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Updated on: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 07:45 AM IST

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay: Remembering the writer of ‘Vande Mataram’ on his 123rd death anniversary

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Bengali writer, poet, journalist and writer of India’s national song ‘Vande Mataram’, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was the one who modernised Bengali literature. He is popularly known as ‘Sahitya Samrat’ which means ‘Emperor of literature’ in Bengali. Our national song was taken from his novel ‘Anandamath’.

Here are some interesting facts about the writer:

  • Bankim got married when he 11 years old to a 5-year-old girl. After 11 years of marriage, his wife died. Later, he got married to Rajlakshmi Devi and they were blessed with three daughters.
  • In 1858, Joddu Nath Bose and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay became the first graduates from the University of Calcutta.
  • Like his father, Bankim after completing his studies was appointed as the Deputy Collector and was later promoted to Deputy Magistrate. He worked there was almost 32 years and retired from the service.
  • Bankim considered writer and poet Ishwarchandra Gupta as his inspiration and began his journey as a writer. His first ever writing was a novella which he penned down for a competition but it never got any recognition as he didn’t win the competition. His second work and first published work was a novella titled ‘Rajmohan’s wife’. Unfortunately, even this didn’t work out for him as it was written in English. This was the time when Bankim realised that he should write in Bengali for his work to reach out to people. His first Bengali work was a Bengali romance fiction called ‘Durgeshnondini’. Followed by ‘Kapalkundala’. The second novel helped him to establish as a writer and it is considered as one of the finest works by Bankim.
  • Bankim’s epic ‘Anandamath’ published in 1882, is a political novel. It features the theme of Hindu nationalism against the British rule. The novel became identical with India’s struggle for freedom from the British and was later banned by the British. Rabindranath Tagore took the song ‘Vande Mataram’ from the novel, which was converted as the national song of India. ‘Anandamath’ was later translated in English and was titled ‘The Abbey of Bliss’. Bankim’s other popular works include Lok Rahasya (1874), Devi Chaudhurai (1884), Sitaram (1887), Kamalakanta (1885) and Krishna Charita (1886), among others.
  • In his writings and publications, Bankim used to criticise the British government and hence during his service with the government, he was always involved in conflicts with the government.
  • Once Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Indian mystic and yogi, teasingly asked Bankim ‘What it was that ad bent him?’ as Bankim literally means ‘Bent a little’. To which the writer wittily replied that it was the kick from the Englishmen’s shoes.
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Quotes by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay:

  • Prose must be written in language that is well understood by its readers. The world would hardly miss those literary works that are mastered by only half-a-dozen pundits.
  • When a man is in doubt what to do, he goes wherever he happens to be first called.
  • [ N]o study is likely to be fruitful of results if carried on without a system. The majority of those who pursue knowledge for its own sake pursue it after an aimless and desultory fashion.

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Published on: Thursday, April 06, 2017, 12:02 PM IST
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