Henry Louis Vivian Derozio

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Henry Louis Vivian Derozio
Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (18 April 1809 – 26 December 1831) was a fiery Indian teacher and poet. As a lecturer at the Hindu College of Calcutta, he invigorated a large group of students to think independently; this Young Bengal group played a key role in the Bengal renaissance. Derozio was generally considered an Anglo-Indian, being of mixed Portuguese descent, but he was fired by a patriotic spirit for his native Bengal, and considered himself Indian. In his poem To My Native Land he wrote: “| My Country! In the days of Glory PastA beauteous halo circled round thy brow And worshiped as deity thou wast,

Where is that Glory, where is that reverence now?| ”|
Early life
he son of Francis Derozio, he was born at Entally-Padmapukur in Kolkata on 18 April 1809. He attended David Drummond's Dhurramtallah Academy school, where he was a star pupil, reading widely on topics like the French revolution and Robert Burns. Drummond, "a dour Scotsman, an exile and a 'notorious free thinker'"[1], instilled in him a passion for learning and superstition-free rational thinking, in addition to a solid grounding in history, philosophy and English literature. He quit school at the age of 14 and initially joined his father’s concern at Kolkata and later shifted to Bhagalpur. Inspired by the scenic beauty of the banks of the River Ganga, he started writing poetry. Some of these were published in Dr. Grant's India Gazette. His critical review of a book by Emmanuel Kant attracted the attention of the intelligentsia. In 1828, he went to Kolkata with the objective of publishing his long poem - Fakir of Jhungeera. On learning that a faculty position was vacant at the newly established Hindu College, he applied for it and was selected. This was the time when Hindu society in Bengal was undergoing considerable turmoil. In 1828, Raja Ram Mohan Roy established the Brahmo Samaj, which kept Hindu ideals but denied idolatry. This resulted in a backlash within orthodox Hindu society. It is in the perspective of these changes that Derozio was appointed at Hindu college, where he helped released the ideas for social change already in the air. [edit] Hindu College and Social Backlash

In May 1826, at the age of 17, he was appointed teacher in English literature and history at the new Hindu College, which had been set up recently to meet the interest in English education among Indians. He was initially a teacher in the second and third classes, later also of the fourth, but he attracted students from all classes. He interacted freely with students, well beyond the class hours. His zeal for interacting with students was legendary. His brilliant lectures presented closely-reasoned arguments based on his wide reading. He encouraged students to read Thomas Paine's Rights of Man and other free-thinking texts. Although Derozio himself was an atheist and had renounced Christianity{{Fact|date=August 2010}, he encouraged questioning the orthodox Hindu customs and conventions on the basis of Italian renaissance and its offshoot rationalism. He infused in his students the spirit of free expression, the yearning for knowledge and a passion to live up to their identity, while questioning irrational religious and cultural practices. Derozio's intense zeal for teaching and his interactions with students created a sensation at Hindu College. His students came to be known as Derozians. He organised debates where ideas and social norms were freely debated. In 1828, he motivated them to form a literary and debating club called the Academic Association. In 1830, this club brought out a magazine named Parthenon (only one issue came out[2]). Apart from articles criticizing Hindu practices, the students wrote on women emancipation and criticized many aspects of British rule. He also encouraged students into journalism, to spread these ideas into a society eager for change. In mid 1831, he helped Krishna Mohan Banerjee start an English weekly, The...
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