History of Bengali Language and Literature
Chaitanya Deva listening to the Bhagabata. This picture was painted between 1512 and 1533 A. D. during the life-time of Chaitanya by order of Raja Pratapa Rudra of Puri. It is said to have been carried to Nadia by Crinivasa one of the disciples. From his descendants, it passed to the family of Raja Nanda Kumar of East India Company fame, and by them is preserved at their country-seat of Kunjaghata near Murshidabad. The figures are as follows:—(1) Chaitanya Deva (2) Nityananda on his right (3) Bhagabata Acharyya (4) the Raja Protapa Rudra patron of the artist, in the attitude of devotion. The peacock in line with the Raja is perhaps heraldic to show his rank.
Bengali Language and Literature.
A series of lectures delivered as Reader
to the Calcutta University.
DINESH CHANDRA SEN, B.A.
Fellow of the Calcutta University, Associate Member of the Asiatic
Society of Bengal, Honorary Member of the Indian Research
Society, Author of Banga Bhasa-O-Sahitya
and other Bengali works,
&c., &c., &c.
"This language, current through an extent of country nearly equal to Great Britain, when properly cultivated, will be inferior to none in elegance and perspicuity."
"Bengali unites the mellifluousness of Italian with the power possessed by German of rendering complex ideas."
F. H. Skrine.
Published by the University.
Printed by—D. C. Kerr, at the "Valmiki Press,"
11, Haldar Lane, Bowbazar.
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE
ASUTOSH MOOKERJEE SARASWATI,
C.S.I., M.A., D.L., D.Sc., F.R.A.S., F.R.S.E.,
VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY
Whose sound and far-sighted educational measures in furthering the cause of our beautiful language will be ever gratefully remembered by his countrymen.
IN TOKEN OF THE AUTHOR'S GRATITUDE AND ESTEEM.
This work consists of the lectures delivered by me as Reader in Bengali Language and Literature to the Calcutta University during the months of January to April 1909, at the Senate House, Calcutta. They treat of our language and literature from the earliest times down to 1850.
The volume now presented to the public has very little affinity with my Bengali work on the same subject, for which I was granted a literary pension by the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for India in 1899. There must, of course, be something in common between the two books, dealing as they do with the same subject, but the arrangement adopted in the present work is altogether new, and the latest facts, not anticipated in my Bengali treatise, have been incorporated in it.
It should be borne in mind that our early Bengali literature had the strange characteristic of forming a gift from the lower to the higher classes. The more cultured ranks of our society under Hindoo rule delighted in the study of classical Sanskrit; during the Mahomedan period, Arabic and Persian were added to this; and the vernacular literature deemed it always a great honour and privilege if it could only now and then obtain an approving nod from the aristocracy. This perhaps accounts for the somewhat vulgar humour that characterises old Bengali writing. But in spite of occasional coarseness a depth of poetry throbbed in the heart of the multitude. I refer my readers particularly to the Mañgala Gāns, to the works of the Manasā and Chandī-cults, and to the Yātrā and Kavi songs. For the great Vaiṣṅava period of our literature, on the other hand, no apology is necessary. In this our people attained the very flowering point of the literary sense. I do not know how far I have been successful in conveying, even in a small degree, the great beauty of this department of our literature.
With regard to the short chapter on pre-Mahomedan literature, which is chiefly Buddhistic, I regret to say that I was not allowed access to the materials collected by Mahāmahopādhyāya Haraprasad Shāstri in Nepal. The chief interest of this period is, however, linguistic and philological. When Mahāmahopādhyāya Shāstri publishes an account of his researches in that field, the world will, I feel sure, learn many things that are not found in this book.
It is stated on page 89 that Nula Panchānana, the great authority on genealogical questions, lived a hundred and fifty years ago. This is not correct. I have lately discovered that he must have lived about three hundred years ago, since in his family the present is the tenth genaration in descent from him.
On page 950 again, I have referred to the gentleman known as Hindu Stuart. The following additional particulars, taken from a book entitled "The story of the Lal Bazar Baptist Church" by Edward J. Wenger (p. 508) may be of interest in connection with his tomb in the South Park Street cemetery.—"This tomb is that of Major General Charles Stuart, who died on the 31st March 1828, aged 70 years. He is generally known as Hindu Stuart, because it is traditionally stated, that he became a Hindu and had his residence in Wood Street, Calcutta, full of idols. It is stated that Government refused to allow him to be cremated as a Hindu because of his position as a general officer of the British army, so gave him a burial in this cemetery, but allowed his tomb to be constructed in the shape of a Hindu temple with emblems of idolatry all about its exterior. In itself it is a very curious-looking structure …… Our interest in it lies more in the fact that he was one of the bitterest opponents of the missionaries in his day."
Ever since 1897 when my Bengali work on the History of Bengali Language and Literature first saw the light, I have been suffering from severe nervous ailments. I have never since been fit for the strain of steady and continuous work. I had to work on the lectures that are contained in this book under severe and trying conditions. Twice during the progress of the book through the press, my condition created grave anxiety. In this state of health, I had to revise all the proofs myself, often including the first readings. I am not at all an expert proof-reader. This will account, though it may not be a sufficient excuse, for the many errors that will be found in the following pages. But the indulgent reader may find in the book, in spite of all its defects, the results of lifelong devotion. There are many things in it which will, I am afraid, be of little interest to the European reader, but it has been my endeavour to make the work of some use to every scholar whose curiosity and interest may be roused in regard to the subject. So I have taken care not to omit any point, however trivial it may appear at first sight.
My esteemed friends Babu Kumud Bandhu Basu and Mr. C. S. Paterson of the Young Men's Christian Association, Calcutta, have very kindly looked through the pages of this book. I take this opportunity of conveying my grateful thanks to them. To another European friend also, whose name I am not permitted to mention, I am much indebted. As I still, however, had to make considerable additions and alterations even after these revisions, I alone am responsible for the many defects of the work.
During the long years of my research in the field of old Bengali Literature, I have had the esteemed patronage and help of many European and Indian gentlemen, foremost among whom I may mention the names of Dr. G. A. Grierson, C. I. E., Mr. F. H. Skrine, Mr. W. C. Macpherson, C. S. I., the Hon'ble Mr. R. T. Greer, C. S. I., Mr. B. C. Mitra, Mr. K. C. De, (I.C.S.), Mr. G. N. Tagore of Calcutta, their Highnesses the Maharajas of Mayurbhanja and Tippera, and the Hon'ble Maharaja of Cossimbazar. In the early years of my research I had obtained considerable help from Mahamahopādhyāya Hara Prasad Shāstri. To these and to all others who have helped me in times of need, my heart goes forth in great esteem and gratitude. I am indebted to my friend Mr. Nagendra Nath Vasu for allowing me the use of his valuable library of old Bengali manuscripts and helping me with suggestions, and also to Mr. Abanindra Nath Tagore for lending me some of the panels with old paintings, which have been reproduced in this book.
Before I conclude, I owe it to myself to offer my special thanks to that great friend and patron of Bengali literature, the Hon'ble Mr. Justice Asutosh Mookerjee, Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University, to whose ardent sympathy and unwearied efforts our language owes its present firm footing in this University. It is to his constant encouragement that these lectures owe their origin and completion. If I have been able even in a small measure to prove myself worthy of his distinguished patronage, I shall consider my labours amply rewarded. In the Convocation address delivered by him on the 13th March, 1909, he made the following kind and appreciative reference to my lectures. "We have had a long series of luminous lectures from one of our own graduates Babu Dinesh Chandra Sen, on the fascinating subject of the history of the Bengali Language and Literature. These lectures take a comprehensive view of the development of our vernacular, and their publication will unquestionably facilitate the historical investigation of the origin of the vernacular literature of this country, the study of which is avowedly one of the foremost objects of the new Regulations to promote."
|19, Kanta Pukur Lane,||DINESH CHANDRA SEN.|
Bengali Language & Literature.
Early influences on the Bengali Language, 1-15.
Pre-Mahomedan Literature, 16-91.
Supplementary notes to Chapter II, 92-114.
Chandidas and Vidyapati. 115-149.
The Pauranik Renaissance, 150-380.
(A) Translations of the Ramayana, 170-195.—Krittivāsa born 1424 A.D.—autobiographical notice.—The story of Rāma's exile, 179-183—the great popularity of Krittivāsa, 186.—Ṣaṣtivara Sen and Gangādās Sen—Durgā Rāma—Jagat Rāma—Rāma Prasāda—Adbhutāchāryya—Çiva Charaṅa Kavi Chandra—Lakṣmana Bandyopādhyaya—Valarāma Bandyopādhyaya—Rāma Mohana—Raghu Nandana Goswāmi—Rāma Govinda Dās and other translators of the Rāmāyaṅa, 185-195.
(B) Translations of the Mahabharata, 196-220.—The Mahābhārata—its contents, 196-198.—Sañjay's recension, 198-201.—Mahābhārata translated by Nasira Saha's order, 201.—Paragali Mahābhārata by Kavīndra.—Açvamedha Parva by Çrikaraṅa Nandī compiled at Chhutikhan's order, 203-207.—A list of 31 writers of the Mahābhārata,—207-209.—Çakuntalā by Rājendra Dās, Nityānanda Ghoṣa, 209-214,—Kaçi Rāma Dās, 214-220.
(C) Translations of Bhagavata, 220-225.—The contents of the Bhāgavata—their pastoral interest and religious meaning, 220-222.—Mālādhara Vasu and other translators, 220-225.
(D) Translations of Chandi by Markandeya, 225-235. Rājā Suratha and the Vaiçya—the theory of illusion—the myth of Chandī—the Durga Puja—Bhavani Prasāda the blind poet.—Rupa Nārāyaṅa, Vraja Lāl and other translators of Chandī, 228-235.
(a) Poems in honour of Manasa Devi—The personal element in the deities of the Çākta cult, contrasted with the impersonal character of Çiva.—The Bhāsān Yātrā, 252-257.—The story of Manasa-mangala—The defiant attitude of Chānd Sadāgara—The superhuman devotion of Behulā, the heroine and bride of Lakṣmindra.— The ultimate submission of Chānd the merchant to Manasā Devi, 257-276. Sixty works on Manasa Devi—their importance.—Hari Datta and Vijaya Gupta, 276-284.—Nārāyana Deva—Extracts from his poems.—Extracts from Ketaka Dās Kṣemānanda's Manasā Mañgala, 284-292—A list of the writers of Manasā-mañgala, 292-294.
(b) Songs in honour of Chandi Devi, 294-362.—How the poems originated with the people and gradually improved.—The History of the Chandi-cult, 295-298.—The story of Kalaketu, the huntsman and his wife Fullara—How the poverty-stricken pair by dint of their devotion obtained the grace of Chandi and succeeded in getting possession of Guzerat.—The end, 298-309—The story of Crimanta Sadagara—The marriage of Dhanapati with Khullanā, the damsel of Uzāni—Troubles on account of the jealousy of his first wife Lahanā—Dhanpati's sea-voyage—The sight of the lady on the lotus—Disasters brought about by Chandi Devi—Çrīmanta, Dhanapati's son, goes in quest of his father to Ceylon—His troubles—The meeting of the father and the son—the happy end, 309-333.—Janārdana, Mānik Datta, Madhavāchāryya and other poets who wrote Chandi Mañgala, 333-336.—Mukunda Rama Kavikankan and his Chandi Mangala—His life and a review of his works—The intense reality of his poetry, 336—359.—Poems of the Chandi-cult written by later poets—Bhavāni Çankara—Jaya Nārāyaṅa and Çivā Charaṅa Sen, 359-363.
Supplementary notes to Chapter IV. 381-398.
The Literature of the Vaisnavas. 398-565.
I. Vaisnavism in Bengal.—Mahāyānism and Vaiṣṅavism—The lay Buddhist Society, a recruiting ground for the Vaiṣṅavas—The points of similarity.—The message of Eastern India and the apostles of Bengal.—The environment of Chaitanya, 398-409.—Navadwipa the birth place of Chaitanya—A seat of learning.—The Navya Nyāya.—The flourishing condition of Navadwipa—Its area—Sceptical tendencies of the age.—The defects of the Renaissance—Bengal ready for a great faith—The advent of Chaitanya Deva, 409-414.
(a) Kadcha or notes by Govinda Das, 446-464.
(b) Chaitanya Bhagavata by Vrindavana Das, 464-471.—Çrivāsa's Ānginā—Attacks on the non Vaiṣṅavas—Valuable side-lights—Chaitanya's contemporaries, 464-497.—Chaitanya's visit to Gaya and the 'lotus feet'—Meeting with Içwara Puri, 467-471.
(c) Jayananda's Chaitanya Mangala, 471-477.—The new facts brought to light by him—The passing of Chaitanya Deva—The Brahmins of Pirulyā, 471-477.
(d) Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krisna Das, 477-489.—Early misfortunes and Vaiṣṅava influence—Chaitanya Charitāmrita commenced when the author was 79.—His vast Scholarship—Defects of style—The excellence of the work.—The last days of Chaitanya—The death of the author in a tragic manner, 477-489.
(e) Chaitanya Mangala by Lochana Das, 489-495.—Autobiographical notes, 489-490.—A good poem but not a good biography—Extracts the work 490-494.—Further particulars about the poet, 494-495.
(f) Brief accounts of Vaisnava devotees 995-511.—Nityānanda and Advaitachāryya, 495-496.—The princely ascetic Gopi Chand, 497-498.—Narottama Dās, 498-499.—Raghunāth Dās, 499-503.—Rupa and Sanātana—Çrīnivāsa, Haridās, Çyāmānanda and others, 503-511.—Bhakti Ratnākar and other biographical works, 511-514.—Theological works, 514-576.
Supplementary notes to Chapter V.—566-613.
The organisation of the Vaiṣṅava order—'The friend of the fallen'—Buddhists surrender themselves to Vaiṣṅava masters, 566-567. Chaitanya and his companions villified 567-568.—The title 'Dās'—Vaiṣṅava influence in the Rāmāyaṅa—in the Çakta and Çaiva literature.—Bengali, a sacred dialect to the Vaiṣṅavas, 568-577. The disputes between the Çāktas and the Vaiṣṅavas—A satire against the latter, 577-579. Manahara Sahi tune—The origin and development of the Kīrtana songs—A list of Kīrtaniyās—Çivu Kīrtaniya, 579-585. The Kathakathas—Set passages committed to memory by them—Examples—A short history of the Kathakathas—Their extraordinary influence, 585-590. The story of Dhara and Drona, 590—596.—The preliminary hymn in Kathakatha, 596.—Mass education—The Bengali Mss. preserved in the house of rustics—The influence of Hindi—case-endings—The metres—The poetic license, 597-602.—A list of obsolete words—The pretenders.—How the Vaiṣṅavas gradually merged in the parent society.—Material prosperity—Cheap living and poverty—The merchants—The Mahotsava ceremony, 602-613.
The post-Chaitanya Literature.—613-775.
(d) Early poems about Vidya-Sundara—Govinda Dās—Kriṣṅa-Rama, Rama Prasada, 653-662.—Bharata Chandra—His life and a review of his poems—Onomatopoetic expressions used by him, and other points about style and rhyming. Praṅa Rama Chakravarty 662-678.
(a) Kaviwalas and their songs, 692.—Dañdā kavis—Raghu, the cobbler—Rāma Vasu—the bashful Hindu wife—Rasu Nara Siṁha—His high spiritual tone—The mother-hood, 692—703.—A list of Kaviwallas—Songs by Haru Thakur—The Portuguese Kaviwala Mr. Antony, 703-709.
(b) Religious songs—710.—The boatman's song—The rustic songs, 710-712.
(c) Rama Prasada Sen, and the poets of his school, 712.—Life of Rāma Prasāda Sen—Kalī, the mother—The Çakta interpreters—Kalī, a mere symbol—The image.—A European critic on Rāma Prasāda—His songs, 712-721—Other song-writers—Rāma Kriṣṅa of Nattore—Rām Dulala. 721-724.
IV. The Yatras or Popular Theatres, 724.—Their defects and incongruities—Redeeming points—Lament of Chandrāvali and the interpretation by the master-singer—The grief of the playmates, 724-730.—Vidya Sundara Yātrās—Gopāla Uriyā, 730-731.—other Yātrās—A brief history of the Yātrawālās—Kriṣṅa Kamala—His poems, the Bhava Sanmilan or Union in spirit—Extracts from Kriṣṅa Kamala's writings—Yātrā poems with prose—Farcical episodes, 731-743.
Supplementary notes to Chapter VI. 776-844.
III. Early Prose Literature—Bengali, a mixed language—Portuguese elements, 828-830.—Causes of the development of modern prose—The Çunya Puraṅa—Deva Dāmara Tantra—Chaitya Rupa prapti—Prose works by Sahajiās—Logic and Law—Bhāṣā Parichchheda—Kaminī Kumara 830-844.
The Modern Age, 845-1002.
(b) Dr. Carey and his, 850—854.—Youngmen of Bengal anglicised 855.—Dr. Carey's Bengali works—The story of a thief—How 23 fish disappeared 855-867.
(c) Bengali works by Europeans, 867-878.
(d) A new ideal in the country 878-883.—The Pundits of the Fort William college—Mrittunjaya—Rāma Rāma Vasu—Rajiva Lochana—Kriṣṅa Chandra Charita, 883-896. The contributions to our natural literature by the Pandits, 897.
(e) The Rev. K. M. Banerji and other authors who followed in the wake of European writers,—K. M. Bannerjee, his works. A list of publications by other writers—Vocabulary—Grammar—History—Biography—Moral tales and other subjects—Periodicals, Magazines and Newspapers 900-912.
III. General remarks indicating the characteristics of the new age and its contrast with the earlier one, 912,—Specimens of the style of Bhattācharyas—Profulla Jnāna Netra—Sarvāmoda-taranginī—Lipimālā—Payāra Chhanda—Tripadi Chhanda—Bengali style of European writers—Babu-Vilāsa—the Satire—The high price of the printed books—The excellence of the Hindu method in arithmetic, 912-931.
IV. (a)of the high ideal in Hindu Society and the advent of Raja Rama Mohana Roy, 931—Vain ostentations in religion—Severe codes for petty offences—Leanings towards Christianity—Rājā Rāmamohanā Roy, 931-936.
(b) A comprehensive review of his life and work, 936—The European admirers of the Rājā 936-943—Evidence before the select committee—Broad Sympathy and cosmopolitan views—Respect for Hindu Philosophy. Auto-biographical sketch 943-950 Popular Hinduism—Hindu Stewart and other Europeans admirers of Hinduism 950-956—The Success of the Rājā's mission—The Rājā's work in Bengali Prose 956—Extracts from his writings—His Bengali Grammar—The Suttee movement—The father of the Modern Bengali Prose, 943-989.
(c) The Writers that followed Raja Ramamohana Roy—Devendra Nath Tagore—Aksaya Kumar Dutta and others, 936—Renewed activities of the missionaries. Devendra Nātha Tagore—Extracts from his auto-biography—Akṣaya Kumara Dutta—An Extract from his writings—other writers 989-1002.
Supplementary notes to Chapter VII. 1002-12.
- Three early centres of vernacular writings, 1003-1012.
- The patronage accorded to vernacular writers, 1909-1912.
- Peace and her boon, 1912.
List of Stories.
|The Story of||
Kālaketu, the huntsman and his wife Fullarā
Dharā and Droṅa
how 23 fish disappeared
List of illustrations.
Chaitanya Deva listening to the Bhagabata
Four Panels from Book-covers for the decoration of Bhagabata Literature
Specimen of Book-cover, 17th century
Page of a Bengali MS. of Gita Govinda, dated 1650, written by Pārvati Dāsi
Book-cover taken from the District of Birbhum, Early 17th Century
Page of Bengali M. S. of Govinda Lilamrita, dated 1701 A. D.
Page of a Bengali MS. from the Chittagong District, dated 1597, and that of Harilīlā written by Gangāmaṅi Devi
Raja Ramamohana Roy
- Minor stories are not included in this list.