Born On: April 23, 1898
Born In: Labhpur, Birbhum district, West Bengal
Died On: September 14, 1968
Career: Bengali Novelist
Tarashankar Bandopadhyay's name features in the famous trio of Bandopadhyay's along with Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay and Manik Bandopadhya. He is a universal favourite among Bengali readers. He was a prolific writer and wrote 65 novels, 53-story-books, 12 plays, 4 essay-books, 4 autobiographies and 2 travel stories. Tarashankar was awarded the Rabindra Puraskar, Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award and the Padma Bhushan for his celebrated novels like Arogyaniketan, Dhatridebta, Kalindi, Panchagram, Ganadebata, Kabi, Raskali and Hansulibaker Upakatha. One of the most important aspects of his writings was his experimentation of human relationships which brought out the truth restricted by the conservatism and hypocrisy of the then society.
Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was born at Labpur, Birbhum district, West Bengal to Haridas Bandyopadhyay and Prabhabati Debi. He cleared the Matriculation examination in 1916 and took admission in the intermediate class at the prestigious St. Xavier's College, Calcutta. While studying there, he joined the non-cooperation movement. He was jailed for a year in 1930, and after his release in 1931, he devoted himself to literature and social work. He worked diligently among the people of his village during natural calamities and epidemics. His love for the poor and the helpless is reflected in his short stories and novels. He defied social norms of those times and mixed freely with the so-called lower classes of dom, bagdi, sadgop, and bauri. He married Uma Shashi Debi and they had two sons Sanat and Sarit and two daughters who were named Ganga and Bani.
Like a whiff of fresh air, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay broke the poetic tradition in novels and wrote prose touching upon the lives of ordinary people and the relationships that they have. This shattered the indifference that surrounded the conservative society which believed in hypocrisy and covering up reality. The realism in Literature was substituted by indulging in romance and unbiased writing became the norm of the time only during the third decade of the twentieth century. Tarashankar Bandopadhyay's works are like whiffs of fresh air as they do not reject the reality but look at the world with a new angle. From the rich and powerful Zamindars to the lowest of them all, i.e. the pauper, Tarashanker Bandopadhyay's protagonists are as varied as his characterisations. Some of his works like 'Radha' were scandalous mainly because of that age and time during which it was written. His thoughts were progressive and he believed that the physical relationship between a man and a woman can dominate, to an extent, the existing law and order that a society follows. He produced an enormous amount of work which is popular even today and much loved by his ardent fans and followers. This talented soul ventured into all the walks of Bengali life and reflected the vast panorama of life in the backdrop of the socio-political milieu of that age. His works are remembered by his devoted readers because if his ability to portray a non-judgemental reflection of life, in general, with care and leaving the reader's to form their own impressions.
Contribution To Literature
Tarashankar was a versatile writer whose works include 'Ganadevata', 'Jalsaghar', 'Abhijan', 'Raj Kamal', 'Bicharak', 'Kavi', etc. His historical novel 'Ganna Begum' is an attempt worth mentioning for its traditional values. The Jnanpith Award that Tarashankar Bandopadhyay won in 1967 was because of his novel 'Ganadevata' which revolves around the role of a schoolmaster trying to remove the tyrannies from his village. His novel 'Jalsaghar', immortalized in celluloid by Satyajit Ray, experiments with the natural decay of the feudal system and values which surround a Zamindari family that has fallen on bad times. His masterpiece would be 'Abhijan' which chronicles the exploits of a cab driver in a society filled with hypocrites. 'Bicharak' portrays the dilemma of a judge in passing his verdict for a murder case and 'Kavi' talks about the life of a gypsy poet who wanders around with a group of dancers and prostitutes. Tarashanker Bandopadhyay also went onto lead the Indian delegation of writers at the Asian Writers' Conference in Tashkent in 1957. In 1970, he was elected the president of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. He was a member of the West Bengal Vidhan Parishad during the time 1952-60 and the Rajya Sabha for six years from 1960-66.
Tarashanker Bandopadhyay passed away on 14th September 1981 at Ghatsila, West Bengal.
His book called 'Jalsaghar' has been immortalised by the eminent film maker Satyajit Ray into an exceptional movie.
Awards & Accolades
For his novel 'Arogya Niketan', Tarashankar received the Rabindra Puraskar in 1955 and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956. In 1966, he received the Jnanpith Award for his novel 'Ganadebata'. He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1962 and the Padma Bhushan in 1969. He also received the Sharat Smriti Puraskar and the Jagattarini Gold Medal from the Calcutta University.
1898: Born on April 23th
1916: Cleared Matriculation exam
1952-1960: Member of Vidhan Parishad, West Bengal
1955: Recieved the Rabindra Puraskar
1956: Recieved the Sahitya Akademi Award
1957: Led the delegation of Indian writers at Asian Writers' Conference in Tashkent
1960-1966: Member of the Rajya Sabha
1962: Honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India
1966: Recieved the Jnanpith Award
1969: Honoured with the Padma Bhushan
1970: Elected the president of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad
1981: Passed away on 14th September at Ghatsila, West Bengal.