Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya

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Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya (1852-1910) was a well-known Hindu gentleman, Principal of the Hyderabad College and author of works on Oriental, Theosophical, philosophical, and other subjects. His name was erroneously thought to have been a pseudonym used by Master K.H. in Europe.

Personal life and education

Little is known of the life of Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya. He was educated in Europe:

Mr. Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya has taken the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at the University of Zurich. The Dean of the Faculty and his colleagues, in conferring on him summa cum laude, highest distinction of the University, expressed themselves as highly satisfied with the way in which he had passed the Examination.[1]

Confusion with Master K.H.

In The Mahatma Letters, Master K.H. mentions a conversation he had with a certain "G. H. Fechner." Trying to verify this statement, C. C. Massey wrote to Dr. Hugo Wernekke, at Weimar, Germany, inquiring "whether Professor Fechner ever had such a conversation with an Oriental whom we could thus identify with Koot Humi." He received the following answer from Professor Gustav T. Fechner:

What Mr. Massey enquires about is undoubtedly in the main correct; the name of the Hindu concerned, when he was in Leipzig, was however, Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, not Koot Humi. In the middle of the seventies he lived for about one year in Leipzig and aroused a certain interest owing to his foreign nationality, without being otherwise conspicuous; he was introduced to several families and became a member of the Academic Philosophical Society, to which you also belonged, where on one occasion he gave a lecture on Buddhism. I have these notes from Mr. Wirth, the Librarian of the Society, who is good enough to read to me three times a week. I also heard him give a lecture in a private circle on the position of women among the Hindus. I remember very well that he visited me once, and though I cannot remember our conversation, his statement that I questioned him about the faith of the Hindus is very likely correct. Apart from this I have not had personal intercourse with him; but, after his complete disappearance from Leipzig, I have been interested to hear about him, and especially to know that he plays an important role in his native country, such as undoubtedly he could not play here.[2]

C. C. Massey assumed that "Nisi Kanta Chattapadhyaya" was a pseudonym used by Master K.H. However, this is not the case. Charles J. Ryan reports[3] that Katherine Tingley met Dr. N. K. Chattopadhyaya when she was in Bombay in 1896, and received an autograph copy of his book, "The Reminiscences of the German University Life,"[4] where he talks about his encounter with Prof. G. T. Fechner.

Writings

  • The Yatras, or the Popular Dramas of Bengal. Ca. 1882. 16 editions published between 1882 and 1976 in English.
  • Buddhism and Christianity, with an Appendix on Nirvana. London, 1882. 24 pages. Translated from the German in Indische Essays. The German edition Buddhismus und Christenthum. Mit einem Anhang über das Nirvâna was also published in 1882.
  • Indische Essays. Zurich, 1883. Five editions published in 1883 in German and other languages.
  • Three Lectures: the Reminiscences of the German University Life ; The True Theosophist ; and the Mricchakatikam, or, The Toy Cart. [Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar]: [Verlag nicht ermittelbar], gedr. 1895. 89 pages. Two editions published in 1895 in English.
    • "Reminiscences of German University Life": a lecture delivered on the 30th April, 1892. 1901 in English.
    • "The True Theosophist, or, Moral and Spiritual Culture: a Lecture". 1892 in English.
    • "Mricchakatika or, The toy-cart of King Sūdraka; a study". Mysore: Graduates' Trading Association Press, 1902. English.
  • The Mystic Story of Peter Schlemihl. Written with Adelbert von Chamisso. Mysore: Graduates' Trading Association Press, 1902.
  • Lecture on Zoroastrianism. 1894. Madras: The Theosophist Office, 1906. English.
  • Why Have I Accepted Islam. Two editions published in 1971 in English. Also published in Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, [between 1980 and 1997].
  • Social and Religious Reformation in India : a lecture delivered in the Rungacharlu Memorial Hall, Mysore, on November 27th, 1901. [Mysore], 1901. English.
  • The Study of History: a lecture. 1902 in English.
  • Notices and Reviews of Dr. Nishikanta Chattopádhyáya's Lectures. 1897 in English. [With a preface signed: Akhil Chandra Mukerjee.]
  • Muhammed, "the Prophet of Islam": a lecture delivered on the 25th of November 1904, at the residence of Mirza Faiaz Ali Khan, Chudderghat, Hyderabad, Deccan. 1900. Sultanpura, Hyderabad: Villa Academy, 1971. English. 36 pages.
  • Christ in the Koran. Allahabad: Indian Press, 1907. English.
  • Two Essays on the Life and Philosophy of Ibn-Rushd or Averroes. Allahabad : M. Ghulam Muhammad, 1909.

Additional resources

Notes

  1. National Indian Association, Journal of the National Indian Association (1883), 128.
  2. Echoes of the Past: Master Koot Hoomi by Mary K. Neff
  3. An Important Correction by Charles J. Ryan
  4. Three Lectures : the Reminiscences of the German University Life ; The True Theosophist ; and the Mricchakatikam, or, The Toy Cart by Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya