Story of Gopalchandra Bhattacharya – A Bengali scientist

Hello ladies and gentlemen.

Today I’m gonna talk about a scientist of Bengal.
There is a few who heard the name of The scientist Gopalchandra Bhattacharya. He was renowned entomologist, arthropod/insect specialist back in his time. Today we will know about him and some of his stories.


Once Gopalchandra was busy in his work. And discovered there was a cochroach in his glue pot. Well it was pretty obvious for him, cause the man dedicated his whole life observing insects, and cochroaches were common in his room. Scientist Gopalchandra took the glue pot and poured the glue with the roach on a corner of his room. After a while he noticed some red ants gathered around the glue to have a treat. Some were diving in the sticky glue, some were qurious whether go or not.
Gopalchandra laughed and again went back to his work. After a bit he was surprised to see that the ants carried sand grains to make a bridge over the glue and reached to the cochroach. But the roach was stuck on ground cause the glue dried. The ants didn’t loosed hope. The started to cut off the limbs and carried pieces of their treat to home.


Do we ever obsereve this type of events in nature? But there is many things happening around us in insect world. Gopalchandra observes all those events with professional eyes, and research on them. He wrote all those events in his renowned book named “Banglar Kit-Potongo” by scientist Gopalchandra Bhattacharya.

He roamed in wild in search of ant’s art, to see fight of insects. From butterfly’s egg to caterpillar, and how the caterpillars grow from eating day by day, and at last it sleeps and turns out a colourful adult butterfly. To see how silk worms weave silks, he traveled from forest to forest, from field to fieled. Gopalchandrya roamed that all to see the nature closely.

He was a great insect guide in not only bangladesh but also in the whole indian region. This talented man was born in “Lonsings” village at westbengal, at present which is in Shariatpur at present, in 1st August, 1895. His father Mr. Ambikacharan was very poor man. His poor father was the only shelter for him, but it didn’t took long to loose that shelter. Ambikacharan was a preist, he used to sing, play music and do cultural works. When Ambikacharan died, lefting five of his sons, Gopalchandrya was just a five years old boy. His mother Shashibala worked hard to raise them. They somehow managed their livelihood by doing farming and raising cattle. Gopalchandraya used to help his mother and study at the same time. In the year 1913 he managed to pass matriculation exam and obtained higest marks in whole Faridpur District.

It could had been very hard for him to continue his study further, if a rich man didn’t showed up to help him. From his help Gopalchandrya admitted himself in Anandmohon College at Mymensingh. But he couldn’t study for long. Cause the world heated up with first world war. Hunger, poverty, famine, Famine, pandemic all attacked simultaneously worldwide. His education career stoped there. He returned to his village, and started teaching at a little fees.


Gopalchandrya was found of village nature. He was searching mysteries in bushes, bamboo forests, filled ponds, canals, rivers etc. Suddenly one day in a jungle people sputuate “what is that light! “. Half dead in fear, was it a ghost. It must be paranormal. The light shows up only at night, in the old chimney. The light only flickers, But no sign in the morning. When every one was frightened, Gopalchandrya was curious. Young Gopalchandrya took bet with friends that he will reveal the secret of light. That’s why he will enter the jungle at midnight. It was rainy night, along with a friend Gopalchandrya went to jungle with an umbrella, kerosene lamp and match, towards the light. When they was near the wall, the light lit up and again turned off. They was not afraid, hence the moved forward.
From very near they found that the source of light was old rotten wooden log. And  the light was lit up inside it. From inside, the light was not flickering, nor it was like flame. It was like a hot metal or burning coal type. Gopalchandrya noticed there was a big taro root beside that and the taro leaf was constantly blocking the opening of log by wind. So it was looking like the light was flickering. But why there was light. Gopal solved the mystery. The rotten log produced methane gas inside it which lit up in presence of air.

Gopalchandraya wrote a scientific essay regarding the whole event, and titled it, “Amazing light emitting power of rotten plants”. The essay was published in “Bongobasi” newspaper. And that what turned Gopalchandrya’s life. The essey took attention of the famous bengali scientist Sir Dr. Jagdish Chandra Bose. He somehow managed to get Gopal’s address and sent a man named Pulinhari to take Gopalchandrya to Kolkata. Back in that time Sir jagdish Chandra earned fame worldwide. Gopalchandrya met him, had a long conversation. Just like a jeweller Jagdish understood that the boy was trully a talent.


“Basu biggyan mandir” was finished till than. Gopalchandraya started to work there. He was trained to do photography and some of electrical works. He was admitted to a college to learn scientific sketch art. He did a lot of research on plants and insects. He wrote some articles too. But Jagdish did not like that. One day he took a photo of a spider preying fish. Jagdish liked that very much. Gopalchandrya got inspired, and a few months later the golden time has come. German scientist Hance came to Basu Biggyan Mandir for research. Gopalchandrya became his assistant.

Gopalchandrya did a lot of researchs on insects after that. He watched ants fight each other, how the colonize, he saw how wasps lay eggs on caterpillar’s back. He made his house a insect’s zoo. He used to pet insects on jar. He feed and made shelter for them by his hands. He wrote the scientific book “Banglar Kit-Potongo” (Bengal’s insects) on the nature of insects.
For this book, he was awarded the higest prize in bengali literature, “The Rabindra Puroskar”


Later Gopalchandra created “Bongio Biggyan Porishod” (Bengal Science Academy) along with another famous bengali scientist Sattyen bose. He was the chief editor of the magazin “Biggyanke jano” (know the science) published by his academy.
In 1951, paris held a scientific assembly. Gopalchandra was invited in that assembly to discuss about indian insects. But later, they called off regarding his educational status. But in 1981 Kolkata University gave him the honour of Dr. of Science. That year, 8th april, this nature lover passed away.


References :
1. “Banglar Kit-Potongo” – by Dr. Gopalchandra Bhattacharya, Day’s publishing, Kolkata.
2. “Gopalchandra Bhattacharya” – by M. A. Aziz Mia, Bangla Academy, Dhaka
3. “Gopalchandra Bhattacharya: Bekti o Biggyani” – by Gouri Mitro, Kolkata, Gangchil

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