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Missionaries of the Past – Banga Chandra Roy

By Ashit Sarkar

Banga Chandra Roy was one of the foremost leaders of the Brahmo movement in East Bengal in the late nineteenth & early twentieth centuries. He was born in a village near Dacca but unfortunately lost his father in his infancy. During his school days, he became a member of the ‘Manoranjini Sabha’ – an association of local boys for attaining moral improvement. Whilst there, Brahmananda Keshub Chandra Sen’s inspiring pamphlet ‘Young Bengal: This is for you’ inspired him greatly and provided him moral and spiritual guidance. He thereafter felt irresistibly drawn towards Brahmoism. During his college life at Dacca he came into close association with the prominent members of the Brahmo community and their encouragement won his whole hearted respect and admiration for the Brahmo samaj and led to his conversion to the faith. His close interaction later with Brahmananda Keshub Chandra Sen inspired his spiritual life and he was entrusted by him to become a missionary in East Bengal. He thereafter spearheaded the Brahmo movement extending over half a century in East Bengal from Dacca facing many adversities.

Banga Chandra was a teacher by profession and also distinguished himself as a journalist. He taught English as one of his subjects and published a weekly English newspaper called “The East” which had a fairly extensive circulation, even amongst the British outside Dacca. His semantic skill and confident style of writing brought him into contact with many Indians and non-Indians in different walks of life and society. Like all true missionaries, Banga Babu never hankered after wealth or worldly possessions or pleasures. But his strained resources never stood in the way of his dedication towards the cause of the Brahmo Samaj.

His 1922 autobiography was republished in 1999 in English and was translated by Prof Dilip Kumar Biswas, a former President of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj and the Asiatic Society of India, at the instances of his great grandsons

Sitangshu Roy (Witten, Germany), Ashish Ghosh (Wrentham, MA, USA), Pradip Das (Kolkata) and supported by Ashit Sarkar (Bangalore).

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