Bonnerjee Mohishunder (sometimes given as, e.g., Moheschunder Bannerjee or Mahesh Chandra Banerjee) was born around 1800 near Calcutta, India. Philip W Sergeant described him as having been as of 1848 <a Brahman in the Mofussil-up country, as we might say-who had never been beaten at chess!> Hundreds of his games survive through the writings of John Cochrane, who regularly played him between 1848 and 1860, during Cochrane's tenure at the Calcutta bar.
Mohishunder originally played traditional Indian chess, in which pawns did not have the option of moving two squares from the starting row and pawns would promote to the piece of the square reached. He probably learned Western rules after contact with Cochrane and other Europeans.
Cochrane is quoted in a letter written by a member of the Calcutta Chess Club, appearing in the Chess Player's Chronicle in 1850:
The only player here who has any chance whatever with Mr Cochrane, upon even terms, is a Brahmin of the name of Moheschunder Bonnerjee. Of this worthy, Mr Cochrane has himself remarked that he possesses as great a natural talent for chess as any player he ever met with, without one single exception.
Mohishunder favored defenses, unusual in the West, that involved fianchettoing his bishops. The Indian Defenses, such as the King's Indian and Queen's Indian, are named for Mohishunder and his countrymen. Both involve advancing pawns one square, as in Indian chess, rather than more traditional defenses like 1.e4 e5 and 1.d4 d5. Sergeant wrote in 1934 (algebraic notation substituted for Sergeant's descriptive notation),
The Indian Defences by g6 coupled with d6, or b6 coupled with e6, were largely taught to European players by the example of Mohishunder and other Indians, to whom the fianchetto developments were a natural legacy from their own game.
Among other innovations, Mohishunder played the first known Gruenfeld Defense in Cochrane vs Mohishunder, 1855, 67 years before it was "introduced" in Alekhine vs Gruenfeld, 1922.
Sources: Philip W. Sergeant, A Century of British Chess, David McKay, 1934, pp. 68-69; Wikipedia article: Moheschunder Bannerjee; http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...