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Girish Chandra Sen ( ) (1835/36-1910), a Brahmo Samaj missionary, was the first person to translate the Qur’an into Bengali language in 1886. It was his finest contribution to Bengali literature.

Early life

Son of Madhabram Sen of Panchdona, Dhakamarker in Bengalmarker (now part of Narayanganj Districtmarker in Bangladeshmarker), he learnt Persian and Sanskrit in early life and started working as a copywriter in the court of the deputy magistrate in Mymensinghmarker. He was attracted to the Brahmo Samaj under the influence of Keshub Chunder Sen and Bijay Krishna Goswami and joined it as a missionary in 1871.

In 1869, Keshub Chunder Sen chose from amongst his missionaries, four persons and ordained them as adhyapaks or professors of four old religions of the world. He was selected to study Islam. Others selected to study different religions were Gour Govinda Ray for Hinduism, Protap Chandra Mozoomdar for Christianity, and Aghore Nath Gupta for Buddhism. A firm believer in the basic unity of all religions, he immersed himself in his studies and later went to Lucknow to study Arabic and the Islamic religious texts. He was involved in intense studies for about five years.

Erudition on Islam

On completion of his studies, he returned to Kolkatamarker and engaged in translation of Islamic scriptures. After hard labour of six years from 1881-1886, he produced an annotated Bengali version of the Qur’an. Apart from this, he translated from original Persian religious books such as the teachings of Golestan and Bostan (see Saadi), Hadis and the life of Prophet Muhammad, Khalifas and 96 pious souls. In all he wrote and published 42 such books in Bengali. Muslim society, in his days, respected him enormously and called him a Maulavi. Bostan (The Rose Garden) consists of stories aptly illustrating the standard virtues recommended to Muslims, as well as reflections on the behaviour of dervishes and their ecstatic practices. Golestan (The Orchard) contains stories and personal anecdotes. These were used as textbooks and were frequently reprinted.

Other activities

He translated Raja Rammohun Roy’s Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin, a book in Persian on Islam, into Bengali and published it in Dharmatattwa. He wrote Ramkrishna Paramhamser Ukti O Jiboni. His Atmajibon was published in 1906. He was associated with the publication of Sulava Samachar and Bangabandhu and was editor and publisher of the monthly Mahila.

As a Brahmo missionary, he was involved in lecture tours to East Bengal and western India. His devotional prayers were deeply moving. He spoke fluently in Bengali, Urdu and Persian. A simple soft-spoken person he endeared himself to all those who came in contact with him.

References

  1. http://www.quran.net/hadis.htm


1. Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) in Bengali edited by Subodh Chandra Sengupta and Anjali Bose

2. History of Brahmo Samaj by Pandit Sivanath Sastri

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