Life should be large and not long spreading of joy is of greater importance than owning the riches of the world”. Such was the philosophy of Guru Dayanidhi Das. His contribution is enormous to the fields of dance, drama, literature, and social service.
Born in the village of Sajana Pada of Nayagarh district in Odisha, he spent his childhood enjoying the night jatras, learning to play tabla and other instruments, and practising folk dance at the cost of his studies, which irked his father Sanatana Das. The enraged father once beat him mercilessly.
Out of fear and agony, Dayanidhi left home when he was in class eleven. He continued his education and earned his livelihood by taking private tuitions. He passed Matriculation from Nayagarh.in 1947 He then moved to Cuttack where he flourished in dance, music and tabla, while he pursued academics in Ravenshaw College.
National Music Association (NMA) and Utkal Sangeet Samaja were the two famous institutions, during those times, in the field of dance and music. Dayanidhi trained in Kathak and Hindustani vocal music at NMA. He could not complete his training in vocal music but obtained the Nritya Pravakar degree in Kathak and visharad degree in Odissi from Prayag Sangeet Samiti in Allahabad. He trained him self in tabla under Radha Gobinda Ghose.Guru Haramohan Khuntia and Jayakrushna Kahali trained under the same guru.
Babulal Doshi the founder of Kala Vikash Kendra (KVK) sought the help of Dayanidhi Das in his mission to establish KVK.
As a simple, sincere and devoted artist Dayanidhi Das served his purpose with heart and soul. He was the first dance teacher at Kala Vikash Kendra. He framed the first Odissi dance syllabus, as early as in 1952-53. Thus Odissi began to be taught in a systematic manner. Before that there was no mention of “Odissi Dance” in any text. While preparing the syllabus Dayanidhi Das named the prevalent dance as Odissi. He also framed the Odissi syllabus for the Prayaga Sangeet Samiti of Allahabad, which is in vogue till today. He named the first part of Odissi dance as Mangalacharan.
In 1954. as a student of Ravenshaw College, he attended the all India youth
festival in Delhi as the accompanying tabla artist for the Dashavataru nritya
peformed by Dhirendranath Pattnaik. In 1955 he married Nishamani Das.In 1958,he joined Utkal Vidyapitha at Kharagpur as a teacher. There he discovered the talented Alaka Mitra and started teaching her dance. Gradually
he became famous in the field of dance, drama and music in Kharagpur.
By that time he was the General Secretary of Jayantika. It became inconvenient for him to manage the functioning of Jayantika and Kala Vikas Kendra simultaneously, while staying at Kharagpur. He resigned as a teacher at Utkal Vidyapitha and returned to Cuttack to work whole heartedly for Jayantika and KVK. He worked tirelessly as the General Secretary of Jayantika from 1958 to 1963. He joined the Pyari Mohan Academy High School at Cuttack. He got his B.A. Degree with Odia honours and distinction. At that time the D.P.I. of Odisha Education, Baidyanath Ratha was the principal of Radhanath Training College. Dayanidhi Das got his B.Ed. training from R.N.T. College where he conducted dance programmes regularly. Baidyanath Ratha who was very fond
of him for his academic and artistic talent offered Dayanidhi Das to join Secondary Board High School run by Board of Secondary Education of Odisha, As it was prestigious, Dayanidhi Das the school and taught Geography, English and Odia. The Board appointed him as the convenor of music syllabus
committee for Matriculation. He was also assigned set the questions and be a practical examiner of music as a subject.
He worked in many institutions like NMA, Utkal Sangeet Samaj, Lalita Kalapitha, Kalinga College of Dance and Music and many more. He founded the Kala Bhawan which is still running in the name of Dayanidhi Smruti KalaParisada, Cuttack. He was a writer of dance-drama, drama, ballet, poetry and Odia Barnabodha. His literary works are available at the Raja Rammohan Roy Library. His programmes (especially the ballet, shortplay and songs) were broadcast by All India Radio and Doordarshana regularly during his lifetime. A talented choreographer in Odissi and Kathak, he was a good dramatist and actor too. He directed the dance sequences in the film Laxmi (1962) which won a President’s award. He established the Khandapada Nayagada Janata High School and Baliarasingh Bani Mandira at his village in 1968. Classical vocal concerts were organised regularly by him in Kalabhawan. Reputed singers and musicians took part in those programmes on every full-moon day.