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Banerjee, Rangalal


Banerjee, Rangalal (1827-1887) poet and journalist, was born at Bakulia in Hughli, west bengal. He lost his father when just a child. After studying at a local pathshala and missionary school, he was admitted to hughli mohsin college. He was fluent in Bangla, English, and Sanskrit as well as Oriya. While still a student, his poems were published in the sangbad prabhakar of ishwar chandra gupta.

Rangalal edited the monthly Rasa Sagar (1852; later renamed Sangbad Sagar) and the weekly Bartavaha (1856). He was appointed Assistant Editor of the newly published Education Gazette (1855) in which both his prose writings as well as poems were published. For some time in 1860 he taught Bangla Literature at presidency college, Kolkata. He joined government service and served variously as Income Tax Assessor, Deputy Collector and Deputy Magistrate. During his posting to Cuttack, Orissa, he published Utkal Darpan, a newspaper in Oriya, in which he wrote a number of academic papers on the archaeology of Orissa and on the Oriya language.

Rangalal's first, and perhaps most important, literary achievement is Padmini Upakhyan (1858), a historical romance based on Todd's Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan. His lines from Padmini Upakhyan, 'svadhinatahinatay ke banchite chay he, ke banchite chay/ dasatvashrnkhal balo ke poribe pay he, ke poribe pay' (Who wants to live without freedomFoodgrain/ Who will wear the chains of slavery round his feet?), inspired revolutionaries in their struggle for freedom. His other poetical works include Karmadevi (1862), Shurasundari (1868) and Kanchi Kaveri (1879). In 1872 he rendered kalidasa's Rtusanghara and Kumarasambhava into verse. His Nitikusumanjali (1872) is another poetical translation of Sanskrit poems. He also translated Homer's epic under the title of Bhek-Musiker Yuddha. His Kalikata Kalpalata is considered to be the first historical work about Kolkata. He edited and published mukundaram's Kavikankan Chandi (1882). Rangalal was one of the pioneers who cultivated Bangla literature on the ideals of English literature. He died on 13 May 1887. [Sushanta Sarker]