Odisha News Insight

Odisha pays Rich Tribute to Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das (1877-1928)

Gopabandhu-UtkalManiAn indebted state paid rich tribute to Pt. Gopabandhu Das, who is know as Utkalmani, on his birth anniversary today. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Governor SC Jamir, PCC President Prasad Harichandan, BJP’s state unit President KV Singhdeo and many other eminent personalities led the people in Odisha to remember the great soul of the soil.

Born on 9 October 1877 to Swarnamayee Devi and Daitari Das in Suando Village, near Puri, Odisha, Gopabandhu was a ‘Man of the Masses’. He always worked for the poor and downtrodden and even did not bother about his own family for the sake of the nation.

Even when his own son was suffering from serious illness, he went to serve the people of flood-affected areas. He said, “there were many people to take care of my son, but if I did not go, who would look after these poor people?” His son died, but he was serving hundreds of others to bring smile to their faces despite the pain and agony in his life.

Pt. Gopabandhu Das studied at Ravenshaw College and had earned his BL, LLB with distinction at Calcutta University. In Kolkata, he started a labor union and set up night schools for Odia laborers and cooks. He also worked as a Lawyer in Mayurbhanj in the early days before opting for social service.

Gopabandhu established his famous Satyabadi Bana Bidyalaya in the year 1909, at Sakshi Gopal, a place near Puri. That turned out to be a turning point in Odisha’s Gurukul history. Many eminent people from Odisha were the products of Satyabadi Bana Bidyalaya or ‘Bakula Bana Bidyalaya’.

Pt. Gopabandhu was a member of Utkal Samilani from 1903 to 1921. He was elected President in the year of 1919. He was a renowned Poet and Writer. ‘Kara Kabita’, ‘Dharmapada’, ‘Bandi Ra Atma Katha’ are some his legendary poetry works.

Gopabandhu was the first leader of Odisha to organise the Odisha Provincial Committee. He became the first president of the Congress party in Odisha and brought Gandhiji to Odisha in 1921 to further the cause of Non-Cooperation Movement. He was arrested by police in 1921 and again imprisoned for two years in 1922. He was released from Hazaribagh jail on 26 June, 1924. Subhash Bose rightly called him the father of the national movement in Odisha. Besides, he was also the pioneer of Press Freedom in Odisha.

He was instrumental in making Odia journalism suitable for the common man. He published a monthly magazine called Satyabadi in 1914. Later on 4 October 1919, the auspicious day of Vijayadsahami he started the weekly newspaper The Samaj, which became the most popular daily news paper of Odisha. He served as editor “Samaj” continuously until his death, at which time he bequeathed it to Lok Sevak Mandal.

Gopabandhu fell ill while attending a fund raising ceremony in Lahore for the flood victims of Odisha, after which he never recovered. He died of prolonged illness on 17 July 1928.

(With inputs from WikiPedia)

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