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KRISHNABHABINI DAS (1864–1919)


Krishnabhabini Das was the wife of Devendranath Das, a lawyer of Bowbazar. He travelled to England on business, and on his second trip there Krishnabhabini went with him. This aroused fierce opposition among her in-laws and in society generally, especially as she had to leave her young daughter behind. Devendranath took up teaching in England, and also saw to his wife’s education with care and attention. They stayed in England for eight years. Krishnabhabini’s book, England-e Bangamahila (a Bengali woman in England), written in 1885 under the pen name ‘Bangamahila’, was so frank about the freedom of Englishwomen that it was proscribed in India.

In spite of her own enlightened perceptions Krishnabhabini had difficulty getting others around her to see her point of view, and she was unable to save her ten-year-old daughter from being married off. Some time later her husband and daughter died within days of each other. There is an account in the magazine Bharati of 1922 of how she gave up wearing western clothes on her husband’s death, took to wearing the thaan, the plain widow’s sari, and began to observe all the austerities and self-abnegations of the typical Hindu widow. She also devoted herself to promoting the Bharat Stree Mahamandal, the organization established by Sarala Devi Chaudhurani, and three branches were opened thanks to her efforts. She wrote her autobiography in verse, titled Jibaner Drishyamala. Though she had no formal education, the University of Calcutta appointed her an examiner.
 
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