Sengupta, Naresh Chandra

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Sengupta, Naresh Chandra (1882-1964) reputed lawyer and progressive writer, was born on 3 May 1882 at his paternal uncle's home in bogra. His parental home was in the village of Banshi in tangail. His father, Maheshchandra Sengupta, was a deputy magistrate. Naresh Chandra did his MA in philosophy from Calcutta University in 1903 and carried on research on 'Neo-German and Indian Philosophy' up to 1905 at Presidency College as a government scholar.

After obtaining a degree in law, Naresh Chandra started practising law at Calcutta High Court and at the same time started teaching at the Law College of Calcutta University. He obtained a DL degree in 1914 for his thesis on society and social practices of ancient India. He was appointed principal of Dhaka Law College in 1917 and served as professor in the Law Department of Dhaka University from 1921 to 1924. He also served as dean of the Faculty of Law. Returning to Kolkta, he resumed his law practice. In 1950 he was made Tagore Law Professor at Calcutta University, and in 1956 was appointed a member of the Indian Law Commission. Naresh Chandra's fame as a lawyer was widespread. In 1951 he was invited by UNESCO as a specialist in law to attend one of its sessions in the USA. His book, Evolution of Law, is a reputed publication.

Apart from his legal practice and writing on law, Naresh Chandra made substantial contributions to bangla literature through his excellent essays, short stories, plays and novels. He was a pioneer in writing naturalistic Bangla novels, analysing the psyche of criminals and the role of sex in the commission of crime. He was more interested in a woman's personality than in her goodness and chastity. He was at the centre of a controversy about decency and morality in literature and was accused of indecency for his short story, 'Thandidi'. His writings, unravelling the mysterious ways of criminality, reflect the long years of his legal practice. He wrote numerous books, among them: stories Ruper Abhishap and Thandidi; novels Agni Sanskar (1919), Shubha (1920), Paper Chhap (1922) and Abhayer Biye; plays Ananda Mandir (1923), Thaker Mela (1925), Rsir Meye (1926). He raised different social issues in Subha, Paper Chap and Abhayer Biye. These and several other novels were later produced as movie. In 1910 Naresh Chandra translated Bankimchandra';s famous novel Anandamath into English as Abbey of Bliss.

In 1936 an all-Indian association of progressive writers was formed with him as chairman to condole the death of Russian writer Maxim Gorky. In later years this association played an important role in introducing a new outlook and progressive thinking in Bangla Literature.

Naresh Chandra was also associated with politics for some time. He became known as an active Congress worker during the partition of bengal launched in 1905 to annul the partition of Bengal. He was also president of the Workers and Peasants Party (1925-26) and the Labour Party of India (1934). [Samaresh Devnath]