Norenḍranāṭh Sen

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Norenḍranāṭh Sen, from The Theosophist, 1911
Norenḍranāṭh Sen, earlier

Rai Bahāḍur Norenḍranāṭh Sen (sometimes "Norendro Nath Sen") (February 23, 1843 - 1911) was a famous Indian patriot and reformer. He was the proprietor and editor of the Indian Mirror of Calcutta, then the leading paper in India voicing the opinions of Indians on political matters. He joined the Theosophical Society soon after the Founders began their work in India. "Rai Bahāḍur" is an honorific title.

Annie Besant wrote that he was "one of the earliest Indian friends of our President-Founder and his great colleague [H. P. Blavatsky], a friend who has remained loyal to them both from the beginning until to-day."[1] She continued:

Norenḍranāṭh Sen was born on February 23, 1843, and belongs to a remarkable Bengali family, being the fourth son of Hari Mohun Sen, a distinguished public man and a leader in the chief movements in Calcutta from 1850 onwards. His grandfather, Ram Kamal Sen,played an even larger part in the public life of Calcutta and Bengal in the days of Colebrooke, Wilson, Bailey and Carey [Sanskrit scholars], and took a prominent share in the founding of the Calcutta School Book Society, the Hindu College, and other valuable institutions. Born into such a family, it is not wonderful that the youth Norenḍranāṭh showed brilliant abilities, and he chose the journalistic career at an early age. He was warmly welcomed as a co-adjutor by Mr. Manomohan Ghose, when that gentleman was about to start the Indian Mirror in 1861, as a fortnightly journal, and when he left Calcutta for England young Norenḍranāṭh succeeded him in the editorial chair, which, with a short interval, he has ever since occupied, with honor to himself and benefit to the public. He was associated with such men as Ḍevenḍranāṭh Tagore, Keshab Chanḍra Sen, and Praṭap Chanḍra Mozumḍār, and pursued a religious but liberal policy. The paper became a weekly, and ultimately a daily, and was the organ of the Brahmo Samāj, then in its palmiest days. In 1879, it passed into the sole proprietorship of Norenḍranāṭh Sen, and since then has been wholly guided by his strong and vigorous hands.

Keshab Chanḍra Sen is, of course, the best-known member of the family, the pillar of the Brahmo Samāj, and preacher of fiery and exquisite eloquence, who made it a world-known movement. But perhaps his brilliant career has done less for liberal religion than the long and steady advocacy of all useful reforms that has made the Indian Mirror known and respected throughout India.

Its Editor became the friend of the Founders of the Theosophical Society in its early days in India, and the paper was always ready to champion them through those days of struggle, when the Government suspected them of political objects, and when the timid consequently shrank from their side. It has always given long and accurate reports of Theosophical lectures, and the Editor has ever been ready to preside over them in days of sunshine and of storm alike.

Sturdy and independent, ever speaking his mind frankly but never condescending to abuse an opponent, Norenḍranāṭh Sen has won the respect of Government and people alike, and his many services have been recognised by the Government by the bestowal on him of the title of Rai Bahāḍur. The gentler side of his nature is beautifully shown in the following extract from Old Diary Leaves, 4th Series, p. 15, from the pen of Colonel H. S. Olcott:

"One morning I went with my host, our long-tried, faithful colleague, Bābū Norenḍranāṭh Sen, to the Esplanade to see him feed his pets. I have often seen people in the public gardens of Paris feeding the birds, but Norenḍranāṭh Bābū feeds every morning the cows, crows, minas, and other birds, the fishes in the ponds and the ants which swarm in the grass of the wide Esplanade. The animals and birds all seem to know his carriage, and gather together to his usual feeding-ground, and the fishes swim towards him in the pond. This thing has been going on for years, quietly and unostentatiously, unheralded by the reporter, unnoticed by the crowd. One could hardly find a stronger example of the tender compassion sometimes felt by men towards the lower creatures."

The Mahāboḍhi Society has found in Norenḍranāṭh Sen its strongest ally in India, and his unvarying support of it has been priceless.

Long may this good man live to serve his Motherland, to support all that is noble, to combat all that is base.[2]

Letters from the Mahatmas

Mr. Sen was said to have received a number of letters from the Master K.H.. One example that was published is Letter 74 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom Second Series. In this 1883 letter, K.H. instructs him on how to proceed in establishing The Phoenix newspaper. "His son has told of occasions when Norendro would work late at night correcting proofs [of The Indian Mirror] and, falling asleep over his work, would wake up to find the work corrected in blue pencil, presumably by K. H."[3]

Also, he received some letters signed by "M.E.," which he published in The Indian Mirror journal from Calcutta, in an article entitled "Theosophy in Calcutta."[4]


Only one article was printed in an English-language Theosophical Periodical, as Mr. Sen was quite busy with his newspaper. "White Lotus Day in Calcutta" was printed in The Theosophist 1879 of June, 1906.

In The Indian Mirror

  • "Theosophy in Calcutta, Part 1." The Indian Mirror XXII April 14, 1882, p. 2. Available at Blavatsky Archives. This article describes the delivery of Letter 12 of the Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series.
  • "Theosophy in Calcutta, Part 2." The Indian Mirror XXII May 2, 1882, p. 2. Available at Blavatsky Archives.

Online resources



  1. Annie Besant, "Theosophical Worthies: Norenḍranāṭh Sen," The Theosophist 32.3 (January, 1911), 694-696.
  2. Annie Besant, "Theosophical Worthies: Norenḍranāṭh Sen," The Theosophist 32.3 (January, 1911), 694-696.
  3. "Norendro Nath Sen" at Theosophy World.
  4. Norendra Nath Sen, "Theosophy in Calcutta," The Indian Mirror Vol. XXII (May 2, 1882), 2. See copy here