Kuntala Kumari Sabat: The woman who used poetry as a weapon in freedom struggle

Follower of Gandhi, Kunatala Kumari Sabat always believed that Independence is her birth right and also encouraged women to participate in the Independence movement

Kuntala Kumari Sabat fondly called as the Nightingale or BulBul of Orissa was amongst many other women freedom fighters who stood against the British forces during the Indian freedom struggle. An eminent poet, Kuntala Sabat used her thoughtful poems to ignite a sense of patriotism among people across the country. She also made efforts to motivate other women to join the independence movement.

Early Life: 

Kuntala Kumari Sabat was born in 1900 in a Hindu Brahmin family in a province of Orissa Bastar in a place called Jagdalpur (which is now part of Chhattisgarh). Her father, Daniel Sabat was a doctor by profession while her mother Monica Sabat belonged to a Hindu Karan family. The family later converted to Christianity due to unknown reasons.

She spent most of her childhood in Burma with her parents and returned with her family to Odisha at the age of 14. She completed her high school from Ravenshaw girls school. In 1921, Kuntala Kumari Sabat completed medicine from a Medical College in Cuttack and passed with a distinction. She went on to be the first lady doctor in Cuttack. She got married Krushna Prasad Brahmachari and adopted Arya dharma.

Also Read: When a young Indira Gandhi showed glimpses of her leadership qualities during freedom struggle

Role in Freedom Struggle:

Follower of Gandhi, Kunatala Kumari Sabat had always emphasised that Independence was her birth right and encouraged women to actively participate in the fight against the British. She started writing poems and novels from a very young age. ‘Na Tundi’, ‘Kali Bohu’, ‘Parasmani’, ‘Bhranti’, ‘Raghu Arakhita’ are some of her notable work. She was also the founder of the association ‘Bharati Tapovan Sangha’ which she set up for the development of Oriya literature. For her contribution to literature, she was honoured by many institutes during her life time.

Her thought-provoking poetry anthologies such as ‘Ahwan’ and ‘Gadajata Krishaka’ inspired many men and women who wished to see a free India. She also fought for women’s rights and backed the progressive steps taken towards women empowerment. She raised her voice against the social evils in the society and supported the idea of widow remarriage. Many of the poems that she wrote were later translated into English and in several other Indian languages.

Also Read: Krishnammal Jagannathan: The incredible story of this Gandhian from Tamil Nadu who fought the British and poverty at the same time


She passed away at the age of 38 in 1938.

As India celebrates 70 years of independence, we bring you stories of women who were part of the Indian Independence Struggle. You might have heard about some of them but most do not find a mention in our history books or popular memory. These were ordinary women from all walks of life who managed to make extraordinary contributions to the cause of freedom. 
This series is our tribute to these women and their exemplary work. We bring you 70 stories of courage and valour over the next one week leading up to 15th August 2017. Write to us, if you have any names to add to this list. Email: inuthsocial@indianexpress.com

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