January 25th is the birth date of epic poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt.
When the poet returned to the village as a convert, his father did not allow him to enter the house. I saw the place where he had pitched his tent for 14 days under the almond tree. The poet regretted forever that he could not return to his motherland… because he did not meet the Kapotaksha river. I went to poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s house in Sagradandi about an age ago. Although the Kapotaksha River flowing next to it is calm now. One of the caretakers of the house was helping us as a guide. He looked around every room.
Famous Indian tennis star Leander Paes was found with a picture in the family tree preserved in the poet’s house. The family tree of Kabir’s descendants is on a board. There is a list with the names of the earlier and later descendants of the poet. Lindor Page is the son of Jennifer Page, grandson of the poet. Mother Jennifer Page was a famous basketball player from India. It is surprising to think that the person who was not allowed to enter the house one day due to some mistake of his… is the same person present in the whole house today. Family identity has been lost in the course of time… Arrogance… Pride.. Sanskar. Now one eternal truth blazes before us…that he is an epic poet. And above all that is his greatest identity. Today his fans know only that he is a great poet. His other identity is not important to them.
Poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s house is located in Sagardandi village of Keshabpur upazila of Jessore. He was born on 25 January 1824 in a zamindar family. Michael Madhusudan Dutta and spent his childhood here. To commemorate his memory, the house has been preserved under a government initiative, named Madhupalli. The poet’s house is about 45 kilometers away from Jessore city. The house of Michael Madhusudan Dutt is rich in various ancient structures and the memory of the poet. Madhupalli has to be entered through the main gate. Bust of the poet in front. Inside the poet’s residence is now a museum. The museum has several buildings of Madhusudan’s family, ponds, and various items of the poet’s memorabilia. Madhusudan’s family also has some useful furniture and various memorabilia. Surrounded by a wall, inside the western side of the house there is a pond built by Shan. Dighi Ghat where the poet used to bathe has been preserved.
Father Rajnarayan Dutt was a prominent lawyer in Calcutta Sadar Civil Court. Mata Janhvi Devi was also the daughter of a zamindar. Madhusudan’s education began under the supervision of his mother. The poet was very talented. The boy poet used to learn Persian language from Imam Sahib at Jame Masjid of Sheikhpura village on the north side of Sagardandi village. He studied at Sagardani School. Later he went to Calcutta and after studying at Khidirpur School he joined the Hindu College in 1833. There he learned Bengali, Sanskrit, Persian and later English.
Even if he was in Calcutta, the poet’s mind was always in Sagardandi. After hearing about his mother’s illness, the poet brought his wife, son and daughter in a barge along the river in 1862. His acquaintances did not allow him to enter the house because of his conversion. He pitched a tent under an almond tree on the banks of the Kapotaksha river and stayed for 14 days. Disappointed, he walked along the banks of Kapotaksha and boarded a barge for Calcutta. After that he did not return to the country. Although born into a noble Kayastha family, Madhusudan converted to Christianity in his youth and adopted the name Michael Madhusudan. He focused on writing literature in English due to the attraction of western literature. Madhusudan married an English girl named Rebecca. Their married life lasted for seven years. Madhusudan married a French girl named Henrietta shortly after his divorce from Rebecca in the final phase of his life in Madras.
In the second phase of his life, Madhusudan was attracted to his mother tongue. Michael Madhusudan Dutta was a prominent Bengali poet and dramatist of the 19th century and one of the pioneers of Bengal’s renaissance literature. He was an epic poet, dramatist, sonnet in Bengali language, and Amitarakshar rhythm. It was during this time that he started writing plays, farces and poetry in Bengali. His greatest achievement is the Meghnadavadh Kavya, an epic based on the epic of the Ramayana in Amitrakshara rhyme. His other notable books are: The Captive Lady, Sharmishtha, Padmavati (Drama), Buro Shalik Gharke Ron, etc. and many more.
The personal life of the poet was dramatic and painful. His last life was spent in extreme misery and poverty. He did not get much success in law business. Moreover, due to his extravagant nature, he also got into debt. It is known that Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar used to help the poet financially during this time. Three days after the death of the poet’s wife, Henrietta, on June 27, 1873, the great poet died in the Calcutta General Hospital at the age of 49 in a state of infirmity. Buried at Lower Circular Road Christian Cemetery, Calcutta. His famous epitaph was written by himself. At the last stage of his life, the poet has left the mark of his deep love for his motherland in unforgettable lines.
‘দাঁড়াও পথিকবর, জন্ম যদি তব
বঙ্গে! তিষ্ঠ ক্ষণকাল! এ সমাধি স্থলে
(জননীর কোলে শিশু লভয়ে যেমতি
বিরাম)মহীর পদে মহা নিদ্রাবৃত
দত্তকুলোদ্ভব কবি শ্রীমধুসূদন!
যশোরে সাগরদাঁড়ি কপোতাক্ষ-তীরে
জন্মভূমি, জন্মদাতা দত্ত মহামতি
রাজনারায়ণ নামে, জননী জাহ্নবী’
সতত,হে নদ, তুমি পড় মোর মনে
সতত তোমার কথা ভাবি এ বিরলে;
সতত (যেমতি লোক নিশার স্বপনে
শোনে মায়া-যন্ত্রধ্বনি) তব কলকলে
জুড়াই এ কান আমি ভ্রান্তির ছলনে!
বহু দেশে দেখিয়াছি বহু নদ-দলে,
কিন্তু এ স্নেহের তৃষ্ণা মিটে কার জলে?
The words are part of poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta’s poem “Kapotaksha Nad”.