Gopabandhu Das

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Gopabandhu Dash
Kolkata Dharmatal4.jpg
Creator of Satyabadi Age
Native name ଉତ୍କଳମଣି ପଣ୍ଡିତ ଗୋପବନ୍ଧୁ ଦାସ
Born (1877-10-09)9 October 1877, Suando, Puri
Died 17 June 1928(1928-06-17) (aged 50),
Occupation Freedom Fighter , poet, Philosopher, Social Activist
Nationality Indian
Period 20th century

Gopabandhu Das (Odia: ଉତ୍କଳମଣି ପଣ୍ଡିତ ଗୋପବନ୍ଧୁ ଦାସ)(1877–1928), known as Utkalamani (Gem of Odisha), was a social worker, reformer, political activist, journalist, poet and essayist.

Early life: the revolutionary student[edit]

Born on 9 October 1877 to Swarnamayee Devi and Shree Daitari Das, in a Utkala Brahmin family, in Suando Village, near Puri, Odisha, Gopabandhu was a legend in the Indian culture. He served his people even at the cost of his family. At the age of twelve, he married Apti, but continued his education. After completion of primary education, he joined Puri Zilla School in 1893, where he met his teacher Mukhtiar Ramchandra Das, who was not only a genius but also a nationalist. It was at this school and with this teacher that Gopabandhu learned many nationalistic values. The inadequate response of authorities for the victims of cholera prompted him to start a voluntary corps Puri Seva Samiti. This movement later led to establishment of a separate hospital for cholera patients at Puri, and made Gopabandhu's name in society.[1]

Literary excellence and social movements[edit]

During his youth, the Oriya literary world was divided between the ancient, The Indradhanu and the modernists, The Bijuli. Gopabandhu realized that a nation as well as its literature live by their tradition. He believed that a national superstructure of the present can endure only if it is based upon the solid foundations of the national heritage. His satirical poem in The Indradhanu led to an ugly incident and punishment meted out by the Inspector of schools. Gopabandhu refused to apologize for such writing in lieu of punishment. The satire was on the ongoing controversy as to the greatness of Upendra Bhanja and Radhanath Rai in 1893, for which he was censured.[2]

He launched a monthly literary magazine in 1915, ‘Satyabadi’.[3]

He attended Ravenshaw College, Cuttack despite his father's recent death. During this period, he started Kartavya Bodhini Samiti (Duty Awakening Society) to encourage his friends to do their duty as citizens and take on social, economic and political problems. He was leading a team to aid flood victims, when he heard of his son's serious illness but remained to serve the locals rather than return home to his son. His social services as a young man prevented this brilliant student from completing his undergraduate degree, although he later earned his BL, LLB with distinction at Calcutta University.

While pursuing his study in the Ravenshaw College, he along with his friends like Brajasunder Das and Acharya Harihar Das made a commitment to serve the poor and the destitutes. While his son was seriously ill, he got the report of flood in the interior area of the district. He ignored the serious illness of his son and went to the flood affected people to provide them relief. During his absence, his son died. He said : "There are so many to look after my son. What more can I do ? But there are so many people crying for help in the affected areas and it is my duty to go there. Lord Jagannath is here to take care of the boy." Further, the day he got the news of his success in Law Examination, Calcutta, his wife died.[4]

Utkalmani's statue in Kolkata

In Kolkata, he started a labor union and set up night schools for Oriya laborers and cooks. He came in contact with the Vande Mataram group which infused him with the Swadeshi spirit. His new mission was to reform society through improving the educational system. His wife died when he was only twenty-eight, and his three sons had already died. He left his daughters with his elder brother, and gave his brother his share of the family property in the village to support them.

Educational reforms[edit]

After coming back from Kolkata, he worked as a government lawyer in Mayurbhanj court. Law did not interest him, so he gave up his practice and worked for the welfare of the people. He believed that only education can improve and develop society so in August 1909, he established a school in Satyabadi Bana Vidyalaya, near Puri.[5]

Gopabandhu established his famous Satyabadi Bana Bidyalaya in the year 1909, at Sakshi Gopal, a place of pilgrimage near Puri, the world-famous abode of Lord Jagannath and the great centre of Hindu pilgrimage. He started this institution getting inspiration from Shantiniketan which was set up earlier by Kabiguru Rabindranath Thakur. Gopabandhu was an admirer of the old gurukul ashrama system of education. He tried to make an experiment and came up with the bana bidyalaya. Bana bidyalaya was to be a man making industry. set in a natural surrounding of Bakul and Chhuriana trees, Bana bidyalaya was an epitome of the importance of naturalistic settings for students. He believed in education that could help the child to grow mentally, physically and spiritually. His system allowed children of all castes and backgrounds to sit together, dine together and study together. His Satyabadi bana bidyalaya had features like residential schooling, teaching in a natural setting and cordial relationship between the teacher and the taught. Das laid emphasis on co-curricular activities too. Gopabandhu wanted to generate nationalistic feelings in students through education and teach them the value of service to man kind. Gopabandhu's experiment of bana bidyalaya is regarded as one of the most noble experiments in the field of education.[6]

Professional career[edit]

Pandit Gopabandhu Das arrived at his first job as a teacher in Nilagiri in Balasore district of Odisha but afterward he left the assignment to become a lawyer. Graduating in law from Calcutta University, he set up his practice at his home district of Puri. Later he moved to the High court in Cuttack. During this period he was also appointed as a Government lawyer in Mayurbhanj court. It was Madhusudan Das, the leading Oriya statesman and lawyer, appointed him as the State pleader of the State of Mayurbhanj in 1909. Maharaja Shri Rama Chandra Bhanja Deo of Mayurbhanj held him with high esteem.[7] After had a consummate legal practice Pundit Gopabandhu Das decided to quit the profession for social work and mass education. He strongly believed that education had a huge role to play for the upliftment of the society. In his mission to work for a better society and welfare of the common masses he established a school at a place called Satyabadi in 1909. This effort of Pundit Gopabandhu Das played a key role to improve the education and social welfare of Odisha. Hugely motivated by the positive response he received from the people of Odisha the school was converted into a high school the following year. The school secured affiliation from the Calcutta University and for the first time matriculation exam was held in the year of 1914. The school further secured an affiliation from Patna University in 1917. Due to soaring success the school was converted to a National school in the year 1921. Unfortunately the school was closed in 1927. Though the school was restarted a few years after it failed to emulate its hoary past.


Pundit Gopabandhu Das was a member of Utkal Samilani from 1903 to 1921 for which he was elected President in the year of 1919. Pundit Gopabandhu Das was truly versatile personality. He was an eminent writer and poet. Some of his poems like "Kara Kabita ", "Dharmapada", "Bandi Ra Atma Katha" are testimony of his evident skills of a great poet. Pundit Gopabandhu Das had a miserable family life. He lost both of his parents in his childhood days. Pundit Gopabandhu Das who completed his education as an orphan went on to lose his wife son and younger brother when he was a young man. Even after so many personal setbacks we have to salute the spirit of this great man to work with complete dedication to ensure that poor people of Odisha lead a better life. He was certainly shining gem for state of Odisha and a great son of the state.

Political career[edit]

Gopabandhu's political exposure began with Utkal Sammilani in 1903, but he persuaded others to merge this with the National Congress to make the Odia movement a part of the Indian National Movement. Thus he became the founder president of Congress in Odisha. He was imprisoned several times for participating in the freedom movement. He quit Congress, disillusioned by the infighting among the leaders in their search for power and returned to serving the people directly. Then he became the national vice president of Lok Sevak Mandal till his death.

Gopabandhu was a member of the Old Bihar and Odisha Legislative Council for four years from 1917 to 1920. He emphasised on four major problems, viz, (a) amalgamation of all the Odia speaking tracts (b) permanent measures for the prevention of floods and famines in Odisha (c) the restoration of Odia's right to manufacture salt free from excise duty and (d) spread of education on Satyabadi model. Gopabandhu regularly attended and participated in the annual meeting of the Utkal Sammilani. He was elected as its President in 1919. He gave a broader definition of 'Odia' - any well wisher of Odisha is an Odia. His resolution to accept the aims and objects of the Indian National Congress as the part of Utkal Sammilani was approved at Chakradharpur Session.

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 called him the father of the national movement in Odisha. Besides, he was also the pioneer of Press Freedom in Odisha. On the request of Lala Lajpat Rai, he became a member of Servant of People Society. In 1928, he was elected as the Vice President of the society. He laid stress on language as the foundation of unity. Oneness of language makes the unity stronger. To him, language "is at the root of thought and civilisation. The unity of language ensures the unity of thought. As such the civilisation can not but be one and homogenous."[9]

He was an active sentinel of Odia Movement, freedom fighter and a great social reformer. As an educationist he was responsible for establishment of Satyabadi School at Satyabadi in the Puri District. Imbued with patriotic fervour the students of Satyabadi School were known as indefatigable fighters against British Imperialism. Gopabandhu regarded politics as an instrument of service to the people. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, Gopabandhu was one of the Noblest Sons of Odisha. His spirit of service and sacrifice finds an apt echo in his following lines. "Let my body mingle in the dust of my motherland and let my countrymen walk across it; and let my flesh and bones fill in the potholes of my country's self-independence ".[10]

Contribution to journalism[edit]

He was instrumental in making Oriya 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 Samaja, which became the most popular daily news paper of Odisha.[11] He served as editor "Samaj" continuously until his death, at which time he bequeathed it to Lok Sevak Mandal.[12]


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 June 1928.[13]



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ "An experiment in nationalist education: Satyavadi school in Orissa(1909-1926) (Krishan Shri) -". 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. Satyavadi was a unique experimental school in the history of modern Orissa. Established by Gopabandhu Das 
  6. ^ [5]
  7. ^ [6]
  8. ^ "Utkalamani Pandit Gopabandhu Das- a life history". Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  9. ^ [7]
  10. ^ "Pandit Gopabandhu Das (1876-1928)". Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  11. ^ "Legends of Puri". 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012. launched his own weekly Samaj from Puri in 1919 
  12. ^ "About Us". Samaj. Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  13. ^ "Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das". 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2012. He died on 17 June 1928 
  14. ^

14. Radhakanta Barik, Gopabandhu & the National Movement in Orissa, Social Scientist. v 6, no. 70 (May 1978) p. 40.

External links[edit]

gopabandhu was great