Basu (c 1757-1813)
munshi and one of the first Bangla prose writers, was born at
Chunchura in Hughli. He learnt Bangla and Persian for his
livelihood. Later when he
came in contact with several Englishmen for whom he worked as either
Bangla or Persian munshi he also learnt spoken English.
the recommendation of William Chambers, Ramram was appointed as Bangla munshi
by John Thomas, a Baptist preacher, on 8 March 1787. Until he returned to
England in February 1791, Thomas engaged Ramram as his munshi. When he came back to Bengal along
carey and his family in November 1793, it was on his
recommendation that the latter appointed Ramram as his Bangla munshi
in November 1793. This was the beginning of a long love and hate
relationship between Carey and him. Carey learnt Bangla from Ramram and
translated the bible with
his help. Ramram worked in this capacity until 1796, when he was
dismissed allegedly because of his illicit relationship with a
widow. However, when Carey
established serampore mission and its press with
the help of William Ward and Joshua Marshman (in January 1800), Ramram
was called back to start writing and translating Christian literature.
May 1801, fort
william college established the Department of Bangla under the
leadership of Carey, and Ramram was appointed as one of its munshis,
a post which he held until his death.
a couple of months after his appointment, he wrote, for the use of the
students of the College, the first original book in Bangla prose, called Raja
Pratapaditya Charitra, one of the twelve independent zamnidars of
Bengal, better known as baro
Printed at serampore mission press, the book came
out in July 1801. The first
work of its kind, the College Council rewarded Ramram for this
textbook. In 1802, he
published another textbook, Lipimala, which was a collection of model letters on
different topics. Apart from
these two textbooks, he wrote a number of booklets, in both prose and
verse, which can be termed as Christian literature.
Basu’s other Bengali colleagues were sanskrit scholars and wrote in a
Sanskritised style, his prose reflected his inclination to Persian. By
publishing the first ever original book in Bangla prose, he has left an
ever lasting name for himself in the history of Bangla literature Ramram
Basu died on 7 August 1813.