Braja Sundar Mitra

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Braja Sundar Mitra (Bengali: ব্রজ সুন্দর মিত্র Brojo Shundor Mitro) (1227-1282 Bengali Era), son of Bhabani Prasad Mitra, was founder of Dhaka Brahmo Samaj. He was a social reformer and later founded the Brahmo Samaj at Comilla. He contributed substantially to the cause of women’s education, remarriage of widows, movement against polygamy and consumption of liquor. He joined the Commissioner’s office at Dhaka as a clerk in 1840, was promoted as Deputy Collector in 1845 and as Excise Collector in 1851. With the assistance of such noted personalities as Ramkumar Bose and Bhagaban Chandra Bose, he established a press, from where Dhaka Prakash was published. The proposal for the establishment of Dhaka Jagannath College for the spread of higher education amongst the people was mooted in his house.

Early life[edit]

Braja Sundar Mitra’s father died when he was rather young. As a result, he had to start working on a small salary before the completion of his education. When Debendranath Tagore started the Tattwabodhini Patrika in 1843, there was one young reader in far away Dhaka. Its message of hope and deliverance roused him. He inspired a number of other young men to set up a Brahmo Samaj in Dhaka in 1846. The form of service adopted for its gatherings consisted of reading of a written Brahmastrotra or form of adoration addressed to Divinity and concluded with the delivery of a written or printed sermon. It was a simple beginning but Braja Sundar Mitra threw so much ardour of soul into it that the Samaj soon succeeded in attracting a pretty large number of followers, mostly people occupying important government positions.

The move was not without opposition. The message of the Tattwabodhini Patrika aroused a strong antagonism against conservative ideas. Traditional society started organising opposition to it. Men began to encourage all sorts of evil reports against the promoters of the Samaj. The engines of social persecution were set against them. Braja Sundar Mitra was then living in the house of a well-known citizen. His guardian and protector expelled him. Although most of the members were men of rank, the rising voice of protest told upon them. They decided to conduct their prayer meetings in secret for some time. Later, they started formal prayer meetings in a house in Banglabazar.

Reform efforts[edit]

When Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar raised the storm of widow remarriage, Braja Sundar Mitra printed copies of his books at his own cost and circulated them widely amongst the people of East Bengal. That created a group of core supporters for the movement in that part of the province. His name is bracketed with that of Durga Mohan Das as notable contributors in the field of widow remarriage. He had assisted in many ways in the spread of female education.

As a result of Braja Sundar’s transfer to Comilla for official work there was slackening in the activities of the Brahmo Samaj. On witnessing this, he bought a house in Armeniatola and lent out a part of it for the activities of the Samaj. At around the same time, as a result of his interest and the efforts of Dinanath Sen a school for moral and religious instruction of the young was opened under Dhaka Brahmo Samaj. Aghore Nath Gupta and Vijay Krishna Goswami were sent as teachers to that school. That was around 1861-62. The powerful preaching of those two created a major stir in Dhaka. Large groups of young men started joining the Brahmo Samaj. Subsequently, Keshub Chunder Sen visited Dhaka in 1865 and virtually set the place on fire. It gave rise to a massive movement against the Brahmo Samaj. However, the firm footing on which Braja Sundar Mitra had set up the Dhaka Brahmo Samaj helped it tide over all such opposition.

The renowned pathologist and Brahmo reformer, Deba Prasad Mitra was his grandson.

Debendranath found in Brajasundar his true messenger in East Bengal. Being moved by his sincerity after his own visit to East Bengal, Debendranath established a bonding of friendship by getting Brajasundar's third daughter Umasundari(1854–1936), married by himself to Prosonno Coomar Biswas( 1837–1921), trusted disciple and dewan of his estates (1866–1899) as per convention of thakurbari and "Brahmo Dharma" in 1866/1867. Prosonno Coomar later became trustee of Brahmo Samaj at Bhawanipur along with Rabindranath Tagore(1894) when Debendranath relinquished his interest.

References[edit]

  • History of Brahmo Samaj by Sivanath Sastri.
  • Ramtanu Lahiri O Tatkalin Banga Samaj in Bengali by Sivanath Sastri.
  • Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) in Bengali edited by Subodh Chandra Sengupta and Anjali Bose