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Mainstream Vol. XLVIII, No 17, April 17, 2010

Unpublished Letters of P.C. Joshi

Monday 19 April 2010

The year 2009 marked the fiftieth year of the publication of Lokayata, a seminal work on Indian materialist philosophy from the Marxist point of view. Its author, distinguished philosopher-scholar Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya (1918-1993), was a life member of the CPI and closely associated with P.C. Joshi (1907-1980), the builder of the Communist Party in this country and its first General Secretary from 1943 to 1947. Joshi was keenly interested in Chattopadhyaya’s works and encouraged him to pursue his studies on Indian philosophy. Five letters from Joshi to Chattopadhyaya have recently been found among the personal papers of Chattopadhyaya. The collector of these letters is scholar Ramkrishna Bhattacharya and these are being published here with the kind permission of Aditi and Atasi Chattopadhyaya, along with necessary notes. These letters are appearing on the occasion of P.C. Joshi’s 102nd birth anniversary on April 14, 2010.

The first letter was hand-written; one word of which is illegible. A conjectural reading with a question mark within square brackets has been inserted at the appropriate place. All other letters were type-written.

Letter I

India To-Day

(A Democratic Monthly)

Chief Editor: P.C. Joshi 7, Albert Road,

Allahabad, India

Editor: O.P. Sangal

6 April 53.

Dear Debi,

Chitta forgot to send your letter of 24/2 + so I did not know till 5th when he forwarded on yours that you will really be at Bombay on 6th. I am sending this in a hurry to Ruby to pass on to you.

1. Give away the paint box to Chitta + send the gramophone records on through Ruby.

2. Did you get my two letters sent to your London address?

3. Did you get the cash sent from Delhi by Nirmala before you left? She did send it but I don’t know the date + I am afraid it may not have been in time. So let me know SOON.

4. I don’t quite know what is wrong with you. Straining my memory I can recall some story but as you know I generally ignore them as mud-slinging.

Do let me know if I can be of any help?

Let me have your application for job in UP. I will consult comrades + do what I can.

5. I hope you will send me a fond long letter and if the Br [British?] Dadas commented anything after I left them.

With love to you, Abha + the kid.

P.C. Joshi

Letter II

New Age (Weekly)

7/4 Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi

July 19, 1958

Dear Debi,

Just now I received your card and article. Thanks very much.

I haven’t read it yet but if the contents are as good as the title, it should be really good. More later.

With greetings;

P.C. Joshi

Letter III

July 3, 1964

Dear Debi,

I am sending you per registered book post the Soviet text book on Marxist philosophy for a review article for the monthly. Space 6 to 8, and no more, typed pages double spaced. It should be possible for you to send me the review within a month and not drift longer. Please write back to say when you will do it. Your earlier offer to write for the monthly and suggesting topics—go ahead and send me the articles.

I have been drawing blank all round from Calcutta from all generations beginning with Gopalda and ending with Bodayan with you thrown in between. Since India is middle pathwalla let me see whether your middle generation is any better. What about your promised subscribers for the monthly? Send the addresses for specimen copies and we will forward one issue with your compliments to each one of the addressees and await the cheque or MO or cut them out from the list.


P.C. Joshi

Letter IV

P.C. Joshi Resi 74619

Office 271794

242, Vinay Marg

Chanakaya Puri

New Delhi-11

July 20, 1964

Dear Debi,

Thanks for yours of 18/7. Sorry to have missed you in Calcutta.

Thanks for the offer to write the review article on Marxist Philosophy. You can have 16 pages and send your stuff within a month. Do keep the effort to get subscribers. You are likely not to net more than a few. It is your attractive wife who will make a bigger success and a very big haul for me, the woman who can tame you can send me enough addresses of worthwhile folks. I am writing to Bhowani to review your book on Indian Philosophy. I have not seen it myself. Do write back.


P.C. Joshi

P.S. Your article No. 2 should be on Indian Atomism!

Letter V

Communist Party of India

Central Office


Phone: 225794


Asaf Ali Road,

New Delhi-1


Dear Debi,

No news from you. The promised article has not yet come. Nor any subscribers. How are you and what is the matter?

Greetings to you both.

P.C. Joshi

Notes on letter dated 6.4.1953:

The letterhead is of a monthly journal started by Joshi. Since the newly constituted CPI leadership, as he alleged, did not circulate his documents, he declared that as long as there was no legal party journal, he would use this monthly “to preach my views on the problems of the people”. Chattopadhyaya went to London in September 1952 to study in the British Museum and discuss the problems of philosophy with Maurice Cornforth, R. Palme Dutt, George Thomson and other leaders of the then Communist Party of Great Britain and returned to India in April 1953.

Chitta: Chittaprasad Bhattacharya (1915-1978), famous artist from Chattagram (Chittagong now in Bangladesh). Joined the party in the 1940s and was taken to Bombay by Joshi to work in the People’s Age.

Abha: Abha Mukhopadhyaya, Debiprasad’s first wife.

The kid: Debiprasad’s daughter, Urmila.

Nirmala: Joshi’s cousin who was the Secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Ruby: Younger sister of Joshi’s wife Kalpana Dutt.

Notes on letter dated 19.7.1958:

New Age (weekly), the CPI’s official organ edited by Joshi.

Which article of Chattopadhyaya was published there is not known.

Notes on letter dated 3.7.1964:

Perhaps Afanasyev’s Marxist Philosophy was given to Chattopadhyaya for review in New Age weekly. Whether it was written or published is not known.

Gopalda: Gopal Haldar (1902-1993), well-known Marxist intellectual and editor of Bengali monthly, Parichay.

Bodayan: Baudhayan Chatterjee (1929-1997), economist and life-long associate of Joshi.

Notes on letter dated 20.7.1964:

“your attractive wife”: Debiprasad’s second wife, Alaka Majumder Chattopadhyaya (1926-1998), educationist and Tibetologist.

Bhowani: Bhowani Sen (1909-1972), the CPI leader of Bengal, later member of the Central Secretariat, CPI. He reviewed Chattopadhyaya’s Lokayata Darshana (Bengali), Lokayata (English) and Bharatiya Darshana (Bengali) in monthly New Age, weekly New Age and Parichay respectively. No review of Indian Philosophy was published in weekly New Age.

Debiprasad did not write any article on Indian atomism.

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