Human Documentation of Hatred
Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams: Chapter 18
Not the novel, it's the name of the novel that confused everyone; from the critics to the writer of the ad script that appeared on the back cover of the book to promote circulation. The Puppets? Well, they all assumed that Bandopaddhyay must have portrayed people as puppets of their destiny. This was the conclusion of judging critics. But those who cared not to judge and kept the novel breathing for twenty odd years, knew better. They realised that it was a dissent against those who make people puppets. It's not a vigorous revolt; but a sympathetic mild and persistent protest."
Manik Bandopaddhyay,the author's comment on his most controversial novel 'Pootool Naacher Itikotha' (The Puppets' Tale as translated by the UNESCO).
Mind the lmperilist Linguistics!
Have you read Tara Shankar Bandopaddhyaya?
Hansuli Banker Upokatha?
Particularly , while you read Hasuli Bank , you have to be amazed to see the logic of Industrialisation. the language is same as used by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya! Capitalism begins with Language and culture. mind , you Buddha himself a Poet and the nephew of legendary revolutionary Indian poet Sukanto Bhattachary had been the minister of Information and culture. Nandan Premises has been his empire for long. He intercepts Taslima Nasrin as well as Redical Cinema by Joshy Joseph or Ananda Patbardhan.He is the man running Bangla academy and his man Pabitra Sarkar has tried his best to correct Bengali diction. Buddha has been the Brand Bangla nationality. He has been the Brand Bangla culture. Now Buddha happens to be the best brand of capitalist Marxist indiscriminate Industrialisation and Urbanisation. Buddha uses the same language as the Aarkathies (middlemen) used in Hansuli bank Industrialisation. The logic of development remains the same and same happens to be the Muscle Power! though much more polished, elite, sophisticated post modernised , machinized!
You may also identify Brand Buddha diction in Rangbhoomi and Godan by Premchand. You may get it right there in Putul Nacher Itikatha, Itikathar pare and Padma Nadeer Manjhi by Manik Bandopadhyaya. You may hear the echoes in Hardy, Dickens, Shaw, Tolstoy, Camus, Yashpal, Rahee Maum Raza, Akhtarzzuman and even the works of African and Latin american Literature.
It happens to be the language of Imperialism!
Here you are! It is the linguistics of Post Modern Hindu Zionist White Galaxy Order run from the Oval House in Washington DC!
Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay (1898-1971): Tarasankar remains the best chronicler in Bengal so far as the decline and decay of the feudal fabric is concerned. Hansuli Banker Upakatha (The Tale of the Crescent Bend of the River Kopai) is one of his most outstanding novels.Great Bengali writer and recipient of prestigious 'Jnanpith Award' Tara Shankar Bandopadhyay's classic novel Ganadevta is based upon the village life of Bengal. The Village life tradition prevalent from centuries had been disturbed due to introduction of machine-culture born from western Industrial Revolution. Main theme of Ganadevta is the influence of Industrial Revolution and machine-civilization upon village life and how all these were responsible in making their life topsy-turvy. Honoured with the Jnanpith Award this novel has been acknowledged as one of the world's best novel.
Kavi, Hansuli Banker Upakatha, Nagini Kanya and Ganadevata are considered classics in Bengali literature.Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was a universally accepted author among all Bengali readers. His novels and short stories kept the aged and the youth engrossed. Novelist Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was one of the famous triad of 'Bandopadhyays', the other two being Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay and Manik Bandopadhyay. THE STORY OF A POET Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay in his novel Kabi (1942, The Poet) presents Netai, a 'dom' (an untouchable community) as the protagonist.
To me, these works are the perfect Human documentation of Hatred inherited by the caste Hindus against the slave, bonded out caste, underclass, subordinate labours tortured in the feudal set up of Indigenous production system.Tara Shankar was opposed to Industrialisation and urbanisation. But he never advocated any Insurrection against the ruling Brahminical class.Tarashankar, of course, wrote a novel Aranya Banhi with the theme of Santhal Insurrection.
But politically he never allowed any space for either tribals or the scheduled castes. The Bengali Brahmin Kayastha feudal lords emerged thanks to Permanent Land Settlement system introduced the colonial rulers which ultimately failed during the World Wars. Industrialisation broke the back bone of Feudal Set Up. It also broke the caste system in limited sense. The British were responsible for the rare opportunities of education and professional mobilisation breaking the glorified Hindu Varna Vyvastha, which prescribed specific job for every Hindu by birth.The taboo was broken with education and industrialisation.
Even in modern times while the industrialisation and urbanisation drive, particularly SEZ, uproot the SC, ST, OBC and minority communities most, the Insurrection against this Imperialist Industrialisation is led by the Brahmins. Say,Medha Patekar, Mamata bannerjee, Mahashweta Devi, Ulka Mahajan and so on.
Tara Shankar did very well to expose all these sentiments of the ruling class.In every novel Tara Shankar justified the varna vyavastha. Chandi Mandap opens with a Village Meeting against such professional mobilsation. Even in Arogya Niketan, a novel dealing with Life and death, Tarashankar opposed modern medicines and supported traditional medical care.
Tarashankar always adopted a strategy to divide the Indigenous castes. He never exposed the Brahmins or kayasthas, the Higher castes. his villains have been always the lower caste Hindus. As we see the Chhirupal in Ganodevata. he threw Satchasi and Sadgope landlords against the landless labour classes and defended the High caste feudal lord. We may see the clear cut difference while he deals with High cast affairs as in Sapto Padi, Bipasha and Jalsaghar. No exposure of sexual behaviour remains the constant characteristics of these novels. tarashankar never exposed any scandal involving a caste Hindu woman while he presents the details of the sexual behaviour and the anarchy of sex amongst the Indigenous castes and classes. We see the heights is Hansuli Banker Upokatha and Nagini Kanya with a gimmick of anthropology.
The Culture Hero Karali Kahar in Hansuli Banker upokatha is responsible to end the slavery of the caste system in the best interest of his brethren. He introduces the Industrial revolution. But he is painted as a monster from the beginning who betrays his paramour Paakhi for the sexual affair with Subasi, the second wife of banwari, the Chief who is engaged lifelong with every affairs with Kahaars and happens to be affectionate to Karali for this transition.
Tarashankar never experimented with his caste hindu heroes or heroines as far as sex is concerned as if in Tara Shankar time, all SC ST women were sex starving or sex maniacs and all the caste Hindu women were Sat Savitri.
Even portarying Rai Kamal, a baishnavi and socilly outcaste woman, Tara Shankar behaves restrained in disguise of love philosophy and spritualism. But he never spares any of the Bgdi woman in Ganodebata, particularly Durga.
In kavi, which I read as a boy of primary school, Tara shankar never hides his intense hate for the Untouchables. He dismisses the folk tradition of Kavigan,as an untouchable affair. The hero Nitai being a DOM by caste is never spared for his low origin.
My Guru Tara chandra Tripathi used to say that Gandebata by Tarashankar and Chowrangee by shankar are the best novels ever written by any Indian novelist. We believed that. We got a Hindi translation of Chowrangee, translated by raj kamal chowdhari. but we could get an english translation of Gana Debata from the mid lake Municipal library.The justification of caste system pinched me at that time, but we were rather spell bound by the mastery of the details with surgical precision. later, in Dhanbad, I stubled with the original novels in earlier eigties and was stunned to encounter with the Brahmincal psyche and their Aesthetics of Hatred based on caste discrimination!
We never knew anything about Bangladeshi literature in nainital days.
At that time we were at best the readers of Bimal Mitra and Samaresh basu thaks to hindi translations. Shankar novels were also popular. But we read Bimal Mitra most. Bimal Matra rose to eminence with his classic trilogy Saheb Bibi Golam (The Master, The Lady and the Slave), Kadi Diye Kinlam (Bought With Money) and Ekak, Dasak, Satak (Ones, Tens, Hundreds) spread over nearly three centuries of Bengal's social history. The thematic vein of his novels, on individual planes, is the travails of men of integrity within a value empty milieu.
Samaresh Babu (1924-'88): One of the pioneers of Post-Second World War Bengali fiction, Samaresh Babu wrote 87 novels, 200 short stories and 20 travel-based novels. Ganga is one of his well-known novels.
It is true that we encounter with the entire feudal setup with its innermost socil fabrics in Tara Shankar Novels. We find day to day details of every caste and every class, their life, livelihood, folk, culture, dialects, superstitions, tabbos, festivals, traditions, infights, community life, say every thing for the first time.Bankim had been Romantic and he never dealt with his time. he rather preferred to write period novels , romances which were quite detached with his time. Bankim Chandra was a very learned man and wrote, besides novels, many religious discourses and essays. His place in Bengali literature as the pioneer of fiction is still very high. But his novels suffered from a religious or moral bias. He followed, in the treatment of his novels, the long loved dictum of punishing sin and applauding virtue. The inevitable result was that his characters did not develop on human lines.He had to satisfy orthodox society which was always watchful that no wrong ideal entered into society through literature. This was something like the tradition of eighteenth century Classicism in English literature.
In an essay that critically review's folklore's disciplinary position vis-à-vis history and culture, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998) says that temporal dislocation between the site of origin and the present location of particular cultural forms signals the presence of folklore. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett thus conceptualizes culture as heterogeneous, layered and composed of multiple strands that are interconnected in rather haphazard and contingent ways. This sense of contingency comes about through the juxtaposition of different time scales such that the idea of locality or location becomes the conceptual frame within which the heterogeneous and circulating strands that we call culture come to cohere, if only for a moment. However, as Kirshenblatt-Gimblett points out, even before location comes to be viewed as a spatial category it is a temporal one, and by constituting the present as a series of disjunctive moments, folklore creates a gap between the contemporaneous and the contemporary.
Tarasankar mainly flourished during the war years, having produced in that period a large number of novels. His celebrated novels are Dhatridebta, Kalindi, Panchagrm, Gonodebata, Kabi, Arogyaniketan, Jalsaghar, Raskali, Hansulibaker Upakatha and so on.
Set during the period just before World War II, Ganadevata, is the saga of Shibkalipur, a small village on the banks of the river Mayurakshi in the Birbhum district of present West Bengal. Through the interactions and conflicts between myriad range of characters who stand as typical representatives of their social class – Aniruddha (Samit Bhanja), a rebellious blacksmith who along with his carpenter friend Girish refuse to continue under the traditional barter system, Debu Pundit (Soumitra Chatterjee), the much respected pillar of society who gets radicalized and questions the system for its injustices and prejudices, Chhiru Pal (Ajitesh Bannerjee) the nouveau-riche village strongman, Jatin (Debraj Roy) a freedom fighter under house-arrest, Durga (Sandhya Roy), a clever and free-spirited prostititute and a host of characters including the wives of the principals and other inhabitants of the village – the film unravels a slice in the history of a typical Bengal village caught within the wheels of change.
Hansuli Banker Upokotha is a 1962 film made by Tapan Sinha starring Kali Bannerjee, Dilip Roy, Robi Ghosh and others. Set in 1941, the movie explores life in rural bengal, the realities of the Zamindari system that was responsible for much of the social inequalities in bengal, as well as the changes in social perceptions with time.
Even Akhtarazzuman Ilius considered Tarashankar a master of Bengal chronicles. He presented his time with full details. Though he was partial enough to sympathise with the decaying feudal class to which he himself belonged.With Manik and Bibhutibhushan, Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay (taaraasha.nkar bandyopaadhyaaY) completes the famous triad of the "Banerjee"s (or Bandyopadhyaays) of Bengali literature.Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was another famous novelist whose works feature a realistic picture of the many-colored fabric of life in rural Bengal in a pioneering modernist style of prose in fiction.
Tara Shankar never adopted the ways of expression as adopted by Thomas Hardy or Charles Dickens while dealing Industrialisation. Hardy and Dickens also exposed Industrialisation and capitalism. Tess of D`urberville has been a fantastic display of the broken wings of Indigenous production system. While all the satire and pathos in Dickens novels were targeted against the theme of Industrialisation and urbanisation. Both of them never advocated permanent slavery for the Indigenous slavery. Their Humanism did not deprive the out castes at any level.
It is amazing to note that all the prominent Novelists and Prose writers from West Bengal never dared to expose the eternal slavery of eighty five percent Indigenous people, the SC, ST, OBC and Muslims. They tried their best to sustain Caste system based Ruling Brahminical hegemony. Some critics identify the Bengali dalit literature with the writings of Tara shankar, Sharat, Manik and Mahashweta.
It is a pity as these excellent artist of creative literature never rose above caste line or caste interest.
It is quite surprising that a magical theme like Padma Nadir Manjhi by Manik Bandopadhyay overlooked the Caste system and Varnashram. He even did not care the routine details of daily adventures of the Fishermen.
In fact, Manik emphasised much on class division and class struggle. Overseeing caste contradiction he miserably failed to highlight the fabrics of social realism. A dalit Writer Adawait Mallaburman wrote Titas Ekti Nadir Naam based on the theme of Fishing lifestyle. it ddealt with the caste system with details. Even the classic like Putul Nacher Itikatha lacked the details of caste Divided society. So strange! Mahashweta Debi is known to voice for the tribals, but she never tried to expose the prevalent Caste system in Bengal and the Brahminical hegemony. Contrarily all Muslim writers from Bangladesh , led by Akhtarruzamman Ilius, Selina Hussain, Kabir, Azad and Abubakar Siddiki did the trick with mastery.Just we may accept that the novelist and short story writer, Manik Bandyopadhyay, was profoundly influenced by Marxism and by Freudian psychoanalsyis. Putul Nacher Itikatha (1936) and Padmanadir Majhi (1936) reveal his Marxist leanings as they do his psycholgical approach.
Premendra Mitra (1904-1988) was an adroit short story writer, using language skilfully to convey his themes and create characters. His stories encompass a variety of subjects ranging from struggle for living to politics and sociology.
Long before independence, Jasimuddin wrote Nakshi Kanthar Math and Sojan Badiar Ghat depicting all dimentions of caste community fabrics in rural Bengal. In Sojan Badiyar Ghat he exposed the Brahminical Hegemony without any mercy. We never saw any other example of this courage either in prose or poetry.
The realism in Literature is well substituted when the writers indulge in introducing romance in it. Tarasankar Bandopadhya is grouped with those writers of the third decades of the twentieth centuries who broke the poetic tradition in novels but took to writing prose with the world around them adding romance to human relationship breaking the indifference of the so called conservative people of the society who dare to call a spade a spade. Tarasankar’s novels, so to say, do not look back to the realism in rejection, but accepted it in a new way allowing the reader to breath the truth of human relationship restricted so far by the conservative and hypocrisy of the then society.
Tarasankar learned to see the world from various angles. He seldom rose above the matter soil and his Birbhum exists only in time and place. He had never been a worshipper of eternity. Tarasankar’s chief contribution to Bengal literature is that he dared writing unbiased. He wrote what he believed. He wrote what he observed.
His novels are rich in material and potentials. He preferred sensation to thought. He was ceaselessly productive and his novels are long, seemed unending and characters belonged to the various classes of people from zaminder down to pauper. Tarasankar experimented in his novels with the relationships, even so called illegal, of either sexes. He proved that sexual relation between man and women sometimes dominate to such an extent that it can take an upperhand over the prevailing laws and instructions of society. His novel ‘Radha’ can be set for an example in this context.
His historical novel ‘Ganna Begum’ is an attempt worth mentioning for it’s traditional values. Tarasankar ventured into all walks of Bengali life and it’s experience with the happenings of socio-political milieu. Tarasankar will be remembered for his potential to work with the vast panorama of life where life is observed with care and the judgment is offered to the reader. and long ones, then any other author. He is a region novelist, his country being the same Birbhum.
Tara Shankar Bandopaddhyay is well known for his exposures on caste system with folk Lore, legends and Myths. But the master rather used the caste as a tool to defend the decaying Feudal class in Bengal. He could not escape the Caste hatred of his class. His haterd is full of Venom while he dealt with his known indiegenous communities.Who were Illiterate and never knew how defamatory have been all the details put forward as works of art. He never dared to expose all the scandals and wrong deeds of the high caste literate Bhadralok as Sharat dared. The new trend of lyric poetry was manifested in Kavigan and Jatra. Tappa (a light classical variety of amorous songs), especially the songs of Nidhu Gupta also known as Nidhubabu became popular during this period. These songs were composed and presented purely for entertainment and therefore were not intended to be of high literary value. These were however somewhat refined later by coposers such as Gonjla Gaen. Kavigan also became popular among the urban people. Some famous poets of this period include Bhola Moira, Anthony Firingee, and Thakur Singh. But Tara Shankar tried to underplay its significance while describing all these elements of Rurl life as an anthropological aboriginal abusive substandard deculturisation. The best example of this destruction may be quoted as Kavi.
India, including Bengal, is a country of many races, cultures and communities, at various stages of social development and status. There are many worlds within a single world, many smaller discourses within a larger discourse. In fact, certain communities apparently belong to a different world, with a time lag of centuries. Their poverty, hard struggle for existence, social and cultural milieu, myths and popular beliefs, which differed considerably from those of mainstream South Asians, predictably provided material to fiction writers. The most famous of such novels are Nagini Kanya Kahini (The Tale of the Snake Maiden) and Harruli Banker Upakatha (The legend of Harruli Bank) by Tarashankar and Araryak by Bibhutibhushan. Here myth and reality, nature and man, the real and the imagined community merge in a magical manner. From slightly different angle, Padma Nadi Majhi (The boatman of the Padma river) by Manik, Titas ekti Nadir Nam (Titas is the name of a river) by Adytia Mallaborman, (himself a member of the fishing community), portray, in an unforgettable manner, the lives of people who derive their livelihood from the great rivers of East Bengal. In the next generation, Samaresh Basu created a novel with a similar background, Ganga, Satirath Bhaduri, the Bihar-based Bengali fiction writer, based his classic novel on a parallel between an ancient and medieval epic and low class, low caste village life in Eastern Bihar. Jhorai Charit Manas in seen as the modern counterpart of Ramcharitmanas of Tulisdas. The background is the Gandhian movement, culminating in the great rising of August 1942. Satirath, one of the greatest Bengali fiction writers, has probably been more popular and influential in Bihar than in Bengal.
The Second World War and the disastrous Bengal famine predictably left their marks on Bengali fiction and the three Banerjees, Subodh Ghosh, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Romesh Sen, Monoj Bari and many, many others. Their novels, Chintamoni by Manik, Madyantar by Tarashankar, Ashani Shanket (Danger signal) by Bibhuti Bhushan are certainly noteworthy but are probably eclipsed by the short stories of the period. If we could choose the best among many top ranking examples, Namuna (Model or Example) by Manik might win the prize. It illustrates, not just the physical suffering and death, but the total evasion of moral values, hidden by the face saving figleaf of hypocrisy, on the part of the “respectable” classes. The subsequent upheavals, anti-British agitations, the great peasant revolt of Tebhaga also influenced Bengali fiction in the years just before and after independence. Again, perhaps, the palm goes to Manik, for his novel Chinha (The mark) and short stories, such as Choto Bokulpurer Jatri (Traveller to Choto Bokulpur).
Tarashankar wrote in a variety of genres but was primarily a novelist. His political ideas are reflected in his novels. His themes include communal riots, war, famine, the political implications of economic inequality, the independence movement, social conditions, the conflict of modernism with traditionalism etc. He wrote a total of 131 books. Prominent among his novels are Chaitali Ghurni (1931), Jalsa Ghar (1938), Dhatri Devata (1939), Kalindi (1940), Kavi (1944), Gana Devata (1943), Panchagram (1944), Hansuli Banker Upakatha (1947), Arogya Niketan (1953), Radha (1956), etc. Some popular movies were based on his novels, among them, Dui Purus, Kalindi, Arogya Niketan, Jalsa Ghar, etc. He published three volumes of short stories. His famous short stories include 'Rasakali', 'Bedeni', 'Dak Harkara', He was also an artist and produced some fine paintings in his later years.
Tarashankar was associated with a number of literary organisations and became Vice President (1956) and President (1970) of the vangiya sahitya parishad. He led the Indian delegation of writers at the Asian Writers' Conference in Tashkent (1957). He was President of the Prabasi Banga Sahitya Sammelan (Kanpur, 1944, Calcutta, 1947) and the All-India Writers' Conference (Madras, 1957).
Tarashankar received a number of awards, among them Sharat Smriti Puraskar (University of Calcutta), Jagattarini Svarna Padak (Calcutta University), Sahitya Akademi Puraskar, Jnanapith Puraskar, Padmashri and Padmabhusan.
Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was born in 1898 on July 23rd, in Labhpur village in Birbhum district of West Bengal. His father Haridas Bandopadhyay was the ancestral zamindar of that area. After completing his schooling in the local high school he took admission in St. Xavier's College, Calcutta for pursuing his intermediate studies.
While studying in St. Xavier's College he got involved in the non-cooperation movement for India's freedom. As such, he was interned at his ancestral home in 1921. He was interned once again in 1930 for similar reasons.
After his release he devoted himself to social work in his village. He worked tirelessly among the villagers during epidemics, which gave him an opportunity to observe the plight of the ordinary village folk. He mixed freely with the so called lower classes of dom, bagdi, sadgop, and bauri which was against the existing social customs. His love for fellow beings irrespective of class and creed is reflected in his short stories and novels.
Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was a versatile writer who had written on various topics. However, one most important aspect of his writings was his experimentation of human relationships, be it the zamindar or the laborer. A few of his works include:
Ganadevata – This novel depicts the efforts of a schoolmaster to remove tyrannies from a village. This novel was recognized by the Jnanpith Award in 1967. This was made into a Bengali cinema by the same name.
Jalsaghar – In this novel Tarashankar Bandopadhyay experiments with the gradual decay of the feudal system and values, and the rise of commercialism. This novel was immortalized by Satyajit Ray.
Abhijan – This masterpiece by Tarashankar Bandopdhyay traces the exploits of a cab driver in a society filled with hypocrites.
Rai Kamal – Rai Kamal is a love story of three wandering Vaishnav minstrels who share a bitter sweet relationship.
Bicharak- This novel portrays the dilemma of a judge in passing a verdict for a murder case.
Kavi - This is a narration of a gypsy poet who moves around with a group of dancers and prostitutes.
Byomkesh Bakshi, a sleuth created by Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, and his murder mysteries are a favorite among the younger readers.
His other works include Aamar Sahitya Jibon (My Literary Life), Aamar Kaaler Kathe (Tales of my Times), Hansuli Banker Upakatha, Kalindi, Jogobhrashto, Radha, Panchogram, Sandipan Pathsala, Tarashankar Rachanaboli, and Tarashankar Bandopadhyayer Bachhai Golpo.
Tarashankar died in Calcutta on 14 September 1971.
India constitutes the largest part of the subcontinental land mass of South Asia, an area it shares with six other countries, including Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It has highly variable landforms, that range from torrid plains, tropical islands, and a parched desert to the highest mountain range in the world. This entire geopolitics is ravaged by Feudal set Up of society bonded in Intense cate hatred.India was ruled by the British government after 1858 through a viceroy and a council, although several hundred "princely states" continued to maintain a measure of independence. The Indian National Congress, founded in 1885, slowly moved from a position of advisor and critic for the British administration toward demanding the transference of power to native Indian politicians. In 1930, the Indian National Congress, led by Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, adopted a policy of civil disobedience with a view to achieving full national independence. It was to be a long struggle, but independence was achieved in 1947, with the condition that predominantly Muslim areas in the north would form a separate country of Pakistan. Mohammed Ali Jinnah was to be Pakastani's first prime minister, while Nehru became the prime minister of the Republic of India. The departure of the colonial authorities, including the British armed forces, was peaceful, but the splitting off of Pakistan caused a massive population movement and bloodshed on both sides as a result of "communal passions." A quarter century later, the eastern wing of Pakistan split from that country to become the independent country of Bangladesh.
India is home to several thousand ethnic groups, tribes, castes, and religions. The castes and subcastes in each region relate to each other through a permanent hierarchical structure, with each caste having its own name, traditional occupation, rank, and distinctive subculture. Tribes usually do not have a caste hierarchy but often have their own internal hierarchical organization. The pastoral and foraging tribes are relatively egalitarian in their internal organization. In an economy based on agriculture, the ownership of land is the key to survival and power. In most parts of the country, the majority of the acreage is owned by a politically dominant caste that is likely to be a middle-ranking one, not a Brahmin one. However, the various regions still have different traditions of land tenure and associated systems of land taxation.
Tarshankar always justified the Caste system and inherited subhuman livelihood. He expressed his brahminical innermost hatred against the outcastes in all his novels. In Nagini Kanya and Hansuli Banker Upokatha he adopted a gimmic called anthropology to digest the aboriginal indigenous social fabrics , life and livelihood. Superantural created the Mythological semi Mythological theme full of Tabboos in disguise of legends, folk, festivals and Purans. His Mythomania focused on a full fledged Sexual Anarchy as a cultural campaign against particular castes as Bagdi in Gana Devata, Kahars in Hansuli Banker Upokatha and finally the Bedes, snake charmers in Naginikanya. Tara Shankar Bandopaddhyay who hads been the President of Sahity Academy in India after suniti Kumar Chattopadhyaya, was in active politics and joined the Indian Parliament as a Rajya Sabha member. During twenties and thirties while the Indian feudal class was losing ground in a new world order emerging and dismissing feudal set up of production. The decaying Feudal lords, specially the High caste hindus organised themselves in so called National struggle of freedom. Mind you, this class always supported the rulers since Muslim India. In British India, this feudal class always sided with the rulers wheneevr the Indigenous people led by tribal revolted in Insurrections.Barrackpur witnessed the beginning of Great Mutiny in 1857, thanks to a Brahmin , Mangal Pandey. But the Bengali elites were celebrating the Renaissance at the time and supported East India Company. they never supported Siraj, the last Nawab of Bengal who lost the Battle of Plassy for India. They also helped East india company in Repression of different Peasant uprising from Sanyasi vidroh to Indigo Revolt. But during the span of worldwars and recession all of them turned patriot.This class was against professional mobilisation of scheduled Castes, Muslims amd Tribals. They were against any attempt of liberalisation. They were against education and enlightenment amongst their subordinate inherited slaves and Bonded labours.
The gist is that the SC ST OBC in particular and the Muslims are much more concerened with the unilateral Brahminical dominance in the society. They consider Industrialisation and Urbanisation the fittest opportunity to break away with the bondage of Caste System. For example, the Central Bihar based sceduled caste Rikshaw Pullers, Coolies and others feel at home in Metro Kolkata, because it is a liberation from the caste system. I have seen it countrywide whereever the Dalit Bengali refugees are resettled. They feel free and independent out of Bengal because the caste factor reamins immunised all over there. so much so, that within a span of single generation the dalit refugees have no feeling for their lost homeland.
India has a rich literary assemblage produced by its many different regional traditions, religious faiths, ethnic subcultures, and linguistic groups.
India has only recently seen the last of the rural serfs who for centuries supplied much of the basic farm labor in some parts of the country. There are still numberless landless wage laborers, tenant farmers, and landlords who rent out their extensive lands, and rich peasants who work their own holdings.
In modern times, an expanding investment scene, combined with continuing inflation, has formed the background to an extensive import and export trade. The major industries continue to be tourism, clothing, tea, coffee, cotton, and the production of raw materials; in the last few years, there has been a surge in the importance of the computer software industry. Russia, the United States, Germany, and Great Britain are among the major importers of Indian products.
The division of work is based on gender. Age also separates out the very old and the very young as people unable to perform the heaviest tasks. Those jobs are done by millions of adult men and women who have nothing to offer but their muscles. Beyond these fundamental divisions, India is unique in having the caste system as the ancient and most basic principle of organization of the society. Each of many hundreds of castes traditionally had one occupation that was its specialty and usually its local monopoly. Only farming and the renouncer's life were open to all.
Classes and Castes. The caste system is more elaborate than that in any of the other Hindu or Buddhist countries. Society is so fragmented into castes that there can be twenty or thirty distinct castes within a village.
This society has a hierarchy of endogamous, birth-ascribed groups, each of which traditionally is characterized by one distinctive occupation and had its own level of social status. Because an individual cannot change his or her caste affiliation, every family belongs in its entirety and forever to only one named caste, and so each caste has developed a distinctive subculture that is handed down from generation to generation.
Hindu religious theory justifies the division of society into castes, with the unavoidable differences in status and the differential access to power each one has. Hindus usually believe that a soul can have multiple reincarnations and that after the death of the body a soul will be reassigned to another newborn human body or even to an animal one. This reassignment could be to one of a higher caste if the person did good deeds in the previous life or to a lower-status body if the person did bad deeds.
The highest category of castes are those people called Brahmins in the Hindu system; they were traditionally priests and intellectuals. Below them in rank were castes called Ksatriya, including especially warriors and rulers. Third in rank were the Vaisyas, castes concerned with trading and land ownership. The fourth-ranking category were the Sudras, primarily farmers. Below these four categories and hardly recognized in the ancient and traditional model, were many castes treated as "untouchable" and traditionally called Pancama. Outside the system altogether were several hundred tribes, with highly varied cultural and subsistence patterns. The whole system was marked not just by extreme differences in status and power but by relative degrees of spiritual purity or pollution.
A curious feature of the caste system is that despite its origins in the Hindu theory of fate and reincarnation, caste organization is found among Indian Muslims, Jews, and Christians in modern times. In the Buddhist lands of Korea, Japan, and Tibet, there are rudimentary caste systems, their existence signaled especially by the presence of untouchable social categories.
The major cities in modern times—Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata), New Delhi, and Bangalore—were essentially residential creations of the British administrators. Architecturally, professionally, and in other ways, they are therefore the most Westernized cities in India today. In these cities and their suburbs, there is now a developed class system overlying and in many respects displacing the more traditional caste system. As a consequence, there are many modern cases of intercaste marriage in all the cities, although this practice remains almost unthinkable to the great majority of Indians.
There are many symbols of class differentiation because each caste tends to have its own persisting subculture. People's location in this stratification system thus can be gauged accurately according to the way they dress, their personal names, the way they speak a local dialect, the deities they worship, who they are willing to eat with publicly, the location of their housing, and especially their occupations. The combination of all these subcultural features can be a sure sign of where individuals and their families are situated in the caste hierarchy.
Patriarchal" is the word most commonly used to describe the traditional Indian family and the gender relationships within it. This is true in all family systems except the defunct matrilineal system of the Nayar castes in Kerala. Within all branches of Hinduism, priests can only be male, though they may be boys. In Islam, the leaders of a prayer group are males. In Zoroastrianism and Roman Catholicism, only men can function as priests.
It is said that a woman must first obey her father, then her husband, and then her son; this seems to be the normal pattern as she goes through life. The opinion of the male head of household is especially important in the arrangement of marriages, because in most religious communities these are effectively marriages between two families. At such times, romantic preferences get little consideration. Since it is the male head who typically controls the family's finances, it is he who pays or receives a dowry at the time of a child's marriage. Although older women may be very influential behind the scenes, they wield little legal authority in property and marriage matters.
Early in the fifteenth century two poets brought Bengali literature into prominence: Chandidas and Vidyapati, with the latter writing in Sanskrit as well as Bengali. Contemporary with them were two Telugu poets, Srinatha and Potana, as well as the best-loved Hindi poet, Kabir (1440–1518). Kabir wrote in a medieval regional language closely related to Sanskrit. Although Kabir was a low-caste Hindu, he drew inspiration from Sufism and criticized the caste system, ritualism, and idolatry. He was followed in 1540 by the first important Muslim poet of India, Mohamed of Jais who wrote the allegorical poem Padmavat in Hindi. Contemporary with Kabir was one of the greatest of woman poets, the Rajput Mirabai, who wrote in both Hindi and Gujarati. A century before her, Manichand had written an important historical novel in Gujarati.
Sarat Chandra, a Bengali novelist of the first half of the 20th century, has described the landscape of his southern Bengal Region and has interacted through his characters a deep psychological response appropriate to the region and time. His work forms an excellent resource base to reconstruct the region of his time and establish phenomenological relationship through the feelings expressed by the characters of his novels. Sarat Chandra's Home Region is a stream-filled area with people's activity directed to agriculture, though Calcutta was already established as a center of westernization and modernization. Feudal exploitation, Zamindars' tyrrany, degenerative caste-division, child marriage, prohibition of widow's right to remarry, decaying extended family and losing person-to-person relationship of the traditional Bengal were some of the characteristics of the regional cultural geography. The cities, particularly Calcutta, had started to show signs of modernization: industries, equal rights to women, widow re-marriage and elitist ideas. Bramho Samaj was pioneering the social modernization. In summation, the Home Region, being a transitional stage of decaying feudalism and incipient industrialization, was engaged in a struggle between the old and the new, decadent traditional and modern, rural and urban, caste rigidity and liberal social customs, religious fanaticism and rationalism. Sarat Chandra's work, particularly, provides an inroad to understand the cultural aspects of his Home Region.
With the spread of Western colonialism from Europe and North America to Asia, Africa, and South America also came the spread of its by-product; Western modernism. Though social-realist movements varied considerably within Chinese, Indian, and Soviet contexts, in general they denounced the bourgeois and colonialist values expounded in Western art and literature.Colonization and decolonization were generally savage (to use a colonialist term) from the perspective of colonial and postcolonial subjects. The intrusion of colonial politics in the daily lives of individuals is addressed in the form and content of works by Tagore, Senghor, Mahfouz, Achebe, Walcott, Soyinka, and Goodison. Other including writers—Premchand, CÈsaire, al-Hakim, Neruda, Devi, El Saadawi, and Yehoshua—responded to social, political, and economic concerns at a regional or local level.
In India, the British colonial education system, which had been in place since the early 1800s, made the colonizer's language—English—part of public life. English continues to be the language of government there though over two hundred languages are spoken in India. Though English-language literatures are well known outside India, literatures in regional languages such as Kannada, Urdu, Sindhi, Bengali, Hindi, and Tamil represent other aspects of Indian life.
In addition to experiences of Western colonialism in Africa, African writers also address issues related to the slave trade and to the African diaspora. At universities in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, black intellectuals from Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States came together to articulate positive images of blackness. Out of the négritude movement came important interventions in both politics and literature.
South American literature is often associated with magical realism, a mixture of fantasy and realism, made popular by authors such as García Márquez and Rulfo. The generally political nature of magical realism in South American writing was often missed by earlier generations of Western readers, who were too amazed by the imaginative creativity of magical realism. Simultaneously, writers resisted Western literary conventions and wrote in regional styles.
In a different, though related, fashion students of Indian society have made a distinction between "Great traditions" and "Little traditions" (Redfield 1955, Sinha 1957); or between desha (regional, provincial) and marga (sanskritic, global). Folk rituals, belief systems, and the cultural institutions of rural India are thought to reveal an interaction between the forces of globalization and parochialization, or margi and deshi aspects (Marriot 1955, Sinha 1957, Trautman 1997). For most scholars this interaction is a long-term and largely unconscious process. However, the historian Hitesh Ranjan Sanyal (2004) holds a somewhat different view. In his study of a small principality in one of the border regions of West Bengal, he shows how the semi-tribal Mulla court, in what is now the Bardhaman district, produced political institutions that self-consciously integrated aspects of what was then thought of as "high culture"—i.e. the culture of the Mughal court in North India—with indigenous elements taken from local tribal and peasant communities. Many such peripheral principalities were declared to be tributary states owing formal allegiance to the great, though distant, Mughal Empire. The geographical distance between the central authority and these border states gave the latter some degree of autonomy. Thus, they were able to selectively adopt elements of Mughal culture while retaining much of what was traditionally available. The Mughal presence was thought to be alien but distant enough to be non-threatening, and could therefore become a site for experimentation with novelty. Traces of this self-conscious adoption of high culture aspects is, according to Sanyal, still visible in the peasant societies of these border regions, for instance in the cultivation of particular genres of folk songs that can engage with forms of novelty. Sanyal says that many genres of folk song in Bengal have been cultivated into popular forms that require different kinds of performative contexts. He suggests that folk culture is constituted at three different levels: jana (local), desha (regional), and marga (global or pan-Indian). He says that the deshi or regional level acts as a site of mediation between the local and global levels.
Unfortunately Sanyal does not develop this theme further. However, as several scholars have tried to show, the conception of a cultural region is important in the study of folklore's engagement with forms of modernity (Morinis 1982, Blackburn 2003, Chatterji 2005). Self-conscious reflection on context, style, and the process of transmission actually occurs precisely at this level. Further, this is the level at which the local is conceived of as such and thus also is the level at which "metadiscursive practices for creating, representing and interpreting" folk discourses are developed (Briggs 1993). In this essay I examine some contemporary attempts at producing new kinds of folk discourses in a deliberate attempt to empower certain marginal groups in West Bengal. These attempts, as I will show, are part of a larger movement for the articulation of a distinctive regional identity in which folk culture plays a central role.
Even though the folk have played an important part in articulating ideas about Bengali culture and tradition, there have been no significant grassroot reformist movements of the kind that have taken place in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.1 West Bengal, governed as it is by a combination of communist and socialist parties for three decades, is typically identified with a kind of middle class radicalism. Most reforms have been top down, including those that were initiated by an "enlightened" elite in the colonial period (Basu 1992). Instead the folk are perceived as an abstract category—an aid to the process of "traditionalization"—a term coined by Shuman and Briggs (1993) to identify "aspects of the past as significant to the present" (ibid. 1993, 109). Folklore comes to represent the authentic voice of the folk, a living museum from which Bengal's history may be excavated.
Mahashweta Devi's Vyad Kaand (The Book of the Hunter) and Nilakanth Ghoshyal's Bhumi Kanya (Earth Maiden), both fall within the Bengali nationalist tradition of historiography, which assumes Bengal's folk traditions had a seminal role in shaping her culture (Dutt 1990, Sen 1985). In keeping with a modern political perspective, they use folk tradition as a site for articulating contemporary concerns. However, in the forms in which they have become available for literary interpretation, these folk traditions have already been mediated through inscription. The role of folklorists in bringing oral traditions to print in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has been extensively studied in India (Blackburn 2003, Sen 1960), but the relationship between writing and oral literature has a much older history. Mangala kavyas, long narrative poems about specific gods and goddesses, written from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century in Bangla, circulated in oral forms long before they were written down. According to Clark (1955) these poems have two distinct levels—the popular and the learned—and he believes that there is a chronological relationship between the two levels. The oral lore was re-inscribed in an orthodox Brahminic literary canon, but the fact that the medium was Bangla rather than Sanskrit allowed for its mass circulation, a fact that holds true today as much as it did in the medieval period.
In the preface to her novel, Mahashwta Devi says that the Chandi Mangala Kavya of Kavikankan3 Mukundaram is the inspiration for this work. The epic poem is composed of several different stories that bear little connection with each other: an autobiographical account of the composer's journey to a new settlement in a different part of Bengal that reveals, according to critics, a detailed knowledge of the current socio-political state of the society (Bhattacharyya 1976, Devi 2002); the Vyad Kaand, the story of the hunter Kalketu and his wife Phullara; and the adventures of the merchant Dhanapati, his two wives Khulana and Lalona, and his son. According to scholars such as T.W. Clark (1955) and Ashutosh Bhattacharyya (1976) these stories show evidence of the evolution of the cult of Goddess Chandi from that of a benign protector of forest life to a more malevolent deity who deliberately brings misfortune to coerce humans into giving her worship (Bhattacharyya says that the poetic text was written at a time when distinctions between different groups of goddess worshippers were becoming blurred. However, he bases his hypothesis on the text itself and not on other historical sources).4
According to the preface of The Book of the Hunter, Mahashweta Devi was inspired by the Vyad Kaand of Kavikankan Mukundaram's epic poem, where he describes the lives of nomadic, forest dwelling tribes such as the Shabars. She describes the clash between contrasting forms of life through the experiences of two couples, the migrant Brahmin priest Mukundaram and his wife, and Kalya and Phuli, a young Shabar couple. She explores the culture of the Shabars and how they cope with the erosion of their way of life as new settlements encroach on forestland. In the novel, the Brahmin Mukundaram is seen using his experiences with the forest dwelling couple to depict the characters of Kalketu and Phullara, both re-incarnations of demi-gods who were cursed to suffer mortal birth. He invokes the Goddess of the Great Forest (Abhaya or Reassurance) through the voice of the hunter Kalketu (Devi 2002, vii).
Mahashweta Devi says that Mukundaram's personal experience with hunter-gatherers in medieval Bengal inspired her to write a novel that would help in the re-historicization of the Shabar tribe. Apart from being a renowned novelist, Mahashweta Devi is also a well-known activist who has worked among former "criminal tribes" like the Lodhar and Kheria Shabars of Central India.5 She thinks of this novel as an attempt to re-create the lost oral lore of the Shabars and thereby restore their self-respect. The novel is based on her experiences with the Shabars and with the stories that they have published about themselves and their lore in her journal, Bartika.
The novel is interesting not only in that it seeks to re-inscribe a medieval literary text in the form of an experimental Bangla work using contemporary stylistic devices, but also because of the way that the author seeks validation both from the Shabar community as well as from the Mukundaram's life experiences. She says that she was inspired by Mukundaram's own endeavour, which combined direct experience and acquired knowledge of the socio-political events of sixteenth-century Bengal.6 She weaves fragments of the mangala kavya story of Kalketu and Phullara into her own narrative in a way that both subverts it and gives it authenticity. Thus, whilst in the mangala kavya, the goddess gives Kalketu a boon that makes him the founder and chieftain of the city of Gujarat; it is not because of his devotion to her or to forest creatures but rather, to put a break on his wonton destruction of forest dwelling animals.7 Instead, Kalketu becomes the first priest of a new goddess cult and, according to Devi, an ancestor of one of the priestly clans of the Shabar. In the novel, an old rogue elephant representing the forest goddesskills Kalya as he inadvertently ventures into the sacred grove where hunting is forbidden. This act of transgression and his untimely death lead to his transfiguration into a clan ancestor and demi-god. The character of Mukundaram (who is responsible for this transfiguration) is opposed to the deceitful Brahmin priest in a Shabar origin myth who betrays the hospitality of his tribal hosts by trying to steal an iconic symbol of the forest goddess. The Brahmin is killed by the goddess, and the Shabar people condemned to destitution. Their lot will change only when a Shabar hunter is able to find and trap the golden iguana, the vahana (vehicle) of the goddess, as Kalketu once did.
Devi draws on the authority of the myths published by Shabar activists in her journal, Bartika, to validate her version of the Kalketu story rather than on stories that are orally narrated. In fact, she stresses that the stigma of the label "criminal tribe" imposed on the Shabar in colonial times gave them a form of cultural amnesia so that they forgot their oral lore.8 In this context, the attempt to re-historicize the Shabar is interesting, though somewhat paradoxical. The Shabar voice must first be entextualized before it can be re-inscribed in Devi's novel. Similarly, when she refers to Kabikankan Mukundaram's first-hand knowledge of the Shabar and the forest, it is at the moment when the forest and the Shabar's distinctive way of life is about to be destroyed. Thus she refers to the names of trees mentioned in the Chandi Mangala that are felled when Kalketu clears the forest to make his settlement.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998) quotes Ong as saying that writing did not reduce orality when it was first introduced but rather enhanced it. She also says that inscription creates a gap between words and speakers, a space that allows for creative innovation (ibid. 1998, 309). In the example discussed above we see how an act of inscription by a Brahmin in the sixteenth century—the compilation of oral narratives about the goddess Chandi into a written text—led to a proliferation of similar texts. Thus, not only are there several other versions of the Chandi Mangala compiled by other authors in the medieval period, but there are also more recent oral and painted narratives in Bengal's folk tradition based on the Chandi Mangala Kavya.9 Similarly, Mahashweta Devi's novel has inspired popular plays on the same theme and has even became the theme of a Durga puja pandal10 in Calcutta last year (Ghosh 2000).
Bankimchander Chatterjee (1838-1894): Bankimchander, the finest product of the 19th century renaissance is regarded as the pioneer of the novel in Bengal. His first fiction to appear in print was Rajmohan's Wife. It was written in English and was probably a translation of the novelette submitted for the prize. Durgeshnandini, his first Bengali romance, was published in 1865. The next novel Kapalkundala (1866) is one of the best romances written by Chatterjee. Mrinalini, Vishbriksha, Chandrasekhar, Rajani, Krishnakanter Uil (Krishnakanta's Will, 1878), Rajsimha, Anandamath (The mission house of the Anandas, 1882), Devi Caudhurani, Kamalakanter Daptar (The Scribbling of Kamalakanta, 1875; enlarged as Kamalakanta, 1885) are some of his great works. Bankim Chatterjee was superb story-teller, and a master of romance. He was a path finder and a path maker. Chatterjee represented the English-educated Bengalee with a tolerably peaceful home life, sufficient wherewithal and some prestige, as the bearer of the torch of western enlightment. No Bengali writer before or since has enjoyed such spontaneous and universal popularity as Chatterjee. His novels have been translated in almost all the major languages of India, and have helped to simulate literary impulses in those languages.
Rabindra adopted the folk in his poetry and had been always very strong philosophically and spritually. But he never dealt with social febrics. All Sharat protagonistas have been Brahmins only. He never cared for the SC, ST, OBC or Muslims. His theme had been Brahminical all the time.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941): Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, mystic, philosopher, musician, painter and Nobel laureate for literature is among the leading personalities of Modern India. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Literature for his collection of well known poems Gitanjali. Rabindranath Tagore entered the field of Bengali Novel following the glorious tradition of the great pioneer novelist Bankimchandra Chatterjee (1834-'94). His first two novels Bauthakuranir Hat (Daughter-in-Law's Market, 1883) and Rajarshi (The Saintly King, 1887) are historical novels. Chokher Bali (Eyesore, 1903) is one among the great social novels he wrote. His other notable works include Sonartari, Kalpana and Chitra. In 1901, Tagore established Shantiniketan, (near Bolpur, Bengal) an institution blending Indian and Western methods of education.Between 1916 and 1941, Tagore published 21 collections of songs and poems and held lecture tours across Europe, the Americas, China, Japan, Malaya, Indonesia etc. In 1924, he inaugurated the VISVA BHARATI UNIVERSITY at Shantiniketan, an All India Centre for culture.Tagore's works are classics, renowned for their lyrical beauty and spiritual poignancy. He is remembered for his literary genius. In Tagore's own words, "The world speaks to me in colours, my soul answers in music". Crescent Moon is his famous book of poems. Tagore was also the author of our National Anthem Jana Gana Mana. Gora is one of his best novels. His book Sadhana is known for its philosophical significance.
Just read, Aranyer Adhikar by Mahashweta Debi and read Aranya Banhi. Both deal with indigenous tribal insurrection against colonial rule. Aranyer Adhikar deals with Munda Revolt. Mahashweta Di recognises the nationality element and never shows any instinct of hatred agianst Mundas.aranya bnhi deals with Santhal revolt. Tara Shankar novels are based on the landsacpe and humanscape of Birbhum. Bir is a Santhali word which means jungle. Once upon a time the entire area was covered by Jungle as it had been the case for post moderm Metro kolkata which was once covered by the sundervanas. Aboriginal people inhibited in these areas. Tara Shankar always dealt with the Santhals as an anthrological entity and never recognised the nationality element. As he had been always the advocate of west Bengal brand brahminical Bengali nationality which never allowed any space for other nationalities.
Mahasweta Devi (1926): Considered one of the boldest of Bengali female writers since late 1950s, Mahasweta Devi wrote novels and short stories based on historical subjects as also on topics of social and political relevance. She has brought out the rebellious spirit of the tortured people of the past and the present with a rare blend of fact and fiction. Aranyer Adhikar (Rights over Forest) is one of her great novels. She is also a crusader for the rights of the tribals. She was given the Jnanpith award in1996 for her contribution to Indian literature. Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, Rudali, Nati, Bioscoper Baksho, Hajar Churashir Ma, Chatti Munda O Tar Tir are considered to be her masterpieces.
Bengali Novels occupy a major part of Bengali literature. Though the first Bengali novel was Alaler Ghorer Dulal, the Bengali novel actually started its journey with Durgeshnondini written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1865. According to Ananda Sanker and Lila Ray, 'when the novel was introduced in Bangla in the middle of the 19th century, the form itself was new, the prose in which it was written was new, the secular tone was new in a country hitherto wholly dominated by religion, and the society in which and for which it was written was new’ (Page 168). But some great novelists like Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Tara Shankar Bondopadhyay, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay developed the newly introduced genre in such a way that ‘new’ changed into ‘matured’ through their works. Almost all these literary activities went on in full swing in Kolkata. Dhaka, on the other hand, could not participate in the early stage but literature created by and of the people of Bangladesh area later on flourished with notable success.
Bengali or Bangla as a Bengali would say, is also a member of the Indo-European family of languages. It takes its birth from a form of Prakrit or Middle Indo-Aryan to finally emerge from the Apabhramsa-Avahatta in the tenth century. The Bengali script has been derived from the Brahmi alphabet of the Ashokan inscriptions (273 to 232BC). History of Bengali language has been divided into three eras – Old Bengali (950-1350), Middle Bengali (1350-1800) and Modern Bengali (1800 to the present day). Old Bengali is survived only through a collection of forty-eight poems (1050-1200) known as the charva songs. These were composed by the siddhacharyas (enlightened ones) who were mainly Buddhist.
originates from and is neatly intertwined with the classical Indo-Aryan Sanskrit language and literature. But the influence of other non-Aryan languages on Bengali cannot be ignored. It is now more or less accepted that Bengali and languages of neigbouring states belong to the Austric (or Austro-Asiatic) family of languages. Whilst Bengali carries the distinct mark of the Indo-Aryan social and cultural values, expressions or syntactic and grammatical constraints, according to Professor Sunitikumar Chatterjee, "there is, of course, the preserve of Kol and Dravidian (the Santals, the Malers, the Oraons) in the western fringes of the Bengal area, and of the Boda and Mon-Khmer speakers in the northern and eastern frontiers." It then follows that literary works in Bengali would also bear some unmistakable affinities to non-Aryan "phonetics, morphology, syntax and vocabulary" including myriads of symbolisms defining the local customs and traditions foreign to the Aryan or Vedic literature.
Professor Nihar Ranjan Roy (in his Bangalir Itihas: Adiparba) concluded that "... in addition to Sanskrit, there were two other languages in vogue in Bengal in the 9th and 10th centuries: one was derived from Souraseni and the other derived from Magadhi. The latter is said to have evolved later into Bengali. Some writers would write pad, doha and verses in both languages and the readers [reciters and listeners] too would understand them equally well."
Middle Bengali covers a huge period. The 15th century mostly covered the narrative poetry genre, the theme being mainly of religious content. Among these, Krittivas' Ramayan has been credited to be a classic. Other narrative poems include Srikrishnavijaya by Maladhar Vasu and Srikrishnakirttan by Baru Chandidas. Literary exploits of the 15th century also include Chaitanyamangal or Chaitanya Bhagavat (1540), the biography of Saint Chaitanya, by Brindavan Das. In the 16th century Bengali literature contained narrative epic poems dealing mainly with the stories of popular goddesses like Chandi (Chandimangal by Kavikanan Mukundaram Chakravarti) and Manasa. Towards the end of this century there was a wave of Vaishnavism and this gave way to the new lyrical activity in the form of music combined with poetry.
The 17th century has nothing much to boast of, except for its secular romantic verse tales that were written solely by Muslims. Even the Muslims of Arrakan, who had close intellectual contact with Bengal, were active in literary pursuits in Bengali. Daulat Kazi, the first Bengali Arrakanese poet wrote the romantic verse tale Sati Mayana. Eighteenth century saw Bengali literature take an affinity to secular poetry and the narrative verse. Rameshvar Bhattacharya's Sivasankirttan portrayed Shiva as a poor farmer and Gauri, his wife, as a human heroine. The end of the eighteenth century saw two new forms of poetry come into age, the Kavi and the Panchali.
Nineteenth century was the period when the actual literary renaissance of Bengali took place. Michael Madhusudan Datta (1834-1873) and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1898) were the founders of the modern age in Bengali literature. Madhusudan was the first Bengali poet to write in blank verse and combined western influences into the essence Indian literature. His Meghnadvadhkavya (1861) written in blank verse has the same flavour of Milton's Paradise Lost. Madhusudan treated Meghnad, one of the villains of Ramayana, in the same human angle as Milton portrays Satan, absolutely away from the traditional approach.
The first Bengali theatre was established by a Russian adventurer, Gerasim Lebedoff (1749-1818). For about 25 years productions were mostly adaptations of Sanskrit or English plays with exceptions like Dinabandhu Mitra's Nildarpan (1860).
The evolution of Bengali Literature started in the later half of the 19th century. The first truly romantic Bengali novel is Bankim Chandra's Durgeshnandini (1865), while the first Bengali novel of social realism is Peary Chand Mitra's Alaler Gharer Dulal (1858). The leading novelist of the age was Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who gave the nation its national song Vandemataram from his political novel Anandamath. This century also saw the advent of the periodical press in the form of Digdarshan (a monthly magazine) and Samachardarpan (a weekly), both published by the Serampore missionaries. Drama and literary prose also saw a huge renewal in this age. The great dramatists of the 19th century were Girishchandra Ghosh (1844-1911), Amritlal Bose (1853-1929) and D L Ray (1863-1913), and the great prose writers were Debendranath Tagore and Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee who finally dropped curtain on the Loric period by publishing his masterpiece Durgeshnandini. Bankim's novels can be classified into three groups: the first is full of English style romanticism; the second is modelled on Pyarichand Mitra (such as Vishbriksha, Krishnakanter Will) and finally those novels that were based on historical events (such as Mrinalini, Rajshingha and Sitaram).
The Tagore period, which followed the Bankim period and co-existed with the Sarat Period, has to date been the most defining period in Bengali literature. Its essentially distinctive universal appeal, richness and variety of literary styles demand separate treatment and stratification. Tagore was not just a Bengali poet or writer. Tagore was a world phenomenon. Tagore's short stories are many and varied in their contents, tastes, presentation, universal appeal and inherent literary beauty. They differ from those of his cotemporary writers, they differ from even his own novels and plays. In the latter, Tagore used quite a distinct aristic licence. He went on to draw a much bigger picture. Here he observed and depicted people in their family and social settings. His penetrating insight into human minds and the many intricate ways they relate to other people around them in love and in conflict, in victory and in defeat, in happiness and in misery allowed him to map characters and stories precisely with a language that derived its adulthood from his pen.
Inspired by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's writings, it was novelist Sarat Chandra Chatterjee who brought modern bengali literature to the masses. His piercing analysis of human love, faith and frailties is unparallel. His intimate understanding of the social goings-on and the sympathetic albeit affirmative way he portrayed the unpriviledged and the women in his stories testify his paramount love and affection for the deprived. His lovingly and masterfully crafted words, used by ordinary people of the street, and immaculate writing style made him easily one of the world's best loved novelists. Like Bankim Chandra, he was a common man; he understood the common person's dilemas with life and living conditions.
Saratchandra Chattopadhyay (1876-1938):
Bengali novel originated from Bankimchandra, Tagore modernised it and Saratchandra set the trends of realism and protest in it. Some of Saratchandra's stories are very striking for their obvious sincerity and basic realism. These include Bindur chele (Bindu's Son, 1913), Ramer Sumati (Ram Returning to Sanity, 1914), Araksanya (The Girl Whose Marriage is Overdue, 1916), etc. Saratchandra's earliest writings show striking influence of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. In Devdas (written in 1901, published 1917), Parinita (The Married Girl, 1914), Biraj Bau (Mrs. Biraj, 1914) and Palli Samaj (The Village Commune, 1916), the themes and their treatment are not very much different from the older Chatterjee's but they are presented in a modernistic setting and in an easier and more matter-of-fact language. To name some important works : Srikanta in four parts (1917,1918,1927,1933), Charitrahin (Character-less, 1917), Biraj Bau (1914), Palli Samaj (1916), the first part of Devdasa (his first novel) and his first published short story Mandir (1904). It may be noted that these (with the exception of the last two part of Srikanta) belong to the first phase of Chatterjee's literary career, that is up to 1913. Grihadaha (Home Burnt, 1919). Datta (The Girl Given Away, serialized 1917-19) and Dena-Paona (debts and demands, 1923) and Pather Dabi (The Demand of the Road, 1926). are his other works.. His last complete novel Ses Prasna (The Final Question, 1931) is an attempt at the 'intellectual' novel where the meager theme is inflated by high brow talks on problems of the individual and of the society relating principally to love and marriage.
His novels and short stories appealed to people of all walks of life. His mastery on this branch of the Bengali literature was so complete that it is not at all surprising to note that remaining under the full glare of Tagore's creative genius, Sarat Chandra was never to be influenced by it. On the contrary, Tagore has been so moved by his stories that even he could not resist from the occasional forray into the latter's familiar territory.
In ‘Charitraheen’ (‘Characterless’) Sarat Chandra treated the theme of love from an entirely new angle, showing supreme indifference to conventional morality, and the effect of this book on the Bengali public was shocking. The novel deals with a love-episode between an educated young man of middle-class family and a maid servant in a boarding house where the young man used to live. No other Bengali writer had up till then dared portray the character of a ‘low-class’ woman from this standpoint. Bankim Chandra in his famous novel, ‘Krishnakanta’s Will,’ had dealt with the love of a handsome Zamindar youth for a beautiful widow, but the story ends in the murder of the woman in vindication of conventional morality. But in Sarat Chandraji’s story there was no suggestion of punishment or obloquy to the lovers concerned. At once there was a hue and cry from all quarters. The magazine which was publishing the novel serially, stopped publishing it as soon as some of its subscribers intimated their desire to discontinue subscription if the novel continued to appear.In his next novel ‘Devadas,’ a youth is found to be led astray by the failure of his early love, taking to wine and women. Parbati, the object of the love of Devadas, did not forget him even after she had been married to another man. Such affairs exist in real life, but their portrayal in literature was forbidden until Sarat Chandra broke this law. It was impossible to find fault with his work simply on account of his attitude of all-pervading sympathy with the fallen, all social victims or rebels. People read his books for his style, if for nothing else.
Sarat Chandra is at his best in his masterpiece, ‘Sreekanta.’ Many consider it to be his autobiography, but it is a peculiar combination of biography and fiction. I heard him remark on one occasion that the writing of this book did not tire him. On the contrary, whenever he felt tired and spent up, he found pleasure in writing one or two chapters of this book. It was just like the valve of a running engine, designed to let in fresh air and fresh light. The book is really marvelous and it would be difficult to give its complete picture within a narrow compass. I hear that it has been translated into French and selling in the streets of Paris. I do not know if it has been translated into any other language of the Continent.
His novel ‘Pallisamaj’ (Village Society) attracted a great deal of notice. It gave a true and vivid account of life in the villages, with its petty jealousies and ignorance, superstitions and sillinesses. The great artist Sarat Chandra spun a love-drama around two beautiful souls against the background of village cruelty. Ramesh, the hero, was a bachelor, but Rama, the heroine, was a widow, although she had almost no memory of the man to whom she was married. But Hindu society has no solution for this apparent maladjustment, for widow-remarriage is not the general custom. The impulses of sex are allowed to go underground and thrive on people’s sufferance. Sarat Chandra attacked the fabric of this moribund Hindu society and attacked powerfully. This want of a solution for the Ramesh-Rama affair and its consequent loss to society of normal, orderly life, rich in every sense of human progress, moved all readers of the book to thinking. It was claimed to be one of the best productions in Bengali literature and, naturally, ran into many editions like most of his other works.
Other writers of the Sarat tradition included famous novelists like Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (celebrated author of the Apu trilogy), Manik Bandyopadhyay, Balaichand Mukhopadhyay (pen-name was Bonofool), Abadhoot and Vimal Mitra.
A contemporary of Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay - author of the Apu Trilogy (directed by the Oscar winning film director Satyajit Ray), Pather Panchali, Aparajto and Apur Sansar), and to a lesser extent that of Saratchandra Chatterjee, Manik Banduopadhaya's first full-fledged novel Janani (Mother) was published in 1935 - his first, not serially published before. But it was not until his next two novels came out, would the reading public ever realise what treasure awaited them! Classed among the best of world literature heritage of the twentieth century were Bandyopadhyay's Pootool Naacher Itikotha and Padma Nodir Maajhi - both published in 1936.
Pootool Naacher Itikotha (the Puppets' Tale), first appeared serially in the clebrated Bharatbarsha in 1935. 1936 saw the publication of this, much debated and widely translated2 serial novel in book form along with his most popular and universally acclaimed Padma Nodir Maajhi (Padma River Boatman, tarnslated by Barbara Painter and Ian Lovelock3), which faithfully and lovingly depicted the rural life of his native East Bengal. Partly serially published in the Purbasha magazine, this novel, too, was translated in many Indian, Asian and European languages 4.
Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyapadhyay (1894-1950): An inimitable lyricist in prose, Bibhuti Bushan extended the perceptive world of Bengali fiction by his single contribution to the appreciation of the beauty of rural Bengal. He is renowned for his novel Pather Panchali (Saga of the Road) which was made into a great film by Satyajit Ray. Aparajita, a sequel to Pather Panchali is another of his great novel Some of the stories that Bibhuti had written earlier show him at his best. Among these may be mentioned Umarani (first published in 1922) and Pui-mancha (The Kitchen Garden Scaffolding; first published 1925). These and his later short stories are collected in more than a dozen volumes, such as Meghmallar (1931), Mauriphul (1932), Jatra Badal (1934), etc. Banerjee's novels are not a few and they include besides those already mentioned: Dristipradeep (The Look- a lamp, 1935), Aaranyak (The Wild, 1949), Adarsa Hindu Hotel (1940), Bipiner Samsar (Bipin's Home, 1941), Devayan (Spirit's Path, 1944), Icchamati (1949) etc
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