A prominent educator, linguist, and Christian missionary, Krishna Mohan Banerjee (24 May 1813 – 11 May 1885) was a 19th-century Indian thinker who attempted to rethink Hindu philosophy, religion and ethics in response to the stimulus of Christian ideas. He himself became a Christian, and was the first president of the Bengal Christian Association, which was administered and financed by Indians.
In 1819, Krishna Mohan joined the School Society Institution (later renamed as Hare School) founded by David Hare at colootola. Impressed by his talents, Hare took him to his school at Pataldanga, later famous as Hare School in 1822.
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Banerjee joined the newly founded Hindu College with a scholarship. While at college he used to attend the lectures of the Scottish Christian missionary, Alexander Duff, who had come to India in 1830.
Conversion to Christianity
On completion of his studies in 1829, Banerjee joined Pataldanga School as an assistant teacher. In 1832, he converted to Christianity, under the influence of Alexander Duff. As a result of his conversion, he lost his job in David Hare’s school and his wife, Bindhyobashini Banerjee, was forced to return to her own father’s house, only to join him in later life. Nevertheless, he later became the headmaster of Church Missionary Society School.
When the missionary society had begun its philanthropic activities in Kolkata, Banerjee became the first Bengali priest of Christ Church where he used to preach and deliver sermons in Bengali.
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He converted his wife, his brother Kali Mohan, and Ganendra Mohan Tagore, the son of Prasanna Coomar Tagore to Christian faith. Subsequently, Ganendra Mohan married his daughter Kamalmani and became the first Indian to qualify as a barrister. He was also instrumental in the conversion of Michael Madhusudan Dutt.
Later Life and Death
In 1852, Krishna Mohan was appointed a professor of Oriental Studies at Bishop’s College, Kolkata. He had studied aspects of Christianity as a student of the same college between 1836 and 1839.
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In 1864 he was elected to be a member of the Royal Asiatic Society along with Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. In 1876 the University of Calcutta honoured him with a honorary doctorate degree.
Reverend Krishna Mohan Banerjee died on 11 May 1885 in Kolkata, and was buried at Shibpur.
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