Silent Gandhian Rabi Mausa: A Personal Tribute

Rabi Mausa Rabi Narayan Jena

Rabi Mausa, popularly known as Rabi Narayan Jena, who departed on March 17, 2024, at the age of 79, was a truly unique Gandhian figure. Despite the pervasive influence of mass consumerism, he remained steadfast in his commitment to Gandhian principles, both in his personal conduct and his political endeavours. In a world dominated by market-driven culture, societal pressures, and power politics, Rabi Narayan Jena stood apart, embodying the essence of Gandhian philosophy through his actions. Every aspect of his life reflected his dedication to living a meaningful existence grounded in Gandhian values. He shunned the superficiality of contemporary society, rejecting the allure of self-promotion that often characterises social, political, and professional life. Instead, he quietly dedicated himself to serving the people of Odisha, eschewing the spotlight in favour of genuine, impactful engagement with his community.

Rabi Narayan Jena’s life was a testament to the possibility of an alternative lifestyle, one rooted in simplicity, compassion, and a deep sense of social responsibility. His unwavering commitment to Gandhian socialist ideals serves as an inspiration to all who seek to challenge the status quo and strive for a more equitable and compassionate world. In his passing, we not only mourn the loss of a remarkable individual but also celebrate the enduring legacy of his principles and actions.

Rabi Mausa pioneered a path of selfless social service, devoid of any expectations or personal gain. Unlike many contemporary social workers who seek salaries and recognition within non-governmental and civil society organisations, Rabi Mausa stood apart. For him, social service was not a means of self-promotion, but rather an inherent aspect of his daily existence. His commitment to serving others extended far beyond the confines of his own family. Integrity was the cornerstone of his life, a principle he steadfastly upheld even in the most challenging of circumstances. Never did he compromise his values or principles, remaining resolute in his dedication to the welfare of his community.

Rabi Mausa blazed the trail of social service. His approach to social service serves as a beacon of inspiration in a world often characterised by self-interest and opportunism. His unwavering dedication to the well-being of others, coupled with his unyielding integrity, sets a high standard for all who aspire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around them. In his legacy, we find not only a model of selfless service but also a reminder of the profound impact one individual can have when guided by principles of compassion and integrity.

In an era where conversations about sustainability and alternative energy sources dominate discussions on survival of life and planet, Rabi Mausa was a visionary ahead of his time. As early as 1994, he recognized the importance of sustainable energy and took concrete steps to address it. In a bold move, he established a biogas plant right in the backyard of his own home—a pioneering effort that embodied his commitment to a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future. Rabi Mausa’s biogas plant stood as a beacon of innovation in his village, setting a precedent for environmentally conscious energy solutions in his community. It may very well have been the first of its kind not only in his village but also in the entire block and district. By harnessing the power of biogas, he not only provided his household with a reliable and affordable source of energy but also demonstrated a practical alternative to conventional energy sources that often come at great environmental cost. His forward-thinking approach to energy sustainability serves as a testament to his dedication to practical action in pursuit of a better world. Rabi Mausa’s initiative not only addressed immediate energy needs but also paved the way for greater awareness and adoption of cheap renewable energy technologies in his community. In his pioneering efforts, we find inspiration and a powerful example of how individual action can drive positive change on both local and global scales.

Rabi Mausa’s home in the tranquil village of Taras, nestled in the Rajkanika block of Kendrapada district, Odisha, holds a special place in my memories from my college days. It was a sanctuary I often sought refuge in, a haven of simplicity and warmth amidst the bustling chaos of crisis ridden student life. Whenever I visited him, Rabi Mausa graciously welcomed me into his humble abode, offering simple yet delicious meals prepared with love and care. What struck me most about Rabi Mausa was his unwavering kindness and inclusivity. Despite our differing affiliations—I with the SFI and his sons with the ABVP—he never once let these differences cloud our interactions. He treated me with the same warmth and respect that he bestowed upon his own sons, embodying a rare sense of egalitarianism that is increasingly scarce in today’s world. As a true democrat, he did not domesticate his sons with his ideological worldviews, he allowed his sons to flourish and follow their own path in their personal and political life. Over the years, from 1994 to 2013, I had the privilege of meeting Rabi Mausa on several occasions, and each time, his love, affection, and genuine concern for others remained steadfast. His consistent and unwavering display of compassion and empathy left an indelible mark on me, shaping my own egalitarian ideals and worldview.

With his passing, I not only mourn the loss of a well-wisher, but also recognise the void left by the departure of an ideological beacon. Rabi Mausa was more than just a citizen of Odisha; he was a symbol of unwavering idealism and Gandhian values in contemporary times. His legacy will continue to inspire generations to come, serving as a guiding light for those who seek to emulate his compassion, integrity, and unwavering commitment to social justice. In his death, Odisha—and indeed, the world—has lost a true visionary with Gandhian values and champion of humanity.

The life and legacies of Rabi Mausa as a silent Gandhian survives in our memories.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak works as  Professor of Business Management, Guildhall School of Business and Law, London Metropolitan University, UK.

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