Madhusudan Rao is the pioneer of Odia education, more precisely primary education. The very mention of Barnabodha makes every Odia nostalgic as this had laid the foundation of their formal learning days. And what better a day to remember the man who wrote this for us in 1895, than the 168th birth anniversary of Madhusudan Rao.
This book was recognized and prescribed by the Education Department and more than one lakh copies were sold from 1947 to 1948.
Birth anniversary of Madhusudan Rao: What were his early days like:
The poet was born on January 19, 1853, in Shree Panchami, in Puri. He was born to Bhagiratha Rao, an employee of the Orissa police department at Puri. He lost his mother at the age of five and was raised by his father.
He was a brilliant student, who made Puri Zilla School proud. Popularly known as “Bhaktakabi”, his contribution to the field of education is unforgettable.
Ancestors of Rao:
The ancestors of Rao were from the Maharashtra region.
They belonged to the royal family of Bhonsle’s from Nagpur and came to Odisha during the Maratha reign. When the British colonized eastern India, the family stayed back.
After schooling from various schools in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, he pursued his education at the then Ravenshaw College and served as a teacher later.
In 1880, he became the Deputy Inspector of Education and the Inspector of Orissa Schools Association in 1906.
His life after 1907 was spent writing and participating in literary discussions. During his career as a student in Cuttack, he befriended Pyarimohan Pradhan and became a devout Brahmo Samaj.
As a school teacher at Balasore he encountered the great Fakir Mohan Senapati and in Cuttack was a student of Radhanath Ray. All their interactions created in his, already illuminated mind more resplendence.
Contributions in the literary field on the birth anniversary of Madhusudan Rao:
Some of his remarkable works for children include Sishubodha, Balabodha, Sahitya Kusum, and Prabandhamala. Utkal Gatha, Basanta Gatha, and the Padma are some of his most popular poems.
Magazines like Sikhyabandhu, Asha, and Utkal Darpan, were published with his efforts. His poem Ki Sundara Aha was made into a song for the movie Gouri, and still sung in schools as a prayer song.
His Chandamala became popular in every home in Odisha, whilst many of his works were greatly appreciated in Calcutta.
His poems on the various seasons were often compared with Rabindranath Tagore’s seasonal songs.
He is often referred to as a social reformer for establishing various institutions.
He had established the erstwhile Cuttack Town School in 1881, which later came to be known as Bhakta Madhu Bidyapith, in Cuttack. He also laid the foundation and became the first president of ‘
Alochana Sabha, now Utkal Sahitya Samaj, in 1890.
A poet, a philosopher and a teacher, he set a milestone and a mark in all of our hearts.
Achievements and awards:
The Odia language chair in the Central University, Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh would be named after Bhaktakabi Madhusudan Rao which is a matter of pride for each Odia. He contributed immensely to children’s literature.
Madhusudan Rao breathed his last on December 18, 1912. We Odias are always proud to be his descendants. The mention of Barnabodha makes us all nostalgic because it happens to be the first book of every school aspirant.
Today as we celebrate his birth anniversary, let us pay our homage to the son of the land who made Odisha proud. Bande Utkal Janani!
Written By Nilofar Naaz