Girish Chandra Sen
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|Girish Chandra Sen
গিরিশ চন্দ্র সেন
|Died||August 15, 1910
Kolkata, British India (now India)
Girish Chandra Sen (Bengali: গিরিশ চন্দ্র সেন) (also known as Bhai Girish Chandra Sen) (1835–1910), a Brahmo Samaj missionary, was the first person to produce the complete translation of the Qur’an into Bengali in 1886. It was his finest contribution to Bengali literature.
He taught for a short while at Mymensingh Zilla School before engaging wholeheartedly in journalism and literary activities. He learnt Persian and Sanskrit in early life and started working as a copywriter in the court of the deputy magistrate in Mymensingh. He was attracted to the Brahmo Samaj under the influence of Keshub Chunder Sen and Bijoy Krishna Goswami and joined it as a missionary in 1871. He traveled through India and Burma to propagate his new faith.
In 1869, Keshub Chunder Sen chose from amongst his missionaries, four persons and ordained them as professors of four old religions of the world. He was selected to study Islam. Others selected to study different religions were Gour Govinda Ray for Hinduism, Protap Chandra Mozoomdar for Christianity, and Aghore Nath Gupta for Buddhism. A firm believer in the basic unity of all religions, he immersed himself in his studies and later went to Lucknow in 1876 to study Arabic, Islamic literature and the Islamic religious texts. He was involved in intense studies for about five years. The outcome, a Bengali translation of the Quran (1881–86), was his greatest achievement. His keen interest in different religions and his liberal outlook earned him the respect of followers of other religions.
Erudition on Islam
On completion of his studies, he returned to Kolkata and engaged in translation of Islamic scriptures. After hard labour of six years from 1881-1886, he produced an annotated Bengali version of the Qur’an via Persian.
Girish Chandra wrote and published a total of 42 books in Bengali. He published the Bengali translation of almost half of Mishkat al-Masabih under the title Hadith-Purba Bibhag (1892). Another important work of his was Tattvaratnamala (1907), which contains moral lessons and words of wisdom in the form of short tales from two famous Persian books: Sheikh Fariduddin Attar's Manteq at-Tair and Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī's Masnavi. He translated from original Persian religious books such as Gulistan, Bostan, and Diwan-e-Hafiz. He also translated the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sm) Hadith (1892–98).
Girish Chandra Sen wrote several biographies of Muslim personalities, including the Prophet Muhammad (Sm), the Prophet's grandsons Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain, the four Khalifas, etc. in 'Mahapurus charita' (1882–87), 'Mahapurush Mohammad O Tatprabartita Islam Dharma', 'Imam Hasan O Husainer Jibani' (1911), 'Charijan Dharmaneta', 'Charti Sadhvi Musalman Nari' and 'Khalifabarga'. His famous book 'Tapasmala' (1880–1895), based on Sheikh Fariduddin Attar's Persian book 'Tazkiratul Awliya', contains biographies of 96 Muslim saints. These books were greatly appreciated by the Muslim community which referred to him as 'Bhai Girish Chandra'.
Muslim society, in his days, respected him enormously and called him a Maulavi. Bostan (The Rose Garden) consists of stories aptly illustrating the standard virtues recommended to Muslims, as well as reflections on the behaviour of dervishes and their ecstatic practices. Gulistan (The Orchard) contains stories and personal anecdotes. These were used as textbooks and were frequently reprinted.
He translated Raja Rammohun Roy’s Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin (1878), a book in Persian on Islam, into Bengali and published it in Dharmatattwa. He wrote Ramkrishna Paramhamser Ukti O Jiboni. His Atmajibon was published in 1906. Initially Girish Chandra worked at the Dhaka Prakash and later as assistant editor at the Sulava Samachar and Bangabandhu and as editor and publisher of the monthly Mahila.
While still at school he wrote a book, 'Banitabinodan', on the importance of women's education. Another book of his that deserves mention is 'Ramakrishna Paramhangser Ukti O Jivani'. His autobiography, 'Atmajivani', was published in 1906. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]
As a Brahmo missionary, he was involved in lecture tours to East Bengal and western India. His devotional prayers were deeply moving. He spoke fluently in Bengali, Urdu and Persian. A simple soft-spoken person he endeared himself to all those who came in contact with him.
- Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) in Bengali edited by Subodh Chandra Sengupta and Anjali Bose
- History of Brahmo Samaj by Pandit Sivanath Sastri