Pallikabi Nandakishore Bala

Born :- 22-Dec-1875
Died :- 01-Jul-1928
Place of Birth :- Kusupur, Cuttack

Nanda Kishore Bal belonged to the initial era of modern Odia poetry, who had earned a special status as a Poet of Rural Life. He is popularly known as ‘Palli Kabi’ for his tender lyrics, celebrating the beauty of rural Odisha in his poems.

He was born on 22 December, 1875 to father Bhajanananda Jena and mother Hirnmayee Devi at Kusupur village in the Cuttack district of Odisha. He was initially named as Rasananda Jena but later he became Nanda Kishore Bal after he was adopted by his aunt following his mother’s demise. 

He was a meritorious student throughout his school life. He came to Cuttack in 1889 to study in Cuttack Town Victoria School. In 1896, he married 12-year-old Kokila Devi. The next year, while pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Ravenshaw College, he penned his first poem titled Puspa. He authored his first and most-celebrated book Palli Chitra in 1900. Nanda Kishore Bal was a poet of the rural scene, portraying its simplicity, its superstitions and festivals.

 While he spent his adult life as a school teacher and later as headmaster and, later as school SI, shaping the future of many students, he was tired of frequent tours for inspection ad decided to retire and stay in village. He wrote a number of poems on rural life and culture of Odisha. Among his collections are, Nirjharini (The Stream), Palli Chitra (The country scene), Basanta-Kokila (The Spring Cuckoo), Tarangini (The River), Charuchitra (The alluring scenes), Prabhata Sangeeta (Songs of the Dawn), Sandhya Sangita (The Evening Songs),  Nirmalya,  Krushna Kumari and Sarmishtha. Kanakalata, a novel by the poet published in 1925, is an indictment of the evils of dowry system in rural aristocratic society and the predicament of the child-widows, who were condemned into a life of anguish and suffering. A substantial part of this novel was serialised in Utkal Sahitya in 1913.

Palli Kabi Nanda Kishore Bal will be ever remembered as one of the pioneers of children’s literature in Odia. In fact, he was the first poet of modern Odisha who contributed to children’s literature. He compiled a collection of songs called Nana Baya Geeta for children that are complemented by music and include many a known children’s lullaby such as Dho Re Baya Dho, Nida Mausi, Benguli Nani, Baya Chadhei, etc. Gacha O Kathuria (The Tree and the Woodcutter) is one of his widely read children’s poems where he describes the importance of trees.

He extensively used local vocabulary, idioms, phrases and folk music in his poems that had a rustic charm and an underlying countryside theme. His poems celebrated the village life in Odisha with all its simplicity and complexities. From superstitions, village culture to rituals, traditions and festivals– all aspects of country life found place in his sonnets—about a hundred sonnets—found scattered throughout his collections.  

His deep understanding of human emotions was evident in the central ideas of his writings which were steeped in love for nature and human sentiments.

Anthology of Lyrics

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