Prof. Sarat Mahanta, an iconic persolity with multi-faceted talent

To write about a person who had been very close and intimate is really a very tough task. It is more so if the person happened to be an one invested with so many sterling qualities as had been Late Sarat Mahanta. In starting to write about such a person myriad of thoughts come in crowds to the mind and this jumble the mind so much that it is really very difficult to put the ideas in a systematic way. In writing about Late Mahanta who had been my friend, philosopher and guide I had to face this problem and difficulty.

I had the opportunity to have close association with Sarat Mahanta from the late sixties of the last century till his death on June 18, 2013. This association started when I joined Sibsagar College as a lecturer in the English Department and where Sarat Mahanta was a lecturer in the Department of History. Needles to say that this long association with Sarat Mahanta spanning over nearly five decades had been one of the most enriched period of my life. As time rolled on I inwardly realized that there was convergence of many sterling qualities in Sarat Mahanta. He had an attractive persolity for which he could endear himself to his seniors and juniors alike. To his seniors among whom may be mentioned the mes of late Parag Chaliha, Late Biren barkotoky, Sri Patitpavan Das, Sri Prafulla Kumar Baruah, Sri Imran Shah, Late Muhiram Saikia he was known as 'Sarat' while his countless juniors fondly called him either as 'Mahanta Sir' or as 'Sarat Dada'.

Soft-spoken and publicity shy, Sarat Mahanta was a very successful teacher. Besides his special subject 'history' he was well-versed with subjects like 'Social Science'. 'Contemporary Politics and economics'. He was a prolific writer on these subjects and published umpteen articles and write-ups in various Jourls, News Papers and Magazines. These had abundantly revealed Mahanta's grasp on the contemporary social, political, economic scerio of the country and the state for which he could draw encomium from various academic and scholarly quarters.  A rare breed of inquisitiveness and razor-sharp alytical mind had given a new dimension to the writings of Mahanta and because of these he could visualize certain impact on the future situation which had been a reality although Mahanta had to bear adverse criticism for telling about the bitter truth in advance. But these could not deter Mahanta from telling or writing what he felt from his strong conviction. Another striking quality of Late Mahanta was that he never compromised with what he considered to be unprincipled or immoral.

Besides being a successful teacher, Mahanta was a successful jourlist. He was associated with the Assam Tribune as its Sibsagar district correspondent for a long time. As a jourlist he was very objective in highlighting the public problems in the right perspective and spared none if caught on the wrong track. As a jourlist he was never swept by emotion but dealt with all public issues in a positive way.

As a teacher Mahanta always put thrust on social relevance of education. He frequently said that education sans social relevance is futile and meaningless as education is a means for social transformation and betterment and not a decorative stamp of persol accomplishment. According to him education with social relevance with thrust on social transformation and betterment would alone prepare our young generation to successfully meet the global challenges of the twenty first century. He wrote a number of books for the benefit of small children by rrating some interesting historical events in the form of stories to eble the young children to inculcate the wisdom of history in a felicitous manner. Through this he made a sigl contribution towards enrichment of Children Literature.

He was also social worker par excellence and as a social worker he was a uncompromising crusader for realizing the rightful dues for all. His role in realizing the pension-benefit to the college teachers in Assam will be written with letters of gold in the anls of the college education in Assam. In recognition of his dedication and missiory zeal with which he worked for promotion and protection of human right, the Government of Assam had nomited him to the position of a Member of Assam Human Right Commission (AHRC) wherein too Late Mahanta demonstrated his competence and efficiency in a superb manner.

Publicity-shy, simple and always imbibed by the ideal of 'simple living and high thinking' and steeped in, and well-versed with Xatria culture from his birth, Sarat Mahanta had an iconic persolity for which he was held in high esteem in the social circle in Assam. In the family life too he was a successful father. The fact that his eldest  son Sri Partasarathi Mahanta is a successful IPS officer, his second son Dr Sabyasachi Mahanta is an eminent educationist and political columnist while his youngest daughter Dr Upasa Mahanta now a professor of Jindal University is an scholar of intertiol repute is an eloquent testimony to late Mahanta being a successful father. His wife Mrs Mee Mahanta  besides being a social worker also established her reputation as an amateur dramatic talent through her superb acting in a number of documentaries.  A person like Late Sarat Mahanta should be an abiding source of inspiration for our younger generation and by honouring such a person our present society ridden with so many malaises may benefit itself immensely. Professor Sarat Mahanta Foundation is really doing a very commendable job in perpetuating the memory of Sarat Mahanta through organizing a memorial lecture every year to be delivered by a renowned intertiol scholar. Sarat Mahanta Foundation should arrange to publish the memorial lecture/lecturers in form of book so that the message of the Sarat Mahanta Memorial lecture is widely spread among a wider section of the public.  

Jyoti Prasad Chaliha

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