gears richly funded marketing campaigns towards women through advertisements that draw gender stereotypes and falsely link tobacco use to concept of beauty,prestige and freedom. Marketing startegies lure consumers with misleading categories, such as ‘light’ or ‘low tar’. More women than men smoke “light” cigarette(63% vs 46%) often in the mistaken belief that “light” means “safer”. In fact with increased usage light smokers often engage in compensatory smoking, inhaling more deeply and more frequently to absorb the desired amount of nicotine.

  • Second-Hand smoking

This is a bigger and immediate threat of smoking/tobacco towards the health of women. WHO states that about 64% of deaths due to second hand smoke or what we call passive smoking are that of women. This means that no matter how much we work in controlling the growing habit of smoking in women, our efforts will be half hearted until we try to control the men who are smoking. In some countries,second hand smoke is a greater threat to women than the possibility that women might start using tobacco. People who smoke should avoid exposing the people with whom they live and work to second hand smoke. Women and children often lack power to negotiate smoke free spaces, including in their homes,in their workplaces and in other public spaces. Everyone regardless of age or sex,should be protected from second hand smoke.

  • HEALTH HAZARDS FOR WOMEN:

Reports suggest that full hazards of prolonged smoking are considerably larger for women than for men.

  1. A recent meta analysis involving millions of individuals, showed that,although smoking considerably increased the risk of coronary heart disease in both sexes, women who smoke have a 25%greater excess relative risk for CHD.
  2. Smoking during pregnancy increases risks of premature delivery,still birth and newborn deaths and numerous genetic anomalies.
  3. Reduction of breast milk in mothers who smoke is not just a curse for the mother but a life long of nutritional and immunological deficiency and malnourishment gifted to the child.
  4. Women who smoke are more likely than those who do not to experience infertility and delays in conceiving.
  5. The probability and aggression with which a women develops lung cancer is higher in women smoking than the men. Moreover for a country like India already overburdened with the miseries of TB this is an alarming situation
  6. There is an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Here I would like to state that when a mother or would be mother, who is very much literate and self independent, aware of all these facts still decides not to quit smoking just because of the pseudo fear that “log kya kahenge” is a very sad irony of today’s time. A habit that started as a recreational trial, will not only make a criminal prosecution on their health but also the health of their future generations. To this many of my pseudo feminist friends may say that I want to hold women solely responsible for the upbringing of a child, but my dear intellectuals don’t forget that the first word you uttered in your entire life is “Maa” and your first teacher is always your mother. For years we have been awaring our fathers to “Quit Smoking” but now time has come that we have to talk to our mother,sisters,daughters also.

Lastly as a doctor what worries me most is the after effect. The hazards of smoking is not only restricted to pregnant women but the entire womanhood in general. Though we doctors always propagate the idea of “prevention is better than cure” but our practical experience says, its still the “cure” that’s bossing the medical science and the health sector. When a survey report suggests that “ women may find it much harder to stop smoking than men do” this is alarming. The US CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION found that while 29% of male smokers have been able to quit, only 19% of female smokers have permanently broken the habit. Women are three times more likely than men to relapse while trying to quit smoking without any help. Researchers are of the opinion that this disparity is because women tend to suffer withdrawal more intensely than men,especially during the last two weeks of their menstrual cycles. Women who are generally the stronger gender psychologically tend to some how succumb to the urge of nicotine in post rehab periods. When facts like nicotine patches and nicotine gum being less effective on women come to the forefront, when cases of premature maternal as well as fetal deaths due to ill effect of smoking come to our knowledge, the heart of a doctor is bound to strive to bring some kind of change.

People may try to run away from these every practical facts but it’s high time we analyse from whom and for what are we shying away from this. Parents can never ask their children to abstain or refrain such ‘pseudo-eliteclass’ habits if they themselves practice similar activities. While a father sets the example in the family and can try to bring strict discipline in the family but a mother’s loving and caring words will be more effective. It is good that today women are excelling in every damn field and showing the world their real power but at the same time women should also take additional care both for themselves as well as for the generations to come. In Odisha there is a saying “denga munda re thenga” which simply means the higher we grow in our stature the bigger is our responsibility. Our boys have dissapointed us for so many years yet there are signs of improvement nowadays, but incase of the girls it is a problem in a very primary stage, which if controlled now will solve problems both for today and tomorrow.

Lastly I would like to state as Kurt Vonnegut once said -“ Cigarettes are a classy way to commit suicide”. Irrespective of caste,creed,sex,religion the time has come for us to CHECK– new smokers, CHUCK– from the old smokers or else we all will be heading towards a CHOCKED future. In the words of Lord Buddha-

What you are is what you have been, and what you will be is what you do now”.

Everyday is a Poetry..

The sunrises in the east to set in the west

Oh! what boring ritual it must be for the sun

We are all busy in living a life without rest

And Some alms is all we get for this run…

These alms cant buy me a sound sleep

Niether can they stop the fast ticking clock

Then what for we give the meals a skip

And lock our dreams in a banks cloak.

People say poem is all about imagination

Its the work of those sitting ideal

Just ponder upon this wierd assumption

Isn’t our life a poem in real??

Everyday is poem and every man living is a poet….

The life we live today is that of a robot

Degrees are bought with few notes

A child has no right to chose his own boat

False familial legacy is damp and rot.

We have no time for imagination

Forget about keeping relation

Yet we boast of this illiteracy

And call our lives a matter of supremacy

In this world of machines requiring repair

Poems and poets bring some air fresh

So that live sound better, above all despair

Everyday is poetry and every man living is a poet…

BHANJA LITERATURE- INDESTRUCTIBLE, IMMORTAL, INCESSANT

Evolution is that intimate nature of life which makes the living beings different as well as unique from each other. With every passing time our culture, our customs, believes change in the same way as any other kind of genetic or agenetic mutation. Change is inevitable but the basic ethos on which the society has been built over centuries cannot be forgotten due to negligence or nepotism. Keeping in pace with this theory of evolution the customs and traditions of odia literature and culture have made way for upgradation. The uniqueness of Odia language in being only the 7th ancient classical language of the country out of hundreds of other languages lies in its basic literature and not merely the populist modern English influenced odia. In this quest to maintain this special status of language the one person whose contribution has been immense and impactful is Kavi Samrat Upendra Bhanja. It is a matter of surprise how only one person single handedly added 32,500 new indigenous words to the odia dictionary, yet there was a time when Bhanja was almost forgotten by the people of this state. Today as Kalinga Bharati will be celebrating its 75th Bhanja Jayanti Week they must be proud of the fact that their movement has been able to rekindle the hunger of this state to know Kavisamrat. The time when they were fighting against the nepotism of the then modern odia literary giants who wanted to erase Bhanja from people’s memory and a time now when various organizations all over the state and outside are very sportively organizing Bhanja Jayantis to get some fame for themselves in the name of Bhanja are itself a testimony to the fact of Bhanja Literature being indestructible,immortal and incessant.

Upendra Bhanja was born with royal blood in the late 17th century roughly around the date of May 16( that’s the day Kalinga Bharati celebrates its week long Bhanja Jayanti since 1944) and lived upto the early or mid of the 18th century. Within this very short life span of may be just a little above half a century Upendra Bhanja created literary marvels which are mysteriously exciting for any lover of literature. Four centuries down the lane when we talk about relevance of Upendra Bhanja in this 21st century we are yet to find an alternative for Bhanja. It was Bhanja’s determination to write only in odia that made him create such marvels but at the same time it was Bhanja’s misfortune that he wrote only in Odia for which he couldn’t be popularized outside the odia speaking boundaries. Bhanja is that genius who not only took odia language to a level as high as the then dominating Sanskrit culture enriched with the works of Kalidasa and Harshvardhan or Hindi enriched with the works of Tulsidas and Kabir. The writing of Bhanja when translated into English will give a good competition to even Shakespeare. Today had Bhanja been a Bengali then we would be hearing about Bhanja Sangeet and not Ravindra Sangeet. Odisha and its people at a time did grave injustice to the person who promoted, protected and potrayed Odia language at par with any other language or culture of the world. The very fact that even today there are some who discuss Bhanja in great depth gives a ray of hope that Bhanja is still significant. Upendra Bhanja himself in his poems many times has prayed the lords to bless his works with immortality as –

O lord! May my work stay in this world in all times

 published in every country and language and bring smile

Upendra Bhanja is that visionary thinker who could bravely yet very humbly declare to the world that his works are here to stay for generations to come. It was not Bhanja’s pride or prejudice when he said “I have sailed the ocean of words” but it was his confidence and conscience that made him believe what he has achieved. Yet he surrendered all those fame in the name of his chief deity and showed the world how to be humble even when you are at the top-

My name is Upendra and my Lord is Shri Ram

  Is the same Vishnu residing in Vaikunta

 He is the one who churned the Amrit from the oceans

And so also the songs recited from his throat.”

When a person with the help of his gifted knowledge and devotion can write a full Ramayana with using any vowel he ought to someone extraordinary. Many a times the commentators of Kalinga Bharati have challenged the world to discover or invent one such poet or writer who could have or can write an entire Ramayana without calling any of its main characters by their original name. In India there are over 100 Ramayanas but Kavi Samrat Upendra Bhanja’s  “Abanarasataranga” is the only Ramayana where a single ‘vowel’ or ‘mantra’ is not used. Such was the expertise of Upendra Bhanja in Odia that he could write an entire epic-poem in palindrome form i.e. irrespective of the side you start reading from the words and meaning will be same in either of sequence.

In this highly scientific and proof oriented society of 21st century it is important that we support each of our claims with some facts and figures. Just think for a while, all that Upendra Bhanja wrote was between the 17th and 18th century, starting from then Bhanja literature was synonymous with the colloquial culture and works of life. In the 19th century Bhanja was a household name of every Odia pretty much like Tagore is in any Bengali family, Bhanja was made the uncrowned emperor of odia literature where his influence over writers of that period was pretty evident. Utkal mani Gopabandhu Das had rightly said-

O Upendra! Every knowledgeable person speaks of you in different forums

Again a roadside labourer also finds solace in singing your song

Be it in the countryside or in the royal courtyard the dancers dance to your tune

Time is mighty that brings new change and new knowledge

But your ‘Baidehisha Bilasa’ will the best in every time and every generation

Then in the beginning of the 20th century with increasing influence of the western culture when there was threat to Bhanja Literature, it still survived by ignited the fire within some other warriors. Bhanja and his works has gone through many ups and downs yet it has survived so long till the 21st century, this itself is the example that Bhanja literature is everlasting.

Upendra Bhanja was very scientific in his approach. When it comes to preservation of his work he prays to lord-

O lord Ram! Bless my work

May no mouse or mite or fire destroy it

May it reach the every person without any hurdle

Save it from polluted interpretations of thugs and touts

Bless it to be published worldwide

In those days there was no paper, people used to write on palm leaves and only things that could destroy them were the mouse/mites or the fire. Bhanja was aware that when in public domain the interpretations of his works is at constant threat of nepotism and jealousy, thus he prays to lord to make his work available to world , saved from the unsocial elements.

Mahatma Gandhi had once said-

“I love to keep the windows of my house open, but when the wind outside is very polluting, I prefer closing the window.”

Even before Gandhi, Bhanja knew what kind of a society we were heading towards. In today’s society when there is no “time to stand and stare” we have all become mechanical, running after money we have forgotten the real essence of calling someone a ‘honey. To his readers Upendra Bhanja has very prophetically said- “As a living being, I cannot deny the society, but I can definitely create a space of my own”. When it comes to the relevance of Upendra Bhanja in today’s society I believe the best example will be the portrayal of married life as is described by Bhanja. In today’s world where divorce is more of a common ritual a happy and successful married life is a need of the hour. The prescription that Upendra Bhanja gave through is writing is both divine and supreme which if followed by any married couple will give then great peace of mind. In the poems of Upendra Bhanja the newly wedded couples when live at far distance from each other due to work express their love for each other as-

Days pass by, I think of thee when a storm of feeling arouse within

 Until I life you will stay within me as a my lifeline

  Else I shall roam around this world like a sage!”

Again in another place the lover writes to his love-

Diamond, Emerald and all other valuable stones have some value

But the love of thou! My Lady, is invaluable.”

For those who called Bhanja a racist or tried to malign the beauty of Bhanja literature by giving it an erotic explanation, failed to understand the high thinking and high regard Bhanja had for woman in particular and women empowerment in general. At a time when males were dominating the society Bhanja had the courage to title three of his greatest works in the name of his heroines and not the hero:

1. Baidehisha Bilasha : the story of the Lord of Sita i.e. Ram

2. Lavanyabati: the love story of Lavanyabati and Chandrabhanu

3. Kotibrahmanda Sundari; the beautiful maiden of the millions of universe

The discussion about the relevance of Upendra Bhanja will continue but for now I would like to conclude by saying, Upendra Bhanja’s intention to write only Odia was not for any personal gain but for national interest. He loved his mother tongue and thus used his god-gifted intelligence in making Odia enriched, for he believed that an enriched literature will empower the society through education. George Eliot had once said-

Till the future dares

Forget the past, his fate and fame shall be

An echo and light unto eternity.”

I believe Upendra Bhanja is that undisputed leader of odia literature whose work was, is and will remain indestructible, immortal and incessant.

Jay Maa Kalinga Bharati!!

में हिंदू हूँ …

जब कोई पूछे मुझे कौन हूँ मैं,

जानना चाहता है वो कि क्या मजहब है मेरा,

लेकिन क्या आज इंसान का इंसान होना काफी नहीं?

कहने को तो पंथ अनेक हमारे,

लेकिन फिर अंतिम रहा तो एक ही है वही…

तो सुनो तुम पूछो यदि कौन हूँ मैं?

मैने गीता को है जीवन का सार माना,

वेदों को ईश्वर का वर्दान माना,

मैने तो कुरान से है प्रेम का पाठ सीखा,

बाईबल से भाई चारे की ली है दीक्षा,

ग्रंथ सहिब में ही है जीने का आधार,

आगम शास्त्र है दिव्य शांति का आधार…

शायद इसलिये मैने अपने आप को है हिन्दू माना…

फिर भी अगर तुम पूछो हिंदू कौन है?

तो सुनो…

माता-पिता है जहाँ पर भगवान,

गुरू को मिला है सम्मान महान,

मित्रों के साथ जहाँ होती है होली,

ईद हो या हो गुरू पर्व सजती हो जहाँ रंगोली,

सुख में और दु:ख में जहाँ सब साथ हैं,

वहीं सर्व धर्म का तीर्थ है,

मैं उसी ग्रह का निवासी हूँ

हाँ मैं हिंदू हूँ…।

अब बोलोगे की तुम हमारे हैं पंथ अनेक,

तो सुनो…

इस अनेकता में भी एकता बसती है,

बुद्ध और महावीर की वाणी यहीं शोभा पाती है,

क्या अल्लाह, क्या इशू सबसे प्यारे है गनपति,

गुरू में ब्रम्हा हैं, ब्रम्हा में नानक हैं,

यहीं तो शिव का तांडव है, कृष्ण की माया हैं,

हैं हमारे अनेक संत,

मोक्ष ही तो है हमारा एकलौता अंत।

समझा हूँ मैं इस ज्ञान को,

इसलिये तो गर्व से कहता हूँ,

हाँ में हिंदू हूँ …

मैं हिंदू हूँ…

अंशुमान कर

ये होसला कैसे झूके…..

ये होसला कैसे झूके…..

हमारे टुकड़ों में पलने वाला आज हस रहा है
उससे लग रहा हमारे शेरों को छल से मार कर वो जग जीता है
पर बेचारे को ये नही पता…शामत आने वाली है
तुम क्या जानो बाप का होसला क्या होता है
अपने बचों के हस्सी के लिए वो कुछ भी कर सकता है
अहसान फरामोश की तो फितरत येही है
पीछे से वार करना ही उनकी नियत है
जो खुद के खून के ना हुए वो औरों का कैसे होंगे
लेकिन अब इंसानियत के धुस्मानो का घमंड टूटेगा
क्यूंकि ये होसले कभी नहीं झुकेगा
भीष्म को तो इच्छा मृत्यु मिली थी वरदान में
मृत्यु से पहले ही कौरवों और पांडवों की लड़ाई में मर चुके थे वो
परिवार में जब फूट आता है तो सबसे पहले बड़े हारते है
भरोसा खोता है और होसले झुकते है और आरजू मरता है
ये वक़्त है आपस का बैर मिटाने का
भीष्म के भारत को शसक्त करने का
तभी जाके शत्रु का अंत संभव है
क्यूंकि यहाँ होसले का ही ज़रुरत है

आज वक़्त है मिलकर खड़ा होने का
उन नमक हलालों को सबक सिखाने का
यज्ञं अधुरा है , आहुति अभी बाकि है
ये होसला कैसे झुके , युद्ध में विजय तो अभी आधी है
-अंशुमान