Bengali literature: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Bengali literature

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bengali literature
Bengali literature
(By category)
Bengali language
Bengali literary history
History of Bengali literature
Bengali language authors
Chronological list - Alphabetic List
Bengali Writers
Writers - Novelists - Poets
Novel - Poetry - Science Fiction
Institutions & Awards
Literary Institutions
Literary Prizes
Related Portals
Literature Portal
Bengal Portal

The term Bengali literature refers to literary works written in Bengali language particularly from Bangladesh and the Indian provinces of West Bengal and Tripura. The history of Bengali literature traces back hundreds of years while it is impossible to separate the literary trends of the two Bengals during the pre-independence period. Post independent Bangladesh has given birth to its own distinct set of literature.




Early history

Pages from Charyapada

The first evidence of Kamrupi literature is known as Charyapada or Chari-Siddha-Pada in dedication on the names of four sons of Brahma, a collection of 8th-12th century CE Buddhist mystic poems from eastern India or ancient Kingdom of Kamarupa now read as Kamrup that provides early examples of Assamese, Oriya and Bengali languages. Poets of these Charyapadas, the Siddhas belonged to the various regions of ancient Kamarupa kingdom or present Assam, Bengal, Orissa and Bihar. Charyapada is also the oldest known written form of Kamrupi.[1]

The famous Bengali linguist Harprashad Shastri discovered the palm leaf Charyapada manuscript in the Nepal Royal Court Library in 1907.

Indian literature

In the middle of 19th century, Bengali literature gained momentum. During this period, the Bengali Pandits of Fort William College did the tedious work of translating the text books in Bengali to help teach the British some Indian languages including Bengali. This work played a role in the background in the evolution of Bengali prose. In 1814, Raja Ram Mohan Roy arrived in Calcutta and engaged in literary pursuits. Translating from Sanskrit to Bengali, writing essays on religious topics and publishing magazines were some the areas he focussed on. He established a cultural group in the name of 'Atmiya Sabha' (Club of Kins) in 1815. Another significant contributor of Bengali literature in its early stage was Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyaya.

In 1857, the famous 'Sipahi Bidroha' (Sepoy Mutiny) took place. With the wind of it, 'Nil Bidroho' (Indigo Revolt) scattered all over then Bengal region. This Nil Bidroha lasted for more than a year (In 1859-1860). The literature world was shaken with this revolt. In the light of this revolt, a great drama was published from Dhaka in the name of 'Neel Dorpon' (The Indigo Mirror). Dinabandhu Mitra was the writer of this play.

Michael Madhusudan Dutt

Michael Madhusudan Dutt

In this time, Michael Madhusudan Dutt emerged as the first epic-poet of modern bangla literature. Dutt, a Christian by conversion, is best known for his Ramayana-based masterpiece, "The Slaying of Meghnadh," (in Bengali "Meghnadh Bodh Kabbo" (মেঘনাদ বধ কাব্য)), which essentially follows in the poetic tradition of Milton's Paradise Lost. Those who have read it consider this work a world-class epic poem of the modern era. Michael Madhusudan Dutta is also credited with the introduction of sonnets to Bangla literature. He ruled the Bangla literature world for more than a decade (1858-1863). Dutt can also be credited to be a pioneer of the blank verse in Bengali literature. His style was deemed as "Amitrakhar Chhanda".

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay starts his journey through bangla literature with his first published novel 'Durgeshnondini' (Daughter of the Fort Lord) in 1865. He is considered as one of the leading Bengali novelists and is popularly known as the author of India's first national song, "Bande Mātarom" (pronounced in Hindi "Vande Mātāram"). The song appears in his novel "Anandamath", considered to be a masterpiece in Bengali literature.


Bangla literature also become rich with its variations. It started to spread its different branches also. in poetry Ishwar Chandra Gupta, Biharilal Chakravarty, Kaykobad, in novel Romesh Chunder Dutt, Mir Mosharraf Hossain, in plays Girish Chandra Ghosh, in essays Akshay Kumar Boral, Ramendra Sundar Tribedi and many others contributed to enrich bangla literature in this time.

A lot of literature magazines and newspapers started to come under day light. A number of educational institutes appears all over the region. This helps a lot to nurture the future author and poets of bangla language.

Pre-Tagore era also saw an undercurrent of popular literature which was based on daily lifestyle of contemporary Bengal. The prose style as well as the humour in these stories were often crass & blunt. A masterpiece in this regard was "Hutom Pechar Naksha" (The sketch of Owl) written by Kaliprasanna Singha. It depicts a witty & vivid desciption of the "Babu" culture in 19th century Kolkata. Other notable mentions in this regard are "Alaler Ghorer Dulal" (The spoilt brat) by Pyarichand Mitra, "Ramtanu Lahiri o tatkalin Banga shamaj" (Ramtanu Lahiri & contemporary Bengali society) by Nyaymohan Tarkalankar, "Naba Babu Bilas" & "Nana Bibi Bilas" by Bhabanicharan Bandopadhyay. These books arguably portrayed contemporary Bengali dialect & society promptly, along with the now extinct music genres of Khisti, Kheur & Kabiyal gaan by stalwarts like Rupchand Pakhi, Bhola Moyra. Books like these will become rarer once Tagore's restarined & cultured approach impressed the Bengali society. [2]

Influence of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore, Asia's first Nobel laureate

Possibly the most prolific writer in Bangla is Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore dominated both the Bengali and Indian philosophical and literary scene for decades. His 2,000 Rabindrasangeets play a pivotal part in defining Bengali culture, both in West Bengal and Bangladesh. He is the author of the national anthems of both India and Bangladesh, both composed in Bangla. Other notable Bangla works of his are Gitanjali, a book of poems for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, and many short stories and a few novels. It is widely accepted that Bangla Literature accomplished its contemporary look by the writings and influence of Rabindranath.

Kazi Nazrul Islam

Nazrul playing a flute, Chittagong, 1926

In a similar category is Kazi Nazrul Islam, who was invited to post-partition Bangladesh as the National Poet and whose work transcends sectarian boundaries. Adored by Bengalis both in Bangladesh and West Bengal, his work includes 3,000 songs, known as both as nazrul geeti and "nazrul sangeet". He is frequently called the rebel poet mainly because of his most famous and electrifying poem "Bidrohi" or "The Rebel", and also because of his strong sympathy and support for revolutionary activities leading to India's independence from British Rule. His songs and poems were frequently used during the Bangladesh Liberation War as well. Though he is acknowledged as the rebel poet, Nazrul very effectively contributed in all branches of literature. He wrote poems that light the fire against inequality or injustice and at the same time is known for his poignant romantic poems as well. He wrote a lot of Islami Ghazals and in the same time wrote a number of Shyama Sangeet (songs for the Hindu Mother Goddess, Kali). Nazrul was not only a poet, he was writer, musician, journalist and philosopher. He was sent to jail for his literary works against the then prevailing British rule.

Other notable names


Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay was one of the most popular novelists of early 20th century whose speciality was exploring life and sufferings of women in contemporary rural Bengal. His sympathy towards the common rural folks in "pallisamaj" and a trademark simplified Bengali as a writing style made him one of the most popular writer in his time. Even long after his death many Bengali and Bollywood blockbusters were based on his novels. After him Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Manik Bandopadhyay, are the three Bandopadhyays who broke out into a new era of realistic writing style. Where the two of the above Bibhutibhusan and Manik had long standing influence on the two of the most brilliant film directors from Bengal, Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak respectively. Other famous bengali novelists are Jagadish Gupta, Satinath Bhaduri, Balai Chand Mukhopadhyay (Banophool), Saradindu Bandopadhyay, Kamal Kumar Majumdar, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Shumotho Nath Ghosh, Gagendra Kumar Mitra, Bimal Mitra, Bimal Kar, Samaresh Basu, Mani Shankar Mukherjee (Shankar), etc. Seeds of bengali science fiction could be observed in the writings of Jagadish Chandra Bose, which was later put into a definite genre by writers such as Jagadananda Roy, Hemlal Dutta, Begum Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, Premendra Mitra, Satyajit Ray. Where Satyajit Ray is also notable for his short stories where he revives the tradition of Thakurmar Jhuli into a mixture of fantasy, mystery, science, and fairy tale.

The genre of parallel novel-writing started from the 1960s with the Hungryalist Movement. Malay Roy Choudhury, Subimal Basak and Basudeb Dasgupta are known to be the most experimental novelists belonging to this movement. Basudeb is known to his readers for his only novel Kheladhula. Malay is famous for his Dubjaley trilogy and Subimal for his broken narrative CHHATAMATHA.

More experimental novelists who came into the scene in the midst of surging change in Bengali Literature are: Udayan Ghosh, Rabindra Guha, Kamal Chakraborty, Barin Ghoshal, Subimal Mishra, Arupratan Basu, Nabarun Bhattacharya.

In the New Age (21st Century), Arupratan Ghosh can be considered the only novelist of this genre with his novel Suryaheen (published in 2007).

Short story writers

Bengali literature is also famous for short stories. Some of the famous short story writers are Rabindranath Tagore, Manik Bandopadhyay, Jagadish Gupta, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay, Rajshekhar Basu (Parasuram), Premendra Mitra, Kamal Kumar Majumdar, Shibram Chakrabarti, Saradindu Bandopadhyay, Subodh Ghosh, Narendranath Mitra, Jyotirindra Nandi, Bimal Kar, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Shumotho Nath Ghosh, Gagendra Kumar Mitra, Santosh Ghosh, Debesh Roy, Anish Deb,Abhijnan Roychowdhury,Satyajit Roy,Lila Majumder,Shiresendu Mukhopaddhyay,Ratan Lal Basu,Sayed Walliullaha, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Basudeb Dasgupta, Subimal Mishra, Arupratan Basu, Kamal Chakraborty, Aboni Dhar, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Akhtaruzzaman Ilias, Mahmudul Huq, Hasan Azizul Huq, etc. Malay Roy Choudhury has introduced a completely new genre of Bengali short story writing called 'Atibastab' or 'Hyperreal' during 1990s.

New writers and experimental short stories (apart from the mainstream ones) were not in the scene over the last two decades (1980's and 90's). A revival of new experimental short stories is observed in the New Age (21st Century). Pratishedhak, a New Age magazine (which first revived the experimental short story culture in early 2000), has played a major influential role to promote further revival of the experimental short story writing culture. Some New Age short story writers are:

Souptik Chakraborty, Arko Chattopadhyay, Arupratan Ghosh, Sudeshna Majumdar and Ratul Paul.

The first New Age short story book - Napoleoner Nabobarsho by Souptik Chakraborty - was published in 2008.


Poetry seminars at Nandan

Jatindramohan Bagchi, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Jibanananda Das, along with Buddhadeva Bose, marks the beginning of the major move to transcend the Tagore legacy . Even though Jibanananda went through a terbulent and difficult financial troubles and met an unfortunate accident caliming his life early in his writing career, he remains to be the most influential poet of post-Rabindranath era. The new genre of Bengali poets departed considerably from Tagore's ideological style and adopted various themes and philosophies such as Marxism , Freudian interpretation of mind, which were avoided and often criticized by Rabindranath Tagore. These three marked the beginning of the era that will burst with activities and urge to merge with the greater world of poetry absorbing elements from them. Commonly called polli-kobi (pastoral poet) Jasimuddin, Shamsur Rahman, widely known for his 'playing with words' are also notable.


There has been only one pathbreaking literary movement in West Bengal, namely The Hungry generation or Hungryalism. The famous poets of this movement are Malay Roy Choudhury, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Benoy Majumdar, Samir Roychoudhury, Falguni Ray, Saileswar Ghose, Pradip Chowdhuri, Subo Acharya, Arunesh Ghose, Tridib Mitra and Debi Ray. The fiction writers are Sandipan Chattopadhyay,Basudeb Dasgupta, Subimal Basak, Malay Roy Choudhury and Samir Roychoudhury. The painters are Anil Karanjai and Karunanidhan Mukhopadhyay.

Prakalpana Movement

Prakalpana Movement, branded by Steve LeBlanc, the noted US critic, as 'a tiny literary revolution', 'nurtured' by Kolkata, has been fostering its new genres of Prakalpana fiction, Sarbangin poetry and Chetanavyasism for over four decades, spearheaded by Vattacharja Chandan, beginning in 1969. It is probably the only bilingual (Bengali -English) literary movement in India mothered by Bengali literature, that has spread its wings world wide through the participation of well known international avant-garde writers and mail artists such as Richard Kostelanetz, John M. Bennett, Sheila Murphy, Don Webb, John Light, Carla Bertola &c, with notable Bengali poets, writers and artists like Vattacharja Chandan, Dilip Gupta, Asish Deb, Bablu Roy Choudhury, Syamoli Mukherjee Bhattacharjee, Boudhayan Mukhopadhyay, Ramratan mukhopadhyay, Nikhil Bhaumik, Utpal, Abhijit Ghosh, Arun Kumar Chakraborty, Niva De etc.[3]

Parallel Poetry and poets Since 1970

Kaurab Cult

Some major changes occurred in the 1970s in the Bengali Poetry, chiefly around Kaurab - a literary & cultural magazine nearly four decades old. Prime cult-figures of Kaurab are :

Swadesh Sen, Kamal Chakraborty, Barin Ghosal, Debajyoti Dutta, Shankar Lahiri, Shankar Chakraborty,Pranabkumar Chattopadhayay and Aryanil Mukhopadhyay.

Poets who lead Left-movement since 1970

Biplab Majee,Ananya Ray,Tusar Roy,Monibhushan Bhattacharya,Pranab Chattopadhya,Saroj Dutta

New Poetry (Natun Kabita)

Since the mid 80's Bengali Literature experienced a new genre of Bengali poetry called New Poetry. From the early 90's a Kolkata based poetry journal Kabita Campus has organized various workshops and poetry-camps focusing on this genre. In 2003 some poets of that journal have separately started another one named Natun Kabita containing their ideas and poems, through both online and print media. Another new age poetry magazine in the same sphere is Boikhoribhashya. Poets associated with this literary movement are:

Barin Ghosal, Ranjan Maitra, Swapan Roy, Dhiman Chakraborty, Alok Biswas, Pronob Pal, Soumitra Sengupta, Arupratan Ghosh, Indranil Ghosh, Amitava Praharaj and Debanjan Das.

Rajarshi Chattopadhyay, Atanu Bandopadhyay, Pradip Chakraborty are the poets who joined this movement in mid 90's.

The first decade of this century (2000 - 09) is considered to be the period of a New Age of Bengali poetry.

Prominent poets rising from the period are:

Sankha Subhra Devbarman, Arindam Ray, Arup Ghosh, Tanmay Mandal, Arjun Bandopadhyay, Susnata Jana, Himalay Jana, Kaushik Bhowmik, Pallab Chakrabarti, Sanghamitra Haldar, Himadri Mukhopadhyay, Somnath Ghosal, Swagata Dasgupta, Nabendu Bikash Ray, Ripon Fio, Atanu Sinha, Sandip Kumar, Paramita Das .


Seminal Hindu religious works in Bangla include the many songs of Ramprasad Sen. His works (still sung today) from the 17th century cover an astonishing range of emotional responses to the goddess Kali, detailing complex philosophical statements based on Vedanta teachings and more visceral pronouncements of his love of the goddess. They are known as Shyama Sangeet and were the literary inspiration for Kazi Nazrul Islam's later, famed Shyama Sangeet. There are also the laudatory accounts of the lives and teachings of the Vaishnava saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (the Choitanyo Choritāmrit) and Shri Ramakrishna (the Ramakrishna Kathamrita, translated roughly as Gospel of Ramakrishna). There is also a large body of Islamic literature, that can be traced back at least to Noornama by Abdul Hakim. Bishad Sindhu depicting the death of Hussain in Karbala is very popular novel written by Mir Mosharraf Hossain. Later works influenced by Islam include devotional songs written by Nazrul, and popularized by Abbas Uddin, among others.

Bauls and traditional singers

The mystic Bauls of the Bengal countryside who preached the boundless spiritual truth of Sôhoj Pôth (the Simple, Natural Path) and Moner Mānush (The Man of The Heart) drew on Vedantic philosophy to propound transcendental truths in song format, traveling from village to village proclaiming that there was no such thing as Hindu, Muslim or Christian, only moner mānush.

The literature discussed so far can be more or less regarded as the common heritage of both Bangladesh and West Bengal. Since the partition of Bengal in 1947, the east and west parts of Bengal have also developed their own distinctive literatures. For example, the Naxalite movement has influenced much of West Bengal's literature, whereas the Liberation War has had a similarly profound impact on Bangladeshi literature.

Major literary figures in Bangladesh

Shawkat Osman, Shamsur Rahman, Sufia Kamal, Al Mahmud, Abubakar Siddique, Ghulam Murshid,Hasan Azizul Huq, Selina Hossain, Shawkat Ali, Akhtaruzzaman Ilias, Nirmalendu Goon, Mahadev Saha, Abul Hasan, Humayun Azad, Shaheedul Jahir, Humayun Ahmed, Imdadul Haque Milon, Anisul Hoque, Taslima Nasrin, Rabbani Choudhury and Tahmima Anam to name a few.

Major literary figures in West Bengal

Nihar Ranjan Gupta, Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Syed Mustafa Siraj, Baren Gangopadhyay, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Amiya Bhushan Mazumdar, Lokenath Bhattacharya, Debesh Roy, Atin Bandyopadhyay, Shankha Ghosh,Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Samir Roychoudhury, Subimal Basak, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Mahasweta Devi, Moti Nandi, Kamal Kumar Majumdar, Subimal Mishra, Shankar, Suchitra Bhattacharya,Vattacharja Chandan, Bani Basu,Buddhadeb Guha,Shiersendu Mukhopaddhyay,Suchitra Bhattacharya etc.

Literay figures since 1970's (Parallel or non Mainstream Genre)

Swadesh Sen, Barin Ghosal,Pranabkumar Chattopadhayay,Biplab Majee, Ananya Roy, Subimal Mishra, Vattacharja Chandan, Kamal Chakraborty, Ranjan Maitra, Swapan Roy, Shankar Lahiri, Dhiman Chakraborty, Anirban Mukhopadhyay, Aryanil Mukhopadhyay, Sarthak Roychowdhury, Sharmi Pandey, Shubhankar Das, Rajarshi Chattopadhyay, Arupratan Ghosh, Indranil Ghosh, Amitava Praharaj, Souptik Chakraborty, Animikh Patra, Paramita Das, Himadri Mukhopadhyay, Arindam Ray, Anamitra Roy, Tanmay Mandal, Deb Maity, Swagata Dasgupta, Kaushik Bhowmik, Debanjan Das, Arjun Bandopadhyay, Souva Chattopadhyay, Atanu Sinha, Arup Ghosh.


Problems listening to this file? See media help.

See also


  1. ^ Chatterjee, Gita. Bengal's Swadeshi Samgīt. Published in Banerjee, Jayasri (ed.), The Music of Bengal. Baroda: Indian Musicological Society, 1987.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Songs of Kobisena by Steve Leblanc in Version 90, PMS Cafe Press, Alston, MS, USA.>

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address