Sachi Routray has been writing poems for more than half-a-century now or even more, Count-less poems: rich in form and content using symbols, myths and archetypes; most of t hem in free verse. In a sense, he is without parallels. While his contemporaries are all taciturn in spirit, Routray, acclaimed to be the people’s poet continues to wield his pen. He has indeed been a prolific writer-a poet, a short story writer, a novelist and a critique all rolled into one. He is a towering figure in modern oriya literature. A BODHIDRUMA, the enfant terrible.
Routray belonged to that group of writers who called themselves poets of the people. They echoed the ideas of Sigmund Freud, Lenin, Kari Marx and Walt Whitman in their writings. Influenced as he is also by T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas Sachi Routray was the innovator of ultramodern note in Oriya poetry. Morden Oriya Poetry, with its vast repository of words and one being firmly in saddles today, owes much to Routray. He is the source of inspiration to many poets of the present genre. Sachi Routray did to Oriya poety what Ram Dhari Sing Dinakar had done to Hindi or Kazi Nazrul Islam to modern Bengali verse.
Sachi Routray was born in Gurujang near Khurda on May 13, 1916. While a school boy he was drawn into the vortex of the freedom struggle. So revolutionary were his poems that some of them were banned by the British. Sachi Routray made the debut in writing poetry at the early age of elven. He has been writing pomes ever since.
Routray’s first anthology of poems was PATHEYA (Pathway). That, in fact, set the path for a whole range of creations. In a writing career spanning six decades he has published many volumes of verse. Beginning with PANDULIPI (Manuscript) up to KAVITA-1990 Routray’s poem have been as varied and powerful as his life.
Essentially a romantic poet, he became acutely aware of the impact of the contemporary life on the individual and he expressed this awareness with honesty and through the use of carefully chosen images which acted a kind of objective correlation of that awareness.
His versification has a vivid imagery, penetrating perception and acute awareness of the current happening. Routray has his own technique of writing poetry. The essential element being its address to the downtrodden. At the same time, they have an important bearing on social milieu. In some of his poems like ABHIYAN (Expedition), RAKTASIKHA (Flames of Blood) and PALLISREE (The Rural Beauty) he has raised his voice of protest against exploitation of various kinds. Many of his poems are clarion calls to the struggling masses to come out of the cages of servitude. The poor farmer, the wage earner, the mazdoor and the helpless man of the town all have been Routray’s characters.
PANDULIPI, KAVITA-1962, SWAGATA, PALLISHREE, BHANUMATIR DESHA, ABHIYAN, HASANTA, KAVITA-1977, KAVITA-1986, KAVITA-1987 AND KAVITA – 1990, are some of his creations.
Another poem of Routray’s is BAJI ROUT. Translated by Harindra Nath Chattopadhaya into English (The Boatman Boy and Forty other poems) this anthology is a landmark in Indian literature. The poem is about the martyrdom of a 12-year old boy of Bhuan in Dhenkanal. The boy who gallantly laid his life at the hands of the British police has emerged as an emblem of true sacrificial grandeur on the canvas of enkindled futurity. This is an immortal creation of Sachi Routray as it has kindled the hope and aspiration among the people who were tyrannized by the British as well as the feudal overlords of Dhenkanal.
Sachi Routray wrote short stories as well with equal poise and elegance. They may not be a variegated as the poems, but, like poems, they give expression to the feelings and emotions of humanity. The inner conflicts of man, the deprivations and the socio-political reality all are narratives of a unique kind. For instance, MASANIRA PHULA (Flower in the Graveyard). MALAKAIN (The Withered lily) and ANGUTHI (Finger) and a host of other anthologies. Just as poetry, some of Routray’s short stories too have heralded a new beginning in Oriya prose literature.
In 1935 Routray wrote CHITRAGREEBA. This novel (or an antinovel as he claims) was very popular for its varied characterization, subtle treatment and itellectual snubbing.
Routray has travelled extensively aboard and that accounts for the cosmopolitan outlook we find in his works. For his seminal contributions to literature awards have flower to him-Padmashree in 1962. Kendriya Sahitya Akademi Award in 1964, Soviet Land Award in 1965 and the mother of all awards the Jnanapeeth in 1986.
Sachi Routray’s life is the confluence of three different streams: he is born Oriya, Educated and grew up in Bengal and married to a Telugu princess of Golapalli. The consummation of three cultures of Utkal, Banga and Dakshin opned up new vistas and established cross-cultural linkages. A Triveni Sangam to say it rather rhetorically.
Sachidananda Routry is not only a poet but a humanist and a visionary as well. His response to modernity lies in his patient sympathy for the poor and the oppressed, the desolate and the ruined. His poems has natural tendency to speak for the lower substratum of the society. His poetic crusades release a sense of freedom and aggressiveness. Routray’s staunch faith in man, his assertive protest and dissent against man’s frustration and despair and his undying dreams for man’s social salvation make his truly a poet of the people, the JANAKAVI. He left for his heavenly abode on 21.08.2004.