Pal, Bipin Chandra

Pal, Bipin Chandra (1858-1932) a patriot, nationalist politician, renowned orator, journalist and writer. Bipin Chandra Pal was born on 7 November 1858 in Sylhet in a wealthy Hindu Kayastha family. His father Ramchandra Pal, a village zamindar and a prominent member of the Sylhet Bar was influenced by Hindu rituals and Islamic thought though he was a follower of Vaishnavism.

The only son of his parents, Bipin Chandra Pal took his early education from a Maulvi in Sylhet town. He had his formal education at Sylhet Government High School from where he passed the Entrance Examination. He then got himself admitted in the Presidency College, but gave up his studies before graduating. His literary competence was, however, remarkable and he studied the Bhagavadgita and the Upanishads extensively.

Pal started his career in early 1879 as a Headmaster of a High School and served in this capacity in different schools in and outside Sylhet. For sometime (1890-91) he worked as the librarian and secretary of the Calcutta Public Library. While in Calcutta during his student life, he came in close contact with some prominent personalities like keshab chandra sen, shibnath shastri and Bijoy Krishna Goswami. Under the influence of Keshab Chandra Sen he was attracted to the Brahma movement. Bijoy Krishna Goswami also tremendously influenced his spiritual ideas. His association with Sivanath Sastri made him conscious of the spirit of social revolt and patriotism.

surendranath banerjea inspired Bipin Pal to take part in active politics. Soon, however, he became a convert to the extremist ideas of BG Tilak, Lajpat Rai and aurobind ghosh, though he could not accept Tilak's concept of Hindu nationalism. He was an exponent of 'composite patriotism' which, he thought, was suitable for a country like India.

Bipin Chandra Pal was connected with the progressive force of the Congress since 1885 and attended the second and the third annual sessions of the Congress held in Calcutta and Madras in 1886 and 1887 respectively. He compelled the Congress to take up the cause of the Assam Tea-garden labourers who were cruelly treated by the planters.

Bipin Pal went to study comparative theology in England in 1898 but after a year came back to India and started preaching the ideal of Swaraj (complete independence) through his weekly journal the New India. Imbued with great patriotic zeal, he devoted himself to the freedom movement of India. He presided over the Bombay session of the indian national congress in 1904. Following the partition of bengal, 1905, Bipin Pal started a daily paper the Bande Mataram and became its chief editor. He firmly stood against the partition of Bengal on the ground that it was a calculated move of the government to split the Bengalis and thus to break their growing political influence. With a view to enlisting the mass support behind the anti-partition campaign, Bipin Pal, along with other anti-partitionists, organised propaganda tour in various parts of Bengal, Assam, UP and Madras.

Pal was one of the architects of the swadeshi movement, which swept over India during the days following the partition of Bengal. He suffered imprisonment for six months in 1907 for his refusal to give evidence against Aurovinda Ghosh in the so-called Bande Mataram Sedition Case. On his release, Pal went to England in 1908 'to lead the life of an enforced exile'; and stayed there for three years. After the First World War, he visited England for the third time in 1919 as a member of the Home Rule League deputation led by Tilak. He presided over the Bengal Provincial Conference held at Barisal in 1921. He did not involve in the non-cooperation movement because it was merged with the Khilafat cause and criticised the bengal pact (1923) of chitta ranjan das. He could not share the views of Maulana Mohammad Ali on the nature of the communal problem in India (1920-25). From 1925 onward, retired from active politics.

Bipin Chandra Pal encouraged journalism and started the Bangla weekly Paridarshak in Sylhet (1886). He worked as Assistant Editor of the Bengali Public Opinion (1882) and served the Lahore Tribune for a short time (1887). For sometime he was the editor of The Democrat and The Independent. He published a biography (in Bangla) of Queen Victoria in 1887. Among his other books Indian Nationalism, Nationality and Empire, Swaraj and the Present Situation, The Basis of Social Reform, The Soul of India, The New Spirit and Studies in Hinduism are prominent.

A man of undaunted spirit, Bipin Chandra Pal made no compromise in the sphere of politics when it was a question of conviction and conscience. He revolted against the evils and abuses of the Hindu society at a very early stage of his life. He championed the cause of Indian education with special emphasis on female education and advocated the equality of male and female. Being a member of the 'Brahma Samaj', he married Nrityakali Devi, a Brahmin widow. After her death, he was married to another Brahmin widow, Birajmohini Devi, a distant relation of Surendranath Banerjea.

A renowned orator, Bipin Chandra Pal inspired his audience during the Indian nationalist movements. He occupies a unique place in the history of the freedom movement of India. He died in Calcutta in 1932. [Chitta Ranjan Misra]