Early Life of Ramtanu Lahiri
Ramtanu Lahiri's father was Ramakrishna Lahiri and his family was quite religious. They were connected to the Dewans of Nadia Raj. During the time of his birth, Krishnanagar was a reputed town in the state of West Bengal. Lahiri's father was slightly insecure financially and therefore was forced to earn his livelihood by serving the landed aristocracy. Ramtanu Lahiri did his schooling from the local village 'Pathshala' and mastered the languages of English , Persian and Arabic. Keshab Chandra Lahiri, his brother took Ramtanu Lahiri to the city of Kolkata when he was just 12. Ramtanu was offered tutorials at home. However, his elder brother was also thinking about admitting him to David Hare's School.
Keshab Chandra Lahiri is said to have requested Gour Mohan Vidyalankar who was a close friend of David Hare to grant admission to Ramtanu Lahiri to his school. However Hare refused to agree. It was then that Gour Mohan asked Ramtanu to chase the palanquin of David Hare, along with other village boys so that Hare might relent. Determined as he was, Ramtanu Lahiri is believed to have run after his David's palanquin for over two months, till he finally gave his consent, impressed by his will power and his sincerity. Lahiri even starved during the mornings and pursued David Hare's palanquin. Luck smiled upon Ramtanu since he was able to procure admission to the school of Hare completely for free.
The school was later referred to as Colutala Branch School. Keshab Chandra was staying in Krishnanagar during the period when Ramtanu gained admission to the school. Ramtanu, due to normal reasons had no place to dwell in Kolkata. Luckily, later Ramtanu Lahiri was ensured a place in one of his relative's residence. He secured brilliant outcome in his entrance examinations in the year 1828 and won a scholarship of an overwhelming amount of Rs.14 every month which was quite decent an amount to afford a living in the city of Kolkata.
Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was a contemporary person who was also a student of the college where Ramtanu Lahiri was studying. While he was in his third year, Lahiri was granted a grand scholarship of Rs.16 per month. He therefore asked his brothers to come to Kolkata and complete their education. Lahiri somehow managed two square meals per day and avoided any refreshment in the intervals. Ramtanu's two brothers went barefoot to school and cooked all by their own. Historical records state that once when Ramtanu Lahiri had fallen ill, David Hare had treated him after coming to his place.
Works of Ramtanu Lahiri
Ramtanu Lahiri was appointed as a teacher at the Krishnanagar College in 1846. When Captain D.L.Richardson was appointed the principal of the institution. He earned a salary of Rs.100 per month during this job. Lahiri was capable of motivating his students to acquire more and more knowledge, just like Derozio. Ramtanu Lahiri was greatly respected for his simple yet detailed explanation of his subjects, which involved the broadest possible description of those subjects. He is known for his ease in dealing with his students since he often participated in games and other outdoor activities with them when they were not studying.
Ramtanu Lahiri supported the principles of the Brahmo Samaj, though he was strongly against some of their agendas. So, he never joined the Brahmo Samaj but tried to inspire the youngsters of the area of Krishnanagar to embrace modernity. Dinanath Mazumdar was one of his famous students who associated himself with the Brahmo Samaj as a preacher of the organization. Lahiri, however, attached himself to Brahmo Samaj immediately after Brahmo Samaj altered some of its principles. Lahiri is said to be the first person in Brahmo Samaj who renounced his sacred thread, in the year 1851 at Bardhaman district. This bold mark of Lahiri made him a bit isolated from the society
Ramtanu Lahiri had to move along various places like Barasat, Bardhaman, Barisal, Uttarpara and Rasapagla since he was transferred to these places during his job. In 1849, John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune set up his school in Kolkata. Ramtanu Lahiri and several other Derozians had lent their whole-hearted cooperation to Harish Chandra Mukherjee's journalism.
Prior to his retirement, Ramtanu Lahiri returned to Krishnanagar College. When he finally retired, Lahiri chose to stay in Krishnanagar. Gobardanga was the place where he stayed for sometime. He then worked as the guardian of the sons of the local zamindar. Lahiri is said to have been present at the first formal meeting of the All-India National Conference in 1883, in Kolkata. He was deeply grieved by the untimely death of numerous members of his family. He died in 1898 and his death was mourned by a vast number of inhabitants of Kolkata.
Sanat Lahiri is one of the descendants of Ramtanu Lahiri and he was revered as the very first Asian man to be president of the International Public Relations Association in the year 1979. The Sanat Lahiri memorial lecture is organized by the Public Relations Society of India to pay tribute to the late Ramtanu Lahiri.