Pratapchandra Mazumdar (1840-1905) – Distinguished leader of the Brahmo Samaj and its representative at the Parliament of Religions at Chicago, ardent admirer of the Master. Born at Bansberia in Hooghly district, in his uncle’s house, close to paternal home in Gauriva village. Educated at Hooghly Collegiate School, Hare School and Presidency College. Served at Bengal Bank and initiation into the Brahmo faith (1859). Follower of Keshab Chandra Sen, succeeded him as leader of the New Dispensation Brahmo Samaj after his passing. Forceful orator in English, travelled all over India and in Europe, America and Japan to disseminate teachings of the Samaj. Met the Master on many occasions with Keshab Chandra and also alone, blessed by his guidance and proximity. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna mentions Pratap’s brother’s stay for a few days at Dakshineswar (p. 79). An article on the Master by Pratap Chandra, “The Hindu Saint”, appeared in the Sunday Mirror dated 16.4.1876, reprinted in the Theistic Quarterly Review organ of the Brahmo Samaj (October-December, 1879). This article was the principal source of the booklet Ramakrishna Paramahamsa published by Udbodhan Karyalay (1907). Translated numerous precepts of the Master into English, publishing them in the quarterly. When asked about the effect on the Brahmo Samaj after its members came into contact with the Master, he had replied, “Did we understand what religion was before we saw him? We merely played the bully. We have understood what a real religious life is, after seeing him” (Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master, Vol. II, p. 796).
Pratapchandra, selected member of the Advisory Council of the Parliament of Religions, delivered two lectures there. Travelled in the West in 1874, 1883, 1893 and 1900. Closely connected with the Unitarian Association in America, received an annual stipend from them. On his last visit to the West, Swami Abhedananda attended his lecture at the Episcopal Church, New York, on 15.5.1900 and spent a night with him at the residence of the local head clergyman, Rev. H. Newton.
Representing the Brahmo faith at the Parliament of Religions, Pratapchandra spared no effort to denigrate and humiliate Swamiji out of envy at his success and popularity causing the latter much initial harassment. Poured out his dislike in speeches and articles, not sparing even Swamiji’s Guru. Much of his own popularity in America diminished by his attitude towards Swamiji. Editor of Unity and the Minister, author of the The Oriental Christ, biography of Keshab Chandra Sen. Died of tuberculosis on 27.5.1905. His residence, “Peace Cottage” (84, A.P.C. Road, Calcutta-9), now houses “Pratap Memorial Hall” and a social welfare centre set up with government aid.