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Remembering Ananda Sahu: A Fine Example of a Good Human Being

By Dr.Harishankar | PUBLISHED: 18, Nov 2010, 13:57 pm IST | UPDATED: 18, Nov 2010, 17:38 pm IST

Remembering Ananda Sahu: A Fine Example of a Good Human Being

Shri Ananda Chandra Sahu who passed away on 10 November 2010 was a resident of Bhawanipatna, the head quarter of Kalahandi district of Odisha State of India. But who is Ananda Chandra Sahu and why should he deserve attention? Was he a man of name, fame and wealth? Was he a celebrity or did he wield political power or influence?

By no stretch of imagination he was a prominent individual with a large following. He was not a distinguished personality of political and public life of neither Odisha nor India. His sad demise was never reported in any of the leading dailies nor was it covered in any of the news bulletins of radio and television channels. Nobody ever thought of writing his obituary.

None other than those who came in contact with him would ever be able to relate to his identity or memory in any manner. He never received any distinction nor was he acclaimed for any accomplishment in any field. None can recall that he ever led people in any demonstration nor was he part of any movement for social change. He never had any pretention of possessing any special quality or faculty which he thought would put him high above others.

Simply put he was as anonymous as any ordinary resident of Odisha or India. Yet he was an amazing personality and could be counted as somebody who shaped and lived his life in accordance with the cherished values of Indian civilisation. He had all the traits of an Aam Admi and was very proud of that status. Here one is using the nomenclature Aam Admi not in any political sense or to indicate any affiliation to one political party or the other. His only official status was that he served as a Demonstrator in the Botany Department of Government Autonomous College, Bhawanipatna. 

He could never see his father in his life time as he lost him when he was only a few months old. It fell on his widowed mother Shrimati Sadhabani Sahu to rear him up under extremely difficult social and economic conditions. Her life was a profile of courage and determination.

Her example of struggle and suffering in pre-independent India to fulfill the basic needs of her family and educate her children through just and fair means could be cited as a valuable lesson for empowering women of twenty first century India for human development.

Shri Ananda Sahu’s life was a celebration of ordinary way of living. It was full of struggle to overcome adversities, excel in education and standon his own and take care of his family. A man with a larger vision he went beyond his own kith and kin to have extended family consistingof friends, associates and other lesser known acquaintances. Essentially he is a man driven by humanism, compassion and concern for others. A sense of public spirit always actuated him to reach out to his fellow human beings.

His name was Ananda. Its literal translation in English would mean Bliss. Many of his near and dear ones fondly recalled his manifold activities which made others happy and which closely corresponded to the literal meaning of his name. In this age of nuclear family he lived to the very end of his life in a joint family and constituted its mainstay. Displaying rare harmony with his elder brother late Shri Biswanatha Sahu he was a role model for uniting every other member of the family in the silken thread of love and understanding.

In twenty first century world family values are getting disintegrated and increasingly nuclear family is being preferred as a way of life by the younger generation. He and other members of his family were hailed as defenders and practitioners of strong family values. Indeed his family is a rare family which merited considerable attention and admiration from far and wide and counted as one of the stand alone examples in today’s world. The outlook he nurtured in living in such a family shaped his vision for life and helped him to cultivate the values of fellowship, partnership and sharing.

An admirer of ideas he was very fond of acquiring books. It was exemplified by his action in buying a publication on Gandhi and America during his youthful days. He parted with that book in 1988 when he gave it to one his sons-in-law Shri Satya Narayana Sahu in 1988. He was recalling that incident while writing an article when the President of United States of America Mr. Barack Obama visited India three days before the unfortunate passing away of Shri Ananda Chandra Sahu.

He was well known for his passion to travel large parts of our country. In 2001 he set on a pilgrimage to four holy places namely Badrinath, Dwarka, Rameswaram and Puri. Accompanied by his wife Shrimati Manjulata Sahu and his late brother Shri Biswanath Sahu and his wife Shrimati Hemlata Sahu he proved his mettle in covering the vast distance stretching from east to west and from north to south. It could be described as a spiritual adventure. He had the courage to undertake that pilgrimage in spite of the disability of his brother due to paralytic stroke and the multiple ailments he suffered in the form of blood sugar and hypertension.

The successful completion of that pilgrimage brought out the rare courage and strength of his and his family to travel all the four corners of our country- east, west, north and south. That pilgrimage testified to their religious and spiritual outlook and their larger Indian identity. The fact that they summoned courage to go on a pilgrimage at an advanced age of their lives and that too the four celebrated religious centres established by the Adi Shankaracharya spoke volumes for their deep commitment to uphold our cherished religious values.

One of the high points of that pilgrimage was their meeting with late President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan in Rashtrapati Bhavan. It was a thrilling experience for all of them. The meeting lasted for half an hour. The President was pleased to meet all of them in the Study where the Prime Minister of our country and other dignitaries meet the head of our State. The President enquired about their health, asked about their welfare and wished all the best for the successful conclusion of their pilgrimage. Shri Ananda Sahu spoke to the President for some time and expressed gratefulness to him for granting time to them to meet him. 

His wife Shrimati Manjulata Sahu was overwhelmed by the presence of President Narayanan and bent down to touch his feet. Shrimati Hemlata Sahu stated that their visit to the President Narayanan was itself a pilgrimage.  When Shri Biswanath Sahu passed away in November 2003 President Narayanan  who had retired by then issued a condolence message and remembered Shri Sahu’s pilgrimage along with his family members and admired his tenacity and firmness to visit four holy shrines located in Badrinath, Dwarka, Rameshwaram and Puri in spite of disability caused due to paralysis.

Shri Ananda Sahu had a long cherished ambition to see the Republic Day parade being conducted on 26 January every year on Raj Path in New Delhi. Finally it was fulfilled when he saw the parade from the President’s box in 2002. He was so happy with the prospects of attending the parade that he made new clothes for the event and looked forward to participating in it. As he entered the President’s Box he saw former Prime Minister I.K.Gujral coming behind him. He greeted him and was seated a few seats away from him. He was mindful of the fact that he was in the midst of the who is who of our country. It was a grand and fulfilling experience for somebody who came from a distant corner of our country and who enjoyed every moment seeing the spectacular parade.

An able organizer he was recognized for his hard and dedicated work both inside and outside his family. Always well regarded as a valued colleague and trust worthy person he established high standards of conduct and integrity in his professional life. In fact India today is sustained as a great country and powered to occupy new heights of prestige and honour at the world level due to the services rendered silently by people like Ananda Chandra Sahu who is part of the fraternity of AamAdmiand whose strength matters for the whole country.

He proved his talent while responding to be call of duty in any field.  When he was entrusted with the task of managing affairs of the Girls’ Hostel of the Government College of Bhawanipatna he transformed the situation in favour of the residents of the hostel. The food quality improved vastly and the residents for the first time got the value of the hard earned money of their parents. He used to invite all the girl students to every reception hosted by his family on the occasion of marriage ceremonies of his children. He even arranged marriages of some of the girl students of that hostel. Truly he had an extended family which considered him as a father figure and benefactor.

He loved sports and games. During his youth he was an ace football player. He sustained sporting spirit and always wanted to watch national and international sporting events. Even as he was in Delhi for treatment of his multiple ailments he wanted to see the world cup hockey finals played by Italy and Germany. He insisted to visit the Dhyan Chand Hockey stadium on that day. He rejoiced every moment of it and clapped passionately whenever a goal was scored by either side.

I was told that in spite of renal failure, hypertension and blood sugar he was intensely involved in watching the rigorous game of hockey and forgot for the moment that he was there in New Delhi for medical treatment. It was yet another proof of his love for life. I recall that Professor Madhu Danadavate, one of the great leaders of our public life was watching a cricket match till the last moment  of his life in Jaslok Hospital on 12 November  2005.

With the passing away of Shri Ananda Chandra Sahu the town of Bhwanipatna lost a fine and cultured human being. He was common person with common touch and feeling. His family mourned his sad demise. His friends and associates are in grief. What is noteworthy is that society as a whole suffered bereavement due to his death. An ordinary human being with good qualities and virtues. He is no more with us. The country needs more such ordinary human beings than leaders who are involved in scams and corrupt activities. Mahatma Gandhi shaped his life by bringing himself to the level of common people.

Shri Ananda Chandra Sahu was part of the sea of common people in whose name this country is ruled. It is important to remember such common people with respect and celebrate the values they represent in their lives. It will contribute and enrich the culture of common people which is the need of the hour for defending the age old values of our civilization which Shri Ananda Sahu so brilliantly translated in to action in his own life.

The Dadhibaman High School in Badagada where he served for a few years in managing its manifold activities observed holiday on 11th November 2010 in honour of his memory. To pay respect to the departed soul. In a condolence message to his family, the Principal of the college Shri Pradeep Hota while paying homage to him stated that his warmth, simplicity and courteous behaviour would be always remembered.  

It testified to the respect he commanded. Even in death he commands love and respect from people. A simple and noble soul he will live in our hearts and minds.

Long Live Ananda Sahu.

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