Struggle for Independence

Like other areas of Bengal Murshidabad also made its contribution to the freedom struggle of India. The Murshidabad District Committee of the Indian National Congress was formed in 1921. Brajabhushan Gupta was its first President. The students participated in movements like the Boycott of Foreign Goods and had links with the revolutionaries. In the Krishnanath College of Berhampore revolutionaries like Surya Sen and Niranjan Sen spent their college days. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Kazi Nazrul Islam spent some of their prison days. Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Rajendraprasad, C. R. Das and Netaji had also visited the district of Murshidabad during the freedom struggle days.

A retarding force was the Muslim League Movement. But, the Congress and other secular forces fought against the communal forces. The efforts of Nawab Wasif Ali Mirza in forming the Hindu Muslim Unity Association in 1937 were also noteworthy. In 1943 a conference of the Association in Kolkata was arranged, at the request of Fazlul Haque. In 1940, the Revolutionary Socialist   Party was formed by Tridib Choudhury in the district. The presence of the Quit India movement was also felt here.

The country became independent on the 15th of August 1947, after being bifurcated into two nations, viz., India and Pakistan. Murshidabad became part of India on the basis of the final award of the Radcliffe Commission. However, some confusion was there on the initial two days of Independence.

 
1. Outstanding Sanskrit Scholars:

1)

Biswanath Chakravarty (1643 – 1720), an inhabitant of Saidabad, was a great Vaishnava scholar of all–India fame. He was an eminent philosopher, a famous author of many Sanskrit books and a poet. His greatest achievement was his commentary of the Shrimadbhagabatam, entitled Sararthadarshini. His collection of Vaishnava Padabalis (devotional songs) entitled Kshanada-Gita–Chintamani was the first of its kind in Bengali literature.
 

2)

Radhamohan Thakur (1696 – 1776) of Malihati in Bharatpur Police Station was a descendent of the illustrious Shrinivas Acharya. A renowned Sanskrit and Vaishnava scholar and poet, he defeated many great scholars of North India in a debate and established the superiority of Gouriya Vaishnavism. His greatest contribution of Bengali Literature was his collection of songs and poems by eminent Vaishnava poets called the Padamrita-samudra.
 

3)

Kaviraj Gangadhar Sen Roy (1798 – 1885) came to Saidabad, Berhampore from kolkata in 1836 and settled there. He became a legend as a physician. He was a scholar in Sanskrit and in various scriptures. Besides a commentary on the Charaka – Samhita, he wrote many others books.
 

4)

Shasahadhar Tarka Churamani (1851 – 1928) of Berhampore was a great Sanskrit Scholar of the nineteenth century Bengal. He was an exponent of Hindu revivalism. He was a regular contributor to many periodicals and the author of several books in Sanskrit.

 
2. Literature:

1)

Govindadas Kaviraj (1539 – 1613), an inhabitant of village Budhuri near Bhagwangola, was one of the greatest vaisanava poet of post Chaitanya – era. He was called Vidyapati-II, for his versatile talent and for his style being reminiscent of the great Maithili poet. Nearly 800 songs are known to have been composed by him. He was the author of several dramas, books on Vaishnava – philosophy and books of poem like Sangita-Madhava, Karnamrita, and Gitamrita.
 

2)

Ghanashyam Das Kaviraj (early 17th century), a grand son of Govinda Das, was also Vaishnava poet. He wrote a book on Vaisanava Poetics in Sanskrit. 
 

3)

Jadunandan Das Thakur (1537 - ) of Malihati in Bharatpur P.S., was a Vaishnava lyricist and translator of note.Among his works are Karnananda(history), Govindalilamrita and Bidagdhamadhaba(verse translations).
 
4) Sayed Martuza (middle of the 16th century) of Balighata, Jangipur, a Muslim ‘Fakir’ who loved and revered all religions. He composed many fine Vaishnava lyrics. 
 
5)

Nirupama Devi (1833 – 1951), born at Gorabazar, Berhampore, was a novelist. She went to Bhagalpur with her father and came in contact with Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and his group of litterateurs, all of whom, became famous later on. Some of her famous books are Shyamali, Didi, and Annapurnar Mandir. 
 

6)

Saroj Kumar Roy Choudhury (1900 – 1972), a Kallol-era author of fame, was born at Malihati in Bharatpur. Some of his famous books are ‘Kalo–Ghora’, ‘Griha–Kapoti, Hansa–Balaka, Akash-o-Mritika, Mayurakshi.
 

7)

Rezaul Karim (1902 – 1993) was a freedom fighter, a scholar, a journalist, an exponent of communal harmony, an author of a several books and many essays, a philanthropist, a very able and popular professor and a highly respected politician.
 

8)

Manish Ghatak (1902 - 1979) of Berhampore was a leading poet- litterateur of the Kallol era. He often wrote under the pen name Jubanashwa. Among his famous work are Pataldangar Panchali (a book of short stories), Kankhal (novel) and books of poems like Shilalipi, Sandhya.
 

9)

Mahasweta Devi (1926), daughter of poet Manish Ghatak, writes short stories and novels. She writes mainly about the downtrodden and the tribal people of Bengal, Bihar and Orrisa. She won the coveted Jnanpith Award for her literary accomplishments and also the Magasassay Award for her social activities.
 

10)

Sayed Mustafa Siraj (1930), a short story writer and a novelist, has risen to fame from a very humble beginning in his ancestral village of Khosbaspur in Kandi P.S. Before being established as a writer he spent his time in various fields of activities like politics and culture including folk culture. He played an important role in propagation of Alkap, a native song-dance-drama form of Murshidabad. Some of his famous books are Hijol-kanya, Maya-mridanga, and Trinabhoomi.

3. History, Science and Culture:
1)

Dr. Ramdas Sen (1845 – 1887), of Berhampore, was a scholar and a member of the great novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s circle an. He was an author with interest in archaeology, history and literature etc. He was the central figure of the cultural life of Berhampore of his time. His contribution to the spread of education in Berhampore is noteworthy. He was a member of many international and national institutions.
 

2)

Ram Brahma Sanyal (1850 – 1908) of village Mahula, Murshidabad, was one of the Pioneers in India in the study of botany and zoology. He was connected with the Alipore Zoo from days of its formation; he was its first Indian Director. Among his books the Management of Wild Animals in Captivity in Lower Bengal and Hours With Nature are noteworthy.
 

3)

Ramendra Sundar Trivedi (1864 – 1919), of Kandi, was one of those persons of Murshidabad whom the people of Bengal can be proud of. A great thinker, renowned writer, social worker and a professor of repute, he rose to great heights in many spheres of life. Though a Professor of chemistry, he also excelled in subjects like Philosophy and literature. He was one of the founders of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, the pioneer cultural institution of Bengal. Some of his famous books are Jijnasa, Bangalkshmir Bratakatha, Charita Katha and Bichitra Prasanga.
 

4)

Nikhilnath Roy (1865 - 1932), born in 24 Parganas, came to Berhampore in his boyhood. He was a historian of repute and one of the pioneers in compilation of the history of Murshidabad and Bengal.
 

5)

Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay (1885 – 1930) of Berhampore was a famous historian, archaeologist, and epigraphist and also a novelist, writing mostly historical novels. His greatest achievement was the discovery of Indus Civilization site Mahenjodaro. He also conducted excavation of Paharpur Monastery in North Bengal. Banglar Itihas, Origin of the Bengali Scripts, Eastern Indian School of Medieval Sculpture, Palas of Bengal, The Age of Imperial Guptas and historical novels in Bengali like Pashaner Katha, Sasanka and Dharmapala.
 

6)

Radhakumud Mukhopadhyay (1885 – 1930), of Gorabazar, Berhampore, was a brilliant student who later became a noted historian. He had been a professor in Beneras, Lucknow and Mysore Universities. He took part in the freedom movement in the early 20th century. Some of his famous books are Akhanda Bharat, Hindu Civilisation, A History of Shipping and Local Government in Ancient India.
 

7)

Radhakamal Mukhopadhyay (1890 – 1968, the brother of Radhakumud, was also a brilliant student who later became a noted economist and social scientist. He had been a professor of Berhampore College and the Calcutta University and then the Vice–Chancellor of Lucknow University. Some of his famous books are Taruner Bharat and Saswata bhikhari.

 
4. Politics: 

1)

Baikuntha Nath Sen (1843 – 1922), born of an old and aristocratic family of Alampur village in Bardhaman district, came to Berhampore in his early years and settled there. He achieved great fame as a lawyer and orator. He was a great patron of education and was associated with various social and political organisations. He was the supreme leader of the National Congress in the district in his times. He became the first Indian chairman of Berhampore Municipality.
 

2)

 

Braja Bhusan Gupta (1869 – 1934), born at Panchananpur village in Domkal P.S., was a Gandhiaite and one of the pioneers of National Freedom Movement in Murshidabad. He was a famous lawyer of his time, with a flair for Philosophy and English Literature. He was a noted leader not only of Murshidabad but also of the provincial Congress. Great leaders of that time such as Deshbandhu Chittaranjan, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sarojini Naidu and even Mahatama Gandhi visited his house at Berhampore. He was the first president of the district committee of the Indian National Congress.
 

3)

 

Tridib Chowdhury (1911 – 1997), born in Dacca district, he came to Murshidabad with his father a police officer. He took part in revolutionary movements and was put into jail for a long time. He was one of the founders of Revolutionary Socialist Party of India. After Independence he took part in Goa Liberation Struggle, to free Goa from the Portuguese, was arrested and jailed by the Portuguese. He became a Member of Parliament in 1952 and continued as such till his death.

 
 5. Music, Painting and Performing Arts:
1)

Ata Hussein Khan (1818 – 1909), one of the greatest exponents of Tabla (a percussion instrument), was the court musician of Feradun Jah, the Nawab–Nazim of Murshidabad. He won many awards in his country for his performance. In 1869 his performance was highly admired by the audience at a function in Queen Victoria’s palace in England. 
 

2)

Ustad Kader Box (1877 – 1968), of Murshidabad town, was a great exponent of the Hindustani Classical Music. He collected a large number of compositions in different Ragas and he himself composed many. He was acknowledged as a great musician by the contemporary greats.
 

3)

Girija Sankar Chakravorty (1885 – 1948) of Berhampore, perhaps the greatest musician of this district, was famous for his Thumri songs. He was also interested in painting and drama. But he was a genius as a vocalist and known throughout the country. He learned classical music from different schools (Gharana) of musicians all over India. He himself was an institution. Many famous musicians like A. T. Kanan were his students.
 

4)

Kshitindra Nath Majumdar (1891 – 1975), born in village Jagtai near Nimtita in Jangipur sub-division was a painter of a very high calibre. He was a student of Abanindranath Tagore. His paintings were mainly based on the theme of Radha-Krishna, Shri Chaitnya and stories from the Puranas. His fame as an artist spread not only in India but also in other countries of the world.
 

5)

Sheikh Gumani Dewan (1896 – 1976) of Jindihghi in Sagardighi P.S. was by far the greatest Kavial (instant composer and singer of a song-form in which a public debate is conducted by songs) of Murshidabad. His fame as a Kavial spread far and wide. He was widely respected for his talent as a musician as well as for his gentle behaviour, broadness of mind and respect for all religions.
 

6)

Jhanksu alias Dhananjay Mondal (1898 - 1980), born at Dhanpatnagar near Jangipur Town, coming of a family of the Chai Community, was a great exponent of the Alkap and Pancharas (famous song-dance-drama forms of the area).
 

7)

Indra Dugar (1918 - …….), born in a rich and influential zaminder-merchant family of Jiaganj, is an artist of international fame. His father was also an artist. His paintings are based on beauty of nature, people of Rajasthan and flowers.

 
6. Other fields:
1)

Lalababu alias Krishna Chandra Sinha (1776 – 14.5.1822) was born in the Kandi Raj family. He was famous for his charity. At a young age he left his properties and settled in Brindaban to spend the rest of life in seeking God. 
 

2)

Maharaja Manindra Chandra Nandi (1860 – 1929), the Maharaja of Cossimbazar, was known for his proverbial acts of charity for individuals as well as for noble causes. He donated enormous amounts of money to various Institutions, particularly in the field of education and culture. He was the founder of many educational institutions, was a patron of literature, music and other cultural activities. It was because of his initiatives that the first conference of Bengali literature outside Kolkata was held at Cossimbazar in 1907. In Mahatma Gandhi’s words, no other individuals in the country were equal to him in charity. 
 

3)

Swami Akhandananda (1864 – 1937), a direct disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa and a close friend of Swami Vivekananda, was a wonderer monk who settled at Sargachhi village near Berhampore in 1895 to serve the famine-stricken villagers of Sargachhi and Mahula. The Ramakrishna Mission at Sargachhi founded by him has a school with a hostel and is now a big institution, catering service to the people.
 

4)

Rao Jogendra Narayan Roy (1845/50 – 1946), born in Benaras and brought up in the rich and influential zaminder family of Lalgola, is remembered for his philanthropic work and charity. 
 

5)

Sarat Chandra Pandit (1880 – 1968,better known as ‘Dada Thakur’, had his ancestral house at Dafarpur in Jangipur Sub-division but resided permanently at Jangipur town. A man of simple and dutiful nature with a ready wit and an acerbic tongue, he was a fearless critic of all injustice and of all wrongdoing persons, irrespective of their position in the society. His newspapers, Jangipur – Sambad and Bidushak were among his weapons for this purpose. He could compose at will rhymes and songs full of puns and wit. He became an institution in his lifetime.
 

6)

Karuna Sankar Bhattacharya (1909 – 1979) of Berhampore was by far the best football player of Murshidabad and one of the best in India. He played in the Aryans club first and then became a player of Mohan Bagan club. He represented India in matches in various countries of the world. He was the captain of India Football team to Australia in1938. 

References:
1. Samsad Bangali Charitabhidhan
2. Sahitya Sadhak Charitmala
3. Ganakantha – 1986, Berhampore
4. ‘Murshidabader Bektitwya’– Rourab Prakashani, Berhampore, 2002.
5. Other publications.
 

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