Utkalamani Pundit Gopabandhu Das- a life history
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Utkalamani Pundit Gopabandhu Das was a great freedom fighter and eminent social reformer of the state of Orissa.
Utkalamani Pundit Gopabandhu Das was born in a Brahmin family and went on to become one of the most adored persons of the state of Orissa. He was born in a small village called Suando near the river Bhargabhi in the holy district of Puri. Pundit Gopabandhu Das was a good student and after completing his initial education from the school in his village he passed his "Entrance" from the District School of Puri" in the year 1899. For higher education he joined the Ravenshaw College in Cuttack, a reputed college with great educational standards. He completed his Bachelors Degree in Arts from the Ravenshaw College in 1904. He moved to Calcutta to pursue a law degree from the Calcutta University. He completed his Bachelor of Law degree from the Calcutta University in 1906.
Pundit Gopabandhu Das got his first job as a teacher in Nilagiri where after working for some time he left his job to become a lawyer. He became a lawyer practicing and first in his home district of Puri. Later he moved to High court in Cuttack and continued his law practice. After that for some time he was also appointed as a Government lawyer in Mayurbhanj court. After a few years of legal practice Pundit Gopabandhu Das decided to quit the profession and start to work for social welfare. 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 of Orissa and helped in the welfare of people. Due to the wonderful response he got from the people of Orissa the school he had established was converted into a high school after a year in 1910. In the next few years Pundit Gopabandhu Das got huge recognition and appreciation for his efforts to improve education standards of the state of Orissa. The school started by Pundit Gopabandhu Das got affiliated to the Calcutta University and for the first time matriculation exam was held in the year of 1914. The school got affiliated to another leading university of the country, Patna University in the year of 1917. Due to huge success of the school it was converted to a National school in the year 1921. The school had to be unfortunately broken in 1927. It was restarted in the next few years but failed to achieve much success.
In the year 1902, Pundit Gopabandhu Das and a few others like Ananta Mishra, Godabarish Mishra, Krupasindhu and others made a pledge to devote their whole life for the upliftment of the state of Orissa and work for their social well being. They had decided that after completing their education they will do any job but rather work tirelessly for the development and welfare of the people of the country and especially the state of Orissa. Pundit Gopabandhu Das was a member of the state assembly of Bihar and Orissa from 1917 to 1921. During his tenure as a member of the assembly he was instrumental in the eradication of poverty from the state of Orissa. He also worked a lot to provide necessary relief to flood victim in the flood hit districts of Orissa.
Pundit Gopabandhu Das was highly inspired by the ideals of Mahatama Gandhi and gave his full support to Gandhiji in the freedom struggle for the country. Pundit Gopabandhu Das took active participation in the freedom struggle and attended two congress meets, one at Lucknow in 1916 and the other at Calcutta in 1920. He led from the front in the famous “Asahajog Andolan” in 1920. Pundit Gopabandhu Das started the weekly newspaper “Samaj” on 4th October 1919 which is today a leading daily newspaper of the state of Orissa. Before starting "Samaj" he had started a monthly magazine named “Satyabadi” in the year 1914. "Samaj" was published from Sakhigopal in its initial days but later moved to Puri and finally to Cuttack, from where it is still published today.
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 "Ma Ra 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 Orissa lead a better life. He was certainly shining gem for state of Orissa and a great son of the state.
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