The first compendium of the writings of Raja Rammohun Roy were published in 1839 by the sincere efforts of the Raja’s friend and admirer Shri Annadaprasad Badyopadhyay of Telinipara, of Hooghly. Although this information is known to us but the compendium is not available with any library. Late Dilip Kumar Biswas, an authority on Raja Rammohun had informed that selected writings of the Raja had been published by Tatwabodhini Sabha (1843-45). It is not even available with the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj library. However, the Works of Raja Rammohun Roy compiled by Rajnarayan Basu and Anandachandra Bidyabagish and published through Adi Brahmo Samaj in 1880, is preserved in Sadharan Brahmo Samaj library. Similarly the edition of the Bengali and Sanskrit compilations of Rammohun, published in 1915 by Panini Office of Bahadur Gunj, Allahabad, is available in this library. Shri Chintamani Ghosh and Shri Ramananda Chattopadhyay took utmost care to get these works printed. Upendranath Mukhopadhyay of Basumati Karyalaya published the works of Raja Rammohun Roy entitled as ‘Satsahitya Granthabali”. During the centennial celebration of the founding of the Brahmo Samaj in 1928, Sadharan Brahmo Samaj published the first volume of Rammohun’s Works which was edited by none other than the Oxford Scholar Shri Hem Chandra Sarker, an erudite member of the Samaj. This volume is preserved in the library although I am not aware if any other volumes have been published since. However, the annotated compendium of Raja Rammohun’s works published in seven volumes by Bangiya Sahitya Parishad in 1944-52, is present in the library. The editors were Shri Brajendranath Badyopadhyay and Shri Sajanikanta Das. This compendium is also available in a single volume. Rammohun Rachanabali published in 1973 by Hafar Publishing House, Kolkata (Calcutta) is also available with the library. Similarly the first edition of the entire collection of the English writings of Rammohun Roy entitled as ‘The Complete Works of Raja Rammohun Roy’ is preserved here. This was edited by Yogesh Chandra Ghosh and published in two volumes, first in 1886 and the second in 1887. The two volumes published by Panin-Office of Allahabad, were edited by Shri Ishan Chandra Basu. These writings were later published in three volumes by Shri Shreekanta Roy (1901) and the revised version was published from Allahabad (1906) by Shri Ramananda Chattopadhyay along with some letters and the English translation of his Farsi writing Tufat- ul-Mouahiddin. There are many other editions of the English works of Raja Rammohun Roy in this Library of which the most important is ‘The English Works of Raja Rammohun Roy” edited by Shri Kalidas Nag and Shri Debojyoti Barman and published by Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in 1945-51.
It is not that the library has a collective works, it has also been enriched by biographies and autobiographies of great personalities the world over. Infact no other library with the exception of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad and the National Library has such a rich collection of biographical literature. There are a number of different editions of the auto-biographies and biographies and the subtle difference between the different editions are also noticeable.
Besides the autobiographies of Debendranath and Shivanath Shastri, there area number of auto biographies of persons like Rajnarayan Basu, BaikunthanathGhosh, Bipin Chandra Pal, Krishnakumar Mitra, Nilmoni Chakraborty, Srinath Chanda. Kantichandra Mitra, Suniti Devi, Nanakanta Chattopadhyay, Girish Chandra Sen, Dwarkanath Roy, Gurucharan Mahalanobish, Gagan Chandra Home, Ullashkar Dutta, Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Unpendranath Badyopadhyay, Saradamanjuri Dutta, Soumendranath Thakur and others. The list of biographies is nearly unending. These include not only those who belonged to the Brahmo Samaj. Along with the life stories of Rammohun, Debendranath, Keshab Chandra, Shivanath, Anandamohun we find the biographies of Bankim Chandra, Vivekananda and Aurobinda too. It is needless to say that there are many books on Rabindranath as well. In order to emphasise on the vastness of such collections, let us take the ones related to Rammohun. The best biographies of Rammohun in English and Bengali are penned by Sophia Dobson Collet and Nagendranath Chattopadhyay respectively. The library has all the editions of these two books along with those written by different authors that include Ajit Kumar Chakraborty, Anil Chandra Ghsh, Amal Home, Amarchandra Bhattacharya, Amritalal Bandyopadhyay, Amritalal Basu, Aurabinda Poddar, Aurobinda Guha, Ishanchandra Ray, Upendranath Bal, Hrishi Das, Kalyan Brahmachari, Kshitimohan Sen, Girija Shankar Roychoudhury, Girish Chandra Nag, Tapash Kumar Bandyopadhyay, Dilipkumar Biswas, Debendranath Bhattacharya, Dhirendranath Choudhury Vedantabagish, Nandamohan Chattopadhyay, Nalinimohan Sanyal, Nirmal Sengupta, Pradip Roy, Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Brajendranath Bandyopadhyay, Bhudeb Choudhury, Mani Bagchi, Madan Mohan Garai, Yamuna Nag, Jatindrakumar Majumder, Jogananda Das, Jogindranath Sarkar, Rajanikanta Gupta, Ramaprasad Chanda, Rabindranath Thakur, Rasbehari Ray, Leela Majumder, Saratkumar Roy, Shashibhushan Basu, Shivanath Shastri, Satishchandra Gangyopadhyay, Sukumar Mitra, Surajit Dasgupta, Somendranath Basu, Soumendranath Thakur.
While searching for the biography of Atul Prasad Sen, we have come across four written by Manashi Mukhopadhyay, Kalyan Kumar Basu, Binayendra Dasgupta and Suresh Chandra Chakraborty. There are the first to last edition of the book Geetigunja by Atul Prasad Sen. The library is a rich store house for books related to music and their notations. I have found the life story of Colonel Suresh Biswas written by Upendrakrishna Bandyopadhyay. There are books on the lives of such illustrious persons like Ashwinikumar Dutta, Anandamohan Basu, Girishchandra Majumder, Annadacharan Sen, Chandicharan Sen, Ambikacharan Sen, Rajanikanta Sen, Ramendrasundar Tribedi, Aurobindo Ghosh, Brajasundar Mitra, Dinanath Sen, Binayendranath Sen, Pratapchandra Majumder, Aghorenath Gupta, Akshaykumar Dutta, Fakirdas Ray, Bijoykrishna Goswami, Umeshchandra Dutta, Nabadwip Chandra Das, Prafulla Chandra Roy, Jagadish Chandra Basu, Kaliprasanna Ghosh, Krishnakumar Majumder, Harish Chandra Mukhopadhyay, Kishorichand Mitra, Shibchandra Den, Kalinarayan Gupta, Prankrishna Acharya, Madhusudan Rao, Ramtanu Lahiri and others.
Besides these rich volumes the library has a rich collection of rare periodicals and magazines in both English and Bengali languages. These include Tatwabodhini Patrika, Tatwa Koumudi, Banga Darshan, Dasi, Punya, Suprabhat, Dharmatatwa, The Indian Mirror, The Liberal and the New Dispensation, Brahmo Public Opinion, New India, Bengalee, Indian Messenger, Bharati, Bharatbarsha, Nabya Bharat, Bangabandhu, Prabashi, Modern Review, The Calcutta Review, Alochana, Janmabhumi, Pradeep, Sandesh, Paricharika, Antahpur, Bamabodhini Patrika, Manashi, Sakha, Sakha O Sathi, Mukul, Sabuj Patra, Sahitya, Uttara, Hitabadi, Desh etc.
The past glory has dimmed considerably in recent times. But the Sadhran Brahmo Samaj library has managed to exist till now. In 1978 the Centennial year of Sadhran Brahmo Samaj was celebrated with due importance. The renovation and reorganisation of the library could be done to some extent during this occasion. After this a Children’s section was added to the library in memory of the renowned journalist and writer Jogananda Das. A Library Committee nominated by the Executive Committe of Sadhran Brahmo Samaj, that includes an honourary Librarian and an honourary Secretary, manages the functioning of the library. It cannot be denied that it will become impossible to maintain this library and its invaluable collections unless grants are made available. It is quite impossible to run the library with a single paid library assistant. It is very important that this library, which is witness to the awakening of Bengal, survives.
Translation: Sudakshina Kundu Mookerjee