Poet Krishna Chandra Majumder was born on June 10, 1834, 1 year before the birth of Bankim Chandra Chaterjee and 27 years ahead of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore, at village Senhati of Dighalia Upazilla under Khulna district (Khulna started functioning as a district from May 01, 1882. Prior to that Khulna was a sub-division under Jessore district since 1842 and before 1842 it was under a Police Circle, similar to a police station, with headquarter at Nayabad).His father was Manikya Chandra Majumder and mother was Brahmamayi Devi. His childhood was not at all a happy one because his father died when he was only six months’ old. Naturally, his mother had to face extreme poverty but in spite of that his education began traditionally at a village pathshala (school). There was ample opportunity of learning Persian and Sanskrit. Girish Chandra (not Girish Chandra, the first translator of the holy Quran from Arabic into Bengali) was his teacher of Persian and Sanskrit but poverty stood as an unsurpassable impediment to Krishna Chandra. As a result of it mother of Krishna Chandra was compelled to take shelter to the house of Prasanna Kumar, maternal grandfather of Krishna Chandra’s father who was a zaminder also. Actual education of Krishna Chandra began there and he started learning Persian and Sanskrit well but at one stage luxury haunted him and he became addicted to gambling. Being instigated by a group of spoiled classmates he fled away to Calcutta but as he had no shelter there and he had to pass life like a vagabond. One day he was detected by a near relation of him and was sent home. This incident marked change in him and he became attentive to studies. Being guided by Gour Chandra Das, an advocate of Dhaka Judge’s Court and a relative of Krishna Chandra, he resumed studies at Dhaka Normal School but it is not known upto which class he studied though his skill in Persian and Sanskrit was evident in the poems he wrote later on.
For earning livelihood he joined the post of Head Pundit at Kirtipasha School in Barisal which was the beginning of his service life but as that job was not sufficient to mitigate his family poverty he went to Dhaka and joined the post of Circle Pundit. At this time he got married to Amritamayi Devi, daughter of Umasshankar Sen of village Suapur of Manikganj. During his stay in Dhaka he got acquainted with leaders of Brahma Society. They established a press there named Bangala Jantra. Manoranjika, mouthpiece of Brahma Society, was published from that press and Krishna Chandra, though not a member of Brahma Society, was given the responsibility of the editor of Manoranjika. Many of his own poems were published in that magazine. It is acknowledged that this magazine had great contribution to his fame as a poet.
1861 was a very important year in his life. Dhaka Prakash was published under the ownership of Maulavi Abdul Karim and Krishna Chandra was appointed as editor of it at a pay of 25/- per month. Meanwhile, Jessore Zilla School sent him appointment letter proposing pay 30/- per month but Dhaka Prakash re-fixed his monthly salary at 35/-. Apart from all these incidents another event was the most important one. Sadbhavshatak, his first book of verses (an anthology of 100 poems full of honest thoughts) was published in 1861. The name Sadbhavshatak is very meaningful and it is fully congruent with the connotation of the poems in that book. In first edition number of poems was 100 but 33 more poems were included in later edition. It is very rare that a book of poems had the fortune to have another edition. Very few poems in Bengali have gained such huge popularity like Sadbhavshatak. It is to be remembered that Rabindranath Tagore was just born and before 1861 Ishwar Chandra Gupta (1812 - 1859) was a famous poet (in fact a pioneer of modern Bengali poetry) but he was mainly a satirist against the so-called middle class Bengalees who tried to imitate British culture blindly. Before 1861 no remarkable book of verses was published to satisfy the mental and intellectual urge of educated Bengalees and Sadbhavshatak filled that vacuum.
Contemporary poet Biharilal Chakravarty (1835 - 1894) was basically a lyricist. Difference between his Sangeetshatak (anthology of lyrics, published in 1862) and Sadbhavshatak of Krishna Chandra is evident from the names. Biharilal is introvert whereas poems of Krishna Chandra are based on solemn feelings for individual, society, state and above all for total human race. Out of 133 poems in Sadbhavshatak 16 are related to god in which god has been viewed, analysed and realised from different angles viz. love for god, search for god, aim for god, devotion to god, begging mercy from god, statue of god, praying for pardon and power, mother’s affection of god etc. Other 117 poems are wide ranging and all pervading in respect of life, self respect, mind, wastage, happiness and sufferings, pains and pleasures, momentary and eternal, virtue and vice and so on.
Poems related to god and other subjects are excellent no doubt but ethical and realistic poems of Krishna Chandra are more intimate to life, time tested and almost proverbial in themes. But not only the poems of morality, poems on realistic thought which have occupied everlasting place are also important to realise Krishna Chandra. Verses like One who lights candles with pleasure at day time will not find light in darkness of night (poem no. 104, Outcome of Wastage) or don’t stop to see a long way, other than inspiration you can’t gain success (poem no. 76, No pleasure comes without pain.) always teach us to be frugal and serve as a source of inspiration to march towards our goal.
In a micro poem (no. 124, Slanderer) he says – if someone tells others’ fault to you, be sure that he tells your faults to others - which is a very practical expression. Such people always flock around us. Everyday we face such situation but if we remember these two lines it becomes easier for us to be cautious about this part of human nature.
Apart from Sadbhavshatak three other books of Krishna Chandra were published later on which are - Raser Itibratta (1868, autobiography), Mohbhog (1871) and Kaibalyatatta (1883) but Sadbhavshatak is the most recognized, accepted and respected piece. In description of honest thoughts, in teaching of sense of values, in vastness of ethical feelings, in wideness of good themes, in perfect mingling of moral concepts and realistic ideas Krishna Chandra, even after more than a century of his death (13 January, 1907), is a bright and unforgettable poet of Bengali literature.
(The writer is a retired Commissioner of Taxes.)