Gopinath Mohanty (1914-1991) is the most important novelist in Odia literature since Fakir Mohan Senapati. He is also one of India; most important novelists of the later half of the twentieth century. A practiotioner of almost all genres of literature of modern times. Mohanty himself felt the novel was the most suitable medium for him. His publication include twenty-four novels, ten volumes of short stories, plays biographies, translations into odia, critical essays and volumes on the languages of the three tribes of Odisha, His writing career spans almost half century, his first novel was published in 1940. In his novels, he has delineated some major facets of changing life in Odisha- tribal rural and urban. His career as an administrative officer of the Odisha government gave him access to life in all the important regions of the state including remote tribal regions. Among the many awards he won are two prestigious National Awards: the Sahitya akademi Award and the Jnanpith Award,. Amrutara Santana was the first ever winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1955. In the late 1970s gopinath Mohanty was invited by the English Department at Utkal University to erve as a Distinguished Visiting Professor-in Residence for Odia Creative writing for a period of two years under the Univesity Grants Commission’sFellowship Scheme.
Amrutara Santana is about the Kandhas or Kondhs, who number at least a million, spread through at least a dozen districts. Mohanty’s unromanticised portrait of tribal society raise profound question on change, Do new rods really bring “development’, or a degradation of culture and community is they allow the xploiters and denigrators of Adivasi culture to pour in?
Bidhubhusan Das, the main translator, one of India’s leading public intellectuals, was both a student and renowned and admired teacher of world literature and comparative literature, and a particularly close friend of Gopinath Mohanty. He was educated a Christ church oxford University, and Columbia. Harvard and Patna university. He taught at Ravenshow College and a utkal, Ranchi and Tribhuvan University, Nepal He was Director of Public Instruction, Odisha,and vice-chancellor of Utkal University.
Oopali Opearajita,the second translator, has her roots in the odia language and idiom into which she was born, and to which she has a deep attachment. A student and scholar of English, American and Comparative Literature in three reputed and world- Renowned university, she has spent two decades at Dalhouse University, Canada, where she Was a Rotary foundation Ambassadorial Scholar, and Cararneigei Mellon Univesity, USA, where she was appointed a Distinguished Fellow by its legendary Founder-president Dr. Richard Cyert, in 1990.
Prabhat Nalini Dasa professor of English Language and literature, is deeply rooted in Odia literature and culture, she has translated widely into idia from English and other Indian languages, and from Odia into English, Her Translations include plays by award winning playwright Manoranjan Das, which have been published by Oxford University Press, among others She has has a distinguished teaching career at Ravenshow College, Cuttack; Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi; IIT, Kanpur; Utkal University, Bhubaneshwar and north Eastern Hill University (Nehu) Nagaland Campus.
Gopinath Mohanty's life and writings carry a special spirit that will inspire many future generations of Odisha's citizens. During his government service in tribal areas, he opened his mind and heart to the cultures around him, and their wealth of human relationships, that he portrays so vividly in dozens of stories.
These cultures preserve a momentous history and relevance for Odisha. Amrutara Santana is about the Kandhas or Kondhs, who number at least a million, spread through at least a dozen districts. Kandhas' name for themselves (in various forms and spellings) is Kuwinga, and there is considerable evidence from a careful survey of Odjsha history that they are basically the same people as the Kalinga who put up such spirited resistance to Ashoka's invasion of Odisha around 270 Be, and paid such a heavy price-100,000 killed, 150,000 enslaved in Asoka's words, with many more dying of famine and disease, and a history up to the 19th-20th century of getting progressively ousted from coastal regions towards Odisha's mountainous interior districts. Their symbiosis with the great bauxite / laterite-capped mountains in southern Odisha caused geologists to name the base rock of these mountains "Khondalite" -" after those fine hill men, the Kondhs"-and explains why Kandhas are often in the frontline of resistance to the mining of these mountains, which they understand as Sources of water, fertility, and life.
As Gopinath Mohanty recounts in his autobiography, a Census official enquiring Kandhas' religion, to fill in his required box in the 1941 Census, whose options included "Hindu", "Christian", "animist" and so on, met an unexpected response: "the mountains"-a reply he found ludicrous, which in Gopinath's telling reveals this profound symbiosis with nature. The Kandha culture that he conveys with such human detail in Amrutara Santana therefore has an unrecorded history of well over 2,000 years-unrecorded in written form, yet implicit in actors' daily interactions and emotions. Obviously the Kalinga who fought Ashoka's invasion were already inheritors of a rich and complex culture, highly developed over previous centuries and well worth defending.
This needs emphasizing because the tendency, laid down by the social evolutionist assumptions of British colonial anthropology, is still to assume that tribal cultures are "primitive", "backward", "underdeveloped"-a cultural racism based on ignorance, reflected when mining company representatives assert, "There was nothing here before we came. Only mud huts!" That "nothing" conceals a complexity of relationship and culture, knowledge and practice regarding nature that fuses ecology and economy, based on principles of long-term sustainability, that puts many mainstream tendencies to shame. Odisha is a state with an extraordinary rich landscape of biodiversity and village life, and the Kandha's language is full of evocative names for its natural features. Yet Odia TV soap operas give their daily viewers no glimpse of this, constructing an artificial landscape of palatial houses and characters completely disconnected from this extraordinary landscape.
Gopinath Mohanry's writing is the best antidote to this modern philistinism, informing us with love and patience about the details of Kandha life, and the variety of clans and cultures interacting. In this story, Kalinga represents the southern, mainstream Telugu culture that the girl Piyoti grew up in.
But the decay of Kandha culture is a persistent theme in this story, as in other Gopinath writings, as "civilization" creeps closer, with its web of moneylenders and vast network of exploiters.
Dadi Budha, Paraja and Amrutara Santana all date from the mid-I 940s, just before Independence, and lay bare the cruel patterns of tribal people's dispossession and exploitation still all too relevant today, since these patterns persist with only superficial modifications. How much has really changed? As mining companies and road construction "open up" the tribal landscape of Odisha's beautiful interior, has the rapid pace of external change to this landscape--often heart-breaking for those who have known and loved its natural rock formations, great trees and ecosystems- lessened the general level of poverty, or actually increased it, as communities' self-managed livelihoods get undermined?
Gopinath's unromanticised portrait of tribal society raises profound questions on change. Do new roads really bring "development", or a degradation of culture and community as they allow the exploiters and denigrators of Adivasi culture to pour in? Amrutara Santana starts with the poignant portrayal of a stalwart Kandha headsman, Sarabu Saonta, whose visionary end brings a decay of relationships in its wake, reflecting the outward decay.
Item Code: NAP358 Author: Bidhubhusan Das and Prabhat Nalini Das Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2018 Publisher: Sahitya Akademi ISBN: 9788126047468 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch Pages: 658 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 945 gms