Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (1894 - 1950)
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (বিভূতিভূষণ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়) (a.k.a. Banerjee or Banerji)
was born on September 12, 1894 in village Muratipur in the district of 24 Parganas, Bengal. His mother was Mrinalini Debi and his father
Mahananda, who was a priest, sanskrit scholar, as well as a professional composer and reciter of tales based on the Puranas. He died when Bibhutibhushan, the eldest of five children, was very young.
Bibhutibhushan’s childhood and teen ages were spent in extreme poverty. However, he completed his high school in 1914, Intermediate Exams in 1916, and therefater obtained a B.A. with distinction from the Ripon College. But he had to quit further education and take up teaching as his profession. Initially he taught in village schools, starting with a school in Jangipur in the Hooghly and later in Harinabhi, and did other jobs to eke a living. Later on he stayed on as a teacher in Gopalnagar school till the last day of his life (1950).
From his early childhood the incredible beauty of rural Bengal had enamored Bibhutibhushan. This is what attracts the reader in all his writings. He first published a short story ('Upekshita,' উপেক্ষিতা) in Prabasi (প্রবাসী) magazine in 1922. His most famous and beloved novel Pather Panchali (পথের পাঁচালী) was written while he was living in Bhagalpur. Later he mostly stayed in Ghatshila. In only 21 years of writing, he published numerous novels, diaries, travelogues, short stories and children’s stories. Many of his books were made into movies by famous directors like Satyajit Ray (The Apu Trilogy with Pather Panchali, Aparajito, Apur Sansar; and also Ashani Sanket) and won national and international awards.
Bibhutibhushan’s writings not only express the hardship, poverty, hopes and dreams of rural Bengal, but he also was attracted to the natural beauty of the wilderness. This is shown beautifully in his novel Aranyak (আরণ্যক). He was posthumously awarded the coveted Rabindra Prize in 1951 for his novel Ichhamati (ইছামতী).
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