Bhattacharya, Ashutosh

Bhattacharya, Ashutosh (1909-1984) writer, folklorist. Born at his maternal uncle's home in Jhalua village of kishoreganj district on 17 January 1909, son of Murari Mohan Bhattacharya, a lawyer.

A meritorious student, Ashutosh passed the Matriculation in 1926 from Kishoreganj English High School and IA in 1928 from Dhaka Intermediate College. In 1931 he passed BA (Hons) in Sanskrit and Bangla and in 1932 MA in Bangla from Dhaka University. He also obtained the PhD degree in 1959 from the same university.

Ashutosh started teaching at Asansol Railway School. He then joined the Dhaka University in 1937 as a lecturer of Bangla and taught for a few years. In 1955 he joined the university of calcutta as a lecturer and gradually became Rabindra Professor (1967) and Head of the Department (1971). He retired in 1977. In the mean time he also worked in the Anthropological Survey of India for seven years as Research Associate of the famous anthropologist, Verrier Elwin. He also participated at the conferences of Lokasangskrti Parisad (Folk Cultural Council), Nikhil Banga Sahitya Sammelan, etc and delivered speeches on folk literature in many countries including the USA, USSR and UK. As a folklorist he was responsible for reviving the Chhau dance of Purulia and making it known internationally. He also established the Research Institute of Folk Culture (1960) and edited a magazine on folk culture, Lokashruti (1968).

Ashutosh is mainly known for his work on the history of medieval mangalkavya and modern Bangla plays. His writings in this area include Bangla Mangalkavyer Itihas (1939), Bangla Natya Sahityer Itihas (1st and 2nd Part; 1955 and 1961) and Bangla Samajik Nataker Vivartan (1964).

Many research works of Ashutosh have also been published, among them Banglar Lokasahitya (6 vols, 1954-1972), Banglar Lokashruti (1960), Bangiya Lokasangit Ratnakar (4 vols, 1966-67), Banglar Lokanrtya (2 vols, 1976, 1982), Banglar Lokasangskrti (1979), Chhau Dance of Purulia (1972), The Sun and the Serpent Lore of Bengal (1977), Folklore of Bengal (1978), etc. His other writings include Banglar Katha Sahityer Itihas (1964), Mahakavi Shri Madhusudan (1964), Rabindra-Natyadhara (1966), Rabindranath o Lokasahitya (1973), Dwijendra Laler Prahasan (1974), Baish Kavir Manasamangal Ba Baisha (1954), Shivayan (1956), Gopichandrer Gan (1959), Padma Purana (1970), Krttivasi Ramayana (1976), Kashidasi Mahabharata (1976), Nati Binodini Rachana Samagra (1987), etc. He wrote some other book of poems, short stories, novels and travelogues. Among noteworthy travelogues are Soviet Banga Sangskrti (1965), Purulia Theke Paris (1975), Sundari Indonesia (1976), Iran Bhraman (1977), Ajana Australia (1978), Japaner Anginay (1981), Andhakarer Andamane (1983).

In recognition of his contributions Ashutosh received a number of awards: the Sarojini Basu Gold Medal (1950) of Calcutta University, the Shishir Memorial Gold Medal (1961), and the BCL Gold Medal (1983) of the asiatic society of Calcutta. In 1967 he was made a fellow of the Sangit Natya Akademi, Delhi. He died in Calcutta on 19 March 1984. [Manas Majumder]