Sambeet Dash

Not many days has passed since I wrote my last obituary, when I had to write one more. He was a true achiever on his own, coming from a humble background. A gifted orator, his life was prematurely cut short. I liked his lucid style of monologue delivery and explanation of our Sacred texts in a simple form to be understood by the commoners.

Born as Rama Chandra Barik in our village, he went by Charana Ramdas – At the feet in the service of Lord Ram. He was very skilled at giving PRABACHANA (sermons) in his catchy style which directly connected to his audience. His sermons are popular on many Odia TV Channels and can be watched on YouTube as well.

He rose from a humble background. His father JATIA BARIKA was the ubiquitous figure in all the marriages held in our village. I remember him from the late 1970s, coming to our home to get tutored by my Uncle who was his contemporary but a better student. He was a fan of Vinod Khanna, dismissing Amitabh Bacchan as a KANKI JUANA (lanky young man).

However, Amitabh had the last laugh as he went on to be the superstar. Next time I saw him on TV gone were his long hippie hair of the 70s. He had lost those hairs, turned bald but his sermons turned on my attention.

An admirer of my grandfather who was a renowned Sanskrit scholar of our village and its vicinity, Rama Barika, as he was addressed in our village went on to pass Matriculation Exam, studied Arts (a local lingo for Humanities subjects) before dropping out of college at some point of time. He went to a local Mutt (Abbott) in Puri and learnt about Jagannath culture and tradition from his Guru Sadasiba Rathasharma, a renowned Jagannath Scholar of the time. He never looked back ever since.

He had a glib tongue. His sermons effectively blended with catchy words, phrases with devotional songs, juxtaposed with stories from our Hindu Scriptures – Puranas, Veda, Upanishad  caught the attention of his audience. Often he was on TV screen as well as on Radio giving running commentary during the live telecast of the world famous Rath Jatra held every summer, captivating the audience, making you feel as if you are on Puri BADA DANDA (Broadway) watching the event.

Covid cut his life short. He was only 61 years of age. May Lord Jagannath bless him with peace. Om Shanti.

(Author is an Odia technocrat living in the USA. Views are personal)

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