Madanmohan Tarkalankar

Madanmohan Tarkalankar (1817-1858) poet and social reformer, was born at Bilvagram village in Nadia district, west bengal. Although his surname was Chattopadhyay, he is better known by his title of Tarkalankar. He received his early schooling at his village school. In 1829, he was admitted to sanskrit college, Kolkata where ishwar chandra vidyasagar was his classmate and friend. Both of them studied literature, grammar, rhetoric, astrology and smriti (law-treatises) with jaygopal tarkalankar and Premchand Tarkavagish. He also obtained a certificate of Judge-Pundit (1841) from the Hindu Law Committee.

Tarkalankar taught at the Hindu College Pathshala (1842), College of Fort William (1843-45), Krishnanagar College (1846) and Sanskrit College (1846-50). He worked as a deputy magistrate (1855) in the final years of his career.

With the help of Vidyasagar, Tarkalankar set up a printing press called Sanskrit Jantra (1847), which for the first time printed annadamangal by bharatchandra in book form. He lent his support to Vidyasagar's movements for the re-marriage of widows and female education. In addition, he sent his two daughters, Bhubanmala and Kundamala, to the Hindu Female School (1849) established by Drinkwater Bethune and himself taught there without remuneration. Madanmohan also set up women's schools, English schools, orphanages, and charitable dispensaries in Murshidabad and Kandi. He wrote an article supporting women's education in the second issue of the Sarbashubhakari (1850).

Tarkalankar wrote poems anthologised in Rasatarabgini (1834) and Basabadatta (1836) as well as a three-volume primer series named Shishu Shiksa (1849 and 1853). He wrote the famous children's poem Pakhi sab kare rab, rati pohaila (Birds twitter and the night is over).

Madanmohan edited several important Sanskrit books, among them Sangbadtattvakaumudi, Chintamanididhiti, Vedantaparibhasa, Kadambari, Kumarsambhab and Meghdut. He was awarded the tiles Kavyaratnakar for his poetical talent and Tarkalankar for his erudition by the Sanskrit College. Tarkalankar died of cholera on 9 March 1858. [Prafulla Kumar Bhabuk]