Purba Midnapur, Paschim Midnapur
Religions - Tribes
Drought - Disaster


Rishi Rajnarayan Basu

Sri Haripada Mondal

.:: A Sage at Deoghar 1879 - 1899 ::.

It was on account of his strenuous labour in Calcutta that Rajnarayan was gradually losing his health. Retirement from educational service did not necessarily bring him a restful life. Truly speaking, he was not in search of rest but mad after works,- works for the society, works for a growing nation. But ill-health would no more permit him to work hard. His physical weakness made him think for a change of place. And he made up his mind to take a shelter at Deoghar (Bidyanath Dham), a holy place for the Hindu pilgrims as a health-resort Far from the madding crowd Deoghar had a very nice natural surrounding with a peaceful atmosphere. Religious minded men and spiritual aspirants must have found their solace and joy amidst such a beauty-spot of nature. Deoghar was not then so much crowded or artificially decorated. People came here either on pilgrimage or for a change.

There is an old proverb in Sanskrit which says one must live in a hermitage in the woods after the age of fifty. Perhaps Rajnarayan had a desire to follow that old maxim of the Hindus and he left for Deoghar with his family in September, 1879. Friends of Calcutta no doubt felt for him, but he was happy that he would be able to pour up his whole mind in search of spiritual bliss and that physical weakness might not disturb his normal living.

Rajnarayan opined that religion should be the base of our national life. Indian culture regarded religion as the essential bond of a civilized society. This bold view was also upheld afterwards by the great patriot-prophet, Swami Vivekananda One must come under the shade of religion to make any reform, social or political, fruitful in India. Even in his secluded life Rajnarayan was not spared by the enthusiastic seekers of truth and fighters of freedom. Hi& circle widened. Still he was not worried. But he did not deviate from his solemn service of meditation and devotion.

In his family he introduced some new methods of meditation and prayer. All the members including the young boys and girls were guided to say prayers daily in the morning and evening and meditate on the Supreme Being. In her reminiscences Lilavati, his fourth daughter has written, “in our childhood when our revered father taught us how to pray to God folding our two little hands, it was my only prayer “The God which is in fire, the God which is in water, the God which is mingled with the whole universe, 1 bow down to Him again and again.' Then my affectionate mother taught me that the thing which one prays to God for is certainly obtained.” Rajnarayan passed some pleasant hours in a day among the children talking on topics of religion; holy life of the saints and the glory of God. He was conscious to imprint on their pure and soft mind the sweet and sublime image of the noble souls.

Lilavati has given an interesting instance of the principle of child education from the stories told by her father. The story is about an English boy. Once the mother of the boy became very much anxious to rear him up according to her own pious will. But at the age of ten the boy was found to be turbulent and disobedient. The mother wanted to teach him morality according to the Christian idea. Being embarassed she went to the father of a church and earnestly asked his advice The father was taken aback and replied, “What have you done Have you come to take my counsel when the boy is ten? You should have arranged for his moral education before his birth—before you were with the child” The lady understood that heredity plays a great part in forming the character of a child. As an educator Rajnarayan fully knew the psychology of education—the influence of heredity and environment. And he was careful about the training of his sons and daughters His eldest daughter, Swarnalata Devi, was rightly called a mother bearing heroic sons. Who does not know Sri Aurobindo and Barindra Kumar Ghosh a great freedom-fighters, or Sri Aurobindo as a spiritual leader and a great philosopher? Prof. Manomohan Ghosh was not a poet of mean -order. Lilavati also turned to be a noted leader of the Brahmo Movement in future and her services were not insignificant. Though heredity and environment are not the only things to count upon, still a family tradition and the discipline of a good family have much to bequeath to posterity.

The marriage ceremony of the beloved Lilavati was a remarkable affair. It took place in Calcutta in the middle of 1881. The performance was according to the rites of the Brahmos and at the Brahmo Mandir. Rajnarayan could not be present there on account of his indisposition. His friends in Calcutta were requested to arrange for the ceremony in a befitting manner. He sent off his dear daughter from Deoghar with the presentation of a copy of the Brahmo Dharma Bakhyan by Devendra Nath Tagore. It was not with riches and ornaments, that the father showed his affection to the daughter in a traditional manner. The eldest son Jogindra Nath accompanied Lilavati to Calcutta . The wedding performance was taken by the Brahmos as a special occasion, as this was the first wedlock which was going to be held in the Prayer Hall of the Brahmo Samaj, and not at a home Naturally there was a huge gathering to witness the ceremony at the prayer Hall Pandit Sivanath Sastri was the ‘presiding priest of the nuptial. He had drawn up a new system of the wedding rites both in English and Bengali and also composed four ceremonial songs in Bengali for the purpose, The young poet, Rabindra Math Tagore, composed a number of songs on wedlock and got them learnt with musical tunes by the songsters, among whom were Nagendra Nath Chatterjee, Sundarimohan Das, Kedarnath Mitra, the blind Chunilal and Narendra Nath Datta. This Narendra Nath Datta was no other than Naren of the Simulia Datta family, who in course of time became famous as Swami Vivekananda. That Swami Vivekananda learnt Tagore's songs is now an acknowledged fact; it is also a fact that he was one of the young group of the Brahmo Samaj. His ‘uncle Tarak Nath Datta was one of the enthusiastic preacher of the Samaj, a member of the Tattwabodhini Sabha, a key person of the Sarva Subhakari Sabha and secretary of the' Brahmo Bandhu Sabha. He was connected with many works of social reform and spread of Female education. Any way, the spectators ‘at ‘the Prayer Hall were charmed to witness the function and some of them instantly decided to embrace Brahmoisrn and they did do.

During this period Rajnarayan ‘opposed the Religious Endowment Bill in which the British Government had a motive to interfere with the rights of the Hindus, and exchanged opinions with Sir Surendra Nath Banerjee. Two years later Sir Surendra Nath was imprisoned by the Government and the incident created a great tension among the public. Rajnarayan too was not silent. O behalf of the Indian Association he circulated his strong protest against the oppressive action of the Government. On the other hand he sent a letter of sympathy to Sir Surendra Nath at jail in which he noted, “1 convey my sympathy with great sorrow at your imprisonment But should I be truly very sorry ? This sort of imprisonment is really glorious. To him who loves his own country-this internment is rather an ornament on his person. The future impact of this prison life is highly valuable to the nation.” No doubt Sir Surendra Nath was glad of it. The Student-community of Calcutta became in disciplined and outragious at the order of the court against Sir Surendra Nath and Rajnarayan, who - was ever constitutional in his ways, being shocked warned the students, “They should however remember that respect to constituted authority is the main bond of society and should on no occasion be abandoned.”

He did not cease his social works at Deoghar. The Deoghar Samity and tne Deoghar Book Club, two voluntary organisations, were founded by him in 1884 and he inaugurated a Conversation Circle in 1885, a new venture of its kind. An attempt was also made during this time to establish a clinical ho ne for the lepers His proposal for a Hindu National Congress, though not taken snape, had some fundamental principles to guide any organised body. He was indirectly associated with the Indian National Congress, the rising political organisation of the Indians, and had the honour of writing speeches to be delivered by others ‘at its forthcoming sessions.

Rajnarayan wrote thought-provoking short treatises on various topics and took up the task of wrong an autobiography at the behest of his admirers, though left incomplete. The following are some of his writings of this period:

a) The Hindu Theist's Brotherly Hints to English Theists.

6) Brahmo Catechism.

c) Old Hindu's Hope.

d) The Religion of love.

e) The Essential religion.

f) “Tambulopohar” (Bengali).

He was never in favour of government's interference with the religious rites of the Hindus as previously hinted at. A typical instance may be cited here. In 1891 the government of India passed the Age of Consent Bill (for the marriage or cohabitation of the under aged girls). The great leader of Maharastra, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, started movement against the Bill. Though some other prominent persons supported it. Rajnarayan thought it to be an infringement upon the rights of the Hindus and wrote in the Indian Mirror, “We as reformers have no right to act intolerantly towards that belief. Nor has the Government which is pledged to a policy of religious neutrality -- .Individually I am not an advocate of early marriage below the age of fourteen but 1 make the above recommendation keeping in view the religious interest of the Hindu community at large.” Thanks to the Providence The Act remained an Act in the Books of the Government and was never accepted by the people.

Now with a daring spirit he put forward a -generous plan for a Maha Hindu Samity in which his intention was to form a National Hindu Union of all sects and castes on the basis of religion. The old Hindu's hopes were no doubt high hopes. But he saw with his clear far sight the deplorable position of the decaying Hindus in future and so cautioned the leaders with a well-devised guide-line in the book-let. Steps were taken to organise the divided Hindus by different Associations till the Hindu Mahasabha of Bir Vinayak Damodar Savarkar took shape and got the strong support from all over India . Institutions like the Ramakrishna Mission, the Bharat Sevasharm Sangha, the Arya Samaj and Viswa Hindu Parishad have been working for the uplift and unity of the Hindus as a religious entity or a social order, who have been fast falling head long towards extinction. Hence we find the efficacy of his plans and programmes against an impending disaster. Has time not proved that he was right? Are not the Hindus of Hindusthan the worst sufferers?

The Bengal Academy of Literature was esta bushed in Calcutta in July, 1893, and from its very beginning Rajnarayah was associated with it. He was its member, though remained at a far-off place. This Institution was renamed as “The Bangiya Sahitya Parisad” primarily at the insistence of this old lover of Bengali literature, who had long cherished the advancement of Bengali language and literature.

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, his grandson and a young man of 21 only, came back to India after finishing his studies in England and was glad to meet the old sage at Deoghar He had been brought up in thorough English. Education and culture at his father's direction; but the fond father had not had the opportunity to see his promising son who arrived after he had died a few months ago.

His residence at Deoghar became a centre of culture and a shelter of savants. His wise discourses and saintly sermons attracted many a distinguished person. Men of all walks, of life gathered round him, some for his advice and some for his spiritual nature. His pious company was ever coveted alike by the high and the low. Eminent men like Bijoykrishna Goswami, Bhudeb Mukhophadhyay and Sivanath Sastri went to meet him but of love and respect. There were also young geniuses like Rabirdra Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda and .Sri Aurobindo who preferred to pay their hearty homage to the sage at Deoghar, then a holy place to the Bengalis not only for the deity Siva, but also for this holy sage. But spirituality was not ‘the only subject of his discourse. Deliberations with prominent visitors ranged from religion to literature and culture and from poverty to political movement. He spared no pains to infuse the spirit of freedom among people around him. And the posterity has risen in tune with his blazing thoughts and amazing spirit that never died off in silence and darkness.

But the soul of the sage was set in the Supreme Being He was ever cheerful and blessed in communion with the. Almighty. The loss and gain, or the joys and sorrows of a worldly life did not touch his inner spirit. In his last days he had been suffering from paralysis and death came to him as a welcome guest on September, 18, 1899. It is he who uttered, “The man who loves the Brahman fears none. Death is never awful to him ; he is rather playful with death.... The death of a pious man is calm and serene like the fall of a dew-drop.” He passed away from the world leaving behind him a luminous halo for his loving posterity.

The following Sonnet of Sri Aurobindo records a glowing tribute to the departed soul:

Transit Non Peritt.

© midnapore.in

Tourist places in West Bengal, India



lease send your valuable suggestions & information to develop this site.



Leave this empty:

Follow us @


Best viewed with 1024x768 resolution and IE4.0 & Above || Copyright © midnapore.in, All rights reserved.
This site is owned, designed and maintained by Arindam Bhowmik .