Roy, Dasharathi

Roy, Dasharathi (1806-1857) poet and composer of panchali or narrative poems. Also known as Dashu Roy, Dasharathi Roy was born in a Brahmin family in the village of Bandhmura in Burdwan district, West Bengal. Dasharathi had his early schooling at the village school, subsequently studying Bangla and English with his maternal uncle.

For some time Dasharathi worked as a clerk at the local nilkuthi or indigo factory. He was, however, poetically inclined and, despite family objections, joined the kavial group of Aka Bai (Akshay Katani) and participated in a competition with the famous kaviyal Nidhiram Suri. Offended by the personal attacks, he left the group and in 1836 formed an akhda of his own to concentrate on writing songs and panchali.

Soon the intellectual circle of Navadwip recognised Dasharathi as a highly talented panchali poet. His panchali were remarkable not merely for their religious and devotional sentiments, but also for their lively and attractive musical appeals that made them enjoyable for everyone. His panchali became famous as 'Dashu Royer Panchali'. He wrote songs on religion, society, morality, and performed them himself. His songs were written in raga tunes in the style of tappa. The maharaja of Burdwan and radhakant deb of Shobhabazar, Kolkata, rewarded him for the recreational value of his songs. He wrote about 675 songs for 64 palas or plays. These were compiled, edited and published in 1957 by Calcutta University. Harimohan Mukhopadhyay published a collection of these 64 palas. Dasharathi Roy died on 2 Kartik 1264 BS (mid-November 1857). [Wakil Ahmed]