Muktadhara (মুক্তধারা) is an international organization, publishing house and bookstore dedicated to the promotion of Bengali literature and culture. It was started in the Indian state of West Bengal by the late Chittaranjan Saha, who in his work as head of the publishing house pioneered the Ekushey Book Fair. In addition to its early involvement with The Ekushey Book Fair, the organization is connected to other cultural Bengali events, like International Language Day and the International Bengali Festival. It also participates in the spread of literature and culture by taking part in such events as the National Poetry Festival.
The Muktadhara bookstore chain, founded by Saha's younger brother Bishawajit Saha who is the current president of the Muktadhara Foundation, has four stores in the United States. Its New York City store is the largest Bengali-language bookstore in the city.
In a 2008 interview, Muktadhara's director Jawhar Lal Shaha explained that Muktadhara, which takes its name from the Bengali words for "free-flowing stream", was founded in the late 1960s and grew from Chittaranjan Saha's gatherings with writers exiled in Kolkata from Bangladesh during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Saha, who promoted the publication of writings for their country, published 32 books during the war, founding Muktadhara in Kolkata. After the war, Saha relocated to Bangladesh and began publishing creative works as well. In 2004, poet Mohammad Nurul Huda retrospectively described Muktadhara publishing house as "the most notable of its kind in the post-independence literary world of the country", indicating that "any book coming out of Muktadhara was deemed as up-to-the-mark". The poet attributed this to the custom of the publishing house to subject manuscripts to review by a panel of readers, adding that "no manuscript saw the light of day if it was not duly recommended by the reviewers and concerned editor".
In 1972, Saha began selling publications from Muktadhara on the grounds of the Bangla Academy during the weeklong celebration of Language Day. Gradually, Muktadhara was joined by other publishers, and in 1978 the Bangla Academy formalized the collection of sellers as the Ekushey Book Fair.
Bishwajit Saha founded The New York branch of Muktadhara in 1990 as a bookstore operating out of his apartment in Jackson Heights. Subsequently, on February 21, 1992, Muktadhara and a number of other organizations joined together to place a temporary monument honoring the student martyrs killed forty years before protesting the exclusion of Bengali from the official language list of Pakistan, a tradition which has become annual. The New York Branch has also launched community writing workshops, reading series in conjunction with various school and community projects, and, since 1992, the International Bengali Book Fair in New York and other cities in North America. In 2008, publishing houses from multiple countries are expected to participate, with confirmed participation by a number of international guest, including Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury and poet Sunil Ganguly.
The New York branch has also honored the "10 Greatest Bengalis Alive", a list garnered by online survey commenced in December 2004 and concluded on May 31, 2005, promoted with international outreach. The list was announced at New York's Manhattan Center on August 28, 2005, with guests of honor Carolyne Wright and Clinton B. Seely also celebrating the 15th anniversary of the New York branch.
On April 25, 2008 Muktadhara hosted Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner. The Nobel Laureate revealed his new book, Creating a World without Poverty. Rashidul Bari, the author of Grameen Social Business Model: A Manifesto for Proletariat Revolution, and the producer of the film The Killing of Muhammad Yunus Biographer, welcomed the Nobel Laureate at Muktadhara.
- Bari, Rashidul. "The Muktadhara legacy". The Daily Independent. Archived from the original on 2008-04-07. Retrieved April 10, 2008.
- Muktadhara: Pioneering the Ekushey Book Fair The Daily Star
- The Daily Star. (December 27, 2007) Chittaranjan Saha passes away thedailystar.net Accessed April 10, 2008.
- Karim, Elita. (October 31, 2003) 6th National Poetry Festival. The Daily Star. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- Datta, Jyotirmoy. (September 9, 2005) '10 greatest Bengalis' recognized by bookstore chain Muktadhara desitalk.com. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- On res=9B0DE7DB1739F935A35755C0A96F958260&scp=1&sq=muktadhara&st=nyt Bengali Woman Writes Book, Takes Heat The New York Times
- Huda, Mohammad Nurul. (2004) Abid Azad's making as a poet. New Age. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- Alam, Mahbubul. Bangla festival begins in NY June 27 The Daily Independent. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- Weekly Asian Times. '10 Greatest Bengalis Alive' weeklyasiantimes.com. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- Ganguly, Arnab. (December 11, 2004) Now, a global poll for Bengali living legends Times of India. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- The Killing of Muhammad Yunus Biographer
18. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/J469-2015, Memorializing Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to proclaim February 21, 2015 as Mother Language Day in the State of New York 19. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/J4982-2011, Memorializing Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to proclaim the week of June 24-30, 2012 as International Bangla Festival Week in the State of New York