Dr. Radhanath Rath
Dr. Radhanath Rath
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Tallaram Palli, Odisha
|Died||29th September 2014|
|Education||High school from Ravenshaw Collegiate School (1937)|
Graduation Philosophy honours in (1941)
|Alma mater||Patna University|
Professor of Psychology
|Known for||Founder of the first Department of Psychology in Odisha|
|Establishment of The Department of Psychology in Odisha|
Professor Radhanath Rath (1920-2014) was an illustrious personality of modern India, who distinguished himself as a pioneering researcher and professor of Psychology in our country . He was one of the makers of contemporary Psychology in India, a leader who stood tall among his peers and had the vision to shape the future of Psychology in India, in many ways. A distinguished academic and institution builder, he is hailed as the founder of the first Department of Psychology both at the undergraduate and post-graduate level in Odisha . His manifold research and study of Psychology paved the way for the generation of scholars to explore new frontiers of the discipline. Professor Rath was a prolific writer. Fiction or non-fiction, autobiography or travelogues, Prof. Rath’s literary genius was equally strong and intense as was his contribution to Psychology. As an educationist, researcher and litterateur unmatched by many of his contemporaries, he earned laurels for his state and the country from international circles of excellence in education. His tall, erect frame, bald pate, gold-rimmed glasses and intellectual exuberance very well fitted into the image of a distinguished professor. A nationally and internationally renowned Professor of Psychology, in the name of Prof. Radhanath Rath, left for his heavenly abode on 29th September 2014 at the age of 96 at his residence in Cuttack, Odisha leaving behind a fully blossomed family and a host of students and ardent followers of his philosophy towards life.
Early Life and Education
Born in 1920, Radhanath Rath was educated in a village primary school situated at Tallaram Palli, Ganjam district, the southern part of Odisha. He lost both his parents at an early age and was brought up by his elder brother and other family members. He completed his high school education in 1937 from Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack and passed Intermediate Arts from the legendary Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, in 1939, and then went to Patna University to pursue graduation. He graduated with Philosophy honours in 1941 in first class and secured first position. Then he completed his master's degree in philosophy from Patna University in the year 1943, again securing first positing in the University. He started his teaching career as a lecturer in Philosophy at Ravenshaw College in 1944. As in those days, Psychology was taught as a separate subject only in Calcutta University, he availed leave for four months and joined as an external student in the Psychology Department of Calcutta University. He attended all the classes in Psychology under the guidance of scholarly and renowned teachers like Dr. Girindra Sekhar Bose the then Head of the Department. Following World war in 1945, when Indian students started going to British Universities, Prof. Rath wrote a request letter to the Head of the Department of Psychology, London University, requesting for an opportunity to pursue his studies and was successful in securing a seat for himself. The UPSC recognizing his merit, sent him on a scholarship to London. At that time, even a Master's degree from the Indian universities was not considered equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree from London University. Driven by his extraordinary intellect and passion for Psychology, he qualified in an examination of the London University meant for doing Ph.D research and was admitted for Ph.D in Psychology. He completed his Ph. D in Experimental Psychology from the London University in 1949 under the supervision of Sir Cyril Burt, an intelligence theorist, who is even now known to researchers in Psychology all across the globe. Dr Rath stayed in London from 1946 to 1949.
Establishment of The Department of Psychology in Odisha
Following his return from London in 1949, he dreamt of starting a separate Psychology department much to the objections of several Heads of Humanities Division. A distinguished academic and institution builder, he is hailed as the founder of the first Department of Psychology both at the undergraduate and post-graduate level in Odisha  . It was a historic move when he established the Department of Psychology as an independent department in 1953, literally separating himself and the new discipline from the mother of Department of Philosophy, in Ravenshaw College. Again, the Post-Graduate Department was established by him in 1958 in the Ravenshaw College, which was later moved to Utkal University campus, at Vani Vihar, Bhubaneswar.
The opposition from and jealousy of many of his contemporaries did not deter him, and he relentlessly pursued his vision with a very basic conviction that ‘People are jealous of kings, not of beggars'. He became the first Professor of Psychology in Odisha in 1960. He continued to head the Post Graduate Department of Psychology at Utkal University from its inception until he retired from his formal job in 1981. Thereafter, he was honored by the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research (ICSSR) as a National Fellow .
Prof. Rath did not look back and continued to strengthen and reinforce the discipline harnessing much needed resources from the national bodies such as UGC, NCERT and ICSSR so much so that by the time he retired in 1981, the Department of Psychology at Utkal University held the status of the UGC’s first Center of Advanced Study in Psychology in India and first such center in Odisha. His trend-setting effort in founding a separate Department of Psychology created a new and distinct identity for the subject which was earlier part and parcel of the discipline of philosophy. His academic and organizational leadership earned him country-wide respect and admiration.
His relentless pursuit for creating a space for his newly founded department of Psychology in national and international horizons yielded highly-acclaimed positive results. The recognition of the Department of Psychology at Utkal by the UGC as the Center of Advanced Study in Psychology in 1980 constituted his crowning achievement which attracted academics and professors of Psychology from across the world, who regarded the center as a nucleus of research and study on Psychology in India. Professors from UK, USA, USSR, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and other countries believed that the discipline of Psychology as pursued at Utkal represented Indian ethos and thoughts on Psychology with the regional-knowledge bases serving to strengthen the Indian Psychology represented at the center in Utkal. Such was the tone and tenure of the center at Utkal that students from the northern and the southern parts of the country rushed to Utkal in the '80s and '90s to complete their doctoral and post-doctoral research under the supervision of the faculty members who grew to positions of eminence under the nurturance and leadership of Prof. Rath. When he retired from his professional job in 1981 and left Utkal University, the Department of Psychology had 19 teaching staff including three Professors, 44 senior scholars from different Indian Universities for Ph. D and D. Litt degrees, three visiting professors and about 40 non-teaching staff. The special status of Psychology Department as a Center of Advanced Study (CAS), not only made Psychology quite popular in this part of the country, leading to the opening of the subject of Psychology in a number of colleges in Odisha, with a large student population, but also prompted a climate of advanced and trend-setting psychological research in diverse fields originating from the center in Utkal University .
Contributions to Research
Prof Rath's early researches on attitudes towards various socio-cultural, political-economic and national-international issues, inter-caste and inter-group tensions, stereotypes and prejudices prevailing in Indian societies earned him an international reputation. His monograph on 'Psycho-Social Problems of Social Change' published by the Allied Publishers on behalf of A. N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna  deliberated on the consequences of societal changes towards modernity and globalization. By then, the Department of Psychology at the University of Allahabad was vigorously pursuing research on socio-psychological issues under the leadership of Prof. D. Sinha, who was a very close personal friend and a professional colleague of Prof. Rath. For having a distinct identity and also taking cognizance of the expertise of his younger student-colleagues, Prof. Rath oriented the research focus of the department to cognitive, developmental and educational issues. His emphasis on nationally as well as internationally relevant, socio-culturally meaningful and indigenous psychological studies in subsequent research projects from national and international bodies shaped the research focus of the Center of Advanced Study in Psychology at Utkal. A classic and pioneering research on cognitive and academic characteristics of the marginalized children published as a monograph titled "Cognitive Abilities and School Achievement of Socially Disadvantaged Children in Primary Schools" by the Allied Publishers in the late seventies  was a significant research contribution in furthering the Department's research focuses on cognitive and educational Psychology. Acknowledging the academic and research excellence of the Department, the UGC granted special assistance in 1972 to develop an Educational Psychology wing in the Department of Psychology, which was later declared as the Department of Special Assistance in 1977 and subsequently as the Center of Advanced Study in Psychology in 1980. A model preschool in the form of a psychological laboratory for Master's students was opened in 1980, emphasizing the importance of early childhood care and education for the disadvantaged children. A journey from research on social issues to the field of cognition with an indigenous tone marked the successive progression of research focus under the leadership of Prof. Rath supported by an excellent faculty trained in the scientific temper of hard-core Psychology and the social relevance of the discipline in the field of applied Psychology.
Dr Radhanath Rath was primarily a social psychologist who studied the problems of people across caste, class, gender, socio-economic status, age, and rural-urban settings. The ICSSR survey of research in Psychology published in 1972 carried his scholarly review ‘Social Psychology: A Trend Report’ (Pareek, 1981). It was a pioneering effort to compile and analyze the research work in social Psychology in India ‘In his analysis, Rath categorized social psychological research under eight broad areas, namely; (a) cultural and social processes, (b) attitudes and opinions, (c) group and interpersonal processes, (d) communication, (e) aesthetics, (f) sexual behaviour, (g) smoking, drug, and alcohol use, and (h) methodology. Prior to 1940, as he pointed out, there were only 55 research publications, but the research activities increased in the next decade (1940-1950), and there were 64 publications. The number further increased to 102 during the period 1950-1960 and, thereafter, there was a leap forward with the number going up to 306 in the decade from 1960 to 1970 . The highest number of publications were in the area of cultural and social processes, and the second-highest was on attitudes and opinions. These were the major areas in which the contributions of Radhanath Rath were quite seminal.
In his review of research on social Psychology in India, Rath pointed out the need for problem-oriented research in India and emphasized theory-building and adopting a more appropriate methodology to study social behaviour and processes. He maintained that methodological rigour, random sampling, and rigorous statistical techniques would be helpful for the generalization of research findings. He was in favour of multidisciplinary and integrative approaches to research in this field with a focus on social issues and problems.
Rath, like some of his contemporaries, did not believe in replication or ‘foreignness' of psychological studies . By using well-known scaling techniques such as the social distance scale, Likert and Thurstone scales, and established measures, several issue-focused researches on stereotypes towards various socio-cultural groups and attitudes towards socio-economic and political issues in Indian society were taken up by him and his associates . As Sinha observes , studies by Rath on prejudices and stereotypes were significant contributions fostering understanding of the genesis, dynamics, and evolution of inter-group relations and social tension in Indian society.
Rath’s studies on the impact of disadvantage and poverty on cognitive and perceptual processes of children and the adverse effects of socio-environmental disadvantages on the cognitive ability of primary school children belonging to scheduled castes and tribes in terms of poor academic performance have been quite influential, leading to a very popular and well-cited monograph in the field . Through a number of intervention studies, Rath showed the positive impact of well-designed training in facilitating some cognitive abilities of disadvantaged children . Earlier, in 1969, he took up a statewide study in schools in Odisha on the impact of the mid-day meal programme (the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere [CARE] Feeding Programme) with the Council of Social Development, New Delhi . This large-scale, path-breaking study was multidisciplinary in its approach, bringing in different disciplines of Psychology, education, sociology, anthropology, health, and nutrition as well as economics. The evaluation of the CARE mid-day meal programme showed some positive effects of the feeding programme on children’s classroom performance and attendance. This was perhaps the first-ever study in India on mid-day meal and its impact.
International Research, Collaborations and Academic Leadership
His visiting professorship assignment at several universities including Concordia University (Canada), Birmingham University (UK) and Malmo University (Sweden); and the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) in the 70's and 80’s brought together the Eastern and the Western thoughts on Psychology, sensitizing Western scholars to the unique parameters of Indian and indigenous Psychology . Dr Rath also participated in several National Delegations to different countries. These included visits to the USA in 1957, as a member of the visiting team to observe the general education programme run by American Universities. During his visit, he spent two working days with one of the greatest psychologists of the contemporary era, B. F. Skinner who presented him his book ‘Walden Two’ published in 1955 and signed by him. In his personal discussions with Prof. Rath, Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalytic thinker, expected him to appreciate and carry forward the concept of ‘collective unconscious’ as he represented Eastern cultural thinking because Jung’s concept was at that time not well accepted in the Western world.
Having been recognized for his outstanding thoughts on social issues and culture by the Indian Government, he visited the USSR in 1966 and 1968 as a member of Indo-Russian cultural delegation. In every such visit, Prof. Rath assertively placed the Indian orientation to philosophy and Psychology as a necessary complement to Western views to understand humans and society, and was honored with the Lenin Gold Medal for his book on the Soviet Union. His manifold research and study of Psychology paved the way for the generation of scholars to explore new frontiers of the discipline. His original insights on Psychology earned him laurels from reputed institutions of the world, and he travelled more than 20 countries to deliver lectures, guide research on the subject and teach as a visiting professor. He visited a large number of Universities in Canada,the USA, the USSR, the United Kingdom, Sweden, China, Japan, Honolulu, Thailand and many other countries, presenting his research and exchanging ideas.
Rath was a great leader and a successful organizer. Many national and international conferences were organized by the Department of Psychology under his leadership. He successfully organized the International Congress of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) as the Chairman in 1980 in Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, and edited the publication of selected papers presented in the Congress along with H.S. Asthana, D. Sinha, and I.B.P. Sinha . The Bhubaneswar IACCP is still remembered as a successful Congress, and till date, it is the only major international Congress of IACCP held in India. The conference attended by more than 150 world-known cross-cultural researchers from abroad and about 200 delegates, representing the Indian thoughts on Psychology, created a platform for sharing international perspectives to analyzing social and cultural issues governing human cognition and behavior.
Rath was the local secretary for organizing the first Indian Science Congress at Ravenshaw College in 1962 and again in 1977 at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. He organized many other national and international conferences, seminars, and symposiums, including the annual conference of the Indian Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) .
The multifaceted experiences in national and international circles distinguished him as having an enviable position in his discipline in India, and he was looked upon as a nurturing and transformational leader by teachers and researchers in Psychology for attaining personal, professional and organizational excellence. In the early 1970s, he led Psychology in India as the President of the Psychology Session of the Indian Science Congress and the President of Indian Association of Applied Psychology and monitored the spread and the progress of the discipline in the country as the Chairman of the UGC Panel in Psychology. In his own state too, he pioneered the universalization of Science in everyday life as one of the founders of Vigyana Prachar Samiti in 1949.
His relentless pursuit for creating a space for his newly founded department of Psychology in national and international horizons yielded highly acclaimed positive results. The recognition of the Department of Psychology at Utkal by the UGC as the Center of Advanced Study in Psychology in 1980 constituted his crowning achievement which attracted academics and professors of Psychology from across the world, who regarded the center as a nucleus of research and study on Psychology in India. Professors from the UK, USA, USSR, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and other countries believed that the discipline of Psychology as pursued at Utkal represented Indian ethos and thoughts on Psychology with the regional-knowledge bases serving to strengthen the Indian Psychology. Such was the tone and tenure of the center that students from the northern and the southern parts of the country rushed to Utkal in the '80s and '90s to complete their doctoral and post-doctoral research under the supervision of the faculty members who grew to positions of eminence under the nurturance and leadership of Prof. Rath.
It will not be an exaggeration to speak of Rath as an institution builder as he was not only engaged in the infrastructural expansion of the department he headed for over two decades but was also very meticulous in adding potentially effective human resources to the department. Even though he started the department single-handed, it had 19 teaching faculty members including three professors and 44 Senior Research scholars from different Universities for PhD and D. Litt degrees, three visiting Professors, and about 40 non-teaching staff when he retired from his profession in 1981. The Psychology faculty at Utkal under Rath had the singular distinction of having the largest number of PhD holders from universities abroad, many with prestigious scholarships (Commonwealth Scholarship, Killam Scholarship, etc.). Out of 19 faculty members, 14 had doctoral degrees from Canada, the UK and the USA. Students and faculty members from the Department of Psychology at Utkal, under Rath’s leadership and inspiration, bagged the largest number of Commonwealth Scholarships in Psychology till about the late 1970s. Rath always emphasized on the holistic development of children and took steps that contributed immensely towards early childhood education. Through this process, a new feather was added to the cap of the department in 1980 when a model preschool was opened in the department as a Demonstration and Research Centre for Early Education (DARCEE) with three trained teachers, six caretakers, and an annual intake of 60 three-to-five-year-old children. DARCEE was recognized and lauded by the UGC which sanctioned teacher’s positions for this early childhood education programme. Now the DARCEE is renamed after Professor Rath and known as, “Radhanath Rath Centre for Early Childhood Education”. The Department of Psychology was also running a one-year diploma course for training prospective nursery teachers. Rath was the chairman of the Odisha Child Care Organization and academic director of the Early Childhood Education and Care Programme of Odisha. At Cuttack, he established a nursery school and introduced a one-year diploma course in childcare and education for women having graduate degrees. During his tenure as the head of the Department of Psychology, an animal laboratory, one of the few such labs in the country, was set up at Utkal.
Prof. Rath had said many times that he had the knack of jumping into unknown waters without knowing swimming and deriving satisfaction on arrival at the destinations. Through perseverance and broad-based visions, he relentlessly served the institution and people and shaped their destiny and retired from the university job in 1981, leaving all his colleagues and ardent followers with memories to be proud of. Following his retirement, he whole-heartedly devoted himself to writing novels as a means of understanding and portraying the human mind and characters.
During the post-retirement years, besides writing novels, he practiced Psychology by teaching young children and teachers in a preschool nurtured by him and through social and literary activism on furthering the causes of universalization of elementary education. During these years, he started a movement called Prathamika Sikhsha Vikas Andolana, which aimed at reforming and enhancing pedagogy in primary schools. He went on a mission to strengthen elementary education in the State following an integrated developmental approach that called for the participation of doctors, teachers, social reformers and administrators. He was able to successfully enrich the quality of teaching-learning climate in more than 300 primary schools of the state. He donated the land and the house of his ancestral village to build a residential school encompassing classes I to X, which currently has a strength of about 500 students.
During the retirement years, he pressed into service the experiences gathered from international and national platforms to state-level missions. From the university to preschools, from the academic settings to government advisory bodies and from hard-core Psychology to an applied focus in the world of media and entertainment, he traversed all roads in multifarious ways to leave in the minds of the public the overwhelming influence of Psychology in human life. Not only did he lead university teachers as their president for a long span, but he also led a mission to enrich the quality of learning experiences of young children in primary schools and preschools. As a psychologist and a member of the Board of Secondary Education, Odisha for a long span over one decade and a half, he brought positive changes to the course of secondary education in the state and was instrumental in the nationalization of school textbooks. Not only did he contribute immensely to the course of teaching and research in Psychology, but he also used his psychological intuitions in shaping the architectural plan of Cuttack as a member of the Cuttack Development Authority for many years. It is not that he studied, professed and preached Psychology only in his life and academic circles; he brought Psychology closer to the common man through his articles and writings on psychological issues in Odia newspapers as an invited popular columnist for a long span and also by acting as a member of the state's Film Censor Board to evaluate films on the criteria of human psychological parameters. Known for his social and psychological activism, he advocated all along for human rights and adorned the Chair of Odisha State Child protection Society until 2010. A many splendored personality, he blended in his distinctive and uncommon personal profile, a philosopher, an educationist, a researcher, a writer, a social reformer, an activist and a visionary.
Starting from the traditional to the contemporary era in the history of Psychology, both psychologists and Psychology have been preoccupied with the challenge to establish Psychology as a science and with analyzing the kind of science it is. Methodologies are thoroughly divided by the boundaries between the quantitative and the qualitative, sometimes one being dominant over the other, and sometimes one is less objective than the other. The goal is to go above the dilemma where a psychologist acts, keeping in view the mainstream as well as indigenous perspectives. Prof. Rath was one of the very few Indian Psychologists who rose above these ambiguities and in an interdisciplinary manner contributed immensely to the fields of Psychology and Literature. With his eclectic orientation, he emerged as a hardcore academic and channelled his energy towards psychological activism. Great medical professionals of the state turned to him for psychological help for themselves as well as their patients. He was a missionary with a vision of a better world and to realize his visions; he constantly strived hard to make things better than what they were.
His life is an important chapter in the history of Psychology in India and he would be remembered as a pioneer and as one who shaped the course of discipline in Psychology.
Contributions to Literature
Fiction or non-fiction, autobiography or travelogues, Prof. Rath’s literary genius was equally strong and intense as his contribution to Psychology. A recipient of the Odisha Sahitya Academy Award (1993) for his inspiring autobiography Mo Swapna Mo Jivana, Prof. Rath wrote 27 novels, 12 books on psychological issues, 4 travelogues, 2 anthologies of stories, 4 essays and an autobiography with most of the novels being written during his post-retirement years (1981-2014) . A few of his novels namely, Paalita Kanya, Saagara Sepaare, Nagara Badhu, Paai Na Paaibaara Swapna (translated as ‘A Dream Beyond’ in English and ‘Paakar Na Paaneka Sapnaa’ in Hindi) have received wide acclaim. A much-travelled man, Prof. Rath was noted for his travelogues such as Bilata Diary (1950), Navya Sabhyatara Desha (1965), America Diary (1975) etc. His illustrious essays include Pragati (1973) and Agradrusti (1995).
That he, at the ripe age of seventy, could complete more than two dozen novels speaks volumes about his abounding enthusiasm. To Jnanapitha awardee Prativa Ray, insight, farsight and foresight are the true essence of a successful creator, and Prof. Rath possessed all these qualities in abundant measure (Patha O Sapatha, pg-324). She gave this comment after reading Saagara Separe, a novel-cum-travelogue written by him. His novels are as much about developing intricate plots as about creating immortal characters that go on to stay with him for life. About his characters he says, “The accomplishment of my doctorate degree pales in comparison with the immense humanistic gratification I derive from the simple people like Nita, Harry Cooper, Nina and Mami at London.”(Saagara Separe, p. 95). The timeless pieces flowing from the pen of Prof. Rath are listed below for reference.
|Novels||Anthology of Stories|
|Bhala Paaibaar Adikatha (2nd edn.)
Shesha Katha (3rd edn.)
Saagar Sepaare (3rd edn.)
Paai Na Paaibaa Swapna (3rd edition) Translated into Hindi (paakar na paneka sapnaa) and English (A dream beyond)
Bhabishyatheeena Sampark (2nd edn.)
Mana Aranyara Swara (2nd edn.)
Hajilaa Hajilaa Chhaai
Neela Jharanaar Teere
Swapnare Raja Joga
Megha Malhaar (2nd edn.)
|Kathaa o Kaahaanee
Chhai Kathaa Kahe
Agaku Na Pachhaku
Eka Biswa O Bharata
|Aame : Aaam Pilaa
Aame : Aaam Mana
Aame : Aaam Manana
Aame : Aaam Achetan
Aame : Aaam Mrutyu Chintan
Amara Bhul Keunthi
Udbhata Mana Katha
Pilamane Aparadhi Kahinki Huanti
Pilamane Bhaya Kahinki Karanti
Cognitive Abilities and School Achievements of the Socially Disadvantaged Children in Primary School (co-authored by A. S Dash and U. N. Dash)
Coping with Life Stress: The Indian Experience (co-authored with M. Hariharan)
|Naanaa Desh Nanaa Katha
Navya Sabhyatara Desha (earned Lenin Gold Medal)
|Mo Swapna Mo Jibana (4th ed.) (earned Sahitya Academy Award)|
|Granthaabalee (Collected works of the writer)|
|Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 1
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 2
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 3
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 4
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 5
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 6
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 7
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 8
Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee – Volume 9
His revolutionary ideas, assertive personality, progressive thinking, leftist orientation were all encapsulated in his novels. His world view and his cosmopolitan being were evident in many of his travelogues. And his essays revealed the real man – socialistic, visionary, rationalistic, and above all, humanistic.
Prof. Rath’s views on literature and creativity underlined the essence of his dynamic personality – independence, romance and universalism. In his opinion, “the more creative a person, the more pained and sensitive he is. Creativity remains his most cherished object. He feels the omnipresence of beauty. He accepts this imaginary world of happiness as real. Such independent thoughts need some serious honing. Writings which amalgam spontaneous creative expressions and are well-honed and felt creations turn out to be world literature.” (Atithi Uvaacha, p. 97). As in his personal life, so in literature, his outlook was always progressive. He denounced social practices that are devoid of rationalism. Prof. Rath wrote, “I don’t subscribe to religious communalism. For me, men and women are the only two communities. The rest is all superstition.” (Tuma Binaa, p. 11). A commemorative volume on his 90th birth anniversary was published by his students and ardent followers titled ‘Radhanath Rath: Patha o Sapatha’ in 2010. The book of almost 500 pages is a celebration of Prof. Rath’s multifaceted personality.
Sigmund Freud in 1895 wrote, “. . . it still strikes me myself as strange that the case studies I write should read like short stories and that, as one might say, they lack the serious stamp of science.” (Freud, Strachey, Strachey, & Breuer, 1964). The statement aptly describes Prof. Rath’s orientation to science and life. His entire career as a psychologist was interspersed with his literary charisma. And his literary world was characterized by his immensity as a psychologist. Both these worlds did synergize to make the man he was. It is left to his followers to brand him as a psychologist or a litterateur.
He was the editor of “Sammukhya”, a prominent creative journal during 1964-69 which contained his regular writings on social issues along with the contributions of very prominent and award-winning Odia writers like Mayadhar Mansingh, Gopinath Mohanty, Radhamohan Gadanaik, Prana Krushna Parija etc. He was a founder of Writer’s Co-operative in the state, an organization committed to promoting fledgling and struggling writers. In 1966, he was bestowed with the Soviet Land Nehru Award for his book on Soviet Russia. His literary works have been compiled in nine volumes known as Dr. Radhanath Rath Granthabalee. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to society and knowledge, he was honored with Bharat Excellence Award Gold Medal and Personalities of India Award Gold Medal during 2005.
Deeply influenced by the Marxist ideology and the writings of Freud, he shaped his life by his sheer will power, uncommon industry and honesty and academic excellence. A man, who was very passionate about life and adored spreading life energy around, lived his life fully and to his heart’s content.
Driven by a curiosity to know about God and a belief that the answer lies within the domain of philosophy, a man who studied philosophy for a Master's degree and did set forth his enquiring mind to know all about Him and the religious practices, soon turned to be an avowed atheist which he continued to be, until he breathed his last. In a substantial measure as well in the procedure, he proudly professed atheism and looked at the prevailing religious and ritual practices with skepticism and questioned the long-held blind beliefs which were peddled as religion. Prof. Shib Kumar Mitra wrote, "As a writer, I knew he has passionately attacked superstitions and prejudices and has worked hard to develop scientific understanding and attitude through textbooks, juvenile literature and adult writings.” (Mitra, 2010, p. 10). As against the wish for cremation at Swargadwar (way to Heaven) in Puri commonly held by persons of eminence, he was cremated at Cuttack with due reverence to his wishes that run counter to commonly accepted religious rituals and beliefs. His robust humanism flowed from his atheism and stood him out as an authentic secular person in the midst of an overwhelmingly religious society. His collegiate interactions with generations of students and scholars not only gave them valuable lessons on Psychology but also many more valuable suggestions to shape life on the strength of humanism and human interventions as opposed to superstition-based world view. His abiding persuasion to his students that they should worship books and knowledge instead of Gods and Goddesses of learning and idols in functions and celebrations brought out his secular credentials which is the need of the hour to stem the rising counter-culture of religious fundamentalism.
Rath was a regular practitioner of Yoga and Pranayam for over a period of 60 years and remained active and in good health for 94 years. He lived the life of a preached, and his approach to study of Psychology and his personal lifestyle was deeply rooted in his belief in Marxism and atheism.
A much-regarded academic, he was an influential figure in expanding the domain and discipline of Psychology. His youngest daughter Sangeeta Rath is incidentally now serving as a Professor of Psychology and is heading the Ravenshaw Psychology Department which her father established 62 years back in 1953. She also served as the Head of the Department of Psychology at Utkal University which was also founded by her father in 1958.
Before he left for heavenly abode, Prof. Rath stamped his iconic image as a psychologist, a philosopher, an educationist, a rationalist, a social reformer, a litterateur and as a visionary. Though his life span fell a little short of 100 years, he made a contribution worth more than a century, and we all proudly look at him as one among those persons who have given time and energy to accomplishing something bigger than themselves. He looked bigger as he stood on a platform raised by his better-half Shanti Rath that withstood his thumping impact for seven long decades in tune with the proverbial spirit, "Behind every successful man, there is always a woman". The cremation of Prof. Rath took place in Cuttack on 30th September 2014, and large numbers of his students, associates, friends and admirers attended the funeral. His legacy would endure. In-person as well as in his teachings and messages, Prof. Rath would only be missed, not forgotten.
Awards and Honors
Rath was not only an avid reader, he was prolific writer too. Besides numerous research papers and discipline specific books, he wrote a large number of popular articles in Odia based on the day to day happenings in the society. He regularly contributed articles to widely circulated local newspapers and magazines. He was also a novelist, with a psychological orientation in his stories that focused on human relationships, emotions, family bonding, and social issues. He has written a large number of books-29 novels, 9 travelogues, and an autobiography Mo Swapna, Mo Jibana (My Dream, My Life) in Odia language which was his mother tongue. All his literary creations are extensively read and appreciated by the people of Odisha and earned him the prestigious Odisha Sahitya Academy award.
He won several regional, national and international awards for his achievements in academics and literary and social work. Some of them include the National Scholarship (University of London, 1946-1949), Soviet Land Nehru Award (1966), National Fellowship (ICSSR, 1981-1983), Odisha Sahitya Academy award (1993), Vigyana Prachara Samiti award (for Popularization of Science, 1998 and 2002), Bharat Excellence Award Gold Medal (2005), and Personalities of India Award Gold Medal (2005) by International Penguin Publishing House  . Rath was elected as the local secretary of the Indian Science Congress in 1962 and 1977. He was also elected as the president of the Psychology and education section of the Indian Science Congress in 1966 and as the president of the Academy of Applied Psychology, India, for a period in 1972-1974. He edited and published by his own singular efforts an influential Odia literary monthly magazine called Samukhya, which was known for its liberal and Marxist policy.
- Eminent Indian psychologists : 100 years of psychology in India. Bhushan, Braj,. New Delhi, India. ISBN 978-93-86446-42-8. OCLC 990778361.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
- Rath, Radhanath (1973). Psycho-social problems of social change. Bombay: Allied Publishers.
- Rath, Radhanath; Dash, Adhikari Srikanta; Dash, U.N. (1979). Cognitive abilities and school achievement of the socially disadvantaged children in primary schools. Bombay: Allied Publishers.
- Sinha, Durganand (January 1977). "Orientation and attitude of the social psychologist in a developing country: the Indian case". Applied Psychology. 26: 1–10 – via Wiley Online Library.
- Rath, Radhanath (1957). "Attitudes of university students towards some socio-cultural and educational issues". Journal of Educational Psychology, Baroda. 14: 214–225.
- Rath, R. (August 1959). "A Comparison of Attitude Scores on Some Socio-Cultural and Educational Issues between Two Samples of College Students after an Interval of Four Years: ( India )". The Journal of Social Psychology. 50 (1): 57–64. doi:10.1080/00224545.1959.9921977. ISSN 0022-4545.
- Rath, R.; Das, J. P. (May 1958). "Study in Stereotypes of College Freshmen and Service Holders in Orissa, India, towards Themselves and Four Other Foreign Nationalities". The Journal of Social Psychology. 47 (2): 373–385. doi:10.1080/00224545.1958.9919253. ISSN 0022-4545.
- Rath, R.; Sircar, N. C. (February 1960). "Inter Caste Relationship as Reflected in the Study of Attitudes and Opinions of Six Hindu Caste Groups". The Journal of Social Psychology. 51 (1): 3–25. doi:10.1080/00224545.1960.9922013. ISSN 0022-4545.
- "India: Poverty India By V.M. Dandekar and Nilakantha Rath. Ford Foundation, New Delhi. 1970. 190p". India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs. 28 (3): 288–288. July 1972. doi:10.1177/097492847202800337. ISSN 0974-9284.
- Sinha, Durganand (January 1977). "Orientation and attitude of the social psychologist in a developing country: the Indian case". Applied Psychology. 26 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.1977.tb01047.x. ISSN 0269-994X.
- N., Patnaik; Rath, Radhanath (1982). "Effects of cognitive training on the achievement of socially disadvantaged low achievers". Diversity and unity in cross-cultural psychology.
- Rath, R. (1982). Problems of integration of the disadvantaged to the mainstream. In Deprivation: Its Social Roots and Psychological Consequences. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 9788170221623
- Rath, R., & Patnaik, N. (1978). Effect of training on some cognitive abilities.
- International Association For Cross Cultural Psychology, & Rath, R. (1982). Diversity and unity in cross-cultural psychology. Lisse: Swets And Zeitlinger.
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