Rashmoni Das
Statue of Rani Rashmoni at Esplanade, Kolkata
Born(1793-09-28)28 September 1793
Kona village, Bengal Presidency ( adjacent to Halisahar-Kanchrapara; her birthplace is marked by a ghat and temple in CharNandanbati, Kalyani, Nadia)
Died19 February 1861(1861-02-19) (aged 67)
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British Raj
NationalityIndian
Other namesRani Rashmoni, Lokmata
Occupation(s)Social activist, Businessperson, Zamindar
Known forFounder of Dakshineshwar Kali Temple in Kolkata
SpouseBabu Rajachandra Das (Marh)
ChildrenPadmamoni Das (Dutta), Kumari Chowdhury, Karunamoyee Biswas, Jagadamba Biswas.[1]

Rashmoni Das, popularly known as Lokamata Rani Rashmoni, also spelled as Rani Rasmani, (28 September 1793 – 19 February 1861), was an Indian businesswoman, entrepreneur, Zamindar, philanthropist and the founder of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple in Kolkata. She remained closely associated with Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa after she appointed him as the priest of the Dakshineswar temple. She was also one of the earliest social reformers in early nineteenth-century Bengal and was one of the forerunners of the Bengal Renaissance. Besides, she also led many of the resistances against the encroaching British administration and their presence in all walks of colonial society in the Bengal province. Her other construction works include the construction of a road from Subarnarekha River to Puri for the pilgrims, Babughat (also known as Babu Rajchandra Das Ghat), Ahiritola Ghat and Nimtala ghat for the everyday bathers at the Ganges. She also offered considerable charity to the Imperial Library (now the National Library of India), and the Hindu College (now Presidency University).[2]

Presently, the Lokmata Rani Rashmoni Mission is situated at Nimpith, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, 743338, India.[3]

Biography

Rashmoni was born on 28 September 1793 in a peasant family of Harekrishna Das, who lived at 'Kona' village, Kanchanpalli ( a bordering area of present-day North 24 Parganas and Nadia) .[4][5][6] Her mother Rampriya devi died when she was just seven years old. She was married to Babu Rajachandra Das (Marh) of Janbazar, Kolkata, a member of a wealthy Mahishya zamindar family, when she was eleven years old. They had four daughters.[7]

Dakshineswar Kali Temple, built by Rani Rashmoni in 1855

After her husband's death in 1836, Rashmoni assumed responsibility of the zamindari and finances.

After inheriting property from her husband, she managed to endear herself to the people through her management skills of the estate and her many charitable works in the city. She was well loved and revered by the people and proved herself to be worthy of the title, "Rani".[8]

The Rani had clashes with the British in India. By blocking the shipping trade on a part of the Ganges she compelled the British to abolish the tax imposed on fishing in the river, which threatened the livelihood of fishermen. When Puja processions were stopped by the British on the charge that they disturbed the peace, she defied the orders. The British withdrew the penalty imposed on her.

She tacitly supported social activist/scholar Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's campaign for widow remarriage. She even submitted a draft bill against polygamy to the East India Company, who handled the administration during those days.

The Eden Gardens (then Marh Bagan) was also a part of their Zamindari area, which they later gifted to the Eden sisters of Lord Auckland, the then Governor-General of India, as they helped him in saving life of Babu's 3rd daughter from a fatal disease.

The Rani also had to her credit numerous charitable works and other contributions to society. She oversaw the construction of a road from Subarnarekha river to Puri for pilgrims. She funded the construction of ghats such as Babughat (in memory of her husband), Ahiritola Ghat and Nimtala Ghat for the daily bathers in the Ganges. Rashmoni also donated to the then Imperial Library (now the National Library of India) and Hindu College (now Presidency University). Prince Dwarkanath Tagore had mortgaged a part of his Zamindari in now South 24 Parganas (part of present-day Santoshpur and adjoining areas) to Rashmoni for his passage to England. This part of land which was then a part of the Sunderbans was marshy and almost uninhabitable except for some families of thugs who found the area convenient to stay and venture out for plunders in far away places mounted on stilts. Rashmoni persuaded these families and helped them to build up fisheries in the surrounding water bodies that later turned into large, rich bheris. They gradually gave up their profession of plundering and transformed into a community of fishermen.[9]

Profoundly affected by a dream to build a temple of Goddess Kali, Rani looked for and purchased a 30,000-acre plot in the village of Dakhineswar. The large temple complex was built between 1847 and 1855. The 20-acre (81,000 m2) plot was bought from an Englishman, Jake Hastie, and was then popularly known as Saheban Bagicha.[10] It took eight years and nine hundred thousand rupees to complete the construction. The idol of Goddess Kali was installed on the Snana Yatra day on 31 May 1855 amid festivities at the temple formerly known as Sri Sri Jagadishwari Kali, with Ramkumar Chhattopadhyay as the head priest. Soon his younger brother Gadai or Gadadhar (later known as Ramakrishna) moved in and so did his nephew Hriday to assist him.[11][12][13][14][15]

Rani Rashmoni's House at Janbazar was venue of traditional Durga Puja celebration each autumn. This included traditional pomp, including all-night jatras (folk theatre), rather than by entertainment for the Englishmen with whom she carried on a running feud. After her death in 1861, her sons-in-law took to celebrating Durga Puja in their respective premises.[16]

Being an ardent devotee of the Goddess Kali, "Sri Rasmani Dasi, longing for the Feet of Kali " were the words engraved in the official seal of her estate.[17]

In popular culture

Rani Rashmoni on a 1994 stamp of India
Shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni within the precincts of Dakshineswar Kali Temple

Rani Rashmoni has also been subject of a biographical film in Bengali language, titled Rani Rasmani (film) (1955), directed by Kaliprasad Ghosh, and wherein lead played by famous theatre personality and actress Molina Devi.[18]

Zee Bangla also featured a daily soap depicting the life of the illustrious Rani, Karunamoyee Rani Rashmoni, which premiered on 24 July 2017 and was telecasted daily till 13 February 2022.[19][20]

Monuments

Gallery

See also

Further reading

References

  1. ^ Roy, Nirmal Kumar, "Rani Rashmonir Jibanvritanta" (Life History of Rani Rashmoni), Udbodhan, 1, Udbodhan Lane, Bagbazar, Kolkata - 700 003. ISBN 81-8040-345-9. pp. 196-232
  2. ^ Rashmoni Devi Dakshineswar Kali Temple website.
  3. ^ NGO's working with Environment Department Archived 31 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Environment Department, Government of West Bengal.
  4. ^ "Rasmoni, Rani - Banglapedia". en.banglapedia.org. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  5. ^ Bandopadhyay, Sudhindra Kumar (1964). Yugasādhikā Rāṇīrāsamaṇī (in Bengali). Pratimā Pustaka. p. 3.
  6. ^ Bandyopādhyāẏa, Tāpasa (1995). Ūniśa śatakera Rānāghāṭā (in Bengali). Sāhityaśrī. p. 13.
  7. ^ Sen, Amiya P. (June 2006). "Sri Ramakrishna, the Kathamrita and the Calcutta middle classes: an old problematic revisited". Postcolonial Studies. 9 (2): 165–177. doi:10.1080/13688790600657835. S2CID 144046925.
  8. ^ Saradananda, S. (1952). Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master (3 ed.). Mylapore. pp. 114–115.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ Nandi, Amrit Kumar (2017). Bratyajaner Rani Rashmoni. Kolkata: Kamalini Prakashan.
  10. ^ Prabhananda, Swami (October 2003). "The Kali Temple at Dakshineswar and Sri Ramakrishna". Vedanta Kesari.
  11. ^ Mehrotra, Rajiv (2008). Thakur: A Life Of Sri Ramakrishna. Penguin Books India. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-14-306371-1.
  12. ^ "History of the temple". Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Dakshineswar - A Heritage". Government of West Bengal. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  14. ^ Swati Mitra, ed. (2011). Kolkata: City Guide. Goodearth Publications. ISBN 978-93-80262-15-4.
  15. ^ Swami Chetanananda (2001). God lived with them. Advaita Ashrama. p. 655. ISBN 978-0-916356-79-8.
  16. ^ Dutta Dey, Deblina (4 September 2019). "জানবাজারের ঐতিহাসিক রানি রাসমনির বাড়ির পুজো, এই পুজোয় সামিল হতেন রামকৃষ্ণ পরমহংসদেব". Asianet News Network Pvt Ltd (in Bengali).
  17. ^ Saradananda 1952, p. 115.
  18. ^ Rani Rashmoni at IMDb
  19. ^ "Official page of Karunamoyee Rani Rashmoni". www.zee5.com.
  20. ^ "Rani Rashmoni beats popular shows on TV; rules the TRP chart". timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
  21. ^ Ganguly, Biswarup (7 February 2015). "Rani Rashmoni Avenue - Esplanade - Kolkata".
  22. ^ Skywalk to adorn Dakshineswar soon | Kolkata News – Times of India. Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com (22 April 2012). Retrieved on 2018-11-30.
  23. ^ "Birth Bicentenary of Rani Rashmoni: Commemorative Stamps". www.indianphilatelics.com. Thakkar Numismatic & Art Foundation.
  24. ^ Sarma, Ch R. S. (18 June 2018). "Rani Rashmoni inducted into Indian Coast Guard". @businessline. The Hindu.