P. C. Ray

Other names: 

Prafulla Chandra Ray

Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray


University of Edinburgh EH8 9YL
United Kingdom
55° 57' 7.956" N, 3° 10' 19.4196" W
Date of birth: 
02 Aug 1861
City of birth: 
Raruli, Bengal
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Date of death: 
16 Jun 1944
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1882
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1882-8, 1904, 1920, 1926


Edinburgh University


P. C. Ray was a chemist, a historian and sociologist of science and an industrial entrepreneur. Following education in Calcutta, he won a Gilchrist Scholarship to study in Britain in the 1880s. He was met in London by Jagadish Chandra Bose and Satyaranjan Das. A week later he went up to Edinburgh University, with letters of introduction to Edinburgh families provided by Elizabeth Manning.

Ray studied chemistry, physics and zoology for a BSc and was then awarded a DSc in inorganic chemistry in 1887. He was elected Vice-President of the University Chemical Society in 1887. Ray wished to apply for a position within the Indian Educational Service although the higher posts in education were all but closed off to Indians. He returned to India in 1888, and armed with various letters of recommendation tried to enter the service. He was unemployed for a year until he got a temporary teaching post in Calcutta.

P. C. Ray eventually set up the Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works in Calcutta, India's first pharmaceutical company. In 1904 he toured Europe and was given a warm reception by Indian students at Edinburgh. In 1912, the University of Durham conferred unto him an honorary DSc degree. Ray was awarded with the Companionship of the Indian Empire (CIE) in 1912 and a knighthood in 1919. In 1916 he took up a position at the University College of Science in Calcutta, where he remained until retirement.

Published works: 

Antiquity of Hindu Chemistry (Calcutta, 1918)

Autobiography of a Bengali Chemist (Calcutta: Orient Book Company, 1958)

Essays and Discourses (Madras: G. A. Natesan, 1918)

History of Hindu Chemistry from the Earliest Times to the Middle of the Sixteenth Century A. D., 2 vols (London: Williams and Norgate, 1902-9)

Makers of Modern Chemistry (Calcutta: Chuckervertty, Chatterjee, 1925)

Pursuit of Chemistry in Bengal: A Lecture (Calcutta: B. M. Gupta, 1916)

Secondary works: 

Lourdusamy, J., Science and National Consciousness in Bengal 1870-1930 (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2004)

Archive source: 

P. C. Ray Museum, University College of Science, Calcutta