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My Days in Tulasi Kshetra
by : P.G. RAMA RAO
p.p. : 166 + x
Price : Rs. 220.00
P.G. Rama Rao (b.1935) retired from the P.G. Dept. of English, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, in 1995, after a long and distinguished innings as a teacher of English and American Literature.
His Ph.D. thesis on Hemingway’s narrative technique and his article on “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” were highly acclaimed in Sixteen Modern American Authors (Duke Univ. Press, 1974). A Fulbright Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the University of Massachusetts, he studied the Hemingway manuscripts in John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in 1981-82 and 1993, taught the Hemingway course in the University of Massachusetts, and delivered lectures in several American universities. In 1986, on a British Council grant, he visited Oxford and Edinburgh universities, where he delivered a series of lectures and studied the Charles Dickens manuscripts in Victoria and Albert Museum. He participated in the MLA Convention and the Hemingway Conference in New York in December 1981, and in the Second and Third International Hemingway Conferences in Italy (1986) and Austria (1988) respectively.
Dr. Rao supervised the Doctoral Research of many scholars and published a large number of research papers and articles, some of which were included in learned anthologies. Among his publications are the Poetic Rapture (1963), Ernest Hemingway: A Study in Narrative Technique (1980), Narrative Technique in British and American Fiction (1986), Scapes (A Collection of poems—1992), The Wave and the Hill (A Novel—1993), The Critic’s Eye (1993), Shri Brahma Vaivartha Purana (2008), My Days in Tulasi Kshetra (2009), On the Other Side of the Globe (2013), and An Enduring Picture and Other Poems (2014).
PREFACE to My Days in Tulasi Kshetra
Six years ago, I flew to Bhubaneswar to conduct a Ph.D. Viva as an external examiner in the Utkal University, and Shri Sailendra Narayan Tripathy, one of my beloved old students in Kendrapara college, who was teaching English in B.J.B. College, received me at the airport. We had the opportunity of conversing more than once during my two-day sojourn in Bhubaneswar, and sharing some of our reminiscences.
His suggestion that I should write my memoirs activated my memory cells, which set out on a journey into my past spanning four-score years and falling into seven geographical and chronological phases: (1) Tuni in Andhra Pradesh, where I was born and had my schooling(1935 – 49); (2) Kakinada(A.P.), where I had my college education(1949 – 53); (3) Narsaraopet(A.P.), where I had my first teaching assignment in S.S.N. college(1953 – 57); (4) Kakinada(A.P.) where I had my second teaching assignment in P.R.Govt. college (1957 – 1962); (5) Kendrapara (Orissa) where I had my third teaching assignment and my longest innings(1962 – 1983);(6) Bhubaneswar(Orissa), where I had my fourth teaching assignment, in Utkal University(1983 – 1995) ; (7) Hyderabad (A.P.), where I have been living in relaxed retirement with my children and children’s children since 1995, dividing my time between God and my family.
My life in Kendrapara is the longest and the most significant of those seven phases which put me in mind of Shakespeare’s “seven ages of man” ( Jacques in As You Like It) and the famous palmist, Chiero’s, “system of seven”. It was in Kendrapara that I realized the purpose of my life. Therefore I thought that Sailendra’s suggestion had a point. Then I remembered an engaging conversation on a Cuttack – Kendrapara bus when I learnt that Kendrapara is known as Tulasi Kshetra even as Bhubaneswar is known as Linga Kshetra and Puri as Sri Kshetra. The name, Kendrapara, itself is derived from Lord Baladeva’s killing of the demon, Kandarasura, and Tulasi, being the favourite plant of the three fold Godhead of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva and Goddess Subhadra ( representing the Absolute in His three cosmic manifestations of creation, preservation and destruction), the place is the sacred Tulasi Kshetra. During my twenty one years of life in Kendrapara (numerologically (3x7)), I breathed in the holy air of this spiritually charged place.
The conversation, which I heard on the bus and recollected after Sailendra’s suggestion, prompted me to write about my days in Tulasi Kshetra and how they moulded my spirit.
Let me conclude this Preface with the disclaimer that this is not a book on Kendrapara or Kendrapara college but a record of my experiences and reflections and my spiritual growth, some what on the lines of Henry David Thoreau’s classic, Walden.
List of Contents
Why I Went to Kendrapara
My Evening Walks
Satya Yuga Revisited
The Diamond Jubilee Library
The College Campus
My Ph.D. Project
An Old Friend Discovered
I Meet My Master
Madhial and Mahipal
Picasso and Eliot
A Rare Comet
How Tulasi Kshetra Made My Mother’s “One-Lakh-Wick Puja” Possible
Strange Dreams, Elevating Thoughts, and Chastening Experiences
Golok Behari Das
The Power of Prayer
The Death of My Father
1971-1975 : A Season of Upheavals and Dislocations
A Devastating Cyclone and Autobiography of a Yogi
My Wife Becomes a Reputed Writer
The Second Indo-Pak War (October 1971—December, 1971)
Sumati Satakam and Vemana Padyalu
Mantra or Sound Charged with Mind-Power
The Golden Lad of the Land of Golden Grass
1975 – 1977 : A Different Kind of Dislocation in the Family
Two Major Bereavements
Nineteen Months of Totalitarian Efficiency
Kendrapara College Gets a Big UGC Grant
The Power of Desire and the Western Connection
Shri Ganeswara Behera
A Charlatan Wearing a Yogi’s Mask
Hard Times:Night-Fall on a Bright Day
An Encounter with Ismaili Culture
I Go West
Back in Tulasi Kshetra: Business as Usual
The Divine Design
Prayer, Devotion and Faith
Right, Wrong, and Prayer:My Understanding of Raas Babu’s Teachings