Taraknath Palit (1831-1914) lawyer and philanthropist, was
born in 1831 in Kolkata. Taraknath passed his childhood and adolescence
at Amarpur in Hooghly district. After completing his studies at Hindu
College, Kolkata, he went to England to study law. Tarakanath returned
to India in 1871 and started practicing law, gaining considerable fame
within a short time. Taraknath was one of the founders of the National
Council of India, but left the Council over some disagreements. With
the assistance of Maharaja Manindra Chandra Nandy of Cossimbazar, he
established a Technical Institute in Kolkata for technical education.
Taraknath was a stout supporter of nationalism and national development
and attempted to nationalize education. He died on 3 October 1914.
Sircar (1833-1904) founder of the Indian Association for
Cultivation of Science, the first national science Association of
India, was born in the district of Howrah in 1833. Mahendralal was a
torchbearer in the propagation of science in India. A meritorious
scholar, he studied in Hare School and Hindu College. His joined
Calcutta Medical College for higher studies in science and medicine. He
obtained IMS and MD degrees by 1862. He was the second MD of Calcutta
University after Chandra Kumar De. A champion of Allopathic Medicine
and a very active member of the Calcutta Chapter of the British Medical
Association, he got interested and shifted his attention to Homeopathy
on reading Morgan's Philosophy of Homeopathy and on attending the
clinic of Rajendralal Dutt, a noted Homeopath of the day. He later
became the most celebrated Homeopath of the country.
But his abiding fame rests on his campaign, started from 1867, for a
national science association. Mahendralal Sircir pleaded for an
autonomous association that would be completely controlled, funded, and
managed by Indians themselves with suitable laboratories for research
Chandra Sen (1838-1884)- a great intellectual and a famous
Brahmo leader of the 19th century Bengal, who founded in 1880 a new
'universal' religion - Naba Bidhan (New Dispensation).
Born in a 'modernist' family in 1838, Keshab inherited his
grandfather's organizing ability and his father's 'Spirit of Vaisnava
Devotion'. His grandfather Ramkamal Sen (1783-1844) was the first
Indian secretary of the Asiatic Society, the compiler of the earliest
English-Bengali Dictionary (two volumes published in 1830 and 1834),
and one of the founders of the Hindu College (1817).
Keshab Sen's work in the sphere
of social reform left a deep imprint on the society in Bengal. Keshab's
primary concern was the quest for a universal religion. As a student of
Hindu College (1854-56) he was deeply attracted to the Unitarian
theological and social gospels propounded in the writings of the likes
of Theodore Parker, FW Newman, RW Emerson, Miss Francis Cobbe and
others. Fascinated by monotheist Vedantism, as Maharshi Debendranath
propounded it, Keshab joined the Brahma Samaj in 1857 and became its
central figure in 1858. Keshab gave new life to Brahma Samaj
introducing new ideas and activities in it. As the Acharya of the
Samaj, Keshab insisted on giving up some Hindu customs and practices
such as caste system, untouchability, child marriage, polygamy and
became the champion of widow and inter-caste marriages. Women's
education was one of Keshab's greatest concerns. This became a vital
agenda of Keshab-controlled Brahma Bandhu Sabha (1863). He also
actively supported educational efforts of the organisers of the
Bamabodhini Sabha and Bamabodhini Patrika (both founded in 1863) and
guided Bama Hitaisini Sabha (1871) to improve the moral and material
condition of women.
In 1881 Keshab officially instituted Nava Bidhan (New Dispensation), a
new syncretistic religion based on the union of East and West, and the
mouthpiece of his new religion, New Dispensation, was started in March
of that year.
Tagore (1842-1923) was a writer, litterateur and the first
Indian ICS. He was the second son of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore and
an elder brother of Rabindranath Tagore. He studied English and
Sanskrit at home. In 1857 he passed the Entrance examination in the
first division from Hindu School and entered Presidency College. While
still in college, he became associated with Brahma Samaj and, in 1861,
joined hands with Keshab Chandra Sen to propagate the Brahmo religion.
In 1862 he went to London along with his wife and returned home in 1864
as an ICS officer. He founded Hindu Mela at Belgachia in Calcutta on 12
April 1867 (last day of Chaitra, the last month in Bengali calendar)
with the aim of arousing patriotism among common people.
Satyendranath's patriotic song, 'Mile sabe Bharatsantan', sung at the
second session of Hindu Mela was profusely praised.
Satyendranath made a significant contribution to the social advancement
of the country. He believed in women's liberation and took his wife
Jnanadanandini to England much against social criticism. It was his
support that encouraged her to give up the veil at home. She was the
first Indian woman to enter the Government House at the invitation of
Chandra Banerjee (1844-1906) barrister, politician and the
first president of the Indian national Congress, was born in
Kidderpore, Calcutta to Girishchandra Banerjee attorney. He completed
his schooling in Hindu School and Oriental Seminary and worked as
apprentice to an attorney office. He received the Rustamji Jijibhai
Scholarship in 1864 which sent him to England to study law. While
studying at Middle Temple, England he established the Indian Society in
England was chosen its first secretary. He returned to Calcutta as a
barrister in 1868 and started practicing at Calcutta High Court. In
1870 he edited and published the “Hindu Wills Act” which was followed
by his being nominated as the first President of the Law Faculty of the
Calcutta University in 1871. In 1883 Woomesh Chandra famously defended
Surendranath Banerjee in the case that accused him of contempt of
court. In 1885 he presided over the INC’s opening session in Bombay.
Woomesh Chandra was much criticized by the ‘Bangabasi’ magazine for his
western lifestyle and his marriage to Hemangini Devi who followed the
Christian faith. In 1902 Woomesh Chandra built a house in Croydon, a
suburb of London and named the it ‘Khidirpur House’ where he lived till
his death in 1906. Woomesh Chandra spend the last days of his life
practicing at thew Privy Council London.