Basu, Rajshekhar

Rajshekhar Basu

Basu, Rajshekhar (1880-1960) writer, scientist and lexicographer, was born on 16 March 1880 at his maternal uncle's home in the village of Bamunpara in Burdwan district, west bengal. His ancestral home was in the village of Ula in nadia district. His father, Pundit Chandrashekhar Basu, was a philosopher as well as the manager of the estate of Dwarbhanga Raj.

Rajshekhar passed the Entrance examination (1895) from Dwarbhanga Raj School, FA (1897) from Patna College, BA Honours in Chemistry and Physics (1899) and MA in Chemistry (1900) from Presidency College. After getting the BL degree in 1902, he briefly practised law. In 1903, he joined the Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works Company, the first chemical industry in Bengal established by Acharya prafulla chandra ray. Rajshekhar was subsequently promoted to the post of Director. During his work here, he showed the connections between chemistry and physiology. Though he retired in 1932, he continued to be associated with the company till the end of his life.

Besides doing his job and engaging in scientific research, Rajshekhar also compiled a Bangla dictionary and formulated Bangla equivalents for scientific and technical terms. He was actively involved with the National Council of Education formed in 1906. He was selected President of the Bangla Spelling Reform Society formed by the university of calcutta in 1935 and of the Terminology Council formed by the government in 1948.

Rashekhar was famous for his humorous writings. He used the pseudonym ‘Parshuram’, for his writings. Rajshekhar’s writing was artistic and intense. He wrote a total of 21 books, many of them against social and religious superstitions. Notable among his writings are the satires, Shri Shri Siddheshvari Limited (1922), Gaddalika (1924), Kajjali (1927), Hanumaner Svapna (1937), and Galpakalpa (1950), the short stories included in Krsnakali (1953) and Anandibai (1957), and the essays anthologized in Laghuguru (1939), Bharater Khanij (1943), Kutirshilpa (1943), and Bichinta (1955). He also had a number of translations including Meghdut (1943), Valmiki Ramayana (1946), Mahabharata (1949), Hitopadesher Galpa (1950). The Bangla dictionary completed by Rajshekhar, Chalantika (1937), is still widely used.

In recognition of his scientific and literary contributions Rajshekhar was awarded the Jagattarini Medal (1940), Rabindra Prize (1955), Sarojini Prize (1955), Sahitya Akademi Prize (1958) and the 'Padmabhusan' (1956). Calcutta University honoured him with the DLitt degree in 1957 and Jadavpur University in 1958. Rajshekhar Basu died in Calcutta on 27 April 1960. [Ayub Hossain]