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Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (About this soundlisten ) (12 September 1894 – 1 November 1950)[1] was an Indian Bengali author, and one of the leading writers of modern Bengali literature. His best known work is the autobiographical novel, Pather Panchali (The Song of the Road). He was posthumously awarded the Rabindra Puraskar in 1951, the most prestigious literary award in West Bengal, for his novel Ichhamati.[2]

Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Born12 September 1894
Muratipur, West Bengal, India)
Died1 November 1950 (aged 56)
Ghatshila, Bengal Presidency (now Jharkhand
OccupationWriter, novelist, songwriter
Alma mater
Notable works
Notable awardsRabindra Puraskar (posthumous) (1951)
  • Gouri Devi
  • Rama Chattopadhyay
ChildrenTaradas Bandyopadhyay

Early lifeEdit

The Bandyopadhyay family originated in the Panitar village near Basirhat, located in the North 24 Parganas district of modern-day West Bengal. Bandyopadhyay's great-grandfather, who was an Ayurvedic physician, eventually settled in Barakpur village, near Gopalnagar, Banagram (now Bangaon), North 24 Parganas.[3] However, Bandyopadhyay was born in Muratipur village, near Kalyani in Nadia, at his maternal uncle's house. His father, Mahananda Bandyopadhyay, was a Sanskrit scholar and story-teller by profession. Bandyopadhyay was the eldest of the five children of Mahananda and his wife Mrinalini. His childhood home was at Barakpur village, near Gopalnagar.


Bandyopadhyay studied at Bongaon High School, one of the oldest institutions in British India, and was considered as a talented student. Following a first division placement in the Entrance and Intermediate Arts examinations, Bandyopadhyay completed his undergraduate degree in economics, history, and sanskrit at the Surendranath College (then Ripon College) in Kolkata. He was admitted to the master's degree (MA) and Law classes, but could not afford to enroll for the postgraduate course at the University of Calcutta, and joined as a teacher in a school in Jangipara, Hooghly.[2][4]


Bandyopadhyay worked in a variety of jobs to support both himself and his family before becoming a writer. His first job was as a teacher, but he also served as a travelling publicist for Goraksini Sabha, and later as a secretary for Khelatchandra Ghosh, a role that included the management of his Bhagalpur estate. He became involved with Khelatchandra, a prominent name in music and charity, while tutoring his family. He also taught at the Khelatchandra Memorial School.[2] Eventually, Bandyopadhyay returned to his native place. He started working as a teacher in the Gopalnagar School, which he continued alongside his literary work, until his death. He wrote and published Pather Panchali while staying at Ghatshila, a town in Jharkhand.


Bandyopadhyay's works are largely set in rural Bengal, with characters from that area. Several of his novels are set in Bongaon, including Pather Panchali, Adarsha Hindu Hotel, Ichamati, and Bipiner Sansar. In 1921, Bandyopadhyay's first published short story, "Upekshita" appeared in Prabasi, at the time one of Bengal's leading literary magazines. However, he did not receive any critical attention until 1928, when his first novel Pather Panchali (also known in English as Song of the Little Road) was published (initially as a serial, then as a book in 1929). Pather Panchali brought Bandyopadhyay to prominence in Bengali literature, and the novel and its sequel Aparajito, were subsequently translated into numerous languages.[2] Additionally, these two were made into films by Satyajit Ray, and together with Apur Sansar, formed the highly successful Apu Trilogy.[5] Ray referred aspiring scriptwriters to the works of Bandyopadhyay, and praised him by saying, "His lines fit the characters so well, they are so revealing that even when the author provides no physical description, every character seems to present itself before us simply through the words it speaks".[5] His creation Taranath Tantrik was popular for the Bengali reader and the series was extended by his son Taradas.[6]


Ichhamati reflects and documents a period of caste stratified culture, the life of rural society along the banks of the Ichamati River, in undivided Bengal. The novel captures indigo planters, plantation life, and caste society in Bengal during the early 20th century, in vivid detail. Relationships are sensitively portrayed in the narrative, with the author exploring the subtle nuances contained therein. Readers have praised the detailed descriptions of nature and the unselfconscious, but poetic portrayal of the flora and fauna on the banks of the Ichamati River. Ichamati has also been described as a deeply spiritual piece of writing, with Advaita Vedanta holding particular relevance to the contained dialogue.

Critical receptionEdit

Bandyopadhyay wrote 16 novels, and over two hundred short stories. His style as a Bengali novelist has often been compared to Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Pather Panchali is considered Bandyopadhyay's masterpiece, and is included in the ICSE syllabus for students choosing to study Bengali. Author Humayun Azad opined, that the novel form of Pather Panchali is superior to its cinematic rendition. Azad's view is not necessarily a commonly held one in the West, as the Apu Trilogy is considered among the finest films in the history of cinema. The unavailability of a complete English translation of the novel creates difficulty in comparing the two separate works for the English-speaking audience (the available translation by T. W. Clark and Tarapada Mukherji is a truncated version). However, in the Bengali-speaking world, the stature of the novel is uncontested.

Amit Chaudhuri has translated a few excerpts from the novel for inclusion in the anthology, The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature. In his introduction to these excerpts, Chaudhuri wrote, "Unique for its tenderness and poetry ... Pather Panchali rejects both nineteenth-century realism and social realism (the social milieu described in it would have logically lent itself to the latter) for an inquiry into perception and memory."[7] The complete text of Aparajito has been translated into English by Gopa Majumdar. The novel Aranyak has been translated into English in January 2017 by Suchismita Banerjee Rai, and it has been published by Mitra and Ghosh Publishers based in Kolkata.

Martin Seymour-Smith, in his Guide to Modern World Literature (1973), describes Bandyopadhyay (he uses the form Banerji) as "perhaps the best of all modern Indian novelists", going on to write that, "probably nothing in twentieth-century Indian literature, in prose or poetry, comes to the level of Pather Panchali".[8]

Personal lifeEdit

Bibhutibhusan's House, Ghatshila.

Bandyopadhyay spent his early days in abject poverty, and subsequently he supported his family financially, though the extent of his support is unknown. He had a stout build and walked miles in the woods every day, usually taking his notebook for the purpose of writing whilst surrounded by the wilderness.

His first wife Gouri Devi died of cholera, a year after their marriage. Her death and Bandopadhyay's consequent loneliness led to a theme of tragedy that became a recurrent motif in his early writings. At the age of 46, he married Rama Chattopadhyay. Their son, Taradas, was born in 1947.


Bandopadhyay died on 1 November 1950, in Ghatshila. The cause of death was identified as a heart attack.[9]


Complete list of novels:

  • Pather Panchali (Bengali: পথের পাঁচালি) (Song of the Road)
  • Aparajito (Bengali: অপরাজিত) (Unvanquished; sequel to Pather Panchali)-Completed By His Son Taradas
  • Aranyak (Bengali: আরণ্যক) (In the Forest)
  • Adarsha Hindu Hotel (Bengali: আদর্শ হিন্দু হোটেল)
  • Ichhamati (Rabindra Purashkar 1950–51) (Bengali: ইছামতি)
  • Dristi Pradeep (Bengali: দৃষ্টি প্রদীপ)
  • Chander Pahar (Bengali: চাঁদের পাহাড়)
  • Hire Manik Jale (Bengali: হিরে মানিক জ্বলে)
  • Debjan (Bengali: দেবযান)
  • Bipiner Sangsar
  • Anubartan
  • Ashani Sanket
  • Kedar Raja
  • Dampati
  • Sundarbane Sat Batsar-Not completed by him
  • Dui Bari
  • Kajol—Sequel of Aparajito
  • Maroner Danka Baje
  • Mismider Kabach
  • Aam Aatir Bhenpu (Bengali: আম আঁটির ভেঁপু)

Partial list of short story collections:

  • MeghaMallar
  • Mauriphool
  • Jatrabadol
  • Jonmo o mrittu
  • Kinnardal
  • Benigir fulbari
  • Nabagata
  • " Taranath tantric"(jointly with his son taradas Bandyopadhyay)

Adaptations of novels and short stories in cinemaEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "State Central Library Kolkata". Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Sekhar, Saumitra (2012). "Bandyopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  3. ^ Chattopadhyay, Sunil Kumar (1994). Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay. Makers of Indian Literature (1st ed.). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 1. ISBN 81-7201-578-X.
  4. ^ Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay Retrieved 19 May 2013
  5. ^ a b Chandrahas (18 September 2005). "The world of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay" (Web page (blog)). The Middle Stage: Essays on Indian and world literature. Chandrahas. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Q's Taranath Tantrik to start streaming today on Hoichoi". Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  7. ^ The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature, edited by Amit Chaudhuri, (p. 66)
  8. ^ Guide to Modern World Literature, Martin Seymour-Smith (p. 712)
  9. ^ "Bandopadhyay's Death". Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  10. ^ "It's All About Love". Indian Express. 26 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2013.