Bhubaneswar: A critical edition of two ‘parvas’ of the ‘Saroladas Mahabharatha’, authored by the 15th-century poet Sarala Das, and brought out by the Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA) Deemed to be University, were released at a function here on Wednesday.
The publication, containing the ‘musoli’ and ‘swargarohan’ parvas written by the poet widely referred to as ‘adi kavi’, were released by eminent scholar, writer and linguist Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak at the program organised in the university.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, in a video message, hailed SOA’s endeavour saying Sarala Das’s epic provided a vivid picture of life at that time.
“It is an excellent attempt,” he said while congratulating the university.
Bishnupada Sethi, Principal Secretary to the government in the revenue and disaster management, Odia language, literature and culture departments, unveiled the digital edition of the work on the occasion.
The epic contained 18 ‘parvas’ the critical editions of which the university planned to publish subsequently.
Hailing SOA’s endeavour, Dr. Pattanayak said it was a difficult task “but a lot more is needed to be done to bring Sarala Das’ stupendous work into limelight.”
He, however, said research should be undertaken to clear the air about the place of Sarala Das’s place of birth and the time to which he belonged.
“There is a question mark on whether the poet belonged to the 9th-10th century though it is generally believed that he lived in the 15th century,” he said.
A three-member editorial team comprising scholars Prof. Gouranga Charan Dash, Prof. Pradipta Kumar Panda and Dr. Bhagyalipi Malla edited the critical edition.
SOA Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ashok Kumar Mahapatra presided over the function which was also addressed by scholar and writer Dr. Asit Mohanty and former Vice-Chancellor of Biju Patnaik University of Technology and writer Prof. Omkarnath Mohanty.
Prof. Gouranga Charan Dash, a member of the editorial team, said Sarala Das was generally accepted as a 15th century poet who also authored the ‘Bichitra Ramayana’ and ‘Chandi Purana’ which were on palm leave manuscripts.
Though the ‘Mahabharatha’ was published by four publishing houses between 1898 and 1927 and one more edition was brought out by the state government edited by eminent Odia scholar late Artaballabh Mohanty in the early 1960s, researchers spoke of the need for a critical edition, he said.
The editors had used more than twenty 19th century manuscripts available from different regions of Odisha which were collected from the Odisha State Museum, National Museum and Sambalpur University.
The new edition was prepared after deep analysis of the available material and the words used were 500 to 600 years old.
The digital edition of the publication containing the manuscripts used and the edited material would enable the reader to prepare his own epic, Prof. Dash said.
Sethi said the state government was keen to promote ancient Odia literature and an Odia University was being planned in the state in addition to the existing Culture University.
“A poet of Sarala Das’ stature needs to be introduced globally and the government would make efforts for the same,” he said.
Most of the speakers congratulated SOA for taking up the difficult task and thanked the university’s founder Prof. Manojranjan Nayak for extending support to such a venture.
Dr. Asit Mohanty, who discussed the new publication, congratulated SOA for the ‘courageous attempt’ while describing the edition as necessary.
He also referred to articles written by eminent Odia author and researcher late Gopinath Moanty saying “we need to know much more about the poet.”
Prof. Omkarnath Mohanty also referred to late Mohanty’s works saying he had written nine articles on Sarala Das between 1956 and 1958.
The author had also translated 100 pages of the epic into English which was in manuscript form, Prof. Mohanty said.
The programme was organised by the SOA Centre for Preservation, Propagation and Restoration of Ancient Culture and Heritage of India (PPRACHIN). PPRACHIN’s head Dr. Gayatribala Panda introduced the guests while Prof. Jyoti Ranjan Das, SOA’s Dean (Students’ Welfare) moderated the programme.