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Social Injustice and Suffering

Subhendu Mund

Edited and Introduced by Bijay Kumar Satapathy
, New Delhi, 2007, pp. xxxiii+76, Rs. 55.00


Bhagabati Charan Galpamala (Bhagabati Charans Short Stories) is not the first anthology of the short stories of Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi (190843), the founder of Nabajuga Sahitya Samsad (Literary Society of the New Era), the Odia version of the Progressive Writers Movement which had its first convention at Cuttack between 29 November and 6 December 1935.   It would be appropriate to situate Bhagabati in the history of Odia literature in general and Odia Pragatibadi tradition in particular. Besides being the founder of Nabajuga Sahitya Samsad and Communism in Odisha, he was also the founding editor and publisher of the Adhunika, a literary magazine founded in May 1936 which aimed at popularizing the Progressive Writers Movement. It was shortlived like its founder Bhagabatiit did not even complete one year, but its impact on Odia literature has been immense.   The NBT publication of Bhagabati Charan Galpamala is significant in the sense that it has come out at a time when the historiography of the Progressive Movement is being reconstructed and paradoxically, Bhagabati and the efforts of his colleagues is gradually being erased from the history of Odia literature. I must note here that some of the anthologies of socalled representative Odia short stories do not include any of Bhagabatis stories, not even Shikar (The Hunt, Adhunika, Vol I, 1936), supposed to be his most powerful creation which has attained the status of a classic. Long ago, this story was made into a film by Mrinal Sen as Mrigaya (1976) which bagged many National Awards. This project made Bhagabati somewhat conspicuous as a fiction writer of substance, but after that he has been relegated to oblivion. The historiographers of Odia literature do not seem to acknowledge Bhagabatis influential contribution to literature. Even Dr Bijay Kumar Satapathy, a wellknown scholar in the area of Pragatibadi trend in Odia literature does not make any attempt in his Introduction to Bhagabati Charan Galpamala to reestablish the role of Bhagabati in bringing about a sea change in the realms of Odia literature and intellectual life through his writings, Nabajuga Sahitya Samsad and his periodical the Adhunika. In short, the position of Bhagabati and the Progressive Writers Movement in Odia literature is gradually being eroded from the collective memory because of hegemonic politics of historiography.   The present anthology is significant also because it includes all the thirteen stories written by Bhagabati. True, he wrote only thirteen stories, and all of them cannot be called Progressive in ...

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