A NASTY TRICK PLAYED IN THE GUISE OF ODISSI DANCE RESEARCH

A NASTY TRICK PLAYED IN THE GUISE OF ODISSI DANCE RESEARCH

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Behind back of the Oriya nation, danseuse Kum Kum Mohanty has played a nasty trick. She has reduced Orissa to a state of ungratefulness.

Using Government of Orissa, she has published a book styled as ‘The Odissi Dance Path Finder Vol-1’ in the capacity of Chief Executive of Odissi Research Centre, which is purchasable only against US Dollar. Naturally therefore people of Orissa are not aware of this book. She has given a misleading history of Odissi dance in its foreword and given an account of how it earned classical status. Even though designed to show as official record, she has, in this book, deliberately omitted the name of Kavichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak, the man who had defeated all obstacles to fetch classical status for Odissi dance. The book being meant for foreigners and non-resident Indians, not priced as it is in Rupee, whosoever in the world outside Orissa gets interested in Odissi dance, shall never know the matchless contributions of Sri Pattanayak to revival of this unique dance form of Orissa and to its recognition as a classical dance.

Truth must prevail and therefore in spite of Ms. Mohanty’s mischief, the truth-seekers will one day know how under the spell of a danseuse history is set to obliterate a man to whom the Oriya nation should have remained grateful forever.
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Odissi teachers are in a position to rectify this wrong. But most of them are not aware of this. When the book published by the Odissi Research Centre, created and projected as Government of Orissa’s official wing on Odissi does not mention his name even for once, what to speak of the common practitioners?

But it is Sri Pattanayak who revived Odissi as Orissa’s national dance and persuaded India to accept it as a classical one. And, for this he had to defeat many a design that was determined to deny it classical status.

It is sad that his name is not mentioned in the document, which is published by Ms. Mohanty in the name of Government of Orissa.

Almost everybody who had helped Sri Pattanayak in establishing Odissi as a classical dance is omitted.

Ms. Mohanty has not thought it prudent to mention the name of even Ms. Jayanti Nandi who was the first demonstrator of Odissi in the national headquarters before the national jury in attunement with the theory placed by Sri Pattanayak in the national dance seminar without which classicality of the dance form could not have bagged national recognition as it did.

Kum Kum has reduced Orissa to a stage of ungratefulness by omitting the role not only Sri Pattanayak and Ms.Nandi, but also of Dr. Nrusingha Charan Samantaray, Chintamani Panigrahi, Pratap Keshari Deo, Umacharan Pattanayak and Shraddhakara Supakar who as Members of Parliament had used all their might in convincing government of India to accord classical status to Odissi on the basis of the theoretical presentation with matching practical demonstration that Sri Pattanayak had given in the National Dance Seminar where the Jury in consonance with express opinion of the great gathering of experts and critics had announced unreserved recognition of its classicality.

Forgotten is Indrani Rehman, whose demonstrative performance in consonance with Sri Pattanayak’s theory in the Talkotra Stadium of Delhi, had prompted the concerned Union Minister Hyumayun Kabir to express national gratitude to Sri Pattanayak for his singular role in adding Odissi to the list of classical dances of India.

Forgotten is the collaboration of Charles Febri and Mohan Khokar with Sri Pattanayak that had facilitated his overcoming the hurdles created by saboteurs on the eve of the National Seminar to place before the connoisseurs his theory with practical demonstration on 5th April 58 in the Vigyan Bhawan auditorium of Delhi.

Forgotten are Barrister Raghumani Pattanayak, Sarala Kosambi and Vinod Chopra but for whose cooperation with Sri Pattanayak, Odissi Dance would have missed forever the chance to earn the classical status. I say “missed forever” because none other than Sri Pattanayak could have bagged the classical staus for Odissi. We will see it later.

At the moment this much can be said that the scriptural codes on the basis of which Sri Pattanayak had established the classicality of Odissi are forgotten too.

Forgotten are also the methods of subterfuge adopted by Kelucharan Mohapatra, Debprasad Das, Govind Tej etc.

Forgotten is the trick played by Ramanand Kanungo, son of the then union minister Nityananda Kanungo, who himself was hand-in-glove with conspirators to sabotage Sri Pattanayak’s endeavors for recognition of classicality of Odissi.

Some members of this later group are still alive. They know that Sri Pattanayak had initiated the demand for national recognition of classicality of both Odissi Dance and Odissi Music. And had done everything to achieve this.

His paper on Odissi dance being placed as the base paper before the National Seminar at New Delhi on 5 April 1958, defeating every conspiracy hinted to above, he had convinced the Country that Odissi is a true instance of classicism and the entire galaxy of exponents of classical dances and dance critics present in the Bigyan Bhawan auditorium were, on the basis of the theoretical and practical presentation of the unique tenets of Odissi by him, one in their opinion, that if any dance is classical, Odissi is.

But this was not an easy achievement for Sri Pattanayak. His denigrators suffering obviously from inferiority complex, hand-in-glove with people envious of Orissa’s cultural superiority, were bent upon obstructing Odissi’s recognition as a classical dance lest the credit goes to Sri Pattanayak.

The most astounding obstacle was also conspiratorially spreading from the corridors of Nityananda Kanungo, then a central minister who was representing Nehru’s Cabinet in the Central Sangit Natak Academy. Sri Pattanayak had to overcome that obtacle.

Let us have a cursory view of that.

Secretary of Central Sangit Natak Academy (hereinafter called the Academy) Smt. Nirmala Joshi had informed Sri Pattanayak on 4 Jan.1958 that his pleadings for recognition of Odissi as a classical dance being in vogue since 1954, may be considered in the National Dance Seminar to be held at Delhi from March 31 to April 6, 1958. He should present his paper specifically for the Jury written within 1000 words and bring a group of “most competent” dancers to give supportive demonstration. “It is suggested that the group should be as small as possible”, she had said.

Sri Pattanayak had written the first book on Odissi dance in 1954 in English with the title ‘Odissi Dance’. He modified its properties to 1000 words in accordance with the Academy stipulations and sent the advance copy recaptioning the same as “Odissi Dance Tradition”.

At this stage, as is discernible, the mischief mongers ignited their activities. On 13th Feb.1958, he was pressurized by the Academy through P.C.Jain to get in touch with Govind Tej of the National Music Association (hereinafter called the Association) in order to be able to give his demonstration.

It was a mischief of most incomprehensible dastardliness. Central Minister Nitanand Kanungo’s son Ramanand was associated with this Association and obviously, under pressure of the Minister, this mischief was contrived.

However, without any hesitation, in the best of spirit of a true patriot, Sri Pattanayak contacted this Association and requested it to draft one or more artists to him for training as to how to give demonstration of what he should be saying. The association did not heed to his request.

The said P.C.Jain wrote to Sri Pattanayak again on 17 March 1958 that his paper has been approved and is scheduled to be placed before the dance seminar on 4 April 1958. Agenda thus fixed, Sri Pattanayak again requested the Association to cooperate in demonstration. But till the last moment, it did not buzz.

It was clear that the Association was determined to sabotage the cause of Odissi and was playing this trick to debar Sri Pattanayak from presenting his pleadings. Left with no other option, Sri Pattanayak picked up Ms. Jayanti Nandi, who was at that time a student of Kala Vikash Kendra, Cuttack and made her attuned to his paper and took her to Delhi to attend the scheduled agenda.

When he was inspecting the auditorium on 4 April 1958 to finalize as to how to offer the practical demonstration while placing his paper, the Secretary of the Academy Ms. Nirmala Joshi informed him that the agenda for the Seminar has changed and he cannot present his paper.

Was it a conspiracy? Yes it was.

When the Association trick could not click, the saboteurs tried to stop Sri Pattanayak delivering his address and demonstration. It was clear.

Shocked to the core, a combine of Oriya and non-Bengali M.P.s namely Shradhakar Supakar, P.K.Deo, and Umacharan Pattanayak of Orissa, Badua, Basumatari and Bhagawati of Assam, Dr.Malkhote and Laxmi Bai of Andhra including eminent scholars in the field namely Dr. Charles Fabri and Indrani Rehman met the President-in-charge of the Academy Ms. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya and requested her not to cancel the agenda for presentation of Sri Pattanayak’s paper on Odissi dance. She refused the request. The conspiracy was clear.

Then the combine met the concerned minister Dr.Humayun Kabir in the Parliament Lobby and convinced him of the conspiracy.

On his intervention, Sri Pattanayak was allowed to present his paper. But again he was saddled with term that stipulated that he shall have to conclude his presentation within half an hour without any demonstration.

Sri Pattanayak was disheartened but did not lost hope. As he proceeded, the splendid congregation of dance connoisseurs, by that time well aware of the conspiracy against Orissa’s cultural interest, demanded in the hall itself that Sri Pattanayak should be allowed to give demonstration in support of the theory he was propounding, which was tactfully but meticulously executed by the Master using Ms. Nandi whom he had brought with him, in a hope against hope, in costumes. The house was so very surcharged with the proof of classicism in Odissi and so very irritated over the conspiracy against it that the Jury did not allow the Association-Academy trick to work. On vociferous demand of the audience, Sri Pattanayak went on putting forth his argument with corresponding demonstrations unhindered for 3 hours and 35 minutes at the end of which the Jury unanimously declared that there cannot be any doubt on the classicality of Odissi dance.

It was a day of victory for Sri Pattanayak as well as for Odissi. Delhi was agog with the rise of this new source of classicality in India’s horizon of culture.

It was decided, then and there, that every interested person in the National Capital should watch the unique dance of Orissa the next day, i.e. the 6th April 1958.

Sri Pattanayak instantly prevailed upon beauty queen Indrani Rehman to cooperate with him in presenting the dance to which she agreed. Sri Pattanayak had earlier taught Ms. Rehman a few numbers on Jayadev’s love lyrics as depicted in Gita Govinda.. A totally dedicated Oriya nationalist as he was, Sri Pattanayak found in the audience demand a golden opportunity to present Sri Jayadev as the poet of Orissa at Delhi where people from all parts of India were sure to gather. And, he did it.

On the 6th April 1958, Ms. Rehman offered oblations to Sri Pattanayak as the Guru and as chosen by him gave an ever memorable performance of Odissi depicting the lyrics of ‘Orissa’s Jayadev to the unprecedented approval of the august audience. Dr. Hyumayun Kabir, in the capacity of the portfolio holder Union Minister, personally ushered in Sri Pattanayak to the podium and felicitated him with thanks for the new addition he made to the classical dances of India. Thus, because of Sri Pattanayak Odissi Dance earned the classical status on this day i.e. the 6th day of April 1958 finally.

But this was intolerable to the cultural Kalapahads. The anti-Oriya lobby strengthened by central minister Nityananda Kanungo’s antagonistic attitude towards Sri Pattanayak tried to obliterate the national recognition of the classicality of Odissi Dance at a later stage.

On 18 April 1958, Academy Secretary Nirmala Joshi issued a note noting therein that Odissi was not recognized as a classic dance as the observation of the National Seminar Jury was not binding on it. She informed that the Academy was appointing an experts committee on whose finding recognition of its classicality would depend.

The Statesman, reacting to this press note, on 20 April 1958 posed the question: “Odissi being as beautiful and as classical as it is, what recognition from the Academy is needed at all?”

And, in fact, the Nation of India in particular and the entire world in general did not need the Academy recognition in support of classical status of Odissi. The national felicitation offered to Sri Pattanayak at the Talkotra Stadium in the National Capital on 6th April 1958 itself had put the national stamp of approval on the classical status of Odissi dance.

Kelucharan Mohapatra and Deba Prasad Das, even though trained and promoted by this great master, had refused to help him in his campaign for recognition of Odissi as a classical dance. But they later derived unlimited benefit from his success.

History should be addressed to say, “Had there been no Kalicharan Pattanayak, Odissi Dance would never have been recognized as a classical dance till date”. A cursory view on the status of Odissi music would be enough to arrive at this conclusion.

Till his last days he was trying to fetch classical status for Odissi Music too. In his autobiography he has written how Nilamadhav Panigrahi, Anant Mishra, Satyanarayan Rajguru etc had been opposing him in his endeavor to achieve recognition of Odissi as a classical music. After he passed away, all the proofs he had gathered in favour of his argument are left at the mercy of elements in the State Museum building where they were stashed uncared for by the Directorate of Culture. Notwithstanding abundant presence of Odissi musicians and sabjanata IAS officers who cherish being projected as cultural ambassadors of Orissa, none of the Odissi Gurus have succeeded in getting classical status for Odissi Music. As far back as in April, 1954, Sri Pattanayak had submitted a paper on classicality of Odissi Music which was published by Government of Orissa’s Public Relation department and circulated on the occasion of Odissi Music being rendered for the first time in Delhi, in presence of Prime Minister Pt. Nehru.

That, despite a base paper like this, and presence of so many musicians and dancers, Odissi music has not yet been able to earn classical status makes the unique position of Sri Pattanayak as the matchless exponent of Odissi classicality absolutely clear. The patriotic fervor with which he had taken up the cause of Odissi is not found in any. Therefore Odissi Music is left in the lurch.

His struggle to win the classical status for Odissi dance succeeded during his lifetime due to the support of the alert Media and Members of Parliament mentioned above as well due to determined support of dance connoisseurs whom he had inspired. He would have succeeded in bringing the same recognition for Odissi music too, had his denigrators, suffering from inferiority complex, not opposed him. He is no more alive, but no other Oriya has taken up the cause of Odissi music in as earnest zeal as was his. Therefore, the Odissi Music has failed to fetch the classical status as yet although it is its due.

Had the Odissi Dance teachers and dancers been basing their presentations only on the Odissi music as was contemplated by Sri Pattanayak, it would have been accepted as a classical music by this time. But they have never thought it prudent to pay due respect to this great Master, although they have emerged as the real beneficiaries of Sri Pattanayak’s achievement. As they have ignored him, so also have they ignored the scriptural injunctions and reduced Odissi to a commercial dance form.

Propelled by avarice, they have, on the other hand, tried to project themselves as creators/codifiers of Odissi Dance. I had shown in a high-circulated article in Orissa’s mainstream newspaper ‘Sambad’ on 30 November 1995, how Kalibabu was encouraging his introduction as the sole force behind Odissi’s revival and recognition as a classical dance.

I had shown in the said article how in the book prepared and published by Ms. Mohanty tacit attempts were made to project herself as the creator of the written code of Odissi. “Till date, there had been no accepted basic training principles in written form”, she has mentioned in the foreword of the book. To what extent this statement is motivated wrong could be ascertained from the very fact that at page CXCIX of ‘Contribution of Orissa to Sanskrit Literature’ published by Orissa Sahitya Academy in 1960 it has been clearly mentioned that Odissi Dance and Odissi Music of Orissa were being regulated by the injunctions given in ‘Abhinaya Darpana Prakasha’ authored by the Prince of Tigiria Jadunath Rai Simha. He has not only given the code in writing but also elaborated every injunction with links to appropriate Odissi songs or Chhandas. It is a shame that there is no mention of Abhinaya Darpana Prakasha or its author Jadunath Rai Simha in Kum Kum’s book ‘The Odissi Dance Path Finder’ even though it is produced with state funding and promulgated in the name of the State.

None of the Odissi Gurus makes any mention of this original grammar of Odissi, its author Jadunath Rai Simha and the architect of Odissi’s classical status Kavichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak.

Orissa Government’s reliance on Odissi Research Centre for updatation of the codes of Odissi had generated a scope for placing before the world its real history as well as the unique contributions of Jadunath Rai Simha and Kavichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak from the angle of a grateful nation. But Kum Kum has obliterated both these Masters from official records in such a style that degrades us to level of ungratefulness. Shame. Shame.

It is time to understand that performance of a dance does not perpetuate its classicism. To retain the classicality of Odissi Dance it must be made mandatory for the performers to honor the injunctions given in Abhinaya Darpana Prakash by Prince of Tigiria, Jadunath Tunga Rai Simha and along with him, oblation must be offered to Kavichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak as an unavoidable ritual recognizing him as the principal factor of rise of Odissi in the horizon of classicism.

If this is not done and the trick played by Kum Kum Mohanty is tolerated, future shall certainly address us as an ungrateful nation.

Please react, if you can.

8 comments » Write a comment

  1. I have very little knowledge of Odissi or its history.
    It would be nice if you could add references to various points
    made in your article. I realize that most journalists do not do that,
    often because of lack of space in a newspaper or a magazine.
    But since yours is an web article, i don’t think space
    is an issue. Thus I would suggest that
    you give references and qoutations (in a proper context)
    to various points made in the article.

    best regards
    Chitta

  2. Mahasaya,
    we oriyas are shocked to know the careless outragious dis-service done by the ‘ELITIST DANSEDUE.
    The govt. of orissa should immediately withdraw the publication & We demand aunconditional apology from the Author and the publishers.
    yours truly,
    S.Prabhat

  3. I have read *without* much interest your article, because I am not very well versed in Odissi Dance. But here is a factual error that you and your readers should know …

    Ramanand Kanungo is *NOT* Nityanand Kanungo’s son. I should know because I am Nityanand Kanungo’s grandson.

    … and who knows how many more such “innocent” or “not so innocent” errors have slipped into this artcle. But that, as we all have come to realize is an apparent journalistic privilege.

    Let the readers decide ….

    Shivraj

  4. I have to retract my earlier message (Oct 27, 8:29 am). There are two Ramanand Kanungo’s that are related to me. One of them is Nityanand Kanungo’s son – my badabapa. Inadvertently, I assumed that the author was referring to the Ramanand Kanungo who is alive and *NOT* Nityanand Kanungo’s son.

    Both Nityanand Kanungo and his son Ramanand Kanungo are no more. So, iit looks like Subhas Chandra Pattanayak can say whatever and get away with it because Nityanand Kanungo and Ramanand Kanungo are not around to defend themselves. Defending one person does not require berating another.

    I sincerely believe that there is no anti-Oriya lobby out there. Oriyas are known to screw each others’ happiness royally. It seems to me that Mr. Pattanayak is a seasoned practitioner of that art. Maybe Ms. Mohanty will be able to provide us a viewpoint that is not represented in this article. I look forward to that …

    Regards,

    Shivraj

  5. Babu Shivaraj,
    When did you discover the name of your badabapa? According to you, we oriyas are known to screw each other’s happiness royally. Is that your way of proving you are that kind of Oriya? When you are not even sure of who was Ramanand Kanungo (and if you are actually any relation that you are claiming) and you have to admittedly retract, then why bother with your alleged errors and mislead the public. I dont know much about odissi debate, but I am sure the debate has schools of thoughts already.
    As a reader i am failing to decide basing on your retractions when the “factual errors” are turning out to be yours. i dont know of the journalist babu’s knowledge, but i like the depth of his arguments.
    Regards,
    Tushar, Bangalore.

  6. For your kind information Mr. Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, if you are genuinely interested to give the true history of Odissi dance and how it got recognition as a dance form in India, before all personalities that you have mentioned in your write-up, including Mr. Kavichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak, without any disregard to any of them, it is Miss Priyamvada Mohanty in 1954, who brought Odissi to national reckoning by her dance in the Youth festival at Talkotra Stadium, Delhi on November 4th 1954. Though it was not recognised by anyone then as a dance form, it was Dr. Charles Fabri who saw in that dance of Miss Priyamvada Mohanty all the elements and features to accord it a classical dance form. That forced the judges of that festival to reconsider, but grudgingly gave Ms. Mohanty the third prize.

    History of Odissi begins from there…Hope all dance lovers and scholars of Odissi and Indian classical dance know this part of history as well.

  7. Most of the facts described here by Mr Pattnaik are described by both Kavichandra himself in his book, Kumbhara Chaka as well as by Nrusingha Charan Samantsinhar. And Kumbhara Chaka was published when I guess both the Kanungos were alive, There’s just one factual error, if I remember correctly what Kalibabu wrote. Dr Satyanarayan Rajguru did not oppose Odissi as a separate style. Nilamadhab Panigrahi too did not do much, according to him, but I am not sure he opposed. Yes, Kalibabu wrote quite unequivocally that Lingaraj Panigrahi did oppose it.

  8. Pingback: Whom Should We Blame? – ODISHA STORY

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