Prof. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar was born on 4th December,1888, at Khandarpara. Dist: Faridpur , now in Bangladesh, to Haladhar Majumdar and Bidhumukhi Majumder. He was the youngest of three brothers Prakash Chandra Majumdar and Satish Chandra Majumdar and two sisters Smt. Sashimukhi and Smt.Promoda.
"Indians of old were keenly alive to the expansion of dominions, acquisition of wealth, and the development of trade, industry and commerce. The material prosperity they gained in these various ways was reflected in the luxury and elegance that characterized the society... The adventurous spirit of the Indians carried them even as far as the North Sea, while their caravans traveled from one end of Asia to the other" - Ancient India, 1977, p. 210-216.
Prof. Majumdar's early life wasn't that smooth to start with. He lost his mother when he was just 18 months old and was brought up by his aunt along with his siblings. He was born in a family which was in utter penury. In his own words...
There were times when we went without food for more than two days at a stretch. When we were around 5 or 6 years old - we were given “Nima”(A bush shirt like apparel with buttons), costing about 5-6 annas, those days were highly painful. We didn't even have a pair of shoes. (Referring to his autobiography “Jibaner Smritidipe” in Bengali.The original idea of writing his Auto-Biography was first mooted by his ex-student Sri.Suresh Chandra Das, owner the publishing house "General Printers & Publishers.Pvt.Ltd.)
When he was about 5 or 6 years old he was admitted to the village minor school which had just one room with a thatched roof and some benches for the students. He studied up to class II but was unable to appear for his Minor Examination. His eldest brother Prakash Chandra Majumdar got a Govt.Service in an English Medium School with a salary of Rs.75/-, Calcutta. This brought both the brothers Saitish Chandra & Ramesh Chandra to Calcutta in mid 1900 and put up at their Maternal Grandfather Late Prassana Kumar Sen's place consisting of two thatched rooms (Kholar Ghar) located at Sikdar Para Road(Now Mahim halder Street), Kalighat,South Calcutta.
He joined the South Suburban School , Calcutta in class 5. The Headmaster of the school was Late Sri. Benimadhab Ganguli.In 1902, he and his elder brother went to Dacca and got admitted to Dacca Collegiate School. The hostel fees was about Rs. 7 and 50 annas. Satish Chandra Majumder bore all Educational and other incidental expenses both his younger brothers could continue their studies without any hindrance. During this time Ramesh Chandra got several Merit Awards and also took part in a Shakespearean play with guidance from their English teacher Late Sri. Satyen Bhadra.
After passing out from the school he joined the Hooghly Collegiate school . His eldest brother Late.Sri.Prakash Chandra Majumdar had in the mean time joined “Ravenshaw Collegiate School” at Cuttack, Orissa.In 1905 Ramesh Chandra Majumdar Joined him at CuttackExamination with a merit scholarship and joined Brajamohan College(B.M.College) at Barishal, now in Bangladesh in the year of 1905 .
In September 1905 he left B.M College and joined “Ripon College”, Calcutta so that he could be under the guidance of the well known politician Surendra Nath Bandopadhyay .
In 1907 he joined Presidency College B.A.History Hons. where he was under the guidance of Prof. Perscival. He passed with a 2nd Class Hons. and received a Govt. Scholarship for Post Graduate studies and continued his studies in the same college and stood 2nd with a 1st Class in the final examination in 1911. The following year he was selected for the Prem Chand Raichand Scholarship for his thesis on the “Andhra-Kusana Age”.
His first appointment was as a Lecturer at Dacca Training College in 1912,In the cadre of Provincial Govt.Civil Service and continued at Dacca till 1914.
On advice of Sir.Ashutosh Mookerjee,the then Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University,joined the University as a Lecturer in the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture in July,1914.During the tenure of Lectureship he prepared the thesis titled “Corporate life in Ancient India” which was finally approved and published in year 1918.The University of Dacca was established in 1921, and he was selected by Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee to join the University as Professor of History and continued in the same capacity from 1921 to 1936.
Subsequently he became the Vice Chancellor in 1937 and continued till 1942.At the time of retirement was aged 54 and was capable of Continue his Academic Life.
From 1942 till 1950,he continued his Research Work on “South and South East Asian History & Culture, which culminated in publishing of three volumes namely Vol.1 Champa, Vol 2 & 3 Suvarnavipa and Hindu Colonies in the Far East.
In 1950 he was appointed as The First Principal at the College of Indology,Beneras Hindu University(B.H.U).,and continued till 1952.In 1955 he was appointed as Principal of The College of Indology at Nagpur University. Subsequently he was invited to join as Visiting Professor of Indian History at The University of Chicago and Pennsylvania,USA.,where he served from 1958 to 1959.
Chronology of Accolades
Academic association continued, to name a few ,
- Vice-President, International Commission Publishing a “History of Mankind-Educational,Cultural and Scientific Development”. Sponsored by UNESCO
- Honorary D.Litt. degree from Universities of Calcutta, Jadavpur, Burdwan and Rabindra Bharati University.
- He was recipient of the degree of “Deshikottama” from Visva-Bharati University,Shantiniketan.
- Honorary Fellow-Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and Bombay; honorary Fellow – President The Asiatic Society of Calcutta;
- Honorary member of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona;
- President, Indian History Congress; President, all India Oriental Conference;
- President,xxii of International Congress of Orientalist;
- President, Institute of Historical Studies Annual Conference 1968;
- President of Indology in the xxii International Conference of Orientalists held at Istanbul,1951 and member of it’s Executive Committee.
- President, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta.
- Sheriff of Calcutta-1967-68
Awards and Lectures
Ref: “Journal of indian history”(diamond jubilee volume) published by : the dept.of history, university of kerala,1982.
- Campbell Gold Medal by the Asiatic Society, Bombay;
- Sir William jones & B.C.Law and Jagattarini Gold Medals by the Asiatic Society, Calcutta.
- Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad honorarium Lectures, Baroda,
- Adhar Mookeerjee Lectures, Calcutta and Sir William Mayor Lectures, Madras.
These were published under the title “Ancient Indian Colonisation in South East Asia”,”Maharaja Rajballabh”, and “Kambujadesa” respectively.
- Delivered the first series of “Birla Endowment Lectures” at the Bharatiya Viidya Bhavan, Bombay.
- Delivered three lectures at Patna University published under the title”Swami Vivekananda”.
- Extension lectures at Viswa-Varati, Bolpur,Shantiniketan published under the title”Three Phases of Indian Struggle for Freedom” and “Glimpses of Bengal in the Nineteenth Century”.