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De, Chandra Kumar


De, Chandra Kumar (1889-1946) writer and noted folklore collector, was born in the village of Raghbpur, netrokona district. He lost both his parents early and had to start working young. Apart from a brief stint at a Sanskrit tol, Chandra Kumar had no formal schooling.

Chandra Kumar initially started working at a grocery shop, at a monthly salary of one rupee. But he was an indifferent worker and soon lost his job. He was later appointed tahxildar by Taranath Talukder on a monthly salary of two rupees. In 1912 Chandra Kumar published some essays on folklore in the Saurabh, edited by Kedarnath Majumder, who also helped Chandra Kumar get a job at the zamindari of Gouripur. Chandra Kumar's work as gomasta, on a monthly salary of eight rupees, included visits to different villages for tax collection purposes. It was on these visits that he had occasion to attend kavigan and pala gan, which he found a worthy area to write on.

Meanwhile Dinesh Chandra Sen came across Chandra Kumar's essay, 'Mahila Kavi Chandravati' ('Chandravati, the Poetess') in the Falgun 1320 BS (1913 AD) issue of the Saurabh. Dinesh Chandra was impressed by the essay and appointed Chandra Kumar, who was again out of a job, as a folklore collector of calcutta university at a monthly salary of 70 rupees. This appointment freed Chandra Kumar to travel throughout Bengal collecting folklore and folk songs.

Chandra Kumar collected several ballads, many of which were subsequently edited by Dinesh Chandra Sen, which he included in his maimansingha gitika (1923) and purbabanga-gitika (1926). The ballads collected by Chandra Kumar in Maimansingha-Gitika are Mahuya, Maluya, Chandravati, Dasyu Kenaram, Kamala, Rupavati, Kabka O Lila, Dewana Madina, and Dhopar Pat. The ballads collected by him in Purbabanga-Gitika are Bheluya Sundari, Maisal Bandhu, Kamalarani, Dewan Isha Khan, Firoze Khan Dewan, Ayna Bibi, Shyamaray, Shiladevi, Andha Bandhu, Bandular Baramasi, Ratan Thakur, Pir Batasi, Jibalani, Sonaramer Janma, and Bharaiya Raja. Besides these, Chandra Kumar also collected some other ballads: Adhuya Sundari, Suratjamal, Kajalrekha, Asma, Satyapirer Panchal, Chandravatir Ramayana, Lilar Baramasi, and Gopini Kirtan. Most of these ballads were collected from mymensingh and sylhet. Though Dinesh Chandra Sen became famous for publishing these poems, the original credit for collecting these songs and transcribing them must go to Chandra Kumar. Chandra Kumar died in Mymensingh in 1946. [Ali Nawaz]