Why Utkal should be named as Kharavela University
“After the glory days of Kharavela, Orissa was reduced from the sublime to the ridiculous. I have a dream to elevate my state to that degree of enviable excellence as Emperor Kharvela did.” So had Biju Patnaik, the legendary patriarch, said in chaste English fifty years ago, speaking before a august assembly of professors and students in the old meeting hall of what was then Ravenshaw College.
Our great leader, with his true wisdom, was able to appreciate the greatness of Kharavela because he was great himself and had an innate ability to understand an emperor unequaled among the kings of his day. While other emperors of his day were dangerously over-ambitious and disgustingly self-important, his noble deeds were used as gifts to his subjects and neighboring states. He was the philosopher-king envisioned by the great Lao Tzu and dreamed of by Plato.
Like Plato, he believed: “Happiness or welfare of subjects is the supreme aim of the ruler, and virtues are required to attain it.” Any Odia will be delighted to know that such a rare human being was born in Bhubaneswar.
In the last 1960’s we had Makers of Destiny by enrollment, a book that glorifies people taken from the pages of history, written in the blood of the people who slaughtered them. It contained chapters on “Alexander the Great Greek,” who massacred thousands and spent his entire thirteen-year career on the battlefield. A chapter about ‘Ashok the Beloved’ who mercilessly killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Odias, apart from an equal number who perished after being taken prisoner. It had ‘Akbar the great Mughal’ a man known for having 300 concubines in addition to many wives to have brief sexual relations with them and was ruthless towards Hindu kings. But a chapter on Kharavela was missing, because malevolent evil attracts the attention of historians more than benevolent good.
Although recorded facts state: “The political and military achievements of Kharavela have indeed no parallel in history, and this great monarch fully justifies his having attained the status of Chakravarti”, meaning “Emperor of Emperors”. If our people are unpatriotic, our intellectuals are indifferent, our historians are overly docile and lack self-confidence, how can we expect our people to know anything about the greatness of Kharvela?
In just twelve years of his reign, Kharavela won a series of brilliant victories that extended his supremacy from the north-western part of India to the farthest south. It must be remembered that Kharvela’s military campaigns were never aimed at building a political empire for Kalinga by annexing conquered territories. His learned teacher Gyanalokananda perfected him in adhering to the ultimate principle of moral excellence. His cherished wish was to play the role of a Dharma Vijayi monarch and increase the honor of Kalinga by defeating the rising powers of his time. The Satavahanas who vied for political power in the Deccan were humiliated, and the Yavans (Indo-Greeks) of India were expelled from Bharatavarsa soil. Magadha suffered a setback too severe to rise again and the dissolution of the Tamil League, which has existed for 1300 years, was his outstanding achievement.
Like Caesar, Kharvel came, saw and conquered
44 B.C. Julius Caesar was murdered. Four years later, Kharavela was crowned king and invincible emperor. Brutus joined the conspirators and assassinated Caesar to prevent him from gaining too much power, while Kharavela was deeply rooted and firmly rooted in the path of virtue, and hence he and all his subjects held on to an unparalleled mutual trust and love Celebration. And so both the kingdom and the king prospered by virtue of unity. At Caesar’s funeral, Mark Antony said, “When the poor wept, Caesar wept.” Kharavela did not weep, but acted like an emperor. As he walked along the banks of the Daya River, Kharavela’s teacher, Gianalokananda, reminded him of the agonized cry of thousands of war widows and the cries of orphaned children during the Kalinga War, which kept moving his heart and echoing in his thoughts, and like Caesar he came, he saw and avenged Ashok’s genocide by conquering Magadha, honorably brought back the respected Kaling Jina along with all the treasures plundered by King Dhana Nanda, thereby freeing his beloved subjects from taxes.
His Rama Rajya
Kharavela was not suitably sanctified, though endowed with virtues like those of Lord Rama. He had ensured health, prosperity, happiness, rebirth and happiness in the lives of his subjects and elevated his kingdom to the level of Rama Rajya. Despite all this, and although he had the courage of Julius Caesar, he could not be known to the world simply because his achievements were not written about as Shakespeare did for Julius Caesar, nor were his virtues emphasized through folk tales, ballads, moving pictures and plays , how to do to make legends out of historical figures.
Salabhanjika, a recent novel about the life of Kharavela by Dr. Indramani Jena, is a significant step that sheds light on Kharavela’s glory days that can spark interest and satisfy the appetite of novice and connoisseur alike.
Living in Odisha especially Bhubaneswar and not knowing anything about Kharavela is like living in Ayodhya and not knowing anything about Shree Rama. Or like living in Rome and not knowing anything about Julius Caesar. In the day when every Odia becomes patriotic like the great Biju Patnaik, the truth that Kharavela was virtuous like Lord Rama will be broadcast to the world. The naming of Utkal University after him is said to inspire generations of unborn students to identify with a man who has become an ideal pattern in the world and whose essence is overflowing with divinity.
(The writer is a poet and thinker)