Bankim Chandra Chatterjee or Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was an Indian novelist, poet, and journalist. He was the composer of Vande Mataram, originally in Sanskrit, representing India as a mother goddess and encouraging activists during the Indian Independence Movement.
Bankim Chandra and his elder brother both went to Government Zilla School (now Hooghly Collegiate School), where he wrote his first poem. He was educated at Hooghly Mohsin College and later at Presidency College, Kolkata with a degree in Arts in 1858. Later, he visited the University of Calcutta and was one of two candidates who passed the final exam to become the school’s first graduates. In 1869, he obtained a degree in Law.
Following his father’s footsteps, Bankim Chandra joined the Subordinate Executive Service. In 1858, he was appointed a Deputy Magistrate of Jessore. In 1863, he went on to become Deputy Magistrate and Deputy Collector, the services which recently merged. In 1891, he was retired from the Government service.
In 1984, Bankim Chandra was made a Companion of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (CMEOIE). He earned the title of Rai Bahadur in 1891.
Literary Career of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay started his literary career as a writer of poetry before writing fiction. His first attempt was a novel in Bengali which was presented for a declared award but did not win and the novella was never published.
Her first novel to appear in print was the English novel Rajmohan’s wife. In 1865, Durgeshnandini, her first Bengali romance and the first novel in Bengali was published. One of Chattopadhyay’s many novels called historical fiction is Rajasimha (1881, rewritten and enlarged 1893).
Anandamath (The Abbey of Bliss, 1882) is a political novel representing a sannyasin (Hindu ascetic) army fighting a British force. The book calls for the rise of Indian nationalism. The novel was also the source of the song Vande Mataram, composed with music by Rabindranath Tagore, which was taken by many Indian nationalists and is now the national song of India.
The plot of the novel is loosely based on the Saint’s Rebellion. He imagined a battle of untrained Saints soldiers and defeated the highly experienced British army; Eventually, he admitted that the British could not be defeated.
The novel first appeared in serial form in Bangdarshan, the literary magazine founded in 1872 by Chattopadhyay. Vande Mataram became famous during the Swadeshi movement, which was sparked by Lord Curzon’s attempt to divide Bengal into a Hindu majority West and a Muslim majority East. Attracted by the Shakti tradition of Bengali Hindus, Chattopadhyay represented India as a mother goddess, giving the song a Hindu tone.
Chattopadhyay’s analysis on the Gita was published eight years after his death and his commentaries covered the 19th verse of chapter 4.
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