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Raj Narayan Basu (Bose)

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Rajnarayan Bose (7 September 1826 – 18 September 1899), Sri Aurobindo’s maternal grandfather, was born 7 September 1826 in the Borhal village of South 24 Parganas of West Bengal. His father Nanda Kishore Basu was a disciple of a Raja Ram Mohan Roy and later a Secretary of him. One of his younger brothers was Abhaya Charan.

A bright student since childhood, Rajnarayan was brought to Calcutta in 1833. Admitted into the school of Sambhu Master. In 1834 was admitted to David Hare School (Society’s School later known as Hare School). He studied there till the age of 14, and was notified by the teachers for his brilliance and intellect. In 1840 was admitted into the Hindu (Presidency) College, Calcutta. In 1843 — awarded highest scholarship of the Hindu College at the Annual Examination of the First class. In 1844 — end of college career. Travel over Gour and Rajmahal with Ramgopal Ghosh.

He was erudite man, was interested in Vedanta philosophy. Has formed at India secret society. Young Tagor become its member. Society was occupied in revolution propaganda and fought for India’s independence. In 1846 Rajnarayan formally initiated to Brahmoism. New member of the Tattwabodhini Sabha. Journey by boat with Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore from Uluberia to Burdwan.

In 1847 — marriage with Nistarini Devi of Halkhola, Calcutta, the daughter of Abhayacharan Dutta. They had nine children, six daughters and three sons: Swarnalata, eldest daughter, the mother of Sri Aurobindo; Jogenranath (bachelor, “Boromama”); Hemlata (married to Dinanath Dutta); Sukumari (married to Trailokyanath Ghosh); Lilabati (Lilavati) (1864-1924, aunt ‘Na-mesi’ married to Krishna Kumar Mitra at Calcutta in April 1881); Lajjabati (1870-1942, spinster, her poems were a feature of many Bengali magazines of the time); Jatindranath; Munindranath (a man of letters); Kumudini (1882-1943, married to Sachindra Prasad Bose).

Again journey by boat with Maharshi Devendra Nath to Nabadwip. In 1849 — appointed second teacher in English at the Sanskrit college, Calcutta, under Pundit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Principal. Again journey by steamer with Maharshi Devendra Nath to Assam sailing over the Bay of Bengal. He worked three years in Calcutta and then moved at Midnapoor, where he spent most of his life. In 1851 — appointed Headmaster of Midnapur Zilla School (now Collegiate School) on February. 21, and in service upto March, 1866. Establishmcnt of Bailly Hall Public Library (now Rajnarayan Basu Smriti Pathagar) at Midnapore. Rajnarayan first hononary Secretary to it. (First Public Library of India).

He was a leader of local branch of Brahmo Samaj. In 1852 — renovation of Midnapur Brahmo Samaj (first established in 1841 by Sibchandra Deb).

During 1853-5 — writing of ‘Dharmatatwa Dipika, Brahmosadhan’ and Defence of Brahmoism. In 1856 — pioneering the Widow Marriage Movement of Pandit lswar Chandra Vidyasagar. Founded Banga Vidyalay at Boral (now a High School). In 1857 — witness of the Sepoy Mutiny Establishment of the University of Calcutta. In 1860 — journey to Rajmahal with Maharshi Devendra Nath.

In 1861 started a Society for the prohibition of drinking. Published a “Prospectus of a society for the Promotion of National Feeling among the Educated Natives of Bengal.” from which Nabagopal Mitra adumbrated the Hindu Mela.

In 1864 — marriage of the eldest daughter, Swarnalata Devj, with Dr. Krishnadhan Ghosh (a Civil Surgeon), father of Sri Aurobindo. A glorious ceremony at Midnapur.

On 6th March 1866 — after a break of society and being attacked with cerebral ailment, — he

returned at Calcutta till December, 1868. Works actively for the Brahmo Samaj Movement till 1879: he became main representative and then president of Adi, or true Brahmo Samaj. During his activity at society, he stood up for Hinduism and Brahminism, traditional Bengal lifestyle. Anniversary National Assemblage (Jatya Mela), following Rajnarayan’s ideas, was so popular that it became forerunner of movement of 1870s, which culminated at India National Congress.

In 1867 — inauguration of the Hindu Mela (National Fair) by Nabagopal Mitra: Rajnarayan a supporter. A momentum for the Indian National Congress, 1885.

In 1869 — farewell address by the people of Midnapur, dedication of a new pucca building in his name, constructed with the assistance of Maharshi Devendra Nath, along with a fund. But Rajnarayan was never back to Midnapur owing to ill health.

During 1869-79 — spreads Brahmoism at Bhagalpur, Allahabad, Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur and Kanouj. Upholds the cause of education and emancipation of women.

In 1872 — a memorable speech on the superiority of the Hindu Religion at Brahmo Samaj Hall, Cornwallis Street (now Bidhan Sarani), Calcutta. Foundation of “Brahmo Dharmabodhini Association.”

In 1875 — president of the Hindu Mela (9th session). Boy Rabindra Nath (Tagore) guided to compose and read out his first national song “Hindu Malar Upahar” and “Delhir Darabar ” (A gift at the Hindu Mela and a convention at Delhi) at the Mela. Hindu College Re-union. Writing a short history of the Hindu or the Presidency College.

1877 — chairman of the Sanjivani Sabha, a club for the promotion of National feeling.

1878 — a Lecture on the Bengali Language and Literature.

At 1879 Rajnarayan retired at Deoghar (Bihar State), where he spent last years of his life at study of workings of Indian, Persian and European mystics. Else while alive he was named risi and “Grandfather of Indian Nationalism”.

In 1881 — marriage of Lilavati (4th daughter) with Krishna Kumar Mitra at Calcutta (Brahmo Samaj). Rabindra Nath Tagore composed songs. Narendra Nath Datta (afterwards Swami Vivekananda) presented musical performance at the ceremony. Opposition of the Religions Endowment Bill of the British Government.

1883 — objection to the imprisonment of Sir Surendra Nath Banerjee on behalf of the Indian Association.

1884 — founder of the Deoghar Samity and Deoghar Book club.

1885 — inauguration of a ‘Conversation Circle’ at Deoghar. Attempt to establish a nursing home for the lepers. Proposal for a Hindu National Congress.

1885 — indirectly associated with the Indian National Congress. Composition of speeches of the Congress.

1889 — writing of an incomplete Autobiography at Deoghar.

1891 — opposition of the Age of consent Bill (for underaged girls). Plan for a Maim Hindu Samity.

1893-4 — member of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. Change of the name from The Bengal Academy of Literature on his suggestion. Connected with its organization.

1893 — death of Dr. Krishnadban Ghosh, son-in-law, Sri Aurobindo’s father. Sri Aurobindo’s return to India from England. Chicago Address of Swami Vivekananda.

1885-98 — permanently settled at Deoghar. Many noted persons came to meet him, discussions with them on religion, literature and National Movement. He was visited by Rabindra Nath, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Bijoykrishna Goswami, Sibnath Sastri and Bhudeb Mukherjee.

1899 — suffering from paralysis and death on September, 18.


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