Satya Mohan Joshi: The curious centenarian who 'thought without worrying' passed away

Satya Mohan Joshi: The curious centenarian who 'thought without worrying' passed away

Cultural scholar Satya Mohan Joshi, who was respected for decades with many adjectives attached to his name, passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 103.

Joshi, who contributed for decades in various fields related to the identity of Nepal including folk literature, culture, art, has given up his life due to health problems.

He became weak due to lack of appetite and was recently admitted to the hospital after contracting dengue.

Kisht Medical College and Teaching Hospital confirmed his death on Sunday morning, 30th October.

From childhood smallpox, malaria, cholera and now even the global epidemic of coronavirus, he considered paying attention to food, positive thinking and not being too ambitious as the secret of his long life.

While celebrating his 100th birthday, he said that in public events, culture and traditions fill life and that may be the reason for his long life as he has worked in that field for a long time.

Many features

It is not possible to identify Joshi with just one sign.

He has made significant contributions in various fields including culture to literature, literature to art, art to coin and stamp collection.

That's why he got the honor and title that no other Nepalese got. Earned name and respect.

He is the only living Nepali whose image was minted on a silver coin.

100, 1000 and 2500 coins have Joshi's image on one side and Mount Everest on the other.

Those who know him closely say that Joshi, who has been active in researching various subjects for a period of more than 8 decades, did not rest even in the last years of his life.

He himself attended the release of his autobiography, published when he was 102 years old. He also gave a speech for a while.

According to journalist Girish Giri, Joshi's main mantra in his active life is to keep himself curious.

"He had to be doing something. He seemed to be interested in the subject even towards the end of his life," journalist Giri, who wrote Joshi's autobiography, told the BBC.

last wishes

After turning 100, he told a team of journalists and writers that his last wish was "to have a book written about him".

That wish came true.

But before that book was published, he started working on another wish. That was the Paubha picture of Chakra Sambhar.

Under Joshi's vision and under the leadership of the famous Pauba painter Lok Chitrar, the painting has now reached its final stage.

On the second floor of 'Lok Sahitya Parishad' built in Joshi's old house, artists are working day and night to prepare the picture.

Mahamrityunjaya text at the age of 24

He rarely went to the hospital during his century-long life, but after the coronavirus epidemic, he occasionally fell ill.

Doctors used to say that it is a common health problem due to old age.

But it is mentioned in his book that he was on his deathbed 78 years ago.

In 2001, when he was studying for his undergraduate degree, he contracted malaria when he went to Tanahun for a survey under his first job.

He has written in the book that when he did not see the condition of living, his wife suggested him to teach Mahamrityunjaya lesson.

"I was listening to the ongoing Mahamrityunjaya text to prevent my own death by giving the money I had," the book reads.

After overcoming that death, he said that he got inspiration from seeing the Jureli Chari in Tanahun in the gloomy weather of Chait.

He wrote that he was impressed by Jureli Chari's habit of not giving up on his duty and enjoying what he has.

With the same thought of life that he got by seeing Jureli Chari, he started to enjoy again in the dull Tanahun.

He received the Madan Award in 2013 for the book 'Hamro Lok Sanskriti', a collection of folk songs brought from Tanahun and Lamjung.

That was the first Madan award. Having dabbled in folk literature and culture from Tanahun and Lamjung, he dabbled in various fields while remaining in this field.

At that time, he said that he only collected the songs sung by the villagers in Bhir Pakha, and gradually refined his habit of collecting.

His habit of inquiring, searching and collecting about language, culture and customs made him a culturalist.

He was always curious about matters that were given little importance, he also got unexpected responsibilities from the government level.

Joshi was made director of the Department of Archeology and Culture in 2015, which he said was hard to believe.

At that time, he was working as a non-gazetted Dittha or Khardar Sarah.

He said that he was surprised to find out that he was appointed as the director while searching for the person who named himself.

Worked in various fields during the unexpected job.

He has claimed that the conservation work of Lumbini area started from 2016 while he was in the department.

"In the year 2019, the Department of Archeology started experimental archaeological excavations in Lorikudan and Tilaurakot areas," he wrote in the book.

The National Art Museum was also established in Bhaktapur while he was the director.

The idol of Vishnu Vikrant lying in a state of disrepair at Dhowichowr in Lajimpat, Kathmandu was 'kidnapped' in his own words and kept in the National Museum in the cantonment.

Karnali studies in the year 2027

Joshi researched the currencies used in Nepal from the Lichchavik period to modern Nepal and for his book "Nepal Rashtriya Mudra" written on the same, he won the Madan Award for the second time in 2017.

Then the third Madan award he received jointly was for the book 'Karnali Folk Culture'.

So far, he is the only person to have received the Madan award three times.

Even now, Karnali is considered an inaccessible region.

52 years ago, a team led by Satya Mohan Joshi reached Karnali to explore the Khas civilization.

When it was unimaginable to reach Sinja in Jumla and conduct research, a book called 'Karnali Folk Culture' was prepared based on the study done by Joshi's team including anthropologist Viharikrishna Shrestha, geographer Styhaljanga Bahadur Singh, linguist Chudamani Bandhu, and culturalist Pradeep Rimal.

The study conducted at that time is considered very important for planning in Karnali region.

Before that, it is said that there was no such level of study in various aspects of Karnali.

There was little information about artist Araniko in Nepal.

He used to say that he was surprised when he saw the White Dagowa (White Quadrilateral Stupa) made by Nepali artist Araniko when he reached Beijing at the invitation of the Chinese Buddhist Association.

He also wrote the book 'Kalakar Araniko' based on the research he did when he went to teach Nepali language in China in 2022.

When he went to China, Joshi also went to North Korea, where few Nepalis go.

One of his most interesting foreign visits is going to New Zealand. Joshi was the first Nepali to reach the country.

Joshi arrived just a few days after New Zealanders Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa first climbed Mount Everest.

Joshi's book mentions that he was well received there as Tenzing's villager and his interviews were printed on the front pages of important newspapers.

Joshi, who was synonymous with rhythmic life for a long time, witnessed the death of many of his friends.

He said that death should not be feared as a fact, and he kept himself active till the end of his life.

According to the decision to donate the body contrary to tradition, his body has been handed over to the hospital.

Joshi touched many subjects that many did not touch and received many honors.

The Lok Sahitya Parishad building built in his old house is decorated with the countless honors he received.

The stamps and coins and books he collected are also decorated there.

Before Joshi, no one except the royal family had their picture printed on postage stamps while they were still alive.

In the year 2077, a postage stamp with the photo of Satya Mohan Joshi was issued by the President.

This year, it has been announced that Joshi will be awarded the National Honor on Constitution Day.

Even before this, he has been given honors such as Suprabal Gorkha Dakshinbahu, Ujjwal Kirtiman Rashtradeep, and in the year 2069 he was awarded the Padma Shri Sadhana Samman Award.

Writer Khagendra Sangraula, a researcher of history and culture, believes that Joshi's characteristic is the unrelenting continuity of Sadhana rather than thematic subtlety and depth.

"Being close to, rewarded and admired by all kinds of powers and governments in a long life is also indicative of Joshi's exceptional adaptability," Sangraula told the BBC.

"Joshi, in his autobiography, laments the demise of the autocratic monarchy and later becomes the convenor of the National Anthem Selection Committee of the new republican dispensation."

Jurelli philosophy

He said that Jureli Chari had a special influence in his life, having overcome death at a young age.

He wrote, "I got inspiration from one principle to live by. That was inspiration, the simple life of high thought. Not to worry, but to think and live contentedly."

Be it the autobiography called his last wish or the cycle-long Paubha picture, those who know him closely say that his Juraeli philosophy of not worrying and thinking has continued even after he passed away 103 years ago.


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