Ganga Kishore Bhattacharya
Ganga Kishore Bhattacharya (died 1831) was an Indian journalist, teacher and reformer. He was born in Bahara village, near Serampore. He started his career as a compositor in the Baptist Mission Press, Serampore. But later on he shifted to Calcutta. In 1816, he edited the earliest illustrated book published in Bengali language, the Annadamangala, printed in the Ferris and Company press, Calcutta. The two illustrations in this book were engraved by Ramachand Roy. In 1818, he set up a printing press in Calcutta, the Bengal Gazette Press for printing Bengali books. Probably Harachandra Roy, who also hailed from Serampore, was his partner. The works written or edited by him and printed in this press include: A Grammar in English and Bengalee Language (1816), Daybhag (1816), Drabyagun (1828) and Chikitsarnab.
In Calcutta, he started a business of publication and selling of books. Serampore's Samachar Darpan, wrote highly of him. Apart from the few books he wrote, Gangabhaktitarangini, Lakshmicharitra, Betal Panchabingshati, Chanakya Sloka and a collaborated work by Lallu Lal and Ram Mohan Roy, were published by him.
Indian Printing Press in Calcutta
Around 1806–07, a Hindu called Baburam established a printing machine for the first time, in Devanagari letters, at Khidderpore, for publishing Sanskrit and Hindi books. Roebuck in Annals of the College of Fort William talks about Lord Minto's lecture in Fort William College on 27 February 1808: "A printing press has been established by learned Hindoos, furnished with complete founts of improved Nagree types of different sizes, for the printing of books in the Sunskrit language. This press has been encouraged by the college to undertake an edition of the best Sanskrit Dictionaries, and a compilation of the Sunskrit rules of Grammar.... will form a valuable collection of Sanskrit philology.” The printing press came to be known as the Sanskrit Press. In 1814–15 Munshi Lallulal Kavi, a Gujarati Brahmin (of the Braja Bhasa) of Fort William College was believed to have acquired the rights to Baburam's Sanskrit Press. Apart from Hindi and Sanskrit texts, he arranged for the publication of Bengali texts as well. In that very machine, pundit Ramachandra Bidyabagish's Jyotishsangrahasar was published too. In a time when the only available printing presses were Ferris and Co. Press, Hindoostani Press, Bengali Press and Serampore Mission Press, Ganga Kishore ventured in establishing a Bengali printing press in 1818 known as the Bengal Gazette Press or Office.
The Bengal Gazetti
After installing the Press, Ganga Kishore thought of publishing a newspaper. He felt that if it was published in Bengali, it would be received by a lot of readers, because till then no Bengali periodical had been published from Calcutta. This want was fulfilled by the Bengal Gazetti.
In 1818, he started editing and publishing this weekly Bengali newspaper, the Bengal Gazetti along with Harachandra Roy. It was printed in his Bengal Gazette Press. Though the exact date of is not yet known, the commencement of the publication of this newspaper was announced in two successive advertisements published in the Government Gazette of 14 May 1818 and 11 July 1818. But it is still a question of debate whether Bengal Gazetti was the first Bengali newspaper, or it was the Samachar Darpan.
In 1820, the periodical called Friends of India published: “the first Hindoo who established a press in Calcutta was Babooram...followed by Gunga Kishore...who conceived the idea of printing the work in the current language as a means of acquiring wealth....established an office of his own, and opened a book-shop.” On 16 May 1818, the Oriental Star said: “Amongst the improvements which are taking place in Calcutta....publication of a Bengalee newspaper has been commenced. The diffusion of general knowledge and information amongst the natives must lead to.... communication between the natives and the European residents. – The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register (London) for January 1819.” The Bengal Gazette Press used to publish Governmental advertisements, employment news and law related issues in simple Bengali. It had also re-printed the works of Ram Mohan Roy, on Sati System and its abolition. However, Bengal Gazetti did not last long, and in about a year, it stopped being published.
Ganga Kishore is the author of various works. A Grammar in English and Bengalee Language (1816) – It was published in the Ferris and Co. Press. It contained what was necessary to the knowledge of the English tongue, along with a translation. It was basically English Grammar in the Bengali language. It was published in a simple language for rousing interest among the fickle minded students. It is to be noted that in the same year, another English Grammar was published in Bengali, called the English Darpan by Ramachandra Roy. He was the assistant pundit in the Bengali department of Fort William College.
Daybhag (1816–17) – In 1816, in the introduction to English grammar, Ganga Kishore mentions that Daybhag was in the process of completion in the printing press of Ferris and Co. in 1859. In the introduction to Byabasha Darpan, Shyamacharan Sharma-Sarkar wrote that it was one of the best religious books ever written in Bengali. It talks about the three procedures of liability, period of religious impurity and expiation in brief.
Chikitsarnab (1820) – One of the khandas of the Chikitsarnab was in the library of Radhakanta Deb. Later on it was reprinted from Battala.
Drabyagun (1828) – Drabyagun was reprinted from Battala in 1868.
Among his edited works are the:-
Annada Mangal (1816)- Bharatchandra's Annadamangal exhibited the Tales of Biddyah and Sunder, and to which was added the Memoirs of Rajah Pratapaditya. It was printed from the Press of Ferris and Co. in Calcutta. It was the first known illustrated work in printing. It was embellished with line-engraving and had six pictures. The blocks used to make those pictures, were prepared by Ramchand Roy, who was probably related to Harachandra Roy. It is most likely that the first book printed in Bengali in a press at Serampore, was published on 30 January 1830.
Bhagbadgita – He published the annotated version of the Bhagbadgita. It first came out in 1820. The second edition was published in 1824, a khanda of which is in the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad Library.
- Sengupta, S. (ed.) (1988). Samsad Bangali Charitabhidhan, Calcutta:Sahitya Samsad, p.124
2. Brajendranath Bandyopadhyay, published by Sri Madanmohan Kumar, edited by Vangiya Sahitya Parishad 6th (ed).