The Message and Ministrations of Dewan Bahadur R. Venkata Ratnam, volume 2/Chapter 30

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XXX

P. C. MOZOOMDAR'S

"LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF KESHUB CHUNDER SEN."

(1891)


We beg to acknowledge with many thanks the receipt of a copy of the second edition of Rev. Pratap Chandra Mozoomdar's "Life and Teachings of Keshub Chunder Sen." It is no doubt pleasing to observe that a second edition of this very useful and interesting work has been called for, though we confess we cannot share in the author's "agreeable surprise" at "the rapid sale of the first edition." That a great nation with its more than three millions of educated members took full eighteen months to exhaust a bare thousand copies of an ably written "Life" of one of the most gifted teachers that even this God-inspired land has produced, were a reproach anywhere but in modern India, which is notorious for its stolid indifference to the sacred memory of its "representative men." We cannot understand the remark that the work was comparatively "expensive," when we remember what countless thousands are being lavished upon institutions of doubtful utility, or when we recall from personal observation how our average so-called educated man annually invests much more than the price of a copy of the first edition of this work upon treatises of little elevating tendency and novels teaching very questionable morality. We are, however, glad that a cheaper edition (the price, including postage, of a neat cloth-bound copy being only Rs. 2-2-0) has been brought out. The name of the publishers — the well-known firm of Messrs. Thacker, Spink and Co. of Calcutta — is of course a guarantee of the extremely neat execution of work, though, in our humble opinion, the type, especially that used for the numerous "extracts," might advantageously have been somewhat bigger.

We think we need say but little in praise of a work that has already evoked very high (of course, very richly deserved) necomiums from several leading journals. Though it is our well-considered conviction that not we, but our children's children, at the earliest, will be the proper biographers of Keshub Chunder Sen, yet even as accumulated material for the coming constructor such memoirs would seem to be necessary; and, taken all in all, perhaps Mr. Mozoomdar, who is neither an "idolator" nor an "iconoclast" with reference to the subject of the biography, is best fitted to do this dear and useful work. He has, to a very uncommon extent, four main qualifications of a good biographer — full information, rich sympathy, fine discrimination and rare literary excellence. Though to our view Professor Max Muller's "vignette" appears to come much nearer the "original" than does Mr. Mozoomdar's "life-size," yet we shall be doing him bare justice in saying that Mr. Mozoomdar makes a constant and earnest endeavour to secure the agreement of the reader with his conception of any incident or trait in Keshub's life or character, by supplying all the necessary information for an impartial consideration of the question. And whatever may be our own opinion of some of the sayings, characteristics or acts of the great Brahmo leader, and however we may differ from Mr. Mozoomdar in our estimate of them — -and we make no secret that our opinion concerning not a few of these has been modified and the difference consequently minimised by a careful study of the work before us — we have no hesitation in asserting that, for a long time to come, Mr. Mozoomdar's book will remain the standard biography of the great and good "Brahmananda."