Fakir Mohan Senapati was born on January 14, 1843 in Mallikashpur of Balasore. He is considered as “Vyasakabi” or the founder poet of Odia language and is regarded as the father of “Modern Odia Literature.” He was master in the art of writing short stories and injected a new life in Odia Literature. His father’s name was Lakshman Charan and mother’s name was Tulasi Devi.
He grew up to become an administrator in ex-feudatory States but took up creating writing late. It was he who saved Odia language from extinction, from the hands of Bengalis who were trying to replace Odia with Bengali during that time. He was a social reformer and an educator who wrote about the common man and his problems prevalent in the society during that time and hence is rightly called the “Father of Odia Fiction.”
He published two journals. One was “Bodhadayini” and the other was “Balasore Sambada Bahika” in Balasore. He was the publisher, editor, writer, printer, distributor and the financier, all in one. He wrote many novels such as “Chha Maana Aatha Guntha”, “Mamu”, “Prayaschita”, “Lachhama” etc. His novel “Chha Mana Atha Guntha” was the first Indian novel which dealt with the exploitations of landless peasant with feudal lord. He also wrote many stories. “Rebati” (1898) is widely recognized as the first Odia short story. “Rebati” is the story of a young innocent girl whose desire for education is placed in the context of a conservative society in a backward village of Odisha, which is hit by the killer epidemic cholera. Among his other well known stories are “Patent Medicine”, “Dhulia Baba”, “Lachchma”, “Daka Munshi”, “Adharma Bitta”, “Randi Pua Ananta” etc. He was also the writer of the first autobiography in Odia “Atma Jeevan Charita” .
Even though he had no formal education, he proved himself as an enlightened teacher, painter and a great administrator. He passed away on June 14, 1981, but his contribution towards Odia language and literature is unforgettable.