Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Today is the day of Sambalpur.
This forenoon, there is going to be held a discussion on Bharat Chandra Nayak’s matchless autobiography – MOR PURBASMRUTI KATHA – in a hotel at under the banner of ‘Think Literature Festival-2014’. Reprint of the rare book is slated to be released on the occasion.
And, today, Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam will inaugurate the 150th anniversary celebration of Sambalpur’s famous seat of learning – Chandrasekhar Behera Zilla School.
Sambalpur’s contributions to Oriya mana is immeasurable and immense. Its Indrabhuti and his sister Laxminkara were the founders of Jagannatha cult that has given Orissa its distinction as a land of culture and peace. And to modern Orissa, it is Bharat Chandra Nayak of Sambalpur who has given its new era of Women Education.
But this truth has been covered up under the debris of time.
In this posting, I will recall only Bharat Chandra.
I will call him the father of modern women education in Orissa, because, none other than him has suffered so much loss in convincing the conservative people of Orissa that emancipation is not unachievable if girls are given modern education.
When he admitted his daughters in schools where english was being taught, he was subjected to social boycott. He was born in Bolangir, but had decided to reside in Sambalpur in professional pursuit. So, Sambalpur had no congenital bond with him, and hence, no emotional attachment.
In such a condition, having a life under the conservatives who were not at all in favor of English education for the girl children, he had dared to give his daughters modern education.
It had attracted social wrath that was, for a common man, impossible to tolerate. Obnoxious posters were pasted against his daughters, and all sorts of character assassination was used as instruments to force him abandon his zeal for imparting English education to his daughters. He never faltered. Even he had to harden his heart to tolerate the cruelty of time.
Social oppression and non-cooperation by his close relations over the issue of modern education to his daughters had given him such a deadly blow that no man sans dedicated determination for a noble cause can ever withstand.
He has given a detailed description of what situations he has to face over the issue in his book MOR PUBRASMRUTI KATHA. Fortunately its reprint will be now on available. Anybody may go through the book and study the matter.
I have not seen him in my life. He had spent some days as a royal guest in my birthplace Tigiria and because he was Assistant Dewan of Dhenkanal where the cousin brother of my grand father was the Dewan, he was well received in Tigiria. From my father I came to know that he had authored a book where the famous festival of Fireworks of Tigiria – Champakadwadashi – had been described.
I had known one of his daughters who to my wife Sabita and me was Shyama Nani and had known her husband Mr. Panigrahi in whom I had seen a humanitarian Judge when he was heading the Labor Court at Bhubaneswar. But, when I failed to get the book from them, Prof Shova Roy told me that when she was the Principal of Saambalpur Women’s College, she had seen the book in the College Library. Eager to go through the book, I rushed to Sambalpur. My sisterly Prof. Laxmi Gop was the Principal of Sambalpur Women’s College. She allowed me to browse through the book in the college library and helped me to have the rare work xeroxed. And, that xerox copy gave me the opportunity to read the book deeply.
During reading the book, I can’t say why, but I must say, I was crying.
I was sure, there was none, and sure that, there can’t be any, amongst the entire population of Orissa who could have suffered so much for women education.
I remember, after finishing the book, I took a bath and attired in fresh cloths, like someone worships a deity, I put the xeroxed copy of the book on a cleaned chair in the room of the PWD IB where a suite was allotted to me for two days and offered flowers picked from the IB campus and prostrated before it, as if I was seeing Bharat Chandra Nayak dazzling in satisfaction over all his sufferings. And, from there, I had gone to the Pantha Nivas standing nearby, typed a letter using the type-writer of its office, and personally presented the same to the Collector, Sambalpur, wherein I had made a request that in honor of the great man who suffered so much for women education, the Sambalpur Women’s College should be named after him.
In a system where contributions to society and sacrifices for a cause are not counted, my endeavors could not click.
However, when the State Government is thinking of creating a Women’s University, and, suggestions are afloat to transform the Rama Devi Women’s College of Bhubaneswar to this status, I want to point out that, the proposed University be named after the greatest sufferer for women education: Bharat Chandra Nayak.
When the Bhubaneswar College is named after Rama Devi, it would not be desirable to change its name. The Sambalpur Women’s College is not named after anybody, when, in fact, women education owes its spread in Sambalpur to the sacrifices and sufferings of Late Bharat Chandra Nayak.
The people of Sambalpur on their own accord had established the Government taken over Sambalpur Women’s College in the year 1959 when R.D.Women’s College, Bhubaneswar was not even in the womb of time. The State Government created R.D.Women’s College in 1964.
Though Shailabala Women’s College, Cuttack is senior to both of these two institutes, the College at Sambalpur is not to discard any name. So, the proposal advanced by the State Government to establish a Women University should be named after Bharat Chandra Nayak and should be established in Sambalpur, as Bharat Chandra Nayak University for Women.