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Upen Bannerji

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Upendra Nath Banerjee, (1879-1950), one of the early revolutionaries, close associate of Barin Ghose. A resident of French Chandernagore. His education began at the Dupleix College, Chandernagore, and he studied in the Medical College, Calcutta, for two years and again after an interval attended the B.A. classes at the Duff College, Calcutta, for two years more. Thereafter he was a disciple of a certain Swami Swarupanand in the Adwitya Asram at Almorah in the United Provinces for about two years, and there he was instructed in Hindu and Western philosophy and underwent a course of training in Yoga according to the principle of Hinduism.

In 1906 he joined the Bande Mataram as a sub-editor and was a regular contributor to the Yugantar. In 1907, according to his own statement, he thought of freeing the country from the foreign yoke by starting a religious institution or joining one if such an institution existed, and for this purpose between September 1907 and February 1908 he visited in quest of a sadhu or an institution the following places: Benares, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Chitrakote, Bombay, Baroda, and Nepal, returning occasionally to Calcutta. His search was, he says, unsuccessful. He joined the secret society in July 1907 and used to assist Barindra in selecting boys suitable for working members. He had no part in collecting money or bombs and explosives. His occupation was to train the boys in political economy, political science, and Hindu religion. Arrested on 02 May 1908 at 32, Muraripooker Road, Manicktollah Garden. He admits, that he was consulted about the attempt to derail the Lieutenant-Governorís train near Kharagpur, and that he knew that the purpose of the society was to overthrow the British Government and to take the life of officials who hampered the national work. He was sent to the Andamans under a sentence of transportation for life.

After releasing in January 1920 he returned to Bengal and got himself engaged in journalism for a livelihood. His was a facile pen both in English and Bengali and at times he could very well be pungent if he so desired. Was rearrested in 1923 and after release joined C.R.Dasís Swarajya Party.

He worked as the Editor of the weekly Nabasakti, Assistant Editor of the dairy Amritabazar Patrika, and the last five yean of his life (1945-50) he edited the daily Basumati with a quiet efficiency, the net product of long experience in the line. He joined the Hindu Mahasabha to resist partition, and became Chairman of the All India Hindu Mahasabha in its Calcutta Session in December 1949.

But journalism apart, his output in the form of literary endeavour was no less striking. His Nirbasitcr Atmakatha (Memoirs of an Exile, 1921) is a classic in Bengali literature and at one time used to be very avidly read in Bengal because it contained a vivid picture of the life lived by the revolutionary convicts in the Cellular Jail, Port Blair, Andamans. His Unapanchasi (1922), a bunch of shorter essays written in an idiosyncratic vein, as the title suggests, was remarkable for their sardonic humour and caustic wit. Jater Birambana (The Harms of the Caste-system, 1921). Dharma O Karma (Religion and Duty, 1922), Bartaman Samasya (The present Problem, 1921) are some of his other works.


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