Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
If story telling is the best of the novelistic qualities, Sarat Chandra stands at its best among his peers. The man who has woven magic with his words and some unputdownable series of writings, knew Bengal thoroughly. A master whose lucid and unsanskritized vocabulary and simple style of writing appeared to be a welcome break for the readers, from the tradition of that time. He gave the rural Bengal a character in itself, a character of simplicity yet strength. .
Born in the village of Debanandapur in Hoogly district, Sarat Chandra was reared by his maternal relatives in Bhagalpur. In the year 1894, he passed the Entrance Examination from TN Jubilee Collegiate School and was admitted to FA class but was unable to continue his further education because of the poor financial condition.
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, had a varied career. He started of being an Assistant Settlement officer, in the Baneli Estate. Subsequently, he worked in Calcutta High Court as a Translator and thereafter, as a Clerk in the Accounts Department in Burma Railway. He was also a member of the Bengal Congress and took part in the Non-Cooperation movement. He was later appointed the President of Howrah District Congress.
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay is considered to be an author, who understood the Bengal villages the best. His works have a rural essence, as it speaks of the simple day to day life stories of the families, living far away from the cities in the tranquility of nature, growing old among the rivers, trees and farm lands. He wrote of the women very highly and talked about their situation in a patriarchal society frankly and honestly. He voiced his protest against the social discrimination, injustices and superstitions that went on in the name of religion.
His first novel 'Ramer Sumati' was published in 'Jamuna' a leading Bangla magazine. His two other novels, Path Nirdesh and Bindur Chhele were applauded by the readers. His first novel 'Badadidi'(1907), made him instantly popular among the readers. 'Bindur chhele'(1913), 'Parinita'(1914), 'Baikunther will'(1916), 'Devdas'(1917), 'Srikanta'(Part I-IV, 1917-1933), 'Charirtrahin'(1917) are few of his other popular novels. His novel 'Pather Dabi' (1926), was however, banned by the British government for its revolutionary theme. For children he wrote a series of stories and novels, which include the popular 'Ramer Shumati' and the short stories about 'Lalu and his friends'. A large number of successful films have been made and are still made on his stories, namely, 'Devdas', 'Parinita', 'Srikanta' and so on.
He received several awards for his contribution to Bengali Literature. 'Kuntalin puraskar'(1903), 'Jagattarini Svarna Padak'(1923), membership of 'Bangiya Sangeet Parishad'(1934) and an honorary D.litt by the Dhaka University in the year 1936.
Bengal suffered the irreparable loss when he passed away on 16th January. 1938.
"My literary debt is not limited to my predecessors only. I'm forever indebted to the deprived, ordinary people who give this world everything they have and yet receive nothing in return, to the weak and oppressed people whose tears nobody bothers to notice and to the endlessly hassled, distressed (weighed down by life) and helplesss people who don't even have a moment to think that: despite having everything, they have right to nothing. They made me start to speak. They inspired me to take up their case and plead for them. I have witnessed endless injustice to these people, unfair intolerable indiscriminate justice. It's true that springs do come to this world for some - full of beauty and wealth - with its sweet smelling breeze perfumed with newly bloomed flowers and spiced with cuckoo's song, but such good things remained well outside the sphere where my sight remained imprismed. This poverty abounds in my writings." [Author's comment in the acceptance speech in a meeting organised in his honour - to celebrate his 57th birthday at the Calcutta Town Hall on 2nd Ashwin, 1339 BY (15th Sep 1933).]