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Manoj Das: A legendary Odia writer who devoted for education and spirituality

By Sujata Shiven | PUBLISHED: 15, Aug 2010, 5:31 am IST | UPDATED: 01, Nov 2017, 12:52 pm IST

Manoj Das: A legendary Odia writer who devoted for education and spirituality

Manoj Das really needs no introduction. A poet, novelist, short story writer, columnist, travel writer, children's writer and philosopher, he is a wizard of words who has mesmerized generations of readers with the sheer genius of his writing. In his writing career spanning more than half a century he has bagged almost every major literary award including the Central Sahitya Akademi Award, the Sarala Puraskar and the Saraswati Samman.

Manoj Das is one of the few writers to have achieved equal success writing in two languages. He has straddled the world of English and Oriya literature with a felicity that is rare. The lyrical style, imagery, simplicity and the magical charm of his writing has won him admirers in every generation and across all countries and continent.

Once world famous fiction writer Graham Green said, I have read the stories of Manoj Das with great pleasure. He will certainly take a place on my shelves besides the stories of Narayan. I imagine Orissa is far from Malgudi, but there is the same quality in his stories with perhaps an added mystery.

Born at Shankari, Balasore, Orissa, Manoj Das is perhaps the foremost bilingual Oriya writer and a master of dramatic expression both in his English and Oriya short stories and novels. He says that characters follow the theme of a story and the words are merely added by author to represent the thoughts of the character. That is the precise reason why Das's persons in fiction are from so many varied backgrounds and display many different dimensions of human nature.

He is a philosopher, a thinker-writer whose works can be defined as quest for finding the eternal truth in everyday circumstances. He is settled as an ashramite of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry since 1963, and is an English professor at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry, and is presently concentrating on writing novels.

Manoj Das (1934- ) is an Indian award-winning author who writes in Oriya and English.

Manoj Das is internationally recognized and is the recipient of many prestigious awards like the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Padmashri and the Saraswati Samman. He has columns in India's national dailies like The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Hindu and The Statesman. His writings, revealing the deeper truth and the untraced aspects behind current issues, have been highly appreciated.

Manoj Das was born in a small coastal village named Shankari in Balasore district, Orissa State. Since 1963, he has been an ashramite at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Manoj Das is currently an English professor at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry. He is presently concentrating on writing novels.

Manoj Das is perhaps the foremost bilingual Oriya writer and a master of dramatic expression both in his English and Oriya short stories and novels. He says that, 'characters follow the theme of a story and the words are merely added by author to represent the thoughts of the character'. That is the precise reason why Das's persons in fiction are from so many varied backgrounds and display many different dimensions of human nature. He is a philosopher, a thinker-writer whose works can be defined as quest for finding the eternal truth in everyday circumstances.
 
Among the other important positions Das has held are Member, General Council, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi 1998-2002 and Author-consultant,Ministry of Education, Government of Singapore, 1983-85.

Das has been compared to Vishnu Sarma, in modern Oriya literature for his magnificent style and efficient use of words and for the fact that, he is one of the best story-tellers in India at present times.

The narration of story of Manoj Das is uncomparable to any indian contemporary writers. The words will make you laughing /crying and readers forget that they are going thru the books. The descriptions are such that you can see the cinema rather than just read. "Samudra Kulara Eka Grama" depicts the actual picture of a typical indian village which may not be possible to justify without Manoj Das.
Mihir Kanta Samal.

Awards
Among his other important positions are Member, General Council, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi 1998-2002 and Author-consultant, Ministry of Education, Govt. of Singapore, 1983-85. He received recognition in the form of the Sahitya Akademi Award, 1972, in English; Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award, 1965 and 1982; Sarala Award, 1981; Vishuba Award, 1986; and Sahitya Bharati Award, 1995; Saraswati Samman, 2000; Padma Shri, 2001.

  • Sahitya Akademi Award, 1972:
  • Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award, 1965 and 1982;
  • Sarala Award, 1981;
  • Vishuba Award, 1986;
  • Sahitya Bharati Award, 1995;
  • Saraswathi Samman, 2000;
  • Padma Shri, 2001.

Selected works

Shesha basantara chithi, 1966; Manoj Dasanka katha o kahani, 1971; Dhumabha diganta, 1971; Manojpancabimsati, 1977; (short stories); Tuma gam o anyanya kabita, 1992 (poetry). His notable English works include: The crocodiles lady : a collection of stories, 1975, The submerged valley and other stories, Farewell to a ghost : short stories and a novelette, 1994; Cyclones, 1987, and A tiger at twilight, 1991.

The Library of Congress has thirty-five catalog records of his works in its collection.

Novels

  •   Amruta Phala, 1996  (Saraswathi Samman);
  •   Aakashra Isara, 1997;
  •  Tandralokara Prahari, 2000;
  •   Prabhanjana;
  •   Godhulira Bagha;
  •   Kanaka-Upatyaka ra Kahani.

Short Story

  •    Sesa Basantara Chithi, 1966;
  •    Manoj Dasanka Katha O Kahani, 1971;
  •    Dhumabha Diganta O Anyana Kahani, 1971;
  •    The Crocodile's Lady: A Collection of Stories, 1975;
  •    Manojpanchabinsati, 1977;
  •    The Submerged Valley and Other Stories, 1986;
  •    Cyclones, 1987;
  •    A Tiger at Twilight, 1991;
  •    Farewell to a Ghost: Short Stories and a Novelette, 1994;
  •    Legend of the Golden Valley, 1996;
  •    Samudra Kulara Ek Grama (Balya Smruti), 1996
  •    Aaranyaka;
  •    Bhinna Manisha O Anyana Kahani;
  •    Abupurusha O Anyana Kahani;
  •    Laxmi Ra Abhisar;
  •    Abolkara Kahani;
  •    Aranya Ullash
  •    Chasing the Rainbow : growing up in an Indian village, 2004.

Travelogue

  •     Kete Diganta (Part - I);
  •     Kete Diganta (Part - II);
  •     Antaranga Bharat (Part - I) (My Little India);
  •     Antaranga Bharat (Part - II);
  •     Duradurantara;
  •     Adura Bidesh - 2004.

Poetry

  •     Tuma Gaan O Anyanya Kabita, 1992
  •     Kabita Utkala.

History & Culture

  •    Bharatara Aytihya: Sateka Prashnara Uttara,1999;
  •    Manoj Das Pribesita Upakatha Satak (Tales Told by Mystics), 2002;
  •    Mahakalara Prahelika O Anyana Jigyansa, 2006.

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Writer's Work: Bhola Grandpa and The Tiger