Raybahadur Ramshankar Ray:Father of Modern Odia drama

As I told previously in these 21 days of lockdown I'll share 21 blogs about some great personalities of Odisha.
So here is the ninth day of lockdown and I'm sharing my ninth writeup on Raybahadur Ramshankar Ray. 
Raybahadur Ramshankar Ray was born on June 1857 at Dikshitpara, Asureswar to Madhab Prasad Ray, the legal advisor of SakhiMath,Cuttack. He was the younger brother of Karmaveer Gourishankar Ray. 

He had his primary education in the traditional Chatsali. After completion of his primary education he came to Cuttack in 1864 for further studies. There was no Odia schools in Cuttack at that time so he admitted into a Bengali school. Gourishankar Ray was then settled in Cuttack so he lived with him. He passed his middle vernacular examination from Cuttack Bengali School in 1870 with first class and awarded a scholarship. Them he joined Cuttack school. 
During this period he was addicted to tobacco and smoking and failed in his entrance examination. Then he was scolded and guided by his elder brother Gourishankar and gave up the bad habits. He again attended the entrance and cleared with first division and junior Scholarship and admitted to Cuttack College in the first arts class. He passed his F A examination in 1979. 

He was passionate about the ancient and medieval literature of Odisha during his childhood. He had interest in various languages he learnt Bengali, English, Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian language. 
He also narrated about the language war between Odia and Bengali when he was in STD II. The scarcity of printed Odia books. The contribution of Fakirmohan and other eminent people. 

In 1879, he joined as a money order clerk. He quitted the job and again joined as an assistant teacher. Again he left that job and passed in law examination in 1884. Then he left his job and started legal practise. He was appointed as legal advisor of Kothapada Math by Mahanta Raghunath Puri. He established a permanent stage for plays there. 

His poetry "Prematari" and novel "Soudamini" comes serially in "UtkalaMadhupa". The novel couldn't completed due to untimely death of the magazine. While watching a Bengali drama he thought due to unavailability of Odia plays Bengali plays staged. From that day he decided to write Odia dramas.

Ramshankar wrote his first drama "KanchiKaveri" in 1880, which deals about the glorious Odia history. The war between Odisha and Kanchi. It is the first Modern Odia drama to be staged at Cuttack.
His second drama "Banabala" is an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'TheTemptest", this was the first of its kind in Odia. 
His next drama "KaliKal" shows the bad effects of drinking. 
The evil consequences of old age marriage shown in his "BudhaBara". 
Downfall of an aristocratic family due to lack of discipline dramatised in his "BishaModak". 
His mythological plays include "RamaBanabasa" "KansaVadha"and "ChaitanyaLila". 
His play "YugaDharma" projected the need of religious tolerance. 
"Lilavati" deals with widow marriage and industrialisation. Even his play "BadaLoka" treats the same topic but comes with songs. 
Evil effects of casteism and female education discussed in "KanchanaMali". 
"BiswaYajnya" deals with national movement. 
"Ramabhishek" is based on the Ramayan. 

His novel "Bibasini" appeared in the UtkalPrava magazine and "Unmadini" in Indradhanu magazine. 

He translated the 'Ishopanishad','Kenopanishada','Yajurveda', 'Rigveda', 'Manusamhita'. 

In 1930, all his literary works compiled and published as "Ramshankar Granthavali". 

Ramashankar brought a new trend in modern Odia drama. A strong desire for social reforms and spirit of nationalism were his main objectives. He was actively connected with Utkal Sabha, Utkal Sammilani and Utkal Sahitya Samaj. In 1903 he was felicitated by government for his keen interest in public work, which was rare in those days. He was given Raybahadur title by the British. 

Ramshankar always dreamt for Odias and Odisha. He played a significant role in the cultural revolution of the nineteenth century of Odisha. He had dedicated his entire life for the upliftment of Odia language and Odia culture. His dedication and love towards Odia nationalism has given him a place in Odia people's heart. 

References :
  • Ramshankar Ray(Author Jayanta Kumar Dasa)
  • History of Indian literature 1800 - 1910 (Sisir Kumar Das)