Kanta Kabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra
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Kanta Kabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra was born on Dec 9,1888 at Dhuanpatria Lane of Cuttack city to zamindar Choudhary Bhagabat Prasad Samantaray Mohapatra and Radhamani Devi. As he was born on the particular day of worship of goddess Laxmi, was named as Laxmikanta. His father Bhagabat Prasad Samantaray Mohapatra represented Bihar-Orissa Legislative Council for four times and served as its deputy speaker for two terms. Kanta Kabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra married Labanga Lata, the daughter of zamindar Lalmohan Das. 

Eminent Personality of Odisha -Kanta Kabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra
Eminent Personality of Odisha -Kanta Kabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra – Art by Saswat Debadutta

He spent his childhood in his maternal uncle’s house and studied in Balasore. After passing his intermediate exams, he left for Kolkata’s Pion College for higher education. However, in 1913, he returned to Ravenshaw and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree.

He was attracted to fine arts like music and dance from a tender age. He started writing during his college days. Laxmikant penned Vande Utkala Janani‘ in 1912 and was first sung in the Utkala Sammilani held in Balasore. 

Laxmikant is known for his literary works seeped in devotion and spiritualism, such as ‘Basanta Bilasa’, ‘Baruna Bijaya’, ‘Kaliyadalana’, ‘Brajabarjana’, ‘Besabadala’, etc, along with historical and mythological plays like ‘Karna’, ‘Kalapahada’, ‘Chandraahasa’, etc. ‘Chidiakhana’, ‘Dharma Sangeeta’, ‘Balachara’, ‘Sunapua’, ‘Mo Desa’, etc. were his children’s stories. His essays include ‘Keisora Swapna’, ‘Joubana Pathe’, ‘Nibhruta Nisithe’, ‘Jibanta Maran’, among others.

Most of the literary works of Kanta Kabi  have been compiled in two volumes – “Kanta Sahityamala volume -I and II”. The last chapter of volume-II contains his nationalist poems. It includes thirty – three nationalist poems. Since ‘Vande Utkal Janani’ to ‘Ke Kahiba aji Bharata Ke Kahiba taku dina’ – the twenty six poems are written in one phase. Then ‘A Desha’, ‘Pralaya Dunduvi’, ‘Unmada’, ‘Aryabahini’, ‘Vijayavana’, ‘Jatiyapataka’, ‘Samara Sangeeta’ – these seven poems are written in second phase.

Laxmikant also released a journal called “Dagara“, which had a wide array of articles in it such as satire, children’s stories, writings that exposed the hypocrisy of politics and society, etc.

Kanta Kabi, was attracted by the ideals of Gandhiji. His song’s reflects the poet’s Gandhian thought and his prose piece “Asahajogira Atmakatha”  reveals his attitude towards the non-co-operation movement of 1921. Laxmikant’s Nationalist poems are small in number. But more powerful is their inspiratory and emotional appeal. His objective was to remind the stagnant Odias their lost glory and heritage to initiate the feeling of love and devotion for the motherland. 

Starting from talapada village of Bhadrak his literature spread over distant parts of Odisha and touched the hearts of Rajas, Maharajas to poor, destitutes, oppressed to suppressed ones.Fakir Mohan Senapati once blessed Laxmikant by telling  “Carry on writing, go on with the spirit, the gold will remain and the residue will be burnt into ashes”

He was conferred with the Kanta Kabi title at a felicitation ceremony in Bhadrak high school in 1933. His classic creation Vande Utkal Janani has become the state anthem of Odisha in 1936. In 1990, the state government made it compulsory to be sung at the beginning of school prayers in government schools and at the end of any Legislative Assembly session. Kanta Kabi has left behind his indelible foot-prints in various fields of Odia literature.

A P Subhakanta Samal

By A P Subhakanta Samal

Teacher, Proud Odia. Passionate about History and heritages of Odisha. Founder and Chief editor of Shubhdristi (ଶୁଭଦୃଷ୍ଟି), A bi-monthly Odia e magazine and literature portal.