Economic aspect was a significant part of the articulation of Odia identity in the first phase of the 20th century A.D. Madhusudan was well aware of this side. In his quest for a New Odisha he wanted great economic progress of the Odias.

Although Odias were treated as impoverished in the last part of the 19th century, Odisha’s economic potentiality was well known for her unrivalled filigree industry. There were Silversmiths in Cuttack who were prized in the Cuttack Exhibition for sixty years from A.D. 1840 to 1900. (Utkala Dipika,24th November 1900) But this trade suffered a lot in the last decade of the 19th century which was noticed by Madhusudan. He wanted to give an impetus to this old industry of the Odias by holding a shop (Orissa Art Wares) at his place

at Cuttack by training the karigars and encouraging them all the more by holding an exhibition of their finer products and awarding them medals. The Orissa Art Wares of Madhusudan began from about A.D. 1898.(Ibid.) Madhusudan wanted this industry to be on the progressive stage for asserting Odia’s economic potency and it would be a marker of Odia identity. As early as A.D. 1900 Orissa Art Wares got to be modernized by the effort of Madhusudan.(Ibid.) When Lord Curzon came to Puri in 1900 in the month of December Madhusudan presented to him a raupyadhara (silver casket) which would contain the greeting note of the Odias. (Ibid.December 22,1900) This silver casket was made in the Art Wares of Madhusudan and was very elegant and was indicative of his inventive genius. The bottom of the casket was a silver filigree plate. Upon it on both the sides were placed two elephants made of ivory and in the middle in a golden leaf was painted the image of Jagannath temple. In the back of the elephants there was a long silver box and it had its own system to open and close down. On one side of the handle (dhankuni) of the box the image of Lakshmi and on the other side the image of Saraswati were painted on gold leaf. The silver plate of the two sides of the box contain the painted image of Kaliyadalana Srikrishna in gold leaf. This presentation to Lord Curzon in the last year of the 19th century by the considerable care and supervision of Madhusudan indicates that he was more careful to present the economic potentiality of the Odias who were considered by the outsiders to be in a period of quiescence. He wanted to communicate to the Viceroy Lord Curzon that the Odias were vital, energetic and full of creativity and that they could not fall into a sudden stupor.

Madhusudan established the Orissa Art Wares to regenerate the spirit of manufacturing indigenous goods of high quality for export.(Jena 1999:156-158) A separate school of Art Wares was attached to the factory with hundred trainees who produced beautiful articles.(Dash 1971;127) He also provided training to hundred fifty weavers from his factory for production of handloom

fabrics with modern shuttles.(Ibid:225) His Art Wares was highly admired by the British officers like Charles Elliot, Webster, Maddox, U.S. Club, W. Lawrence and E.B. Harris.(Jena 1999:157) The fixation of golden star in the silver filigree object in the Art Wares of Madhusudan was a great artistic work and was very elegant. The automatic Ottordan with Golab pass Pandan combined patent. The plate was meant for pan, the roses were receptacles of otter and the peacock threw out the rose water automatically where button was pressed. The roses and peacocks had gold stars. The plate and roses could be removed and the plate could be used for other purposes. (Utkala Dipika, 24th

November 1900)

Another important aspect of his economic activitiy was the Utkala Tannery. Its fame was not only confined to Odisha, but to different parts of India, England and Japan as early as 1923. (Utkala Dipika, 29th September 1923) Its popularity was due to the continuous efforts of Madhusudan. He wanted this Tannery as a marker of Odia’s economic identity. It was established by him near Cuttack Railway Station over an area of about fifty acres of land and a great experiment was made by him to make the best leather goods by utilising native objects like the use of lizard skin. In order to make it a profitable business concern, Madhusudan was ready in 1923 to give it for its management to a company.(Ibid) It was of course registered as a limited company in 1913.(Ibid) It started from about 1903 and he spent huge amount of money for it. By his own effort he made the factory to stand on a firm footing and wanted its progress for Odia’s economic prosperity. In 1923 the Utkala Tannery had a capital of Rs 80000.(Ibid) It was expected to produce leather goods in huge quantities and to evoke the wonder and admiration of the west.

Madhusudan took up the economic and industrial regeneration of Utkala as a part of his programme. Economic and industrial regeneration depend on the good wishes, earnest efforts, industrial and scientific education of the people and mutual co-operation which were communicated to the Odias by Madhusudan through the Utkala Sammilani. The Cuttack Industrial Exhibition which had started from 1898 and which was inaugurated in 1903 by K.G. Gupta (the Commissioner of Odisha) in the sixth year was a great indication of Madhusudan’s efforts for economic and industrial progress of Odisha. In the address Gupta praised Madhusudan by stating that there was no lack of skill and the “hand hath not lost its cunning” in Odisha was clear from the success which Madhusudan Das had been able to achieve with local artisans.(Ibid: 10th January, 1903)

Thus Madhusudan for constructing Odia identity and later on for articulating it sought to revive Odishan traditional crafts to a considerable extent. No doubt it mobilised the Odias in the programme of economic and industrial regeneration for a stable Odisha.

Madhusudan had excellent ideas for mobilising the Odias for the assertion of their identity. His speeches on different occasions starting from the Utkala Sabha to Utkala Sammilani, his speeches on other public platforms in the first two decades of the 20th century possessed an extra-ordinary appeal for the enthusiastic Odias. He spoke words which could never be spoken and kindled a fire which could never be extinguished and aroused a people from long slumber. In his speeches he imagined the glorious past of Odisha and presented it before the Odias. He was in the forefront of the followers of imagined Odia identity. Following the Andersonian view about nationalism we may state here that the imagined communities of the Odias were guided by Madhusudan Das for asserting the cultural domain of their identity. (Anderson1983) He reconstructed the identity of the Odias where he felt it disrupted. He inspired the youngmen of Odisha by associating them with the activities of the Utkala Sammilani. An important evidence of his articulation of nationalistic attitude for the young men can be collected from Utkala Dipika.(Utkala Dipika, 10th November 1917). In 1917 a unique Dasahara festival was celebrated by the School students at Cuttack. While the image was on the way to immersion the students prepared a photo sketch (Chitra Patta) of fragmented Utkala which was the idea of Madhusudan Das in which mother Utkala was in one direction and her banished daughter in another direction. In the gap there was sea. It means the sea of political administration (Colonial power) had kept the daughter separated from her mother. Both mother and daughter were looking to one another, but the daughter was banished. She had no way to return to her mother land. The young group kept the photo sketch before Durga image and shouted with the slogan “Jay Utkal Jay” which was widespread.

Inspired by Madhusudan the Odia nationalists in their quest for a complete Odisha viewed the terrible image of Durga (Chhinamasta) in the deformed and scattered image of Utkala Mata. They believed that in near future the fragmented body of their mother Utkala would take a full shape in the form of the Cheerful Bhubaneswari image worshipped on the occasion of Durgapuja. (Asha, 2nd October 1916)

Madhusudan articulated the feelings of Odia identity through-out his life. But the most important phase of this articulation was till 1919. Although he had his voice after that year, the intensity began to lesson. It is a point of enquiry how the leadership of Madhusudan , the Uncrowned king of Odisha in 1914, shifted to other groups. It invites an interpretation of the issues of Odia identity (regional identity) and the wider context of Indian identity (Mahabharatiya Jatiyatabada) .

Till the 13th session of the Utkala Sammilani Madhusudan’s activities relating to the assertion of Odia identity expanded. In March 1918 Madhusudan called three great meetings at Balikuda, Jagatsinghpur and Biridi. (Asha, March 25, 1918)Every meeting was attended by thousands of people. His purpose was to intimate the rural people with the aims and objectives of Utkala Sammilani as a remarkable step to establish Odia identity on a firm basis. His arrival in these meetings was responded with slogans from the people “Jay Utkala Jay’. In the beginning day of the 13th session of Utkala Sammilani Madhusudan at the request of the president delivered the initial address of welcome. He accepted the meeting place of Utkala Sammilani as a mandap of mother worship. The meetings organised by Utkala Sammilani were designed for the worship of mother Utkala. He uttered- 'Janani janmabhumischa Svargadapi gariyasi' in the address and explained the idea-first we have to think of Janani (Mother), second Janmabhumi (Motherland) and third Svarga. (Heaven). Everyman’s life is like a wave (Srota).

In the beginning of this srota there comes Janani, in the middle Janmabhumi (Motherland) and lastly Svarga. The life of man begins with mother, work field is Janmabhumi (Motherland) and hence the reward of work-the work in the motherland is superior to heaven. He insisted in that address to worship and pray for Utkalamata.(Ibid;April 8,1918) It was after the 14th session of the Utkala Sammilani there was a desire of some Odias to convert the Utkala Sammilani into a wider platform for the discussion of Gandhian strategy for the national movement. The Sammilani was originated for the great and noble purpose of the unification of the Odia-speaking tracts. Madhusudan and his associates wanted to reconstruct Odisha both geographically and culturally. They represented a generation of Odianess which did not want issues of politics in their nationalist platform Utkala Sammilani. But the Utkala Sammilani of Madhusudan and others in 1920 was a young entity of 16 years and the time was in favour of a multinational movement called the Great Indian National Movement. Hence many Odias like Gopabandhu Das and his associates eagerly wanted to make it a platform to discuss the burning political issues of the time. The discourse of Great Indian Nationalism (Mahabharatiya Jatiyatabada ) started to dominate over the small question of Odisha state formation on linguistic basis. The demand for the union of Odia-speaking areas was accepted by the senior groups represented by Madhusudan. The Junior groups represented by Gopabandhu fully accepted the transformation of Utkala Sammilani into a platform for the spread of Indian Nationalism against colonialism. The Odia Newspapers like Asha represented the Odiaism of Madhusudan and did not appreciate to root out the primary motive of the Sammilani for the sake of the application of the Non- Cooperation programme for Indian Nationalism. (Asha, December 27 1920 : Dash 1984: 111- 114) Gopabandhu himself in his Satyabadi explained his discourse of national identity against the regional identity of the Odias and even persistently demanded the progress of the Odias through the wave of Indian Nationalism.(Dash 1921/1328 Sala:31-34) From the Chakradharpur session of the Sammilani Madhusudan disassociated himself with its activities, but continued his primary purpose-the unification of the Odia-speaking areas by many other ways.

The supervision by Madhusudan in Utkala Sammilani, his efforts to widen the constructive programmes of the Sammilani for the reconstruction of Odisha were the most significant aspects of the study of modern Odisha History. Madhusudan was best evaluated in his time not only by the Odias, but also by the Bengalis in Bangabani. While writing on Sir Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay Rajendralal Vidyabhushan stated that Madhusudan (Purushashreshtha) was the home tutor of Ashutosh and that he used to correct the exercises which were kept by Ashutosh carefully in his library till his death.

Ashutosh used to have a look at them on many occasions before he died. The Bengali version of this focus has been presented below for an estimate of Madhusudan in his time;

Madhusudan Ashutosher ye eksarsaij-guli sanshodhan

kariyaditen, seyi khataguli adyavadhi Ashutosher

sajatna-rakshita almiray vidyaman/ Ashutosh majhe

majhe taha dekhiten.

(Bangabani, 3rd Year, No.5, Sala-1339, p.599-603)

The Odia writings of Madhusudan reflect his conscious attempt to project Odisha with spectacular pride at a crucial phase of the history of India-in-Making and they also articulate his innermost desire to see Odisha in full form of progress.(Dash, Debendra Kumar 2010) Thus for his multi-dimensional activities and programmes Madhusudan Das has remained an unmistakable symbol of Odia identity till to-day.

 References :

1. Asha, Odia Weekly Newspaper,Berhampur, 1916,1918,1920.

2. Utkala Dipika, Odia Weekly Newspaper, Cuttack, 1887, 1900, 1903, 1904, 1914, 1917,1923, 1928.

3. Bangabani, 3rd year, No.5, Sala-1339, Ashadha, p.599-603.

4. Anderson, Benedict (1983), Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London: Verso.

5. Das Gopabandhu (Sala 1328/ 1921) “Utkala Sammilani O Bharata Jatiyatabad”. (in Odia), Satyabadi, Sakhigopal, Sixth Number, p.31- 34.

6. Dash Surya Narayana (1971/ 1988) Deshaprana Madhusudan ( in Odia), Cuttack: Grantha Mandir.

7. Dash, Gaganendra Nath, (I) (1978) “Jagannath and Oriya Nationalism,” in The Cult of Jagannath and the Regional Tradition of Orissa,ed. Eschmann, A, Kulke, Hermann and Tripathy G.C., New Delhi, p. 359-374.

(II)(1984) Khadyotara Dyuti (in Odia), Cuttack: Dimond Publishers, p. 106-119

(III) (2010), “Utkala Sammilani O Madhubabu”(Utkala Sammilani and Madhubabu), in Jhankara (Odia Monthly Magazine), Cuttack, 62/7, p.781-792.

8. Dash Kailash Chandra (2001),(I) “Utkala Sabha and the Articulation of Oriya Identity” Orissa Review, Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Orissa, Bhubaneswar, p. 11-19.

“Madhusudan Das and The Articulation of Oriya Identity”, Orissa Review, February- March, Vol. LVIII, Nos. 7 and 8, p.22-30.

9. Dash, Debendra Kumar and Das, Nagen(2010), eds., “Utkala Gaurab Madhusudananka Odia Rachanavali”(Writings of Madhusudan Das in Odia language), Pragati Utkala Sangha, Rourkela.

10. Ghosh Sarat Chandra(1937), “Cottage Industries of Orissa” Amrit Bazar Patrika, Calcutta, October 3.

11. Jena Sarat Chadra (1999) , “Madhusudan Das : His Pioneering Effort in the Industrial Progress of Orissa”, in Madhubabu and Orissa In The Making, Orissa State Archives, Bhubaneswar, p. 152-178.

12. Mohanty Surendra (1972), Madhusudan Das, New Delhi.

13. Mohanty Nibedita (1982), Oriya Nationalism, Quest for a United Orissa, New Delhi.

14. Mishra, Prabodh Kumar (1979),The Political History of Orissa: 1900-1936,” New Delhi.


Prof. Kailash Chandra Dash

Former Reader in History,

C-3/2, B.J.B.Nagar, Bhubaneswar-14, Odisha,


April - 2013 Odisha Review

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