Surasingh Pattanayak: The Inextinguishable Guide

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Whosoever loves Orissa and her cultural ethos would find it unbearable to know that Surasingh Pattanayak, born to Dibyasingh Pattanayak and Radha Devi of Aska on 26 February 1932, settled at Gopalpur-on-sea in his home district of Ganjam, has passed away at Bhubaneswar – his State’s Capital City on 4 April 2011, leaving behind memories that his motherland will always cherish.

A dedicated votary of the economy of cooperation, he was a moving messenger of Gurudev Buddha, who, born in Orissa, had developed cooperative lifestyle of Orissa’s original agro-community – the tribal democracies – into the tenets of Sangha, the epitome of his philosophy. He had retired from the cooperative department; but had remained glued for ever to Buddhism. Kahani Buddha Karunara (Stories of the Benevolence of Buddha) reminds us of how in his heart and conscience Lord Buddha was reigning every moment. This was further manifested in his emotional bond with the tribal communities of Orissa. Till he breathed his last, I believe, tribal welfare was his heart’s concern.

Lover of every uniqueness Orissa could be referred for, he was, through out his knowledge-enriched life, a dedicated admirer of Madhu Babu – the great grand man Madhusudan Das – the second most revered Oriya after Buddha – whom the Oriyas lovingly call Kula Gaurav (Pride of the race) and to whom the credit goes for reconstitution of Orissa after she was divided by the invader British and tail-tied to rival neighboring provinces. Immensely esteemed books such as Mahanayak Madhusudan, Ama Madhusudan, Madhusudan Das: Pride of Orissa are a few of tributes he had offered in immortal memory of Madhu Babu.

The day I left Orissa for four months, a cursory glance at newspaper pages at Bhubaneswar Airport had shocked me with the news of Surasingh’s hospitalization. And, in New York City I hear that he breathed his last on April 4, the fourth day of Utkal Divas, the day modern Orissa was born.

He might have breathed his last. But as long as longing for noble qualities lasts in Orissa and amongst the Oriyas, Surasingh shall continue to be an inextinguishable guide.

Yet I wish, I should have been able to place parting flowers at his noble physical feet before he was consecrated to immortality.

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