A life dedicated to Odia language, Lord Jagannath

Antaryami Mishra will be conferred the Padma Shri this year for his contribution to Odia language. He speaks to Diana Sahu about his love for the regional language and Jagannath culture.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustration)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustration)

BHUBANESWAR:  The prestigious Padma Shri may have come to him late but, author-researcher Antaryami Mishra has no complaints. Having dedicated five decades of his life to researching and writing on Odia language and Jagannath culture, Mishra feels he still has a lot more to do for promoting both.

The author was chosen for the civilian award in the field of literature and education. Dedicating the award to the Odia society, he feels it is the blessing of Lord Jagannath. The Odia society, he said, is recognised by two things - Lord Jagannath and Odia language. “And I have been working on these two subjects for the last 54 years,” said Mishra who has written 37 books so far. Some of the prominent ones being ‘Purushottam Jagannath’,  ‘Darubrahma Nkara Nabakalebara’, ‘Prachin Odisha’, ‘Odia Bhasara Itihaas’, ‘Moulika Odia Bhasatatwa’, ‘Odia Bhasa, Jati O Jatiyata’ and ‘Odia - Eka Sastriya Bhasa’.

In fact, the book ‘Odia - Eka Sastriya Bhasa’ is an exhaustive documentation of historical studies, growth and development of classical status of Odia language. Released in 2013, a year before Odia was accorded classical language status by the Centre, the book also fetched Mishra the President’s Certificate of Honour in 2019. And he continues to be the only Odia scholar and linguist to have been conferred with the honour.
“I never worked with an aim to win the President’s Certificate or the Padma Shri.

But my research and books have always been aimed towards making the new generation aware about the Odia language and Jagannath culture. A lot has been written about Odia literature but that is rare in case of Odia language,” said the Dhenkanal-based writer. “Every Odia youth should know about his language and Lord Jagannath.”

Many of his books are a part of the school curriculum today in the state. He strongly feels that the education system should prioritise use of Odia language in foundational learning of students. “There is a reason behind this. World-wide, educationists have proved that the thinking ability of a child develops properly only when she or he interacts in his mother tongue which is Odia in our case. Although the new education policy speaks of learning in regional language, its implementation has to be proper for the country to achieve its NEP goals,” he said.

Differently-abled (locomotor disability), Mishra continues to travel across the length and breadth of the country to collect records and other information related to Odia language. 

He said his research on Odia language will continue till his health permits. He has recently completed his next book on Jagannath culture titled ‘Sri Jagannatha Sasthami’. Among the several awards, he had earlier received the DLitt from North Odisha University.

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