Patriots > Early Nationalist and Moderates > Banerjee,Krishna Chandra
Banerjee,Krishna Chandra (1851-1911)
Born at Shibnibas in the district of Nadia, in 1851, Krishnachandra had the heritage of India’s age-old culture from his father Ramchandra, a well-known Sanskrit scholar, up right and just. They were descendants, through the daughter’s side, of the Maharaja of Nadia without the share of opulence and glitter.

After passing the First Arts examination from the Krishnagar College, Krishnachandra studied medicine for full three years at the Culcutta Medical College, but he had to leave it under adverse circumstances. Then he finally shifted to journalism as the mission of his life. The exchange of stethoscope for the pen was bon to his country. His nationalistic fervour and flaming patriotism had ample scope for expression in journalism which he took up with zest as his living religion.

He started his journalistic career as Assistant Editor of the Sadharanee edited by Akshay Chandra Sarkar a live-wire Journalist who fanned the flame of Krishnachandr’s patriotic spirit. Here he got in tough with Jogendrachandra Bose who became his life-long colla borator in the field of journalism. The latter started the Weekly Bangabasi in 1881 and some after invited Krishnachandra to take up the editorship of the daily, known as Dainik. Krishnachandra with his remarkable acumen and superior journalistic skill, soon turned the Dainik into an excellent paper.

The brilliant success of the Dainik prompted Jogendrachandra to entrust Krishnachandra with the editorship of the Weekly Bangabasi, which he took up from 1883 and blossomed it into a magnificent paper with the highest reputation during the next decade. Krishnachandra’s period of editorship was acclaimed as the golden age of the Bangabasi with a circulation of 30,000 copies, and all over India ‘Banglabasi’ and ‘Newspaper’ came to be regarded as synonymous terms. He was not only the editor but also co-proprietor of the ‘Bangabasi’ group of papers. Nationalist as he was, he spared no pains to star the Hindi Bangabasi in 1890.

Krishnachandra continued to be the editor of the Bangabasi till 1895. Thereafter he took up the managership of the ‘Bangabasi’ group of journals and around 1898 he snapped the formal relationship with the organization by relinquishing his proprietary right over all its assets. He, however, continued as an adviser and contributor to the ‘Bangabasi’ group till his death in 1911. In 1899 he joined the estate of Narojol in Midnapore (Bengal) as its Chief Manager and remained in that office till 1907.

The last phase of his life from 1907 to 1911 was the Banaprastha period when he sat at the feet of his guru (spiritual preceptor), the illustrious Maharaj Balananda Brahmachari at Deoghar (Bihar). He passed his last days in contemplation, yoga and sublime bliss. During this period he regularly contributed religious and educative articles for the Basumat and the Bangabasi. He breathed his last at Varanasi in 1911.

A doyen of journalists in his days, Krishnachandra wrote articles on a variety of issues which may broadly be grouped under two heads: (i) political and socio-economic, and (ii) religious, educative and cultural. Salavaged from the newspapers and periodicals, majority of these writings bring out Krishnachandra as an ardent nationalist and patriot. In them he is seen attacking not only the British imperialists but also his

West-oriented countrymen who used to denounce everything Indian. Fearlessly he battered the rulers by exposing their ruthless exploitation; while famine was raving the countryside, the imperialists were exporting food grains to England; charging poor India with the maintenance of a large army for imperial aggrandizement; spending huge sums for maintaining a big ecclesiastic establishment with a view to making their rule permanent. All these enraged the imperialists against him.

Krishnachandra also stoutly defended the values of Indian life and culture against the attacks on them by alien writers. For his provocative nationalist writings Krishnachandra was eventually hauled up by the Government under the law of Sedition. Lord Lansdowne, the then Governor-General and Viceroy, directed the prosecution of the Weekly Bangabasi under sections 124A and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, Krishnachandra, Jogendrachandra and others were arrested and thus the first Sedition Case in India was started against them on August 7, 1891.

One of the most notable events in the history of our struggle for independence, this sensational sedition trial ‘created an alaram the like of which was never witness-ed before’. Even its reverberations abroad are evident from the Globe, the Echo and other contemporary London papers. Strangely enough, the Government withdrew the case in September 1891.

Far from being a desk-tied journalist, Krishnachandra used to undertake the hardship of touring in the flood and famine affected areas for correct information and appraisal of the conditions of the people. He visited the interior and inaccessible areas trying to render as much personal assistance to the unfortunate people as possible. For the poor malaria-stricken people he prepared a drug, ‘Vijaya batika’, and made it available at a cheap rate.

To oppose Government measures of interference in social matters, on one occasion Krishnachandra even organized a mass meeting, perhaps the first of its kind in Bengal, if not in India. For imparting a moral and national education to the young boys he started the ‘Hindu school’ at Mindnapore around 1901-02, the school which later on presented the flaming patriot Kshudiram Bose, among others, to the country for taking part in the freedom movement.

Long before the Swadeshi movement he not only urged his countrymen to boycott foreign goods and to use countryside articles, but also himself set the example to others by using indigenous products. He advocated shunning foreign habits, and foreign dress and manners. He was again one of our pioneer nationalists to recommend the use of the mother-tongue as the medium of instruction. With his friend and colleague Panchanan Tarkaratna he made available to the Bengalee readers the gems of Sanskrit literature, notably the Epics and the Puranas, at a considerably cheap price. His eagerness for the development of other Indian languages found expression in his Hindi Bangabasi.

Qualitatively as well as quantitatively, the services of the ‘Bangabasi’ group of journals and publications to our nationalism are in many ways significant and worth recounting. And Krishnachandra, the distinguished and formidable editor of the Bangabasi and the guiding spirit of the entire organisation, was a nationalist in the true sense of the term.

Author : K.K.Das Gupta