11 September 2008

Society over Self

The self versus society question has been a matter of intense discussion among thinkers. The current purpose is not go into that aspect, but to highlight thoughts of two Odia (Oriya) thinkers/social reformers who espoused the cause of society over self.

One is among the famous lines from the well known poet laureate (kavi samrat) Upendra Bhanj. It reads as follows.

Mo jibana pache narke padi thau,
jagata udhara hau

Translated to English it means:

Let my life be consigned to hell,
Let the universe be saved (redeemed of all ills).

Some critiques interpret it too literally and say if the universe is redeemed of all ills then the poet would also benefit from this and not be consigned to hell. In my interpretation, the poet is indicating that he wants to sacrifice his self for the benefit of the larger society, nay universe.

The other saying that I take is from Gopabandu Dash, a social reformer and freedom fighter from Odisha (Orissa). Once he left his ailing/dying son to address the call of his motherland. One of his famous lines reads as:

Misu mo deha a desha matire,
Desha basi chali jaantu pithire

Translated to English it means:

My body should become one with my country's land,
Let countrymen walk over my back (to get freedom)

The author does not mind becoming one with mother Earth so that people can walk over him to get freedom. Here again the sacrifice of the self over the larger good is espoused.

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