Meet Sukumari Bhattacharya, The Indologist Who Fought For Gender Equality

Sukumari Bhattacharya
Born in Midnapore on July 12, 1921, Sukumari Bhattacharya was an educated, financially independent, and confident woman working as a professor and researcher.

She excelled in the field of knowledge of Indian studies and was successful in her line of work. It would not be an exaggeration to say that she is what every woman wants and strives to be today. Sukumari Bhattacharya was a profound scholar and humanitarian who worked towards gender equality and freedom of expression for women during her lifetime. She is still an inspiration and a great role model for women today.

6 remarkable things to know about Sukumari Bhattacharya

  • Sukumari Bhattacharya was born Sukumari Dutta and was raised in a Christian family. She started her career as an English professor in Lady Brabourne College in Calcutta and continued to work her way up from there. She later did her Masters in Sanskrit and even became a Sanskrit professor.
  • She was the first rank-holder in Sanskrit Honours in the University of Calcutta. But the University did not award her the Ishanchandra Ghosh Memorial Scholarship at that time because the award was granted by the authorities only to those who belonged to the Hindu religion.
  • Bhattacharya translated the popular Mrichchhakatika in Bengali. The text written by Sudraka is still taught in colleges even today. She was an expert in several languages and had a great command over them. She was fluent in Sanskrit, English, Bengali, German, French, and Pali.
  • Bhattacharya was also an Indologist and an author. She is the author of Women and Society in Ancient India (1994), Legends of Devi (1995), and many other notable works. Her most famous work, Indian Theogony: A Comparative Study of Indian Mythology from the Vedas to the Puranas is still treasured and studied by other scholars and researchers till today.
  • Bhattacharya dedicated her entire life to research. She was bold enough to question the scriptures and sacred texts of different religions. She also did her research on the status and position of women in ancient times. Drawing her inspiration from her findings, she worked for the betterment of women’s positions in the society during her lifetime.
  • Bhattacharya was strongly against patriarchy and religion that limited and kept women in bounds in the name of morality and norms. As part of her social activism with collaboration with Yasodhara Bagchi, Bhattacharya formed the Sachetana in 1982 to provide aid and self-sufficiency to underprivileged girls and women. She believed in the importance of women’s contribution to building society. She also advocated for education and the freedom of expression in women.

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