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An Introduction to Bengali Literature

Bengali literature and Bengali culture go hand in hand in breathing richness and value into each other. Art and literature are the heart of the Bengali lifestyle, and when it becomes a part of the regular life of the masses, it liberates thought. Music and literature are cherished in every other household in Bengal. People frequently engage in leisurely chats and freestyle intellectual conversations at various “Addas." There is a long tradition of music, poetry, and dramas based mainly on Hindu epics and Puranas.


Some of the ancient literary works stand out as examples of liberal thought suffused in Bengali literature. One of the most prominent examples is - ‘Charyapada’, a collection of mystical poems, also known as songs of realization, that were sung in religious gatherings. 'Shree Krishna Kirtana Kabya,' a pastoral Vaishnav drama in verses composed by Boru Chandidas is another masterpiece that talks about the love of Radha and Krishna in a Bengali rendition while communicating the idea that love is a religion above all.

In Bengali folklore, collections of Bengali folk tales like ‘Thakurmar Jhuli' written by Dakshinarajan Mitra Majumdar are considered as extremely prolific works to have produced some legendary and popular characters of Bengali literature. Other such collections include tales revolving around ‘Gopal Bhar,' jester in the court of Raja Krishnachandra Roy in the eighteenth century. In popular culture, his tales of witty and humorous commentary on figures of authority are not only fondly narrated, but they have also inspired comedy films, cartoon series, and television series in Bengal.

Anand Math Novel by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee

Bengali Renaissance has given us a literary treasure to relish in the form of some path-breaking plays, poems, and novels like ‘Anandmath’ by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, ‘Meghnabadh Kavya’ and ‘Krishna Kumari' by Michael Madhusudan Dutt, ‘Nildarpan’ by Din Bandhu Mitra, ‘Savitri: a legend and a symbol' by Shri Aurobindo Ghosh, ‘Gitanjali,' ‘Chokher Bali' and 'Gora' by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Shrikanta’ by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, ‘Yubok Yubotira' (The Youth) by Sunil Gangopadhyay, ‘Lajja’ by Taslima Nasrin, ‘Hazaar Chaurasi ki Maa’ and ‘Rudali' by Mahashweta Devi.

The richness of Bengali literature is not limited to the works which are translated into English and Hindi. Still, it is worth acknowledging that translations have helped non-Bengali readers to break the language barriers and access the magnificence of Bengali literature.

Chelcy Pathak


Chelcy Pathak

Guest Writer

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