Long before Rabindra, Sharatchandra or Nazrul could dream about an upheaval in Indian culture in the modern context, one had already paid dearly for it. Today marks the 142nd death anniversary of Michael Madhusudan Dutt who though being brought up in privilege did not shudder at the highly unpromising prospects of brooding over British culture. During the mid 19th century resentments against the British crown was peaking both in pastoral and aristocratic societies of India. At this time Dutt chose to study European culture to become a British litterateur. This obviously infuriated the high Hindu clerics and his Zamindar father. He had put greater providences at stake only to be turned down by the British. Yet as all things have some value one way or the other so did Michael's courageous attempts. His struggles were not only rewarded but achieved relatively greater success than what he would have achieved in Britain. Enlightened by European modernism he initiated what came to be known as the Amitrakshar Chhanda along with the revolutionary Bengali sonnet and modern Bengali drama.
On the occasion of Dutt's death anniversary, the Jessore district administration and other parts of the country has chalked out an elaborate programme. A week-long Madhu Mela is on at the birth place of the bard. The festival features discussion and seminar on the life and works of the poet, puppet shows, jatra pala, circus, traditional sports, and cultural programmes.
Dutt was born on January 25 in 1824 at Sagordari, on the bank of Kopotaksho River in Jessore District. His father, Rajnarayan Dutt, was an eminent lawyer, and his mother was Jahnabi Devi. His celebrated work, "Meghnad Bodh Kavya" is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is exceptional in Bengali literature both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love from a women's perspective.
Dutt's childhood education started in Shekpura village, at an old mosque, where he learnt Persian. The prodigy in him was identified by his teachers there.
From an early age, Dutt aspired to be an Englishman. Born to a Hindu aristocratic family, he converted to Christianity as a young man, much to the annoyance of his family, and adopted the first name Michael. In later life, he regretted his attraction to England and the Occident. He wrote ardently of his homeland in his poems and sonnets from this period onwards. Dutt was particularly against arranged marriages. And when his father tried to get him married to a hindu girl he fled to Madras to get baptized. While at Madras he married the orphan Rebecca Mc Tavish whom he addressed as a 'fine English lady' in a letter to his close friend Gour Das Bysack. He had four children with Rebecca. His second wife Henrietta Sophia White bore two children for him. Madhusudan died in Calcutta General Hospital on 27 June 1873 three days after death of Henrietta.
Dutt's major works included "Tilottama", "Meghnad Bodh Kavya", "Birangana", "Choturdoshpodi Kobitaboli", "Brajangngana", "Sharmishtha", "Ekei Ki Bole Shobhyota", "Buro Shaliker Ghare Ro(w)n", "Ratnavali" and others.