Yajnaseni (Oriya Novel ),Moortidevi&Sarala award winner
- By Pratibha Ray
- Moorti Devi winner
- Published By Adya Prakashan
- 1st Edition 1985
- 83rd Edition 2014
But her almost meteoric rise to national fame flows mostly from her Yagnaseni (Daughterof Yagnasena in the Mahabharat) which epitomizes the famed Mahabharat heroine Draupadi as a modern woman with an identity of her own. Pratibha’s Draupadi is illustrative of what she herself has said in several interviews, a sort of “humanist feminism” without the rigour or rancour of a Julia Kristeva or Luce Irrigaray. This’ Draupadi is in the tradition of the classical feminine as envisaged by Vyasa and other Vedic philosophers: yet she is sophisticated, knowledgeable, well-versed in fine arts, warfare and even the dice game. She is magnanimous and self-eschewing almost transcending the milieu which she inherits. She does not display a scheming mind or a stubborn individualism even while seeking revenge for her ignominy in the royal court of Dhritarashtra during the dice game, in which she is lost as a wager to Duryodhan. She asks like a contemporary woman the questions which disturb the ethics of the dice game and the principles of Yudhisthira’s husbandhood. Draupadi is a perfect blend of an eastern, (Indian) woman of love, sympathy, grace, selfhood and divinity. The Akshaya Patra (The Everfull Pot) in her hands during the period of the forest life of the Pandavas never leave even the birds, beasts and insects unfed. Her temper, rage, hate and disposition are so integrated that she grows out of the Vyasa frame who owns up her weaknesses and failings as a woman free, wise and subtle. Pratibha uses the epic facts and modulates them with modern feminine outlook to make her our contemporary. Her maturity as wife to the five Pandava brothers, her travails and trepidations, her regality as well as feminine grace make Pratibha’s Draupadi more ennobling than a Cleopatra without, however, the tragic mould.
Yajnaseni(Oriya Novel By Pratibha Ray) proved itself as a best seller for its readability among rural female half literate readers. She attributed the boldness, the revolt and humanism in her literature, to the impact of Vaishnavism. Her family religion, which preaches no caste, no class, and also due to the influence of her Gandhian teacher-father, Parashuram Das.
Her search for a "social order based on equality, love, peace and integration", continues, since she first penned at the age of nine. When she wrote for a social order, based on equality without class, caste, religion or sex discriminations, some of her critics branded her as a communist. But she says "I am a humanist. Men and women have been created differently for the healthy functioning of society. The specialities women have been endowed with should be nurtured further. As a human being however, woman is equal to man".
She continued her writing career even after her marriage and raising a family of three children, for which she credits her parents and her husband. She completed her Master’s in Education, and PhD in Educational Psychology while raising her children. Her post-doctoral research was on 'Tribalism and Criminology of Bondo Highlander', one of the most primitive tribes of Orissa, India.
Ray's literary journey started at nine, she received recognition as a writer with her first novel Barsa Basanta Baishakha in 1974 followed byAranya, 1977, Nishidha Prithivi, 1978, Parichya, 1979, Aparichita, 1979 (a film was made and won Best Film-Story award from the state government)
She was awarded
1985 – 'Orissa Sahitya Academi Award' for her novel 'Sheelapadma'
1990 – 'Sarala Award' for her novel 'Yajnaseni'
1991 – 'Moortidevi Award' for her Novel 'Yajnaseni
2000 – 'Sahitya Akademi Award' for her Short-Story Collection 'Ullaghna'
2006 – 'Amrita Keerti Puraskar
2007 – 'Padma Shri Award' in Literature and Education by the Government of India.
2011 – 'Jnanpith Award