The oriental seminary was founded by Gour Mohan Addy in 1829, for the children of the Hindu parents in Calcutta. In those days students had to enroll themselves in the missionary schools to learn and study English, where they were subject to considerable religious influence. In fact, Oriental Seminary came in at a critical juncture when many Hindu parents, while fully comprehending the usefulness of English education, showed sceptical in sending their boys to English schools. They felt insecure having seen the way the Derozians of the Hindu School recklessly disregard Hindu values, tradition and customs, and how the Christian missionaries were tactfully shaking the faith of Hindu boys in the name of imparting higher English education.
At this time of uncertainty and anguish, the Oriental Seminary of Gourmohun reassured the worried orthodox Hindu parents about imparting the best English education in his school. Actually, the major contribution of Addy to the society was the foundation of a school for teaching English, free from Christian influences.
Initially originated at Benshohata, the School shifted its location thrice before moving into its own building on Chitpur Road (36/1A, Rabindra Sarani), in Jorasanko. Constructed by Martin Burn, the school building was inaugurated by the then Governor, Lord Carmichael in 1914. Its monthly tuition fee was Rs 3/, which was cheaper in comparison to Rs 5/ of Hindu School. It started a morning session for the infants in 1836. Bengali was also introduced as a medium of instruction in 1839. With time and popular demand of the day, three branches of the institution were opened in Chitpur, Bhowanipur and Belghoria. The girls’ section of the school was opened in 1934.
Gourmohan did not hesitate to request reputed British teachers like Captain D.L. Richardson and others to teach in his school. He also appointed Eurasians for the junior classes and Bengali teachers for the intermediate classes. However, for the upper classes, he appointed highly qualified Englishmen or Bengalis.
After the sudden demise of Gourmohun on Feb 23rd, 1845, Hurrakisto Addy, his brother, took the control of the Seminary and dedicated himself for the betterment of the institution. He regulated all the details of the school, and took part in teaching as well.
Oriental Seminary still exists. The higher secondary section of the school became coeducational in 1991. It is interesting to note that, the first president of Indian National Congress, Barrister W. C. Bonnerjee, was an ex-student of the School and he was the first president of the governing body of the school till his death in 1906. It is further interesting to note that, Rabindranath had his initial schooling at the seminary.
Sadly enough, no portrait of Gourmohan is available for us to commemorate the great man, who created history in the education system in Calcutta during the days of the British Raj.