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Bamabodhini

Bamabodhini

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Published by Maroona Murmu

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Published by: Maroona Murmu on Jul 17, 2012
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01/02/2013

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Lessons in Self-Fashioning: "Bamabodhini Patrika" and the Education of Women in ColonialBengalAuthor(s): Krishna SenSource:
Victorian Periodicals Review,
Vol. 37, No. 2, The Nineteenth-Century Press in India(Summer, 2004), pp. 176-191Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press on behalf of the Research Society forVictorian PeriodicalsStable URL:
Accessed: 21/06/2010 04:05
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LessonsinSelf-Fashioning:
Bamabodhini Patrikaand theEducationofWomeninColonialBengal
KRISHNASEN
InTheHistoryofSexualityFoucaultspeaksoftheintellectualobligationtolocatetheoreticalspeculationwithinspecificmaterialconditions,oftheneed"to discoverwhodoesthespeaking,thepositionsandviewpointsfromwhichtheyspeak,the institutionswhichpromptthemtospeakaboutit[sexualityundervariousnames]and whichstoreand distributethethingsthataresaid..."(FoucaultI:n).Thenineteenth-centuryprojectofconstructingtheNewIndianWoman(anenterpriseprimarilyassociatedwithBengal,ahubofliberalthought)had itsshare of illustriousmalecatalysts,suchasRajaRammohanRoyandIswarchandraVidyasagar.Buttouncovervariegatedinflectionsofthisradically-gendereddiscourseone canto turn toBengaliwomen'smagazinesfor thenewdiscursivesocialiconofthebhadramahila,or"genteelwoman."MeredithBorthwicklistsnineteenth-centuryBengalijournalsdevotedtocreatingareformedfemalesubjectivityaspartofthenationalistagendafora resurgentIndia and describestheir extensivereadership,bothmaleandfemale,inthemetropolitancentersof Calcutta(nowKolkata)andDhaka,insuburbancommunities,insmalldistricttowns,andeveninthevillagesofundividedBengal(Borthwick15sff).Contributorswere men aswellaswomen.Thesepublicationscollectively providedadiscursiveforuminwhichtoprobetheparameters,aswellasthedesirability(orotherwise),ofareinscribedfemalesensibility.Fromtheirpageswecanidentifynotonly"whodoes thespeaking"but,moreimportantly,"thepositionsandviewpointsfromwhichthey speak."Bamabodhini Patrika(JournalfortheEnlightenmentofWomen),aperiodicalforwomenpublishedfromCalcuttainBengali continuouslybetween1863and1922,wasnotonlythelongest runningbutoneof theearliestofsuchjournalsthat includedBharati,Sahitya, Pradip,Mukul,Sakha,andothers.Itwaspreceded onlybytheshort-livedTattwabodhini
 
KRISHNA SEN
177Patrika(Journalfor InculcatingKnowledge,1843)andMasik Patrika(MonthlyMagazine,1854-55).Thestepsleadingtothecreation o?Bamabodhini Patrikaconstituteanhistoricalcapsuleof thereformistagendaforwomeninBengal.Themaindilemmaconfrontingthe reformistswasthatofaccommodatingthe claims of theantahpur(theinnerspaceofhome,synonymouswiththewoman'sarena)withthecallofthe bahir(thespaceoutsidethehome,orthe maledomain):the conundrum of howtobebothin line withWestern-oriented modernizationinwhichwomenweretoknowoftheoutside worldandinlinewithindigenoustraditioninwhichtheywere nottobeapartofit.Bamabodhinini functionedas anintegralcomponentofthe novelsolution workedout toresolvethisthornyproblem.In1862,TheBrahmo1 intellectual Keshub ChunderSeninauguratedtheBrahmobondhuSabha(AssociationinspiredbyBrahmoIdeals),withtheupliftofwomen asoneofitsprimary objectives.Inanerawhenwomen were notexposedtothe non-kindredmalegaze,whenjustafewaristocraticladieswerelearningtheirlettersathome,andladytutorsandschoolsforgirlswerefewand farbetween,Brahmobondhuchampionedthethen-pioneeringconceptofantahpurschools,thatis,schoolingintheandarmahalorwomen's innerlivingquarterswithin thefamilyhome.The studentscouldbeall thewomeninthefamilyfromyounggirlstooldermatriarchs,and the teacherswouldbe theirfathers, brothers,andhusbands,instructingthemaccordingtoaprescribed syllabusandconductingexaminationsatfixed intervals. Severalsuch schoolsweresetupduringthecenturyatwell-to-do homesinCalcutta andDhaka.AstheBrahmobondhuSabhagraduallyshifted itsfocustoother socialissues,itpassedonthis mantletothe BamabodhiniSabha(Societyfor theEnlightenmentofWomen),founded1863andkdbytneYoungTurksoftheBrahmoSamaj,UmeshChandraDatta(b.1840)andBejoyKrishna Goswami(b. 1841).BamabodhiniPatrika,themouthpieceofthisnewSociety,wasDatta'sbrainchildand themainpurveyorofantahpur schooling,aswellasofthemanydebatesanddiatribes whichthismovementprovoked.Bamabodhiniwas amonthlypublicationwithaprintrunofahundredcopiesamonthpricedatone annaeach.Fordecades,untilcompetitorsappearedattheturnofthecentury, everyissuesoldout.The firstissue(August1863/B.S.Bhadra1270)carriedDatta'smanifestodedicatingthejournaltotheserviceofthewoman("bama,"the oldSanskritisedBengaliterm):BythegraceofGodmanypeopleinthiscountryhave turned their attentiontowardsbetteringthe lot ofourwomen.Thattheyneedtobeeducatedjustas
muchasmen,that withoutthis thereisnoadvancementeitherforwomen orfor

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