Prabasi a Bangla journal regularly published for more than sixty years, was started by Ramananda Chattopadhyay (1865-1943) in Baishakh, 1308 BS (April 1901), in Allahabad. Ramananda, having failed in his short-lived ventures with Pradip and Dasi, brought out the monthly Prabasi on his own. Chintamoni Ghosh, the owner of the Indian Press at Allahabad, helped him in the venture. Ramananda taught in a local college but resigned in 1906. Then he simultaneously started an English monthly, the Modern Review, from Allahabad. Within two years, the British Government ordered him to leave Allahabad, finding some fault with the English journal, which was propagating Swadeshi ideals. Ramananda finally settled in calcutta in 1315 BS and continued to publish both the journals from the city. Ramananda edited both almost until his death. Prabasi's fame remains almost unsurpassed by any other Bengali periodical.
Prabasi maintained strict regularity after the first few years. Well edited and well produced, it contained multicoloured prints of paintings from the second year. Prabasi regularly published articles on art and artists and by religiously publishing the works of the Bengal School of artists, Ramananda helped much in popularising
nandalal bose and others. Even paintings by some European artists were first published in Prabasi. Ramananda himself was interested in art studies and wrote on the Ajanta cave paintings in the first issue. Besides the editor himself, OC Ganguly and Nivedita wrote many such articles.
Rabindranath's writings were published in Prabasi almost regularly from 1314 BS, until his demise. It is no exaggeration to say that his major creations reached Bengali homes through it. Prabasi offered variety unmatched by any contemporary journal. Ramananda inspired Gnanendramohan Das to write on the Bengalis residing outside Bengal, which culminated in a two-volume study, Banger Bahire Bangali. Though creative writing was its forte, articles on history, art, archaeology, sociology, education, literature and literary theories, scientific topics, and travelogues were published regularly. The journal discussed contemporary social, economic and political issues. In a section called Vividha Prasanga (Varied Topics), Ramananda chronicled contemporary national and international events. In short, Bengali culture in the first half of the twentieth century is amply reflected in the pages of Prabasi. In the first forty years, the number of contributors to Prabasi crossed 350. Almost all major poets and prose writers of the day appeared in it, a notable exception being
chattopadhyay. No surprise that Prabasi gained unmatched popularity without lowering its dignified status.
Its almost complete set is available in many libraries,
but no index has yet been published. [Indrajit Chaudhuri]