Shree Biswanath Kar

Born :- 18-Dec-1864
Died :- 19-Oct-1934
Place of Birth :- Mulabasant, Mahanga, Cuttack

Born on 24 December, 1864 in Mulabasant village in Mahanga under Cuttack district, Bagmi Biswanath Kar is remembered till date as an eminent Essayist whose essays are enriched with originality and persuasiveness. The style and language used in his myriad essays is his nonpareil from the view point of original thought and analysis.

Biswanath started his career as a teacher. He was the editor of the famed literary magazine ‘Utkal Sahitya’ for over five decades. During this long period of literary engagement he was the chief mentor of trends and styles in writings in Odia. Before this, he had established himself as a  great litterateur.  He had authored ‘Vividha Prabandha’ which contained his timeless essays in Odia. ‘Swadhina Chinta’, ‘Asha’, ‘Mahasrota’, ‘Swadhinata’, ‘Rakshyasalila’, ‘Stri Sikshya’, ‘Ananta Prema’ were his outstanding gifts to Odia literature. He was adept in analysing the bare truth and expressing his independent ideas in almost all essays.

Apart from being a nationalist, Biswanath was a social reformer and tried to remove superstitions and many other social evils like untouchability, child marriage and dowry system. He had taken steps for sitting together in a single class room of pupils belonging to the so-called higher caste group and the so-called lower class group. For eradication of illiteracy, he had started a night school to accommodate all irrespective of caste, religion and gender. He was an active member of the National Congress.

Biswanath Kar, along with others, played an important role in the protection of Odia language against a deep-rooted conspiracy to abolish it from schools and impose Hindi, Telugu and Bengali in the western, southern and coastal areas. He was also part of the movement for creation of a separate Odisha state.      

Launching of Utkal Sahitya, the monthly magazine published and edited by him in brought about a new era in the field of Odia literary activities. The first issue was preceded by much thinking and consultation to ensure that it would cover the newly emerging areas of knowledge and that it would reach a wide readership. Accordingly, it published articles on culture, politics, economics, science as well as on Brahma religion and philosophy. It also had travelogue, biography and autobiography, short stories, novels and poems. Its regular contributors were Madhusudan Rao, Krushnaprasad Choudhury, Biswanath Kar himself, Fakir Mohan Senapati, Pranakrushna Parija and many others.

Although many magazines appeared and disappeared around it, Utkal Sahitya continued its steadfast publication over more than fifty years. Its contribution to Odia literature and public life was truly phenomenal.

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