Portal:Bengali literature

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Bengali literature

Bengali literature (Bengali: বাংলা সাহিত্য, Bangla Sahityô) denotes the body of writings in the Bengali language. The earliest extant work in Bengali literature is the Charyapada, a collection of Buddhist mystic songs dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Thereafter, the timeline of Bengali literature is divided into two periods − medieval (1360-1800) and modern (after 1800).

Medieval Bengali literature consists of various poetic genres, including Hindu religious scriptures (e.g. Mangalkavya), Islamic epics (e.g. works of Syed Sultan and Abdul Hakim), translations of Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian texts, Vaishnava texts (e.g. biographies of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu), and secular texts by Muslim poets (e.g. works of Alaol).

Novels were introduced to Bengali literature in the mid-19th century. Rabindranath Tagore, poet, playwright, novelist, painter, essayist, musician, and social reformer, is the best known figure of Bengali literature to the world. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. After the post-partition era, Bengali literature comprises literature of erstwhile East Pakistan (modern-day Bangladesh) and of West Bengal.

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The Charyapada is a collection of mystical poems, songs of realization in the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism from the tantric tradition during the Pala Empire in Ancient Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Orissa.

It was written in an Abahatta that was the ancestor of Assamese, Bengali, Sylheti, Oriya, Maithilli and many other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages between the 8th and 12th centuries and it is said to be the oldest collection of verses written in those languages. A palm-leaf manuscript of the Charyapada was rediscovered in the early 20th century by Haraprasad Shastri at the Nepal Royal Court Library. The Charyapada was also preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon.

As songs of realization, the Charyapada were intended to be sung. These songs of realisation were spontaneously composed verses that expressed a practitioner's experience of the enlightened state. Miranda Shaw describes how 'songs of realization were an element of the ritual gathering of practitioners in a ganachakra:

The feast culminates in the performance of tantric dances and music, that must never be disclosed to outsiders. The revellers may also improvise "songs of realization" (caryagiti) to express their heightened clarity and blissful raptures in spontaneous verse.


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Chandidas (Bengali: চণ্ডীদাস; born 1408 CE) refers to a medieval poet of Bengal or possibly more than one. Over 1250 poems related to the love of Radha and Krishna in Bengali with the bhanita of Chandidas are found with three different sobriquets along with his name, Baḍu, Dvija and Dina as well as without any sobriquet also. It is not clear whether these bhanitas actually refer to the same person or not. It is assumed by some modern scholars that the poems which are current in the name of Chandidas are actually the works of at least four different Chandidas, who are distinguished from each other by their sobriquets found in the bhanitas. It is also assumed that the earliest of them was Ananta Baḍu Chandidas, who has been more or less identified as a historical figure born in the 14th century in Birbhum district of the present-day West Bengal state and wrote the lyrical Srikrishna Kirtan (Songs in praise of Krishna).

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Bengali English transliteration Word for Word translation
আমার এ গান ছেড়েছে তার

সকল অলংকার তোমার কাছে রাখে নি আর সাজের অহংকার। অলংকার যে মাঝে প'ড়ে মিলনেতে আড়াল করে, তোমার কথা ঢাকে যে তার মুখর ঝংকার।

তোমার কাছে খাটে না মোর কবির গরব করা- মহাকবি, তোমার পায়ে দিতে চাই যে ধরা। জীবন লয়ে যতন করি যদি সরল বাঁশি গড়ি, আপন সুরে দিবে ভরি সকল ছিদ্র তার।

Amar e gan chheŗechhe tar shôkol ôlongkar

Tomar kachhe rakhe ni ar shajer ôhongkar Ôlongkar je majhe pôŗe milônete aŗal kôre, Tomar kôtha đhake je tar mukhôro jhôngkar. Tomar kachhe khaţe na mor kobir gôrbo kôra, Môhakobi, tomar paee dite chai je dhôra. Jibon loe jôton kori jodi shôrol bãshi goŗi, Apon shure dibe bhori sôkol chhidro tar.

My song has put off her adornments.

She has no pride of dress and decoration. Ornaments would mar our union; they would come between thee and me; their jingling would drown thy whispers. My poet's vanity dies in shame before thy sight. O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet. Only let me make my life simple and straight, like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.

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The initial aim of this portal is to provide information about the history of the Bengali literature. Because there is so much work to be done, and the general direction of this portal is not completely clear, it could be hard for others to get involved at this stage. However, at the moment, you can check out the list of Category:Language stubs, because those articles are related to at least some of what will be in this portal, and many of them need to be expanded.


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