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|| Bengal Prose|| || Bengali Litterateurs & Poets||

The Bengali literature originated from the classical Indo-Aryan Sanskrit language and literature. But the influence of other non-Aryan languages on Bengali cannot be ignored. It is also believed that the Bengali literature was also influenced by Kol and Dravidian (the Santhals, the Malers, the Oraons) and the Boda and Mon-Khmer speakers in the northern and eastern frontiers. Professor Nihar Ranjan Roy concludes in his Bangalir Itihas: Adiparba 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".



Bengali literature has its roots in poetry. Folk tales collected from famous stories or themes composed by "Kobials" or folk poets and Bauls or street singers had long caught the imagination of the captive audiences in the rural areas. These folk tales laid the foundation for modern poetry in Bengal. The Caryas or the mystic and religious songs discovered by Haraprasad Sastri in 1916 from an old manuscript in Nepal represents one of the earliest forms of Bengali literature.  Jayadev was one of the earliest and the most famous Bengali poets. His masterpiece Geet Govinda remains a fitting testament of the classical Puranic traditions of the Vaishnav poetry. In the 12th and the 13th centuries a new kind of religious literature emerged, which gathered its themes from popular tales, and came to be known as Panchali or Mangala literature in Bengal.  Examples of this form of literature are afforded by Krttivasa's Sri Rama-panchali (15th century), Maladhara Vasu's Sri Krishna Vijaya (1480), Vipradasa of Manasa-vijaya (1495) and Vijaya Gupta's Manasa-mangala (1494). The Dharma-mangala poems of the 18th century also fall in this category. The Chaitanya Movement also led the emergence of long narrative devotional poetry.  Examples of this kind include Murari Gupta's Kadcha, Paramananda Sena's Chaitanya-chandrodaya and Chaitanya-charitamrata, Vrindavana Dasa's Chaitanya-bhagavata, Madhava Acharya's Sri Krishna-mangala and Syamadasa's Govinda-mangala. Later, Madhusudan Dutta introduced blank verses and sonnets and presented to the world his masterpiece epic poetry Meghnad Badh Kavya, making a true beginning of modern Bengali poetry. Bengali poetry reached its peak in the hands of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose book of lyrics called Gitanjali translated into English by himself earned him the Nobel Prize in 1913. 


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