KISS Deemed to be University celebrated the 118th Birth Anniversary of Guru Gomke Pandit Raghunath Murmu on 16th May 2022.
Pandit Raghunath Murmu (May 1905 – February 1982) was an Indian writer and educator. He was the man to lend his voice to the Santhal tribe. Until the nineteenth century, Santali people had no written language and knowledge was transmitted orally from one generation to another. Later European researchers and Christian missionaries started to use Bengali, Odia, and Roman scripts to document. Raghunath developed the Ol Chiki script for the Santali language and enriched the cultural identity of the Santali society. He wrote many songs, plays, and school textbooks in Ol Chiki script. Santhals have adorned him with the title ‘Guru Gomke’, the great guru.
The celebration started with the garlanding of statues of tribal freedom fighters like Birsa Munda, and Laxman Nayak instituted at KISS-DU. Students greeted the guests, dignitaries, and participants by singing a song in the Santali language.
Dr.Kanhu CharanMahali, Director General, KISS-DU extended a warm welcome to all dignitaries and participants on behalf of KISS-DU and introduced the distinguished invited speakers: Shri. Udaynath Majhi, Ex-IRAS, and a noted social worker, Shri Karu Murmu, Secretary, Adim Owar Jharpa and Shri. Madan Mohan Soren, Convenor, Santali Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
Dr.Prashanta Kumar Routray, CEO, KISS, and Registrar of KISS-DU, while introducing the purpose of the celebration said, “We at KISS and KISS-DU celebrate birth anniversaries of legendary personalities of Odisha to commemorate their contributions to our society. The main aim is to share the life struggles and determination of these great personalities with the younger generation so that they draw inspiration and transmit this to the next generation. From this, we should have knowledge and information about the life and works of these legends to promote and propagate the same and pass it on to the other generations”, he elucidated. He added that the statues instituted at KISS and KISS-DU premises are a constant reminder of their great work and contribution to society. Mother tongue is given importance at KISS and KISS-DU; the purpose is to keep their languages, culture, and tradition alive. In the context of KISS-DU, we have the School of Comparative Tribal Languages and Literatures, which aims to organize programmes and carry forward research work on tribal languages. If the coming generation follows in these footsteps, it will be a payback in the true sense. We strongly believe that more research should be done on Laxman Naik, Birsa Munda Raghunath Murmu, and to do the same, we have established Research Chairs to keep alive the dying customs and traditions and works. Our purpose for organizing such activities is that if someone wishes to know about the life and works of legends like Pandit Raghunath Murmu, we endeavour to make KISS-DU a Resource Center in the form of a Library or any other form. Our purpose is to do documentation and bring out the works of these legends to the limelight. Some of the shining examples of our initiatives are news being read out in the Santal language on Kalinga Television, establishing the Centre for Tribal Languages and Narratives, and introducing the Santali language under the School of Comparative Tribal Languages and Literatures. We have put our best foot forward in coming up with more such initiatives. I suggest the students use the learnings from Pandit Raghunath Murmu’s life and writings; this, in turn, will be the greatest return gift. No university has the vision and foresight to think out of the box like KISS-DU.” While discussing two new innovative initiatives: Professors of Practice and Professor Emeriti, Dr. Routray said that there is a perfect blend of traditional intellectuals and modern intellectuals at KISS-DU. Today is when the dream of Founder Dr.Achyuta Samanta got translated into reality, he concluded.
In his address, Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice-Chancellor, shed light on the early life of Guru Gomke Raghunath Murmu and said that we wish to grow and develop through our language and culture. Prof. Behera informed the dignitaries about the School of Comparative Tribal Languages and Literatures and the Centre for Tribal Languages and Narratives were established at KISS-DU and announced that the University will award scholarships to those research scholars who want to pursue research on indigenous languages, history, and culture. He announced the inauguration of the Santal Language Club at KISS Deemed University. He also announced the opening of a Masters programme in the Santhali language at the University shortly.
The Chief Guest, Shri Uday Nath Nath Majhi, a social worker working for the social development of Santhalis said with conviction that we can remember Guru Gomke Raghunath through his songs, drama and dances. He said, “The nation which sings and dances will never die.” Shri Majhi shed light on Pandit Raghunath Murmu as a Dharma Pracharak or socio-religious reformer. He mentioned how convinced Raghunath Murmu was about the distinct religion of Tribals. He was convinced that Tribals have their religion and Guru Gomke Murmu had named the religion of Santhalis Sarna Dharma. Shri Majhi informed the august gathering that in the 1951 census 3 lakh Santhals had written their religion as Sarna Dharma; the number has increased to 50 lakhs during the 2011 Census. He also informed that Odisha lags in teaching Santhal in universities whereas West Bengal has been successful in doing so and has introduced Masters courses in 9 universities. Sri Majhi urged the students not to miss any opportunity to converse among themselves in their language. While talking about the social process, he said there is a need for Santalization of the Santals, just like Sanskritization of the Dalits has been happening. In the process of inspiring the students, he said that your mission should be“Sikho aur Sikhao.”
Shri Madan Mohan Soren, Member of Sahitya Academy, said, we should not forget that we are drawing the benefits from the hard work and efforts of Pandit Raghunath Murmu. Every 15 days one indigenous language is disappearing due to a lack of propagation and promotion by the people who speak it. He shared how the Boa language disappeared with the death of the last member of the Boa Tribe. If Guru Gomke Raghunath had not worked hard we would have lost our Santhali language and our distinct identity would not have been possible. He quoted Samuel Johnson, “Language is a pedigree to a nation; when a language is lost, I feel sorry about it.” Shri Soren strongly suggested that language is the only means to keep the culture and traditions alive. He expressed that “We have learned a lesson from Pandit Raghunath Murmu that we need to put in hard work to keep it alive.” He informed the participants that the Santhal Advisory Board of Sahitya Academy has requested the central government to establish a National Council for the promotion of the Santhali Language as we have had one for the Sindhi language since 1994. Shri Soren expressed his happiness to learn that the students and scholars of KISS-DU will study courses in Santal and do research on the Santal language. Instituting Santali Language Club and Research Chair on tribal heroes is a welcome step towards protecting, preserving, and promoting indigenous culture and traditions.” he concluded.
One of the distinguished speakers, Shri Karu Murmu, Secretary, AdimOwar, Jharpa, said that language is everything as it makes you a human being by giving identity. Shri Murmu encouraged the students to interact in their languages and teach their languages to others. Ms Ritika Tudu, a famous Santali singer was felicitated by KISS-DU fraternity for singing maximum songs dedicated to Guru Gomke Pandit Raghunath Murmu.
Mr. Kadey Soren, Deputy Director, Academics expressed sincere thanks to the distinguished speakers and participants on behalf of the Founder of KISS-DU Dr. Achyuta Samanta. He also expressed his gratitude to all the office staff and faculties for extending their hearty cooperation without which the event would have not been a grand success.