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With the object of drawing the attention of scholars to 
the comparatively uncultivated field of Bengali Literature, 
I have in the present volume embodied the results of some 
of my researches into it. These investigations were first 
undertaken in 1912-1913, chiefly for the purpose of my 
essay for the Griffith Memorial Prize for Original Research 
for 1915 and were subsequently worked up into a thesis for 
Premchand Roychand Research Studentship, for which it 
was approved in 1918. 

In selecting the nineteenth century for treatment out 
of all other periods, I am actuated by several considerations. 
In the first place, the nineteenth century possesses a peculiar 
interest for us. It is the period of British influence on 
Indian thought, and one which witnessed a new awakening 
and the growth and building up of modern Bengal and 
modern Bengali Literature. The importance of this period 
in all its aspects, political, social, religious, as well as 
literary, can never be exaggerated. It is to be regretted, 
however, that we possess no adequate and connected infor- 
mation about the period and the literature in which, indeed, 
the civilisation of modern Bengal can be traced and 
without which that civilisation cannot be fully understood. 
I have not heard of any scholar who has yet made the 
nineteenth century literature his special study and written 
any special account of it. The earliest attempts at writing 
a connected account of Bengali Literature the Bengali 
discourse of Rajnarayan Basu and the little pamphlet of 
Ganga Charan Sarkar were meant chiefly as popular 
lectures rather than any comprehensive and synthetic study 


of the subject. Pundit Ilamgati Nyayaratna's more con- 
siderable and painstaking work is far too sketchy and too 
orthodox to serve as a connected and critical account ; and 
his treatment of the nineteenth century, with which the 
Pundit seems to possess but little sympathy 3 is meagre and 
hasty. Mahamahopadhvav Haraprasad Shastri's fruitful 
researches in the field of early Bengali Literature is well- 
known ; but it is to be regretted that the learned scholar 
did not direct his investigation to comparatively modern 
periods except by way of contributing a suggestive survey 
of the nineteenth century literature in the old series of the 
Bangui! a r'aan. It is needless to mention other subsequent 
works like those of Padmanabba Ghosal, Mahendra Nath 
Bhattacharjee, Kailas Chandra Ghose, Romesh Chandra 
Dutt and others ; for researches in the field or at least 
accumulation of materials have necessarily made great 
strides in the thirty or forty years which have elapsed since 
their publication. The most recent treatment of the 
subject is to be found in Babu Dinesh Chandra Sen's newly 
published History of Bengali Literature, but it must be 
admitted that the learned author's account of the nineteenth 
century, which is dealt with only partially and which 
possibly did not come within the scope of his lucid lectures, 
is tacked on as a sort of appendix to his more valuable 
work on the earlier periods and, based as it is chiefly on the 
doubtful authority of Rev. J. Long's Catalogue, it is in 
itself a hardly satisfactory study of the schools and leaders 
of this important era of Bengali Literature. It is remark- 
able indeed that recent investigations and researches in this 
field are directed more towards ancient Bengali Literature 
thau towards its more modern phases. This apparent want 
of interest in a very noteworthy period must not, however, 
lead one to underrate its importance. It is true that the 
period of European writers in Bengali is not very acceptable 


to a mere literary taster; but even in this seemingly dullest 
period of our literary history, there is much more than is 
ever dreamt of in the philosophy of the airy generaliser 
who hurries over it to pastures more agreeable. It is the 
silent but strenuous efforts of the hosts of forgotten or 
half -forgotten writers, both foreign and native, of this and 
later periods that have built up the whole fabric upon 
which the present-day literature is based : but it has always 
been the misfortune of the worthy pioneer authors to be 
kept in the background and looked upon as notable curio- 
sities. It is time, however, when their records are fast 
vanishing and in a few years will be irretrievably lost, 
that we must hasten to estimate their work and worth, 
reconstruct their history, and give them their respective 
share of credit in the growth and progress of the national 

Being thus without a competent guide in the field but 
convinced of the importance of the work, I have been 
obliged to chalk out my own path. The purpose and scope 
of the present volume will be rendered plainer by a glance 
through the book itself than I could hope to make it here 
except by way of anticipating what will be found in the 
following chapters. I may briefly add, however, that my 
object has been to give, from a literary point of view, but 
with a background of social and political history, and 
from a direct reading of the literature itself, an account 
of the important period in which, indeed, the obscure origins 
of modern Bengali Literature is to be sought, making it 
as full and as conveniently arranged as I could provide. 
The volume must not be regarded, however, as a mere store- 
house of facts, and although presented as an essay of 
literary and biographical criticism, it may also be taken as 
an historical review of the course of Bengali Literature 
from its decadence after Bharat Chandrae's death to its 


rejuvenation under the British influence if not a minute, 
at least a compact and logical survey of the authors and 
works that demaud attention. It would be too late in the 
day surely to insist upon the historical method of study of 
literature : but it has never been systematically and con- 
sistently applied to the investigation of modern Bengali 

I am indeed aware that "the historical estimate" has 
its perils and snares and more than often results in strange 
freaks and that the discoverer of some forgotten minor 
writer is often under the temptation to magnify the value 
of his discovery ; yet in applying the historical method 
in literary criticism I am following what is widely accept- 
ed by all philosophical critics. It is indeed the best way 
to attain that "disinterested objectivity" in criticism 
which Matthew Arnold so highly applauds and to avoid 
that "provincial spirit" which he rightly condemns. It 
must not be supposed, however, that I have substituted 
bird's eye views and sweeping generalisations for positive 
knowledge. The chain of historical summary can never 
be forged without the links supplied by individual facts. 
Nor, on the other hand, should it be supposed that I have 
a peculiar theory of my own or any particular school to 
uphold. Not a single sketch has been discoloured nor 
the comprehension of the general drift distorted by my 
own ideas. On the other hand, each author has been 
judged on his own merits and in order to obtain a true 
historical perspective, I have treated literature not as an 
isolated phenomenon but have taken care always to keep 
in view the relation of the literature to the social and 
political history of the time, for literary thought and 
contemporary events, as I have pointed out elsewhere, are 
indeed the two inseparable aspects of history. The task 
of such a reconstruction is by no means easy and one oan 


never claim infallibility or finality in a matter like this. 
To make a proper estimate of modern literature is, indeed, 
one of the most difficult tasks of literary criticism. An 
old country and its old literature is a study ; but a new. 
country and its new literature is a problem. It is hard 
to realise the past ; but it is harder to read the present. 
All that this work can lay claim to is that a systematic, 
though tentative, attempt is made to study a progressive 
literature during a most noteworthy period in all its 
remarkable phases reflecting the thought and culture of 
the specified country and age. 

But the following pages form only the first volume of 
my projected history 'of the 19th century literature. It 
deals with a very small part of the subject and with a 
seemingly barren and uninteresting period between 1800 
and 1825. This is concerned, in the main, with the well- 
meaning but scarcely literary activity of the European 
writers, chiefly missionaries, and their colleagues in the 
domain of Bengal prose as well as with the strong counter- 
current of native energy which found its vent in a body 
of indigenous poems and songs, standing, as they do, in 
direct contrast to the work of the Europeans. The Intro- 
ductory Retrospect is a brief preliminary recapitulation 
of the facts and circumstances which led to the beginnings 
of the modern age and modern literature. It should be 
taken as an introduction not only to the present volume 
but also to the volumes which will follow. To many, 
minutely conversant with the history of this period, the 
account would seem to be inadequate ; while to others, 
interested directly in the literature itself, it would seem 
disproportionately long and dry. It is extremely difficult, 
indeed, to hit happily upon the golden mean between 
brevity and prolixity : yet the necessity of such a retros- 
pect must be admitted. It was not within my province 


to give more than a mere rapid sketch of the history of 
the period in all its varied aspects but only with reference 
to its bearings upon literature, although volumes may be 
and have been written on their difficult and vast subject. 
I have not hesitated to draw very considerably upon what 
has already been written on it and indeed I have drawn 
so considerably that it is not possible to acknowledge 
my indebtedness in all cases except by way of a general 
reference in the bibliography. The recognised historians 
of this period of Indian History, I may be permitted to 
add, have divergent methods and view-points. Auber is 
complacent, Mill querulous, Thornton vindictive, Ghulam 
Hosain exuberant, Macaulay sweeping and Romesh Dutt 
vehement ; but the steadily accumulating mass of 
materials, in the shape of reports, pamphlet*, bluebooks, 
state-papers and other documents would give to a patient 
scholar enough material for a thorough, sober, and I must 
add, imperatively necessary reconstruction of this period. 
The account of the European writers, which follow this 
introductory sketch, is made as full and accurate as 
materials at my disposal would allow, for never has full 
justice been done to these worthy pioneers who have been 
allowed to pass silently into oblivion. The average reader 
knows no other names than those of Carey and Marsh man 
but the interesting group of writers, great and small, 
who surrounded or preceded these great names and added 
their little mite to the cause, are also worthy of grateful 
remembrance. They are, therefore, presented here as 
reputable and fairly interesting persons and not as un- 
presentable progenitors always to be kept in the back- 
ground. The early missionary movements in Bengal are 
studied for the first time from original sources with 
reference to their bearing on Bengali language and litera- 
ture aud some pains are taken to trace the rather obscure 


and neglected history of the early Roman Catholic mis- 
sions to Bengal and their connexion with Bengali. The 
account of the Kabiwalas and other indigenous writers 
could not be made as full and well-arranged aw I had 
desired ; for the materials and means of study are ex- 
tremely scanty and unsatisfactory. I am still engaged 
upon this investigation and am collecting materials for 
fuller treatment j in the mean time what is presented here 
must be taken as merely tentative. 

The large number of quotations from various works 
scattered throughout the volume, no doubt, swells it to an 
enormous length but I could not always control the length 
of these illustrative extracts : for each quotation, in order 
to be illustrative, must be presented as complete in itself. 
Scraps and fragments and stray passages are not always 
helpful. In the next place the comparative scarcity 
of the books from which such passages are taken 
will, it is hoped, be an ample apology for their length 
and frequency. When the history will come down 
to more recent times the quotations will naturally become 
fewer : for one may then depend on the reader's means 
of acquaintance with the literature of his time. In these 
quotations I have carefully preserved the spelling and 
punctuation, of the original texts with which in all cases 
I have minutely compared and verified them. It will be 
also noticed that I have refrained from giving any transla- 
tion of these Bengali extracts for the simple reason that 
no translation could have adequately conveyed the spirit 
of the original, and that the real importance of these 
writers lie not so much in their matter as in their form 
and method of expression, which mere translation can never 

As to chronology and classification, it is better to make 
a preliminary remark. Controlling dates and names, 


although necessary and useful if kept within bounds, are 
intended merely as artifices of classification, for a better 
understanding of the general drift. There can be no 
hard-and-fast limits as encompassing an epoch, and history 
must unfold itself without any preconceived notion of 
artificial dates and eras. It is for this reason that in the 
present volume, the activity of the European writers has 
been traced for a certain unity of treatment down to the 
fifties, although after 1825 their influence was on the 
wane, and other movements were becoming prominent. 
On the other hand, I have thought it simpler to defer an 
enquiry into the first glimmerings of the struggle between 
Anglicism and Orientalism and the history of English 
education in its bearing on Bengali literature as well as 
the account of the rise of the Reforming Young Bengal 
under the leadership of David Hare, Derozio and others 
to the beginning of a separate volume, instead of dealing 
with them piecemeal at the end of the present essay. 
Some of the works of Raja Ram Mohan Ray and his 
colleagues belong chronologically to this period, but from 
the standpoint of literary history, they embody a subsidiary 
movement which comes into relief a little later, and are, 
therefore, deliberately reserved for later treatment. With- 
out therefore disturbing in the least the true historical 
perspective, I have never attempted to force an account of 
any movement, literary or otherwise, into strict chronolo- 
gical shackles, but I have sometimes boldly looked forward 
while at others paused for a profitable retrospect, always 
bearing in mind that the natural course of events seldom 
takes as smooth and orderly development as we may desire. 
With regard to transliteration of Bengali words, I have 
generally followed, with the exceptions noted below, the 
international method agreed upon by Orientalists for 
Sanscrit. In some cases where the name of a place or a 


person has got a standardised spelling (as in Chinsurah, 
Howrah, and Burdwan), I have thought it fit to retain it; 
but in all other eases, the transliteration is done in the 
mode indicated with the only exception of using cha for fc. 
The words are, however, always rendered, not phonetically, 
but according to the recognised spelling, although widest 
possible divergence exists between the historical spelling 
and the actual pronunciation of Bengali words. I have, 
therefore, always rendered ^ by ya, whether occuring singly 
or in compound letter, 1 by na distinguishing them respec- 
tively, although they are not so distinguished in pronun- 
ciation, from q (ja) and ^ {na). Similarly the three 
consonants % 3, and T are distinguished by different signs 
($, a and s) although they not often thus discriminated in 
pronunciation. The same remark applies to compound 
letters : I have rendered, as in Sanscrit, ^ by ksa, 9 by jna, 
and so forth. Partly on account of this divergence between 
spelling and pronunciation, which makes it impossible to 
apply Sanscritic transliteration in toto to the ease of the 
living vernacular, I have been forced to make one or two 
important exceptions. I have not distinguished between 
^ (va) and * {ba), for this distinction is hardly recognised 
in Bengali, either in spelling or pronunciation ; I have 
therefore used ba indiscrinimately for them. The final 
f (a) presents some difficulty, for very often it is passed 
over in pronunciation. We write ^fa?^ (Nila-darpana) 
but we read it as %Tff*f^ (Nil-darpan). In these cases, 
I have generally dropped the ** (a). This, on the whole, is 
not a very satisfactory method ; but in the absence of a 
better one, I have tentatively followed it here, leaving the 
whole question, which is indeed one of great practical 
importance, to the consideration of expert scholars. 

In the task of collecting materials for the present 
volume, I have met with considerable difficulties known 


only to workers in the same field. Although not more 
than a century has elapsed, the publications passed in 
review have already become very scarce and have seldom 
been satisfactorily reprinted ; and in search of them, I had 
t ) ransack many libraries, great and small, departmental, 
public, and private, in Calcutta and outside, to which I 
could get access. Much of these interesting publications 
of the early nineteenth century is unhappily lost; much, 
unless we hasten to the rescue, is fast vanishing ; while 
much, again, is scattered all over the country finding its 
way ultimately among many heterogenous collections, 
public and private. No complete history can ever be 
hoped for, till all these old publications and files, more or 
less complete, of old news-papers have been disentombed. 
There is not a single news-paper office in Calcutta and 
Calcutta is a fair example of the country in this matter 
that possesses a complete file of its own issue : not a single 
library, public or private, which contains even the more 
important Bengali publications of the first half of the 
century. However interesting and useful stray extracts 
or stray passages from these papers or publications may be, 
it is utterly impossible to write the history of this or any 
.other period of the country's progress, political, social, or 
literary, as fully as could be done if these and other 
things had been carefully preserved or collected together. 
But in view of the fact that even what is now extant may 
in the course of a few years be irretrievably lost, it is time 
that we must seriously think of constructing a general view 
of the period out of the materials which still remain to us. 

The writer of this thesis, however, has been successful 
in having access to most of the important publications he 
has dealt with. For the privileee of reading and examining 
large number of books passed in review only a trifling 
percentage of those mentioned was inaccessible to him 


aud it was necessary to examine many that proved to be 
unworthy of mention I have to thank the authorities of 
many libraries in or near Calcutta. I had expected to 
rind a good collection of Bengali publications preserved in 
the Serampore College Library, but besides a few relics 
of the venerable old Carey, various missionary tracts, 
a nice collection of books pertaining to the history of the 
missionary movements in India, and a few old files of the 
Friend of India and other Christian papers, I could dis- 
cover nothing else of any interest. Through the kind 
interest of a friend, who was residing in England at the 
time when this book was in hand and who at my 
request transcribed books and details for him, I had access, 
though not to the extent I had desired, to the benefit of 
the collection in the Library of the British Museum and 
of the India Office, with regard to both of which I had 
also invaluable help from Blumhardt's descriptive Cata- 
logues. But my chief indebtedness is to the Library of 
the Board of Examiners, late Fort William College, from 
which all the Bengali publications of that College had 
been procured for me by the authorities of the Imperial 
Library of Calcutta. My thanks are also due in this 
connexion to the late Mr. W. E. Madge, formerly Super- 
intendent of the Reading Room in this Library and to 
Mr. Surendranath Kumar, his successor to the same office, 
for their interest in my work and for uniform courtesy and 
kindness shown to me during the time I studied there. 
I must also thank the authorities of the Banglya Sahitya 
Parisat for permitting me to make ample use of its fine 
collection of Bengali books and manuscripts. My special 
thanks in this respect are due to Babu Basantaranjan Ray, 
keeper of these manuscripts, for kindly giving me all 
facilities for using them and also for placing at my dis- 
posal his expert knowledge in this matter. He never 

xviii PREFACE 

grudged to reader me help whenever I required it and 
also very kindly undertook to compare and verity the 
quotations cited from these manuscripts in the Appeudix 
to this volume. 1 should also take this opportunity of 
associating this insignificant work with the honoured name 
of the late lamented Principal Ramendrasundar Tribedi, 
who was, in more than a metaphorical sense, the life and soul 
of the Sahitya Parisat. His recent and untimely death is 
mourned all over Bengal and there is no need for prolix 
panegyrics in the case of one who is so widely known by 
his life and work ; but I cannot remain satisfied without 
giving voice to my sense of indebtedness and esteem for 
one to whom I am grateful in many ways and without 
expressing my personal regret that I could not show him 
these pages, in which he took so much interest, in print. 
To the ripe and varied scholarship of Mahamahopadhyay 
Haraprasad Shastri, I am deeply indebted in divers ways, 
for I was always allowed to draw liberally upon it ; and 
his contagious enthusiasm for Bengali language and liter- 
ature has been a source of unfailing inspiration to me. 
Among other friends and scholars who kindly helped me 
in various ways, my thanks are specially due to my friend 
and colleague Professor Rameshchandra Mazumdar M.A., 
Ph.D. for steady encouragement, for valuable suggestions 
and for procuring me some rare books from the Library of 
the Bengal Asiatic Society. I may be allowed to note here 
that Dr. Mazumdar first drew my attention to the only 
extant copy in that Library of Manoel de Assumpcao's 
Crepar Xartrer Ortkbhed, one of the earliest printed books 
written by a Portuguese missionary. To another friend 
and colleague, Professor Sunitikumar Chatterji M.A., 
I am indebted for help in various ways and specially for 
getting me a copy of Father Guerin's edition of the work 
referred to above from Father Wauters of Dharmatalla 


Church, and I must thank Professor Narayanchandra 
Banerjee M.A. of the University for a copy of Gupta- 
ratnoddhar which I could not get here and which he pro- 
cured for me very promptly from Benares. My friend, 
Babu Mohitlal Mazumdar, very kindly and carefully pre- 
pared an index to this volume, which, for shortness of 
time, could not be printed in this volume. I must also 
acknowledge obligations to the Staff of the Calcutta Uni- 
versity Press for prompt assistance and unfailing courtesy 
in getting these pages in print in a remarkably short time. 
To them and to all others who have helped me by lending 
books, by giving facilities for research and in other ways, 
it is a pleasure to return my heartiest thanks. 

I cannot conclude without availing myself here of the 
privilege of expressing my deep sense of obligation to 
Sir Asutosh Mukhopadhyaya who has been at the helm of 
this University for many years past and would be, let us 
hope, for many years to come. It is not necessary to 
dwell upon his undoubted titles to our gratitude, esteem 
and love, or upon the roll of his varied services, not yet 
closed, in the cause of University education in Bengal : 
for every one, connected with the University or standing 
outside, is well aware of his long and unstinted devotion 
to the interests of the country and of the high sense of 
duty which impels him to scorn delights and live labori- 
ous days, not for riches or honours, place or power nor even 
for such fame as grows on mortal soil. But I may be 
permitted to refer in this connexion to his brilliant and 
fruitful efforts which have at last obtained academic recog- 
nition for the neglected vernacular languages and liter- 
atures of India and to acknowledge the magnificent in- 
ducement, now made possible by him, for the scientific 
study of those languages and literatures. It is his in- 
spiration which dispelled all my doubts about the necessity 


of a work like this and it is his generous encouragement 
which has made possible its publication. 

I am fully aware that this essay is not free from errors 
and defects. In a field where workers are few and en- 
couragement, until quite recently, very little, one has to 
work under considerable difficulties and disadvantages 
and nothing would be more welcome than sympathy and 
co-operation. With the progress of investigation in the 
field, new facts are bound to come to light every day ; 
and even of the facts that have already been known we 
can never pretend that he has taken them all into con- 
sideration. All suggestions for improvement and correction 
therefore would be thankfully received. There are a few 
obvious misprints and mistakes which, in spite of my best 
efforts, the necessity of quick publication could not avoid 
and for which 1 crave the indulgence of the generous 
reader. The exceedingly short time within which the 
book had to be rushed through the press did not allow me 
in all cases to verify the references given in the footnotes 
and in some cases the books, though easily procurable at 
the time of writing this essay, had now become difficult of 
access and for these I had to depend entirely upon the 
notes I had previously made. These shortcomings, how- 
ever, let me trust, are not material. In conclusion I can 
only hope that the volume contains enough to justify its 
publication in the present form. 


Senate HoUM 

Calcutta, July 17, 1919. 



Division of Subject ... ... ... I 

Introductory Retrospect, 1760-1S00 ... ... 7 

Earliest European Writers ... ... 65 

Carey and Srlrampur Mission ... ... 94 

Carey and Fort William College ... ... 117 

Pundits and Munsis of Port William College ... 159 

Earliest Bengali Journalism ... ... 228 

Later European Writers ... ... ... 245 

General Characteristics ... ... ... 271 

Interregnum in Poetry from 17G0 ... ... 290 

Kabiwalas ... ... ... ... 3<>2 

Love-Lyrics and Devotional Songs ... ... 387 

Miscellaneous Writers in the Old Style ... 420 

Appendix I. Old Bengali Prose ... ... 455 

Appendix II. Bengali Bible ... ... 487 

Appendix III. Gilchrist's Oriental Fabulist ... 490 

Appendix IV. Early Christian Periodicals ... 492 

Appendix V. Early Christian Tracts ... 493 

Bibliography... ... ... ... 494 





Division of Subject. 

The literature produced since the permanence of the 

British rule in Bengal, which is often conveniently described 

as "modern" literature, has a character 

The literature why f it s wn, at once brilliant, diverse, 

called modern. 

and complex. To label it in a phrase 
is not only difficult but often misleading : for never was 
there a literature more memorable for its rapid development 
and its copious and versatile gifts. It can to-day boast 
of many characteristics, and the central note is lost in 
the extreme diversity of forms and tendencies exhibited. 
It is full of vitality, versatility, and diligence : critical and 
cultured, intensely personal and self-regulated ; apparently 
defiant of all laws, of standards, of conventions : yet a little 
reflection will show that in spite of 
The character of mo- this diversity of styles and motives, 

dem Bengali literature .*. , , , . . . , 

essentially different in thls e P och has a character which 

its form and motive differentiates it from any other era of 

from its pre-Bntish # # J 

fore-runner. Bengali literature. Can we imagine 

Krsnakanter Uil being published in the 

age of Bidyapati or NU-darpan in that of Bharat-chandra ? 


How different are the problems of life and character which 
Kabikaiikan paints from those we see reflected in the pages 
of Rabindranath ! What a new world is that of Michael, 
Hem, or Nabin beside that revealed to us by Bijay, 
Ksemananda, or Ram-prasad ! What wholly different 
types, ideas, and aims! It may not be easy to indicate what 
these characteristic differences are, but there can be no 
doubt that our age, although presenting, as it does, instances 
of a dozen different styles, certainly possesses its own 
unmistakable Zeitgeist in phraseology 

Hence the necessity and substanc e which distinguishes it 
of a separate treatment 

in spite of historic con- from, all other ages. What these 

characteristic points of difference are 
we shall see clearly as we proceed in our study of the 
literature itself ; but at the outset it must be admitted that 
modern Bengali literature, as such, has surely a claim for 
treatment peculiarly suited to itself. 

But it would be a difficult problem in social dynamics 
to fix any thing like an exact date for 
The starting point. this change in the tone of the litera- 
ture or to trace it back to its social 
oauses. Broadly speaking, our literature began, no doubt, 
with the permanence of the British rule and the spread of 
western ideas ; but these events cover almost a century from 
1757 to 1857. The death of Bharat-chandra in 17(50, only 
three years after Plassey, in which we reach a political and 
social cause of the great change, is 

The dates usually and often ^^ ^ {]u] f v)) j r .,j fofc , ) >ut j ( 
generally accepted are ' 

1760 and 1858; but might also be contended that the 
both seem arbitrary. .' , ,, . 1D ro i 

death oi isvar (ui]>t;i m L&58 marks 

the end of the most effective note in the older current <>f 

literature and the beginning of the new em. Vet both 

these dates, it is obvious, are purely arbitrary points. For 

the modern tone in literature can hardly be detected in any 


thing written after 1760 till almost half a century- 
elapses ; on the other hand, the growth of this new trend 
in literature may be detected some half a century earlier 
than 1858; and Isvar Gupta himself is not wholly free 
from the new influence. If an approximate date is neces- 
sary, it is to be found somewhere in the first quarter of the 
19th century : and the year 1800 is usually, and may be 
roughly, taken to be the starting 

fixeY;Tufc d 1800 a A.D e P int But ** mUSt be b rDe in mind 
may be taken as the that such approximation of a date is 
approximate one. , i i i i 

intended, more or less, merely to 
facilitate classification. Some misguided critic has been 
induced to baptise this era of literature as the Victorian 
age. Such a nomenclature is not only mistaken but also 
misleading; for, as put by a well-known critic of the 
present day, "neither reigns nor years, nor centuries, nor 
any arbitrary measure of time in the gradual evolution of 
thought can be exactly applied, or have any formative 
influence. A period of so many years, having some well- 
known name by which it can be labelled, is a mere artifice 
of classification." 1 Subject to this caution, however, we 
may safely take 1800 to be the starting point in the new 
era of Bengali literature. 

But the historian of literature cannot, however, 

overlook the long dead-season for 

Yet we are bound to fif ty years w hi c h preceded the 

take account of the J J x 

most eventful period year 1800; for although in this 

between 1760 and 1800; . , , . Vi , 

and the period, 1800- period we have scanty literature, yet 
1858 though not rich work of anot her kind was being 

in actual production, is 

yet its formative stage accomplished in these apparently 

and its importance can , -r, ,, . ,,, 

not be ignored. barren years. Jbrom the battle of 

Plassey to the beginning of the 19th 

1 Frederic Harrison, Studies in Early Victorian Literature, p. 2, 


century, mighty revolutions were occuring not only in 
the political and the social but also in the literary history 
of Bengal. Iu an historical study of literature, the far- 
reaching significance of these years cannot surely be 
iguored. On the other hand, although the first half of 
the 19th century till 1858 is comparatively barren from 
a strictly literary point of view, yet this was the formative 
period of modern literature, aud the early devoted labours 
of the various philanthropic Europeans and Indians, 
whose memory is still cherished by grateful Bengalis, 
had sown the seeds which, when the time came, 
broke into the rich and lovely after-growths of modern 

We, therefore, propose, taking 1800 A.D. to be roughly 
the year of commencement, to discuss 

(o'St^dTOto^S' and decide ' first of a11 ' b ^ wa ? of 
tropeofc, 1760-1800. introduction, the question of origins, 

with a preliminary recapitulation of 

the causes and circumstances, political, social, and literary 

which led to the beginning of modern literature. This 

will involve a cursory review of the period between 1757 

(or 1760) and 1800 in its various aspects, and its bearing 

upon literature. From 1800, the year of the foundation 

of the Fort "William College and the 

*") Pc/STJS? 8 formation of the Srirampur Mission, 


to 1825, the year of the publication 
of the last volume of Carey's Dictionary and the laying 
of the foundation-stone of the Hindu College, we have a 
period of very great importance in our literature from 
an historical rather than a literary point of view: for we are 
concerned here with the early beginnings of our literature, 
with the labours of the Missionaries and the Civilians, 
and with the early efforts, public and private, for the 
spread of British education in Bengal. From 1825 to 


1858, the year of the death of Isvar Gupta and the first 

appearance of Michael's dramas, 

(iii) ,f\ s oio n ' followed within five years by the pub- 

1825-1858. , # J J i 

lication of Tilottama, Nil-darpan and 
Durges-nandini, we are in a transitional period of great 
ferment on every side, during which the country, awakened 
to new energies, was struggling to break fresh ground 
by assimilating the wealth of new ideas now brought before 
it. All the greatest strifes, social, religious, and literary 
were fought, though not completely won, during this 
period of awakened activity. The problem of English 
education now decisively settled, the triumph of the West 
was fully proclaimed ; and the literature as well as the 
society, in trying to adjust itself to this new order of things, 
began to take a distinctly new tone and colour. This 
was the era of the Reforming Young Bengal. The various, 
plentiful, but inferior literature produced during these 
years in which new experiments were tried, new veins 
of thought opened, a new public and a new order of 
writers created, prepared the way for the great flood-tide 
which began with 1858. From the latter date we 
have a third epoch of great fertility, 
(ir) Revolution. brilliant achievement, and high 


promise, during which all the older 
ideas of life and literature were being revolutionised 
and transmuted into things better suited to the needs 
of the new era. The Literary Young Bengal came to 
take the lead. 

Our enquiry in the following pages will be chiefly 
confined to the tracing of the origins, to the well-meant 
but scarcely fruitful activity of pioneer authors who range 
over a seemingly dull and barren period at the commence- 
ment of our literary history. We need not lament, how- 
ever, that at the beginning of our acquaintance, we do 


not see our literature at its best, that we are not introduced 
at once to a Homer. We have, it is true, to plod wearily 

through a mass of indifferent writings 

Scope and method of whose charm, if any, seems to have 

the present enquiry. j ong p a u e( ^ before we come to a single 

good writer of importance but it 
is well that we should do so. It enables us to examine the 
foundations more critically aud get the parts of history into 
true proportion and connection. We are apt to pass lightly 
over the early beginnings of literary history as a stage that 
we have outgrown and lay greater stress upon periods more 
engaging : but no theory is more inaccurate or insufficient 
than that which despises the historic estimate and bids us 
look only to the 'best* or the ' principal' things. In an era 
of evolutionary philosophy, it would be idle to investigate 
any manifestation of the spirit of nature or of man apart 
from its origin and growth. We can not despise the bar- 
barian for the civilised man, as Hume perhaps would have 
done; for to the student of modern sociology, the barbarian 
becomes important in his organic relation to the civilised 
man, and the whole "social series," to quote a phrase of 
Mill's, must be studied step by step through the various 
stages of development. No more can the historian of 
literature ignore the rude unshaped farrago of writings 
which always precedes the literature of a finer stuff; for the 
one can never be studied intelligently without the help of 
the other. The literature, therefore, which is represented. 
in poetry and in prose, by the great names of Michael and 
Bankim, must be studied in the light of the no-literattiiv 
that is represented by the lesser names of Carey and 
Mrtyunjay. It is no waste of time to trace step by step the 
way in which we have laid the foundations of a national 
literature which, if not rich in present accomplishment, is 
radiant with the promise of the future. 


Introductory Retrospect. 
Circa. 1760-1800. 
Taking 1800 A.D. to be roughly the date of commence- 
ment of the modern era of Bengali Literature, we find, 
however, that it is not until nearly half a century elapses 
that we come across any literature strictly deserving the 
name. In the meantime if we pause 

The necessity of a for a moment and look at the political 
cursory retrospect of h[t f tfe country and the 

facts relating to the J 

general condition of general condition of the people, from 

Bengal between 1760- ''.'. - i 

1800. 1760 to the beginning or the 19th 

century, we shall find that it was an 
age in which we can hardly expect any quiet development 
of literature under favourable political and social conditions. 
It will be profitable at the outset to study here, however 
briefly, the general history of the period in relation to its 
literature : for every history of literature must always have 
a back-ground of political and social history. 

The political history of Bengal in the latter half of the 

18th century is essentially the history of the rise, growth, 

and gradual establishment of the British rule. The 

so-called battle of 1757 is usually 

Rise and growth of and popularly regarded as marking 

the English power. a turning point in the history of 

Bengal : but it is well-known that 

this petty rout, 1 usually glorified with the association 

1 So designated by Lyall, Rise of the British Dominion in India, 
p, 107. See Hill, Bengal in 1756-57, I. ccii and cciii ; also III. 212; 
Firminger, Introduction to the Fifth Report, Vol. I, p. i-iii, and references 
cited therein. 


of undying military renown, was not directly productive 

of any fresh privilege to the English power; nor did it, in 

itself, affect the political destiny of 

Position of the Eng- the country. Clive himself did not 

Sdi: ST!?. in ih l* rha P s k ^^t ^ had won, 
century. although later on his tendency to 

exaggerate the value of his services led 
him to magnify his achievements ; nor did the servants of 
the Company, at that time, attach much importance to this 
incident ; still less were they aware of any definite act of 
conquest usually associated with this battle. " The general 
idea" writes Luke Scrafton, who had intimate knowledge 
of the English affairs in 1757, "at this time entertained by 
the servants of the Company was that the battle of Plassey 
did only restore us to the same situation we were in before 
the capture of Calcutta; the Subah was conceived to be as 
independent as ever, and the English returned into their 
commercial character." 1 No fresh commercial privileges 
were asked of Mir Ja'far nor were any wanted by the 
Company who were content with the terms granted to 
them in 1716. 2 As yet there was hardly any important 
acquisition of territory by the Company who, more mind- 
ful of their commercial interests than anything else, 
chose to seek umbrage under the shadow of the Moham- 
medan power, itself declining. Even in 17G5, Clive 
flattered himself that he had " revived the power of the 
Great Mughal," 3 and for a long time after Plassey, 

1 Luke Scrafton, Observations on Mr. Vansittart's Narrative, p. 2. 

Vansittart, A Narrative of the Transaction* in Bengal, vol. i, p. 24. 
The treaty with Mir Ja'far ia given in Mchfaon, Collection of Treaties 
etc. Vol. I, p. 186 ; also Verelst, View of the Biu and Progress etc. of 
English Government of Bengal, p. 143-44. 

s Letter of tho Governor and Select Committee to the Court, Sep. 
30, 1765, quoted in Firmingcr, op. dt, p. viii. 


whatever territory the Company held, it held not on terms 
of military conquest but as a grant from a superior 
Mohammedan power. There was, no doubt, a fiction 
involved in all these proceedings a masquerade as Clive 
chose to describe it yet the English at this time held 
ground in Bengal chiefly as trader and secondarily as 
revenue-collector under the Mogul Emperor. The 
term " British Empire in India " obtained currency from 
its first bold use in 1772 by Warren Hastings, who for 
the first time disclosed a deeper sense of the respon- 
sibilities of empire ; but the possession of the sovereign 
rights by the Nawab was still recognised, and the long 
debate, 1 vehemently carried on, in the Court and on the 
Council Board, on the question of sovereignty in Bengal, 
would go to show how little the English trading company 
at this time was conscious of any conquest of the country 
by its military power, and how greatly it was conscious 
of the instability of its own footing. 

But though Plassey cannot be directly credited to 
have brought into being the British empire in Bengal, 
yet the great empire of the Mogul and its subahdar-ship 
in Bengal were gradually breaking down. The period 
between 1757 and 1765 witnessed also the down-fall of 
the French commercial settlements which left Bengal 
open to the English. In spite of 
Commercialism as a these and other opportunities, it 

dominating factor in . 1C . 

the Company's policy. took nearly halt a century, however, 
* for the British rule to establish 

itself firmly in Bengal. One of the chief reasons for 
this was that, during these years, commercialism was 
the dominating factor in the policy of the Directors of 
the Company; and it was by slow degrees that they 
departed from their original commercial position. About 

1 Firminger, op. cit, p. xiv-xxi : p. cclvi-colvii. 


the time of Clive's second mission, no doubt, a schism 
arose in the Court of Directors which heralded a 
fundamental change in the character of the Company. 
One party was for trade alone, the other supported Clive 
in his proposal to accept the Dewani and thus incur the 
responsibility of government. In 1761, the Court wrote 
to its agents in India, declaring that trade was to be 
combined with " warfare, fortification, military prudence, 
and political government." 1 But this military precaution 
was urged chiefly for the protection of trade and, although 
the break-up of the Mohammedan rule was beginning to offer 
vast opportunities to the trader to become a soldier and a 
politician, the Court always insisted upon an attitude 
of non-intervention and peremptorily disapproved, on more 
than one occasion, the intention of its agents for territorial 
acquisition when such a step did not also extend their 
sales and profits. 9 

It was by slow degrees, therefore, that the company of 
calculating shop-keepers turned into earnest empire-builders. 
Gradually they began to acquire 
Slow and gradual zemindary rights, monopolise revenue, 
acquisition of power. assume civil control, and step by 
step exclude the Mohammedan 
Government by destroying its financial and military 
supremacy. This long process of gradually exhausting 
and appropriating the functions of the existing govern- 
ment, which, however, meant, as it did, half a century of 
misery to the people, first began with the grant of the 
districts of Burdwan, Midnapur, and Chittagong in 1760. 
The necessities of revenue administration compelled the 
Company to build up a system of internal government 

1 Quoted in F. P. Robinson, The Trade of the East India Company, 

p 67. 

Esp. Letter to Bengal, March 16, 1768, quoted in Auber, Rise and 
Progmi etc. vol. ii, p. 185. 


and consolidate its military power ; but it was not till the 
grant of the DewanI in 1765 that it began to obtain a 
complete control over finance, over the administration of 

civil justice, and over the entire 

Accession to the military defence of the country. 

DewSnI - The accession to the DewanI, which, 

however, was declined by the Directors 
on a former occasion, imposed upon the British traders 
the duties of administration. They began to exercise every 
prerogative of the sovereign save that of criminal 
justice. l But even then, though real masters of the country, 
they preferred to wear the mask of double government. 
By this device, to all the abuses of the ancient system 
of government were superadded all the evils of a new 
system of divided authority. The 

State of Bengal under peop i e rew uncer tain as to where 
the Double Govern- . 

ment. his obedience was due. 2 The Nawab, 

though theoretically left in his full 
glory as subahdar, was, in the language of Clive, 
" a shadow " and " a name," and was deprived of every 
independent military and financial support of his executive. 
The Hon'ble Company, on the other hand, though actual 
sovereigns, pretended to be nothing more than mere passive 
receivers of profits and revenues, and the shadow of the 
Nawab was a convenient covering for all their acts of 
exaction and oppression. The country was placed under 
extensive misrule. The individual British adventurer, in 
the service of the Company, brought up, since the days of 
Clive, in the tradition of aggression, dethronement, spolia- 
tion, and extortion, considered high-handed proceedings as 
his time-honoured privilege, grown out of the anomalous 
way in which the British power came into being. These 

1 Field, Regulations of the Bengal Code. Introd., p. 4. 
Verelst, op. cit. App. p. 122. 


servants of the Company, abroad with a nominal salary, 
were coming home laden with such colossal fortune, often 
acquired with no clean hand, that the ' Indian Nabob' 
became a scandalously proverbial term. Every vice which 
is the offspring of unlimited authority and insatiable avarice, 
flourished unchecked. The papers relating to the conduct 
of the Company's servants and their underlings on 
the whole question of internal trade, of receiving presents, 
The conduct of the and otner corrupt and pernicious 
Company's servants practices, remain as an indelible blot 

in the early records of the Company's history. 1 

It is not easy to imagine today what suffering this 
meant to the country. The anarchical state in which the 
provinces were placed not only contributed powerfully to 

its impoverishment but it absolutely 
What it meant to ,. , , ., , 

the country. dissolved the government or the 

country so far as the protection of 

the people was concerned. The truculent Mohammedan 

or the Mahratta was, in his day, a tyrant from fitful 

caprice, from lax police and unchecked violence. But the 

cold calculating Anglo-Indian was a tyrant from prescience, 

and his tyranny, with his superior shrewdness and power 

of organisation, was a system in itself, which extending, 

as it did, to every village market and every manufacturer's 

loom, touched the trades, the occupations, and the lives of 

the people very closely. 2 His commercial cupidity, under 

1 See, for instance, Director's Letter, dated Feb. 8, 1764 (quoted in 
the Second Report of the Select Committee, 1772) ; Olive's Letter to 
the Directors, dated Sep. 30, 1765 (Third Rep. 1773, App. pp. 391-98, 
Mir Kasim's Letter, dated March 26, 1762; also ibid, dated May, 1762 ; 
Hasting*' Letters to the Governor, dated May 13 and 26, 1762 ; ibid, dated 
April 25, 1762 ; Vansittart, op.cit. ii. pp. 80-81, iii. 74, iii 381 ; Verelst, op. 
cit. p. 8 and p. 46 et seq ; Account of Gray, Resident at Maldah, quoted 
in Verelst, p. 49; Bolt, Considerations etc., p. 191-1M; Mill, History, 
Bk iv. pp. 327-338, also p. 392 et seq ; Seir Mutaqhcrin iii. bcc. xiv. 
Hji. p. 201 et seq. 

Vansittart's Letter to the Proprietors of India Stock, 1767, pp. 88, 
89, 93, quoted in Mill, op. cit. iii. p. 431 footnote. 


a system of monopoly and coercion, deprived the country 
of those sources of wealth, of " those rights of free produc- 
tion and free barter which they had enjoyed under good 
and bad government alike/' 1 The consequences were too 
evidently exemplified in the ruin of the entire inland trade 
and manufacture, in the decline of agriculture under 
oppressive systems of land-settlements, in the diminution 
of the specie, and in the general distress of the poor. The 
reputation of the English was so bad in Bengal that no 
sooner did a European come into one of the villages " than 
all the shops were immediately locked up and all the people 
for their own safety ran away." 2 " The sources of 
tyranny and oppression " said Clive in his memorable letter 
to the Directors, " which have been opened by the 
European agents acting under the authority of the Com- 
pany's servants and the numberless blaek agents and 
sub-agents, acting also under them, will, I fear, be a 
lasting reproach to the English name in this country." 3 
In 1772, the Select Committee express themselves 
bound " to lay open to the view of the Directors a series 
of transactions too notoriously known to be suppressed, 
and too affecting to their interest, to the character and 
to the existence of the Company in Bengal, to escape 
unnoticed and uncensured ; transactions which seem to 
demonstrate that every spring of their government was 
smeared with corruption : that principles of rapacity and 
oppression universally prevailed, and that every spark of 
sentiment and public spirit was lost and extinguished in 
the unbounded lust of unmerited wealth." 4 Even 

1 R. C. Dutt, Economic History, p. 27 and pp. 30-31. 
* Memoirs of a Gentleman who resided for several years in the East 
indies, quoted in Robinson, op. cit., p. 70. 

3 Clive's Letter to the Directors, dated Sep. 30th, 1765 (Third 
Report, App. p. 391 et. seq.) 

4 Third Report, 1772, App. No. 86. 


Hastings 1 declared as early as 1762 that " the country 
people are habituated to entertain the most unfavourable 
notion of our government" and Verelst 2 asked in 1772 
" How could we make the sordid interests of the trader 
consistent with that unbiased integrity which must 
reconcile the natives to a new dominion ? " Nothing 
would be a more apt and incising description of the 
miserable state of the country than the celebrated simile 
of the author of the Seir Mutaqherin' 6 in which he compares 
it to the predicament of an untenanted house infested 
by robbers but having no master to protect it. 

The Anglo-Indian society, itself degraded, made light 
of such unrighteous proceedings : and toe private morals of 

the Company's servants were no better 
cJthe ciimpanyTser! than their public conduct. Hastings 
vants no better than and g ir p n jij p Francis lived in open 
their public conduct. l r 

adultery ; and extravagant rumours 

were afloat with respect to the latter's card-winnings. The 
morals of the majority of the Company's servants are 
truthfully, if grossly, portrayed in the weekly Hicky's 
Gazette 4 , published a hundred years ago ; and it is well- 
known that this notorious paper, itself conducted by one of 
"the most objectionable rowdy that ever landed in Calcutta," 
was ruined by incurring Hastings' displeasure for making 
public the strictly private arrangement by which the'wife 
of the German adverturer and portrait-painter had become 
the wife of the great Governor-General. Sunday was 
not only given np to horse-racing, card-gambling, and 

1 Hastings Letter, dated Ap. 25, 1762 quoted in R. C. Dutt, 
op. cit., p. 22. 

' Verelst, op. cit., p. 62. 

Seir Mutaqherin, iii. 185. 

* Bu8teed, Echoes from Old Calcutta. 1888, gives many specimens ; 
see p 171 et. seq. (ch. vii.) ; see also pp.109- 170 on the social life of the 


masquerades : but " Sunday afternoons " we are told " as 
well as the early morning before the sun was too high in the 
heavens, were frequently taken advantage of to get rid of 
the accumulated evil passions roused between gentlemen, 
who might be seen, commonly enough, furnished with 
swords and pistols, wending their way in palanquins towards 
Tolly's Nullah, as it enters the Hooghly, to settle their 
little differences after the manner of Hastings and Francis; 
and they not unfrequently returned with a pistol-bullet 
or a sword-thrust as a memento of their outing and a 
remembrance of the region of Kidderpore." 1 

It cannot be denied, however, that the Company's 
Directors were trying their best to 

The administrative p U t down this state of things and 
policy of the Com- 

pany's government. were consistently condemning in un- 

equivocal terms the conduct and 
character of their servants j yet the policy of the Company's 
government itself was a faithful reflection of its narrow 
commercial views. In order to enhance the value of his 
services, Clive had propagated the pernicious belief that 
India overflowed with riches, and the servants of the 
Company kept up this tradition by furnishing perpetually 
flattering accounts of their affairs in India. 2 Notwith- 
standing a knowledge of the pecuniary embarrassments 
of the Company, the inadequacy of the revenues, and the 
exhaustion of the treasury, the Directors were compelled, 
by the glorious promises so confidently made of unbounded 

1 In 1793, was published a book entitled "Thoughts on Duelling" 
by a "writer in the Hon'ble Company's Service " with a view to ascertain 
its origin and effect on society. (Seton-Karr, Select ion from Calcutta 
Gazette ii, 564). See also Good Old Days of Hon'ble John Company, 
ch. xxiii and xxx. On the profanation of Sunday, see the Letter of the 
Directors (1798) and the proclamation of the G.-G. Nov. 9, 1798, quoted 
op. cit. ii, p. 36-37. 

3 Mill, op. cit> iii. 432. Mill records that "the inflated conceptions 
of the nation at large multiplied the purchasers of India stock : and 
it rose as high as 263 per cent." 


treasures from India, to take to the desperate course of 
declaring from time to time impossible dividends, which 
had to be kept up by corrupt means and severe exactions 
but which involved the affairs of the Company in further 
financial difficulties. This had the effect of subordinating 
the Court of Proprietors more and more to the influence 
of the stock-brokers. The extraordinary disclosure of mis- 
government, the diffieiency of the Company's funds, its 
actual state of indebtedness, and the violent allegations 
of corrupt conduct which the Directors and their agents 
mutually threw upon one another raised some ferment in 
England and ultimately led to legislative interference. 
Prom 1774, the affairs of the Company frequently 
received the attentions of the Parliament, and the efforts 
of Sir Philip Francis succeeded in carrying the judg- 
ment of the Company's internal administration from 
the Court of the Directors to the bar of public opinion in 
England. But this intervention of the Parliament was due 
more to partisan animosity than to " any statesman-like 
desire to provide India with a better form of government." 
From Cornwallis's time, however, the administration of 
India was placed not, as hitherto had been done, in the 
hands of one of the Company's servants on the ground 
of local experience but in those of an English nobleman 
of elevated rank, unfettered by all local ties : yet it 
must be admitted that there was hardly existing any 
definite rule of administration except that which descended 
to it from its commercial institutions, nor any rule of policy 
but that which the accident of the day supplied. 1 The 
administration yet remained to be orgauised and the poli- 
tical power to be consolidated. Verel?t, 2 at the end of 
1769, had already called attention to the feebleness and 

1 Marshman, History of India, vol, ii p. 4. 
J Verelst, op. cit. A pp. p. 124. 


want of system in the government at Fort William : and 
the ease of Hastings versus Francis, revealed by the state- 
papers, is a memorable testimony to the weakness of the 
central government, so strongly denounced by the author of 
the Seir MntaqJierin. 1 The beginning of the nineteenth 
century saw a disappearance of some of these evils, no doubt, 
yet in other respects, it witnessed no material improvement. 
The inevitable conviction, referred to by Francis as a state 
of " delirium w , which took hold of almost every English 
official in those days was that the Dewani lands were an 
inexhaustible estate for the profits of the Company : and 
that every conceivable method should be brought to bear 
upon the object of making India pay ; this was declared 
in the official language as " keeping up the revenue ". Effi- 
ciency of government was judged by the standard of 
net gain, " by the coarse and ready method of calculating, 
in pies and gundas, the increase and decrease of the 
revenue." 2 If we study the schemes of reform, formu- 
lated from time to time, we find that they were framed 
not so much in the interest of the people as in the interest 
of the commercial rulers of Bengal, to which everything 
else was sacrificed. 

Indeed the Hon'ble Company, at home and in India, 
had reached that depth of opposition 

Its opposition to to ]jcri lt an( i freedom which justifies 

bght and freedom. 

even Burke's extremest passages. 

Ignorance was the talisman on which their power over 

the people and the safety of their possessions in India 

were supposed to depend; and to dispel this popular 

ignorance by diffusing knowledge and education, by 

introducing missionaries and schoolmasters, by permitting 

freedom of public criticism was fantastically considered 

1 8eir[Mutaqherin, vol. iii, p. 185 et seq. 
Firminger, op. cit, p, ccxv. 



to be "the most absurd and suicidal measure that could be 
devised." It was opt until "Wellesley's time that it was 
thought " god-like bounty to bestow expansion of 
intellect". 1 But even then no healthy public criticism 
was allowed or suffeied upon the act of the government, 
although it must be admitted that the Press, which dates 
its birth in India since 1780, had hardly yet risen from the 
low level of a vile, scurrilous, and abusive print. The 
biirampur Missionaries could not land or settle anywhere 
in Bengal except under the protection of the Danish flag, 
and when they had set up there a printing press or planned 
the first vernacular newspaper, they were afraid of govern- 
ment interference, and had to obtain special permission 
from Lord Wellesley. Even later, the cases of William 
Duane of the Indian World and of the notorious James 
Silk Buckingham of the Calcutta Journal, who were both 
arrested and deported to England in the most high-handed 
manner, would be enough to indicate the impatient and un- 
compromising attitude of the government towards fearless 
independence and plain-speaking. From time to time, 
however, attempts were made to liberalise the Company's 
rule ; but each measure taken was too slow and too late 
to save it from the nemesis of 1857 and the extinction 
in 1858. 

The effect of these political changes and of this 

administrative policy on the social and 

Effect of these poli- economic condition of Bengal was 

tical clmnges on the (] d f ar -renching. ^ Thirty 

social and economic j i t> j 

condition of Bengal. years had passed in vacillation 

between the Company as the Dewan 

and the Nawab as the Nazim during wh'.ch, as we have 

seen, the country suffered from endless disorders and 

1 Wellesley, Address to the Students of the Fort William College, 
(in Roebuck'* AnnaU of Fort William College, p. 493). 


abuses of political government. Grasping and mercenary 
spirit made the so-called guardians of the people 
inaccessible to the plainest dictates of reason, justice, 
and policy and infused in them a total contempt for public 
welfare. The evils of an alien rule were aggravated by a 
deep ignorance of the manners and customs of the people 
and by a singular want of identifica- 

JSffects of an alien tion ^ their interests _ two art i C les 

which, as Ghulam Husain rightly com- 
ments, 1 are the principles of all union and attachment, 
of all regulation and settlement between the 
and the governed. 

During these years, the Mohammedan 
itself was coming to an inglorious end. The situation 

of Mir Ja'far was deplorable from the 

Dissolution of the first. Old, indolent, Voluptuous, en- 
Mohammedan govern- , , .., . ,, . 

ment ; its effect. dowed with many incurable vices, he 

made a very poor figure-head ; and 
with an exhausted treasury, on the one hand, and vast 
engagements to discharge, on the other, he was driven 
to severest exactions. While his cruelties made him 
detestable, negligence, disorder, and weakness of his 
government exposed him to contempt. Mir Kasim 
was a more capable monarch, and Vansittart 2 pays a 
well-deserved tribute to his administration. Careful as 
he was of giving offence to the English, he could not help 
coming into conflict with them; for, as Vansittart says, 
" scarce a day passed but occasion was taken from the most 
trifling pretences to trample on his Government, to seize 
his officers and to insult them with threats and invectives." 
The executive power and control over criminal justice 
were still left in the hands of the Nawab, whose sovereign 

Seir Mutaqherin, iii. 161. 
Vansittart, op. cit. iii. 381. 


authority was acknowledged; yet the Mohammedan 

government, under the dual system, had too much reason to 

complain of their want of influence in the country which 

was " torn to pieces by a set of rascals, who in Calcutta 

walked in rags, but when they were sent out on gomastah- 

ships, lorded it over the country, imprisoning the ryots and 

merchants, aud writing and talking in the most insolent 

and domineering manner to the fouzdars and officers." 1 

And this was not confined to a particular spot. " It would 

amaze you," writes Mr. Senior, Chief at Kasimbazar, "the 

number of complaints that daily come before me of the 

extravagancies committed by our agents and gomastahs 

all over the country." 8 Although the Company had 

now become actually possessed of more than one half 

of the Nawab's revenue, yet the latter was continually 

harrassed by oppressive exactions and became "no 

more than a banker for the Company's servants who 

could draw upon him [meaning presents] as often and 

to as great an amount as they pleased." 3 Naturally 

the Nawab had to fall back upon the old method of raising 

from the zemindars what he had himself to render to his 

new masters ; and the tradition of the royal oppression of 

zemindars, handed down from the days of Murshid 

Kuli Khan, of which vivid pictures will be found in the 

pages of the Riazoo-s-Salatiu or the Seir Mtdaqherin, was 

revived in the last days of the Mohammedan government in 

Bengal. The situation is vividly, if too sweepingly, narrated 

1 Letter of Mr. Gray, President at Maldah, dated January, 1764, 
quoted in Verelst, op. tit. iii p. 49 ; see also the Naw&b's Letter, quoted 
in Vansittart, op. cit. iii. 381. 

1 Letter of Mr. Senior, Chief at Kasimbazar, quoted in Verelst, 
op. cit. p. 49. 

Clive'a speech, dated March 30, 1772, in Almon's Debutes, X. 14; 
see also Mill, op. cit. iii 354 et seq. In 1767, Lord Clive's own income 
was calculated to be at least 96,000. 


thus by Verelst: " The violence of Meer Cassim in accu- 
mulating treasure and the relaxation of Government in the 
hands of Meer Jaffier equally contributed to confound all 
order, and by removing every idea of right, sanctified in 
some sort the depredations of the hungry collectors. The 
feeble restraint of fear produced little effect : while the 
increasing necessities of a master afforded at least a pretence 
of an uncontrolled exercise of power throughout every 
department. Inferior officers employed in the collections 
were permitted to establish a thousand modes of taxation. 
Fines were levied at pleasure without regard to justice: and 
while each felt in his turn the iron rod of oppression, he 
redoubled these extortions on all beneath him. The war in 
which Meer Jaffier was engaged against foreign enemies, 
the struggles of Meer Cassim, which ended with his dis- 
truction, and the usurpations of -foreign traders completed 
the scene of universal confusion/' 1 

Thus the zemindars, unable to make any headway 

against the exorbitant demand and 

Condition of the oppi . ession o the Nawab, on the one 

zemindar. L l ' 

hand, and of the Company's official 

Nawabs, on the other, were gradually sinking out of sight 

lost in obscurity. Those who survived came out of the 

struggle, impoverished and degraded. These hereditary 

landlords had held the soil from very ancient times with 

quasi-feudal powers and virtually ruled the people within 

their own estates. Inspite of the severe strictures of 

Ghulam Husain 2 that the zemindars are, at all times and 

in all ages, a race incorrigible, it can be easily shown that 

the ancient zemindars as a class did much for the good 

of the country. They maintained order, settled disputes, 

administered justice, and punished crimes ; they encouraged 

1 Verelst, op. cit. p, 66, 

2 Seir Mutaqherin iii. p. 204 et seq, 


religion and rewarded piety ; they fostered arts and 

learning and were patrons of literature. But the iron 

hand of the new system brought ruin upon this hereditary 

aristocracy. The total change, in the management of the 

revenue, had brought in an innovation by which property, 

along with its administration, not only changed hands but 

was placed on a new foundation, and thus deeply affected 

the condition, individually as well as 

Effects of the now collectively, of the people of Bengal. 
BTitem of land-settle- m , . . , , . ,, , , 

menta. I ne system, introduced in the ceded 

districts, ignored the customary 
rights of the zemindars and sold their estates by 
public auction for increasing the revenue. The result 
was most lamentable. The lands were let out for a short 
term of three years to the highest bidder at the auction- 
sale. M Men without fortune or character " we are told 
" became bidders at the sale : and while some of the former 
farmers, unwilling to relinquish their habitations, exceeded 
perhaps the real value in their offers, those who had 
nothing to lose advanced yet further, wishing at all events 
to obtain an immediate possession. Thus numberless 
harpies were let loose to plunder whom the spoil of a 
miserable people enabled to complete the first year's pay- 
ment. The renters under so precarious a tenure could 
not venture to encourage inferior farmers by advancing 
money, which is seldom repaid within three years; and 
without the advance, even the implements of husbandry 
were wanting to cultivate the lands." 1 Even the appoint- 
ment of supravisors in 1769 in the appropriate districts, 
and t lie two councils, one at Murshidabad and the other 
at Patna, did not work any improvement. The Committee 
of the House of Commons could not help remarking 
" Seven years had elapsed from the acquisition of the 

1 Verelst, op. cit. pp. 70-71. 


Dewani, without the government deeming itself competent 

to remedy the defects." 1 The reports of the supravisors 

themselves, consisting mostly of antiquarian or statistical 

essays, represent the government as having attained the 

last stage of oppressiveness and barbarism. 

It is needless to comment on the condition of the ryot 

and the cultivator under this system. 

Condition of the ryot j n a country subject to disorder and 
and the cultivator. # ^ " 

revolution, infinite varieties prevailed, 

as Hunter points out, in the administration of the separate 
districts.. Some districts were under the immediate jurisdic- 
tion of the subahdar ; while in others the hereditary zemindar 
preserved the appearance of power, although the jealousy of 
the subahdar and an increased taxation left to him little more 
than a nominal authority. The country laboured under the 
disorders of unbounded despotism. To add to this, a 
great national disaster occurred in the terrible famine of 
1769-70 which cut off ten to twelve millions of human 
beings. Even before 1769, high prices had given 
indication of an approaching famiue but the tax 
was collected as rigorously as ever. 2 

I769 ie 70 reat Famfne f The sufferin S of the P eo P le was 
heightened so much by the acts of 

the Company's agents and sub-agents that the Court 

of Directors indignantly condemned their method 

of " profitting by universal distress/' 3 Hastings, writing 

1 Fifth Report, p. 4. et ?eq. Also see Sixth Report of 1782, A pp. i; 
Colebrooke's Supplement to the Digest of Bengal Regulations, pp. 174-190. 

2 Hunter, Annals of Rural Bengal, p. 20-21 ; alio pp. 399-404. 

* Firminger, op. cit. p. cxcix : See also Letter to Bengal dated 
August, 28, 1771, quoted in Anber, op. cit. pp. 354-5. It is difficult to 
say how far the famine was due to an intentional " cornering " of the 
grain or similar unscrupulous commercial transactions ; but this was 
the widely prevalent complaint, and Stavorinus (vol I. p. 853) ascribes 
the famine partly to the " monopoly which the English had made 
of the rice." 


in 1772, sets down the loss of population "at least of 
one-third of the inhabitants of the province " ; and even 
twenty years later, Cornwallis officially described one-third 
of Bengal left as a jungle, inhabited only by wild beasts. 
The English knew very little about the country at that 
time and did less for its inhabitants. Even state-charity 
was grudged and land-tax was as rigorous as ever. 
Hastings points out in 1772 that " notwithstanding the 
loss of at least one-third of the inhabitants of the pro- 
vince, and the consequent decrease of the cultivation, the 
nett collections of the year 1771 exceeded even those of 
1768." In 1771, one-third of the cultivable land was 
returned in the public accounts as 
Its effects on the land- "deserted": in 1776, the entries in 

lord and the tenant . 

this column exceeded to one-half of 
the whole district, four acres lying waste to every seven. But 
the Company increased its demands from less than 100,000 
sterling in 1772 to close on 112,000 in 1776. 1 One-third 
of the generation of peasants had been swept away and a 
whole generation of once rich families had been reduced to 
indigence. The revenue-farmers who had been unable to 
realise the tax were stripped of their office, shorn of their 
lands, and thrown ultimately into prison. The zemindars 
who had hitherto lived like semi-independent chiefs, fared 
worse 2 : and Sir William Hunter rightly remarks that 
"from the year 1770, the ruin of the two-thirds of 
the old aristocracy of Lower Bengal dates." 

The great Famine also deeply affected the relation of 
the tenant to the landlord and of the landlords to one 
another. Nearly one-third of Bengal fell out of tillage : 

1 Hunter, op. cit. p. 63-64. 

* Hunter (op. cit. p. 56 ff.) cites the well-known cases of the 
Maharaja of Burdwan, the Raja of Nadia, and Rani Banwari of 


and the scarcity of the cultivators, at a time when there 
was more land than men to till it, gave the ryot the advan- 
tage over the zemindar, who was now compelled to court 
the peasant and make him tempting offers. This not 
only led to the growth of the two classes of resident and 
non-resident ryots and to a constant friction between them 
but it also added to the general misery by fosteriug violent 
feuds and quarrels among landed proprietors who had 
eagerly begun to bid against one another for the hus- 
bandman. These armed feuds between the landlords very 
greatly disturbed the repose of the districts 1 and it is 
no wonder that the zemindars are described iu contem- 
porary records as'" continual disturbers of the peace of the 

From the time of this Famine also, robbery and 
dacoi ty became disastrously prevalent. Large tracts 
of land around every village grew into thick jungles 
which fostered not only wild beasts 
beiT e and e dacoity. ^ but g ave umbrage to terrible gangs of 
robbers. Besides the numerous and 
prosperous classes like the thugs, who practised robbery as 
a hereditary calling, and the bands of cashiered soldiers 
who turned vagrants, there were thousands of people 
who were driven by destitution to the desperate course of 
plundering, and from 1771 the suppression of these lawless 
sects, who sometimes roved about the country in armies many 
thousands strong, 2 was a matter of serious consideration to 
the Council. Organised outrages took place within an 
ear-shot from the seat of government. Long records how 

1 Hunter, op. cit., pp. 60-61, p. 85. 

2 See a graphic account of the effects of dacoity in the Regulation 
of 1772 (35th Keg.), quoted in Colebrooke's Supplement to the Digest 
p. 1-13. Also see Hunter, op. eit. pp. 69 et. seq. 



in 1780 a very terrible case of robbery, accompanied by 

incendiarism and violence, occurred in 

insecurity of life Ca | eutta in wn j cn about 15,000 houses 

ana property. ' 

were burnt down and nearly 200 

people were killed. 1 Dacoity and robbery, with all its 
incidental terrors, prevailed in Bengal for more than three 
quarters of a century, 2 and left the life and property of 
the people absolutely insecure. 

The ancient police system, whether it consisted of the 
system of the village watchman, or of the nugdees, or of the 
thanadars, as we find in the Bengal of 1760, was in a dis- 
organised state when the English came into power, and was 

quite insufficient for the preservation 
The Police system. t . 

or the peace or tor the apprehension 

of thieves and gang-robbers. There was collusion with 

the criminals not only on the part of the petty zemindars, 

as the early administrators of Bengal tell us, but also on 

the part of these regularly constituted keepers of the public 

peace. 8 To meet the disorders of the country, the Fauj- 

dari system was established in 1774 : but it is well-known 

1 Long, Calcutta in Olden Time, p. 37. See also Busteed, op. cit. 
p. 157; Good Old Days, ch. xviii; Seton-Karr, op. cit. ii. 213-14, 233; 
Forrest, Selections from State Papers ; Warren Hastings, ii. 289. 

s Kaye (Administration of the East India Company, III. ii and 
iii) gives an account of Thuggee and Dacoity in later years. Even as 
late as 1810, we find Lord Minto (Minute, dated Nov. 24, 1810) writing, 
"A monstrous and disorganised state of society existed under the eye of 
the supreme British authorities and almost at the very seat of the 

Government The people are perishing almost in our sight: every 

week's delay is a doom of slaughter and torture against tho defenceless 
inhabitants of very populous countries." 

* The greater zemindars had always a largo number of troops at 
their disposal and sometimes the village watchman was enrolled on tho 
establishment of the zemindars. They were employed not only in 
their original capacity but also in the collection of tho revenue. Exten- 
sive duties similarly were expected from the FaujdSr. 


how vigorously the system was criticised by the opposition 
members of the Council and condemned as oppressive by the 
author of the Seir Mutaqherin. 1 It was candidly admitted 
by the Resolution of April 6, 1786, that the establishment 
of faujdars and thanadars " has by experience been found 
not to produce the good effects intended by the institution". 
On the old division of authority between the Nazim and 
the Dewan, the executive power including criminal adminis- 
tration was allotted to the Nazim while the Dewan possess- 
ed the civil jurisdiction. The establis ment of two courts 
of justice, the Dewan! and the Faujdarl 'Adalat, which were 
controlled by the superior Sadar Dewan! and Nizamat 
'Adalats at the Presidency of Fort 

The system of crimi- William, was made by the Regulations 
rial and civil justice. \ . 

of the Committee of Circuit 2 chiefly 
on the basis on this old distinction. One of the effects of 
the Regulations referred to was to transfer the Courts of 
Appeal from Murshidabad to Calcutta and to give the 
Collector the right to preside over local civil courts and 
keep vigilance over the local criminal courts ; yet the crimi- 
nal jurisdiction of the Nawab was not taken away nor were 
miscarriages of justice and long-felt abuses removed by these 
Regulations. The establishment, for the Mayor's Court, of 
the Supreme Court in Calcutta, to which Francis was so 
stoutly opposed, brought, again, in its train a number of 
notorious evils, and one need hardly recall Macaulay's 
account of the high-handed proceedings of this Court. 
It was not until 1790 that the superintendence of criminal 
justice throughout the province was accepted by the 
English, 3 and judicial administration was not placed 

1 Seir Mutaqherin, iii. p. 176-179. See Fifth Report, pp. 43 et. seq. 

3 Colebrooke, op. cit. 1-14; also quoted and discussed in Firminger, 
op. cit. pp. ccxxi et seq 

8 Cornwallis's Minute, December 3, 1790 ; also Regulation V and IX 
of 1793. Also Fifth Report, pp. 29-42 : Seton-Karr, Cornwallis, pp. 88-94. 


upon a sound footing until many years elapsed. Even 

in 1793, the preamble to the several Regulations of 

thit year show that there must have been much coufusion, 

abuse of justice, delay in procedure, and uncertainty of 

jurisdiction in civil and criminal courts. 

The reforms of Cornwallis were not only in the right 

direction in these respects but they also struck a note of 

sympathy with the poor suffering ryot. But the ruin of the 

zemindars, begun by Mir Kasim and hastened by the ijara 

settlement, was finally completed by 

Reforms of 1793. \ J 

the celebrated measure ot 179o, 

which, though it did credit to the benevolent intentions of 
Cornwallis proved at least for the time being disastrous 
to many an ancient aristocratic family of Bengal. It would 
be out of place to discuss here this measure in all its 
bearings, 1 but it must be admitted that it was not only 
insufficient in affording protection to the ryot against 
the rack-renting power of the zemindar but it also 
became the means of unsettling many old zemindaries. 
It created a class of landlords destitute for the most part 
of public spirit and higher culture. The principle of the 
permanence of assessment, co-operating with splendid ferti- 
lity of the Ganges valley, afforded, no doubt, a happy 
prospect of peaceful multiplication of the people and spread 
of civilisation, yet the wealthy ancient aristocracy, which 
for a long time constituted the main support of society and 
the great patron of arts and literature, was slowly breaking 
down under the stringent rules which put up their large 
estates to public auction at the mercy of the highest bidder. 
The class of up-start zemindars who stepped into their 

1 See on this question, Field, op. cit ; Harrington's Analysis ; Seton- 
Karr, Cornwallis, ch. ii ; Fifth Report, p. 12 et. seq ; Mill, op. cit. bk. vi 
ch: 6-6 j R. C. Dutt, op, cit, ch. v, etc. 


place could not be expected to possess the same inherited 
tradition of culture and refinement as marked the ancient 
aristocracy of the land. Side by side with these, there 
was created another class of landlords by the very measure 
itself; for under the new law, the mere collector of the 
revenue was, in many cases, invested with every proprietory 
right in the land. 

Before passing from this cursory account of the dissolu- 
tion of the Mohammedan government and the ruin of the 
zemindars, it would not be out of place to refer to 

the depraved moral influence of the 
thfperiod depraVitJ f Mohammedan court upon the courts of 

the noblemen and also upon the society 
in general. The vivid pages of the Seir Mutaqhenn has 
already made familiar to us the depth of luxury, debauchery, 
and moral depravity of the period, and Ghulam Husain in one 
place offers a few bitter remarks on the ethicality of Murshi- 
dabad. x " It must be observed " he says " that in those days 
Moorshoodabad wore very much the appearance of one of 
Loth's towns ; and it is still pretty much the same to-day. 

Nay, the wealthy and powerful, having set apart 

sums of money for these sorts of amours, used to show the 
way and to entrap and seduce the unwary, the poor, and 
the feeble ; and as the proverb says so is the king, so 
becomes his people, these amours got into fashion." It is 
no wonder, therefore, that this atmosphere of luxury and 
moral degeneration did not fail to vitiate the general moral 
tone of society, especially of the upper classes. Public 
opinion was so low that very many forms of shameless vice, 
often accompanied by cruelty and violence, attracted 
little condemnation and received less punishment. It 
reminds one of the days of Charles II and his courtiers. It 

1 Seir Mutaqherin, iii. p. 85. 


is needless to recapitulate details : but it may be noted that 
hardly any of the worthies of this period, whether Hindu 
or Musalman, could ever show, both in their public and 
private life, a perfectly clean record. One can easily 
understand from this the degenerate tone in the writings 
of the period, which spraug up chiefly round the courts 
of these rajas or zemindars who were the dispensers of the 
daily bread of the poets. Even the work of the devout 
Ram-prasad or of the illiterate Kabiwalas was not entirely 
free from this almost universal taint. 

Next to the zemindars, came the class of learned 
Brahmans, the other important factor of the social fabric, 
who suffered no less from these political and social changes. 
Even in this period of anarchy and oppression, the priestly 
class, however fallen or cried down in modern times, was 
recognised as the head of society, as the spiritual guide 
and enlightener of the race. Whatever damaging influeuce 
their much-too-decried exclusiveness might have produced, 
it cannot be denied that as a class they hardlv ever 
fell below this high expectation. The occupation of the 
Brahmans, although on the decline, had not yet lost 
its ancient lustre and dignity and 

theBrahm^n8 ati n f there Were men amon S them sti11 who 
were, as of yore, capable of fear- 
less acts of self-sacrifice for the good of the community. 
The Brahmans were not only the educators of the nation 
but also its lawgivers, its judges, and at times its acknow- 
ledged head and dictator in social matters. Although 
literature was not their profession, their sphere of usefulness 
consisted in their interest in mental and spiritual culture. 
But a change of the deepest kind was coming over the 
spirit of this ancient and honoured class. After the 
political storm of the century had blown over, the Brahmans 
found themselves utterly neglected, nay, humiliated and 


ruined. They had not only lost the patronage at court 
and of the great landed aristocracy, who always revered 
their learning and piety, but they also found themselves 
losing, together with their ancient prestiga, the free 
charitable gifts of landed property to which they mainly 
looked up for their support. A regulation was passed 
in 1793 for enquiry into the validity of various existing 
Lakheraj grants : and as a direct result of this, many 
of these presumed charitable grants were cancelled. 
This dealt a severe blow to the poor Brahmans, who 
thus shorn of their land and their glory, became more 
and more dependent than ever for their living on the 
gifts of the lower classes to whose tastes and superstitions 
they were now compelled to pander. The most enlighten- 
ed among them, no doubt, remained isolated or retired 
into obscurity in moody silence ; but the majority of them 
did everything in their power to please the mob, who 
were now almost their only customers. With the fall of 
the Brahmans, however, there was no doubt the rise of the 
powerful middle class ; but the ruin of this hereditary 
intellectual class was a loss in itself. The axe was laid 
at the root of ancient learning and ancient culture : the 
influence which produced the sublime in Hindu civilisa- 
-tion vanished, the influence which produced the supersti- 
tious and the ridiculous in it increased. Such was the 
state of knowledge and culture at the beginning of the 
last century that Jayanarayan Tarkapanchanan in his 
preface to the Sarvadarsana Samgraha had to lament that the 
pundits of his time never cared to read more than four 
books in their lifetime ; and just before the foundation of 
Calcutta Sanscrit College, such was the ignorance of the 
Bengali puudits that none of them could enlighten 
Sir AVilliam Jones on the subject of ancient Sanscrit 


This decline of the society and the intellect of Bengal 
is almost synchronous with and, no 

Inherent causes of doubf . wag f ac j|j fcated by thedecav 
social decline; the * J 

Caste system. of Mohammedan rule and the pre- 

valence of the Company's misrule ; 
but the process, slow enough to be almost imperceptible, 
was, however, not due to this circumstance alone. The 
political and social causes no doubt hastened the 
decadence already afoot : but it would be hasty and un- 
philosophical to attribute everything to such extraneous 
causes. There was something wrong in the social struc- 
ture itself to account for this decadence. A little re- 
flection will show that the Hindu society carried within 
itself the germs of its own decay. However beneficial the 
institution of caste might have been to the ancient society, 
of which it formed the universal and natural basis, it 
cannot be doubted that its exclusiveness, in course of time, 
gave rise to a monopoly, which, like the monopoly of the 
mediaeval monks of Europe, proved injurious to intellec- 
tual progress beyond a certain stage. Within the small 
privileged hereditary class to which the spread of know- 
ledge was confined, the arts and sciences, no doubt, were 
carried to a pitch of perfection, but competition, thus 
artificially limited, uaturally gave no scope to favourable 
variations in intellectual development. The intellectual 
capacity of the individual or the class was increased at 
the cost of general ignorance and inferiority of the race. 
The system made life easy and smooth and comparatively 
free from that struggle and unrest which is the inexorable 
condition of all progress. This state of things, leading as 
it did to decadence, could not continue long, and under the 
influence of Mohammedanism and its doctrine of equality, 
a fresh impetus was given to progress by relaxing the 
restrictions of the caste system. From about the beginning 


of the 16th century, we have a succession of religious and 
social reformers, Ramananda, Kabir, Nanak, and Chaitanya, 

all of whom protested against caste 
Mohammedan and and preached universal brotherhood. 

It was this impulse which gave an early 
impetus to the vernacular literatures of India ; for thes e 
reformers, unlike the learned Sanscritists, preached to the 
people in the language of the people, and their teachings 
were embodied in voluminous works which enriched the 
vernacular literatures. But, although the rigour of the 
caste system was for a time overcome and a healthy 
feeling for equality was abroad, the evils of the time- 
honoured institution, firmly rooted through centuries into 
the social fabric, could not be eradicated in a day. They 
continued to do their work and hastened the decadence 
which, in spite of the attempts of these religious 
reformers, had become inevitable; and the anti-caste 
influence of the British contact and of European literature 
only intensified the change already set on foot by the 

Baisna ba and other movements. 
^British influence on Although at fchig critical timej the Easfc 

India Company in Englanu and in India, 
sunk to the lowest depth of philistinism, apprehended the 
spread of knowledge and western ideas fatal to the British 
rule, yet it was fortunate that there were self-sacrificing 
missionaries and schoolmasters ready for the woik, and a 
few far-sighted statesmen who, notwithstanding the narrow 
policy of the government at home, thought it "god- 
like bounty to bestow expansion of intellect." The empire 
in India had been, moreover, founded at a time when the 
tide was turning, when Europe was in the throes of a great 
Revolution, which, considered politically, socially, and 
intellectually, is one of the greatest in modern history. 
The wave of liberalism which was to pass through Europe 


could not be expected to leave untouched the shores of 
the newly-acquired empire in India. 

One of the chief causes why the evils of caste system 

could not be eradicated in a day was the protective spirit 

of the Hindu religion in social matters. Notwithstanding 

that historians of civilisation like 

Protective influence Buckle 1 deny to religion any influence 
of relijnon in social . n T t- 1 i * i 

matters, at all, Hindu religion has always 

governed Hindu society, and it is 
through the institution of caste that this influence has 
been remarkably felt. However much Hinduism has been 
marked by intellectual toleration and adaptability to its 
environment, its sway, in social matters at least, has always 
been despotic. Not only the individual but also the social 
life of the people has been moulded by their religion for evil 
or for good. The entire existence of a Hindu may be 
said without exasperation to bi a round of religious 
duties; and in social matters, hedged in by minute rules 
and restrictions, the various classes of the community 
have had little room for expansion and progress beyond 
a certain stage. But this domination of religion over 
sociaty became more and more stringent with the decay 

of Hindu civilisation during the later 

Its effect under the Paurailik and the Mohammedan 
Mohammedan rule. 

'periods. Hence arose some of the 

absurd restrictions and retrogressive customs which the 

efforts of a succession of religious reformers from Kablr 

and Chaitanya down to Ram Mohan Ray have not been 

able completely to remove. That the Hiuduism of the 

18th and the early 19th century had been a strange 

compound of the sublime and the ridiculous is thus easily 

History of Civilisation in England, Vol. I, Ch. V 


intelligible. With the fall of the Brahmans and general 

decadence of social and intellectual life 

Religious life at the in the country, there was also a partial 
beginning of the 19th , , ,, ,. . i. i 

century decadence or the religious lire and 

ideals of the people, imperceptibly 
making its headway from the Mohammedan times. It 
does not concern us here as to how much of this was due 
to decadent Buddhism or decadent Bai^nabism, or how far 
the aboriginal ethnical element in Lower Bengal reacted 
upon it. The mass of superstitions had always existed 
and still everywhere exists : but from this time onwards, 
there was a deliberate rejection of the spiritual side of the 
old faith and a corresponding identification with the semi- 
aboriginal superstitions of the masses. Public opinion on 
religious matters was low, although the religiosity of the 
people cannot be denied ; and the undoubted belief in the 
absolving efficacy of superstitious rites calmed the imagina- 
tion and allayed the terrors of conscience. Empty rituals, 
depraved practices/ ani even horrid ceremonies like hook- 
swinging, human sacrifice, and infanticide partially justify 
the unsparing abuse of our religion by the missionaries. 

But what the missionaries could not 
dead Cayed bUt n0t Perceive in their proselytising zeal 

was that the religious life of the 
Hindu had never been quite extinct. There had been 
decay since the Mohammedan rule, aggravated by various 
complex causes, but not death ; there had been an increase 
of feebleness, but not absolute inanition. An age which 
' produced the Gahgabhakti-taranginI , Harillla, or the 
devotional songs of Ram-prasad could not indeed be said 

to be devoid of religious life. The 
c l Jrents f Ur divergent devotional fervour of Sri Chaitanya,the 

intellectual ideas of naiyayik Raghu- 
natha, the ritualistic doctrines of smarta Raghunandan, 


and the mystic spiritualism of the tantric Krsnananda 
the four divergent forces which have always 
exercised great influence on Hindu society since 
the 16th century had never lost their domination even 
in this era of decadence. The protective spirit of 
Hinduism and the political and social vicissitudes 
consequent upon Mohammedan rule had no doubt been in- 
jurious to religious progress, but in spite of this impediment 
religion had always influenced the social, moral, and in- 
tellectual progress of the natiou. From the earliest time 
down to the present day, religious struggle and religious 
revival have always played an important part in the history 
of the nation's intellectual progress. It is partly for this 
reason that notwithstanding four ceuturies of earnest 
preaching by Roman Catholics and two centuries of earnest 
preaching by Protestants, Christianity has made little im- 
pression upon the Hindus, especially amongst the upper 
classes. Religious life was never dead but dormant. It is 
true that religious ideal have always 

Change of religious , i p j j- l 

ideals in the 18th and changed from time to time and 

the early 19th cen- mou id e d itself to some extent to the 


necessities of the age, and this will 
also be evident from a study of the various phases of the 
historic development of our religion. At this stage of 
decadence, it could not be expected to remain in an un- 
alloyed state. It had gone through many convulsions and 
alterations in the previous age, and many empty dogmas 
and gross superstitions had naturally gathered around it. 
But, however much this state of religion appeared repulsive 
to the prejudiced eyes of the zealous missionaries or of the 
enthusiastic " Young Bengal," who proud of the now 
light, picked up an inveterate hatred of everything old, 
still in its essence and on the doctrinal side, it was 
almost invulnerable. The reactions which have followed 


in favour of what may be called 
of R 1hi US l9t r h eaCt cen! rationalistic Hinduism * and other 
t r y- religious movements in the 19th 

century bear witness to its inward 
strength as well as to the inherited spirituality of the 

It is obvious that under these political, social and 

intellectual conditions, no literature 
These facts partly worth the name eou]d eagil fl our j gh> 
explain the literary *' 

barrenness of the peri- With the ruin of the zemindars and 

od between 1760 and . , , , . . ,. . 

1800. the degradation of the Brahmans, 

who constituted respectively the aris- 
tocracy of wealth and the aristocracy of intellect, a process 
of disintegration had begun in the social fabric which 
ended in an absolute dissolution of all social solidarity. It 
took nearly half a century before there was a general 
subsidence of these effects and a new order of things 
could ta\e the place of the old. With a reconstruction 
of art and ideal, there was indeed the birth of a 
new world and a new literature but, generally speak- 
ing, from the 18th century to the middle of the 
19th, we have only rude unshaped writings, interesting 
to the student, but no masterpiece, acceptable to all. 
It was essentially a transitional stage, and there can be 
no doubt that these vicissitudes of the 18th century and 
the monotonous material and intellectual development of 
the first half of the 19th robbed Bengali literature of many 
an imaginative writer. Calcutta had not yet settled down 
into a metropolis, and with the dispersal of the Moham- 
medan government and the Hindu zemindars, there was 
no fixed intellectual centre which would have brought 
the advantages of social solidarity among those who still 
retained literary instincts and aspirations. Bharat- 
chandra died in 1760 and in a short time occurred 


also the deaths of Durgapras5d and 

The death of BhSrat- Ram-prasad. With these last great 
chandra in 1760 * . . , 

marks the decay of names, we are at the end of what 

fiteraturtT * remained of ancient Bengali literature. 

During the continuance of the dual 
system of government between '65 and 72, the older 
poets, one by one, passed away ; and none remained who 
could for a time step into their vacant place. Between 
the death of Bharat-chandra in 1760 and the first appear- 
ance of Isvar Gupta in Samlad- 

The interregnum 
till the emergence of prafmakar ot 18.30, there came an 

^b^ncl" interregnum rf more than half a 
not wholly, by the century, during which there was no 

man who had been strong enough to 
seize the unclaimed sceptre. The only pretenders were the 
Kabiwalas, but they never rose to that level of artistic 
merit and sustained literary composition which would have 
enabled them to strike a commanding figure on the empty 
6tage. Who would think of placing Haru Thakur or Ram 

Basu side by side with Bharat-chandra 

some of whom were or Ram-prasad ? These Kabiwalas 

powers. kft behind them few things of 

permanent literary value; for although 
some of them were men of undoubted poetic power, they 
never cultivated literature for its own sake, but composed 

their songs chiefly to please their 

Their place in new patrons in society the upstart 
literature not very zemindar8> the wealthy speculator8# 

or the illiterate ma9s whose chief 
amusement consisted of these songs, pifiac/ialis, or 
jatras. The Kabi literature, therefore, is one of a very 
composite character, and side by side with the higher 
flights, we have interspersed not a little amount of flat 
colloquial verbiage which no stretch of literary charity 


would ever call poetic in the true sense of the term. The 
literary ideal was not, as can be expected, very high, and 
its tone not always commendable : yet one thing most 
remarkable about these songs, which puts them in sharp 
contrast with the literature which Bharat-chandra set in 
fashion, was its comparative freedom from the stamp of 
ornateness or erudite classicality as well as from the 
vitiated moral tone which defaces the writings of many a 
great poet of this period. Yet in spite of these and other 
merits, none of the Kabiwalas had reached that standard 
of literary excellence which would have enabled them to 
emulate the more substantial writings of the older poets 
although they contributed some truly beautiful pieces to 
the literature of national songs. Fallen on evil days, their 
genius seems never to have received its fullest scope, and 
besides keeping our literature back from absolute death 
during the period of interregnum, their work seems to 
possess historically no other permanent value. They act 
as a link keeping up the continuity 
But they did their of our i{ terary history and, though 

best, during this long J . 

period of barrenness, by themselves affording an interesting 

to keep it back from D , , . , . , . . . 

absolute death. eld of study, they belong through 

their literary filiation and inherited 

artistic tradition to the age preceding our era. 

By the beginning of the 19th century, however, the 

old order was changing, yielding place to new. A new 

literature, a new spirit, and a new order of society were 

gradually taking the place of the time-honoured institutions 

which had held their sway over the country for centuries. 

We often find in literary history that 

Effect of the re rata- w [ t ^ some o, reat revolution, politi- 

tionary changes which m ## r 

the British occupation cal, social, or religious, literature 

of Bengal brought . pi* tx^- i 

about, receives a rresh impetus. We need 

hardly recall the example of the 


French Revolution from which dates a period of literary 
activity which has culminated in the rich literary after- 
growths of modern Europe. But the popular opinion, long 
and actually entertained, that the British occupation of 
Bengal by itself sufficiently accounted for and directly caused 
the disappearance of ancient literature as distinguished 
from modern, is a delusion which the revived study of the 
literature itself would, in a great measure, help to check and 

correct. However great and far- 
Tlie British 'conquest', , . .. ^ ,, n ... , 

as generally supposed, reaching its effect was, the British 

never swept off the old < eo nquest' no more swept away ancient 

literature and replac- A . 

ed it with the new : Bengal and its literature and replaced 

procTsTof decadence ifc witn something else than the Nor- 

in literature already man Conquest of England directly 

afoot. 1 J 

caused the disappearance of Anglo- 

saxon England and its literature. Modern evolutionary 
theory hardly leaves any room for such absolute political 
or literary cataclysms; and a little consideration will 
show that the British occupation of Bengal, like the 
Norman one of England, only helped and turned to 
good a process of decadence in literature, which had 
independently begun, which was going on rapidly, and 
which, if the political revolution had not dealt a death-blow 
to the exhausted literature would have landed it independ- 
ently in absolute barrenness and stagnation. 

In order to appreciate what effect British occupation 
of Bengal produced upon Bengali literature, we must 
realise in what state it actually had been when the new start 
was made. It was, as we have stated, a period of great 
confusion. The political and social disturbances, no doubt, 
as the apologist of Bengali literature often points out, 
were affecting men's minds, and the physical and mental 
fatigue consequent thereupon is responsible to a great 
extent for this lamented paucity of literary productions ; 


but if we look to the literature itself we shall see that a 
process of inherent decay and dissolution had already begun 
in it which indicated rapid decline, and which, if un- 
checked, might have independently led to its ultimate 
extinction. A change of the deepest and widest kind was 
coming over the spirit of Bengali literature during the 
years when the political destiny of India was being decided 
in other fields : but this change, such as it was, meant no 
good augury to its future course. 

In spite of occasional royal patronage, as in the cases 

of Bidyapati or Kabi-karikan, the vernacular literature 

before the 18th century very seldom found shelter in the 

courts of the wealthy, and it was never, in any sense, 

courtly literature. From this period, 

What this process however, it began to centre round the 

was and how it came . ., , . , , 

about, courts or the wealthy and a new 

world, that of the courtier and the 

adventurer, was being formed. The courts of Raja 

Krsnachandra of Nadlya and of Raja 

State of Bengali Raj-ballabh of Dacca were notable not 
literature on the eve ,' .. . , ... , , 

of the 19th century. only for their luxury, their splendour, 

and their intrigues, but also for their 
patronage of arts and literature. But this court-influence, 
as it would be natural to expect in this age, was not an 
unmixed good. Poetry, which had hitherto consisted of 
simple tales of village-life or of devotional poems of rare 
beauty and fervour, had now to appeal exclusively to the 
upper classes of society whose taste and temper it natur- 
ally reflected. As on the one hand, it gained in refinement 
and splendour, so on the other, it lost all its pristine 
simplicity, and was marked with a stamp of ornateness 
and erudite elassicality which found favour with these 
courts. What had been fervid and spontaneous became 
fantastic and elaborate : and with these new poets, some of 


whom were good scholars, intellect and fancy predominated 
over sentiment and passion, ingenuity took the place of 
feeling, and poetry lost its true accent. On the one hand, 
arose around the court of Krsnachandra the artificial 
school of Bharat-chandra, whose poetry, more fanciful than 
delicate, more exquisite than passionate, first turned the 
tide in favour of ornate and artificial standards of verse- 
making : on the other hand, under 

'** UlSSS the l' atrona ge of the rival court of 
by their excesses gave Raja Raj-ballabh, flourished a more 
unmistakable proof of 1 i i 

decadeuce and fore- serious, though less poetical, group of 

tteitofry h a e ge 89 f writers who exhibit the same tendency 
to ornate diction and luxuriant style 

and the same weakness for frigid conceits but whose 

profundity, allegorical fancy, didactic taste, and consequent 

monotony present a striking contrast to the more voluptuous 

and attractive school at Nadiya. Both these schools, 

by their excesses, marked the close of the literary age. 

In spite of the exquisite quality of his phrase and his 

numbers, that exalt him to a place all his own, 

Bharat-chandra was a far greater artist than a true 

poet. He was a sure and impeccable master of his 

own craft, yet we must confess here, as everywhere, a 

fall of the true poetic .spirit, the neap of inspiration, the 

preference of what catches the eye to what touches the 

heart. Bharat-chandra is not veiy 
The school at Nadiya . . i , , . . 

of which Bharat-chan- oiten original : yet when he imitates, 

expoZt. th6 llterary he does uot choose t,ie best models 
but only tries to improve upon the 
very second-rate works of later artificial Kavya poets 
like Magna aud Sriharsa, or even worse things from 
a class of degenerate Mohammedan tales of dubious 
taste and excellence. Poetry is increasingly regarded 
as a means of the display of elaborate conceits till 


at length nothing remains but artfulness and verbal 
jugglery. The consummate elegance of these writings is 
undoubted but the poet seldom transports. Lifeless des- 
criptions, pompous similes, learned digressions a style 
which cannot be summed up otherwise than by the term 
' florid ' these mark the makeshifts by which the lack of 
genuine poetic emotion is sought to be made up. Pathos or 
tragedy in the strict and rare sense these poets seldom or 
never touch : and the way in which they have repainted 
the ideal heroes of old recall to one's mind Dryden's trave- 
sty of Milton or of Shakespeare. Admitting even the 
pictorial effect, the musical cadence and the wonderful 
spell of language which are the chief redeeming features 
of this poetry, the taste and style are sometimes so vitiated 
and vulgar that it fully deserves the nemesis of neglect 
which is gradually falling upon it. The degenerate 
court-influence went a long way not only in fostering 
a certain feminine langour and luxuriance of style, but it 
was also responsible for the taint of indecency which 
often mars its best passages. This grossness was, no doubt, 
partly conventional and sprang obviously from the poetic 
convention established by the later artificial schools of 
Sanscrit Poetry; but, even admitting this, it must 
be said that attempts to excuse this utter want of 
decency and of morals have all proved futile, and the 
least valid of all is that which would shield this poetry 
under the mantle of the classics. The kutnit take the place 
of dutls of Baisnaba songs; and the course of illicit 
love or lust, with all its intricacies of courtship, intrigue, 
and insolence was never suffered to flaunt itself with 
such shameless impudence. Even Ram-prasad, in spite 
of his religious sougs, could not escape the contagion and 
the exquisite lyrics of the Kabiwalas were not wholly 
free from the taint, 


These enormities in the existing schools of poetry cer- 
tainly indicate the close of the literary age. Excess of folly 
in poetry, like excess of injustice in political matters, lead 
up to and foretell revolutions. Besides, the course of 
ancient Bengali itself as a whole suffered from many draw- 
backs which hampered its growth cruelly and which might by 
itself have led to its ultimate extinction. 

Inherent drawbacks 
in the old literature Ot these drawbacks, the monotony or 

Ingrowth** reUrded sub i ect and the Imitation of form were 
the foremost and engage the critic at 
once. It is true that the social and political conditions 
under an alien rule were never wholly favourable to the 
quiet development of national culture ; that the contempt 
with which vernacular literature had been universally held 
always retarded its growth ; that the Baisnaba movement, 
even though it had wrested the monopoly of learning from 
the Brahmans as a class, was more a sectarian than a 
wide-spread uational tendency and it only intensified 
the devotional ardour which had very few opportuni- 
ties for complete secularisation ; and that literature, at 
least in the vernacular, was seldom cultivated for its own 
sake in those days when a leisured class of literary or scienti- 
fic men had never arisen ; yet even these circumstances do 
not wholly explain the absolute limitation of subject to 
religion in the main, and out of reli- 
Limitation of subject. gio n to a little legend, a little contem- 
porary social song, and the thinnest 
surplus of other matters. Glorification of gods and goddess- 
es seems to be the ultimate object of all the poets, who 
could not venture to publish anything except under the 
borrowed garb of religion. The marvellous results accom- 
plished even within this limitation show that there was 
surely nothing wrong with the genius of these poets but 
something was wrong in the literature itself, that its 


theme was too narrow and limited to afford the fullest 

scope for development and progress. 
Conservative taste. One of the remarkable tendencies of 

later Hindu culture generally and of 
all ancient vernacular literature in particular was, that 
they carried the suppression of individuality too far : and 
that the consequence has been to exalt authority and dis- 
courage originality. Of course, nothing can be more ob- 
jectionable than the obtrusive self-assertiveness of modern 
times, yet it must be admitted that it nevertheless furthers 
intellectual progress by relaxing the severity of effete 
conventionalities and allowing ambition freer scope and 
wider soaring-region. But this limitation of subject 

and this conservative taste were 
Monotony of form. coupled with a further limitation of 

ancient poetry in its form, its staple 
of stereotyped verses, beyond which it could never stray 
but which was apt to become dull, monotonous, and sing- 
song, especially because of its sectional pauses. But the 
greatest drawback, which would of itself indicate the 
poverty of the literature in its certain aspects, was the 
complete absence of prose as a vehicle 
Absence of prose. f literary expression. It is true that 

in all literature, as the immortal jest 
of Moliere implies, prose always comes after poetry; yet 
in ancient Bengali literature we have practically very 
little good prose at all, however late. 1 

In critically examining the literary history of Bengal 
in the p re-British era, it is impossible to mistake the 
signiiieance of these facts : namely, that its poetry, though 
vigorously started under the best auspices and though 

1 Some account of the giowth and development of old Bengali 
prose is given in App. I at the end of this volume, 


attaining to some measure of relative perfection, was 
itself failing , and that at no period of its long history, it 
produced prose that could be called such. There must 
have been something wrong in the very system, some 
coldness in the literary constitution to account for this 
decadence and this poverty. If a literature after produc- 
ing great things in the past does nothing more for 
centuries, if it shows signs of decadence and practically 
limits itself to trifles, then the conclusion is irresistible 
that it badly wants a change. Long before the stability 
of British rule was beyond all question a process of 
decadence or dissolution had already begun which indi- 
cated a change in its spirit. The British occupation and 
its accompanying evils only hastened this change, so 
that a new era of literary history began in Bengal 
with the firm establishment of British rule. It is amiable 
but entirely unhistorical imagination which suggests that 
it was the British rule which enti- 
These facts show that re l y swept away t ] ie \$ literature 
the decadent htera- J . 

tme, if it were to pro- and replaced it with the new. There 
long its life, needed , . , . , i .1 

a change, and the was no such absolute breach of the 

change was brought cont jnuity of our literary history; 

by the British occupa- J J J 

tion of Bengal. a change was inevitable and the 

British rule brought it about in the 

most novel and unexpected way, although it would be 

difficult to say what form it would have taken had 

there been no British occupation of Bengal. 

The commencement of the 19th century saw a more settled 

order of things. Beginning with the 

The beginning of the pa tch-work of the Regulating Act 
19th century. ' 

of 1774, vigorous attempts were made 

to reform the abuses of misrule which had been bringing 

disgrace to British ideas of justice and honour, and the 

permanence of British rule was now more or less a settled 


fact. The Company in the meantime had been extending 
its territories beyond the limits of Bengal. Hastings 
had boldly thrown aside the mask of dual government 
which Clive had thought so expedient to wear. But even 
Hastings, boldly ambitious of founding an Empire in 
India, could not carry out what he devised. The records 
of the period give us some glimpses of good intentions 
but there was little of actual performance. From Corn- 
wallis's time however, we enter upon a brighter period. 
Cornwallis had greater freedom from interference or 
control, and his noble rank enabled him to demand his 
own terms from the wise-heads at Leadenhall Street. 
In spite of Thornton's strictures, it cannot be denied that 
Cornwallis realised for the first time that the governed 
as well as the governors ought to be considered in all 
system of good government. It was he who gave a better 
moral tone to the civil service. It is not necessary here to 
trace step by step this gradual process of political recons- 
truction from Cornwallis's time onward or enter into the 
details of every scheme of reform or every administrative 
measure. The general effect of these changes was that 
the Company was gradually being transformed from a 
trading corporation into a sovereign power. The idea 
that Bengal was an estate which yielded a large rental 
but involved none of the responsibilities of government 
had not, it is true, totally disappeared ; but none of the 
administrators since this time can be regarded as mere 
land-stewards of a private property. Narrow views still 
prevailed but we find a liberal-minded Governor-General 
like Wellesley laying stress upon the fact that the Factory 
had grown into an Empire and that the civil servants 
should not consider themselves as mere agents of a 
commercial concern but as responsible officers and adminis- 
trators whose duty it was to understand the people. 


The revenue system began to be pi iced on a secure 
footing. There was greater peace and order throughout 
the country, and the civil, criminal, and police functions 
of the government were beginning to be organised. 
The rural administration was taken in hand and 
Calcutta was forming itself into a 

Calcutta settling 

down into a metro- metropolis. In 1771, we find 
po 18 ' Calcutta a straggling village of mud- 

houses, the whole of the ground south of Chandpal Ghat 
thickly covered with jungle and forest-trees. From 1780 
onwards, we read in the Calcutta papers of frequent 
complaints about the indescribably filthy condition of the 
streets and roads which is fully confirmed by the account 
of Grand pre in 1790, who tells us of the canals and cess- 
pools reeking with putrefying animal matter the awful 
stench coming out of them the myriads of flies and 
Hocks of animals and birds acting as scavenger. l In the 
times of Hastings and Francis and for a long time after 
that, dacoity and highway robbery within a mile of the 
seat of government and of the Supreme Court were, we 
have seen, crimes exceedingly prevalent. But when 
Hastings' government abolished the provincial Revenue 
Councils and transferred from Murshidabad to Calcutta 
the seat of the Supreme Courts of Justice as well as the 
head-seat of revenue administration and the Khalsa, 
Calcutta was being deliberately designed to become ulti- 
mately the political capital of Bengal. 8 By 1800, a busy 

1 This state of things continued for a long time and we here of cons- 
tant complaints of this not only in the English papers and also in the 
Samachar-darpan as late 1818. See the Samachar-darpan, Nov. 14, 1818 ; 
May 27, 1820 etc. (the quotations, will be found given in my article on 
the above-mentioned paper in Sahitya Pariqat Patrika vol. 24, no. 3, 
p. 163.) 

Gleig, Memoirs of Warren Hastings, vol. i. p. 268. 


and flourishing town was being built up 1 ; and attracted 
by its commercial importance, of which, notwithstanding 
the monopoly of the Company and its discouragement of 
private enterprise, Stavorinus, writing so far back as 1770, 
bears strong testimony, many Bengali families as well 
as men of other nationalities began to settle down. From 
the time of the inroads of the Mah- 
Inteliectuai and rattas, people had fled from the interior 

social centres spring- , ,, , , . . , 

ing up along the banks and settled down on the banks ot 

of the Ganges, close to the Ganges, close to Calcutta, where 
Calcutta. t & * t ' 

in course of time, there arose 

several flourishing towns while the rest of Bengal lay 
under disorder and misrule. Bengal in the times past 
had many capitals and many centres of learning, and all 
these now converged to the few spots along the Ganges- 
bank and chiefly to the metropolis. It is natural to 
expect that here, with Calcutta as its centre, began the 
earliest efforts to diffuse knowledge, reform abuses, formu- 
late new ideas, and build up a new order of society and 
literature. From this arises the importance of the metro- 
polis in later Bengali literature an importance which 
will be more fully realised when we consider that refined 
importance of the city urbanity is one of the main eharacter- 
and the metropolis in j st j cs w hich differentiates the modern 

later Bengali liter- 
ature, literature from its pre-British prede- 
cessor. If the ancient literature, as one of its historians 
says, was a gift of the lower to the higher classes 
and was fostered chiefly in the remote and secluded 

1 On the history and topography of old Calcutta, literature is scat- 
tered and plentiful. One may however consult with advantage 
A. K. Roy, A Short History of Calcutta; Rainey, Topographical and 
Historical Sketch of Calcutta, 1876 ; Busteed, Echoes from Old Calcutta; 
Cotton, Calcutta Old and New ; articles in Bengal Past and Prevent 
and references given thex'ein; Long, Calcutta in Olden time. 



village-homes, the modern literature 

Urbanity of modern \ s mos tly the work of the educated 
Bengali literature. J 

man of the city, and a gift from him 

spreading down to the lowest classes. In studying modern 

literature, we must steadily keep our eyes fixed upon these 

centres of influences, of which Calcutta and Srirampur, 

as we shall see, become all-important in the first stage of 

our history. 

In these crowded cities, which had drawn into it the flower 

of the Bengali families from all parts of the country and 

which afforded endless opportunities of intercourse between 

the European and the Bengali commu- 
Growth of Calcutta . . .... 

and its awakening to nities, a new era was beginning in 
new influence.. the SQeial and ] iterarv history f the 

people. Happily for the country, the hour of awakening 
to new thoughts had dawned. On the 10th October, 
1800, we find the missionaries at Srirampur thus writing 
home: " There appears to be a favourable change in the 
general temper of the people. Commerce has roused new 
thoughts and awakened new energies, so that hundreds, 
if we could skilfully teach them, would crowd to learn the 
English language.'' 1 Hitherto Education had been totally 
neglected. The history of English education in Bengal 
has a verj important bearing on the history of the intel- 
lectual progress and will be sketched in its proper place ; 
it would be enough to indicate here that during the early 

days of the Company's rule, the pro- 
cftfon We": motion of education, neither here nor 
ningofthe 19th cen- j n England, was regarded as a duly 

of the government; on the contrary, 
the safety of the Indian Empire was thought to depend 

1 Smith, Life of William Carey, (New reprint, 1912), p. 274; Eustace 
Carey, Memoirs of William Carey, pp. 406-7. 


upon keeping the people immersed in ignorance. It was 
not until Wellesley's time that more liberal ideas began 
to gain ground. Thus the history of education in 
this early period, as we shall see, consisted chiefly 
of the educational efforts of private individuals who had set 
up schools for instruction in the rudiments of learning. 
Such small isolated attempts are obviously by their very 
nature bound to be transitory ; and such private schools 
could not surely be expected to answer the larger purpose 
of national education. Such humble efforts date so far 
back as 1747 * ; but the desire of prospering in commercial 
enterprise under the new condition of things served as a 
great incentive to English education, as Persian education, 
now declining, had been eagerly sought for under the 
Mohammedan administration. In 1796, only a few Bengali 
children were taught by European school-masters : but 
gradually a set of Bengali teachers possessing a smatter- 
ing of English came into existence and opened schools. 
In those days, however, penmanship, quickness in calcu- 
lations, and a knowledge of accounts were considered 
greater accomplishments than an accurate study of English 
itself ; and even men like Ram-dulal De, we are told, 
never cared to make a better acquaintance with English 
than picking up a few broken phrases of colloquial speech ; 
for such knowledge was enough to make them serve as 
ship-sarkars, banians, and writers and ultimately win for 
them colossal fortunes. Thus although the study of 
English was sought for, no systematic course of instruction 
was given or required ; and for a time a low and broken 
English, or half -English and half- Bengali gibberish was 
spoken, of which humorous specimens may be found in 

1 Long, Hand-Book to Bengal Missions, pp. 441-451. But see Good 
Old Days, vol. i, p. 893 et seq. 


Raj-narayan Basil's delightful little sketch of that time. 
Sometimes, to eke out this half-diction, gesture-language 
was used, somewhat in the manner in which Gulliver spoke 
to the Lilliputians. 

The state of Bengali education, if not in a worse, was 

at least in no better plight. The 

State of Bengali oda- mass of Bengali manuscripts recently 
cation. . . . 

unearthed by patient investigations of 

modern scholars was mostly unknown, and the literature 
of the time, possessing hardly any printed books, consisted 
chiefly of a handful of works, Manasa, Dharmamangal, 
Mahabharat of Kasidas, Ramayan of Krttibas, Chandl 
of Kabi-kaiikan, Annadamangal of Bharat-chandra, and 
probably the songs of Ram-prasad. The only works which 
were read in the Path-salas, we learn on the authority of 
the biographer of Ram-kamal Sen 1 , were GurudaksinS 
and the rules of arithmetic by Subharikar. There were 
neither good schools nor were there proper elementary text- 
books for purposes of instruction ; and even a decade later, 
this was one of the initial difficulties which the School 
Society felt in carrying out its worthy object of Bengali 
education. Such was the state of Bengali learning at this 
time that we learn from a writer in the Friend of India 2 
" If they can lorite at all, each character, to say nothing 
of orthography, is made in so irregular and indistinct a man- 
ner, that comparatively few of them could read what is 
written by another : and some of them can scarcely wade 
through that has been written by themselves, after any 
lapse of time. If they have learnt to read, they can 

' Pearychand Mitra, Life of RatnTcomul Sen (1880), p. 7. 

3 vol. ii, p.392, quoted in Cal Rev. vol. xiii, 1850. p. 132. See also 
Quarterly Friend of India, vol. iv. p. 152. This remark is confirmed by 
what Forster says in the Introduction to his Vocabulary with regard 
to the uncertainty of Bengali spelling and Bengali script. 


seldom read five word^ together, without stopping to make 
out the syllables, and often scarcely two, even when the 
writing is legible. The case is precisely the same with 
the knowledge of figures." These observations, however, 
coming, as they do' perhaps, from a missionary, whose 
personal knowledge of the country and its inhabitants 
might not perhaps have extended beyond narrow limits, 
must be taken subject to this reservation that although 
this might be the picture of the general state of knowledge 
and culture at this time, yet there still lived in dignified 
isolation a few learned pundits in the remote villages and 
that the days of Sanscrit learning were not quite over. But 
even these Brahman s, with a few exceptions, were now, as 
we have stated, a fallen race ; and the exclusive genius of 
Brahmanism in its lowest phase not only barred the masses 
from the temple of knowledge but also made themselves 
neglect the vernacular as " Prakrit " dialect fit only for 
" demons and women." So far indeed had they carried 
their contempt for their mother-tongue that while they 
cultivated the learned language with assiduity, they, in 
many instances, prided themselves on writing the language 
of the people with inaccuracy and sometimes in an almost 
unintelligible semi-barbaric sanscritised style. We shall 
see some specimens of the latter kind even in the writings 
of the more accomplished Pundits of the Fort William 
College. It is natural to expect that these so-called 
pundits should strenuously discourage the use of the 
vernacular among the people and set their face against its 
improvement. The neglect of the vernaculars, especially 
Bengali, had reached such a stage that when Dr. Carey 
began to lecture at Fort William College, he could hardly 
muster a class ; aud the same learned doctor when he 
visited Nadlya, not many years ago the illustrious centre 
of Bengali language and literature, " he could not discover 


more thau 4-0 separate works, all In manuscripts, as the 
whole literature of 30,000,000 of people up to that 
time." 1 

The state of Learning in Bengal may not be unlit lv 
compared to that in England after the ravages of the 
Danes, of which King Alfred said " there was a time when 
people came to this island for instruction, now we must get 
it from abroad, if we want it". For, under this state of 
things, it is obvious that no impetus coming from within, 
if improvement is to be effected, it 

Improvement comes mugt eome rom outside> When we 
from Without. 

picture to ourselves adventurers, ne'er- 
do-wells, plain townsfolk and country-folk, peaceful home- 
stayers in the remote villages and commercial banians in 
the crowded cities, aud later on, well-to-do English gentle- 
men pushing their way up the river, laying out broad 
plantations and sultanising over the whole neighbourhood, 
we can hardly expect any manifestation of the literary 
genius in such an environment. With the mental and 
physical absorption incident upon social and political disorders 
in the country, with no metropolis to furnish the needed 
contact of mind with mind, with repressive material needs 
causing large drain upon one's physical energy, and above 
all, with the decay of artistic impulses and literary tradi- 
tions, it is no wonder that the nation produced little 
literature and developed little culture of importance. The 
impulse at length came from outside. We cannot but 
acknowledge with feelings of mingled shame and grateful- 
ness that the first and earliest efforts 

European workers, . t . ,... 

civilians and mis- at ameleorating our condition were 
sonaries, in the field. made by ft hand f u l f philanthropic 

Europeans, both civilians and missionaries, who in their 
1 Smith, op. cit., p. '202. 


liberal views moved far ahead of their age. In spite of the 

Cornwallis Code and the public policy 
Relation between the . 

European and the or exclusion, the ruler and the ruled 

KU^ 7 h began to live in greater amity 
and fellow-feeling. With the assump- 
tion of the responsibilities of political government, the 
ruling classes began to take greater interest in the lives 
of the people committed to their care. In vain do we seek 
in modern Bengal philanthropists of the type of Colvin, 
Palmer, Carey, Marshman, and David Hare, whose memory 
is still gratefully cherished by the Bengali-speaking race. l 
No doubt, the Company's servants hitherto had never re- 
garded India as their home but they had been always 
sojourners in a far country whose only ambition was to obtain 
riches as soon as possible and return home as gentlemen of 
leisure. This was one of the underlying causes of the 
constant disputes between the Company and its self-seeking 
agents ; and it is no wonder that throughout the 18th century 
constant complaints of corruption, peculation, and general 
dishonesty of the agents are to be found in the Letter- 
Books of the Company. But with stability of British rule, 
when commercialism was declining as a dominating; factor 
in the Company's policy, and with the realisation of greater 
administrative responsibility, this order of things was 
gradually changing. Two obvious reasons naturally 
strengthened the ties which bound these foreigners to this 
couutry. The first is that in those days of weary and 
perilous voyage round the Cape, men who came out to 
India and had a taste for the easy going (sometimes reek- 
less) life of pleasure and profit in the tropics, had no mind 
to return home very soon ; while in the next place, the 

1 The couplet goes thus (quoted in Raj-narayan Basu's Ehal OSekal); 


number of Europeans who lived here was very small and 
they consisted mostly of officials ; for not only was the 
climate unsuitable to Europeans generally 1 but the policy 
of the government also regarded the introduction of free- 
trade and Europeans to be dangerous to the safety of the 
newly acquired empire. But whatever might be the reason, 
there is no gainsaying the fact that most of these 
Europeans, who had lived here for a long time, had a genuine 
affection for the country, and some of them went so far as 
to adopt the manners and customs and even the dress of 
the Bengali population. Enjoying the hooka, whose "long 
ornamental snake coiled round and round the rails of the 
chair" was one of the customs, among others, immortalised 
by Thackeray, which was long fashionable 2 with these 
official and non-official 'Nabobs' ; and it would surprise 
many a modern reader to learn that it even fascinated the 
ladies, on whose part "it was considered a high compliment 
to show a preference for a gentleman by tasting his hooka" . 
Besides this affection of the early European settlers 
for their land of adoption, which 

Study of Bengali by pr0 mpted them to express themselves 
European settlers. * * , 

occasionally in its language, there 

were other purely political and utilitarian grounds which 

1 Cf. Sir Philip Francis's impressions of his residence in this country. 
Macaulay, writing after 00 years with the experience of a much 
improved country, speaks almost in the same strain in his characteris- 
tically sweeping way. 

a A picture of this custom and manner of life is preserved for us in 
the pages of the immortal Alaler Qharer Dulal. We read in Carey's 
Dialogues (3rd Ed. 1818, p. 3) that one of the indispensably necessary 
servant of the Englishman's household was a hooknbardar or a man to 
prepare his hooka. Stavorinus (vol. i, 345) also relates how on the 
occasion of his visit to Governor Cartier at Calcutta, he was treated 
with the hooka at an orientally sumptuous banquet given in his honour. 
See also Busteed, op. cit. p. 167; Good Old Days, vol. i. 63. 


induced them to the study and encouragement of the 
vernacular. Time was coming when Bengali should, both 
officially as well as popularly, be the recognised vernacular; 
and both Halhed and Foreter, the two earliest important 
European writers in Bengali, rightly insist at some 
length upon the absurdity and inconvenience of continuing 
Persian as the language of the Court 

Its political and an( j ^ e ma rket-place and advocate 

utilitarian ground. # L 

more wide-spread and general use of 
Bengali in its place. Exigencies of administration which 
had made it almost obligatory for the governors to learn the 
language of the governed hastened this movement towards 
the neglected vernacular. The missionaries, on the other 
hand, found out early that if they were to reach the 
people directly they must first learn their language and gain 
a thorough knowledge of their modes of thinking and feel- 
ling. Systematic mission-work always presupposed a 
thorough training in their language. All these and other 
reasons first impelled the early European settlers to take 
to a systematic study of the neglected vernacular. When 
therefore with the disappearance of the old Bengali 
"writers, Bengali literature had been sent adrift to shift 
for itself as best as it could, it was taken up and fostered 
by strangers hailing from distant lands whom fortunately 
political, personal, or utilitarian reasons, if not always the 
love of the language or the literature itself, first urged to 
its elaborate study under entirely new conditions. 

This brief and necessarily incomplete picture of the 

general state of this country from 1760 to 1800 will, to 

some extent, exhibit the new 

Concluding remarks conditions under which modern 

on the significance of 

the general history of Bengali literature first came into 

the toe to it, literary ^.^ The j nstability and pertm , 

bation, consequent upon these political 



changes as well as the almost entire disintegration of 
social solidarity will no doubt explain the external 
circumstances which retarded the growth of literature, 
but the literature itself since the days of Bharat-chandra 
had been showing inherent signs of exhaustion and decay, 
which was only hastened, instead of being checked, by 
political and social revolutions. The necessarily slow and 
laborious process of reconstruction which followed upon 
these vicissitudes absorbed men's mind for more than half a 
century from 1800. This will explain not only why we 
do not come across any great and important writer 
before we reach the age of Michael or Bankim but it will 
also exhibit very clearly how literary movements in Bengal 
had perforce been closely bound up with political, social, 
religious, and other movements in the first half of the 
19th century. Every great writer of this period of 
transition was of necessity a politician, a social reformer, 
and a religious enthusiast. We need hardly cite, for 
illustration, the long list of such important names 
as those of Ram-mohan Ray, Krsnamohan Bandyopadhyay, 
Aksay Datta, Debendranath Thakur, Isvar-chandra Bidya- 
sagar, Tek-chand, or Rajendralal Mitra. Even in the 
next generation Barikim-chandra could not keep himself 
entirely free from this universal tendency. Politics, social 
reform, and religious revival went hand in hand with literary 
creation. From 1825 to 1858, if not in the period 
actually under review in this volume, we shall have to 
extend our vision and include in our 
Literary movements consideration various aspects of natio- 

in the 19th century x 

closely bound up with nal history other than the one which 

political, social, and . , ,.. m . _ .. 

other movements. ls merely literary. To treat Bengali 

Literature in the 19th century as a 

series of isolated phenomenon is to give a wrong historical 

perspective, for here, as everywhere, literary thought and 


contemporary events are two inseparable aspects of national 
history. It is true that during the period between 1800 
and 1825, with which more specially the present enquiry 
is concerned, these tendencies did not come into such 
bold relief as in the period immediately following upon 
it, yet for the understanding of the general drift, the 
historian of literature must from the beginning keep in 
view the relation of literature to the political and social 
history of the time ; and this, apart from all reference to 
the theory of the insensible moulding of the literary mind 
and art by the considerations of race, time, or circumstance, 
will sufficiently make clear the necessity of devoting 
tedious pa^es to a general description of the state of this 
country at the outset of our literary history. 

The immediate effect of the political and social 
vicissitudes of the second half of the eighteenth century was 
depreciating in the extreme. The old Bengali literature, 
which had been subsiding gradually into decrepitude 
and decay, practically disappeared. The Kabiwalas, the 
few isolated writers in the old style, the authors of 
Puihckali, and the host of inferior imitators of Bharat- 
chandra had no doubt kept up the continuity of literary 
history and maintained, even with 
Absence of literary declining powers, the ancient trend 

how to be explained. an a ge not conspicuous for the 
appreciation of high ideas nor for 
any great enthusiasm for literary ventures. The decadence, 
inspite of these belated efforts of an inferior, if not an 
insignificant, band of writers, was rapidly hastened and 
the necessity of an external stimulus, which alone could 
have given a new lease of life to the declining literature, 
was urgently felt. Such an external stimulus was not 
forthcoming until sometime had elapsed and tranquillity 


had been attained, until the rich and plentiful literature 

of the West, which under the peculiar circumstances was 

alone capableof furnishing the needed impetus, had been made 

accessible to the literary men of Bengal. In the meantime, 

the alien rulers of Bengal, brought up in the habits of 

unchecked power and in the ignorance and passion of an 

adventurous life, cared little for culture or literature. 

The general people of the country, among whom literary 

traditions and aspirations had been all but extinct or 

had not found scope for free play, were apathetic to 

literary culture and devoted their attentions, in this 

troublesome time, to the more urgent and engrossing 

material necessities of life. The first 

Necessity of a re. gtep therefore, that had to be taken, 
generation of the * 

general intellectual before literary venture could be 

life in the country ., , , ,., 

before a renewal of possible, was towards diffusion Of 

literature could be knowledge, spread of education, and 
made possible. . 

promotion of literary tendencies. 

The first half of the 19th century, therefore, was entirely 

taken up in the realisation of these objects. It was 

necessary to prepare text-books, to translate standard works 

from foreign languages, to reprint older classics from 

inaccessible manuscripts, and in this way generally to 

furnish a leaven for elevating the decaying intellectual 

life of the country. This was the work chiefly of the 

foreign writers in Bengali and their colleagues, the 

Pundits of the Fort Willi ;m College, 

Importance of the wno were pioneers in various depart- 

work of the European r x 

writers in this respect, ments of vernacular writing and who 

wrote, not with any personal literary 

ambition but with the more modest yet useful object of 

promoting general education. To their efforts, therefore, 

we chiefly owe, in a very praotionl sense, if not the 

regeneration of our literature, at least the regeneration of 


intellectual activities in the country. It is not in the 
least degree correct to say, as it has been often enthusiasti- 
cally said, that it is the missionary, especially Dr. Carey, 
who created modern Bengali Literature. The creation of 
modern literary Bengali covers a period of more than half 
a century from Carey's time and literary style, in the 
strict sense of the term, was not attained until a 
generation later when a band of youthful Bengali writers 
had come into the field, equipped in all the wealth of the 
new knowledge. It is true, indeed, 
Impetus given to the t h at fo e m i ss j naries gave an impetus 

spread of education x 

and general culture. to vernacular writing when it was 

generally neglected. But at the 

same time it must be borne in mind that we cannot fasten 

the parentage of modern Bengali upon the missionaries 

only, much less upon Dr. Carey alone, and that literature 

was never the sole object of the European writers but 

education or evangelisation. If their work fostered 

literature, it was not due to any definite intention on their 

part to do so, but it was an incidental result of what they 

had done for the revival of education in Bengal. A national 

literature, whether ancient or modern, is the outcome of a 

long process of development and even Carey himself 

had realised very early that, in spite of the efforts of the 

foreigners, the best way of building up such a literature 

would be inducing the children of the soil themselves to 

take to earnest literary work. The missionary, even if he is 

a talented man like Carey, did hardly produce anything 

strictly deserving the name of literature. The importance 

of the missionary-work in Bengali does not lie in this ; 

the literature of to-day is work not of Carey, Halhed, or 

Forster but of the people of the soil, of Mrtyunjay, of 

Ram-mohan, of Barikim-chandra, of Michael Madhusudan. 

The missionaries, however, did a great work in the first 


quarter of the nineteenth century in supplying the needed 
impetus to education by founding schools, writing 
elementary school-books, and diffusing knowledge through 
the medium of Bengali all which however had a more 
wide and far-reaching effect than what they were actually 
intended to produce. 

We may resent this foreign intrusion at the outset of 
our history but under the circumstances and in the 
environment such as they were, it could not have been 
otherwise. No doubt, the hour had come for such a 
regeneration and reconstruction. Had 
Foreign intrusion there been no foreign workers in the 

Tate* t^SKl *. * rk, l"r delayed, 
its good effects. would not certainly have remained in 

abeyance. But the missionaries were 
the first to take up the work in right earnest, and, in this 
respect, the importance of these early half-forgotten 
foreign writers can never be exaggerated. Of 
course, as in all early periods of literary history, the 
work done here chiefly consisted of translation and 
adaptation; yet it must be admitted that there is hardly 
any department of useful knowledge which these European 
writers did not touch. It is true that they could not 
adorn whatever they touched ; but when we consider the 
large number of workers in the field Carey, Marshnmn, 
Ward, Haughton, Yates, Morton, Pearson, Mack, Pearce, 
Miller, Harley, May, Stewart, to mention at random a 
few of the more well-known their earnest philanthropic 
zeal, their unflagging diligence, the extraordinary variety, 
extent and influence of their writings, we cannot surely 
speak lightly of these pioneer writers. 

It is easier to disclaim foreign influence and talk of 
independence than actually to attain it. The literary 
history of Bengal in the 19th century is really the history 


of the influence of European ideas on Bengali thought. 

We can indeed dismiss, without much 

Contact with the serious loss, the early European writers, 

we e stn' d ide.r C6 o ' who had certainly their own ulterior 

modern literature. objects in their assiduous study 

of the vernacular and whose writings, 
considered as literature, possess little or no intrinsic merit. 
But we cannot dismiss so easily those immaterial 
immigrants, known as influences, which came in with the 
first European settler in the land aud brought on by degrees 
a conflict and a revolution in our ideas and modes of 
life. When necessity had brought the East and the West 
side by side, it would be idle to quote Kipling's famous 
dictum of the unchanging East or assert ourselves 

independent of all contact or influence 
What the European of western ideas. The pioneer efforts 

writers did for the ,1 i jv i_ i 

spread and acceptance of the missionary and the school- 
of these ideas. master for diffusing knowledge and 

culture through the medium of 
Bengali had surely a more wide-reaching effect than that 
of giving temporary impetus to dormant intellectual or 
literary activities; for the literature which had been brought 
into being through the influence of western ideas was only 
one effect of a vaster revolution in thought, manners, and 
religion which had taken place in this country through our 
contact with the West. It is out of this conflict of the 
eastern with the western ideals that our modern literature 
has grown ; and the rude early efforts of the missionary and 
the school-master, by propagating western ideas, had paved 
the way for this peculiar development of culture and 
literature in Bengal. It is with the missionary and the 
school-master, therefore, that we must begin our study of 
the history of this national progress as reflected through 
the vernacular literature. It is they who have laid the 


foundations upon which the vast fabiic of present-day 
literature is based, and every historical survey must equally 
embrace and define the place of the pioneer who did the 
spade-work as well as that of the mature litterateur who 
wins the laurel-wreath of later glories. 



It is not before the firm establishment of the British 

rule in Bengal, in the beginning of the 19th century, that 

the early European settlers came in touch with Bengali 

language and literature. Before this, there is no trace of 

systematic effort in this direction, although several works 

have been discovered which belong to a period earlier 

than 1800. Of these works, it is not easy, however, to 

determine with certainty what Anglo-Bengali writing can 

claim the distinction of being the first publication by a 

European writer. Grierson in two papers in the Journal and 

Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of 

vlTlU^iT hy Bengal, 1 holds that the so-called 
European writers. o 

Bengali rendering of the Lord's Prayer 
in Chamberlayne's Sylloge, published in 1715, is perhaps 
the earliest extant attempt at Bengali composition by a 
European writer. This Sylloge is a collection of translations 
of the Lord's Prayer into various languages, prepared by 
John Chamberlayne and David Wilkins. This work actually 
contains a plate purporting to represent 
p Early isolated attem- ft translation in Bengali which is head- 
ed "Bengalica." But it has been shown 

1 Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. xlii, 1893, p. 42ff. and 
Proceedings of the same Society, 1895, p. 89. The plate is given in the 
Proceedings. See also Grierson, Linguistic Survey, vol. v, pt. i, p. 23. 
The characters are hardly Bengali. 


that this unintelligible jargon is not Bengali at all : and 
Wilkin s himself confesses in the pre- 

fon rf"L ofd's g Pra7or faCe to that WOrk that he had been 

in Chamberlayne's unable to obtain a Bengali rendering: 


(which language he thought to be 
all but extinct !) but that be had written a Malay version 
in the so-called Bengali character. Grierson also mentions 1 
that in the Orientalisch-nnd-occidentalischer Sprachmeisltr 
compiled by Joliann Friedrich Fritz (Leipzig, 1748); 
the Bengali alphabet given as a specimen is said to have 
been taken from the Anrcnck Szeb. apparently a life of 
a Aurangzeb, by Georg Jacob Kehr. 
But of this latter book no trace 

Leaving aside these, isolated and tentative efforts, 

real attempt at sustained Bengali composition did not 

begin till the time when the Portuguese, before the 

English, had begun to establish themselves in Bengal, 

The Portuguese, by 1530, had settled 

carried on an extensive trade in the 
chief sea-ports. The number of people claiming themselves 
to be of Portuguese descent was in the 17th century very 
large and Portuguese language had established itself as t he 
Zing ua franca of the country. 2 Among these Portuguese 
adventurers and pi rates, however, we can never expect any 
serious attempt at literary composition : but the Portuguese 
missionaries seem to have done some work in this direction. 
Bernier, 8 about 1660. speaks of "Portugal fathers and 
missionaries" in Bengal and gays that in Bengal there are 

1 Grierson, Linguistic Survey, lor. n't. 

" The Portuguese language lias bequeathed a largo number of 
expressions to the vernacular tongue. 
3 Travels, p. 27. 


to be found not less than eight or nine thoujpnd families 

of "Franguis, Portugals". Indeed there is enough evidence 

to show that Roman Catholic Mission, some of Portuguese 

origin, had at this time its centre in 

Roman Catholic and many parts of Bengal and that it had 

Portuguese Missiona- . i - ., ,. ., ^ , 

r i eBt extended its activity from Balasore 

and Hugli to Chittagong and 
Dacca. 1 From the records left by these missionaries 
it seems that these Catholic missionaries, like their 
Protestant or Dissenting successors in the next century, 
did not neglect to mix with the people of Bengal and 
learn their language. In 1683, Father Marcos Antonio 
Satucci S.J., the superior of the Mission among these 
Bengali converts between 1679 and 1684 writes thus: 
"The fathers have not failed in their 

Benga 1 Ii lati0n " WOrk '" dat y : the ? have learned tbe language 
well, have composed vocabularies, a 
grammar, a c uifessionary and prayers: they have 
translated the Christian doctrine etc., nothing of which 
existed till now." 2 Hosten mentions another early 
allusion to translational work undertaken in Bengal in a 
letter of Francis Fernandez, dated Siripur, a town of 
"Bengalla" 3 January 17, 1599, where it is stated that 

1 Father Hosten S. J. of the St. Xavier's College, Calcutta, has been 
giving interesting accounts of these missions and missionaries in the 
Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Feb. 1911) and Bengal Past 
and Present. 

2 Chronitsia de Tissuary, Goa. vol. ii, 1867, p. 12, quoted by Hosten 
in Bengal Past and Present, vol. ix, pt. i. This Church still exists. It 
was twice burnt down and rebuilt. Its records, lam given to under- 
stand, have all perished in the fire. 

3 Siripur, we learn from an article (Portuguese in India) in Cal. 
Rev. vol. v., 1846, is situated 18 miles south of Sonergang in Dacca 
and was in the 16th century an extensive Portuguese settlement. 
It is modern Sripur. See Jatindramohan Ray, Dhahar Itihasa vol. i. 
p. 839. 4 


Fernandez composed a small treatise explaining summarily 
the points of the Christian religion and a small catechism 
in the form of a dialogue. Father Dominic De Souza 
translated both these works into the "Bengalla" tongue. 1 
In Lettres Edifiantes el Curieuses, 2 Father Barbier, as early 
as 1723, mentions that he prepared a little catechism in 
Bengali. From these and other references, it is not 
hazardous to conclude that these Portuguese missionaries, 
like Carey and Marshman of a later age, though on a 
modest scale, must have created and left behind them an 
interesting body of Portuguese-Bengali literature. Of this 
Portuguese-Bengali literature, little trace remains. Of 
the few extant writings of a distinctly Portuguese origin, 
three works, all purported to be written or edited by 
Manoel da Assumpc,a6, Rector of Missio de Santa Nicolao 
de Tolentino deserve mention. 

All these works are supposed to have been written at 
Nagori, Bhawal, near Dacca. It has already been men- 
tioned that the Portuguese missionaries had a centre at 
Dacca, where the existence of a church has been mentioned 
by Pere Barbier in the Lettres Edifiantes. Tavernier, 

1 Bengal Past and Present, July to December, 1910, p. 220, quoting 
Extrait de Lettres du P. Nicolas Pimenta... Anvers, Trognese, 1601. 
Nicholas Pimenta was a Jesuit missionary of Goa (Visiteur de la 
Compngnie de Jesus en l'lnde Tun 1598). He sent these two mis- 
sionaries, Francois Fernandez and Dominic (or Dominique) Ek 
Bengal, from whose letters to Pimenta we get some account of 
contemporary Bengal and the Portuguese Missions at Siripur Mid 
elsewhere. See Peirre Du Jarric, Histoire des Indes Orietitalrs 1610, 
chap xxix ; also xxx to xxxiii. Also see Nicalao Pimenta, Relatto 
Hi$torica de rebus in India Orientali. Anno. MDCI. See Beveridge, 
Bakarijanj, p. 29 and other references. 

* Lettre de Pere Barbier, Missionaire de la Compagnie de 
Jesus, La Mission de Carnate, January 15, 1723, in Lettres Edifiantes 
et Curieuses. Nouvelle Ed. Memoires de Indes. tome xiii, 1781, 
p. 278. 


about 1620, states that Dacca has a "church of the 

Augustinians, a very stately pile;" 1 
at Dacca U6S( and Hosten, in his papers on Roman 

Catholic Missions and Missionaries, 
gives interesting accounts, from original records, of this 
Missio de S. Nicolao Tolentino, near Bhawal, Dacca. 2 

Manoel da Assumpsao, a native of Evora and an 

Augustinian friar of the Congregacao 
^Manoel da Assomp- da India Oriental, was the Rector 

of this Mission. Of his life and 
labours, nothing definite is known : but he seems to have 

been a zealous missionary and com- 

Ben^ali tW "^ ^ P osed tw0 l ooks and edited in 

Beugali with the object of affording 
facilities to the missionaries in their Bengali discussions 
with the "Bramenes and Gentoos." 8 

Of these three works, his earliest composition 
seems to have been what Father Thirso Lopes, in 
his note to Hostess paper, 4 calls an Abridgment 
of the Mysteries of Faith (Compendio dos misterios 
da fee, ordenado em lingua Bengalla pelo P. Fr. 

1 Tavernier's Travels, ed. Ball, London, 1889, vol. i., p. 128. 

1 References given ante. The other centres of these Augustinian 
inissionaries in Bengal was the Convent of N. Senhora do Roeario of 
Ugalim (Hngli) in Bengala. 

3 Father Hosten states (Bengal Past and Present, vol. ix,pt. i. p. 42) 
that he has been informed that MSS of these works are now in the 
Public Library of Evora. 

* Quoted in note (4) above. Father Lopes's authorities, in 
addition to Barbosa Machado and Ossinger, are ; Catalogo dos Manns- 
criptos da Bibliotheca Publica Eborense ordenado pelo Bibliothecario 
Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara, t. i p. 345; Silva, 
Diccionario Bibliographico Portuguez t. v. p. 367 ; Bonifacio Moral, 
Revista La Ciadad de Dios, t. 37, pp. 433-34. Unfortunately these books 
are not available here. 


Manuel da Assumpcao). A little worm-eaten and partly 

mutilated copy of this work 1 exists in the Library of 

the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The running title is: 

Orepar Xawlrer Orlhjbhed or Cathe- 

^ e z x tz"::t *'* J**** <**** The 

da Doutrina Chnstad copy in the Asiatic Society is want- 
ing in the title-page ; but an interest- 
ing certificate of publication in Portuguese is inserted 
at the beginning from which we learn that it was com- 
pleted on August 28, 1734. It is dated from a 
place named Ba{ )1, 2 which appear? to be Bhawal 
from a reference at page 2 of the book itself, where 
Nagori also is mentioned. It might have been, as Father 
Lopes suggests on the authority of Barbosa Machado, 3 
printed at Lisbon by Francisco da Silva (Sylva) in 1743 : 
but unfortunately the loss of the title-page deprives us of 
the most certain means of corroborating this suggestion. 4 

1 An account of this work on the basis of this copy wa9 read 
by me at the Bangiya Sahitya Parisat on Sept. 24, 1916 : the 
paper is published in the Patrikd (vol. 23, p. 179) of the same Society, 
which see for detailed information. 

2 The Preface, as we have it now, is in places worm-eaten. This 
is what can be deciphered : 

Certifico en Fr. Manoel da / Assumpcnd, Reitor da Mis(si)o/ de 
S. Nicolao Tolentino e, (ac)tor deste comper.dio ; (e)star o( ) / 
compendio tresladudo ao pe (da) / letra assiin o Bongalla como o/ (Po)- 
rtuguez: e certifioo mais ser es( ) Doutrina que os naturaes mais/ 
tendem, e entre todns a mais, (pu)rificada de erros, em fe de (pie/ esta 
Certidad, e se necessario/ a juro In Veiho 8acerdoti Ba (va)l. aos. 
28 de Agosto de 1734. Fr. Mnnoel da Assumpc.i... 

3 Bibliotheca Lusitana Historica Critica e Chronoloyica, t. iii, p. 183, 

col. ii. 

* Burnell (A Tentative List of Portuguese Boohs and Manuscripts 
1880) also gives 1743 and Lisbon as the date and place of publication. 
(s. v. Manoel da Assumpcao) his authotities being Barbosa-Machado 
and Ossinger (Bibliotheca Augu&tiniana, p. 84). Ottfoger gives the title 
aa : Cathecismus doctrinae Christianae per mod am dialogi. 


The book is composed in both Portuguese and Bengali, 
the former version appearing on the rectos and the latter 
on the versos of the pages. The whole is in Roman 
character (Bengali characters having been non-existent), 
the words being transliterated according to the rules of 
Portuguese pronunciation. This method of transliteration 
is not only curious but also noteworthy, being one of the 
earliest of its kind and having much value in the study 
of the phonetics of the Bengali language as it existed two 
centuries ago. 1 

The book attempts at an exhaustive explanation of 

the whole Christian doctrine in the form of a dialogue 

between a Guru and Xitrio (Sisya) or 

Contents and divi- -n i r\ i t_ j xu 

sion of the work. Preceptor and Disciple, based on the 

slight conceit of an imaginary travel 
to Bhawal. There are interspersed throughout short stories 
to illustrate moral principles. The contents of the work 
will be apparent from the following account of the division 
of the work and headnote of each chapter. The whole 
is divided into two books, entitled Putin I and II. 

Puiki I. (pp. 2-313). Xo(col...)oner ortho, ebong 
Prothoqhie prothoqhie buzhan. 

Tazel I. (pp. *2-18) Xidhi crucer orthobhed. (Sign 
of the Cross). 

II. (pp. 19-32sq) Pitar Paron ebong tahan ortho. 
(Our Father and explanation thereof). 

III. (pp. ? ante 49-76). This part is wanting in 
several images : not known at what page it 
begins and what its title is. The subject 
seems to be Hail Mary and Rosary. 

1 Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterji read a paper on this point at 
a meeting of the Sahitya Parisat, Sep. 24, 1916, which is published 
in the Patrika of the same Society, (1322, vol. 23, p. 197). 


IV. (pp. 77-136). Mani xottio Nirauzan, Axthar 
choudo bhed ebong tahandiguer ortho. 
(The Creed and Articles of Faith and 
explanation thereof). 
V. (pp. 137-244). Dos Agguia, ebong tahan- 
diguer ortho. (Ten Commandments and 
explanation thereof). 
VI. (pp. 245-272). Pans Agguia, ebong tahan- 
diguer ortho. (Five Commandments of 
the Church and explanation thereof). 
VII. (pp. 73-313). Xat Sacramentos, ebong 
tahandiguer ortho. (Seven Sacraments and 
explanation thereof). 
Pulhi II. (pp. 511-380) Poron xaxtro xocol, ar ze 
uchit zanite xorgue zaibar. (Explanation of the whole 
doctrine and what a Christian must know). 

Tazel I. (pp. 314-856). Axthar bhed bichar rotte 
coria xiqliibar xiqhaibar upae taribar. 
(Mysteries of the Faith). 
II. (pp. 356-380). Poron Xaxtro nirala. (Prayers 
of the doctrine). 1 

There are two songs in Puthi II: one at p. 318 headed 
"Cantiga sobre os mysterios de fe: orthobheder dhormo 
guit" (Song on the mysteries of Faith), and the other at 
p. 353 headed "Cantiga Ao Meniuo Jesus recem nacido : 
Baloq Jesuzer guit zormo xttane xoia" (Song on infant 
Jesus newly born). 

The book may be interesting as an early explanation 
of the Roman Catholic doctrine but its chief value, to 

1 The copy, as we have it, is probably incomplete : for p. 380 is not 
apparently the end of the book and some pages seem to have been lost 
there-after. The copy also wants the title-page, pp. 33-48, 166- 168, 
321-336, pp. 371-372 incl. and all after p. 380. 



an historian of Bengali literature, lies in its being the 
first important and sustained Bengali composition by a 
European author. l It gives us the earliest specimen of 
"Missionary Bengali", as it had existed about a century and 
a half before Carey, Marshman and their colleagues took 
the field; and its Bengali is certainly more homely and 
well-written than the stiff and groping language of 
Carey's Dharmapustak. One is tempted to quote speci- 
mens at greater length from this interesting work but 
space forbids quotation of more than one or two illustrative 
extracts. 2 

1 Father Gut ; rin, who brought out an edition of this work from 
Chandan-nagar in 1836, states in the Latin preface to that edition that 
the Portuguese portion only was written by Manoel, while the Bengali 
portion was the work of some Bengali Christian at Bhawal. But of 
this there is no evidence. Father Gue'rin's edition, a copy of which 
was lent to me by Father L. Wauters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 
Dharmatala, Calcutta, is interesting, though* its Bengali is certainly 
not so remarkable. It is published in Bengali characters and named 
<Pit3 *ttt3|3 ^(^C^f (not CSV). It is entirely re-written and remodelled 
and there is a Latin preface, Nearly two-thirds of the original is ex- 
punged as being apocryphal and objectionable while three new dialogues 
are added, also a list of solar and lunar eclipses calculated for Bengal 
from 1816 to 1904. The scope and contents of the work will be sufficiently 
explained by its title : Catechisme / suivi / de trois dialogues / et de la 
liste / des Eclipses de soleil et de lune / calculeea pour la Bangale a 
partir do 1836 jusqn'en 1904 inclusivement. / Nouvelle edition, revue et 
corrigee, f Tfa *ttC 3TH *1<N? / ^tfj? ^t?f K3U W **fafa ifeS >*. 

i**jc3ra ^tro **>a* jjfa *rcf* / ^ s*R 5 PRi / <*m ^^ Trrrsrl ewera 

fttft | fa^rUfa 41\ <8W*I Sllfa^i! \^tff^ ^ I / 1=1 >*** I It is 
interesting to note that Father Gue'rin himself was an assiduous student 
of Astronomy and published after his return to England a work on 
Indian Astronomy in 1847. 

2 For other specimens, see my paper in the Bangiya Sahitya 
Parked Putrikft. (1323, vol. 23, p. 179), 



Hail Man/. 

Prouam Maria / Crepae purnit ; / Tomate Tahacar 

assen : / Dhormi to mi / Xocol xtnr 

Specimens of its j quer moidh / Dhormo phot / Tomar 

language and style. . 

udore / Jesus. / Aid ha Maria / 
Poromexorer Mata / Xadho amora papir earon / Eqlione, 
ar / Amardiguer mirtur cale. / Amen Jesus. 

The second extract is a story illustrating the efficacy 
of the Cross in warding off the powers of evil : 

G'>r/c Boro Axchorzio cotha oobila: emot lire : ar ooho ; 
xidhi crux corile Bhuter cumoti ni dur zae? 

Xirio. Hoe: bhuter cumoti dur zae, ebong Bhute o 
polae. Ehi xonar proman xono. 

E(| rahoal merir assilo ; tahare Bhute bazi dia cohilo : t lli 
zodi amar nophor hoite chahix, ami tore oneq dhan dilam : 
Racolae cohilo; bhalo, tomar dax lipibo tomi amare dhon 
diba. Bhute cohilo, tabe amar golam hoile : tor uchit 
nohe dhormo ghare zaite; ebong xidhi Crux ar eodachitio 
coribi na, emot ze core xe amar golam ; ehi amar 
agguia, taha palon coribi; emot zodi na corix, tomare 
boutthbotth tarona dibam. Raqhoale cohilo : zaha agguia 
coro, taha coribo ; zodi emot na cori, tomar ze iccha, 
xei hoibeg. 

Oneq din obhaguia Raqhoale bhuter xacri corilo; taliar 
por eq din munixio bol cori a reqholaque dhoria dhormo 
ghore loia guelo. Dhormo ghore e(| Padri aesilen, xei 
boro xadhu : tini lo(| xocolere cohilt n : Tomara ra(|hoaler 
u pore xidhi Crux coro. Emot loq xocole corilo. Toqhon 
bl>ute boro cord coria raqhoalera oneq tarona dite 
laguilo. Eha deqhia Padre raqhoalqoe dhorilen, bhutrre 
tarona dite mana corilen. Tobe Bhute aro bex cord 
eoria Padrire cohilo ; Ehi munixio amar dax, amar 
agguia bhanguilo, tahare xaxtti dibar uchit : tahare 


eria deo : na : tomare o xaxtti clibam. Padri cohilen : tahare 
eria dibo na : am are zaha corite parix, taha coio. Tobe 
bhute emot cumontro corilo, ze Padrir muqh beoa hoilo. 
Eha deqhit loq xocole ghore polaia guelo. 

Toqhon Padri xidhi crux eorilen : ebong muqh xidha 
hoilo. Tahar par ar Crux eorilen raqhoaler upore ; ebono; 
Crux coria Bhute polaia guelo. Raqhoale o ealax hoilo, 
ealax hoia tahar xoeol oporad confessor eorilo ; Nirmol 
dhormo o bhocti rupe loilo, ebong punorbar pailo, ze crepa 
haraiassilo pap caria. 

The second important work of Manoel da Assumpcao 

which deserves mention as being perhaps the first grammar 

and dictionary in the Bengali language 

ijJnt^'n p 7 is entitled VocaMario em Idioma 

Idioma Bengallae Fortu 

guez . first Bengali Benqalla e Portuguez l dividido em 

grammar and diction- . 

ary, 1743. dins partes, published at Lisbon in 

1743. This book is not easily avail- 
able here but it is mentioned in the Catalogue of the 
British Museum, and Grierson, in Ins Linguistic Survey 2 
has given a short account of this notable work. In the 
first forty pages of the Focabulario, is given a compendium 
of Bengali grammar : the ~e>t of the book being divided 
into two parts, viz., vocabulary, Bengali-Portuguese, pp. 
47-306 and Portuguese- Bengali, pp. 307-577. Like the 
last mentioned work, Cat/iecismo, it is written throughout 
in Roman character, the words again being spelt according 
to the rules of Portuguese pronunciation. 

1 The full title is this : Vocalmlario em Idioma Bengalla e 
Portuguez, dividido em duas partes, dedicado ao Excellent e Rever. 
Senhor D. F. Miguel de Tavora, Arcebispo d' Evora do Concelho de 
sua Magestade Foy deligencia do Padre Fr. Manoel da Assumpacam 
Religioso Eremita de Santo Agostinho da Congregacao da India 
Oriental, Lisb.^a, 1743. A facsimile of this title-page is given in 
Bah^ala Samayik SShitya by Kedurnath Majumdar, vol. i. 1917- p. 17. 

4 vol. v. pt. i. p. 23. 


Besides these two original works, a third is also said 

to be associated with the name of Manoel. The existence 

of this book was first made known by Father Thirso 

Lopes of Valladolid, Spain, in his note contributed to 

Father Hosten's paper in the BevgaJ 

Tho note runs thus : " A Catechism 
of the Christian Doctrine in the form of a dialogue. It 
was printed in 8vo. at Lisbon in 1 743 by Francisco da 
Silva. The contents are : A discussion about the Law 
between a Christian Catholic Roman, and a Bramene or 
Master of the Gentoos. It shows in the Bengalla tongue 
the falsity of the Gentoo sect and the infallible truth of 
our holy Roman Catholic faith, in which alone is the way 
of salvation and the knowledge of God's true Law. 
Composed by the son of the King of Busna, Don Antonio, 1 
that great Christian Catechist, who converted so many 
Gentoos, it was translated into Portuguese by Father 
Frey Manoel da Assumpcao, a native of the city of Evora, 
and a member of the Indian Congregation of the Hermits 
of St. Augustine, actually Rector of the Bengalla Mission, 
his object being to facilitate to the Missionaries their dis- 
cussions in the said tongue with the Bramenes and 
Gentoos. It is a dialogue between the Roman Catholic 
and the Gentoo Bramene. Written in two columns, 
Bengala and Portuguese." 

* Ho&ten, in the Bengal Past and Present, loc. cit., gives an account 
of this semi-legendary figure from O Chronica de Tissuary, vol. ii. 
1867, pp. 57-58. In the year 1663, a son of the King of Busna was 
tak n prisoner by the Mogoa and led to Arracao", when one of the 
Fathers, Manoel do Rozario, ransomed him and converted him to Roman 
Catholic Christianity. After his conversion, he was called Don Antonio 
de Rozario, after St. Anthony who is said to have appeared to him 
in a dream. 


From the above account, it will be seen that although 
there is evidence enough to show that the Roman Catholic 
missionaries at one time were very active in this country, 
especially in Eastern Bengal, yet not much trace is left of 
their direct or indirect connexion with the language or 
literature of this country. Indeed, before Carey, mission- 
aries confining themselves, as they did, exclusively to their 
proselytising work never seriously took either to educating 
the people of this country or writing in their language. 

There was as yet no Protestant 
Protestant Mission- * t> i mi i n 

aries before Carey. Mission to Bengal. The only well- 

known missionary, before Carey, who 
visited this country was Kiernander, of whom we shall 
have occasion to speak later on; but Kiernander, himself 
ignorant of the language, is in no way connected with our 
present enquiry. Of Kiernander's asso- 
Bento da Silvestre, c iates, however, there was one Bento de 

(1728-I786);0atechisra ' ' 

and Book of Common Silvestre {alias de Souza), who seems 

Prayer, in Bengali. , r, ,. ^ , , . 

J to have written a Bengali Catechism 

and a Book of Common Prayer in Bengali. Bento is said 
to have been born in Goa about 1728 ! of European paren- 
tage and his sojourn in Bengal extended from thirteen 2 
to fifteen 3 yeirs spent mostly at Calcutta and Bandel. 
He was for many years an Augustioian friar but he 
abjured the Pope before Kiernander on February 7, 
1766, 4 whereupon he was appointed Catechist of the 
Mission at 20 a year and is reputed to have been a 

1 Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, Cal. 1850, vol. ii, p. 182. 
s Hyde, Parochial Annals of Bengal Cal. 1901. p. 155. 

Carey, op. cit. p. 182. 

* Carey, op. cit. gives different dates : at p. 182, vol. ii, the date 
given is July, 1769: while in the same volume at p. 200, the date is 
1768. The story of his public abjurgation of Roman Catholic faith is 
given in vol ii. at p. 182. 


zealous preacher in Portuguese and to have translated 
large portions of the Book of Common Prayer and the 
Catechism into Bengali, entitled probably PrahnottarOi 
mala and Prarlkanamala. His books are said to have been 
published by the Society for the promotion of Christian 
Knowledge and printed in London. t Bento knew French, 
Portuguese, Bengali, and Hindusthani. He probably 
died in 1780 at the age of fifty eight, Tin- date of publi- 
cation of his books is unknown. Nagendra Nath Basa 
gives 1765 as thedite of publication of Prahnottaramala ; - 
but this seems to be hardly correct, for Bento must 
have composed this work, after he was appointed Cate- 
chist, i.e. after 1766 (according to Hyde) or after 1768-69 
(according to Carey). 

So far as we can trace, these are the earliest names on 
the list of foreign benefactors to the Vernacular Literature 
of Bengal. But we do not find any serious and definitely 
important achievement in the field, until we come to the 
illustrious name of Nathaniel Brassey Halhed. 3 

Since 1772 the East India Company had actually 
taken upon itself the entire responsibilities of administra- 
tion j and this made it almost a necessity for its civil 
servants to study the vernacular of the country which they 
had now begun to govern. 4 About this time, Halhed, 

1 For further details, see my paper in the Prafibha (Dacca), High, 
1322 B.S. References to Bento will he found in Came, Lives of 
Eminent Missionary* (London, 1833) in the article on Kiemander ; also 
iee John Zachariah Kiemander (Hap. Miss. Press, Cal. 1877). 

9 Bisvacosa. Art.. Bengali Language and Literature. 

a The name is not Nathaniel Prassy Halhed, as given in Dineah 
Chandra Sen, History of Bengali Language and Literature, CalcuUa. 
1911, pp. 15, 84-8, 849. 

* See .he elahorate arguments set forth in the Preface (p. i-xxv) 
to Halhed'* Grammar, in favour of the study of the Bengali language 
hy Enropeans. See also Introduction to Forster's Vocabulary. 


an able scholar, who had already achieved some literary 
reputation and had been a friend of 

^dhtdmsi SSoT 7 Sneridan V came oafc t0 1Jen g al as 

a civilian and applied himself wich 
great assiduity lo the study of the Bengali language. 
He is said t) have attained so much proficiency in the 
language, both in its colloquial and literary aspects, that 
he had be m known to disguise himself in native dress 
and pass as a Bengali in an assembly of Bengalis. 8 

Nathaniel Brassey Halhed wis born on May 25, L751, 
at Westminster. His father, William Halhed, descended 
from an old Oxfordshire family, was for eighteen years a 
Director of the Bank of England. Young Halhed was 

1 " We also learn that Nathaniel Brassey Halhed Esq. either 
himself or in collaboration with Richard Brinsley Sheridan translated 
the Epistles of Aristametus into English metre in 1771 " (Gentleman's 
Magazine, lxxxii. pt. 2, 1812. p. 132) 

2 Rev. James Long, A Descriptive Catalogue of Bengali Books, 1855, 
p. 20; Calcutta Review, 1850, p. 134 : Good Old Days of Hon'ble Company 
vol. i, p. 235. But this story of Halhed's proficiency in Bengali seems 
to be doubtful : in the Friend of India (Aug. 1838) we read this, not 
of him, but of his nephew Nathaniel John Halhed (1787-1838), a Judge 
of the DewanT ' Adalat. John Halhed, we are informed, had such 
command over the language that he is said to have joined a jatra party 
at Burdwan and passed there for a Bengali. See also R. G. Sanyal, 
Reminiscences and Anecdotes, vol. ii, p. 9. John Halhed, in Sanyal's 
work as well as in the Bengal Obituary (p. 204) is said to have been 
a" son of the grammarian Halhed, which is clearly a mistake: for, N. B. 
Halhed the grammarian who married (before 1784) Helena Rebaut, 
a daughter of the Dutch Governor of Chinsura, died without any issue. 
See Itnpey's Memoirs by his son, p. 360 footnote. Also Dictionary 
of National Biography, Art. Halhed. That Halhed possessed a high 
degree of proficiency in the language and brought the scientific study 
of Bengali within easy reach is undoubted and justifies Colebrooke's 
high eulogy (Asiatic Researches, vol. vii, 1799, p, 224): and to. this is 
due the attribution of all sorts of apocryphal stories to his credit. For 
Nathaniel John Halhed, see Ramchunder Doss, General Register of Hon. 
E. I. Co.'s Civil Servants on the Bengal Establishment. Cal. 1844, p. 155. 


educated at Harrow under Simmer, and there began his 
friendship with Richard Brinsley Sheridan, in conjunction 
with whom he subsequently produced a verse-translation of 
Aristaenetus. l In 1 708 he passed on to Christ Church, 
Oxford 2 where he made the acquaintance of William 
(afterwards Sir William) Jones, also a Harrow boy, who led 
him to study some of the Oriental languages. Having 
been jilted by Miss Linley in favoui of Sheridan, lie left 
Unhand, having obtained a writership in the E. I. Com- 
pany's Service. In India he attracted the notice of 
\\ arren Hastings at whose suggestion he translated what is 
known as the Gentoo Code between 1774-6 (First Edition 
1776; Second Edition 1777). He returned to England in 
1785 and the subsequent history of his life has little 
attraction for us. He was returned to Parliament in 
1/91 for Symington, Hampshire, which he represented till 
1795. From this time he became associated with the 
teachings of the fanatic prophet Richard Brothers, attracted 
possibly by their resemblance to oriental mysticism with 
which he was familiar. In 1809 he obtained an appoint- 
ment in the East India House. He died in London, 
February 18, 18-30, and was buried at Petersham, Surrey. :; 

1 See Qen'leman'b Magazine, 1812, pt. 2, p. 132 ; alo Literary 
Anecdotes of the 18th Century, p. 124-5. 

* Almnni 0xonitn$e8i Matrie. July 18, 1768, aged 17. 

3 For further particulars, see Asiatic Journal, 1830, pp. 165-71 ; The 
World, Jane 18, 1790; Teignmoath, Memoirs of Sir William Jonet, 
180i, pp. 73, 181 and other references; Qentl*ntan'$ Magtuin*, 1880 
(pt. i. pp. 471-8), 1808 (pt. ii, p. 922), 1812 (p. 132); Annual i:. 
Moore, Memoirs of Sheridan, 1SL'5; lm)>ey's Memoirs |>y his son, 
pp. 863 el sc(| ; Allibone, Dictionary of British and American Authors, 
1896, vol. i ; Biographical Dictionary <>f Living Authors, 1816; Dictionary 
of National Biogtaphy (in two hist mentioned works a lisi of Halhed'i 
works is given) ; Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, vol. ii, p. 481. 


In 1778 1 Halhed compiled and printed in English a 
Grammar of the Bengal Language, 2 

Grammar of the Bin- 0,ie f the earliest and for 60036 time 

gal Language, 1778. the best introduction to the sc.entific 

study of the language. 3 At this 

time we had no printing press possessing a set of Bengali 

punches, and the art of printing unknown, we had hardly 
a iv printed literature before this 

History of its printing date> The history of the printing of 

by Sir Charles Wilkins. < J \ 

this work, which was done in a press 
at '* Hoogly in Bengal" marks an era in the 
history oC Bengali literature. It is chiefly to the 
exertions of the ever memorable Caxton of Bengal, 
Charles (afterwards Sir Charles) Wilkins, a Bengal 
Civilian and oriental scholar, that we are indebted for 
the beautiful types which he had himself prepared and in 
which art he had instructed the Bengali mechanics, thus in- 
troducing, as he did, the art of printing into this country. 
It is impossible to exaggerate the services thus rendered 
by this philanthropic Englishman, not only to the cause 
of vernacular literature but also to the general culture of 

1 The date is not 1784 as given in the Bengal Obituary, p. 337. 
Smith, Life of Carey, repeats the mistake (New Ed. 1912, p. 159). 

A Grammar of the Bengal Language by Nathaniel Bmssey 
Halhed. Printed at Hoogly in Bengal. MDCCLXXV1II (1778). 
The book is very scarce but copies may be found in the Calcutta 
Imperial Library, Bangiya Sahitya Parisjat Library and Srirampur 
College Library. 

* The first Bengali grammar and dictionary, so far as it can be 
traced, was, as we have seen, in Portuguese. A curious request 
appears in the Calcutta Gazette, April 23, 1789, beseeching "any 
gentleman" to undertake for public benefit the composition of a 
Bengali Grammar (Seton-Karr, Selections from Cal. Gazette, ii. 497). 
It seems that by that time Halhed's Grammar had already become 
scarce and the necessity for a, fresh grammar was keenly felt. 



the people, for it is undoubted that without tin's useful 
art of printing the general education of the people under 
modern conditions is almost impossible. 

Charles Wilkins was born at Frome, Somerset, in 1750, 

son of "Walter Wilkins of that town. 

Sir rhnries Wilkins. H ^ came to Bengal in 1770 in the 

1750-J836. service of the East India Company 

as a writer and became superintendent 
of the Company's Factories at Maldah. "About 1778", he 
writes, his "curiosity was excited by the example of his 
friend Halhed" to commence the study of Sanscrit and 
Persian ; the vernaculars he had previously studied. He 
left India for health in 1786 and re-entered the service 
of the Company in 1800 as Librarian and Custodian 
of Oriental Manuscripts, taken at the Fall of 
Seringapatam and elsewhere. He was also attached to 
the Haileybury College from its foundation in 1805. 
While in India he co-operated with Sir William Jones in 
the foundation of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and was- 
a valuable contributor to the earlier volumes of the 
Asiatic Researches. He was an F. R. S. (1788) ; a 
D. C. L. of Oxford (1805) ; an Associate of the Institute 
of France ; and the Royal Society of Literature awarded 
him its medal as "princeps litteraturae Sanscritae". He 
was knighted in 1833. He died in London, May 13, 
1836, and was interred at the Chapel in Rutland town. 1 

1 For a list of his oriental works and other particulars, see 
Asiatic Journal, 1836, pp. 165 71 ; Gentleman's Magazine, 1836 (pt. ii, 
pp. 67-8), 1808 (pt. ii, p. 922); Annual Register for 1836; Alumni 
OxonicnscK, 1888 ; Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors, 1816 ; 
Dictionary of National Biography; Centenary Volume* of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal ; Letters in the Journal of A mer ican oriental Society, 
1880, vol x; Preface to Sir William Jones's Cakuntala and to Wilkins' 
Sanscrtt Grammar .- Notice of the Life of H. T. Colebroole, by his son, p. 7 ! 
Wilkins' translation of the Bhagabadgita (178.")) with an introductory 


To such a great scholar, Bengal owes the establishment 
of the first vernacular printing press. 1 

The Preface to Halhed's Grammar sets forth some in- 
teresting details as to the difficulties which Wilkins 
had to overcome and as to how with 

Extract from the 

Preface to Halhed's patient preseverance he ultimately suc- 

Orammar indicating' t i r> 11 "*. 

the difficultiesof print ceede(L "Public cunosity" it says 
in S- " must be strongly excited by the 

beautiful characters which are displayed in the following 
work j and although my attempt may be deemed incom- 
plete or unworthy of notice, the book itself vvill always 
bear an intrinsic value from its containing as extra- 
ordinary an instance of machanic abilities as has perhaps 
ever appeared, That the Bengal letter is very difficult 
to be imitated in steel will be readily allowed by any 
person who shall examine the intricacies of the strokes, 
the unequal length and size of the characters, and the 
variety of their positions and combinations. It was 
no easy task to procure a writer accurate enough to 
prepare an alphabet of similar and proportionate body 
throughout, and with that symmetrical exactness which 
is necessary to the regularity and neatness of a fount. 
Mr. Bolts (who is supposed to be well-versed in this 
language) attempted to fabricate a set of types for it 
with the assistance of the ablest artist in London. But 
as he has egregiously failed in executing even the 
easiest part, or the primary alphabet, of which he has 
published a specimen, there is no reason to suppose that 

letter by Warren Hastings. See Cat. Rev. vol. iii. 234; Seton-Karr, 
Selections from the Calcutta Gazette, i. 130. 

1 About the first introduction of printing in the East, see 
Dr. Garnett's paper read before the Second International Library 
Conference (Tra ntactions and Proceedings of the Second International 
L ibrary Conference held in London, 1897, London, 1898.) 


his project, when completed, would have advanced 
beyond the normal state of imperfection to which new 
inventions are constantly exposed. The advice and even 
the solicitation of the Governor-General prevailed upon 
upon Mr. Wiikins, a gentleman who has been some 
years in the India Company's Civil Serviee in Bengal, 
to undertake a set of Bengali types. He did and his 
success has exceeded every expectation. In a country 
so remote from European artists, he has been obliged 
to charge himself with all the various occupations of 
the Metallurgist, the Engraver, the Founder, and the 
Printer. To the merit of invention he was compelled 
to add the application of personal labour. With a rapi- 
dity unknown in Europe, he surmounted all obstacles 
which necessarily clog the first rudiments of a difficult 
art as well as the disadvantages of solitary experiment ; 
and has thus singly on the first effort exhibited his 
work in a state of perfection which in every part of the 
world has appeared to require the united improvements 
of different projectors and the gradual polish of succes- 
sive ages." 1 

It must be remembered that these labours of Wiikins 
did not e id merely in the temporary and isolated bene- 
fit of printing a grammar but had 

The fiienificnnco nnd 

importance of Wiikins* far deeper and more wide-reaching 

Workto Bengali lite- ^^ for ^jjy^ had j^fe Q ( . aro t | 1!lt 

his work should produce lasting 
results. He had taught the art with great care to his 
Bengali assistant, one Parichnnan, a blacksmith by casre, 

1 Pp.'fjir-e pp. xxiii-iv. See also the letter of George IVrrv 
to Mr. Nicols, the printer, dtefl Calcutta. October I. 17R8, qnoted in 
the Biographical Dictionary of Living Author*, 1810. p. .385. This prong 
cnnnot be traced but Marahman (Hixfory of Serampnre Mission, vol. i) 
ays that it was set op by one Mr. Andrews, a bookseller. 


whom later on providence brought to Sririlmpur in search 
of work, just at the time when Carey and his collea- 
gues were in despair for a fount of Sanscrit and verna- 
cular types. Pai'.ehanai) and his associates, to whom 
he had communicated his art, succeeded in course of time 
in ^omesiicating it in Bengal. 1 

Rallied 's Grammar possesses a peculiar interest for us 

as bring one of the earliest efforts 

Halhed's Grammar; to sUu ] v t he language in a scieniiHc 

us interest and value. 

way. Rallied himself is perfectly 
conscious of the difficulties of such a study and says in 
the Preface (p. xix) " The path which I have attempted 
to clear was never before trodden. It was necessary 
that 1 should make my own choice of the cour>e 
to be pursued and of the landmarks to be set up for 
tiie guidance of future travellers". 2 But barring this 
antiquarian interest, it can hardly be expected to possess 
any other value to us. It was obviously written f><r 
the benefit of the Europeans whowanttd to study the 
foreign vernacular ; 3 and as such it was bound to 
be written entirely from their standpoint. Of course it 
is well to study the spirit with which foreigners 

1 See Memoir Relative to the the Translation of the Sacred Scrip, 
tures into the Lamuages of the East at Seravipore by J. Marsh matt, 18it>; 
alto Marth man, Hist, oj Serampore Mission, vol. i. 

The curious motto prefixed to the book says : 

Carey acknowledges to have derived much help in writing his 
Bengali Grammar (1801) from Halhed's work ; see Preface to Carey's 
Grammar (1st Ed. 1801) ; see also E. Carey, Life of Careij, p. 247. 

On tne title-page we read : 


approach our language, but as a pioneer work and as 
one intended for mere beginners, uninitiated into the 
language, its value is greatly diminished. Even a 
cursory glance at the contents will show that the 
arrangement and division of the subject-matter is made 
chiefly on the plan of English grammars, beginning 
with the Elements (Chap. I), proceeding with Substan- 
tives (Chap. II), Pronouns (Chap. Ill), Verbs (Chap. IV), 
Words denoting Attributes and Relations (Chap. V), 
Numerals (Chap. VI) and ending with a brief discus- 
sion of Syntax (('hap. VII), Orthography and Ver- 
sification (Chap. VIII). 1 The rules laid down are 
more or less general and elementary ; but some attempt 
is made to arrive at broad underlying principles, al- 
though in a somewhat tentative and impressionist 
fashion. The arrangement is as conprehensive as possi- 
ble but the author is scrupulously minute in his insertion 
of examples to every rule and is rather prolix in his 
observations upon the general grammar. One merit of 
the b >ok consists, however, in the fact that Halhed 
was fully alive to the intimate relation of Bengali to 
Sanscrit, "of which language" he says "I have thought 
necessary to include within my design such of the 
grainmaticil principles as might throw a direct <>r even 

a collateral light on those of the Bengalese I 

wished to obviate the recurrence of such erroenous 
opinions as may have been formed by the few Euro- 
peans who have hitherto studied the Bengalese; none 

1 Hat it is curious to note tlmt f is included in the list of 
consonants. The orthography seems to have heen yet nnsettled Mid 
the border line between colloquial and literary la gua ire. seems to 
have been crowed very often, possibly owing to the difficulty of a 
fore'gner, however studious, in entciing into the genius of un alien 



of them liave traced its connections with Sanscrit, and 
therefore I conclude their systems imperfect" (Preface, 
p. xix et seq.). Of course adherence to Sanscrit is in- 
dispensable in writing a Bengali grammar but Halhrd's 
work more or less presents Bengali as derived exclusively 
from its parent, Sanscrit. He remarks at some length 
on tin exceedingly corrupt state of the dialect of the 
time 1 and says that " a grammar of the pure Ben- 
gal dialeit cannot be expected to convey a ihoiough 
idea of the modern jargon of the kingdom. The 
many political revolutions it has sustained have grea'ly 
impaired the simplicity of the language, and a long 
communication with the men of different religions, 
countries and manners, has rendered foreign words in 
some degree familiar to a Bengal ear. The Mahome- 
tans have for the most pait introduced such terms as 
relate to the functions of their own religion or the 
exercise of their own laws and government ; the Por- 
tugese have supplied them with appellation of some 
European arts and inventions j and in the environs of 
such foreign colony the idioms of the native Bengalese 
is tinctured with that of the strangers who have settled 
there. Upon the same principle since the influence of the 
British nation has superseded that of its former conquerors, 
many terms of British derivation have been naturalised into 
the Bengal vocabulary." 

It cannot be doubted for a moment that the book 
holds a high place as one of the earliest of a series of 

1 There will be found a curious appendix to this book con- 
taining a petition replete with foreign expressions, showing how 
far modern Bengali had been forced to debase the purity of its 
dialect by the necessity of addressing itself to the Mohammedan 
rulers. In the Preface to his Vocabulary, Forster similarly speaks 
of studiously avoiding ^Persian or Arabick pedantisms." 


attempts, valuable even to the present day, to study the 
vernacular scientifically, but if we leave aside this antiqua- 
rian and scientific interest, it can hardly be exj ected to 
come within literature proper. To the historian of litera- 
t re, how ver, it is valuable, as most of these pioneer works 
ere, for affording one of the earliest links in the revived 
study of the language itself. 

We p>ss over other specimen fa of early printing whi h 

Other specimens of tne exigencies of administrative 
early fluting. changes and t e establishment of the 

l,, P ev Codeir .Ben- Supreme Court ( 1 7 7 I ) brought into 

g:ih ny J. Duncan. * v / - 

Dmrwtllii code in . Among these are to be 
Bnsrali by U. P. found the Impev Code in Bengali, 1 
Foister. "* 

which was translated by Jonathan 

Duncan, afterwards Governor of Bombay, and printed :it 

the "Com nan v's Press" in '785, and the famous Cornwall s 

Code of 17D3 2 which was translat d by H. P. Forster, 

"a merchant on ihe Bengal Establishment", of whom we 

f-hill have occasion to speak hereafter. Tt was likewise 

printed at the Government Press Lut from an improved 

fou'it. 3 "We rend of two other early publications in the 

Catalogue of Bengali Works in the British Museum 4 

1 Regulation* for the Administration of Jufiicc. in the Conr> rf fhs 
Dewanee Adnulnt, potted in Council, the 5th July, 17F5, vHh a Bengali 
Translation by Jonathan Diincnn, Cnleuttn, 1785. pp. 215. 31. 

The title-pnere snva: 1^? Sf't* ^T*fa C 6 *^ * | flHM r^TJ 

crWora >* xtim ct< *t** i eft 3ih *n<? c**k*\ 

*t?l5C** S^* cVt^CTft Jt55K5 yp'TS l\*l\ iUO| Second 
Edition in 1S20. 

"Tt i'm to tin's fount that Cnrcy nllndes. nnd it continued to be 
the fttnndiml of typography till it wns superseded by the smnller nnd 
n^te- foint at Srnnipnre " Mnrohman, Life and Times of Cany, Marsh, 
man and Ward. 18;">0, vol. i., p. 71. 

4 Blumhardt, Catalogue of Bengali Books in the British Museum, p. 8. 


viz., (a) Bengal translation (by N. B. Edmonstone) of 
Regulations, etc., by Regulations for the administration 
N. B. Edmonstone. of Justiee in ^ Fouzdary Criminal 

Courts in Bengal, Behar and Orissa, passed by the Governor- 
General in Council on the 3rd December, 1790, Calcutta, 
1791; (6) Bengal Translation (by N. B. Edmonstone) 
of the Regulations for the guidance of the Magistrates 
passed by the Governor-General in Council in the Revenue 
Department on the 18th May, 1792, with supplementary 
enactments, Calcutta, 1792. 

The next important work in our survey is Forster's 
Forster's Vocabulary, Vocabulary, the first dictionary of the 

the first Bengali- i -, -, - n - , 

English dictionary, language, and it will detain us for a 

1799-1802. moment, as it was indeed a work 

of merit and for a long time considered to be the 
most authoritative and standard publication on the 
subject. 1 

Henry Pitts Forster, born 2 in 1761, of whose early 

Henry Pitts Forster. life Httle seems to be known, 
1761-1815. entered Bengal Service of the Com- 

pany on August 7, 1783, and rose to be the Collector of 
Tipperah in 1793 and Registrar of the Dewan! ' Adalat 
of the 24 Parganas in 1794. In 1803-04, he was 
employed at the Calcutta Mint of which he rose to be the 

1 Carey based his famous Dictionary of the Bengali Language (1815- 
1825), the source of all dictionaries of later times, on Forster's Vocabu- 
lary. The first Btngali dictionary is, of coarse, Manoel da Assump- 
cad's Vocabulario in Portuguese, which has been already mentioned. 

2 The Dictionary of National Biography gives the hypothetical 
date of 1766 with a query. But it appears from the obituary notices 
in the Calcutta Government Gazette of 1815 (Sep. 14) and in the Calcutta 
Monthly Journal for September, 1815 (p. 285) that Forster was aged 
54 at the time of his death. In that case, his birth-date would be 
1761, which is here adopted. 



Master. 1 He died in India on September 10, 1815. 2 
Besides Vocabulary, Forster also wrote an Essay on the 
Principles of Sanscrit Grammar (1810). 

The first part of the Vocabulary was published in 
1799 : while the second part appear- 

Vocabulary ; its scope ed in 1802. 3 The full title of 
the work, which will sufficiently 
explain its scope, is : "A Vocabulary 

in two paris, English and Bengalee and vice versa by H. P. 

x It appears from Dodwell and Miles, Bengal Civil Servants, 1839, 
(pp. 182-8 : supp. list, pp. 600-1) that from 1798 to 1803 as well as 1812 
to 1815, Forster was out of employ. See also Bengal Almanac and 
Annual Directory, 1815, p. 9. 

2 He died probably in Calcutta, but his burial place cannot be 
traced. No mention either in the Bengal Obituary or in Do Rozario's 
Monumental Register. For further particulars of his life, see references 
quoted above ; also Dictionary of National Biography ; Allibono, Dictio- 
nary of British and American Authors. Marshman, (Life and Times of 
Carey etc., 1859, vol. i., p. 7l) spells the name as Foster, which form is 
not correct. 

8 The date of publication given in Ram-gati Nyayaratna, 
Bangabhasa O Sahitya Bisayak Prastab, 3rd Ed., p. 192, is 1801 which 
is clearly erroneous. The date given in Dinesh Chandra Sen, History 
of Bengali Language and Literature, 1911, p. 868 (where the book is 
described as " Bengali Dictionary by Fortter, a Civilian and Sanskrit 
Scholar") is 1719 which seems to be an obvious mistake or misprint 
for 1799. The account given in this latter work is mainly based 
on Rev. J. Long's Catalogue, but Long's book was compiled not till 
1855 and contains more than one inaccurate statement. Seo also the 
notification in the Calcutta Gazette, dated August 26, 1802, in which 
" Mr. Forster has the pleasure to acquaint the subscribers of his 
Bengalee Vocabulary, that the second part is entirely printed off, and 
will be ready for delivery all. in the present month of August and as he 
has more than doubled the size of the work beyond what he engaged, 
he hopes this will be admitted as a sufficient excuse for the delay in 
the publication." (Seton-Karr, Selections from Calcutta Gazette, 
vol. iii, p. 561). It is clear that the work was published in two 
instalments in 1799 and 1802, 


Forster, Senior Merchant on the Bengal Establish- 
ment/' 1 It is evident from the lengthy preface to 
this work as well as to that of Halhed that these early 
works were undertaken not on literary but also on political 
grounds. Bengali at this time, officially as well as popu- 
larly, was an unrecognised vernacular, and Forster rightly 
insists upon the absurdity and inconvenience of continuing 
the use of Persian in courts of law (see Preface to Vocabu- 
lary). It was thus due to the efforts of Halhed and Forster, 
seconded among Europeans by Carey and the Srlrampur 
missionaries and among Bengalis by Ram Mohan Ray and 
his friends, that Bengali not only became the official 
language of the Presidency but it now ranks as one of the 
most prolific literary languages of India. One of the 
greatest difficulty, however, under which all compilers in 
this period had to labour and to which Forster himself, as 
his preface shows, was fully alive, was the exceedingly 
corrupt state of the language in its current 'dialect' form. 
There was no standard literature, or if there had been one 
it was long forgotten or was not so widely known as to 
ensure fixity of forms and expressions. 2 This corruption, 

1 Printed at Calcutta from tho Press of Ferris and Co., 1799. 
Dedicated to Thomas Graham Esqr., dated December 15, 1799. A 
copy of this work will be conveniently found in the Calcutta Imperial 

2 As the various quotations by way of illustration in Halhed's 
Grammar shows, he was not aware of the existence of more than half 
a dozen old Bengali works. He takes his passages mostly from 
Mahabharat (from which he gives a lengthy quotation at pp. 37-42), 
Kamayan and the various works of Bharat-chandra, still in vogue, 
especially his Bidyaswndar. Printing there was hardly any and books 
mostly in manuscripts were not easily procurable. It is also notable 
that Halhed confines himself exclusively to examples taken from 
Poetry and there is not a single prose quotation in his works. " I 
might observe " he writes, " that Bengali is at present in the same 
state with Greece before the time of Thucydides when Poetry was the 


however, was confined principally to revenue and 
judicial terms, and the more common and daily shifting 
colloquial expressions. But the greatest difficulty was 
felt in orthography which was in a hopelessly chaotic 
state, in these ante-printing days. " There never having 
been " says Forster, " a native Beugalee grammarian nor 

indeed any author of note who might be considered 

as a standard, the orthography has consequently never 
been fixed ; and being current over an extensive country 
and among an illiterate people, almost every word has 
been and continues in one district or other to be variously 
spelt, and not infrequently so disguised as to render it 
difficult to recognise it, when met in its genuine form in 
Songskrit. In such cases, I have not scrupled to adopt 
Songskrit orthography, unless I found the majority of 
the people whom I consulted, concur in any particular 
vitiated mode of spelling it." In spite of these difficulties, 
however, Forster succeeded in compiling one of the most 
valuable and painstaking lexicon of the language ever 
published, and the eulogy of Marsh man that Forster was 
the "most eminent Bengali scholar till the appearance of 
Dr. Carey" 1 is fully justified. 

The year in which Forster's Vocabulary was published 

saw another memorable but at that time an apparently 

unimportant event the landing of a band of missionaries 

on the banks of the Ganges and the 

The advent of the startin of a m j ss i on at grirampur. 

missionaries. *> 

A year later, the Fort William College 

only style to which authors applied themselves and studied prose was 
utterly unknown ". The biographer of Dr. Carey relates how (Smith, 
op. cit. p. 202) when Carey visited Nadlya, not many years ago the 
illustrious centre of Bengali literature, " he could not discover more 
than 40 separate works, all in manuscripts, as the whole literature 
of 30,000,000 of people up to that time ". 

1 Marshman, Life and Times of Carey etc., vol. i., p. 71. 


was established at Calcutta for imparting knowledge of 
the vernaculars to young civilians. With this Mission as 
its centre and the Fort William College as its public 
forum, Bengali language entered upon a new phase of 
development, hitherto undreamt of. Forster was, no 
doubt, followed by a band of earnest civilian workers, of 
whom the names of J. F. Ellerton 1 and Sir Graves C. 
Haughton are the most well-known, yet with the 
missionaries in the field, who, for years to come, had made 
education of the people and cultivation of the vernacular 
their own peculiar province, earlier work was eclipsed, and 
a fresh impetus was given to the vernacular literature. 
The experimental stage was not yet over, but what was 
desultory, spasmodic, and slipshod became regular, un- 
broken, and systematic : and for several years till the 
foundation of the Hindu College and the emergence of 
a new band of writers, the history of Bengali literature 

is closely bound up with the labours 
Srlrampur Mission, of the missionaries and school-masters, 

and especially of the brotherhood at 
Siirampur, associated with the names of Carey, Marshman 
and Ward whose devotion, earnestness and philanthropic 
purpose cannot be too highly spoken of. 

1 Ellerton wrote his works before 1800 and, therefore, strictly 
speaking belongs to this chapter. But Ellerton's Bible-translations were 
not published until probably 1819: so an account of him will be found 
in the next chapter under the Bible-translations of the Srirumpur 


William Carey and SrIrampur Mission. 

Of the missionary movements which gave an early 

impetus to Bengali language and literature, the foremost 

. place has been given to the frater- 

brirampur Mission. * 

nity of the famous Snrampur 

Mission, which was started by Carey, Marsh man and 
Ward but of which the moving spirit was William Carey. 
William Carey, the son of a weaver and himself a village 
.shoe-maker till the age of twenty- 
(1761-1834) Caiey ' eight, was born on August 17, 1761 
in the village of Paulesbury, situated 
in the very midland of England, in the heart of the 
district which not only p r 6!uced 
Shakespeare and cherished Cowper 
but which also fostered Wyclif and Hooker, Fox and 
Bunyan. But village-life in those days was far from 
being elysian and the destiny of the cottager, with 
poverty and sore toil staring him in the face, was cheer- 
less enough. Buried in an obscure village, the eldest of 
a family of five children, young Carey seemed to be born to 
such a lot, the English labourer's lot of five shillings a 
week and the poorhouse in sickness and old age. At the 
age of sixteen he was an apprentice to the shoe-maker's 
trade a trade of which however he was never ashamed l 

1 It would bo silly in me to pretend to recollect all the shoes 
I made. I was accounted a very good workman... (Lottor to Ryland) 
There is no inconsistency between this and his famous retort to the 
general officer who inquired of one of the aides-do-camp, when 
dining with the Marquis of Hastings, whether Dr. Carey had not once 


and which linked him to the earliest missionaries of 
Alexandria, of Asia Minor, and of Gaul, some of 
whom were shoe-makers, and to a succession of scholars 
and divines, poets and critics, reformers and philanthro- 
pists who had used the shoe-maker's life to become 
illustrious. The picture of young Carey, keeping school 
by day, preaching on Sundays, and cobling or making 
shoes by night, would remind one very forcibly of 
Carlyle's picture of George Fox in his Sartor Besartns. 
But all this time, in poverty that would have very soon 
crushed the spirit of an ordinary man, he went on with 
his studies, although books were rare in those days and 
not easy to be begged or borrowed by a country-boy. 
It is remarkable that his taste inclined him to books of 
travel, adventure, history, and natural science to the 
exculsion of novels, plays, and books on religious 
subjects. The religious earnestness which marked his 
later life had not yet dawned, and he had been hitherto 
a stranger to the gospel of Christ. A remarkable 
change took place in his] life about his eighteenth 
year. He joined the small church which was formed 
at Hackleton and afterwards the Baptist congregation 
at Moulton where he became a pastor. His mind 
was at this time occupied in acquiring the learned 
languages and almost every branch of useful knowledge. 

It was about this time that his great 
ardour. missi nary thought about the practicability and 

importance of a mission abroad took 
definite shape in his mind. His extensive study of 
geography and books of travel convinced him painfully 
of the fact that a very small portion of the human race 
had yet possessed any knowledge of Christ and his 

been a shoe-maker. "No, Sir, only a cobler!" (quoted in Dr. 
Culross's William Carey). 


religion. In order to impress his brethern with his new 
idea, he wrote and published t: An Enquiry into the Obliga- 
tions of the Christians for the Conversion of the Heathens 
in which the Religions State of Different Nations of the 
World, the Success of Former Undertakings, are consi- 
dered by William Carey:' (1792). This was the 
birth of England's foreign Mission in Bengal 1 for Carey 
would not remain idle until his project had been put into 
practice. At last, at a meeting of the Northamptonshire 
Association of Baptist Churches held at Kettering 
(Northampton) on the October 2, 1792, a Baptist 
Missionary Society was started on a humble scale for 
propagating the gospel. Carey set out for India 
on June 13, 1793. At first he had desired to go to 
Sets out for India, Tahiti or West America. At this 

time, however, he met John Thomas, 
a medical evangelist, who had made two voyages to 
India and had some experience of Bengal.- It was 
Thomas who directed Carey to Bengal. 

It must not be supposed, however, that the missionary 

spirit was unknown in Carey's time 
Missions in India : Qr that j ndia was neyer before v i s i te d 
Carey s predecessors. 

by the missionary activity. On the 

contrary, many great names and great though mistaken 
movements will occur to the memory of every reader of 
Church history 3 . Not to go far back to the missionary 

1 Carey, however, was not the first English missionary to Bengal .- 
this was one Mr. Clarke (see Hyde, Parochial Annals of Bengal, p.213.) 

1 See C. B. Lewis, Life of John Thomas (1873). Also Smith, op. cit. 
p. 41. 

For details about the history of Christian Missions of which litera- 
ture is vast, the following books may be conveniently consulted; Brown's 
History of Missions, Kaye's History of Christianity in India, Marshall's 
Christian Missions, Hough's Christianity in India, Sherring's Protestant 
Mission in India, and Marshman's History of the Serampore Mission. 


zeal of Francis Xavier or of the Moravian brotherhood 
in the East, we find, for the greater part of the 18th 
century (1707 to 1798), the Coast-Mission (as it was 
called) carrying on its missionary work in South India 
with Tranquebar as its centre. At one time it was a very 
powerful movement carried on by the Lutherans whom, 
from Zeingenbalg to Schwartz, Dr. Francke had trained 
at Halle and Frederick IV of Denmark had send forth 
to its India Company's settlement in the South : but 
when Carey landed, the Coast Mission, partly on account 
of the wars between the English and the French, was 
almost in a state of inanition. To Bengal there was, we 
have seen, Roman Catholic Mission but as yet no 
Protestant Mission from England. The only well-known 
missionary who came to Bengal before Carey, was Kier- 
nandar the Swede, 1 the " Mammon " 
Kiernander, 1758 (d. of Hieky's Gazette, whom Clive in 
1799 >- 1758 had brought to Calcutta where 

James Long's Handbook to Bengal Missions will also be found useful, 
with reference to the general educational activity of the missionaries. 
Duff's India and Indian Missions and his articles in the earlier volumes 
of the Calcutta Review may also be consulted. On the Missions in the 
South, literature in vast. One may, however, consult with advantage, 
Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses ecrites de Missions Etrangeres, 26 vols. 
1780-83, vols, x-xv specially refer to India ; Lacroze, Histoire du 
Christianisme des Indes, 2 vol 3. 1758; Bertrand, La Mission du Madure 
4 vols. 1847 ; Coleridge, Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier. For a 
faller bibliography on this subject, see A. C. Burnell, A Tentative List 
of Boohs and Mss. relating to the History of the Portuguese in India, 
Mangalore, 1880, 

1 See Cal. Rev. 1847. vol. viii, pp. 124-184. Also Marshman, History 
ofSe>ampore Mission, vol. i, p. 20, et seq. Carey calls Kiernander a 
German (E. Carey, Memoirs of Carey, p. 449.). See Marshall's Chris- 
tian Missions, vol. i, p. 278. For Kiernander, see Bengal Obituary, p. 34 
et seq : Came, Lives of Eminent Missionaries ; Asiatic Journal, vol. xv, 
1834 j W. H. Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, pp. 193 et seq ; Hyde, 



he thenceforth lived, meeting young Carey subsequently 
at Bandel at the great age of eighty-four. But Kiernander 
could not wield any influence on the masses 1 and had 
no literary pretensions whatever; for although he started 
a native school and built a Church at his own cost, he was, 
in the first place, rather a missionary to the Portuguese and 
their descendants who were nominal Christians of the 
lowest Romanist type : and, in the next place, Kiernander 
could never converse in Bengali or Hindusthani and never 
cared to mix freely with the people of the country. Practi- 
cally his work had made only the slightest impression and 
it was no wonder therefore that Carey could find no 
trace of his work among the people even six years after 
his death. 

The condition of the clergy at this time, however, and 

their public and private morals did not in any way make 

them attractive to or influential with 

The character of the the people of this country. It is well- 

sition of the East known that the East India Company 

StiSEs. to ** adopted a policy of perfect 

neutrality towards the religions of 

India and never attempted to preach their religion 

themselves but they also threw every possible obstacle 

in the way of the missionaries who wanted to settle 

in their territories. The ostensible ground for this 

aggressive spirit of discouragement was political but the 

real reasons are thus given by a writer in the Calcutta 

Parochial Annah of Bengal : The Monumental Register by M. DeRozario 
(1815) p. 109-113; Busteed, Echoes from Old Calcutta, 1908 ; Cotton, 
Calcutta Past and Present ; John Zachariah Kiernander (a pamphlet), 
Cal. Bap. Miss. Press, 1877, etc. 

1 Of Kiernander's clerical convert, Bento de Silvestre alias de Souza 
and his contribution to Bengali, mention has already been made 
at p. 77-78. 


Review (1859) : "The Missionary was the interloper par 
excellence, and the hate of a camel for a horse, of a snake 
for a mongoose, was feeble when compared with the hate of 
the Anglo-Indian for the Interloper. Partly from his 
training, partly from the first circumstances of the con- 
quest, the Anglo-Indian official regarded India as his 
property, his peculium. An interloper was therefore in his 
eyes little better than a thief, a man who undersold him, 
interrupted his profits, and impaired his exclusive autho- 
rity over the population. With the instinct which comes 
of self-defence he saw that the Missionary was the most 
dangerous of interlopers." Neither the character of the 
early founders of the British Empire as a body nor that 
of the clergy before the Srirampur mission was such as to 
inspire respect for their religion ; and of the clergy as a class, 
the Governor-General officially wrote to the Court of 
Directors as late as 1795: "Our clergy in Bengal, with 
some exceptions, are not respectable characters." 

Although Carey and his fellow-missionary were allowed 

to enter Calcutta (November 11, 1793) without opposition, 

indeed without notice (so obscure they were), yet under 

the existing conditions of things he had to preach his 

religion for several years almost like 

Attempts at settle- a thie f in CO nstant fear of being- 

deported to England. Quite destitute 
in Calcutta, he had no definite plan for the future. 
The congregration at home were too poor to give 
him any assistance, nor could they influence the autho- 
rities in England to allow him to settle down 
peacefully as a missionary, for the latter would 
instantly refuse to listen to a handful of country no-bodies 
the chief among whom was a shoe-maker. After several 
fruitless attempts to settle down, Carey at last succeeded in 
obtaining the situation of an assistant in charge of some 


indigo factories at Madnabati, 30 miles north of Maldah, 

the sjene of John Ellerton's labours. All these years, 

however, the idea of translating the 

BengJr" 8 hl N rth Bible ancl Preaching in the language 
of the people was ever present 
in his mind. As soon as he could settle down, 
he applied himself to the study of Bengali, which, 
his biographer tells us, the indefatigable scholar had 
already begun during the voyage, and of which the 
first indication is given by an entry in his journal two 
months after he had landed. "This 
8 t r ud r y y B S eng ff aH tS * day" he writes "finished the correction 
of the first chapter of Genesis, which 
Munshi says is rendered into very good Bengali. " l 
The Muusi or Bengali teacher referred to was oue Ram 
Basu who not only taught the language to Carey but also 
had been of much help to the poor missionary during the 
years of uncertainly and struggle at the outset of his 
career. The greatest difficulty, however, which puzzled 
him, as a foreigner, in learning the language relates to 
the unsettled state of its forms and expressions, of its 
grammar and orthography : and a vast difference seemed 
to him to exist between the literary language and its 
corrupt colloquial and dialectal forms. Thus he speaks 
with a naivete characteristic of himself in a letter, 
dated October 2, 1795 : "The language spoken by the 
natives of this part, though Bengali, is so different 
from the language itself (?) that I can preach an hour 
with tolerable freedom so as that all who speak the 
language or can read or write, understand me perfectly: 
yet the poor labouring people can understand me little." - 

1 Smith, op, cit. p. 01 ; Eustace Carey, Memoirs of William < 
p. 119. 

" E. Carey, op. rit. p. 242; Smith, Of. rit. p. 72. 



Indeed, a foreigner always finds it hard work to obtain 
in a year the endless variety of its idiom and the niceties of 
pronunciation: but Carey certainly was very far from 
right when he says further that although the language 
is rich, beautiful, and expressive, it has got scarcely a 
large vocabulary in use about religion and kindred subjects. 1 
The whole trend of ancient or pre-British Bengali litera- 
ture which is religious in subject will prove the inappro- 
priateness of this hasty statement. The half-pitying and 
half-contemptuous tone in which Carey and his mission- 
ary colleagues speak of our forefathers as so many 'hea- 
thens', or semi-barbarians 2 no doubt raises our smile 
today, but they in all sincerity, born of religious enthu- 
siasm, really thought in this way. It is true indeed that 
there was a partial decadence of religious life and ideals 
in the country during the last years of the Mohammedan 
rule, yet Carey and his colleagues in spite of their catholi- 
city and tolerance, could never detect the signs of religious 
life which could produce the noblest songs of Ram-prasad. 
From the earliest times to the days of Ram-mohan Ray and 
even to the present day, religion had, as we have already 
stated, a great influence on Bengali literature. The great 
personality of Chaitanya and his disciples, the songs of the 
Baisnab poets, breathing as they do the purest language of 
poetry and devotion all indicate what charm religion had 
always possessed for the people and their literature. The fact 
was, making every possible allowance to missionary fanati- 
cism, that Carey, as he himself admits 3 , could lay his hand 
upon very few ancient Bengali books and manuscripts; 

1 See his letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 
quoted in E. Carey, op. cit. p. 239. 

2 He speaks of this country as one "devoted to the service 
of Satan and immersed in the awful ignorance of heathenness.' 
E. Carey, op. cit. p. 294. 

3 Smith, op. cit. p. 202. 


and that with the decay of learning and culture in Bengal, 
the vernacular literature had come to be neglected, and for 
some time it had practically become non-existent. It was 
only natural, therefore, for these European scholars from 
Halhed to Yates, who were not aware of the existence of 
more than half a dozen Bengali works, to indulge in such 
sweeping and hasty statements. 

In his study of Bengali, Carey found out very early 
that without the classical Sanscrit, which he always re- 
garded as "the parent of nearly all the colloquial dia- 
lects of India." 1 , he could neither master its Bengali 
offshoot nor enrich that vernacular with effective 
literary forms and combinations. If one must borrow, 
one might go to the literatures of Europe for themes and 
methods but the expression must always be indigenous. 
It is significant indeed that all the early Bengali writers 
from Carey to Bidyasagar, whose writings have helped to 
create for us the Bengali prose, were 

His study of learned in the Sanscrit language, 
Sanscrit and its effect. _ 

and were therefore always ready to 

avail themselves of the rich treasures of forms and expres- 
sions which that classical language afforded. Carey applied 
himself to Sanscrit with so much industry that as early 
as April 1796 we find him writing home that he had 
made enough progress in the language to read the 
Mahdbhdrat; and that in 1798 he had compiled a Sanscrit 
grammar and the considerable portion of a Sanscrit-English 
dictionary. 2 It must be remembered that Sanscrit 
learning and literature were much patronised in those days 
and the first step taken by the government towards the 
education of the native-born subjects was inspired by the 
desire for the promotion of Sanscrit scholarship. 

1 Preface to Sanscrit Grammar ( 1806). 

2 See also his letter to Sutclife, June 16, 1798, quoted in E. Carey's 
op. cit. p. 323. 


After six years in North Bengal as a missionary, 
scholar, and indigo-planter, Carey found that a few in- 
significant villages of two or three dozen mud- walled 
cottages hardly afforded sufficient scope for his missionary 
work. He was forming the project of a Mission Settle- 
ment on the Moravian model, but in 
Work at Madnabati 1799 the indigo works at MadnabatI 
had to be given up. Carey had been 
thinking of taking another small indigo factory in the 
neighbourhood, when he learned that he was soon to be 
joined in his missionary work by four colleagues from 
England. The expected re-inforce- 
Reinforcement from men t consisted of Joshua Marsh man 


and his wife, William Ward, D.miel 
Brunsdon, 1 and William Grant. The original intention 
was to proceed to Maldah and settle with Carey at Madna- 
bati. They arrived off Calcutta on October 12, 1799 
in an American ship; but instead of landing, they proceeded 
to Snrampur where they could be safe under the protection 

of the Danish flag. Their object in 

Srlrampnr, why choosing Srirampur as a mission- 
chosen as a mission- , . ,, . , ^ .. k , 
centre, centre is thus given by Carey 2 ; "At 

Serampore we can settle as missiona- 
ries, which is not allowed here; and the great ends of the 
mission, particularly the printing of the Scriptures, seem 
much more likely to be answered in that situation... In 
that part of the country inhabitants are far more numerous 
than in this; and other missionaries may be there permitted 
to join us, which here it seems they will not." In the 
beginning of the last century Srirampur was a kind of 
Ahatia 'a city of refuge'; and the persecuted missionaries 

1 For a sketch of Brunsdon's life, see W. H. Carey, Oriental Christian 
Biography, vol. i, pp. 170-72. 

2 Smith, op. cit. p. 88. 


could surely do no better than seek its protection for the 
purposes of their mission. In selecHnii this city instead of 
any other, they did what was best under the circumstances. 
" Had we stayed at Mudnabutty or its vicinity " Carey 
wrote "it is a great wonder we could have set up our press ; 
Government would have suspected us, though without 
reason to do so and would, in all probability, have pre- 
vented us from printing; the difficulty of procuring 
proper materials would also have been almost insuperable." j 
Srirampur is situated in one of the richest and most 
densely peopled tracts in Bengal, very close to the metro- 
polis ; and it was here that the earliest European factories 
in Bengal were established, the Danes planting themselves 
at Srirampur, the French at Chandan-nagar, the Dutch 
at Chinsurah, the English at Hugli, and the Portuguese 
at Bandel. 

Two of the missionaries speedily fell victims to the 

climate. Marshman and Ward, 

Be?:;, 7 ^d" )" a are indissoluble linked 

Marshman and Ward with that of Carey, who had . taken 

at Srirampur (1800). / 

up his residence with them on January 

16, 1800, resolved to start systematic mission-work, 

forming a brotherhood somewhat on the idea of the 

Pentecostal Church. The mission in 
s io?s e torted mP " r Mi5 " its disinterestedness, its lofty aims, 

and its kindly commonsense deserves 
sympathetic study. The spirit which animated them is 
to be clearly seen in the Form of Agreement, drawn up 
by them, which exhibits the high aims, the simple and 
disinterested life of work to which the SrTrSmpnr brethern 
bound themselves from the beginning. This earnest 

1 E. Carey, op. cit. p. 379-80. 


philanthropy and self-sacrifice never failed to make an 

impression upon the hearts of the people and this is one 

of the reasons why the Srirampur 

,Jppn^ e fl,p f itS mission had been able to wield an 

success and influence. 

enormous influence in the country. 
One of the principles which regulated the whole course 
of the Mission was that a missionary must consider him- 
self as one of the companions and equals of the people 
to whom he had been sent and that he must endeavour to 
gain a thorough knowledge of those among whom he 
laboured in their modes of thinking and feeling : this 
was what brought them nearer to the people and gained 
their confidence. They had started a school at Srirampur 
as early as May 1, 1800. In their letter to the Society 
at home, we find the missionaries writing in October 10, 
1 800 : "There appears to be a growing familiarity between 
us and the natives. They receive our printed papers 
with the greatest eagerness and we cannot doubt but 
that they are pretty extensively read. " l Without this 
sympathy, self-denial, and high motives of philanthropy 
and love, they would not have been able to attract the 
people and mould their life and thought in the way 
they had done. 

Of the two fellow- workers of Carey, Joshua Marshman, 

son of a weaver and for sometime 
(i768 h i837) MarShman a bookseller's employee in London, 

was born at Westbury in Wiltshire, 
April 20, 1768. 2 After much struggle and privation 
he succeeded in obtaining the mastership of a school in 

1 E. Carey, op. cit. p. 406. 

2 For more details, see Marshman, History of Serampore Mission, 
2 vols (1859); Bengal Obituary, pp. 340-43; Diet, of National Biography ; 
W. H. Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, vol. iii, pp. 257-65. 



Bristol, and wbile living there he was baptised and volun- 
teered to go out to India as an assistant to Carey. He 
was a man not only of great mental capacity, endowed 
with what the Scotch call "a long head ", but also had 
fine administrative ability which kept the missionary 
community in perfect order. William 

(llS"l828). Ward ' Ward > thou S h inf enor in intellec- 
tual equipment, was a man of great 
practical ability and sound common-sense. He was born 
at Derby on October 20, 1709. 1 The sou of a builder, 
he had received some education and had been apprenticed 
to a printer. He rose to the position of the editor of 
the Derby Mercury and afterwards of a newspaper in Hull. 
It was at Hull five years before he came out to India, Carey 
had met Ward and said to him " If the Lord bless 
us, we shall want a person of your business to enable us 
to print the Scriptures : I hope you will come after us." 
He joined the Church in 1796 and came out to India in 
1799 at the invitation of Dr. Carey. His work like that 
of Marshman, from 1800, was connected, if not identified, 
with that of the Mission at SrTrSmpur. Ward, however, 
had very little connexion with Bengali literature 2 
except indirectly, much less than Carey and Marshman, 
to whom, as to no other missionary or foreign writer, 
the country owes a deep debt of obligation for furlheriug 
the cause of education and indirectly of modern Bengali 

1 For more details, see Hist, of Serampore Mission. Also Samuel 
Stennetfc, Memoirs of the Life of William Ward (1825); Bengal Obituary, 
pp. 343-45 ; Diet, of National Biogr. : Memoir of Ward, Philadelphia ; 
Simpson's Life prefixed to Ward on Hindus ; W. H. Carey, Orient. Christ. 
Biograph. vol. ii, pp. 1-6 et. seq. 

2 Ward, says Carey, could speak Bengali a little (E. Carey, op. 
cit. p. 424). Ward, however, wrote some tracts in Bengali which will 
be noticed hereafter. 


One of the earliest works that the Mission accomplished 
was the printing of the New Testa- 

Be^ii i 'Bible, O l t 80 1 the ment in Ben g ali " Feb. 7, 1801 
after a labour of nine months 1 and 
of the Old Testament between 1802 and 1809. Carey, 
while at Madnabati, had completed the translation of the 
greater portion of the Bible by the year 1798 with the 
exception of the historical books from Joshua to Job. 2 
He had gone to Calcutta to obtain the estimates of printing 
but had found it beyond his slender means : for the cost of 
printing 10,000 copies was estimated at nearly 
Bs. 43,7a0. 3 To have got it printed 
History of its printing. fa England was well-nigh impractic- 
able, for he had found that each 

1 Preface to the Serampore Letters (1800-1816) eel. by L. and M. 
Williams, with an introductory memoir by Tho3. Wright; also see 
Marshman, History of Serampore Mission. But see Bengal Obituary, pp. 338. 

2 He had begun the translation as soon as he could fairly learn the 
language. We find him writing to Sutcliffe only a year after his arrival 
(Aug. 9, 1794) : " The language (of Bengali) is copious and I think 

beautiful. I begin to converse in it a little I intend to 

send you a copy of Genesis, Matthew, Mark and James in Bengali j 
with a small vocabulary and grammar of the language, in manuscripts, 
of my own composition " (E. Carey, op. cit. p. 195). On July 17, 
1796, he writes to Fuller that "almost all the Pentateuch and the 
New Testament are now completed" (ibid p. 265). By. 1799, almost 
the whole of the Bible wa3 translated. It is customary to attribute 
the authorship of the entire Bengali Bible to Carey, but from the report 
of the work given by him (ibid p. 345, Letter to Fuller, dated July 
17, 1799) we find that in the first version, Fountain (d. Aug. 1800) 
and Thomas helped him much. Fountain translated 1 and 2 Kings, 
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel and 2 Chronicles : while Thomas 
undertook Matthew, Mark (ii-x), Luke, and James. All the rest was 
Carey's own as well as the whole correction. The correction, however, 
sometimes rendered the original version into quite a new work, 
especially in the case of Thomas's translation which was very incor- 
rect and imperfect (Hid p 323; Periodical Accounts, vol. i, pp. 20-21.) 

3 E. Carey, op. cit. p. 277 and also p. 368 ; see also p. 239. 


punch would cost a guinea a piece. After several fruitless 
attempts, when the project had appeared almost incapable 
of accomplishment, Carey saw a wooden printing press 
advertised in Calcutta for 10. He at once purchased it 
at Rs. 400 and set it up at Madnabatl. It was from this 
old press, subsecpiently removed to Srirampur that the 
first edition of the Bengali New Testament was printed. 1 
The types were set with the knowledge of a first-rate 
printer by Ward with his own hand, assisted 
by Carey's son, Felix. 2 The second edition was 

1 Smith, op. cit. p. 181 ; E. Carey op. cit. p. 330. 

a If we leave aside Ellerton's New Testament and Thomas's 
version of Genesis and other books of the Bible (1701), this is the 
first effort at an entire translation of the Bible into Bengali. Eller- 
ton's version, however, was not published till 1820, and Thomas 
himself got much help from Carey in his translation. 

Of John F. Ellerton (1768-1820), nothing much is known except 

that he was an indigo-planter and was the first to establish a Bengali 

school in Maldah. He wrote (1) *l*c| ^tFfa *ltfe 3ffo 1 Calcutta 1819. 

(2)^T aratSfa C^ lfr i Calcutta 1819 in 

Bengali and English (3) 3?5f5tW ^ ft<S fa|<J 

0768-1820) ' ^^ ^tSt? I or the New Testament, translated 

by J. F. Ellerton, Calcutta 1820, pp. 993. This 
last-mentioned work, though discontinued for 
a time on learning that Carey was engaged on a similar work was at 
last printed by the Calcutta "Bible Society. Seethe Fifteenth Report of the 
British and Foreign Bible Soc. London 1819, pp. 214 and 319; 1818, App. 
p. 24 (4) W PWSI filWte? qfatOS *totfll f^H or Account of the Crea- 
tion of the World and of the First Age, in the form of a dialogue between 
a master and his pupil, Calcutta 1820. In Cal. Rev. vol. viii, 1850, this 
work is probably referred to as ^PTOJ. See Long, Intioduction to 
Adam's Reports .- Smith, op. cit. p. 145 : Cal. Rev. 1850 i The Bengal 
Obituary (1851) p. 144: Blumhardt, Catalogue. For Thomas, See Life 
of John Thomas by C. B. Lewis (1873). The books of the Old 
Testament, as printed by the Serampore Press (1801-9) nro in 4 
vols, viz., 1. Pentateuch, 1801 ; 2. Joshua-Esther, 1809 ; 3. Job- 
Song of Solomon, 1804 ; 4. Isiah-Malnchi, 1805. According to the 
Serampore Memoirs, however, the correct dates of puhlitation are; 


published in 1803 r 1 bat it was prepared from a fount of 

more elegant and smaller size, 

The Press at constructed by Manohar. The 

grirampur. story of its printing is thus told in 

the Memoir relative to Translations, 

"Happily for us and India at large Wilkins had led the 

way in this department ; and persevering industry, under 

the greatest disadvantages with respect to materials and 

workmen, had brought the Bengali (sic) to a high degree 

of perfection. Soon after our settling at Serampore the 

providence of God brought to us the very artist who had 

wrought with Wilkins in that work, and in a great 

measure imbibed his ideas. By his assistance, we erected 

a letter-foundry ; although he is now dead he had so 

fully communicated his art to a number of other*, that 

they carry forward the work of type-casting, and 

even of cutting the matrices, with a 

Panchanan and degree of accuracy which would not 

Manohar. t J 

disgrace European artists. 2 The 

1. 1802 ; 2. 1809 ; 3. 1803 j 4. 1807. The Psalter appears to have 
been issued separately in 1803. A revised edition appeared in 1832. 
The New Testament was published in 1801. [See Appendix T I at the 
end of this volume for a note on Biblical translations]. In Cal. Rev. 
x, p. 136, the date of Ellerton's New Testament is erroneously given 
as 1816. For John Thomas's translation of the Scriptures, see Murdoch, 
Catalogue of Christian Vernacular Literature of India, pp. 4 and 5. 
Smith, op. cit. p. 179. Thomas's version (before 1791) was circulated 
in manuscript. Kaye, Christianity in India, p. 138, speaks of this version 
as having been done in "scarcely intelligible Bengalee." See Carey, 
Orient. Christ. Biography, vol. i, pp. 444-454. 

1 3rd Ed. 1811 ; 4th Ed. 1816 ; 8th Ed. 1832. The date in the 
text is the date of the 2nd Ed. as given by Marshman ; but Smith 

(p. 188) gives 1806 as the date. The fact is that the edition was 

commenced in 1803 and completed in 1806. See Appendix II at the 

end of this volume. 

Memoir relative to the Translation of the Sacred Scriptures into 

the Languages of the East, Serampore, 1816, by Marshman, The Bible 


artist referred to above as Wilkins' assistant was 
Panchanan, 1 of whom we have already spoken. Pancha- 
nan's apprentice Manohar continued to make elegant 
founts of type in all the Eastern languages for sale as well 
as for the Mission, where he was "employed for 40 years 
and to his exertion and instruction Bengal is indebted for 
the various beautiful types of Bengali, Nagri, Persian, 
Arabic, and other characters which have been gradually 
introduced into the different printing establishments. " 2 
Much misconception seems to exist as to the exact 
nature of the services done by Carey 

Translation of the to Bengali literature bv translating 
Bible ; its importance J & 

in Bengali literature. the Bible into that lano-nage. No 

doubt, here was the realisation of one 

of the highest ambitions of Carey as a missionary and in 

the history of Church Missions, it occupies a very high 

and well-deserved position. Carey has been called by 

enthusiastic admirers the Wyclif and the Tyndal, while Dr. 

Yates the Coverdale of the Bengali Bible. 3 Whatever 

may be the value of such comparisons, from the 

standpoint of Bengali literature it is, however, to say the 

least, ill-informed and misleading. The positiou which 

Wyclif's, Tyndal's and Coverdale's versions respectively 

occupy in the history as well as the literature of England 

was translated throngh the efforts of the iSrirampur Mission into 40 
different languages and dialects. See also Periodical Accounts rela- 
tive to the Baptist Mss. Soc. vol i, pp. 292, 368, 417, 527 : vol ii pp. 62, 
132. See remarks on these oriental translations in William Brown, 
History of Missions, vol, ii. p. 71. 

1 Panchffnan lived for only 3 or 4 years after this. Bengal Obituary 
p. 338. 

2 Marshman, Hist, of Serampur Mission vol. i. p. 179. 

s Sriiith op. cit. p. 186. But see Brown Hist, of Missions, vol. ii, p. 71 
where Carey's version is impartially estimated to be now "given up as 
of no great value." See Cat. Rev. x. p. 134; Col. Christ. C)bsen\ 
vol. xvii. p. 557. 


is not the same as that which Carey's or Yates' translations 
can ever aspire to attain 1 . There might be some 
point in comparing Carey's version to Wyclif's, for the 
latter cannot, it is well-known, compete as literature with 
that produced two centuries later in English and conse- 
quently possesses nothing save an historical attraction. 
But Coverdale's claim rests on his supposed principal share 
in the merits of the early Tudor translations of the Bible. 
To compare these early English versions of the Bible with 
the Bengali ones of Carey and Yates would be to make a 
wrong estimate of both. As a piece of literature the 
Bengali version cannot be said to be a masterpiece in the 
sense in which the English versions are. That the English 
version, whether of 1585 or of 1611 , is a monument of 
early English prose ; that its peculiar style "the swan- 
song" as happily put "of Middle English transferred from 
verse to prose" has always been the admiration of best 
critics and writers from generation to generation ; and that 
there is no better English anywhere than the English of the 
Bible ; of these facts there can be no doubt. But to 
speak of Carey's and Yates - ' versions in similar terms 
would not only be incorrect but ludicrous. Here is the 
version of one of the most sublime passages of the Bible 
the account of the creation at the beginning ; but the 
reader will note that the translation is not only imperfect 
and crude, the grammar incorrect, the idiom faulty, the 
syntax crabbed and obscure, but also the whole thing 
looks like an absolutely foreign growth vainly attempted 
to be acclimated in Bengali. 

Or even Wcnger's (1861) or Eouse's (1897) later revisions. 


^t^s ftft #1 ^R ^1<T (7T ftf$ fa*m C*ffat*TC I <3**fc* 

^ft^R ^W* ^*\UN W\ fe^T W\ &U5 I ^fas (7T TO 

sw s ^ ^fac^ ^tffa few wn 4^<r ^ ^ ^m 

^ ^? ^ft <2t^*t ^<F I ^tF5 (Til TO ^ i ?K<i ^^ (7f 
*M* ^<PF ^^f ^ ft* Wtfa* ^1 ' *?*\ ^ ^1 *F*I *rfel I 

iWHWtfi *rtet* 3tr <Wrt* tot <3ftffa *ft i ^mre 

Ctfe JT5 ^| I <5T5cR ^ftft ^*ft ^fiffi ^"t ^ ?fa Ttfw 
^ ^fRtWftWfil ^*ftfw f^ *rftt* % ^*R[^ TOT 

tfttwfi *fei ^ $$hi ffai i 

s^ ^ ^ftpR ftffc ^ wfa *rfctt*fa tot fotstfe 

fafet ^fatfs V8 <5t*1 *^* ft^ ^ ^Ffa ^ ft 5 **! ^ ^13 ftf IWS 
ftWI I WWl ftft ^^ W#I ^r[^W ^^r^T ^fe 

lift ^s?% f f^} ^fare ^f^ ^ f^^ti ^^^^ st*w i ihhf 


^t^fa *tt* ^fa" ^few m ^53 ^^ WFf Sj^ VQ ^ 
<ffiC*Fl W ^ffa * ^Wft ff% *1 ^1 ^ ife *C* 

( <pft^ 1 T > * ) ' 
The Bengali style however in these versions, it 
will be seen, is not laboured but directed towards simpli- 
city, and some attempt is made, in however groping 
fashion, to reproduce the poetry and magnificence 
of the Biblical style, so far as it was possible to do 
so in that early stage of Bengali prose. 2 Yet, as the 

ft*i<rft*ra fanw, f^tft, ^iws ^t i c^t*H3 ^roi i $#ii ^ cfa^fat 

^C4 I ^l^'jp ^1 ^js\ | >frO | The English title-page is as follows : 
The Holy Bible, containing the Old Testament and the New : translated 
out of the original tongues. Serampore. Printed at the Mission Press. 
1802. Ths title-page of vol ii (New Testament) is as follows : 

^<?^ stffcl ^g^ i sts1 ^rtTt^w^ ^ * 3rt*f*Ff 1 w f ill 

^5f*T 7\y\m I Stfpll f|l 3fa VW *ttf3 1 ^liffa^ Sttl ^ 1 J^O| 

2 No pains were spared, it see ins, to make the version as accurate 
and natural as possible. Carey revised it four times before publi- 
cation with Ram Basu, "the most accomplished Bengali scholar of 
the time," by his side. The Pundits judged of the style and syntax 
and he himself of the faithfulness of the translation. (E. Carey, 
op. cit. p. 308). In 1815 Carey took Yates as an associate with him- 
self in these translations. "His special care" says W.H. Carey (Orient. 
Christ. Biography, vol. i, p. 319) "was bestowed upon the Bengali version." 



following extract from Pharaoh's dream in the revised 
version of Yates will indicate, how immature and crude 
the style is and what presumption it is to compare 
this with the traditional excellence of the Biblical style M 
4^fTO J^*t% fsTOOTf <T fc&)\ StSf ^ ^ (Tffaq | 
<?\ ^fZ*\ ftffoH 'Itf^^ *f[ ^Cfc JFTtvsfo ^<$ =^ 
rtW Q%\ 4ftTCW sfatf iftftll | fCW *rt* f t^fel f 1 ^ $*f*K 

c*rfa ^ft ^tre 6ai snfhi flor i c^tt^nr ft^k W^*r i &* 
<?& fi ^ *fa* c*tt* Sr t# ^$ 3^* c*tt*c* *m ^fiw i 
^*ft fk^W fet^ ^ i ^tet* ire ferh ftfe^ 

*ffa S|Sj i *fc?T *tj?fa ^fa re w ^srtiT Trf5 4H % S*i i 
<w <?& *rte #ti % ^ ^ \jit*t* *p *fa ^srt^r 

It has been further remarked with regard to these 
Bengali versions that while the ideas of the Bible 
elaborate the notions of the readers, the language of 
it accustoms them to the disuse of the vulgar patois. 
All the resources of the language, grammatical and 

1 Of course, this is a great improvement upon the original 
version of 1802 which runs as follows : 

5$ Wa *tf |$CT 4%V$ i&H *fWt1 W Offa*! CW <7\ 5t%tC^ 

'tft* fircfart cw ^ ^cs ^ w fti^l m$tn *it^t ^3 fare 

^fcsrtsta tos^ *i l lea ct *i^t* ftfas **1 ^ cwfa*i cw Tit^ 
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lexicographical, are called out to indicate (1) new and 
foreign and (2) noble ideas. 1 Hence, it is argued, 
the importance of the translated Bible in Bengali li- 
terature. The remark, however, would have been per- 
fectly true and appropriate had the condition of things 
been in India what it had always been in Europe. 
The Bible is the one book in the European countries 
which is a universal favourite, and its ide*L and lan- 
guage have through many centuries become almost a 
part of the ideas and language of the people at large. 
To this is partly due the enormous influence of the 
sacred book on the languages and literatures of Europe. 
The Bengali Bible, however, has failed to exercise any 
such influence. In India, where the missionaries can 
boast of very few triumphs among the educated class 
and the Bible is not so familiarly known and univer- 
sally respected, the c.ise is not the same as it is in 
Europe. Again, it is true that in all translations the 
resources of the language are drawn out to the utmost 
and that translation is the best exercising ground for 
an infant literature, yet even as a piece of translation, 
the Bengali Bible cannot in any sense be regarded as 
a triumph of the translator's art, and the very strain 
in expressing strange and alien ideas with a limited 
command over the inherent powers of the language, 
makes the style crabbed, stilted, and unnatural. The 
missionary writings in Bengali have a sort of traditional 
repute for crabbed syntax and false juxtaposition of 
words ; here surely the tradition for once is not mis- 
leading. Indeed, in spite of all that can be said in favour 
of the versions, no critic, however alive to their importance 

1 Cal. Rev. vol. xiii. 1850. Art. "Early Bengali Literature and 
Newspaper." p. 139. 


as the earliest specimen of simple and homely prose, 
can ever claim any thing like literary competency for 
them marked that they are throughout by earliness and 
immaturity. Carey's claim to importance as a contribu- 
tor to Bengali literature does not rest so much upon 
his Bible-translations and numerous tracts on Christian- 
ity, but on the works which he produced in another 
sphere of usefulness but on which he himself seems to 
have laid less emphasis although they show him in a 
better light as a writer of Bengali. 

This sphere of usefulness was first opened to Carey 

bv his appointment as a teacher of 
wnScc"e g e. F0rt en^li in Lord Welleslcj's newly 

established Fort William College. 
It is to be noted, however, that it was the publica- 
tion of the Bible-translation and his reputation as the 
foremost European scholar of Bengali that had secured 
the appointment which placed him in a position, philo- 
logical and finaucial, to further the exuse of Bengali 
writing. It was mor^ to his connexion with the Fort 
William College and his growing influence as a writer 
and scholar in Bengali than to his position as a preacher 
of the Gospels that we owe every thing that he did 
for enriching Bengali literature. 


William Carey and Fort William College. 

Among the institutions which in various ways gave 

an impetus to Bengali literature, 

Importance uf the dfc prominent place to 

Fort William College e> i r 

in the history of Ben- the Fort William College. Since 

gali prose. , -it p i-, -,- 

the practical disappearance or Bengali 
literature after Bharat-chandra's death, its first public 
emergence is to be traced in the prose publications of 
this College, which, although no literature by themselves, 
certainly heralded the more mature productions of later 
days. The importance of the Fort William College in 
the history of modern Bengali prose is not due to 
the supreme excellence of its publication (for its publi- 
cations were not in any way first-rate) but to the fact 
that by its employment of the Press, by pecuniary and 
other encouragement, by affording a central place for 
the needed contact of mind to mind, it gave such an 
impetus to Bengali learning, as was never given by 
any other institution since the establishment of the 
British rule. It is true that the books published under 
its patronage and generally for the use of its students 
were not more numerous or more substantial than 
those- of the famous School Book Society of later times ; 
but it must be admitted that the list presents a long 
series of important compositions in the vernacular and 
classical languages of the East on a variety of subjects 
and comprehends many works which, though written 
expressly for young civilian students, were at one time 
widely celebrated in this country, and which have not 


yet lost all " their value and interest. But this was 
not all. The College was the seminary of western 
learning in an eastern dress ; it helped to diffuse 
western ideas through the medium of the vernacular. 
But at the same time, orientalism was its principal 
feature, and it turned the attention of students and 
scholars to the cultivation of oriental languages, both 
classical and vernacular. "The establishment of the 
College of Fort William" said Sir George Barlow at 
the first Disputation of the College held so early as 
1802 "has already excited a geueral attention to oriental 
language, literature and knowledge/' 1 We can realise what 
this means when we bear in mind the general neglect and 
oblivion to which Bengali literature and Bengali education 
had hitherto been consigned. The Honourable Visitor of 
1815 in remarking on the encouragement held out by the 
College for the study of the leading oriental languages 
observed that previously to the foundation of the College 
" the language of Bengal was generally neglected and 
unknown ". 2 The best scholars and the greatest intellects 
of the country met here in friendly intercourse ; and we 
shall see how an attractive personality like Carey's drew 
around it a baud of enthusiastic writers, bent upon remov- 
ing the poverty of their vernacular. At the invitation and 
inducement of such scholars, literary works were undertaken 
by the enlightened Bengali community as well as 
by the Munshis and Pundits of the College who would 

1 Roebuck, Annals of the College of Fort William (1819), p. 17; 
The College of Fort William 1805 ed. by Claudius Uuchanan, Vice- 
Provost & Professor of the Colloge (Soe Pearson's Memoi's of Rev. 
Claudius Buchanan, 1819, vol. i, p. 202 foot-note) containing all the 
official papers ana literary proceedings of the College, p. 58 at p. G2 ; 
See also Seton-Karr, Selections from Cal. Gazette, vol. iii, p. 290-99 : etc. 

3 Roebuck, op. ci p. 468. 



possibly have produced nothing but for the stimulus thus 
given to their literary zeal and the encouragement yielded 
by the liberality of the government which would have 
never otherwise been so readily called into being. 1 The 
movement for undertaking literary and scientific works in 
Bengali prose and for translation into that language, which 
- till 1850 had been so consp ! cuous an activity in the 
literary history of Bengal, had its beginning in the publi- 
cations of the College of Fort 
The value of its pub- w . ir , . ,, , ., 

lications. William- 4 and in the zeal or its 

scholars, aided no doubt by the fact 
that exigencies of education and spread of liberal ideas 
naturally brought on a multiplication of text-books and 
books of general interest. It is true, speaking generally, 
that the productions of these devoted scholars, consisting, 
as they do, mostly of school-books and translations, are 
far from being invulnerable in point of literary merit ; yet 
to them belongs the credit of breaking fresh ground and 
creating the all-important Bengali prose-of-all-work. Not 
that we have no Bengali prose before this, but it was 
hardly in current use and not so developed as to be the 
medium of everyday thoughts of the nation. 3 No one 
can claim for this early prose the finish and all-expressive- 
ness of latter-day prose, but it cannot be denied that here 

1 This was a pet scheme of Wellesley's : se the liberality of the 
Government was magnificent. 

2 The popular opinion, aided, no doubt, by the extreme scarcity of 
these publications in the present day as well as by ignorant or careless 
criticism, often deriving its informations second-hand, that these publi- 
cations were seldom or never read, is not borne out by contemporary 
allusions referring to these works and their extensive sale, running 
them through numerous editions within half a century. Most of these 
publications afforded an endless quarry of fables and stories, always 
interesting to an oriental reader. 

a See App. I. 


we have, if not art, at least craftmanship ; if precisely 
no work of genius, at least the hint and intimation of 
such close at hand. 

The College of Fort William which was actually in 

operation from May 4, 1800* was 

Its foundation (1800) formally established on August 18 by 

and object. * . 

a Minute in Council in which the 
Governor-General detailed at length the reasons for start- 
ing such an institution. 2 No sooner did Lord "Wellesley 
find himself freed from the uncongenial bonds of war in 
the South than he devoted himself to various measures 
of internal administration with an ardour seldom equalled 
except perhaps by Lord Bentinck whom he so closely 
resembled. The Company's Civil Service, although it 
produced a few men of first-rate ability, had sunk into the 
lowest depths of vice and ignorance. The Service had its 
origin in a mercantile staff, well-versed in the mysteries 
of the counting-house ; and its training, since the Factory 
had grown into an Empire, had not been sufficient for the 
more important duties which now devolved upon it. The 
system which Burke had reprobated fifteen years ago was 
still unchanged, and lads of fifteen to eighteen were being 
sent out to India before their education could be finished, 
with no opportunity or inducement on their arrival to 
complete it. At the close of three or four years* residence, 
the young Civilians, endowed with an affluent income and 
unchecked authority, had not only lost the fruits of their 
Europeau studies and gained no useful knowledge of 

1 The First Term of the College commenced from February 6, 

* Minutes in Council at the Fort William by His Excellency the 
Most Hon'ble Marquis of Wellesley, containing his reasons for the 
establishment of a College in Bengal, dated August 18, 1800 (See 
Roebuck, op. cit. p. vi and Buchanan, op, cit. p. 8-9. 


Asiatic literature or business but were absolutely aban- 
doned to pursue their own inclination without guidance or 
control. Of the languages and manners of the people 
whose affairs they were called upon to administer, they 
were not required to know even the rudiments. 1 The 
Minute denounced in the strongest 
Lord Weliesiey's terms " the absolute insufficiency of 


this class of young men to execute the 
duties of any station whatsoever in the Civil Service of the 
Company beyond the menial, laborious and unprofitable 
duty of a mare copying clerk ". It became evident that 
there could be no substantive improvement without provi- 
ding a succession of men sufficiently qualified to conduct 
it. "The Civil Servants of the English East India Com- 
pany " says the Minute 2 " can no longer be considered 
as the agents of a commercial concern ; they are in fact 
the ministers and officers of a powerful sovereign : they 
must now be viewed in that capacity with a reference, not 

to their nominal, but to their real occupation. 3 Their 

studies, the discipline of their education, their habits of 
life, their manners and morals s'hould therefore be so 
ordered and regulated as to establish a sufficient 

1 It appears from the proceedings of the Governor-General in 
Council dated as far back as Sep. 10, 1790 that with a view to the 
acquisition of the Indian languages by the Company's writers, encourage- 
ment was afforded by offering them allowance and other facilities 
(Seton-Karr, Selection from Cal. Gazette, ii. 213-14), but it was never 
enjoined upon them as a matter of duty or necessity. 

2 Roebuck, op. cit. p. iv ; Buchanan, op. cit. pp. 5-6. 

3 See Seton-Karr, op. cit. vol. iii, pp. 22-23. Before the formal 
establishment of the College, Dr. Gilchrist, an eminent Hindusthani 
scholar, was appointed provisionally by Lord Wellesley to find out if an 
experiment of lecturing to young Civilians could be made successful. 
It succeeded splendidly, as appears from the Report of the Committee 
appointed to ascertain the progress made in Gilchrist's class (Roebuck, 
op. cit. pp.1-14 ; Seton-Karr Selections from Cal. Gazette, vol. iii pp. 58-61). 
After this the scheme of Fort William College was set on foot. 



correspondence between their qualifications and their 
duties" The Minute then declares that " A College is 
hereby founded at Fort William in Bengal for the better 
instruction of the Junior Civil Servants of the Company." 
The institution was projected on a scale of magnificence 
which marked all the plans of Lord Wellesley, but under 
the pressure of the authorities at home, who were deadly 
opposed to the institution and without whose sanction and 
acquiescence it had been set up, the College was continued 
on a reduced scale. ' 

The range of studies marked out for the students 

in the College was very extensive 

The range of studies ; and one of its most striking features 

its orientalism. wag Ug orientalism . The curr j C ulum, 

subsequently modified, was intended 
to include in its grand scale "Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, 
Hindusthani, Bengali, Telegu, Mahratti, Tamil, Kanara", 
besides "Laws and Regulations, Political Economy, Modern 
Languages, Greek, Latin, English Classics, General 
History ancient and modern, History of India, Natural 
History, Botany, Chemistry and Astronomy" ! 2 The 
College was patronised by the Governor-General himself, 
his colleagues, and the Judges of the Supreme Court ; 
for it was considered to be one of the most important insti- 
tutions of the State and the senior members of the 
Government were required in virtue of their office 

to take a share in its management. 
Public disputations in Public disputations in oriental langu- 
oriental languages. ages were held annually in the grand 

edifice which Wellesley had erected, 
in an august assembly, composed of jnen of high rank. 

1 The College continued till 1854; but since the foundation of School 
Book Society and Hindu College in 1817, its importance was 
overshadowed and diminished. 
Roebuck, op. cit, p. xvii. 


It would interest Bengali readers to learn that debates 
were held in Bengali and the 'subject at the First Public 
Disputation held in February 6, 1802 was "Whether the 
Asiatics are capable of as high degree of civilisation as 
Europeans/' The theses read by the students were 
published and they afford us some of the earliest specimens 

of sustained prose writing at- 
Theses by the students tem P fc ed by Europeans. We give 
of the College. below the theses pronounced at a 

disputation in Bengali in the Second 
Public Disputation held on March 29, 1803 by James 
Hunter, although we have, as we shall see, better specimens 
of prose- writing even before this date. This would, however, 
serve as the average specimen of 'European prose' of 
the time. There are some quaint turns of phrases, a few 
inevitable mistakes of idiom and syntax and errors of ortho- 
graphy, and the style is a little too crude and sanscritised ; 
yet if we compare with it the contemporary prose of 
Pratapaditya Charilra (1801) and Lipimala (1802), this 
specimen will hardly be at a disadvantage with them in 
many respects 2 . The scarcity of the publications which 

1 Reports of the annual Disputations till 1819 will be found in 
detail in Roebuck, op. cit. Also in Buchanan, op. cit, till 1805 ; and 
also see Seton-Karr, op. cit. p. 296 ; also in Primitiae Orientales, vols, 

2 Some of the students of the College published notable works. In 
1808 Henry Sarjent, who was a distinguished student of Bengali in 
the College (See Roebuck, op. cit. pp. 1*78-180, 218-221) translated the 
first four books of the JEneid or Iliad (the first book, according to 
Long's Catalogue, came out in 1805). Monckton, another student, 
translated Shakespeare's Tempest, (Cal. Rev. 1850, Art. Beng. Lit.). Long, 
however, followed by Dinesh-chandra Sen, (op. cit, p. 876) mistakes the 
name of Henry Sarjent for "J. Serjeant." From Roebuck op. cit. it 
appears that there was no student in the College bearing the name 
of "J. Serjeant," and no such person, it would seem from Dodwell 
and Miles, op. cit. ever entered the Civil Service. 


contain these theses will be a sufficient excuse for the 
length of the quotation. The subject was "The Distri- 
bution of Hindus into Castes retard their progress in 

Thesis at the Second ^^^1^^ * ^ 

Se/ Bengalf "re <* **i ***< ^ <W ^ 
of the time. fa^ ^ _^ ^ ^^^ ^_ 

^ftj^rft c*rt^ qft *rfs> % ^ ^tts ^ ^ fo*i ^fare 
*ttt* <w ^1 *m *rfa <w *rar crti c^tr^i faa fer srrfe* 
toj ^c|^% tt8tonr wt* fasr f%s ^sis ^rerfa ^fastts 

CltC^fOm lift TO ^tet^tff* ^Hfll *^t^f% <W ^fe^ fasrl 
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^rt*fa *i*m Tteqr ?fa*tC5 <W faJl 6 ^fa ^V *rfC*tf*te 


C*f*t 3W ^1 ^f? %<[f% TOT- ^ ^t^ %^ ftf3 

<3 ^ ; si^t^ ^ aftfe *ws^ 4^ ^frs w c^t^ ^rt^ 
iWss sffal *ift *ft c^fa c^t^ ^t*ft Bftfer fa*tt *rt s^fa 
fal^ 9 Jft^i ^ytfc c-nc^i c^ft fistss 1^1 ^ 5Rl c^r s?i 
eirftoi to^I ft? **t c^ c*it^8 ^fr^ ^j ^*ft 
f^r^nr ^^f *}sfa ^s^l *tcf*i fwi ^sot ^f^w? 

*if*f c^ft 1? c^wtsf *tti ^^" ^ ft^ffHr *tt^ ^ 
^sf tt^ ^ift ^t^ ^^i tot ^w ^n^ "ttrarw c^it^^ 

^t^fft^f 51CT W 1^ ^ft?(tf%^ (7f^ OrtCTSS ^t^^^l ^tC^" 

*tt*t f^tfe ct^ ^a^ ^i? c^^ ^"^^ <n ^ ^^ 5fl i 


f^c*itt^s1 ^fi^s ^rt^ *ttC3j^ ft-Rre $rrc* ^re ^sj 

Oft"f* %1 ^9 ^ftf <rf* ^t^^S ^ *^9 ^1 ^t ^fare 

*rtra ^1 ^ ^ra? or^r fwi ^ ^r^tw <mh fri ^ itft 

*^ (M*tt ^R ^9 ^5J C^* ^t* fpfa ^9 ^OT^ 

*i^w ertetts? ^rtftnrl at** *rfa ^to *tfo its i fH 
"tttss to c*rwrc** ratf 6nws art* ft^t1 WS CItf 

<WR j C*Rl fcfal ^Tt^ <5Jt*t fftH ^feitfa ^1 ^t*t*tfnT 
^Ttfe *t?tffa ^5 *fft* fal ^KfW ^<tt ^t*l ^5 *lft* 

(3 SBft ^ ft^t^^t fe^ ^tf%T^V ^ ^KtC^ ^t^ ^M^l 

^ft^Jl ^sjtfr 'srt^ <5rfa ^^^ f^^c^ ^rs rtitm ft^t^ (^tt^ 


fW^Onr <2tfa *PR 5fa ^1 4^ CT ^ fwfcS CIIC4YCM 
&$| ^* ^ff% ^ sfa WI ^m ^tsl c^ fwi 

^rtft s?tft c* c^tt^ri ^rfa ^^^1 #rai cwtt* ^pt^onrl 

sitre ft^pitre<rt ^t^fae^ c^ ^ra ^ ^tetTO* ^ft^ 

fwr*ri ^*i ^ ^re ct ^^ ^fam c^ <*pr *rot* ww 

Carey was appointed teacher of Bengali and Sanscrit 

languages' 2 in April 1801. In January 1, 1807 he was 

raised to the status of a Professor 3 

Carey appointed aI1( j h e continued till 1831 to be the 
Teacher and Professor 

of Bengali. most notable figure in the College 

of Fort William. This appointment 
threw Calcutta open to him as a field of work and for the 
next thirty years from 1801 he spent as much of his time in 
the metropolis as at orirampur. He found the appointment 
bringing in its train responsible duties but it afforded him 
an early opportunity not only to cultivate "the beautiful 
language of Bengal" but also to enrich its literature by his 
own labours as well as by the labours of others whom he 
induced to work in the same field. He himself not only wrote 

1 Primitive Orientates, vol. ii. 1803, pp. 67-74, containing theses 
in the Oriental languages pronounced at the Public Disputations by the 
Students of the College of Fort William, with translations, 

2 Afterwards of the Maharatti language. 

3 Koebuck, op. cit. Appendix iv, p. 52 at p. 54 j Buchanan, op. cit. p. 
236 at p. 237. 


a grammar, compiled a dictionary, and composed text-books 
but he was at the same time the centre of the learned 
Bengalis, whom by his zeal he attracted around him as 
pundits and munsis, as inquirers and visitors. The impetus 
which he gave to Bengali learning is to be measured not 
merely by his productions or by his educational labours 
at this institution or at Sri ram pur but also by the influence 
he had exerted and the example he had set before an 
admiring public who soon took up 

His influence and hj s wor k j earnestness. He had 
the impetus he gave 
to literature. gathered around him a number of 

scholars who were at first his teachers 

but whom he had succeeded in employing in extensive 

literary work. Of the fifteen munsis 1 who taught Bengali 

in the College, the chief was his own pundit, Mrtyunjay, 

who wrote some of the most learned and elaborate treatises 

of the time. He induced three other pundits of the 

College, Ram Basil, Rajib-lochau and Chaudlcharan, to 

undertake the composition of vernacular works and he always 

befriended those who took auy interest in the vernacular 

literature. It was at his suggestion and encouragement 

that Mohan-prasad Thakur, assistant Librarian to the 

College of Fort William, compiled his tngliih-Bcn gctii 

Vocabulary 2 (1810) which he dedicated to Dr. Carey. It 

1 Buchanan, op cit. p. 239. 

* A Vocabulary Bengali and English for the use of students, arranged 
in alphabetical order under different subjects, by Mohan Prasad 
Thakur (1810) ; 2nd Ed. 1815 ; 3rd Edition 1852. The Calcutta Review 
(1852) speaks of it as "exceedingly useful to all students of the Bengali 
language." On the doubtful authority of Rev. Long (Catalogue) the 
date of this book is fixed to bo 1805 by Mr. Sen (History, pp. 866-67). 
The copy (2nd Edition) in the library of the Board of Examiners bears 
1815 as the date of publication. Mohan Prasad was appointed 
Librarian to the College in October, 1807 (Roebuck, op cit. App. III. 
p. 51): so he could not have compiled this work at the suggestion of 
Oarey before this date. See also Preface to Haughton's Dictionary. 


is needless to multiply examples of works which owed 
their origin to his suggestion and influ3nce ; but these will 
go to show how attractive his personality and how extensive 
his influence had been among his collaborators in the 
field. "When the appointment was made"" he writes 
on June 15, 1801 "I saw that I had a very impor- 
tant charge committed to me.... I therefore set about 
compiling a grammar, which is now half printed. I got 
Ram Ram Basu to compose a history of one of their 
kings ; which we are also printing. Our Pundit 1 has also 
nearly translated the Sungskrit fables. ..which we are also 
going to publish. These, with Mr. Forster's Vocabulary, 
will prepare the way to reading their poetical books: so 
that I hope this difficulty will be gotten through." 2 Thus 
Carey's College-room became the centre of incessant 
literary work as his Srlrampur study had been of Bible- 
translation. We can imagine the indefatigable scholar in 
his chamber sitting with his Munsi for three or four hours 
daily mastering the language in all its complications and 
with a longing to educate the people, writing and transla- 
ting hour by hour into Bengali tongue the books which he 
thought useful for that purpose and which contains the 
first systematic pieces of spirited Bengali prose. 

Thus, although the College of Fort William was found- 
ed to fulfil a political mission, its 

The orientalism of -, , .. . 

the College ; its effect, usefulness and its importance, never 
ended there. The impetus which 
it gave, as a centre of learning and culture, to the 
cause of vernacular language and literature, gives it a 
prominent place in the literary history of the time. No 
doubt its greatest achievement* in the history of 

1 Mrtyunjay. 

* E. Carey, op. cit. pp. 450-454 ; Smith, op. cit. p, 164. 



intellectual progress in this country consists in its revival 
of the ancient culture of the land, its all-comprehensive 
orientalism daring far beyond the intrepid dreams of scholars 
like Sir William Jones, Wilkins, and Colebrooke. But this 
orientalism embraced a great deal more than a mere revival 
of classical learning. Attention hitherto had never been 
turned to vernacular learning in this country which 
was in a sadly neglected state at the beginning of the 
century. The College of Fort William, by its encourage- 
ment of the vernacular, first brought it into public notice 
and fostered and nourished it. 

The list of its publications between 1800 and 1825 
_. .. , . . comprises, besides 31 works in Hindu- 

The list of its pub- r 

lications between 1800 sthani, 24 in Sanscrit, 20 in Arabic, 
and 21 in Persian, the following 
principal works in Bengali 1 chronologically arranged. 

1801 Pratapaditya Chart tra x by Ram Ram Basu. 

A Grammar of the Bengalee Language by W. Carey. 
Katkopakathan* by William Carey. 
Ilitopadeh translated by Golak-nath Sarma. 

1 This list is based on the lists given in Roebuck, op. cit. App. II, p. 
29 (A Catalogue of all the Oriental works published under the patronage 
of the College of Fort William since its Institution in 1800 up to 
August 15, 1818) ; in Buchanan, op, cit. (List of books printed and 
published by the Fort William College before 1805) pp. 219-236 ; in 
Primitiae Orientates (vols.ii-iii p. xlvi), and on the enumeration in 
Long's Catalogue which, however, is not always reliable. In all 
these cases where (with the one or two exceptions mentioned) I 
have been able to avail myself of fchfl original editions, I have 
compared and verified the dates here given. Particulars or details 
about those works will be found in their proper places below, when- 
each of them has been reviewed in its turn. 

' It seems to have been published a month later than Pratapaditya 


1802 Lipimala 1 by Ram Ram Basil. 

Batri's Simhasaii translated by Mrtyunjay Bidya- 

1803 jEsojSs Fables translated 2 into Bengali, under the 

direction and superintendence of Dr. J. Gil- 
christ, by Tarinlcharan Mitra. 

1805 Tota Itikas translated from Persian by Chandl- 
charan Munsi. 
Raja Krsnachandra Rayer Ckaritra by Rajib 
Lochan Mukhopadhyay. 

1808 Rajabali by Mrtyunjay Bidyalarikar. 
Bitopades by Mrtyunjay Bidyalarikar. 
Bitopades 3 by Ram-kisor Tarkalarikar 

1812 ItiJias-mala* by William Carey. 

1813 Prabodk-c/iandrikd 5 by Mrtyunjay Bidyalarikar. 
1815 Purus-pariksa translated by Haraprasad Ray. 
1815-1825 A Dictionary of the Bengalee Language, by 

William Carey. Vol. I. (The last volume was published in 

1 In Buchanan op. at. and Primitiae Orientales no name of the 
author is given, but he is simply described as a "learned native in the 

2 This work is also mentioned by Long bnt not in connexion with 
the publication of the Fort William College. 

3 Mentioned and dated by Roebuck. I have not been able to obtain 
sight of this work. In the list of Pundits in the College in 1818, Roebuck 
mentions Ram-kisor Tarkachiklamani (appointed November 1805) in 
the Bengali Department. 

* Doubtful whether a publication of the College, not officially record- 
ed to be such. 

5 Published in 1833, long after the death of the author, with a preface 
by J. Marshman. Hence not mentioned by Roebuck: but known con- 
clusively to be a publication for the use of the College from the testi- 
mony of Carey, Marshman and otln rs. 


Barring a few independent works here and there 
these were all the best publications and the chief writers 
in Bengali between 1800 and 1825. l 

Even if we leave aside publications which are in- 
directly due to his instigation or 
Carey's works in encouragement, it will be seen that 


Carey's share in the work was not 

inconsiderable. Besides the translation of the Bible and 
numerous Christian tracts, Carey's works in Bengali con- 
sist chiefly of the following books : 

(1) A Grammar of the Bengalee Language. Printed at 
the Mission Press. Serampore. 1801. (2nd Edition 2 with 
alterations 1805; 3rd Ed. 1815; 4th Ed. 1818; 5th Ed. 

(2) Kathopakathan, or Colloquies or Dialogues in- 
tended to facilitate the acquiring of the Bengalee Language. 
Printed at the Mission Press. Serampore. August, 

1 In Buchanan op. cit. there is a list of books printed during 1803 
or in course of publication during the year 1804, at p. 238. In it we 
find mentioned a work, of which, however, there is no record in Roe- 
buck or anywhere else, viz. Translation of the Bhagabadglta from 
Sanscrit into Bengali by Chandl Charan Munsi. It is not known 
whether it ever saw the light. In Primit. Orient, vol. ii p. 1-li, we 
find the entry of another publication, long supposed to be a missionary 
publication only and not mentioned in the official records whether of 
Buchanan or of Roebuck, viz. The Old and the New Testament, 
translated into the Bengali Language, in 2 vols. It seems to be a 
reprint of the orirSmpur edition, or even the identical publication, 
transferred to the list of the publications of the Fort William College. 

2 The date of the 2nd Edition is given as ' before 1803' in Buchanan, 
op. cit. p. 222 ; E. Carey, op. cit. p. 474. But Grierson, Linguistic Survey, 
vol. v, pt i, p. 24 says that the 2nd edition was published in 1805; 
and Wilson (Life and Labours of Carey) corroborates it In the tenth 
Memoir of the orirSmpur mission, the date of the 2nd Ed. is given as 
1805. Dinesh Ch. Sen (Hint, of Bcng. Lit. p. 867) rather inaccurately 
states that the book passed through four editions before 1855. 


1801 (3rd Ed. 1818.) Originally apart of the Bengali 
Grammar. The title varies slightly in different editions. 

(3) Itihas-mala or a collection of stories in the 
Bengalee language collected from various sources. Seram- 
pore. Printed at the Mission Press. 1812. 

(4) A Dictionary of the Bengalee Language, in which 
words are traced to their origin and their meanings are 
given, in 2 vols. Vol. 1, 1815 (Vol. II, 1825). Vol I 
reprinted in 1818. The second volume is in 2 parts. All 
Bengali-English. 1 Printed at the Mission Press. Serampore. 

Carey's enthusiasm for Bengali and his patient scholar- 
ship are nowhere displayed better than 

Scope and inipor- i_ -j i. *i a.' e u.\ 

tance of Carey's works. in hls industrious compilation of the 
Bengali Grammar and the Bengali- 
English Dictionary. This was indeed the age of grammars 
and dictionaries, and the name of grammarians 2 and 
lexicographers who, after Carey, followed in the foot-steps 
of Halhed and Forster, is legion ; but none of the works 

1 Rev. Long in his Return of the Names and Writings of 515 Persons 
connected with Bengali Literature (p. 125) mentions among Carey's 
works a treatise or pamphlet called Letter to a Laskar. It seems that 
the Address to a Laskar, which was written not by Carey but by 
Pearce of Birmingham, was translated by Carey (see E. Carey, op. cit. 
p. 463; also Murdoch, Catalogue of Christian Vernacular Litera- 
ture of India, p. 5) Carey also wrote other missionary tracts which it 
is not necessary to mention here. 

2 The first Bengali Grammar by a native grammarian is said to be 
that by Gahga Kisor Bhattacharya, written in the form of a dialogue. 
It was published in 1816 (Long, Catalogue). This date seems to be 
incorrect. We find the first annoucement of this work in the Samachar 
Darpan (Oct. 3, 1818) from which it would appear, in the first place, 
that the book was published about 1818 ; and secondly, that it was not 
only a grammar but a compendium of miscellaneous information and 
that the portion dealing with grammar did not relate to Bengali 
language but that it was an English Grammar in Bengali. See my 
article in Bangiya Sahitya Pariqat Patrika, vol. xxiv, p. 154. 


of these writers except perhaps Hamilton's Glouafy and 

Keith's Grammar (popularly called Ket-Byakaran) obtained 

the reputation and currency which Carey's scholarly works 

did. Carey's Grammar was composed 

prey's Grammar, ^ than ^ enty yeMg ^ Halhed , g 

Grammar. Halhed's was indeed a 
work of merit; but in the interval that had elapsed 
between its appearance and the institution of public 
lectures in the Fort William College, it had probably 
become scarce, and was no longer available for the needs 
of the students of the College. To Halhed indeed belongs 
the credit of first reducing to rule the construction of the 

Bengali language, and Carey must 
Indebtedness to Hal- have derived much help from him. 1 

ned and Carey s ongi- 

nality. But though ostensibly modelled on 

Halhed's work, Carey's Grammar was 
altogether a new and original contribution to the scientific 
study of the language ; for Carey had an opportunity of 
" studying the language with more attention and of exa- 
mining its structure more closely " than had been done 
before. "Whilst acknowledging the aid he had derived 
from Halhed, Carey observes (1st Ed. 1801): 'I have 
made some distinctions and observations not noticed by 
him, particularly on the declension of nouns and verbs and 
the use of participles." In the preface to the second edition 
(1805) he says: " Since the first edition of this work 
was published, the writer had had an opportunity of study- 
ing this language with more attention and of examining 
its structure more closely than he had done before. The 
result of his studies he has endeavoured to give in the 
following papers which, on account of the variations from 
the former editions, may be esteemed a new work ". The 

1 E. Carey, op. cit. p. 247. 


variations alluded to above refer to the alterations and 
additions, particularly in the declension and derivation of 
nouns and in the conjugation of verbs, extending the 
grammar to nearly double its original size. The later 
editions, however, do not differ materially from the second 

Another merit of this Grammar arises from the fact that 
Carey seems to have realised very early that the basis of 
the vernacular language must be sought in its classical 
The basis of the progenitor : and this fact enables him 
language and of the to examine critically the ultimate 
structure of the language and evolve 
rigid rules fixing the chaotic colloqualism and dialectal 
variety of the vernacular into definite forms. A living 
language, however, can never be regulated by artificial 
rules borrowed from a dead language, however closely con- 
nected they might be with each other : and Carey, in giving 
full scope to colloquial and temporal variations, shows 
himself fully alive to this fact. Rules of Sanscrit 
Grammar can never suffice for the study of Bengali : 
yet one can never wholly dispense with Sanscrit Grammar 
in framing a grammar for its vernacular off-shoot. A 
truly scientific grammar of Bengali must avoid these 
extremes : and Carey, who had a wonderful knowledge of 
the vernacular as it was spoken and written as well as of 
the classical Sanscrit, succeeded to a great extent in steer- 
ing through the middle path. 

The Bengali Grammar of Carey explains the peculiarities 
of the Bengali alphabet and the combination of its letters : 
the declension of substantives, and 
Scope of the book. formation of derivative nouns : inflec- 
tions of adjectives and pronouns : and 
the conjugation of verbs. It gives copious lists and 


descriptions of indeclinable verbs, adverbs, prepositions, etc., 
and closes with syntax and with an appendix of numerals 
and tables of weights and measures. The rules are com- 
prehensive, though expressed with brevity and simplicity; 
and the examples, though derived from only a few of the 
standard works, are sufficiently numerous and well-chosen. 
There are many defects and inevitable errors but they are 
sufficiently obvious and excusable to require any comment 
and do not materially affect the value of the book. The 
syntax, however, is the least satisfactorily illustrated part 
but this defect was fully remedied by a separate publica- 
tion, originally forming a supplement, printed also in 1501, 
of Katkopakatkan or Dialogue* in 
Kathopakathan or Bengali, with a translation into Eng- 

Diahgues, 1801. rt ' rt 

lish, comprising a great variety of 
idioms and phrases in current Bengali. Carey's extraordi- 
nary command over colloquial Bengali is nowhere better 
exhibited. There are, no doubt, occasional lapses and 
errors of idiom 1 which none but a man born to the 
language can easily realise, yet the extent and variety of 
_. . . . . topics, the different situations, and 

Its rich vocabulary . 

of current forms and the different classes of men dealt with 

in these dialogues show not only a 

minute and sympathetic observation and familiarity with 

1 Carey, however, was so very tan fill to ensure correctness in this 
t that he writes in the Preface :" That the work might bo as 
complete as possible, I have employed somo sensible natives to compose 
dialogues upon subjects of a domestic nature, and to give them pre- 
cisely in the natural style of the persons supposed to be speakers. I 
believe the imitation to be 10 exact that they will not only assint the 
student, but furuish a considerable idea of the domestic economy of 
the country ". It will be seen therefore that the authorship of the 
entire book does not rest with him, but that the dialogues other than 
those of a domestic nature were his own. Hut even these surely reflect 
great credit on him as a scholar of Bengali. 


the daily occupations of the people, their manners, feelings 
and ideas but also a thorough acquaintance with the re- 
sources of the language in its difficult colloquial forms. 
The book is indeed a rich quarry of the idioms (and even 
of the dang, the class or professional shibboleth) of the 
spoken dialect of Bengal ; and in an age of mere or main 
translation, of tentative accumulation of vocabulary and 
experimental adaptation of arrangement, its value is very 
great. But to this book belongs also the credit of making 
an early and original attempt to give, 

Its picture of social j g erude S emi-dramatic form, a 
life m Bengal. ' 

faithful reflection of the social life 

in Bengal as it existed a century ago. The class of 
men who are supposed to carry on these dialogues or 
colloquies ranges from that of a Shahib, a respectable 
Bengali gentleman, a merchant, a zemindar and a Brahman 
priest to that of a peasant, a low class woman, a day- 
labourer, a fisherman and a beggar. The more regular 
and measured language of the upper classes is put side 
by side with the loose style and talk of uncultured women 
and the lower orders in different situations. Indepen- 
dently of its merit as a help to the acquisition of the 
language, this work presents in many respects a curious 
and lively picture of the manner of life led by the middle 
and lower classes. The faithfulness of this picture is 

guaranteed by the fact that even in 
Its realism. 1 . 

the present day it has not lost all the 

force and precision of its realism. In his celebrated 
Sanscrit speech before Lord Wellesley at a public dis- 
putation of the College Carey, speaking of his knowledge 
of the country, said : "I, now an old man, have lived 
for a long series of years among the Hindoos. I have been in 
the habit of preaching to multitudes daily, of discoursing 



with the Brahmans on every subject, and of superin- 
tending schools for the instruction of the Hindoo youth. 
Their language is as familiar to me as 

Carey's knowledge ^ rpj^ j intercourse with 

of the people. J 

the natives for so long a period, and 

in different parts of our empire, had afforded me oppor- 
tunities of information not inferior to those which have 
hitherto been presented to any other person. I may say 
indeed tint their manners, customs, habits, and sentiments 
are as obvious to me as if I was myself a native." 1 

The colloquies begin with a sketch of the conversations 
of an English gentleman, his method 

his desire of learning Bengali, his 
talks with his munsi etc. The preponderance of Persian 
words in these dialogues is thus explained by Carey 
himself : "A Khansama or a Sirkar, talking to an 
European (and vice versa) generally intermixes his language 
with words derived from Arabic or Persian and some 
few corrupted English and Portuguese words". (Preface) 
The rest of the colloquies deal with the conversations and 
ideas, mostly of the middle and lower classes of the 
people of Bengal, living in the remote villages. The 
colloquies may be conveniently arranged thus under 
different heads of subjects : 

(I) Conversation relating to everyday life of middle- 
class country gentlemen. (2) Talks 

cove e ,Ia"ttT tOPiC8 f about land, its cultivation, fanning, 
produce, rent etc. (3) Talks about 

business matters e.g. between a debtor and his creditor etc. 

1 Buchanan, op. cit. Translation of the speech of Carey at p. 168 ; 
also quoted in Smith, op. cit. pp. 167-169 ; also Roebuck, op. cit. 
p. 60. 


(4) Conversation "both in friendly and contentious style" 
between women of various types, their going to market 
etc. (5) General talks about eating, journeying, taking 
counsel etc. (6) Conversation among lower classes of 
people e.g. labourers, fishermen, beggars etc. 

Of the colloquies under heads (1) and' (5) which are 
the more interesting cf the whole group, those entitled 
"<33OTfc 3$CTW 2$tffca GttfW (A discourse of respect- 
able old people) "^FtW (An agreement of marriage) 
"3tPF ^ W*H" (A priest and his customer) and the last 
colloquy entitled simply "^E^tl^R" (Conversation) on the 
subject of marriage between two ghat-ales are the best. The 
conversation of the ghataks, although a more subdued pic- 
ture, would remind one of the ghataks in Ram-narayan's 
Kulin-kula-sarbasva. Some specimens of unconscious 
humour will be found in the measured formal 
speeches of the priests (in what Carey calls "the grave 
style") as contrasted with the simple talks of laymen. 
We give below an extract from the first-named of these 

colloquies, which throws much light 
An extract quoted Qu the socia] ]ife in tb vi|1 d 

in the 'grave style' t & 

at the same time illustrates the more 

serious style of Carey in these dialogues : 

*Wil wsi* CT^ii ftefaww ?\fky5 ftn *wi ^tetstfrs 

*roft vQfafc <FWit cw st^ft ^firal ^^ *rtss srft i 

*itt*l few* ffi*tfo ffoffcf I 

1^ ^t^re i%^5 cw*rftf% #fct*1 fa fe*rc 4<R ^1 fa 


$tetsc*r* *$ faw **Fw\ *m$ srffa i ^tfasts %xm 
*tfa^fa1 f^*i *rl i 

^5^cj <^ ^5^1 ft| fc^ *5C^ C^T ffa ft^t* #5 

*rrfa fe^ffi cptsTO ^T*m ^rr^t^ ^mt* ft t*t* i 
st^fafct* ^tet* *fft>^f ^ ^ i 

fsT5l^ ^t% *TO** C*rft^ *frt* ^1 *rft5 ftl fffttfa 

wfartft ^*ft %f ^1 ^^ ^ci suites ft *tt*R ^w *f 
tot^ i 

^fofa <?rai *^i <*rtre ft *i i ^tre ^twt* 

("reputation" Carey) C^*R | 

^rc^i ft <rr*i ^firatt^ i 

^m*rai ^eh ^ri> ft^ faft&w *ra ft^f^f ^8 f^^i^ * 


<it8t s^fet 5*pift firal f^ stft i^ *finrtt*,*n 

f%<fi*f *F*P& <3F*f5te *fifitC5* I 

^t^W f^tfip" *f%Sfc^ TRtft ^t^T ^ I 

^ I 

f^ ^ ^ c^itr^ fi&fa *rt$t^l *ttt^ ^ 1 

wis ft^ iwr^^^ f% ^1 1 

TO ^^t^" ft^t^ ^to1 frra^ ^% ^tforl twtc^H 1 Tfaft 

^flto ^tft ^ fan *f< ^%^q *fts s* is wtPnrtfipi 1 

smto<t %ft cro *f3nlfct*w ^tetre ^*nif% *fcrfc5 1 1 

This is the specimen of the 'graver style', but more 

colloquial and easy are the dialogues under the heads (2) 

and (3), although these colloquies, it 
More colloquial style. . 

should be noticed, as well as those 
between English gentlemen and his servants, are full 

1 Dialogues intended to facilitate the acquiring of the Bengalee 
Language, by W. Carey D. D. Mission Press 1818. 1st Ed. pp. 66-85 ; 
3rd Ed. pp. 36-40. See also 3rd Ed. pp. 108-110 (1st Ed. pp. 208-217) for 
the description of a marriage and the expenses incurred at the 


of Persian words which are comparatively absent in the 

domestic talk under other heads of subjects. Business 

matters have a language of their own ; but Persian for 

a long time was the court-language and all business 

matters were transacted in that 

Preponderance of lan^ua^e. Not only words like srffa^, 
Persian words. n J 

vsSfftsf, sjfsR, ^f^ which have become almost naturalised 
in Bengali but even unfamiliar words like <5^f*T?T, ^*f 
3*1> *V?\> <4*u% ^rfSTfa 4^t*, C<W5l, are frequently used. 
Of the other colloquies, that on "A Landlord and his 
tenant" ("Sjfwfa Tf^5") too long, however, for quotation 
here, is the most remarkable as giving a true picture 
of the relation between the landlords and their tenants. 
(3rd Ed. pp. 88-108). 

The colloquies spokeu by the lower orders are bound 

to be very interesting, but it is to be regretted that these 

dialogues are very short and not very 

The language of the we H-written and their number too 
lower orders. 

is small. The language here must 

of course differ considerably both in pronunciation and 

vocabulary from that already quoted. The following short 

extract will be found illustrative ; 

*TO cwri *tsc* itfa fa 5*1 ^tfesi c*w C*t*1 ^fats i 

=ti i ^^ Tt 9 ^^ ^sfts i tn iitt *iws <nrc fa 
s?tti mv wn ^i ctw^ ^$rai <*hr ^ *i i ^tfa 
a>* *rrfo itfare frnrtfef i it<? ^c*i <rnt* its c*isf ^1 strei 


The colloquies of women are very faithful and realistic, 

but some of the pictures are too gross 

The language of an( j tne language sometimes even 


borders on indecency 2 . The ladies, 

however, who figure in these colloquies belong, it seems, 

mostly to the uncultured lower classes : and here and 

there all Billingsgate seems to be let 
Grossness of tone l oose ftfc onee J t j fi true thafc 
and language. 

"women" as Carey says "speak a 
language considerably differing from that of the men, 
especially in their quarrels", yet he would be far from 
right if he supposes that this is the measure of women's 
talk in Bengal. Quotations from these will not be 

1 It is better to append Carey's translation of this passnge here. 

Fisherman's talk. 

Haloo, Bhego, will you go a fishing ? 'Tis getting light. I called : 
You was asleep. 

Aye, aye, this is an excuse. Hah ; it rains : is it time to go to the 
nets now ? Go you to no purpose. I won't go now. Yesterday I went 
long before light : by so doing I did not get fish to eat, and to-day it 

Yes, brother, my work won't go no by the fear of clouds, Shall I 
be able to clothe and feed my wife and children thus ? I see you 
have a body formed for ease. (Dialogues, 1st Ed. pp. 110 et seq ; 
3rd Ed. pp. 56-57.) 

Possibly these dialogues were written by the"sensible natives" 
whom Carey employed (vide ante, footnote p. 136) and who might have 
misled him. See especially the colloquy headed "'srt^Trl 'W*f9f i (Women's 
Quarrels) beginning with "^jfa C*Fftfa f^ltff *lt ^ItWt^" (Dialogues, 
1st Ed. pp. 156-164 ; 3rd Ed. p. 82. et seq.) 


welcome but here is one dialogue in the "friendly style" 

sufficiently harmless and representa- 
A finer picture. . - . 

tive wherein the ladies seem to 

belong the middle class : 

C5t*rel i^ il 1 

c^^r *rfa iti ^ti *rft5 ^ ^tt*ra" *re i 

l!lfo ^r|^ *a> i fai *rcc5j w\^ ^teto C 7 ^ <7I^ ^ 
5*^1 1 

C*I 4*R CWtfe *rft5 ^ 4 <F^ Trtl H^l ^f?TC 3C1 <?T 

<5W ci ifafo (7T fo| <5fa I 

<t1 (71 C**TC ^H *Tfaf * TO 41^1 ^ ^ ^^ n I 

v\^\?\ C^*TC Ctt 5t"Tl f*t*0TOt* fTTCl ^11 ^E* I 

^t^t^^^ *ttmtt crftrfo i 

srfa *Tfa 1t*ffa1 ft^ *t<5 ^5 ^& W ^ ^ftl^K^ fttl 

^i^ ^ stim ft^r 13 ssfaffs^ i *rci WW ms\ 


rtei sti **n ^s c<r 4*r ^t^ *rfattrcra f% *t\wz 
rfts ^5C5w to *rc 4jR>* 3jrfac*i to c^ FfaS I 
<5J ^ I ^ wzri <^ est* sfafl f*ffirl 5lfc5 I 
*tft <3 ^ WJT dl1 *5*fc ittftq artful C# $W 

*f*rc* ^rfatw *t#t^*1 *i^ ^ ^ ^ ^fa i 
^ dt ^rr^t^ *rW* ftfa* *F5J ^fa^rl ^ i 

Ttft Wjf ^ C^tfe C*\ ?rtfetfe ^Stl TOJ ^Tfot* 
^Tt^l ^W ^3 *tt$^tT%i ^t* TOT Tlfffat^t ^tfafl ^r*! 
^t*^ *flI I 

ret* eft *t#t* Tt^rtwt c*^ ^ W\ c*fftre *itti ^1 1 
fa ^ft^ 4^ ^ ^ c^ cm^x f^n h *\\5 fe *rtfa^ 

til *t^fr lTO I 

C^ C5t* ^fff* *t#t fWf ^S ^ 5fl C^R I 

sfttlflnr *t#t *rt* fa ^t^1 ^*i st* ^tl<tt#t*tff* ^tts 
*^1 ^^ i ^rfat* ^fff* ^t 5 ! 'fare *(tci 11 C& I *^1 
ftft f%fa *r v5fa1^tfa* ^ Hfl ttl ^iw^ 3Tl W? ^W 
^ *tt*rfttfa f%*^t* tor I 

C3tl3fl RTfcll <41S <^J %t 4*tt <*W *fcw S^lttS I 

Tfod #1 farte fcs ttfirc* ^tft it^fel "rtl fwl ?rfa 

<pfa f*tf zfcft ^d TOl *lW* ^^t I? 1 ^ S RTW 


smuft fw\v& c^nn its* ^^^ cto & ^i 
^^ wa f% ^t^ ^fare ^rrft i*i ^t 5 ^ ^i ww tot 
c^tm* *rr*i itoi f% ^ -rforf* m\ -rtfl fa ^ 

fe^ I 1 

.This is indeed a fine piece but the Women's Quarrels 
are not so attractive. Critics have found fault with Carey 
the missionary for giving these latter gross colloquies a 
place in his book which was intended to be a text-book 
for young civilian students: but fastidious considerations 
apart, these dialogues certainly exhibit the true picture of 
a certain type or class iu every society, interesting to the 
student of the drama, novel, or social history. A strong 
tendency to objective realism in Carey demanded a verbatim 
reproduction of the language of the 
Its intense realism, peo ple: had he listened to his 

both in its form and x L 

spirit, missionary scruples, the picture, like 

Johnson's in Rasselas, would have 
been unnatural or imperfect. In this respect Carey has 
been called, not unwisely or too enthusiastically, the 

spiritual father of Tek-chand, and 
the book. Carey of Dinabandhu. That Carey had line 

&f**Sto tf dramatic iM *". *"* if developed 

Tek-chand and Dina- would have borne better fruits, and 

that he was more than a mere 
compiler, has been put beyond all doubts by the Colloquies 

1 Dialogue*, 1st Ed. pp. 148-15G ; 3rd Ed. pp. 76-82. 


which, to the student of Bengali, is more than a mere 
treatise "intended to facilitate the acquiring of the 

We have dwelt rather too long on Carey's Dialogues 
but the importance of the book in the light of 
subsequent history can never be ignored. With regard to 
the style and language of all these dialogues it should be 
noticed that here we have, at the outset, the first trace of 
the opposition between the plain and 
The struggle between the ornate styles in prose which is to 

the plain and the or- . 

nate style first begun. dominate the rest of its history and 
reach to a crisis in the opposition of 
the 'Alali style' and the 'Sanscrit College style' of the fifties. 
We shall have occasion to come back to this point here- 
after ; but it is to be noted here that this perpetually 
recurring antinomy in the history of prose style was for 
the first time clearly posed and definitely worked out by 
Carey's simple colloquial prose on the one side, and the 
elaborate diction of the Pundits, especially of Mrtyunjay, 
on the other. 

The best example of a chaste and simple style, more 

dignified than the colloq uial prose of the Dialogues, more 

pure and correct than the prose of Ram Ram Basu or 

Chandi charan, yet less affected than the ornate and 

ri ,. _ 7 - 1010 laboured style of Mrtyuniay, is to be 

Itihas-mala, 1812. J ' J J J1 

found in the Itihas-mala of Carey, 
which chronologically, however, comes after almost all 
the important Bengali publications of the Fort William 
College, except Prabodh-chaudrika and Purus-jMriksa, and 
consequently had the advantage of having got more time for 
maturing in the meanwhile. It was printed and published 
in SrlrSmpur in 1812, and, as its name implies, it is "a 
collection of stories in the Bengali language, collected 


from various sources". The book contains 150 stories, 1 
derived not only from books of fables and folk-lore, 
eastern and western, but also from past literature, 
legends, and history. There are, for instance, besides 
tales from Hitqpadek or Paficha-tanlra, the well-known 
story of Lahan'a and Khullana 2 as well as an anecdote of 
Akbar 3 . The stories are very amusing and instructive ; 
but the book consists mostly of translation and its interest 
chiefly lies in its simple homely prose style. It is difficult 
to select a specimen for space would not allow us to quote 
more than one. The following 

.Kp?. 5& ,,ure extiact wi be f u d "'^-s * 

only for its style but also for the 
touch of humour which is rather rare iu these early 
works 4 

farte ^fs ^f<Ht*r *r^ o\ $ft% ^^ vfcft mi <& i 

fan ^tfaraf^i en ^tw 4^ ^its i ^ 3tw^ sitft^ 
^fre ^c*i 3N1 *te ^i aw ^fare *itfa*i i ^its *fo^ 
sf^r orfctol ff3t*ri ^firc:*w ^ft ft ^w ^t fares 3t*H 

sfaro fa^te* c*rfa^1 tot *ft* ^ftc^PF c* ^ ^ft 
*rfat* farte c*rs ^Jtft 31 *rwre *rtft ^ $ 6 .<ft ^tft ^ft 
^Mt^ faft ftc*i *rtft ostites ^ ^fa^ 5*1 i 3W ^rte^ 

1 Distributed over 320 pages. 

5 Itihas-mala, p. 240. 

3 i6i'd, p. 314. 

* ibid, story 16, pp. 37-40. 


^ 5*1 I ^Jt3 ^fe*I^ *rtft ^*f fes *ttfa ^Ttl ^ 

3Wfa f^d ^ffe ^ft^n 3W ^ *fel ^fc^ ^^ 
*k&$$ c*\m ftfte *&* fas ft^tc^T *p* ^PRt*i *fe 

^cw (71 ^ ^fiRi *JtS ^fe*FF # ^t 5 ^ fat* p 
^ ^RrI*t w fs 5 ^t^l ^tft ^*fire i *ft* 3W ffpi ^rtft ' 

^c^ ^< frsl fart* *f*c*i* i gw ^t&r ^tPrat swfara 
^ttt ftol 4 wfa ^r *re *ft*i stefas ^frtg ^r ^ s ^ ^ 
fol c^i ^its c^ ^tw ^ftsl Tfts 3t*H ^ ^fe 

^TtOT f^Fcfe ftfl ^ft*l ^ ^fa^7T<T Tfaiu' ^t* TOT (StC^H 

fa*re i ^Jts ^*\n if^ tffius ^tfare *itfa*i ^f^rc*a 

aff^d ^s ill ^t ^sara ftw ^ i ^xts ^Jtft ^ gtwm 
^tftcs c*fa srt*w or fail ^ ^ ^ ^rts 3N e n:^ ^ <Sfa 

Cffafl ^W ^t* ^3 ^tTJ ^fc*I $ft ^tnt^ f^ft^r 

A more laborious and important publication was 
effected at a later date by Carey in 

Carey's Bengali Die- his f amous Dictionary of the Bengalee 
tionary, 1815-1825. - JJ J % 

Language in two quarto volumes. With 

hardly a model before him except Forster's Vocabulary 


or Miller's Dictionary 9 X neither of which is hardly 
complete in itself, Carey achieved this useful and scholarly 
work after a laboar of thirty years and it deserves all the 
praise that has been bestowed upon it. Though, like his 
Grammar, it hardly belongs to the province of literal uro 
pure or proper, this book did much in stimulating the 
cause of literature and fixing the forms and expressions of 
the language, and for a long time it continued to be the 
standard work on the subject. The first volume was 
published in 1815 ; but the typographical form adopted 
being found likely to extend the work to an inconvenient 
size, it was subsequently reprinted in 1818 ; a second 
volume in two parts appeared by 1855. These three 
volumes comprehend about 2,000 quarto pages and about 
80,000 words 2 , a number that equally denotes the 
copiousness of the language and the industry of the 
compiler. Besides the meaning of words, their derivation 
is given where-ever ascertainable. This is almost always 
the case as a great man}' of the words included are Sanscrit 
or Sanscritic. Halhed (Grammar, Preface, p. xx) had long 
since maintained "the impossibility of learning the Bengali 
dialect without a general and comprehensive idea of the 
Sanscrit" on account of the close and intimate relation 
between the two. Following him, Carey himself always 
regarded Sanscrit as "the parent of nearly all the colloquial 
dialects of India" 3 and "the current medium of conversa- 
tion amongst the Hindoos, until gradually corrupted by a 
number of local causes, so as to form the languages at 

1 Said to be published in 1801. (Long's Catalogue). 

2 Forster's Vocabulary contained only 18,000 words. Carey, \\<>\\- 
ever, acknowledges his indebtedness to Forster in the Preface to his 

3 Preface to San. <crit Gramm a r, 1806. 


present spoken in the various part of Hindoosthau and 
perhaps those of some of the neighbouring countries" 1 . 
Carey, therefore, observes with regard to the materials of 
his Dictionary that "considerably more than three-fourths 
of the words are pure Sungskrit, and those composing the 
greatest part of the remainder are so little corrupted that 
their origin may be traced without difficulty". He also 
states that he has endeavoured to introduce into the 
Dictionary every simple word used in the language and all 
the compound terms which are commonly current or which 
are to be found in the standard Bengali works. It may be 
thought indeed that in the latter respect he has been more 
scrupulous than it was absolutely necessary and has inserted 
compounds which might have been dispensed with, their 
analysis being obvious and their elements being explained 
in their appropriate places. The Dictionary also includes 
many derivative terms and privative, attributive, and 
abstract nouns which, though of legitimate construction, 
may rarely occur in composition and are of palpable signi- 
fication. The instances of such, although they swell the 
dictionary into an inconvenient and costly bulk, evince at 
the same time the compiler's careful research, his conscien- 
tious exactitude, and his unwearied industry. The English 
ecpiivalents of the Bengali words are well-chosen and are 
of unquestionable accuracy 2 . Local terms are rendered 
with that correctness which Carey's knowledge of the 
manners of the people and his long domestication amongst 
them enabled him to attain; and his scientific acquire- 
ments and familiarity with the subjects of natural his- 
tory qualified him to employ, and not unfrequently to 
. . _ . 

1 Preface to Bengali Dictionary, 1818. 

2 See H. H. Wilson, Remarks on the Character and Labours of Dr. 
Carey as an Oriental Scholar and Translator. 


devise, characteristic denominations for the products of 
the animal and Vegetable world peculiar to the East. 
The objection taken to this Dictionary on account of 
its bulk, was subsequently removed by the publication 
of an abridgement, prepared under 
ment Sl l827 S abridge ' Carey's own superintendence by J. 
Marshman and printed in 1827 1 . 
Most of the compound and derivative terms were omitted 
and the publication was reduced to a thick octavo volume. 
Although this abridgement has the advantage of being 
more readily consulted, it does not however by any means 
obviate the necessity of the original which must be 
regarded as a standard work on the subject until replaced 
by a better one. 

In order to make a final estimate of Carey's position 

in the history of modern Bengali literature it would be 

necessary t:> take into account other 

Estimate of the writers who flourished in this period 

labours and character and wi(jh respect fco whom his posi- 
of Cai'ey as a writer L * 

of Bengali. tion must be determined ; yet it is 

hoped that a few words here would 
not be out of place. It may be observed that Carey never 
claimed anything for himself save the credit of having 
worked zealously and assiduously. He said to his nephew 
Eustace, his future biographer : " If after my removal 
any one should think it worth while to write my life, I 
will give you a criterion by which you may judge of its 

correctness. If he give me credit 

how far true 08tiniatC ' f bein S * l )lodder llC wil1 describe 

me justly. Anything beyond this 

1 This is in 2 vols. The first volume is an abridgement of the preceding 
Dictionary of Carey (Bengali-English) ; the second is a Dictionary, 
English and Bengali, compiled by J. C. Marshman. 1st Ed, vol. I, 1827 : 
vol. II, 1828; 4th Ed. 1847. 


will be too much. I can plod. I can persevere in any 
definite pursuit. To this I owe everything 1 " There is 
indeed some truth in this self-estimate but the modesty 
of the scholar precludes him from ascertaining the true 
value of his life's work. A plodder he was but how very 
few can plod in the way he did ; and this self-derogatory 
epithet is not the last word to characterise his many-sided 

It cannot be denied at the outset that Carey had 
a clear, vigorous intellect ; he was a man of no 
ordinary powers of mind : capable of strenuous . and 
enduring application j many-sided, his tastes were varied 
and his attainment vast. But, even admitting all 
this, it must be observed that he had no imagination, no 
philosophic insight, no splendid native endowments of 
any sort. Hardly any of his writings can be strictly 
called a work of genius. He 
Whether he was a mo d es tly introduces himself in the 

mere compiler and J 

translator. Preface to his Dialogues as a mere 

compiler, one who paves the way and 

leads the student to the higher classical works in the 

language. " The great want of books " says he " to 

assist in acquiring this language, which is current through 

an extent of country nearly equal to Great Britain, 

which, when properly cultivated, will be inferior to none 

in elegance and perspicuity, has induced me to compile 

this small work : and to undertake the publishing of two 

or three more, principally translations from the Sungskrit. 

These will form a regular series of books in the Bengalee, 

gradually becoming more and more difficult, till the 

student is introduced to the highest classical works in 

1 E. Carey, op. cit p. 623 5 also quoted in Dr. Culross's William Carey, 
p. 5. 



the language ". This was his main object in writing 
Bengali books : he was never inspired by any literary 
enthusiasm or artistic impulse of creation. His language 
and his interests are perfectly definite and practical ; 

there is hardly any touch of elevation 
aJcrtl^ref' attempt at ' fine writing anvwlu,-,. 

That he was capable of better things, 
is, as we have already pointed out, obvious from his 
Dialogues: yet even this work was meant chiefly as a 
text-book, and as such it hardly afforded many oppor- 
tunities for the display of his inherent literary powers. 
Most of his other writings consists of translation or com- 
pilation. But, although even in translation a capable 
artist has scope for his originality, in Carey's case the 
translations may be suspected to be pretty closely copied 
from the texts : there is no native literary aspiration to 
be free and original. Yet, after all is said, it must be 
admitted that whatever talent could achieve without 
genius, Carey did accomplish. If he wrote no great 
imaginative work, he at least prepared the way for the 
writing of such. We need not lament over the want of ori- 
ginality so conspicuous in his writings : for in the special 
circumstances it makes far more for his honour than for 
his depreciation. His literary work was inspired not 
by any desire of fame nor by any 

The value and signi- nee( j f satisfying a peremptory 
ficance of his trans- . 

lation. personal craving to write, but wholly 

and solely by the wish of what he 

thought to be benefitting the people, of doing somelhing 

that might help the country out of the slough of decadence 

into which it had been plunged by centuries of foreign 

rule, least favourable to the development of national 

life or literature. To this end, it would have been not 

merely presumptuous but, in the circumstances and the 


time, positively silly to have attempted original composi- 
tion which was likely to be little read and little understood"'. 

What then is his place ? He had no originality as 
a worker in literature and no creative 

litfratuir iU Bengali P wer - But he was a od reproducer 
of knowledge ; and as an educator of 
the nation, his work and his influence were alike very great. 
Discouraged by the authorities and 
under the Company liable to deporta- 
tion, he and his colleagues devoted themselves with 
courage to evangelisation and study of the vernacular. Of 
this, we shall have occasion to speak more in detail ; but 
it is chiefly for this educational purpose, as an indirect 
means of evangelisation, that his books were written. 
They are all rudimentary no doubt but to them belongs 
the merit of first reducing to a system the chaotic collo- 
quialism of the Bengali tongue. Knowing full well that 
the literature of a nation in the long run must be of 
indigenous growth, he at once pressed into service Bengali 
scholars and writers. By his own 

As a writer and a exertions as well as by those of others 
centre ot influence. 

which he iustigated or superintended, 
he left not only the students of the language well provided 
with elementary books, but supplied standard compositions 
in prose for the native writers of Bengali, and laid the 
foundation of a cultivated prose style and a flourishing 
literature throughout the country. It cannot indeed be 
said that Carey and his colleagues have " raised Bengali 
to the rank of a literary dialect " as the Jesuits of Madras 
are said to have done to the language of the South. 1 None 

1 Hunter, Indian Empire, p. 364. In the same strain Smith, the 
enthusiastic biographer of Carey, says " for the Bengali-speaking race, 
William Carey created a literary language a century ago." (op. cit. 
p. 186). Fide ante p. 61. 


of the works of these missionaries is acknowledged to-day as 
classical by Bengali authors or Bengali readers ; and Bengal 
had a language and literature of its own long before the 
missionaries even dreamt of coming out to this country ; 
yet this language had decayed and the literature had been 
forgotten. It was at this time that Carey came to Bengal. 
In order to understand what he did for literature we must 
recollect in what state he had found it when he made the 
first start. There was hardly any printed book ; manus- 
cripts were rare; and all artistic impulse or literary tradi- 
tion was almost extinct. To Carey 

The character and belongs the credit of having raised 
object of his work. 

the language from its debased condi- 
tion of an unsettled dialect to the character of a regular 
and permanent form of speech, capable, as in the past, of 
becoming the refined and comprehensive vehicle of a great 
literature in the future. Poetry there was enough in 
ancient literature; there was a rudiment of prose too, not 
widely known or cultivated. But Carey's was indeed one 
of the earliest attempts to write simple and regular prose 
for the expression of everyday thoughts of the nation. 
Other writers contemporaneous with him, like Ram Basu, 
or Mrtyunjay took Persian or Sanscrit as their model and 
their prose in consequence became somewhat quaint, affected 

and elaborate ; but the striking feature 
Carey's prose. . . 

01 Carey s prose is its simplicity. It 

is pervaded by a strong desire for clearness and for use, 

and by a love of the language itself. It succeeds in being 

clear and useful and it pleases by force of these elements. 

It is true that, in spite of all this, Carey must be 

admitted to have been in literature still a learner, not a 

master, in any sense; but we must not in our haste forget 

the pioneer who did the spade-work and paved the way for 

later glories. Such a pioneer Carey was, and eminently 


fitted for this task he was by his acquirements as well as 
by his position. 

We have seen that Carey not only wrote in Bengali 

himself, but with his influence in the Fort William College 

and reputation as a Bengali scholar, 

A friend of Bengali an( j friend of Bengali writers, he 

literature, ... 

succeeded in inducing many learned 
Bengalis to the promotion and preparation of good Bengali 
works. With the aid of the Press at Srirampur and the 
collaboration of his colleagues, and in subordination to its 

special purpose of multiplying copies 
The Press at Sriram- of the Bengali Bible, he devoted him- 

pur and its encourage- . . 

ment of native talent. self to the printing, as we shall see, 
of the first efforts of native literary 
talent. From 1801 to 1825 many useful works in Bengali 
as well as in other languages 1 issued from the Mission 
Press at Srirampur, to most of which Carey contributed 
encouragement and aid. Many of the older Bengali classics 
were printed at the Mission and made accessible to the read- 
ing public. The editions of the Ramayan of Krttibas and the 
Annadamaiigal of Bharat-chandra, published through the 
zeal of Carey, remained for a long time the standard texts 

1 In the Appendix to the Tenth Memoir, relative to Srirampur 
translations (1832) is given a review of the work of the Mission since 
its commencement. It is shown that two hundred and twelve thousand 
volumes in forty different languages at a cost of over 80,000 have 
been issued between 1801 and 1832. The Mission was practically the 
first in the field in its assiduous study of the different dialects and 
languages of India. In the Sixth Memoir (dated March, 1816) we find 
34 specimens of 33 Indian languages given. The whole discussion, 
Grierson points out (Indian Antiquary, 1903, p. 246), is the first 
systematic survey of the languages of India. Before this, Gilchrist 
in his Oriental Fabulist (1805) had attempted to give a polyglot version 
of ^Esop's fables : but he confined himself to giving specimens only 
in six languages including th classical Sanscrit and Arabic. 


of these ancient works. The promotion of Bengali litera- 
ture thus effected by the example and impulse of the Press 
of Srirampur had been very important, although after 
1825 it became less necessary because of numerous printing 
press springing up in Calcutta for the promotion of indige- 
nous talent. But this alteration of the state of things 
after 1825 is itself due mainly to the example and influence 
of Carey and the missionaries at Siirampur. 

Nothing would be more fitting to close this perfunc- 
tory estimate of Carey and his works than the high tribute 
paid to Carey by a competent authority, the celebrated 
lexicographer and scholar, Ram Kamal 
The tribute of Ram Sen> j must acknowledge here" 

Kamal Sen. . . . 

he says in the Preface to his Bengali- 
English Dictionary (1830), "that whatever has beeu done 
towards the revival of the Bengali language, its improve- 
ment, and in fact, the establishment of it as a language, 
must be attributed to that excellent man, Dr. Carey, and his 
colleagues, by whose liberality and great exertions, many 
works have beeu carried through the press, and the general 
tone of the language of this province has been so greatly 


The Pundits and Munsis of the 
Fort William College. 

After William Carey the next writer of importance, 
who composed two of the earliest original works in 

Bengali prose, was Ram Ram Basu, 

Ram Ram Basil. 

who unlike Carey was a native of 
Bengal, born at Chinsurah towards the end of the 
18th century and educated at the village of Nimteh 
in the 24 Pergunnahs. He was a Barigaja Kayastha, 
as is indicated in his Prataparfitya Charitra. To quote 
Dr. Carey's account, "Ram Bose 
His reputation and De f ore he attained his sixteenth 

his appointment in the 

College. year became a perfect master of 

Persian and Arabic. His know- 
ledge of Sungskrit was not less worthy of note." l Such 
was his reputation for proficiency in these languages 
that Carey speaks of him admiringly "a more devout 
scholar than him I did never see 2 ." It was this 
reputation for learniug which secured to him not only 
the post of a Pundit 3 in the College of Fort William 

1 Original Papers of Carey in the care of Serampore Missionary 
Library, quoted in N. Ray's Pratapaditya Charitra p. 185. 

2 Buchanan, op. cit. speaks of him as "a learned native" ; Marsh- 
man, op. cit. describes him as "one of the most accomplished Bengali 
scholars of the day," 

3 Carey says that Ram Basu resigned his appointment through a 
difference of opinion with the authorities of the College. The date 
of his resignation however cannot be determined. In Roebuck, op. 
ctt. (which was published in 1819) we do not find Ram Basu's name 
in the list of the Bengali Pundits ; on the other hand in Buchanan, 
op. cit. (published 1805) he is described as "a learned native in the 
College." He must have resigned some where between 1805 and 1818. 


in 1801 but also the friendship of Raja Ram-mohan 
Raj', himself a learned man, who is said by Carey to 
have exercised great influence on Ram 
Mohan BSy. Basil's life and character and mould- 

ed his literary aspirations. It should 
be noted here that Ram-mohan, according to some, was 
the author of the first original prose treatise in Bengali ; 
because his Bengali work on Monotheism ( fi^tCH 
C^Wpf^fa ^f^tf) was, according to himself, written 
when he was only sixteen, and supposing him to be 
born in i774, or even, according to others, as " late as 
1780, the book* must have been written before any of 
the publications of the Fort William College or of the 
Srirampur Press issued. But this book meant for 
private circulation was never printed or published, and 
Ram-mohan's earliest publication in Bengali was in 1815. 

It seems therefore that Ram Basil's 

Ram Basu's posi- .. ^i n *.' i 

tion as the earliest position as the first native original 

original writer of vvriter in modern Bengali prose still, 
Bengali prose. 

after all, remains unassailable. But 

the influence of Ram-mohan 's unpublished work, which 

Ram Basu is said to have taken as his model, can never 

be disputed ; and it was from the learned Raja that 

Ram Basu got the first impulse to write in Bengali. 

Carey reports to have heard that Ram Bam took the 

manuscripts of his first work, Prafapaflitya CJtaritra 

to Ram-mohan, and got it thoroughly revised by him l . 

1 Ram Basu's Attack on Brahmins (called simply on Brahmim 
in Murdoch, Catalogue) as well as his other writings show that 
he shared many of his views with his friend and master, Ram- 
mohan. In Bahgala Sdmayik Sahitya (1917), vol. 1. p. 25, this 
work of Ram Basu on Brahmins is called SJMHfl and the date 
given is 1801. Speaking of this work, Marshman op. cit. says that in 
it "he exposed the absurdities of Hinduism and the pretension of its 
priest-hood with great severity" and pays him the compliment of 


Although the influence of the Raja was so great on 
him, Ram Basu was at the same time a great friend 
of the Missionaries, consorted for many years with 
Thomas, and was for some time Carey's Munsi. 

From whatever source the impetus might have come, 
Ram Basu wrote two important 
original works in Bengali under the 
patronage of the Fort William College 

1. Raja Pratapaditya Charitra, 1 1801, July ; 

2. Lipimala, 1802. 

Pratapaditya Charitra 2 is said to be "the first prose 
work and the first historical one 

riZ at ^ol dltVa ha ' that a PP eared " (Long's Catalogue). 
Its claim to be considered as 

having "wielded the power of sarcasm inherent in the language 

with singular effect." He was almost on the verge of avowing 

Christianity (See Culross, op. cit. pp. 61-62) bnt was possibly deterred 

by Ram-mohan. Ram Ram Basu is said to have written also a book 

called If! Sf^lJ in 1801 or the Immortal History of Christ in Verse 

12 mo. 25 pp. Murdoch, Catalogue, however, dates it at about 1810. 

1 This work like Krsnachandra Bayer Charitra was written at 
the inducement of Dr. Carey. Ram Basu helped Carey in his 
translation of the Bible (see footnote to p. 11,8. See also Calcutta 
Review, vol. x. p. 134.) Ram Basn wrote, besides the works mentioned 
above, a Christian tract called the Gospel Messenger, which is also 
mentioned by Long. The description of this tract is thus given 
in Murdoch, Catalogue ; "Three months later (i.e. June 1800) a 
Tract was printed under the title of the 'Gospel Messenger,' which 
was written 'to usher in the Bible.' This little book contained a 
hundred lines in Bengali verse. The writer, Ram Ram Basu, had been 
convinced of the truth of Christianity through the instruction of 
Mr. Thomas. 'The Gospel Messenger' was the first thoroughly native 
tract printed in Bengali." (op cit. p. 4-5) See also Smith, op. cit. 

p. 203 ; Marshman, Hist, of Seramp. Miss. pp. 131-132. 

2 The title-page says : j\Sf\ *WWtfif4JbfM I ftPl Tfa *fiftH 



the first piece of original prose work we have briefly 
discussed. As an historical work, too, its place is very 
high. In the description of it given in Buchanan's 
College of Fort William (1805), it is said to have been 
"composed from authentic documents" and Ram Basu 
himself at the beginning of his book says : *Ktf% *T^t*TC$ 

ft^H fofo< ^t^^T ^^ 3f^5 ^t^ 

As the first histori- . . .w .<- .<-. 

calwork in Bengali T^tt^K*! Tt^TO* ^ft ^ft 

prose - vst^t^fe^m ^XA^[ ^% W\fo ^Tffg 

^^rl 'if** wfc 4*rc <5rfa ^T* ^k^ff Wirrrfa 

^fNlfa ^5^^ ^tfaFs ^Itf^^ ^f?TC*R clj SRJ <?Rn5 
^ffit *T 3*5 ^TtrW ^f?pitft C^^fl *rfe^Cf I ! It- 
seems therefore that this work one of the very few 
treatises on a little-known period of history is based 
upon both authentic history and tradition ; but the 
learned pundit seems to have taken every precaution to 

$t*fl 3^1 I S^O I The History of Raja Pritapadityu By Ram Ram 
Bo8hoo one of Pundits in the College of Fort William. Scram pore. 
Printed at the Mission Press. 1802. pp. 1-166. Entered with identical 
date, place of publication and name of the author in the Catalogue 
of the Library of the Hon. East India Company 1845, p. 195. An 
excellent edition of this work, which had been out of print since 
the first edition in 1801, has been brought out by Nikhilnuth 
Ray under the auspices of the Sahitya Parisat. It is needless to 
say that I am much indebted for some biographical and other 
informations to this edition ; but with regard to the extracts 
quoted, I have carefully compared the text given here with that 
in the first edition, as I find it in the copy of the work lent to 
me by the Library of the Board of Examiners. The reference! 
are given to both the original as well as to N. Hay's edition as the 
latter is more easily procurable. The page-reference given here in the 
text is, in the first place, to the 1st edition (Library of Board of 
Examiners) and then to N. Ray's edition. 

ut*i ateWfasjtfw, pp. 3-4 ; p. l. 


make it a truly historical work, as far as possible. 
Competent critics have pronounced this work to be 
genuinely historical, in spite of its occasional aberrations 
due to hasty shifting of gossip and fact. The scanty 
facts and abundant fancies as to the life of Pratapaditya 
are a common-place of history. But leaving aside 
guess-work and speaking of certainties, modern research 
has been able to make little additions to what Ram Basu 
has written a century ago. 1 Whatever might be the 
value of his historical conclusions, however, we are bound 
to admit at least that the book evinces a careful historical 
treatment and a truly historical spirit although the work 
is not history in the proper sense of the term. This treatment 
and this spirit were hitherto unknown. There are indeed 
a few so-called biographical and historical works in 
ancient Bengali literature, such as Chaitanya Bhagabat 
or Chaitanya Charitamria, but these works, written in 
verse, are, in tone and subject, more religious than 
historical, and ostensibly modelled on the ancient 
Puranas. It is true that as contemporaneous record of 
society reflected in them, these works may supply mate- 
terials to a historian but the works themselves can hardly 
be called historical. Indeed to Ram Ram we must give 
the credit of being the first Bengali prose-writer who 
attempted to write history in the sense in which it 
is taken to-day. 2 The story is given in a connected 

1 See Nikhil Nath Ray's Edition p. 199, where the claim of 
this work as a piece of history is discussed. 

2 There are occasional touches of exaggeration or fancifulness, 
peculiar to oriental, especially Persian, writers ; but these are para- 
donable enough (e.g. his description of 5r*Ttd>3 *lft etc). The 
book, however, was so highly regarded that it was translated from 
original Bengali into the Marhatta language in 1816 (Roebuck op. cit. 
App. II.,) and re-written by Haris Chandra Tarkalankar in 1853 


and interesting manner, enlivened by visual pictures 
descriptions, and anecdotes ; and 

Rim Basu as aii *?** Basu ' s l wer of represetttiiig 

historian. historical incidents, without being dry 

or discursive, is undoubted. As a 
pioneer in the field this is a high compliment indeed. His 
is the plain narrative style, suited to his work, with 
little embellishments (except by way of gorgeous descrip- 
tions) or suggestiveness, but marked with a certain 
interesting idiosyncracy of character in spirit and form. 
It is not possible to give too many 
An illustrative extracts but the following, it is 

extract (The flight of . , ... ... ,. . 

Ram-chandra). hoped, will illustrate his general 

manner and powers of description. 

^ fat arc* to cwfa *t* snff^ f^rfafatre ft*TFs 
^firal ^M<rcws wl^fT *r|*i i ^rt*fa ww c^ *rfe fa^ 

c?^ ttwl wiror ^fa*rt*T*ri ^fi vstet* nwt ^^ *fiu 

^1 ^fel StQStt C^ft C^FrfOT CW*t ^Sf ^t<T <5t*1 ^F%! ^1^1 

faF*f faon fail st^rre ^v^\ sjretfc ft^ tjN Wf 

^ft^ s^fi ^^Tre Ts^m ^ra ^rffc? s^* ^1 ^t* <srr* 
c*wfa *T* r?fe ^Jrarct fsws ^fa?1 ^tet* ^fa^fa ^t*ft 

(vide poste p. 171). W. Pertseh, the editor of ffftrts BamiabcrZt Charittm 
(Berlin 1852) alluded to this work but it scarcity even in his day 
made it difficult for hi ni to obtain a copy and he contents himself by 
the account of it given in the Calcutta Review, xiii. 1850, p. 135. 


^f*n:qT *l&m ^tfouw Tfi 'ft* TO^ ^^ ahHt&w 

tft* sfl i utai ^*tnf% c^tre ^f*rcw *Wti ^fk^U frf^H 
g$q fcr| ^i <Ffoi1 *f* ^tre w$ TOts *ft*l W^ *wt*t* 
*p&3 fWll CTfatFfa ffilCT WS *"Nl w*& **W witfe 

cl| *5t1 ^f%3l *f^ *$! ^^ C^fa 3?C3f ^E3 ^t* 

^ ^ *ttt3H *tofl *wtfa c^t^ ^tw ^tw ^nrtAe 

sfoll fe$5 frlttPl Ttfft C*tt^ ^fe Tt^R srt I 
<<feji<1 fwfa3 f*Rt^ 3^*1 5Tt5f^T^W *t% m 1^*1 ^t^S 
WTC5 ftWTC ^fttfrR I ^ ^fat^l 4 ^T^F^T ^ft^i t^hHifw 

^?R 4<K Wtfo ^3 ^ffa*R fa ^^ cf)^ ^F$ f3>^5 

^^5 *Tfa1 *Tfa I 3t^2>1 ^l^* fe^Jfa f^| c?fa 3*1 ^tl ^fa 

^t^t^ *#$ et^ ^ft $wi* ^ ^3* ^tfc^ ^tf^^^fw 
^w 3^5 &t* c^t3? *rfo ** i st^sri ^tft ^rwsprtrc 

t$1 fffe W ^flr^i ^t^ ^tffa Ttw ^c$ ^3^ ^ft^R 
?rfa tforanfc c^s*l Wfts ^fat*i *t*$*t* ft%o s^rl 

^fe^ f ^ ^ ^*tft f^l Offafcfi* 3fl i c^*\ 4^1 


*ftfa I Tfa ^ *^*1 ^fo*R ^ fa <tf^ ^-tfj ^ra'^tft CT 

*t^5j3 *fo*R c^t? 1t*lfa #ft* *ff5 *W 51 fal <ffa *rfo 
^S ^TtTt^ *4PI *lfaff5?ftfa\$ ^Q l|^tl WNfef *tfa5W I 

^ft^Jl^ silt'! *ffa3l SW *ftCTS 4$ ^ 1U5 4 gfa 

<^ wtw cd*l *tfci *t*il ^ ^fasn ^5i*f aftw c^fai ftw 

ff ^1 cH^tfa* C^fa ^fWiJ OW >q *fal3l tajtfas 

5*1 fo*i WiRi *t*fl <i<t*itfarej h^sj *itl?i tssfa* 
farc* festal ^fat*R fa "Hj wl *n* i *tf - ** i ^fa 

<rft5 <3rfa ^fa*i i ' 

In addition to its being the first piece of history in 
Bengali, the work has an intrinsic interest of its own to 
the student of literature. The curious style, in which it 
is written, with its quaintness, its crude orthography and 
syntax and its tendeuey towards Persian, has been the 
subject of much adverse criticism ; but considered in the 
light of literary history it reveals to us certain aspects of 
the development of prose style in the beginning of the 
last century. The writer 2 in the Calcutta Review of 1850 
its style charac- characterises this style as a "kind of 

terised as "a kind mosaic, half Persian, half Bengali" 
of mosaic". * ' & 

indicating "the pernicious influence 

which the Mahamadans had exercised over the Sanskrit- 
derived languages of India" : aud this view has been 
endorsed by J. Long who in his Descriptive Catalogue 

1 3tTl T5t*ftfc5T tf*ar t Pp. 130-35 . pp. 54-56, 

* The writer was James Long himself. See Cal. Rev. 1850, p. 134, 
Art. "Early Bengali Literature and Newspapers". 


(1855) speaks of the book as "a work the style of which, 

a kind of mosaic, shewed how much unjust ascendancy of 

the Persian language had in that day corrupted the 

Bengali". Mahamahopadhyay Haraprasad Sastri, in 

one of his lectures, l condemned the book as "unreadable" 

on account of its style. It can not be denied indeed that 

the style is "a, kind of mosaic" a curious admixture of 

Bengali and Persian quaint, affected, and involved ; 

and considered from the standpoint of purity, lucidity, 

or simplicity, its style is the worst that this period has 

to show in Bengali prose. It is true that Persian words 

occur more or less in every writing of this period, and we 

have seen fron Carey's Dialogues published only a month 

after the book under review, Persian 

Preponderance of words preponderated especially in the 
Persian. l l L J 

colloquial language of a certain class 

of people ; but no otherpublication of this period is so much 

disfigured by Persian and Urdu words as Ram Basu's 

Vratapaditya Charitra. The following extracts taken at 

random will bear out the above statement ; CWtt^T Ww^ 

fo&$ fa^n 3^1 *i^ tf*ral fc*tft* ft*i ^fc ^wre^ 

1 Lecture on Bengali Literature in the Present Century (in Bengali), 
at the Sabitri Library (Published in Bangadarsan, vol. vii and 
viii, 1287-88 B. S). He uses the words "STtf&T T^l" in connexion 
with this work, which appellations, however, are rather too strong. 
It is a significant fact that Dr. Yates in his Selection from Bengali 
Literature of this period (Introduction to the Bengali Language, 1847, 
vol. ii) does not quote a single extract from Pratapaditya Charitra, 
for its style seems to have been regarded as not worth study or 


<&tf*\*\ ^Wfl fo| 5^Tf5*l Sfj (p. 6 T 7 j p. 2) | (71 ^tw C^it* 
ftfctttf *CTtTO ***! ^tST!c*ff 3 irf| iflUt* %*f* ^m Tft^ 

tfl^pff ^rfl <Tfa1 ^ ^rf?rc*R 5^:*tft< c*tt*!t*ts? 13* 

^T^tiT ^ StSiT S *W *t%l (p. 1 8 ; p. 7) | *tt5 *r* JflTO fjfft 

m f*t*WR fiKSI (p. W ; p, 9) I C$t*TO ^ *R* C*ff*Brl 

ftutltftwi forf ^i ^ ^^ ^w c**i tljrTOi ^i*r- 

fare ^p ^fir^R (p. 22 -, p. 9) i frr&r ^t*RT^ tot^ c^r^t^^ 
^s* *tfaw ^tt^t *Nittfl ^tw Tlw ^renfr ^ftsl *Fa^ 

Tt^ftW sftsftS (p. l ; p. 8) | dflU ^Rtft *TC* <7Rt*tfa 

s?ft ^ *tWCH CTOfaS Ttfa*! ^t*W (pp. 28-29 ; p. 11) I 
S^! *PW *ptt* ^ft*l ^*tfa* ^<<R (p. 29; p. 12) | 

^tre ^ qt^l *tf%* sral ^ri eft ^rt^t^^nr *n% to* 
fasl itW$ ^fa*! ststsl Pm *rtft ^fai $ 3Wre c^it^ 
fafl *itf^wtfare ci fa*i ^t*rft faft* ^fire stefafaic* 

(pp. 82-32 ; p. 1 $) I ^<TC* ^xst^ftf^T Tt^l ^sfattTi fafes 

c*ftfe*i ^fe*i*i ntp* ^raffis *rt^i fa^i ^^ ^trf^i <3*t^ 
**fa$1 stfwfsi ^ratre *tn ^ ^4^fa3 *rra fa^?r fro* 
3^*1 *rrfa find *t^tt^ ^p* *ft ^t*rc (p. co j p.25) 

It mast be borne in mind, however, that at the time 
when the first Bengali prose works were written, 
Persian and Urdu, as the languages of the Court 1 and 
the market-place, were extensively studied and works 

\ It was abolished as a Court -language in 1836 


in those languages were taken as models of composition 

in Bengali. Sanscrit was chiefly 
How far justifiable. 

confined to the exclusive class of 

learned B rah mans and curious scholars. Not only Persian 

and Urdu were learnt by the boys at school together with 

their mother-tongue, but even in ordinary conversation 

Persian words were extensively used. Six centuries of 

Mohammedan rule did not affect in any remarkable degree 

the manners and customs of the people but they succeeded 

in throwing the vernacular into the shade and strengthening 

the supreme authority of Persian and Arabic, from whose 

rich vocabulary the Bengali language had been borrowing 

ever since. Even up to the time of Bam Mohan, 

when the tendency to Sanscritised style was gradually 

growing into favour, the Persian ideal was not wholly 

discarded. Ram Mohan himself wrote his earliest 

work in Persian but he was also a profound scholar of 

Sanscrit and his later Bengali style was therefore more 

sanscritised. Ram Basu, however, 

RamBasu's mas- in spite f Carey's tribute to his 
tery over Persian and x J 

adherence to Persian knowledge of Sanscrit, seems never 

to have possessed that command over 

the language which his friend Ram Mohan certainly 

did. But Ram Basu's mastery over Persian and Arabic, 

which seem to have been his favourite subjects, was 

undoubted. Moreover, Ram Basu as we have pointed 

out, distinctly says at the beginning of his book that 

he has based his work upon certain historical treatises 

in Persian. It may be observed that in the description 

of wars and court affairs, the language of the day could 

not avoid a certain inevitable admixture of Persian. 

Ram Mohan's subject-matter was religion, and his text 

the Sanscrit Sastras ; while Ram Basil's interest, on the 

other hand, was in history and the Persian manuscripts 



constituted his authorities. As a result, therefore, 
it was quite natural that in his composition, Persian 
should have so much influence. Towards the end of 
Pratajiadifya-eharitra, however, and in the description cf 
domestio or emotional matters, Ram Basu has avoided 
foreign aid and turned naturally to Sanscriticised language 
in order to attain more vernacular ease. In the following 
passage on the celebrated episode of Basanta Ray's murder 
as well as the description of the flight of Ram-chandra 
quoted above, it will be seen that the number of Persian 
words are comparatively few : 

fftl F3t*fTft^T C^fa3^ ^m* fast *Tfo ;r| 3tr1 ^*T$ 

*tts* fast* Tttvifir* 3tt^* fro*r ^retfins^t* 6t*f* 
<rt^ ^6Jl*H4w *tsrl e^Mfrsi 4^ fro 5t*rfat* iwt^iw 
feti f#pi *[#t <skv\ $fw?\ <m$ *t^i w^ <jft *rft ^fare^ 

*tmrc **t*t* <usrl srewfroi crot ^tftret^ i t^tre 

^ffTS *fiN ^1 Offafl ^fatCR 1*|^ 4^ *ftfrS | fcfalWJ 

^9 <fft<OT *f\5^ ^ ^tff? 5 Tfef? ^s^R S $t*W* "H? 
^q I (pp. 137-38 ; pp. 57-58). 

Moreover, Pratapaililj/x-r/xirifra was the first attempt at 

sustained Bengali prose- writing, and with no model before 

him, Ram Basu had no other alternative than that of 

writing in the current language, which was in itself a 

strange admixture of Bengali and 

popZ'".a 0n g,KO. l " e PerS, ' an ' in rder that hi8 W rk ""''" 
easily appeal to all. What seems 

quaint and affected to us was quite natural to readers a 


century ago who were accustomed to such corrupted forms. 
We must make allowance for all these considerations; 
but after all is said it caunot be denied at least that the 
style of Pratajjaditya is one of the worst specimens 
of Bengali prose-writing even for this period. 1 

In Lipimala, however, his next work 2 published in 
1802, consisting of a collection of 

Lipimala. 1802 ' .... 

letters on various topics, the influence 
of Persian is almost absent. The Preface to this work 
in Bengali, indicating its object and plan, will be found 

ifoj <*m * srr*fai ^fei ftwrc ^si 

Its objeot and plan (^ 

as explained in the ^fl^C^C^ I 
Prfiffi pr 

j^jsj <q*w *>[&{?? c*\U^ *rat*ra ^rfc5 TO ^^ ^^rc^ 
faftfo ^8 4^W 4*ffi ^^iT rfq*tf5 fel^ti *3t"ttt*1 
IfttWl 4tff% W^W *TW *{fc*l ^Tt^ftRt^ ^tfs *ltt*(. 

1 This work was re-written in a more popular style by Haris- 
chandra Tarkalankar at the instance of Rev. James Long in 1853 
and inoluded in the "Bengali Family Library Series" (^fl^J *t*fa1 
*FFF\?$\). 2nd Edition 1856. It would be interesting to contrast the 
styles of these two works written at the interval of 50 years. Haris 
ohandra's version is reprinted in N. Ray's edition. 

The book gives a clue to its date. There is a couplet in the 
Preface which shows that it was composed iu <5t3f >**. It runs 
thus : F5tfc5I 1* * 9 .*> l Wl I *W *fa* ** ^^ ^^ 

This undoubtedly Bhows according to some critics the influence 
of RSm-mohan Ray who taught the worship of "m"- This influence 
is also indicated in the present work by its more sanscriticised 


TtTl <QlP[ ^fiftl *T^*f ^tfW^t*fr ^^ I ^IWf <4 

Wtfosaft* ^f"^fi c*rft ^$1 <*rft^ ^tel ^^*J^ {HtCT 

f^flTO TO Tl ^tfTC 4 ^Ffal c^fa c*it^ C*Tfa fer *fc$ 

Ifcf Hi I 1 

The letters, however, are not all on business matters 
or domestic subjects but some of 

Description of the book. , 

them are in reality discourses on some 
religious, historical or legendary topics of interest. For 
instance, in the letter of one King to another we have, 
among other things, a discourse on the death of Pariksit 
with a moral on the impotence of human will ; in the 
letter of a King to his subject, an account of Daksa-yajfia: 

Lippimala or the Bracelet of Writing being a Series of Letters on 
Different Subjects by Ram Ram Boshoo, one of the Pundit* in the 
College of Fort William. Serampore. 1802. pp. 1-255. Also entered in the 
Catalogue of the Library of the Hon. East India Company, p. 295, with 
identical date and place of publication and uame of the author. In 
Buchanan op. cit. it is described as "an original composition in Bengali 
prose in the epistolary form" and in Primitae Orientalet as "Letters on 
business in the Bengali Language intended to facilitate transactions 
with the native*". 


a son writing to his father gives a description of 

Nabadvvlp and Chaitanya; a father instructs his son 

. . . , . in the Pauranik account of Narad 

An original composi- 
tion in Bengali prose and Parbat or of the descent of 

in the epistolary form. i 

Bhagiratni j a teacher writing to his 
pupil answers some of the latter's questions about Raban 
and the legendary account of Baidyanath. This work is 
really, as Buchanan describes it {op. cit. p. 228) "an 
original composition in Bengali prose in the epistolary 
form". All these descriptive letters are indeed interesting 
both in form and matter, but it is not possible to give 
here more than one quotation, on account of the length of 
the letters : 

wt $m<\* fan* csfrf* ^ ^$^ m*n ^t% attrfajt 

Illustrative extracts: ** ***** ^ *ftltt ^ttW 

(1 ) A description of * <~ <~ <-, __*=, 

Daksa and his Sacri- tf^fcl ^Rfc*tt (71 TCTO <2fi^ *!$ 4 ^5? 

Sfton ft^ <ra^ ph:^^ tf$$\ y^\*\f& rHi *ct* 

^ sst^tiT *t* iff I W^ s^lfe <2f5rt*u% Wt*T *fWpl 
*ft (f"fa) St*t* qW1 ^fe fol ^ft ^Mtft ^ C^tfe 3^1 
jfctl TtWft* SfctffS *fF C^fa ^if^ <5t*t* ^Tt^t^Tl 
1^t*n% s*faft S5t3t* *3faC*t ^ft<1 ^^^ <?& *F*tl 

1 ftftftftj *W lt?| ; pp. 107-116. Some verses are here omitted 
at the beginning. 


*rft <ifaici ^twcro ^rf^m^ *ra*i ^^ *ftH *fjsN 

^ftt*I f5Tt*ffo W* HEfftl ^$S ^ TO3FCTI iffUl id 

*fra p* **tt*tc! fa^]m ?[^i ^t^f^ w*^ ^f<rc*w fai^i 

*^tW ^fct* Iflt^l ^T^T ^31 *l?\*\F& ^ fifc^ ^ ^<nt5 

^farcqi *jit faf^s $W tfait ^<^ fc$ ^1 ^j^ 
^it^ ft^ <^t3 *Jflpi ^fts fa^t* qftre t^i or* 

tra *<r fa^cs ^ ^ <w ^t^f^t^ <?ffa ^ ^tft 

<r|Tfa' ^5^1 f*f^^ *rfe\5 ^ft iW W (some verses 
omitted here) | <<)^rt ^ft^l ^ISftTO* 5TO ^fafll >ITR1 ^fat*l 

*CTtrc fa*rt ftra V fest^ Oft C5W* f*rai *rft^ ^mrc 
*tw 5(1 Cf* CI srfaft^ ^t3? ^firct* ftfas ^srffire fowl 
^^ fan fs^^t ^ft ciot 1W ttt! srt ^^s 'srfsjt^ 

^tT5 C^t^t^ ^ 3$F& ^5t^ ^5t^ ^t^ 6 ! ^C^F 5(1 I 
^J^S^^ ^fasffos ^t^ V\W\ ^ft\5 J^^ I *T^t %9Cl^ 

^t^t^R ^rtft ^ *rt*rft ^vm^ ^ftc^i ?d ^?t *rt^* 


^t^Fl fasts ft*tl *l ^fe^i Jffl fawn C*t*R ^f*F5 
^f*re ^fftapfcw c^tfasi ^1 iffgro 5tf% *rf*OT*rtir* 
vfa jrW\ ft^ ( ft* ) ci**w W ^Pfaw i*W*i *i*t*fa 
^i "NWififel ^f**' ^^^ gj* cfi c*f?t <ti *fafc*t*w 

IfftPHI ^tfiSfe W*t( <$^ )*& Wtl** flstl^l GStofaF* 

*3j?rrfo$ ^*1 Wlw fi>ra *fon **t* ^g* 5 * ^fa*l caffa* 

*#* *FJ ^f*F* ItfaiFTC 1&*?fc C^W^e 5 iffa STT^t^P 
^^ iftll *Tt* <sit* *TC^ <ft% ^PTfcPMC* TOt* ^f**1 

w itw ftst* ft^ ^1 wt* ^f*t*i *r^ <5tetre arfa*i- 
?tcrt ^*rett*r c^tt^ra *fcd fftfwt* e\^ ^ i *1*i 
*ra ^r fwtf 4*tt^ ^ferte osfit* Ttft fre* tfe Wr 
*ftc* ^t* ^<rftf% *t^?*t*1 fit* it*f *&*l ^tet* cfrl 

*tft*t* C**t <?5t*t* 3 *F*ft*l *R <5F54* tfS|v5 ^j Cv5t*tW 
^ItOI Ttft 5t*fc ftW ^f**!T* *1 I 4 CW^^I ^tfa 
3*frt* *& *tfort* f^lS^ C*RWft *^ff5 *ftt* ^1 I J?t 
^fe^TC f*F5l 4*F5 ^f| JJ^faTC** rf% ^* C^T IStfff* Of*- 

c** awl ft^ Nrtft ^t* 1*^*1 t*tw ct s* **t% 

fei^*t3*^ *T e ^t* *f*t*R CT 3* VfFjfc *tt* ^f*3l *& **ti 
f*C^Fl St$ft* $W*t*FT CSt*1 ^if^W C*>* WS *\ <gfa 4 

^fcs ftrei c^ ^* i rf*r *ft*i w^ ft^t* tfa**i *rfoi 
cq ijtt ft*ft^i *f**i1 <st*i retit* tw *$n ftfi **r s^** 5- 

(1 J{$V| ^tC^T W^ *^t* ft*1*Rl *fifff5 ft^ ^OT lt 

*ctts*tw ^*rfa *f**l ^fe^c^H fasi 7i^^* fet^8F ^^^i- 

3Wi c^rt^ f^^^* ft* ci*^ ^fti^*- 3^*1 Pw <2tti^Ttf 
^f*^^ f%^1 c^t W ^Ttt ^f*^^ ^srrt* *t*ft 2ftl ^Jt^f 

*^f*'* c^t^t* it*i^i ^^ ^t* *tft^ 5rt <fc ^ft*l ^w "^tfert 
*tf**l *r^*i "WJ^tCT *frai ft*iw tw ^t^^rt-n ^f*^i^ i 

*T5t* 1WJ Wt^*! C^t^lt^^ ^1*W Wf 5 ^t^t*^^^ s Hf*1 


Cttftfl ft*T I 5lfa fffl*M >T5Wt^ *l^*1 C*tfR ^f?[^5 ^rfaro 

fl^^Ws ftrefR ^firatftca^ to tore capntfafc fare* c*rfatfiF5 
s^re s^re iftGWIW *Ft*rtwfa*i *rc $^ri n^g^ $^5 
cfi^ ?fei cijr ^fori op^i^ ^1^ ^tffa %^ &5*fi& 

s^'f *rel c^Ft^^ sfirafattf^ ^*pfe faw*R ^f?rc*R OT- 
^1 ^rofta& ^t^ra ^sfirel ^w ?re?r c5*r <?f^ 

V&fZ 7R*ft ^fift^R <W rfat^i <2fgt3 ^fosl ^f^ *ifa*f 
^tfl *Ftfa ^t 5 ? I^FF ^f<JHl ^5J ^fatf <2R^ i|| *IF5 i$\wt 

q&i *jf^r% ^t^ *^ri ^ts ife^si ^fare *rtfirc*tf sri 

^F3 fTO ^1 ^t^ C*ft5* fafrW ^Ff?IOT 3^1 *fe*fl fa^e 

^ 5fU5 3*Jfl fa^a (^ ^^1W *lt^1 fafa*f ^ft* TOttfTCTO 

Cf (R ^ W *h S^Tl *F5* ^ I Jft^WJ 4^13 ^ 5^1 
^Tt^ Tt^ ^^ 5^*1 Cl^ ^^t^ ^t 5 ^ ^^ ^^^ *3^l^ tl^ ^1^ 
^t^t^ StStre ^^ffe^ ^^ ^^ ?p*f W 4^ tfi^r i^^ 
^f^t^r g?fafi ^sa ^t^ f^*R<1 f^(tH ^^5^1^ ^^5 1^t^1^ 


But the language of the strictly business letters 

are not so commendable and the 

(2) Business letters . , . . . ,__ 

contrast is noticeable. We select 
here two characteristic specimens even at the risk of 
being lengthy. 

WFhr *rc^ frR =n ffen ^^ ^tft^ f^\u ^^R IN*- 
c*tHta cqtw* *Wfa (lar) <rfal iro *Wtet* *f3 #d ftfo^ 

(^tffert) <rfOT *tpi* ^f^s ^rfts *>^ ^*i*rtjw1 (i^rl) <^- 

of a domestic nature. 

1%^ 5tft *Fs fet^l 5JTFT ^F3 *ttf?rm ^1 ^fcfa *T^ 1Wt% 
<4tW ^ff5 <Tff%CW ^ | *tfqfa 4*Tfa ^5 ^*f< few* 

spit* ^re *itfircw ^T* ^ft^ ^*fw ^ srl ^fe Fft*Fs 

^37 C^Ft^ ^TW ^fes 3T5f1% ^ftff *ft^ 4*^ Tft *Jtft tfffoCS 
*ffif C^fa Tft ^5 fet^t^T *ltt*F5J ^fe 9 iBM (*ftBR) ^re 

fV$ ^ft^l *ri i )^ tW ^t*ft ^ fe^ ffa*r ^1 *Tft1 

Tf^ ^t^Tl ^Fttfl 5Tl <2ft^ ^1 fet^Ff* 1**1 Tfcsfal fa <2t^tt* 

1 faf*w*ri, f^tt^ mn f pp. 163.166. 



f^ft ^5^5 ^flrai fe^r i Sl^s st*^ 5 ?* ^gsrft^ ^rt^tf^s 
<7f Tt^ Itife^ ^ ^ff *rtr ^^ ^ftsi fe itfiw 

*ms^ ^ft ^i ^rt^ft^j ^m* ^t% ^fe ^? ^t^ tstre 

fe*tf^ ^tit^; ^5 w ^ <^s?ft^ ^rfit % *itfrfc^ ^tfcn 
^ ^Tre^ FFg ^fel fe:^ *rfft ^<ti ^tft^srfa to ^tft 

f t^fs ^^ ^ft c^fa ^rftw ^ ^ <srt*tft 4 ^^ 

*rfc^ ft^l <*t* c^t^ c^t*tt:*T ^t^T 5E*I <3W ^ftt^ ^f?TC I 

*trti^fs %i ^tet* *tftw itiftil fc^ *rfft ^tc^ ^^"f^ 
few tft ^rts ftft^s ftsi 1^ *i?fa* tm* ^ft^ itit^tfi 

ftfcll *tfFS *T^ C*ftf*fcs *ftf*TO (Tftfa ^^T5 Tt^ Ttf% 

*r*fe ^f?rai ffa*i cwi c^i? <5t^t* f^s ^ i ^ *Hr*i 
*it$ti sfcfalfofo ^ntrre ^t*tft *rfori ftc^ few *firai 
^fe^ ^ttft* c** ^rs ^1 sot *rfaT$tre wrfir ftf^ic^ i 

^rffte fftar 5 ^ wtt* "^t^^t^ Pw^ ^<rotf5 

^f?3FW ^5^fa SR2ft3 ^Tfe*TC | x5^ *TFTfa*t* ^>vz rf% 

1 f^rf^t^Tl, ^IT 5 ! ^1, PP 32-87. Some verses are omitted at the 
beginning. The extracts contain numerous disjecta membra poetae. 
To thia letter there is an equally strong reply which want of s pact 
forbids us to quote. 


TOtCTtt ^ftt*TC 5*1 ft* %tTO Tfa <R tt*UC^ ^t3Rl 

^fwf% i &&* sm *tci <5t*fa ^t*i ^ <5*ts ct ^ife 

of a political nature. 

*rc5$ ^Ffind mm n^wt* wW ftswft 
fett *fai vW$ ftfts ^ft^t^ 5 rt#wi ott^ ewntw 
"jnrt Sri *ft*i ^N ^iwt* ^ft3tfe*R i f*rai ^re tp 

ft^fa ^frs ^t^fa c^fa ^ e N*tt e s^ ^t^ ^*tts w^t^r lfl ftf 
*t*tapCT ^1 ^rfq^fs ^t*i ^ft ^tW <$] ^ m ^ 

fti ^ ^ft wn*i ^r ^ft i>ft c^t^ *ts* (7i ^ *&* 

c*w ^ft^rte ^ft *rtett* itlt^i ^ft^ ^ i ^ =W ^P 

c<*Tre ^fa* ^i <wt cvfrfa ft *ft* ^te* c^t*rfa ^t 

o$n ^ ^ ^ <*ft Nri*i ^fa ^ *itw *^i fofwi 
c*^ c^mr wf*f c^tt*f wttws *rc*t?r ^ftre i ^|w *rftrfa 

(stf^si ^Sral ^f^f ft % ^fa^i i f^^tft^i ^t^i ^^ rtl 
ft tor i^^t tej& fk ?k* cs* i ^r?r wt^J ^^ft's'tfe 


TO*H?t ^tm <5rtt*t *rfti *2p6 ^tet* ^*R fe*i fa faro <5rt*R 
f{%s -sjt^t^ ^fa*il fi ^fa*i ^<wftfa w ferft %*ff^ 

^t| *tc^ff f^1*t ^fa*i ^3 3r?wt3flft *TO ^Jt*fa ^*1^*l 1 
4*TC (71 ft^it^t^T 4 *rfWfo^ ^1^5 </5t1t* ^fa ^ f^l 

&ra csrfat* gwU *f*R ^1 *rtre ^tre <?rcpwfa trfaffr* 
ct fa| c^f^ ^rl *tt& ^t^fa fwi ^farl %rl ^trf<jft^^ 

^tff ^8 *fbo <4^3 ^1 fafaw (TRfa 1fRl ^E*l ^fa **Pl 

**fi ^1 sra I fal qft $&rf^ C^TCl* e^fej *TC1 ^1 ltFF 
faftw*\$ fofaw <3^ ^:w i fctl qtetffs "srf^ft fas 

TS^ C*fMfa1 ^^5 (?lt^P ^1^1 ^^ ^t^t^ f^l C^l ^fa^1 *\ I 

cst^t^ HI cHtfH ^ ^^^^ ^tr^^ 1^5 sjzft fe*ft^ fa ^ i 

As we have already remarked, the prevalence of Persian 
words, which is so conspicuous a feature of Pratapaditya- 
charitra, has almost disappeared in this publication. There 
is a marked tendency towards the use of Sanscrit words, 
but at the same time, in spite of elaborate superscription 1 

1 p. 185. But simpler superscription too, e.g., <2fW<Stf5*l %^W <BPJ^ 
fiR ^IJt'hcs^ (p. 101). But these are mere matters of form. 


like *3faptf%# c'lHwu *fimm$t few ftw: n?wm 

tVfWiW ^t^ 1 ^ fR^5 <2lt^^1 $3 fs*|1w**", the style is 

not laboured or pedantic like that of 
Its style more sans- * 

critised yet not some other pundits of the College. In 

pedantic or elaborate, , . n _, . , . , 

r this Kam Basil was proving himself 

a true disciple of Carey and Ram-mohan ; from the former 

he learned to make the best use of the popular language and 

avoid academic affectation of laboured style, and from the 

latter he got an insight into the strength and power of the 

language on account of its close relation to the classical 

Sanscrit. The syntax and orthography, however, are still 

imperfect, although there is a great 

Improvement upon improvement indeed upon those of 

Pratapaditya-charitra. .__,.. 7 ~ . , . 

rratapadi tya-cliantra. Considering 
this growth and progress, it is to be regretted that Kam 
Basil's severance of all connexions with the College put an 
end to all opportunities of further and better pro^e-writing. 

A better specimen of easy prose-writing is to be found 

in Golak-nath Sarma's translation of llitopades, 1 noticeable 

if not for its matter certainly for 

Golak-nath Sarma. itg f rm It wag published before 

Hitopades, 1801. # l 

Lipimala but about the same time as 
Pratapaditya-charitra, yet it displays great superiority of 

1 f|ret*tor*i i mm fttre i c*rta^rN *t^ e t1 few* i %fap swi 

^cf i $*<>> . Heetopadeshu or Beneficial Instructions, Translated from 
the original Sungskrit by Qoluknath Pundit. Serampore, Printed at the 
Mission Press, 1802. pp. 1-147. Yates, in his Selection, (Intro, to Bengali 
Language, vol. ii) does not quote from this work but from the version of 
Mrtyunjay. Yates himself published a translation of Hitopades in 1848. 
Besides Mrtyunjay Bidjalankar's version, there is another version 
published in 1830 in Sanscrit, Bengali and English (editions in 1844, 
1848, 1860 and 1880) by Laksmmarayan Nyayalankar, Librarian 
to the College of Fort William (afterwards Sudder Ameen) and 
C- Wilkins. (Long, Return of Names etc., p. 133). A copy of this 
work will be found in the Library of the Board of Examiners. 


language and manner. It is a pretty close but easy 

translation of the four books of the well-known moral 

essay unabridged and unexpurgated and the prose is 

plain and unassuming, except for a little .quaintness 

smacking of the tol pundit and a 

Ti , little irregularity of syntax here and 

Its language. v . 

there. Although itself based upon a 
Sanscrit original and the author him- 
self a learned pundit, well-versed, it may be, in the 
classical language there is yet no trace of any affectation of 
pedantry or magnificence. The style is free also from the 
Persian influence so conspicuous in Ram Basu's works. 
There is some attempt at periodic prose, but the 
syntax and arrangement, imitating commentorial queerness, 
is not all that could be desired, though it is certainly 
more correct and easy than that of PratapadHj/u 
or Lipimala. With no conscious purpose of developing 
a prose style but with many unconscious experiments 
at arrangement and adjustment, here is, as in Carey's 
Dialogues or Itihas-mald, much simplicity and desire 
to make the language clear and useful. There is 
hardly any necessity of quoting too many extracts, for 
the style, besides being plain and simple, has hardly any 
marked impressiveness of its own. The following extract 

Also in Blumhardt, op. cit. p. 115-116). A copy of Golak-nSth 
6arma's version is in the library of the British Museum bearing 
the same date and place of publication as we have given above 
(Blumhardt, op. cit. p. 115). Seton-Karr in his article on Bengali 
Literature in Cal . Rev., 1849 (p. 499) is rather severe in his 
criticism on this work ; but his views were formed, it seems, on the 
" condensed and corrected " specimens from this work given in Yates's 
Introduct ion, vol. ii (1847) ed. by Wenger. The work under review is 
entered as Golak-nflth's and dated 1801 in the Cataloguc\of the Library 
of the Hon. East India Company, 1845, p. 195. The date 1802, given in 
the Tenth Memoir, is inaccurate ; but it follows the date given on the 
English title-page of the book 


will be found illustrative. It is taken from the beginning 
or introduction 1 where the Princes are introduced to 
Visnusarma who begins teaching by narrating the 
stories : 

*nfe ftfe ^*I1 <w ^tfeft'aMfw g\ ft *re vst^tar ft*tt 

An Extract from the <* > *^ CT ^ ^K ft TO 
Introduction. ft ^ ^ ^ ^ , ^^ ^^ 

rpr psrr5?ri C* 1 ^ cw ^re cftW 1 ! ^%l rtre stfl i 
^ ^j% ^^fU ^^ ^ft* ^ft^t^ rrf% ^ cFfm ^ft^t^ 
ftet* n% ft ft fwi ftra*rN fw *ttwfai *rte wrN 

RWW ft^ ftl ^f*R I *T^tf^ fWTF ^555* ft^ ifii I 

^ sffirstt i 

Ttw >FlNt9t ^uW5 ^f*fa ^m <rtei %fi c^ nw 

^ jp*tf% <gj^ <5rft:w tfttw *ift <w *Tft^ to^ <5R*f *r*[jrfa 
fttffw ?fl srtft ft ^ i ^i ^f^i c*^ irN ^^rs % 
*n:^ fisl <pftra sitf^R (7i ^srfa tps[?rl ^t% 35 wsm 

NflTOPl ft W I 4*H ^ *Tfa1 5Tl *Tffl ^T | CT *pf 
flfivft S ^Ttft^ (7T *23* ft <Ft% CTO <FfafiT 5^^1 

srt^ i qft ^ s^rt ^ft^s ft^l ?rl ^vs cf fr*i <*FRt* $s*r 

ftl ^' *pf tft*ttff I %t^ <W Tft^ tff tjft 9jg ^ 

1 The story is to well-known to require an analysis of its contents 


f%ft *tras srw fa^ i cw s i qT5t ^^% 5 &ra 
5fl ^c*i c^tft c^tft sroar *twt* ?rtn ^fare nfc* 5fl ^*t 

W ft^'t fo ^t^r i a jjB ^l tti tot c*r tp *tf9re<T 

TOfT #t*f*t CW ^f^ TOJ 5j^ *f%cf ^ I ^ ?I^T<T 4^ 
W Otl ^1 tfc* <Q\\ ^ fas %1 ft^R I fi"S qft C^ 

^tw <?r *d s^ts 1 ^re <tt ^f% ^rc*t?j ^^ ^t^t^ ^ttt 6 ! CTT5 
c*rfa 2rfa ^rcst ftfa cff^r^i *ttt ^tei ^ to ^ fo$ Rttf 

^t*W ^tfT tf* CFfa Ttrr?T <BJCSt *tt*1 v5ff ^tFF C*Ttt (71 

c*rf*nrl ifw 5(i *rfa ^ ^*R *tft^ 5Ti ^^ (7i f*t^i srN vstst* 
cw $*re tot ^ i ^<r c*TN *rfa* f% 5r| ^ ^^ 

^<F ^^ I (7T Tt^l 4^ ^^^ ft^l ^ft^rl *ffCv55T T1 ^f^I5{ i 

t^^ Tf^ & faft ^j^i ^r^c?r^ ftfe sfts'i ^c^5{ ^9|i 

^ftTtC5(^ ^< CT ^5> J%n5l *tt5( I ^5t^ ^ ^ ^fr ftt5(?I 
ifircs ^^ C^ ^M 5(f% ^^ 15T[W?r l^-sf Tfspsl ^? faftc&r 

if^s ^rtf^w ftftfel *r^r i ^ssi^t fi^^fUl srtwc^ gt^*! 


5$ *rft?nT tot (Mrt ^ ci^rc*t ^tfafttasa aft s^t^i f*rc 
fw $*fa ^#r^ ^fo^ci 3 i if* fife $*(* *fft^ ttt* wi 

^re<r PtOI *rttwt** ^ra I *ffa It^jfe *raf*f W* TW* 

ftfe ^S C?^R 1?3* ft^tt? fpwfa ?tf# $* I ^4^ ft^- 

It would be convenient to notice here briefly Gilchrist's 

translation of iEsop's and other fables from the English 

language. Although done under the 

Dr. John B. Gil- direction and supervision of Dr. 

christ s Oriental 

Fabulist 1803. Gilchrist 2 it must be borne in mind 

that the version occurs in a book of 
polyglot translation (six versions) of iEsop's and other 
fables into the various dialects of India 3 done by various 
hands. For the Bengali version is responsible one 
Tarinicharan Mitra who was employed especially for 
"Bungla, Persian and Hindoosthanee." He is called "a 

1 fSTOtlWl, PP. 3-8. 

2 Dr. John Borfchwick Gilchrist, LL. D., F. R. S. E. was Professor 
of Hindusthani in the Fort William College. He was well-versed in 
numerous dialects of India and wrote a number of works on Hindus- 

3 This translation will be found in a publication of the Fort William 
College, entitled the Oriental Fabulist (1803) by John Gilchrist. It 
contains "Polyglot Translation of JEsop's and other ancient fables 
from the English Language into Hindoosthanee, Persian, Arabic, Brijbhakha 
Bongla and SunTcrit in the Roman Character by various hands under the 
direction and superintendence of John Gilchrist for the use of the College 
of Fort William. Calcutta. Printed at the Hurkaru office. 1803." (See 
Roebuck, op. cit. App II. p. 27 : Buchanan, op, cit. p. 221). 



learned native" in the Preface by Dr. Gilchrist who also 
pays him a high tribute when he says "it behoves me now 

more particularly to specify that to 
sha^fr^o' 8 Tarneechurun Mitr's (*) patieni 

labour and considerable proficiency 
in the English tongue, am I greatly indebted for the 
accuracy and dispatch with which the collection has been 
at last completed. The public may feel and duly 
appreciate the benefit of his assiduity and talents, 
evident in the Bungla version" I . Tarinicharan Mitra 
was "Head Moonshee" in the Hindusthani Department 
appointed in May, 1801.'-' Tfiriiucharan thus seems 
also to have been proficient in Persian and Hindusthani. 
We select here a short piece as a specimen: 

An illustrative fable <*tffc** If* ^ *M i|tWT StCT* 

quoted - fcf*^ft*l *%fc5, swrr* <tf*farr*ft 

ftWWJ ^f?(F5 ^Itfrt*! C\ tf)SR ^t$ 11*1 C^W ^fel ^ 
iffklS *ftf*R I ^fcw, C fefa *T^, ^Ttf% Wft*l G5\V\Z* 

^rftfa s^* OTtfo, ifa ^afa^ ^ft ^^ ^fasl <5rfatt* 

1 p. xxiv-xxv. Dr. Gilchrist in tin- Preface (p, ixv) to this 
work, expresses his intention of publishing the Bengali version, n bid) 
seems to be the best, in a separate form, not in Roman but in 
Bengali character. I do not know whether it m BTT j)ublished. Long 
mentions Dr. Gilchrist's translation of the iEsop's fable published in 
1803. I have not been able to trace this separate publication it 
it ever existed. 

8 Roebuck, op, cit. App. III. p. 48 


It is no little credit to the writer of this passage, as the 
reader will observe, that the prose for a translated piece shows 
great improvement indeed upon what had been published 
hitherto, and it is with great difficulty that we resist the 
temptation of giving more extracts of this simple homely 
style. This work resembles much Carey's ItiJias-wala in its 
perspicuity and elegance, although the latter book was 
published almost a decade after this. It is by always aiming 
to be plain, accurate and natural that 

The simplicity and the l anguage f this work succeeds 
elegance of its prose. & => 

in attaining such excellence of diction 
among contemporary records in spite of its very close 
adherence to its English original and occasional imitation, 
as in the passage quoted, of English and Persian construc- 
tions. It is to be regretted, however, that the writer of 
these pieces never tried his hand at original prose-writing 
which if he had touched, he might have adorned in a 
way better than many of his contemporaries. 

l . The Oriental Fabulist (1803) ed. by Gilchrist, p. 35. In the 
transliteration I have corrected the spelling, otherwise no alteration 
is made ; for the transliteration seems to have been made according to 
sound rather than according to spelling. The transliterated version 
in Roman letters is given in Appendix III. at the end of this 
volume, where a note also will be found on this system of 
transliteration ; for which I am indebted to Professor Suniti Kumar 


Chanel icharan Munshi's i Tola ItihSi and Rajib 
Lochan Mukhopadhyay's Raja Krsna- 
^Munsht" Chandra Bayer Chariira, both pub- 

lished in the same year, exhibit 
however noticeable contrast cf style and language. Tot a 
TliJias 2 is by far the better work 

T0t ]mb nS both in form and snb 3 ect > although 

it is a mere translation from some 

Persian original and its language shows admixture of 

Persian. It consists of thirty-four " tales of a parrot/' as 

its name implies, and is said to have been translated from 

a Persian original " Tootanamah" 3 

Similar collections of tales there are 

1 Called Chunder Churun Moonshee by Buchanan (op. cit. p. 229) 
which is evidently a mistake. 

* There are copies of the first edition in the Library of the 
Board of Examiners and Presidency College Library. The title-page 
says : C*W ft*tf f Tt^rl^Tl states I 3)petaM ^fitUS H^S I %fa^l 
t*tl ^f | i*<> | Roebuck (op. cit. App. II. p. 29) and Buchanan 
(op. cit. p. 228) also give this date of publication. The copy in the 
Sahitya Parisat Library (and also one in the British Museum 
Library), which seem to be reprints of 1825, bear a somewhat 
different title-page. 3) I C^51 $fa*P\ 1 1 ^t*111 ^UfaS 1 1 %^1 
3ft%Vlffc|| cK& IfaKffipS 5t*fl 5*I mr^|| The fount of this 
latter reprint is very neat. Misled probably by the date of ihis 
edition, Dinesh Chandra Sen (History, p. 890) puts the date 
apparently of the first edition at 1826. The copy of an edition 
in the British Museum Library bears 1806 as the date of publication 
(Blumhardt, Catalogue, p. 31). There is also mention of a 12mo 
Ed. printed in London 1811 in the Catalogue of the Library of East 
India College, and an 8vo. Ed. London 1811 is entered in the 
Catalogue of the Library of the Hon. East India, Company, p. 196. 
There is a curious diglot edition (English-Bengali) of this work in 
the Sahitya Parisat Library : the Bengali version appears on the right 
and English on the left side on the same page. The date cannot be 
ascertained for the title-page is lost ; but judging from the 
typography, it seems to have been printed in London. 

3 Buchanan, op. cit. p. 228. Chandlcharan is also said to have 


also in Sanscrit, the most well-known among which is the 
'SuJca-sajjiaW or 'Seventy Stories of a Parrot *. 

We give here a description of the work under review 

and it is interesting to compare it 

Description of the wit h the Sanscrit version. A wife, 

work. ' 

whose husband is travelling abroad, 
and who is inclined to run after other men, turns to her 
husband's clever talking parrot for advice. The bird 
while seeming to approve of her wicked plans, warns her 
of the risks she runs, and makes her promise not to go 
and meet any paramour unless she can extricate herself 
from difficulties as so-and-so did. Requested to tell 
the story, he does no; but in the meantime the story 
is spun out to such a length that when it is concluded, 
morning dawns and her plans are postponed till next 
night. Thus the bird succeeds in keeping his mistress 
in the path of rectitude not by pointed injunctions, but 
by a device similar to that which Shehrazade in the Arabian 
Nights employs to hinder the Sultan from sacrificing a 
fresh victim on every succeeding day. Several days pass 
in this way, till the husband returns to find the 
honour of his home inviolate. This is the frame-work 
which contains the thirty-four stories, some of which 
are very amusing indeed, although many of them are 
somewhat coarse. It is written in simple narrative prose, 
eminently suited to the purpose of the book, and, although 
cried down for its slight inevitable admixture of Persian 
especially at the beginning, the language is in no way 
inferior to that of Hitopade's or Oriental Fabulist and 
certainly marks great advance in simplicity and natural- 
ness upon Pratapaflitya-charitra or Lipimala. Its literary 

translated the Bhagabadglta from Sanscrit into Bengali ; this work, if 
published at all, I have not been able to trace. 
1 Macdonell, Hist, of Sans, Lit. p. 375. 


pretensions are few indeed, but the writer is a very good 
story-teller and has succeeded in making liis book inter- 
esting, both in form and matter/' 1 

The following quotation of a shorter story will serve 

both as specimen of its tales and of 
A story quoted as a 
tpecimen. its language. - 

q^ faw *rtfar ^*ff^ *^*i ^*ft c<tfw*1 8 ^^fu ftii 
ct^( ^f?ral ^t*fa ot|*ii ^r ^t^ ^f?rc*tjs ^tare ^ 

1 This book seems to have become very popular ; Dr. Yates, in 
his Selection, gives 18 stories from it alone. Dr. Yates, however, 
stretches his point too far when he says that the language of this 
work is deserving of attention because it is " a very fair specimen of 
the colloquial language and its almost unbounded negligence." (Rev. 
VV. Yates, Introduction to the Bengali Language in two volumes 1847. 
ed. by J. Wenger; vol. ii containing Selections from Bengali 
Literature, p. 1). Haughton's Selection* (1822) contain 10 stories from it. 
The book was also translated into Hindusthani. See Roebuck 
op. tit. App. II. p. 24 ; " Tota Kuhanee a Translation into the 
Hindoosthanee Tongue, of the popular Persian Tales, entitled Tootee 
Namu, by Sueyid Huedur Buksh Hueduree, under the superintendence 
of John Gilchrist, for the use of the students in the College 
of Fort William, Calcutta... printed at the Rindooethanee Preei In 
one vol. 4to. 1804." 

1 This story also occurs in another form in the Hitopadd, It is 
also quoted in Haughton's Selection*, p. 12-18 ; brant, p. S'2 -!:'. 

:t This is the wife whose hneband Kaymnn hae gone abroad j this 
introductory passage as well as the conolojrfoni forme the link which 
connects a particular story with what precedes and what follows it. 
and is thus a pari "f the framework into which itoriei of miscellaneous 
character aro thrown in. 

* This is the paramour with whom an appointment was made 
to meet at midnight. 


^t ffi t fr s ^ itft c^t^t^ ^ra c^H^ ^ifi c^t*rtre st*?- 

C^fatre *tfc5 ^1 ^ft W^ *tftft1 CW (Etfwfa ^t*tt 

siw^o e$f**sft ifrfc* ^<ri st&i 'sfiral *R *lt^tfl*T ^fa 
Wt itt*tiic* ^t^i ^ft^ ^ ^tre ^^ *rt^i 1 e*tftw1 

fori ^i ^ i 

(7i itart c^rarafa ^ fwt *it*fa i^i wfo art* itwfoil 

^ ^3 TO3 <W 3W<2ft*t* l^t 6 ^ ^I^J TtW ftfafl 

*rrft *rt* ^ <W5 *rtfare *ftf?r ct ^t*rfa ^ ^^ emuzs 

*tft f%i fr^ *ftt* f^fe st^ ft^ f%i ^ror *rfafa 
f^l ^i fe^wl *find ^f%c*rc ^1 ^^ ^rtft #[?#* st^fa 

^5Jt*t ^finfl l^t^ CH44H4* 3t*T ^ftnl ^1^1^ f^^^ 5t^ft 
^ft^5 Ttftftfe I 1^t^1 tfS^^ft ^ ^^11 ftll ^t^f- 


^wfS3<T *fra *t*r1 fe*m TOT* ft^ C^^l *re*l faffi ?ft 

<rrrt* ^<^* *f>f^J CT *ffi <& 4^5?^ ^fe^CI (71 ^tfa 

qttrefe <?? ^)^ *w ^tcs a *OTre farlto i ^1 ^fast 

sitfare ^t*i ^m=T ^firai ^55^5 ^re ntfir ^ c^ 4 *ffi ^tst* 
<ift *rt*fft <5itsM c^f^r *W ^f% ^g *t*rc *fs*1 "fc^r* fa*ra 
rtf=ral cst^t* Tfcraffr* ^rt^trs fastf*^ fare*R ^fare *itfs i 

*"N *Pfe*R ^ V$$\ l^tf ^T^ I C5tfofft* Str|1 *tt^1 

<5<wfc $t*R ^fst*rc i *ft* ?rfa1 ^*< 4^ w*is ffts 

(71 ^Q ift*!t* ^ft <*W5 *TI C^^ ^fes^ I CI 3ftC*!l^ ^ 

^firc*ra* c*i <srtft <^1 csira^tw* <Wtf?r sff^ft *W* ^? 
eft ^rfts ^4^ ^rtft ^fesf^ I C5\f^^ ^1 ^fasl 

Gffef^ ^fe^i^ ^s^ c^ dtfoffts ^fif*t yfa ^t 9 )^ ^c^ 
*Vte *i^i1^r ^^^ ^rtJrl^ ^^^ ^fafrft cvf ^5^ ^tft 
^^i f^^rl ^tf^^ ^t^t ^s^ fti *tfarl ^if^ 5 ^^ ^^tt5 


tfk ^fats <2tti *rr* rM* *^ <3ti 4^ ^ fcrs TNI 

Wl *Tfa <5C* ^*fl % f%l ^ft *[p^ fare ^ ^tft Ttt 

^rferl ^t*ft *FfPfc* *rtforl c^rfa ^rWre 5 tf*i?ft *fri 
w^ ^fa*re i ^>m e*nl ^ *rcfa^^ wtft ^rt ^ftsi 

^Q?T *ft! CT TNI c^wfa ^f% 1%tW ^ SNWl* &r- 

^^rgjr^Jl *rf? ^fatre #iwt^ ^%*r f%ft t*i *t*fa ^ ^? 
^Pi <*t* c^fa yffa ^rfe TNI ^^r <5W* g&stre *p^ * 
^ * tfN1K**flft*tw ^ ^ cwm ^Tft ^cw * ^tft 

Tfe^fe^T (3 TN*TOfWf^ C^t^TTl *rf* fatW TNtT 

tsrt^i wtttf 4^ R ^t^tcr 3?l tot ^tre <w 3* Tl i ^r 

TC<R CT 4^o TN 5fl *R3TC *rtT ^fatW TNI TNT *Tl TO" 
^SifTC ^ *rfatre <2tf%3Tfa fa?l> *l^3l ^ <W C$fR ^T 

^fad hF cftn ^t*ft ^^r *ferl d&sp ^?rr ciw^ ^Irre 

&fT3 ^H'| Stf%ff ^1 Cffaff *fe dtfaftt<nT ^s qfai 

hot ^fa*rc c* ^ft cW* *tsq* *t*ri c^^f^ ^frs ^1 ^ 
^^el csfafa crt^tr^l ft* ^wfre w ^ ^1 <sra$s ^ft^l 
ifatw ftfru #ts ^^^ ^^rrf^ ^rr^i fe^ i c^f^^r 

rf%*rrre ^ N c^f^wt^^ ^^ ct ^t W^ ^t%r TNI 

dtfwfa W^3^ TNtT f^f ^rffed ^*ff^s ^1 tTR 
^fj ^gf9f <2rt<5rl ^fir^i ct ^trNlr ^tll ^s 5hrtt cn^N tNj 



^ hfpt frit f% *ffirt i dtfwfa ^few i*twt* 2t^*i 
^fare ^ten ^^ i 4^ ft ^sf^rft Tf^ft Ttfa* ifrs 

i^r ^ftref^ CT ^rfft ?fesft <4*fs c^t^ ^yfe ssrft^ ^rfttre 

fwfe^ i ^tft <?\$ ffa jfW^ *t*fei c*m*i ^m ^m 
f%l ^Wsfht #t*TO fwt ^fa^ f^rfa 4*ft ^ ft ffa 

^fe*rc vsc^ dtfwhr <?i ^tc^ i>ft ^frfa ^tfrfo ^tfe ^it 
c^ to ^tfts cstrfa *t*Bt^ *t*ra ^ft^ ^5 ^ cstrfa ^ 

7\Wz cstfoTOFF st*rft sift * *^rt^tfaT ^Ftf ft^ ^f?rcl 
stft * spiff 1^*1 ^W* ^^ ^firc*rc 1 

^ *s$i &w ^ 4 *Ft*1 c*$ fr^ c^tttwft *rN^ ^ ^1 1 
c*trre<3l *ra^ 3s?tt 0ft lf%st*i sftEt s?t^ fe*rc ^<ra 

As in the case of most of the Bengali writers of 

this period, nothing practically is known about the life 

of the author of Raja KrsnachanJr,/ 

Kajib^iochan Mukho- j^yer charitra* except that in the 

description of the book given by 

1 CStSI $fc*K pp. 21-29. 

2 The title-page says j History of Raja Krizhnu Chttndru Roy -. 


Buchanan, 1 Rajib-lochan is said to have been "descended 

from the family of the Raja." The 

Raja Krsnachandra book is SU pp sed to be an authentic 

Bayer Charitra, 1805. rr 

account of the Raja, dead not many 
years before this book was published, and his corres- 
pondence with the English in the early period of their 
intercourse with Bengal : but it seems that the memoir 

is more of a tissue of fables and 
Its historical value. 

traditionary tales ; and much of the 

narrative, especially at the beginning, is mere fiction such 
as tradition or the fancy of the writer might have sug- 
gested. We do not go so far as to suggest that these 
tales were invented, as Dr. Yates 2 remarks, " in order to 

to ^ftti <2f^t^ w^m sfas *k<j *fin trot* ii to^t? st*tt 

3^rf I ** I pp. 1-120. Long says that it was reprinted in London 1830 
but the second reprint at Srirampur bears the date of 1857 (Sahitya- 
Parisat Libraxy). There is a copy in the Library of the Board of Exa- 
miners which is reprinted at Srirampur bearing the date of 1834 ; and 
two copies in the British Museum Library (Blumhardt, Catalogue, 
p. 89) printed in London in 1811. Also mentioned in the Catalogue 
of the Library of the East India College (1843) and Catalogue of the 
Library of the Hon'ble East India Company (1845) p. 196. There are 
copies of the first edition of this work in the Library of the Board of 
Examiners and also in the Bengal Asiatic Society Library. In the 
paper on Bengali Literature (Cal. Rev. xiii. 1850) Long gives this work 
the absurd date of 1801 : and following him, Ram-gati Nyayaratna 
repeats the error. See, however, Roebuck, op. cit App. II. p. 29: so 
Buchanan, op cit. p. 228. Besides this work of Rajlb-lochan's contains a 
reference at p. 9 to Ram Ram Basu's Pratapaditya-charitra and must 
therefore have been published after 1801. 

1 Op. cit. p. 228. The full description is this : " an original work in 
the Bengali language containing the correspondence between the Raja 
and the English in the early period of their intercourse with Bengal 
by Rajeeblochan Moonshee descended from the family of the Raja." 

2 Intro, to Beng. Lang vol. ii p. 124. Setcn-Karr's severity on his 
work {Cal. Rev. 1849, p. 601), following Yates, seems to be unwarranted. 


gain the favour of the English " ; but we must admit that 
it shows more leaning towards gossip than Praiapaditva- 

charitra does. In point of language, 
Its language / fe & 

however, the last-named work com- 
pares very unfavourably with the work under review. 
Mahamahopadhyay Haraprasad groups this work with 
Vratapaditya in the class of " unreadables " for its lan- 
guage, but the plain story-telling style, occasionally Sans- 
critised and wholly free from Persian, eminently befits 
the gossipy tendency of the work. The story is enlivened 

by frequent introduction of descrip- 
and manner. . 

tions, dialogues, letters and anec- 
dotes ; and the narrative towards the end, describing the 
Raja's acquaintance with the Nawab, his joining the 
conspiracy, his negociations with the English, and the 
ultimate triumph of his party with the defeat of the 
Nawab is told in a connected and interesting manner, 
with a large infusion, however, of fiction which may not be 
strictly acceptable to the historian. But it is this mil id- 
ling of fact and gossip that makes the work so interesting 
to the general reader. The work begins with a preli- 
minary account, legendary and historical, of pedigrees and 
ancestries, then narrates the story of Raja Krsna- 
chandra's birth, his marriage, his religious work, a 
description of his residence called SiOa-ni/jasa, his 
amusements, his acquaintances with Nawab Siraj, his 
joining a conspiracy started by MlrJa'far and others 
against the Nawab, his delegation to the ' English at 

Calcutta by the conspirators, his 

A description of the negociations there with the Badd- 
work. & 

-sahcb of the Factory, flight of Raj- 

ballabh and his son, correspondence between the Nawfib 

and the English, the Nawab's descent upon Calcutta, 

agreement with MirJa'far, the meeting of the English and 


the Mohammedan forces at Plassey, flight of Siraj and 
his assasination by Mfran ; and then the story ends 
with a short account of the posterity of the Raja. We 
give here an extract from the passage describing the 
Raja's joining the conspiracy, which will serve as a speci- 
men of both its language and manner. l 

*TN [fW3r] Tfatt Ttftlt IStStSr 1^5 ^ iTtWl ^t^ffit 

ltd *PTO fil*t ^Tfaftc^R *fa*R I fcS ^<^J|fe <F%*R 

4 CTdf ^J^ <5f<2f<g*f ^\ (JPftfiRlfl ^f%^T3 ^fa Tfal 
W* Tl ft*** CfforW ^^ ^t^ ^^ jprc*! t^^Fsl 

!*rar*fo ^fe*rc *rr*Rt*i *tBMar* ^t ^mi ^*tt^t<r 
fiM* ^5fa*i4t cw * ftro cfew *"tfj ^fiR ^t^ ^ftn 

sffi^lfe ^fe^TC W ^t^HK *rf&? *Ttft ^t*Tf5f1 *tOT* *rf^5 

*t&tre sW ib^ tffe *rwi ^PmI st^rl fps^ *rfat^ rt^{ 
^ftt*rc fj *rtf*ra1 <rMre ^1 c^ WcW ^far ^^cq 
^ftt*rc i wz^ *tra mn ^fRtffii w *fo*rc ^rr^t^t^i 
*m^ ftc^d ?# ^ c*Pttft*t#t 'Tfe^ f % ^^ ^ c?fatreiT*r 

c<Ffa wfo ^m ^zsFft ^ ^ w<r$ ^ ^rtf% ^^R 'srtft 

^%1 fi^lfa <7T ^5 ^1 <2t^ tf^FW fatMl ^ft*Tfa ^1 5R 

1 Krsnachandra Rayer Charitra, pp. 65-73, 


*^5 Wt4 ^C*TC f%$ CH 3^1 *ffa sfl i\1% ^5 CFtfUFI W\fz> 
Sfft <W*1 <t* ifcl ! *TC^ WfiiF f *t ^Fs 1*tfW TOST 

fe*H HWI ^^ stt^^^ft $T^tre '^rr^rferl fiWd 
*W *rt^* f%fa cq*ra * W*K fc^ cr^s ^t*fr *fire tfri 

<TtWl f W^ *tl ^ Tfattf *rft^ ^tt* SWW ^Ff CT CT 

*m st^ri fp&s ?rrw *ro?i Swit ^1%c*rc ^ft i^ft st^ 

*f* W w ^^ ^Wsrf^m cr*rt1wrd" ftft IfaspR 
5*t* offattuaFCT ^rr^^1 3J3 s^sil fetfirte* fN ^fircscs* i 
*wf*fll* ffartwtf*i $1 *rfa^ ^fas srtre s^r <5Fsc<tf cfwf* 

*(* ^ftr ^m fasts s^tts ^^1 <4^ ^t#* 43 ^ ^i <*m 

ftfa (Ttttfa^t^t ^fa 1#f1 IStfafc ft^l ^^v C^^tl^ ^JW5? 

^^W^t ^t^ ^ ^ ^^Tt^t *rrf*ral *m* ^ ^^ cw^^r ^t^ 
^tfsr^i ^ti ^^ ^t^ 1 c** ^t^i ^w ^1 ^*f^ ^r?Ft^ ^ on?f 
^^15 ^^^ ^*ft (xm w& m* Nt1%^i *W* <^ ^tfe^ 


IfctftsB ^ Sri wtSf en ^t^i <src^ * fwftl c^it^tw* w^ft^tft 
csfawl t^ ^fcww wifft*Rl fwf*fe*t w^w ot <srfw tatf* 

^ ^f?rett^ ^ vfiro *n f%^ 4^ ^*wfK ^rtt: ^ft 

foW*R *rfw # W*IW *f^fa*f $ffi ^ ^ ^1^- ^ 1^5 

<tffw i ^*R *twt farftl ^fw^rc ft twW ^ wW ^m 
wts ^fc*rc *pm wx-\mn w^fwii mt f3 I 4 CWW ^fa^tft 

*1 I s^Ctfe <2tf f% ^ft*TC *W C^ ^t^i fostfwul <^ <jW 

^fe^ ft*rfcs f^^t^i wtus ^sf^t^r ^ftwWw cw*tft w^fod 

^tOPl # SfttWl 4 WtOTW WW ^ <5CW *FR W ^TW I 

^1 sftwl iwrc*^ wrfe*rc ^Mwfefw f% * ^l ^ft^ WW 

f ^35^ Wfa W%*R #fctwfa?tW ^1 4^ * *TW**I *W>Hl?l fesfef 

^wfe^ w^w*i ^j c^rtwf *rf% ^ N tfe w& *r1 <*iwt ^re 
^rt*iw ^fes> ^*tf%w ^ *ft^ ^tww ?*& ^rtRNf 4w o n 
*^faw ^m WW <2W<Tfaw iW^ sfwliw <w i*t*f 
3HB*1*m fttw TfiR gdw to ^Ww *rc*i ^i $fttwfetw 

^*rl ^^j *fpi ^ ^fwcw i ^ w^w tw wtfs&fe ^%*rc 
fCtw1 ^ wrift ^1 ^ft s^ rtft f%i #(Ttwf?m <^i 

It^W^T ^ ^tW *fW WW ^*ra WtW ^%^R ^1^ ffctWl 
Wsft^W^f C^ttl W^fel ^tft^rl ^fwc^C^ (Tit ^PwWW 

^tft iw * wftl <prtw w^twi ftwl ^rtfV c^ w^teffr w^Pw^tw 
c^FtSw fift w^s ^rfr^w ^tw ift^ ^rW^ ^fwwl ^rtf% felwi 
#Wtw ^fw^ ^rtft n^ wts ^rrft i ^ ^m tw wW wft- 


^rrst^ ^fe*rc *rt*tft w<j * ^fa^t^t* c*t$* ^ *rrt^?r 
^csf Tft^t^ tor fa$ $tst* ^t^i ft" eWra wft ^m 

Tppi ftPS w *rte^* 5t** *rfc$5T #tet*t^ ^1^1 or i ^1 

cro * ^^ fa^tfas vtfrtronr ^%i <w fafa <sffasri ^fare^ 
^tetsl cHtft^tft *fcn frNfaftct* 4 fftwi <2F|*i ^faro 

^*tt* *&* ^r^i f^s *t* ^fc*rc #r^t^t orttft^tft ^^ 
Tiros <2Fjpi stfcn^ starts sfipi ^ ^ftttfts <4 T*ri ^ct 

^t^tsfets tNi ^# ^ *^*i c*ifa ^^ fas , sit*Rfo1 
'srtTt^F f^st^ f^s ^fosl rW fw i *ft* ^twi^ ^fe*rc 

$wff <rftt^ farft ^firal twt ^ ^ Tt^ #Tft ^facw i 

The name of Mityunjay Bidyalankar, for many years 

the chief Pundit of the College of Fort William and for 

some time Carey's own Munsi, whom Home has 

immortalised in Carey's portrait 1 , is 

Utikto*** 7 Bit1yS ' an im P ortant one in the "terary 

history of this period. Nothing 

practically is known about his life, hut he is said to have 

1 A likeneBS of this will l>r found in William's Scrampore 
Letters (1800-1816). It mny be remarked here that. Mftyufijay's 


been born in 1762 at Midnapore (then included in Orissa) 
and educated at Natore. In physique and knowledge, 
he has been compared to Dr. Johnson, and he was held in 
high and deserved estimation.. In the English preface to 
Pra(judh-chaudrika which was edited in 1833 after 

Mrtyunjay's death, Marshman 
Marshman'y tribute. eulogises the learned pundit as " one 

of the most profound scholars of the 
age." " At the head of the establishment of Pundits," 
Marshman writes elsewhere 1 , "stood Mrityunjoy, who 
although a native of Orissa,- usually regarded as the 
Boetia of the country, was a colossus of literature. 3 He 
bore a strong resemblance to our great lexicographer not 
only by his stupendous acquirements and the soundness 
of his critical judgments but also in his rough features 
and his unwieldly figure. His knowledge of the Sanscrit 

title was Bidyalahkar aud not TarkalahkZir as mentioned by Dinesli 
Chandra Sen in History (p. 886). See Roebuck, op. cit. App. II, p. 29 : 
also Smith, op. cit. p. 170. 

1 History of Serampore Mission. 

- Mrtyunjay seems to have been as proficient in the Odiya dialect 
as in Bengali. It was his help that enabled Carey to translate the 
Scriptures iuto the Odiya dialect. (Smith, op. cit. p. 190). 

3 In this connexion, M. M. Haraprasad Sastri, in the lecture 
referred to before, speaks of Mrtyunjay as an Odiya but it might 
be noted here that although born in a province of Orissa, it is very 
doubtful whether Mrtyufijay was really an Odiya. From the edition 
of his work Rajaball, published in 1889 by a person calling himself the 
writer's grandson, it seems that he belonged to the Chattopaclhyay 
class of Bengali Brahmans : for the title-page of the aforesaid 
edition says -."St^tera Hta %^tft *lt*l ^ttNrft W^ 3t5l 3tS?W 
t|l> * SR ^^ 3fC3 4PFtfF5 | <W TRW l" llam-mohan Ray, again, 
(Works : Panini Office Reprint, p. 646) calls Mrtyunjay a Bhattacharyya 
and his controversy with the Pundit is styled by himself as 
^tttftf HI *fe %fa I Mrtyunjay was a Radiya Brahman (*|t^ Ffit^ 

ftc?ra Wtt I ) 


classics was unrivalled, and his Bengali composition has 
never been superseded for ease, simplicity and vigour. 

Mr. Carey sat under his instruction 
Relation to Carey. two or three hours daily while in 

Calcutta, and the effect of this 
intercourse was speedily visible in the superior accuracy 
and purity of his translations" 1 . He was specially 
attached to Carey and it was at Carey's suggestion that 
he undertook the literary works which constitute his 
chief contribution to Bengali literature and language. 2 

The literary labours of Mrtyunjay, embracing almost 
the whole of this decade (1802-1813), 

His work- consist, besides a Defence of Idolatory 

and a treatise on the Hindu Law of 

Inheritance 3 , of the following four publications, of which 

1 Carey never, however, was influenced by Mrtyunjay's pompous, 
affected, sanscritised language. His native instinct for realism saved 
him from this extreme. 

2 Mrtyunjay was also one of the jurists of the Supreme Court ; 
and when the agitation about Sati was at its height and the whole 
body of law-pundits wrote of it as "permitted," Mrtyunjay gave 
his opinion that, according to Hinduism, a life of mortification rather 
self-immolation was the law for a widow. 

Rev. J. Long, Return of the Names and Writings of 515 Person* 
connected with Bengali Literature. (1855), p. 135. This work, Defence 
of Idolatory, as mentioned by Long, seems to have been the same as the 
Bedunta Chandrika against which RSm-mohan Ray wrote his <5tM&<H'4 
lfc$ fa^fa (1817) and his English tract "A Second Defence of 
the Monotheistical System of the Veds in Reply to an Apology for the 
present State of Hindu Worship" (1817). Says Miss Collect: 
" Another defendant of Hinduism appeared some months later in tin- 
Head Pundit of the Government College at Calcutta, Mrityuujoy 
Vidyalankar, who published a tract called Vedanta Chandrika " (Life and 
Letters of Raja Rammuhan Boy, p. 23. See also Nagendranath Chatterji, 
Life of Rammohan Ray in Bengali, p. 103). The Bedant<i (,'lmndrika 
was printed both in Be&g&ti rind in English, and defended the carrent 
form of idolatorous Hinduism against RSm-mohan's party. It shows 


two are original works and two translations from 
Sanscrit. : 

1 Batris Simhasait, 1802. 

2 Hitopades, 1808. 2nd Ed. 1814. 3rd Ed, 1821. 

3 Rajahall, 1808. 

4 Prabodh Ckandrika, 1813. 

Batris Simhasan is a close translation in 

plain simple Bengali of a very popular and well-known 

Sanscrit work which is some- 

times supposed to be of Buddhistic 

origin, sometimes attributed to no less a writer than 

.. . Kalidasa. 1 The title literally means 

Batris Simhasan. , ^ 

means the thirty-tk'o thrones but it 
should be rather the thirty-tiro images of Bikramadityah 

all the scholarship and sincerity of an orthodox pundit, but at the 
same time it is marked by a deplorable tone of violence and personal 

1 The first edition (which is in the Imperial Library, Calcutta) bears 
the following title-page r- ^fapl fa? ill I *K5te &WG5 I f^m *tTtl 
fa*ff5| %t^?fH^| >** I pp.210. The copy in the British 
Museum Library bears the following- title-page; ^f^*t fa^fH I 
"9^ T ??3 "t'Sftl fsf^vg I >fro* | Roebuck, op. cit. having apparently seen 
this edition gives 1808 as the date of its first publication; and 
this has been the usual date given by those who follow him 
(e.g. Long, Ram-gati Nyayaratna etc.) But Buchanan, op. cit. in 
1805 mentions this publication at p. 222, though he gives no exact 
date. The title-page of the London reprint says : 2||1%^tfWJ? 
^fai*t $5f*Wl fasfTC *Kaft I ^farM <St*tff5 I I^J* *PS<f1 <rfl?^ l *I*R 
llfPRBlCI 5t 9 f| ?t^ i **** I Tne edition in the Library of the Board 
of Examiners (London reprint) also bears 1816 as the date of 
publication. The Bangabasi reprint is from the latter edition but some 
alterations in spelling etc., make the book less valuable to the 
student. Similar remarks apply to its edition of Prabodh -chandrika and 
Rajaball. There was a Srlrampur reprint in 1818, as is evident 
from the entry in the Catalogue of the Calcutta Public Library 
(1898) and another reprint as late as 1834 as the copy in the 
Sahitya Parisat Library and entry in the Catalogue of Bengali 


throne,* Each of these images is introduced as telling 
story descriptive of the princely character of that Kin^, 
and showing that a prince worthy of succeeding him 
cannot be found. The earlier style of Mrtyufijay, as 
displayed in this work, if not superior to that of some of 
his contemporaries, was certainly less affected and pedantic 
than his later style, although somewhat sanserif ised. It 
presents a great contrast indeed in language and manner 
at once to Carey's Dialogue* as well as to Pratopadttya- 
chariira published only a year before itself and Lipimala 
published in the same year. As on the one hand, it is 
marked by a total absence of Persian influence and a 
decided tendency k> sanscriticised style, so on the other, 
by its preference of the classical language, it rises superior 
to the colloqualism and flatness of the Dialogues. The 
story with its framework is well-known. When 
Bikramaditya dies, his throne, the precious gift of Indra 
who was pleased with the King's excellent qualities, is 
buried, and for a long time remains hidden. Many years 
afterwards, a peasant cultivating his land discovers 'that, 
when sitting on a platform in the midst of his field, he 
becomes endowed with the qualities of great discern- 
ment and decision. By the direction of Bhoja, the reigning 
monarch of the country, the ground is dug up, 
and the lost throne is duly discovered underneath the 
platform. AVhen the king, in the midst of a large circle 
of courtiers is about to take his scat there, the first 
image informs him, that without BikramBditya'e qualities, 

Printed Books in the British Muteum show (p. 07). The London ed. 
of 1834 is also mentioned in tlio Catalogue of th* Library of th 

India College. 

1 It is also sometimes known nn Iiih-rtmacharHra, because King 
Mikrama il the hero, tales of whoso prowess mihI virtue are told )>y 
the thirty.two images of Mi charmed throne discovered by Mhoja. 


he is unworthy to occupy Bikramaditya's throne. Explana- 
tion ensues : and a story is told by each one of the thirty- 
two images in succession, illustrative of the former king's 
great and good qualities and implying that a worthy 
successor to him has not yet been born amongst the sons 
of men. It is one of the most interesting collections of 
fables of this period * and the following extract from 
the beginning, relating to the rinding and disposing of 
the magic throne, will serve as a specimen of its descrip- 
tive and narrative manner 

The opening passage 

on the Discovery of ^fa ^ferfc*! *fET <7T^ fa e ^TTO *u%fa 
the Throne, quoted. 

^fwr* mi teitffa #rtf^i i fog *t*i iw %^mm^ 
*rf*H ctz*\ rfal ^tw <^ *t^t f*i c*^ ^ra?r ft^ 

<^srfi^i orwfs 5 ^f% ^Rfa srfffa^ c<rW ^firai <*re ^frlR 
^ftH ^t*tfa c^ ^rctiRS *rcqr rtc^ i c 7 ^ ^*Rr f^rt 

ft^5 (ftft?) ^TfaT ^R % C^T ^R ^ff5 ^ft ^JtS 1% ^tNSt* 
<2f^T? ^<T I ^37 W*F ^sT^ ^fef ^51 W^Ffa ^tfl C^Efl* 

1 Yates gives no less than 14 stories from this book in his selee. 
tion and Haughton gives 4. 


tot -j& sf^ ^firai ^rtft ^tre <*ltfo*i vim ^*\z* 1^*1 
3 fan *rtre sswi rfatfintw* <?i*re <stet*t tfr * 13*11 

sR stfs* <2tt* *rtfo (*ttre) i ^1 aff^r^i f ^p^ *ifa*R citrc*i 

HH'UMSlM qtSt^ffa ^t^1 C^t$? sfo*R I *i^8* S11 

t^pifal ^i ifs *it*ra ii^ c*Rt*(fe* ifcs im fr^tf* frrai 

4^ iftre im *&* ^fe*R i c^ lit *lt^ im ^*ire 
*rtre stro ^wfartre* err* ei^t 9 ! ^ tt*R ^ i3*n to i ^t 

Cf%l *fat W^5 ^1 fet* ^f*E*R cfl ffe ^^?J 5^ 

c*t^ to (to) ^fts^ ^t^tfir "tfere 35^ irtetfiratsrerfa ^ 1 
^1 ft*R ^firai sc^re <*t* v(**i ctI Tft *ptc ^fare 
i*t itt^I ^W ffirc*R 1 ^rf^i Tfed ^rerfal *r^ ^ft9i 
wm <7& ^ ^fre <2t^ (faf*0 ^1 itfw ft*^ 7^t^ 
swte ftwte ^sffi ift*tt*tre ^f^s ^fipn ^fo^tre dtfro 

<rt?l starts *ffasR c*itt*rc1 f*ret*R etfo ^ratit^ *Ffare 
<rrf?rc*rc ^1 1 ^*t* ^rt^l s&fcffo ^1 ^^Rt* <rt^t%s 
fan*R srfaro* *M *firal ^Htffa fet ^T5*l *firc*rc 1 
^W *rrf*i s^nrftul (^fai) fa^t*R tf*R *t*i to^ *!$ 
^fiii c^ ^t^ ^tre ft^t^R ^1 ^1 1 wi* ^t^t^t^l ^^i w 
c^ ^t^i 5rt5rrft( ^^ i^t^ ^rtfr fc*ra*i ft?l ^ fi c ^iw^ ^1 

^*tre ft^fR ^^tC^T ^fe^ I 

<2j^tl ^fe^i? ^^^5 oitfes ^t^^t W 3 ^ ^JJ ^tf 9 !^ 


f*W I *fc* fM C^ f*K*tTOT ^fe ^1 <^f%?r1 nfos- 
c*rfc*sfHc* ^rfaT^I 's^H fapM ?f%i ^ndflft ^tre 

*t*raji ^3*t3 ifa^dwH 3te<r sracs *r*fatft *rfRt*T ^lt 

TStW ^ft%^ ftc^re ftfe ^ <(Jtg 5^ ^ 7\^\ ft^t^ 

fWfe^ *rt*3l ^twfR ^%i <tw$ fa^tS few vfa*\ i 

fr^TTC^ ft^tfe *tf^5 ^R ^smfttT (^SUTE!) PK^OT 
Wfa ^T3 Wfa *?f%"RI ft^Sl ^1^ VfSt^ *rf%^? *$ *TffW 

*fo*w c^ ^$ml ^tfa ?fc#i ^ fc*r^ *ft3r i%l *rtt ^ 
<*t*ta tw *rttft ^iNii ^m*\ ^lw^ $ftrfa ^ ^f% ^ i l 

Mrtyuiijay's next work of translation was that of 

Hitopades. The Sanscrit Hitopades, 
Hitopades. , 

than which there might be greater 

books in the world but none perhaps which has a more 
interesting litsrary history, seems to have, with strange 
prescience, gauged the literary or amusive require- 
ments not only of its own but also of times to follow : 
and consequently it seems to have always possessed a 
peculiar fascination for a host of translators of all periods 

1 pp. 2-8. 


of literary history. There are some half a dozen or more 

translations of this work between 1300 and 1850, and it 

is not necessary to bring under review all of them. But 

this version being the work of Mrtyurijay possesses a 

peculiar interest of its own. Long gives 1801 as the 

date of its publication : but from internal evidence of 

language and manner it seems that 
Its date.. , , , lir , 

the date is a too early one. vY e have 

not been able to obtain sight of the first edition in order 

to verify the date * : but the work seems to have been 

composed later than as Golak-nath Hitojmdes and 

exemplifies Mrtyunjay's earlier 

Its language aud ' 

style compared to style. It would be interesting to 
those of Golak-nath. compare Golak-nath's language as 

shown in the specimen quoted at p. 183 et seq. with that 

1 The copy I use is a third reprint at Srirampur (1814) and 
bears the following title-page : 1*^53 <2f^f% ^u%*ft3 3^5 ^r5 I 

^i^ *K3#te ( ^tTOl fttre i y^jm HNl fore i ^i?rtt*p ^s 

^t? Wlfl ?& i >fr> 8 I PP- 1-146. I have not been able to get the 
lirst edition of this work. The copy in the British Museum 
Library (Blumhardt, Catalogue, p. 67 and p. 115) of the second 
edition bears 1814 as the date of publication. 3rd Ed, 1821. It 
would appear from Dinesh Chandra Sen, Bar'uja Sdhitya Parickay 
or Selection from Bengali Literature, pt. ii (1914) p. 1727, that the 
first edition was published in 1801. But this is incorrect ; this is the 
date of the first edition of (iolak-naths Hitopadci. There is mention 
of a "Hitopadeshu in Bengali 8vo. Serampore 1808" in the OatcdogvA 
of the Library of the East India College. But in the Catalogue of the 
Library of the Hon, East India Com puny, we find an entry of 
"Hitopadeshu or Salutary Instructions. 8vo. Berampore. 1 SOS" without 
any mention of the name of the author and of an edition apparently of 
GtolakvsAih'a earlier Hitopadei (180L), From the Tenth. Memoir, 
relative to Serampore translation (Appendix), it is clear that the 
first edition of Mrtyunjay's Httojxufej was published in 1808, 
and therefore the anonymous entry in the Catalogue of the East India 
College above noted must refer to this work. 


of Mrtyunjay in the following extract, bearing upon 
the same part of the story. 1 

itc*J* fof&aj ^tfoftsi ot i srt c*\w ^^ ^m 
aft ^fi ftsi vw ^tf fssi ^firc^Fi *rf<r *iw^% c^t*t 

cw %*tl ^ gstf^ *n^re ftsfft <rMw tc^ c**rc <3^f 
fwi *f! sffij ftsW i fasri fare <?r faciei ftarl *fts 
flarsl *&$ ^ *tt* <R ^c"5 ^ <Tfa ^ ^? ^ *rfa i *f^r fisrt 

iww^s ^r frfes ^ fft^i *mfwi t#^?i ^t^%i 

^{ ^^ GU$f$ ^R 9 Tfc5 *K*ro (3 ft^ (71 ^/^1 3$ 31 C 7 !^ 

<$^ *tcis wp&B ^m^ mm 4 $i% ^tf^ ^1 Tfescs 

t%$ ^taf ttfcPrtsai ^ w ^t^ (Ttttcs* ^ 
^tefas ^i% ^fiiTO cstt^a 2^i ^fe^ ^Rhr ^ ^ 

1 f^SttCTPt, PP- 3-8. 



^ *$* C3ft3 fo s* ^fcs *ttfo 31 I ^ ^ftsi c^r *t*?i 
^t^its w *t#fi ftwttt W3 *tp5*fa*t* rm 

*rffw 33 a\ *p ^tra fo stat^R ^ ^3*f ^ cw 

W5^5 fog StCStS?3 3f| Sf*J"5 ^H5f C^*i %tf?T ^t* 6 ! I 

33 oizs^ ^tw 4^ts g:W*^ ^$ ^f%3 *p: tw 

5?%1 3<Tt3 ^t*l Wl S*t' st*I ^tfrl TOl *9*t ^t*T *& 

^cs ^ftfc 31 ^Kt if*! **i w^yfipri ^f %$ fog 

Sf^Wt *Ffatfa T^tt* G^ ifiral 31 SfTO I *TO tlftl^J 

Wfara mm* ^ itst* 31 *tc^ c*r Ijssct *tl ifa 
*t^^ ^ <sw ^ wl c^t3 ^ i ^ iftsi a 
<3*ten ^ c*Nt fwi rat#c3re itst* 33 toI 31 ^ 

CI 3W* fail 1t3 I SlTft 4^ *jp ^t*T "13 "fa 
^f *#*K Stats?* 3ft OT3 4? 55 "s^ft 3& ^t<R 

^T*1 ^ fog ^fare Itt* 31 I ^1 fc*1 

^fa?(1 StSfl *t%s 3^1 ^^ftc^3 ^3^<T *tSr1 ^fc^rc cs\ 
c*l *tfere?r1 ^rtTfa *<fl W ^<r 1 ^tc^ c^? <*N3 *ffb$ 

C3 faslfa^Wft ^S ^fafrstfa ^t3t^T tpg^WiT 4^3 3tfl5 

ttt3T*tfffW*1 tfr#^ ^t^ 11^ ^^ 1 CT o^ff ^t^3 

l^fe #t5 (7R3 1^^^?r ^jfo ^^l VZ1 C513 ^^5 
lft^3T5 ^< Stft^ W I ffbC^TPf^ ? Ci Wtf ^ 
^rtd I Ct3 CTtC^^^iT tIts ^tc^c^ ife ffal ^ 4^t ^JT3t3 

ctT^^i:^ ^frs ^t^c^ if% ii^tc^ ftf <w ^3 c^tc^^fcw^ 


*rf%i fan v^mi\ ^ s?i cwi srfrrt^t^ wm^ wfi% 
^t* ^ ftgs ^ sd i rt* 4 c^ffisr ft^n ^^t^ *cti ^i 

*rtft ^ *terc toct cam* *ajai*frfc* 3tf&m ^fira i 

pre* it^i vti <&& &rat^ ^j ^f^tw ftfet *mr 
c^ft J^ifttrfw^ Cls^fe fife tp c^ <sf^ ^ ^t^ 

From a literary point of view, however, Mrtyufi- 

. . jay's two original works, Rajahall and 

Original works. 

rrahodh-chandnka are more interest- 
ing ; and of these, Rajahall, both in form and matter, 

is no doubt the better work. Rajahall 

Rajabali, 1808. .. . .. .,.-,,., c 

as its name implies, is the 'history or 
the kings' who ruled in this country from the earliest 
time, audits full title will sufficiently explain its scope 1 : 

1 The description of this work in Dinesh Chandra Sen's History 
(p. 888) as "the history of India from the earliest time down to 
Tiinur" is clearly a mistake : for the history is brought down to 
recent times viz. the time of the British occupation of Bengal. 
The title-page given in the text above is that of later editions but in 
the first edition the title-page simply says : 3t^fa^t I T"^ ^"fatffa | 
y%m "tfH fros I SfofrlUai *Wt $?\ I * I pp. l-295. Second Ed. 
Serampore, 1814. Also mentioned as such in the catalogues of the 
Library of Bard of Examiners, Fort William College ; of the Library of 
the Hon. East India Company ; of the Library of the East India College. 
4th Ed. Serampore, 1836. 


Stsrfa^ i ^*ffc ^% <2rfa$ ^F5 ^3ftsf* <5if*f*t3 *\$F$ 
^S^t^ <rfs?1 ^5t^^ *TOT*f ^f%^t*T I The work- 
is, however, based more on tradition than on authentic 
history. The introductory portion gives the story of the 
ancient Hindu Kings since the days of Kuruksetra, 
based mostly on the Paumnik accounts and traditionary 
legends : and of these the account of King Bikramaditya 
is the longest and most entertaining. The story comes 
down to the historic times of the 

The scope of the Mohammedan conquest and there is 
work. i, 

some account of AdiSur, Ballal Sen, 

Laksman Sen of Bengal and Prtho and Jayachandra of 

Delhi and Kanauj. Then follows a sketch of the Fathan 

and Mogul kings of Delhi, and of these the stories of Akbar, 

Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb will be found 

interesting. These accounts, however, are not strictly 

historical but there is a considerable infusion of gossip 

and fiction. The woik ends with an account of the 

British occupation of Bengal after the defeat of Sirajud- 

daulah, worth comparison with that given by RSjlb 

Lochan in Raja Krsija Chandra Bayer Ckaritra. The 

concluding passage is interesting : cn^C^t W^n'W 

farts* *rafa *rt^5it^ *\*y\\ *i*i$ * 35^1 ^t^^ft 
jh^ ^-\m^\ i\ *tfrs c^t^i c^fa *raife *Ttra* ^^tc^^c^nr 

Si^ara *rf ^fV citft? <5tttrs ^fb^ st^rs** ^\m 4% 

11T3 5^*1 I There are numerous anecdotes but the story 
is presented in a connected form and the style is marked 



by narrative ease and simplicity, although at places where 
the author grows serious, it becomes 

Its language and laboured and pedantic. The style 
manner bordering on . r , - . , . , . . . 

the pedantic. of Mrtyunjay however has a distinc- 

tion of its own when contrasted witli 
those of his contemporaries. It shows a decided leaning 
to Sanscrit words and Sanscritic forms, just as the styles 
of Carey, Ram Basu, or Chandlcharan 

Itssanscritised style , . . ., n i 

contrasted with the show a return to the colloquial 
plain colloquial styles language. In Mrtyuniay's writings. 

of Carey and others. ? * . 

there is an attempt to raise the 

language from the negligence of collocj^uialism to the dig- 
nity and seriousness of a literary language j while in 
Carey and others, the desire is always to be clear, popular, 
and useful. But it must be admitted that in the more 
serious portions of Mrtyunjay 's writings, the preponder- 
ance of Sanscrit words and Sanscrit forms makes the 
syntax inartistic and the style stiff and unnatural. In 
the narrative portions, however, this fault disappears, and 
the general manner in this work although bordering on 
the pedantic, is indeed interesting, of which the following 
short passage taken from the account of Prthu and 
Jayachandra will serve as a specimen 1 : 

TtjrWt* *fw macs ct Mei ftifcs rft*fa ^Rr ^1 

^t^w CWf iW ^w& *tdt<r *^t^ *ftt3R fc*rc 

<W ^5 ^ feR *FfctCff 3CTS5 ^tFF Jjjfes <sfe<$l*\ 

Au extract from * 

SySTS IZ ****** ftm stm ^i 

and Jayachandra, ^ ^ *^ ^ ^ f^ $^ 

farted ftfe a ^ ^if^e ^ t*H9ni toj c^ ^tet* 

pp. 100-106. 


TOTtHte &*\ 5*1 I *fc* S"N 4^ f^ 7 ! ^ftt 5^*1 ^2Tfc* 

f^tii ^fac*rc ct ^rtft ffsntn fodot* fafara ci 3* ^*ff^5 
^fa c*r reftt* ^t^te ^ 5*1 ^stre c^fat* *w fa <sisl 

^fc*H cs *$tit* *rr*tft *1?fr ^1 ^t*fa^T* c* *w ^t^ft 
^tet^ ^fare *ftr?R irfft lt*|5flFt* Wt ^tw *ra fa^te 

3fal ^foll W*3 IC^S *rfa^ ^fafl 1^I *W*fff* ftw 

^fac*rc i ci faiM frtfiwt^w *r**i *twt*1 ^t^R 
fai Wft* HjW* ^t^R *tti Sfct* <2ttffa <*rc si^s 

ftr| fare 33 ^rt*tf^r fttfa *M ^t*fft ct ^rt *tsrfc* ft| 

ffars citwrPNcf fsfsstTt ^f^^R ft^ fW ^t^^ ^ 

<sis^ fttt^ ut^tir ^fef^ft ii^ ^< i^i f^^ti ^^ m^ 
5q^ ^c^ ^t^^ fftltftw ^t^m ^ fag fr^ c^t^ ^t^r- 


^jfe i lf^W ^rf*ff^3 c^^ w& iss ^^ ^flnrt ^r^t^^ 

fftlR C^SRl Sfaflfll *K* ^rfS^ (71 (71 ^t^ft^l ^tfel ItC^R 

tt^sl ibn^i ^fay^ <7fC"t ^tfort mm *ts?t* *&& fa^i 

5^ *ftfl ^ ^< 2tf^Tl "fell C*fcTC I ^R$* <Tts?1 S3BS 
C^fa^ ^WtfT ^^ *P!t*ft ^ftsl *re?5 ^Wft^ ^ ^fc*TC I 

(71 (7! *TW*Tl ^fet%! ^t^tffS 1W ^teft^3 *m<H sri 
^f?T^1 ^fo*R (71 "Sftft *3$Jtsfl ^jfe^FF <5RJ ^t^rn:^ Wl 

^Rr ^1 1 mm WW ^rt*ft wt*r ^ Pm stfad wt*r 

^3 ^fe^ 05t<r ?^1 ^1 ^t^ ^r ftfl i srts? ^Rjl *rj 
c^fas; ^^f c^ft^ ^tftfes ^rtftfl *rfe^ i 4 jf^ii f^ 

ntifel %*h i ^ ci^ *t3j faf<Kw ^tst*r iti ^ c^ f^t^t^ 

^ 4 *TC^ <7\ ^^s* ^fe f%^ ^ft (71 ^tre #tet* tf% ^5 

^ti en ^^t^ ^^ft^ ^ft^ti csfat* ^^Jt^ ^ ^rj^n 

ttifell ^rt^fsTS ^l^^I ^t^Tf W OWl ^t^ ^FfTOR 53f^lfe 

mm <tmtt tas ft* c^i *iar feR i fN ^rosr ^m\ ct tart< 

^^^t^ ^ f%i ^sw fe^ ^1 1 ^^t^1 ^^^t^^ ^5t^, 


<ttsi i$\ tjf^s *rtt?i *fawj ^tfasi *$rrsrr* iron* ffti 

Prahodh-chandnka 1 or Moon-light of Intelligence, his 

next great original work, is indeed 

PiYiboM-cfcanrfritS, a mogfc j nterestino . publication of this 

period from the standpoint of form 
and language, if not for its matter. It is an elaborate treatise 

1 This work, though composed in 1813, was not published till 
1833, when it appeared from the Serampore Press with a Preface 
by J. C. Marshman (dated 15th Ma}', 1833). The title-page says : 

Wm sfcsi %M* ^rftsrfani ^tfire **i I >**! pp. I 106, 

The Prubodh Chundrika compiled by the late Mrityunjoy 
Vidyulunkur, many years Chief Pandit in the College of Fort William, 
From the Serampore Press. 1833", pp. i-xi and 1195, The fount is 
very neat and clear. There was a second edition at Serampore 
in 1845 as the Catalogue of Bengali Printed Books in the Library 
of the Brittih Museum p, 67 shows. Another edition in the Stlliitya 
Parisat Library dated 1862, Serampore. Also another edition 1862, 
with the following title-page in English and Bengali t "The 
Prabodh Chandrika compiled by the Late Mrityunjoy Bidvalankar 
for many years Chief Pundit in the College of Fort William, 
Calcutta. Printed for the Calcutta University at the Baptist Mission 
Press, 1862, Wttff3f*i I 3)^5 ^T* ftflt*!*!* ^^ fafFSl I 

{ft*?1 ">*** l" "^ these editions may be seen to the Sfihitya Pariftt 1 
Library. Entered as "Prubodh Chundrika by Mrityunjoy Vidyulunkar, 
8vo, Serampore, 1833" in the Catalogue of the Library of the Hon, 
East India Company, 1845. p. 105. 


of some length divided into four parts called ^SW, each 

of which again is subdivided into chapters called 

3*3^. The book begins with the praise of language, 

which, however, as quoted below, will not be found very 

entertaining for its stiff and pedantic 
Object and scope of . . , ... 

the work as put forth style, but will somewhat exemplify 

passage. introductory and explain the Pundit's preference 
for Sanscrit : 

erfe rftf i cw ^ *flfa ^J^ f*rat*r ^r i c^Tf^tfa 

^fts i <^5gpf <3fafc *flfatt1 F|^$*i1 ^ I 

^>m<i ^tTO*t frr#t ^rrrosi *w*niwil fi%5Ffa2fatf"t*i 
Bft^rfar tN:^<t &5C*t* ^t^nifewi 3Ks ^r^fai B^pGwH 



^R ^*3 ^wt^ =irfa ^reprfai i**i ^t$q ^t^ 5^j- 
c^ts* i$?\ ^*it*i ^ffaw ferfa *\5 1 cfjv^En^^ tsj^rf 

1^1 C*ftfw ^ttt* TOT ^ C^ft^fo <5tqtff5 ^fesTC ^ 

Then King Baijpal, son of Bikrnmaditya, summons 
his young and frolicsome child Sridhaiadhara before 
him and, in order to infuse in the son a love of 
learning, begins a discussion on the subject. Afterwards 

he entrusts the instruction of his 
the T trea f t r i8r W rk f son t0 Acharya Prabhakar, who to 

educate his young pupil begins by lec- 
turing to him in a stiff and laboured language upon 
every conceivable subject beginning with the philosophy 

1 Mtrc>far*1 pp. 1-2, 


of the alphabet, rules of grammar, rhetoric, law, logic, 
astronomy, and politics, and various other branches of useful 
knowledge and finishing the whole by salutary instructions 
illustrated by popular tales. The book is indeed a monument 
of learning and written also in a learned language. 

But the book, inspite of its learning, has no system 
and the writer is almost wholly devoid of all artistic 
instincts of proportion or arrange- 
a^gllT^^ ment - The serious is mingled up 
with the comic, abstruse metaphysical 
speculation is put side by side with the low talk of peasants, 
mechanics and quarrelsome women, and often there is a 
sudden and ludicrous descent from the most pedantic and 
laboured language to the extreme vulgarity of the popular 
dialect. It is indeed a hotch-potch a curious collection 
of tales and serious essays, bound together by a very 
slender thread. 

Nor is the language of the book all that could be 

T , desired. In the preface to the work 

Its language. 

Marshman remarks very significantly 

that "any person who can comprehend the present work and 
enter into the spirit of its beauties, may justly consider 
himself master of the language." But to comprehend the 
present work would mean some familiarity with Sanscrit, 
without which the book would not be easily intelligible, 
and there can be no doubt that this grounding 
in Sanscrit would certainly help much in acquiring a com- 
mand over the more literary aspects of the language. But 
the tendency to sanscritising has been carried to the extreme. 

Indeed Prabodh-cJtanelrika exemplifies 
Its importance and 
position in the historic one important aspect or the develop- 

development of prose ^^ Qf proge ^ j n ^ perfod 

and brings into clear relief the long- 
continued struggle between the plain and the ornate style 


out of which is evolved modern prose the plain style 

favoured by the European writers and their imitators, 

while the ornate style advocated by learned pundits of the 

orthodox school like Mrtyufiiay. 
Purity of diction. . , 

The language is correct and absolute- 
ly free from the taint of Persian, and Marshman's eulogy 
that the book is "written in the purest Bengalee n is 
perfectly justifiable; but when that learned missionary and 
scholar speaks of its Bengali as "one of the most beautiful 
specimens" of prose style, it is obvious that he stretches 
his point too far. The harsh unrhythmical obscure 
Sanscrit-ridden style is far from the best that this period 
has to show in Bengali prose. The genius of Sanscrit is 
not the same as that of Bengali : and it would be a 
mistake to suppose that Sanscrit syntax should rule syntax 

in Benq-ali. Preponderance of Sanscrit 

The style labour- . . , . 

ed and pedantic for words indeed gives strength and 

its close imitation of i t ,! 11 , 

Sanscrit variety to the prose as well as purity 

and correctness to the diction, but 

the sesquipedalian affectation of laboured style becomes 

wearisome in a short time. The use of long-drawn-out 

compound words, occurrence of unusual 
Its defects. . 

phrases, and extensive borrowing from 

Sanscrit make it difficult sometimes for the uninitiated 
to comprehend the sentences at the first glance. In the 
technical or philosophical portions again the style some- 
times assumes a peculiar stiffness and learned tone. 1 In 
some places, the sentences are so very lengthy and irregular 
in structure and arrangement that it becomes almost 
impossible to find out their meaning easily ; while in other 
places, the writer, anxious to exhibit a variety of style, has 

\ See for instance <2t*fa ^T*, ffft *3 &f4 ^?1 I fkifo ^^, 


indulged in the use of language current only among the 
lower orders "the vulgarity of which, however," says Marsh- 
man, " he has abundantly redeemed by his vein of original 
humour." In this work the student may range at will over 

all kinds of Bengali prose of this period 
UW^V f ' m ^e highest to the lowest, al- 

though the Sanseritised style preponde- 
rates : from sentences so studded with Sanscrit combinations 
as to be almost unintelligible to those who have not learnt 
the classical language down to vulgar abuse and colloquial 
freedom. We had already seen a specimen of its more 
difficult style ; the following extract will be a good illustra- 
tion of the author's use of the colloquial language 1 : 

*rr5fa ft^ fan [ for ^*t ] ^t*R Ste* tft*i k** 
5(1 <st* c*ftf^1 % *fa *ni ^s <sfa ^p^\ ^tfe <^ ^tre 
^ Wttsrft i ^t^t^ ft ^tfeferl ^ftq wtl ^tfa *rfc 

ftftWl 5Tl ^(t^ ^5 C*nD ^^ I \^*[f^ fc^W ^rfTO 

<*tft*i Stc^.^%j <*t* ^ c^ ^tftr ^ wi ^tc^ ffax ^ ^? 

a*PlW>t* I ft ^%I ^ ^*$ f% if tf1 ^ C5*T 5ft^ ^ sffe 

^1 Pro*! ^ $fas rfafa c^| % ^^ 1 ^slu ffeRl ^1 c^ 

^ cwrfa t?? * ^ fa| ^tre ^ vot^- fail ^ 4^ ^ 
fori <rtt^ i ^tff ^Ms ft ^% ^ fail ^1 \f% ^ crftl 

1 C^tW|arl, pp. 65-66. 


erft 31 fail ^r6l (tpr ^til *rtfVtc*i % sfts 31 c^fa fait* 
ctSi ^s c*iil fte ^tfl? ^1 ^t3trel sTfarl ^8 3tl*rfa 
C*!tre^^ Tl^iT *I^3 srt&t <tfoi <Utfoff5 ^^ stffe i 

fa *rf?re i ^*tft ^ft*i ^wtt3 ^tf? fa f*iii 31 *rt^f^ ^ 
cwfaflffa ^tf^^t ^rsf ?l *rfw fai> <ttw i ^i ^fc*l to 
^f* tj^^l ^tftil ^tfe^ ^f*ral ^ft*r ^fr ^sfa ^ri> dt^tfei 
ql ^1 vsl 4F fa ft*l ^tfcu ^ *np* OT3 ^^ ^tft^ i ^1 

*tt^1 31 *$ c*i ^rtf^ ^c^f i *u%farot* ^ **TI sftsi 

fal| i>rfa | ^1 gfspsl ^RtFI Wjp C^T3 *F5% < 
5tf*ratre ^rfa *rfofa *rc* retre csitfl to 4^*t ^rl^l it* 
*ferl ^rtsrter fail 4^ ^fe c^fatw ^ 3t*wrc 3<f* ^tfarl i^i 

W *&3l *TC3 ^rf^l I ^faal ftptfol fa^ V5*l *KI ^"fafa 
i?p ^Sf t)<p clWt^ l*u%l 3^ fall ^J^ftC* ^^ 
s5ftf3^11 ^51 tsftfl ^fa^l ^%I tl (3t* Tt^l <fi^ C$1 3tf> 31 
^ C^3 <5Tfat* ^ <1*l ^3 ^firal *U^ *ltf^W I <*feRE*f 

ism wfa ^fasl ^tre ^ft*i wri *rtft ^1 il *N f*til 
*fa*t1 f rte 3tfc 31 1 

It will be seen, however, that his narrative and 

descriptive manner as well as his. power of weaving dialogues 

into his story is really praiseworthy for his time. But 

it must not be supposed that between these extremes of 

colloquialism on the one hand and 

His general nnrro- academic pedantry on the other, 

tive manner : ease l J 

and dignity. Mrtyufijay never succeeded in steering 

a middle course. On the contrary, 

from the following extract it will be seen that his narrative 


style though sanscritised often assumes an ease and 
dignity reminding one of the later 

Illustration. _ 

style or Hidyasagar * : 

ffWt^J <2ttfto?r%* Wl*THfa 4^ ^*Tft ^^^1 ^ETC 
^*tt*K^" WTfa&TOS c|^ fr^T ^t<ffi\ft ^tfall ^*tf^5 ^t*R I 

^ ^*ift Wft^ 3jrci* W^jt^R rft Tt^ W ^firal 
^ "srrft VftPl ^fareft ^tfafo ^ 31 n6*U*I ^rRfa ^f :- 

fad ^tst* ^1 Pimhh *fac*w i ^ ^W ^tof 

<8TtWl STfaW ^ftH <^ \st*ttW^' ^ft'C*R v5E*tT*R ^i^W3J 
ofaTt^TtW SfaK 3^1 fSJ ^fa^ *Ttfa*TC ^feq^ ^ 

^"It^^t ^1 Tf?nf^ft^ fw ^falt WfclR ^I WS *f^CSf^T 

<W <^ ^t<tt*nr ^rtatw ^Pral srfcft* *pfa farl *feR I c^ 
%i ^t^l cslffa fait* <*re>t$% i^t^ttes mi ^i M7 

^*fa *13rW* ^ iw ^ itt* sto tfre Ttfrftfo ^s 

MM>f##1, pp. 56-57. 


The last though not the least important work of 

this period is Purus-parikfiu or the 
Haraprasad Ray. . r 

Irial of Man composed by Hara- 
prasad Ray and published by the ^rirampur Press in 

1815. l It is a pretty large volume 
Pnrus-Pariksa, and con tains 52 stories* translated 

from a Sanskrit original said to have 
been composed by the poet Bidyapati at the command 
of Raja Sibasimha. Its object is not only to impart 

ethical instruction 3 by extolling and 

Its scope indicated illustrating the virtues of men, but 
by the author himseli. 

also to entertain by clever and amus- 
ing stories; and this is set forth at the beginning of the 

1 The title-page says : ^lfj5 fafTt 9 ^ u%5 ^ ^ *R$\5 ^tTVT 

f^ftel If* ^ftV^l i ^imtw *to w$* *\xM ^iitre sfasl t Slatvic* 

^ttl 3^*1 I i*i I PP. l-27b. It is very remarkable that this book has 
been published by the Bangabasi Press (B. B. 1301) as a work by 
Mrtyunjay Bidyalaukar. I am not aware of the existence of any 
such work by Mrtyunjay nor does Roebuck, Buchanan, or Long 
mention it The Bangabasi reprint, however, is not very accurate. 
Of Haraprasad Ray's life, little seems to be known. Long (Return of 
the Names and Writings, etc., 1855) speaks of him as " Haraprasad Ray 
of Kanchrapara. " The copy in the British Museum Library 
(Blumhardt, Catalogue, p. 113) of the first edition bears the same 
title-page, date and place of publication as we have quoted above : 
but there is also another edition in the same Library reprinted at 
London in 1826. And a third revised edition, Calcutta, possibly 
of 1866. Also in tho Catalogue of the Library of the Hon. East 
India Company, 1845, p. 195, and in the Catalogue of the Library 
of the East India College ; the name of tho author is not stated in 
these Catalogues. An edition dated Calcutta 1818 is entered in the 
Catalogue of the Library of-Jhe East India College, 1843. There are two 
editions (apparently of 1834 and 1853 respectively though the title- 
page is wanting) in the Library of tho Sahitya Parisat. 

2 Although there are stories in this work which would have 
better been expurgated. 

As a book of fable, this work seems to have been very popular. 


work : ^f%5R i2WftPl ^fat<Rfe^ ^tf^ft^fa ftfa^ <R* 

*ffr# <rft^ ^ fill aw ^faw srl *r<fc *w@ ^i ^f^c^ i 

The framework of the story is this : Once upon a time 

a certain king anxious to marry his beautiful daughter 

consulted a certain sage on the subject. 

The framework of The advised him to marry his 

the collection. n J 

daughter to a man. Asked what 
the characteristics of a real man are the sage begins 
enumerating and illustrating the various virtues of a real 
man and the object of manhood. The book is comparable 
in many respects to Mrtyunjay's Batri's Simhasan or 
Pradodh-chandrika and although not equally learned or 

affected, the style shows the same 

Its language and style. ... .. . 

tendency to sanscntisation and borders 
almost on the pedantic. By taste and inclination, Hara- 
prasad seems to belong to the same orthodox school as 
Mrtynnjay. It is hardly necessary to illustrate his style 
at a great length, and the following short quotation picked 
out from the more easy portions will be found sufficient 
to enable the reader to form his own judgment: 

Dr. Yates gives 16 stories from it the second volume of his Introduction 
and Haughton gives 4. 

1 *pq*rfW, pp. 3-4. 



j]^ ^ttffcr fert^t^ c\ c^^ c^ vrte ^t^tre %^ 

f#ii =wft^5 %?m 5^ 4^ stsroft ^^rt^^ fafa Tt^- 

^t^t^f^ ^Bgrftxs ^M* ft 5 * ^C<R ftl <^ *I*C*|iT s^ <*i|| 

c^tt^fc^ ^3 c*j^ ^ vrto tor i ct c^^ <wr c*it^ ^1- 
^PI c^rfa" i^*i ^'fer sicf j -sttt^ ^tf 6 !^ ?&*tc5 wq| ^t*^ flR: 

Illustrative extract _^ 

from the story of the *lt^tw^ *^WJT ^^ *R C^t^ TTOW^I 
indolent men. 

^<T ^Tl c<)<K c^ "TO C^t^ ^T^TO ^Ffl 

4$ Rc<tb^l ^fir i *rra *[C5T^ cTl^t c*rfa ^*rcw*f <r ^1 
^3rt%w *f^t*T *f^*nr ^*tt^ ^ <w ^t^to ^ c*ffasl 

C^Ft^ #ft G\*t\m 5f| qft | *ft* ^<Tl ^*K7TCtfHT 3^ CTf%l 
35^ ^Tt^ (2f^tf ^f^fl C^tt^ C^t^R^ <5$t ^fes 

3^ OT f%l <**PT f%3[ *reJ ^2J C^lt 5 ^ ^ife ^firal ^Jtf^ 

<5r3^ *r^i ^Tjt^tffs 9fftjpi ^ ^ ^t?rW ^finrt '^c^l 
c^i ^ n?i5T ^fortf^ c*fc ^ ^f?r ft^ii f^^cfe ^rtf%^ ^^f^ 

1 ^'tfhfl, pp. 55-58. 


itf*t*i <w stcfa&r* ^1 <4**R W$ ^t*fa ^5 FtfaKl 

^if%j ^%j ^tft ^r^ *ft <a ^ ^ ^ft itfasi *rrfro i 
^*ft ^fa wt ^fcs^ 4<rt^ 4^ qtffo c^rt^ c*$ ^ 

fem ^ncs ^ftm^<T ^sre c*^ &tfa ^*m c^r^onr 

^tft stfe <w ^frc^rfet* 5R^t ^tf% C^f^f *T*ffi crti*w- 
fefa *f ^\ ^f ^ ^!f% ^wife<*w ^2J *rf% ^ i *ter (7i^ 
faoitft *^ot1 ^^<rf*f^ ^ ^5 ^ft^ *rfa<lt *rft ^fe 


Earliest Bengali Journalism 

It will be seen that almost all the publications of 

the College of Fort William were printed and issued at 

the Srirampur Press. 1 But a greater 

Newspaperrpublished WOrk than this was accomplished 

by firirampur Press, by it and its missionary founders 
when in 1818 Dr. Marshman, in 
conjunction with Dr. Carey, proposed and carried out a 
scheme of publishing a monthly journal and a newspaper 
in Bengali. Such a project had long been present in the 
minds of t the Srirampur brethren, for the Press as a means 
of diffusing knowledge is always an important and useful 
auxiliary to an earnest missionary : but stringent restric- 
tions on the Press, especially the vernacular press, had 
made it difficult for them to carry out their noble purpose. 
When therefore in February 1818, 
Digdartan (April Dr Marshman proposed the publica- 

1818) or The Indian l L r 

Youth's Magazine. tion of Digdar'sau, Carey in his 

anxiety for the safety of the mission, 
consented only on condition that it should be a monthly, 
and should avoid political discussion 2 The first Bengali 
periodical therefore confined itself purely to instructive 

1 When on March 21, 1800, an advertisement appeared in (lie 
official Calcutta Gazette, announcing that the missionaries had established 
a press at Srirampur, it at once roused Lord Wollesley who, although 
a liberal statesman, had fettered tho press in British India. Hut on 
the assurance of Mr. Brown, the Governor-General wrote to tho mis- 
sionaries saying that he was personally favourable to the movement 
and that such an Oriental press would be invaluable to tho College 
of Fort William. 

9 Hero is an extract from tho minutes of the meeting of the 
Mission regarding the publication of Digdarsan : 

"Feb. 13th, 1818. Mr. ltanhm&n having proposed the publication 
of a periodical work in Bengali to be sold amongst the natives for the 


literary, scientific, or historical essays of general interest. 
Each article was written both in Bengali and English, 
put opposite to each other, the English version on one 
page on the left and the Bengali on the next page on the 
right. 1 The Digdarsan or Magazine for Indian Youth, as 
its title-page says in the alternative ( fif5p*fa ^sffc *p- 
C*riWT ^l HVffis 5Tfr1 fe*faPt ) was published in 
April 18 18 2 and was thus the first paper of its kind in 
Bengali. An enumeration of the contents of the first 
number would indicate the nature as well as the variety 
of the topics dealt with. It was essentially meant for 
the diffusion of useful knowledge on various subjects and 
none of the articles had any great pretensions for original 
writing, artistic presentation or literary finish. The first 
number contained the following articles : ^Ttdfir^hT *f*fa 
fw$ (Of the Discovery of America), f^gtOT ^WT IW*! 

purpose of exciting a spirit of enquiry among them, it was resolved 
that there was no objection to the publication of snch a journal, pro 
vided all political intelligence, more especially regarding the East, 
be excluded from it and it do not appear in a form likely to alarm 
government. It must therefore be confined to articles of general infor- 
mation and notice of new discoveries, but a small place may be allotted 
to local events, with the view of rendering it attractive." (History 
of Serampore Mission, vol. ii. p. 162.) 

1 From the Tenth Memoir relative to Serampore Translations 
(July, 1832 : Appendix) it appears that two editions were issued, viz., 
(1) bilingual, English and Bengali; (2) in Bengali only. In the volumes 
we have been able to trace, nos. i-xvi (from April 1818 to March 1819 
and from January to April 1820) are bilingual ; while Nos. xv to 
xxvi (from March 1820 to February 1821), it is published only in 
Bengali. We have another edition nos. i-xii (April 1818 to March 
1819) published only in Bengali. So it seems that the two editions were 
issued simultaneously from the very beginning of its publication. 

The date given by Dinesh Chandra Sen (History, p. 877) as 
February 1818 is incorrect. See quotation from Marshman's letter 
at p. 233 poste (footnote). The first number with the date April 
1818, may be seen in the Sahitya Parisat Library. 


(Of the Limits of Hindoosthan), ft^StOT ^tft^J (Of the 
Trade of Hindoosthan), *^ ^ T\ftv\$ WSJ^^ ^t^t"f Wr 
(Mr. Sadler's Journey in a Balloon from Dublin to Holyhead) 
ft^ftsi *\&5 ft3t3 (Of Mount Vesuvius). It will be seen 
that it was eminently fit to be a "Youth's Magazine," 
and the nature of the themes as well as the manner of 
expression was varied and novel enough to make it attrac- 
tive. There were interesting scientific papers on the 
compass, the metals, the steamboat, botany of India, etc., 
historical accounts of ancient and modern nations, sketches, 
narratives of travel, notices of England and other countries, 
and a few essays on the commerce and productions of 
India, all treated in a popular and easy way. The follow- 
ing selection will serve for a specimen : 

^1 ft* mt$F&* 

Cff?T5 ^*1 *rfa, &f*f* W? ^*R *R*1 51 5? fat*! ^f^F ^. 

^^*t <tf^ **f ftre v s ft^ft** ^ ^2J <5tt*t ^*R ^*R 

^tfe*i- ^ ><n *rft*i *t*t*n <?m 4^*t ^f% c*t*$f^ 

c*itt**ffnT tot *rc^ ^ tR ^firatf^R, fai <?&* #Wfoni 

ftotw riHtc^ 5**t*ito ^a^tam wfi ^fe Tft 

2t^ ^t*of* o*H ^Tft ^ =u. ^*Tre c*fc $f^*t*ra* 
^ i#fs *K* *^g ^ ?5i c^t^ *fsr*rc<*t ^ srftfc ^tw ^tw tfart 
sift?!. <<m ^^r f^fa3t*l ^ t^i fsiffa feff^sr 

^5t^5 *t^ ^ft&*t*t ^, ^t^TTs TO*!* ^ Sffa*l ^ 
sfic** *t*5t* *?fat*t ^tfarecs. (^"Wt* C<2ff*3 4* 15 
C^ ft^ ft 3 !, ^t*t*1 ^ft * C*t?W*1 5ri^lf5"tJh 


^ . ^t^ ^f iwm sty (7i ^*r w 3 ^f ^twff^ 

a ffa ^fe*t^ <SHr <?fc ffa ^ era 3to ^i ^r, ^tstre f^ 
ffa tfrs c^tt^tff^ ^s^ ^^ ^f%*i. ^^ fthci d^tire 
nq tf%fo iffor ^*t ^ ^ c^i c^ %5 ^t^ (Tiw^ 

*%r. *rt<r effing fe# %ffr\ *&% fof^Ffi *ft* ^ ^rtfai, 

"fof ffiUtftf, ^t5t*1 <4Wfc*I <PR ^ #1 (71 5fft f%JT *rfa 

^s "*ot i^c^^^i Tt^iThronr c?N^t% fe^t^ pra 

C^ 5f^F ^IW ^1 ^1^1 TOR. 1 

1 Digdaraan, April 1820, pp. 167-173; the English translatiou is omitted. 


This useful paper, however, lasted only for three 
years (1818-1821 ) 1 ; but it became very popular and 
successful for a new venture, and its sueeess emboldened 
the missionaries to launch upon the more perilous task of 
starting a newspaper in Bengali. A quarter of more of 
a century's intolerance on the part of 

Samachur darpan or . , , , . 

the Mirror of News. the government had made the 
23rd May, Saturday, m j ss i on aries diffident : but their 


eagerness to open a new avenue to 
the thoughts of the nation made them overcome all 
scrupnles, more specially because the Bengal Gazette 
( 181 6-1818) 2 the only paper in Bengali hitherto 
published, was now dead, and its place required to be 

filled up. Nothing could keep back 
History of its publi- t ] ie indefatigable missionaries but 


they took every precaution against 
imperilling the safety of their mission. Consequently, 
before the actual publication of the paper, they issued pros- 
pectus and advertisements in the loeal papers about the 
proposed journal so that objections, if any, from official 
and other quarters would be taken beforehand. Then on the 
critical night before the publication, the first proof of 
the first number was laid before the assembled brother- 
hood at their weekly meeting on Friday evening. Dr. 
Carey, whom long experience had taught to be more 
eautious mentioned his fears about the Mission, but be 

1 I have been able to trace the following numbers (in the> m 
Parisat Library) ; April 1818 to March 1919, NOB. i-xii ; January 1820 
to April 1820, NOS. xiiixvi ; May 1820 to February 1821, nos. xvii bo 
xxvi. It seems only 2(5 numhers were published. The Catalogue of E. I. 
Compam/s Library (1845) (p. 267) enters Digdarian only for April 
1&18 to February 1821. 

a Long says (.Return of Namet and Writings, etc) that the Bengal 
Gazette was published for a year. But nsfortimately file of this 
paper is not available any where. 


consented to its publication when Marsh man promised to 
send a copy with an analysis of its contents in English, 
to Government, and to stop the enterprise if it should 
be officially disapproved. 1 Lord Hastings was fighting 

1 Long (Catalogue) calls the paper Serampore Bar pan and in the xiiith 
vol. of the Calcutta Review (1850) in the article on Bengali Literature 
he calls it the Darpan of Serampore. Of course this might be an 
abbreviated way of speaking, but accurately put it must bear the 
name of Samachar Darpan. The narrative of the publication of 
Digdarsan as well as of this paper is thus given by J. C. Marshman : 
"It appeared (in 1818) that the time was 

History of its ripe for a native newspaper, and I offered the 
publication as given missionaries to undertake the publication of 
in a letter of Marsh- .. __ . . , . ... - . , , 

man > s it. The jealousy which the Government had 

always manifested of the periodical press 
appeared, however, to present serious obstacle. The English journals 
in Calcutta were under the strictest surveillance and many a column 
appeared resplendent with the stars which were substituted at the last 
moment for the editorial remarks and through which the censor had 
drawn his fatal pen. In this state of things it was difficult to suppose 
that a native paper would be tolerated for a moment. It was resolved 
therefore to feel the official pulse by starting a monthly magazine in the 
first instance, and the Digdarshan appeared in April 1818. It was composed 
of historical and other notices, likely from their novelty to excite the 
attention of the natives and to sharpen their curiosity. In the last 
page, in a smaller type, some few items of political intelligence were 
inserted. Two numbers were published, and copies were sent to the 
principal members of Government (including the Censor) and the fact 
of the publication was widely circulated by advertisement in all 
the English papers of Calcutta. As no objection appeared to be 
taken to the publication of the magazine by the censor, though it 
contained news, it was resolved at once to launch the weekly paper, 
and call it by the name given to the earliest English news-letter, the 
Mirror of News or Samachar Darpan. But Dr. Carey, who had been 
labouring fifteen years in India during the period when the opposi- 
tion to missionary efforts and enlightenment of the natives was in 
full vigour, was unfavourable to the publication of the Journal because 
he feared it would give umbrage in official circles and weaken the 
good understanding which had been gradually growing up between 
the missionaries and the government. He strenuously advised that 



the Pindaris, and Nothing was said by his Council. 

On his return, the Governor-General wrote to the Editor 

with his own hand, expressing his 

Go, E ernm U eT ment ' e " tire a PP r0Val f the P a P CT and 

declaring that " the effect of 6uch a 
paper must be extensively and importantly useful." He 
even induced his Council to allow it to circulate by post 
at one-fourth the then heavy rate 1 thus giving a fresh 
impetus to the native newspaper press. It became popular 

the idea of it should be dropped, but he was over- ruled by his two 
colleagues, Dr. Marshman and Dr. Ward. When the prospectus was 
brought up for final examination at the weekly meeting of the mis- 
sionaries the evening before the day of publication, he renewed his 
objection to the undertaking on the grounds he had stated. Dr. Marsh- 
man then offered to proceed to Calcutta the next morning and 
submit the first number of the new Gazette, together with a rough 
translation of the articles, to Mr. Edmonstone, then Vice-President, 
and to the Chief Secretary (John Adam), and he promised that it 
should be discontinued if they raised any objection to it. To his 
great delight he found both of them favourable to the undertaking. 
At the same time he transmitted a copy of the paper to Lord Hastings, 
then in the North Western Provinces, and was happy to receive a 
reply in his own hand highly commending the project of endeavouring 
to excite and gratify a spirit of enquiry in the native mind by means of 
a newspaper. And thus the journal was established. A copy of it 
was sent with a subscription -book to all the great baboos in Calcutta, 
and the first name entered on the list was that of Dwarkanath 
Tagore. On the return of Lord Hastings to the Presi- 
dency, he endeavoured to encourage the undertaking by allowing the 
journal to circulate through the country at one-fourth the usual charge 
of postage which at that time was extravagantly high" (Extract 
of a Letter from J. C. Marsh man to Dr. George Smith published in ttie 
latter's Twelve Indian Statesmen, 1898, pp. 230-33. The same account 
is to be found in J. C. Marshman, Life and Times of Carey, etc., vol. ii, 
p. 161 seq.). Also see Cal. Rev. 1907, vol.cxxiv, p. 39193. 

1 For the postage-rates, see Seton-Karr, op. cit., vol. iv. (1868), 
p. 61, etc. Government also encouraged the paper by subscribing to 
a hundred copies during 1820-1828. 


at once, and as it avoided all religious controversy in the 
earlier issues, it was welcomed even by the most orthodox 
among the Hindus. The name of' Dvarakanath Thakur 
headed the list of subscribers, and its long life of 33 
years, in spite of later oppositions and vicissitudes, till 
1851 sufficiently indicates its power, efficiency and 
popularity as the leading and for some time the only paper 
of the day. " To the Barpan, " it is 
Its power efficiency said u the educated natives looked as 

and popularity. 

the means of bringing the oppression 

of their own countrymen to the knowledge of the public 

and the authorities. Government too found it useful for 

contradicting rumours and promoting contentment, if not 

loyalty." 1 

The first number of the Samachar Darpan was pub- 
lished on Saturday, May 23, 1818 (>| fori, *ffi W<r)' J 

1 Smith, op. cit., p. 204. 

4 The earlier tiles of the paper had long become very scarce and 
this fact has given rise to various erroneous views about the date 
of its first publication. A file of this paper from its origin (May 
23, 1818 to July 14, 1821) will be found in the Library of the 
Sahitya Pariat. Even Marshman himself, in his two books (History of 
Serampore Mission, vol ii, p. 163, and History of Bengal, 1859, p. 251) 
gave the dates erroneously as May 31, Sunday, 1818, and May 29, 
Friday, 1818 respectively. Dinesh Chandra Sen, in following Marshman, 
has fallen into the same error in his History. Long (Descriptive Cata- 
logue, 1855, p. 66) gives August 23, Friday, 1818. The most obvious 
mistake is that made by Rajnarayan Basu who in his discourse on 
Bengali Language and Literature dates the paper from 1816, and the 
Calcutta Christian Observer (Feb., 1840) is equally mistaken in taking 
1819 as the date of the first publication of this paper. I have been 
able to get access to the following tiles of the paper (a) from May 23, 
1818 to July 14, 1821 (Sahitya Parisat Library) (b) from 1831 to 1837 
(Imperial Library, Calcutta) (c) From 1851 to 1852 (Bengal Asiatic 
Society's Library). I have given an account of these files in an article 
in the Sahitya Parisat Patrika, vol. 24, pp. 149-170. 


and from the seventh number it bore on its front the 
following motto 

Marshman tells us that the paper was so baptised 

because the name (Mirror of News) was associated 

with the earliest English news- 
Its claim to be , . < - , .. , . u 

regarded as the first letter. 1 But its claim to be 

Bengali newspaper; regarded as the earliest Bengali 

that credit belongs to 

the Bengal Gazette newspaper is not, inspite of current 

(1816-1818) of Ganga- , , a*a vi 

dhar Bhattschsrya and popular opinion, 2 justifiable, 

for the first Bengali newspaper was 

not the Saniachar Darpan but the Bengal Gazette. The 

latter journal, now scarce, was published for the first 

time in 1816 by one Gaiigadhar 3 Bhattacharya of whom 

little, however, is known. This paper lasted for two 

years, having been extinguished in 1818. 4 But though 

not the first newspaper in Bengali, Samachar Darpan 

practically laid the foundation of vernacular journalism 

in Bengali by directing the attention and energy of the 

Bengali people to a neglected literary field which now 

1 See extract from G. Smith, Twelve English Statesmen, quoted 
at p. 233 foot-note. 

* It has been so called by many an eminent writer, e.g., J. C. 
Marshman, History of Serampore Mission, vol ii,|p. 163, and History of 
Bengal, p. 251 ; Long, Cal. Rev., 1850, vol. xiii, p. 145 (but not in the 
Catalogue where he has corrected the mistake) ; Friend of India, 
Sept. 19, 1850 ; Smith, Life of Carey, p. 204 ; Dinesh Ch. Sen, History of 
Bengali Language and Literature (1911), p. 877; etc. 

' He must not however be confounded with Gangaksior Bhattachfirya. 

* Long's Descriptive Catalogue, also his Return, etc. already cited ; 
But in the Return, etc., it is said to have continued for one year only. 
But see Sahitya Parijat PatriTca, vol. v, pp. 248-250 ; Cal. Rev. 1907, 
p. 293. We learn from Rfijnarayan Basu (Bangala Bhafa Sahitya 
Bisaydk Balcrta, p. 69) that Gafigadhar was well-known as the pub- 
lisher of illustrated editions of Annadanwngal, etc. 


so much engages their activity and affords so many 
opportunities for benefiting the country. 

Although conducted chiefly by the missionaries, it 
was never wholly a missionary paper. Correspondence 
from various parts of the country for it had 
a very large circulation over 360 stations in the country 

useful articles on scientific, political, 
Nature of its articles. historical and geographical topics, l 

adorned its eagerly read pages. 
It recorded all the interesting contemporary incidents, 
political and administrative, and we have short articles on 
the fight with the Pindaris, on the conflict with Holkar, 
Sindhia and other Indian powers, on the last stage in the 
war betweeu England and France (including many refer- 
ences to Napoleon Bonaparte), an account of the Mogul 
Emperor and of Raja Ranjit Sing and essays on other 
interesting topics. Besides these, there were descriptions, 
reviews and advertisements of new publications, educational 
news (like the proceedings of the School Book Society and 
the School Society and the establishment of a college at 
Srirampur), various social topics (like the description 
of Sraddha ceremony of Gopimohan Thakur), market 
reports, reports on stocks and shares and on exports and 
imports, civil appointments, programmes of the 
Governor-General's tour, commercial and shipping 
intelligence, sensational news (burning fatalities, 
theft, dacoity, murder, earthquake, storm, rath- 
jatra ceremony at Mahes) and references to the filthy 
condition of Calcutta roads and other local complaints. 
Although chiefly a newspaper, it published from time to 

1 For a short list of these articles, See Sahitya Parishat PatriTta, 
already cited, vol. v, p. 257. Also my paper in vol. xxiii of the same. 
For a note on Early Christian Periodicals, see Appendix IV at the 
end of this volume. 


time various useful articles, short moral tales and 

humorous sketches. Religious controversy was introduced 

later on and through this it came into collision with Ram 

Mohan Ray and his party who started the Sambad 

Kamnudl within a vear (1819) as well 
Its scope and object. , 

as with orthodox papers like Sambad 
Timira Na'sak. The scope and object of Samachar Darpan 
was thus set forth at the outset : 

top? to &*\ %rwpnr [sflwt^ && 4* f 3 

^*J ^1 4^ [*t*l] ^ (71 *{^ iff * sr*fl [#] ^ 

0rw] ftorf*t i 

*rct5ts [wlto 4*k] ^ C*fC*f?T TO1 [*Nt5t*] I 
[e Ttfwtfa]* ^r fo^?ri i 

This was IH'0<UrGm. 


*TC*T *$S? ^C3 $T*ffa ?fo^ 4^ CT * ^ *2^ *tOT * 

$*tt sfe ^fc*r cit w*t *t5?re a * ^ fra **t 

?fo^ ^t^t?T ^ Sffo ltd OF5 fcffj I |*m ^ JT^fC^^ 

*T3fts ^tst* ft^fe 'frirft <rfc^ i 

Space forbids us to make quotations from the longer 
articles but we select here a few short specimens relating to 
a variety of topics. 

csm c*re c^Rl *fcw 8 ^r^res *Rt5t<r ^tftstts ^t^te 
sftol rtfi ct c*T*rt^m ^*fCT3l c*rwtti>re ^rr^^s ^wrt 

^tetsft^tre ^tK fetre *rfrt^?rl ^tetre *p^t* ct ^ 
c^tfosfff* f%^ *fa*t% ^M^r^ *t#t^ ^farl *p#?r 
f*H OTHf%Stff* fsf^tre ^t^tt* <TT%ttS ^t* CQ <"rftf1 

^fa^t^l "WWW Wftfc d *T?*I *rte^<n ft^ <5Tft^ 

3fct*1 ^s^fa ^firatc^T c*t ^fa^T^ts ^rc:^ wx^ yift 
sfa fM *$ ^tetre c^rf^w* *r^s c*M *ra i *re^ <tt 


i*i ^<rtti vi *fasi frfa* i<to wrtu **1 *fc* I* 

IksfCTt^ f^Wl^W *C* Dip IWWI <Tft 4fff JT^T 
fcwtf^Rl 4^ ^OT <W *tt**fa ^1*MHKJI4 ire* fa^l 

ftw fad f%t* ^ <W *ltW <2ff% ct ftw ^fts vffff* 
f^O fist* f^l I <W 3?fe fa s^ 6 !^^^ *r^W ^ *f*TCl 

c^*i apifrt ^T*ct*[ ^^j cfi^ ftws ^w* fare^n ^ 

<w Mw^ ft^^i fkm ^ v\i ws c^r* frupm 
>> ^v%\vi ^raw ^fomtt %*w? c^Wt* f#h 

f (TrfrWfa ^;ntf^ C^ft^ ^ * (2f^t^ fljtf <3^ ^TC^ 

^mi -w ^t^r frffl ^fa^N *rftf^rl finite 1 ftip *rc^ 

*$% )f* tlTOI ^*!^fa f (Trt^f^^r c^tft^tre ^rt^ fasts 

^rss'it^t #HOPl vw c^i^t ^fft cstw Ij^. c^c^rs 
3tt*r 'rft^ ^ vl# iWW ^fer?r ^9ftn^ *^^t?r ^f (Tft^rft^ 

H^ ) 1 


&$& faf*l^ c^fa TtC^ ^^fa (*) 1 3jW ^1^5 !Wfc 

*firal fwt^nrr^ stfc* 4^ ^ *^ ^frtft <sf*fo ^fel 
err* %rMpf it'll ^firoso^ ^tre ^t^l Ww fat* **n 
rr^ i stm raj *r[fofirf fa*1 ffHI* vf twfat* vfrfcarcs 

wre ^ to c*rai ?few i 4^ * w*<t yn ^ * few r 

^^ 351 ^w ^t*ft ^#fa ^fasi *rfrfe*rc 1 ^#t*i spfftit^R 
fa^ ft^i *tw^ ^fa*r wt^ 8 tift ^fa*i 1 <^ er^t^t 

<5rfat* ^%5 ^^t^ ^re?R c*r*r ?tet^ ft^t ^ ^ 4*r 
^e\^z<$ **fitw frofc *ffrfert^i ^1 tft* ^#fa ^s* 
^fa*i (7i #r ^trfa 'itfttf rtfatf^ o\ tf ^ fwi ^ft wtffa 

With regard to the subsequent history of the paper, 
we do not get any complete information. Long states 

that its existence was limited to 
Its subsequent history. ,. * . .,. 

21 years from the date or publica- 
tion 1 : in other words, it ceased to exist in 1839. 
Mahendranath Bidyanidhi, in an article in the Sahitya 
Parisat Patrika* states that it continued till 1851. But 
both these views are not correct. From the tiles of the 
paper in the Calcutta Imperial Library (from 1831 to 

1 Long, Beturn of Names and Writings, etc., 1855, p. 145. 
* Vol. v (1305), p. 250. 



1837) and in the Bengal Asiatic Society Library (from 
May 3, 1851 to April :>4, 1852), we get clear evidence of its 
existence till April 24, 1 852 and of the fact that there was no 
breach in its publication from 1831 to 1837. AVe also 
gather from au article in the Calcutta Christian Observer 
(1840) ' that it did not cease even till 1840. In Decem- 
ber 25, 1841 the Samachar Larpan disappeared for some 
time but it was re-born again in 1851 : because on the 
file of May 3, 1851 we find the numbering of the new 
series at "vol I. no. 1." ( > ^\m \ ^ j^fl ). On the first 
page also of this new series we get this editorial note 

*ttW ntHuuuw intotf ^rr^ft rfa* ^rrw ^s ^t* 
<2Wt^ ^*fft\s ^m\T& ^*rl ^f?r ^u^ *tffa s^t*ra *xfttt- 
fro^ ^$^fa ^ ^i ^i*f Jf*R ^f*$i 5t^| ^fauw i q*R 

*tr8> TTftsi* *<t f\5SW StfaW HOT ^ff*fa ^1 v5^ i&im 

^ MJl 1 *>*i ot, rt'Wtt, >w> i otn font*, >** *rt*i ) i 

From 1831 to 1837, the paper was bilingual, being 
written both in Bengali and English in parallel 

_ , .,. , columns. After its resurrection 

Its bilingual s,tage. 

in 1851 it continued bilingual. 3 

But there is no evidence to indicate from what precise 

1 February 1840, pp. 65-Hf). 

* This is confirmed by the entry in the Appendix to the Tenth 
Memoir published from Krlrampur (dated July 4, 1832) where the 
paper is described :is writtpn in "Bengali and English, la parallel 
columns " and published every Wednesday and Saturday morning. We 
are told in the above article in the I'atrika, (vol. v., p. 255) that the 
bilingual state began in 1829. This is quite probnble, though ne 
evidence is mentioned to rapport the view. It is hIso probable ns 
stated there that for a time, Persian found a place in it. 


date it first became bilingual. From the above article 
in the Christian Observer we learn that it was written 
in English and in Bengali even till 1840. It would 
seem therefore that it continued in this state till its 
cesssation in 1841. 

As to whether the paper had an unbroken existence 
from 1818 to 1881, we can determine this from indirect 
evidence. On every issue of 1831 and 1832, we have the 
numbering as volumes xiii and xiv respectively. Its first 
publication was in 1818, so that till 1831 we naturally 
expect 13 volumes to have been published, assuming its 
continued existence till that date : and this is confirmed 
by the numbering quoted. From this the conclusion is 
inevitable that from 1818 to 1831 (or rather to 1840) it 
had a continuous existence, although unfortunately we have 
got no file preserved from 1821 to 1831. 

In 1831 it was published on every Saturday, as 
the head-note "Serampore. Published every Saturday 
morning" indicates. From 1818 to 1831, therefore, it was 
a weekly paper published every Saturday morning. From 
1832, it became bi-weekly, as the head-note on the files of 
that year show " Published every Wednesday and Satur- 
day morning." But from November 15, 1832 it became 
Saturday weekly again and probably continued so till 
April 24, 1837. After 1851, it was still a weekly 

In 1818, its editor was J. C. Marshman and he probably 
continued in that office till 1834 ; for in the issue of 
November 15, 1834 we find this remark 

" b&*l*r ilH+ 1*t"fo HTO fW3 (X **$* <2f*FK*F fcfe 

ftfartopi ^tetre <8rr*ra1 fkcft *t*J ^*rfo $tst* <^^% 
ipf fcwtttf ^afftft? *$9| i f%i 4^ Pro #fct* W$^ 


*|* Sf^tft^ ^ ^1 ^^5 ^ ?pftt* (life ^*tTt* Wfa* <n 

From 1857 Townsend, editor of the Friend of India 
probably conducted this paper for in the file of that year 
(May 3, towards the end of no. 1), we find this entry 
ibf 5 ^** ^"fatS Ht0fa*I3 *Tft^ *^l et^tfn^ | Moreover, 
a correspondent of the paper writes in May 10, 1851 

This Safya Pradipa was a weekly paper edited by 
Townsend. It was published in 1850 1 but it did not 
continue for more than a year, having ceased in 1851.' 
Probably after its cessation, Townsend took up the editor- 
ship of Sa?>t2char Darpan. 3 

1 Long, Return relating to Bengali Publication, 1859, p. xl. 

* Long, Return of Names and Writings, 1855, p. 141. 

3 In the Journal of Bengal Academy of Literature (vol. i., no. 0, Jan. 
6, 1898) it is said that Bhabanlcharan Banerji was editor of Samachar 
Dirpan for some time. This is very unlikely, considering the facts 
that from 1822 BhabSni was conducting Samachar Chandrika and 
that there was enough antagonism of policy and views between 
Chandrika and Darpan. 


Later European Writers 

In the publication of the periodicals described in the 
last chapter, it will be seen that the most active part 

was taken by the two Marshmans, 
writers of Bengali. father and son. The labours of Dr. 

Joshua Marshman, to whom indeed 
was due the consolidation of the Mission, were too varied 
and wide-spread to be confined chiefly to the study and 
encouragement of Bengali. 1 His son, John Clark 
Marshman, who was born in August, 1794, inherited in 

a large measure all his literary 
man 1794-1877. *" predilections, his great capacity for 

work as well as his unflagging 
philanthropic zeal. From 1812 he began to direct his 
father's religious undertakings and entered with zeal 
into all the labours of the mission. His reputation as 
a European scholar in Bengali secured for him the 
post of Translator in Bengali to Government, and his 
numerous Bengali works fully maintain this reputation. 
He returned to England in 1852 and died at Redcliffe 
Square, North Kensington, London, July 8, 1877. 2 

1 Chronologically speaking, the European writers of Bengali of 
whom enumeration follows below do not properly belong to this 
period ; for this period ends at about 1825 and a distinctly new 
movement becomes dominant thereafter. The literary labours of the 
missionaries lose their importance and occupy only a subsidiary place 
in that movement after 1825. They are mentioned here in order to 
keep up continuity of treatment. 

*. For more details, See Annual Register, 1877, p. 154 ; Times, 
July 10, 1877; Journ, R. A. Soc, 1878, vol. x, Ann. Rep. pp. xX'Xn ; 


J. C. Marshman was indeed a versatile and voluminous 

writer, both in English and Bengali, and it is not 
possible to give here a complete list 
of his works. The following are the 

more important works in Bengali due to him or ascribed 

to him : 

(i) <5fsr5^tf?r $fai*\ i ^tffc cvHtft TOt^eww 

or History of India from the Settlement of the E. I. 
Company down to the Conquest of the Pundaris by the 
Marquis of Hastings in 1819. 2 vols. Serampore. 1831. 
(Also translated from English by Gopal Lai Mitra, 
Calcutta. 1840). 

(&) 5 tfWt f rtl ^f^t*T or History of Bengal from the 
Accession of Suraj-ad-Daulah to the Administration of 
Lord William Bentinck translated from the English of 
J. C. Marshman. 1 Calcutta. 1848. 

<#rfa "CT* ^^ *f*frS I fil^Wp I >***> I or Brief 
Survey of History in Bengalee from the Creation to the 
Christian era. Calcutta. 1862. (Also called ^f%^T*). 

(4) cvfwtft ^rfe** *\s$$ i ^*ffc cq *ff*i **iP{ ^ 
*\r*>8 ^rf^ suites ^ ' ^^ ^ 'ft^t^ TtB^r ^Ff^ 

UU ,-t mied Ltndov News, 1877 ; L<no Timet, 1877; Dictionary of National 
Biography (a good list of his English works will be found here). Also 
Dictionary of British and American Authors; Gentleman'* Magazine, 
1838, pt. ii,p. 216. 

1 Also translated by Wenger (2nd Edition, 1859) named ^8fUfC"H 


*R$f|v5 | SNTftTflJ I ^\n>8 | or a Translation of J. C. 
Marshman's Guide to the Civil Law in the Presidency 
of Fort William containing all the unrepealed regulations, 
acts and circular orders of Government and summary 
reports of the Sudder Courts from 1793 to 1843 in 
2 vols. 1843. (2nd Ed. Serampore 1849). 1 

(5)? OTtf%3 ^8 CWfaTfa or a Treatise on Astronomy 
and Geography translated into Bengalee. 2 2nd Edition 
Serampore 1819. 

(6) Wtt*WT ^4W4* $% or a Translation of J. C. 
Marshman's Darogah's Manual comprising the duties 
of the landholders in connexion with the police. 
Serampore. 1851. 

(7) ^*l <Q flrfT* ^fe^T I *T^ C*uT^ f^taf Tfttll 

^ti ^fsri ^ri cfi i stst* 4^fc*t ^nrNft 4^fa?t ^t$rr*rl i 

ehfa 5 ^ I ">wa | or Anecdotes of Virtue and Valour 
translated into Bengalee and printed with the English 
and Bengalee Versions on opposite pages in two parts. 
Serampore Press. 1829. 

1 A specimen of its legal language is given here. It will be 
seen that the language, although persianised is yet more easy and 
natural than the stiff and technical legal diction of the beginning of 
the century : 

stetafa:^ ^tefa ^tsrasftffa ^Pf\ ?tesl crft to^ vstgwfa <tt^F5 
^f?re ^ttl <7^ ^t^kta it*rsft^R *f*rt^s ^WT ^j& ^tetre \sctc ^rl 

*ttt<R I ^5ltf? (vol. ii, p. 4.) 
* Published anonymously. 


(8) cwraWfa fwi **fo ^fet^^TFst*! ^ sfi>^*iF?rr*i 

(TTFrt^fe* ft*TFs ^t^TS ftW *t^ or Agri- Horticultural 
transactions by J. Marshman in two volumes. 1832-o6. 

(9) Abridgement of Carey's Dictionary. * 

It will be noticed from the above enumeration, that 

some of these works hardly put forward any claim to literary 

merit whatsoever, as they are composed 

worth. theh Uterary ou strictl > r non - literar y subjects, while 
the historical treatises, more or less 
closely allied to literature pure or proper, are again mere 
translations or replicas of English originals. 2 Marshman's 
style, like that of most of the European writers of Bengali 
enumerated below, possesses hardly any characteristic 
distinction of its own. Indeed there is such a pervading 
uniformity and general sameness of character in the 
writings of these European scholars that it would be 
scarcely necessary to take and comment upon the style 
and peculiarities of each. We shall, on the other hand, 
content ourselves, wherever necessary, by giving specimens 
of their general style in individual cases. The following 
extract from ^t<T\53<?fa ^fe^T, the theme of which dealing 
as it does with historical narrative affords some scope 
indeed for literary expression, will serve as a specimen of 
Marshman's style ; but it will be noticed that it presents 
hardly any distinctive feature at all and is greatly inferior 
to the manner of many of his European colleagues and 
fellow-writers in the same field : 

1 See page 152 and footnote thereon. Other works ascribed by 
Long are: (1) ^sop's Fables translated. (2) Murray's Grammar in 
Bengali (Return of Names and Writings, etc., p. 134). 

8 These are the volumes which were intended to for a series 
of elementary works on History and Science for the use of Indian 
youths (see Preface to Mack's fofr&l fafJtS 1ft. Serampore. 1834) 
noticed below. 


^Stanrafw c*n wte c^i srftt* tot ^^*t^ csttwfa 

*k<tr ^*i ^ sji n^ c*tt*iuww f* *$*i ^tstre 
^t*R fr iw i BHi* w* ^fifc ^t^i ffara ^1 cfff^^i 

<?j f^r ^ <$*% f^ft ^ *t^ c*rfc" ^ ^fo c^wfa 
^IftsW # *Wr ^firc*R i sRti *ft^<r *ffit^R arfiflri 

*TC COT ^ ^3 WW?I WrtTS <W C^t^fSR faffft ^ 
tft^ ^ | (Vol. I. p. 131) x 

1 See also, for an account of the same battle, the author's ISfWCRl 
l^t^Q (Ed. Wenger), pp. 163-166. It is interesting to compare these 
accounts Avith that given by Rajib-lochan in his Krsnna Chandra Rayer 



The next name 1 that we take up is Ward's but we can 
dismiss it with a few words, as it is not one of any 

primary importance to Bengali litera- 
W i 1 769 n i823!' d ' ture - Ward's services as a printer to 

the ^rirampur Press cannot indeed 
be exaggerated but his direct connexion with Bengali 
literature was of the slightest kind. Possibly he could 
not even speak Bengali so fluently as his colleagues did 2 
and the only work which he wrote in Bengali not 
remarkable either for its form or for its matter was 
%s"TO fa't^iT 5t%5 or Memoir of Pitamber Sing, a native 
Christian. 3 

William Carey's son, Felix Carey, however, contribut- 
ed some of the important works to the literature of the 

period. Felix Carey was born in 
F l786 C i a 822.' October 22, 1 786 and died at Sriram- 

pur in November 10, 1822. Within 
this brief space of life, he applied himself successfully 
to the philanthropic and missionary work with which his 
father had been identified and collaborated with him 
in his literary undertakings. He was a medical missionary 
of great skill, a first-rate printer trained by Ward, and a 
scholar in Sanscrit and Pali, Bengali and Burmese, not 
unworthy his father. 4 He was not only a coadjutor of 
Ram-kamal Sen 5 but himself planned (1818) the scheme" 

1 See p. 106 ante. 

* E. Carey, Memoir of Carey, p. 424. 
4th Ed. Calcutta. 1843. 

* For more details about his life and writings, see Marshman, Li/r 
and Times of Carey, etc. ; Bengal Obituary, pp. 249-250; Smith, Life of 
William Carey (many references) ; Dictionary of National Biography. 

6 Bengal Obituary, p, 260. 

* See fant$M^l IttoniWI lfe OK fafa^p C*f| *lTC*Fra 131 I 
appended to P. Carey's fvrjftfat^ 5<*i*W3rY W^faWTl I 


of bringing out an edition of Bengali encyclopcedia. His 
untimely death prevented him from carrying out his design 
to a successful issue but he had the satisfaction of seeing 
the first volume of the series, a treatise on Anatomy, 
published before he died. His chief works in Bengali are : 
(I) flfo Of% fifari Wl or an Abridgement of the His- 
tory of England, from the invasion 
His works. 

of Julius Caesar to the death of 

George the Second by Dr. Goldsmith and continued by 
an eminent writer to the Peace of Amiens in the year 1802, 
translated into Bengalee by Felix Carey. Serampore. 1820; 
Republished by the School Book Society. (2) *TffiTO3 
^^^ f^^|, or the Pilgrim's Progress translated into 
Bengalee by P. Carey. 2 Parts. Serampore. 1821-22. 
Edition by J. D. Pearson, 1834: by Wenger, 1852. 
(3) ft*fct*t*^ ffa *tfW Sftft f 5 ^C<Tf% ^^t^T ^t^ 

^tit^ f*mfwrft ^fwn^t i ^stw^ i ^j^tffwi i 

*m 5rTf^t ^ *tWt*!l vWz ^ I *\fab ^f^rt^ c^ft 

fttW StWfTfcS SttftS I ?R ^o| or Vidyahara- 
bulee or Bengalee Encyclopcedia. Vol. I. Anatomy, 
translated into Bengalee from the 5th edition of Encyclo- 
pcedia Britannica by F. Carey. Assisted by Sreekanta 
Vidyalunkar and Shree Kobichundra Turkasiromoni, 
Pundits. The whole revised by Rev. W. Carey 
D. D. Serampore. Printed at the Mission Press. 1820. 
(Nov. I). 1 

1 Other works attributed to F. Carey are : (i) Translation of 
Mill's History of India (Smith, Life of William Carey, p. 204 ; Bengal 
Obituary, p. 250) published by School . Book Society, (ii) Tran- 
slation of Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield (Diet, of National Biography). 
(iii) A Work of Land in Bengali (Bengal Obituary, p. 205). Buvacosa is 


From a literary point of view, however, none of these 
works is delectable to the general reader and we may 
pass over them without any special comment. But the 
last-named publication has an interest of its own as the 
first vernacular work on a scientific subject written on the 
western lines. It will be hardly within our scope to 

give a detailed analysis of the book 
Importance of his b fc an enumeration of t he chief 
scientific writings. 

heads of subjects dealt with will 

sufficiently explain its scope and object. It is divided 
into three parts (^Tq)j each part containing several 
chapters ( *fv ) and each chapter divided into sections 
( ^TJt3 ), which are again subdivided into paragraphs or 
articles (*f^). The first part deals with Osteology 
( ^fijfawl )j second part with Comparative Anatomy 
( ^ITt^lT 4Hltty(Rll) while the third part traces the 
history and progress of the Science ( ^TTO|fffttffTt^*tf^- 
^fat ) and gives a list of the principal Hindu works 
(then known) on "the subject of Anatomy, Medicine 
and Chymistry" with the names of their authors and a 
brief account, of their contents. The whole is rounded 
off with a glossary of technical and difficult terms 
( 3TTO(irfWJl i rc*Hfct v t <* ^rf^fft ) which, in certain 
respects, is the most interesting part of the entiu: 
treatise. This enormous volume of about 700 pages, 
however, is hardly commendable for its stiff and laboured 
style, bristling as it does with unintelligible technical 
terms and phrases, but it certainly bears testimony to 

undoubtedly incorrect in giving 1818 as the date of publication of 
F. Carey's Anntomy. Dinesh Chandra Sen (Hittory of Bengali Lit,, p. 872) 
erroneously gives the title of F. Carey's Anatomy as " Hadavali Vidy* " 
( St3>fa^ faSJl) obviously mistaking the name fwWUt^t or cyclopoedia 
of knowledge. This book will also be fonnd in the list of Scbool 
Book Society's publication before 1821. 


the compiler's learning, his careful research, and his 
unwearied industry. The following will serve as a 
specimen of its harsh and difficult style : 

<<&% mt^ *jil<&** ^tf f% attics %*ft ^ i$R\ %>$ 
^rc^^^s 5 ^ *rft*rc*t% *t"l#*H<*1t* ^fc*tw ^^ (p. 16 1) i 

^fi>*l *Ksn ^fa^nt^ (p. 232) i 

The Glossary, however, though not always accurate 
and expressive yet a praiseworthy attempt, is interesting 
to the student of the language. It covers about 40 pages 
of close print and is exhaustive as far as the efforts of 
the compiler could reach, who himself was fully cognisant 
of the difficulties of his task. l 

1 For the difficulties of his subject and his style as well as 
the imperfection of his glossary, the compiler does not forget to 
make an ample apology 

^^JTsSSl *it^1 f^tCS 5t*t ?$te1 ^ttf fa^ W W *S\W *P&7\!M\ 

*ttmi nn ^f v\$ cfc %\xa n m\^z* tr^s mm] yfa fmfts *rc 

sfw* .qstfvi^ ^fa?3^ ^ft^tfcs *$Bftf I ^*t<l ^f| S 9 !^ 5 JTsSal- 
^C^f ^STt^t? fan ^ Sftfa^ I ^^ C^ C^3 fat^Rl T%| ^fesft^ 

cn 7F?z*\n yzmvv $% wtm ^3 ^ o*r ^ j^ ws 1% en:^ swi 


Among other European Missionary writers at Siiriiin- 
pur, the name of Rev. John Mack, unassuming as 
it is, is interesting to the student 
1797-1845 ^ ^ ie n terary history of the time. 

He was born in March 12, 1797, a 
native of Edinburgh, his father having been a writer 
to the signet. He was educated at the Edinburgh Univer- 
sity and distinguished himself at the Baptist College at 
Bristol. On his visit to England during 1819-21 in search 
of funds and men for the proposed Serampore College, Ward 
selected Mack to be a Professor at the College, where the 
latter arrived in November 1821. Mack worked as a 
Professor for 16 years, succeeded Marshman in the charge 
of the College and raised it to be for some time a 
first-rate private educational institution in Bengal. Mack 
was highly proficient in Classics, Mathematics and Natural 
Science, and gave the first chemical ledures (in Bengali as 
well as in English) in Calcutta. He also shared the editorial 
management of the Friend of India at rirampur from its 
comrrn cement. He died of cholera in April 30, 1845. 

Mack's only, and in certain respects noteworthy, 
contribution to Bengali consists of a treatise on Chemistry, 
the first of its kind in Bengali, named fofafl fwt?T 

it* i 8f3 srfa *t* *rft^re ^^ sf^s ^1 c^ftlto 

<M3 ^Ttfirs ?^*! or the Principles of Chemistry by 
John Mack translated into Bengalee (Serampore Press. 
1834). It is divided into 2 parts 1 the first part cover- 
ing about 337 pages, prefaced by 

His scientific writing. . .... 

an interesting introduction written 

$m Wfift PlffTtre *HK*1 fa <2JTft3 ffrft ^^ S$C3 *ttf?C^ 1 
1 The second part was never possibly published. 


in English. It opens with the treatment of frfill gfcfc 

or chemical forces such as <8rf^l, ^T*f^, < 3TftTf^>, ft^lfa ^t 5 ^ 

etc., and then goes on to deal with f%f*[fl ^ or chemical 

substances. 1 Many of the theories and conclusions stated 
here have long been abandoned but they give us, through 
the medium of Be gali, a good picture of the state of the 
dimly understood chemical science as it obtained eighty 
years ago. Even after the lapse of more than half a century 
and with a better understanding and demand of this 
useful science, it is to be regretted that Bengali language 
cannot as yet boast of a single good treatise on Chemistry, 
not to speak of scientific literature in general; yet this 
missionary, with a scanty vocabulary and imperfect 
command over the language 2 ventured with singular courage 

1 Viz, Oxygen, Chlorine, Bromine, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Sulphur, 
Phosphorus, Carbon, Boron, Selenium. There is also a section on 
Steam Engine. 

8 It is said in the Bengal Obituary (p. 250)that Mack's work written 
in English was translated by P. Carey, but this is doubtful, (See also E.C, 
Wenger, Story of Lallbazar Baptist Church, 1908). In this connexion, it 
would be interesting to call attention to the question raised by Mack, which 
is also referred to by F. Carey but of which there seem to have been 
no satisfactory solution as yet, viz., the question relating to the proper 
method of compiling a glossary of technical scientific terms in Bengali. 
We will not enter into the vexed question whether we should take 
European terms bodily into our language or adapt them to our use by 

Sanscrit substitution or otherwise, but we may 

Glossary of technical be allowed to quote here the opinion of Mack 

terms - as set forth in the.Preface to his work and 

leave it to speak for itself : " The names of 
Chemical substances are, in the great majority of instances, perfectly 
new to the Bengali language, as they were but few years ago to all 
languages. The chief difficulty was to determine whether the European 
nomenclature should be merely put into Bengalee letters, or the 
European terms be entirely translated by Sungskrit, as bearing much 
the same relation to Bengalee as the Greek and Latin do to English. 


and noble aim to open up a useful though neglected field 
of knowledge and culture. We cannot but speak with 
admiration of the work of these early missionary writers in all 
departments of useful knowledge, and we maybe forgiven if 
we dwell rather long on this early Bengali treatise on a 
scientific subject. The object of this publication is thus given 
in the Preface : " Mr. Marshman having proposed some 
years ago to publish an original serie? of elementary works 
on history and science, for the use of youths in India, I 
count it a privilege to be associated with him in the 
undertaking and cheerfully promised to furnish such parts 
of the series as was more intimately connected with my 
own studies. Other engagements have retarded the 
execution of our project, much against our will. He has 
therefore been able to do no more than bring out the first 
part of his Brief Survey of History, and now, at 
length, I am permitted to add to it this first volume 
of the Principles of Chemistry." With the object of 
teaching rudiments of the science to the Indian youth in 
view, Maek thought it best to write his work in Bengali, 
scarcely fit though it was for the expression of scientific 
ideas. "Be it understood," he says, "the native youths 
of India are those for whom we chiefly labour; and their 
own tongue is the great instrument by which we hope to 
enlighten them." The book, chiefly meant to be a text- 
book, for which however its style is difficult enough, was 
compiled chiefly from the notes of lectures which the 
writer delivered to his pupils in Calcutta and Srirampur. 
It is hardly necessary to speak any thing of its language 

I have preferred, therefore, expressing tho European tormi 

in Bengalee character, merely changing the words into tho 
prefixes and terminology, so as decently to incorporate the new 
language." For a sketch of John Mack's life, see Carey, Oriental 
Christian Biography, vol. i., pp. 282-286. Also Bengal Obituary. 


and manner. We can hardly expect anything' better 
than what we have already seen for the theme here is 
science, the writer an Englishman and the Bengali is the 
Bengali of almost a century ago : yet it must be noted 
that the language of this work is more simple and 
easy certainly than that of Felix Carey or even of some 
of the more abstruse writers of scientific text-books in 
the present day. One or two specimens are selected 
here : 

*Tft ^J?J C^CS?^ f%l PfcH fwfl (violet) ^< pRWS 

^1 ftftf^ ^1 ^*T<fWffo W^ 1F^ ^t^ (p. 107, Sec. 
160-161) | 

fowfarc fcStotfw i *rfafi* mftfti w*w tot ^tf%OT 
i^tfo* *M1 eld stel ^^f wftwfa ^tsferi *W* 

SfcfcS Sftl* (yftflftWt 1CT (p. 177, Sec. 258) | 

^tETtre* 5r ^8 ^twre ^t^l waz* ctfq tot a\ ct ^^ 

CT^fj TO W5f5 4^t^ fa*ft *JWR SM^TI (p- 103, 
Sec. 150). 


Of the other missionaries, who belonged to the Baptist 

Mission and wrote some tracts and text-books, it is not 

necessary to dwell long upon the names of Lawson, 

Robinson, Wenger or Pearce. John 

John Lawson. _ ,,-, * -* i i- 

Lawson (1787-1 82o) wrote a treatise 

ou Natural History called *t^t^ which was published by 

the School Book Societv before 1821. 1 

John Robinson. 

John Robinson, some time editor or 

the Evangelist, translated Robinson Crusoe, 2 Bunyan's 

Holy War, and Carey's Grammar 
John Wenger. . /iii 

into Bengali. John Wenger, 3 (1811- 

1880) who was an associate of Dr. Yates and revised 

his Bengali Bible (1861), edited the Upadesaha, compiled 

a Bengali Grammar, translated Marshman's History, 4 

and wrote or edited a few tracts and school-books. 

1 It was in six numbers, viz. : 1, The Lion and the Jackal 
(subsequently published as fw$$ f^T3*1 ) 2. The Bear. 3. The 
Elephant. 4. The Rhinoceros and the Hippopotamus. 5. The Tiger. 
6. The Cat. For a sketch of Lawson's life, see Carey, Orient. Christ. 
Biography, (vol. ii. pp. 415-425.). 

5 (>) ?fl^^ ^"tfa ^H 5f?3 or the Adventures of Robinson 
Crusoe translated by J. R. and illustrated with woodcuts. 2nd ed. 1885. 

pp. 1-201 (*) n^ycm ^5t$. Mfc ^rtef?r* ft^JT^fa^ffos^* 
^ffww; itt^Tsi ^f t ^prtfra ^ri ^lu^^ra sterol ^5tf^s *^ I 

>* | ( Second Edition, 1859 ) illustrated also by woodcuts, pp. 1-31G. 
Also wrote fSTfa *TtC*ni I't^ 9 ! ft^?*1 or an Account of tho 
Ganges Canal, pp. 1-19, 1854 ? This Robinson must not be confounded 
with another Robinson who was Government Inspector of Schools 
in Assam and wroto a work on mensuration callod Sjjfa *fnRf*t 
(or Elements of Land Surveying) in 1850 which was reviewod in 
the Friend of India of Sept. 12, 1850. 

8 See Buckland's Dictionary of Indian Biography . 

* Se p. 249 footnote ante. 


William Hopkins Pearce (1794-1840) who came out to 

India (1817) as an assistant of Ward and subsequently 

joined the Calcutta Baptist Printing 

W. H. Pearce. 1794- Establishment, was for several years 

1 OA() 

editor of the Christian Observer and 
wrote a few school-books ! and Christian tracts. He is 
chiefly remembered now for his interest in education and 
his connexion with School Book Society in which he 
succeeded Dr. Yates as secretary. 

But the name of William Yates cannot be passed over 
so lightly. Dr. Yates, son of a shoe-maker and himself 

a village school-master for some time, 
^ m ^tes. was born at Loughborough, Dec. 15, 

1792. He entered the Baptist College 
at Bristol where he studied the Oriental languages and 
came out to India on April 16, 1815 under the patronage 
of the Baptist Missionary Society. He joined Carey at 
Srirampur, studied Sanscrit and Bengali under him and 
helped him extensively in his literary work. In 1817 
he left Carey and joined the Baptist Society at Calcutta, 

1 His works, among other things, are : (t) ^t^ff 5 ! ^t^ \ ^Tft 

Itflt ^fftSfT -3^1=1 ^] $fc*P\ ^sjtft fawi or Geography 
interspersed with information historical and miscellaneous for 
the use of schools in 6 parts. Calcutta. 1818. Ed. in 1822 ; also 
1843. (u) 7\V] ^\m I & <^<1 $ni T C J HW ! or the True 
Refuge ; a Christian tract. Calcutta ? 1822 ?. W. H. Pearce must 
not be confounded with G. Pearce who wrote or edited (1) "^t^WfW 
%fap\ I 1838. (2) <rfctJSC** f ttC >t f fHl or Companion to the 
Bible translated by Ram Krsrta Kabiraj and revised by G. Pearce. 
1846. (3) forf ftftW *f3f I or Foolish Galatians or Inconstancy 
in Faith exposed and Antidote supplied (pp. 1-59), Calcutta 1845 ? 
For more details about W. H. Pearce's life and writing see Life of 
W. H. Pearce by William Yates ; Bengal Obituary, pp. 221-222 : 
Missionary Herald, 1828 ; Carey, Orient. Christ. Biography, vol. 
iii, pp. 1-14 (a list of his works given at p. 10). 


becoming pastor of the English Church at Circular Road 
in 1829-30. Tn 1824 he became Secretary of the School 
Book Society and got large opportunities for carrying out 
his educational projects. His educational works received 
considerable encouragement from Government which not 
only subsidised him but offered him a stipend of 1,000 
on condition of his devoting himself to such work an 
offer which he declined. 1 He died at sea on July 3, 1845. 
His works in Bengali are numerous but they w r ere all 
published between 1817 and 1827 and consist chiefly of 

1. The New Testament translated, 1833. Ed. in 1839. 

2. The Holy Bible in Bengali. 1845. pp. 1- 1 144 (subse- 
quently revised by J. Wenger and C. B. Lewis in 1861 and 
1867). See Appendix II at the end of this volume. 

3. fe^t*tW"f (expurgated edition). 1841. 

4. *Hft*f ftsrl or Natural Philosophy and History. 

5. Wf-fiU-lt* I Nfc 4t*k**(fl4< *ffiK ff*fttf 

#W1*t**M or Elements of Natural Philosophy and Natural 
History in a series of familiar dialogues designed for the 
instruction of Indian youth. Calcutta 1825. 2nd Ed. 1834. 
Published by the School Hook Society. 2 

1 For more details abont his life and work see James Hoby, Memoir 
of William Yates (1847); Dictionary of National Biography; Bengal 
Obituary, pp. 222-225 ; Dictionary of British and Foreign Authors, 
vol, iii ; Cat. Chr. Observ. 1845; Eclectic Review, vol. iv ; Cal. 
Rev., vol. x, p. 162 et seq ; Catalogue of British and Foreign Bible 
Society, 1857, p. 332, etc. ; W. H. Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, 
vol. 1. pp. 29, 48 ; India Review, vol. vii, 1843, pp. 740-743, in which 
will be found an excellent likeness of Dr. Yates by Grant. 

2 This work, although on a scientific subject, avoids scientific 
technicalities ns much as possible and constitutes an eminently 
readable popular exposition of the broad topics of Natural 
Philosophy and History and is indeed the first of its kind. 


6. Introduction to the Bengalee Language in two vol- 
umes. 1840. 2nd Ed. by J. Wenger, 1847. Containing 
a grammar, a reader and explanatory notes with an index 
(in vol. I) and selections from Bengali literature (in vol. 
IJ). The author's Preface says that "it consists of two 
volumes, the first of which is chiefly of European and the 
second entirely of native composition/' The first volume con- 
tains a grammar, select reading lessons consisting of simple 
sentences, fables, anecdotes, etc. : while the second contains 
in " a condensed and corrected form " the best parts of all 
the native (mostly prose) compositions in Bengali. The 
selections are from Tota Itihas (18 tales), Lipimala 

The style and manner are more narrative than philosophical or 
scientific. The form is that of a dialogue between a teacher and 
his pupil who is curious to acquire an insight into the mysteries 
of the natural phenomena. This work is chiefly compiled from 
Martinet's Catechism of Natni'e and Baley's Useful Knowledge. 
The subjects embraced are too many but they are dealt with in a 
popular and rather summary way. After giving in the first few 
chapters some account of the mysteries of the Heavens ( ^(fa1*H 
afttft faW ) and the atmosphere (f%H iff _ <8 *ttTfaJ V% *1"l|fc 
S^tf&l ftt*fa ~$*ft ), the teacher discourses on the earth ( *jf*tf)l 
<6 I^BR HTO ) and the human being ( 3{^J f^TC$ ^Mfl ) and 
then goes on from the sixth dialogue to the description of the 
animal and the vegetable kingdoms, concluding with a few 
words on the minerals and on the products of various countries. 
Here is a specimen both of its science and its style : 

f*ftj i ^^iscro ct rfc 3s cafci fa ? 

^w f w srwrsi to fas ^i llMifil cq c^ft im it*\ iWci 
d t*fo wo ? ft* *ftl **tre vBlfl t#ns ** : states cq *tf j$ 

f*m i *tfarelt*i a <4$c*(ttl wfa s l pi fa ? 

fa^l ^"5 ^ ^ w ^3 M* c^ft wr ^ ^ftt^ f pan qiW wfcs 

33^3 ^ I (2nd edition, p. 14). 


(9 letters), Batris Simhasan (14 stories), RajabaU 
(8 extracts), Raja Krsnaehaudra Rayer Charitra (8 extracts) 
Purus-paiiksa (16 stories), JfAyan Chandrika (9 pieces), 
Jnanarnab (9 extracts), Prabodh-chandrika (4 stories) 
besides extracts fiom Tathyaprakas, Mahabharat (story 
of Nala), Hymns of Ram-mohon and specimens of the 
periodical literature of the day. 

(7) OTtfefa'ifTl ^*Ht^ fWtttf or An Easy Intro- 
duction to Astronomy for young persons composed by 
James Ferguson P. R. S. and revised by David Brewster 
LL.D. and translated into Bengalee by William Yates. 
Calcutta School Book Society. 1838. l 

(8) ^rT^v-if^ or Vernacular Clais Book Reader 
for the Government Colleges and Schools translated into 
Bengali. Calcutta Baptist Mission Press. 1844. 

(9) Translation of Doddridge's Rise and Progress 
of Religion. Anglo-Bengali, pp. 1-300. 1840 (Murdoch, 
Catalogue). 2 

1 The Introduction ( ^fir^r) ) says : *p t'Q^H Tft^S f^lft* 4^ 

^C^RTl CSfitfefa^JI M~5 5&3 *ttt%^ I This work is composed almost 

on the same lines as the author's 9 |ft'iff^fjt 7 Tt^ I From the table 

of contents quoted below, the subjects embraced will be found to 

be pretty extensive i (,') ffifa *rf% "Q ^t^rU tfiRtCSN fTOl (pp. 1-16). 

(i'O *&v\ ?F3H C^5t^R fif> ^Jtffa* fanfl (pp. 17-35). (Hi) W* 

* ^[fg^f^fl ! (PP- 3b* 51). (ir) t^t5?l >^> W 

Yates's _ ytfft 9ft <S2F5tt*? rf^3PJ 41* $ ^3R *fa1 

Jyotirhuhju. ^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ 

JJU *t*t* ft^l (pp. 54-08). () jfafto f\<S\ <2f*K3^1 fifattf* 
for* *R (pp. 68-83). (t) farfatfa* Jpl ^ ^ftl * tp^lW? *n%Tl 
SC3* CTt^l **Tfa f*TO1 (pp. 83-100). (r.7) *rftrit 4flM%1*tf* S^HI 

-srfi) ^53? 7<i afcpfafwi (pp. lGo-iis). (rih) nyusr* csrMim Stfcfa 

fa* (pp. 118-132) () JFlSfat* fa* ^J v3 SfaWfa >TO fa*ft ftW 
(pp. 132-139). () anftf^ f5nw*t1 (pp. 139-159). 

2 Besides these, Lonjj ( Return <>/ Name*, etc. ) mentions 
also a translation of Doddridge's Rise and Progress; and the 


Of the other Missionary Societies, the London Mission 
which came into being a little later, took some part in 

the encouragement of the vernacular 
Soctety 3011 Mi88i nary and promotion of education through 

that medium. Many of its mission- 
aries, in these early days of text-book writing, com- 
posed numerous educational works of value and 
usefulness : but it would be sufficient for our purpose 
if we take into consideration the names Robert 
May, J. Harley, J. D. Pearson, and James Keith. The 
first three of these missionaries, however, whose names 
are linked together like those of the three great Srlrampur 
brethren, are remembered not so much for their literary 
efforts as in connexion with their numerous flourishing 

vernacular schools established be- 

R l788- fc l8l8 y ' tween Kalna and Chinsurah. In 

July 1814, Robert May, 1 with a 

very narrow income, opened a free vernacular school in 

his dwelling house at Chinsurah but within a year he 

succeeded in establishing fifteen more schools with 951 

Bengal Obituary (p. 225) adds Pleasing Tales, Epitome of Ancient 
History (also Hobby, op. cit., p. 211), Celebrated Characters of 
Ancient History a translation of Bunj'au's Pilgrim's Progress Pt, I, 
and of Baxter's Call to the Unconverted (Also Murdoch, Catalogue), 
Besides these, Yates, like many other missionaries mentioned 
here, wrote numerous Christian Tracts. He also wrote a Bengalee 
Grammar, ed. Wenger. Calcutta, 1849. See W. H. Carey, Oriental 
Christian Biography, vol. i, p. 44 ; also India Review, vol. vii, 1843 

1 See Asiatic Journal, vol. iii, 1817, p. 500; Bengal Obituary, 
p. 208; Cal. Rev vol. 1850, art: u Bengali Literature and Language" ; 
Lushington, History, Design and Present State of Benevolent Insti- 
tutions in or near Calcutta, 1824, pp. 145-155; Long, Introduction 
to Adam's Reports, pp, 1-6 ; Long's HandbooTc to the Bengal Missions; 
W. H. Carey, Orient. Christ. Biography, vol iii, pp. 294-298 For 
John Harley, see W. H. Carey, op. cit., p. 134 et seq. 


scholars and obtained the patronage of Lord Hastings. 
Mr. May however was soon cut off by death but his 
colleagues Messrs. Harley and Pearson, who also belonged 
to the same society, succeeded in keeping up his work by 
the offer of their services. Robert May l compiled in 
1817 an arithmetical table on the native model which 
was popularly known for a long time as Mag-Ganlta. 
Harley supplemented May's work 
John Harley or by his Ganitanka or sjft^ 
Harie. (d. 1822). (Chinsurah, 1814*) compiled on 

a mixed model. 2 Pearson's works 
however, were of greater value and effect than any of 
these. He was a very industrious 
n i790-l83i earS n an( ^ voluminous writer and it is diffi- 
cult to draw up a complete list of 
his writings, of which the following seem to be the more 
important ones : 

(1) 1<4l4i3)h or Letters on Familiar Subjects con- 
taining 260 letters on domestic, commercial, aud familiar 
subjects, zemindary accounts, and other forms in common 
use. 1819. 6th ed. in 1852. (Published by the School 
Book Society). 

(2) *(lift*l1* farel or Schoolmaster's Manual 
(Published by the School Book Society) 181*9. Explains 
the Bell and Lancaster system. 

1 On the epitaph over Robert May's remains are written 
the following words : " In his life he was especially engaged in 
promoting the best interests of the rising generation, by whom 
his name will long be held in endearing recollection." (fiftyol 
Obituary, p. 298). #|3 (Gonito) or a Collection of Arithmetical 
Tables by R. May in Bengali, 8vo. Calcutta 1821. Bet Cntahujuc 
E. I. Go's Library. (1845), p. 268. 

2 See also the works cited above in p 263 footnote \ Also see 
Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, vol. i, pp. 368-71. May's and 
Harley's Arithmetic were republished by the School Book Society. 


(3) Tf^Tt^t or Idiomatical Exercises. English and 
Bengalee, with dialogues, letters, etc., on various sub- 
jects. Calcutta 1820. A phrase-book and vocabulary. 
Published by the School Book Society. (Ed. Cal. 1829.) 

(4) ^tl%?F^n or Moral Tales composed jointly with 
Raja Radhakanta Deb for the School Book Society. 
Before 1821. 

(5) Translation of Murray's English Grammar, 1820. 
[Mentioned also in Catalogue E. I. Company's Library 
( p. 267 ) as " Grammar of the English Language, English 
and Bengalee, Calcutta 1820"]. 

(6) <2ftffa ^fe^tt^ *P|553 or an Epitome of Ancient 
History, English and Bengalee, containing a concise 
account of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Grecians 
and Romans. The English compiled by Pearson : the 
Bengali version by Pearson and others. Calcutta 1830. 
pp. 1-623. (A previous edition containing only 364 pages 
with the accounts of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Baby- 
lonians, Medes, Persians and the Grecians). 

(7) ^5tf! * OTtt%^r ^3JtfW ft^W VCWTOft, English 
and Bengali. 1st ed. 1824. 2nd ed. Calcutta 1827. 

(8) $ 5[^1 *5[\m\ or the Two Great Commandments 
being an exposition of St. Matthew xxii. 37. Calcutta 

(9) We find the following entry in Murdoch, Cata- 
logue : " Pilgrim's Progress. Bengali and English by 
Rev. J. D. Pearson, chiefly from the Serampore Edition, 
1834. 2nd Ed. Bengali alone. An Edition published by 
J. Wengerin 1853." 

(10) In the Catalogue of E. I. Company'' 8 Library 
(1845), p. 267, mention is made of "A School Dictionary, 
English and Bengali. 12mo. Calcutta 1829. 

1 See also W. H. Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, vol. i, p. 370, 
for a list of Pearson's works. 



Of Rev. Tames Keith, who came out to India in 1816 
and belonged to the London Mission at Calcutta, it is 

said that "during his short career, in 
J mlf822 h ' conjunction with Rev. H. Townly 1 

he laid the foundation of a mission in 
the metropolis of India." 2 His chief works, educa- 
tional or biblical are (i) *<& 5R TOM 5 * ^ ^Nft ^ fe^OT 
<Ft*Tt*fa*fa or a Dialogue between a porter and a gardener. 
A Christian tract. 2nd ed., pp. 1-19. Sorampore 1820 ? 
3rd ed. considerably modified., pp. 1-20. Calcutta 1185? 
(ii) ^t*ire*fc*m f"r^tf^lf^S<rfatff5 ^^*ttt* ^Jt^l 
or a Grammar of the Bengalee language adapted to the 
young in easy questions and answers. Calcutta 1825, 
pp. 1-68. 3rd ed. Calcutta 1839. Published by the School 
Book Society. 3 

1 Henry Townly was also a tract-writer in Bengali, Among his 
works may be mentioned (1) C^ft *tt3 ^Mfa or What Scriptures 
should be regarded, a Christian tract in the form of a dialogue between 
a Christian and a Hindu. Serampore, 1820 ? (Ed. C. C. T. and B. S. 
1836). pp. 1-12. (2) 4?9R *ffcre* Jifts jq^FBR TO^M* TOt^^R I 
2nd ed., pp. 1-16. (C. C. T. and B. S.) 

2 See Bengal Obituary, pp. G7-68. Asiatic Journal, 1817, vol. iii, 
p. 500. 

Dinesh Ch. Sen (History, p. 870) erroneously styles the author as 
Keat and his Grammar as Ket-Vyakaran. The date given by him is 
1820. It seems the book was not available to him when he wrote this 
account : for otherwise this mistake is absurd. In Catalogue of E. I. Co.'s 
Library, mention is also made of Nitikotha or Fables in Bengali by 
J. Keith. Calcutta 1828. A specimen of the method and style of 
the Grammar is given below : 

Interjections or ^ft^tttRp f^5 I 

> sn i ^twcitfere fa ^1 *m 

&5* i stftw wfo *\w *mt<i ^ri *rtt ; *qi ir: fa s:*h & fa stsn 1 1 
h fa CWl i ' 


It is not worth while to linger long over the names of 
other minor missionary or non-missionary writers who 
wrote religious tracts and educational 
writers mm0r uropean text-books ; for to give an exhaustive 
account of their names and writings 
would be to enumerate a Homeric catalogue. 1 We may, 
however, mention in passing the names of Herklotts, 2 
Sutherland 3 and Sandys 4 who wrote chiefly on Geo- 
graphy j of Kempbell 5 and Kneane c whose contributions 
were mostly historical ; of Mundy, 7 Rouse, 8 Hoeberlin 9 
and Townly * who were religious controversialists ; of 

fT3l Ptt, ^ d>, ^j5fl C3, ^fe C^Tl I (p. 41). It is curions to note such 
expressions occurring as ^tffsf ?R'| ft Stfe (p. 35), ^fa T?Tl C^fcTfa (p- 62). 

1 The activity of the Calcutta School Book and of School Society 
as well as the writings of authors like the Rev. K. M. Banerji is not 
treated here, because, properly speaking, they belong to a subsidiary 
movement in literature which came into relief a decade later than the 
movement inaugurated by the missionaries of brlrampur or the 
Pundits of Fort William College. 

2 A Map of the World in Bengali by Rev. Gregory Herklotts 
of Chinsurah. 1824. 

3 Geography of India by J. Sutherland. 

* General Geography in Bengali by Sandys, 1842. 
5 Tucker's History of the Jews translated into Bengali, 1843. 
pp. 1-257. 

Parasika Itihas. 

*$cto ernfr^ kc4r nfts fsfprtc^iopi "ifcste qrfa ^srI fa*iw 

ftPF or Christianity and Hinduism (2 pts. pp. 1-230. Cal. 1828) by 
George Mundy. G. Mundy was attached to C. M. S. at Chinsurah, 
latterly a pastor of the Coolie Bazar Chapel, d. 1853. 

8 Rouse revised the Bengali Bible (1897). He wrote many tracts 
of which may be mentioned $ft| ("WFtfWR* feftff^Rgfft or Plain 
Sermons on Christian Doctrine, pp. 1-148. 1881. 

o q*$ ^U?R ^t^ or Bible Stories translated from the German 
of Dr. Christian Gottlieb Barth by Mr. Hoeberlin. With 27 illustrations, 
pp. 1-252. 1846. 
10 See p. 266 footnote. 


Miller, 1 Mendies 2 and Rozario 3 who were lexicogra- 
phers ; of Yule, 4 Weitbrecht, 6 Rodt and Bom- 
wetsch 7 who composed easy reading lessons for children 
in schools. We may similarly pass over the names of 
William Morton, 8 a miscellaneous tract and text-book 
writer; of David Carmichael Smyth, 9 author of a treatise 

1 Bengali Dictionary 1801 (Long and Biivacos). A copy without 
title-page in Sahitya Parisat Library. 

2 An abridgement of Johnson's Dictionary in English and Bengali, 
calculated for the use of Native as well as European students to which 
is subjoined a short list of French and Latin words and phrases in 
common use among English authors (Serampore Mission Press. 1822) 
by John Mendies. To Vol. II. is appended an Introduction to Bengali 
Language Serampore 1828. 

3 Bengali Dictionary, 1837. 

* f*t?S CTft^tf^ni or Spelling Book with short sentences and verses. 
1 f*t f*t^1 or Object Lessons, 1852. 

6 (a) grfa fwtw. ^<h qtatjm Mfaforto* fa?jtfaw fr#$ 

f3te I pp. 1-92. Calcutta 1843. (6) SftfatftW*: ^<K ^t*l* ft^tt<l 
TO^tofo ^fatsfl I pp. 1-46. Calcutta 1841. (c) ^p?f*RtFT| I a Christian 
tract (see Bengal Obituary, p. 68). Rev. Randolph de Rodt (1814-1843) 
was attached to the London Missionary Society. Came out to India 
April 11, 1826. (See Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, p. 180.) 

7 W *f$ I or Thirty Reading Lessons for the use of Children 
in Bengali Christian Schools (pp. 1-G1. Calcutta ? 1855 ? ) by Rev. 
Chistian Bomwetsch. 

8 (a) Proverbs of Solomon translated. 1843. (b) Biblical and 
Theological Vocabulary, English and Bengali compiled, by William 
Morton and others, pp. 1-31. Calcutta 1845. (c) ^t^ TtTJ 1*5^ or a 
Collection of Proverbs, Bengali and Sanscrit, with their translation and 
application in English, pp. 1-160. Calcutta 1832. (d) Dictionary of the 
Bengali Language, with Bengali Synonyms and English interpreta- 
tion. Calcutta 1828. (e) 3W*M ^ *W3$\ or a Treatise on Idol 
worship and other Hindu observances by Vrajamohon Deb followed by 
translation from Vajrasuchi of Ashwagosha, pp. 60, 14. Calcutta, 
1842, by William Morton. (Ed. in 1843). 

efftwtlfa fvtfX or Original Beagalete Zameendaree Account 
accompanied by a translation into English, pp. 1-401, Calcutta 1823. 
Smyth died in 1841. See Bengal Obituary. 


on zemindaiy accounts; of George Galloway 1 who 
translated Gladwin's Pleasant Stories; of Captain Stewart 2 
the founder of the Bard wan Church Mission ; and of Dr. 
Hans Heinrich Eduard Roeer 3 who rendered into 
Bengali some of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. The 
name of Sir Graves Cliampney Haughton, the great 
scholar and orientalist, will detain us for a moment and with 
this last, though not the least important name, we close 
our chapter on the European writers in Bengali. 

Sir Graves Champney Haughton, son of John Haughton, 
a Dublin physician, was born in 1788. He was educated in 
England and having obtained a military cadetship on the 
Bengal Establishment of East India Company, he proceed- 
ed to India in 1808. In 1812 he joined the Fort William 

. . College where he received seven 

Sir Graves Champ- 

ney Haughton. (1788- medals, three degrees of honour, and 
1849.) . . C , . ' , 

various pecuniary rewards for his 

proficiency in Arabic, Persian, Hindusthani, Sanscrit and 

1 TTC^rte? ^f^tJPrW or Pleasant Stories of Gladwin's Persian 
Moonshee translated from the original Persian and English into the 
Bengalee language. Calcutta, printed by D'Rozario & Co., 1840. 

- (a) frtwi *ifl ( ^%sto *nw ) *m ^< IM* h w g* i 

or Moral Tales of History with an historical sketch of England and 
her connexion with India, etc. (containing selections from L. M. 
Stretch's Beauties of History), pp. 1-68. Calcutta 1820. Dated wrongly 
in Biivacos as appearing in 1819 and entitled ^f%^tft^ ^tf^fa. Dinesh 
Chandra Sen, History (pp. 869 and 870) enters the book twice as Upa- 
desha Katha and Moral Tales of History without identifying them. 
(&) fefal *ft* or the Destroyer of Darkness : a Christian Tract, 
pp. 1-20. Published by the Calcutta Christian Tract and Book Society; 
1835. For Stewart and Weitbrecht, see District Gazetteer, vol. on 
Burdwan in the Chap, on Education. Also see Long's Introduction 
to Adam's Reports ; Lushington, History, etc., of Religious and Benevolent 
Institutions in and near Calcutta, pp. 145-155. 

3 **t*ft cwfora flte =iik^<? Ttii^m c*vf{ aim ^fc*ft 

MNiIRtI or Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, translated by E. Roer, 
pp. 1-21. Calcutta. 1853. (Bengal Family Library Series.) 


Bengali. In 1815 his ill-health compelled him to leave for 
England. In 1817 he was appointed Professor of Oriental 
Languages at Haileybury where he continued till 1827. * 
Haughton took great interest in the foundation of the Royal 
Society in London of which he was an oriental member 
and honorary secretary from 1831 to 1833; He died 
of cholera at St. ("loud, near Paris, on August 28, 1849. a 

Haughton was more of a scholar than a litterateur 
and his works in Bengali have a philological rather than 
a purely literary interest. His works, chiefly useful 
compilations, consisted of (I) Rudiments of Bengal re 
Grammar (in English). London 1821, pp. 1-168. It was 
composed by order of the Court of Directors and was 
based mainly on the works of Halhed and Carey. (2) 
Bengalee Selections (from Chandicharan's translation of 
Tota Itihas, from Mrtyunjay's Bengali version of 
Hindi Simhasana Battisi, and from Haraprasild Ray's 
translation of Bidyiipati's Sanscrit Purus-parlksa with 
translation into English and a vocabulary, pp. 1-198. 
London. 1822. Edition by D. Forbes, London, 1869. () 
Glossary, Bengali and English, to explain the Tota 
Itihasa, the Batria Simhasan, the History of Raja 
Krsna Chandra, the Purus Pariksa, and the Hitopa- 
des. pp. 1-124. London. 1825. (4) A Bengalee- 
English Dictionary compiled by order of the Court of 
Directors. London. 1833. These useful works, once held 
in great esteem, are still valuable, but it is rather the 
Bengali language than Bengali literature which owes its 
debt of gratitude to Haughton. 

Jtoyal Kalendar, 1818, p. 293 ; ibid, 1820, p. 282. 

2 For further informations, see Gentleman's Maga 
pt. if, p. 7G ; biographical notice in iWd, 1849, pt. ii, p, 420; Annual Rcpt. 
of the Royal Asiatic Soc. for Kay 1860 in vol. xiii of Journal, pp. ii-V ; 
Wilson's Dublin Directory, 1790, p. 121 j Alumni Oxonicnccs, 1716-1886 
ii. 626 | Allibone'l Diet, of British and American Authors 1N7'_\ vol. i. 


General Characteristics 

We have now closed the survey of a period of 19th 
century literature in Bengal, which is covered principally 
by European writers and their colleagues and which, if 
not the greatest, is at least one of the most important in 
its literary history : for although not ricli in positive 
accomplishment, this and the period 

General remarks on of transition which followed it, had 
the characteristics or 

the European writers been the great school-time of modern 

and their achieve- ... . . , ... ., 

m ent. literature, periods in which the 

unconscious experiments of Carey 

and his colleagues were made, expanded, and multiplied, 

sometimes with the conscious purpose of developing a 

prose style and always with the practical effect of doing 

so, by writers in the widely diverging branches of 

literature. No other period demonstrates so conclusively the 

folly or fallacy of the theory already 

importance of this a n u a e d to, which would bid us ignore 

period in literary ' a 

history. historic estimates and look only to 

"the best things"in literature. Of such 
"best things" this period has got very little to show; its 
productions, with the greatest stretch of literary charity, 
cau hardly be said to touch even the fringe of literature 
proper. To appreciate, much less to enjoy, the rudi- 
mentary publications of this period would require a 
certain amount of patience and Catholicism, if not a kind 
of pre-established harmony of taste, in the reader; yet the 
importance of this period is not to be underrated on that 
account. There is no other portion of our modern literature 


the study of which can be ignored with greater danger, none 
the study of which is repaid by a fuller understanding, 
in regard to the rest. Although it was a stage necessari- 
ly unproductive, it was yet the great period of 
germination, and an acquaintance with it is helpful 
for the understanding and enjoyment of the rich 
harvest which our literature had subsequently borne within 
the last half of the century. 

With the old caution about the constant overlapping 

of tendencies, it would not be wrong to state that this 

was chiefly a period of European activity in Bengali 

literature. It is true indeed that there was a strong 

and unmastered counter-current of 

A period of Euro- native energy which expressed itself 

pean activity. 0,/ x 

in the songs of the Kabiwalas and 
other products of purely native genius, not the least 
affected by the new spirit, and that in an historical 
survey of the literary achievements of this period we 
cannot very well ignore the significance of these forms 
of indigenous literature; yet when we consider the 
Europeanised tendency of modern Bengali literature, 

its new literary method and new 
Counter-currents of mQ( \ e f expression, we cannot but 

native energy, now 

related to it. give a greater prominence to Euro- 

pean activity and spread of European 
ideas. The older traditions still continued to live on, 
and an antagonism between the old and the new spirit 
is traceable throughout the literary history of the 19th 
century ; for the mental progress of a nation cannot 
prove itself altogether independent of the fatality of 
hereditary transmission. But we give greater impor- 
tance to the Europeans because it is the spirit of their 
work, aided no doubt by the inexorable hand of circum- 
stances, which was to dominate in the end and determine 


the final bent of modern literature. In spite of the 
natural persistence of old methods and old forms, access 
was obtained to new methods and new forms, and the 
tide of literary fashion began to flow in other and more 
novel directions with the advent of European writers and 
European ideas in the field. 

The description which suggests itself for the quarter 

of a century from 1800 to 1825 is that of the early or first 

Transition Period ; for it marks the 

Its transitional -, ,. . , , , . 

character ana the first g reat advance from the old to 
changes it brought the new although another period of 
about. ' & % 

progress was necessary to bring 

about in its fulness the dawn of modern literary Bengali. 
The changes of the period are many and far-reaching 
and everywhere transitional in character. In politics and 
social affairs, the conflict between the old and the new 
was gradually taking shape and there was unrest and 
uncertainty everywhere consequent upon such conflict. In 
linguistic matters, we find not only profit and loss in 
details of vocabulary but also an innovation in the direc- 
tion of a simpler syntax. But in literature, although the 
ancient trend of thought and feeling was to some extent 
being continued in the popular Kabi-songs and other 
indigenous forms of literature, the British contact did not 
fail to bring about changes of the gravest kind, in rela- 
tion to its material, its form, and its literary temper. 
The field of literary adventures was enlarged and since 
the tentative efforts resulting from these innovations 
took, for the most part, the form of their models, radical 
changes in literary form became palpable. The changes 
to the literary temper were so subtle and varied that no 
summary description would be adequate but that it was 
marked by a greater desire for individual liberty. The 
age became more and more articulate and forthwith res- 



ponded to contemporary influences. The old schools were 
being upset and the representative character of the old 
literature which was becoming more and more urbane and 
and artificially limited to a select few, who could appre- 
ciate its new ideas and novel forms, was lost in the 
attempt, mostly by untrained hands, to imitate foreign 
literary methods and models. 

Leaving aside the indigenous forms of literature for 
separate treatment, the first portion of this period 
(1800-1815), which was indeed a stage of timid experiment, 
was for the most part a period of European authorship, 
varied by occasional imitations by scarcely original native 
authors, the chief centre of literary publication being the 
Fort William College. We have 

The College of Fort traced at some length the connexion 
William to 

of this college with the history and 

growth of Bengali literature in the early years of 
British settlement ; and its importance cannot be gain- 
said. It was here indeed that modern Bengali literature, 
especially Bengali prose, received its first exercising ground 
and without its co-operation it is doubtful whether even 
the Sri ram pur Mission, an institution equally important 
to Bengali literature, could have achieved the remarkable 
success which it actually did. The two institutions, the 
Fort William College and the Srirampur Mission, 
founded at the same time yet so dissimilar to each other 

in their aim and object, found them- 
Mi*"iU he ^ rTrSmpur selves connected with each other by 

at least one bond of close kinship, 
namely, the encouragement which both afforded to the study 
of Bengali. We shall realise how close this relationship 
was when we bear in mind that almost all the publications 
of the College were printed at the Srirampur Press and 
that, on the other hand, it was the Mission which sup- 


plied the College with scholars and professors of Bengali. 
In this respect, each supplemented the work of the other. 
Indeed before the missionaries came in contact with the 
College of Fort William through the appointment of Carey 
as Professor of Bengali, their work in the field of Bengali 
prose had been very slight. In the meantime they had only 
succeeded in translating and printing off the Bengali 
Bible but in this again they had rendered only a doubtful 
service to Bengali prose. The Mission was too 
poor and too insignificant to undertake extensive 
literary work of a permanent kind ; and on 'political and 
other grounds the missionaries had all along been held 
in disfavour. The first political recognition of the 
Mission and its worthy object with reference to the study 
of Bengali came with the appoint- 

oJgZT 1 **' ^ of C y as ^ssor in 

Lord Wellesley's newly established 
College. Under the patronage, pecuniary and otherwise, 
of the College, a fresh impetus was given to the study of 
Bengali. But even then the stringent regulations which 
had fettered the press in India and other political 
restrictions stood in the way of intellectual progress and 
it was not until another decade or so had passed that a 
more liberal and far-sighted policy was adopted. It may 
also be noted here that the benefit rendered to Bengali by 
all these early institutions was never direct but came 
indirectly and therefore with occasional fluctuations 
through their encouragement of the stndy of the language 
itself on political and other utilitarian grounds. 

This European patronage, however, was attended with 
both loss and gain to Bengali Litera- 

European patronage ; ture> J t { g d an g e r0US to dogmatise 
its effects. # . 

about influences but it cannot be 

denied that, speaking generally, it was the intellectual 


stimulus given by the British contact which raised 

Bengali Literature out of the slough of general decadence 

into which it had been plunged after the death of Bharat- 

chandra. The vernacular was raised 

Stimulating influence jf not a t> ove at least on the same 
of British contact. 

level with, the classical languages, 
which had hitherto held the undisputed sway. But the 
literature of Bengal, which had hitherto belonged 
to the people in general, shifted its centre of activity 
from the peaceful village-homes to the crowded cities 
and the metropolis, and under the patronage of an 
alien lettered class, imbued with new ideas and novel 
methods, it lost its representative character, its primitive 

colouring, and its pristine simplicity. 

But the literature It is true that the literary spirit of 
losing its primitive 

colouring. the people, even though arrested 

temporarily, never died out and that 
the last echoes of the great Baisnab and $akta writers 
still lingered faintly in their less worthy successors, the 
Kabiwalas, the Yalrakars, the Kalhakas or the Pamc/ialiJtars, 
through whom they have coloured even our modern wins 
of thought; yet when the literature revived, with the 
creation of a new lettered class and a new public, it revived 
" with a difference." 

It will be seen, however, that this era of Bengali 
literature is essentially au era of prose and one of its 
greatest achievements is indeed the creation of modern 
prose-of-all-work. The prose of the first decade of the 
century, however, that we are passing in review, has 
little or nothing delectable to a mere 
formal' importance. ! * literary taster, but to the critical 
student it possesses great interest and 
importance. For this was indeed the beginning of 
Bengali prose properly so called ; for before 1800, it may 


be doubted whether, in spite of the large number of old 
philosophical and religious prose-works now discovered, 
there is a single Bengali prose work of any importance, 
which unites the bulk and literary quality of a book 
proper. It is true indeed that the prose of the early 
19th century (chiefly tentative in character) is com- 
paratively clumsy, inartistic, but its formal importance 
in literary history can never be denied, and even within 
this shapeless mass, there is a full pulse of life that 
may be detected by any careful reader who does not 
associate old book with mummies. But in order to 
appreciate this importance, we must at the outset obtain 
some idea of the conditions under which it came about and 
developed so rapidly within a few years. 

Modern Bengali prose, like modern Bengal itself, 
came into being under anomalous 

The conditions tinder conditions. After the death of 
which modern Bengali 

prose came into being Bharat-chandra and with the dis- 
appearance of the great Baisnab 
and Sakta writers the literature of Bengal was left to 
shift for itself, uncontrolled by the power of any individual 
native genius, which alone, by M dwelling apart " in an 
age of conflicting influences, could have helped to guide 
it. The European writers, who took 
and its subjection to the lead in the matter at the 
SSSZlLSSS: h ^S of the 19th century had 
of the old school. little experience of Bengal and much 

less of Bengali literature : in matters 
of composition, they took as their guide, not the ancient 
writers of Bengal, who were by this time hopelessly 
entombed in a mass of old inaccess- 

(l) The Bhattachar- . ible manuscripts, but the great 
yas; their language _ . 

(tfa#t ^fal ) Bhattacharyas or Tol pundits who, on 

account of their classical accomplish- 
ments, were thought fit to write in the vernacular tongue, 


But these learned pundits, who traded upon the general 
ignorance of the people and treated the vernacular with 
contempt, knew nothing of our past literature, but 
with a confidence born of untraining and in their 
eagerness to display their classical 
Their classical loam- learning, they affected a pedantic sans- 

ing and pedantry; and er j tiged 8tyle which was more than 

total ignorance of the J 

vernacular literature. what the language could bear. Their 

very erudition proved their greatest 
disqualification ; and their unwieldy style and its uncouth 
form, betraying all the absurd defects of an untrained 
hand, were wholly out of accord with the genius of the 
language. To handle these matters properly there is needed 
a poise so perfect that the least overweight in any direction 
tends to destroy the balance. The Duke of Wellington 
said of a certain peer that " it was a great pity his edu- 
cation had been so far too much for his abilities." In like 
manner, one often sees the erudition of these pundits prove 
too much for their abilities. In justice to these learned 
pundits, however, it must be said that some of them 
honestly believed in the efficacy of the sanscritised style, 
which was supposed to add dignit) to the flat and colourless 
vernacular and that if they did not write easily, they wrote 

correctly : only this partiality for 
Partiality for Sana- Sanscrit or use of *rfa<5fa1 (highstvle) 

crit and absurdly 

sanscritised style. was often carried to the extreme. We 

have seen how the learned author of 
Prabodk-chandrika at the beginning of his work extols Sans- 
crit as the best of all languages 1 ; but he prefer! to write 
in Bengali inasmuch as it is the best of the vernaculars 
on account of the preponderance of Sanscrit in it (^rfaj 

1 See extract quoted at p. 218. 


($&$ ). This may be taken fairly as the opinion of the 
Bhattacharyas generally who now made it their province 
to patronise Bengali. In Bk. II, Chap. I of the same 
work again, Mrtyunjay, while discoursing on the 
beauties and defects of prose style, quotes and analyses 
the following sentences as exhibiting various rhetorical 
qualities" ^5 WtTOF* I ft^ Ffa ift ft^fa ^^ I 

f(Wt *t$t iffa v% Pn%5 tot 

Specimen of the 
kind of style they ( tfpTtWtM ) I WTft^ 3^t^t^ 

c**fro %mrt* ^t?$^ft ^rjfite- 

C*lt^1 W^t^f^tfatt ^^Rfa^tft wft^Wft^l 

( fcftroi ) i "Wife [^F*t^ *fw ^rw^ farwi 

$m ctm ffero? ( w.^t ) i c*ifa*nwitit*Rt5t*i a 
^tft*i ci fcaFrffaitsre foirtTOitqEff ^i ^tfare^ 

( TfoW ) I ( <IWlnb&*t fasta ^W, N* ^ ) I 

These examples would clearly indicate the kind of 
style which was highly favoured and the length to 
which this sanscritisation was carried. 1 

But long before the Bhattacharyas affected this 
stiff, laboured and pedantic diction, another stjde of 
expression, chiefly favoured by the court-going or commer- 
cial Kayasthas, was already extensively prevalent and 
sometimes found its way into the 
(2) The Kayasthas ; more serious compositions of the 
ifH^Sfc ^ me * -^ was a kiud of half- Bengali 

and half-Persian diction which was 

1 Of these pundits, Mrtyunjay, though he affected an artificially 
correct and learned diction, was fully alive to the sense of style and 
knew the value of appropriate phrasing. In one place, he writes in 


the language of the court and the market-place and of 
which we have seen a subdued specimen in the style of 
Pralapaditya Charitra. Ever since the time of Mohamme- 
dan conquest, Persian words and 

Persian element ; expressions or their modified Urdu 
its long history in . , ,, -. ,. ,, . 

Bengali literature. torms were gradually finding their 

way into the Bengali vocabulary, 
and the necessity of their being used, more or less, in 
everyday conversation, no doubt facilitated the process. 
By the time the Chandi of Kabikankan was composed 
Persian was already extensively used even in the verse- 
compositions of the period. The 

Chandi of Kabi- following quotation, in which in nine 
kankan. ^ 

verses more than eighteen Persian 

words will be found, will show in how short a time 

Bengali put on a novel aspect through its admixture with 


ft^n Start c*rt^taw i 

ftlffi *I<F1 5* Tt^ II 
his quaint way : ltt3 ^falCI* C^TI *ft^T CI ffklKW ^t? *tH 4$ W 

it* SCI CJ$5fc W ^ftk^tt^CI^SCgUl^tCS ^*fa ^fa>1 'SWlFf 
CTrWt ^fec^C?* fTO ft<fJtS *ORi ^tUT^I tt *| *fa T**J- 

^c^ **i it* ^ c*s* 3rt ct* itc^Tre *tfr nt* c^s H itcnre stfo* 

till *T5iH ItCTjre ^3J?| C<Tt^S C*ft 3*td ^ff^rU 3C* CW 5(1 
TOlft *m%13 VfW1$fo**^|ff1*fafas 4"*fo3 C1W Cfltire ftf% 

si (ic*ti sfarH *m ^^, ^<^M *s) i 

1 A pretty good but by no means exhaustive list of Arabic Mid 
Persian words used in Bengali will l><: found in Shhitya Partial 
Patrika, vol. viii, aUo vol. xii. 


w*H|S ?rtrfa tw ef^tsr *rftr?r *ct 

Tir^r c^ftt fat if^i efts** ^titt ^1 

*tft s Nf* c*tistfir ii 

. nt^ *FI *R| ft^ etf% II 
qfa cttf c^ JTtft C^C* | 

C^ fa| Sftft *ffettl II 
tt'lCWlftfl ^ ^ WOT *t*l ^Tt^ 

*1%* ^Ft^*t ^ wis i 

^ fed c^i fare *rrra ii 
mtirt* ^rfa ^1^ fcit*l ttrfw itas 

^t^r <^rl ot <*rw 1 

fcW* ^ ^ tpl *rW ii 
3% ^fa *tffa *f t* ^ i 
tW 5^ fell *nm II ' 

1 Kabikankan Chandi. ed. by Aksay Kumar Sarkar in Prachin 
Kabisamgraha, pt. ii, p. 5. Slightly different readings aie given in 
BangabasT edition, pp. 6-7. 



This lengthy extract is quoted not only to show the pre- 
ponderance of Persian words and forms but it will also 
be noticed from the descriptions contained here that 
Bengal, then divided into Taluks, was governed by 
officers like, Kotal, Sarkar> Dihidar, Jamadar, etc. ; 
that Hindu cities or villages have already taken Moham- 
medan names ; that people are 
Mohammedan Bengal. . 

getting h'helats as a sign or royal 

favour ; that men like Srimanta or Gambhlra had been 

adorned with Mohammedan titles of distinction ; and 

that, on the whole, Mohammedan ideas and customs 

had penetrated into the very fabric of native society. 

It is not surprising therefore that in the age of Raja 

Krsnachandra, Bharat-chandra Ray, 
Bharat-chandra. '" . . . 

himselr a man or sound culture 

possessing considerable knowledge of Sanscrit, could not 

escape the fascination of a mixed language and the influence 

of Persian ideas. 1 We find him saying, therefore, while 

describing a conversation between Emperor JahSngTr and 

Raja Manasiiiiha 

tfwrff (& w ^ffatra rrfir 
fas <j\ *f?*\ c*i!^ ^fa^tra <tf* ii 

^5^ *fc <ttl *R^I PHtt ii 

It is not unusual therefore that writing in 1778, 

Halhed in the Preface to his Grammar says : "At present 

those persons are thought to speak this compound idiom 

(Bengali) with the greatest elegance 
Halhed's remarks. , . .. T .. . 

who mix with pure Indian verbs 

1 It. is well-known, for instance, that much of the famous discrip- 
tion of his heroine's beauty is derived from Persian sources. 


the greatest number of Persian and Arabic nouns/' 
It is in the court-language, however, which still favours 
a preponderance of effete Persian forms, that the largest 
percentage of Persian words are to be found ; and the 
following extract of a petition, given in an appendix to 

Halhed's Grammar, will show how 
courSaV?' "' e the Persianisaion was carried even 

to a far greater length than was ever 
done by the authors of Tratapaditya Charitra or Tola 

It will be noticed, however, that about this time a 
reaction was setting in in favour of the use of Bengali, 
and the lengthy prefaces to Forster's Vocabulary as well 
as to Halhed's Grammar, which detail at some length 
the arguments in favour of the study of Bengali, bear 
witness to this reversion of popular feeling. Bengali, 
at this time, officially as well as popularly, was an unrecog- 
nised vernacular, and both Halhed and Forster rightly 
insist upon the absurdity and inconvenience of continuing 
the use of Persian in courts of law. 

Discontinuance of Colebrooke 1 pays a high eulogy 
Persian in law-courts. ^ _ 

to Halhed and lorster tor having 

Asiatic Researches, vol. vii, 1799, p. 224. 


brought the scientific study of Bengali within easy reach, 

but to them also as well as to other later writers, 

both native and foreign, belongs the credit of making 

Bengali not only the official language of the Presidency 

but also the basis of one of the most prolific literary 

languages of India. 

While the tol pundits and the court-scribes were 

attempting to bring Bengali under the lead of Sanscrit 

and Persian respectively, the language 

(3) The common in the C0U ntry-places, among " low 
people ; their language. J ' 

(sfsfs ^ *pfa <stTl). men" and the people generally, was 

the unforbidden, if untaught, Bengali, 

which we find in the old writers and of which we 

find a distant echo in the outbursts of purely native 

inspiration like those of the Kabiioalas, 

Kabiwalas and yatrakars, Kalhaka*. and Pamchali- 
others. J ' ' . . 

tears. A little sanscntised on the 

one hand and a little persianised on the other, the 

language preserved the equipoise perfectly and drew its 

nerve and vigour from the soil itself. It was so direct 

in its simplicity, so dignified in its colloquial ease, and 

so artful in its want of art that it never failed to appeal. 

Not a single latter-day writer, as the foremost among 

them himself acknowledges, has beeu able to speak in 

the same tongue. While speaking of this language 

of the people in its contrast to modern mixed literary 

diction, Bankim Chandra lamented 1 u ^srff^t* fiW 

Isvar Gupta. fo% if) ffi *\ZH *lt*lttWS *W I *ftfe 

^Wii *<rfa ^rt% new W ^ 

1 *TO WHI ^PfTOl 1'tfWl ^TO* 1 (1895) Preface to the Kabita 
Sarhgraha of Isvar Chandra Gupta. Ed. by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee 
and Gopal Chandra Mukerjee in 2 pts. 


Isvar Gupta 1 whose tone and temper allied him 
with the Kabiwalas, was indeed the last of that blessed 
race over whom the confusion of Babel had not yet 

It must not be supposed here that we are advocating 

purism in the matter of language or lamenting over the 

prevalence of Sanscrit, Persian or other influence. "Purism" 

to quote the words of a learned writer in the Calcutta Review 2 

"is radically unsound and has its origin in a spirit of 

narrowness. In the free commingling of nations, there 

must be borrowing and giving. Can anything be more 

absurd than to think of keeping language pure when 

blood itself cannot be kept pure ? No human language 

has ever been perfectly pure, any more than any human 

race has been pure. Infusion of foreign elements do, in 

the long run, enrich languages, just as infusion of 

foreign blood improves races." But in the beginning 

of the last century, the conflict of foreign elements under 

which Bengali prose came for a time proved a source of 

confusion to many a writer of the period. Lexicographers 

and grammarians like Halhed, Forster and Carey are 

eternally complaining, in their bewilderment, of the 

confusing variety and the exceedingly corrupt state of 

the vernacular due to its subjection to various foreign 

influence, 8 for the many political revolutions the 

country had sustained and its long 

(4) The European communication with men of diffe- 
writers. . t , 

rent religions, countries and manners 

1 But here of course we are speaking of Isvar Gupta's poetry 
and not his prose which perhaps exhibits the modern tendencies 
better than any other prose of the period. 

2 SySina Charan Ganguli, Calcutta Review, 1878. 

See Halhed's and Forster's remarks quoted at pp. 86-7 and 
92 ante respectively. 


had impaired the simplicity of the vernacular and ren- 
dered it somewhat difficult for a foreigner. Not only 
did the pundits incorporate stiff 
Their confusion at antl U11 f am ilj ar Sanscrit words and 

the diversity of the 

forms of the language, constructions and the Mohammedans 

various terms relating chiefly to 
business, law and government, the European nations too 
who settled here, never failed to influence the language 
and naturalise into it words of European origin. Of 
these, the Portuguese, before the British, have left behind 

them the largest traces in the country 

The Portuguese ele- as weJ1 as j n the W ua ge. The 
ment in Bengali. 7 

Portuguese extended their trade 
to Bengal a little before 1530 and after temporarily 
settling at Betad ( C3&S ) near bibpur, and then at 
Saptagram (Satgaon) they finally colonised at "Golin" 
(near Bandel) at about 1537 or 1538. 1 In' a short time, 
they became a formidable political power, and their 
wealth, daring roguery, and naval and military activity 
made them dreaded all over the country. About the end 
of the 16th century they settled at Baranagar near 
Calcutta and soon entered the Sunderbuns, gradually 
spreading over Eastern Bengal, where as pirates, adven- 
turers, and extensive dealers in slave-trade, they soon 
obtained a dreaded reputation. 8 Their head-quarter in 
East Bengal was Chittagong, which, being more access- 
ible by the sea, was called the Porto Grando ; while 

1 Stewart, History of Bengal, quoting (Ed. 1847, p. 1531) Faria 
Y Souza. Golin has been supposed to be the same as Ugclyn, a 
Portuguese form of Hugli. 

2 There is an allusion to their piracy and their use of ftSlf? 
(Armada or War-ship) in the Chaydi of Kabiknnkan 


Hugh, their central colony in West Bengal, was named 
Porto Pequeno. Portuguese language came naturally with 
the Portuguese power aud for about two centuries and a half 
even survived its extinction. " It was," to quote Marsh- 
man, 1 " the Lingua Franca of all foreign settlements 
around the Bay of Bengal and was the ordinary medium 
of conversation between the European and their domes- 
ties n even down to so late a period as 1828. It is easy 
to see that such ne'er-do-well adventurers as Portuguese 
pirates could hardly ever be expected to exert any properly 
literary influence, and their only point of contact with 
Bengali was through the medium of language. 2 They 
supplied its vocabulary with appellation of European arts 
and invention, names of many fruits, herbs, and trees 
pJHtflli etc.) which they had brought over from South 
America or elsewhere, certain terms of gambling ^Primero 
CtSRTOlj etc.) and even common everyday expressions like 

CffWlj srfrN, fifct ft^l, csrfaH *t*Wtfir, *rfaf*fa, 

^ftj *fM, QSfr, Ftft, ^*I1, etc. The common form 
of the oath "Tf^fir" is even supposed to be a corrupt 
form of the name of the Virgin. It will be seen, 
however, that this Portuguese influence on Bengali was, 
on the whole, comparatively slight, and it never succeeded 
in changing the current mode of expression nor went 
beyond introducing certain fresh terms into its 
vocabulary. 3 

1 History of Serampore Mission, vol. i, pp. 21-22. 

* For an account of Portuguese influence and Portuguese element 
in Bengali, see Sahitya Parisat Patrika, vol. xviii, p. 45 et seq. 
where a good list of Portuguese words naturalised in Bengali will also 
be found. See also Hobson-Jobson ed. Yule and Burnell. J. A. 
Campos in his recent History of the Portuguese in Bengal (1919) has 
also given a list of Portuguese words in Bengali. 

s The first Bengali Grammar and Dictionary was in Portuguese. 
See p. 75, ante, 


But the British influence on Bengali, owing to its 
permanent and all-embracing eharac- 

The language of the , , . . 

ter, was more deep and tar-reaching. 

huropean winters 

(Tttsft ^1 *ff^t In matters of language, however, the 
^t5fN). British writers at the outset, we have 

seen, found themselves in an embar- 
rassed position. They did not know in the midst of per- 
plexing diversity what models to choose or what form of 
the language to adopt. They however took primarily as 
their guide the compositions of their own munsis or 
pundits, which leaned towards pedantry and sanscritisa- 
tion; but fortunately their strong commonseuse, their 
literary instinct, and an innate tendency to realism, 1 
which is a distinctive feature of all English writers, saved 
them from the contagion of affectation and made them 
adopt a more simple and natural style. Their language is 

a curious admixture of the sanscritised 
Its sources. ^^ q ^ punditg (^^j) an d the 

colloquial language of the people (sft^KI) with some pecu- 
larities of its own and a more or less decided leaning towards 
the latter. The missionaries and the schoolmasters, to whose 
rank and file belong most of the early European writers in 
Bengali, lived in the closest touch with the people, and their 
chief end in writing was not to show off their erudition hut 
to make themselves intelligible, to be popular, clear and 
useful. There are, it is true, errors and 

Its errors in vocabul- excesses in their writing as vexatious 
ary, syntax and idiom ; . , . , ., 

but general excellence as the stiffness of the Pundits, and the 

in its healthy direc- m j ss i narv Beniftli lias always been 

tion towards simph- J , . , 

city and naturalness. the sport of criticism. But, inspite of 

these and other aberrations, the gene- 
ral excellence of their style in one direction at least can 

See the remarks on Carey's Dialogues at p. 14G. 

general characteristics 289 

never be disputed, namely, that its simplicity, precision, and 
directness presents a striking contrast to the sesquipedalian 
affectation of the Sanscrit pundits or the mixed jargon of 
the Persianised munsis. Carey and his co-adjutors brought 
to their task, that of translation and tract-writing, a com- 
bination of education and object. They were men all 
trained in the severe science of theological study : and they 
always strove to be exact and intelligible to the people. 

, . Their training compelled them to be 
The training and ob- ^ A 

ject of these European precise and their object compelled them 
to be forcible. No better exercising 


ground for an infant prose, in at least some ways, could have 
been provided than the combined one of translation and 
polemic. The utilitarian end of these European writers, 
their realistic tendency, their position, influence and 
attainment directed the whole movement towards simplicity 
and naturalness, and it is well worthy of note that even 
some of the learned pundits of the Fort William College, 
through their example, did not despise to adopt occasion- 
ally the popular patois of the country. 1 

Thus it will be seen that, at the beginning of the 19th 

century there were, roughly speak- 

The subsequent his- j f our different ways or modes of 

tory of these four & . 

divergent styles expression, struggling to gain ground 

and competing for mastery, namely 
tfeft <&M, *rtfft*rft W, S%5 <3ft1 and JfllPlfl Stffat. Of 
these, the ^M^t M (court-language) in course of time, 
with the general disuse and discontinuance of Persian 
in law-courts, became almost extinct, and by 1836 we find 
but little trace of it, except in a few legal technical 

1 See, for example, the story of fiW* in Mrtyufijay's 
Prabodh-chandrilca, ft$* **, <TO f^> part of which is quoted 
ante at pp. 221-222, 



publications. The spoken idiom (tf*is ^1) favoured chiefly 
by the old school of writers like the Kabiwalas and used in 
country-places, never came into any direct prominence. 
The only two forms of style which 
in^te^TposS stood iu sharp antithesis to each 
between the plain and t ner in the prose publications of the 

the ornate styles. 

time and continued to play an im- 
portant part in the literary history down to the lifties, 
were the learned style (*tf9t ^W)> on the one hand, and 
the missionary style (Tft^ft ^tWfH)s on tne 
other. The exclusive class of learned pundits 
still kept on in the traditional stiffness of their elaborate 
diction, while a host of new writers, who came into the 
field with the spread of English education 1 generally 
adopted the language of the missionaries in 
a purer and more modified form. The perpetually 
recurring struggle between the ornate and the plain 
styles 2 which plays an important part in the history 
of prose style in almost every literature, was for the first 
time definitely posed and worked out in Bengali prose in 
this period the ornate style being favoured by the pundits 
and the plain style chiefly adopted by the missionary writers. 

The style of the pundits found a 
This opposition be- . 

comes more well-de- direct descendant in the oanscrtt 

SrVklan'SS Colle ^ * U of the fiftics ; whiIe 

the Sanscrit College the Alall side, which betokened 

styles of the fifties. u 

a contemporary reactionary move- 
ment, found its progenitor, through various intermedi- 
aries, primarily in the healthy movement towards simpli- 
city and naturalness, first inaugurated by the Europeans, 

1 Of whom the most prominent name is that of Rev. Krnamohan 

8 See pp. 147, 219-20. 


although secondarily it incorporated various elements from 
the language of the common people (5pT3 $ftf) and even 
from the persianised court-language (^rlTi'Tst ^1). Thus 
we see that this opposition between the plain and the 
ornate styles persistently dominated the history of Ben- 
gali prose for almost half a century and reached to a 
crisis in the two antithetical movements of the fif- 
ties indicated by the Avail style and the Sanscrit College 
Synthesis in Bankim- style of which the genius of 
chandra. a wr ^ er ]jk e Bankimchandra alone 

could find a proper synthesis. 

It will be seen therefore that from the standpoint of 

literary history, the importance of this period in prose 

is hardly less than that of any other. 

ofthis l P erk>df Tit But .its productions, marked that they 

its far less intrinsic are bv earliness and immaturity, 
merit. " 

have far less intrinsic merit. 

No historian of literature can claim anything like literary 

competency for much of this early prose, if he judges it 

by any strict literary standard. Originality is not a 

distinctive merit of this literature at all. Grammars, 

school-books, religious tracts, and 
Want of originality. , , , ,, 

other similar documents, most ot them 
again mere translated pieces, cannot, in their very nature, 
justly claim to be called literature. In their translations 
a^ain these writers are faithful enough : there is hardly 
any native aspiration to be free and original. Here and 
there, no doubt, they improved upon the capital that 
came into their hands but they seldom created 
or broke loose from their original. The style, again, is of 
the rudest character, abrupt, disconnected, obscure, and full 
of anacolutha, not only in the works of the missionaries 
whose command over the inherent resources of the lan- 
guage must have necessarily been limited and whose repute 


for erratic style is traditional, but also in the more 
correct and laboured treatises of the pundits, who con- 
founded the genius of Bengali with that of Sanscrit. The 
divergent varieties of expression, again, not only 
give a comical aspect to the prose of the period but 
also make it difficult to fix upon general style. Style, 
however, in the strict and rare sense, is hardly to be 

No style in the pro- f UIld in a! ^ f these writings : the 
P 6 * sense - age of literary Bengali had not yet 

fully dawned, although some of these writings, it must 
be admitted, are racy from age and agreeable from their 
very want of precision. 

When, however, we take an estimate of the sum-total of 
its achievements, this period of prose never fails to impress 

Summary of its us with its importance. Systematic 
achievements. and universal prose-writino* is the 

first thing that it accomplished : and suggestion of new 
forms, methods, and materials is the second. There 
was indeed some amount of religious 1 and philosophical 
prose-writing before this but there was, as we have pointed 
out, no prose-of-all-work, suited to the every-day require- 
ments of the people as well as for their literary purposes. 
Clear, useful and popular prose-writing is a creation of this 
period, although we have yet to wait for another quarter of 
a century for the dawn of literary Bengali prose. The use 
of this prose, again, to address the common people who 
had been only accessible by verse, is another remarkable 
achievement of this period. It may be well pointed out 
that though the decay of ancient learning was lamentable 
in itself, it was yet fortunate in a way for Bengali, for it 
not only threw men back upon their vernacular but it 
also stimulated translation and so gave practice in the 

1 Esp. on the Sahajiya form of Baisnabism. See Appendix I. 


vernacular, instead of tempting men, as they had been 
tempted, simply to abstract and compile in the learned 
classic tongue, and even when they wrote original work, to 
write it in that obsolete language. 1 That one important limi- 
tation namely, that of translation, which had been imposed 
upon it, still remained, was no drawback for the time. Indeed, 
translation is not so entirely an un-original thing as it 
seems or boasts to be, and in certain respects, it is the 
best exercising ground for an infant prose literature, which 
had not yet passed even through the lower stages of pupil- 
ship. We shall see, indeed, that no really good prose 
appeared until a long period of apprenticeship in transla- 
tion had elapsed. Much more importation of vocabulary : 
much more experiment in term-forging : much more copy- 
ing of the more accomplished prose-forms of the 
European languages and classic Sanscrit were necessary 
before the resources of style could be really at the com- 
mand of the prose-writer in miscellaneous subjects. 

The field of literary adventures, again, was enlarged 
to an extent never known before. It is true that 
this was essentially a period more distinguished for its 

contributions to what a class of 
Literature of know- ... , , 11.1 ,, ., 

ledge rather than critics would call the "literature of 
literature of power. knowledge" rather than to the 

" literature of power "; yet there 
is not a single department of useful knowledge, 
which these European writers did not touch. History and 
Biography, Ethics and Moral Tales, 
Variety of subject- Grammar and Dictionary, Mathe- 
matics and Natural Philosophy, 

1 But later on, in the next decade, it brought another temptation, 
which we have not wholly overcome and which, under the circum- 
stances, would be for some time to come a necessity in itself, of 
writing in English. 


Chemistry and Medicine everywhere we trace the inde- 
fatigable activity of the European writers. It is true that 
most ov these works were meant merely to be text-books 
but they are equally significant of the zeal of their authors 
as writers and teachers and of the encouragement which was 
afforded to the cause of learning. The multiplication of 
Grammar and Dictionary, no doubt, 

Grammar and Die- points to a zealous movement towards 
tionary. r 

the scientific study of the lauguage, 

but it must be admitted that in the lexicons compiled by 
European writers, undue preponderance is given to Sanscrit 
words and the proportion of purely native Bengali words 
is comparatively small : while the Grammars, on the other- 
hand, are written mostly on the pattern of English 
Grammars and consequently fail to set in relief the peculiar 
features of the oriental vernacular. Little need be said of 
the works on History and Biograph}', 
History, Biography Ethics aud Moral rjfcW f or almost 
Ethics and Moral 
Tales. all these writings consist of mere 

translation : but a peculiar interest 
attaches, as we have seen, to the Bengali scientific writings 
of this period for their useful glossaries of technical and 

difficult terms as well as for their 
Scientific writings. manner and method of rendering 

scientific ideas into Bengali. But, 

besides these contributions to the department of useful 

knowledge, there came about, under the European influence, 

a vogue for realism and social satire. The popular opinion 

has always leant to the supposition that 
Realism and social . ,, . , t 7 , , TT . ., 

gat jl re> in this sphere Alat and Jlutam are the 

pioneer works, but even long before 

these works were published, from the time of Carey's 

Dialogues downwards, numerous works (such as Bhabanl- 

charar/s Kalikata Kamalalaya or Pramathanath Parma's 

General characteristics 295 

Naba Babu Bilasa) were published which served as models 

for Alal and Hntam and which had indeed reached a 

high degree of success and popularity. Another important 

field into which these Europeans directed the energy of 

Bengali writers is that of journalism. 
Journalism, * 

Thanks to the courage and zeal of its 
promoters, the difficult social and political conditions under 
which it was started never retarded its growth, and its long 
and interesting history bears witness to the enormous 
popularity and usefulness of this organ of popular opinion. 


Interregnum in Poetry from 1760. 

The closing years of the 18th century and the begin- 
ning of the 19th form a period of transition from old 
Bengali to modern Bengali literature; and in this period, 
as in every period of transition, while access was obtained 
to new ideas and new methods, the old traditions in lite- 
rature still lived on. In the light of the Europeanised 
literature of to-day, prominence must be and has been 
given to European activity in Bengali Literature 
of this period, yet from the death of Bharat-chandra in 
1760 to the death of Isvar Gupta in 1858, flourished a 
class of Bengali writers, chiefly poets, who were uninfluen- 
ced by English ideas and who main- 

A body of indige- tained, even with declining powers, 
nous literature t t * 

the literary traditions of the past. 

Literary history, as a rule, is studded with such ' survivals ' 
or ' relics,' if we may use these terms ; but it is hardly 
correct to regard these outbursts of purely native inspira- 
tion as mere empty echoes of the past or flickering reac- 
tionary movements which the historian of literature may 
safely ignore. The tendencies of European or Euro- 
peanised writers may, in a sense, be described as exotic ; 
but these inheritors of the literary traditions and instincts 
of the ancient race, on the other haud, 
representing, in con- were essentially national in sentiment 

trast to the writings 

of the Europeans, a and expression, and as such, repre- 
rtytv^pment!" 6 ' *, Pt from all question of 
intrinsic excellence, a phase of lite- 
rary development which we cannot very well pass over. 


The literature of the first half of the 19th century is 
dominated in the main by two distinct tendencies; the 
one is fostered by European writers or by men tutored 
in European ideas and marked generally by the spirit of 
an intellectual aristocracy, while the other derives its 
strength from the essence of native genius, untouched by 
foreign ideas, and expresses itself chiefly in various forms 
of popular literature. The one, dressed in the new apparel 
of prose, goes forth to capture the gifts of the new know- 
ledge, but the other, conveyed in the traditionary vehicle 
of verse, remains content with the spiritual inheritance 
of the past, diminished though it is with the lapse of 
time. The antagonism between these two tendencies, 
though it may not be very marked in later periods, 
lasts throughout the literary history 

Antagonism between of the mll eentu ry ; and in the 

two opposing tenden- J ' 

cies in the 19th literature of to-day, although the 
century literature. . . . . , . 

triumph or the new teudency is 

said to be fully proclaimed yet it remains to be considered 

how far this triumph has been or may be achieved without 

making legitimate concessions to the demands of the 

opposing tendency. Till the death of Isvar Gupta, in 

whom we find indeed the last, if not the least, valiant 

champion of the old race, the antagonism is definitely 

posed and consistently worked out. With the death of 

Isvar Gupta, we are at the end of the most effective note 

in the ancient trend of thought and feeling ; and followers 

of the old tendency thereafter, in struggling to maintain 

their own against the stronger drift of new ideas, were 

obviously fighting for a lost cause. 

Decay of the old E ver s i nce ^hat time the cause may 
style ; but its unmis- 
takable influence in indeed be regarded as lost, and any 
later literature. . . , , , ., , j 

attempt to-day to revive the old 
style would be possibly as futile and ridiculous as the 


attempt of Don Quixote to revive the expiring clays of 
chivalry. But, even though the cause was lost, its lessons 
were not lost j the principles for which it had fought survived 
and found gradual acceptance. However imperceptible 
the process had been, it succeeded in tempering the un- 
licensed Europeanisation of later literature : it afforded a 
healthy antidote against the unchecked alienation of 
literature from national sensibilities ; it represented a 
strong counter-current of purely native energy, which, 
if it never forced itself directly to the surface, never at 
the same time failed to make its subtle and wholesome 
influence felt. It is a mistake to suppose that the old 
tendency absolutely died out with the death of ISvar 
Gupta. It never died out but it left its enduring vitality 
in the current of national thought aud feeling, unmistak- 
able influence of which may be traced even in the literature 
of to-day. The spirit of an age or race, yielding to that 
of its successor, continues to abide in it as anessential 
iugredient, assumed, transformed and carried forward. 

In an historical survey of the 19th century literature, 
therefore, we cannot mistake the significance of this ten- 
dency of literature, which derived its inspiration primarily 
from conditions of national culture which were not access- 
ible to European or Europeanised writers of the first half 
of that century. We must indeed give the more prom- 
nent place to European writers and those who trod 
in their footsteps, because it is chiefly through their efforts, 
aided no doubt by the hand of the foreign government, 
that the dominance of western ideas ultimately 
strengthened itself and gave the final bent to the form 
and spirit of modern literature ; yet the account of the 
period would surely be incomplete if we do not take into 
consideration this stream of purely indigenous activity 
flowing in the opposite direction and the extent of 


its influence in moulding the literary characteristics 

of the age. 

The historical importance, therefore, of this inferior 

but not insignificant band of writers 

The historical im- belonging to the old school lies, 
portance of these in- i 

digenous writers. mainly as we have seen, in the fact 

that whatever may be the iutrinsic 

value of their writings they examplify and hand down in 

their own way the failing inspiration of earlier days and 

thus maintain the continuity of literary history during 

the period of interregnum between the death of Bharat 

Chandra and the emergence of the new school. Although 

some of them lived far into the first half of the 19th 

century they do not reflect the growing literary tendencies 

of the new era but they keep up the old manner of 

thought, the old fashion of imagination, and the old form 

of expression and thus secure the inheritance of ancient 

literature for the advantage of the new generation. 

Standing as they do, on the the gateway of modern 

literature they give little or no presentiment of things 

to come, they do not announce the future ; but they 

represent the past and stoutly, if unconsciously, make 

their stand for a fast disappearing form of art and 

expression which drew its inspiration from the past life 

of the nation itself and which was not without its 

significance to the new life the nation was entering 


There was a time, however, when the value of these 

writings was totally forgotten or ignored. They appeared 

contemptible in the eyes of the so- 

Value of this litera- ealled Young Bengal of the last 
ture not to be ignored 

or forgotten. century who had been tutored rigidly 

in western ideas and western literature 

to the exclusion of everything national. Even to-day 


it is doubtful if we have entirely outgrown this stage of 
defective mental susceptibility, although critics are not 
wanting who would go to the other extreme of fanatical 
admiration. Isvar Gupta, in the early fifties, spoke in 
exuberantly enthusiastic language of the untutored songs 
of the old Kabis ; yet if we are to take Barikim-ehandra 
as the representative of the next generation, we find his 
age regarding these compositions with frank disapproval, 
if not always with superior contempt. In recent years, 
when we are not altogether obtuse and irresponsive, we 
have taught ourselves to speak in sober tone and measured 
language. In literary history, there are no doubt extreme 
vicissitudes of taste whereby the idols of the past genera- 
tion crumble suddenly to dust, while new favourites are 
raised to the old pedestal of glory ; yet in spite of such 
successive waves of aesthetical preference, we must guard 
against falling into the error of orthodox dogmatism, on 
the one hand, and the ignorant following of fashion, on 
the other. Leaving aside personal predilections and the 
narrowness of sects and coteries we rind critics even to- 
day who would see nothing in these forms of literature 
which is well worth a moment's thought. Much of this 
literature, as in the case of some of the songs of the 
Kabiwalas, is no doubt transient and ephemeral and there 
is certainly much in it which is really contemptible ; yet 
the frivolity of an imitative culture or the wild pursuit of 
ever-shifting literary fashion ought not to blind us to the 
historical and literary value, whatever it might be, of the 
art and literature of a generation which has passed away. 
It is idle to regard any particular form of art or mode 
of utterance as final or absolutely authoritative. Critical 
taste should be more open-minded and unprejudiced and 
the study of literature should be placed upon sounder 
historical and scientific methods. 

Interregnum in poetry adi 

We propose in the following pages to take these 

writers in the old style in the groups mentioned below. 

It would not be necessary for us to 

Grouping of this deal w { t h this class of writings in 

literature. m m 

minute detail ; it would be enough 
for our purpose if we indicate broadly the phase of literary 
development which they represent and give a more or 
less general survey of their work and achievement. It 
may be noted here at the outset that in the case of many 
of these groups, materials for study are extremely scanty 
and scattered, and most of the writings which belong to 
this section have not been yet critically studied or edited. 
In the case of Pamchali and Yatra and devotional songs, 
for instance, no attempt has yet been made to collect 
either data and materials for tracing their systematic 
history or even to make a satisfactory collection of these 
floating and fast vanishing forms of literature. Under 
this condition of imperfect knowledge of the subject no 
apology is necessary for imperfect treatment and what is 
offered here must be taken as nothing more than a merely 
tentative and preliminary attempt. 

(1) Kabiwalas. 

() Nidhu Babu and writers of Tappa. 

(3) Followers of Ram-prasad and writers of devo- 
tional songs. 

(4) Followers of Bharat-chandra. 

(5) Isolated followers of ancient authors : Jay- 
narayan Ghosal, Raghunandan Gosvami and others. 

(6) Authors of Pamchali and Yatra. 

(7) Miscellaneous songsters. 



The existence of Kabi-songs may be traced to the 
begiuning of the 18th century or even beyond it to the 
17th, but the most flourishing period of the Kabiwalas 
was between 1760 and 1830. Rasu and Nrsimha were 
born somewhere between 1734 and 1738 ; Haru Thlikur 
in 1738; Nitai Bairag! in 1747; so 
Chronology and tna t between 1760 and 1780, thev 

classification of Kabi- 

literature. had all reached the height of their 

reputation as songsters and made 
this form of literary amusement popular throughout the 
country. During the continuance of the dual government 
therefore between 1765 and 1775, and in the period of 
literary interregnum which followed upon the death of 
Bharat-chandra, they were the most considerable pretenders 
in the literary field; and if the mantle of the old authors 
did not exactly suit their narrow shoulders, they attempt- 
ed in the main to echo the sentiment and ideas of old- 
world poetry. Most of these greater Kabiwalas lived 
into the period of British rule. Rasu and Nrsimha died 
between 1805 and 1807 ; but Haru Thakur lived up to 
1812 and Nitai even beyond that to 1821. Ram Basu, 
though in a sense considerably junior to these earlier poets, 
having been born in 1786, died early in 1828. After 
these greater Kabiwalas, came their followers, disciples 
and imitators who maintained the tradition of Kabi-poetry 
up to the fifties or beyond it. The Kabi-poetry therefore 
covers roughly the long stretch of a century from 1 760 to 
1860, although after 1830 all the greater Kabiwalas one 
by one had passed away and Kabi-poetry had rapidly 


declined in the hands of their less gifted followers. We 
shall have therefore to distinguish three different periods 
of Kabi-litirature (I) Before 1760. (2) Between 1760 
and 1830. (3) After 1830. 

The Kabi-poetry, however, has been subjected to an 
amount of harsh and even contemptuous criticism which 
it hardly ever deserved. The Reforming Young Bengal 
of the forties considered all forms of popular amusements 
KM, Ydtra, or Pamchali to be contemptible. We shall 
see that there had gradually come into 
Unfavourable recap- Kabi-songs elements which were 

tion of these songs in 

later times. really contemptible ; but what strikes 

one in the study of these popular 

forms of literature is that throughout the 19th century, 

with the exception of Isvar Gupta and a few isolated 

appreciators of things ancient, the so-called educated men 

of that century hardly ever cared to make a sympathetic 

study, much less to realise their literary or historical 

importance. Even to-day they do not seem to have 

received their due amount of attention or appreciation, 

although none but the most opinionative or the most 

obtuse would seriously consider them to be wholly worthless 

or wholly contemptible. Inspite of the apparent uncertainty 

of critical determinations, the historical importance of 

these songs, apart from all question of artistic valuation, 

cannot surely be denied. The old Kabi-literature does not 

require an apologist to-day but it stands upon its own 

inherent claims to be treated in an historical survey 

of Bengali literature of this century. 

But the materials and means for a critical study 

of this literature are extremely 

Materials and means scanty: and at the same time it is 
of study scanty. J 

doubtful whether even much ot it 
can bear very well a thorough critical examination. We 


at present find only scattered abroad a few fragments 
which may convey a knowledge of this literature but 
which are insufficient to familiarise us with it so as to 
enable us either to appreciate its beauty, construct its 
history or determine its value. Informations about the 
lives of these Kabiwalas or with regard to the general 
history of Kabi -poetry are extremely scanty ; what re- 
mains consists of a few traditional stories, often useless 
and ill-authenticated. 

When we consider the peculiar conditions under which 

most of these songs were composed and the mode in which 

they were transmitted we can, to 

Why the literature some ex tent, understand why a very 

was not preserved, J J 

small and fragmentary part of this 

literature has come down to us. These Kabis were not 

properly speaking, leisured and accomplished men of 

letters, cultivating literature for its own sake, and their 

productions were not deliberate 

Peculiar method af literary compositions meant for a 

composition and mode ," * 

of transmission. critical audience. Their very name 

Damda Kabi ( tftfrfi ) * indicates 
perhaps the peculiar way in which they extemporised their 
songs, standing like a rhapsodist before a motley assembly, 
although it is difficult to say from what time exactly this 
appellation was first applied to them. The evil days of 
the latter half of the 18th century, we have seen, necessitat- 
ed the growth of a class of " poets " whose calling had 

1 It seems that this epithet is very old : but according to one 
version the epithet Damda Kabi was applied to distinguish Kabi from 
Hap-akhdai, which was a hybrid species, formed out of Kabi and 
ahhdai, and which was therefore a kind of baaa-Tcabi. (Preface to 
Manomohan Qitabali, written by Manomohan Baeu himself.) But see 
Janma-bhumt, vii, p. 58. 


now become an irregular profession and a regular means 
of livelihood, and of a body of literature which was marked 
by carelessness rather than by scrupulousness and which 
belonged to that class of writings conveniently termed 
ephemeral journalism. The authors had no higher 
ambition than that of immediately pleasing their patrons 
and gaining their cheap praise and pay. They never 
cared to reach that mark of excellence which would make 
posterity pause before it would willingly let their produc- 
tions perish. These songs, again, had generally circulated 
in the mouths of the people ; in course of time, while some 
were forgotten, others got curiously mixed up or passed 
through strange transformations until, as in their present 
extant form, they can hardly be called the genuine original 
works of their creator, or with confidence be referred to 
this or that individual author. No critical appreciation or 
discrimination was expected and none was made. The 
literature was forgotten no sooner than a generation had 
passed away. Even in 1854, Tsvar Gupta lamented that 
most of these songs had already vanished in his time or 
had been fast vanishing and his self-imposed task of 
collecting these old songs had been rendered difficult 
by the fact that he had to depend entirely upon 
the uncertain and fleeting memory of old men who 
had been, day by day, dropping away. Except 
Nidhu Babu among the earlier group and Nidhu Babu, 
though a patron of akhdai, can hardly be classed as a 
Kabiwala none of these poets or their followers 
ever cared to reduce their songs to writing. Printing 
was hardly known in those days and, if known, was 
too expensive and difficult of access to these needy 
songsters ; yet men like Haru Thakur had rich 
patrons like Raja Naba Krsna to whom it had 
never occurred that these floating songs were worth 



preserving. The change of taste and fashion in the 
next generation and the contempt with which all earlier 
writing had come to be regarded could hardly favour 
the idea of preserving or collecting this literature in 
any form. It is not surprising therefore that no attempt 
at a collection and preservation of 

h.tomS 80 " 1 ' 000 '' these s _ on S s had " ma<]e li " " 
1854, Isvar Gupta, whose poetic 

sympathies allied him with Kabiwalas and who him- 
self was no mean composer of Kabi-song, first collected 
and published some to these half forgotten songs in 
the pages of his Sambad -prabhakar. It is chiefly through 
his untiring zeal and devoted labours, ably seconded 
by the efforts of a few other later collectors, that we 
possess what remains of this Kabi-literature ; for although 
several inferior anthologies have been made since then, 
most of these, with or without acknowledgment, draw 
liberally from the rich fund which he had supplied 
half a century ago and little substantial addition has 
been made to our knowledge ever since. 

It is very difficult, in the absence of materials, to 

trace the origin of this peculiar form 

ofKK?ry 8rOWth oi literature, hardly at all literary, 

which expressed itself in songs but 

which was chiefly meant for popular amusement. Most 

of the songs which have come down to us belong 

to a date posterior to the middle of the 18th century ; 

in tracing, therefore, the form and spirit of this verse, as it 

existed earlier than this date, we must be guided 

chiefly by conjecture derived from the study of the 

later fragments which have been preserved as well as 

by an examination of the general drift of the literature 

itself. It must be noted, however, that song-literature 

is not a novel thing in Bengali : for it had formed 


a part of the social and religious life of the people, 
and religious festivities, enlivened by singing, were 
celebrated with a gaiety which had its mundane siqjje. 
Even with the decline of Baisnabism, which had brought 
in its wake a glorious time of sweet singing, and with the 
revival of Sakta and other forms of literature in the 
18th century, the tradition of song-making had never 
been extinct. The Baisnabs, by their peripatetic singing, 
had spread songs broadcast leavening, as they did, the 
popular mind ; and although times and circumstances had 
changed, the perennial love of song, which marks Bengali 
literature throughout its history, always survived. The 
political troubles of the 18th century and the social 
changes consequent thereupon naturally precluded any 
serene exercise of serious literature except perhaps in 
remote villages or in the comparatively secure and 
luxurious courts of noble patrons ; but the popular 
craving was satisfied, on the one hand, by yatras> 
parkchali, and other cognate forms of popular literature 
in which also there was always an exclusive preponderance 
of the song-element, and by the devotional songs like 
those of Ram-prasad and his followers, on the other. 
It was about this time that the Kabiwalas had come 
into prominence. The time was not for thought : it 
wanted song and amusement ; the Kabiwalas, who could 
give them, had soon become popular. 

But the days of royal or other forms of patronage 

had been fast vanishing. The poets 

The audience for fallen on evil days, had to depend 

whom it was com- 
posed more and more upon the favour or 

the capricious and half-educated 

public who now became their chief patrons. The ruin 

of old zemindars and princely houses, begun in the 

latter days of the Mohammedan rule and completed 


in the earlier days of British supremacy, had brought into 
existence, as we have seen, a class of up-start landlords 
and speculators who stepped into their places but who 
could not be expected to possess the same inherited tradi- 
tion of culture and refinement as marked the ancient aris- 
tocracy of the land. The commercial banians, Seths, and 
merchants, on the other hand, in the new flourishing 
cities, now growing into importance, constituted them- 
selves a class of patrons who demanded literature, not of 
a fine stuff but that which could afford them momentary 
excitement of pleasure in the intervals of engrossing 
business. The new public had neither the leisure, the 
capacity nor the willingness to study or appreciate any re- 
production of the finer shades aud graces of earlier poetry. 
This was the audience 1 for whom, in the main, the Kabi- 
walas sang their songs, and it is no wonder that the tone 
and temper of the literature they pro- 
reacted upon it and duced was debased through this un- 
contributed to its de- . 

basement. holy contact. lnis debasement was 

complete in the next generation when 
with the spread of western education and consequent re- 
volution in taste, these songs had been banished totally from 
' respectable ' society and descended to the lower classes 
who demanded a literature suited to their uneducated 

1 The suggestion (Dinesh Chandra Sen, History, p. 697) that the low 
caste of the songsters show that the institution was essentially for 
the amusement of the illiterate rustics who formed its chief audience, 
is hardly borne out by facts. This form of entertainment obtained 
specially in urban centres like Chandannagar, Chinsurah and Calcutta 
and most of the Kabiwalas were not rural rustics but men bred up 
in the cities. Ram Basu, Haru Thukur, Nitai BairagT and indeed the 
whole host of them lived in Calcutta or in the neighbouring cities. 
Kabi-poetry itself, if not completely urban, is however devoid of all 
stamps of rusticity. 


taste. This was the beginning of kheud ( C*&$ ) and 
Ilap-aJchdai ( ^t-^Tht^ ) in Kabi-literature. In the 
earlier days Kabi-songs had been composed and sung in 
great ceremonies and festivals and the subjects of these 
songs generally referred to religious themes ; in the latter 
days, even in the days of Nitai Bairagi, Isvar Gupta tells 

us, " ftftl BfcsRi wtoa <w ^rt wc*$\ c$&& t\\m ^ 

^5" ; and an illustrative anecdote is related, with 
reference to Nitai, which runs thus : i c)*[\s 4H44 C\ } 

*tt%i *i*ni ^re bri^ ^firefc?^, ^k ^^ ^j ^1 ^fes- 

sfottf sj^:i <sm ^1 c*ldHc*ric**t ^rfare tt^fei ft^ts 
^^ ^% ^n^t or* crefe wfa x ^ft *lrtftPi4 fft 
qflb c^i, art, owe, *tt^ *tf,' f^ft ^^i ^Hft 
CTtfct^^* c*i^s nftsi *W*fefa *n% A^ff ^% 

Not only in taste, but also in theme, style and diction, 
Kabi-songs degenerated. The later group of poems from 
this point of view affords an interest- 
Degeneration of later iug contrast to the works of the 
Kabi-poetry in theme, 

style and diction. earlier period. We shall have occa- 

sion to speak of this matter in de- 
tail but it may be noted here at the outset that a wide 
divergence in method, manner and inspiration exists 
between the earlier and the later groups of Kabi-poetry. 
The earlier Kabi-songs were not, as generally supposed, 
wholly unpremeditated and wanting in all sense of artistic 
arrangement or unity of structure ; on the contrary, they 
were all composed as we shall see with due deference, as 

1 Sambad Prabhahar, Agrahayan 1, 1261, p. 6. 


in the case of the sonnet, to definite rules of line-arrange- 
ment, general structure and rhyme-ending. In later 
times, with the introduction of lively hap-akhdai and 
khend } the more studied structure of earlier songs were 
replaced by a mode of utterance, off-hand but effective in 
its unexpectedness and vigorous vulgarity, defiant of 
all laws and lost to every sense of artistic composition. 
We hear of the existence of disputants or two opposing 
' parties ' who took up different aspects of a particular 
theme and replied to each other in songs, even from the 
very earliest time when this form of amusement had 
sprung into existence ; and it was probably these 
passados in the bout of poetical dialectics which had lent 
in the popular mind a piquancy and zest to these songs 
and had thus made them preferable perhaps to gal ran 
and painc/ialix which did not include such 'wit-combats' 
in their scope. But in the earlier period, a consultation 
used to be held between the parties and the themes and 
'replies' were made ready before they were sung. It was 
Ram Basu, a later Kabiwala, who first introduced the 
innovation of extempore and free verbal fight between the 
parties. 1 From his time, these 'lly tings' of the Kabi- 
walas had become, in the proper sense, unpremeditated ; 
and as such, they had come to possess all the qualities and 
defects of unpremeditated compositions. The unexpected 
turns of phrases, the clash of witticism, the pungent raci- 
ness of colloquial vulgarity were no doubt pleasing to the 
mob : but what is good rhetoric for the groundlings is 
bad for literature. We can never expect any literary 
finish or artistic grace in compositions which the necessity 
of quick and witty reply had brought into existence and 

1 PracKin Kabi-t>um<jruna, ed. C4op3l Chandra Mukhopudhyay, 
B.S. 1284, Introduction, p. ii. 


which were meant to be more racy and effective than any- 
thing else. Coarseness, scurrility and colloqualism, un- 
redeemed by any sense of artistic expression, began to 
increase in volume and ultimately Kabi-songs subsided 
into vulgar and abusive verbiage. 

It is not surprising, therefore, to find that to many a 

modern reader, Kabi-literature connotes little more than 

kevd and bad taste ; but it must not 

Better quality of be f or g otten that in its inception, it 
earlier Kabt -poetry. r \ 

drew its inspiration from a purer 

source. The sincere religiousness of the earlier Kabi- 

songs is unmistakable and inspite of later importation and 

popularity of subjects like Biraha or 
Its religions themes. " _, . ,_ 7 ,. . ,.,i 

SiA'/ii-samoad, religion still conti- 
nued to supply the essential ingredient. Although there 
are many things which at once mark them off from the 
Baisnab poets, the earlier Kabiwalas were in more than 
one sense, nearly allied to their great predecessors. When 
Baisnabism and its romantic literature had subsided lower 
and lower into a kind of decrepitude in the 18th century 
and a militant Sakta literature of a more or less classical 
type had grown up, the Kabiwalas, in however groping 
fashion, tried to keep up the older tradition and sang 
generally of Radha and Krsna. The classical form of art 
which had taken shape in the 18th century and culminated 
in the writings of Bharat Chandra was the result as well as 
the cause of the rapid decline of Baisnabism and its 

1 Sakhisambad was not secular in theme but in spirit. It included 
such things as Prabhatl or Bhor-g an (Awakening of Radha or Krsna in 
the morning or Radha's morning appearance as a hhandita), Ooslha, 
(in which figure Yosoda, the boy Krsna and his boy -companions), 
mathur (where Kubja and Brnda generally come in), besides Uddhaba- 
sambad. Prabhas etc. 


literature in that period ; and the 18th century literature is 
marked throughout by an entire absence of the literary 
influence of the lyric and romantic songs of Baisnab 
poets. The literary practice of the 18th century is a 
natural reaction and going back to conventional 
standards of verse-making, with a more or less decided 
leaning towards the ornate and the erudite. Rhetoric 
rather than truth, fancy rather than imagination, 
intellect rather than feeling this becomes the more 
mundane means of poetry, in which we miss the 
passionate idealism or the lyric mysticism of the Baisnabs. 
The Kabiwalas, no doubt, were carried away more or less 
by this general literary drift of the period ; but it was the 
Kabiwalas alone who had kept up the tradition of Baisnab 
poetry in this age of a militant literary tendency. That 
Kabi-literature, in some way or other, is connected 
with Baisnab literature and that the 
Alliance with the Kabiwalas, were, if not the lineal 

Baisnab poets, 

descendant, at least distantly related 
to the great Baisnab poets, is shown to some extent by 
the fact that the best part of earlier Kabi-songs relates to 
the eternal Baisnab theme the love of Radha and Krsna 
with all its attendant intricacies of man, wathur, biraha, 
gofitha, and other things. The Kabiwalas, it is true, have 
not o*ot much of the accumulated virtue of Baisnab 
verse and phrase as well as its deep note of passion and ful- 
ness of romantic colour; yet it is remarkable that they still 
make use of the imagery and the hackneyed generalities 
of Baisnab writings, and generally echo the sentiments 
and ideas which had become established in literary usage 
since the time of the Baisnab poets. It is not always safe 
to dogmatise, in the absence of evidence, on influences or 
on the question of literary filiation ; but these facts, 
among others, would tend to indicate the existence of an 


unmistakable relationship between the Baisnab writers and 
the Kabiwalas. It is true that the Kabiwalas never 
possessed the genius and devotional fervour of the old 
Baisnab poets, that none of the Kabi-songs reaches that 
standard of literary excellence which has made Baisnab 
poetry so resplendent, and that the Kabiwalas, in course 
of time, admitted more mundane subjects and themes and 
allowed themselves infinite looseness of speech and style : 
yet when we come across lines like the following sung by 
Nitai BairagI 

Htm lt% TfOT ffii ftftFT i 
^ tf^ ^ sf% ftte ii 
rc^ c^r iw **&&{ ^M, 
spfl ^firfiN 2^*1 ii 

we are at once reminded of many a line from the Baisnab 
poets, although it is quite probable that it is not a question 
of direct imitation or assimilation and that none of the 
Kabiwalas had any straight access to any of these older 
poets. The Kabiwalas were not a lettered class of studious 
poets : they probably never had any opportunity of direct- 
ly utilising the ancient wealth of the land ; yet whatever 
might have been the source through which the tendency 
had filtered down, they echo primarily in their songs the 
sentiment and taste of a bye-gone age, and through this 
inherited tendency and probably through indirect, if not 
direct, literary filiation, they trace their ultimate ancestry 
to the ancient Baisnab poets. 1 

1 The theory, put forward by Dineshchandra Sen (History, p. 697) 
that Kabi-songs originally constituted parts of old yatras, the simple 
operatic episodes of which were separately worked up into this special 
species, is hardly convincing ; for in the first place, there are no 
data to support this suggestion ; secondly, the two kinds had essentially 
different characteristics ; and thirdly, the one is not due to the break-up of 



It is not our purpose here te enter into details but any 

student of ancient Beugali literature is well aware that 

Baisnab poetry cannot be very strictly described as simple 

and unsophisticated ; for although it can to-day be enjoyed 

as pure poetry or as the expression of fervent religious 

longings in the language of human passion, it can never 

be regarded as the spontaneous pro- 
The spirit of Baisnab , ... , -, 

poetry and its psycho- duct of an uncritical and ingenuous 

logical and metaphysi- a ith. This religious-amatorv poetry 

cal formalism. " * * 

presupposed a psychology and a 
metaphysic which had been reduced to an elaborate system 
and which possessed a peculiar phraseology and a set of 
conceits of its own. The romantic commonplaces of 
Baisnab poetry, familiar to any reader not only through 
its poetry but also through elaborate rhetorical treatises like 
Ujjvala-NUamani or elaborate semi-metaphysical works 
like Sat-saudarb/ia or liar i-b/ia Mi-rasa mp 'as indhu, are in a 
sense factitious, professional and sectarian, if not doctrinaire 
or didactic. Many of the famous Baisnab poets, no doubt, 
got out of their conventional material the kind of effect 
which appeals to us most strongly and there is the sheer 
force of poetic inspiration in many of them which lifts their 
poetry into the highest level of artistic utterance, yet all 
the floods of their lyric and romantic idealism cannot 
altogether cover their psychological formalism, their 
rhetoric of ornament and conceits, their pedantry of 
metaphysical sentimentalism. The endless diversity of 
amorous condition grouped conveniently under muii, mal/mr, 

the other as both existed simultaneously throughout the course of their 
literary history. The other theory (Jaiuna-bhumi, vii., p. 58) that 
was originally a part of Panxchali is more or less open to similar objec- 
tions. The exact significance of the term Panichali itself is uncertain ; 
what character it possessed in earlier times is not definitely 


bimhri, purbarag, milan and the like, is treated no doubt 
with emotional directness but they subside into agreeable 
formulas and dogmatic shibboleths. Leaving aside indi- 
vidual independence of trait so marked in poets like 
Bidyapati, Chandidas or Jnanadas, when we come to the 
legion of lesser lights we find that, although these minor 
poets share more or less in the general poetic spirit 
pervading the age, there is yet a monotonous sameness of 
characteristics, inevitably suggesting a sense of artificiality. 
In spite of its romantic charm and lyric affluence, the 
themes aud subjects of this poetry lacked variety and 
exuberance of inventive thought. We meet over and over 
again with the same tricks of expression, the same strings 
of nouns and adjectives, the same set of situations, the same 
group of conceits and the same system of emotional 
analysis. In the greater poets, the sentiment is refined and 
the expression sufficiently varied ; in the lesser poets, they 
degenerate into rigid artistic conventionalities. When the 
Kabiwalas came to inherit the spiritual estate of their 
poetical ancestors, Baisnab poetry had 

imperfectly comma- b een re duced almost to a mechanic 
mcated to Kabi-poetry. 

art ; its conceptions had become 

stereotyped and its language conventional. But its faith, 

its religious enthusiasm, had by that time filtered down 

through all the crudities of its surroundings iuto a simple 

unquestioned and habitual form of religiosity. Its spiritual 

essence alone survived ; its commonplaces and conceits, its 

pedantry and formalism had lost much of their force and 

had become effete conventionalities. Although Kabi-poetry, 

in its theme and diction, is generally conventional and 

mechanically reproductive, yet it concerns itself chiefly 

with the essential significance of Baisnajb poetry, its 

devotional fervour, its emotional appeal and not directly 

with its metaphysical or psychological banalities. It is 


the habitual and unreflecting faith of the people, unaffected 

by any scholastic or sectarian pre- 

Kabi-poatry is not possessions, that supplied the chief 

cultured, factitious or * * r 

sectarian. ingredient of Kabi-poetry. In this 

sense, Kabi-literature is neither scho- 
lastic nor cultured, nor is it factitious and professional. 
None of the Kabiwalas was literate enough to enter into 
the intricacies of emotional or metaphysical subtlety nor 
had they any sectarian tradition behind to implant in them 
anything other than its simple spiritual significance which 
had percolated and spread down even to the masses. They 
had taken Baisnabism en mane and not in its details, in 
its essence and not in its accidents, though they tacitly 
accepted and mechanically repeated its conceits and its 
imagery, its time-honoured dogmas and doctrines. 

It would be unjust to institute a comparison between 
the Baisnab lyrics and the songs of the Kabiwalas ; but 
it must be noted that the latter in many cases debased 
and vulgarised, while they borrowed, the ideas and concep- 
tions of Baisnab poetry. One particular section of 
Baisnab poetry, remarkable for its passion and its poetic 
quality, which is generally grouped under the heading of 
Prema-baichitta (C2PPftf&^) is practically non-existent in 
Kabi-literature. Unable to enter into its subtlety, its 
romantic fervour and its mystic spiritualism, the Kabiwalas 
could not speak in the same rapturous accents nor with the 
same nobility of sentiment. It is true that both these 
species of literature were never intended originally to be 
literature at all ; they never consisted of deliberate literary 
creation by self-conscious artiste 
aS&,La# ^% io s enthusiasm, on the one 

creation of seif-con- hand, and popular amusement, on the 
scious artists. * 

other, supplied the motive of its 

making in each case ; and in so far as each species adhered 


to this original motive, each assumed its distinctive charac- 
ter. The peculiar conditions under which it was produced 
modified the form and tendency of the production of each 
kind. But while under the stress of a new-born religious 
fervour and its lyric and mystic idealism, the creations of 
Baisnab poets were lifted into the region of pure poetry, 
the more mundane object and secular interest of the 
Kabiwalas dragged them down to a dead level of uninspired 
commonplace. It is indeed very doubtful whether a great 
deal of Kabi-poetry can, with the utmost allowance, be 
regarded as strictly literary, so deeply had the peculiar 
condition of its making affected the character of its produc- 
tion. Kabi-poetry must be primarily 

form^V'^poiular re S arded as a form of popular amuse- 
amnsoment, ment, affording no doubt an interest- 

ing field of study to the student of 
social history but hardly to be considered by the historian 
of literature except in so far as it rises to the level of 

Although essentially a popular form of amusement, 

composed chiefly by popular poets and transmitted through 

oral tradition, yet it must be noted that Kabi-songs hardly 

bear any resemblance to what may be 

But it is not strictly str i et i y ca iied f olk-literature or popular 

folk-literature or popu- J . 

lar poetry. poetry. It would be a mistake to 

compare them, for instance, to the 
medieval European ballads either in form or spirit. TheKabi- 
literature no doubt possesses the same dramatic or mimetic 
qualities and choral peculiarities : but they lack the condi- 
tion of communal composition which is essential to balladry 
and the poetical content is not, as in balladry, narra- 
tive nor is it submitted to an epic process of transmission. 
It is not simple, anonymous and objective in the sense in 
which the ballads are but it bears all the marks of indivi- 


dual authorship and all the conventionalities of a literary 
tradition ; it has never shown, in its growth and develop- 
ment, any tendency towards the romance, the story or the 
chronicle so as to take it out of its original dramatic and 
choral structure. The songs of the illiterate Kabiwalas 
no doubt enter into a vital rapport with the people who 
compose the nation, the people who are far more puissant 
and important in national history than the so-called culti- 
vated minority. At the same time, if they constitute 
popular poetry at all, they represent only a very narrow 
type of that species : for the true function of popular 
poetry is the interpretation of the people to themselves and 
and the creation of a popular ideal, which function these 
songs discharge only partially ; while the forms and expres- 
sions of this literature are much less the property of the race 
than of the individual. These poets were no doubt bom 
among the people 1 , lived with the people and understood per- 
fectly their ways of thinking and feeling ; hence their direct 
hold upon the masses of whom many a modern writer is 
contentedly ignorant. But these poems, meant for popu- 
lar entertainment and bearing a close contact with the 
people, hardly ever speak of the people themselves and pos- 
sess little or no democratic sympathy or exaltation. They 
are thoroughly preoccup : ed with the 

It is the product of a CO nveutional themes of earlier nods, 
conventional literary 

tradition though their treatment may be a 

little popular, and they even express 

themselves in conventional diction and imagery. They 

1 Kabi-poetry counted its votary amongst the lowest classes. Except 
Haru Tlnlkur, Rilsu and Nrsimhn, Ram Basu and a few others, the 
Kubiwalas belonged to the lowest social grades of a mnclii (ydioeniaker), 
a mayara (sweetmeat -vendor), a chhutar (carpenter), a feringi (half-lu ed 
Eurasian), srarvalar (goldsmith), a taiitti (weaver), etc. In this catholi- 
city it resembles Baisnabism itself. 


have got a literary tradition behind them the banalities of 
which they cannot always transcend and overstep into true 
democratic poetry. 

But this literary tradition they had modified in their 

own way, particularly through circumstances and conditions 

under which they composed aud over 

representing a phase which they had no confcr ol and partly 
of decadence of the J x J 

earlier art. through an inherent lack of a thorough 

grasp upon the realities of old poetry. 
The themes which they handled had possessed, in the hands 
of older poets, qualities capable of evoking a great art ; 
but the less exalted treatment of the Kabiwalas could 
hardly work them up into new shapes of beauty with 
sufficient power and subtlety. It was their misfortune to 
represent an essentially decadent art. Every literature, 
to speak in metaphorical language which must not be 
strained, passes through the necessary stages of birth, 
growth, decline and death. In these metrical exercises of 
the Kabiwalas we see not the adult manhood of old litera- 
ture but its senile decrepitude. The poetry is reminiscent 
rather than spontaneous : it is reproductive and imitative 
rather than, in the true sense, creative. It is true that 
most of the songs which the Kabiwalas extemporised were 
unsought and unpremeditated : yet in their homage to old- 
world conventions in style> theme, and literary treatment, 
they belonged to a decaying dynasty the prestige of which, 
in spite of their belated efforts, had been fast vanishing. 

But even in their imitativeness, they could not always 
reproduce the fine shades and graces of old poetry, its 

weight, its elevation and its profun- 

Tts inability to repro- ,.., 

duce the finer shades dity. There are many things, no 

poetry!*^ 68 ** ***** doubt > in ?>Ms\ } *h padabalu which are 

not in any sense commendable but in 

their places and as a part of the whole they may pass 


off without much incongruity. But iu the songs of 
the Kabiwalas these things, severed from their true 
relations and from their natural surroundings of beauty, 
assumed an incongruous independence and a distorted 
shape, incompatible with artistic or spiritual excel- 
lence, especially as it is often dressed in weak phraseology 
and loose versification. The Baisnab 
The spirit of ancient poetry un f i<] s before our vision such 

poetry inadequately x 

represented. an extensive realm of beauty that its 

occasional deformities and blemishes 
are easily passed over, nor do they appear in their natural 
state artistically inconsistent. Apart from all questions 
of spiritual interpretation, the ideal of love depicted in 
Baisnab poetry may have, from a layman's stand-point, 
departed in places from the strictness of propriety or deco- 
rum, but if after a study of the poetry in its entirety, a 
man does not rise with an impression of its beauty and 
nobility, then the conclusion is obvious that either he has 
not read it properly or that he is impervious to all sense of 
its excellence. In the infinite varieties of amorous situa- 
tion, the description of Radha as a kliandila heroine or of 
Krsna as an arch-deceiver may have, leaving aside other 
explanations, an artistic justification of enhancing the 
beauty of this poetry by adding to it an element of playful 
toying (eft /t alana) or wayward vagary 

An instance drawn (tmfichana) or even a sterner element 
from Kabiwalas' con- ', . 

ception and treatment of distressing poignancy ; yet what- 

of Radha and Kr?na. ^ mfty bfi the interpretat . ioil> ft 

certainly does not dwarf our concep- 
tion of the finer spirit of Baisnab poetry. Ignoring the 
considerations of sensual presentation or spiritual explana- 
tion, the central and essential idea of Baisnab poetry, 
embodied in the conception of Radha's kalanka, has an 
emotional suggestion of its own, which adds an element 


of intensity and earnestness to the love of Radha as the 
type of a heroine who foregoes all for love. In the poetry 
of the Kabiwalas these elements severed from their natural 
context and regarded by themselves assume the somewhat 
repellent intensity of impertinent interest. Having real- 
ised full well that the depth and beauty of Baisnab poetry 
were beyond themselves or their audience, they had selected 
and isolated for representation only those portions of it 
which would appeal more directly by their effective 
but transient vulgarity. The Kabiwalas therefore give, 
consciously or unconsciously, more prominence to kalanka 
and chhalaiia over anything else of Baisnab love-poetry; 
and these elements in their incongruous context are 
often presented with such unadorned boldness and repulsive 
relief and with such ill-suited lightness of touch that 
they become in the end thoroughly inartistic. Kr/sna's 
wantonness is carried to a frivolously forbidding extent 
and Radha's sense of the affront, thus dealt out by the 
uufaithful lover, is marked by a singular lack of self- 
respect and sense of dignity. The process is the process 
of dethroning a god for the purpose of humanising a 

Radha and her companions are eternally complaining, 
with all the silliness of plaintive sentimentality, of the 
endless amours of the ever deceitful lover ; but after all, 
she takes them very lightly and no great persuasion is 
necessary to reconcile her in the end to her lover. She 
laments, she weeps ; but her laments are hollow and her 
tears are idle. The apologist may contend that all these 
are mere forms of divine sportiveness ( C*N> !T or ^tTl ) 
and that we must not judge them by secular standards. 
But we must guard against bringing in spiritual considera- 
tions in extenuation of artistic inadequacy, although we 
cannot, it is true, altogether steer ourselves clear of the 



question of spiritual interpretation. There is no doubt 
the dictum of the author of Ujjvala-Nllamani x that 
what is true of &rlkrsna is not true of the ordinary 
lover: but even Rupa Gosvami himself admits that 
Krsna is conceived as the ideal lover, luiluc/indamanl 2 
or rasika-'sekJiara. 2, It is not our purpose here to 
enter into any discussion of the inner significance of 
Baisnab poetry or its metaphysical conceptions ; what is 
intended here to be stated is that from the layman's 
standpoint of artistic criticism, the ab/timan of Radhil, 
as we often find it in the songs of the Kabiwalas, has 
got hardly any reality in it nor has the love of Krsna 
any deep-rooted strength of feeling which alone would have 
lifted it into the highest sphere of poetry. So long as 
the heroine realises that she possesses a strong hold upon 
her lover's love, the interruption of its smooth course 
through occasional sportiveness or incidental vagary adds 
a peculiar charm to the elements of <(h/iiiinui ; but when 
the offence is great and involves faithlessness and 
disgrace which strikes at the very root of the passion 
itself, the heroine dishonours herself when she takes it 
lightly or sits down to villifying, complaining or indulging 
in a sentimental process of elaborate abhimZm. Such things 
hardly possess any appeal artistic or otherwise, and 
as such should hardly find a place in nobler types of 

One or two illustrations will make out the point 
we are trying to indicate. Here is a song of Ram 

1 Ujjvala.NMamani, i. 18-21 (Nirnaya Sagar Ed., pp. 11-24). 

2 Ibid, loc. cit. 

* Krsnadfis Kabiraj's commentary of SrUrsvn K<rr>>amrl<i on 
81. 1, 3, 11 etc This epithet is common onongh in Baiynab works. 


Basil in which Radha is speaking as a khandita 
heroine. 1 

Tfr TOT ^Etfiptfa $#* *fR 

*ftt^ ^W "titi *trfa *rt*f*r ^ *rfa ii 
*trfa ^fa *fa ^re c^i, c^*rc "*tt^ <xf%, c^ ^ i 
^^ rfatE! ^fcre, cf*i ^t<r ^ ^9^5, 

qfa ^re ^*fl ^r, ^re *rc ^to, 
*raft <tw c*tl *rc* $fe sffl ffo n 

*tft3t sriift *rfa Ttw ii 
a ir* qR ^fc? ^^rf^iR 

<ti *w *it*n:^ ^ ^'srto i 
<rwre Uf#r *rft c*m c^H *R 

*rffl* fwnr ?ft fftfa ii 

1 Sarhbad Prabhakar, Asvin, 1261, p. 4 ; PracKin Kabi-samgraha, 
pp. 31-32 ; Quptt-ratnoddhar, pp. 104-106 ;, 
vol. ii, pp. 1001-1002* 


And then consider how the companions of Riidha, in a 
tone bantering but shamelessly humiliating to themselves, 
are entreating the shame-faced false lover now seated com- 
fortably in Mathura. 

^ ^*n ^m c^ti, ^ to ^ f^i Fft i 

C$W$ ^<Tft5fN *Rt W& <srtfa ^tW I 

(7R Ttra ^t^r *rt%r tf% ^*rt% 

5t^ S^J ^ ^t^t*fj, OT *[#* ^C^5 4t*TC ^ftS ^ II ' 
And here is a piece of undisguised raillery by KubjFi 
the new mistress. 

<ttWft *\w ^W **rr^ *Tfc*t Sftfaw II 

TOTS C^mt* ^fa C^fa <re%T *tt5 I 

^ft ^ra ^t* ft^ c*to^ ^1^5, 
c 3 ^ ^ srftre ^^^ e^Kfa ii 

*frft fa rfa fa| st* i 

*w ^rfttOT ^*(f%, ^ q$*tfa, 

ClW& TOflPI CTfa *W* II 

<tt^ fan* *trft, ^^ ^farftft i 

SIR ^5^ ^fa ^, far* $^ ^, 

osttl ^ crI ^ *rts *W Tt* II (St 5 ^) 2 

1 Prachtn Kabi-mmgraha, p. 35. 
Ibid. pp. 35-36. 


And lastly listen to the ingenious but hardly authentic 
justification of the false lover by himself. 1 

C^ <2ff^5l ^^5 *TtOT 33? *S5, 
^tft^s ^t^ ^ffi I 

<si ^ ^ ifa, sorfti ^st $fy 
^rtft ?rfai ^ ^fa^r ^ ^*m II 

It is needless to comment on the tone and spirit of these 
passages ; but the history of love revealed in their course 
will sufficiently indicate the extent to which the Kabi- 
walas debased the tenderness, passion and spirituality 
of earlier Baisnab poetry. 

This spiritual inadequacy of the songs of the 

Kabiwalas necessarily involved a lowering of the literary 

ideal. There is no doubt here and there, in Ram 

Basu or in Haru Thakur, a desire 

Lowering of the f nobler utterance ; yet generally 

literary ideal. J J 

speaking, the entire mentality of 

the Kabi-poets was never of a superior order. They 
are artists who still handle worn-out themes in old formal 
ways without the earlier grasp upon them, without 
fervour of conviction and without anything of percep- 
tive delicacy. Some of the Kabiwalas, no doubt, 

Ibid. pp. 


were men of high natural endowments but they moved 
less freely within a narrow and degenerated sphere of 
thoughts and ideas. The mental attitude of their 
audience and submission to its influence no doubt proved 
unwholesome to the growth of their poetry ; but they 
themselves were incapable of interpreting life in any 
large and original way and therefore limited themselves, 
wisely or unwisely, to ministering chiefly unto the 
curiously uncritical habits of the time which demanded 
nothing more than the transient excitement of cheap 
rhetoric and cheap ideas. In the period in which they 
flourished, men had been deprived of a free political 
and social life, a central capital, the peace and security 
of an ordered existence and other conditions adequate 
to the intellectual requirements of an expansive literature. 
The old style having fallen into decay, the literary 
ideal could never be very high nor were the opportunities 
abundant enough for unfolding whatever potentialities 
this poetry possessed. 

The Kabi-literature, therefore, among its crowd of 
agreeable poems, had produced very few master-pieces, 
very few works of superb genius destined to immortality. 
There is a carelessness, a want of balance, a defect of 
judgment iu the choice of materials 
Artistic inadequacy. and their management, a sloven- 
liness of execution throughout the 
work of this period. Care and grace of style can be 
expected in the literary craftsman who writes down his 
thoughts at leisure, for he can rewrite his sentences, 
reeast his phrases, remould stanzas, thus achieving the 
proper art of style ; but the Kabiwalas, who wtft 
hardly a lettered class of leisured writers, could never 
find abundance of time or patience to court the lugubrious 
muse. They made use of whatever poetic talents they 


possessed in contributing to the transient amusement of 
a hardly less illiterate public : and their forensic style, 
which can only be elevating when the inspiration itself 
is noble, naturally resulted in a dead level of the common- 
place or the conventional. 

To arrest the fugitive attention of the audience, 
the Kabiwalas make abundant use of the borrowed tricks 
of conventional rhetoric. It is certainly true that out 
of ten verses even whole stanzas may be found which 
do not lack power ; but, generally speaking, beauty 
and refinement yield place to a constant striving after 
effect, to an attempt at clever and spirited improvisation, 
wanting entirely in strength, art, or polish, though 

capable, through its effective forensic 
artifici a aii e ty. atl0n *** qualities, of awakening the easily 

excitable popular enthusiasm. They 
composed too fast to compose well j and their critical 
sense was not sufficiently strong to save them from all 
the faults of fatal fluency and fertility. Hence we find 
the fault of repetition, frequency of stock-phrases, 
monotony of identical form and idea, singular baldness 
of details, childish jingle of weakly, though effective, 
words, which are unavoidable in oral composition but 
which appear dull and flat in reading. The sentiment is too 
often trite and the ideas conventional, and the author, 
in his futile attempt to disguise his want of originality 
by frequent affectation and constant use of stilted 
devices, becomes thoroughly artificial and unconvincing. 
One of the tricks which is peculiarly favoured by the 
Kabiwalas for the purpose of impressing upon the 
T , , . ., , fickle sensibilities of an uncritical 

Its habit of punn- 
ing and use of ai- audience is the excessive use of 

alliteration and pun. When used 

with moderation and judgment, alliteration is no doubt 


one of the most useful ornaments of poetical expression 
and it has not yet lost all its charm in poetry ; but 
the Kabiwalas succumbed to the delusion of imagining 
that alliteration and punning are the chief ends of 
poetry. It is needless to cite instances, when instances 
are so abundant but the following passage 1 as well as 
the passage quoted at p. 323 will sufficiently indicate the 
excess to which this pernicious habit was carried. 

w$&$ sit ^*\ *ftt^ *pffl I 

Even sometimes in these strivings after alliterative 
appeal, the poet completely sets at defiance even ordinary 
rules of grammar and composition. 

41& s?ffa m <5tF5 ^^J ^HU\ ^fw I 

Leaving aside a few deservedly popular pieces which 

indicate a desire for untrammelled and spontaneous 

utterance, we find throughout the work 
Its abuse of the . . 

imagination and of ot the Kabiwalas an abuse oi the 

the intellect. imagination and of the intellect. It 

cannot be denied indeed that some of the Kabiwalas 

1 Saihbad Pro bhakor, Asvin 1261, p. 11 ; Gupf"-rah,nddhar cd. Kcdar- 
nSth Bandyopiidhyay, p. 151 j PrVigiti, p. 474. 

2 Quoted in Sadhana, 1302 B.S., pt. ii. p. 65. 


possessed undoubted poetic powers j but they often neglect- 
ed natural sentiment and made an exhibition of 
artfulness. The founts of earlier inspiration had been 
failing and poetry itself coming to be regarded as 
the means of displaying elaborate conceits, extra- 
vagant fancies, bold metaphors and excessive hyperboles. 
Many of these poets are martyrs to verbal nicety. Fancy 
is preferred to sense and exuberance of imagery to 
chastened style. That the education of the Kabiwalas 
lacked in scholastic strictness produced one good effect, 
no doubt, namely, that whenever they turned to familiar 
themes or depended upon their natural genius, their 
poetry was marked by a sincere homeliness and a swinging 
and dashing lyrism rare in the precise and meditative 
utterances of latter-day poets ; yet this very lack of 
training fostered in them a false and uncritical taste 
in the choice of poetical ornaments and a singular 
indifference to the value of artistic restraint. Their 

poetical style is often very diffuse and 
flated style 8 ' "^ **" Mated, if not trite or given to futile 

adorning of trivialities ; and it is very 
seldom that we meet with sustained flights of condensed, 
poignant and forcible utterance. There are very few 
songs which are impeccable in every line or studied in 
every phrase, not to speak of the obvious faults of 
rhyme, rhythm and metre. The extreme fluency and 
prolixity of the Kabiwalas stood effectually in the way 
of their attaining well-balanced artistic effect. The poet 
is very seldom able to sustain his inspiration from 
the beginning to the end of his composition. In the 
beautiful song of Nitai Bairagi already referred to * 

1 Sambad Prabhakar, Agrahayan 1, 1261, p. 7; Kedarnath Bandyo- 
padhyay, Oupta-ratnoddhara, p. 176 ; Kabioyaladiger Git, p. 61 ; 
Sangit-sar-samgraha, ii. 1047 ; Priti-giti, p. 828. 



if* iW ^tre ffi ftft^ i 

w% Cf* #f ^C*t1 ^crl 
3*rt ^ftfel atw ii 

^ <X&\ faw tTO II 

jfo cf)f% *rf*r aifr ctl f=nrfir 
or* c#r ^ citiiw i 

^cw c*R $ft CF5CT II 

^tlt fwrari itftoi %<rcs fe* 

*rftt*ri ^few *rcra ii 

srrc^l <<&$& twc^1 ^ ^ 

$c*ri itwl vol sfirc*i ^fctre 
srf?rrefs ^<h$s* ii 

the beginning and some of the concluding lines are fine but 
we are left with a sense of inadequacy with regard 
to the whole and individual parts of the song. There 
are queer ups and downs in artistic execution, and the 
poetical inspiration is not kept up uniformly throughout. 
Those who pin their poetical faith upon " patches," the 
great mass of Kabi-songs presents 

Its inequality. 

examples or certainly grew beamy 

but taken as a whole, the poetry is unequal in merit and 


side by side with higher flights, there are depths of bathos 
hardly to be paralleled. The common allurements of 
narrative interest, of varied subject or of striking idea are 
so rare in this poetry that it is necessary for the poet 
to screw his inspiration always to the sticking place so 
that he may not fail. But to reach the full white heat, 
the steady blaze of poetic emotion is not uniformly 
possible with these poets, and therefore it is not surprising 
to find a large amount of tolerable and even flat and 
insipid verse obtaining side by side with songs of intensely 
moving quality. Coming to the less inspired later 
Kabiwalas we find in them a bold use of colloquialism 
which is sometimes appealing, no doubt, through its 
veracity and raciness but which very frequently degene- 
rates into unlicensed slang or unredeemed verbiage. No 
one would seriously contend, for instance, that the following 
lines of Bhola Mayara, though racy and ingenious, 
contaius a single spark of poetry. 

3Tt5^ %5 *VS ^5 ^55 ^ ^ | 

* \ *v 

f*?t^ wi c*f*t 3$ c^rfm ^ ii 
c^rFrft Kpi czF$\ Ttra ctT^ ^s <tfa i 
fiw m^ q^i *m% WQi w *rffa II 

^t%ft mU wH &*! i~\*xa ^5 fjlw II 

But in spite of this artistic inadequacy of Kabi-poetry, 

it should never be relegated to the lumber-room of 

literary curiosity ; nor is this poetry 

Its lack of superior to be dismissed as a mere paraphrase 
qualities but its true ' . 

poetic spirit. ot the commonplaces or Baisnab 

poetry. It is true that the works 

of the Kabiwalas hardly exhibit any profundity, 

poignancy, or weight. It is not marked by supreme 


splendour of imagination or exuberance of inventive 
thought. These poets have none of the disturbing tyranny 
of violent passion or the ecstatic elevation of superior inspira- 
tion. But, after all is said, it cannot but be admitted that 
some of the despised Kabiwalas are poets and not poetical 
curiosities, and that if Kabi-poetry does not always attain 
a high level of poetical excellence, the level it occasionally 
reaches is striking enough as a symptom of the presence 
of the true poetical spirit which it is often impossible to 
detect for years together in other periods of literary history. 
Even in the emphatically minor Kabiwalas often persons 
quite unknown or unimportant in literature as persons we 
come across charming things, lines and phrases and stanzas 
of exquisite beauty, indicating a general diffusion of the 
poetic spirit which had made even such inferior songsters 
beautifully articulate. 

One important and characteristic feature of Kabi- 
poetry consists in the fact that 
The characteristic ,,, , ., . , 

quality of Kabi-poetry. although it was in no sense popular 

poetry dealing, as it did, with con- 
ventional themes in conventional form yet it expressed, 
through its poets who were of the people, what the 

people had of the noblest and 

Its expression of 

popular feelings and sincerest as well as of the grossest ; 
and in virtue of this it could be 
appreciated by the people at large. It may be true that 
popular appreciation is not the sure touchstone of 
poetic quality ; yet we would lapse into the error of 
academical dogmatism if we do not take into account the 
hold which this poetry possessed upon the popular mind as 
one of the important factors in our consideration. It is 
salutary as well as significant that no abrupt line divided the 
poets from the huge uncultivated populations, often con- 
temptuously set down as "the masses." Even while 


dealing with the conventional Baisnab themes, Kabi- 
poetry is marked by the sincere and unaffected religious- 
ness of the popular mind, if not 

giou8nesl nCere reH " a W S ^ the tme S P iHt f Baif ^ ab 
literature. In art, in ideas, in poetical 

inspiration, the Kabiwalas may not be regarded as the 
true inheritors of ancestral genius yet in honest religious 
feeling, in sound and simple faith, they do not compare 
unfavourably with their great predecessors. But it is 
not here that we find the genius of Kabi-poetry finding 
its fullest scope. The conditions under which it might 
have become a legitimate development of Baisnab-poetry 
had been non-existent and, fortunately or unfortunately, 
Kabi-poetry had come under conditions and influences totally 
different. The excellence of Kabi-poetry rests, therefore, 
not so much upon its rehandling of older themes but 
upon its presentation of less pretentious but more homely 
and natural themes which, if these poets were not the 
first to treat, they were at least the first to work up with 
considerable effectiveness. Ram Basu's treatment of the 
themes of biralia and agamani is widely known and 
deserves its reputation ; but in these, among other themes, 
not Ram Basu alone but most of the Kabiwalas excelled 
and found a congenial scope for the display of their 
natural poetical genius. It is not, however, in the themes 
themselves so much as in the treatment that the charac- 
teristic feature of Kabi-poetry is seen at its best. We 
shall have to come back to this point later on ; but it may 
be noted here that these songs, in 
Naturalness and their sincere force of natural passion 

sincerity of its biraha . 

songs. and aftection and in their simple 

observation of common things, form 

a class by themselves, the value of which can never 

be over-estimated, although most of them have been so 


hackneyed to us iu various ways or have been so queerly 
dressed in a diction, long out of fashion, that even respect- 
able critics have been led to treat them with unfeigned 
contempt proverbially associated with familiar things. 
In these biraha songs, however, the note of simplicity and 
sincerity is unmistakable. There is no thinking about 
thinking or feeling about feeling, but honest human 
passion is expressed with a clear vision and with exquisite 
directness of speech. These poets sang no longer of the 
loves of Radha and Krsna or find in them a suitable 
frame-work for voicing their individual or universal humau 
sentiment. They sing of natural human beings, often of 
themselves, and of the naturalistic human passion ; and 
their expression of the triumph and despair of love, if 
somewhat crude and even gross, is not sicklied over with 
reflectiveness as in most modern poets. In the ayiumuil 
songs, again, the domestic atmosphere of a Bengali home 

with its simple ioys and sorrows, 
Tenderness and . . 

human interest in which find expression in the picture 

agamanl songs. q Menak& the mother and Uma the 

daughter, creates a peculiar charm of sweet and tender 
homeliness which is rare in modern poetry. These few 

1 This trait also expresses itself in the gtqtha of Sakhlsafnbad 
where Yasoda is generally speaking to the boy Krsna. It cannot be 
determined how far in their bhabarii-biqayak songs, the Kabiwalas 
influenced or were influenced by the writers of devotional ditties 
who flourished by their side. There is, however, considerable similarity 
of trait between the malsi of Ram-prasud and his followers and 
the agamarii of the Kabiwalas, who were undoubtedly influenced 
by the special agamam or bijaya songs of Ram-prasSd or Kamlakanta. 
Similarly there is some general resemblance between the biraha 
songs of the Kabiwalas and the love-lyrics of the (appa-writera. 
There must have been some amount of mutual influence and it is 
quite possible that both these represent phases of a certain humanising 
tendency of the literature of the age in which they flourished. 


wood-notes may lack refinement and polish but they are 
exceedingly tender, simple and human. And it is by force 
of its tenderness, its simplicity, and human interest, 
wherever these qualities may be found, that Kabi-poetry 
is so appealing. In their form, again, these songs possess 
not much of stylistic grace and their bold use of collo- 
quialism is often bare and unadorned ; yet the veracity 
of the vernacular and the raciness of the spoken idiom 
impart to these songs a charm of their own, easy, direct 
and simple yet plastic and artful in their very want of 

It will be amply clear from this that Kabi-poetry 

cannot be regarded merely as a belated product of the 

Baisnab school, although in a distant way it attempted 

to carry on the older tradition. 

iiteiary P v r a Tu a e nent lt P ossess es characteristic trait of 

its own which marks it off as a 
distinct, though not independent, type of national utterance. 
If it is not music yearning like a god in pain, it is charac- 
terised by full-throated ease and robust healthy mentality 
at least in certain spheres. Higher flights of poetry were 
unsuited to its hard and narrow environment ; the rambling 
life of its votaries stored their minds with little learning 
or culture ; they indulged in metrical exercises partly as 
the means of earning livelihood under the not-too-liberal 
patronage of the isolated aristocracy of the priests and 
the princes, of the plain democracy of poor peasants 
in the remote villages, of the respectable middle class of 
thrifty merchants and banians in the crowded cities. 
Though the roar of the cannon at Plassey or Udaynala was 
but heard faintly by them and they were quite oblivious 
of the world around them, living and moving in an 
isolated social world or a conventional poetic world of their 
own : vet the latter half of 18th centurv with its 


confused energy, diffused culture and political, social and 
mental chaos did not demand nor could inspire a litera- 
ture of great value. There was hardly any leisure for 
serious writing ; what was wanted was trifles capable of 
affording excitement, pleasure and song. This poetry, there- 
fore, was never meant for a critical audience, and critical 
sense or practised art the Kabiwalas hardly possessed any. 
They lacked ideas and ideal utterance and were constantly 
hampered by the incubus of a conventional literary tradition ; 
there is a good deal of sad stuff in their verse-impromptu ; 
all this and more is admitted. But inspite of these draw- 
backs and difficulties, Kabi-poetry, in its best aspect, is 
an entirely homespun production, kindly, genial and in- 
dulgent, capable of awakening and keeping popular en- 
thusiasm and possessing simplicity and liquidity of utterance 
which draws its bone and thew and sinew from the lan- 
guage and ideas of the people themselves who begat 
them and with whose central life-force they have an 
unconscious and spontaneous rapport. If it is not popular 
poetry in the true sense of the term, being mainly 
derivative and reproductive, its contact with the people, 
while debasing its nature in certain respects, gave it 
at the same time a robust and healthy character and 
a sincere homeliness unaffected by literary prepossessions. 
Kabi-poetry, therefore, is of a complex character and 
defies all systematic analysis or rigid labelling as a recog- 
nised species to be put into a definite pigeon-hole marked 
out by the literary critic. Its merit is simplicity and its 
importance lies in the fact that although the Kabiwalas 
were incapable of producing the highest type of poetry or 
painting life broadly or powerfully, they served litera- 
ture in their simple and homely way by furnishing a 
stimulus to the emotional life of the country. They suc- 
ceeded very often in piercing through the gauds and 


trimmings of an effete literary tradition and coming 
direct to the passion and emotion which throb and pulsate 
in the individual. The ground on which they tread is as 

plain and simple as that which the 

Its common univer- i -i , -. .,. .. 

sal appeal. peasant daily treads upon with his 

uncouth feet : yet it is from this 
common and universal soil that they draw their bracing 
and genial character. The Kabiwalas may not be the 
affluent inheritors of the spiritual estate of their ancestors 
but the apparently trifling things of art which had come 
down to them as their heir-looms served amply for their 
unmistakable insignia of rank and status. With thousand 
and one faults to its credit, the interest arising from the 
study of Kabi-poetry is not, except to the charlatan or the 
obtuse, the undesirable interest which springs from the 
contemplation of superlative crudity ; and although univer- 
sal popular appreciation, as we have already stated, is not 
the true test of poetic merit, such popular valuation is not 
to be wholly rejected as a false index by the pedantry of 
cultured criticism. 

Again, it must be borne in mind that most of these 
compositions were songs and not lyric poems and must 
be judged as such. It is' not possible nor desirable to 
estimate the value of songs by the standard by which we 
consider poetical compositions. We must appreciate 
a song through the ear and not feel it with the eye 
alone. It is not possible to convey 
Its quality as songs an idea of its melody through an 

and not merely lyric . . . . . 

poems. appreciative essay ; it must be actually 

heard before its charm can be fully 
realised. This remark applies equally to the case of Baisnab 
Padabalis. Those who have listened to Baisnab songs 
as well as to the songs of the Kabiwalas, sung by an expert 
and tasteful singer, may appreciate their charm iugness in 



a greater degree. When seen in print these delightfully 
melodious things lose much of their appeal. It may be 
urged that this element should be rigidly ruled out of 
court in a strictly literary estimate ; but it must not be 
forgotten that the fame of most of these Kabiwalas reet 
more upon their musical than upon their literary capacity , 
for some of them were trained musicians, not ill at verbal 
numbers but possessing considerable knack of composing 
what are rather disrespectfully called rt words, " and that the 
song-element preponderates in the various forms of ancient 
literature from Baisnab poetry down to tappa, i/alra, 
pamchali and therefore cannot be totally ignored 
in any estimate of old Bengali literature or its offshoot. 

This brings us naturally to the cpiestion of the prosxxlic 
range of Kabi-poetry and the arrauge- 

Its system of versi- ment fa num b ers its metrical 
ti cation. ' 

system being closely connected with 

the conditions of its musical expression. At first sight 
the verse-system of the Kabiwalas seem to follow no defi- 
nite lule of arrangement; and this has been more than once 
severely denounced by puzzled critics. 1 The lines vary 
in length, are very apparently irregular in rhythm, imper- 
fect in structure and uncertain in accentual or literal or 
syllabic arrangements ; but a careful study will show that 
there is some sort of harmony in the midst of this apparent 
discord. It is, no doubt, true that in some of the Kabiwalaa 
there is a hopeless indifference to prosodic regulations j 
that with regard to the number of words, syllables or 
accents required in each line, there is no hard and East 
rule; and that as such it is impossible to analyse the 

1 See for instance the remarks of RabindranSth Thakur in Sadhana 
(1302 B. S. ), pt. ii, p. 65, reprinted in his Lok-Sahitya under the 
heading ? Kabi-Sangit ' at p. 44. 


versification wholly by recognised systems of prosody ; yet 
the verse o the Kabiwalas in spite of their frequent prosodic 
vagaries is self -regulated, following, as it does, a law of its 
own which varies naturally according to the irresistible 
ideal or emotional or melodious suggestion. The composi- 
tions must be primarily regarded as songs : and in songs, 
variation of long and short lines is immaterial and the rigid 
. rules of metrical arrangement incapable of uniform appli- 
cation. They can be better sung than read. The words 
and lines are arranged as they naturally sing and fall into 
apparently inevitable song-rhythm. But the whole effect 
is not inharmonious ; the music is clear and the movement 
of the rhymed verses of varying length is easy and 
natural. The spirit of this verse-system is that of unbound- 
ed lawlessness bound only by a law of its own ; that of 
resistance to the established ideal of 
Its opposition to the stereo-tvped verses like payar or 

established system of " 1 

stereotyped versifica- tripadi which possess a more or less 

tion and its infinite , , T 

variety and versatility, hxed system ot letters or pauses. In 
this, again, Kabi-poets are following 
in the footsteps of their Baisnab predecessors, though with 
a great deal more of unhampered freedom. Whatever may 
be the defects, the system gives us, however, variety of 
arrangement, versatility of combination, and infinite 
suovrestion of new verse-forms. 

But in general structure of the songs, the Kabiwalas 
followed a more or less definite system of rhyme-arrange- 
ment. The exact signification of much of their musical 
technicalities is lost to us but for our 

The general struc- . . , i i 

tnre and rhyme- purpose it is not indeed necessary to 

arrangement of Kabi- enter ^ defcai ] s It WQU y be enough 

to state that the whole musical gamut 
of each song is arranged in ascending and descending ordei 
into several divisions, bound to each other by a peculiar 


system of rhyme- ending. These divisions, in their suc- 
cession, in eacli complete song, are : chitan, par-chitau, 
phuka, melta, mahada (moyari, not present, however, in all 
songs), Jehad, and then second phuka and second melta, and 
lastly aniara. If the word-composition is continued, 
then, chitan, etc., come again in their successive order. Now 
as to the system of rhyme-ending, the chitan and par-chi tan 
rhyme together. The phuka, has a different rhyme-ending ; 
so also melta which however rhymes in its turn with mahada 
and khad. The BbCOtidjtkukS has an independent rhyme 
but the second melta rhymes again witli mahada, while 
antara closes with a different rhyme-ending altogether. 
The number of lines which each of these musical divisions 
contains is immaterial but it is essential that the lines should 
follow the rhyme-arrangement indicated above ; and tin's 
gives, as in stanzaic poems or sonnets, a compactness of 
arrangement. Taking each division to contain one line 
we may indicate the rhyme-arrangement in a normal scheme 
in this way (five rhymes in all abede) 


Chi tail 












A' had 


Second Phuka 


Second Mahada 



1 The earlier Kabi-songs are, however, simple in structure, huving 
generally mahada, chitun and antara only. There is some difference of 
opinion on this point and different accounts are given. According to a 
writer in Bandhab, Pom, 1282, p. 265, the four divisions of Kabi-songs 
are chitan, mulch (or mihnda), khad, antara : or, in some cases, chitun, 
dhuyn % antara % jhumair. 


Here is an illustration from one of the famous songs 
of Ram Basu arranged in the order indicated 1 

*rtit* cm\ *rrs $Mtar i 

witft 1 *i ^1 ^ ^, ^ ** ctwy 

5. f*i 1 ^t^ *rc<r ^5t*t ^ ft n ft 11, iwi, 

^n 11 ^w* f% <nft rfai 1 

^<ri 1 11 ^1 fs ^iW ^nr 11 ^"fa tjc^ ^hrft srrw i 
fk-w ^l c^fro icK wi *tft ^f^cs wl c^ fcfta i 

Of Kabi-poetry before 1760, not much is known. Only 
a few names stand out of the general obscurity - f but 
with regard to these names hardly any detail is known. 
The earliest, if not the most illustrious, Kabiwala of 
whom we have any record is one Gomjla Gumi. In the 
issue of the Sarhbad Prahhakar 2 already referred to, Isvar 

Wo n M . .. Gupta tells us that Gomila, flourished 

Gomjla Gunn the l * 

earliest known Kabi- "about 140 or 150 years" before his 
own time and this would place the 

1 Prachln Kabi-samgraha, pp. 4-5 ; Sarhbad Prahhakar, Kartik 1261, p.4. 

2 Sambad Prahhakar, Agrahayan 1, 1261. I do not know on what 
evidence Nanda and Raghu have been placed by Dinesh Chandra Son 
(Bang a Bhasa O Sahitya, 2nd Ed p. 607) in the 11th century. 


poet as early as the beginning of the 18th century. Of 
this Kabiwala however, we know nothing except that lie 
formed a party of professional songsters {kabir rial) who 
used to sing in " the house of the rich " and that he had 
three disciples who in later times became famous Kabi- 
walas ; but we have no evidence to ascertain whether 
he was the originator of this form of singing or (which 
is more probable) whether he had his predecessors in 
the line from whom he inherited his art. Of his com- 
position, only one or two fragments have been rescued from 
oblivion by the indefatigable editor of the Prahkakar, 1 
from which we quote this curious literary specimen 

centre srfatre 4^ ^5f, 

^ft ^fats t* s^r ift ii 
^tft c^ sttt ^fa c*rl st*l, 
^c^r ma crc ch <q\*\ft{ ii 

It will be noticed that both in theme and style these 
songs, if they are genuine, are more of the nature of the 
lappa ; and we are told that in those days, such songs 
used to be sung, after the fashion of tappas, beginning wit h 

1 Also quoted in PrachlnKabi-8afngraha t p. 127-8 j Gupta-ratnoddhar, 
p. 205. The last four lines are omitted in Bahga Sahitya Parichay, 
vol. ii, p. 1 r>f)l. 

Also a little fragment 

ti rata csta 5W1 t c * c ^ c ^ ' 
fw-^wi 3^wl %5t*il. q^fani 1R11 er*t* i 


the ma/iada and then proceeding to the chilaii and antara 
while in later times singing used to begin, as already indi- 
cated, with the chitan. From these little fragments, how- 
ever, nothing definite can be inferred with regard to the 
nature and history of Kabi-poetry of this period. 

The three disciples of Gomjla alluded to above were 
Lalu Nandalal, Raghunath Das and Ramjl Das. Their 
dates are unknown but they must have been living con- 
siderably later than the middle of the 

Three disciples of is t h ce nturv : for Haru Thakur (born 
Gomjla - * v 

about 1738) was a disciple of Raghu 
while Nityananda-das Bairagi (born about 1747) acknow- 
ledged Lalu Nandalal, if not Ramjl also, as his master. 1 
Raghu had two other great disciples, who in later times 
earned much poetic fame, in Rasu and Nrsimha. Ramjl, on 
the other hand, found a worthy disciple in BhabanI Banik 2 
who in his turn was the early patron and instructor of Ram 
Basu 3 considerably junior to most of these Kabiwalas. 
These are the names of the earlier group of Kabiwalas. 

. , . It will be noticed however that there 

and the poetical inter- 
relation between the is a sort of inter-relation between the 

earlier Kabiwalas. . T r , . , i n j? xi 

earlier Kabiwalas and all or them 

1 Savibad Prabhakar, Agrahayan 1261, p. 5 ; but one of the songs 
attributed to Nitai by Isvar Gupta as well as by later collectors 
(Kabioalddiger Git, p. 116 ; Gupta-ratnoddhar, p. 184) bears the 
bhanita of Ramji Das, which fact would probably indicate, if the 
attribution to Nitai is correct, that Ramjl and not Lalu Nandalal was 
Nitai's Guru,. Isvar Gupta speaks of Lalu Nandalal as having flour- 
ished roughly eighty years before his own time. This rough reckoning 
would put Nandalal in the latter part of the 18th century. 11th century, 
however (p. 341, foot note 2), is too absurd a date for Nanda or Raghu. 
Opinion on this point vary, but Isvar Gupta's seems to be more reliable 
than later unauthenticated conjectures. And what is given above is 
all that can be gathered from such reliable sources. 

2 Sanibdd Prabhakar loc. cit. 

3 Ibid, Asvin, 1261, p. 2. 



derived their poetical origin from Gouijla Gumi. The 
poetical relationship may be thus indicated : 

Gomjla Gumi 



Raghunath Das 

Lain Nandalal 

Nitai BairagT 



1 1 
RSsu and Haru 
Nrsiraha Thakur 

BhabanT Banik 

1 ' 
R5m Basil 

1 1 
NIlu and Bhola 
am-prasad Mayara 

During the time of Gouijla Gumi and his three discipl- 
es, we have no record of the existence of 'rival parties 1 
or of any 'poetical combats' which obtained so much in 
later times and which was indeed an essential characteristic 
of this form of entertainment. It was in the next genera- 
tion that we hear for the first time of rivalries and opposi- 
tions between Nitai Das and Bhabani, between Haru 
Thakur and Krsna Chandra Charmakar (Kesta Mucin), 
between young Ram Basu and Haru Thakur who must 
have been an old man at this time, as Ram Basil's ' reply ' 
at one of these fights seem to imply. 1 

Of Lain Nandalal's composition 
Isvar Gupta has given only one 
specimen which deserves to be quoted.' 

ft*f*R C^ffi #tftF5 II 

Lalu Nandalal. 

1 It runs thus : frt$* tt&W Tl *1a fTO* ffa I 
8 ShM&d Prahh&kar t lac. cit. 


cfcq ^ c^tCTrt ^tetfir ffatcil ^ itf*fcri <5tfare ii 
^=rrttcti iPfl dto fro *nftfl apW* it* 

Of Raghu-nath no trustworthy account remains. Some 

say that he was a sat-sudra while 

others think that he was a blacksmith 

by caste. 1 According to a third view he was a weaver. 2 

Salkia and Guptipada, in turns, have been noted as the place 

where he lived. Of his composition it is difficult to say 

anything definite ; for although two or three fragments 

have come down to us, containing his own bhanita or 

signature, it is not perfectly clear that these songs 

were really of his own composition. The tradition is 

current that Ham, during his early 
His relation to Haru *i u i t> i 

Thakur. years ot pupiJship under Raghu, 

used to get his productions corrected 

by his master and that, out of gratitude, he used to attach 

to them his master's bhanita.* There is nothing to 

discredit this tradition which relates to a phenomenon not 

rare or improbable in our literary history. The number of 

these songs, however, is limited* and all of them, rightly 

or wrongly, have been attributed to Haru Thakur. It 

may be quite possible, however, that some of these songs 

were the genuine works of Raghu. But the disciple's 

1 Baiigabhasar Lekhak, p. 380. 

2 Nabyabharat, B.S. 1131, p. 600. 

3 Ibid, pp. 600-601 ; Kabioyaladiger GU (1862), p. 66 ; Sariibad Prabha. 
kar, loc. cit. 

* Besides the one quoted here, two such songs are given in 
Kabioyaladiger Git, at pp. 73-75 and at pp. 91-93 in the collection of Haru 
Thakur's songs. These are also similarly given as Haru's in Sambad 
Prabhakar, Pous, 1261. 



gratitude seems to have god its own reward and to-da\ 
Hani Thakur is supposed to he the author of all songs 
bearing Raghu's signature. The tradition alluded to, 
however, does not disallow the supposition that the revision 
of the master might have given an entirely new shape t< 
the novice's composition, and as such, therefore, it is only in 
the fitness of things that the songs should go in the name 
of the master. It would be difficult to dogmatise in the 
absence of evidence ; but these songs betray an elaborate 
(structure and exuberance of" fancy which some may conned 
with the early work of an ambitious youngster hut which, 
on the other hand, may be supposed to bear indications of 
the master-hand. There are three songs extant of this 
description, of which one is, rightly or wrongly, attributed 
to Raghu in Haiigabha^ar Lekkak and in PrltiglU with- 
out any mention of Haru. The song is this 
fa< fa< sgft #t^R d\^\ | 

ijara 03CTS W *c* cfc arc, (7\ 5ft* ^ ^fr *U c^rt W II 

CTWTO5 =Tl ^ft*1 Ttft STCt* *fa, C^T C^TC ^Sffa <\m $l*\ STM 

c*w c^t ^ cm ^*rc ^t?* i 
raw ^iot ^ ct *rfc<r OTt* c^ rc $t*ti fe* *tft Ffa, 

to *\z* *rft*i ^tt^ ^to its* i 
?ft* <tfa ^t*TC *fc ^t^T 4 c^fa *t*, w? osct* ^ 

Ttan ^<t w t^ i 

Cf^ ^W C*t*ft* *! ^Tf^ f, 4 SF5 3^t ^^ ct *ttfa 

to eft* **1 fa*l cH %it^ ii 


t\ *\z*\ c^m fam ^m ?*& i 

Of the last disciple of Gonijla, Ramji Das, nothing 
Ramji Das. absolutely is known except that 

Bhabani Bauik (as well as Nitai Das) 
was his disciple ; and no work of his has survived. Onlv 
one song, however, which is often attributed to Nitai, 1 bears 
the bkanita of Ramji Das. It is in no way very remarkable 
except for its ingenuity and fancifulness. 

We hear also Ke T ta Mucin* who remained outside this 

group but who belonged to this generation, as a very 

popular songster much sought after 

Kesta Muchi (Krsna ^respected, although obviously he 

Chandra Charmakar). 1 > J 

was a shoemaker by caste. Even 
later on Ham Thakur, himself a Brahman . did not disdain 
to cross swords with him ; but we are told that Haru 
Thakur, at that time a young man probably, had the worse 
luck of the duel. It is a pity we do not know much of 
this mysterious figure. Inspite of all his efforts Isvar 
Gupta could not get hold of more than one incomplete 
fragment of this old ostad , itself not a very good specimen 2 

Stoii <mtre *fe*i wi i 

1 Vide ante p. 343, foot note 1. It begins with 

ifim itfa ^ wtcra 4 %*t ii 

The song, too long for quotation will be found in Gwpta-ratnoddhar, 
p. 184; KabioyTiladiger Git, p. 116. 

1 SdTiibad Prabhakar, Agrahiiyan, loc. cit. 


Tf^Ti *rft|OT, t$CTt ^f*OT, C*tt*f Clt^OT, 

These earlier metrical essays of the Kabiwalas, to judge 
from the few extant f ragments, are thus not so crude as to 
be comtemptuously set aside ; but they are at the same time 
not so creditable in view of the fact that simultaneously, in 
another sphere, Bharat Chandra was charming his royal 
patron with his art and his music, Durgaprasad was paint- 
ing his picturesque description of the descent of the sacred 
river, RamesVara was narrating his exceedingly human and 
homely account of Siba Gauri, and Ram-prasad was pouring 
out his soul in devotional ecstasy. 

In the effusions of the next generation we find better 
quality and a greater elaboration of Kabi-poetry. Simulta- 
neously with a certain advance in the 

Kabi-song of the ar ti s tJ c direction, both in form and 
next generation (about 
or after 1760 to 1830). substance, we hear of systematic 

organisation of "parties" (kabir dal) 
and "poetical combats" (kahi-yu&dha or kabir-ladai) which 
no doubt thrilled many a heart in days of yore but with 
which the literary historian has no practical concern except 
in so far as this circumstance affected the making of these 
songs and their poetical quality. Into the details of these 
poetical ' flytings,' comparatively uninspiring to a modern 
reader, it is not necessary for our purpose to enter. We 
need not narrate at length how Bhaban! Banik, until re- 
inforced by Ram Basu, must have found a tough opponent 

in Nitai BairagT 1 ; how unlucky Haru 

Organisation of Thakur, an old veteran and winner of 
"parties" and poetical 
combats. hundred "fights" as he was, had the 

humiliation of being worsted not only 

Sarhbad Prabhahtr, Agrahftyan, 1261, p. 6. 


Kesta Muehi but also by a youngling like Ram Basu ! ; or 

how Antony was attacked by Thakur Simha but paid him 

back in his own coin. 2 But this necessity of poetical 

rivalry, in which quick and witty retort played a great part, 

and this contamination of popular applause which readily 

followed such cheap display of ingenuity went a long way 

in debasing the quality of Kabi-poetry until these poetical 

extemporisations degenerated into something even worse 

than the wayside verses that are hawked about and sold for 

a penny. The later Kabiwalas fell into the vital error of 

imagining that the sole end of poetical existence consisted 

in abusing and throwing mud at each other. Over the dull 

obscenities into which they entered it is better for the critic 

to keep silence ; but we may here recall, for illustration, one 

or two instances of these retorts, although they do not 

always display either sobriety or good taste. At a certain 

sitting at the Sobhabazar Palace the parties of Ram Basu, 

then an old veteran, and of Nilu 

An instance of a Thakur (a disciple of Ram Basil's old 
witty retort quoted. \ L 

rival Ham Thakur) met. Nilu was 

dead but Ram-prasad Thakur was then the leader of the 

party. Ram-prasad began the attack 

4*r m tot $jm^ st* crfa <rlwl*ftss * * 11 

But immediately Ram Basu retorted 

cw stre<r *fa% <t*l *Jft^ ^tt^t^ ^fe fr? II 

1 Nabyabbarat, 1311, pp. 477-79. 

2 Ram-gati Nyayaratna, BangabhaSa Sahitya bisayak Prastab, 
3rd Ed. (1317), p. 196, footnote, quoted in BangabhaSa O Sahitya at 
pp. 598-9. For notice of a fight between Antony and Bhola, see 
Bharati, 1303 p. 59 et seq. 


cw sT^fe*ftffa fW ^ssl lire 4*sr, 

^s^ft s^, ^*raft Ffc^T u^ct ft^W 4 F5 ^t^^T^ *ftt*l 

CTO ClC^t* ^tCI C*ft*t* W^ TOT ^C3 #t^, 

$ft*t* ^U$U5 ^p5, C^t^W Cffl& 35W *if<5ni ^FEiR ^1^ II 

C^ft Slfflf , ^C*fa^1 ^5t*f, ^OT St^ltf, TO W-2TCT*T 

cw ^^ ^ 3F5 c*ftc^ rl or tt*i *rc^rfa *rt^fa ii 

It is useless to multiply instances ! and most of them do 
not bear ([notation ; but the instance quoted, itself moderate 
enough in tone, will "furnish a hint as to the excess to 
which the Kabi-fightings were carried. Once asked 
ironically by Tliakur Simha 

n*\ c$ **\*$ ft *rffa 4^$ ^*fl ft^ 5tf , 
4U\ 4 <xv\ 4 tfi*\ osfat* *rtai c^t ^f ^ II 

Antony retorted in abusive language 

^3 fct^t* fatt** *tt*f* *rW^ $ft fa C^sfe II 
While tearing his adversary to pieces, the Kabiwala 
incidentally tore to pieces all form, style or decern- v. 
The muses, who love solitude ;m<I devotional worship, could 
not be expected to stay at leisure and comfort amid the 
noise and tumult of this uproarious poetry. 

1 For Ritm Basil's attack on NTlu and Rani-prnsad on another 
occasion, see Prurfuukabi-siu'iKjiiiha, p, I M>, and his attack on Bhola 


But Rasu Nrsimha, Ham Thakur, Nitai Bairagi and 

Ram Basu (we hear little of BhabanT Banik 1 the fame of 

his disciple, Ram Basu, having over- 

The principal Kabi- shadowed his own re mtation), who 

walas of this group. ' 

wt-re the great champions of this 
generation of Kabi-poetrv, were not mere versifiers and 
their productions were not wholly destitute of poetic 
merit. Of these Rasu and Nrsimha come earliest in 

The mysterious double personality of Rasu and Nrsimha 

the two brothers who lived and worked together, is a 

fascinating figure of this group of 

Rasu (1734-1807) Kabiwalas. They were so united in 

and Nrsimha (1738- . , *> 

1809?) their work, which bear their bhanita 

in joint names that it is difficult and 

inequitable to separate them. It has been plausibly 

premised 2 that one of them was the poet, the other 

Mayara who was a disciple of Haru Thakui, ibid -p. 148. See also 
Anath Krsna Deb, Banger Kabita, pp. 317-325 ; Bharati, loc. cit. etc. 

1 Of BhabanT Banik who lived somewhere in Bagbazar, Calcutta, 
and had some reputation as a Kabiwala in his time, we practically 
know nothing except what Isvar Gupta tells us in the Sambad 
Prabhakar, Pous, 1261. This is what he says ^\&{ C^t| 

vs <fy$t$i c&W *rrji sfffc sfffe f*nrs{ ^tfrsni wc^ fsm 
^ -*fw\ *i wt t%s t%a wH * * Ttw w Tt'ft *fa*R i softer 
^td C^l 3ttTW<J ^^^5 s^ai ^tet^ f^n> ^5 c^5 *>il<r ^Ffflf, 

Jl^rtCT 3fa?3? Itfa5 ^1 ^ 3<*fjtt% JRafc ^ffo | In the 
anthology of Bengali love-songs entitled Pr'itiglti (ed. Abinas Chandra 
Ghos), three or four songs are attributed to Bhabani Banik at pp. 61 *, 
665, 809, 878-79. These songs however, although sung by Bhabani 
Banik in his party, are not of his own composition but have been 
attributed to Ram Basu or Haru Thakur in all other collections or 
anthologies. (See Prachin-Kabi-samgraha, pp. 18-20, 30, 60,80). Of 
Bhabani's own composition, nothing has survived. 
2 Nabyabharat, 1311, p. 647. 


composed music : but on this point, it is not possible to 
make any definite statement. Even Isvar Gupta * says, 
&9 &01 iRSCtWCff WV C^U 31% %5 3 ^ Sttft fs(^| 

fe*w ^fros tmi ft^l ftftw ntfir *rt i 

Rasu and Nrsimha, though not of obscure origin like 
the greater number of their fellow-poets, yet afford do 
exception to the general rule in the obscurity that surrounds 
their lives. Rasu was born in 1734 (1141 B.S.) and 
Nrsimha in 1738 (1144 B.S.) at Gondalpada near French 
Chandannagar of a good Kayastha family.* Their father, 
AnandTnath Ray was a clerk in the military department of 
the French Government and earned a good deal besides his 
nominal salary. The two boys were sent to the local 
village-school and then to their maternal uncle's house 
at Chinsurah where the missionaries had established a 
Bengali School (before May's school founded in 1814). 
They did not do much at school and so ultimately were sent 
back to their father after a year. Anandinath died soon 
after this, and thus left to themselves, the boys had freedom 
enough to live as they liked. They attached themselves to 
the party of Raghunath the Kabiwala who was the master 
of Ham Thakur ; but, having gained some knowledge of 
the art they formed a party of their own which soon became 
popular. They were ' greatly patronised by Indi-anarayan 
ChaudhurT, Dewan of the French Government ; and 
Chandannagar soon became a centre of Kabi-song through 
their influence. Rasu died at the good old age of seventy- 
two or seventy-three in 1807 ; Nrsimha survived him for 
a few years more. 

1 Sainbad Prabhakar, Magh 1261, quoted in Ja n nut - b hum?, 1302, p. 227. 

1 These biographical details are taken from Sambad Prabhakar, IdC 
cit. ; Nabyabharat, 1311, p. 645 et seq.; Kabwyaladiger 0?t, pp. 97-98 ; 
Janma-bhum? loc. cit. etc. 


Of Rasu and Nrsimha's composition, only six songs have 

come down to us and the number is obviously too small ' 

and the songs themselves too inade- 

Their songs on sakhu quate to a U 0W us to form a just 

sambad and b x raha. x 

estimate of their powers. These 
songs all relate to sakhi-sambad and biraha but we are not 
sure whether they composed songs on other themes. 
Tradition says that these were the two themes in which 
Rasu and Nrsimha excelled and the extant songs inspite 
of their small bulk certainly corroborate this tradition. 
Here is one of the much-praised pieces on saklu sambad , 
which inspite of its fanciful note, is not wholly destitute 
of merit. 

wfctrt ff^M ^t^ sulfas i 
3J% ^FH3Tl ^ttl ^?ft OT^ 

^fttrcl *rffire1 OT^c^ W<ri 

5^^ ft 7 ^" K S\J^5 II 

% ^kwt fafftl i 

^^5 TOu$ c^M II 

1 Only six poems in all is to be found in all the existing books of 
collection and all these songs are noteworthy. 



^rrf^r^ wr ^t^ro ii 

It will be noticed that in this poem as well as in other 
poems on the same theme, the characteristic feature lies in 

its power of gentle banter and soft 
quSty characteri8tic sarcasm which, though not rare in 

other Kabiwalas, was wielded with 
great effect by Rasu and Nrsimha. In all these poems 
we have, on the one hand, the extreme simplicity of natural 
emotion befitting a mngdha heroine, on the other, there is a 
sense of pride and self-esteem, which imparts a touch of 
malicious egoism to these passionate songs. Alluding to 
Kubja, the Sakhi says 

OH, JPM %|c*1 *ft TOTOTl 

m&% #[ tlW I 

gc to 33ricjl idol ^trci 

SlN$ *tqft*i vm ii 

fjrtl reft ^%*ii i 
^sj*-*rtftre1 (Slrc ft^rl cre1 
*ito 4 $t*fl <rfc?i1 ii 

*fJt^> <2tfft*tt*1 *ft?\\ <2ftV\ Tfe*l1 

*rt*fa ^^t^il ^TO || 
Or take another 

iTfo ^t* <tF* ft*T, ^ C^t^il ff Z* 


<2T5tff5 CW& ^t^\ 4 ^tFT 

pp^ wai aNWi 

%ft pftt* wtfei 

<7T ^t^ *tTft Tf^ttft II 

fro & $fe it^tre ct ^rffe 

^ftra (71 *rtfe fe^ f$! tftfe 
%trfa ^fe ^k^ ii 

In their biraha songs, again, there is no effeminate 
indulgence of self-pity or straining after racy perversity 
but they are simple, direct and dignified and have consider- 
able restraint of thought and language. The poets ask 

** *rft \^\ csfarf* tH 1 
c^ c^mRi fete*? cTt^ri ii 

Speaking of the ordinary idea of love they say 
*lft 4 *FR 02tt C^tt *TC I 

^ff-^Rl C*lt^- < W<1 ^R^-^t^^1 ^5^11 

<srf*ra c& Wi crtt^ ^^r ft ^*fl i 
WS C*lMt etfre, l*^ ^5 ^ft^l ii 


and the ways of such a lover are ironically reproached 

05|srt* sfir*, *fft^ CW5 
*p *rrft Ffr fe ii 

If one can judge from the exceedingly small mass of poems 
of Rasu and Nrsimha, which has been preserved but which 
is too inadequate to represent their talents in full, one 
would still hesitate to set aside these little things as mere 
melodious trifles or deny that their authors possessed a 
considerable share of the irresistible song-gift. Their love- 
songs may lack, as the love-songs of most of the Kabiwalas 
do, novelty, polish or depth ; but they have a simple 
directness and an untutored nobility which is not common 
enough among contemporary songsters. 

Haru fhSkur, however, the next great Kabiwala, dis- 
plays a variety and abundance of poetical accomplishment, 

and his work has fortunately come 
iH?2 ara kur " 1738 " down to us in a comparatively largo 

bulk. Hare Krsna Dirghadi or 
Dirghangi, popularly styled Haru Thakur, the adjunct 
Thakur having been added as a mark of respect, was a 
Brahman among Kabiwalas of generally inferior caste. 
He was born at Simla, Calcutta, in 1738 (1145 B.S.). 1 

1 Writing in' 1854, Isvar Gupta says that Haru died at the age of 
75, "more than forty years" before his own time. This would indicate 
that the dates of Ilaru's birth and death would be roughly 1739 and 
1814 respectively. 


His father, Kalyanchandra l Dirghadi sent his son to the 
pathsala of one Bhairab-chandra Sarkar but his means were 
not sufficient to give his son a good education nor did the 
son seem eager enough to profit by his studies ; for from 
his early years Haru betrayed a greater attachment to 
musical and poetical composition than to monotonous book- 
learning. When he was a mere boy, eleven years old, his 
father died and Haru at once gave up his books and began 
an irregular life of indolent pleasure for some years. But 
he had a natural gift of song and his irregular life had 
brought him into contact with a group of bohemians 
whom he gathered together and formed an amateur Kabi- 
party (mkher dal) under the acknowledged guidance of the 
weaver-poet Raghunath in whose company Haru had 
obtained his preliminary training. It is through 
Raghunath that Haru first began to be widely known and 
appreciated, and for Raghu, Haru Thakur always cherished 
a deep feeling of respect and gratitude, a fact which is 
amply indicated by his generously putting his master's 
bJianila to some of his own compositions. The story is 
told how Haru got fame and recognition for the first time 
by singing at the palace of Raja Nabakrsna, a great patron 
of letters of that time, and how the delighted Raja having 
awarded him with a pair of shawls, the proud young man felt 
insulted at being treated like a needy professional Kabiwala 
and walked away throwing the royal gift on the head 
of his own dknli (drummer). The Raja however was a 
man of taste and discernment and had enough sense of 
humour to appreciate the uncommon behaviour of the 
young poet ; and it was through the Raja's advice and 
patronage, obtained so queerly, that Haru subsequently 
formed a professional party (pesadari dal) although he 

1 Called Kalicharan in Bangabhamr Lekhah, vol. i, 367; in 
Gupta-ratnoddhar, p. 10; in Kabioyaladiger Git, p. 64, 


always seemed averse to earning money by such a pros- 
titution of his talents. Henceforth Kabi-song became 
his profession and his fame spread far and wide. He 
died at the age of 74 in 1812. 1 

It is to be regretted that neither the songs of Haru 
Thakur nor that of his great rival Ram Basu have been 
collected or critically edited. Isvar Gupta gave us (1854) 
for the first time the largest collection of 45 songs of 
Ham Thakur (though some of them are mere fragments) 

on ' the themes of sakht-samhad and 
lection C o? e critical ##**. The KabioyalUiger Git 
e ef i0 ubUs f hed iS 8 ngS Sa 9 raha ( 1862 ) merely reproduces 

27 of these with the single addition 
of new piece. 2 The Gupta-ratnoddhar (1894) again, the 
other anthology of Kabi-songs, gives us only 30 pieces 
all taken from Isvar Gupta's collections. In Prachin 
Kali-samgraha (L877), the number of Haru Thakur's 
songs is very limited, only 13 being given under his 
name; but of these 13 songs, five or six at least 
have been unanimously attributed in other collec- 
tions to Ram Basu and one, so attributed to Rasu and 
Nrsimha, 8 is rightly or wrongly placed under Haru 
Thakur's name. In Pritiglti, the most extensive modern 
anthology of Bengali love-poems, there are 30 songs 
attributed to Haru Thakur but all of them (except two* 
which are apparently new but which are however mere 
fragments and do not add much to Hani's reputation) 

1 Nabyabharat, 1311, p. 605. But, according to Kabioyaladiger Qit, 
p. 66 and Sahitya Pariqat Patrika, 1302, p. 384, following Isvar Gupta 
(Prabhakar, Pous, 1261) at the age of 75. 

* At p. 134. But it is sometimes attributed to Rftm Basu, 
s At p. 87-79. 

At p. 119 and p. 397. 


are to be found in other collections and one of these l 
is universally attributed in other collections to -Ram Basu 
and one, which is Ham's, is wrongly attributed to Bhabani 
Banik.' 2 Again, much uncertainty still remains, in spite 
of these efforts, as to the question of authorship of many 
of these songs, for there is absolutely no means for 
determining with absolute certainty the authorship of 
many a song, variously attributed to various poets. 
What is true of Haru T D &kur is true of every other 
Kabiwala ; and this one instance would sufficiently illus- 
trate the nature and extent of the data one has got to 
handle in dealing with Kabi-poetry. 

But a poor collection of 45 songs all of them not 
of the best and some of them mere fragments is but a 
sadly diminished and dwindled legacy of the extraordi- 
nary reputation which Haru Thakur has always enjoyed as 

one of the greatest of the Kabiwalas. 
His versatility. ^he son g s which have come down to 

us mostly relate to either of the 
two themes of biraha and sikhi-sambad; but if we are to 
rely upon the testimony of Isvar Gupta who wrote only 
forty years after Haru Thakur 's death, we must admit 
that the great Kabiwala could write with equal facility 
and power upon all the other recognised themes such as 

agamani, bhabani bisayak, laJiar and 

His lahar and llxeud kheud. On the first two of these 
songs : testimony ot 
IsVar Gapta. divisions not a single composition 

of Haru has survived. Isvar Gupta again tells us 

that Haru could compose best on the themes of 

1 At p. 808. 

a At p. 613. The Sahgit-iar-samgraha and BaiigaUr Qan etc. give a 
selecti n of Kabi-songs; but they are later and inferior collections 
apparently reproducing what is given in other special collections and 
therefore are not mentioned here. 


la/iar 1 and kheud, but these songs, although much praised 
in their time for their ingenuity and verbal music, were 
hopelessly vitiated by bad taste and unredeemed coarseness 
and can be dismissed with the just though severe comments 
of Isvar Gupta himself which deserves quotation here ; 

f 3 e ot*m fro ^ c\ ^fe ^$ <sf% 'sft^ ^ ^srfti ^t5i 
te*r *$fo*> ^, ^n*\ <5t*l c^t^r reii^ s^i*r ^si torn 

^re^, ^rfarfrf* *ff^*rl sttPra srl 1 tfe, ^, >ra*, i^t, 

*(fa^ f fftC#B ^fl sfeWfos aftl ^faffS* I 2 It is no 
wonder, therefore, that these songs have all perished ; 
and time, the exorable judge and destroyer, has preserved 
to us only those songs on biraha and sakJu-samlad for 

1 If Kheud is unquotable, luhar is nearly so. As the modern 
reader has no idea of what it is like wo give here a specimen of a 
moderato type 

f * fl TO ItBf lUtOI Tt fc*tW* *lf*CT I 

W ^%* *ffo ^?^ C^?l C^ftfa T5 C^ *t* ** ? 
It hardly requires any comment. This and Khcud represents a 
phase of the Kabi-movement over which the critic had better keep 

2 Safabud Prab h aka r, Pous, 1, 1261, pp. 5-6. 


which Ham Thakur had been deservedly famous and 
which indicate, even in the fragmentary and inadequate 
specimens which have come down, considerable poetic 
power, which cannot be, as it often is, summarily damned. 

Leaving aside the uncritical encomiums of reactionary 
enthusiasts, on the one hand, and undue undervaluing by an 
equally enthusiastic school of ' modern ' critics, on the other, 
we must admit that even the obviously inadequate and 
insufficient specimens of Ham Thakur's workmanship which 
have survived indicate that he had, even 
His poetic quality. judged by strict standard, sufficient 
intelligence and poetic power, in larger 
or smaller, in clearer or more clouded shape, of writing 
songs and not mere congeries of verses. Considering the 
time and the circumstances, this must not be regarded 
as a very poor or mean praise. That there are obvious 
and not inconsiderable defects is true. The subject is 
often trite, the thought a hackneyed or insignificant one ; 
the poet lacks perfect expression and sustained utterance, 
is defective in rhyme or metre or other technical quali- 
ties and has one of the superior charm and grace of the 
greatest Baisnab poets. But the indefinable yet unmis- 
takable poetic touch is always there and nothing but 
superficial or wilfully capricious criticism will pooh-pooh 
its true poetic spirit or damn it with faint praise. 

It is not possible within the limits of our plan 
to enter into details or, with the space at our dis- 
posal, to give extensive quotations which alone would 
bring out the beauty of Ham Thakur's songs. 
But these songs are more or less justly included in the 
numerous anthologies of Bengali 

His songs on sahh~i- , ' .. . 

sambad. poetry and many or them are known 

by heart to every one who knows 

Bengali poetry at all. The best songs of Ham Thakur, 



the merit of which it is impossible to underrate, more 
than justify themselves to any one who looks at poetry 
with just and catholic appreciation. To such a reader, 

*fe*, ^ fiftwft* l fl ftPttW *TfatS 4*TCl ' is not a trifle nor 

*ff^C*l CCI1 ^ Ttefa nor 7\fau 1UK <Q*\U\ *T5 fr*FTC*1 
<T5f%fa nor <5rf?fcS ^f^( $ft*1 fc*1 ^S ^jfa C^ <5Tfc* 
^rfsrt^l nor <*ft5f qft <*ttmfa srrf^^ nor fr ^t^ *rfa ar^CT 
nor many others. We have not space enough for lengthy 
quotations but we shall select here two specimens (other 
than those mentioned) from his aak/u-sambail.' 1 

*trft fe*r* tf#s 

csfir ft*i *t*i "w\ i *frfa fe*^ frtets i 

<4 ^Wfa tot* *fPi 3*te > 

bspto tfft stfa trftfe *tet if 

^8 ^^11 ^| ^3 ftdCT ^t II 
"Ufa, $^ W W C^ fW* ^ I 
CStTfa 3tft* *tfa ^tfa ^ft^ 2RI II 
C^fa *TO *tp* *flft 3**rafa ^ 

^i ^ftrs <$ ^ftw *st i 

C*1^ *T\ *$* *flfa *tTfa WS ^ftft^t 

Ttetre 'TNte sft ^rfTfa it'll <rt ii 

1 Contains Haru Thaknr's master's (Raghu's) bhanita : benot 
quoted as Raghu's in Banga Sahitya Parichay, vol. ii, pp. 1548-49. 

2 Sa^lbad Prabhakar, Pous, 1261; Kabioyaladiger Q'lt, p. 88; 
Oupta-ratnoddhar, p. 60; Snvgtt.aar.surkgmha, p. 1038 ; nlso quoted in 
Kabyabharat, 1131, p. 602. 


The other is a tine piece but it is sometimes attributed 
to Ram Basu. 1 

qpf <#raft tot mw$ c^ ^tftt^ ^ c^ci i 
*gg3 ^re c*r ^fa w, if% ii^t^ sftw II 
^ f% csfatft ^ %i ^fa> <****w!$l ^kz^ i 

^*Rl fo ^ *Ttfe II 

^tft ^3J ^trel ^ cs sft^^l c^tHtfir c^ot ^ftt^t it 
frft, ft*tt^ ftf*t ^ ^ fffli l <*tft c*tt^ toi i 

fe*I ^*W cvftft 1 C5t*rft f^^t^t 4l c*ftre f%c^ s liwi II 

<ift s%*i **rtfir cw mn$ gsRtft c^N c<rct ^ i 

#^? fcft* ^ vfts II 

*rrft, ^ ^#t ftw 5Tl ^fs *ffa *ft ^H V 'its i 
4^<r ^t3^*rw ^fwra 3^t% itw fe^ 5t ii 

Haru Thakur is certainly at his best in these songs on 
sakhi-sambad and one, who does not incur the mishap of 
falling between the two schools already alluded to, will 
appreciate their charming quality. His biraha songs which 
at one time enjoyed and even to-day enjoys an enormous 
reputation and popularity are certainly inferior in quality 
as well as in bulk not only to his sakhl-sambad composi- 
tions but also to the biraha songs of his rival and 

1 So attributed in Nabyabharat, 1311, p. 476 and Janmabhumi 1303-04, 
p. 303 : but in all other collections from Isvar Gupta downwards, it 
is assigned to Haru Thakur. 1 here are slight differences of reading in 
various collections. In some anthologies, the lines beginning with ^ 
$fw?\ TJ?tf?l are taken as constituting a separate song. 


contemporary Ram Basil. These songs <1<> not call for 

detailed comment though some of them are not altogether 

destitute of merit. There is no 

His biraka songs. peculiar charm or characteristic feature 

which distinguishes these songs from 

similar compositions of other Kabiwalas except perhaps the 

fact that there is a sense of disappointment, 1 of embittered 

feeling, 2 of sarcastic gloominess 3 in tone and temjw. 

We will therefore close this account with one short piece 

which, if not characteristically representative, will illustrate 

sufficiently Hani Thakur's style and manner. 

two*! ^ft *Pi refrtc* II 
wz* tori *tt*r ii 
snrc^T m orc*t ^ c*it*[ i 
<^9tcvw 5t^n sf^tre ore* ii 

Nityananda-das Bairagi, popularly called Nitai or Nite 

Bairagi, younger than Haru Thakur but much older than 

Ram Basu, was one of the famous 

N l751-^82l gI and PP ular Kabiwalas of his time ; 

but his fame rested more upon his 

sweet and melodious singing than upon his poetical 

1 See for instance the song 'i|tf5l 5t*Tl ffflCTl TtWiTl %f?ltf5 <2fttft ' 
or ' f*T^ f*f^ ^t? Ifta <MW (already quoted under Raghunfith) or 

c^W* TWtra j\ Etfas^ c*tt *c*i itcri arori nni ' 

2 See for instance '^ffa TtflC? TTirffl <2f\5T*' (sometimes attributed 
to Ram Basu), ' Vft fSft ^1 *tr* atmt<l $1 fa ^5\US C*S ItW ' or 
fMft "TC^re ?R% CTC 1 

3 See for instance C* ^ft Tfa it* C^R ^W3 ^tTfa | or ^^ J^fl * 
1F1C5 Rc^wl ^1 ^1? *MTOi 


composition. He was an expert singer rather than 
a good composer of words. Himself an unlettered 
man, he could hardly weave words into music ; but 
one Gour Kabiraj, a native of Simla, Calcutta, and a 
brahaman named Nabai Thakur used to frame songs for 
him by which he won so much reputation. Gour Kabiraj ] 
excelled in hiraha and Meud while Nabai Thakur had 
more versatile gifts, although he is credited with great 
excellence in his sakki-sambad. It is difficult, however, to 
ascertain at this day what particular song was composed 
by this or that individual poet ; and even half a century 
ago, Isvar Gupta, no mean judge, who collected these 
songs only 33 years after Nitai's death and had ampler 
materials than we now possess, confessed his inability to 
do so. 2 All songs, therefore, which were sung by his party 
now go by his name alone. 

Nitai was born at Chandan-nagar about 1751 (1158 
B.S.) 3 in the house of one Kufijadas Baisnab and was 
brought up in Baisnabism. Nothing however is known about 
the details of his life but his fame as a Kabiwala at one 
time spread far and wide over the prosperous cities and 
villages on the two sides of the Hoogly and we read graphic 
accounts of the eagerness with which people used to come 
from a <>;reat distance to witness the sensational Kabi-njrhts 
between Nitai and Bhabani Banik, once his great rival. 4 

1 This Kabiraj also used to compose songs for other parties. 
Laksminarayan Jogi (Loke Jugl) and Nilu Thakur were among those 
whom he thus favoured. It has been already noted that one song 
which is often attributed to Nitai bears the bhanita of Ramji. This 
may indicate, if the song itself is not Ramji's, that the latter was one 
of the poetical preceptors of Nitai. 

2 In Prachin Kabi-samgraho, however, two songs are given with 
direct attribution to Nabai Thakur. 

3 See Sambad Prabhakar, Agrahayan, 1, 1261. 
* Ibid, loc. cit. 


But his profession not only brought him fame, it al^o 
brought him money ; and we are told that lie made good 
use of his fortune by spending it in erecting an Ak/nja at 
Chinsurah and a temple at Chandan-nagar where all the 
great religious festivals were held with pomp and splendour. 
In 182 1, 1 while returning from the house of the Raja 
of Kasimbazar where he had gone to sing during the Puja 
festival, he was attacked by illness which proved fatal and 
he died in the same year at the great age of seventy. He 
had three sons Jagatchandra, Ramchandra and Premchandra 
each of whom inherited his father's profession, if not his 
talents, and formed Kabi-parties in later times ; but no 
direct descendant of Nitai is alive to-day. 

Like Hani Thakur whom Nitai resembles so much in 
poetical character, Nitai possessed not a small share of the 
gift of exquisite song-writing. He wrote chiefly on sakkl 
mmbad and liraha but in both these he shows considerable 
power. We have already quoted one of his beautiful songs 
in which there is, if not the delicacy of artificial bloom and 
perfection, a strain of the real, the ineffable tone of poetry 
proper. Nitai had none of Ram Basu's rhetorical tendency, 
finical nicety or straining after studied effects, but his 
songs possess not a little amount of unconscious freshness 
and beauty of tender sentiment and expression. Nitai 
however, like most of his compeers, is a very unequal poet ; 
spasmodic bursts of fine lines and couplets go hand in 
hand with insipid and hardly tolerable verses. Himself a 
Baisnab Bairagi he, among the Kabiwalas, could more 
successfully imitate the inimitable Baisnab lyrics but the 
imitation often involves a peculiar lack of judgment which 
makes him reproduce the heresies rather than the virtues of 
earlier poets. It is not necessary to give too many 

1 1813 according to Kabiuyaladiyer 61t, p. 110. 


quotations but the following 1 selected extracts as well as 
that given on p. 330 would illustrate his merits and defects. 1 

$& Sfft f*Rl *FK#t II 

qft ifjjtl c^^ c^1 sfa ^ ^rrftrel ^f*Wft ii 
^^1 iaftroil wra*fwi, ^^m *ct cwt *rfr ii 

Nitai's biraha songs, again, which however are rather 
scantily handed down, are not altogether negligible, 
although they have none of the superior merit of Ram 
Basil's biraha. We select here two specimens. 

omfa osftt* cGfttm 

^ft ct *rc^i JtK* fras ^trt 
*rf?rcntf W *nrtw ift ii 

rtes ^ ^ fan ^tft ii 2 

^fo ^tre *fft II 

*ro ^to ^t^n *rc ^ft ^fra i? ii 3 

1 Sa?hbad Prabhakar, Agrahayan, 1261, p. 10. 

2 Ibid p. 9. Qupta-ratnoddhar, p. 198-9 ; KabioyTdadiger Git, p. 122. 

3 Ibu! loc. cit.; ibid, p. 197; ibid, p. 121. 


Latest born of this group but intimately connected with 
Hani Thakur in poetical rivalry, in superior reputation and 
also in the singularly unsympathetic criticism which has 
been lavished from time to time upon him, is Ram Basu. 
He was considerably younger than Ham and Nitai almost 
by forty-eight and thirty-five years respectively haying 
been born about 1786 ; but he survived Nitai by seven 
years and died only a year before Hani Thakur. His full 
name was Ram-mohan Basu but he was widely and popular- 
ly known through the abbreviated form of his name, 
Ram Basu. His birth-place was 
18 *J m Basu ' 1786 ' Salkia on the right bank of the 
Hoogly and. his father's name was 
Ram Lochan Basu. Like every village-boy he was at first 
educated at the village pathsala and then at the age of 
twelve he was sent to Calcutta to his uncle's (father's 
sister's husband) house at Jorasanko for further education. 
But like Hani Thakur, Ram Basu showed even in his 
early years a marked tendency towards poetical composition 
which made his ambitious father sorry but which brought 
the young poet to the notice of the kabiwala Bhabani 
Banik. BhabSnf's training and encouragement made Ram 
Basu realise very early the true bent of his genius. His 
father dying soon after this, Ram Basu had to give up his 
studies and became a clerk in some mercantile office. But 
his poetical aptitudes proving too strong, he ultimately took 
up the profession of a Kabiwala a lucrative profession, how- 
ever, in those days as a regular means of livelihood. At 
first he continued to compose songs and sing for Bhabani, 
later on for Nllu Thakur, Thakur-das Simha and others ; 
but in the end, a few years before his death, he formed 
a party of his own, at first amateur eventually professional. 
Of his character nothing definite is known but Ram 
Basu seems to have been one of those poets who have 


relished this life heartily while heartily believing in another. 

He was not a man of ascetic or 

His temper and inelastic temper nor had he taken upon 
character at once reli- . l L 

gious and sensual. * himself the mere materialism or the 

satiated attitude of latter-day poets ; 
but he had enough simplicity and integrity of feeling 
which made him grateful for the joys of life but repentant 
when he had exceeded in enjoying them. Tradition speaks 
of his partiality for one Jajnesvarl, ' a songstress of Nilu 
Thakur's party, who was herself a gifted Kabiwala of some 
reputation in her time. But though he was himself not 
above reproach, he would still satirise with considerable 
frankness and sincerity the reckless young men of his time. 2 
Indeed Ram Basil's poems express, in the most vivid 
and distinct manner, the alternate or rather varying moods 
of a man of soft sensibilities, religious as well as sensual. 

Ram Basil's poems, which however have not come 
down in a more complete or more abundant form than 

Haru Thakur's, divide themselves in 

Three groups of his three groups, sakl-snmbad, biraha and 
poems. L 

agamanl. In all these three depart- 
ments of Kabi-poetry he is said to have excelled ; but the 
poems which have survived in each department do not dis- 
play an equal degree of merit. His songs on sakhi-samharf , 
although placed by popular opinion in the same rank with 
Haru Thakur's exquisite things in the same line, are 
certainly much inferior not only to those of his rival Haru 
but also, it seems, to those of Nitai Bairagl. Although 

1 Of Jajfiesvarl, no details are known ; one or two of her songs have 
survived which are noticeable. They will be found in Bahga Sahitya 
Parichaya, vol. ii ; also in other anthologies. 

srtf* srft ^utal fa to fa toI 


there are some fine pieces which one should not capriciously 

ignore, 1 his songs on xakJu-sambad 

General characteris- are marked by an artificiality of tone, 

tics of his songs es- by a considerable display of cheap 
pecially of his songs . . . 

on sakh'i.saihbad. ingenuity and sometimes by a vulga- 

rity of tone and sentiment which very 
often mars his beautiful passages. We have quoted alreadv 
one song of this type while illustrating the feebleness and 
inadequacy of Kabi-songs in reproducing the spirit and 
grace of earlier poetry. Bam Basu is often regarded as the 
greatest poet of this group : but he is at the same time the 
most unequal poet. Indeed the songs of Ram Basu, in spite 
of their charm and appeal, illustrate very aptly the utmost 
capacity as well as the utmost limitation of Kabi-poetry 
in all its aspects. The merits and defects of these 
songs are alike very great. As on the one hand, we 
have, in some of them, considerable simplicity of style, 
directness of expression, vigorous use of the vernacular 
idiom, tenderness and human interest, so on the other, we 
have the almost cloying display of verbal or alliterative 
dexterity, the conscious elaboration of trivial themes or trite 
sentiment, the comparatively uninspired use of ornaments 
and conceits the bane of a long-standing literary tradition 
and a false and affected taste for the jingle of weakly and 
inharmonious phrases. Coming, as it does, at the end of 
this flourishing period of Kabi-poetry, Ram Basil's song at 
once represents the maturity as well as the decline of that 

Taking in the first instance, his songs on sakhl-saMad 
in which we find all these merits and defects amply set 
forth. We cannot but admit their inferiority in tone, 
sentiment and expression as seen in lines like the following. 

1 See for instance his song Ufa ^3 ffa 5fH?5 9 ttfa^ or 
TC1GI 3ft ift etc, 


^ 3t*rt* *fa <CT ^ *&W CTO *ft W I 

TOT <l *tcf *Wfa <$ *IW ^ ^t*TfaN 

is a good specimen of verbal dexterity but it lacks in poetic 
illumination. Then again note the racy, yet inferior note 
of the following : 

%rw* ^ *ffasfa c*t<ti 01 sfa i 
okr ^ra f*i *fir, c^ wfca ^ftw sfir, 

^fa <5* fa TO ^ft *f* <3ttI ^ft *ft II 
or take even the following artificial and hardly inspiring 
lines at one time highly extolled as one of the best pieces 
of Ram Basu. 1 

w&\ fa **& fa prtcq <?rt cti ifa fa c*ci feature i 
9tm&ft *toii ^<fe ^fa forfeit ^i *fCK5 ii 

fsrf% fafa ^ ^ ^r|^ qi| *[ft 
V! *K:fJ fa ^ cifa Of^f c*ffa II 
TOI fa <W5fl c^^ ^^{l ^| c*ffa $t*t1 *lfe^ II 

i^ cw*r c*rft dW faFT<r ^tn csfa m*\\ mjtt i 
er^s \s*rft*Tl f ^ *itrai ^t^n <^ ^tfl fa ^t ii 
^^l fft *fN ttw fa ^rfc^ i 
*t*fa *roc*i fa *rfatt*i ^m^ ii 

^ fffft >rf^t ^t*TtFft fa ^TC ^ fi^re II 
In his sakM-sambad, if Ram Basu is not fantastic to 
frigidity, he is often insipid to dullness. If he does not 
disgust, he too often tires. It is very seldom that Ram 

1 This song is generally given as Ram Basu's ; but see Bahga Sahitya 
Parichay, vol. ii, p. 1152, where it is placed under Harn Thakur's name. 


Basil bursts forth into comparatively fine lines like the 
following : 

wi fori! fteifl 511 arw 

^<**rcTO^ "rl cwfa <Ri 

<^^ i 
*<1 fa ** W <TCf *f 

fCT "?ftfl ^tfa ffolft ^tfa 

<Fti *i*t tor csfra ii 

The above remarks equally apply to his biraha songs. 
Listen to this fantastic and long- 
drawn-out complaint of a languishing 

,. . Listen to this fantastic and long 

Hia songs on biraha. 


*c* * $w to Vf* c*rs <w ifa nft wisto ii 
qft *t*t^s ^fa it* ^rfft f^tt sttt *ro cto wti i 

4*R (7^ TO Of* *l*treF5 II 
tqjfa* W*fl5? fa*ft StOT *TW 

*t$ ^ss *f$*r?T fa^ ^^n asfir c^tfa^tfw *f*5R ii 

<5t0 ^J W*F5 1*13 1ft*5 ^ 

^rw* *tl to ^ *twtt*fre ii 


*rwr fe^ 5t^ ^1% *it<r ^t*r fa<rw *fc^ erh i 

<t<r ffc^i *rc ^es ifa *t#sr ^^ <srti 11 

c^*i &w *r*nw *i$ &^jr mw 
^rrft rtfo cw *rfa *i* ^:*tes 11 

vst^ arfotft wfl ^rtft <2jf^rtft Nwrc 11 

^ *t* ft^ fasts iw *ras 4 *t* ^fe *r[C5 

ft* 4 *$ ^Rt rtw *tw *rc^rl 

It is impossible to mistake the significance of these 
lines and their tendency to artificiality. Super-subtleties 
of ingenuity are more and more preferred to genuine poetic 
imagination ; and the true and spontaneous accents of 
poetry are lost. 

Indeed this tendency towards an artificial rhetorical 

style, this weakness for frigid conceits and for studied 

effects are very marked throughout the songs of Ram Basu 

and debase not a little the true quality 

Leaning towards rhe- of his WOrk " There is a g 0od deal of 

toric and artificiality. genuine passion and emotion in his 
songs but the artificial expression so 
often given to them makes them lose their proper appeal. 
The tricks of the artist are more apparent than the passion 
of the poet. They administer an exciting pleasnre to the 
eye and the ear but they seldom touch or transport. The 


hint ha of Ram Basu is not the biraha of the Baisnab poets 
with its exquisite passion and poignancy nor is it the 
biraha of modern poets with its delicacy and refinement. 
It is too much of a verbal contest, of a frivolous and auda- 
cious linguistic strife of the pragalbha heroine. The power 
of sarcasm is undoubted but fierce banter, mawkish senti- 
mentalism or piercing irony forms its essence; and there 
is too much of " bite/' of ah and alas of ostentatious 
distress to be at all touching, as in the following l : 

<xa ^vtu Wl ton ^*rfa ^ffo ore ififai ii 
^^ ^nr ^*rsr <rt*t *t<n^ *rt* <?rteT*t 
tfi*fa ^ts ^n:^ reKfa *H?f Ttf^*i ii 

^ c^s ?nt *ftri fra stre ^ <?r w cscfc *nnft II. . . 
<rfat3 *rt s^ts ^ri <2tti ^ wtw *tws i 

TOJl tOT C&W* IH ^T W ** I 

1 All these specimens are taken from Sambad Prabhdlcnr. Some of 
them are reproduced in Soiigit-sar, vol. ii. 


*rftfa *tfe* C^tWl CWft f *ffe ^3 I 

W ft c*tfHrc* ertfl^ ii 

(71^ SffOTl *N^ TO* C^TC $*$ I 

W CT ^C* ^ra* <5t*, <JRR ^t* C^ ^3 
^tfT *rtt( ft C^ft*^ fR "tt'TFS II 

isrfa, ffai *?ft fec^ ^ ^t*m ii 

w cil c*tw<r ^ira ^^^ tc<hi ^ 
<4<7[ ^tfa% ^tt^ C^t^l f^tS II 

<srtft m^f ft ftitfff <roife i 
^ft ^tre c&W cw* k^ft i 

cstz:^ ^^ic^^feti c^ ftra Tfa ^T 5 ^ $f?| wlft ii 
^srfat* sit^t^ ^fa ^ *% iftn ww c*rc fare* i 

There is also sometimes a tendency to elaborate didac- 
tic or symbolical form of expression. 1 

1 Pritigiti, pp. 74-75 ; Sangit-sar-samgraha, vol. ii, p. 1010. 
This didactic tendency the Kabiwalas probably got from the writers 
of the devotional songs, who from Ramprasad downwards often 


vrca* 3 **i* ^fes ^*ftE*i (i 
c^si c^$ ms c* *rf*fti vi crc*i, 

^ vsts ^Tcmre osws** stre tfw *f*i ii- 
^ to* ltd fj^ci tw 

CfWI CKH1 TO c<TC*ri, ^re 511 spi wft*l H 

c^m^ fro iMtfta ^"fs$ fw 
c*rr c*ri ot 3* ^i ciw i^ri rrfa*T i 

c^m^ra ^t^ ^ra <*p(ft c*TO c*itc* i 
qft rtre *ct* ^t^i c^ft vi fra ^tft^s ^ 

RC1 i|*f^fa*I ^tfaf <ttl II 

It is not necessary to multiply quotations which have 

already become too lengthy but these aspects of RUm 

Basu's songs (in particular his hiraha songs) have been so 

often ignored that critics have gone 

pontic" "" d t a # <* <lUrin K &* 
songs in question, smart and ingenious 
though they are, are the most beautiful specimens of Kabi- 
song. Beautiful specimens Ram Basil's hiraha songs are 
but they are such only when Ram Basil rises above these 
fatal faults and depends upon the strength of his natural 

indulged in this vein. Ram Baau very dexterously makes use of 
colloquial idiom, even of slang, but he sometimes carries the 
tendency to the extreme, e.g., '^ <Gfa\ <S}q\ ?JZ[\ CSfaW ?fa' I 
' Pftf% Cm. *tt*t Cm I *ES *tCiTa *f*fft3 &T>H W& f^I CF5, *fl ** 
CTO dfS fe 'Ttt* ^fafa CWftf. I 7C^? C5C3 ^fo <5fa ^tl CW V 0K5EI if 

' ^tfa ij^ ^tw? c*fa^ cnrs(^ *tfae* ' et c 


poetic genius. It is allowable and desirable to pick these 
ugly weeds out of the garden ; but unfortunately these 
unwelcome growths too often choke and destroy the 
charm even of his beautiful pieces. It is very seldom that 
we find exquisite and spontaneous utterance in Ram Basil 
but when we find them there is nothing better in the 
whole range of Kabi-poetry. Songs such as the following 

TO ffcl 1$ TO* C^Rl I 

SftttTT W It* C*fl C\ Vfc* *fa ^\ fWl W ^Tl I 


(Tf^s *rti1 W lift 6ff ii 


ttfte tlfts *W sifRK to c&re cw Sri i 
f^l tt* ^rt^F *s*f *ct *w ^n i 

and many other fine things are often quoted and 
praised and they deserve quotation and all the praise 
that have been bestowed upon them. They are too 
well-known to require comment or quotation again here 
and they may be found in almost all selections of Bengali 
songs. But one or two of the less well-known may perhaps 
be welcome again. 

csf'rfa c^tt 3?$, Wi fawflF *t*ft ^t^^rc^ i 

SfOTJ *re %^f ssrfat* ^^* *K*K5 
* fo#te ^ ^3 ftdci II 



4 *ra ^m (rot ^m ^f% ^ cs 

c^M ^ cffR^i iris cvsrw $.<r ttnfo i. 

*tt*l rftff C#tff CWft ^ *rr*fat* TO ^rwft C5t* 
d 'R 2t|fe 4TC f^fe OTS ll 

<2tti, ^ft ^t*Rt?r ^ ^fat* w fa j 
*rc^ fc^s ^rr^rt*t VW& ^tTO \5tfV I 

c<w <srte ^ft, #K ^ft rm i 

^^to ft*R ^fts *rK^ ^t^ f^ fa ii 

Ram Basil's biraha songs have boon more than once 

criticised on the ground of its alleged immoral tendency. l 

There is no doubt, as we have pointed, too much of 

frivolity, grossness, vilification, auda- 

The alleged immoral {t smartncss f rep artee and pur- 
tendency of his songs <- ' * l 

suit of selfish pleasure in most of 

these songs and that there is an indecorous laxity of ex- 
pression, an improper looseness of style which debases the 
quality of these songs ; but the point is too often ignored 
that what is expressed in these songs is not the love of 
the analytic and self -questioning artist or the refined rap- 
ture of the idealist but the love of the natural man with 
all the force and crudity of its natural passion. Love in 

1 Chandrasekhar Mnkhopfdhyflj, Sarasvnt-K>nJja (essay on RSm 
Ba8u'8 biraha) . also sec Preface to Rasabhandar by the same author. 



this poetry does not die in dreams nor is it troubled with 

a deep philosophy or bored with its 
but their expression . -. 

of genuine human own ideality, soaring into vague 

passion " passion or indefinite pantheism. It 

is strong, naturalistic and direct, if also a little boisterous, 

un-refined and even gross. It is surely too much to 

bring in moral considerations for judgment upon this 

honest cry of the erotic passion 

fa to c*ti ermft *tf*R fe^ ii 
#t<w riM ClOT ^ 
fe^ jRtft *tci *(*#* 
ttfe^i to w *t* frt fl?nrfo ii 

or of 

w ^tft ftft ct ^rrft ^ 

<7T ^tft CTO ^ft *w?w w& 

xstre *ttfir fa c^? frra ^ Ffa qfircs 

nor is it possible to underrate the palpitating humanity of 
the following oft-quoted lines which may be quoted again 

^tf*rart ft*rfo ^1 ft^ifa 
^ ft 5 ! ti ^ ^rf^rfa I 

*t*T Cltfl $fcl II 



4$ cm S5tt* 5W art* mzv C*f*Tt* ^1 I 

*Wi rtf *1 ^ st^ twi w ^ 

ot cwi to ^^rt* fro c*t*i sri i 

qpi ^til fro ct <tr f^*i RtPT ii 

To condemn these expressions of the franker and simpler 
moods of the passion itself is unjust and canting prudery ; 
and the whole controversy over the question of moral 
tendency would seem to one to be a signal instance of the 
wrong thing in the wrong place. It is more than useless 
or irrelevant either to read austere morals into these poets 
or damn them for their want of morals. To anyone who 
can appreciate the bonhomie of Kabi-poetry, the songs 
remain and remain yet unsurpassed, iuspiteof its very direct 
plain-speaking (or coarseness if you will) according to 
modern standards, as the most frank expression of physical 
affection, of the exceedingly human, honest and natural 
passion of the man for the woman. The amatory fashion 
of the world passeth but instead of undervaluing it or 
sneering at it when it is gone, let us appreciate the reality, 
force and naturalness of human passion wherever and in 
whatever shape it may be found. 

The agamanl songs of Ram Basu, even more than his 

biraka songs, have all along enjoyed a reputation never yet 

surpassed ; and this reputation they certainly deserve. 

The sakhl-mrabZid and biraha songs of 

His agamani other Kabiwalas may approach or 

challenge comparison with those of 

RSm Basu; but in agamanl Ram Basu is undoubtedly 


supreme. 1 The secret of his excellence in this respect lies 

in the fact that in most of these songs Ram Basu the 

poet and the man rises superior to Ram Basu the mere 

literary craftsman, and that sincerity, 

Its sincerity, simpli- naturalness and simplicity constitute 
city and human in- _ 

terest. the essence or his charm. It is not 

the superhuman picture of ideal good- 
ness but the simple picture of a Bengali mother and 
a daughter that we find in the Menaka and Uma of Ram 
Basu. We seem to hear the tender voice of our own 
mother, her anxious solicitude for her daughter, her 
weakness as well as strength of affection in lines like 

sw-*t*i octal *ica* stwi d*i <stor *^ i 
*nri *^ fed *^ ^rm* stm ^rr b^ i 

Menaka has repeatedly implored her husband to bring 
back her daughter whom she has not seen for over a year ; 
but her husband being apparently apathetic, the neglected 
daughter has come of herself and the tender heart of the 
mother bursts forth in gentle reproach upon the ponderously 
indifferent father. 

^3 *tfa ^t*r $* c^tre fc*i i 
- "ftf?r<rN ts ^ w re-fat^r c*p fa to ii 

1 A short comparative account of the agamaril of Ram Basu, Kamala- 
kanta and Dasarathi Ray will be found in Bharatbarsa, Kartik, 1325, p. 
712. The earliest recorded Agamani song is that of Ram Prasad, and 
in this respect the Kabiwalas must have been considerably influenced by 
Ram Prasad, Kamalakanta and other writers of devotional songs. 


CstTfa GT*ttf5 <Tfi|% ^t*fft ^*t1^t Tfaff5 C5TO I 
^>ft fttsfc^ <^ ^1 <rc^ ^ ($ 
^rtft ^rfffa <4Fif5 st^tt ^ ii 

And nothing can be more forcible than tin's simple yet 
touching reproof 

^t*l (3t^ C$H ^ ftft I 

*n$ ^ft ^tft ^rt ^ft ^zm i 
c^fare ^t* s^tro ii 

In most of the agamanl songs of the Kabiwalas, the 
anxious mother dreams of her absent daughter. In Ram 
Basu the dreams are not bad or gloomy dreams but dreams 
of joyful anticipation or tender foreboding. 

*raft $*t* n*rrr^ %*i c*tct ^r* 

It is impossible to underrate the simplicity, tenderness 
and beauty of these linos. There is no touch of orna- 
mental rhetoric, no artificiality, nor is there any refined 
rapture or philosophic depth in these lines. They embody 
the simple utterance of a simple heart. What is daily 
observed and what is natural supply the essential ingredient 
of these songs ; and if the test of poetic power be its 


capacity of making the common as though it were 
uncommon, then surely Ram Basu was a poet in the true 
sense of the term. 

After enumerating these greater names, which citation 
however does not exhaust the poetical riches of this remark- 
able period, we come to the lesser poets who accompanied 
or came behind them. It is, however, not necessary for 
us to embark in detail upon the history of Kabi-poetry 
after this period ; for after 1830, Kabi- 
l83a abi " P etry aftGr P etr y Anguished in the hands of the 
less inspired successors of Haru, 
Nitai and Ram Basu. It continued 
even up to 1880 l to be a very popular form of 
entertainment ; but it rapidly declined, if not in quantity, 
at least in quality. Of this belated group, Nilu and Ram- 
prasad Thakur, 2 Anthony or Antonio the domiciled 
Portuguese songster, 3 Thakurdas Simha, 1 Thakurdas 

1 To what degraded state Kabi poetry had descended by that time 
may be realised by reading the vehemently denouncing article on Kabi- 
poetry which appeared in Bandhab, Pons, 1282 (1875), p. 267. 

2 Nllmani and Ramprasad Chakrabartl lived at Simla, Calcutta. 
Nilu was the younger of the two brothers. Several songs sung in their 
party are given in Prachln Kabisaihgraha at pp. 36, 43, 46, 72, 89 etc. 

3 Anthony or Anthony Firingi is said by Rajnarayan Basu in his 
ETcal Sekal to be of French extraction. He lived at Gareti near 
Chandannagar and atone time his Kabir dal was very famous. He is 
said to have fallen in love with a Brahman woman whom he married and 
through whom he was converted into Hinduism. See for details 
Dinesh Chandra Sen, Bangabhasa Sahitya, 3rd Ed., pp. 627-628, Bahga 
Sahitya Parichay (some of his songs quoted), p. 1576; Nabyabharat, 1312, 
pp. 194-98 ; Baiiger Kabita, pp. 318-22 ; Baiigabhasar Lekhalc, pp. 

* Not much is known about him but he was a contemporary and 
rival of Anthony. See Nabyabharat, 1312, pp. 645-646. Ram Basu 
used to compose for bis party ; sec Prachin Kabi Saingraha, pp. 38, 40, 
59, 68. 


Chakravart!, 1 Thakurdas Datta,' 2 and later on Gadadhar 
Mukhopadhyay 3 and even Is var Gupta 4 obtained consider- 
able reputation as Kabiwalas or composers of kabi-songs but 
we also hear of a host of others Nilmani Patani, 5 Bhola 
Mayara, G Chinta Mayara, Jagannatli Banik, Uddhaba 
das, Laksmikanta or Laksminaravan Jog! (Loke Jugi), 
Goraksa Nath, 7 Guro Dumbo, 8 Bhimdas ISlalukar, 

1 Bom in 1209 B. S. (1802 A, D.) in the district of Nadiya. He 
never formed his own party but composed chiefly for Antony, Bhola, 
Balaram Baisnab, Nilmani Patani and Ramsundar Svarnakar. For 
details see Nab yabha rat 1312, pp. 641-48. Some of his songs are given 
in Praclun Kabisamgraha, at pp. 23, 32, 37, 52, 73, 91 and in Gupta- 
ratnoddhar, pp. 261-261. 

- Born in 1207 (1800 A. D.) at Byatra, Howrah. See Nabyabharat, 
pp. 643-44 ; Bahgabhasar Lckhal; pp. 325-327. 

:! Composed for the party of Ramlochan Basak of Joransanko, who 
was the rival of Mohan Chand Basu. Also composed for Bhola, NIlu 
Th&kur and NIlu Patani. See his songs quoted in Pracltln KabicaThgraha 
at pp. 21, 27, 36, 50, 64, 72, 89, 94, 115, 118, 121, 128, 130 etc. ; also 
in Gttptu-ratnoddluir, pp. 213-247. 

* His Kabi-songs are quoted in Gupta-rat noddhar, pp. 247-261 ; also a 
few in Prdchln Kabisamgraha. 

6 Ram Basu, Gadadhar Mukhopadhyay and various other poets 
composed for him. See Prachtn Kabisaihgraha, pp. 27, 28, 64, etc. 
Some of his own songs are given in G upta-ratnoddhar, pp. 208-9. 

8 Was a sweetmeat-vendor at Bagbazar. He was a disciple of Haru 
Thakur's. See for details Bharatl, 1304, pp. 59-66. Nabyabharat, 1314, pp. 
67-73. Banger Kabita, loc. cit. Some of the songs sung in his party are 
given in Prachm Kabisamgraha at pp. 21, 37, 50, 67 etc. Jaganu&th 
Banik was his great rival. 

7 GoraksanSth was a " composer " of Antony's party but subse- 
quently quarrelled with him and formed his own party (see Nabyabharat, 
1312, pp. 194-198 ; ibid 1313, pp. 577-78). Ramanauda Nandi was one of 
his rivals. Goraksanath's sons arc given in Gupta'rat noddhar , pp. 294- 
296 ; and in Prarhin Kabisaiiigaha, pp. 43, 70, 110 etc. 

8 Prach~tn Kabisamgraha, p. 66. 


Balaram Das Kapall, 1 Ramsundar Svarnakar, 2 Mat! 
Pasarl, Hosain Khan, 8 Parandas and Udaydas, Kana 
Manes, 4 Mohanchand Basu, 5 Ramananda Nandi, 6 
Krsnamohan Bhattacharya, 7 Jaynarayan Bandyopadhyay, 
Rajkisor Bandyopadhyay, 8 Satu Ray 9 and Man-mohan 
Basu. 10 It is not possible nor desirable to enumerate all 
the names ; but the extraordinary fertility and popularity of 
this poetry will be sufficiently indicated by the list of names 
already cited. It is, however, like the swarming of flies in the 
afternoon lethargy and fatigue of a glorious day. There 
is, no doubt, occasional sprinkling of good verses as well as 
a general diffusion of the poetic spirit thinned and diluted 

1 Lived|in Chandannagar. His daughter's son Krsnadas was a 
Kabiwala. Prachln Kabi sa thgraha gives some songs sung in his party 
but they are not of his own composition. 

* Was a clerk in some office but subsequently became a Kabiwala. 
He lived at Hadkata Gully, Calcutta. Several songs sung in his party 
Avill be found in Prachln Kabisamgraha. 

8 Was the founder of Tarja. Moti Pasarl was his rival. 

* His name was Mahes Chandra Ghos, a KSyastha. He was 
born blind ; hence the nickname. For details see Nabyabharat, 
1313, p. 203-207. 

6 Was the founder of Hapakhdai Kabi. His special creation was the 
CH|^w|| ^1. See preface to Manmohan Gltabali and Ramnidhi Gupta's 
Qltaratna. He was a disciple of Nidhu Babu's who however was not a 
Kabiwala. Also see preface to Prachln Kabisamgraha. 

Was a disciple of Nitai Bairagl. For details see Nabyabharat, 
1313, pp. 575-579. 

7 His songs are given in Prachtn Kabisamgraha, and in a collected 
form in Quptaratnoddhar, pp. 281-293. 

8 The songs of Jayanarayan and Rajkisor are given in Prachln 
Kabisamgraha ; also in Quptaratnoddhar at pp. 264-269. 

9 For details about his life etc., see Nabyabharat, 1314, pp. 65-67. 
Banga Bhasar Lehhah, pp. 379-80. His songs are given in Quptaratnod- 
dhar at pp. 275- 279. 

10 Was quite a u modern." Not a Kabiwala strictly speaking but 
composed for Kabi, Hap-akhdai and Pamchali, See Monmohan Qitabali 
for his songs. 



it may be in course of time ; but taken as a whole the later 
poetry is merely imitative and reproductive of the earlier 
and does not reward patient and detailed study. Not 
much of it can bear very well the beauty-truth test 
implied in the famous line of Keats. Nor are there 
materials enough to trace their systematic history in 
this period. In tone and temper as well as in poetic 
expression it declined considerably ; and with the advent of 

Ha})-akhdai first set in fashion by 
Hap-akhdai and Tarja. Mohanchaud Basu 1 and of Tarju 

popularised by Hosain Khan, the form 
itself as well as its spirit went through striking changes. 
These songsters no doubt kept up and still keeps up the 
native trend in poetry but in themselves they never reach 
that high level of literary excellence which would make 
them worthy of the attention of posterity. It is therefore 
not necessary to drag these inferior poets and their poems 
from their deserved obscurity or devote tedious pages to 
their comparatively uninspiring annals. 

1 For a history of this see Sarhbud Prabhukar, Agrahayan 8, 1261, 
and preface to Manmohan Qltaball. 


Love-lyrics and Devotional Songs 

Leaving aside the new prose-writing, the period of 
Bengali Literature between 1760 and 1830 may be not 
unfitly described as a lyrical interval in which a multitude 
of productions, varied grave and gay ditties, faibi, tappas, 
yatra, pamchali, dhap, ktrtan, haul, devotional songs and 
exquisite bits of love-lyrics were pouring upon the literary 
world a flood of delicious harmony. 

A lyric interval be- There is > n0 doubt > a sprinkling of 

tween 1760-1830. narrative and descriptive verse of the 

more serious type, but barring this, 
every poet was a natural vocalist and never there was a 
time when little songs were more abundant. Although 
carelessly fashioned, these charming little things possess 
all the attributes of a successful song and seem to be alive 
with the energy of music. Even the most insignificant 
person in this synod of latter-day poets has a constant 
tendency to break unawares into singing and catch the spirit 
of melody which seemed to be in the air. The spirit 
itself is not so common and the gift of song-making not 
so usual ; let us therefore value them while they are here 
and give them their due homage. 

One specific and important phase of this song-literature 

is represented by ^^a-writers who 
Tappa-writers. possess this vocal quality in no mean 

degree; but to many a modern reader 
the exact signification of the term lappa seems to have 

been lost. A tappa is generally taken 
Meaning of the word to fe a me l dious trifle, a savoury 

tappa. < 

little lyric of the erotic type in which 


eroticism connotes wanton or ribald sensuality. Tappa, 

however, is a technical term which denotes, like dhrupad 

and kheyaly a specific mode or style of musical composition, 

lighter, briefer yet more variegated. Etymologieally 

derived from a Hindi word which means ' tripping ' or 

'frisking about' with the light fantastic toe, a lappa means 

a little song of a light nature. ' It is more condensed than 

dhrvpad and kheyTd, having only asthayi and antara, and 

certainly more lively. Being essentially a specific style of 

musical composition, songs of all sorts, erotic, devotional 

or otherwise, may be composed in 

Its characteristic this style ; but it was suited by its 
quality and impor- J J 

tance. very nature for lighter love-songs and 

in Bengali at least it had established 
itself peculiarly and principally for that purpose. As its 
name implies and its history shows, the tappa is not indi- 
genous but it was imported from abroad. It deals with 
the " minor facts " of art unable by its form and nature 
to compass the " major " : but it has a distinct value as an 
entirely novel mode of art and .as a protest against the 
conventional literary tradition. 

When Nidhu began to sing and Nidhu Babu is the 

earliest important tappa-writev of whom we have any 

record we have, on the one hand, the dictatorship of 

Bharat Chandra and of Ram-prasad, 

A new trend in song. on t h e ther, the flourishing period 

of Kabi-poetry and other forms of 

1 See JogeS Chandra Ray, Bangala Sabda-koia nnder tappa. In 
Bangit tansen (1299 B. S., pp. 66-69) two styles of musical composition 
are mentioned Dhrupad and Rangln gan; under dhrupad there are 24 
varieties while Rangln gan is of 50 kinds. Kheyal and tappa are said to 
be varieties of the latter class. In Sangtt-rag-kalpadrum by Krsnffnanda 
Byas (Stthitya Parisat ed. 1916, vol. Ill, p. 294), Nidhu Babu's tappas 
are comprised under Bangala Rangln Gan. Tappa, unlike Kabi, Pamcholi 
or Yatra, was essentially Baithakt gan (or songs for the drawing room) 
which was appreciated chiefly, if not wholly, by the upper classes. 


popular literature. If the date of Bharat Chandra's 
death be 1760 and that of Ram-prasad a few years later, 
Ramnidhi Gupta must have been at that time a young 
man of nineteen or twenty : and the influence of Bhara- 
Chandra and Ram-prasad existed widely throughout this 
period even down to the middle of the 19th century. On 
the other hand, all the earliest Kabiwalas and Pamchali- 
kars were Nidhu Babu's contemporaries, for the latter 
lived up to 1838. Nidhu Babu therefore and most of the 
tappa-vrviters who followed him were born and bred up in 
the midst of the conventional literary tradition which these 
two characteristic phases of contemporary literature 
represented. But Nidhu Babu followed neither of these 
beaten paths ; he struck out into an entirely novel and 
original line. With the examples of Bharat Chandra's 
Bidyasundar and of Ram-prasad 's devotional songs on the 
one hand, not to speak of the isolated imitations of still 
earlier styles, and with Kabi-gan and other forms of 
popular literature, on the other, Ramnidhi chose to inaugu- 
rate a new type of love-poetry in Bengali, in imitation of 
Hindi tappa and kkeyal y no doubt, but with a consider- 
able indication of an original vein. Considering the 
unquestioned dominance of the current schools and traditions, 
it is no little or mean indication of courage, originality 
and genius to establish a new mode of art ; and in this 
respect the importance and originality of Nidhu and the 
ta/jpa-v/ riters can never be exaggerated. 

The characteristic charm and value of these tappiis, there- 
fore, lies in the fact that they are 
Its freedom and spontaneous and free. They are not 
hampered by time-honoured conven- 
tions nor do they pay any homage to established schools 
and forms of art. They speak of love, no doubt, an eter- 
nally engaging theme with poets of all times, but they do 


not speak of Bidya and Sundar or of Radha and Krsna. The 

poet looks into his own heart and writes ; he Binge of 

his own feelings, his own joys and sorrows, his own 

triumph and defeat ; he does not seek the conventional 

epic or narrative framework for the expression of what 

he thinks and feels nor does he take refuge under the 

cloak of parakiya bhab which earlier poets thought 

essential. The exquisite lyric cry becomes rampant and 

universal. Ancient literature is mostly 

and assertion of the objective, if not always narrative and 
personal element. * 

epic ; the inward feeling seldom or 
never out-tops the outward vision ; and whatever the poet 
speaks of himself he expresses through his suitable mouth- 
pieces. With the tappa-wiiters came an outburst of the per- 
sonal element, an overflow of sensibility, an enfranchisement 
of the passion and the imagination : for the universal heart 
of man must be touched through what is most personal and 
intimate. The sense of the difficulty and complexity of 
modern problems is, no doubt, absent in them nor do they 
possess the finish and refinement of modern lyrics, yd 
the tapp a- writers foreshadow in their own way that ins- 
trospective element which has since developed itself in such 
great measure some think out of all measure in modern 

The tappa-xvriters, therefore, possess originality at an 
epoch in which nothing of great value was being produced 
in poetry ; they attempt at simple and natural, though not 
colloquial, diction and write with ;in easy and careless 
vigour; they are truthful to nature and avoid frigid 
conventionality and classicality. But they had as mud) 
of the new spirit as their readers 

Novel and original wer e then fit for; and though their 
but not entirely mo- 
dern, work contained the seeds of the im- 
pending change of taste, it is an 


absurdity to represent them as thoroughly revolutionary 
or entirely "modern." Regarded from the standpoint 
of form, their songs incline more to the old than to the 
new. They write with ease and naturalness, no doubt, but 
the varying measures and melodies of the coming age 
were not for them. In ideas and general tone also they 
did not venture to go beyond certain limits. They pre- 
serve in a degree the old posture and the old manner. 
But in spirit and temper, if not in anything else, they 
herald the new age. The contrast between them and 
writers like Jaynarayan Ghosal, who was almost contem- 
poraneous, will exhibit the whole 
Intermediate place difference between the old and the 

between the old and 

the new spirit. new poetical instincts. They were, 

therefore, like intermediaries between 

the old and the new poets and, although casting a lingering 

look behind, they stand at the threshold of the new age of 


Ramnidhi Gupta (or simply and endearingly Nidhu 

Babu) was the earliest and by far the most important 

writer of this group. There was a time 

NidhTBabu, th U e Pt ear^ when P eo P le went into ecstasies over 
liest and most impor- Nidhu Babu's songs and singing. 

tant tappa -writer. # " 

It is not clear whether Nidhu Babu 
was the first dealer in this new species or whether it was he 
who introduced it into Bengali ; but the extraordinary 
power which he displayed and the enormous popularity he 
enjoyed justify the high eulogy bestowed upon him by his 
gjlorious nickname " the Sori Mina of Bengal." As a 
result of the capricious instability of changing taste, Nidhu 
Babu's songs are sometimes severely deprecated to-day 
and seldom read; yet from the artistic as well as histori- 
cal standpoint, these neglected songs, it must be admitted, 
possess considerable value and importance. 


Ramnidhi Gupta was born in 1741 A. D. (1H8 B. S.) 
in the house of his maternal uncle at the village of Chain pta" 
near Tribenl. 1 His father lived at Kumartuli in Calcutta 
where Nidhu's descendants still reside. Nidhu came with 
his father to Calcutta in 1747 where 
he learnt Sanscrit and Persian and 
also a bit of English from a missionary. 2 Through the 
efforts of his co-villager Ramtanu Palit, dewan of Chhapra 
Collectorate, he obtained 3 in 1776 the situation of a 
clerk in the same office where he continued for 18 years. 
He gave up the post through a difference of opinion 
with his official superior Jaganmohan MukhopSdhyay 
who had succeeded Ramtanu in the office of the dewan, 
and returned to Calcutta. While residing in Chhapra, 
Nidhu used to learn the theory and practice of music from 
an expert Mohammedan musician but on finding after 
some time that the master was unwilling to impart his 
knowledge to such a quick-witted disciple he gave up 
Mohammedan music and himself began to compose 
Bengali songs on the pattern of Hindi tappas. He 
married thrice in 1761, in 1791, and in 1794 or 1795. 
By his first wife he had a son who died early ; but by 
his third wife he had four sons and two daughters, of 
whom the eldest son and daughter and the youngest 
died in his life time. He lived almost for a century 
and died at the very advanced age of 97 in 1839. 4 

1 These biographical details are gathered from various sources 
but chiefly from the account written by Isvar Gupta in his Sathbud 
Prabhakar (SrSban 1261 B. S.) from which is compiled also the life 
prefixed to the 3rd edition of Nidhu Babus Qitaratna, published in 
1257 B. S. 

1 Narayan, Jaistha, 1323, p. 739. 

8 Journal of the Bengal Academy of Literature, vol. i, no. 6, p. 4. 

1 For more details, see my article in Sahitya Parisat Patrika, 
1324, pp. 108-110. 


During the time he lived in Calcutta he obtained 
considerable popularity by his music and his song. 1 A 
big shed was erected at Battala Shobhabazar when Nidhu 
used to sing every night before an appreciative assembly 

of the rich and the elite of Calcutta ; 

subsequently the sitting was shifted 
to the house of Rasikchand GosvamI of Bagbazar. Nidhu 
Babu was never a professional singer; but he was eagerly 
sought for and respected by the higher social circles of 
the then Calcutta. Though himself only an amateur 
and not a Kabiwala, it was chiefly through his efforts 
that in 1212-13 B. S. a "reformed" Ukhdai party was 
established in Calcutta. Mohan Chand Basu of Bagbazar, 
who first introduced hap-ak/idai and set the tide against 
the fashion of habi and akltdai, first learnt the new 
style from Nidhu Babu whom he always respected as his 
master. 2 We also learn that Nidhu was a man of grave 
and sedate character but of contented and cheerful dis- 
position. There are rumours about his partiality for 

one Srimatl, a mistress of Maharaja 

Mahananda of Murshidabad ; but 
his biographers 3 take pains to show that this was nothing 
more than the intimate feeling of cordial friendship.* 
Nevertheless many of his love songs were inspired by 
her and composed in her honour 5 . 

1 That Nidhu Babu was an expert musician and that the musical 
quality of his songs was of a very high order is indicated by the fact 
that Krsnananda included nearly 150 songs of Nidhu Biibu in his great 
oyclopaedia of Indian songs. In any estimate of Nidhu Babu's 
tappaz, this feature can never be ignored. 

2 Prefatory life in Gltaratna : also Sambad Prdbhuhar, loc. cit. 
But see preface to Manmohan Gitabali. 

3 Prefatory life in G'ltaratna ; Sambad Prabhakar, Sraban I, 1261. 

The stories relating to Srimatl and Nidhu Babu given in 
Xaraya7i t loo. cit. are mere gossipy fables taken from a cheap ill-authen- 
ticated Battala publication, which was first brought to my notice by 
Babu Basantarafijan Ray of Sahitya Pariat. 



An accurate and exhaustive collection of Nidhu Balm's 

tappas has not yet been published. A year before his 

death was published his Gltaratna Grant/ia, 1 which 

purported to be a complete collection 

His Gltaratna Gran- of hig SQ Ifc conta ins a preface 

tha how far authentic r 

and reliable. in which the author states his inten- 

tion of publishing- a correct edition 
of his songs which had circulated in various forms. A 
revised edition of this work with a short sketch of 
Nidhu Babu's life (compiled chiefly from Sambad 
Prabhakar) was published in 1868 by his son Jaygopal 
Gupta. This edition does not differ materially from the 
first; the only additions take the form of 7 ak/idai 
songs, one brahma-sangll, one si/amabisa^ak git and 
one banlbandana. There are numerous inferior editions * 

1 It contains 141 pages, of which pp. 1 -8, in the copy possessed 
by the Sahitya Parisat Library, are wanting. The title-page says : 

tw^rt? csns ^fe ^i ii 4$ *t^ cfl^tttsjft ^wrfa ci^ra ${ti 
5R * Ttte ^rc^*t ^tof *ttwi I 

3 In 1252 B.S. (1845) Krsnauanda Byas RagusSgar in his encyclo- 
paedic anthology, Sangit-raga'lcalpadrum gives a collection of Bengali 
songs in which he includes more than 150 iappas of Nidhu Bftbu 
mostly taken from Gltaratna (31 Ed.) and arranged almost in the 
same order. In 1257 B.S. (1850) an edition (marked as 3rd edition) 
of Gltaratna was published from Battala but it contains numerous 
doubtful songs taken from other sources, the genuineness of which 
however is extremely questionable. In 1293 (1886) was published 
Banglya Sanglt-ratnamala or Kabibar Nidhu Bubur Gltaball a very 
uncritical collection compiled by Asutos GhosSl (from 55 College 
Street, Hindu Library, Calcutta). It contains about 160 songs ; but 
in order to make the collection attractive, songs from different sources 
are passed off as Nidhu BSbu's. The same remarks apply also to the 
more recent edition (2nd Ed. 1303) of Nidhu Bubu's songs published by 
Baisnab Charan Basftk from Battalff entitled Gitabalt or Nidhu Bdbvr 
(Ramnidhi Gupter) Yabatiya Gltasaihgraha. Besides these, selections 


and various anthologies were published in later times but the 
two editions mentioned are the most authentic sources of 
Nidhu Babu's songs. But even in Gitaratna, songs are given 
of which the authorship is uncertain ; and it cannot be, 
at least, in any way taken as a complete and exhaustive 
collection of the songs of Nidhu Babu. 1 Some songs, for 
instance, which are given here are also to be found in 
Taracharau Das's Manmatha Kabya (1247 B.S.) Banwari 
Lai's Yojana-gandha or munsi Eradot's Kuraiigabhanu (1252 
B.S.), although it cannot be definitely determined whether it 
is a case of unacknowledged appropriation by subsequent 
authors.. On the other hand, the famous song <5t*TCtf^ 
*9I <*t*Hlft I *fat* wft <^ c^rl ^ ^t* srtft^ 2 is 
attributed successively to Siidhar Kathak, Ram Basu 
and Nidhu Babu and is not included in Gitaratna. Such 
celebrated songs as the following TO^?T C*Tfa C$*{ I ^tfa 
fV vm* <TfST ^1 W\ TO-fcR II 3 or Ostltfa ^1^1 <*fa Gtt<\ 
4 *lffa^t*T I or ssFj c&tfl fc ^ ^5 I ^ft ?t^T <t*TCffa 
CI ^ ^t^Ttft^s II 4 always attributed by tradition and by 
different editors to Nidhu Babu are omitted in Gitaratna. 6 

from Nidhu Babu's songs are given in the numerous anthologies of 
Bengali songs and poems such as Sai'tglt-sar-sarhgraha ( BafigabasI edition 
1306) vol. ii ; Rasabhandar edited by Chandra Sekhar MukhopadhySy 
(Basumati office, 13G6) ; Bangalir Gan (BangabSsI) ; Pntigiti, edited by 
Abinas Chandra Ghos ; Baiiga Sahitya Par'tchay, edited by Dinesh 
Chandra Sen, etc. But the songs in these anthologies are often 
indiscriminately selected from various sources (besides Gitaratna) 
and are very unreliable from the standpoint of critical scholarship. 

1 This qnestion has been discussed in some detail in my paper 
in Sahitya Parisat Patrika (1324, pp. 103-107). 

3 Sangltsar Sanigraha, p. 875 ; Pritigiti, pp. 153-154. 

3 Ibid, p. 851, ibid, p. 127 ; Rasabhandar, p. 107. 

* Prltig'iti, p. 376 ; Nidhu Babur GitabalT, p. 172. According to 
others, it was composed by Srldhar Kathak. 

5 In HangiUrag-kalpadrum and among the additional songs in 
the third edition of Gitaratna (p. 148), the curious song beginning 


This will indicate not only the uncertainty of author- 
ship which bears upon many of these songs but also it 
will probably demonstrate that the Gltaralua does not 
exhaust all the songs of this prolific song-writer. Never- 
theless, published during his life time and directly under 
his authority and supervision, the Gltaratna must be 
taken as the original and the most authentic and reliable 
collection of Nidhu Babu's songs. 

To many a modern reader Nidhu Babu is known only 
his name and reputation ; his tapp&i are very seldom read 
or sung and are often condemned without being read or 
sung. Writing only sixteen years after Nidhu Babu's 
death, Isvar Gupta says : *1WC* 'ftsf' 'fsre* WC^*{, fal 
ft^ "ffife fw, *tffc ^ fa^fa %53 srfa, fa *5[m ^, fa 
*tt*t* m$, fa TtSOT STty fa fa ? vst^l &V ^C^R I 
The established reputation of many a bygone songster 
has, no doubt, been swept away by capricious change of 
taste from their venerable basements ; but the chief ground 
for assigning Nidhu Babu's works to obscurity and oblivion 
is said by unjust and ignorant criticism to be its 
alleged immoral tendency. Kailas Chandra Ghos in his 
pamphlet on Bengali Literature (1885) mechanically echoed 
this opinion when he wrote ' ^tf<T ^fa^t'l %^ ^sffavol si* 
and Chandrasekhar Mukhopadhvay is not less severe or 

with T*ta ^Tfal? 5R 5tf$ W.V m $\i $f\l is given as Nidhu Babu's; hut 
it waa composed hy Ananda Nar/lyan Ghos, author of Ottaball, oh 
the bhanita ^Hc**fH Ht^VR tr fsfTTl <$! *R would clearly indicate and 
similarly in Baiiglya saiigit ratnamulCi, the song headed f*|f}fl> ^fiTO Hl>*{ 
and attributed to Nidhu Babu is to bo found in Michael Madhnsudan's 
Padmubafi. In the Battahl edition Nidhu Babw G'ltubatl as well 
as in Anath Kryna Dob's Banger Kabitu the song C5t*ini fa^ 1C* 3ffc 
W Ctf^ft ?& is assigned to Nidhu Babu but its author js Jagannfith 
Prasad Basu Mallik and it is omitted in OV -alna (See Pritigiti, p. 


unjust when he rejected these songs as vulgar expression of 
sensual passion which is, to quote his words, ' ^HlPwtirtd 

sffifosF >l It cannot be denied indeed that there is a tendency, 
in these old-time songsters, of seasoning their songs with 
indelicacies and audacities of expression which were 
sometimes very enjoyable to their audience ; but what we 
have already said on the moral tendency of the Kabiwalas 
in general and of Ram Basil's biraha in particular applies 
to a certain extent to the present question. Without 
entering into the problem of art for art's sake or art for the 
sake of morality, the whole controversy over the alleged 
morality or immorality of these songs is somewhat irrele- 
vant or futile. We must take them for what they are 
worth and guard at once against reading rigid morals 
into them or condemning them for want of morals. In 
the first place, we need recall what 

Crude workmanship Bankim Chandra said with regard to 
but naturalness and _ 

sincerity. similar allegation on Isvar Gupta's 

poetry (' 5*R C*ltr<F 1%^ C*Ttfel ^ ^t*[- 

3tf*T5 ; t|*R WS ^*HT C^ft^R ^^t*t ') and this distinction 

between gross and fine workmanship is essential and lies 

at the very root of certain definite aspects of ancient and 

modern Bengali literature. Inspite of all its faults this 

gross workmanship has one great advantage, viz. t that 

if it is savage, uncouth and grotesque it is at the same 

time trenchant, vivid, and full of nervous and muscular 

energy. Polished or refined embroidery has its charm, no 

doubt, but it is also factitious and artificial. It lacks the 

tone of easy, genuine and natural passion; it is something 

1 In the same strain M. M. Haraprasad Sastrl speaks of Nidhu 
Babn's tappus as ^tt>5f%3 ^FfWfa ^ft and even a critic like 
Bankim Chandra could not resist the temptation of having a fling 
a;t them in his Bisabrksa. 


soi-disant, insipid and incomplete. The distinction 
drawn by modern critics between ornate and grotesque 
manner, between gothic and classic art, though over- 
worked and often misunderstood, is one of the funda- 
mental distinctions applicable to a certain extent to this 
case also. It may be a matter of taste whether a man 
prefers jagged angularity to harmonious roundness; 
but what is angular, what is gross, what is grotesque 
is nearer life in its primal sensations and in its terrible 
sincerity. It is like the ore fresh from the mines with 
all its dust and dross yet pure and unalloyed. In the 
songs of the Kabiwalas and in the tappas of Nidhu Babu, 
we enjoy these rugged sensations of the natural man, 
if you will, who regards his passions as their own excuse 
for being, who does not pretend to domesticate them or 
present them under an ideal glamour. Their outward 
ruggedness is a mark of inward clarity. It is partly for 
this reason that these gross and chaotic songs possess so 
much appeal for the robust and keen perceptions of the 
masses but are entirely inaccessible to the decent, com- 
fortable and self-righteous attitude of the bourgeoisie 
or the refined gentlemanliness of the aristocrat. 

These poets were, therefore, in a sense realists or in- 
terpreters of real and natural emotions; and their songs 
are in the legitimate tradition of nature, although not 
always acceptable to the refined palate of the literary 
taster. It would, however, be absurd at the same time 
to suppose that these songs do not possess any touch of 
that idealism without which no poetry is poetry; they 
have enough of idealism but they do not deal with ab- 
stractions or live ujx>n the air. Take 
Intense realism of f or j ns t an ce the intense realism of 


their idea of love. With them, Love 
is not a cold white ideal rising moon-like over the rapt 


vision of the love-sick shepherd-prince. It is not extra- 
mundane, volatile and vague, losing itself in the worship 
of a phantom -woman or rising into mystic spirituality 
and indefinite pantheism; nor is it sicklied over with 
the subtleties of decadent psychologists or with the 
subjective malady of modern love-poets. It is exaspera- 
tingly impressionist and admirably plain-speaking. It 
does not talk about raptures and ideals and gates of 
heaven but walks on the earth and speaks of the insati- 
able hunger of the body and the exquisite intoxication 
of the senses as well. For these poets realised, as every 
true passionate poet has realised, that passion in its 
essence is not idealism which looks beyond the real but 
idolatry which finds the ideal in the real ; for passion 
is primarily and essentially realistic. It cannot live upon 
abstractions and generalisations ; it must have actualities 
to feed upon. It is not our purpose to consider here 
whether this idolatrous intoxication of passion is good or 
bad ; but it cannot be denied that it bore ample fruit in 
the astonishing realism of their love-songs and brought 
their poetry nearer to world and life and to the actual and 
abiding spirit of love. 

Love is conceived, therefore, in its concrete richness 

and variety, and not merely under its broad and ideal 

aspects. This essential realism of passion leads the poet 

to take body and soul together and 

Nidhu Babu's tap. not accept t he one for the other. He 

pas not offensive or x 

immoral. is therefore always strong, vivid and 

honest, very seldom dreamy, ethereal 

or mystic. A sort of traditionary ill-repute, however, has 

very unduly got itself associated with the tappas, especially 

with the exquisite bits of Nidhu Babu's songs. There is 

a good deal of frankness and a passionate sense of the 

good things of earth, it is true ; but even judged by very 


strict standard, his .songs are neither indecent nor offensive 
nor immoral. 1 The tone is always proper and although there 
is the unmistakable directness of passion and the plain 
humanity of their motif*, there is absolutely nothing which 
should drive critics into such strong opinions of condemna- 
tion. Even during his life-time and ever siuce his death, 
Nidhu's tajjpaa obtained such extraordinary popularity and 
currency that even low and vulgar doggerels have passed 
off as his own. His Gltaralna has never since been re- 
printed and his tappas to-day are seldom favoured j the 
modern reader, therefore, understands by Nidhu's toppa* 
the cheap vile and worthless street-songs which are sold 
in the name of Nidhu. It is no wonder, therefore, that 
his songs are taken as synonymous with kheud and bad 
taste. In reality, however, no lappa is more tender and 
exquisite than the lappa of Nidhu. 

There is not much of artistic workmanship in Nidhu 

Babu's songs ; but there is lucidity as well as flavour in 

his poetical style, and tenderness and emotional force in 

his expression. There is no elabora- 

His artistic merit .. .. . , 

and imperfections. tion or fineness, no verbal dexterity, no 

prosodic variety or profusion of 
conceits and ornaments. The poet is absolutely indifferent 
with regard to his rhymes which are often faulty nor is he 
studiously fastidious with regard to word-selection which 
is not often impeccable. There are very few songs which 
taken as a whole are invulnerable in form or artistic re- 
quirements; and like most of the Kabiwalas he is singu- 
larly unequal, often great in single lines, in couplets, in 
'patches/ but devoid of the gift of sustained utterance. 
Lines or verses like these taken at random 

1 An attempt has been made to analyse Nidhu ttabu's love-songs 
and show that they are not sensual and vulgar in my article in the 
Sahitya Pariqat Patrika, 1324-121. 


Hm 5rt srtft *?tf| *rfft fo *ot ffip i 

3>fa3 faff ^ ftw farc 
^W ^tfef HW OTPH 4*H II 2 

^ro 5wct *tfa *fikffc< s$ *tfa 
f% srrft fi* ^ *& ?* c^r ii 3 

Itfa:*! ^R *!fa ^ TO ^fa 

<?riwi stst* 35 ^ft ft^fir u 4 
fftlt $:W *t$ ftwR 5pW ii 6 

c^r iff* ^m ct **m 

*mti *&n y$i ^tft* iftps ii 7 
tos ^fr^ ^t^r ^ft^ fa ^^? ii 8 


1 Gitaratna, 3rd ed., p. 130. J 26id, p. 119. 

3 Ibid, p. 79. * Ibid, p. 100. 5 Ibid, p. 132. 

Ibid, p. 20. 7 Jbtd, p. 137. 8 Ibid, p. 44. 



CW^ 4*TC Sft3 *fo tftfl II ! 

^tftm fa ' 5 rN npr *M ?<HE3 ii * 

fa^rl fail fofMU *rt*rfare srtft Wfif 
^tfa *rf3far W c^fore (sfore ii 3 

are examples of undoubtedly tine but spasmodic bursts of 
the miraculous gift ; but, excepting a few poems which are 
flawless gems in form and substance, his verse often 
stumbles and halts where there is need for a brisk and 
sustained pace. 

But he was undoubtedly a poet of high natural endow- 
ments, and the untutored feelings and passions of his 
heart he could express with unparal- 
But true poetic qua- \e\ed terseness and precision of 

lity. . 

touch. The rarest poetic feeling is 

oftener found in simpler verse than in an elaborate 
and studied masterpiece. The best and most characteristic 
of Nidhu Babu's songs are love-songs ; but the limited 
subject of his verse never matters much, for in them he 
sometimes reaches a variety and a simple yet magnifi- 
cent quality which is beyond the accurate black-and- 
white artist. His oft-quoted songs 

^rore C?tt <?R I 

maw ^m m *w\zs art* c*3 i 
dftft fa isrtre *m 31 to *rcft9i3 ii 

Ibid, p. 41. * 2bd, p. 12. s Ibid, p. 9. 


c$ *rfc^ >R3R ^S (?T^ ^u TOTfaR || i 

ti vfin c^iw i 

*Tf* f% (71 ^ ^ft C^tt gfa <^<j ^| 

w* OT*tffe f*rc*t ^f% ^s^ i 

<7T f^ <ff*rc ^t^T CT fe *K* *tTO II * 
or even some of his less known pieces 

ft* *t*R ^fe tfftW ^tfare I 

^rtft c*rfa ^rf^f^r^ czfaus czfaus ii s 

^ro wmmN ?rrft^ ^ *ma ii 

ft* ^f* <srt^ aft ^ ^Wfi ii 4 
^1 ^s *fa^ $f w$s\ &i ^rfffi 

<*t*tft ^* n ^rr^tf* *^tt*t ii 5 

Omitted in Gltaratna, but given as Nidhu Babu's in Pritigiti, p. 154 ; 
Sahglt-sar-samgraha, vol. ii, p. 875; Rasabhandar, p. 107. 

Omitted in Gltaratna but given in Gltaball or Nidhu Babur 
Gltasamgraha, p. 131 ; Rasabhandar, p. 106. In Pritigiti the song is 
attributed to Harimohan Ray. 

a Gltaratna, p. 87. 

* Ibid, p. 87. 

Sahgit-sar-samgraha, vol. ii, p. 850 ; omitted in Gltaratna. 


*${ 5R TO* *Jfa ^It* ft*!** 

st^ fatter *rrft ^*rfo ^tre ii ' 

are fine instances of what he was capable of achieving 
at his best ; and his best is not something to be lightly 
spoken of. 

Nidhu Babn in the preface to his GUaratna states 
that his book is not the first of its kind in Bengali ; to 
what other works of the same nature he refers cannot be 
determined but we know for certain the existence of a 
collection of songs by Radhamohan Sen, a Kayastha musician 
who lived at Kansaripada, Calcutta, and who published his 
Sahgit tarahga 2 in 1818 (1275 B. S.) This work, however, 
is an elaborate treatise on music with the description of 
various Ragas and Hagim* and is 
Radhff Mohan Sen and m no way directly concerned with 

hie Sahgit taraiiga. t 

our enquiry. It however contains 
about 123 songs subsequently collected together and 
published with some additional pieces in the author's 
later work Rasa-sara-sahgit (1839). These songs, though 
very popular at one time, are not all tappai nor do they 

1 Qltaratna, p. 21. 

* There is a copy of the first edition in the S&hitya Parisat 
Library bearing this title-page 18?fa 33* I <5faf3j^ | )9l<rMi*4 <7H Vp\ I 
f3 | *fa*tsMS *t*lfa I C-tfW I ^WH *l%* I ftli **T *TC mi > 
*faf | pp. contents and 1-267. Another edition in 1256 B.8. by his 
grandson Adinath Sen Das. An excellent edition of this work has 
been published by the Bangabasi Office and edited by Harimohan 
Mukhopadhyay in 1310 B. 8. (1903 A.D.), which also includes 
additional songs from Raaa-sara-savgit . 


exhibit any marked literary characteristics. 1 His short 
piece. 2 

to* ^% *fe <*m ^fa i 

TO ^ft ^ffi* CW C*T *ft II 

**rcl ff%l *rfa **i f% ^ft ii 3 

is so much better than the rest that it would be hardly 
fair to quote anything else unless we could quote a good 
deal more. 

The minor group of lyrists and songsters iu this sec- 
tion are not always strictly speak- 
The minor songs- m g writers of tappas ; but they wrote 
on amatory, devotional and other 
themes. It is unprofitable to take them in detail ; for 
none of them, not even SrTdhar Kathak or Kali Mirja, 
could approach Nidhu Babu in variety, extent or power, 
though all of them show more or less a touch of the 
natural vocal quality. Their songs (excepting perhaps 
some deservedly popular pieces of Sridhar) do not possess 
the rare merit of uniting the grace and imagery of the 
lyric to the music and fashion of song. They are 
hardly literary and are often carelessly made : they are 

1 His <8[tfa iitfl, *1 stft, tSIC* TO I fall 1HrtW ** *W1 #R I etc. 
is often praised but is chiefly imitative of Jayadeb's ^ftfr^SFSt^ft?! 
5Tfa? ^SWRftTO, of Bidyapati's ^f%Q IfR ^ W$\ ?ltf? I 3fa 1 Wf 
Ifl f" ^Rtlt and of Ram Basu's fl ^ C^, <5ftfa ^F5f, C^R s^faTtre 4d 
?f%' 5 lt% I The idea is conventional. 

- Besides the BangabasI edition, Pritigiti gives a good selection of 
Radhamohan's noticeable pieces. 

3 Sanglt-taranga (BangabasI edition), p. 20. 


not meant to be read with tone and feeling but really 
demand to be sung. And what has been said with regard 
to the musical quality of the songs of the Kabiwalas apply 
with greater force to oj9a-writers who were primarily 

Of these later (a/;joa-writers, Srldhar Kathak stands 
next to Nidhu Babu in popularity, 
6ridhar Kathak. poetic merit and probably in chrono- 

logy. Informations about his life 
and character are uncertain, indefinite and mostly un- 
realiable. He was born in the village of Bansbedia, 
Hughli, probably in 1816 (12-23 B. S.). His father was 
Pundit Ratankrsna Siromani and his grandfather was 
the famous kathak Lalchand Bidyabhusan. Srldhar 
himself was a kathak of considerable power having learnt 
the art from Kalicharan Bhattacharyva of Berhampore 
but from his youth he was attached by natural proclivi- 
ties to kali and pamchali parties. The songs which are 
now attributed to Srldhar are, however, all of the tuppa 
type and for these he is justly cele- 

His (appag curiously brated. Unfortunately* the rival repu- 
mixed up with those of ( 

Nidhu Bfibu. tation Ramuidhi has created much 

confusion and led to the general 

attribution of many of Sridhar's songs to Ramnidhi and 

it is almost impossible to-day to disentangle satisfactorily 

this question of disputed authorship. The famous song 

<sr|*rfa wft < csW ^ fa *tfTO ii 

^ft $^C*fftF5 *Tffa (Tf^fl fare *itfaw II 

is popularly assigned to Nidhu Babu for none but Nidhu 
Babu was supposed capable of producing such a beautiful 


piece ; but the song really belongs to Srldhar and is not 
included in Nidhu Babu's Gltaratna. The same remark 
applies to two other fine songs which deserve to be 
quoted here 

i *n% iti, Ffa fw *ra*r *\wn 

csfa ^<r ^rtfsi jtf c*ti off* sifa 
**% ^woi tti #f% Wfa ii 

osmt^fa *f*i tfc ^ ^*t}^ 

fwt ^t^rr^^ ^ # ^ srtforei ii 

The number of Srldhar's songs which have come down to 
us is very limited and not more than one hundred songs 
may be found attributed to him in different anthologies. 1 

Sridhar is undoubtedly one of the finest &z/;/;a-writers 

of this period, although he moves within a very limited 

and inferior range. Most of his songs 

wr iter. speak of the bitterness of disappointed 

love and breathe a note of tender 

passion marked* more or less by absence of rhetorical 

1 In Bangabhasar Lekhak (vol. i, p. 360) mention is made of 169 
songs by Srldhar; Love-songs 121, and songs on Krsna and ftfidha 
35, Syamabisayak 4, Gauribisayak 9, besides some miscellaneous 
padaa. But these have not yet been published. Altogether nearly 
a hundred songs will be found assigned to Srldhar in different 
anthologies and selections. 


subtlety and presence of lyrical directness. Sridhar, like 
most of his contemporaries, is often slipshod and careless ; 
but he is always forceful and direct. His faults are faults 
common to the group of too rapid composition, diffuse- 
ness and a certain share of the tricks and mannerisms 
of current verse : yet when he beats his music out, it has 
a touching and tender quality. In his best songs the 
words are few but the linked sweetness of his long-drawn- 
out melody has a charm of its own. We have quoted 
some of his well-known songs ; here are two from his less 
known pieces. 

sn ^-\u\ *\\ ^u\ ^t*i ^ itre c*\$ ^ 
Tifam wi st* *y$ <$n ^u II 

^ffi^Fi ^ *^1 <5t*rat*rts fa *ttN i 
rrfa t*i*t6i Ttra c\ ^ <tw sri CTtci 
to c^ ^tfa to ftss nft 4 ^raiii i 

It is impossible to overrate the quality displayed in 
the above passages, and one can, therefore, understand 
easily how Srldhar's songs got so curiously mixed up 
with Nidhu Babu's masterpieces. But, inspite of this 
extraordinary charm, Sridhar is a singularly unequal poet 
and shines best in a volume of selection. Many passages 
are mere fustian ; others have a beauty not often 

1 In Premahar (a collection of love-songs) ed. Kijirod Chandra Ray 
(1886), pp. 94-95 the text of this song has a slightly different wording. 


surpassed. Sridbar remains, therefore, a poet great by 

We pass briefly over the name of Kalidas Chatto- 
padhyay (better known as Kali Mirja) a tappa -writer of 
tolerable power and musician of great repute, who 
flourished in the early years of the 19th century. His 
songs, both for their substance and their music, had 
obtained such instant and merited 

Kalidas Chattopa- ., . , Tr , 

dhyay (Kali Mirja). currency that when Ivrsnananda 
Byas Ragasagar compiled his enor- 
mous cyclopaedia of songs in 1845 (1252 B.S.), 1 he 
thought it fit to include more than 250 songs of Kali 
Mirja's composition. He was the son of one Bijayram 
Chattopadhyay, a native of Guptipada which was at 
one time the seat of Hindu learning. Kalidas is said 
to have learnt music in Benares, Lukhnow and Delhi ; 
and his appellation irja is said to betoken his high 
skill and proficiency in that art. After residing for 
some time with Pratapchandra of Burdwan, he came 
to Calcutta where he lived thereafter under the 
magnificent patronage of Goplmohan Thakur. He 
passed his last days in the sacred city of Benares and 
died there, before 1825. 

Kali Mirja composed songs on a variety of topics, 

secular as well as religious, of which his tappas and 

h/aniZibiscujak songs obtained considerable reputation. 

In his devotional songs, he follows 

Character of his the tradition of Ram-prasad and in 

songs. r 

one or two pieces he has been able to 

1 The entire work, Sahgjt-raga-kalpadrum was published between 
1842-49 ; the volume containing Bengali songs was printed in 1845. 
The date given in the introductory portion of Kali Mirja's Oitalaharl, 
published by Amrtalal Bandyopadhyay in 1904, is incorrect. See 
preface to Sangit-raga-kalpadmm (Sahitya Parisat edition, vol. iii, p. 2). 



catch the spirit, if not the devotional ecstasy, of the 
earlier devotee 

^tts sr ^ his qfti ^tt*t*f 3*t*CT 
v5j^ -srft *rej q^, ^t^t ^t*ft ^m <tre ii 

fcs 51^ C*fl *TC &K1, *TC TO <*rtc* ^1 II ' 

The same level and average quality also characterises 
his songs on Radha and Krsna and his tappas. His songs 
are uniformly pedestrian, if not always flat and dull, 
and monotonously destitute of the peculiar touch of 
phrasing, the eternising influence of style which charac- 
terises the songs of Nidhu Babu or Sridhar Kathak. 
The only feature a feature however which is hardly 
engaging is his tendency towards the traditional rhe- 
torical style and his fondness for tasteless conceits and 
crude devices of punning and alliteration. There is more 
of conventional poetical imagery than of natural emotion 
in his songs. One illustration would suffice 2 

^m.^ ^m stnr vfk* c^fto ^ i 
to sttfs to ^rc stst* to* ^ I 
ufa 5* *rte* srrft s$ wstm 
f tfa *rc* faum qft 5*3* & ii 

1 Gttalahari, pp. 56 and 64. 
9 Ibid, p. 102. 


This brings us practically to the end of the group of 

fa/?/?a- writers 1 who chronologically belong to our period, 

although in matters of date and 

Later group of chronology we are not on absolutely 

toppa-wnters. * / * 

firm and safe ground. The tradi- 
tion, however, was carried on beyond the middle of the 
19th century. In Sangit-raga-kalpadrmn, published in 
1845, we find the songs of Kalidas Gangopadhyay, Sib- 
chandra Sarkar, Sib Chandra Kay and Ananda Narayan 
Ghos and Asutos Deb (Chhatu Babu), all of whom 
must have flourished in their poetical glory between 1820 
and 1840. Later on we get Jagannath Prasad Basu 
Mallik of Andul, KasI Prasad Ghos of Simla, Calcutta, 
author of Gitabali and of a large number of English 
lyrics, Jadunath Ghos of Belur, who wrote Sanglt Mano- 
ranjan, Ramapati Bandyopadhyay, author of Sangit- 
miiladarsa, Hari Mohan Ray, Ram Chand Bandyopadhyay, 
Dayal Chand Mitra and a host of others. This minor 
poetry is of a strangely composite order vacillating between 
the finest poetic quality of Nidhu Babu and the dull flatness 
of Kali Mirja. Instead of dealing with these latter- day 
songsters in a piecemeal fashion here, we reserve them for 
detailed treatment in the next volume ; for the import- 
ance of this movement did not end with the period with 
which we are at present concerned but continued to be 
sufficiently prominent even in the next quarter of this 

It would be convenient to notice here briefly the devo- 
tional songs of this period, which, though dealing as they 

1 Gopal Ude does not properly belong to this group of Baithaki- 
tappa-writers. He was a yatrawala and although his songs go by the 
name of tappa, in quality and kind they belong to a different species. 


do with an entirely different theme and forming" a group 
by themselves, represent a phase of song-writing of this 
period closely connected with the writing of the pas- 
sionate love-lyrics. From individualistic and secular love- 
songs to the ecstatic and personal expression of religious 

longing is but a step, the intermediate 
Devotional songs stage being supplied by the songs 

bearing upon the personal-impersonal 
theme of the loves of Krsria and Radha. But it is re- 
markable that while tappa-vrriters like Nidhu Babu, 
Srldhar Kathak or Kali Mirja often pass on from love- 
lyrics to devotional songs, the writers of devotional songs 
like Ram Prasad or Kamalakanta, on the other hand, 
seldom condescend to the more mundane theme of per- 
sonal love-lyrics. 

The most interesting bulk of these devotional songs 
relates to the worship of divinity under the special image 

of Sakti, although there are several 
relating to Sakti- son g w hj c i, re ] a t e to other religion* 


cults. Its origin must be traced to 

the recrudescence and ultimate domination of the Sakt /-cult 

and Sakta form of literature in the 1 8th century, which 

in its turn traced its origin in general to the earlier tUntric 

form of worship. Ram-prasad, the greatest exponent of 

this kind of song-writing of this period, began his career 

however as the author of the conventional Hidya&undar ; 

but even through the erotic atmosphere 
Ram-prasad; his tran- r , , . , ,p , ,. ., 

sition from Bidyatun- <* this half-secular narrative poem, the 

dar to devotional devotional fervour of the fikta-Wor- 


shipper expresses itself. The same 

may be said, although in a lesser degree, of Bharat Chandra 

who was also the author of a few devotional Sakta lyrics. 

But when Ram-prasad later on realised the superiority 

of his ecstatic religious effusions as something more 


congenial to the trend of his life and genius and burst 
forth even in the pages of his more studied and literary 
narrative poem 

the literary world began to be flooded with the tuneful 
melodies of religious ecstasy as a reaction from the com- 
paratively arid thraldom of conventional verse. 

The conflict between the Sakta and the Baisnab sects 
obtains in Bengali literature from time immemorial. As 
on the one hand the Baisnab poets, steeped in the specu- 
lative, mj'stic and emotional realisations of the Srimad- 
bhagabat were giving a poetic shape of their religious long- 
ings in terms of human passion and 
The Sakta and the emotion anc | fi gur i n g forth the divinity 

Bainab poets ; their \ * 

different literary me- as an ideal of love, were attempting 

to bind the infinite through the finite 
bonds of life's sweetest and best affections, the Saktas on 
the other hand were singing the praise and describing the 
gloiy of Adjii Saiti through their Chandi maiigal poems. 
Regarded as literary ventures, these longer and more 
studied efforts of the Sakta writers, no doubt, hold a conspi- 
cuous place in ancient Bengali literature but the Saktas 
could not attain the lyric predominance and passionate 
enthusiasm of Baisnab song- writers : for there is a 
better scope for losing oneself in poetic rapture in dealing 
with batmlya, sakhya, dasya, madhurya and the other fami- 
liar and daily felt emotional states than in describing in a 
sober narrative form the feats and glories of the particular 

deity. The tantras no doubt inculcate 
J*^L MolC **. MP of the deity under the 
first realised by Ram- i ma ge of the Mother ; but no votary of 

the cult before Ram-prasad realised the 
exceedingly poetic possibilities of this form of adoration, We 


cannot indeed definitely state whether Ram-prasad was the 
first poet and devotee to realise this : for we find contem- 
poraneously with him a host of such song- writers as, either 
independently or influenced by him, wrote in the same 
strain. Raja Krsnachandra himself was a composer of 
such songs and we find the literary tradition maintained 
in the royal famil}- by his two sons Sibchandra and 
oambhiichandra, as well as inferior members of the same 
family like Narachandra, Siischandra, Nareschandra and 
others. A few songs of this style still remains which 
contain the bhanita of Maharaja Nanda Kumar. It cannot 
be said that all these song-writers were iuspired by the 
example and influence of Ram-prasad ; on the contrary, 
they might be following a course of religious and literary 
development which had begun independently but which 
was made so resplendent by the superior faith and genius 
of Ram-prasad. Whatever might be the fact, it cannot 
be denied that it was in Ram-prasad that this new form 
of adoration of the Supreme Being under the image of the 
Mother a form naturally congenial to the Bengali tempe- 
rament finds its characteristic expression and discovers a 
new, easy and natural mode of religions realisation through 
fine songs, reflecting intense religious fervour in the exceed- 
ingly human language of filial affection. The image of 
divine motherhood, to Ram-prasad and his followers, is not 
a mere abstract symbol of divine grace or divine chastise- 
ment but it becomes the means as well as the end of a 
definite spiritual realisation. Rising to the radiant white- 
heat of childlikeness, these poets realise in the emotions of the 
child the emotions of a devotee. Like the child, the poet 
is now grave, now gay, now petulant, now despairing, not 
with the capricious purposelessness of a child but with the 
deep intensity of purposeful devotion. Thus, not only Ram- 
prasad in his numerous songs but even his follower, Kumar 


Narachandra could indulge in such intimate, familiar yet 
significant expressions towards his special divinity: 

C^n^I GUM WB iff* H& ^Jt^l ^ ^StCI 

CtHtf ) c#<t <**(& f$*t till srtfa ^ m-fcj fai 11 

These spiritual effusions of devout heart, therefore, are 

in a sense beyond criticism j and in order to appreciate 

these songs one must realise the entire mentality of these 

devotee-poets, their systems of belief, the earnestness, 

warmth and vigour of their simple faith, the transport 

and exaltation of their spiritual mysti- 
Character of these cigm What thege tg { 

songs. l 

not the meditative speculation of 
systematic philosophers, nor the intellectual subtlety of 
trained logicians nor the theological commonplaces of 
religious preachers, but the life-long realisation of an 
intensely spiritual nature. The songs, therefore, represent 
not a professional effort but a born gift, or a gift acquired 
through religious worship and aspiration. It is, however, a 
gift or an enthusiasm, which is in fact an inspiration, a 
mood of divine madness which draws from visible and 
familiar things an intuition of unknown realities. Its 
treatment of the facts of religious experience is not the 
less appealing but all the more artistic because it is so 
sincere and genuine, because it awakens a sense of conviction 
in ourselves. The temper is essentially that of a secular 
lyric. It is not transcendental nor beyond the sphere of 
artistic expression because the inspired artist makes us feel 
the reality and universality of his individual passion, and the 


mystery of his mystery stands clear and visible in its own 
familiar light before our eyes. 

This transfiguration of the primeval instinct of filial 
affection of 

A child crying in the night 
A child crying for the light 

into a religious phantasy or poetic rapture is a remarkable 

achievement of Ram-prasad's songs. The incommunicable 

communion between the human soul 

Transfiguration of a and thedivineis communicated through 

primitive human in- 
stinct, and appeal for a the exceedingly familiar and authen- 

more emotional form .. . , .. * ., iji * u 

of religion. "C intensity or the child s reeling 

for the mother. This new stand- 
point vivifies religion with a human element and lifts 
one of the primitive elements of human nature into the 
means of glorious exaltation. It brings back colour and 
beauty into religions life and appeals to the imagination 
and the feelings. Its essential truth lies in its appeal for 
a more emotional religion and in its protest against the 
hard intellectuality of doctrines and dogmas. It is not the 
isolated expression of moral or religious ideas but its fusion 
into a whole in one memorable personality, expressing it-elf 
in a distinctly novel yet familiar mode of utterance, which 
makes these songs so remarkable. The tantric form 
of worship has its terrible as well as its beautiful aspect ; 
in these latter-day Sakta writers we find an assertion of the 
rights of the emotional and the a>sthetic in human nature. 
In this view the achievements of Rfun-prasad, ably seconded 
by other devotional songsters who followed in the line, is 
of a kind which most of the "-rent religions or moral leaders 
of the race in some way or other performed and which 
opened up a new source of elevating joy. 

But in this idea of the Divine Mother {matfbhab) which 
primarily follows the authority of the lanlrats and the 


natural mental bent of the age and the race and the indi- 
vidual, Ram-prasad was not little in- 
influence of Bainab fl ue nced, directly or indirectly, by the 
Baisnab idea of balsalya. Through- 
out the history of the Sakta and Baisnab conflict we find, 
no doubt, the two sects directly antagonistic to each other 
and in Bharat Chandra, even in Ram-prasad himself, we 
find the virulence of a militant sectarian zeal. But, as on 
the one hand, we find a Baisnab poet like Chandidas mak- 
ing use of tantric imagery and tantric idea of mtc/takra- 
sadkan, 1 on the other we see Ram-prasad, a confirmed 
Sakta poet, considerably influenced 

and imitation of b y Baisnab ideas in his Kali-Mrtaii 

and Krsnakirtan. Not only does he 

imitate in places the characteristic diction and imagery of 
Baisnab padabalis but he deliberately describes the gostha y 
ras, milan of BhagabatI in imitation of the brndaban-lUa 
of Srlkrsna. It does not concern us here whether the 
girl Parbatl figures in a better artistic light with a benu 
and pachanbadi in her hand or whether the picture deserves 
the sarcastic comments of Aju Gosvami 2 ; what we need 
note is that here as well as in his agamani songs, Ram- 
prasad is unmistakably utilising Baisnab ideas. This 
imitation of the brndaban-lila or of the baUalya bhaba of 
Yasoda for Bala Gopal was, however, not wholly isolated, 

st* *$* *ft$ *t?rc fan *r ii 

quoted from Chandidas in Blr-bhumi (new series) vol. ii, p. 15, which 
see for a masterly exposition of Prasadl sangit. 



sporadic or objectless. It indicated a general desire with 
these poets of the 18th century to 
Its object. afford a common ground of reconcilia- 

tion and good feeling between the 
two antagonistic sects. There is no distinction in reality, 
says Ram-prasad in many a song, between Bisnu and oakti, 
between Kali and Krsna. 

^SET 4FF ft5 ftcst 4*P I* ^<T Rj GWtWfi II 

This attempt at removing dvesadresi (ill-blood) and at 
establishing the ultimate identity of the different images 
of the godhead is at the root of the later song of 

CI Q\ (M^ m\ *f?TCl CW *R ^*m *R *1 II 

^ 3tw r?i ^ ^ftc^r $s\ "np^pi citfiw fa i 

*cs tiiOTlc^ *rcs *iw ^fa *rfa^n *ra *ot i 
dfW ct arc ^t* <5src c^few ^ts *fac*T m i 

These devotional songsters in general and their precur- 
sor Ram-prasad in particular, therefore, established, through 
the current from of &/X7/- worship, 
Originality of Ram- tempered by natural human ideas 

prastld and his follow- ' 

er. derived from the no less human 

Baisnab poets, a peculiar form of 

religious-poetic communion and, realising this in their own 

life removed from the turbid atmosphere of controversy, 


they expressed the varieties of their religious experience in 
touching songs accessible to all. There is no other 
conspicuous instance of this type of Sakti- worship through 
the Matr-bhaba in ancient literature. The classical example 
king Suratha's propitiation of the Aclya Sa/cli described in 
the Markandeya C/iandl is altogether of a different kind ; 
nor could the earlier Bengali Chaiidi-authors, who indulged 
themselves in hymns or elaborate narratives of praise, 
anticipate the sentiment of tender devotion and half- 
childish solicitation of Ram-prasacL 1 In this respect the 
originality of Ram-prasad is undoubted and it exalts him 
to a place all his own. 

The Baisnab poets, again, describe in their exquisite 

lyrics a type of love which is lifted beyond the restrictions 

of social convention and their love- 

These songs acces- lyrics, passionate and often sensuous, 
ible to all without . ... . 

discrimination. may, in the uninitiated, excite worldly 

desires instead of inspiring a sense of 
freedom from worldly attachments. The songs of Ram- 
prasad and his followers, on the other hand, are free from 
this dangerous tendency. Although these simple and 
tender longings for the Mother may not, in thought and 
diction, compare favourably with the finer outbursts of 
the Baisnab poets, yet they are accessible indiscriminately 
to the uninitiated as well as the initiated, to the sinner as 
well as to the saint, to the ignorant as well as to the 
learned. They constitute the common property of all, and 
as in the case of the tender love of the mother, every 
human child has an equal claim to share it. 

1 The exceedingly humanised picture of Gauri or DurgS in Rame- 
svar's Sibayan or even in Bharat Chandra's Annadamangal represents 
an altogether different phase of perhaps the same humanising tendency 
in contemporary literature. 


But this exceedingly difficult task of writing religious 
songs which should be at the same 
Dulness and artifici- time artistic and passionate has its 
Sla^oVS: own dance,, and pitfalls. Wh,n the 
prassd. inspiration does not reach its high- 

water mark, the resulting song is apt 
to be either dull and flat or laboured and artificial. There 
is nothing like the dulness of a religious writer at his 
dullest. This trait, now and then noticeable in Ram-prasad 
himself, is often very marked in the less inspired song- 
writers who accompanied or followed him. There is not 
much in these inferior poets (always with exceptions, of 
course) which is worth detailed study or attention and we 
shall pass over them as briefly as pos- 

Rajff Sibchandra and sible f the two sons of Raia Krsna- 
KuraSr Sambhuchan- . x. * 

dra. chandra, Raja Sibchandra and Kumar 

$ambhuchandra, the latter is a better 
poet, no doubt, but his productions are stilted and conven- 
tional and are of too trifling a quantity to deserve any 
further comment. The production of Kumar Narachandra, 
a member of the same family, are however more abundant 
and are of a better quality, though not absolutely free from 
the same trait. He could reproduce the spirit and even 
the language of Ram-prasad pretty well. We select three 
of his songs (beside one which we have already quoted) 
which are not so well-known as they ought to be. 

CH <sffi ^11% ftft 1 tl stiffs ^t*J rfo 

is\*\n tn fwfa or it *rrc*rfa *rft*itt rc*i ?tt 11 


C*R faf sil ii ^* ffcfW Of I1 *NW ^ 

%^ *ltl iito c*R *it* Wt rfl ii 

flW TOE *W HOTS 5?27 <5ft5fl CTO 

11 3t1 C*1t5 f*tt $ *tH ^fi^t* <5t^1 ^t^ II 

ci *? nfotra era *tw fw fa wl *tt* i 

wrftoi *1 *CT fa *tffa lit* srrw* w II 

ii 11 ^ *F5 $t^ SCT 35 H W? *Tfa 

^i c<wfa 5rrft-c^(^1 ^$*fi ^ ^trc ii 

Such simple yet direct utterance become rarer as we 
pass on to later writers of this group. The following 

songs which bear the bhanita of 
Dewan Nandakisor N anc j a kumar is supposed by some to 

be the composition of Nanda Kior 
Ray, Dewan of Burdwan Raj, but may possibly be a soli- 
tary song of Maharaj Nandakumar accidentally preserved. 

^r ^itfa cm ^CTtft^ i 

f^ to**!*!* ^?jfw ShrN ^t* 
uPWjBWfc >mtw W$ ^swWI II 


W$ m$ ^WtT f^S ltd C^ffTft^t II 

This song is quoted here not so much for its historic interest 
nor for any special merit but as a specimen of the artificial 
and tedious style of later poets. The same tendency of 
indulging in symbolism, didactics and banalities under a 
spiritual glamour is also remarkably noticeable in the songs 
of Dewan Raghunath Ray of Burdwan, 

Ra De i750 i836 hUnSth a brother of NandakiSor; but Raghu- 
nath was not a Sakta of the narrow- 
type and addressed several songs to Krsna as well, in some 
of which he maintains the eventual identity of this Baisnab 
deity with the special divinity of his adoration. It is 
hardly necessary to quote specimens but the following song 2 
is the nearest approach to the style of Ram-prasad which 
had been all along the deservedly recognised standard. 

^W %* *itfa tf^cro if* i 
^*w fas it^ts gtffttOT c9it qfir ii 

1 The bhainta has Nandakamar and not Nandakisor. 
* The bhavita of Raghunath in these songs is Tfa<M. 


Thus Burdwan, like Nadiya, had been for a long time the 
centre of these activities, and we find even Maharaja Maha- 
tabchand, who was a song-writer of no mean merit, carrying 
on this literary tradition till his death in 1897. Of this 
Burdwan group the most famous and indeed the most 
remarkable poet is Kamalakanta Bhattaeharyya, a native of 
Ambikanagar in Kalna who subse- 
Bhattacharyya, quently removed to Kotalhat in Burd- 

wan and lived under the royal patronage 
of Maharaja Tejaschandra. Of the later group of devo- 
tional poets, Kamalakanta approaches Ram-prasad very 
closely in tone and feeling and style. Mahatabchand 
printed in 1857 from the poet's own manuscript nearly 250 
songs which have been thus beautifully preserved. This 
collection was reprinted in 1885 by ^rikanta Mallik in 
Calcutta under the title Kamalakanta Padaball 1 and it 
certainly deserves reprint again. 

It is impossible within the limited scope of our plan 
to analyse these three hundred songs in detail or to quote 
extensive specimens which alone would illustrate the depth, 
variety and beauty of Kamalakanta's songs. Like the 
songs of his great predecessor Ram-prasad, his songs reveal 
to us the inward history of his spiritual life, the various 
stages of his religious experience from worship and adora- 
tion to the attainment of the state of highest felicity. It 
is not his meditative speculation nor his theological tenets 
nor the vague coating of symbolism in his songs which 
constitute their charm ; over and above all these tower his 
spiritual sense, his imagination and his emotions, his extra- 
ordinary personality ; and the palpitating humanity which 
vivifies every line imparts a soul-felt meaning to his 
devotional songs. He expresses common needs, common 

1 A copy of this was lent to me by the Sahitya Pari^at Library. 


thoughts, and every-day emotions of the religious man ; 
and if he is a mystic, his mysticism is not of the esoteric 
order. It is difficult to quote specimens when one must 
confine oneself to a limited number but the following songs, 
well-known as they are, are quoted to make them better 

Wfll fr| 5$ W Tl C^t* C^*l 5>ft W\ ftWl I 

sft ^ faro* farcstfs arc* WW ^t^r 1tl h 
fiMf^tCT c*fe CWt sift Wltfl 'S^^tara vSW II 

snftfi rc*i sc*t cwWi Then pi i^ *n <*re* ilwl h 

^TfaTffS* **I1 JTtlTF ^ TOW *N1 

<5rffl?r srrt* *rf*i1 $fa #WI *&to TOT <^*i few ii ' 

*tf*i T* *J5Tfa cifri I 

3)?nw?r fw ^fts cw fNft fa *1 ft^ft (?uti ii 

csfttt uttw f^t ** tt ^f ^t^i ^*nr 01 1 

St* ^fifrj <7p\f*ft C?fa5 IflCT fft *tt* Wfa $fo II 

tifa c*\z*\ ^ ^t^r ^ nft s(fi c^tii 

'STf *tft (M* it^* C^*R ^5t*Tfat^ W% C^tfr II 

5t*t tn ^t*r <rt*t w^l fo ^t* fa* rtlft 

*rfft *rt*t fifla irafe *hr *(f re ^tf* *tOT c^tft ii 

F*I* fp? 3t1 fa*5 Wll4t* *tfltf C*&1 

4r *rtt* cite* c*^ *it^nr ?^t* *rtr st^rc* cvft ii - 

One characteristic note of these sougs is its sincerity, 
a sincerity which redeems even the slightest song from 
insignificance and confers on the finer pieces an imjwrtance 

1 Kamalakanta PodabalT, p. 20. " Ibid, p. 39. 


of a different order from that which attaches to even the 
most brilliant productions of his contemporaries. The 
popular opinion which places Kamalakanta next to Ram- 
prasad is fully justified, and we conclude by quoting the 
lines of Nilambar Mukhopadhyay, a later poet, who 
eulogises Kamalakanta and Ram-prasad in the same 

srtom ersfl ffc* *rrfa i 
VftW *TC^"ft ^ ^ft ctfn II 

?rfasmtff 4^ *rfa cfa mtfi wax* vft 

^i^rr^t^ cs* faros nrw *Uz%% cTtw 
Tfat ?r c^t^Ttt Ift *t% II 



Miscellaneous Writers in the Old Style. 

The period of interregnum in poetry which followed 
upon Bharat Chandra's death had been, we have seen, essen- 
tially a lyric interval in which we find the Kabiwalas, 
Writers of the poeti- tapy a -writers and authors of devo- 
cal interregnum. t j ona ] S011 g S cre ating a body of litera- 

ture which, if not great in positive achievement, is at least 
remarkable in the negative quality of marking a natural 
reaction against the ornate and classical type of literary 
practice of the 18th century. At the same time the groups 
of writers mentioned never separate themselves wholly 
from the traditions of the past nor do they work their way 
from the older to the newer style of the 19th century. 
In this sense, they are neither ancient nor modern ; neither 
do they represent the past adequately nor indicate and 
foretell the future. They were at the same time incap- 
able of great literature ; nor were the times suitable for it. 
They are not, it is true, idle singers of an empty day ; but 
they deal essentially with trifles, though with trifles 
poeticallv adorned. Oceupving, as 

The intermediate 
position of . the lyric they do, an intermediate position 
songsters, Kabiwala. between th(1 anpipnt an( ] the moclmi 
and others. 

writers, they yet afford no natural 

medium of transition from the school of the past to the 

school of the present. They create a literature of their 

own, limited and circumscribed by their own peculiarities 

and the peculiarities of their circumstances, too old to be 

entirely new, too new to be entirely old ; for although 

possessing lyric quality, they have little affinity to modern 


lyrists nor can they be definitely affiliated to any recognised 
school of ancient writers. 

But the poets and songsters jwhom we propose to take 
up in this chapter, unlike the writers already dealt with, 
definitely and unmistakably tread in the footsteps of the 
old-world poets. Their poetic gift move within the narrow 
compass of conventional art, and though exhibiting widest 

individual differences, these imitative 
VVnters dealt with poefcs are bound } th& eommon 
in this chapter are L J 

however * relics ' or characteristic of belonging to the 
1 survivals ' of earlier i , ., . - , ... ... 

days, and belong in P*^* both in form and spirit, Beiug 
spmt and form to the thus artificially limited, they are 

hardly original, except in so far as 
they may vary a single tune by playing it upon the several 
recognised stops. This department of verse, therefore, 
is singularly depressing. Except in inspired snatches, 
there is hardly anything of first-rate quality, and the great 
bulk of this narrowly imitative literature is flat and 
tedious. The recognised literary species had been already 
suffering from exhaustion of material and the declining 
powers of these belated imitators could hardly impart to 
them a spark of vivifying force. 

Want of subject-matter and of capacity for original 
achievement is precisely the defect of this poetry. In the 
first place, we have a group of writers who follow the time- 
honoured tradition of translating the 

TTritow Md gr0UPB f Sanscrit Ramayan, Mahabharat and 
Srimad-bhagabat into the vernacular. 
Next we have a band of minor poets some of them not 
merely minor but insignificant who wrote verse-tales of 
the erotic type in imitation of Bharat Chandra but who 
could not reproduce his poetry as they could magnify the 
dull obscenities which unfortunately taint his writings. 
After them, come a host of miscellaneous songsters most 


of them literary nondescripts among whom we need 
notice in some detail the authors of pamchali and t/afra. 

The translators of this period inherited the tradition 
but lost the art which had made their 
predecessors Krttib3s or KaSidas 
immortal. A little before 1760, we have a number of 
notable translations among which may be mentioned the 
delightful version of Gitagobinda by Giridhar, but after 
1760, this department of literature is hardly graced by 
any remarkable achievement. The translators of this 
period hardly exhibit any striking literary feature and it 
would serve no purpose to recapitulate their half-forgotten 
names. Of these, however, Raghunandan GosvamT, though 
not exactly a translator, is remarkable for his re-writing 
of the themes of Ramayan and BhUgabat. Raghunandan 1 
was, as he himself tells us, born in the village of MaVjo near 

Mankar, Burdwan. His dates are 
Raghunandan Gosvami. ,. , . - *. 

not exactly known* but he undoubt- 
edly belongs to our period, for Raj-narayan Basu in his 
Ekal Sekal i elates how Raghunandan used to come very 
frequently to Calcutta to meet the , lexicographer, 
Ramkamal Sen. His two considerable works are Srt- 
RaM-rasay an and Sri RadJia-Madfiabodaya,bes\des GTtnmfifa t 
a work on Krsna-llla. Although both these works belong 
chronologically to a later period the latter, as its colophon 
says, 3 having been composed in 1849 and the former 

1 He gives some account of himself and his family at the conclusion 
of his Kam'ra8ayan. 

a The Bangabasi edition of his Ram-rasayan gives 1786 (1193 B. S.) 
as the date of his birth. 

Sl*trWfTOrt: Stew ^ ttc*sur *rtw *wt titfe fmm* 

mtSfcH *ftffattft'2ttt1**v ^SfPtK I Published by the author's son 
Madan Gopal Gosvami in 1890 (1297 B. S.) 


probably in 1831 ' it could be convenient to notice them 

briefly here. His Ram-rasayan, a voluminous and laborious 

production, is a tolerably well written version of the 

Ramayan chiefly based upon Valmiki 

tSrl Ram Rasayan 

but supplemented from other sources. 
The language is clear, vigorous and picturesque, although 
indicating a decided leaning towards Sanscrit words : and 
the work is composed throughout in the payar metre, 
occasionally diversified by varieties of tripadl and other 
common metres. Strictly speaking, the author is not 
close or literal or even faithful in his version which is 
more than a mere translation. There are considerable 
additions and omissions 2 and the whole theme is treated 
with a freedom which characterises most of the early 
translators. The author possesses a marvellous narrative 
gift which makes his work interesting. It is not accurate 
to state that the author is merely a learned pundit entirely 
devoid of poetic gift 3 or power of delineating character 
but his poetic gift is not equal to his capacity of rhythmical 
expression and his command over a more or less finished 
style. In spite of all its faults, it is however a very 
remarkable production and to regard it as perhaps the 
best Bengali version of the Ramayan after Krttibas is 
not altogether unwarranted. In his next work, Sri-Radha 
Madha odaya, however, the Baisnab Raghunandan found 

1 This Hate is given in the preface to the Bangabasi edition, also 
in Bangabhasar Lekhak, p, 249. It could not have been, as Dinesh 
Chandra Sen states (History, p. 193), composed in the middle of the 
18th century. 

- Especially in Uttarkanda. 

8 See especially the poetic description in <ni*tj'^t9, 3& *ff?C5? 

fafWfat8, *fe tflQlV, and the last chapter on Ijl^fatf^? K*ffa^ 


a more congenial subject and greater scope for poetical 
treatment. Its essential theme is 
X*. ?\ BSdW the time-worn yet eternally delightful 

Brndabana-llla of Sri Krsna beginning 
of Sri Radha's ragodaya (dawning of love) to the final 
rax-flla. The work, written in a kabya form, is divided 
into thirty four Ullasas or chapters in which the whole 
course of Radha's love is elaborately depicted with the 
rapture of a devotee and the enthusiasm of a poet. The 
first few chapters which described the germination 
(bhabankiirodgama) and growth (bJtabaprakaha) of love in 
Radha's heart and the first meeting of the lovers through 
the contrivance of PaurnamasI and Madhumangal two 
unique creations of Ragunandan's are written with 
considerable skill and poetic spirit. 1 It may be described, 
in a sense, as a systematic Baisnab Kabya. 

But in both these works, Raghunandan exhibits the 

same decadent tendency towards finical nicety and metrical 

dexterity, towards frigid conceits, 

Characteristics of conventional images and elaborate 

his writings. 

metaphors, which marks all poetical 

writing, secular and religious, since the time of Bharat 

Chandra. In the narrative portions, Raghunandan is easy 

and natural enough and shows a considerable gift of quiet 

humour; but in his poetical description he affects, in 

common with his contemporary poets, an elaborate and 

artificial style. His weakness for the display of metrical 

skill, again, is very marked. Besides pat/ar and tripadl, 

he makes use of a large variety of metres miijkSp , 

1 For an appreciation of tlieso chapters, see M. M, Haraprasad 
Sastri's article in Nnrayov, 1322-23, vol. i, pp. 31-43 and pp. 638-648. 
Madhumangal, however, is not an original creation of Raghunandan's 
but be was a more or less conventional figure of the bidufaka type, in 
the popular yatras. 


ekabali, lalita, totaka, pajjakatika. jamaka, tunaka, matra 
brttichatuspadi, sodasaksarl kafichl jamaka, to mention 
only a few in his Had ha Madhabodai/a. The following 
description of the heroine's beauty, although showing 
considerable skill, is yet conventional and illustrates the 
author's leaning towards sanscritisation. 

sjfs? *^s jnflhw ^%*f fPi ii 

frfl<3T8R-W-*tR *|W $lfo *tCT I 

<^ 9t^i |Wt-i ??mm <sft*i ii 

Bill $f% TO* ^ fa* ^^5 #t^t I 

<*rf^ *ttg* *fe ^* fa*\u\ ^fr8t ii 
^nt^B ^rf% ^^5 *tf"t*w ^t^sf 1 ii 

The same remark applies to the following description 
of Ram in his fiam-rasayan 

FS^Hm-^ftsp^ fsr^-'RfTO'Pf II 

^irtt-^f-^iPrs ^ to 5 ! ^f% ^ti i 
to3M&-3ih$i *i c 7te!> ^* flN ii 

^f^tw-f^ft^ ft*ff ** tw ^a ii 

**3nfM%iHw4pfl *fa <fa ii a 

1 Radhamadhabodaya , p. 81. a i?aw Rasayan, p. 931. 


These short lyrics are, however, inadequate for giving 
an idea of Raghunandan's style ; but they will sufficiently 
indicate both his merits and defects. Raghunandan is by 
no means a slovenly writer but in his striving after technical 
perfection, he is often elaborate and artificial. His writings 
display faultless execution and a great command over the 
language; but ingenuity and verbal or rhythmic dexterity 
can never supply perennial nutriment for art. It is only 
when Raghunandan rises above these prepossessions and 
he does this not very seldom that he exhibits poetical 
quality of no mean order. 

Next to Raghunandan, the royal poet Jaynarayan 

Ghosal of Bhukailas" (1751-1821) deserves mention. After 

spending the greater portion of his 

Jay-nsrayan Ghosal, \[f e j n tne service of the Nawab and 


in the confidence of the company Jay- 
narayan obtained the title of Maharaja Bahadur from the 
Emperor of Delhi. During his last days, he passed a 
retired life of religious devotion at Benares where he has 
left too many traces of his large-hearted benevolence. 1 It 
was here that he conceived the idea of translating the KaH- 
Khanda into Bengali. The whole history of the under- 
taking is said forth by Jaynarayan himself in the last 
chapter of his work. 2 The translation, begun in 1792, 
was completed in a hundred chapters (about 11,200 lines) 
under the joint authorship of Jay-naravan, Nrsimha Deb 
Ray of Patuli, Jagannath Mukhopadhvay, BakreSvar 
Panehanan and several other scholars and poets. After 
the completion of the hundred chapters, several supplemen- 
tary chapters, which stand by themselves, were added by 

1 For more details about his life, see Sahitya Parxqat Patrika, vol. 
vii, p. 1-25; Sahitya, 302 pp. 1491-6 ; Preface to the Sffhitya Parisat 
edition of Jaynar&yan's Ka*i-parikrama, 

2 See Kaii-pcmkrama (Sahitya Parisat edition), Ch. xiii, pp. 222-24. 


Jaynarayan himself, giving a more or less faithful picture of 
contemporary Benares drawn from the poet's own observa- 
tion. The work itself is a tedious and laborious compilation 
but this supplementary account, which is the best part and 
J, _. i, _ which has been published separately 

His Kasi -parikrama. . A J 

under the title of Kasi-parikrama, is 
indeed very interesting as a good specimen of descriptive 
poetry of this period. The topography and other details of 
the holy city are given with elaborate care, and in places the 
descriptions are original, amusing and considerably realistic. 
The pari tramas are not rare things in old Bengali literature 
and we have Nabadvlpa Parikrama and Braj apart kramd of 
Narahari Chakrabartl and a prose Brndabana Parikrama 
belonging to the 18th century. With these works of the 
same nature Kasi-parikrama does not compare unfavour- 
ably, and as a more or less trustworthy contemporary 
account of the holy city, the work is certainly valuable. But 
from the strictly literary point of view, it seems to possess 
little interest or importance. Jaynarayan is a facile and 
methodical versifier but he is hardly a poet. The pictorial 
nature of his theme no doubt afforded many opportunities 
for higher poetical flights but the author is so entirely 
devoid of the soaring gift that he is uniformly and hope- 
lessly pedestrian, although occasionally he gives us 
undoubtedly vigorous descriptive verses. He has no fancy, 
no enthusiasm and his over-praised composition 1 is often 
merely prosaic and always rigidly conventional. The only 
praise which he deserves relates to the fact that although 
he adheres both in spirit and form to the traditions and 
expectations of the time, he yet devotes a stern attention 
to the realities of scenery and character described. His 
pictures, however, sadly lack a touch of that light which 

^inesh Chandra Sen, in History, loc. cit. in Sahitya, loc. cit. ; Nagendra- 
nath Basu, preface to the Sahitya Parisat edition of Kaii-PariTcrama, 



was never on sea and land and which alone could have 

made them poetic. He is a good photographer but not a 

painter ; and whose considers him as such may appreciate 

him better. Jay naray an *s other pub- 

Hi8 Karuna-nidana. \[ B \ ie ^ wor k, Karuna-nidan-bila*, 1 al- 

though less known, is much better 
production. Purporting to be a work devoted to the 
glorification of the special deity whose image the author 
had set up at KaI and from whom the book derives its 
name, it really treats of Krsnalila in a refreshingly 
original and poetical way. 

Other minor writers, who favoured the old style and 
belonged to this group, need not and can not in a book like 
this dealt with at much length. We must, however, 
mention, if not enlarge upon, a school of poets (or rather 

versifiers) who were the direct imita- 
chandra. tors f Bharat-chandra and continued 

the style of Bidyasnndar even beyond 
the fifties. Bharat-chandra, like Ram-prasad in another 
sphere, had been through his Bid yamndar the ruling power 
for nearly a century. Writing under the shadow of his 
genius, this belated group of writers are all servile copyists, 
reproducing the style and scheme of his Bidj/atundat down 
to minute details but unable to repeat its poetry, they 

exaggerate its freedom into licence. 
Poor and vulgar rp he j efca i| g f Sundar's amours, his 

imitation of Bidyn- 

sundar. intrigues, his capture and ultimate 

union with Bidya are all repeated 

anew in a more or less diversified form ; but the 

1 A printed copy of this will be found in the Calcutta Imperial 
Library. The book is included in tho list of books published by the 
School Book Society before 1821. Long, in his article in Calcutta 
Review, xiii. 1850, describes this work as "an account of a new god 
recently created by a rich native." For an account of the work, see 
Sahitya Pariqat Patrika, loc. cit. 


stories are brutally and uncontrolledly indecent, although 
generally presented like their prototype under the 
all-atoning garb of religion ; and their heroes are typical 
Don Juans in the worst sense. The plots are more 
elaborate and the series of adventures desperately fantastic, 
though presented with the monotonous sameness of scheme. 
There are places where Bharat-chandra is free and coarse 
enough, but in these his gifted followers attempt to outdo 
their master in his own ground and hobble along in 
wretched drawing out of the vulgar parts of the theme, 
floundering in the mud which they delight in but which is 
as foul and dull as ever human imagination could conceive. 
The versification is poor, the descriptions dull and conven- 
tional, and there is hardly any elevating poetic touch or 
other redeeming feature in these verse-tales, which are never 
graceful but always graceless in one particular. It would 
be a mistake to attribute all this to the influence of Persian 
tales, for it is not clear whether these foreign tales were 
abundantly accessible and well-known 
Their depraved taste to the wr jters of this generation and 

not due to Persian 

influence. even when accessible, it is not clear 

whether such tales are really as bad as 
they are often represented to be. The Persian tales, to 
judge from the specimens which have survived, very 
seldom sink to that depth of indecent realism where these 
productions of a degenerate and depraved taste do often 
wallow j on the other hand, these elaborate Bengali tales 
unmistakably bear the stamp of Bidgasundar-style run 
riot. It would be better to regard them as representing a 
phase of the development of literary taste in this period of 
unstability and degeneracy which is also partially reflected 
in the kheiid of the Kabiwalas, in the grossness of certain 
aspects of hap akhdai, tarjd, pamchali and other productions 
of the same type. Most of these verse-tales are now scarce, 


suppressed by the law and never allowed to be reprinted, 
and it is not necessary to drag them out of their deserved 
obscurity ; but there is evidence to show that from the end 
of the 18th to the middle of the 19th century this prolific 
literature, outrageous as it is to all taste, obtained consider- 
able favour and currency. The earliest surviving specimen 
of these tales, however belong to a period posterior to 1825 
and do not therefore properly come within the scope of this 
volume, although it is quite probable 
The most flourishing that ifc was preceded by a host of 

time of this htera- similar productions, belonging to an 
ture. falls outside our , * ' 

period. earlier date, which are now lost to us. 

Kali Krsna Das's Kaminl Kumar, 

however, is placed by some at the end of the 18th century, 

but the earliest printed copy 1 that we have seen bears the 

date of 1836 ; while Chandrakanta, the next well-known 

piece cannot possibly belong to a much earlier date. 

Madan Mohan's Basabdatta, written in the same style but 

with finer power and greater delicacy, was first published 

in 1837. These were followed by a host of other works of 

the same type such as Tarachamd Batta's Manmatha 

Kabya (1814), Munsi Eradot's Kurahga-bhanu (1845), 

Umacharan Tribedl's Madan Mad hurl (1856), Banamall 

GhosaTs Padmagandha-upZikhyan (1864), Bisvambhar Das's 

Rajanlkaida (1870), Gobinda Sll's llciiihtfa-lxafikaula 

(1870 ?) all belonging to a period between 1840 and 1870. 

This would, therefore, amply indicate that between these 

dates there was an exuberant growth, if not recrudescence 

'The copy in the Siihitya Parisat Library is wanting in the title- 
page. The date given in the text is the date given in a copy lent to me 
by a friend but which is now lost and is probably the date of tho first 
edition ; for there is a copy of Kali Krsna's other work, Manbhaiijon, in 
the Sahitya Pari$at Library boaring 1866 (Saka 1778) as the date 
apparently of the first edition. It is not unlikely therefore to boH Hint 
Kall-Kr^na's works belong to the period betweon 18.'36 and 1856. 


of this reactionary literature, helped probably by the re- 
printing of Bidyasundar in 1836 and 1847. 

The miscellaneous poetry of this period is so unmanage- 
ably scattered and so diversified that it presents a difficult 
problem of selection and of satisfactory 

Miscellaneous poets treatment. Besides the varieties of 
and songsters. 

poems and songs already mentioned, 

we have multifarious types of rural productions, mostly 

musical, like Jan. gan, Gajlr gan, Habit, git, Nale git, 

Kirtan gan, Dkap sangif, Ghetu gan, Sari gan, Paul sanglt, 

tarja gan, specimens of which have survived in the mouths 

of the people, although not always accessible in print. 

Much of this rural literature, composed by inglorious and 

unknown poets, display, as all rural literature does, a 

touching quality and a natural poetic sensibility which is 

interesting to note 1 ; but, generally 

Authors of Pamchali spe aking, much of it is not literature 
and Yatra. l bi 

at all and must be rigidly excluded. 

Among these purveyors of ephemeral stuff, the authors of 
Pamchali and Yatra must be mentioned, not because they 
are always worth mention but because their literary preten- 
sions have, rightly or wrongly, always received recognition, 
as a peculiar form of indigenous literature which at one 
time had obtained great popularity. 

The origin of Pamcha 7t-songs of the modern type 
cannot be definitely traced. Dinesh 

Origin of Pamchali Chandra Sen, in his two works on 

Bengali Literature 2 puts forward the 

brilliant but hardly convincing conjecture that the 

Accounts of rural poets and their songs have from time to time 
appeared in various Bengali journals. For an interesting appreciation 
of rural literature in general, see Rabindra Nath Thakur, Oramya 
Sahitya published in his volume on Lok- Sahitya. 

8 Bangabhasa Sahitya, 2nd Ed., p. 221 ; History of Bengali 
Langxiagt and Literature, p. 385. 


Pamchali (spelling the word as Pahchali) is ultimately 
connected with Panchal or Kanauj, which he takes to be 
the birth-place of this kind of song. It may, however, 
be pointed out that there is uo trace of pamchali-songs 
of the modern type (such as those popularised by Dasarathi 
Ray) in ancient literature ; but that the word Pamchali 
it is well known, was used indiscriminately for all sorts 
of poetical composition which could be recited and which 
possessed a religious theme. Thus 

Ancient and inodern tbe p ar agall Mahabharat or the 
types of pamchali 
must be distinguished. Mahabharat of Nityananda Ghos is 

called bhdrat-pdmchali or simply 

pamchali in their respective bhanitas. Similarly Kabi- 

kankan Chandi is designated throughout by its author as 

pamchali or pamchali -prabandha, and even in a work like 

Jaganndth Mangal, Gadadhar Manrjal states that he is 

composing his work in the style of pamchali. l Thus we 

have, besides those mentioned above, Sanir pamchali, 

Sasthlr pamchali, Mansar pamchali and in fact pdmchalis 

written in praise of all the popular deities. These older 

compositions used to be recited and were therefore suitably 

arranged for palas or sittings for recitation. But they 

were not pamchalis in the modern sense of the term and 

a distinction must be made between ancient and modern 

types. Another equally fanciful etymology of the term 

pamchali is given by deriving the word from pa-chali or 

pada-chalan which is taken to indicate that the leader of 

such a party recited explains and sings his theme by 

moving about before the assembled audience ; but this 

interpretation fails to explain the presence of nasal ?% in 

the word itself. It would seem, however, that the best 

1 We also get the word pdmchali-chhanda and unless the word 
chhanda means style of composition, it must be referred to a peculiar 
kind of metre. 


explanation is that which connects pTirdchali with nachadi 
(which was accompanied by dancing and singing) and 
which regards the term pamc/zali, applied to the modern 
type of popular entertainment, as connoting five (pamch ) 
essential things which must be present in all perfect kinds. 
What these five elements were cannot be exactly deter- 
mined but singing (ffan), music (saj-bajano), recitation 
(chhada-katma) , poetical rivalry (ganer ladai) and possibly 
dancing (nach) more or less accompanied all pamchalis in 
later times. 

As this form of entertainment has practically dis- 
appeared from modern Bengal, it would be worth 
while to quote the following interesting description of a 
parhckali performance which, lengthy as it is, is still valuable 
as coming from one who himself was more or less connected 
with it and who must have also seen the performance of 
Dau Ray himself. 1 

swjwrtm cftwttf 'flFtfa' to&i fa, <**$ 3VJJM ^i 

*ot qfte-itarfe #, fa% ^tw* soft ^tro tr wfa 

frtfl ifa itftw ^*ft w to*f-*raRfl ^^it^ sw* rtN 
ttfiii ? rfa tor, ttetftqs wifircrt <$#t<re W ^ ^ffcor 

f^tft ^ph^ wiw *itfa^ i ^fv-w^tfenr *rft ifnw 

1 Manomohan Basti, Mano-mohan Gitaball, pp. 161 -163, 


TO*J fato it^rfa to ^ifrftfrfa ^ fam ^?i ^tfrfe^j i 

<Mfc b ^rfj* *t^ C^tCSTl 4^ 3lfe 1^ ^s? s^* Jjfas, 
31 TOI, ^MPtl 31 *fcW ^ 3^ffa ^563t?r ^51 f^m ^fil^B^ I 

^t^re srtfti*r ^tei ^$to cst^tffa c*itii* ite i **: 
^^% 3531 ^ ^-^ifet^wt^r 3^ cTtsr^l ^*i ^rt^rl 3*1 &ftTOt* 
i^ff *rst3^l i ^1 3^twt 3^*1 i^w fa to <5ii3i* *rfa i . . . 

Wtfro ffel ^RIW TOtfa ift^ ^1 qftw*, aifai'ft w 
*r\7\zt *-\fa?&{ i sSl^firha <&**! ti1 fa*ra c*tt 3*to fefal 
c^ urtfa *pfa*i *rtto *rte ^t^ft^i *$l*rattfni ^1 ^mfe 
5ft^n f^i (fetife^ i w wt* to it* ^t3t* faffo ^ 

3 y!h It* : ^t"3t3" ^^fa ^ vQ 5^tf ft* <*feliPf 3^3^ ^ 
^S 3*twfr 1tt*3 TO $fctfff* <$^t* ^ W3" ffW* <2fE3f 43t 

^H^ Wi 5TPR ^1 *t*fr*ratT fafi^ it^s i ^zr?r f33re* C3*rl* 

l^f^l *tfare*, ^*l* 3t*t*1 C3 3*sfr 5^1 ^ It* 3*f3tfs*, vW* 

^t^m ^^ Tt^, ft^ ^51^ ^t, ^ ^ w^ *rft 11^?, ^1^1 

Such is the pBmchali of the modern type. It is not 
known in what form it existed in earlier periods but the 
kind described began to be popular from the beginning of 


the 19th century. Dasarathi Ray was undoubtedly the 

greatest, if not the earliest, writer 

Chronology of the f the <n-oup, but it is not beyond 

Pamchali -writers. , 

doubt whether it was he who first 
modified its earlier form and set in the new fashion. 
Before Dasarathi we get the name of Gangaram 
Naskar who is sometimes regarded as the founder of 
this new type; and Guro Dumbo, who is taken by 
some to be a pamc/iali-\vr'\tei' and not a Kabiwala, 
certainly flourished prior to Dasarathi. But of these 
earlier mysterious figures, nothing practically is known 
and no specimen of their production has come down to us. 
After Dasu Ray, came SannyasI ChakrabartI, Nabin 
Chakrabarti, Rasik Ray, Thakur Das Datta, Gobardhan 
Das, Kesab Chaiiid, Nauilal, Jadu Ghos and a host of 
others who were more or less followers and imitators of 
Dasarathi Ray, their acknowledged head in the line. The 
latter, therefore, may not be unfittingly described as the 
great exponent and populariser, if not the originator, of 
pamchali in its modern form. 

Thus, although widely prevalent in the beginning of 

the 19th century, we get no surviving specimen of 

pamchali belonging to the period bet- 
The most flourishing , co . ... ,. , ... 

period of pamchali ween loUU and lbso, with which this 

falls outside our pre- vo l ume is directly concerned : for, 

sent scope. J ' ' 

Dasu Ray himself was born in 1804 

or 1805 and his imitators and followers belong to a period 
considerably later. Indeed, the most flourishing time of the 
modern pamchali was between 1825 and 1860, and there- 
fore, strictly speaking, it falls outside our period. It was a 
form of entertainment which began to be popular after 
the reputation of the Kabiwalas had been already on the 
decline ; pamc/iali-liter&tme should, therefore, be more 



fittingly taken up in its proper place in the treatment of 

the next period. 

The same remarks with regard to chronology apply also 

to yatra, a species of popular amuse- 
The yHtra. ment which wftg e ] ose ] y a U{ e(1 ^ 

kabi and pUmcJia/i and prevalent 
from a very early period but of which specimens have come 
down from comparatively recent times. The traditional 
existence of yatras is known to us from time immemorial 
and in Bharat's Nati/asastra, we hear of popular semi- 
dramatic performances which have been generally regarded 
as the probable precursor of the popular yatras, on the 

one hand, and of the later Sanscrit 
Its antiquity. dramatic literature on the other. In 

Bhababhuti's Malati-madhava,* the 
word yTdra is used probably in the technical sense as well 
as in the general sense of a festivity. It cannot be 
determined now whether the i/atras lineally descended 
without deviation from these earlier popular festive enter- 
tainments of the operatic type, obtaining from the earliest 
times, or whether the later Sanscrit dramatic literature, 
especially represented in such irregular types as the 
MahanTdaha or in the particular operatic types noted in all 
works on Sanscrit dramaturgy, reacted upon it and greatly 
modified its form and spirit. But it may be noted that the 
principal elements in the old yUtra seem to be of indigenous 
growth, peculiar to itself. In the first place, the //<ifra 

generally possessed a religious or 
Tho principal ele- mythological theme, pointing to a 

incuts in the yatra, * ' 

pecnliar to itself. probable connexion with religious 

festivities and ceremonies. In the 

next place, although there always existed a dramatic 

Malati-madhava (Bomb. Sans. Series Ed.), p. 8. 


element, the song-element absolutely preponderated and the 
choral peculiarities threw into shade its mimetic qualities. 
And lastly, there were anomalous and grotesque elements 
in it which at once indicated a partial absence of the 
dramatic sense and materially retarded its growth. All 
these naturally stood in the way of taking the yTitra out of 
its operatic structure and evolving the proper dramatic 
form and spirit ; but these at the same time . helped to 
create by themselves a special nondescript species which 
cannot be confidently traced back to any known or recog- 
nised type of earlier times. 

But the yatra, in however crude and undeveloped form, 

contained within itself the germs of a regular drama. 

Although the principal theme was drawn from religion or 

mythology, the realities of scenery 

Undeveloped and an( j character were not absolutely 

crude dramatic ele- t u 

ments. ignored. It is true that there was 

hardly any action, and therefore there 
was little analysis or development of character. Even 
there was no scenic apparatus and all the details were left 
to the imagination of the audience. But all this was 
made up for by the gift of communicating life to the 
persons, the story, and the dialogues as well as by the rich 
operatic qualities of the performance. With the modern 
stage-actor or dramatist, the Yatrawala never enters into 
comparison ; he is working on a different scene, addressing 
a different audience and using different tools, colours and 
methods. Nevertheless within his limits, he could make 
his theme interesting and his characters lively by a natural 
gift of vivid representation. The makeshifts which he 
used were crude and, taken in detail, his methods were 
faulty, but he succeeded with all his rude resources in 
making the whole picture impressive and entertaining to 
his audience. It is, therefore, quite natural to find the 


Yatra wala making a skilful use of the common yet useful 
device of mingling the ludicrous and the pathetic in order 
to add a lively zest to the story. The serious and the 
comic set off each other and relieve the melodramatic strain 
of the whole performance. Again, every representation 
was concerned primarily with the gradual unfolding of a 
single plot ; it never consisted of a disjointed "padding " 
of unconnected scenes and characters. Through the 
necessarily slow and elaborate transition of the whole 
performance, the story is made to stand out clear and alive. 
In the midst of all its surroundings and accessories, this 
was always kept in view in every regular yatra. Speaking 
of the once famous yatra of Parama Adhikarl, a writer in 
the old series of Baiigadarsiut lays stress upon the fact that 
Parama's yatra could never be realised in isolated scenes or 
songs, inimitably done though they were, but the whole 
performance had to be witnessed from the beginning to the 
end. In later periods, mundane subjects and secular 
themes found their way into the religious yatra and its 
monotony and seriousness were relieved by the introduc- 
tion of lively, though conventional, interludes of a farcical 
nature conducted by characters like Narada or Madhu 
Mangal. All these indicated the enormous possibilities 
of the yatra for gradually approximating towards the 
regular drama. 

In course of time, the drama proper might have, in 
this way, slowly evolved itself from the indigenous jw/w, just 
in the same way as the English drama of the Renais- 
sance evolved itself from the medi- 

WliV the aim rphoua i-ii 

utitra did not develop eval mysteries and miracle-plays. 

dmml 1 ! rCgUlai There Were ' WG haVe Seen ' inherent 

opportunities for such a course of 

development. The mimetic qualities of a yatra, its real- 
istic tendencies, its weaving out of a consistent plot, its 


taste for a personal and lively dramatic story, its mingling 
of the comic and the serious all these traits more or less 
indicated that the amorphous t/atra might have passed into 
an indigenous form of the regular drama. But as a matter 
of fact it never had done so in its whole course. Indeed in 
ancient Bengali literature, inspite of these and other advan- 
tages and of the presence of a pattern literature in Sans- 
crit, we have practically nothing by way of dramatic 
composition ; and the beginnings of the stage and the 
drama in the 19th century Bengal, on the other hand, had 
little connexion with the popular gatra. We shall trace 
this point in detail in its proper place ; but we may note 
here that notwithstanding these opportunities, other 
conditions were not favourable and there were serious 
obstacles, both external and internal, which stood effectively 
in the way of such a development. 

Although dissimilar in many respects, the early yatra 
shows in character and substance some resemblance to the 

medieval mystery and miracle-play 
Contrast with the , . ,, , , ., . . . . ., 

European medieval and both had their origin in the popu- 

mystery and miracle- j ar re p reS entation of religious themes. 

But the conditions of growth and ex- 
pansion differed considerably in the two cases. 

The intellectual readjustment which followed upon the 
Renaissance in Europe, tended to the gradual secularisation 
of literature and the creation of a vigorous mundane vitality 
which could supply the basis of the new theatre. Free 
belief replaced imposed orthodoxy, moral fervour replaced 
determined religious practices, energetic action and emotion 

replaced external and mechanical 
Influence of the discipline. With the disappearance 

Renaissance in develop- 

ing European drama ; of the bondage of medievalism, which 

had forbidden a life of nature and 

worldly hopes, and with the appearance of the morally 


and intellectually emancipated man of the Renaissance, 
life grew into a real thing. Vast and vital changes became 
manifest in the internal as well as the external world, in 
society, in politics, in religion, in the thoughts and aspira- 
tions of mankind. The drama was the natural outcome 
of this rich and manifold life, of this practical and positive 
movement .which had placed literature on a purely human 

Bengal, on the other hand, never witnessed such a great 

movement, bringing in its train intellectual, moral and civic 

emancipation. There was no such universal awakening 

or enthusiasm. The external world had never possessed 

any inherent interest to the naturally 

but no such influence gtoica j and j ( l ea lj st i c Hindu and 110- 
in ancient Bengal. 

thing happened which would take 

away this inbred apathy. His deep-rooted pessimism with 
regard to this world and unlimited optimism with regard 
to the next had produced a stoical resignation, an epicu- 
rean indifference and a mystic hope and faith which para- 
lysed personal action, suppressed the growth of external 
life, and replaced originality by submission. In literature, 
therefore, which was overwhelmed by the crushing idea 
of a brooding fate (a<Iri><(<i/ja<l) or of a divinity shaping our 
ends (deballla), religion was the only theme which flourish- 
ed itself and song or recitative poem was the only 
vehicle which conveyed this religious preoccupation. 
The prevalence of the rigoristic (tan- 

SSTSlJ'tS >{<>*) i(k ' al a " (1 tl,e " atl ' ral Prominence 

and natural character gives to xatlvik over the tajasik quali. 
in Bengal, not favour- in- 
able to the develop- ties fostered an inditterence to mun- 

S^ama? VUtrn int dane activities and an absorption in 
supermundane affairs which materi- 
ally hampered free expansion of art, science and literature 
of the nation. A majestic common sense, a rich feeling 


for the concrete facts and forces of human nature and 
human life, a sense of enjoyment of the good things of 
earth, a passion of energy and action are traits which foster 
material civilisation and arts but which are antagonistic to 
Hindu ideas of placid contentment, to the insensibility, 
amazement and ecstasy of religious devotion, to the wist- 
fulness and pathos of spiritual desire. Even in Sanscrit, 
complete secularisation of literature and development of 
poetry and drama could be possible in the. more practical, 
positive and materially civilised age of a Vikramaditya or 
a Harsavardhan. A national drama is not only the pro- 
duct of national glory but it is also a sure index to the 
sensitive and energetic strength of the external life of the 
nation itself. 

But there were drawbacks inherent in the yatra itself 

which stood in the way of its developing into a drama 

proper and the foremost of these drawbacks was the fact 

that in the yatra, the operatic and 

The preponderance of the me lodramatic elements always 
the operatic and melo- * 

dramatic elements in preponderated over the dramatic. 

the yatra, and its reli- ^x ru , i i ,- u , 

gious theme I here was little dialogue, still less 

action, but there was always an ex- 
clusive predominance of songs in which even the dialogues 
were carried on and the whole action worked out. This 
over-flow of the song-element, no doubt, redeemed much of 
the incongruities and anomalies of the yatra but it also 
told seriously on the development of its dramatic elements 
by tending to destroy, in a flood of music and musical epi- 
sodes, all considerations of dramatic probability and pro- 
priety. The peculiar mode of singing chaupadls or the 
mahajan padas by 'pa/tan' or devising the peculiar variation 
of a tukko in the music of the hi r tan was utilised by every 
Yatrakar for entranciug his audience. An expert and 
skilful Yatrawala, however, did not always choose to walk 


in this beaten way and we learn that in the yatra or' 
Parama, already alluded to, there was less music and 
more dialogue a device which was meant to infuse a 
dramatic interest in the story; yet it is well-known 
that the chief attraction of the yatra consisted in its 
songs and that there was nothing more delightful 
than Parama's famous tnkko whose musical quality no 
other yatra wala is said to have ever surpassed. A very 
considerable portion of ancient Bengali literature consisted 
of songs and of poems which could be recited or chanted 
and the yatra in its peculiar lyric quality, strictly con- 
formed to this widely prevalent lyric propensity. The 
influences which moulded national life and national cha- 
racteristics helped rather than checked this universal 
tendency and there was absolutely nothing which could 
lift the yatra out of its religious envelopment or its musi- 
cal structure. 

The yatra, again, began to be extremely popular from 

a literary period which powerfully contributed to its 

lyric and religious tendencies. The earliest reference to 

the yatra probably dates from the 

emphasised and en- Baisnab era. But Baisnabism, if it 
couraged by the ,'*.,,. 
Baisnab literature, humanised literature to a certain extent, 

in ri qualfty d "^ bardly ever secularised it, It only inten- 
sified the religious ardour of the people 
and brought with it a mass of lyric and mystic literature 
which was not only alien in its essence to the drama but 
which also encouraged the musical, melodramatic ami 
religious predilections of the yatra. The Baisnab poets, no 
doubt, brought new ideas and novel modes of art but it is 
hardly correct to designate the Baisnab era as the 
Renaissance period of Bengal. 1 It would be out of place 

1 SaradOcharan Mitra, in Sahitya, IBM B. 8. 


to discuss this point here in detail ; but it may be pointed 
out that at least in the literary sphere, Baisnabism was not 
a universal movement and its influence on contemporary 
and subsequent literature was never wide. In estimating 
this influence on the literature of the 17th and 18th 
centuries we must guard against the error of regarding it 
in the magnifying perspective in which we view it in the 
19 t.h or the 20th century, in which this influence has been 
very marked. Baisnabism never disturbed seriously 
the uninterrupted course of Bengali literature from the 
earliest time down to the 18th century. Side by side 
with Baisnab songs and lyrics flourished the traditional 
ehandl-jwews, manasar gait, dharma-mangal, sibat/an, which 
in form and spirit bear little kinship with Baisnab produc- 
tions and which affiliates itself with the earlier and later 
poetical literature of Bengal. Even a century later, we 
find the same tradition carried on in the Padmabatl of Alaol, 
Durgapahcharatri of Jagat Ram, Bibayan of Ramesvar, 
Auuanda maiigal of Bharat-chandra, Gangabhakti-tarangini 
of Durga Prasad all of which show little direct influence of 
Baisnab ideas or Baisnab forms of art. The socio-ethical 
ideas of Baisnabism, no doubt, inaugurated a new line of 
culture; but its cosmopolitanism, its ideal of universal 
love and its theory of emotional realisation Was antagonis- 
tic to the development of nationality or of national ideas. 
A spark of new life animated the social organism but this 
new-born religious enthusiasm hardly permitted its votaries 
to stand and cast a look around them ; it carried them 
off their feet in a flood of devotional ecstasy, in a flood of 
lyric idealism. Instead of a full-blooded dramatic litera- 
ture, it gave us a mass of resplendent religious-amatory 

The influence of Baisnabism, therefore, was hardly favour- 
able to the development of the inherent dramatic elements 



iu the yatra ; on the other hand, it cherished its musical pecu- 
liarities, developed its melodramatic 

The yatra m the tendency, and emphasised its religious 
Baisnab era ; influence . . 

of Baisnab ideas. predilections. Indeed, we find the 

Baisnabs utilising the popular 
yatra as a means of representing hrsna-ttld and diffusing 
its novel ideas. The earliest yatra of which we have 
any mention relate to such themes and was known 
technically and universally as the Krsrta-yatra. In early 
Bengali literature prior to Chaitanya, no doubt, there pre- 
vailed songs relating to Saiba and Sakta cults and it is pro- 
bable that with these prevailed also Stba-yatra and Cfiandi- 
yatra, traces of which we find even in 18th century, and pro- 
bably also Rdm-yatra which had, however, no kinship w T ith 
the spectacular Ram-lila prevalent in the upper provinces. 
It is extremely difficult, in the absence of data, to speak 
confidently on the subject : but it seems that in course of time 
with the advent of Baisnab ideas, Krsna-yat ra overshadowed 
all other kinds and became absolutely supreme. The 
generic name of this yatra was Kattya-danian yatra which, 
however, in spite of its name, related not only to this parti- 
cular feat of Krsna but included also dan, man, mathtr and 
other well-known Was. These yairas were preceded, as the 
Kirian of the Baisnabs were {faduchita yanrachaudra), by 
the recitation or singing of a (joura-chandn a term which 
unmistakably connects it with Gaurachandra or Chaitanya. 
In Ckaitanya-mangal and Chaifanya-bliru/ahaf x mention is 
made of a y<7M7-festivity organised by Chaitanya himself 
in the house of Chandrasekhar Acharyya. The history of 

1 Chaitanya -bhagabat, ed. Atulkr?i?a GosvSmi, pp.283-291. The ex- 
pression used is ^rffsf ^f?Rt p5J WW faltC*, from which as well a* 
from the account given, it is not clear whether it wns a ynim which was 
performed on this occasion or whether it was a regular Sanscrit drama 
(such n8 the Baisnab plays like Jugavnaiha-ballabha, DaiuilcU-ltumudi 
or Vidagdha-madhava in BeDgali version) which was enacted on this 


Bengali yatra, therefore, is closely connected with that 
of Bais nab literature in general and it would noi be in- 
correct to say that Baisnabism supplied the yatra with 
themes for several centuries and confirmed, if it did not 
directly give it, its operatic and melodramatic qualities. 

These qualities persisted practically throughout its 

whole history. But in course of time we find the yatra, 

inspite of the drawback already noted, gradually developing 

its crude dramatic elements. After the Baisnab era, the 

earliest well-known Yatrawala was 

New elements in the p aram ananda Adhikarl, a native of 

yatra finding its way 

into it in later periods. Blrbhum, who flourished probably in 

the 18th century and carried on the 
tradition of Kallya-daman yatra. There was a greater 
amount of acting and dialogues in this yatra, although 
song, melodrama and Baisnab themes were not altogether 
discarded. The tradition was continued by Sudama Adhi- 
karl and Lochan Adhikarl, the latter specially excelling 
in the delineation of Akrura Sambad and Nirnai Samiyas 
themes which possessed greater human interest than the 
conventional dan, wan, wathir of Srlkrsna. Gobinda 
Adhikarl of Krsnanagar, Pitambar Adhikarl of Katwa and 
KalSchand Pal of Bikrampur, Dacca, were comparatively 
recent exponents of the same Krsna-yutra. But the other 
species Bam Yatra, Chaiidl Yatra, Mansar Bhasan Yatra 
were not totally extinct. Guruprasad Ballabh; of Faras- 
danga and Lausen Badal of Burdwan gained considerable 
reputation in Chandi latra and Mansar Bhasan Ydtra, res- 
pectively; while Bam Yatra, obtained celebrity in the 
hands of Premchand Adhikarl, Ananda Adhikarl and Jaya- 
ehandra Adhikarl, of Pataihata. No specimen, except a 
few scattered songs, has been preserved of these earlier 


Such is the history of the yatra up to the beginning 

of the 19th century. After these professional yatrai, 

come varieties of modern yatrds, chiefly 

Tha yafm in the be- amate ur parties (takher dal), in 
ginning of the 19th x 

century. which, inspite of their profusion of 

instrumental and vocal music, drama- 
tic ideas and methods were slowly evolving themselves. 
Beltala Em(jedar Yatra or the Yatra of Gopal Ude may be 
cited as instances. In imitation of prologues in Sanscrit 
drama, we have, in these, farcical introduction as well as 
interlude in which laughable, though often vulgar, charac- 
ters like Kalua Bhulua, methar and methranl began to 
figure. Again, we have here for the general theme not 
Krma-lita as in KZdiya-dama n yatra or even Chaindi- 
llldy Ram-lUa or Mansar Katha but essentially secular 
themes of mythology or fiction such as Nala-damayantI 
or Bidya-sundar began to be prominent ; and later on 
with the degeneration of the yatra in tone, temper 
and style, Bidya-sundar alone became the prevalent 

The existing specimens of the yatra* all belong to this 
late period in its history. Although the yatra had been 
extensively popular from the earliest times or even from 
the Baisnab era down to the middle of the 19th century, 
the earlier specimens have not been preserved. We know 
nothing of these earlier Yatrawalas and their productions, 
excepting some general accounts which 

No earlier specimens W e incidentally get here and there, 

Even all the best known Yatrawalas of 

the 19th century, whose productions have, in a more or less 

complete form, come down to us, belong to a comparatively 

recent time, to the period between 1825 and 1850. The 

Yatrawalas, flourishing between 1800 and 1825, some of 

whom have been already mentioned, are however known 


only by name and reputation and even all the names are 

not known. This form of literature, like the production 

of the Kabiwalas, was extemporised and was meant to 

contribute to the transient pleasure of its audience ; and 

much of it was of the ephemeral 

The printed speci- tvpe> Tta remarks already made on 

mens which have come . . 

down belong to a this aspect of the Kabi-song apply 

period between 1825 . , , ,, n , 

and 1850. wltn e( l ua l iorce to the case or the 

yatra and, like the Kabi-songs, it 
degenerated considerably in style and temper. No 
attempt was ever made to preserve them in print and much 
of this literature is now lost. Of the few well-known 
Yatrawa'las, however, whose work has been more or less 
embodied in print, Krsna Kamal Bhattacharya was born 
about 1810, Gopal Ude about 1819 and Gobinda Adhikarl, 
whose dates are not exactly known, was probably a con- 
temporary of both these. All these writer?, therefore, fall 
outside the scope of this volume. It was about this time 
or a little later that the yatra had already begun to dege- 
nerate. This degeneration was almost synchronous with 
and was therefore hastened by the change of taste and 
literary fashion of the 19th century which came to regard 
all these old forms of literature as out 
Degeneration of the of date and contemptible. With the 

yatra, synchronous , , . . _ 

with and hastened by spread ot these new ideas and new 
the change of literary ]j terary methods, a regular stage was 

taste in the 19th cen- J e 

tury. gradually established and dramas, 

written in imitation of European 

models, tolled the death-knell of the old yatra which still 

lingered but never found the same place in popular favour. 

It is not surprising therefore that in the preface to his 

Ratmbalt, one of the earliest Bengali dramas written 

for this new stage, Ramnarayan Tarkaratna, himself an 

orthodox pundit, speaks in contemptuous terms of the 


popular t/atra and votes in favour of the new drama based 
on Sanscrit and English models. The history of these 
latter-day Yatrawalas, of this phase in the development 
of the yatra and of its connexion with the new drama 
will, therefore, be traced in its proper place in the next 


[See p. 45 foot-note ; p. 119, foot-note 5] 

Old Bengali Prose 

Though prose is more obviously natural to man in 

conversation, it is only after considerable experience 

that he realises its utility as a medium of formal writing. 

, . Bengali Literature is no exception to 

Late growth of prose. . x 

this rather commonplace " verse-first- 
prose-afterwards " adage of literary history. Our fore- 
fathers from the very earliest times, no doubt, spoke in prose 
but it is possible to use prose without knowing or thinking 
about it, and the late development of prose- writing in 
Bengali follows generally the order of development in 
almost all languages. Indeed the achievement of early 
Bengali prose is not only very late but, speaking generally, 
it amounts to almost nothing : such achievement as there 
is, for several centuries, is in verse. Poetry attained a 
considerable degree of maturity while we have nothing 

but a mere lisping of prose. This 
Predominance of verse. _ . . 

preponderance of one-form or writing 

partially explains and is explained by the extreme poverty 

of the other : but it is more than a case of preponderance, it 

is one of monopoly. It may almost be said that there is 

not a single piece of spirited prose of the profane kind in 

Bengali from the earliest times to the early beginnings of 

the 1 9th century : whatever exists of other kinds is again 

late, scanty, and for the most part, frankly unsatisfactory. 

Not only the bulk of early prose literature is late and 
scanty but it is not yet quite reasonably clear that what 


has come down exemplifies very fairly the whole upon 

which we may fully form an estimate. Much of early 

Bengali prose, like its Terse, is lost : much again yet 

remains to be unearthed. The only 

Difficulties in the way specimen of very early prose which 
of our study. " * ' 

probably goes beyond the 16th century 

is to be found in the few doubtful passages interspersed 

in the verses Sunya Purdn and perhaps in the apocryphal 

work attributed to Chandidas : other prose specimens, 

mostly cryptic and mystical writings of the Sahajiva sect, 

together with a little good prose-writing of other kinds, 

may all be taken to be productions of late 18th century, 

none of them certainly going beyond the 17th. Any 

attempt to estimate the development attained by old Bengali 

prose, as shown by these scanty remains, must of necessity 

be somewhat superficial and incomplete, not only in view 

of the fragmentary nature of much of these writings but 

also because of the difficulties of chronology. Most of 

these manuscripts are undated and show considerable 

differences of readings. Nature of the script and general 

style of composition are at best unsafe guides,, not only in 

themselves, but also because the one is not yet a matter of 

systematic study while the characteristic specimens of the 

other in different periods are not yet available. Even when 

the manuscripts, are dated, the exact relation of the 

manuscript to the date of composition it is almost impossible 

to determine. These difficulties are multiplied again by 

the presence of divergent readings in different manuscripts 

of the same work. It is needless to say that unless we 

can stand upon firm and sure ground in matters of 

chronology, not to speak of insufficiency of materials to go 

upon, we can hardly expect to form a correct and critical 

estimate of our subject of stud} and all our attempts in 

this direction are at best nothing more than tentative. 


The earliest specimen of Bengali prose is supposed to 

be the short passages in Ramai (or Ramai) Pandit's Sunga 

Pnran f the manuscript of which is placed by its editor (Sahitya 

Parisat edition) in the 1 7th century, although the so-called 

prose passages, if not the verse, reveal a 

Earliest extant prose much earlier and more antique form 
peGimen Sunya Purati, 

of diction. If the language of the 
recently published Sri Krsna Kirtana belongs to the 
early part of the 14th century, 1 we can safely assume that 
the prose of Sunya Puran must have had its origin in a 
somewhat earlier age ; and the supposition is not unlikely 
that the passages, as we have them, may contain traces of 
the original writings of Ramai Pandit, going back to at 
least 13th century A.D., 2 varied and modified, it may be, 
by later scribal and other interferences. It would be interest- 
ing to examine these ancient specimens critically but such 
examination is beset with difficulties not only on account of 
the frankly unintelligible vocabulary and crabbed syntax, 
considerable corruption of the text rightly commented 

upon by many a critic, but also because 
Passage on Baramasi. . 

ot the exclusive and esoteric doctrines 

they embody, which seem to create a language of their 

own whose meaning is all but lost to us. Here is a 

portion of the celebrated passage on ^PTfft. 

C^fa 113! C^fa ftft I frar IttT toUtft I CS ^tfafa- 

m *fw ^ *fo *rtfra i **r ttf% m cw*f N q#*ttft i 

CTC^F ^ ^ft rfaft toft ^ft I W *ffs^ Of^Jl fFft*u% I 

It*** c&m <rftft *rarffi tfe srftfa it<*R ^t<<rc $*rffa win 
<tti ^Qt^t ^tfKfa <tfm^ c^tfa c^tfet*i <w^^fa 

<*fi[ CW^C^T ttfwi spsf ifipvtW I TW* fffa*tfer faf wft rfa I 

1 Preface to Krariiakirtanya, ;H. P. Shastri in Calcutta Review, 
pp. 392-93. 

2 H. P. Shastri, op. cit. % p. 394. 



fcffa *Tttt CVft Wtfi I fc"tH *rm OT *tft I < TOOT 

*rf* ^ ^ 'srtfire *N ttfo t*i* c*rw* *i?r*ftft i mv 
iti* c^t^l *rt*fft wflt ( ? *nrr*ft ) ^ wfcfa *rN* 

TT^I *rWf^T ft^ srft Tfl I C*fa Tffi C^fa Stfa I fr*rt*f 
CtFl fofe TtCTT ^ Stft I 

and so forth through all the months of the year in the 
same strain. 

On first reading this fantastic piece of apparently 
unrhythmical writing would hardly seem to be prose at 
all : and it has been doubted if it is prose or verse or none, 
or a curious admixture of the two. But a careful study 
will make it clear that is not verse in any sense but 
probably prose, although it may be prose of a kind unfami- 
liar to us, and that it has a distinct 

Close relation of rny thm of its own. When carefully 
prose and verse in old J 

Bengali literature examined, this and other passages, if 

the text is correct, will reveal that here 

for the first time there is a perception, however faint, of 

the existence of distinct styles of prose and verse, although 

the instruments of the two harmonies may not have been 

very clearly differentiated. 1 In order to understand the 

1 All these speculations aro based on the assumption that what the 
passages embody is really prose. They have been always taken as 
such, but my own suspicion is that thoy are really verse-lines, perhaps 
imperfectly recorded fragments, not properly examined or shifted with 
care when the text was edited and printed from the original Mss. 
Unfortunately I had no access to the original manuscript, in the posses- 
lion of the editor, upon which the text is chiefly based, and had to 
depend entirely upon the Sfthitya Parisat edition which is anything but 
what scientific scholarship would desire. There is no attempt, to render 



nature of this passage, we must bear in mind that the 
connexion between old Bengali verse and old Bengali 
prose was extraordinarily close. There was a time, indeed, 
when writers of this literature hardly ever recognised the 
separate existence of prose as a vehicle of expression, classi- 
fying it, in theory, as a species of poetry itself and calling 
it 9fJ5^^f or prose-metre and, in practice, making their 
prose, with alliteration, balanced accent, and other devices, 
look as much like their own verse as possible. It is a 
well-known fact that much of this prose, like the j>assage 
just quoted, interspersed in the midst of verse, was con- 
sciously adapted not only to read like verses but to be sung 
or chanted after the manner of Kathakas or rhapsodists, 
It is curious to note in this connexion that in many of 
these prose pieces we find the bhanita or signature of their 
respective authors in the same way as we find them in 
their poetical compositions. 

Anyone, studying the passage already quoted and those 
that follow even with moderate attention, will have no 
difficulty in agreeing to what has been said as to the close 
relation between early prose and verse. Not only the 
condensed mode and ordonnance of verse is followed here, 
but the symmetry of the lines, turns of phrases peculiar 

the passages intelligible in spite of the addition of a very imperfect 
glossary. The text is suspiciously corrupt and the editor himself 
acknowledges that he had no time to collate the three manuscripts with 
the published text but that he had got it done by his pundits. There 
is nowhere any indication of variations of readings given by the differ- 
ent manuscripts utilised, nor any attempt even to determine the correct 
reading. This is a most strange fact and renders the edition entirely 
valueless to a scientific student. The Sunya Pur an as it stands now 
is an extremely difficult book to edit with all its indispensable critical 
apparatus and the Sahitya Parisat must be praised for its boldness in 
undertaking to reprint it : but one would wish that the scholarship 
displayed in bringing out this edition had been equal to the boldness 
of this difficult undertaking. 


to verse, the refrain-like repetition of sentences, the very 

frequent intrusion of half-staves or full 

exemplified also by verse-lines (like irfat* Wftlfo* fal 
the passage under dis- N 

cussion. W\^ ^y\ or <\\% <^^l^\ *ff^ ^^ 

^t^tS" ) capable of accurate scan- 
sion, occasional occurrence of end-rhymes, and lastly, 
the muffled under-hum of verse-rhythm throughout all 
indicate that the passage, in its close approach to the 
rhythm and tune of poetry, was meant, if it is prose at all, 
to be chanted with the verses to which it was only an 
appendage. Here is another passage, more intelligible 
and more varied, in which the characteristics already indi- 
cated are more prominent : 

<3 RPW CS fopapw <$fa W ($4 ftstt I fW src*i 

Vfa TOR 3hrf C^ttTtfaP I ^fel* ^Z*\ ^ft ^fa* toci* 

fW lfeW ft^'l *T51 ^5T ?H ^fe*rc Cltltfo *^*1l I 

*8r 1FR I #3WtTO I ^fflff^ l^^t^l F5W* i ^to* 

3pflfittf ^ 4ft ^i w\ fa tow %ir *wm i *rfttf% 
^t^fe ^fira in i nft <i *ttd> rtw itvrti i ^w 

c^i n*rtt <?rf%ra *rte i fasrft tor *\w$ far*ra srw i 
^m *^n Cf lit ) citnTfes n*itn ft* *tfc ( ? ) i w*\ fa*pn 

Hl i 

It will be noticed that in this passage there are lines at 
the beginning and at the end, which form distinct couplets 
having regular end-rhymes. The opposite tendency of 
having rhythmic prose lines in the midst of verse will be 


exemplified in the lines on ^ft^t^T to be found at p. 61 of 
the Sahitya Parisat edition. The following again is a 
curious illustration of mixed prosaic-poetic style : 

C^ Ttfe ^ttf? C*$ *tt*fa StC| St^t 3tW ftl ^tfe^l 

fefssi Ttf*Ni rfwi *t^ stre ^ cartel i atf%s *rt*m stfir 

lfc t*l (?*1*-f f l) I TOPI ^fe^R *fa I|C9| 5^;tf*RI 

jHW 1t5 F? ( ? ) Itft*! W I N ^T^C^ Wl W5\ ?PZH | 

<^*ti tt^r *rifcl spit* *fa rttt ^*rfa ^Htflr fsfe^ sfa* 

^*fra crot*i lifer *ttft *r1 ^re c*tt% ^ ^ ** i ifer 

^?Tfa ^>T ^fa &S4 C^<T ffo I ^t^ ^?PT <?re* ^t^Pl 
ft*l C^ ^fa^l ^ ^f ^4 ^ffs^ fajrf^ ^T^ <5^t*t I 

These passages, it must be admitted, are not fine 

literary specimens by themselves but, to a student of 

literary history, their formal import- 

ilZte&tt*** ******** ance is ver ' V S reat - They illustrate, 
if not anything else, at least the fact 
that prose has not yet fully emerged itself and come into 
prominence, at that particular stage, as a distinct mode of 
writing although there is at the same time a faint indica- 
tion of such understanding in the literary mind. This is 
not what we understand by prose-poetry or poetical prose 
but the instruments of the two 

Differentiation of harmonies are so nearly identical that 
the styles of prose t * 

and verse. the products slide and grade off into 

one another very easily and undistin- 

guishably. This may be called the beginning of prose 

a curious literary phenomenon of which not many instances 


may be found in the early prose of other languages and 
which leaves little doubt as to the value and relative anti- 
quity of the specimens of question. 

of^, etry eVOlViUg ""* We See here the vei T ** l J "tages 

in the processes by which prose 
is slowly evolving itself out of poetry and asserting its 
right to recognition as a medium of expression altogether 
distinct from verse. It is a matter of regret, however, 
that we cannot trace other stages in this process as we do 
not possess any documents of prose-writing of this or sub- 
sequent periods until we came to the loth century. 

One of the curious effects of their intermixture of prosaic 
and poetic styles is the idea, however imperfect, or rhyth- 
mical arrangement in these prose passages. Of course, 

verse and prose rhythms have entirely 
Rhythmic effect. different values and the harmony of 

the one is not always desirable in the 
other: yet, if it is not rash to dogmatise in the absence of 
any but slight and scrappy knowledge of the phonetics of 
early Bengali, we cannot mistake the fine effect of sym- 
phonic arrangement (partly due to the presence of versicles) 
which the lines, perhaps unconsciously, attain. Of actual 
syntax there may not be much : nor is there any attempt 
at balance of phrase or periodic sentence-framing, 
although there is certainly a knowledge of the value of 
short and long sentences : but the very fact that the 
passages were meant as appendages to verse and com- 
posed with the not unlikely object of being sung gives 
them a peculiar rhythmic effect, rudimentary yet not 
childish, which it is impossible to ignore. 

The apocryphal prose piece, Chaitya Rupa Prapti passing 

under the great name of Chancjldae 

Chnifya Rupa Prapti, . . * . 

attributed to Chandi- does not, from our point of view, 
d4s require any special examination. The 

following passage : 


will sufficiently indicate the same admixture of prose and 
verse-forms and indeed we have a reference in the 
Padakalpatarn to WWS 3WT of Chandldas but the sen- 
tences are shorter and the vocables more modern. The 
manuscript is dated 1674 and it is probable that the 
language does not go much earlier than that date. The 
frigid drip of doctrinaire talk for it professes to explain 
tantrik theories in riddle-like language and brief aphor- 
istic sentences, almost always dropping the verb and seldom 
running beyond three or four words at a time does not 
seem to allow much scope for the prose either to run 
fluently or to evince any remarkable literary aptitudes. 

This bare dry fatiguing aphoristic manner is illustrated 

by a body of so-called philosophic writings relating to the 

Sahajiya cult, which belong in all 

-f^SSS Wl ; itin 8 s probability to the 17th and the 18th 

(17 th and 18th century ). l * 

centuries. The first work that calls 
for mention in this group is the curious manuscript called 
Dehakadacha, attributed to Narottama Thakur, the text of 
which was published in the Sahitya Parisat Patrika (1304, 
no. 1, pp. 39-46). The date of the oldest manuscript 
is 1603 3aka (1681 A.D.) and this date as well as the 
similarity of style and manner would place the work in 
the age in which the last mentioned Chandldas apocrypha 
was written. The text of this manuscript, however, seems 
to be almost identical (making due allowance to trifling 
scribal and other variations) with that of Alma-jigflasa, 
ascribed to Krsnadas, (Sahitya Parisat manuscript 


no. 1474). * The vexed question of authorship or tht 
sources of the works in question, their origin in an earlier 
Svarupa-kalpataru, does not concern us here in the least ; 
nor have we anything to do with their literary associations 
with the doctrines, real or imaginary, of the Sahajiya cult 
and its mystical sublimatiou ; what concerns us most is 
that Narottama, if Narottama he was, or Krsnadas, if 
Krsnadas there was, wrote in a severely scholastic manner, 
bare, dry and aphoristic abounding in technicalities, which 
may be suited for doctrinal exposition but which hardly 
shows any attempt, conscious or unconscious, at producing 
either style or rhythm. Here is a characteristic specimen 
from the beginning of Dehakidcha } with the corresponding 
additions and variations in brackets from the text of Atma- 
jighasa : 2 

3 ShHlf * H w. [ 5)fkM$* ] i [ *wi1 *rt$ftmtt1 1 ] 
^ft c* i [ ^tft c* i ] *rtfsf #fa [ fa ] i ^ft c^fa JN 
[ c*fa fa ] i *rrft ^s fa ii ttt^ [ <rt* ] c*t<fl [ *<n ] 
*twi i <t^ ^hirt [ ft*c* ]fc\\ ^ [ v$ ] to [ ^ms ] 

fctfS [ **! ] I W$ TO ft ft [ ft ft *&M ] I *t<* [ Iff ] 

*rhii i ^^facte [ awfrc Wr.] i ipr fir^ tal [ jfa ] fe 
w a* ['**] crtw [ c**tt*t iw ] !> bpri wit c* 
[ wpitii *tw ^fa ] i fetfaft w cms *tfc itiw 

[ <*t^ C^r *lfc ^ ^ffH <fc W ] II *ft%t C^F C* 

[ ^^m ^6r(i) Ttw ft ] i #lf '"Hf *t|5 [ f' f if Wr 1 1 
irtfa *to [ wfa *f* ^ftf ] i **tt^re <** [ ^ *& 4*i*rc 

1 See Sahitya Pariqat Patrika, 1306, no. I, p. 49 and no. 4, p. 327; 
ibid 1305, p. 197 ; ibid, 1304, no. 4, p. 302. 

8 The text of Atmajignaaa here follows that of the SShitya Parisat 
manuscript (no. 1474). Other manuscripts noticed in the Patrika 
(referred to in footnote 1) give slightly different readings. 


In the same strain is the following from the Karika 
supposed to be written by Rupa Gosvami, which is noticed 
in the Bandkab, 1289 B.S. (p. 369) : l 

ftpM f^t^H SPtel <Wi **Kl3t ^ ^\5^*\ I ^ WW 

There are several other works, Asraya-Nirnaga, 2 Atma- 

Nirupana, 3 Hvarupa-bamana , 4 Raaa- 
Other works. z ' \ ' ' y 

mayi-kanaS much later productions 

but all attributed, after the ancient manner of lumping all 

1 The text as given here, apparently modernised in spelling, 
follows that given in Bandhab and quoted also by Dinesh 
Cnandra Sen in his Bihga Bha*a Sahitya, 2nd Ed., p. 628. 
The text as quoted above occurs also in a manuscript called 
^N-^t^t by Narottama Pas, as follows : ^| &fcp{ f 'P'S'I ftfa | 

iMfv ^'tftw i ff ti *i ?i * **\4 <m *\*Fw jw ?tr^w; 

*t*fa<fl ^<*t^T^ e l i | W? ^^^^ * | ^WCS iff %1 vs | 4(to 3^ 8 i 
^5f ^I^Sl 4 1 etc. 

See Patrika, 1306, no. 3, p. 251 : also p. 67. 

9 There are two manuscripts of this work in the Sahitya Parisat 
(nos. 331 and 1471). The following quotation is taken from earlier 
manuscript no. 1471 (dated 1247 B.S.). See also notice of this work in 
Patrika, 1304, no. 4, p. 303, in which mention is also made of another 
manuscript dated 1098 B.S. See also Patrika 1308, p. 53, where this 
work is attributed to Narottama. 

3 Sahitya Parisat manuscript no. 332 (dated 1247 B.S,). See also 
Patrika, 1304, no. 4, p. 802 (where the date of the manuscript noticed 
is 1218 B.S.) and ibid, 1306, no. 1, p. 49. 

4 Patrika, 1305, no. 1, p. 80 ; ibid, 1304, no. 6, pp. 343-4 (manus- 
cript dated 1081 B.S.) ; ibid 1306, no. 1, p. 79 (manuscripts dated 

1164 and 1246 B.S.) . 

5 Patrika, 1304, no. 4, pp. 333-34; ibid, 1306, p. 66. See Patrika 
J 308, pp. 40-41 where passages are quoted from other prose works 
viz., Saranitlka and Sadhavasraya, 



anonyma upon a single apocryphal figure of traditional 
repute, to Krsnadas, which exhibit the same characteristic 
disjointed style, peculiar to this kind of 17th and 18th 
century writings. It is needless to multiply quotations 
but one or two short specimens would not be quite 
out of place. 

Specimens. ^ 

c*rel i *rc*tj* *W$ c& i ^*rc% ^^ it^* i Tt^jtfj 9)frfa 
^rfttft i ^ ft *Fn$t^ i ^t^^in *ft3i c* ii h^j 
?^cf^ b^ft ii *r t$tfi ^ ^Frffl i w 1% to^t^ i *i$5 tww 

rtar Sft^R^ i c^ic^ w <w? i sf^ ^t^tfre i 
m*Fft jrmw ii W ^ <2W* i fo *$M^ i ^Iot *rfa 
c*rt%R ii ^tt^tw* *lto Stofc *t*ftl i ^ tsft*l i c*fa 
*t*ft&l i ^#*r flrfllt I C^fa ^*T I *FTt#*l I (TFfa ^ 

C3TSR | c^t^ C^tt | ft*lfq 02ft I (TFft f^ItT I *JJT 

ft*rft i c^ft *$* i f*tt 15* i c^-ft f*t*i i *trfr* i 

<W ^$ ^ &fc (7FW s& ftft i c^MI S^re itflM ^:s 
wi *fwr ftft i "pwi *fra Cf^t c^ c^ts tot i cflfp *flPf 

*fi <2$ c 7 ^ Ttw &d ii 3*& *m fas? ^ft ftlt fc*ra i 
srt^i #:$ ftft ii srMt** i* *&c*i oswi 5rfe*i i ^tetre 
*t?ro ^^ ^*tft i ^* <a* ft 5 ^ f^pft^i ^t 5 ^ 5 * i ^tws 
era. ^ c^ i cfw ftfe ^ftf^ ii ftsrft f32t ^fow> ft* 
om ftsj ftft i ^c<r cfs* fo$^ ^f* ffeft^ ft^jt^Hr ii 


yj^ji fs^ ^1 ii *i^W5ii ^tow i fira rfal ^t<rf?ra ii *Mrc 
^tul awiFTO ii ( ^ftf *ti ) 

It would be hardly necessary to pass in review or cite 

passages from other Sahajiya works like Trigunatmika, 1 

. .. Brajapatala Karika, 2 Kriyamafijari-' 

v/liircict6z*istics or 

the style of these ialvamrupana, 3 JigfiasajMiri, 4 all 
of which belong to the same age of 
prose-writing and exhibit similiar characteristics ; nor is 
much advance noticeable in Radhaballabh Das's Sahaja- 
tatva, or Itasabhakti-ckcuidrika (also called Asrayanirnaya) 
of Chaitnya Das quoted by Dinesh Chandra Sen in his 
Bang a SoMtya Paric/iay^ It is possible that this may 
have been the peculiar esoteric sectarian manner of the 
Sahajiyas but all these writings may also indicate a stage 
in Bengali prose composition (very unlike that indicated 
by the Sunya Pur an pieces) in which an aphoristic form 
of theological exposition was widely prevalent, partly due 
to the exotic influence of Sanscrit Sutra literature or Sutra 
form of writing and partly perhaps an indigenous growth 
formed upon the manner of exposition followed in native 
tols. One cannot but be struck by the evenness of method 
and manner the sameness of production of these 
Sahajiya works : the one work may as well have been 
written by the author of the other there being hardly any 

1 Patrika, 1304, p. 415. 

8 Sahitya Pari sat, MS. no. 355. 

Sahitya Parisat, MS. no. 338. 

* Sahitya Parisat, MS. no. 937. 

5 Vol. II, pp. 1655-58 and pp. 1660-61. Sahaja-tatva is also noticed 
in Patrika, 1306, pp. 76-77. Rasabhakti-chandrika (also called Bhajma* 
nirnaya) in Patrika, 1306, p. 66. 


distinguishing mark of style or even personal idiosyncrasy 
of the writer. When these passages are compared with 
those taken from the &u>/a Peran, the great differences of 
the two manners will emerge at once. Except the passage 
on Baramasi already quoted, which sounds like a piece of 
mystic incantation, there is an attempt, however rude and 
Unintelligible to us, on the part of the Sunya Picon writer 
to say whatever he has got to say in a conuected manner i 
while in the passages under discussion the short disjointed 
statements, often in the form of questions and 
answers, with their rigid and stripped precision of 
language make the prose halting, clumsily hinged, and 
totally unsatisfactory from purely rhythmical-stylistic point 
of view. But then the object in the latter case was 
doctrinal exposition and not artistic or even plainly 
narrative presentment : there is no attempt at tine 
writing, no rhetorical tinge anywhere, nor any intrusiou 
of sustained narrative or descriptive matter happily striking 
into style. This prose, with its conciseness or pointedness 
overdoue, presents a striking contrast to the rudimentary 
yet elaborately rhyt limed prose of Sunj/a Pur an. No 
sane criticism will be enthusiastic over either the capacities 
or the performance of this plain passionless aphoristic 
prose, not pedantic but severely scholastic, devoid of all 
ornamentation or suggestiveness, and, in spite of its close- 
ness to verse, hardly attaining any proper prose-rhythm 
at all. 

Some improvement, however, in the direction of 

periodic and sustained prose will be found in some late 

works belonging probably to the 

Other prose wri- ] 8th centurv and certainly not 
tinge (18th century). . ' * 

going beyond it. The language here 
is simple enough in syntax and vocabulary i there is no 


argumentative or expository purpose in view, no preva- 
lence of stock-subject or stock- 
Improvement in the technicalities. Of these works, 
direction of periodic 
and sustained prose Brndahaua-llla is really a remarkable 

Siyl Brndabana.nia, composition from our point of view. 

It describes with all the enthusiasm 
of the faithful devotee the sacred groves and temples of 
Brndaban. We begin with the general topography of 
the holy place. 1 

^Mfrptf^ faf$3 fa'spre I *fcjfl J&JHftW #tet* TOT 

#ft?ttf^s?fa *rf%* st^t* &$m aj%*ttf*fat*rffa ^* *&$* 


^*re $t$t* ^es ^ff*w ^ fa^ra ^j^tfe ^t*r ^sre 
fa* Ttw ^r'stffasi *rfotfero stfls ^Pot fttfw sftti 

C'ttffaN TOC*^ ^TOWf 5 ! ^F^tft ifcK4<^fi f&ttf^tfa 

^wi?tft *it*rc^tf* st*f^tfa ^c^tft c^faf^r ifflm* 
w\q\w\wtt * *t*rttm *ttV$H *t<rt** sttfwte 5 * <tWto q^. 
f^c^ft^fe^t^^tft^^R^tft srftisrfa 3rt^<r ^tf*rc^ 
sft*rftto^ **i&*sr c^t^ft^ OTf^wi ^fro^rt^ &ttf?\- 

1 The text here follows Sahitya Parisat MS. no. 928. MS. is 
incomplete and undated but it does not seem to be very old and its date 
is probably latter part of the 18th century. Dinesh Chandra Sen in his 
Bahga Bhasa Sahitya (2nd Ed., p. 630) speaks of a MS. of this work 
which is, in hi* vaguo language, about 150 years old. 


5t* rrftffi faRtfct^* sit^RtFfa cit^teR^ra <w *u?& \ Tim 
mogq ^v#t j\vq\ c$ ^%^ dtfii grat% tc* *rre crI *w*f 

c wMtfe ntftjRw ix^ifi foptftre fts^rfck ^mttfe wtft- 

^rtft^l fa^ri? or ^1 frrc^ *i<iR ^1 fe^fe^ t^t^i 

C3*fa i^ri si^st* ^ra s^*rrfsr* *ff55i*rtra ^^^rt^ ^cf* 
**iwHc* $w* *w *t%i ^^ ^ ^rf?ratfe*R snrtre *x$i 

it^^- S?*R Sfft TOT 5 * ^*R ^ CT8WT ^t^i sera fe^ <w 
f qj^Sfirc CFrfat*R f<TO &fl q^F ^pRIJ <5t*fa $\ ^ft?1 0TC*R 

$ft ^ftW ^t^t^ vTC" C*\1\ ^\^7f{ s5t^t^ *f faffi *W*1 *W *W 

^fa*tfe*R ^t^ ^ smtfc cmvx ^St^* *t wrc** ^tw 
^51^1 f**tfe*R *rt* ^ 5ft^ ^tfe ^^ *^t* WtttCT 

fe^R (?T Tft ^s^r^ft ^^ ^|^^ sf^Tt?r ?faRto ^^ ^t^t^ 

^r ^ssFfa iWf^^ c^^tr^ il^^rl [^it^ ^%tfe*R 


(Ttftw 4*fa 5t*$t* *rr4t t*t* fesct 4^3^ ^"5^ 4^ 

<^ c^Ffr ^ra sfttw 4*1* fPfR 5tf% c^ft nfirf* ^t^t^r 
tjrt *fa? $ ^ra 4^sii fa*R ftl *ot #w<r *rtre1 *re*i 
*rft^ *t*J 1CfT ^fa *FR ^td ^f^T?T ^PRf^H iwl ^fesopi 

^rfa^s ^^ *n%5t^9 ^t^t[^s]^ <$ t^t<r if trel ^ ^fir ^rfts; 

^ ^ ^ CW^? *\W&3 ^fe^t ^stfC* fWT Ml ft^ 

^tet<r *%* sits f^g^rt^ *n*Hft *t$fl ft^?tf?i^ ^ tot mi 
1W *t*1 ^tt^ s?*r ^rnf^f 53^ s^fet <2^?r ^farl stftfei 

3*F5 <W ^fk^s ^ift ifTC W<T *tfCTfcf 35?[>] <Tt^D *FR 

C5tt%i)3^ <wr *ifir aw stft ifror 5tf%" % iff ^ ^tcs ^ 

iprl cw^' ^s *r#5 ctot OTtf% *i wtra *jpr <rfa#t* *fa* 
3^fras ?f*R 3*fr^ra c*tt*tfa st^ffa *fir* fetl c*rft^ ^^5 

It is impossible not to be struck with the realitive ex- 
cellence of these passages. In the first place, we notice, 
here a really remarkable attempt at 
Application of prose su bstained prose- writing, a great 
advance in the facility of handling 
and a positive tendency to vivacity. In the next place, 

. .. the widening and varying of the 

Descriptive prose. n J & 

range and methods of prose by its 
application to new subjects is a fact of great significance ; 


and it is this application of prose to pure narration, descrip- 
tion, or conveyance of information in a straightforward 
intelligible way childish things of prose, no doubt, but its 
best exercising ground in infancy that gives it an ease and 
fluency attained here for the first time in its history. The 
description, though a little monotonous, are yet not dry : 
but the very pictorial-poetical nature of the subject-matter 
often enables the writer to strike into something like styK- 
in its proper sense. Here is another passage : 

Ktf ^rc 4 WW *\*sm* *tt^fe tfm* ^*tre?-w^ 
sai ft^ cts ^uw mx ^d<r <sn\ *n%*m <^v c^f*m <w ^ 

fe*n w ff^i ^fe *tt^ ^?^n tew ^tfe^rc <w *tt*rft 

0Wtw it^nd ar #fiil ftuw <*Ww wfaa ^tfo*^ amn 
ktgniu <ltfei c<rrfeitfe*rc ^*t* ?fro ^<fat^ ^t*t* 

^tQI^I *P*5 l^ft *>\(.*\<? ^\W*{ Tft^ ^t% *f 

rtft^ w*tfe 3rraw ^rl^R ^iWw fatynftfc VJJtifa 

*HH sot; "f^5t r? si c*rf* *pri *or ^ <2$* *tfi w 

^^ CTftf fljtf cuw^ citfat*Nft* c^m *rf*R *t"fa % 


f^?r fe^ srfes ^ftfet 4^ ^tft^l ^f% c^T*f% Tft 
<3twrft*f *f%* ^r* ^ fasjRa* *r^ i^at ^at Tfts <rfafo 
w ^rt^r srftfa ^^' ^ to tlRtfw ift c^fffl stlffa *3pt 

it^t'Wtes *fjff6^ ^rfc^? f^^j prl ^ot ft^5 ft^cf* ^tc^ 

^st^ft tot fa^tm <rtOT ^ ^ w$^ ^f%^ ^rtc^? ^tetr 
^retw ^^rf^l S^rfaCT csr cm-\w Tft* ^rftfa ^rfti^ >r^ 

There are of course still many drawbacks and dis- 
advantages of vocabulary and syntax : we have occa- 
sional intrusion of definite and not merely accidental 
alliteration, inherited from the traditions of verse-forms 
and some of the lines are no doubt capable of exact 

stave-division : but one does not 
Characteristics of ,, ,., , t , ,, 

this prose. really want faultless precocity at the 

outset ; and after all is said, it must 

be admitted that here there is no longer any falling 

back upon the tricks of verse aud other uncongenial 

things and that the rhythm attained is not really poetic 

rhythm but it is something approaching, in however 

groping fashion, to .the creation of definite prose-rhythm 

with its balance of phrase, its variation of long and 

short sentences, and its natural adjustment of clauses 

with due regard to general harmonic effect. 



There are specimens of another work, supposed to 
date from the 18th century, called Brndabaua Parik- 
*ama of which passages are quoted by Dineschandra 

Sen in Baiiga Sahitya Parickaya 
h S f* P '"" (vol. ii, p. 1674) from a MSS. dated 

B.S. 1218. This composition, like 
the Brndabana-lUd, also purports to be a description of 
the holy place a fact which seems to indicate that 
works of this nature were more numerous than usually 
supposed. The same characteristic descriptive style is 
also illustrated here and it is needless to quote here a 
longer passage than the following : 

Specimens of its 
prose - ffa &&1& Sfoft ^Ktfe^R C*fc 

fc^ * 5t$ ^ <sr| ^fft irfCW 5*t-f5^ ^ C*tffl t^ 
*Jt5 <5fSf ft ^ *tt^tC^5 CltfC 5 ** *t[Sr ^fa C*TtOT *ffs? <5tf<T 
^<T iW C^ *utttf?F5 ^ 35^t<flft *forffe*W *nTt^ 
tl$*tf?1 ft^ ^tt* <*flftl *fCT >!t* *[SJl C<f*lt* f^ ^ft5 

From the dry pseudo-metaphysical exposition of the 
Sahajiya works to this 18th century descriptive prose 
is indeed a long step : but this extraordinary develop- 
ment, apparently puzzling, will be intelligible when up- 
take into account the fact that early Bengali poetical 
literature by this time had attained a very high degree 
of relative perfection and was by this proeetB prepar- 
ing the way for the creation of a literary language in 
geueral. The resources of the language and its literary 


capacities were now brought within easy reach of any 

u ' . , prose-writer although such writers 

Development ot the 
literary language in were not plentiful who would have 

had chosen to utilise them. The 
wonderfully rapid and accomplished literary develop- 
ment of prose in the 19th century caught up, summed, 
and uttered in more perfect form this literary heritage 
of past ages but even in a period of scanty prose- 
production such as the 18th century, in which verse-treat- 
ment of every subject was still predominant, we cannot 
mistake the influence of the enormous literary perfec- 
tion of the language in general on whatever little 
prose it produced. 

It may be necessary in this connexion to indicate 
the influence of Sanscrit learning on early Bengali prose- 
writing. It is pretty certain that 
Influence of Sans- ., . pi 

cr j t the specimens or such prose as we 

possess, whether of the metaphysical 
or the descriptive sort, represent periods when Sanscrit 
culture of some kind, was already open to and in some 
degree had beeu enjoyed by the writers. Not only 
occasional Sanscrit forms and technicalities are perceived 
and some Sanscrit works on Law and Logic were directly 
translated, but the general tendency, inspite of occa- 
sional easy note of works like Brmltibana-lila, was 
towards sanscritised, if not ornate, diction, although 
no effective Sanscrit influence, with its predilection for 
long-drawn-out compound words, complex sentence-fram- 
ing, and other things, may be definitely traced anywhere. 
This prose-manner, however, cannot be called sanscritic 
in the sense in which it is used to designate the 
pedantic affectation of some of the Fort William College 
pundits or the Sanscrit College style of the fifties ; and 
it is remarkable that with hardly any model before 


them, these writers never chose to imitate the later 
sesquipedalian Sanscrit prose style of Kadambarl or 
Harmcharita. Much has been written, however, on the 
Sanscrit influence which is supposed to have come through 
the Kathakas or professional story-tellers, whose manner 
and method of exposition is said to have considerably 
moulded the narrative or descriptive literature of the 
type in question : but it must be admitted that though 
sometimes their "set passages" evince a highly artistic 
or poetic style, their bombastically ornate diction and 
artificial arrangement, their predilection for sanscritic 
forms and long-balanced sentences, their highly cadenced 
rhetorical eloquence label their prose-passages at once 
as essentially one of the ornate kind showing little 
colour of resemblance to the type of prose we are 

In the absence of any material to go upon, it is 
impossible to indicate how far the experiment in descrip- 
tive prose of the literaay kind, such as we find in the 
Brnaban-lila or Bfndabai-parikrama, was followed upon 
in any other prose-writing of the period but the existence 
and popularity of such contemporary descriptive poems as 
Kasi-parikrama of Jayanarayan would seem to indicate, 
inspite of occasional and timid tres- 

Miscellaneous prose pass fa e still exclusive monopoly of 
writings. t > J 

verse in the domain of such litera- 
ture. The excursion of prose, however, beyond the narrow 
limits of metaphysical matter was an attempt the lesson 
of which was perhaps not wholly lost. From the 
few prose pieces of that century which have come 
down to us, we find application of prose in 
treatises on law, logic, and medicine, subjects hitherto 
attempted, as all subjects were, in verse. Although only 
a few such works have yet been discovered, it is quite 



plausible that such attempts were not sporadic or isolated 

but were more numerous and deli- 

Not sporadic or iso- berate than the scanty remains would 
lated attempts. 

justify us to infer. One limitation 

still remains, namely, that of translation (for most of these 
works are translations or adaptations from Sanscrit origi- 
nals) : but translation in the school-time of Bengali 
prose is not a drawback or disadvantage but a distinct 
means of attaining diversity, adequacy and accomplish- 
ment. Here is a very simple passage from a manuscript 
(about 200 years old) on medicine 
A treatise on Medi- ea j led <<p%fff )f$f| (Kabiraji Patdci) 
which gives a recipe for dyspepsia : l 
*ft WRFR #Wtf I ^^ttfir W I ^*f1ft vtfon s?ot 
$\% ^pfira i ws 3&t Pw#* i ^ ^fa^rl '^^i ^f?re i 9H ^t*i 
c^rt^ i wl fer^ <sq^ (?) ^tM^ cwiar fl*rfe ^\z^\- 

m ^tf^m ?r^&^ ttPFti c?r w\w ^t*rf^i *^ft *m i 

vtJ^tei i tsT 6 8 c^n w^s >*> c 5 ^ $$ >** i &$ ptf^fire i 

CTtR *?* 4*rfo C^*te ^fafafiTl *ft^l 1% TtWI* c^^tv 

% i ^ Pre ^ i fcf* *pi 55 1 <5rt^ ^tf% ^5 1 <gp 

The following passage is from a work on the "Philo- 
sophy of Grammar" called Bhasa-parickchheda (fS\z\ 
*tfaW?) (MS. dated B.S. 1181) apparently a translation of 
and on the philosophy the Sanscrit original of the same 
of grammar. name. The beginning runs thus : 

1 The text given here, a little modernised perhaps in spelling, 
follows the quotation in S. P. PatriJca, 1306, no. 1, p. 51. 


*T3 <2fat* I ^T ^l ^ *Tftt2/ fa"R Wft *F5fa I ^S 
TO(T ^T TO T^T* I 

^t%^r^ (?i ^ <$&[* $to ^jt*ft^ i ^ftf^ <sra ^t*i 

Tfa *l^s1 1 4 ^ ^tt*rl ^ ^Tsi c^ ^ ct ^r^gj ??t^R 
rcrafeB ^ ^to *rtre i wi wi it*! forc *ic* ^rtfei* 

From a work on law and ritual called Hi/ahoxlJui- 
latva 2 

^fWt^ *f^5? *TC* 3TtS ^5Jtft ftfas* ^ CTft* ^1 ^ ^ 

1 This passage is taken from a notice of the manuscript in question 
in 8, P. Patrika, 1304, p. 325 : the text is obviously punctuated and 
modernised in spelling. More specimens of this prose would hare bam 
welcome, but unfortunately only these two passages are given. I have 
not been able to get access to the manuscript itself. 

8 This curious manuscript is noticed in 8. P. Patrik<t t 1 308, p. 
43 from which the above quotation is taken. It is written in Sanscrit 
but part of it is in Bengali prose. The date of the manuscript is 
1235 B.S. 


The stiffness of the subject and style of the original 
is, no doubt, partially responsible for the want of ease or 
fluency in the translation : but the very fact that the 
translator had to keep himself close to his original gave 
him a more correct syntax and a precision and condensa- 
tion of language, eminently suited for such exposition but 
differing greatly from the sententious manner of the 
previous age. 

Even the theological literature assumed a more orderly 
style. This will be illustrated from the following short 
passage from Gaanadisadham, quoted in Baiiga Sakitya 
Paric/mj/d. l 

*nr<T ^srsrtft fsrsy srcar fori caft *rt$p H w srfa ^fafl fwW 
^mu $mz^ te^y ^finrj ^t^ *t?fre<T ^^j #faWFF 

1 Vol. II, pp. 1630-37. This MS. dated 1158 B. S. is also noticed 
in S. P. Patrika, 1304, p. 341, where it is called Sadhana Katha. The 
text as given in these places are obviously punctuated and cor- 
rected in spelling. 


c?rt wi to* ^4 ^t^rfed fcs ^ ^t^ *t*t4 wt ^festft^F 
ftsr nffa c^f^^i *k* mw ^fertw Hl^tfo* <&*t strati 

c^r^mr* *rctfa ^fera *ktt*r ^f<rc?rc i *tw eft <wr^t ^ 
<<3fC^w*^*itW* , ifMc *j^ offend *k* faT 
%^fft*m 1f*fs2j ^tf w *w* effort *tc* *rfa^ crf^rai 
**f%srfcr 8hrtots*tfw *w* o&mw H wrcft fo ^fosi ft^T 
^ci %ts? ^firw tp'ftfa c^ w^tw tos* ^rt^f^ *rt*rfa 
srfa^l 91^ 'srf^rft ssrftt* *ft witslt^ fa 11 ^Tsl 

^fwft CW5 ^ftTft i its c^ sswt^l )w fllJt* 
lilfrfatsf osrwii s*roft ^fere faster <fs ii tf^ ii 

All this is indeed a great advance towards periodic or 

balanced prose. The syntax is not irregular : the verb 

is not dropped or shifted at will : the clauses are not 

clumsily thrown together or inverted 

Advance towards w ith complete disregard of general 
maturity not decline. x 

harmony : in short, the whole trend 

is a movement towards maturity and not decline, and, if it 

is not too sweeping to generalise, towards modernity itself. 

It would not be strictly proper to take into account, as 

specimens of literary style, the prose of a few deeds and 

documents which have come down from the 17th and 18th 

centuries but this "documentary" prose though seldom 

, , , rising into art, indicate, that by 

Prose of deeds and J 

documents : what application of prose to an infinite 

they illustrate. , . . . . , . 

variety or subjects, the right direc- 
tion was being taken towards systematic prose-writing, 


towards the creation of a prose-of-all-work. In those days 
of Persian ascendancy, the application of Bengali to these 
documents is a fact significant in itself : and these specimens 
show vernacular letter-writing, one of the most powerful 
instruments in the formation of a general prose style, in 
full operation. Before the Third Literary Conference in 
North Bengal (1316 B. S.), the President in his address 
quoted specimens of two Bengali letters written by Assamese 
Kings, one of which dates back to 

old S L e tWs nS f tW 1477 aud the other tol553&ka. 
We quote here the first named letter 
dated 1477, written by Raja Naranarayan to the Ahome 
King Chukamfa Svargadeva 

^^^^^wt^tftfetfef^l^^^^fsf ^fSpfcT n ft ^ m- 

Tt$1 ^ft" I ^^R C^fttS ^"fa ^retW^uW *farf*u% ?i^W5 

^#ftj CI Wst^ *ttt ^H^5 ^ft^ ^<T^ I ^31 C*^ tdl^S 
^tf^ I C5WW1 <4C*fjfc ^#tf ^f^s ^ I 5Tl ^<J ^ ^Tf*f^ 

s pi i*1w ^ Ft^rai *Pnrft ^nrt* iiiftwfc <smv* 

Sjpi Jf^l JRtFt^ ^W ftt*l ftftl fiN I 

1 Reports of the Conference (Utiara Bahga Sahitya Sammilana, 
Tritlya Adhibeaana, Karyabibarani), pp. 35-37. jThese were first published 
in Asambanti, June 37, 1901, and August 1, 1901. The first of these 
letters has been (without any indication of its source) reprinted in 
Banga Sahitya Parichaya, vol. ii, p. 1672. 



Here is an extract from the second letter dated 1558 
Saka written by the Assamese King to Mohammedan 
Faujdar Nawab Aleyar Khan of Gauhati 

tos 9\*fti w\ti% i ^tt*f <)9fi ft*i i c^rf^ f"H ^rere 
stft i ^ *rotFfa*K5 ^ft i <4*R c^tTtw ^fa*i *W\$ ^itf'ral 

yfk c\ fa%te c^fat* ^ tii ^rfftc^ ^ts fafa* ^f^sl 
jtI <rcs w refrfa <t*n$ ofto i ^43 ^rtft *f?re <*t^TtTO*f 

^tc*i ^ *fa* c*ift^ srtfwfaff ^f^sl <5rstfa fa*i* 31 

__^ . . From the letter of Nandakumar to 

Extract troni rsanda- 

kumar's letter to his son Gurudas published in the 
Gurudas ' 8ah Una Pan mi Palriia (B.S. 1310, 

pp. 62-65) . 

C^tTfa ^5f*I *r#f1 3"f*Rl ^*W "5T3 ^*fs*T *f^3. * $tf*CnT 

tar * i csts? <rft3 *m$*i ^Rt^t^r rtft*rt* l^s c*f5*<3 ^tf^i^t 

*fafki$ wfc\ wfam Sl^s *tt straff ftq c^ftsnr *t* #> 
^5 <srtfwfc^ a*re * f tsii *ti$ww ^tel srfJTrt c*t*i 
f%ft **fl * m^ *re ^Trtrs ^t<rft-5^ ^ot tfc rtfl <5rt*tttf?r 

1 For the history and text of these documents, .see 8. P, Patrika, 
1306, pp. 297-301 and /b'd, 1308. The text, however, is taken from 
a very modern copy of the original. They are reprinted in Banga 
Sahitya Parichaya, vol. ii, pp. 1638-43. 


GWlftft TfaSWW ft*!* fW9fa ^to 4TT5 ^t^F ftf^lfa 

%% ^%^ i 

This is not absolutely despicable writing, even though 
in the last extract there is an in- 
doiment age fr m W citable tincture of Persian, due 
partly perhaps to the fact that it 
was addressed to a Mohammedan Nawab. The same 
tendency is illustrated by the documents, dated B. S. 1125 
and 1137, relating to the Baisnab triumph of Radha 
Mohan Das Thakur 1 which were published and edited 
by R. Tribedl in the Patrika : from which it is needless 
to quote more than the following short illustrative 
extract. It speaks of the *fa^fa doctrine. 2 

<swi1 *ro*rrqrfa fast* stc^ cite? t*^fa wto rfq*t#l 
*&!* T5t^ ^rfts fast* ^fac^ *Fitf ^t^s wffiff 4^ 

nfw ^^ wwtii ^ <sre fast* *firat ^^ ^ *RTh? 
^fa?d d^pi ^tre >f#rsF5 *s5 Si^s awr^rN *ref^ 1^ 

1 Some letter's of Nandakumar dated 1756 are published by Beve- 
ridge in the National Magazine (September, 1872). The letter of 
which quotation is given is dated 1772. 

2 In this connection it is necessary to mention the documents rela- 
ting to the affairs of Lala Udayanarayan Ray, published in the 
Patrika, 1308, pp. 243-54. Inspite of a slight admixture of Persian, 
here we have good specimens of descriptive prose. The passages, 
however, are too lengthy for full quotation here. 


ftc*r #fFtfr ffei ^#ft *m#fr fof%s ^fat*R f^i firft^ 

2Wt ^t% ^1 ^tt*ifa xst^te ?#faft *$*T3 ^firal fen 

ct ct Ttw ^rfti^ f#i toto fwt^ 3*i *t*e*i %tw ftfwfr 
^rfcj TOPHI ft^R *fc* )*TtiftCQ <*tt*rfa $teTtff* ifN 

*rc^ *t*rr*fa*R ^i 5t3t*i ^fscrc ^rt^i l|Si<* ^tf* 

>t^?j ^^ It* *f**ftl* ^1 ^if^re^ ^fart *rt*rai ^#htn 
faro irws ^fire F5*ra Hfe? Cffaflfo ftfrf smtra 

^t?tw^ fc^ ^rrffi *f^*T5 ^srt^ *>z* <qfwv$ tws ^ftral 
f^ 4 ^<^ ^rr^^i i*rtfe *rtfsr<5tt*i *rferi w ^fare ffkw* 
*rt**l ^#fti* w^s fan frett* *rrfa^ ^i riroi Si^ssj 
^t<2F** TOt^ft ^4 ^ fastis ct ^ Tfft ** ^t^ *to 
<& w$ ^rf* #! ftst* *rtft*rts[ ^teire *tl^rl^ $<1 3)^ 
iRrt srfa* <l *rft^ f*ran> ?**rte #n fe^i ^fo*rc ^trt 

These 17th and 18th century documents and other 

prose pieces show that even in the hands or mouths of 

people, who cannot be strictly called literary, the vernacular 

in that stage of prose-writing had 

Summary of the quite got out of mere rusticitv or 
achievements of old 

Bengali prose. childish babblement. The stage ot 

apprenticeship was indeed not over 

but it is good straight-forward Bengali attaining sufficient 


rhythmical and verbal dignity and showing the way to 
better things if it had suited the writers to write more 
originally in prose. Treatises on law, medicine, and similar 
documents or esoteric theological writing can seldom, in 
the very nature of the case, lay claim to literary com- 
petency or to the motive power of style ; but the description 
of Brndaban and such other things gives better opportuni- 
ties and, rude though the resources of form and model 
were, yet such as they were, they were used with sufficient 
skill. This, though qualified, is high praise indeed. Full 
and mature prose style is yet to come ; indeed style in the 
strict and rare sense had scarcely been attained or 
consciously attempted. The necessary stock of material 
was yet to be accumulated, the necessary plant and method 
of working to be slowly and painfully elaborated. There 
was still clumsiness and uncouth handling inseparable 
from earliness and immaturity. These Sahajiya and other 
works again written, as they were, for an exclusive and 
esoteric sect and in a difficult language were not very 
widely known or easily accessible to all : in fact, their 
general influence was not much and this may be one 
reason why their very laudable attempt at vernacular 
prose-writing was not so widely taken up or readily 
emulated as it should have been. But the return to 
vernacular writing from Sanscrit or Persian ; the general 
change of ground from verse to prose ; the widening of 
subjects and methods ; the practising of a perfectly homely 
and vernacular style, free from obscurity or ornate Sanscrit 
constructions ; and lastly the example 
Its formal import- f easy pi am business-like narration, 
ance and general , t i n , ,1 

movement towards the not altogether devoid ot character, all 

^tpro^ry^'- this meant a very great deal. The 

result achieved may not have been 

literature in the proper sense but the small amount of 


positive achievement should not blind us to its immense 
formal importance or to the fact that all this indicated a 
movement towards better and better prose-writing and 
the gradual evolution of an indigenous prose style. But 
in the years which followed, during days of political and 
social instability and general decay of culture consequent 
upon revolutionary changes of government, the develop- 
ment of Bengali prose met with a 
Jts arrested develop- ^.^ che(jkj an(J |f ^ not ^j 

nearly a century had elapsed, with the 
establishment of peace and prosperity, business and leisure, 
congenial to its cultivation, that we have again the serene 
exercise of elaborate prose. But for this arrested develop- 
ment and its rebirth under entirely different conditions, 
Bengal prose would have developed along the lines 
indicated, entirely self-made and home-grown * . 

'Since writing the above essay on Old Bengali Prose, I have seen the 
text of Qolak Samhita of Bpndaban Das as published in the .Ptitriku 
1309, pp. 55-59. Tt purports to be a brief treatise on cosmology. The 
MS. is undated but it has been supposed to be not older than the latter 
part of the 18th century. The beginning is in prose while the latter 
part is in verse. Here is an illustrative extract: 

sinfo sprats i ^5*tfa ifatTO i ^i?g* *reg *n i nn i*wi . st* to 

1$ *ff$fa I fa ^1 I ^S\ i ftsst '- 3^ * ^^51 8 ipft&\ a -5{^Sc\ fc 

TOt*i i 4$ isnt^fa i 3>5*fa |fafa i ^far* afcs is it*r* y fa ^ i 

Irl* I 1 f%c1?i itl fa I 9* ftfj ^fi 9 ! ^lfa*t ^t*ift*l iffa*f 


[ Page 109 footnote ] 

The Bengali Bible 

With respect to the name given to the Serampore Bible, 
we have the following entry in Fountain's Diary on the 4th 
January, 1798 (quoted in Contributions towards a History of 
Biblical Translations in India, Calcutta, 1854) : "This 
morning the Pundit attended upon us.. It was observed 
that the word Mangalakhgau would not properly denomi- 
nate the whole Bible, as it only signified l good news/ a 
term more applicable to the Gospel. It was then proposed 
to call the Bible Dharma Shnstra : but the Pundit said 
Shastra only meant that writing which contained commands 
or orders. We must therefore call it Dharma pustaka, viz., 
the Holy Book." On the 18th March, 1800, 1 the first sheet 
of Matthew was printed. On the 7th February, 1801, the 
first edition of the Bengali New Testament was published. 
It consisted of 2,000 copies ; the expense was 62. In 
1 800, the translation of the Old Testament was finished. 
The books of the Old Testament, as printed by 
the Serampore Press (1801-09) are in 4- volumes, viz., 
(I) Pentateuch, 1801; (2) Joshua- Esther, 1809; (3) Job- 
Song of Solomon, 1804; (4) Isaiah-Malaehi, 1805. 
According to the Serampore Memoirs, however, the dates 
of publication are : (1) 180. ; (2) 1809 ; (3) 1803 ; (4) 1807. 
The Memoirs, however, are not always reliable in this respect. 
The Psalter appears to have been issued separately in 1 803. 

1 The date is incorrectly given as 1803 by Dinesh Ch. Sen (Hist of 
Beng. Lang, and Lit. 1911, p. 852). See Tenth Memoir, Appendix. 


In 1803, the second edition of the Bengali New Testament 
was commenced and in 1806, it \\;- ready, 1500 copies. 
The proof-sheets were examined by every one of the 
missionaries, and, in addition to this, Carey and Marshman 
went through it, verse by verse, one reading the Greek, 
the other the Bengali text. In 1 809, the Old Testament 
was published and in the same year, the whole Bible 
appeared in five large volumes. It was the work of 
Carey's own hand (manuscripts may be seen still in the 
possession of the Serampore Baptist Missionaries) ; for, 
Ward, writing some years subsequently, mentions that 
Carey " wrote with his own pen the whole of the five 
volumes." In 1809, a third editiou of the New Testa- 
ment went to the Press, consisting of 100 copies and 
came out in 18 ll. It was a folio edition. The fourth 
edition of the New Testament was commenced in 1813 
and published in 1817 (5,000 copies) [the date is wrongly 
given as 1816 in the tenth Memoir] j the sixth edition of the 
New Testament and third edition of the Old in 1820; 8th 
edition of the whole Bible in 1832 : the text of this revised 
edition in double columns is divided into two parts : 
I. Genesis Esther, p. 204: . Job Malachi and the 
New Testament pp. 623. The New Testament has a 
separate title-page, with date 1 832 in Bengali, and 1833 
in English figures. Other important subsequent transla- 
tions of the Bible are: 

(1) The Old Testament translated from the original 
Hebrew by Dr. W. Yates and the Calcutta Baptist 
Missionaries with native assistants, pp. 843, Calcutta 
1844. The New Testament translated by Dr. Yates, 
Calcutta 1833, and also an edition printed for the British 
and Foreign Bible Society iu 2 vols, in Roman character, 
London, 1839. The whole Bible translated out of the ori- 
ginal tongues by W. Yates and other Calcutta Baptist 


Missionaries with native assistants, pp. 1144, Calcutta 

(2) The above revised by J. Wenger, pp. 1139, Cal- 
cutta, 1861. A reprint in smaller size appeared in 1867, 
edited with slight alterations by C. B. Lewis. 

(3) The Holy Bible, in Bengali, with references, trans- 
lated by the Baptist Missionaries with Bengali assistants. 
Revised edition by G. H. Rouse, pp. 815, 257. Calcutta 

(4) The New Testament translated by J. F. Ellerton 
pp. 993, Calcutta 1819. 

The different books of the Bible published separately 
are not mentioned here, the earliest being Matthew 
(1800), to which were ' annexed some of the most 
remarkable prophecies in the Old Testament respecting 
Christ.' The next in chronological order of publication 
was Pentateuch (1801). 


{Page 187 footnote) 

ShOST, HO KOT, HA K, HENK8HI| yalee ar Danhkaker. 

Ek K, henkshi, yalee dek, hilek ek danrkak b, halo ek 
tookra poneerer apan mook, he lo, i ( ya ek gach, her daler 
oopor bosh, ya roh, yaeh, he, tutk, hyonat k, henksh, yalee 
bibechona korite lagilo je emon shoo shwadoo grash kemon 
kori, ya hat korite pari bo. Kohilek, he pri, ye kak aji 
shokale tomake dek, Vii, ya ami boro shontooshto ho, iya- 
eh, hi ; tomar shoondur monrti ar oojjol palok amar 
chok, yer jyoti, jodi nomrota krome toomi onoogroho 
kori| ya amake ektee gan shoona, ite, tobe nishshondeho 
janitam je tomar shwor tomar ar ar gooner shoman bote. 
Anondonmotto kak e, i onoonoyo kot, hate b f hooli; ya 
tahake apan shoorer poripatee dek, ha, ibar jonye mook h 
k, hoolilek tok, hon poneer neeche pori, lo, taha tok| honi 
k, henkshi, yalee oot, ha, i ( ya lo, i, ya J0| yo jookta 
prosht| han korilek, ar danrkakke obshoro krome apon 
mitt, hya gorimar k, hed korite rak, hi, ya gelo. 

Ihar pi hoi e, i, jek 'hane aropit ko, t, ha probesh kore 
shek, hane gnyan gochar lop pa, e. 

The system of transliteration adopted by Gilchrist for 
Bengali was substantially the same as that devised by him 
for Hindoosthani, Persian, Arabic and Sanscrit. It was 
on a phonetic basis and it attempted to render by means of 
English spelling the sounds of Bengali, without any refer- 
ence to the established orthography of the language, even 
in the case of Sanscrit words. The Roman vowels had 


their English values. The rival system of Sir William 
Jones very properly adopted the Italian or Latin values 
of the Roman vowels, and this system modified by Wilson 
and Hunter finally won the day. Gilchrist uses o for T, 
the Sanscrit and Hindusthani sound of ^ being regularly 
represented by u ; ^ is denoted by i, and If by ee. ^ is 
represented by oo and fe by oo, and s/i is used for *f, 3, *f ; 
f being used wherever these letters are so pronounced. The 
cerebrals are in italics, t d r ; the h of the aspirate is 
separated from the stop letter by a bar, as in Sir William 
Jones's system (k { h, ck { h). Gilchrist uses k for ^, not c, 
as is done by Jones, so that with the former *{ is #, k, not 
c'| h. For ^ again he never employs e or a. His system, 
whatever may be its faults, has at least the merit of 

{Page 237 footnote) 

Early Christian Periodicals (Bengali) 

The Samachar Darpan and the Digdarnav were not 
properly speaking, missionary papers : for religions con- 
troversy was sedulously avoided. The first Christian period- 
ical was the Gospel Magazine (8vo. pp. 1-16), English 
and Bengali, commenced in 1819 by the Missionaries of 
the London Missionary Society and continued till 1828. 
Then came the Evangelist, edited by Rev. J. Robinson and 
started in 1843 by the Baptist Association : it was in 
existence for three years. The Upademka was commenced 
in 1847 and edited by J. Wenger, continued till 1857, 
when the editor went home; it was recommenced in 1863 
after his return and ultimately ceased in 1865. The 
Satganiaba edited by the missionaries of the Church of 
England, was begun in 1849 : five volumes appear to have 
been published. The Amondaya, a fortnightly journal, 
was started in 1 856 by the Calcutta Tract Society. The 
first editor was Rev. Lalbehari De. These are, in their 
chronological order, all the purely Christian periodicals, 
published during the first half of the century. 


Early Christian Tracts 

It is impossible, if it is at all worth while, to- draw up 
a complete list of the early Christian tracts in Bengali. 
A pretty fair list will be found in Murdoch, Catalogue of 
Christian Vernacular Literature of India, Madras, 1870. 
pp. 4-81. But this is by no means exhaustive. See 
also Long, Catalogue (1855), Return of Names and Writings 
etc. (1855), Bet urn Relating to Bengali Publications (1859). 
Some of these tracts may be found in the Serampore 
College Library and other missionary centres. See also 
Blumhardt, Catalogue of Bengali Printed Books in the 
British Museum and Catalogue of Bengali Books in the India 
Office; Wenger, Catalogue of Bengali Publications (1865) 
supplements, Long's Return Relating to Bengali Publications 
(1859) and enumerates only those missionary publications 
which were printed after 1865. 


Only important articles in periodicals or reviews are 
separately referred to under respective author's names. 

Aitchisou, C. l\ Treaties, Engagements and Sununds 
relating to India, with Index, 8 vols. Calcutta. 
Allibone, Dictionary of British and American Authors. 5 
vols. Philadelphia. 1859-75. 
Supplement to do. by J. F. Kirk. 2 vols. Phila- 
delphia. 1896. 
Alumni Oxonienses. Oxford. 1888. 
American Oriental Society, Journal of. 1880. 
Anath Krsna Deb, Banger Kabita. Calcutta. B.S. 1318. 
Annual Register, The (from 1758-1842). 84 vols. London. 

1783, etc. 
Asiatic Annual Register, The. London. 1801-12. 12 vols. 
Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register, The. 3 ser. 1816-45. 
Asiatic Quarterly Review, The. See Imperial and Asiatic 

Quarterly Review. 
Asiatic Researches. 1799. 

Asiatic Society of Bengal, Journal and Proceedings of. 
Calcutta. 1893 etc. 
The Centenary Review of, from 1784 to 1883. 

Calcutta. 1885. 
Catalogues of Printed Books in the European Lan- 
guages. Calcutta. 1908. Also Catalogues, 1843, 
1856, 1884. 
Catalogue of Books in the Oriental Library, 
Calcutta. 1899. 
Auber, Rise and Progress of British Power in India. 2 
vols. London. 1837. 


Badly, Rev. B. H. Indian Missionary Directory. 3rd Ed. 

Calcutta. 1886. 
Bandyopadhyay, Kaliprasanna, Batigalar Itihasa. Nababi 

Amal. Calcutta. B.S. 1308. 
Bandhab, The. vol. ii. Dacca. B.S. 1282. 
Bangadarsan, The. Old Series. 
Bariglya Sahitya Parisat Patrika, The. 24 vols. 

Catalogue of Bengali Books in. Vol. ii, Kabya O 

Kabita ed. Susllkumar De. Calcutta. B.S. 1324. 

Bangiya sariglt ratnamala, ed. Asutos Ghosal. Calcutta. 

B.S. 1293. 
Baptist Missionary Society, Periodical Accounts relative 
to. 6 vols. Clipstone. 1800-17. 
Centenary Volume of. 1792-1892. London. 1793. 
Jubilee, History of, from 1792-1842, byRev. A. F. 
Cox. 2 vols. London. 184-2. 
Barbosa-Machado. Bibliotheca Lusitana Historica Critica 

e Chrologica. Vols. I-IV. Lisbon. 1741-59. 
Basu, Rajnarayan, Barigabhasa O Sahityabi^ayak Baktrta. 
Ekal O Sekal. New edition. Calcutta. 1909. 
Belcher, Dr. Jos. Life of Willam Carey. Philadelphia. 1850. 
Bengal Academy of Literature, Journal of. Vols. I-II. 
Bengal Almanac and Annual Directory, 1815. 
Bengal Obituary, The. Calcutta. 1851. 
Bengal Past and Present (Journal of the Calcutta His- 
torical Society). 
Bengal Selections (from the unpublished records of the 

Government of Bengal). 
Bernier, Travels, ed. by J. Brook. 2 vols. Calcutta. 1830. 
Beverley, H. The Feringhees of Chittagong. (Calcutta 

Bharat-barsa, The. 1325 B.S. etc. 
Bharati, The. 1304 B.S. 


Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors, eel. by John 

Wat kins and Frederick Shoberl. London. 1816. 
Blrbhumi, The. New Series, vols, i and ii. Calcutta. 1319 

and 1320 B.S. 
Bisvacosa. ed. by Nagendranath Basu. Art. on Banga 

Bhasa O Sahitya. 
Blochmann. Calcutta during the last Century. Calcutta. 

Blumhardt, J. F. Catalogue of Bengali Printed Books in 
the British Museum. London. 1886. 

Supplementary Catalogue to do. London. 1910. 

Catalogue of Bengali and Oriya Books in the India 
Office. London. 1905. 
Bolts, William. Considerations on Indian Affairs. London. 

Bose, Pramathanath. A History of Hindu civilisation 

during British Rule. 4 vols. 1894-95. 
Brown, W. History of the Propagation of Christianity. 

3 vols. Vol. II dealing with Indian Missions. 

Edinburgh. 1854. 
Brief Narrative of the Baptist Mission in India. 4th Ed. 

London. 1813. 
British and Foreign Bible Society, Reports of. London. 

1805 etc. 
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