The name of Fakir Mohan Senapati shines in the history of Oriya literature. Fakir Mohan Senapati was born in Mallikashpur of Balasore in January 1843. His father’s name was Lakshman Charan who died of cholera at Bhubaneswar at a very early age. Fakir Mohan’s mother Tulasi Dei died a few months after Lakshmana’s death. At that time Fakir Mohan was only a year and five months old. His widow grandmother Kuchila Dei looked after him.
Fakir Mohan’s uncle Purusottam Senapati was a very jealous person. He did not allow Fakir Mohan to study. Fakir Mohan was a sick boy. He began his early education quite late. He began learning alphabet after the age of nine. He worked in the teacher’s house as he could not pay his fees. His desire for knowledge was insatiable. He learnt Parsian. In his childhood he also worked as a labourer in the port at Balasore. There he learnt Bengali and Sanskrit.
Fakir Mohan secretly obtained admission in the Mission School at Barabati of Balasore town. There he studied history, geography and mathematics. He impressed his teachers with his talents. But he discontinued his education there because he became unable to pay only 25 paise per month as the school fees. At home, he had jealous and unkind uncle and aunt. So home was a hell to him. Fakir Mohan learnt English through self-labour. He took the help of a dictionary to read some famous classics such as the Arabian Nights, Robinson Crusoe, the English Bible, Bengal Peasant Life by Lai Behari De. Although he started learning English at the age of 23, his innate brilliance of mind was recognised even by foreigners.
Fakir Mohan became a teacher in the Mission School at Barabati, where he was earlier a student for some months only. As a teacher he was very ideal. He taught geography, history and mathematics. He had mastered this important subject all by himself. Then he became the Headmaster of the Christian Mission School. He wrote text books in Oriya on different subjects. At time Oriya students were reading text books in Bengali. As a proud Oriya, he maintained the prestige of Orissa by writing text books in Oriya.
Fakir Mohan Senapati set up a printing press at Balasore. It was the second printing press in Orissa. He published two journals. One was Bodhadayini and the other was Balasore Sambada Bahika. He was the publisher, editor, writer, printer, distributor and the financier, all in one. He then sought the assistance of the famous poets Radhanath Ray and Madhusudan Rao. He wrote the stories for the Bodhadayini.
Fakir Mohan became a dewan (administrator) of Athagarh and later pn at Tekkali in Srikakulum district of Andhra Pradesh. Fakir Mohan saved Oriya language from extinction. He happened to teach Oriya language to Mr. John Beams who was the District Collector of Balasore at that time. John Beams learnt Oriya and commented that it is the chief language of Orissa. Fakir Mohan Senapati wrote many novels such as Chha Maana Aatha Guntha, Marnu, Prayaschita, Lachhama etc. He also wrote many stories such as Patent Medicine, Dhulia Baba, Lachchmania, Daka Munshi, Rebati.etc. He also wrote an autobiography. Fakir Mohan Senapati passed away in 1918. He is considered the father of Oriya short story.