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Gangadhar Meher Biography

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By Author: Sahil Das
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Like the famous Hindi poet Sant Kabir, the famous Odia poet Gangadhar Meher was also born in a poor weaver family. For a long time, he himself used to weave cloth and sell it himself in the nearby haat. He did not have much education. He did not even get any opportunity to go out of his district. But whatever he touched, he turned it into gold like a stone.

The beauty of his poetry is not accessible to other poets. That's why he is called "Kalidas of Oriya Literature".

Birth of Gangadhar Meher

Gangadhar was born in a poor Meher family on 9 August 1862 in Barpali village of district Sambalpur. His father's name was Chaitanya and mother's name was Sevati. His father was also the village doctor. Because of this people respected him. The Meher people were weavers, weaving cotton and tussar saris on a loom. In those days Barpali was only a hamlet of two or four huts. The biggest feature of the east was the old banyan tree there. Due to this tree, the name of the village was Barpali.

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Education of Gangadhar Meher | Education of Gangadhar Meher

At the age of six, he went to the village school to study, but soon he left the school. At home his father started teaching him. He taught his son some verses from the Bhagavata of Oriya and ancient poetry written by Jagannath Das, and also got the tables memorized. After that he joined Barpali Branch School, where primary was studied till the second class, after finishing there he joined the Middle Vernacular School. There he passed the third class in the first six months and the fourth class in the next six months. He was just studying in the fifth standard that he had to drop out of school. Even in the days when he was in school, he had to join hands with his father in weaving clothes.

In his autobiography, he has written some interesting incidents of his student life. For the number of years he attended school, his father spent only three rupees eight annas on his sleeves and books.

He was also admitted to the school probably because in those days goods officers used to punish a person who did not send his son to school. Another incident is also similar. Child Gangadhar was never even lucky to have a log shirt. Once a senior inspector had to come to his school. His teacher asked his father to get Gangadhar stitched a shirt worth Rs. But the tailor did not sew the shirt on time. Later she did not even sew the shirt. These small incidents show how much poverty Gangadhar had to spend his childhood in.

Although the boy Gangadhar was dropped from school, he was very fond of studies. So whenever he got time, he would sit down to read the poems of famous Oriya poets named Upendrabhanj, Dinakrishna and Abhimanyu Samantasinhar. He remembered many good poems by mouth.

He also listened to the stories of Balaramdas's Ramayana and other Puranas and also recited the Ramcharitmanas of Goswami Tulsidasji. He read two Sanskrit grammar books from his teacher.

Personality of Gangadhar Meher

In school, he also read Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar's translations of the works of Valmiki, Kalidas, Banabhatta and Bhavabhuti. He also felt fond of reading religious texts because his grandfather was a very religious person and used to take his grandson daily to the temple for darshan and also involved in Harikirtana. Due to this, devotion was born in them and faith in the traditional beliefs of life was inculcated in them. That is why he remained very straight, honest, and righteous throughout his life and never resorted to dishonest or wrong methods.

But he was not of orthodox views. Every social change had an effect on him. With the development of the society, his ideas also developed. In his poetry, we get to see what was the condition of Orissa and India at that time.

He got the inspiration to write poetry, from his loom and dhurki. The sound that comes at the time of moving the dharki here and there, creates a rhythm with it. Then it is necessary to have an artistic instinct while making designs on the clothes and also while matching the colors. It is said that poems used to burst from his mouth while making cloth on the loom. Unfortunately, these short poems are no longer available.

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