Udayan, which claimed to be a unique illustrated monthly Bengali periodical, was started in 1340 B.S. (1933). Its first editor was Anil Kumar De. Its rich repertoire of published matters incorporated fiction and critical essays. The journal included a section on newly published books with brief reviews. Another section, added later, was ‘Ghare Baire’ (Home and Abroad), which narrated events of national and international significance. The illustrations were produced by some noted Bengali artists.
Rabindranath Tagore was a regular contributor to the journal. His contributions included mainly poems and critical essays. Other renowned writers of fiction who contributed poems, short stories and novels to the journal were Kumudranjan Mallick, Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay, Hemendralal Ray, Pearymohan Sengupta, Bimal Mitra, and Sailajananda Mukhopadhyay. It was, however, the range of critical essays that makes the journal important in Bengal’s intellectual history. The essays concentrated on language and linguistics, literature and literary personalities, art and sculpture, religion and spirituality, economy and resource management, science and technology, education, and history. A few of the essays deserve mention: Harekrishna Mukhopadhyay’s ‘Chandidas Prasanga’ (Regarding Chandidas); Basanta Kumar Chattopadhayay’s ‘Durgamurti Parichay’ (The Idol of Durga); Sachi Seal’s ‘Dharmatattver Bisleshan’ (An Analysis of Religious Theory); Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Bharatiya Biswabidyalayer Adarsha’ (Ideals for Indian Universities); Jaminikanta Sen’s ‘Bharatiya Bhaskarje Bastabata’ (Realism in Indian Sculpture); Mahendrachandra Ray’s ‘Sahityer Bishoy’ (Subjects for Literature); and Meghnad Saha and Gyanendrachandra Mukhopadhyay’s ‘Bangladeshe Jal-Bigyan-Charchar Proyojoniyata’ (The Need for Water Science Studies in Bengal).
Among literary forms, rhymes (‘Chhanda’) received preference as an important theme of literary criticism. The increasing importance of Tagore studies seemed to have made an impact on the journal, as critical essays on various aspects of Rabindranath Tagore’s writings were published frequently. The illustrations in the journal were by artists such as Durgasankar Bhattacharya, Aswini Kumar Ray, Hasirasi Devi and Nitai Pal. The journal held a regular story-writing competition, and published the best contributions.