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Gangopadhyay, Jyotirmayee


Gangopadhyay, Jyotirmayee (1889-1945) Brahmo activist, educationist, was born in Kolkata on 25 January 1889. Her father, Dwarakanath Gangopadhyay, was a reputed nationalist, journalist, social reformer and leader of the Brahmo Samaj and her mother, Kadambini Devi, was the first female medical graduate of Calcutta University. Jyotirmayee Gangopadhyay remained unmarried all her life.

Jyotirmayee studied at the Brahmo Girls' School and bethune college, Kolkata. After completing her MA in Philosophy from Calcutta University in 1908 she taught at the Bethune Collegiate School and then joined Cuttack Ravenshaw College and Women's College, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where she became principal. Successively, she became principal of Jullundur Kanya Mahavidyalay (1920), Brahmo Girls' School (1925), Vidyasagar Bani Bhavan (1926) and Buddhist College, Ceylon (1929). She devoted herself to education, retaining her affiliation with educational institutions almost to the end of her life.

Jyotirmayee joined the non-cooperation movement (1920-21). She organised the first Women's Volunteer Corps within the Congress organisation and subsequently became a member of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. Later, she joined the Satyagraha movement and became vice-president of the Women's Satyagraha Committee. She was sentenced to imprisonment for leading a procession of women satyagrahis on 25 June 1930 and again in 1932 on charges of involvement in the satyagraha movement. In 1933 she was elected a councillor of the calcutta corporation. She was arrested in 1942 for participating in the Quit India Movement. On 22 November 1945 she was killed while leading a procession of students protesting the death of Rameswar Bandyopadhyay.

Jyotirmayee organised a Students' Association for Social Service in 1926. She believed in imparting education through the mother tongue. While encouraging cottage industries through women's organisations, Jyotirmayee envisaged a future India industrialised along modern lines. She played an active role in directing the activities of the Aryasthan Insurance Company as a founder-member. Her patriotism led her to work assiduously for India's political liberation. She made an important contribution in fostering national consciousness among Bengali women through her writings, speeches and extensive and untiring participation in nationalist movements. The expressive diversity of her thoughts on education, political ideals and social problems is reflected through her writings in periodicals such as the Modern Review, the prabasi, etc. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]