The Man Behind the Name
MANOJ DAS, a creative writer on whom the Sahitya Akademi (the National Academy of Letters) has bestowed its highest honour, the Fellowship, was a youth leader with radical views in his college days, playing an active role in the Afro- Asian Students’ Conference at Bandung, Indonesia, in 1956.
His deeper quest, however, led him to mysticism and he has been an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry, since 1963 where he teaches English Literature and the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. A bilingual writer with almost an equal number of books in Odia and English, he has been translated into several major languages of India as well as of the world.
In 1971, his research in the archives of London and Edinburgh brought to light some of the little-known facts of India’s freedom struggle in the first decade of the Twentieth century led by Sri Aurobindo for which he received the Fist Sri Aurobindo Puraskar ( Kolkata).Other awards he has received for his creative writing include the Sahitya Akademi Award(1972), the Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award( twice), the Sarala Award, the Sahitya Bharati Award, the BAPASI ( The Book-sellers and Publishers Association of South India) Award as the best writer in English in South India for the year 1998, Rotary’s ‘ For the Sake of Honors’, the President’s Padma Award(2001) and India’s premier award for literature, the Saraswati Samman as well as ‘Utkal Ratna’ from Odisha’s oldest literary institution the Utkal Sahitya samaj. While the Berhampur University honoured him with the status of honorary Professor Emeritus, he received the D.Litt. (Honoris Causa) from five universities: the Utkal University of Culture (2004), the Utkal University (2006), the Fakir Mohan University (2007), the North Orissa University (2011) and the Ravenshaw University (2011).
At different times he contributed regular personal columns to India’s leading English newspapers, The Thought, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times and The Hindu and major Odia dailies. He edited a prestigious monthly, The Heritage, for five years (1985-1989).
During 1981-1985, he was an author-consultant to the Ministry of Education, Government of the Republic of Singapore, visiting the island nation twice a year for taking classes of a hundred teachers. He was the leader of the Indian delegation of writers to China (1999).