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Mano Mohun Ghose

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(March 13, 1844 – October 16, 1896), a close friend (but no relation) of Sri Aurobindo’s father. The name of Monmohun Ghose’s wife was Swarnalata, just as it was the name of K.D. Ghose’s wife. And both Swarnalatas – even as their husbands – also were very great friends. It was in Manmohan’s house that K. D. Ghose’s son Aurobindo was born in 1872. At summer 1972 Dr. Ghose lived with his family in Rangpur, but there was outbreak of malaria followed by a cholera epidemics, so Dr. Ghose decided to send his wife to the comparatively healthy environment of Calcutta.

There are different information on address of the house, it may be:

(1) 4 Theatre Road (later 8 Theatre Road and now 8 Shakespeare Sarani), but, it seems that, Mano Mohun lived here between 1879 and 1895.

(2) According to The Bengal Directory, in 1872 Mano Mohun Ghose was living at two addresses:

(2-A) 14 South Circular Road and

(2-B) 48, Chowringhee = Theatre Road (Ballard Building).

(3) According to two daughters of Mano Mohan, it was 237 Lower Circular Road (earlier — 12 Lower Circular Road, now — 237 Acharya Jagadish Chandra Road, but

(a) according to Peter Heehs 237 Lower Circular Road = 14 (not 12) Lower Circular Road);

(b) according to the protocol of “Proceedings of the Meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Aurobindo Centenary Committee held at 10.30 AM on Saturday January 30 of 1971 at National Library, Belvdere, Calcutta-27” (Published at Archives and Research: A biannual journal.- Volume 1, No1 (1977, April).- pp. 79-80.) this house (i.e. 12 Lower Circular Road) “came to be occupied by the Late Manmohan Ghose not earlier than 1876”.

So we have two possible addresses: 14 South Circular Road and 48, Chowringhee.

Mano Mohun Ghose was a barrister and a journalist.

In 1858, he was married to Swarnalata, daughter of Shyma Charan Roy of Taki-Sripur in 24 Parganas.

He joined Presidency College in 1861 and while a student there, he developed a friendship with Keshub Chunder Sen. Together they started the Indian Mirror, a fortnightly paper which he edited till March 1862.

In 1862, he and Satyendranath Tagore were the first two Indians to sail to England to prepare for and appear in the Indian Civil Service examinations. Preparations for the examination was tough, as they had to pick up many subjects not taught in India. Moreover, Ghose was subject to racial discrimination. He sat for the examinations twice but failed to succeed. Satyendranath Tagore went through and became the first Indian to join the ICS. While in England, Manomohan extended support to the fellow Calcutta poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta who was going through difficult times in England. Monomohun Ghose was called to the bar from Lincoln’s Inn. After being called to the English bar, Ghose returned to India in 1866. At that time his father died and he started practising as a barrister in Calcutta High Court in 1867. He was the first Indian barrister to practice in Calcutta High Court.

On return from England, one of the first things he did was to put his wife in charge of the nuns at Loreto Convent, for her education. It was only after his wife had completed her education that he settled down to family life. When she returned, they looked as Anglicised Indians. Swarnalata took to wearing the gown, in the style of English women.

Mano Mohan was an effective speaker, though his oratory did not reach the level of his brother Lalmohan’s. In politics, he was a leader of the Moderates in Calcutta, and a supporter of Pherozshah Mehta.


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