The Bandit queen of Bengal: Here’s the story of Devi Chaudhurani, a glorious character in the history of freedom struggle


Team Udayavani, Jul 11, 2020, 12:00 PM IST

Devi Chaudhurani, was the queen of Manthana Estate of Rangpur district (presently in Bangladesh).  After being abandoned by her husband, she was given shelter by Bhavani Pathak, who also led a band of dacoits and later became a part of the gang. Together they led the Sanyasi revolution in Rangpur

She was previously known as Prafulla. Devi Chaudhurani joined the gang of dacoits and established herself as the bandit queen of Baikunthapur. She was a generous and magnanimous landlady who used to donate money and wealth to the peasants.

Here is her story
Prafulla was married but was shunned by her wealthy father-in-law, Haraballabh, because of a spat between him and her mother on the day of her wedding. By custom prevalent at that time, a girl, once married, could not be divorced or remarried. Heartbroken at the fate of her only child, her mother died after a few years

Prafulla takes the drastic step to flee in the middle of the night to find the house of her in-laws whom she has never known, without any money, with knowledge of only the name of the village and name of her father-in-law.

Her father in law rejects her and tells her to steal for a living. She goes back and meets the Dacoit head Bhavani Thakur. Bhavani Thakur adopts her, educates her with math, philosophy, science, literature and even wrestling. Later, she goes onto becoming the queen of the dacoits.

Devi Chaudhurani took the charge of the Sanyasi Movement in Rangpur and called herself as the queen of Baikunthapur.

It is said that in the end Devi saves her father-in-law and husband in a fierce battle with the British after which she was remarried to her husband.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay scripted his legendary novel ‘Devi Chaudhurani,’ which was published in 1884, by immortalizing the characters of Devi Chaudhurani and Bhavani Pathak in the soul of Bengali literature enthusiasts.

Also, in different areas of Jalpaiguri district, Devi Chaudhurani is still commemorated in the form of Temple names like Devi Chaudhurani Kali Mandir near Goshala More near the Jalpaiguri town,  Bhavani Pathak Temple at Shikarpur Tea Garden near Sanyasikata market and Manthani Temple on the Belacoba-Randhamali road.

Idols of Bhavani Pathak and Devi are worshipped in a small Kali temple amid the Sh5tikarpur Tea Garden, believed to have been the worship place of Pathak, a devotee of Ma Kali. The temple, according to local residents, has been there for ages and so has the river whose gurgling waters still flow behind the temple.

 

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