Rajendralal who was regarded as one of the most learned men of India of his time and one who was well-known for his proficiency in the English language had, however, an irregular schooling. After completing his early education, he enrolled at the CALCUTTA MEDICAL COLLEGE in 1837 but four years later he dropped out of college in 1841. He then tried his hands on becoming a lawyer, but he later dropped the idea of becoming a legal advocate. He applied himself fully and mastered different languages like English, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, and Urdu - which all stood him in a good position in the professional career that was awaiting him in the Asiatic Society, Calcutta.
In 1846, Rajendra Lal joined as a Librarian and Assistant Secretary at the Asiatic Society. 10 years later, he resigned from his job and was appointed as the Director of the newly set up Wards Institution for the education of the wards of zamindars. The Wards Institution was abolished in 1860.
It was he who formed the tradition of the study of Indian antiquities by Indians themselves. His unsparing and hard labor which extended for more than fifty years fetched him honor from not just home but abroad as well. He was among the first Indians to be honored by scholarly and learned bodies in Europe during colonial times.
With the birth of the political front INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS in 1885, he truly advanced to the status of one of the national leaders of the country. Rajendralal, the then President of the British India Association was elected as the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the second session of Indian National Congress which was held in Calcutta in 1886.