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SUNITY DEVI (1864-1932)


Sunity Devi was the mother of Jitendra Narayan of Cooch Behar, mother-in-law of Indira Raje (q.v.) and grandmother of Gayatri Devi (q.v.). She was the daughter of Keshab Chunder Sen, the illustrious Brahmo leader and social reformer of Bengal. She married Maharaja Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur. The ruling family of Cooch Behar had a tradition of strong women; Nripendra Narayan had succeeded to the throne in 1863 when he was a ten-month-old baby and the principality had been ruled by three women regents: Kamteswari Devi, Brindeswari Devi and Nistarini Devi. Sunity Devi was married to him in 1878, after which he left immediately for England and higher studies, leaving her in charge. She was a highly educated woman and established schools, and other institutions for the people of her princely state and all around Bengal. She was awarded the Imperial Order of the Crown of India at Edward VII’s coronation in 1901. Her autobiography was published under the title Autobiography of an Indian Princess in London in 1920, the first autobiography to be written in English by an Indian princess.
 
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