Bhaktakabi Madhusudana Rao

Born :- 19-Jan-1853
Died :- 28-Dec-1912
Place of Birth :- Puri

Bhakta-Kavi Madhusudan Rao is one of the foremost pioneers of modern Odia literarure. Each and every Odia, even in the remotest rural areas is well conversant with his name, primarily for the Barnabodha as well as for his devotional lyrics. Madhusudan was born on January 29, 1953 in the then undivided Puri district. His father's name was Bhagirathi Singh and his mother's name was Ambika Devi. He belonged to the Bratya Marhatta family but later converted to the Brahma sect.

Madhusudan had his childhood education at Puri District School. He passed the matriculation examination in second grade in 1869. He completed FA with a first class at the Cuttack College in 1871. Madhusadan, who spent his life in the professional field of education, first served as the headmaster of Jajpur Middle English School for a year and a half. On October 29, 1873 he joined as the second teacher of Baleshwar District School. He was as an assistant teacher at Cuttack Collegiate School in 1876. Then he became a Deputy Inspector of Schools. In 1893, Madhusudan joined as the headmaster of Cuttack Training School and finally retired from service as Additional Inspector of Schools in July 1909. His role in modern education in Odisha, especially in building a favourable background and modern mind-set, is unique.

It was in Balasore that Radhanath Ray, Fakir Mohan and Madhusudan came together. Radhanath, however, was the teacher of Madhusudan at Puri District School. It was his contact with Radhanath there that nourished the poetic aspirations in Madhusudan Rao. This budding talent blossomed during his tenure at Balasore. The Utkal Darpan magazine published in Balasore in 1973 with the patronage of Prince Baikunthanath De became the medium of expression for Madhusudan. His first collection of poems, ‘Jautha Kavitabali’ was published in 1876. It featured three poems by Radhanath and seven by Madhusudan. It may be recalled that before Madhusudan's poems were compiled, they were published in various issues of Utkal Darpan. His first poem was ‘Smashan’ (The Cemetery). His collections of poems include - ‘Kavitavali’ (parts 1 and 2), ‘Chhandamala’ (parts 1 and 2), ‘Kusumanjali’, ‘Basanta Gatha’, ‘Utkalagatha’, and ‘Sangeetmala’. In addition, his poems such as ‘Himachal Uday Utsav’, satirical works such as ‘Saabas Sahitya Charcha, Saabas Saabas’, ‘Bhaanda Rasayan Kabya’ and ‘Bibidha Kavita’ have been included in his collected volume..

Madhusudan is, in fact, the founder of modern lyric poetry. As the theme of his lyrics is mainly spiritual consciousness, he has earned the title of ‘Bhaktakabi’ from his massive lovers. He introduced western poetics into Odia poetry and gave it a new direction of style. In Odia, he successfully introduced the concept of Sonnet, Elegy (mourning song), Ode, Narrative (descriptive poetry) and hymns.

Madhusudan is the father of modern prose, especially Odia prose of the aristocratic style. Various essays in his ‘Prabandhamala’, the unpublished ‘Kabira Kaushala’ ‘Bharatiya Samaj’, ‘Ananta ambhamanankar Adarsha’, ‘Purnadharma’, ‘Dharmara Bala’, ‘Kavita Adhyayana’, ‘Adhyatma-tatwa Chinta’ and ‘Odia Bhasha’ stand testimonial to his aristocratic style of prose writing. He has a translation work of novel titled ‘Pranayara Adbhuta Parinama’.

 Madhusudan's textbooks like ‘Sahitya Kusum’, ‘Sahitya Prasang’, ‘Shishubodh’ and ‘Balabodh’ contained fictional texts to teach children and adolescents. In fact, his contribution to the formation of a modern mind is memorable. Its example is his ‘Barnabodh’ published in 1895. It focused on understanding modern language and literature, as well as the child's language skills, language education, and vocabulary training.

Madhusudan's prowess in translation as in original creation, is admirable. Among his works translated from English are ‘Nirbasitar Bilap’, ‘Kabitar Janma-marana’ and ‘Atmasamarpana’. However, Madhusudan has also translated some epics from Sanskrit, including 'Uttar Ramcharit'. ‘Ayodhya Pratyabartan’ is the Odia rendering of the thirteenth chapter of the Raghuvansha. ‘Sita Banabas’, ‘Sriram Banabas’ and ‘Bal Ramayana’ are creations in the light of the Balmiki Ramayana. In addition, he compiled the Sukhabodh Abhidhan in 1912, keeping in view the needs of students and teachers.

In fine, it can be summed up that Bhaktakavi Madhusudan Rao was the torch bearer of modern Odia poetry with a streak of spiritualism that visualised immortality in this mortal world. Madhusudan breathed his last on December 28, 1912.

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