The writer Gourahari Das (b.1959)can be called a traveller. His journeys, both figurative and literal, have made a writer of him. Born on 9th of October 1959 in a very remote Indian village Sandhagara near river Mantei he has come a long way. Real-life experiences acquired while growing up in an impoverished monastery sharpened his skills as a writer and endowed him with a sensibility laced with compassion and humour which gives his creative being its distinctive character. A front-liner among Indian authors writing in Odia, Gourahari is not only a fictionist, playwright, critic and poet but a Media-academician and a leading journalist to lend his writings the benefits of a rich artistic sensibility in their rare depth, dimension and diverse pictures of life in more than 70 books besides the regular features and columns in the Sambad and Katha, the largest circulated Daily and the fiction monthly of Odisha respectively.
Born in a freedom-fighter family Gourahari had to live amid the strict discipline and austerities of an impoverished monastery where he got the first lessons of life while getting the formal primary education. Notwithstanding the nagging circumstantial cul-de-sacs Gourahari, supported by some scholarships, marched ahead on the way of his quest for knowledge; he graduated from Ravenshaw College the oldest and the premier alma mater of Odisha. It is there he, at the age of 21 got the readers’ first applause for his Juara Bhatta (The Web and Tide), a collection of short stories. Since that Gourahari has not looked back. He acquired a Post-graduate and a Ph.D degree from Utkal University besides being the Gold Medalist in MJMC.
Young Gourahari started his career as a trainee sub-editor in The Sambad and by dint of his sheer perseverance he rose to the height of an editor of this media house that provided him with the scope of giving vent to his multifaceted talent. He became a prolific published writer of novels, short stories, vignettes, travelogues, plays, poems, criticisms and regular columns where he makes the readers feel changed for having read him; he adjusts the readers’ angle of view on life, living, and on the world. He gives each of his stories the density of a compacted novel enriched with qualities of drama. The distinctive vitality of his stories comes from their imaginative limberness which triumphantly displays impressive feats of flexibility. It is always adapted to the twists and turns of life. A number of his works have been translated into English and Hindi. Some of them are The Little Monk and other Stories, The Nail and other Stories, Koraput and other Stories,The Shades of Life , Kanta aur Anya Kahaniyan and Jhut ka ped.
Gourahari is an eminent theatre personality. Besides being the President of the premier Theatre group of Odisha, Shatabdir Kalakar, he has contributed many plays that have been staged by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India, National School of Drama, Shatabdir Kalakar, Natyachetana, Uttarpurush and AJIT. He acted as a member of The Film Censor Board of Regional Office, Cuttack during 2012 to 2016.
His achievements can be categorized under two heads namely, as a journalist and social activist, and a littérateur. As a journalist and Media-academician Gourahari Das has witnessed the interesting trajectory of four decades’ Odia journalism. He has been a party to the process of its development by virtue of his profession and passion. Rajadhani Rajaniti (power politics of the Capital),the regular weekly column in Sambad, a political satire serving as a watchdog and Jibanar Jalchhabi (Vignettes of life) a creative commentary on human life continuing for the last twenty-five years bear testimony to the abilities of Dr. Das as a successful and popular columnist. Through his articles and features Das has contributed immensely to the eradication of superstitious practices in different temples of Odisha. His voice against witchcraft and sorcery has created wide awareness. The provision for monthly pension to the Padmashree awardees by the Government of Odisha is an outcome of Das’s article on the miserable living condition of the old awardees.
As the Editor of Katha, the largest circulated fiction monthly of Odisha continuing successfully for the last 34 years, has brought about a revolution by creating new readers and story-tellers. The Annual Short story competition among young writers under 30 has played a significant role in encouraging new talents.
Gourahari Das has proved his talent not only in print-media but also in electronic media right from his college days working as an Announcer in the All India Radio, Cuttack and subsequently in 2008 as the Director of the News Division of Kanak TV. Presently he has also been functioning as the Principal of Sambad School of Media and Culture, recognized by the Government of Odisha and affiliated to Utkal University of Culture. Many pass-outs of this institute have come out successful with flying colours and Gold Medals.
As a social activist Gourahari Das has acted as a catalyst in different fields instead of becoming a silent onlooker. As the General Secretary of Baramunda Surakshya Samiti, he played an important role in raising a strong mass-voice against the evacuation of Baramunda village for the expansion of the International Airport in the 90’s. The then Chief Minister of Odisha, the legendary Biju Patnaik put a hold on the Evacuation Programme. He is not only an advocate of women-folk in his stories and novels, he is one in real life also. Gourahari has played a very vital role in organizing the poor women of Baramunda area and extending his help in the formation of Trishakti MahilaSamiti which has grown up to a leading SHG in the state.
Gourahari Das’ s role and efforts are significant in getting the life-size bronze statue of the eminent freedom fighter of Kanika, Chakradhar Behera popularly known as Kanika Gandhi installed at the Raj Bhawan Square,Bhubaneswar and getting Chakradhar Behera Birth anniversary included in the Government calendar.
Gourahari’s association with the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi from 2008 to 2018, first as the Member of the Advisory Board and then as the Convenor of Odia Advisory Board and Member of its Executive Council bore much fruit. These ten years saw hundreds of programmes—Seminars, Symposia, Interactions and Meet the Author were organized in different parts of Odisha under his leadership. He has chaired and attended as the Guest of Honour at a number of National Seminars at Guwahati, Imphal,Agartala, Kolkata, Bodoland, New Delhi, Chennai, Kochi, Trissur and Trvendrum. He was a member of Indian Writers Delegation to China in 2002 and has attended the World Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany in 2013. Besides, he has visited different countries like USA, UK, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Malayasia, Netherland and Belgium etc.
He is the recipient of Sahitya Akademi(India’s National Academy of Letters) Award, Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Prize. He was a Senior Fellow of the Ministry of Culture of India and a Writer in Residency of Sahitya Akademi.
He is a member of Mahabodhi Society of India.
Gourahari lives in Bhubaneswar,India.