Bratachari and Gurusaday

Manojit Adhikary

On 5th June, 2013, at 4 PM the docu-film entitled "Bratachari", was ceremonially inaugurated. Besides it, a CD. named "Bratachari Geetali" based on the songs included in the book "Bratachari Sakha", was released. Another DVD named "Bratachari Nrityali" based on the Bratachari dances was released. Apart from them, a DVD of dance drama "Bir Sannyasi Vivekananda" made on the occasion of sesquicentenary of Vivekananda's birthday was released. Professor Dr Kaushik Gupta, the VC of West Bengal State University, Barasat, was the Chief guest in the ceremony. Other special guests were Professor Dr Mahua Mukhopadhyay, Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts, Rabindra Bharati University and Shri Kamalesh Chatterjee, Secretary, Bengal Bratachari Society. Special felicitation was accorded to veteran Bratachari Shri Sivaram Pramanik, a descendant of the Raybenshe (a community of warriors) of Birbhum and Shri Dilip Sarbadhikari, the former chief instructor of the Bengal Bratachari Society. The distinguished guests discussed different aspects of the activities of Gurusaday Dutt, the founder of the Bratachari movement and highly praised the docu-film "Bratachari". They said that the movement should be carried from the rural area to the urban area and beyond the limits of the country. And the docu-film should be the vehicle for the spread of the movement. They appreciated the decision of the release of separate CDs and DVDs of "Bratachari Geetali" and "Bratachari Nrityali". They will help the children of the present time to have a clear idea of the Bratachari movement and build up a healthy society. The documentary encapsulates all the places related to Bratachari, the bank of the river Kushiari in the district of  Shrihatta and some other parts of Bangladesh. Similarly the remote villages of Birbhum, Bankura, Howrah, Purulia, Rajarhat, Joka and even the places like London, Rome, Japan etc have been reflected in the docu-film. Many incidents of Gurusaday's life have been included in the film. It comprises the songs collected from different parts of the country and the songs composed by him. He was born on 10th May, 1882. He lost his parents when he was only 14. In 1901 he stood first in FA exam. In 1902 he went to England with the help of Shrihatta Sammelani. There he prepared to be ICS and Barrister and after becoming successful with credit, returned home in 1905. On returning home he was appointed the SDO in the district of Arrah. In 1906 he married Sarojnalini. In 1911 he came to Bengal from Bihar. During the period between 1912 and 1915 he worked in the Judicial Departments of Khulna, Jessore, Faridpur, Cumilla, Dacca and Barishal of the undivided Bengal. In 1915 he became the Collector in the district of Birbhurn. He did many developmental works there. In 1916 he established Lees Club Amateur Musical society. In 1920 he along with his wife and children toured Japan and felt encouraged by seeing the developmental work there. In 1921 he became the District Magistrate of Bankura. In 1922 he made the project of cultivation on the co-operative basis in Bankura. In 1923 he became the Secretary of the Agriculture and Industry Department. In 1925 Sarojnalini died. In her memory he set up a Women's Welfare Society for the welfare of the needy women. In 1926 he became the District Magistrate of Howrah and set up the Agriculture and Welfare Society of Howrah. He composed folk songs. On 10th March, 1928, the workers of Lilua workshop under Eastern India Railways, under the leadership of Bengal Union Federation called a strike demanding the increase of their wage. On 18th March they gathered near the gate of the Bamangachhi Loco Factory and called the workers engaged in work to join the strike. The English military and police present there opened fire on them without the permission of the District Magistrate resulting in the death of four persons and the injury to 35 others. Within half an hour of this incident the District Magistrate Gurusaday Dutt arrived at the place and made an enquiry. He punished the culprits. In 1930 Gurusaday Dutt was transferred to Birbhum for defying the order of firing on the historical Dandi March. At that time he re-discovered the almost extinct Raybenshe of Birbhum. To preserve the folk culture of Bengal he founded 'Bangiya Palli Sampad Rakshsha Samiti' in 1931. At that time he discovered the Dhali dance of Jessore and the Kathi dance of Birbhum. In 1934 he changed the name 'Bangiya Palli Sampad Raksha Samiti' to 'Bengal Bratachari Society'. He set up 'London Indian Bratachari Group' and 'British Bratachari Group' in London. To see Bratachari and Raybenshe dance poet Rabindranath Tagore invited Gurusaday Dutt to Santiniketan. The dance gave him the idea of including the Raybenshe dance in his dance drama 'Nabin'. Then he made arrangement for training Raybenshe dance in Santiniketan. In 1940 Gurusaday bought 33 acres of land for Rs 31,000/- in the village of Joka at Thakurpukur by the Diamond Harbour Road to the south of Kolkata. The place was named 'Bratacharigram'. In a press conference he told about his wishes. In that sprawling village there would be Path Bari (school), Punthi Bari (library), Sadhana Bari (meditation house), Chas Bari (cultivation house), Karigar Bari (vocational house), Seba Bari (service house), Charushilpa Bari (art house) and Sangraha Bari (museum). In 1940 he retired from his Government service. On 25th June, 1941 at 6-15 AM Gurusaday Dutt died of cancer.

Vol. 46, No. 12, Sep 29 -Oct 5, 2013

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