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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Dash
Creator of Satyabadi Age
Born 9 October 1877
Died 17 June 1928 (aged 50)
Occupation Freedom Fighter , poet, Philosopher, Social Activist
Period 20th century
Gopabandhu Dash (Oriya: ଗୋପବନ୍ଧୁ ଦାସ) (1877–1928) known as Utkalamani (Gem of Orissa) was a social
worker, reformer, political activist, journalist, poet and essayist.
1 Early life : The revolutionary student
2 Literary Excellence and Social Movements
3 Educational Reforms
4 Principles and aims of Gopabandhu's Education
5 Professional career
6 Political career
7 Influence on Gandhiji
8 Contribution to Journalism
11 External links
Early life : The revolutionary student
Born on 9 October 1877 to Swarnamayee Devi and Shree Daitari Dash in Suando Village, near Puri, Orissa,
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 Ramachandra Dash, 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.
Literary Excellence and Social Movements
As a student Gopabandhu's literary fervor was excellent. During those days 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.
He launched a monthly literary magazine in 1915, ‘Satyabadi’. In it various segments were introduced in which
prominence was given to discussion on prominent issues, their critical review and in the student’s sections
students were also allowed to contribute through writing essays on varied topics in it. The development of
motherland, mother tongue and mother literature was the prime concern of Satyabadi.
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. 
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.
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 inSatyabadi Bana Vidyalay,
Gopabandhu established his famous Satyavadi Vana Vidyalaya 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 Shanti Niketan which was set up earlier by Kabindra
The Satyavadi Vana Vidyalaya made laudable experiments in diversified curriculum, community approach in
living and learning, student Govt, community work and social service. These innovations were subsequently
tried out by John Dewey in America and were popularized throughout the world.
Gopabandhu laid stress of environment and organization of his experimental school. He was by nature a high
priest of natural beauty and lover of freedom. He was like Rousseau, an advocate of man's communion with
Nature and believed that in this process the child's physical, intellectual as well as emotional growth could be
The place he selected for his school was a "Tapovan" in a sylvan natural surrounding of the shady Bakul
Chhurian groves with profuse fragrant flowers. The school was also integrated into the rural community and
there was close communication between the daily life of school children and the pulsating life of Nature around
them. Therefore everyday life of children was invigorating and inspiring Immortal Teachers.
Utkalmani also believed that the standard of the school could not rise higher than its teachers. He understood
that teachers are the school. Therefore the teachers he selected for his school were a team of devoted workers
with high intellectual calibre and spirit of dedication, patriotism and sacrifice. Among them were the famous "Big
Five" popularly known as Panchasakhal i.e. Gopabadhu Das, Nilakantha Das, Godavarish Mishra,
Krupasindhu Mishra and Acharya Harihar Das. They were the forerunners of socio-cultural renaissance and
pioneers of the national education in the state.
These immortal teachers of Satyavadi school like Socrates presided over the birth of new ideas and
innovations and prepared batches of students who after their education occupied important places in the
different walks of life. All these teachers were highly qualified having brilliant academic careers and had they
desired, they could have adorned high posts with great prestige and immense power in the Government of their
times. Surprisingly again, most of them hailed from poor families and had their education through hardship and
suffering only. Moreover, almost all of them were distinguished poets, scholars, writers and historians. But they
decided to lead a life of poverty, suffering and scrifice for the sake of their motherland, her freedom, prosperity
Satyavadi Vanavidyalaya was residential school providing close affinity between teachers and taught, training
of character, citizenship education. During 1917 the school had attracted an eminent personality like Sir
Ashutosh Mukherjee who commented" The promoters of this school have set a laudable example to the
country. Their ideals are high, they understood the value of discipline and culture, mental, moral and
physical...One cannot but wish that every village in Bengal should possess a genuine place of instruction like
the Satyavadi School ?"
The methods of teaching followed in the school were dynamic and were free from the tyranny of routine and
verbalism. Different methods of teaching were adopted for preparing patriotic citizens who would be able to
build a new social order based on co-operation, compassion, liberty, equality and fraternity.
The emerging society of Gopabandhu's dreams would be realized through these methods and would stand for
non-violence against violence, cooperation against exploitation. This school aimed at a social structure which
would remove the barriers between theory and practice, school and community, learning and doing, work and
As Prof. G.B. Kanungo rightly observed, "The Satyavadi School became a centre of multi-purpose education
where in addition to the teaching of curricular subjects, the students were exposed to work-experience through
various agricultural and industrial crafts. Debates, recitations, seminars, workshops, excursions and social
service camps were some of the prominent features of the Satyavadi system."
The curriculum designed by Gopabandhu was as broad as life itself. It consists of subjects ranging from the
ancient literature to the modern English language, from arts and crafts to debates and discussion, from
agriculture to adventure, from social services to beautification of the environment. All kinds of programmes and
practices touching different aspects and walks of life were included in the curriculum.
Teacher-taught relationship in the school was extremely close, cordial and congenial, so much so that the
teachers wept at the sorrow and suffering of their students and the pupils brust to tears at the time of their
farewell. They used to read together, eat together, play together and discuss together. The greatmen at the
provincial as well as national level like Madhusudan, Fakir Mohan, Ashutosh Mukherjee often used to pay visits
to this organization and talk to students.
All these associations with celebrated personalities were educative as well as inspiring. Everybody was highly
impressed with the student of discipline, dutifulness, sincerity, character and spirit of sacrifice prevalent in the
school atmosphere. Once Utkal Gaurab Madhusudan in course of visiting the school remarked, 'Oh God, really
you (Gopabandhu) have built up a Nalanda!'
The open-air system of school organization was strongly advocated by Gopabandhu in view of the climatic
conditions, hygienics needs and financial constraints. He was of the opinion that expansion of education could
be possible if less importance was given on costly buildings, equipment and other requirement for recognition
of schools. In this context, the views expressed by the Governor on the occasion of His school visit are worth-
mentioning. he remarked, "I was greatly impressed by the system of teaching in open-air instead of the
It is to be hoped that the boys would thus learn to appreciate the advantages of the fresh air and will do their
best to discourage among their relatives the pernicious practice of shutting out air from their houses which in
many parts in causing a terrible spread of tubercular disease."
The school was the significant training ground for self- discipline and self-government. Even the students were
made responsible for maintaining discipline in the class room. With a view to ensuring proper discipline and
decorum even in the hostels, the hostels were divided into various blocks, each block being entrusted to a
block teacher assisted by three student-monitors.
These monitors were in charge of studies, accounts and other facilities of the boarders. The student-
Government in the school was conducted with proper discipline and dignity and was called "Boys' own court".
This was the original form of Pupils' Cabinet and proctorial form that is emphasized for democratization at
present. Hall-mark of Distinction
The name Satyavadi Vanavidyalaya carried a hall-mark of distinction and the indelible imprint of the Master
Craftsmen on the personality of their students were clearly evident. In spite of the official antagonism, students
were entering this institution from far and wide. Reputation of the school reached every corner of Orissa and
many parts of India.
The school was converted into a National Educational Centre in 1921 and a National College in 1923. But in
the upheaval of Non-Cooperation Movement such an ambitious experiment could not be supported adequately
and gradually it confronted very rough weather of economic distress and psychological confusion. Many
students and teachers left and school and all the ambitions were dashed to dusts. Gopabandhu turned the
school to an Asharam and spent most of his last time there under the serene and tranquil groves of Bakul and
Chhuriana. Now the Vana Vidyalaya is dead and gone, but its beauty and sweet fragrance live luminously in
the memories of the nation.
The objective of the institution was to spread idealism, patriotism, nationalism and intellectual pursuits among
its students in a Gurukul environment. This experiment was opposed by orthodox Brahmins, who did not wish
their children consorting with children of other castes, but the school remained. Gopabandhu Dash was
instrumental in developing the education and society of Orissa. In 1921 this school was renamed National
School. Several other individuals started similar institutions. His initiative in inviting public saw a remarkable
transformation in Ravenshaw College, which was under financial crisis. Because of his affection for Indian
culture, he established a Sanskrit college at the holy city ofPuri.
Principles and aims of Gopabandhu's Education
Gopabandhu was a great nationalist and considered education to be the potential instrument of national
development. He wanted to prepare the youths of our country as citizens of tomorrow with sterling qualities of
head, heart and hand.
These young citizenry should be self-dependent, self-willed, self-sacrificing and self-conscious of their country's
problems and potentialities. He fully well realized that the rest while system of English education would not
serve these purpose at all as its objectives were narrow and limited to produce "servants" of an alien
Gopabandhu, therefore, desired to impart a kind of education with broader aims and lofty principles to build
"good life" and bring about national revival. His main objective was to inculcate nationalism and patriotism in
young people through education. He felt that youths could not improve the society without a deep sense of
pride and love for the country Education of his desire must be congenial and conductive to the creating of these
The second aim of his education was to eradicate social evils and inertia. Gopabandhu was aware of the then
social maladies like casteism, superstitions, untouchability and lethargy. He strongly felt to remove these for
making the society progressive and humanitarian.
The third aim of Gopabandhu's education was to develop vocational efficiency and promote dignity of labour in
the young generation. The English system of education was preparing them only for white-collar jobs in the
There was hatred for manual labour and love for easy life. Consequently, technical education was discouraged
and general education was lop-sided. Gopabandhu wanted to inspire the educated youths with importance of
physical labour and love for work as well as initiative which would enable them to face the world with self-
dependence and confidence.
Fourthly, according to Gopabandhu education should aim at developing a deep love for Indian civilization in
general and Orissan culture in particular. British system of education was developing a sense of hatred and
aversion towards national life and culture on the one hand and a strong attraction for alien life and civilization.
The national leaders like Gopabandhu realized that this tendency among the educated youths would be
extremely harmful for the development of the country in all directions. Therefore, they tried to revive Indian
culture and develop love for the motherland and for her cultural values through education.
Fifthly, as a corollary to above, Gopabandhu made an attempt to provide education in an open-air and natural
surrounding without much physical luxury and comforts. He was a supporter of the ancient Gurukul system of
education with modern features of citizenship training, self-government and other curricular activities.
He believed that only expensive equipment, buildings and teaching aids would not ensure good "quality"
education. Gopabandhu, therefore, was in favour of an education system which is congenial to the ideal of
"Plain living and high thinking".
Pandit Gopabandhu Das arrived at his first job as a teacher in Nilagiri in Puri district of Orissa 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.
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 Orissa. Hugely motivated by
the positive response he received from the people of Orissa 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 Orissa
lead a better life. He was certainly shining gem for state of Orissa and a great son of the state.
Gopabandhu's political exposure began with Utkala Sammilani in 1903, but he persuaded others to merge this
with the National Congress to make the Oriya movement a part of the Indian National Movement. Thus he
became the founder president of Congress in Orissa. 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 Orissa Legislative Council for four years from 1917 to 1920.
He emphasised on four major problems, viz, (a) amalgamation of all the Oriyaspeaking tracts (b) permanent
measures for the prevention of floods and famines in Orissa (c) the restoration of Oriya'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 'Oriya' - any well wisher of Orissa is an Oriya. His resolution to accept the aims and
objects of the Indian National Congress as the part of Utkal Sammilani was approved at Chakradharpur
Gopabandhu was the first leader of Orissa to organise the Orissa Provincial Committee. He became the first
president of the Congress party in Orissa and brought Gandhiji to Orissa 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 Orissa. Besides, he was also the pioneer of Press Freedom in Orissa. On the request of Lala
Lajpat Rai, he became a member of Servant of People Society. In 1928, he was elected as the VicePresident
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."
He was an active sentinel of Oriya 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 Orissa. 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 ”.
Influence on Gandhiji
Gopabandhu's simple living style often influenced others and made the people come closer to him. He used to
wear a dhoti only. Once after completion of a state level meeting of Congress workers Gandhiji & Gopabandhu
were sitting together for lunch along with other workers. Special arrangements were made for both of them to
sit on a table as per congress tradition. But Gopabandhu opted to sit with others on the ground. When different
items were served, Gandhiji wanted special items made only for him to be shared with Gopabandhu also. But
in return Gopabandhu replied, he can take only those items that are prepared for all. He then advised Gandhiji
to take steps to make Congress a party of upper & middle-class people to a party of mass including the poor.
After which Gandhiji started wearing dhoti so as to come closer to the poor. Gopanabdhu's heart was always
eager to listen to the poor. One day after visiting a flood hit area he was taking food along with others, when a
poor hungry jsjsjs man was crying out side the house for food. All were tired. So were joking among each other
to avoid pain. It was he who could listen the cry amidst so much disturbances. He hurriedly went to the poor
man, called him inside and shared his food.
Contribution to Journalism
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 Samaj, which became the most popular daily news paper of Orissa. 
as editor “Samaj” continuously until his death. Later he donated The Samaja to Lok Sevak Mandal after his
death. Handed over to the Lok Sevak Mandal, New Delhi through the will of Pandit Gopabandhu Das, the
Samaja is today managed by Servants of the People Society. About 80 percent of the net profit of The Samaja
is spent for the welfare activities of the people of Orissa by way of extending stipend to students in need, aiding
patients and victims of natural calamities and through miscellaneous charities and donations. A large sum goes
to the Gopabandhu Institute of Medical Science and Research at Athgarh, Orissa.
Gopabandhu was a nationalistic warrior by heart. He wrote many poems & novels encouraging the younger
generation to serve for national integration. He once said, “Pachha ghuncha nahin veerara jatake, na mare se
kebe parana atanke”, meaning a warrior never flees, nor fears death. While in Hazaribagh Jail from 1922–
1924, he wrote a heart touching novel called “Bandira Atmakatha” (The Biography of a Prisoner) expressing his
love for people of Orissa. There he has written “Misu mora deha e desha matire, desabasi chali jaantu pithire |
desara swarajya pathe jete gada, puru tahin padi mora mansa hada||” (“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) whose meaning is, let my body merge in the soil of the nation and help my country men
walk on me, let each hole in the path of development of the nation be filled with my flesh & bone.
Gopabandhu fell ill while attending a fund raising ceremony in Lahore for the flood victims of Orissa, after which
he never recovered. He died of prolonged illness on 17 June 1928.
But his sacrifice still ignites many hearts
to dedicate their soul and body for the nation.