Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay | The Torch-bearer of Bengali Literature!

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His Life: A literary Genius

  • Year 1838 – Born in Kanthalpara village of West Bengal, India.
  • Year 1849 – Marriage was arranged with a five year old girl.
  • Year 1859 – His first wife passed away.
  • Year 1865 – Published Durgeshnondini.
  • Year 1872 – Started circulation of Bangadarshan.
  • Year 1886 – Published his last novel Sitaram.
  • Year 1894 – Left the mortal world.

“This country belongs to us. This is our Motherland. We are the children of this soil. You have no more moral or legal right to rule over this country than we have to rule over your England.”

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay aka Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was an Indian poet and a novelist. Bankim was a voracious reader who had his keen interest in Sanskrit literature. He was the composer of the National Song of India -Vande Mataram. The song became an element of National identity and war cry among the millions of freedom fighters during the Indian national movement.

Childhood

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was born to Yadav Chandra Chattopadhyay, a government official who became the Deputy Collector of Midnapur and Durgadebi. The youngest of three brothers, he was born on June 27, 1838 in the Kanthalpara village of West Bengal. His marriage was arranged at the age of eleven with a five year old girl and had a son with her. After the death of his first wife in 1859, he married Rajalakshmi Devi with whom he had three daughters.

Personal Life

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He received his elementary education from the Midnapore Collegiate School in Midnapur. He was a bright student and fond of reading books and novels since his school days. He had studied Sanskrit due to having keen interest in it. Later, he attended the Hooghly Mohsin College, Hooghly and then completed a degree in law from the Presidency College, Kolkata.

Political Journey

After completing his studies, he was appointed as the Deputy Collector and later Deputy Magistrate. He outperformed in his job and was given the title of Rai Bahadur in 1891 and Companion, Order of the Indian Empire in 1894. He served as a government officer for almost thirty years and retired from the service in 1891. Initially, he wrote for the weekly newspaper Sangbad Prabhakar by Ishwar Chandra Gupta and Jogendra Mohan Tagore. He started to write as a verse writer.

He first wrote a Bengali novel for a competition, but it was never published. He then published his first English novel named Rajmohan’s Wife, which didn’t become successful. After the failure of Rajmohan’s Wife, he turned towards Bengali literature. He penned first Bengali novel called Durgeshnondini that was published in 1865. In the following year he authored his first successful novel named Kapalkundala. In 1872, he started publication of Bangadarshan, a monthly magazine containing essays, stories and informative articles among many other things.

It didn’t run for long and was closed down in four years. He then went on to publish Chandrasekhar and Rajani in 1877, Krishnakanter Uil (Krishnakanta’s Will) in 1878 and Rajsimha in 1882. In 1892, he published his most famous work Anandamath (The Abbey of Bliss). The political novella contained poem Vande Mataram, which became a source of inspiration to the Indian nationalists. Rabindranath Tagore composed the poem into the song. Later in 1937, Indian National Congress (INC) declared its first two verses as the National Song of the country.

Later Life

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Before Chattopadhyay the Bengali literature was generally limited to the translation of famous Sanskrit and Arabic stories. His work played an instrumental role in catapulting the Bengali literature and laid the groundwork for fiction writing in India. His work influenced numerous people and budded many writers.

During the last decade of his life he published Devi Chaudhurani in 1884 and his final novel Sitaram in 1886. During this time he wrote religious commentaries and essays. His commentary on the Bhagavad Gita was published posthumously in 1902. He left the mortal world on April 8, 1894.

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