Poetry makes him known as new Gangadhar Meher - Peanut seller Haladhar Nag carves niche for himself as poet of Koshali language

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  • Published 25.09.10

Balangir, Sept. 24: From a peanut seller, 60-year old Haladhar Nag has managed to carve a niche for himself in the literary field of Orissa, as a Koshali poet. Even the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has made a documentary film on his life and works.

Known as Koshali Kuili, he is often compared with legendary poet Gangadhar Meher. Clad in a dhoti and vest, he leaves his audience spellbound wherever he goes — be that Shantiniketan or Hyderabad, Raipur or Pithoda.

His initial works were in Koshali folk literature.

“Till 1990, I wrote Lokgeet, Samparda and Krushnaguru which are the roots of the Koshali literature. It was after 1990 that I shifted to writing poetry in Koshali language. After 20 years, my writings in Koshali have been recognised worldwide. Famous publishing houses have come forward to publish most of my works,” Haladhar said.

The themes of Haladhar’s works vary from mythological to social, political and even scientific events. His mythological works include Mahasati Urmila and Tara Mandodari while his works on social issues include masterpiece like Achhia (inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s fight against untouchability). But the work that has left a lasting impression on everybody is Bacchhar, which has been admired most till date. Bacchhar is about how the year was divided into six parts and seasons came into being on earth. Interweaving scientific and social themes, he tells a story in exotic verses that is a real masterpiece. He is presently working on Sri Aurobindo’s supra-mental consciousness. Dr Laxminarayan Panigrahi, who teaches Oriya language and literature in the Ghess College, said that he had been working in the project with Haladhar for the last twelve years.

“We have read and discussed Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri several times to understand the philosophy of super-mind. Haladhar has only written a draft text of the manuscript, which is not in verse form,” he said.

Haladhar’s other major works include Siri Somalai, Veer Sundar Sai, Karamsani, Rasia Kavi (biography of Tulasidas) and Prem Paechan. Most of these works have made their places in the first volume of Haladhar Granthabali. The second volume of Haladhar Granthabali will soon be available in the market, he said.

The great Oriya poet Gangadhar Meher also lived in Barpali, which is only a few kilometres away from Haladhar’s village.

Haladhar, however, does not want people to compare him with great poet Gangadhar Meher. “More than a poet, Gangadhar Meher was like an institution in the field of Oriya literature,” he said. “People keep referring to me as the second Gangadhar Meher. But I do not like the idea of comparing myself with the great poet. I do not want to be known as the second Gangadhar Meher. I just want to live and die as Haladhar Nag. If people remember me even after my death, they should do so only by my name,” he said.