Gopabandhu Das was a noted social worker in Orissa. He is also widely known as a famous poet. Apart from it he was a legislator and an editor too. He was very well known all over Orissa. He devoted himself to the service of the humanity. He was really an illustrious son of Orissa. He deserved the pre-name award Utkalamani.
Gopabandhu Das was born on 9th October, 1877 at Suando, a small village in Puri district. His father's name was Daitary Das. His mother Swarna mayee Devi died when Gopabandhu was quite young. Gopabandhu Das received his early education in his village Primary School. With the award of a scholarship he studied in the Puri Zilla School. He impressed his teachers with his brilliant knowledge.
Gopabandhu Das completed his B.A. and Law. He then became a lawyer. He was married at an early age. He was always worried about the poor people in Orissa. He intended to step up the condition of the poor. He joined politics and came in contact with many illustrious sons of Orissa like Madhusudan Das.
At that time Orissa was backward in education. The young mass could not get proper inspiration. Gopabandhu Das started the Vanavidyalaya at Sakhigopal. He himself was a teacher there. There were other famous teachers such as Pandit Krupasindhu Mishra, Godavarisha Mishra, Pandit Nilakantha Das and Harihar who worked with Gopabandhu Das in that School. It was an ideal school. The teachers were ideal. They also wanted to produce ideal students with sound moral character. Social service was another goal of the team of the teachers in that Vanavidyalaya.
Gopabandhu was a legislator. He became a member of Bihar and Orissa Legislative Council in 1917. He took part in the Non-co-operation Movement which was started by Mahatma Gandhi. He was influenced by Lala Lajpat Rai who founded the Loka Sevak Sangha. Gopabandhu donated all his property to that organisation for the sake of the poor. He also became its president.
The people of Orissa remember Gopabandhu as a dedicated social worker. When there was high flood in Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur area during his time, he was very much sorry for the miserable condition of the flood victims. In the Legislative Council in Patna, he raised a strong demand for the eradication of poverty in Orissa. He was an angel in deed.
Like other freedom fighters, Gopabandhu Das was also sentenced to imprisonment. In order to spread education among the people of Orissa he started the daily newspaper The Samaj. He brought out the actual condition of the people in Orissa through that newspaper.
Gopabandhu Das occupies a unique position in the history of Oriya Literature. He was a famous poet. His poems include Karakabita (Prison verse), Bandira Swadesha Chinta (Thoughts of a Prisoner about his homeland) and Dharmapada. He inspired his co-teachers to make names in literature. He was in true sense the Utkalamani or "The Jewel of Orissa".
Gopabandhu Das died on 16th June, 1928 at the age of 51. For his noble work he will be ever remembered by the people of Orissa.
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