Sukumar Ray

Sukumar Rayicon male small Sukumar Ray icon tree small Sukumar RayBorn: 1887-10-30Died: 1923-09-10
Father: UnspecifiedMother: Unspecified
Children: Satyajit Ray
Siblings: none

সুকুমার রায় (Sukumar Ray) was born in a Brahmo family in Calcutta, India on 30 October 1887. Born in the era which can be called the pinnacle of the Bengal Renaissance, he grew up in an environment that fostered his literary talents. His father was a writer of stories and popular science; painter and illustrator; musician and composer of songs; a technologist and hobbyist astronomer. Upendrakishore was also a close friend of Rabindranath Tagore, who directly influenced Sukumar. Among other family friends were Jagadish Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Roy. Upendrakishore studied the technology of blockmaking, conducted experiments, and set up a business of making blocks. The firm M/s U. Ray & Sons, where Sukumar and his younger brother Subinay were involved.He also was a very good friend of Dr. Rabindranath Tagore.

In 1906, Ray graduated with honours in physics and chemistry from the Presidency College, then affiliated with the University of Calcutta. He was trained in photography and printing technology in England at the School of Photo-Engraving and Lithography, London,[2] and was a pioneer of photography and lithography in India. While in England, he also delivered lectures about the songs of Rabindranath before Tagore won the Nobel Prize. Meanwhile, Sukumar had also drawn acclaim as an illustrator. As a technologist, he also developed new methods of halftone blockmaking, and technical articles about this were published in journals in England.

Upendrakishore started a publishing firm, U. Ray and Sons, which Sukumar and Subinay helped to run. While Sukumar went to England to learn printing technology, Upendrakishore purchased land, constructed a building, and set up a printing press with facilities for high-quality halftone colour blockmaking and printing. He also launched the children’s magazine, “Sandesh”. Very soon after Sukumar’s return from England, Upendrakishore died, and Sukumar ran the printing and publishing businesses and the Sandesh (magazine) for about eight years. His younger brother Subinoy helped him, and many relatives pitched in writing for “Sandesh”.

Sukumar Ray was also a leader of the reformist wing in the Brahmo Samaj. Sukumar Ray wrote a long poem “Atiter Katha” (Bengali: অতীতের কথা), which was a popular presentation of the history of the Brahmo Samaj—it was published as a small booklet to introduce the rationale of the Brahmo Samaj to children. Sukumar also campaigned to bring in Rabindranath Tagore, the most famous Brahmo of his time, as a leader of the Samaj.

Sukumar Ray died on 10 September 1923 of severe infectious fever, leishmaniasis, for which there was no cure at the time. He left behind his widow and their only child, Satyajit. Satyajit Ray would later shoot a documentary on Sukumar Ray in 1987, 5 years before his own death.


  • Abol tabol (Gibberish)
  • Pagla Dashu (Crazy Dashu)
  • Khai-Khai (Eat-Eat)
  • Heshoram Hushiyarer Diary (The diary of Heshoram Hushiyar)
  • HaJaBaRaLa (Mumbo-Jumbo)
  • Jhalapala O Onanyo Natok (Cacophony and Other Plays)
  • Lakkhaner Shoktishel (The Weapon of Lakkhan)
  • Chalachittachanchari
  • Shabdakalpadrum
  • Bohurupi
  • Bhasar Atyacar (Torture of Language 1915)

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