Cuttack: Noted author, philosopher and the founding editor of the “Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics”, Prof Ananta Charan Sukla passed away on Wednesday at his Cuttack residence after prolonged illness for over three years. He was 79.
He died of multiple organ complications and had a cardiac arrest and respiratory failure just before noon on September 30. His last rites were performed at his native place and residence in Bhadrak. He is survived by his wife and two sons, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
Born on November 6, 1942, Sukla was a pioneer in comparative literature, philosophy, aesthetics and art criticism. After his graduation from Bhadrak College, he did triple masters in English, Philosophy, Sanskrit, and PhD from Jadavpur University, Calcutta. He retired as professor of English from Sambalpur University in 2002. His ground-breaking work “The Concept of Imitation in Greek and Indian Aesthetics” is held in high esteem.
Sukla founded the Vishvanatha Kaviraja Institute and the “Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics” as its official organ in 1977 by collaborating with the scholars of the West like Monroe Beardsley, MH Abrams, Mircea Eliade, Rene Wellek, Harold Osborne, John Hospers, and Indian scholars KRS Iyengar, VK Gokak, PS Sastri, SC Sengupta, Jagannath Chakravorty, Sisir Chatterjee. He continued editing and publishing the journal singlehandedly for over 40 years. His books have been published by leading publishers of the West like Praeger, Bloomsbury, and Brill, besides Rupa & Co and Sahitya Akademi (National Academy of Letters).
“Immensely humane and erudite, he was one of the very few English professors in Odisha who had filled a gaping void in the heart of English studies caused by the absence of any encounter with Sanskrit. And he had done it before GN Devy and others did it,” said former professor of English at Utkal University, Himansu Mohapatra.
Former professor of English at Utkal University, Jatin Nayak said, “Prof Sukla was our window to a larger academic world. He taught us comparative aesthetics. In spite of the constraints a very small town imposes upon academic projects, he managed to bring his journal regularly. This was an amazingly impressive intellectual feat.”
“His work was my introduction to comparative aesthetics. Even today, there is a dearth of publication on Indian aesthetics and it is his work which is still an inspiration for many of us,” said Parul Dave Mukherji, Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi.