Ramram Basu

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Ramram Basu (c. 1751 – 7 August 1813) was a notable early scholar and translator of the Bengali language (Bangla), and credited with writing the first original work of Bengali prose written by a Bengali.

Ramram Basu initially joined as the munshi (scribe) for William Chambers, Persian interpreter at the Supreme Court in Kolkata. Then he worked as the munshi and Bengali teacher for Dr. John Thomas, a Christian missionary from England at Debhata in Khulna. Subsequently, he worked from 1793 to 1796 for noted scholar William Carey (1761–1834) at Madnabati in Dinajpur.[1] In 1800 he joined Carey's Serampore Mission Press with its celebrated printing press, and in May 1801 was appointed Munshi, assistant teacher of Sanskrit, at Fort William College for a salary of 40 rupees per month. As college pundits were charged not only with teaching, but also with developing Bengali prose, there he began to produce a respected series of translations and new works, and continued to hold that post until his death.

Basu created a number of original prose and poetical works, including Christastava, 1788; Harkara, 1800, a hundred-stanza poem; Jnanodaya (Dawn of Knowledge), 1800, arguing that the Vedas were fundamentally monotheist, and that the departure of Hindu society from monotheism to idolatry was the fault of the Brahmins;[2] Lippi Mātā (The Bracelet of Writing), 1802, a miscellany; and Christabibaranamrta, 1803, on the subject of Jesus Christ.

In 1802, his Bengali textbook Rājā Pratāpāditya-Charit (Life of Maharaja Pratapaditya), written for the college's use, received a cash prize of 300 rupees. It was printed at the Serampore Mission Press, and is now credited as the first Bengali to create a work in prose and also as the first historiography in Bengali.[3] Basu also created Bengali versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and aided in Carey's Bengali translation of the Bible.

Despite his active engagement with western missionaries and Christian texts, Basu remained a Hindu, and died in Kolkata on 7 August 1813.


  1. ^ Murshid, Ghulam (2012). "Ramram Basu". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  2. ^ New religious movements, religious plurality, and the Bengal Renaissance
  3. ^ Ranajit Guha (2013). History at the limit of World-History. University Press.  quote (dedication): To the memory of Ramram Basu who introduced modern historiography in Bengali, his native language, by a work published two hundred years ago
  • Sachindra Kumar Maity, Professor A.L. Basham, My Guruji and Problems and Perspectives of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Abhinav Publications, 1997, page 218. ISBN 81-7017-326-4.