Bhubaneswar: Back in the 1900s when Odisha was struggling for recognition as an independent state, Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, visited Puri and Bhubaneswar on being invited by Jatiya Gourab, Madhusudan Das, who very carefully put forward the proposal of merging Odia-speaking regions.
Having born in the darkest period of Orissan history (on April 28, 1848 in Satyabhamapur village), the fighting instinct came to him naturally. In the words of India’s first President Dr Rajendra Prasad, “He was not afraid to speak and do the right things regardless of consequences, which he faced and faced it boldly.”
After completing his schooling at Cuttack High School, he moved to Calcutta (Kolkata) for higher studies and became the first graduate from Odisha. He spent 15 challenging years there, working with the freedom fighters to make India an independent country and bring Odia-speaking people together.
From making Odisha an independent state to giving rights to the minor communities to empowering women and working for the independence of the nation, Madhu Babu never failed to put words into action. He founded the Utkal Sammilani (a united congregation that aimed at putting the cause of Utkal and Odias before the entire nation), Utkal Tannery and Orissa Art Ware Works (that put silver filigree on the world map) which helped in the growth of Odisha as a culturally, socially and industrially strong state.
In a speech delivered in the Bihar & Orissa Council on January 20, 1913, after the creation of Bihar & Orissa province, he said, “Orissa also has a past, which is not lacking in grandeur and like other parts of the province, Orissa likewise looks with eyes of hope and faith to the sunlit hills, we are proceeding to, after passing through the dark valleys of the past.”
Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi addressed a conference at Segaon in Wardha on October 22, 1937, where he mentioned that Madhusudan Das’ thoughts echoed that of Leo Tolstoy’s. “The late Madhusudan Das was a lawyer but he was convinced that without the use of our hands and legs, our brain would be atrophied and even it worked, it would be a home of Satan. Tolstoy had also taught the same lesson through many of his tales,” the Mahatma said.
On February 4, 1934, due to extreme illness, he died in a hospital in Calcutta. His breathed his last saying, “He was an Oriya who never feared power and who was never lured out of right path, independently he only sought the help of the God.”