Swadeshi Movement in Odisha

Gopabandhu Das, Satyabadi

In 1905, the Swadeshi Movement started in Bengal in protest against the partition of Bengal which had a substantial influence on the intellectuals of Odisha. In this connection, protest meetings were held at Cuttack, Puri, Balasore, Sambalpur and other places to express empathy with the movement in Bengal. The Swadeshi agitators of Bengal laid stress on boycott of foreign goods and the manufacturing of indigenous goods which made a good impact on the Odia intellectuals. At Cuttack Janaki Nath Bose, Biswanath Kar and Dhirendera Nath Choudhury spread the massage of Swadeshi. A meeting was held in the Cuttack Municipal Hall under the presidentship of Babu Janakinath Bose on 20 August, 1905. Here Madhusudan Das gave a clarion call to the people of Odisha to boycott the foreign goods, particularly Manchester cloth and Liverpool salt, and to use the indigenous goods. The message of Swadeshi also reached Balasore and Puri. In September Abdus Sobhan Khan and Fakir Mohan Senapati organized large public meetings for the purpose at Balasore. At Puri, Haris Chandra Ghose and Dhanpati Banerjee led the students in a procession through the town and persuaded the business community to sell only Swadeshi goods and to boycott the foreign goods in their shops. Pandit Godabarish Mishra has mentioned that a bonfire of foreign clothes was made at Puri town. Many people in Balasore and Cuttack gave up the use of foreign clothes, salt and sugar.

The Utkal Dipika mentions that being inspired by the Swadeshi ideas, the weavers of Sambalpur, Banpur, Sukinda and Basudebpur started manufacturing fine hand loom textiles, and men and women of rich classes began to wear Berhampuri pata and Maniabandha sari on festive and other occasions. During the Dasserah festival the people purchased large quantity of localmade clothes. The swadeshi idea provoked Madhusudan Das to set up Utkal Tannery and an Art Ware at Cuttack. In this context, an exhibition of indigenous goods was held in the Cuttack Town hall on 7 August, 1907, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Swadeshi Sabha at Calcutta.

The Surat Split of the Congress in 1907 weakened the Moderates and brought a group of nationalists appeared under the leadership of Gopabbandhu in Odisha. The advent of Gopabandhu Das in Odisha politics brought a radical change in the political scenario of the state. Gopabandhu was an ultra-nationalist. In the beginning, he was a great follower of Madhusudan Das. An ideological conflict started between Madhusudan and Gopabandhu which ultimately ended with the victory of the latter.

In the Swadeshi movement, the Bengali agitators laid stress on National Education which appealed to Gopabandhu. On 12 August, 1909, he established an ideal school on the model of the Decan Education Society, called as Satyabadi Vana Vidyalaya at Sakhigopal, Puri. The establishment of Satyabadi School was a landmark in the evolution of national consciousness in Odisha. This institution became famous as a band of devoted and talented teachers like Pandit Nilakantha Das, Pandit Lingaraj Mishra, Acharya Harihar Das, Pandit Godabarish Mishra and Pandit Krupasindhu Mishra along with Gopabandhu introduced a new pattern of education most suitable to Indian society.

In this school, the teachers concerned themselves in building up their students into ideal citizens and also devoted their time to social reforms in the surrounding villages. For about 40 years the school provided leadership in the sphere of political social and literary activities in Odisha. The teachers and alumni of this school proved themselves worthy citizens and made the people of Odisha politically aware about the national movement in India. However, the extremist phase of the national movement raised its head after the Swadeshi movment. A group of radical youths of Bengal started terrorist activities under the leadership of Jatindranath Mukherjee, popularly known as Bagha Jatin. They used Balasore and Kaptipada jungle areas as the bases to raid on British institutions. However, Bagha Jatin died in an encounter with the police while his friends Manoranjan and Hiren were hanged. In this context, 3 young men of Odisha Atal Bihari Acharya, Sasanka Mukherjee and Bairagi Tripathy were taken into police custody for having their connection with the Bengal terrorists.

1. Dr M. K. Das, History of Odisha Vol-III
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