Tarashankar Banerji, the great Bengali writer of India

Bengali writer Tarashankar Banerji (1898 -1971) is a phenomenon. Winner Jnan Pith, India's highest literary award and scores of other honors, Tarashankar contributed more than 134 highly valued and popular books as novels, stories, poems, plays, farces, essays, travelogues, literary studies and history… His works include the famous Ganadevata, Arogyaniketan, Jalsaghar, Dui Purush, Har Mana Har, abhjaan, Saptapadi, Amrapali, Raikamal,and  Kavi. Feature films, based on some of these have won great acclaim. Tarashankar's works portrayed rural life in all its real colors.

Born in Bengal in 1898 as the first kid of Haridas Banerji and Prabhavatidevi, Tarashankar could not complete his college studies for his poor health. He began his writing career as a poet, but his early interests lay in publishing of magazines. As a young man he was attracted by Subhash Chandra Bose and this political connection took him to jail in 1930. He dedicated his first novel, chaitalichoorni, to Subhash. He went to Shantiniketan and met Tagore there. This contact proved to be a catalyst and his creativity found new horizons. In 1942, he became even more active in literary organizations and movements. And shortly he was attracted by the non-violent resistance movement of Gandhiji.

Tarashankar was honored by the Calcutta University in 1947 for his literary contributions. In 1952 he was nominated to the legislative council of the state. He was awarded Bengal's Rabindra Memorial Prize (1954), and the Central Sahitya Akademi award (1956). A visit to China (1957), A visit to Tashkent as the leader of the Indian delegation to the Afro-Asian Writers there (1958), member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, (1960-66), award of the Padmasree, one of the highest national honors (1962), the coveted Jnan Pith, India's highest literary award for his novel Ganadevata (1967), honorary doctorates from the Universities of Calcutta and Jadavpur (1967), Padmabhushan from the Central Government (1967), Fellowship of the Central Sahitya Akademi (1969) – honors and recognitions flowed to Tarashankar one after the other. The rich life which enriched the Bengali literary world came to an end in 1971.