There are many great men who are remembered with reverence in the State in which they were born and brought up. Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das was such a man who was well-known in all over Odisha, the land of his birth. Gopabandhu Das, popularly known as Utkalmani (Jewel of Utkal or Orissa), was a social reformer, political activist, journalist, poet and essayist.
Birth and Parentage: Gopabandhu Das was born on 9 October 1877 at Subado, a village in the district of Puri in Odisha. His father was Daityari Das and his mother was Swarnamayee Devi who died when Gopabandhu Das was quite young.
Education: Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das received his early education in the village primary school, and then he was admitted to the Zila School at Puri. He was a brilliant boy and obtained the middle vernacular scholarship. After his graduation, he studied law and became a lawyer. But he did not hanker after money in his profession.
Carrer: Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das was deeply moved by the pain and sufferings of the people under British rule. He joined active politics and came in contact with many illustrious sons of Odisha, like Madhusudan Das, Madhusudan Rao and others. He was greatly influenced by Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. He joined the Swadeshi movement which started after the partition of Bengal in 1905. He dedicated his life for the well-being of his countrymen, and everyone admired his selfless service.
Gopabandhu Das’s main aim was to improve a lot of the poor people of Odisha. There was lack of education among them. So he started the Satyabadi School at Sakshigopal in Odisha. In the course of time, the Satyabadi School produced many ideal men of Odisha. Another branch of his service was to publish a newspaper as he knew that the newspaper was a strong medium of forming public opinion and spreading education among the masses. So he brought out a daily newspaper called ‘Samaj’. Thus his school and the newspaper contributed a lot to the well-being of the people and made his name ever memorable to his countrymen. He had a taste for writing poems. His literary contributions enriched Oriya literature.
When Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab founded the Lok Sevak Sangha, Gopabandhu became its President. He gave away all his property to the Sangha. Gopabandhu was really a great friend of the poor people of Odisha.
Death: Unfortunately, this great son of Odisha died early at the age of 51 for which people of Odisha mourned bitterly. Gopabandhu das breathed his last on 17 June 1928. Thus Odisha was deprived of further service of Gopabandhu, But his life will be a lesson for his countrymen forever.