Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee

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Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee
Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee.jpg
Born 1814
Kolkata
Died 15 Jul 1898
Lucknow
Occupation Social reformer
Spouse(s) Basanta Kumari

Raja Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee (Bengali: দক্ষিণারঞ্জন মুখার্জ্জী) Taluqdar of the formerly confiscated taluq of Shankarpur in the United Provinces (1814 – 15 July 1898) was one of the leaders of the Young Bengal group in 19th-century India. An orator, editor of several periodicals, and a social reformer, he had donated land for the Bethune School and assisted David Hare in his social works.[1]

Early life[edit]

Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee's father Jaganmohan Mukherjee, who belonged to Bhatpara, had married into the Pathuriaghata branch of the Tagore family and agreed to be a ‘ghar-jamai’ (a groom who remains back with his in-laws as part of their family). Dakshinaranjan studied at Hare School and Hindu College. While a student of Hindu College, he was influenced by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, the main person behind the Young Bengal movement. When his friend Krishna Mohan Banerjee was turned out of his house for converting to Christianity, Mukherjee provided him protection and support.[1]

Activities at Kolkata[edit]

In 1838 was established the Society for Acquisition of General Knowledge which had 200 members in 1843. On 8 February 1843, Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee read in a meeting of the society his well known essay on Present Conditions of the East India Company’s Courts of Judicature and Police under the Bengal Presidency. “The delivery of the essay,” observed the Bengal Harkaru on 2 March 1843, “was interrupted, as our readers will recollect, by the Principal of the Hindoo College, on the ground of its seditious and treasonable tendency. The attempts made to throw ridicule upon the intelligent natives of their country, for their laudable efforts to acquire knowledge of the government under which they live, and to aid in the removal of its abuses, appear to us as most ungenerous and illiberal.” [2]

Sengupta, Nitish

While a student Mukherjee published the magazine Jnananneswan in 1831.[3] The next year it became a bilingual magazine. He spoke against suppression of newspapers by the government. He was one of main initiators for the establishment of the British Indian Association and contributed regularly to the Bengal Spectator. He practiced as a lawyer and was the first Indian to be appointed as a collector of Calcutta Municipality.[4] Later he also worked in the court of the Nawab at Murshidabad.[1]

He had once given a loan of Rs. 60,000 to David Hare. As Hare was unable to pay back the loan, he gave Mukherjee some land in lieu of it. Mukherjee, in turn, donated that land in 1849 to John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune for the establishment of Kolkata’s first secular school for girls.[1][5]

Marriage[edit]

After the death of Maharaja Tej Chandra Ray of Bardhaman in 1832, Mukherjee visited the family home in connection with some legal disputes. He met Tej Chandra’s young widow, Basanta Kumari, the maharaja's 8th wife, whom Mukherjee later married by registration. The episode created quite a sensation in Calcutta, since Mukherjee and Basanta Kumari, chose to elope and get married, but were later caught by the girl's father, Pran Chand Kapoor,[6]

Later life at Lucknow[edit]

Mukherjee prospered in Lucknow. For helping the British during the Sepoy Mutiny, he was rewarded with the Shankarpur taluk in 1859. He was made honorary assistant commissioner of Lucknow and Awadh. He started publishing Lucknow Times, Samachar Hindustani and Bharat Patrika from Lucknow. He established the Canning College at Lucknow. He was honoured with the title of ‘Raja’ by the Viceroy, Lord Mayo in 1871.[1]

He established the Awadh British Indian Association in 1871 and campaigned for the formation of a provincial government with equal number of nominated and elected legislators and lost some favour with the British government.[1] Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee died in Lucknow on 15 July 1898.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), (1976/1998), Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary)(Bengali), Vol I, p 202, ISBN 81-85626-65-0.
  2. ^ Sengupta, Nitish, (2001/2002) History of the Bengali-speaking People, p282 UBS Publishers’ Distributors Pvt. Ltd., ISBN 81-7476-355-4.
  3. ^ Jnananneswan sought to instruct the Hindus in the science of government and jurisprudence. Ref: Sengupta, Nitish. P 283.
  4. ^ a b Dastider, Shipra. "Mukherji, (Raja) Dakshinaranjan". Banglapedia. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  5. ^ Acharya, Poromesh, Education in Old Calcutta, in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, pp 85-94, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1.
  6. ^ See Gautam Bhadra, Jal Rajar Galpa: Bardhamaner Pratap Chand, [Calcutta: Ananda Publishers, 2002] [in Bengali]; Pran Kapoor was the Dewan of Bardhaman when Maharaja Tej Chandra Ray was the ruler of the estate. Kapoor, an indigent traveller, who came from the Punjab to Bengal at the beginning of the nineteenth century, soon found employment with the rulers of Bardhaman, who were descendants of Abu Rai and Sangram Rai, the founders of Bardhaman Raj. Kapoor quickly rose through the ranks to become the dewan of the estate, but soon he fell out of favour with Tej Chandra's mercurial son Pratap Chandra Ray who was for sometime himself the Maharaja of Bardhaman and who had locked horns with the East India Company and the Patnidars of Bardhaman over the management of his father, Tej Chandra's estate. Soon both Pratap Chand and Kapoor found themselves involved in neck-deep intrigue, leading to Kapoor being implicated in the disappearance of Pratap Chand in 1821. Immediately after Tej Chandra's death in 1832, Kapoor is alleged to have installed his own son Kunja Bihari Kapoor, later renamed Mahtab Chandra Ray, as the zamindar of Bardhaman, thus starting a new line of zamindars of the estate. He also captured and detained his daughter, Basanta Kumari, a widow of Taj Chandra, for fleeing with Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee. Basanta Kumari, however, once again managed to escape from her father's custody to be reunited with Mukherjee, with whom she migrated to Lucknow in 1851. Mukherjee and his wife, who was older than he was, remained in Lucknow until the end of their lives.

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