Pandit Premchandra Tarkabagish was born on 12th April 1806 ( on a full moon night, Saturday, 2nd day of Baishakh month in 1727 Shakabda) in Saknara village of Burdwan district, West Bengal . Saknara is situated on the western side of Damodar river and is a part of Raina Thana (Police Station).
He belonged to a very traditional cultured Kulin Brahmin family of great scholastic heritage. His ancestors were all known for their contribution to the development & spread of Sanskrit language and literature. One of his great great grand fathers Ramcharan had edited ‘Sahitya Darpan’ a treatise on the applicability of ‘Rhetoric’ in Sanskrit language. Premchandra was descended from a long line of ancestors , whose deep erudition , great piety and unbounded hospitality are theme of admiration to the Ghuttocks of Bengal.
Premchandra received rudiments of his education from his grand uncle Nrushingha who himself was a great astrologer apart from a Sanskrit Scholar . Nrushingha, after the birth of Premchandra, ununivocally had predicted that this heir of family would be a great scholar and poet like Mahakavi Kalidasa . On the death of Nrusingha, Premchandra was sent to ‘Chatuspathy’ and later to the ‘tole’ of Jay Gopal Tarkabhusan of Dwarigram, Burdwan Dist. Encouragement from his Guru, made Premchandra write Bengali poems for Tarza Gan events at the tender age of 13yrs. Incourse of time, Premchandra became famous poet in the area and his vernacular poems were recited by participants in poet conferences (kabials) across Bengal. At the age of 20 i.e. in 1826, Premchandra came to Calcutta to pursue his studies in then two years.old Govt. Sanskrit College. The founder secretary of the college Horace Hayman Wilson was impressed with Premchandra’s poetic skills and expertise in grammar knowledge.He was admitted to the ‘Sahitya’ class under the guidance of legendary professor of Sanskrit literature Jaygopal Tarkalankar on the advice of H .H. Wilson. In following five years , Premchandra showed exceptional vigour and talent to master Sahitya Nyaya, Darshan, Alankar, Kavya subjects with ease & fluence.
In 1831, when professor of Aalankar (Rhetoric) Shastra in Sanskrit College , Pandit Nathuram Shashtri went on a six months leave on health ground, Secretary Wilson chose Premchandra, then a senior ‘Nyaya’ student, of the college, to fill in the vacant post temporarily. Later in January 1832, Premchandra was appointed as the teacher of ‘Alankar class’ permanently after the death of Pandit Nathuram Shashtri.
However, Premchandra didn’t refrain from studying Nyaya in his leisure time. In the evening and morning time he went to houses of professors Nemaichand Shriromani, Shambhunath Vachaspati, Haranath Tarkabhusan to study Nyaya, Vedanta , Smriti etc.
Although he was known as Nyayaratna in his early teaching days , later he came to be known as ‘Tarkabagish’ when he received the certificate from the Sanskrit college after completion of his education. He discharged the duties of his post consecutively for 32 long years with an amount of zeal, assiduity and success which earned him the highest approbation of the Government and admiration of the intelligentsia and public. He secured respect of his fellow professors early and was greatly esteemed by his superiors in office.
Apart from teaching in Sanskrit College, Premchandra possessed great tact in deciphering ancient inscription on stones/copper plaques and this brought him into familiar intercourse with James Prinsep of Asiatic Society. Premchandra’s guidance helped James Princep in translating those invaluable ancient writings in Sanskrit /Pali/Prakriti to English.
During his collegiate career as a student, Premchandra was fond of spending his leisure hours in writing for Bengali press. Satirist poet Ishwar Chandra Gupta was impressed by the writings of Premchandra. Friendship between the two grew during the publication of first Bengali weekly ‘Sambad Prabhakar’ under the editorship of Premchandra. They were the firsts in criticizing on the failure of administrative works/procedures of the British Government/Zamindars/kingly States. Premchandra’s written slokas not only adorned on the front page of Sambad Prabhakar but also on most of the news papers of his time.
In 1836, Lord Macaulay wanted to abolish Sanskrit education in India and close down the Govt. Sanskrit College. Premchandra could not tolerate the insufferable pain that his dear college would be in extinction. He was in the forefront of agitation to oppose Lord Macaulay’s recommendation to abolish Sanskrit education. With the help of like minded intellectuals including the support of orientalists, Macaulay’s recommendation did not find favour with the Government.
Premchandra provided much needed psychological and intellectual support to Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar in his successful mission of ‘Widow Remarriage’.