Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Anandamohan Bose (23 September 1847 – 20 August 1906) was one of the most important Indian social thinkers and political leaders during the British Raj. He co-founded the Indian National Association, one of the earliest Indian political organizations, and later became a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. In 1847, he became the first Indian Wrangler (a student who has completed the third year of the Mathematical Tripos with first-class honours) of the Cambridge University. Simultaneously he was called to the Bar in 1874. He was also a prominent religious leader of the Brahmo movement and – with Sivanath Sastri – a leading light of the Adi Dharm.       
Anandamohan was born at Jaysiddhi village in Mymensingh district of the undivided Bengal province in British India (in Itna Upazila of Kishoreganj district of present day Bangladesh). His father was Padmalochan Bose and his mother was Umakishori Devi. He completed his school education from the Mymensingh Zilla school and stood ninth in the Entrance Examination. He passed the F.A. and B.A. examinations from the Presidency College, Calcutta and secured first position in both the examinations. In 1870, he received the Premchand Roychand studentship, and went to England for higher education.
Anandamohan was an ardent supporter of the Brahmo movement from his student days. He was officially converted to Brahmo religion along with his wife Swarnaprabha Devi (sister of Jagadish Chandra Bose) by Keshab Chandra Sen in 1869. Later in 1878, when there was a rift in the Brahmo Samaj on several issues, the young members of Bharatborshiyo Brahmo Samaj differed with Keshab Chandra Sen regarding matters of child marriage, administration of the organization and various other matters. Anandamohan led the dissident group. As a result – on 15 May 1878 – he, along with Sivanath Sastri, Umesh Chandra Datta and others founded Sadharan Brahmo  Samaj. The adjective ‘Sadharan’ was important, since it signified that it was an organization where all the members will enjoy the equal democratic rights. Anandamohan was elected the first president of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. He is credited to have built a democratic structure advancing its movement.
Anandamohan made several significant contributions as a social reformer and educator. He called upon all to chalk out social programme to eradicate illiteracy from the society. In 1876 he established the Banga Mahila Vidyalaya in Calcutta the aim of which was the promotion of female education. Later he amalgamated this Vidyalaya with the Bethune School in order to achieve better results in the field of female education. In 1879, he founded City College in Calcutta in keeping with his movement for spread of higher education among the Indians. His bright academic career and deep interest in education convinced the British government to appoint him as a member of the Indian Education Commission (HUNTER COMISSION) of 1882.
Anandamohan founded the Students’ Association with an objective of promoting the spirit of nationalism among the students and along with Surendranath Banerjee and Sivanath Sastri organized regular lectures. It was he who for the first time felt that – under the colonial setting –students constituted the most conscious section of the community and so they must play a constructive role in social and political developments of the country. Therefore he established the Calcutta Students Association in 1875 and himself became the first president.
 Like all patriotic souls in British India, Anandamohan was interested in politics from his student days. While in England, he founded the “Indian Society” along with a few other Indians. He was also associated with the “Indian League” founded by Sisir Kumar Ghosh. He protested against the discriminatory colonial acts like Vernacular Press Act and the reduction of the maximum age for Indian Civil Service Examination. He presided in the protest meeting against Partition of Bengal held at the Federation Hall in 1905, where his address was read out by Rabindranath Tagore due to his ill health.
On the political plane, Bose made another pioneering contribution by setting up a political association called the Indian Association in 1876. Its objective was to organize constitutional agitations against the colonial regime. The Indian Association convened a national conference in 1883. It may be described as the precursor of the Indian National Congress of which Anandamohan was one of the founding leaders. He was also elected as the president of the Congress at its Madras (now Chennai) Session of 1898.
Anandamohan Bose was successively nominated as a member of the Bengal Legislative Council, a member of the Calcutta University Senate and a Fellow of the University. It was due to his persistent and sincere efforts that the Calcutta University Act of Incorporation was amended in order to convert it from merely an examining body to and examining and teaching institution. Under the India Act 1892 the Calcutta University also secured the power to elect a member to the Bengal Legislative Council.
As a patriot, as a scholar, as a political organizer and as an educationist, Anandamohan Bose has a few peers in the history of India.
-  By Dr. Sandipan Sen (Associate Professor of English, Ananda Mohan College)
- Published in The Indian Messenger , June 2012 Issue

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