Suniti Kumar Chatterji (26 November 1890 – 29 May 1977) was an Indian linguist, educationist and litterateur. He was a recipient of the second-highest Indian civilian honour of Padma Vibhushan.[1]


Chatterji was born on 26 November 1890 at Shibpur in Howrah. He was the son of Haridas Chattopadhyay, an affluent Kulin Brahmin.[2]


Suniti Kumar was a meritorious student, and passed the Entrance (school leaving) examination from the Mutty Lal Seal's Free School (1907), ranking sixth, and the FA (pre-university examination) from the renowned Scottish Church College, standing third.[citation needed] He did his Major (Honours) in English literature from Presidency College, Kolkata, standing first in the first class in 1911.[citation needed] His childhood friend was the famous industrialist Nagendra Nath Das founder of Power Tools And Appliance Co. Ltd. In 1913, he completed his M.A. in English literature, again standing first.[citation needed] The same year, he was appointed lecturer in English at Vidyasagar College, Kolkata where his colleague was the thespian, Sisir Kumar Bhaduri.[citation needed]


In 1914, he became assistant professor of English in the Post-Graduate Department of the University of Calcutta, which he held till 1919. He went abroad to study at the University of London where he studied Phonology, Indo-European Linguistics, Prakrit, Persian, Old Irish, Gothic and other languages. He then went to Paris and did research at the Sorbonne in Indo-Aryan, Slav and Indo-European Linguistics, Greek and Latin. His teacher was the internationally acclaimed linguist, Jules Bloch. After returning to India in 1922, he joined the University of Calcutta as the Khaira Professor of Indian Linguistics and Phonetics. After retirement in 1952, he was made Professor Emeritus and later in 1965, the National Research Professor of India for Humanities.[citation needed]

Foreign travel with Tagore

Suniti Kumar accompanied Rabindranath Tagore to Malaya, Siam, Sumatra, Java, and Bali, where he delivered lectures on Indian art and culture. He was Chairman of the West Bengal Legislative Council (1952–58) and President (1969) of the Sahitya Akademi.


Among his important publications on both language and literature are

  • The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language [3]
  • Bengali Phonetic Reader
  • Indo-Aryan and Hindi

"Dwipamaya Bharat" (1940) "Bharat Sanskriti "(1957)

  • Ramayana: its Character, Genesis, History and Exodus: A Resume. Calcutta: Prajna.

Language and Literature of Modern India (1963) "World Literature and Tagore "(1971)

Notable Students


Suniti Kumar died on May 29, 1977 in Calcutta. A large part of his house 'Sudharma' সুধর্মা, an architectural marvel, in South Calcutta has been converted into a Fabindia store.

See also

  • Suniti Kumar Chatterjee — a centenary tribute, Sahitya Akademi, Kolkata (1997)
  • Prof Suniti Kumar Chatterjee also received Padma Vibhushan award from Govt. of India (earlier he was an awardee of Padma Bhushan)


  1. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. ^ Badiuzzaman (2012). "Chatterji, Suniti Kumar". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  3. ^ The origin and development of the Bengali language,Calcutta University press, Calcutta (1926)

External links