Michael Madhusudan Dutt

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Michael Madhusudan Dutt
মাইকেল মধুসূদন দত্ত
MichaelMadhusudanDatta.jpg
Michael Madhusudan Dutt
Born (1824-01-25)25 January 1824
Jessore, Bengal Presidency, (Now Bangladesh)
Died 29 June 1873(1873-06-29) (aged 49)
Calcutta(now Kolkata), Bengal Presidency, British India
Occupation Writer
Ethnicity Bengali
Genre Poet, playwright
Subject Literature
Literary movement Bengal Renaissance
Spouse Rebecca Mactavys
Henrietta Sophia White (m. 1856–1873)
Children Napoleon
Sharmistha

Michael Madhusudan Dutt, or Michael Madhusudan Dutta (Bengali: মাইকেল মধুসূদন দত্ত (About this sound Maikel Modhushudôn Dôtto ); 25 January 1824 – 29 June 1873) was a popular 19th-century Bengali poet and dramatist.[1] He was born in Sagordari (Bengali: সাগরদাঁড়ি), on the bank of Kopotaksho (Bengali: কপোতাক্ষ) River, a village in Keshabpur Upazila, Jessore District, Bengal Presidency, East Bengal (now in Bangladesh). His father was Rajnarayan Dutt, an eminent lawyer, and his mother was Jahnabi Devi. He was a pioneer of Bengali drama.[2] His famous work Meghnad Bodh Kavya (Bengali: মেঘনাদবধ কাব্য), is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is exceptional in Bengali literature both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love as spoken by women.

As a young student, Dutt was part of Young Bengal, a movement of rebellion against traditional Indian ways centered in Hindu College (now Presidency College) in Calcutta (now Kolkata). He aspired to be an English poet and longed to travel to England to make his name and fame. When his father, concerned by these trends, arranged his marriage, he rebelled. One aspect of his rebellion involved conversion to Christianity.

Dutt is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets in Bengali literature and the father of the Bengali sonnet. He pioneered what came to be called amitrakshar chhanda (blank verse). Dutt died in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency on 29 June 1873.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

His childhood education started in a village named Shekpura, at an old mosque, where he went to learn Persian. He was an exceptionally talented student. Since his childhood, Dutt was recognised by his teachers and professors as being a precocious child with a gift of literary expression. He was very imaginative. Early exposure to English education and European literature at home and in Kolkata inspired him to emulate the English in taste, manners and intellect. An early influence was his teacher, Capt. D.L.Richardson at Hindu College. Richardson was a poet and inspired in Dutt a love of English poetry, particularly Byron.

Dutt's early works — poetry and drama — were mostly in English. They include translations, plays including Sermistha and Ratnavali; and poems, including Captive Ladie, which was written about the mother of his close friend Sri Bhudev Mukhopadhyay, indicate a high level of intellectual sophistication.[4][5]

In his own words[edit]



Madhusudan embraced Christianity[7] at the Old Mission Church in spite of the objections of his parents and relatives on 9 February 1843. He had to leave Hindu College so continued his education at Bishop's College. He later moved to Madras due to severe family tensions and economic hardship. He describes the day as:

On the eve of his departure to England:

(Translated from the original Bengali by the poet.)

Literary life[edit]

Influences[edit]

Dutt was particularly inspired by both the life and work of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron. Dutt was a spirited bohemian and Romantic. Dutt's heroic epic was Meghnadh Badh Kabya, although his journey to publication and recognition was far from smooth. However, with its publication, the Indian poet distinguished himself as a serious composer of an entirely new genre of heroic poetry, that was Homeric and Dantesque in technique and style, and yet so fundamentally Indian in theme. To cite the poet himself: "I awoke one morning and found myself famous." Nevertheless, it took a few years for this epic to win recognition all over the country.

Linguistic abilities[edit]

Madhusudan was a gifted linguist and polyglot.[citation needed]

Work with the sonnet[edit]

He dedicated his first sonnet to his friend Rajnarayan Basu, which he accompanied with a letter: "What say you to this, my good friend? In my humble opinion, if cultivated by men of genius, our sonnet in time would rival the Italian."[8]

When Dutt later stayed in Versailles, the sixth centenary of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri was being celebrated all over Europe. He composed a poem in honour of the poet, translated it into French and Italian, and sent it to the king of Italy. Victor Emmanuel II, then monarch, liked the poem and wrote to Dutt, saying, "It will be a ring which will connect the Orient with the Occident."[9]

Work in blank verse[edit]

Sharmistha (spelt as Sermista in English) was Dutt's first attempt at blank verse in Bengali literature. Kaliprasanna Singha organised a felicitation ceremony to Madhusudan to mark the introduction of blank verse in Bengali poetry.

Praising Dutt's blank verse, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, observed: "As long as the Bengali race and Bengali literature would exist, the sweet lyre of Madhusudan would never cease playing."[this quote needs a citation] He added: "Ordinarily, reading of poetry causes a soporific effect, but the intoxicating vigour of Madhusudan's poems makes even a sick man sit up on his bed."[this quote needs a citation]

In his The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, Nirad C. Chaudhuri has remarked that during his childhood days in Kishoreganj, a common standard for testing guests' erudition in the Bengali language during family gatherings was to require them to recite the poetry of Dutt, without an accent.

In France[edit]

The street where M Dutt used to live in Versailles, France
12 Rue Des Chantiers, 78000 Versailles, France - the apartment building where M. Dutt dwelled (photo taken on July 2011)

Dutt went to England to study law to escape his poverty, but English weather and racism made it unbearable. By the time he shifted to Versailles during the 1860s, Dutt was desperately poor. Funds were not arriving from India according to his plans. He was only able to complete his law course and return home due to the munificent generosity of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. For this, Dutt was to regard Vidyasagar as Dayar Sagar (meaning the ocean of kindness) for as long as he lived. But he never got established in legal practice in Calcutta and died impoverished.

He wrote to his friend Gour Bysack from France:

Marriage and family[edit]

Dutt had refused to enter into an arranged marriage which his father had decided for him. He had no respect for that tradition and wanted to break free from the confines of caste-based endogamous marriage. His knowledge of the European tradition convinced him of the superiority of marriages made by mutual consent (or love marriages). While in Madras he married Rebecca McTavish, of English descent. They had four children together. He wrote to Gour in December 1855:

Dutt returned from Madras to Calcutta in February 1856, after his father's death, abandoning his wife and children in Madras. He had two children by Henrietta Sophia White, who was also ethnic English. This relationship lasted until the end of his life, Henrietta pre-deceasing him by three days. They had a son Napoleon and daughter Sharmistha.

The tennis player Leander Paes is a direct descendant of his.

Death[edit]

Tomb of Michael Madhusudan Dutt

দাঁড়াও পথিক-বর, জন্ম যদি তব
বঙ্গে! তিষ্ঠ ক্ষণকাল! এ সমাধিস্তলে
(জননীর কোলে শিশু লভয়ে যেমতি
বিরাম) মহীর পদে মহানিদ্রাবৃত
দত্তোকুলোদ্ভব কবি শ্রীমধুসূদন!
যশোরে সাগরদাঁড়ি কবতক্ষ-তীরে
জন্মভূমি, জন্মদাতা দত্ত মহামতি
রাজনারায়ণ নামে, জননী জাহ্নবী
[12]

A 33 second sample recitation of poetry Samadhi

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Legacy and honours[edit]

Dutt was largely ignored for 15 years after his death.[13] The belated tribute was a tomb erected at his gravesite.

His epitaph, a verse of his own, reads:

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar said:

In the words of Sri Aurobindo:

Major works[edit]

  • Tilottama, 1860
  • Meghnad Bodh Kavya (Ballad of Meghnadh's demise), 1861
  • Birangana
  • Choturdoshpodi kobitaboli
  • Brajangngana
  • Sharmishtha
  • Ekei Ki Bole Sovyota (Is this is called a civilisation)
  • Buro Shaliker Ghare Rown
  • Ratnavali
  • Rizia, the sultana of Inde.
  • The Captive Lady
  • Visions of the Past
  • Rosalo Sornolatika
  • Bongobani
  • Sonnets and other poems

Further reading[edit]

  • Ghulam, Murshid. Lured by Hope. Trans. Majumdar, Gopa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0195653629 – Gopa Majumdar's translation of Ashar Chalane Bhuli
  • Roy, Pinaki. “Extravagant Genius: Michael Madhusudan Dutt and his Oeuvre”. Indian Poetry in English: Critical Essays. Ed. Mitra, Z. New Delhi: Prentice Hall, 2012 (ISBN 978-81-203-4571-3). Pp. 15–30.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Madhusudan Dutta : Profile of an Epic Poet Compiled by Aparna Chatterjee
  2. ^ Buckland C E; Charles E. Buckland (1 January 1999). Dictionary of Indian Biography. Cosmo Publication. pp. 128–. ISBN 978-81-7020-897-6. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Michael Madhusudan Dutta", Calcuttaweb
  4. ^ "M. Madhusuda Dutt", Poets Seers
  5. ^ "Michael Madhusudan Datta", Sanskrit.org
  6. ^ Dipesh Chakrabarty (15 February 2001). Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (New Edition). Princeton University Press. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-0-691-13001-9. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Dutt, Michael Madhusudan - Banglapedia
  8. ^ a b Sri Aurobindo Ashram (February 1961). Mother India. p. 55. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Ramanial Kanaiyaial Yajnik (1933). The Indian Theatre: Its Origins and Its Later Developments Under European Influence, with Special Reference to Western India. Ardent Media. pp. 219–. GGKEY:WYN7QH8HYJB. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Arabinda Poddāra (1970). Renaissance in Bengal: quests and confrontations, 1800-1860. Indian Institute of Advanced Study. p. 216. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Ghulam Murshid; Gopa Majumdar (30 October 2003). Lured by hope: a biography of Michael Madhusudan Dutt. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-565362-5. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "Madhusudan Dutta's Samadhi Lipi". 
  13. ^ "A Review": Ghulam Murshid, Lured by Hope: A Biography of Michael Madhusudan Dutt, translated from Bengali by Gopa Majumdar, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2003. ISBN 0-19-565362-9. Pp 238 + xvi, at Parabaas
  14. ^ "A poet of epic proportions". THe Daily Star. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  15. ^ "Meghnad, the Protagonist, the Heart of a Rebel Poet and My CHHOTO KAKA". indiatimes.com. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Michael Madhusudan Dutt". http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 

External links[edit]