The Royals of Deogarh were great patrons of literature, music and fine art. Bamanda was eulogised in the past as “Utkal Ujjayini” (Ujjayini of Utkal) alluding to the court of King Vikramaditya where genius of the legendary poet Kalidas flourished and was among the “Navaratna” (Nine jewels of the royal court of Ujjayini). From the last decade of the 19th century, during the reign of Raja Basudeb Sudhal Deb and Raja Satchidananda Tribhuvan Deb many bards, authors and scholars of repute from all over the country were invited to Deogarh Darbar as royal guests. Many of them were felicitated with honorific and titles. Prominent among them were Radhanath Roy who was honoured with the honorific of „Kavibar‟ and Fakir Mohan as „Saraswati‟. Swabhabkavi Gangadhar Meher and Pandit Nilamani Bidyaratna were among others who adorned Kavi Sammilani, the poetic soirees and literary meets in Deogarh. Deogarh was famously known in the cultural circle of Odisha as „Budha Hamsa Keli Sara‟, the pristine lake where erudite swans frolicked. The same tradition of holding poetic meet continues though not in royal grandeur of the past during the Utsav Pradhanpat, annual district level cultural festival every year.
Authors of the Past
There were a good number of famed poets and writers in the old Bamanda state. At the forefront was Raja Sir Basudeb Sudhal Deb, a poet in his own merit and a patron of the creative authors. A brief account of the literary luminaries of the past beginning with Sir Sudhal Deb is presented below.
Basudeb Sudhal Deb
A lover and patron of both creative and critical literature, he took keen interest and enjoyed the company of scholars, poets and classical pandits. He was adept both in Odia and Sanskrit and had composed a number of books including translation of poems and other works form Sanskrit, prominent among them are Alankar Bodhoday, Chitrotpala, Beera Bama, Janha Mamu, Muktikopanisad (Translation in Odia), Maniratnamala (Translation in Odia), and Shrama Sikshya, etc. He played a key role in the field of development of Odia literature and mentoring Odia language when it was facing onslaught of authors and scholars from the neighbouring state of Bengal.
Satchidananda Tribhuban Deb
Satchidananda Tribhuban Deb, the successor to Sir Basudeb Sudhal Deb was the worthy son of a worthy father. Taking out time from his busy administrative engagements he devoted himself to literary activities. Even while he was the crown prince, he had evinced interest in literary activities. Maya Shabari, Ananga, Rasa Rahasya, Alankara Sara, Kadambari, Jauna Nirvachan, Brusti Vigyana, etc. are his notable creations.
He was born at Tigiria, and carried his family surname Mishra. Impressed with his literary activities and wisdom the then King of Tigiria conferred on him the title of Badapanda. He was one of the leading Pandits in Orissa of his time. He was the home tutor of Prince Basudeb Sudhal Deb. He composed an eulogia, “Bamanda Rajabansanucharita Champu” and “Chitrotpala Champu” in the tradition of Kavisurya Baladeb Rath’s famous “Kishor Chandrananda Champu”. He had also vast contribution in editing the Sanskrit verses and transalating them into Odia. He had presided over the meeting organised in Bamanda Darbar for conferment of the title Kabibar to eminent modern Odia poet Radhanath Roy. Bhubaneswar Badapanda too was awarded the title of “Bakulakabi”.
Madhu Sudan Mishra Tarka Bachaspati
He hailed from Bira Balbhadrapur Sasan of Puri District. In course of his long stay in Bamanda he taught Prince Satchidanand about the subtle nuances of Vedanta. He was the author of an introduction to Kalidas‟s classic creation Abhigyana Sakuntalam, Sahitya Darpana, Alankara Chandrika and Murari Chandraloka.
Among his other literary contribution are the Sanskrit and Odia epics like Hanumat Sandesham, Tara Shashanka, Laxmee Shatakam, Hasti Satakam, Somanatha Satakam, Abhinabastakam, Utsava Champu, etc. He had also perfectly and correctly edited the Sanskrit classical works Gadadhara Paddhati, Sahitya Ratnakar, Dhwanyaloka, etc. between the years 1898 and 1901.
He belonged to the old Dwibedy family of Deogarh who were brought by royalty from Puri. He was one of the Pandits of Rajasabha. A teacher by profession he contributed several articles like Bidhabara Ekadasi Samikshya, Baidehishabilasa ( not to be confused with the classic creation of Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja), Ruchi Sanskara, Darpanara Darpantwa, etc. to Sambalpur Hitaisini which were published in various issues of the magazine between 1892 and 1906. Kalicharan Dwibedy had two books to his credit – “Neetisara” and “Niali” in the year 1886. At the instance of Raja Sir Basudeb Sudhal Deb, he edited Chandi which was printed and published in the year 1889 from Jagannath Ballav Press. He too was a teacher of crown prince Satchidananda. Later on he was appointed Chief Purodha of the temples of Bamanda State.
From Puri he had come over to Deogarh on the invitation of the king and chose to remain forever in Bamanda making it his land of literary pursuit. He served as a teacher of Rajkumar High School from 1893. He is remembered for his compositions Sarata Sundari, Padmavati Parinaya, Utkala Charita. His books Manasa Prasadini and Alankar Meemansa in Sanskrit brought him a coveted place in Odia literature then.
Sudarsan Mishra, Nyayaratna
By profession a teacher, he is known for his literary works both in Odia and Sanskrit which include Slokas, Champu, Shivastaba, Debistuti,Atmabodha Bilap and Mangalagitika. He was a regular contributor to Sambalpur Hitaisini.
Chintamani Mishra Sharma
Chintamani Mishra was another important member of Bamanda Rajasabha. His article Chitraotpalara Dosa Parihara based on Chitrotpala of King Basudeb Sudhal Deb was a valuable creation of the time.
Born at Talcher Brajabandhu Mishra migrated to Deogarh in 1899 and stayed there for the rest of his life. A teacher by profession he was an active member of Bamanda Pandita Sabha. He was the author of hundred and more books. Basanta Malati (1902), Upadha Bichara (1913), and Upadha Anishata Chinta (1914) are the testimonials of his quality literary creations. Moreover, Durga Staba, Srikrishna Staba, Kichaka Badha, Bhisma Sarasajya, Balee Badha, Kusumalata, Naba Sangeeta, Sudhal Chautisa, etc. are his poetic works. He had strive to bringing together the ancient, medieaval and modern poetic styles. He was also a part of the editorial team of Sambalpur Hitaisini,
He was a man from Kuchinda tehsil of Bamanda state. On completion of middle school he came over to Deogarh and served as a teacher. His Poems written in the early stage of life were published in Sambalpur Hitaisini. By the year 1910 he took charge of the Editor of Sambalpur Hitaisini.
His compositions and publications like Hemalata, Aja Bilapa, Neetidarpana, Neeti Kusuma, Sanjukta, Champabati, Bapalimali, Duee Sangata received accolades from the readers. He was awarded by the Yubraj of Khadial Bira Bikrama Deb for his meaningful moralistic work Neeti Darpana. The Darbar of Bada Khemundi State conferred on him the title of „Kabi Bhusana‟ and the King of Kashipur the title of „Sahityaalankar‟ in recognition of his literary endeavour.
Not only during the Raj but also after independence the literary tradition of Bamanda continued. Several literary societies and associations came up and continue the literary tradition.
Recent Literary and Cultural Fora in Deogarh
Shree Jagannath Sahitya Sansad, Deogarh
Bamanda Sahitya Sansad, Deogarh
Radhakrishna Sahitya Sansad, Rengalbeda
Patitapabana Sahitya Sansad, Kandhal
Nabadiganta Sahitya Sansad, Reamal
Besides the above fora, some literary and cultural organizations, social clubs, the age old Bhagabat Tungees, music centres are functioning at various places of the district set up and managed by cultural enthusiasts which organize literary and cultural activities on a regular basis.
There is also a Brahma Vidya Kriya Yogo Mission at Tala Bhitiria Sahi of Deogarh Town which creates awareness a Yogasan and provides educative ideas and Human values other religious centres like Gayatree Parivar, Satya Sai Seva Sanstha, Biswa Srasta Bhaban depict nobble ideas and mission off life. The Church and the Musjid do play vital role in enlightening the people of their community in appropriate manner.
Libraries and Reading rooms
Long years back libraries were available at some village levels. One library popularly known as “Artatrana Mishra Library” existed in the village Jadagola Sasan. It lasted up to 1965. Later on it was destroyed due to setting of fire at the nearby houses.
It is heard that some old and big villages had library at this level. The Books and periodicals were being supplied to these libraries by the Government. However these are no more in existence. The old Sachidananda Library still exists. At present there is provision of reading books and periodicals. Reading room at the district Head Quarter is attached to the library. There are a lot of valuable Books written by established writers and Poets of the past and Present. The library is being managed under the administrative supervision and control of the District Information and Public Relation Officer (DI and PRO), Deogarh. The scholars and Research personnel’s avail the opportunities for references. The Students, Youths and Old attend the Reading room daily for reading books, periodicals and newspapers. There is a village level library at Tinkbir.
Literary Periodicals and Publications
During the rule of Raja Sir Basudeb Sudhal Deb and Raja Satchidananda Tribhuban Deb the following literary periodicals were being found published among these peridicals “Sambalpur Hitaisini” had proved to have effects and literary impacts over all concerned. This could help creation of literary new consciousness and uniformity.
Apart from the magazines and journals published at Deogarh, about eighteen periodicals in languages like Odia, Bengali, Hindi and English were also in circulation in Bamanda State for use of readers in public library and for individual subscribers. The most popular among the Odia magazines were Utkala Deepika (1866) edited by Gouri Shankar Roy with the assistance of Bichitrananda who was serving as Secretary to
Mr.T.E.Ravenshaw, then Commissioner of Odisha, and Utkal Madhupa(1900) edited by Pt. Neelamani Vidyaratna who subsequently edited Sambalpur Hitaishini (1889). Other notable publications from Bamanda state were Upahara (1934), edited Sri Sadhu Chandra Jagdeb and Sankha (1945) with Dr. Mayadhar Mansingh as the Editor.
At present Padarenu and Amruta Bindu magazines published by Jagannath Sahitya Sansad, Deogarh and Radhakrishna Sahitya Sansad, Rengalbeda respectively are published but the periodicity is infrequent and almost annual. Another quarterly magazine, Gyana Sarathi published by Patitapabana Sahitya Sansad, Kandhal also has received considerable readership.