“When there is the bustle of progress everywhere, will Utkal be still in slumber ?” This line from Fakir mohan Senapati first original poem Utkal Bhraman (Tours of Odisha) not only epitomises his literary overview but also depicts his flare for Odia nationalism. Fakir Mohan Senapati, regarded as the father of modern Odia literature, dedicated his entire life for the progress of Odia language. He also played a leading role in establishing the distinct identity of Oriya language and literature. So the story of Fakir Mohan is indeed the story of the “renaissance” in Odia literature.
The name Fakir Mohan itself implies the fusion of both Muslim and Hindu communities. Besides that, his life is also a glaring example of Muslim impact on Hindu culture. Born on 14th January 1843 at Mallikashpur village of Balasore district, Fakir Mohan lost his parents in early childhood and was left to the care of his widowed grandmother. At the age of seven, he had an attack of some unknown dreaded disease. Everyone except his grandmother Kuchila Dei had given up hope for his survival. Praying for his life, the desperate grand-mother made a promise at the Pir’s Dargha that if he recovers from the ailment, the boy would be turned a “Fakir” (Muslim mendicant). Miraculously, the boy originally named Braja Mohan recovered and become known as Fakir Mohan. Therafter, he was made a “Fakir” for eight days during Muharram of Ramjan month every year and offered “Simi” at Pir Dargha with whatever he received as alms during that period. Thus Hindu God and Muslim Pir joined hands to keep alive Fakir Mohan, who latter emerged as a novelist of rare calibre not only in Odia language but also in Indian literature.