Kavi Sarada Prasad Kisku was born on 2 February, 1929 in a remote village of Darikadoba near Bandwan under the Purulia district of West Bengal. His father was Charan Kisku and his mother was Dhanmani Kisku. He was his parent’s youngest son.
There was no school in Darikadoba, so his father admitted him to Jorobari Lower Primary School in 1938, 3 kms away from his village. He passed lower primary and got admission at Borogoriya Upper Primary School. Every day he walked 6 kms away from his home to go to school in Borogoria.
He passed his upper primary in 1940. Then he was admitted at Ranibadh Middle English School, Bankura. Ranibadh was far from his village, so he decided to stay at Talgoriya, his Aunty Alladis house. She was a poor woman. He used to work in Haradhan Hembram’s house, and somehow she used to gather food twice a day.
Sarada Prasad passed matriculation in 1948 with first division. He got admission in ISC at Bankura Bishnupur Ramananda College. However, due to his poor economic condition, he could not carry on with his studies. After that, he took 3 months of Hindi training at Bandwan Hindi Sikhan Kendra in 1950 for a livelihood.
After completing the training course, he got the opportunity to teach Jamtoria Senior Basic School. Later he joined active politics, for which he quit his job as a teacher and contested the assembly election of West Bengal in the year 1962 on a Congress ticket. But with a support debacle subsequently, he joined as a teacher in primary school. Later, he established himself as one the best ideal teacher of the country and received the best ideal teacher award in the year 1973 from the then president of India, V V Giri.
He was India’s first teacher among the Santal community who received such a prestigious award. He retired in 1989 from his teaching career.
During his studies in high school, he came to contact with the writings of Narasingha Hembram, who at that time authored a book Nahag Serenj Puthi (a book on Santali Song) which inspired Sarada Prasad deeply and he began his writings.
At the very beginning, he started writing songs in Santali and then poetry in Santali. His first poetry was published in Hor Sambad, published by the Information and Public Relations Department of the Government of Bihar as a monthly mouthpiece of the government of Bihar. He wrote many stories under the pseudonym Tatko Malang (A man with a high forehead).
He used to write in Tetre magazine under the pseudonym Patang Surai (leaf insect). He was a poet of excellence. In Santali, he has published several books of poetry and notable among them are:
Apart from a poet of eminence, he was also an essayist and a fiction writer. His collection of short stories, Salam Latam, was published in 1988. His other publication Sangitika (1998), is a collection of Santali songs with Bengali translation. He was the editor of the monthly Santali literary magazine Kherwal Arang (1958) and Susar Dahar (1972).
He received numerous awards, honours and recognitions. Notable among them are:
He was a poet of nature, pathos and revolution. Hence many attribute him as the true disciple of Mahakavi Sadhu Ramchand Murmu. Moreover, he was a social reformer who fought against the vices of witchcraft in Santhal society throughout his life.
Sarada Prasad Kisku left his last breath on 18 March, 1996. He will be remembered for his innumerable contribution to the Santali language and literature. The Government of West Bengal launched an award in the name of Kavi Sarada Prasad Kisku in 2009 for his outstanding contribution to Santali literature.
Interview with Mahadev Hansda, Editor, Tertre (A Monthly Santali Literary Magazine)