Sarala Roy

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Sarala Roy
Born 26 November 1859
Kolkata, British India
Died 29 June 1946
Occupation Social worker
Spouse(s) Prasanna Kumar Roy

Sarala Roy (Bengali: সরলা রায় Shôrola Rae) was an educationist and is remembered as founder of the Gokhale Memorial School at Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta), at present the capital of the east Indian state of West Bengal.


She was daughter of the renowned Brahmo reformer Durga Mohan Das, sister of S.R.Das, Abala Bose and Sailabala Das, and cousin of Chittaranjan Das and Sudhi Ranjan Das (Chief Justice of India). She belonged to the famous Das family of Telirbagh, Dhaka, now in Bangladesh. She was married to Dr. P.K.Roy, the first Indian to become principal of Presidency College, Kolkata.[1] Charulata Mukherjee, her daughter was mother of Renuka Ray, a Union Minister, Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee, and Prasanta Mukherjee, and thus were her grandchildren.

Along with her husband she used to stay or visit regularly Hazaribagh, which had a small Brahmo community.


She was amongst the early students of Banga Mahila Vidyalaya and Bethune School (established by Bethune) and devoted her life to the cause of women's education. She established a girls' school and a mahila samiti (organisation of women) at Dhaka, when she lived there with her husband. On her return to Kolkata she was a member of Swarnakumari Devi's "Sakhi Samiti". She inspired women from aristocratic families to participate in dance dramas. Rabindranath Tagore composed his dance-drama Mayar Khela at her request and it was first staged at Bethune School.[1]

She was founder of Gokhale Memorial Girls School & College at Calcutta, which was founded in 1920.[2]

All-India Women’s Conference[edit]

Apart from her founding the Gokhale Memorial School, she was the first woman to be secretary of Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya, member of Calcutta University’s senate and one of the leaders of the all-India women’s conference.

The all-India women’s conference, founded in 1927 under the leadership of Margaret Cousins but soon run completely by Indian women, was the most important women’s organisation in its time. It had an effective Bengal branch under capable leaders like Sarala Ray, Renuka Ray, Phulrenu Guha and Ashoka Gupta.[3]


  1. ^ a b Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), 1976/1998, Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, (Bengali), p23, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
  2. ^ Gokhale Memorial Girls' School was founded on the 20 th of April 1920 by Smt. Sarala Ray. She worked out a scheme to prove that "Education meant development of thought and culture- that education brought in wider outlook of life."
  3. ^ Ray, Bharati, Women in Calcutta: the Years of Change, in Calcutta The Living City Vol II, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, first published 1990, paperback edition 2005, p39, ISBN 0-19-563697-X.