History of Odisha

A Comprehensive Compendium of History, Culture, Lifestyle and Tourism of Odisha

Category: Makers of Modern Odisha

Makers of Modern Odisha: Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo

Born on 17th December 1871 in a royal family of princely state of Mayurbhanj, Sri Ram Chandra ascended the throne on 15th August 1892. He worked for the all-round development of Mayurbhanj state and implemented various benevolent measures for the welfare of the people. Pandit Utkalmani Gopabandhu became the friend, philosopher and guide of this ruler. Sri Ram Chandra brought about significant changes in the spheres of language, health and administration. A narrow gauge railway was commissioned between Rupsa – Baripada during his reign. He constructed two major reservoirs at Haldiha and Haladia with an expenditure of Rs.6 lakh from royal treasury. Similarly in the educational sector he raised the number of primary schools from 44 to 400 in his royal jurisdiction.

Although he was the king of Mayurbhanj, he had great love for the entire Orissa. Under the able leadership of Madhusudan he gave momentum to the cause of making Orissa a separate Province. In 1903 Sri Ram Chandra presided over the 1st session of Utkal Sammilani. Afterwards owing to the concerted efforts of this Sammilani the dream of Orissa for becoming a separate State came to reality on 1st April 1936. This illustrious son of Orissa passed away on 22nd February 1912.

Source: Odisha Review, November 2018

Makers of Modern Odisha: Gangadhar Meher

Born on August 9, 1862 on the day of Sravana Purnima at Barapalli, Sambalpur in a weaver family. Educated up to 5th class. Dr. Mayadhar Mansingh has high esteem for Gangadhar Meher and in his History of Oriya literature he has opined “All told, Gangadhar Meher is one of the rarest personalities and poets in the whole range of Oriya Literature’’. His poetic creation includes ‘ PRANAYA-BALLARI’, ‘KICHAKA BADHA’, ‘ INDUMATI,’ UTKAL LAXMI’, AYODHYA DRUSYA’, ‘ KABITA KALLOLA’, ‘ARGHYA THALI’, ‘ AHALYA STABA’, MAHIMA’ BHARATI BHABANA’, ‘ KUMARA JANMOTSAV’, BHAKTI UPAHAR, ‘PADMINI’, KABITA MALA & KRUSHAKA SANGITA’. His prose creation include ATMA JEEVANI’, SHRI NRUPARAJ SINGH’, ‘ PURANA KABI FAKIR MOHAN’, SWARGIYA KASHINATH PANDA’, ‘EHAKI PRUTHIBIRA SABDA?, SIKSHIT’, ASIKHSIT & SIKSHYABHIMANINI.

The popularity of his literary creation is due to narration of the beauty of the nature just like Kabibara Radhanath Ray. It is unique. Gangadhar is widely known as poet of nature, can be compared with poet Shelly, Byron and Keats. He was the messenger of Upendra Bhanja’s style and ideals. His popularity is not accidental. There are many reasons behind this. Just like Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja, his poetries are replete with high ornamental words, unique composition style, using in befitting cases, simile and metaphor and appropriate words. His poetries are sonorous of rhythm of words and languages. He is rated as a great poet in Indian Literature. Died on April 4, 1924. His poetries can be divided into lyrics, devotional, patriotic, reformative, ethical, agricultural, elegy, and narration of nature.

Source: Odisha Review, November 2018

Makers of Modern Odisha: Utkala Gourav Madhusudan Das

Born on 1848, April 28 at Satyabhamapur of Cuttack District. Father Choudhuri Raghunath Das, Mother–Parvati Devi. Madhusudan Das was the first Oriya to fetch the degree of M.A.B.L., from Calcutta University. He was popularly known as Madhu Barrister, respectfully regarded and addressed as “Utkal Gourav”. He was deeply moved and shocked to see the discrimination, made against the Oriyas by administrative authority. He was convinced that the miserable plight of the Oriyas was only due to the apathetic and indifferent attitude of authorities towards the interest of the Oriya people. The Oriyas could not stand united only because of their vivisection and annexation with three different provinces. So, he took a solid stand for the unification of the scattered Oriyas by organising and mobilising strong public opinion among the Oriyas and pressurised the British rulers for the unification of the scattered Oriya-speaking tracts for the socio-economic and cultural growth of the Oriyas at large.

Madhusudan organised Utkal Union Conference to form the channel for discussion and negotiations with the authorities to solve the problems and open avenues for a new era of unification and integration and played a piloting role in engineering the plans and programmes, pioneering the aims and objectives and championing the cause of the Oriya movement. “Utkal Sammilani” came into existence in the year 1903 with the extinction of “Utkal Sabha”, it spearheaded the movement of the unification of Oriya-speaking units under one administration with right earnestness, disciplined plans and programmes.

Due to the ability and inspiration of Mr. Das, people of all categories and sections conglomerated under one political banner. It inspired people with a surging up feeling of oneness of culture, tradition and language and a rare sense of nationality. This impact thundered the sky of Orissa. It went up to such an extent that “freedom movement” and the Oriya movement got inter-linked under the stable leadership of Mr. Das and Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das. Sometimes the two movements were lacking harmony on the issue of priority. This situation impelled people to join hands with Mr. Das in the forum of Oriya movement, then the Congress. Utkal Sammilani or the Utkal Union Conference maintained its separate identity from the Congress.

As a legislator, Madhusudan Das acclaimed a commendable height of wide appreciation and position. It was mostly due to his sharp wit and inspiring speech of effective magnitude. He was selected as the Minister of local self-Government of Bihar-Orissa.

He was a leader of versatile performance and could arrest appreciation and love of the people and the Government during the tenure of his ministry. Inspite of his popularity, he resigned in 1923 on a matter of principle. It speaks of his integrity.

His journalistic approach was reflected in his weekly paper ‘The Oriya’ started in 1917. It was his intense desire to highlight the interest of Oriyas, criticising the Government’s policy through this channel of weekly paper. He was very genuine and emphatic in his voice and action.

He was a national pioneer and a staunch patron of Orissan development. He breathed his last on the 4th February 1934. He was a bonafide benefactor, a nationalist in true sense, acquiring the first Master Degree and first B.L. Degree as the first Oriya. He was the first Oriya to be the member of Legislative Council, the first Oriya to sail abroad, to visit England twice and to have the membership of Central Legislative Assembly as the first Oriya and the first Indian Minister.

Source: Odisha Review, November 2018

Makers of Modern Odisha: Fakir Mohan Senapati

Born on January 14, 1843, at Mallikashpur in Balasore. Father, Laxman Charan Senapati and mother Tulsi Devi. He played a leading role in establishing the distinct identity of Oriya language and literature. Fakirmohan Senapati is regarded as the father of Oriya nationalism and the modern Oriya literature. He dedicated his life for the progress of Oriya language in the later 19th and early 20th century. The story of Fakirmohan is indeed the story of the “Renaissance” of Oriya literature. Besides he was a social reformer and educator who used his pen to criticize and correct the aberrations prevalent in the society. He is called the father of Oriya fiction.

He is aptly called as Thomas Hardy of Orissa. The four novels of Fakirmohan, written between 1897 and 1915, reflect the socio-cultural conditions of Orissa during the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. While the three novels, Chhamana Atha Guntha, Mamun and Prayaschita explore the realities of social life in its multiple dimensions. Lachhma is a historical romance dealing with the anarchical conditions of Orissa in the wake of Maratha invasions during the eighteenth century. He has written quite a few memorable short stories, such as ‘Rebati’, ‘Patent Medicine’ and ‘Randipua Ananta’. Fakir Mohan is also the writer of the first autobiography in Oriya, ‘ Atma Jeevan Charita’ .

Fakir Mohan’s first original poem ‘ Utkala Bhramanam’ (Tours of Orissa) appeared in 1892. It is not really a travel book but rather an unusual and humorous survey of the contemporary personalities prominent in the then public life of Orissa. His other original poems published are Puspamala (The Garland), Upahar (Gift), Puja Phula (Flowers of Worship), Prarthana (Prayer) and Dhuli (Dustgrains). Fakir Mohan Senapati translated single-handedly the whole of the ‘ Ramayana’ and the ‘ Mahabharat’. For having translated both the ‘ Ramayan’ and the ‘ Mahabharat’ single-handed and his wide versatility in the word of letters, he is popularly known as ‘ Vyasakabi’ in Orissa. He was also conferred the title ‘ Saraswati’ by the king of Bamra, the then feudal state. A great lover and a creator of new era in Oriya literature he was the founder of an organization called ‘ Utkala Bhasa Unnati Bidhani Sabha’, which was started in 1867 to create a new awareness among the people of Orissa and to propagate Oriya language. Died on June 14, 1918.

Source: Odisha Review November 2018

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