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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 17, New Delhi, April 10, 2021

Orakandi’s pilgrim Prime Minister of India: Look London see Paris? | AK Biswas

Saturday 10 April 2021, by A K Biswas

Part-1 Prime Minister’s pilgrimage to a shrine of untouchables

Prime Minister Narendra Damodar Modi paid on March 27, 2021 his cherished visit to Orakandi, the seat of spiritual as also social reform movement of Harichand Thakur (1812-1877) and his son Guruchand (1846-1937) in district Gopalganj, Bangladesh. Since over a century, this village located deep in a marshy country was the nerve centre of their activities, focusing principally on access to education, social reform and progress of his populous community, who were Chandals. They aggregated at 16,20,546 in 1872. [1] The visiting Indian dignity to the shrine is considered as the architect of Hindu Rashtra. His visit has passed off with predictable media hoopla.

Educational destitute, the Chandals were officially denominated as Namasudra in 1911 through a resolution of Government of Bengal. [2] Sustained movement launched for education under the inspirational leadership of Harichand Thakur was intensified by his son Guruchand. The foresighted son obtained Australian Baptist Christian Missionary involvement and guidance very effectively in his venture for establishing a High English School in village Orakandi. The proposed high school to spread light amongst the untouchables and others equally backward came to be viewed as an ominous development for the high caste Hindus, particularly the Kayasthas of Faridpur. The landlords and moneylenders felt threatened that their hegemony over the illiterate peasants and working classes was exposed to a genuine challenge. The prospect of literacy in the Namasudras posed deception, tricking and falsification in everyday matter of rent and debt-payment receipts to a genuine threat. So “stiff opposition from high caste Kayasthas” was offered against foundation of the high school at Orakandi as they were “afraid that their sharecropper and servants would no longer work for them if they became educated.” [3]

William Hunter traced out long ago behavioural hostility of some of these castes towards the Chandal in the following words.

“The upper classes are opposed to the lower orders being taught at all. The Brahmans and Kayasthas deem education to be strictly their inheritance. The Chandals are willing to accept education, if the government provides them it for them.... Out of a more than 156,000 of this curious race in Faridpur, less than 200 boys are to be found at school.” [4]

Barrage of bitter opposition from upper caste, particularly Kayasthas was offered against Guruchand Thakur’s move, though totally magnanimous. If and when educated, the landlords could not cheat and trick the Chandals in rent receipts and moneylender in repayment of their loan! Access of the underdogs to light, they apprehended very appropriately, would forfeit an unhindered opportunity of deception they enjoyed for generations! This was the inherent danger to the hegemony they exercised over the unfortunate caste! An official account of population by caste of Faridpur, based on census report of 1911, disclosed thus that “the most important caste is the Namasudra whose members number 3,57,357 or 46 per cent of all Hindus in the district.” Faridpur contained, continued the same account, more Namasudras than any other district in in Bengal. The Kayasth who tormented the numerically superior Namasudras, according to the same report, aggregated at 81,051 whereas the Brahmins, 50,720. [5] Education failed to vest the upper castes, proud of education, culture, and uprightness towards the deprived people with dignity, humane feeling and uprightness or sense of dignity and respect.

Part-2 Rabindranath Tagore in Namasudra Conference
 Comilla in 1926 censored by media dominated by bhadralok

The memories of first ever occasion to cherish offered itself 95 years ago to the same untouchable Bengalee community when Rabindranath Tagore attended an Annual Conference at Comilla also in colonial East Bengal. The conference was held thirteen years after the Alfred Nobel Foundation had conferred on the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. He was the first Asian Nobel Laureate. Untouchables and largely illiterate, the Namasudras, had invited the poet to attend their aforesaid Conference held at Comilla in April, 1926. Tagore had accepted the invitation with humility and attended the conference. But, lamentably, we know nothing about the proceedings of the Namasudra Conference. We do not know why Tagore, a scion of the wealthiest and the most aristocratic family of Calcutta attended a caste conference of the untouchables. This must have shocked and shattered the vanity of the bhadralok en bloc!

The contemporary media seems to have shunned the organizers by blocking information as to who they were and how did they reach out to the poet for extending an invitation, why did the poet accept at all the invitation of a people who occupied the lowest and despicable bottom of Bengal’s social hierarchy. Most importantly, the posterity did not know what did Rabindranath tell---while conveying his message--- to the Namasudras, men and women in considerable strength, who attended the conference. What did the organizers, whose stature was like social lepers, tell their most distinguished and honourable guest? I fail to imagine how did a people like Namasudras, whose literacy about a century ago was bare 8.5% (census 1921)  [6] summon first aspiration and next courage to invite the most distinguished Bengali in their midst. The English literates of the community of the organisers between the age of 5 and above were 150 per 10,000 persons---an infinitesimal accomplishment of 1.5% [7] long after 9 decades of enactment of English Education Act 1835 for enforcing the Minutes of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay. This perhaps exhibited an incredible courage or spirit for self-development, defying every insurmountable hurdle to achieve the goal they cherished. By the way. we may add alongside them that 5,130 Baidya; 2,774 Brahman and 2,569 Kayastha of 10,000 persons of each of the exclusive bhadralok club had attained the level of English literacy in 1921. [8] The authorities, it is pointed out, recorded that “the extent of literacy among males of the bhadralok caste seems to have reached its limit.” In female literacy, their stride was noted as very remarkable. [9] Literacy in English among the Baidya in 1921 was 51.3%; Brahmin, 28% and Kayastha, 26%.

Rabindranath Tagore had reached Comilla on 26th via Dhaka University, its great city, and Mymensingh where he had attended various functions or felicitations and meetings and delivered speeches. We know much, if not all, about his activities and statements he made in all these public gatherings. But, ironically, there is total blackout about the proceedings of Comilla Namasudra Conference! Comilla was exclusively targeted and kept beyond media coverage. The posterity knows nothing with respect to the poet’s role in the untouchable conference. Namasudras, male and female from various of districts across Bengal had attended the meeting graced by the Nobel Prize winner. This only underlines the extent of abomination the Bengali bhadralok entertained against Rabindranath Tagore long 13 years after the universal accolade he received through conferment of Nobel Prize!

Does it look like a well-oiled conspiracy to ensure media blackout about Rabindranath Tagore participating Namasudra Conference? The poet’s journey for East Bengal had begun on February 7, 1926. Dhaka was his first port of call. Scholars, researchers, and people close to him recorded personal accounts to highlight each, save and except Comilla, about the poet in action. The total negligence towards his activities was a deliberate and calculated commission and omission out of social malice and disrespect. [10]

That Rabindranath visited Comilla and attended Namasudra Conference was documented by Amal Home, a known admirer and scholar of Tagore in a commemorative volume published in September 1941 by Calcutta Corporation within weeks of his death. He edited this precious volume. In no uncertain language, Home documented that Rabindranath Tagore “attends the Namasudra (Depressed Classes) conference.” In the colloquial language then, the Namasudras were termed as Depressed Classes.  [11]

May we venture to add that the educated class had smeared darkest tar on themselves by shutting Tagore out of frame of media focus to deny the Namasudras limelight connected with the event. The studied neglect as this by them towards the poet is more a reflection eloquent on their own niggardliness than anybody else. The countrymen in general and intelligentsia particularly have lost forever opportunity for study and understanding the poet’s mind, thoughts, ideas and above all philosophy for emancipation of the deprived and discriminated countrymen.

The poet did not attend conference of any other Bengali castes! We do not know if it a protest or an expression of his sentiment against the bhadralok?

The hand of the educated community at this mischief of media black-out is all too evident. A question may arise did Bengalis publish and edit newspapers and periodicals in the relevant time? My limited archival research has yielded the following information relevant to the context.

In 1910, the total number of newspapers and periodicals published in Bengal was 354, of which 128 were newspapers and 226 periodicals. Of these publications, about 48% were in Bengali and 31% in English. The Hitavadi was the most widely read paper, either English or Vernacular, and had a circulation of 30,000 copies; next came the Basumati with 17,000, the Statesman with 15,500, the Bangabasi with 15,000, the Indian Daily News, the Englishman, the Empire and the Sanjivani with 10,000. The Amrita Bazar Patrika and other extremist papers all showed a decrease in circulation, while the Bengali increased in popularity. [12] These apart Ananda Bazar Patrika and Jugantar Patrika, both Bengali dailies were published since prior to 1910. By next 15 years or so, the number of newspapers and periodicals had definitely increased manifolds. The number of publication of newspapers and periodicals, between 1901-1910, had increased by 12.38%.

No effort for research on this important aspect of Tagore’s life seems to have been directed to unearth an area of enormous sociocultural significance. Till his last day, there is no denying the truth, Rabindranath Tagore, as a Peerali Brahman, suffered unbridled prejudice of the caste barons in Bengal.

Part-3 Attack against blinding darkness through 3,952 schools founded across colonial East Bengal

 The first High English School for spreading light in the populous community, already noted, was established at Orakandi in 1908. About a decade later a second High School---Agailjhara Bhegai Halder Public Academy---was founded in neighbouring Barisal district in 1919. A century ago, Sub-Divisional Officer, Gopalganj (now a full-fledged District of Bangladesh) underlined the importance Orakandi occupied in the Namasudras worldview. On October 15, 1923 the SDO wrote to the District Magistrate:

Orakandi forms of the centre of the Namasudra world and it is generally believed that all movements originate from Orakandi, the home of Guru Charan Thakur and Babu Bhishmadeb Das. The Muhammandans rightly or wrongly believe that but for the assistance of the Orakandi people other Namasudras cannot move a step...”  [13]

Harichand Thakur and his son Guruchand were polestars in the horizon of their community. Many believe that the role of the father and son was more lustrous as social reformers than spiritual guides. Their memories as a saint would have faded away and died out had they not pioneered educational movement. In 1921 census, the community returned 20,06,259 souls. [14] Sadly, their educational movement was not documented by educated Bengali chronicler because of inherent toxic animosity nursed against them. Only recently, a historian stated that over 3,952 schools---primary, middle and high schools including Nursing schools for girls---were established in areas dominated by Namasudra across East Bengal under their motivational leadership. [15] We may state without any apprehension of contradiction and with due regard for role of the acclaimed educationists and social reformers that none had ever achieved the shinning distinction of setting up such large number of schools for the masses, who for reasons of Hindu caste and orthodoxy, belonged to underprivileged sections. The schools established under their inspiration for access to light all over East Bengal in colonial era gave a definite advantage to the Namasudras.

At this juncture we may cite with benefit the status of the Namasudra literacy in 1927 from Katherine Mayo, the American journalist, condemned for her Mother India. “The Namasudras of Bengal, an untouchable class there numbering about 19,97,500, have under the encouragement of the new light, made a vigorous, steady, and successful fight for self-elevation. By the last report they had in Bengal over 49,000 children under tuition, of whom 1,025 had reached the High School and 144 the Arts Colleges where because of caste feeling, the Government has been obliged to set aside special hostels for their lodging. This community is rapidly raising its status.” [16]

Part-4 Long shadow of the past

The Prime Minister of India speaking to a crowd in the forecourt of Orakandi shrine ventilated his willingness to establish a primary school. The Government of India in the Ministry of External Affairs, released same day the English translation of Prime Minister’s address. His specific point on education to merit attention was as follows:

“The Government of India will upgrade the girls’ middle school in Orakandi, adding new modern facilities. Also, a primary school will be established here by the Government of India.” [17]

Many of the community from Namasudras and Matuas are clueless about the gift from the VVIP of the stature of the Prime Minister of India. Many feel that gift of the visiting dignitary should have a touch and glow of magnanimity. Many are surprised that a primary school from the Prime Minister as a gift to Orakandi does not befit his stature. They have been even asking among themselves “What did he imply by donating a primary school in the second decade of 21st century to the community?” His primary school definitely in the field of education lacks radiance. Was he wrongly advised? His stature has, without doubt, gone down in the eyes and estimation of the Namasudras in West Bengal at least.

Bangladesh boasted of 53 public universities and 97 private universities in 2018. Dhaka University established in 1921 was the pioneer in the field of higher education in colonial East Bengal. Since 1970s the Young Nation witnessed explosion in the field of higher education following establishment of universities classified as (1) public;(2) private and (3) international. [18] With plethora of Universities functioning over there, what importance does a niggardly gift of primary school by Prime Minister of India occupy in the country’s educational history? It may not occur even space in the footnote of the primary education of Bangladesh.

A university or a world class engineering and technology college, as a donation to Orakandi, to commemorate the contributions of Hari Chand Thakur and Guru Chand Thakur in the field of social reforms and education would have been befitting to the stature of the donor. Some of the persons, Matua and or Namasudra betrayed their frustration over the gift of a primary school from India’s Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was wrong in believing that the Namasudras did not deserve anything better than a primary school. His objective of influence them by a token of gift may even prove counterproductive in view of his keenness to influence voters in West Bengal where Assembly Elections 2021 are under progress through Orakandi.

Part-5 Aryan invaders were beaten and defeated by Chandals
Mistry of history

A fact of history pertaining to Bengal holds key to many closely guarded secrets. In the dreary past, the Aryan invaders who had launched campaigns were repulsed and beaten back in their efforts to conquer Eastern Bengal. We do not know whether the cryptic observation on this very serious issue documented by a civilian in late nineteenth century had at all attracted attention of scholars and researchers or it was deliberately shied away. According to C. J. O’Donnell, ICS, the superintendent of Bengal, 1891,

“...it is certain that the tall, large-limbed Chandal [ .........] was the active and successful enemy of the Aryan invader, and there is little trace of actual conquest by the early Hindu kings beyond the Bhagirathi, except in the riparian districts along its east bank. The Brahmans used the name of Chandal to express everything that was vilest, and when at last the Mussalmans in the time of Akbar finally broke down the resistance of the eastern peoples, only a remnant accepted the religious supremacy of Hinduism, the vast majority finding salvation in the faith of Islam.”  [19]

The Aryan invaders did not succeed in making inroads into Bengal beyond the riparian districts along the east bank river Bhagirathi to leave an imprint of the Hindu rulers. We do not know how long and how often did the alien aggressors continued with their evil designs to capture Eastern Bengal in their campaigns against the Chandals who were active and successful in their enmity against the savage invaders. Enemies of the invading Aryans were actually the earliest patriots and defenders of Eastern Bengal. Strangely, Bengal did not know their patriotic warriors who shed down their blood as well as sacrificed lives in defence and sanctity their motherland. The breathless vilification of Aryans against the Chandals as coded in their scriptures are results of toxic fabrication and concoction. Those concoction have been anointed as holy works and scriptures of sages and saints. Ancient Hindu lawgivers like Manu, Parasara, Yajnavalkya, etc, in this backdrop hold the dream for foundation of the Hindu Rashtra. These saints and seers might be revered by many but we cannot forget or underrate their potential to destroy what India has constitutionally conceived and sworn to establish as national objective and commitment.  No scriptures of Hindus are complete without vilest hatred spewing against the Chandals there. Chandal is a Bengali, a populous caste since census operations were initiated by the colonial rules since 1871.

 Unambiguous truth comes out from the statement of O’Donnell that the Aryans were defeated crushingly and decisively in war by the patriotic Chandals who frustrated the aggressors’ design. The bitter memories of the humiliated Aryan had smashed and crashed their pride and filled them with vengeance and sullenness against their autochthonous victors. If the Aryan literatures like scriptures and epics are viewed and analysed in this context the venomous expression in them against Chandals can be properly appreciated. An army of malicious men was deployed against the native warriors, i. e., Chandals who crashed the invaders on battlefield. So, they concocted literature of hate and vilification against those who drove away and defeated them in war. The vilification campaigns and hate-mongering in Sanskrit literature was limitless and without proportion to suggest that the warfare continued for long and vilification of the Chandals continued unabated far longer than imagined. The long shadow of animosity against the Chandals persists in the Hindus of Aryan blood to inspire them to spew venom yet against the Chandals. According to 2011 census the total Chandals in India returned were aggregated at 7,055 persons from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu. [20]

Both Harichand and Guruchand Thakur, all through their life, attached highest esteem for sociocultural advancement of the Namasudras/Matua. They kept political animals, irrespective of status and/or affiliation, at bay. In 1905 after Viceroy of India Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal into East and West Bengal, a section of Bengali politicians launched agitation against the decision of the Empire and demanded revocation of the partition. When enthusiasm of the agitators ebbed out, the concept of boycott of imported goods was added to their political objective. The swadeshi too failed to enthuse the agitators. At this juncture, Surendranath Banerjea addressed a letter to Guruchand Thakur requesting him along with his followers and disciples to join the boycott movement. Guruchand declined the invitation. Caste in India does not die. Namasudras who numbered 35,04,542 in 2011 represent the erstwhile Chandal. One intriguing question cries loud: Were Manu, Parashar, Yaynavalkya etc. who wrote their scriptures and spread venom against the Chandals Bengali?

Part-6 Invasion of Matua headquarters, Thakurnagar for bumper political harvest

Since long philistines are on prowl for reaping bumper political harvest out of the Namasudra votes, who, as noted above aggregated at number 3.5million. A considerable section of Matuas are Namasudras but not all Namasudras are Matuas, who included other castes and faith e. g., Poundra Kshatriya, Mahishya, Bagdi, Rajbanshi and Muslims besides Namasudras.

The serene environment and atmosphere obtaining in Matua Mahasangha at Thakurnagar, has been vitiated as also polluted by infiltration of self-seeking politicians, whom the stalwart like Guruchand had kept firmly at bay. The succeeding generations of the Matua leaders do not boast of moral height and fibric which distinguished Guruchand. The patriarch embraced every Namasudra as his disciple whosoever sought his inspirational blessings and guidance.

The sociocultural advancement prominently focussing on education of the Namasudras/Matua was most prominent as the objectives of both Harichand and Guruchand Thakur. They kept brute political animals at bay irrespective of any consideration. In 1905 after Viceroy of India Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal into East and West Bengal, a section of politicians launched agitation against the decision and demanded revocation of the partition. When the enthusiasm of the agitators and leaders ebbed out markedly, the concept of boycott of goods imported from England was incorporated as an objective of their political agenda. The concept of swadeshi too failed to enthuse the agitators any longer. At this juncture, Surendranath Banerjea addressed a letter to Guruchand Thakur, with fervent appeal to join, with his followers and disciples, the boycott movement. Guruchand turned down the invitation. In so doing, he wrote that the “Namasudras, being a poor people, did not know luxury in life” .... They used only cheap British-made cloths and nothing else. Guruchand protested strongly against indiscriminate burning of all British cloths because he apprehended that anarchy of the followers of swadeshi would result in undue hardship and suffering for the common people. In the same breath, Guruchand boldly underlined to the prominent protagonist that “the caste Hindus were generally fond of using luxury goods manufactured in Great Britain and they spent a lot of money to purchase these things.” In this view, S. N. Banerjea was told by the Namasudra patriarch that “the swadeshi movement should be restricted to these fashionable people.” [21]

On point of imports of foreign fashionable goods what Guruchand wrote back to S. N. Banerjea, the rising political star of Bengal, was not only irrefutable but also factually unchallengeable, though hard-shitting. We may cite official data from reports of Collector, Calcutta Customs for the relevant years. Value of imports of liquors, of all commodities, between 1904-05 and 1911-12 shot up from Rs. 48,08,000 to Rs. 62,45,000 accounting for an annual increase of 14,37,000, i. e., 4%. [22] Imports of liqueurs kept increasing in slow pace. On the other hand, value of raw jute exports declined from Rs. 24,12,50,000 in 1906-07 to Rs. 13,61,43,000 in 1910-11. In absolute terms, the decline in value of exports of raw jute was Rs.10,51,70,000. Annually the decrease stood at 43.57%! [23] The European including British importers were major customers of raw jute from Bengal.

The Chief Secretary to the Government of newly-created Province of East Bengal and Assam, H. LeMasurier underlining the strength of peasantry stated that “the Muhammadans and Namasudras practically” represented “almost the whole of the peasantry.” [24] The principal jute growing districts of East Bengal alone had 39,41,910 acres under plough as against total 3,39,000 acres in prominent jute districts, e. g. Nadia, Murshidabad, 24-Parganas and Hooghly in West Bengal. Mymensingh with 8,47,000 acres under jute, be it noted, was the largest grower of golden fibre, as jute was known in the subcontinent in early twentieth century. [25]

The nationalist who donned the mettle of patriot by raising banner of protests against Viceroy & Governor General of India, Lord Curzon actually damaged and hurt the interests of their own less fortunate Bengalees. The aggregate losses to jute cultivators during the period amounted to Rs. 37,24,83,000 [taking 1906-07 as base year]. Their amount of financial loss was Rs. 26,72,43,000 which was equivalent to total value of jute exports during two years 1909-1911. [26] How do we define our celebrated swadeshi leaders who were blind (inimical?) to the critical interests of the masses, who were cultivators? The tragedy of Indian urban political leaders is thus that they are/were always over anxious to promote and protect their self and/or community interest only under the pretention of service of the nation. Bengali leaders stood out most garishly in this respect. Vested interest prevents our historians and educated classes, hailing from same hinterland, to point it out in black and white to them.

Part-7 Post Harichand-Guruchand Matua era

On obtaining higher education in England, Pramatha Ranjan Thakur returned, as a barrister in 1930s, home and joined the Indian National Congress. We have already noted that his illustrious grandfather Guruchand Thakur kept Surendranath Banerjea at arm’s length. In the first decade of twentieth century, Banerjea was as idol of Bengali public with mass appeal.

From Congress, to the Leftist, to Trinamool and now to Bharatiya Janata Party have recruited political followers in the Thakurbari which has soiled and sullied its unquestioned sanctity and eminence it enjoyed till Guruchand was alive.

Seven years in power the government led by Prime Minister has forfeited credibility with the masses. Skyrocketing inflation, unprecedented problem of unemployment, strife and seething tension in body politic, the scale and intensity of attack on human rights unknown before, the level of vulnerability of the scheduled castes and tribes, minorities, disregard for constitutional values were never known to the country.

The manifesto of BJP for West Bengal election 2021, for instance has prompted a former JNU Prof. Partha S. Ghosh to comment: “Sonar Bangla is too small an ambition as per its promises. WB will figure at the top of the world Happiness index next year, replacing Finland.” After all, no less a leader of the stature of Home Minister Amit Shah himself on camera admitted that Modi’s 2014 poll promises were gimmicks (jumla), meant only to secure votes. Why should anybody take their Manifesto for West Bengal Assembly election 2021 anything else than another jumla? Further, the Citizenship Amendment Act passed a year ago in 1920. The same has not been enforced though many Acts passed by the Government under the same leadership were implemented straightway. Many penetrating questions are been asked with no one to offer satisfactory reply. The leaders/camp follower from Thakurbari too dismayed as their public utterances suggest. Their credibility is in doubt.

  The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, passed by the Parliament of India on 11 December 2019 has been engaging close attention of the Namasudras. Their anxiety is overwhelming because 92% of the caste belonged to colonial East Bengal till 1947 with no parallel any other caste. No other caste had as large a proportion of their people comparable to Namasudras in East Bengal. Oral statements of various functionaries on the eve of or during election campaigns, however, might be their official status and stature carry no weight. Their statements aim at garnering votes for their party should be treated as jumla/gimmick.

 The Namasudras of West Bengal should and do dread to even imagine life similar to their brethren in Assam after election 2021. They voted for the party to power. Now the same party voted to Government has denied citizenship to about 12,00,000 Matuas are D voters and perhaps have been thrown to detention camps. In private discussion, they are asking in hushed voices has not Prime Minister during his visit to Orakandi indicated how much regard he has for them? By exhibiting his concern for education of Namasudras and donating a primary school for their education, he has broadcast the position they deserve from him.

He could not have done anything better than a primary school. After the elections 2021 they would not deserve anything better. If they follow his promises during electioneering, vote in the hope of tall promises, they may be committing hara-kiri.
Their Hindu Rashtra, if at all and ever become a reality, be sure and clear, has no place for them whose ancestors were successful enemies of the Aryans invader.

On the eve of his departure for Australia Dr. C. S. Mead recorded his views about Guruchand Thakur in the following words.

“Orakandi is the most influential centre of the Namasudra world....There are two million of Namasudras altogether living in East Bengal, but the section of the community living in the Faridpur district is the largest and most influential......The ancient patriarchal system still hold sway. Guru Charan Babu is the head of the community at Orakandi, and a man of very great and far-reaching influence...Humanly speaking, almost everything depends on what this man does. All eyes are upon him.”  [27]

The present generation is just pygmy and not worth any comparison with Guruchand Thakur. His disciples and followers are in deep crisis and they know not how to overcome the crisis encountering them. Therefore their pray at the moment: “Thou shouldest be living at this hour!”

(Author: A former Vice-Chancellor, B. R. Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur and retired IAS officer.) 


[1Report on the Census of Bengal, 1872 by H. Beverley, Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat, 1872, pp. cxvi-cxvii.

[2Appendix 1, Resolution quoted in the Report on the Census of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and Sikkim, 1911, Part I Report by L. S. S. O’Malley, ICS, General Department---Miscellaneous Department, Calcutta, The 14th July 1913, Resolution No. 3435 by order of the Governor in Council under signature of H. F. Samman, Officiating Secretary to the Government of Bengal, pp. 1-6.

[3Sum W. W. Hunter, A Statistical Account of Bengal, Vol. VI, Districts of Dacca, Bakarganj, Faridpur and Mymensingh, London, Trubner & Co., p. 352. it Sarkar, Beyond Nationalist Frame, Permanent Black, 2002, Delhi, p. 236.

[4W. W. Hunter, A Statistical Account of Bengal, Vol. VI, Districts of Dacca, Bakarganj, Faridpur and Mymensingh, London, Trubner & Co., p. 352.

[5Final Report on the Survey and Settlement Operations of the Faridpur District, 1904 to 1914 by J. C. Jack, ICS, Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1916, para. 18, p. 9.

[6Census of India, 1921, Vol. V, Bengal, Part I Report, by W. H Thompson, Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1923, p. 306.

[7Ibid., p. 299.

[8Ibid., p. 298.

[9Census of India, 1921, Vol. V, Part I Report Bengal, by W. H. Thompson, ICS, Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1923, p. 295.

[10A. K. Biswas, Two events in Tagore’s Life, Mainstream Weekly, Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 20, May 8, 2010. https://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article2003.html

[11The Calcutta Municipal Gazette Tagore Memorial Special Supplement, Saturday, September 3, 1941, editor Amal Home, p. 90.

[12Bengal Administration Report 1910-11, Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1912, para. 609, pp. 128-129.

[13Quoted Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India, The Namasudras of Bengal, 1872-1947, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 132.

[14Census of India, 1921, Vol. V, Bengal, Part I Report, by. W. H. Thompson, ICS, Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, p. 374.

[15Swadesh O Porites (A Volume in Bengali) Dr. Jiban Mukhopadhyay, Mahabharat Prakash ani, Calcutta, Reprint, 2020, p. 116.

[16Katherine Mayo. Mother India, Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1927, p. 160. Mayo quoted from Progress of Education in Bengal, The Sixth Quinquennial Review, p. 83.

[17English translation of Prime Minister’s address at Orakandi Thakur Bari, Bangladesh, March 27, 2021 by Ministry of External Affairs
https://mea.gov.in/Speeches-Statemenniversityts.htm dtl/33743/English+translation+of+Prime+Ministers+address+at+Orakandi+Thakurbari+Bangladesh

[19Census of India, 1891, Vol. III, Lower Provinces of Bengal and Their Feudatories, The Report, by C. J. O’Donnell. ICS. Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat Press, 1893, Para. 65, p. 42.

[20Handbook on Social Welfare Statistics, Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Plan Division, New Delhi, September 2018

[21N. B. Roy, A People in Distress, Vol. I, Calcutta, B. Sarkar & Co., August, 1987, pp. 75-76.

[22A. K. Biswas, Social Scientist, New Delhi, Vol. 23, No. 4-6, April-June, 1995, p. 44. This was a paper prepared by this writer for presentation for 55th Indian History Congress, 1994, held at Aligarh Muslim University. The paper, however, could not be presented for denial of official permission to the writer though the Indian History Congress had accorded formal approval for presentation.

[23A. K. Biswas, Social Scientist, op cit., p. 45.

[24Selections from The Government of India, Home Department, No. CCCCXLV, Home Department Serial No. 33, Paper regarding Question of the Abolition of Fees in Primary Schools, Superintendent Government Printing, Calcutta, 1910, p. 255.

[25A. K. Biswas, Social Scientist, op. cit., pp. 46-47.

[26Ibid., p. 46.

[27Dr. C. S. Mead, B.A., The Namasudras and Other Addresses, The Furreedpore Mission, Orakandi, East Bengal, Hussey & Gillingham, Printers and Publishers India, South Australian Baptist Furreedpore Mission, Adelaide, 1911, pp. 8-9.

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