Hello, everyone, and welcome to a new installment called “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Dr. Pramod Mishra, Lewis University English Professor. Dr. Mishra was interviewed by Lewis student Andrea Holm. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.
Tied to Your Roots
Dr. Pramod Mishra was tucked away alone by his father’s family on a midnight train at the young age of three years old, heading towards Calcutta in North India; still, even till this day, unaware of his own birthday. He lived in the hinterlands of Nepal after he and his mother were banished from India. Coming from a less privileged location Mishra stated, “I lived five years in semi-starvation: three years in high school and my first two years in college”; yet, he was inspired by works of literature to establish a better life for himself. He even rose to become an English professor and went to many well-known universities, including Duke University.
At the age of five years old, Mishra already had a career plan assigned to him by his parents. He was taken through many rituals to become a Kabir monk. However, fate had its way and instead he attended modern school. I was surprised to find out that during Mishra’s childhood he faced multiple struggles. Even though he learned to read at the age of five, school did not come easy for him. He failed third grade and had to be held back an additional six months. He was then able to proceed into fourth grade, where he was able to become top of his class and school within six months. It was works of literature that encouraged him to try harder. During this period of educational hardships, he was reading stories from Hindu scriptures. One Hindu scripture in particular sparked his interest,the Sukh Sagar, which is a compilation of stories of the Puranas. He informed me about how the book affected him, proclaiming, “I came across a narrator, Sukhdev Muni, who was blessed to have the most knowledge in the world and was the wisest of all. I was also seven, and here I was who had failed third grade and was repeating it.” Evidently this piece of literature motivated Mishra to become like the narrator, Sukhdev Muni, a well-rounded, bright intellectual.