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Bhakta Kavi Madhusudan Rao Of Odisha – Short Essay On First Eminent Modern Odia Poet

Bhakta Kavi Madhusudan Rao (1852 – 1912 CE) was the first eminent poet of the modern Odia poetry. He joined the Brahmo Samaj (founded by Raja Rammohan Roy in 1828) in his youth. In Odisha, he began his literary career as an essayist and translator in Utkal Darpan. Subsequently, he published Kavitavali, a collection of poems (two volumes) in association with Radhanath Roy. Among the best poetic compositions of Madhusudan Rao are: Risiprane Debabatarana, Bichhede, Sundara Sansara and Himachale Udaya Utsaba.

India’s encounter with the West, especially in Bengal, produced two kinds of reactions. The first was a sense of dissatisfaction and a feeling of inadequacy about what one had at home, and therefore, an eager acceptance of the new ideas of humanism and education. The other was to go back to the past, and looking at it with a discerning eye, to rediscover its value and relevance to the present. This latter response expressed itself in the form of a revivalism that was still very sensitive to outside contaminations. The Brahmo movement was, on the whole, more inspired by this type of reaction and it looked at the new restlessness with considerable suspicion. Madhusudan Rao in Odisha identified with this response.

He was sensitive to the changing political and social environment of this time even though his ultimate concern was the Supreme Self (Bhagavan) alone. His poems like Bharata Bhabana, Janmabhumi and Bharata Bandana are some of the finest expressions of love for the motherland and her freedom.

Poems of Kavi Madhusudan Rao are full of natural images like that of the lotus, the river, the sky, the six seasons of the year and so on; there is also a soliloquy on the impermanence of life. In his poetic canvas there is place only for god and not for man. He does speak of humanity in one of his poems, but more as an abstraction. His odes are some of the best ones in Odia literature.

A Poem of Kavi Madhusudan Rao

Prabhat (Dawn)

The darkness of the Night ends, Children awake,
It’s the time of a new morn, in a delightful song, partake.
Look ! the ten quarters, with the Sun’s ray, are glowing,
Flowers are blooming, a gentle breeze is blowing. 

The earthlings were rapped in unconscious slumber,
Coming from where ? The Dawn brought what magic wonder? 

Infusing new life, in a moment, it awoke the Earth,
Sky and Earth fills with sounds of great mirth. 

Birds are singing, songs so charming,
My heart begins to dance, with the songs, on hearing. 

With the birds, Children sing in happy chorus,
In your hearts remember the Creator, Father of the

Sandhya (Dusk) Poem Of Bhakta Kavi Madhusudan Rao

The day has come to an end, the Sun has retired,
The nocturnal queen has come, in black, attired.
Evening has come ! it has come ! is the avians’ clarion,
As they fly back to their nests, each alone.
Raising the dust on the road and mooing,
The cattle, to their sheds, are returning.
The farmer, all happy, after a days ploughing,
Is returning home joyfully singing.
In a twinkle of an eye, the sky darkens,
Enveloping, water, land, hills and gardens.
Stars, like crores of golden lamps, burning,
One by one, in the sky are twinkling.
Gatherings and crowds of the day have now broken,
In this world there is no living sound to harken.
Sitting in each one’s home after the day’s labour,
Everyone desirous of repose, they harbor.
Sleep is coming in a pace so languid,
Leading humanity to close its eye lid.
After day, comes night, by Divine Amity,
Oh ! Children, please count the name of this Almighty.
Folding your palms, sing the evening hymn,
Saying, “Creator of the Universe”, Praise Him, Praise Him.