'Talented people are not born in a country where talents are not treated with reverence.' Though a small poor country, Bangladesh gave birth to so many accomplished progeny since time immemorial. But at the moment we are really caring a little or a straw for our great sons of the soil and glorious heritage. Only within a period less than a century we forgot or became apathetic to most of our illustrious people who had enriched us with perfect knowledge, perception, conscience, wisdom, fame, love, cultural progress, bravery, honesty, reasoning, moral courage, wealth and all qualities of wonderful life. We are always escaping the task in the name of so-called modernisation etc.
Among many illustrious sons of Bengal, Pramathanath Chaudhury (1868 - 1946) happens to be one who is day by day being lost from our present generation due to non-acquaintance .We too are miserably effacing his name from our memory. His ancestral home in the village Haripur is now facing complete annihilation in the hands of fraudulent leaders of this society. There is perhaps none to see how the home of a genius litterateur can in our country be perished in front of so many enlightened people who talk without seeing. The dark and blind fate faced by such incidents can probably be over-turned if and only if our people at the grassroots level rise up to protect heritage sites. Government alone is not capable enough in this regard.
Haripur, an old village under Chatmohor upazila of Pabna district, is the place where the renowned Chaudhury family resided. The family traces its origin from Sushen, a sage who is said to be one of the five Brahmans coming first in Bengal from Kanauj, Uttar Pradesh during 8th-10th century. During Sultani period in Bengal this family was known as Maitra. When the Pathans were ruling (1552 - 1576), Hrishikesh Maitra had been working in the state service of the Afgan Sultans as an employee of the exchequer and thus obtained the title of Majumder. But by so-called kulin Brahmans of the country his family had been treated as fallen because he was in the service of the Sultans. His son Hari Maitra accepted Vaishnavism and was keen in enchanting kirtan, song in glorification of Radha and Krishna. After this the village came to be known as Haripur.
Pramatha Chaudhury alias Birbal (1868 - 1946), the great writer of literature was born to Durgadas Chaudhury and Magnamoyee Devi when Durgadas had been working as deputy magistrate in the district of Jessore. We see that an earthen bust of Durgadas in Haripur High School and College is still being preserved in a crumbling state. Durgadas established this school in the village of Haripur in 1925.
Durgadas had seven sons - Justice Sir Ashutosh Chaudhury (1860 - 1924), Kumudnath (1860 - 1933), Jogesh Chandra (1864 - 1951), Pramathanath (1868 - 1946), Manmathanath, Sruhitnath and Amiyanath, among whom five were barristers educated in England where the other two (being doctors) were also educated. Ashutosh Chaudhury was the first man of the then Pabna district who had been in England. Durgadas's wife Magnamoyee was awarded the title of Ratnagarva by Queen Victoria. Durgadas's daughter Prasannamoyee Devi (1857 - 1939) was a renowned writer whose daughter Priyambada Devi (1871 - 1934) is also famous as a great writer.
Justice of The Calcutta High Court, Barrister Sir Ashutosh was married to Prativasundari (1860 - 1922), the first issue of Hemendranath Tagore (1844 - 1884). Barrister Jogesh Chandra is famous for his role in the Indian National Movement. Barrister Kumudnath was an expert hunter and a good writer. Barrister Pramathanath married Indira Devi (1873 - 1960), daughter of Satyendranath Tagore (1842 - 1923). Dr Manmathanath (Col M N Chaudhury) was the first Indian to be posted as civil surgeon in Madras. He married Leela, daughter of Rabindranath's elder sister Sarodamoni. His daughter Padmasree Devika Rani (1908 - 1994) is the most famous film star of India. Dr Sruhitnath was married to Nalini, daughter of Dwipendranath Tagore.
Barrister Amiyanath's son Padmavivushan General Joyantanath (1908 - 1983) was the chief of Indian Army (1962 - 1966). In addition to being a distinguished military man, he displayed notable talent as a writer and literary critic. He wrote two books on military themes and was the Military Correspondent and a literary reviewer for one of India's leading newspapers. Umesh Chandra Banerjee (1844 - 1906), the great Indian leader was the father-in-law of Amiyanath. Aryakumar, son of Sir Ashutosh, was married to Leela Devi, daughter of Ranendramohon Tagore.
The Chaudhury family of Haripur gave birth to many illustrious children whose contribution and glory are shadowed or erased in darkness. Whenever we look behind our time to see the advancement of our literature, culture, history and heritage, we must lament the unawareness of treasure within our soil. Shouldn't we do something positive to mark the heritage sites and present the same to our next generation?
The ancestral homes of great men are being damaged or are disappearing in front of our eyes. Shouldn't we try to restore the places with proper care? Shouldn't we preserve our heritage sites like Pramatha Chaudhury's home where many great personalities paid visits and lived in? Our scholars should raise voice too. We must remember that the task concerned is not the responsibility of the Government only; scholars' attitude and our efforts should run together to stop such detrimental deeds done by some in the society.
(Samar Chandra Paul is a retired Secretary. He can be reached at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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