Seth Bishwambhar Dayal Sureka, one of the lineal descendants of Sureka clan and Jewel of town Ramgarh Shekhawati who was born to Shri Purushottam Das Sureka and Smt. Champa Devi on 18th November, 1929 at 7, Seth Hardayal Sureka Lane, Salkia (Howrah). He did his Graduation from Scottish Church College and married to Bhagwati Devi on 23rd June, 1946 and is blessed with two sons, Arun Sureka and Pradeep Sureka, and two daughters, Rachana Khemani and Vandana Kejriwal.
In career spanning 72 years, he made unceasing efforts for his business to thrive and to be successful, by sharp intelligence, skills and hard work. Shri B.D.Sureka built the entire empire with various verticals like- real estate, rubber industry, software incubators etc. He is astute entrepreneur and never hesitated on taking tough decisions.
Shri B.D. Sureka has been socially committed and closely associated with Arts organizations like, Anamika and Anamika Kala Sangam, set up ‘Padatik’ a Theatre and Dance institution, rectified the turmoil in educational institutions like ‘Shri Shikshayatan’ and unstintingly supported the formation of Gyan Manch in ‘Abhinav Bharti’, a English medium school dedicated to provide world class education and “Manovikas Kendra”, a foundation that supported the education and therapy of physically and mentally challenged children. He would always find time to devote his energy for social cause and aid needy people.
A man of laconic personality, with subtle embedded qualities like integrity, commitment, honesty and courage, his humble and docile ceaseless nature has been a source of inspiration to many. He faced many challenges, ups and downs in his life and proved that anything can be achieved from hard work and firm determination.
For Bishwambhar Dayal Sureka, his career had turned full-circle. He was more than happy that his sons were managing the affairs with comfort and keen ability, transport in their dealing and upholding their father’s ideals. In 1996 he handed over all charge of business to his sons and decided to devote his life full-time to service of those who needed help.
The evening, at long last, turned serene; the spell of spring had left subtle, evocative aromas that no storm and rain through the monsoon of his life could perish. Now it was autumn, the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!’
Today, Bishwambhar Dayal Sureka sits as committee member or trustee on the board for more than 20 educational institutes, NGOs and cultural organisations. The list is -
Educational and cultural institutes’ committee member:-
• Anamika Kala Sangam (Past President)
• Abhinav Bharti Bal Mandir School (Past President)
• Shree Agrasain Smriti Bhavan (Sanrakshak)
• Baba Kali Kamliwala Panchayat Kshetra (Vice President)
• Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Calcutta Kandra)
• Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Advisory Council)
• Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad (Vice President)
• Bhavan’s Gangabux KanoriaVidyamandir (Advisory Committee)
• GyanManch Education Society
• Manovikas Kendra Rehabilitation and Research Institute for the Handicapped (Ex.Chairman)
• Marwari Panchayeti Dharamshala, Haridwar (Committee Member)
• M.C.K.V. Institute of Engineering
• M.C. Kejriwal Vidyapeeth
• Madhusthali Vidyapeeth
• NatyaSodh Sansthan
• Parivarikee School (Past President)
• Padatik (Past President)
• Padatik Cultural Centre (Past President)
• Udayan Care (President)
• West Bengal Child Health Research Centre (President)
• Shree Agrasain Balika Shiksha Sadan
• Anamika Kala Sangam
• Abhinav Bharati
• Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad
• Bhuwalka Janakalyan Trust
• Eye Pavilion
• Gyan Manch Education Society
• H.C. Halwasiya Charity Trust
• Howrah Improvement Trust (Ex Trustee) (Govt. of West Bengal)
• Jasidih Arogya Bhawan (Chairman)
• M.C. Kejriwal Vidyapeeth
• Manovikas Kendra (Ex.Chairman)
• Marwari BalikaVidyalaya Society
• RamgarhVikas Trust
• Sushila Singhi Memorial Trust
• Thakurdas Champalal Chamaria Charity Trust
We feel very proud that Shri B.D.Sureka belongs from the town Ramgarh Shekhawati and we are very happy that we are adding life and time spent by him. This is a story of an ordinary person who has become a legend.
GOLDEN HISTORY OF: SETH BISSENDAYAL HARDAYAL SUREKA
The history of the Surekas starts from the earliest known ancestor, Seth Bishan Dayal Sureka who must have married and set up his humble business in the 1830s. By then the pomp and glory of the mughals in Delhi had inevitably died, old trade routes began drying up and new ports shifted under British domain. But Seth Bishan Dayal Sureka’s life must have remained largely unaffected by such vagaries. Ramgarh Shekhawati lingered outside the direct pale of national politics. Life here had its steady, traditional, feudal pace. Most men folk worked to sustain their family and the women of the house attended to household chores. Seth Bishan Dayal Sureka kept him busy as he immersed himself in the ordinary affaires of everyday living and raised his family within the walls of a modest haveli in town Ramgarh Shekhawati. His son Hardayal Sureka started business in Calcutta and took all the responsibilities of the family then Seth Vishnu Dayal Sureka (Also known as Bishan Dayal Sureka) visited all the holy pilgrims two times and started living in Varanasi (Kashi). He built “Bishandayaleshwar Shiv Mandir” near Manikarnika Ghat, Brahmnal Mohalla, in Varanasi and engaged himself in the worship of Lord Shiva and took his last breath in Varanasi.
Young Seth Hardayal Sureka son of Seth Bishan Dayal Sureka was on the verge of leaving his native land Ramgarh Shekhawati in 1858. Seth Hardayal Sureka and his wife must have travelled by camel cart, braving the marauding bandits who often looted caravans, travelling forests where jackals, snakes and tigers lurked, halts at the modest Dharamshala in night reached the ancient city Mathura. Seth Hardayal Sureka most probably found a humble assignment in the local grain market as an overseer and a modest home was hired in Mathura. This is where Seth Hardayal Sureka and his wife delivered their first son in 1859, was named Durga Prosad. Over the next decade he and his wife were blessed with three more healthy sons - -Mathura Prasad, Ram Prasad, and Murlidhar. Due to limited scope in Mathura, Seth Hardayal Sureka decided to move to Kolkata to better his prospects. And thus began another historic expedition in 1870, when Seth Hardayal Sureka’s first son, Durga Prosad was around ten years old. In 1870, when Seth Hardayal Sureka and his family first stepped into the city, Kolkata blazed in the dazzling glory of the British Raj.
He established a modest home on Harrison Road in burrabazar. Yet, in the 1880s, though Hardayal’s eldest son, Durga Prosad – now a strapping man in his twenties, become linked with the distance town of Dundee. Here astute Scotsmen had begun the production of jute, also known as the “golden fibre” as far back as 1830, using raw material from rural Bangal. Raw jute was shipped from Kolkata all the way to the docks of Dundee so that the fibre could be spun into burlap or hessian before export as bags to suppliers of Australian wool, American cotton and grain and Japanese coffee. And jute was to give the Sureka family its initial glimpse of wealth. By the time Hardayal came to Kolkata with his family, five jute mills were already operating in Howrah with nine hundred and fifty looms. He wasted no time getting involved with the jute and cotton business. Within a few years, his eldest son followed suit. Soon, the sureka family shifted from Harrison Road in Burrabazar to Salkia in Howrah - strategic measure taken by Hardayal to stay close to the Rishra jute mills where much of the business was transacted. Initially, two homes were purchased from a local Bangali babu in the Bandhaghat area.
By the 1890s, Howrah had begun thriving as an industrial hub. Hardayal had also successfully expand his business to kerosene - that magic, flammable hydrocarbon oil that changed innumerable fortunes.
Hardayal’s second son, Mathura Prasad, had bought up a large track of unused burial ground in Bandhghat that lay near their residence. A public interest trust was formed by the family – “The Satyanarayan Trust”- and the land purchased was donated for building a beautiful Shree Satyanarayan Temple and attached to its premises is a spacious ‘Shree Satyanarayan Dharamshala’, now converted / turned into “Shree Satyanarayan Sabhaghar” with modern facilities. Some godowns were also erected and the rent collected from letting them out went to the trust’s treasure.
Shri Satyanarayan Temple, Salkia, Howrah
Shri Satyanarayan Temple, Salkia, Howrah
Like many other wealthy Marwaris, the Surekas maintained connections with their ancestral home in Ramgarh Shekhawati and sent regular remittance from the family’s new enterprises to relatives.
The haveli at Ramgarh was renovated and a Dharamshala, three times the size of the local residence, was erected in the heart of the main bazaar.
In salkia, anybody who came from Ramgarh Shekhawati and its surrounding villages would be provided a gaddi and ten rupees per month till he could find some useful employment.
Many houses were built in Howrah and Dharamshalas in Raniganj, Varanasi, Mathura, Fatehpur, Ramgarh, Lohani were also built and Seth Bishan Dayal Hardayal Sureka Sanskrit Pathshala in Mathura was established for the advancement of Sanskrit and Seth Bishan Dayal Hardayal Sureka Saraih was built in Gokul for the pedestrians to take rest and the kothi in Kanpur came to be regularly used during up-country excursions.
By then, Seth Hardayal had fathered three more sons –Nandram, Lakshmi Narayan and Thakurdas – his last son born in 1884, twenty five years after his eldest son.
Seth Hardayal retired to bask in the glory of his hard-earned success and his sons married and increased the progeny. Durga Prosad was by now wed to Dakhibai from Rajgariah family who had mica business in Giridih near Hazaribagh in Bihar and the turn of the century, a little after the demise of Hardayal in 1898. Seth Durga Prosad had two sons – Seth Chiranjilal and Seth Radheshyam. Seth Chiranjilal married Jadia Devi from well known business Halwasiya family in Lucknow and Seth Radheshyam married Narmada Devi from renowned Chamaria family.
Durga Prosad the eldest son of Hardayal was declared the monarch of jute business by none other than “The Evening Post” in its edition of Monday, 14th May, 1900 published from Dundee (Scotland).
It was a rare honour bestowed upon a native Marwari. Much respected in his trade, Durga Prosad had risen in stature through sheer hard work and fortuitous alliances. His two sons, Chiranjilal and Radheshyam, were by now assisting him to consolidate his business. In fact, the elder boy Chiranjilal, was already married and had been blessed with two sons, Ghanshyam Das and Purushottam Das, when the news item appeared in Scotland christening him Calcutta’s “Jute King”, the paper went on to say:
WHO IS QUITE A “BISMARCK”
INTERESTING SKETCH OF HIS CAREER
THIS GENTLEMAN is the eldest and very wealthy son of a worthy and wealthy father, the late babu Hardayal Sureka. Babu
Durga Prosad was born at Mathura in the hindi year 1916, which corresponds to 1859 of our christian era. He went to Calcutta when a boy of ten years of age, and on arriving at the years of discretion (gentlemen of his clan develop that faculty early in life) he worked with his father until the death of the father in 1898, when he assured the total government of the very renowned firm ‘babu Bishan Dayal Hardayal Sureka’
Babu Durga Prosad is owner of Sulkia Jute Press where he bales his own jute during the season, about 1,25,000 bales, chiefly under the old well-established marks Red PN in diamond, Blue BNP in heart, and RC in diamond, as also his own mark of more recent origin DR in double triangle. The first two of these marks are favourite with consumers, who buy them in large quantities; the mark RC used some years ago to be a distinguished “Crack Mark”, but the baling of it fell into other hands a few years ago, and its old reputation was not kept up, but under the present management it is intended to bring it up its pristine standard Messers Sinclair Murray & Co. are sole brokers for the jute of the babus balings, which are also under their particular supervision. Babu Durga Prosad is interested, as part owner, in the Soora Jute Mills. He carries on, under the style of Bishan Doyal Durga Prasad, the very extensive trade in kerosene oil and cotton, built up by his late father who was known as the”Kerosene King” in Calcutta.
The list of this busy man’s business cares is not complete without the mention of his house in Cawnpore (Now Kanpur), with extensive ramifications up country and his banking firm, under the name of Durga Prasad Chiranjeelal, with which is included a large business in silver. The babu is quite a ”Bismarck” in trade and this, too, notwithstanding the fact that he cannot(or will not) speak in English, but those Britans who come in contact with him in business are soon aware that he is ‘all there’ when conversation is carried out in English.
BABU DURGA PROSAD RADHAKISSEN IS A BRIGHT EXAMPLE OF A SUCCESSFUL AN OPULENT BUSINESSMAN AND NATIVE GENTLE MAN.”
Seth Nandram Sureka
Seth Lakshmi Narayan Sureka
Seth Thakur Dass Sureka
Seth Durga Prasadji was a rich merchant and undisputed head of the Sureka clan. He took care of his brothers who were involved in the family business, and their offspring slowly spread out over seven establishments down Salkia’s Hardayal Sureka Lane. It is believed that over time the seven brothers came to be referred as the ‘Saat Topiwaley’ Surekas by the Marwari community.
Seth Durga Prosad was much concerned about his personal appearance. His turban had the hint of five colours all the way from Jaipur. And dressed in impeccable jewels, dhotis and angarkhas he would ride out every evening to town with his siblings.
In contrast to Seth Durga Prosad’s headgear, the six younger brothers were uniformly garbed in Pink Turbans encrusted with cluster of Basra pearls. It was a grand sight for many commoners who gawked at the Surekas thus travelling to important Panchayat meetings.
The Marwaris maintained the traditional system of consulting a committee of elders – an arrangement they had brought with them from their native land. All decrees of the Panchayat were binding to its members. So respected was Seth Durga Prasad and so revered his wise council that the Panch, comprising senior Marwari veterans of wealth and charity, preferred to patiently wait for his arrival before settling any disputes.
Traditional ballads and stories from Bangal’s myths – including the evergreen Manasamangal – eulogise
the fabulous wealth of legendary merchant, Chand Saudagar. His barges, with perfumed sails, were supposed to have scented the evening air near Salkia’s Bandhaghat as he glided down the river with his wares in those magic times of folklore. Centuries later, Seth Durga Prosad too allowed the diktats of his destiny to be irrevocably linked with the rides of the Hooghly and out of the sweat and sighs of one generation, got kneaded the hopes and fears of the next.
Seth Thakur Dass Sureka, the youngest son of Seth Hardayal Sureka born on Vikram Samwat 1933 in Salkia, Howrah. They achieved great success when they started Iron Foundary factory, with his son Govindram Sureka. But time has to turn again and his son Seth Govindram Sureka died at the age of 35. Then Seth Thakur Dass focused on his grandson Seth Ratan Lall Sureka and achieved a great high on their business. He started “Thakur Dass Sureka Charity Fund” and did many philanthropic activities like – erecting Dharamshalas in Varanasi and different spiritual places, help to Vanasthali Vidhya Pith, Jaipur, established Thakur Das Sureka Free Primary School in Fakir bagan, Howrah, built Vishram Griha at Salkia Samshaan Ghat and published “Nityakarma Vidhi Tatha Dev Puja Paddhati”and posseses copyright of the same.
Bhagirathi Devi Sureka widow of Seth Govindram Sureka decided to live and spend her life in Varanasi and built “Bhagirathieshwar Shiv Mandir”. Her wish was to build a unique temple of Shree Satyanarayan Bhagwan in Varanasi. Before she died, took promise from her son Seth Ratan Lall Sureka to build a unique temple here. After her death, Seth Ratan Lall Sureka kept up his humble promise which he had made to his mother and built “Shri Shri Satyanarayan Tulsi Manas Mandir” in Varanasi and fulfilled his mother’s wish. This temple is a huge building with marble walls inside and now one of the most famous attractions and also a landmark of Varanasi. The walls of this temple are engraved with verses and scenes from the “ShriRamcharitmanas”. Many people believed that this temple is situated at the place where Shri Tulsidasji wrote the famous Indian epic,“ShriRamcharitmanas.”
Seth Ratanlall Sureka was involved in many philanthropic activities through “Thakurdass Sureka Charity Fund”. Shri Mohanlal Sureka son of Shri Ratanlal Sureka died at the early age of 19 then Shri Ratanlal Sureka built “Mohanlal Sureka Hospital” for the remembrance of his son, in their home town Ramgarh Shekhawati. Thakurdass Sureka Charity Fund, now run by Shri Raj Kumar Sureka, son of Shri Ratanlal Sureka and mother Krishna Devi is carrying on many philanthropic activities.
|Hospital in Ramgarh Shekhawati|
Jadia Devi-B D Sureka’s Grand Mother
Purushottam Das and Birji Devi- B D Sureka’s Parents
Seth Purushottam Das Sureka
Birji Devi Purushottam Das Sureka
Shri Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, President of India (1962-1967) at the Abhishekam ceremony at the family’s Ram Mandir in Varanasi. Purushottam Das Sureka at the extreme right
B D Sureka (extreme left) with Shri Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
B D Sureka (Standing third from left) with members of the Lion’s Club of Howrah
B D Sureka
Bhagwati- B D Sureka
Shaking hands with President of India, Shri K R Naraynan (1997-2002) at a formal reception
In casual conversation with Shri A P J Abdul Kalam, President of India (2002-2007) on his visit to Manovikas Kendra
With Sourav Ganguly, former Captain of the Indian Cricket team at Manovikas Kendra
Left to right: Shyamanand Jalan, film director Mrinal Sen and B D Sureka at a function hosted by Anamika Kala Sangam
Forever friends- (From left to right) B D Sureka, Shyamanand Jalan and Suresh Neotia
Bhagwati Sureka with close friend Kusum Khemani
B D Sureka
From left to right- Prateek, Arun, Anupama and Varun, (B D Sureka’s elder son Arun’s family)
From left to right- Vedant, Namrata, Mansi and Pradeep (B D Sureka’s younger son Pradeep’s family)
A Happy Sureka Family
Source of Information:
1. The Biography of B.D.Sureka “ A Ship of Truth” The Life & Time of Bishwambhar Dayal Sureka
Author: Jayabrato Chatterjee
Published by: Shyamanand Jalan & Suresh Neotia
2. The Biography of B.D.Sureka in Hindi “Ek Shaksh Kahani Sa”
Author: Dr. Kusum Khemani
Published by: Shyamanand Jalan & Suresh Neotia
Special Thanks to:–
Shri Pankaj Sureka, Presidentand Co-Founder of ‘Divine Souls – Helping Hands for All’
For providing much information, suggestions an editing this section.
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