The Weird Tale of The Bhawal Sannyasi
It would be difficult to find someone in this country today who, having grown up in a typical middle-class Bengali household of the 1950s-60s, has not heard of the fabled tale of the Bhawal Sannyasi (a Hindu mendicant) through family sources. Story-telling as an oral tradition, often passed down through generations, was very much in vogue then in most families.
It is not in the scope of this essay to deliberate on the Bhawal Sannyasi story in detail, let alone on its lengthy judicial proceedings. In the last few decades much has already been written about it, as newer sources of information became increasingly available. The most scholarly and celebrated book on the subject, is undoubtedly by the renowned historian Partha Chatterjee, who in his seminal, assiduously researched, meticulously developed and absorbingly narrated classic entitled, A Princely Imposter: The Kumar of Bhawal and the Secret History of Indian Nationalism (2002) brilliantly introduces newer dimensions to the story, previously untold.