Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay

Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay (1787-1848) writer, journalist and a leading member of conservative Hindu community of Calcutta. He was born in Narayanpur village near Kolkata. Largely self-educated, he learnt several languages, including English, which helped him to work with quite a few prominent Englishmen, including Bishop Heber, Bishop Middleton and Chief Justice Puller.

He emerged as a prominent person in Kolkata when he started working as a journalist for the weekly Sambad Kaumudi, launched in December 1821 by rammohun roy. While Rammohan led a movement against Satidaha or the Hindu custom of burning widows along with the body of the deceased husband, Bhabanicharan opposed him. As a result they decided not to work together anymore. In this circumstance Bhabanicharan bought a press and in March 1822 start to publish his own weekly magazine named Samachar Chandrika, which became the mouthpiece of orthodox Hindus. In fact he started a campaign against both Sumachar Durpun run by the Xerampore Missionaries and the reformist Sambad Kaumudi.

Although Bhavniacharan made his fortune from western contacts, he was strongly opposed to the westernised students of Hindu College, who later came to be known as Young Bengal, and criticised their unorthodox lifestyle in many articles. He was equally critical about the half-educated nouveau riches who according to him were leading a decadent life of unrestrained luxury and sensuousness.

Bhabanicharan's first book, Kalikata Kamalalay (Kolkata, the Abode of the Goddess of Fortune), published in 1823, was satirical introduction to Kolkata and the lifestyle thereof. In Nabababubilas (Amusements of the Modern Babu, 1825) and Nababibibilas (Amusements of the Modern Bibis, 1831), he satirised the nouveau riches. In satirical bite, his Nabababubilas was indeed the precursor of the first Bengali novel, Alaler Gharer Dulal (1858), by preary chand mitra. Although he did not write a novel, but he wrote creative prose in Bangali.

His other works include Dutibilas (1825); Shri Sri Gayatirtha (1831) and Ashcharya Upakhyan (1835). His prose style attracts the reader for its sharp sense of sarcasm and humour.

Apart from being a writer and journalist, he was well known as a leader of conservative Hindus of Kolkata. When radhakanta deb founded the dharma sabha in 1830, in order to organise a movement against government ban on sati, Bhabanicharan was made its secretary, a post he held until his death on 20 February, 1848. [Ghulam Murshid]