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Dasgupta, Surendranath


Dasgupta, Surendranath (1887-1952) Sanskrit scholar and philosopher, was born in 1887 in kushtia. His parental home was in the village of Goila in barisal district. He graduated with honours in Sanskrit from Ripon College, Kolkata, and did his MA (1908) from Sanskrit College. He also did his MA in Western Philosophy in 1910 and for some time taught at rajshahi college. Later he became the head professor of Sanskrit and Bangla at chittagong college. After doing his PhD from Calcutta University he went to England and obtained a second PhD (1922) degree from Cambridge University. For some time he taught bangla literature at Cambridge University. He returned home in 1924 and joined presidency college as professor of Philosophy. He became principal of Sanskrit College in 1931; in 1942 he became professor of Ethics at Calcutta University.

In 1938, Surendranath went to Italy and received a DLitt from the University of Rome. He retired in 1945 and went abroad again. In 1950 he moved to Lucknow. He had at one time accepted financial support from Maharaja Manindrachandra Nandi. In return he made a gift of his huge library to the Hindu University at Benares in the name of the maharaja.

Surendranath was associated with many international organisations. In 1921 he represented Cambridge University at the Inter-Allied Congress of Philosophy in Paris. He represented calcutta university and the Bengal government at the International Philosophical Congress in Naples in 1924 and at Harvard in 1926. In 1925 he was invited to Russia, and a year later he delivered the Harris Lecture in Chicago. In 1932 he was made the president of the Indian Philosophical Congress. He represented India at the International Congress of Religions held in London in 1936 and in Paris in 1939.

Surendranath developed a philosophical theory known as 'Theory of Dependent Emergence'. According to this theory, matter, conscience, life and mind are interdependent although apparently contradictory in nature. There is an inherent link between them, the realisation of which leads to the realisation of truth. Through devotion man can elevate himself to a level from where he can control his natural human instincts and guide them inward.

Surendranath's greatest work was A History of Indian Philosophy (5 vols). Some of his other well-known books are General Introduction to Tantra Philosophy, A Study of Patanjali (1920), Yoga Philosophy in Relation to Other Systems of Indian Thought (1930), A History of Sanskrit Literature (1947), Rabindranath: The Poet and Philosopher (1948), Kavyavichar, Saundaryatattva, Rabidipika etc. He also wrote five books of poems and a novel as well as essays on paintings, the art of rhetoric etc. He died on 18 December 1952. [Satyanarayan Chakraborty]