Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Betanati (Mayurbhanj), Apr 19:
The legendary inventor of Ol Chiki script for Santali language Pandit Raghunath Murmu may have belonged to Odisha, but the Guru Gomkey of the Santhals is far more popular and adored in West Bengal than in his home state.
The Odisha government, which has installed a number of Pandit Murmu’s statues in the state, does remember him during the annual Adivasi Mela and the Santali Bhasa Diwas. But that is about all.
On the contrary, the government in the neighbouring West Bengal has gone beyond paying mere lip-service and set up two educational institutions in the state to preserve his memory..
A college named after him has been set up at Jamabani of Bankura district after his death in 1982. Besides, a teachers’ training institute called the Pandit Raghunath Murmu Teachers’ Training College under Kalyani University in 2007 has come up at Palsanda More village in Murshidabad district.
Sadly, there is none of the kind in either his home district Mayurbhanj or elsewhere in the state. In the last 15 years, most of the government institutions and structures that have come up in the state has been named after just one person while the sons-of-the-soil who have made Odisha proud through their lifelong work and lasting contributions in various fields have simply been forgotten.
The great thinker, philosopher, writer, and playwright Pandit Raghunath was born on May 5, 1905 at Daharadiha village of Mayurbhanj district, Murmu was attracted to Santali language while being a teacher at Badamatalia Upper Primary School.
During his intensive research in Santali language, he invented Ol Chiki script in 1925 and wrote his first novel ‘Bidu Chandan’ in that script.”Darege Dhan”, “Sidhu-Kanhu” and “Kherwal Bir” are among the most acclaimed of his work
Popularly known among the Santals as Guru Gomkey, the title he was conferred with by the Mayurbhanj Adibasi Mahasabha, Pandit Murmu has also been honoured by the Odisha and West Bengal government, several other organizations and associations including the Odisha Sahitya Academy.
He was also decorated with the Honourary D.Litt by the Ranchi University.