Ghosh, Shishir Kumar

Ghosh, Shishir Kumar (1840-1911) Litterateur, journalist, social-worker, was born in Polua-Magura village of jessore district in 1840. His father Harinarayan Ghosh was a lawyer of Jessore. His mother's name was Amritamoyee.

Shishir Kumar completed his primary education in his own village. Later, he was admitted to a school in Jessore town, his father's place of work. After studying in Jessore for some time, he went to Kolkata for higher education. There, he took admission in Kalutola Branch School (presently, Hare School). He passed the entrance examination from that school in 1857 and received the 'Hindu School Scholarship' for one year. During the same year, calcutta university was established, which accorded recognition to the entrance examination. Later, he studied at the presidency college for some time in the field of engineering.

After completing his education, he devoted himself to social welfare works. The indigo cultivators were very influential at that time in Jessore and Nadia. As the then Jessore correspondent of the periodical 'Hindu Patriot', he started to send stories on the repressions meted out by the indigo cultivators during 1859-60; he used the signature MLL for the purpose. He bought a wooden press from Kolkata towards the end of 1862, with assistance from the Christian evangelist Basanta Kumar. He published a fortnightly periodical named Amrita Probaha from this press, which dwelt on literature, art, science and agriculture. Apart from being the compositor, pressman and editor, he himself used to write most of the pieces for the periodical. The first issue of the periodical was published in December 1862. It was published as Amrita Bazar Patrika in 1868. Its mantra or motto was: 'We are different from the English, consequently our ideals and methods are also different'. Because of some administrative and political complexities created by the English colonialists, this periodical started to come out as an English language weekly from 21 March 1878. But in order to make up for the absence of Bengali part of the periodical, another Bengali weekly styled Ananda Bazar Patrika was brought out from April of the same year. In order to meet the need for an English daily newspaper, the Amrita Bazar Patrika was converted into a daily on 19 February 1891. This periodical of Shishir Kumar was very helpful in generating and inspiring patriotism in the country.

Shishir Kumar established an English High School, a Night school, a Girls' school, a free clinic, a post-office, in his village. In his professional life, he taught in schools, initially at Konnagar of Jessore and later in satkhira. He later discharged the responsibilities of deputy inspector and income tax assessor. The 'Indian League' was established on 25 September 1875 through his earnest initiatives, with the goal of meeting the need for a political institution at that juncture. He extended active cooperation to the setting up of 'Jatiya Rangalay' (Bangia Natyashala). Considering the prevailing state of society, he advocated marriage of widows in his periodical. Through his book Lord Gouranga, awareness about the subject of Gouranaga could be spread in the West. As a consequence, many educated men and women in America converted to Vaishnavism after becoming highly impressed on reading Gourangaleela. Through his initiative, a Vaishnava-Math was set up in Chicago of America. The Gouranga-Society of Kolkata was also the fruit of his care and labour.

Side by side with his diverse involvements, he was also engaged in literary pursuits. Notable among his books: poetry - Srikalachand Geeta (1896), Sangeet Shastra (1869); satire – Naisho Rupea (1873), Bazarer Larhai (1874); drama – Xri Nimai-Sanyas (1909), Sri Amio-Nimai-Charit (vol. 1-1892, vol. 2-1893, vol. 3-1894, vol. 4-1896, vol. 5-1901, vol. 6-1911), Lord Gouranga (vol. 1-1897, vol. 2-1898). The periodicals managed and edited by him were: Amrita Bazar Patrika, Fortnightly Sri Sri Vishvupriya, Monthly Sri Sri Goura Vishnu, Hindu Spiritual Magazine. He passed away on 10 January 1911. [Shamima Akhter]