Monday, 28 February 2011

কোথায় আছি আমরা -- ভারতীয় বাঙালি
(সর্বপ্রথমেএখানে স্পষ্ট করে দয়া উচিত যে এই লেখার পার্শ্বে কোনো রাজনৈতিক কিংবা ধর্মীয় পূর্বাগ্রহ নেই, অতএব ব্যক্তিগত আঘাত প্রতিঘাতের কোনো প্রশ্ন উঠে না )
১৯৪৭ সনে ভারতীয় উপমহাদ্বীপের ধর্মভিত্তিক বিভাজন সর্ব সাধারণ মানুষ ভালই ভাবে জানে, পুনরাবর্তির প্রয়োজন নাই.প্রশ্ন হলো স্বাধীনতার ৬৪ বত্সরের পরে আজ ভারতীয় বাঙালি দেশের মানচিত্রে কোথায় অর্থাত উন্নতির সোপানে কোথায় দাড়ায়ে আছে ? বাঙালিদের স্বাধীনতার প্রাপ্তির জন্য অবদানের অন্তহীন তালিকা থাকার সত্তেও আমরা কেন ফিছিয়ে গেলাম, কংগ্রেসের প্রথম ভারতীয় সভাপতি বি. সি. বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় হইতে প্রণব মুখোপাধ্যায় পর্য্যন্ত, অনেক গুনি জ্ঞানী বাঙালিদের দেশের জন্য নানা ক্ষেত্রে অবদানের পরে ও পশ্চিম বঙ্গ অনন্য রাজ্যের তুলনায় কেন পিছিয়ে? আর এই উন্নতির গতি তে থেমে যাওয়ার জন্য কে দায়ী ?শিক্ষার ক্ষেত্রে কিংবা উদ্যোগ দিগে রাজ্যের অবস্থা গোপন নাই? ক একটা মল অথবা ক একটা আই. টি. সেক্টরে কে দেখিয়ে রাজ্যের উন্নতির আঙ্কলন কী করা যায় ?বিভাজনের ক্রন্দন কিংবা সমাজবাদের দুহাই দিয়ে কি আমরা বৃহত ৯-১০ কোটি লোক সংখ্যা কে এই ভাবে বহু কাল ঘাত দিতে পারি.
কোথায় আছে সেই সোনার বাংলা, কেন অনন্য রাজ্যে পলোয়নের জন্য আমরা বাধ্য, সীমান্তে লোক সংখ্যার বিলোমতার সৃষ্টি, সাম্প্রদায়িকতার বদনাম দিয়ে কি ভবিষ্যতে , নব প্রজন্মের জন্য আমরা বাসভূমি বাঁচিয়ে রাখতে পারব, নিজদের কে নাস্তিকবাদের দর্শনে জড়িয়ে কত দিন আমরা সংস্কৃতি বাঁচিয়ে রাখব? বাংলার স্বর্ণিম যুগ কি কোনো দিন ফিরে আসবে ?আমাদের এই দীনহীন অবস্থা কি কোনো দিন বদলাবে ?গোখলে বলেছিলেন - বাংলা যা আজ ভাবে, শেষ ভারত সে কাল ভাববে, সেরা বাঙালির পদবি কি কোনো দিন খুঁজে পাওয়া যাবে? ভূমি সুধারে অবশ্যই আমূল পরিবর্তন ঘটেছে কিন্তু কি রাজ্য খাদ্য আত্ম নির্ভর ,বাঙালিরা কলা ও শিল্পে চিরদিনই অগ্রগনীয় , আজ ও আছে কিন্তু আমরা শিল্প পতিই শুধু রয়েগেলাম, উদ্যোগপতি হলাম না, কলকাতা কি কোনো দিন বাঙ্গালোর, মুম্বাই, গুরগাঁও, নয়েডা, পুণে, হবে না, কোথায় আছি আমরা, যেখান ৬০ বত্সর আগে ছিলাম ওখানেই , এই দৃশ্য কি কোনো দিন বদলাবে ?
-- শান্তনু সান্যাল

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sachindra Nath Sanyal
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Sachindra Nath Sanyal (Hindi: सचिन्द्र नाथ सान्याल, Urdu: سچندر ناتھ سانیال; b. 1893 Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh - d. 7 February 1942, Gorakhpur Jail, Uttar Pradesh) a famous Indian revolutionary and the founder of Hindustan Republican Association (HRA, which after 1928 became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association or HSRA) that was created to carry out armed resistance against the British Empire in India. He was the mentor for revolutionaries like Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh. Several of his brothers and cousins were also active participants in the country's freedom struggle.

Sanyal was extensively involved in the plans for the Ghadar conspiracy, and went underground after it was exposed in February, 1915. He was a close associate of Rash Behari Bose. After Bose escaped to Japan, Sachindranath Sanyal was considered the senior-most leader of India's revolutionary movement. He and Mahatma Gandhi engaged in a famous debate published in Young India between 1920 and 1924. Sanyal argued against Gandhi's gradualist approach.

He was sentenced for the Kakori train robbery and was tried and sentenced to life for the same.He was sent to the dreaded Cellular Jail in the Andamans and in jail he wote the famous book "Bandi Jeevan" (A Life of Captivity). This book would become the bible for a generation of revolutionaries fighting British rule. Sanyal was briefly released from jail but when he continued to engage in anti-British activities, he was sent back to jail and his ancestral family home in Varanasi was confisticated. Thus, Sachindranath Sanyal has the unique distinction of having been sent to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair twice. He contracted TB in jail, probably deliberately infected, and was sent to Gorakhpur Jail for his final months. He died in 1942.

Some of Sanyal's followers were Marxists but Sanyal was well known for his firm Hindu beliefs. Bhagat Singh discusses Sanyal's firm religious beliefs in his famous tract "Why I am an Atheist".

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Kulin Brahmins
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Kulin Brahmins are those Brahmins in Bengal who can trace themselves to the five families of Kanauj (Kanyakubja), Uttar Pradesh who migrated to Bengal. The five families were of the five different gotras (Shandilya, Bharadwaj, Kashyap, Vatsya and Swavarna). They are widely believed to be at the apex of Bengal's caste hierarchy.[who?]

The kulin families are further divided into two sections:

* Barendra : Belonging to those families who settled at the north or north east region of Ganges or Padma river.

* Rarhi : Belonging to those families who settled at the south or southwest region of the Ganges aka Padma river.

The common surnames of Barendra brahmin families are (ranked equally):

* Lahiri (Shandilya)
* Bagchi (Shandilya)
* Sanyal (Vatsa)
* Bhaduri (Kashyap)
* Maitra (Kashyap)

The common surnames of Rarhi brahmin family are (ranked equally):

* Mukherjee (Bharadwaja)
* Banerjee (Shandilya)
* Chatterjee (Kashyap)
* Bhattacharya(Shandilya)
* Ghoshal (Vatsa)
* Ganguly (Shavarna)

Apart from these many others like Chakroborty, Bhattacharya, Ray/Roy, Roy Choudhury, Majumdar, etc., which are, indeed, titles conferred on certain privileged families from among the above mentioned surnames, could also be Kulin if they are either Barendra or Rarhi Brahmins.

Kulin Pratha (Kulin System) was initiated by the Sena Kings in Bengal whereby the kings gave land and power to the Brahmins to promote vedic principles in the society, leading to a strict and disciplined lifestyle. Simultaneously they also enforced strict rules on family and marriage rules on Brahmins, leading to the birth of Kulin Brahmins, an apex section/class/caste of the society. It was said that a person is Kulin if and only if all the 14 generations on his father's and mother's side were Kulin. This created a very problematic divide in the society. This was also opposed by many Brahmins. Yet it became a norm, probably because the kulin Brahmins got lured by the newly acquired power in the society.

Kulin Pratha was a very strict practice leading to many problems in Bengali society. If a daughter of a Kulin family doesn't wed in a Kulin family then the parent family loses their Kulin identity. These led to several problems like young girls getting married to old Kulin married men out of desperation of finding a Kulin groom. It was not uncommon for Kulin grooms to have several wives, most of which stayed at their parents home, just to be wed (for the sake of the ritual) to a Kulin and hence maintain their Kulin status.

Nowadays many Brahmins have shunned their Kulin identity and have mixed equally with all the Brahmins in Bengal and other parts of India. It is hard to state the current stand of these families on Kulin Pratha. It may surface during the marriage process, but the young are not concerned.
[edit] Marriages and gotras

Marriages within the gotra ("swagotra" marriages) are banned under the rule of exogamy in the traditional matrimonial system. People within the gotra are regarded as kin and marrying such a person would be thought of as incest.

A much more common characteristic of south Indian Hindu society is permission for marriage between cross-cousins (children of brother and sister). Thus, a man is allowed to marry his maternal uncle's daughter or his paternal aunt's daughter, but is not allowed to marry his father's brother's daughter. She would be considered a parallel cousin who is treated as a sister.

According to strict Hindu tradition, the term gotra is used only for the lineages of Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya varnas. Brahminical Gotra relates directly to the original seven or eight Rishis of the Vedas. Later, the term "gotra" was associated with broader meanings of any lineage, Brahmin or otherwise.

A common mistake is to consider gotra to be synonymous with clan or kula. A kula is basically a set of people following similar cultural rituals, often worshipping the same God (the Kula-Devata - the God of the clan). Kula has nothing to do with lineage or caste. In fact, it is possible to change one's kula, based on one's faith or Ishta-deva.

It is common practice in preparation for Hindu marriage to inquire about the Kula-Gotra (meaning Clan-Lineage) of the bride and bridegroom before approving the marriage. In almost all Hindu families, marriages within the same gotra are prohibited, since people with same gotra are considered to be siblings. But marriage within the kula is allowed and even preferred.

Reference: "Hindu Castes and Sects", Jogendranath Bhattacharya, Thacker, Spink & Company, Calcutta, 1896.


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Freedom Struggle Back to History Page
Unsung Heroes of the Freedom Struggle

While much has been written on the Indian Freedom Movement as led by the Congress and Gandhi, little is known of the numerous uprisings by peasants, tribal communities, princely states and other isolated revolutionary acts of resistance against the British. Heroic acts of resistance against the British during 1763 to 1857 are particularly unknown. The following is a listing of armed revolts that were brutally suppressed by the British as the East India Company consolidated it's rule in the century preceding the 1857 revolt:-

1763-1800 Sanyal Revolt includes:
1763 Dhaka
1763-64 Rajshahi
1766 Cooch Bihar
1767 Patna
1766-69, 71, 76 Jalpaiguri, Rangpur and surroundings
1770-71 Purnea
1773 Mymensingh
1766-67 Midnapur
1766-67 Dhalbhum Rajas
1766-68 Peasant's Revolt, Tripura (led by Shamsher Ghazi in Roshanabad)
1769-70 Sandip Islands (S. of Noakhali)
1769-99 Moamarias, Jorhat/Rangpur
1776-89 Chakmas, Chittagong
1781 Gorakhpur, Basti and Bahraich
1783 Rangpur Peasants
1787-99 Sylhet includes:
1787 Radharam
1788 Khasi revolt
1799 Agha Muhammad Reza
1788-89 Birbhum, Bishnupur
1792 Bakarganj Peasants
1794 Vizianagram
1795-1805 Poligars Uprising includes Tinnevelly, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Sivagiri, Madurai, N. Arcot
1797, 1800-05 Raja Kerala Verma, Kottayam
1799 Chuar Peasants, Midnapur
1799-1800 Bednur
1799 Vaji Ali, Awadh
1800, 1835-37 Ganjam, Gumsur
1800-02 Palamau
1806 Vellore Mutiny
1809 Bhiwani
1810-16 Naik Revolt (in Bhograi, Midnapur)
1808-09 Travancore (under Velu Thambi)
1808-12 Bundelkhand Chiefs
1810 Abdul Rahman, Surat
1810-11 Benaras Hartal/Agitation
1813-34 Parlakimedi, W. Ganjam
1815-32 Kutch
1816 Rohilla Revolt included Bareilly, Pilbhit, Shahjahanpur, Rampur
1817 Hathras
1817-18 Paiks included Cuttack, Khurda, Pipli, Puri
1817-31,46,52 Bhils included Khandesh, Dhar, Malwa
1820-37 Kols included Sighbhum, Chota Nagpur, Sambhalpur, Ranchi, Hazari Bagh, Palamau, Chaibasa
1819-21 Mers, Marwar
1824 Gujars, Kunja
1824 Sindgi, Bijapur
1824-26 Bhiwani, Rewari, Hissar, Rohtak
1824 Kalpi
1824-29 Kittur, Belgaum
1828-30,39,44-48 Kolis
1826-29 Ramosis, Pune
1825-27,32-34 Garos. Also known as the Pagal Panthis Revolt - in Sherpur, Mymensigh distt.
1828-30 Assam included Gadadhar Singh 1828-30, Kumar Rupchand 1830
1829-30 Khasis led by Tirot Singh
1830-31,43 Sighphos (Assam/Burma border)
1929, 35-42 Akas (Assam)
1830-61 Wahabis (spread from Bengal, Bihar to Punjab and NWFP)
1831 Titu-Mir, 24-Parganas
1830-31 Mysore Peasants
1830-33 Vishakapatnam
1832 Bhumij, Manbhum
1833-34 Coorg
1833 Gonds, Sambhalpur
1838 Naikda, Rewa, Kantha
1838-47 Farazis, Faripur
1839 Khamtas, Sadiya-Assam
1839-62 Surendra Sai, Sambhalpur
1840 Badami
1842 Bundelas, Sagar
1844 Salt Riots, Surat
1844 Gadkari, Kolhapur
1844-59 Savantvadi, N. Konkan
1846-47 Narasimha Reddy, Kurnool
1848 Khonds, Orissa
1848 Nagpur
1848-66 Garos, Garo Hills
1848-1900 Abors, NE Hills
1840-92 Lushais, Lushai Hills
1849-78 Nagas: Naga Hills
1850-52 Umarzais: Bannu
1852 Survey Riots: Khandesh
1852 Saiyads of Hazara
1853 Nadir Khan, Rawalpindi
1855-56 Santhals included Rajmahal, Bhagalpur, Birbhum

These revolts show the range and spread of the opposition to British consolidation. However, the fragmented nature of the opposition, and British Military superiority gave the British a decided edge. Although the resistance was often very heroic, the lack of coordination and disadvantageous timing led to brutal defeats. Nevertheless, some of these struggles raged for many years and culminated in the far more widespread revolt of 1857.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Bengali
Quick Facts
Type Syllabic Alphabetic
Genealogy Brahmi
Location South Asia
Time 11th century CE to Present
Direction Left to right


Bengali is a Nagari-derived script that appeared in eastern South Asia around the 11th century CE. It is still currently used in Bangladesh, as well as the state of West Bengal in India (hence the script's name) on the eastern part of India. The old Bengali script (11th century CE) is also the parent to many other scripts of eastern India, such as #a @oriya#, Manipuri, and Maithili. The Bengali script is used to writer languages in eastern India such as Bengali, Assamese, and Manipuri.



Once again, like other South Asian writing systems, vowels following a consonant other than the default /a/ is written with extra strokes, as in the following example:
Prakrit Languages


The meaning of ‘Prakrit’ is ‘Natural’. The word prakrit is used for the group of languages spoken in ancient India.

Jainism has a great relation with Prakrit Languages. In ancient India Sanskrit was spoken only by Vedic Bramhins, while common people’s language was Prakrit. Jains always promoted their religion through people’s languages. So most of ancient Jain literature was written in various Prakrit Languages.

Some of the Prakrit Languages:

a)Ardhmagadhi :
Ardhmagadhi was the language of people in Magadh, Bihar. This language are spoken between 600 BCE to 100 CE. Vardhman Mahavir and his Ganadhars gave sermons in Ardhmagadhi. Mahavir’s teachings were transmitted to next generation through the oral tradition. Later the teachings were compiled by Shrideverdhigani in 454CE. Of course the language was affected by time & Jain Maharashtri Language. So the compiled verses are closer to Jain Maharashtri Language.
The famous & popular Namokar-Mantra is in Ardhmagadhi language.

b)Shourseni :
Shourseni was being spoken at Shoorsen (Mathura)region of North India between 100BCE to 500CE.
Digamber Jains wrote their philosophical literature in Shourseni language. The Shatkhandagam and Acharya Kundkund’s works are in Shourseni.
In Sanskrit dramas of Bhas,Kalidas etc. Shourseni is used for dialogs of servants, jokers,
Labours etc.

c)Jain Maharashtri :
This was language of non-agamic Jain literature. Biographies of Teerthankars, Monks, Stories, Puorans like paumchariya were written in this language.
Jain Maharashtri was a language closer to Ardhmagdhi on one hand and to Maharashtri on the other hand.

d) Maharashtri : This language was used for Jain epics and songs. Modern Marathi language is next step language in the evolution of Maharashtri.

e) Apbhransh : The meaning of Apbhransh is ‘Vulgar’ or ‘Impure’. Apbhransh is not a single language but there are many Apbhransh languages which were born from various Prakrit Languages. Apbhransh languages were spoken between 500CE to 1000CE. There is lot off jain literature written in Apbhransh languages in medieval period.

Most of the modern Indian languages have were roods in Prakrit Languages. Following tables shows the details :

Modern Indian Language Roots in


Western Hindi, Urdu,Punjabi Shourseni Apbhransh
Eastern Hindi Ardhmagdhi Apbhransh
Marathi, Konkani Maharastri Apbhransh
Bangla,Udia,Assamese,Bhojpuri Magdhi Apbhransh
Gujrathi,Rajasthani Nagar Apbhransh
Kasmiri Paishachi Apbhransh

The classic Sanskrit language also has its roots in old prakrit language spoken in North-India in Vedic & Prevedic period.
Indian Languages - About 80 percent of all Indians--nearly 750 million people based on 1995 population estimates--speak one of the Indo-Aryan group of languages. Persian and the languages of Afghanistan are close relatives, belonging, like the Indo-Aryan languages, to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. Brought into India from the northwest during the second millennium B.C., the Indo-Aryan tongues spread throughout the north, gradually displacing the earlier languages of the area.

Modern linguistic knowledge of this process of assimilation comes through the Sanskrit language employed in the sacred literature known as the Vedas (see The Vedas and Polytheism, ch. 3). Over a period of centuries, Indo-Aryan languages came to predominate in the northern and central portions of South Asia (see Antecedents, ch. 1).

As Indo-Aryan speakers spread across northern and central India, their languages experienced constant change and development. By about 500 B.C., Prakrits, or "common" forms of speech, were widespread throughout the north. By about the same time, the "sacred," "polished," or "pure" tongue--Sanskrit--used in religious rites had also developed along independent lines, changing significantly from the form used in the Vedas. However, its use in ritual settings encouraged the retention of archaic forms lost in the Prakrits. Concerns for the purity and correctness of Sanskrit gave rise to an elaborate science of grammar and phonetics and an alphabetical system seen by some scholars as superior to the Roman system. By the fourth century B.C., these trends had culminated in the work of Panini, whose Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi (Eight Chapters), set the basic form of Sanskrit for subsequent generations. Panini's work is often compared to Euclid's as an intellectual feat of systematization.

The Prakrits continued to evolve through everyday use. One of these dialects was Pali, which was spoken in the western portion of peninsular India. Pali became the language of Theravada Buddhism; eventually it came to be identified exclusively with religious contexts. By around A.D. 500, the Prakrits had changed further into Apabhramshas, or the "decayed" speech; it is from these dialects that the contemporary Indo-Aryan languages of South Asia developed. The rudiments of modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars were in place by about A.D. 1000 to 1300.

It would be misleading, however, to call Sanskrit a dead language because for many centuries huge numbers of works in all genres and on all subjects continued to be written in Sanskrit. Original works are still written in it, although in much smaller numbers than formerly. Many students still learn Sanskrit as a second or third language, classical music concerts regularly feature Sanskrit vocal compositions, and there are even television programs conducted entirely in Sanskrit.

Around 18 percent of the Indian populace (about 169 million people in 1995) speak Dravidian languages. Most Dravidian speakers reside in South India, where Indo-Aryan influence was less extensive than in the north. Only a few isolated groups of Dravidian speakers, such as the Gonds in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, and the Kurukhs in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, remain in the north as representatives of the Dravidian speakers who presumably once dominated much more of South Asia. (The only other significant population of Dravidian speakers are the Brahuis in Pakistan.)

The oldest documented Dravidian Indian language is Tamil, with a substantial body of literature, particularly the Cankam poetry, going back to the first century A.D. Kannada and Telugu developed extensive bodies of literature after the sixth century, while Malayalam split from Tamil as a literary language by the twelfth century. In spite of the profound influence of the Sanskrit language and Sanskritic culture on the Dravidian languages, a strong consciousness of the distinctness of Dravidian languages from Sanskrit remained. All four major Dravidian languages had consciously differentiated styles varying in the amount of Sanskrit they contained. In the twentieth century, as part of an anti-Brahman movement in Tamil Nadu, a strong movement arose to "purify" Tamil of its Sanskrit elements, with mixed success. The other three Dravidian languages were not much affected by this trend.

There are smaller groups, mostly tribal peoples, who speak Sino-Tibetan and Austroasiatic languages. Sino-Tibetan speakers live along the Himalayan fringe from Jammu and Kashmir to eastern Assam (see fig. 9). They comprise about 1.3 percent, or 12 million, of India's 1995 population. The Austroasiatic languages, composed of the Munda tongues and others thought to be related to them, are spoken by groups of tribal peoples from West Bengal through Bihar and Orissa and into Madhya Pradesh. These groups make up approximately 0.7 percent (about 6.5 million people) of the population.

Despite the extensive linguistic diversity in India, many scholars treat South Asia as a single linguistic area because the various language families share a number of features not found together outside South Asia. Languages entering South Asia were "Indianized." Scholars cite the presence of retroflex consonants, characteristic structures in verb formations, and a significant amount of vocabulary in Sanskrit with Dravidian or Austroasiatic origin as indications of mutual borrowing, influences, and counterinfluences. Retroflex consonants, for example, which are formed with the tongue curled back to the hard palate, appear to have been incorporated into Sanskrit and other Indo-Aryan languages through the medium of borrowed Dravidian words.

Indian Languages Diversity, Use, and Policy

The languages of India belong to four major families: Indo-Aryan (a branch of the Indo-European family), Dravidian, Austroasiatic (Austric), and Sino-Tibetan, with the overwhelming majority of the population speaking languages belonging to the first two families. (A fifth family, Andamanese, is spoken by at most a few hundred among the indigenous tribal peoples in the Andaman Islands, and has no agreed upon connections with families outside them.) The four major families are as different in their form and construction as are, for example, the Indo-European and Semitic families. A variety of scripts are employed in writing the different languages. Furthermore, most of the more widely used Indian languages exist in a number of different forms or dialects influenced by complex geographic and social patterns.

Sir George Grierson's twelve-volume Linguistic Survey of India , published between 1903 and 1923, identified 179 languages and 544 dialects. The 1921 census listed 188 languages and forty-nine dialects. The 1961 census listed 184 "mother tongues," including those with fewer than 10,000 speakers. This census also gave a list of all the names of mother tongues provided by the respondents themselves; the list totals 1,652 names. The 1981 census--the last census to tabulate languages--reported 112 mother tongues with more than 10,000 speakers and almost 1 million people speaking other languages. The encyclopedic People of India series, published by the government's Anthropological Survey of India in the 1980s and early 1990s, identified seventy-five "major languages" within a total of 325 languages used in Indian households. In the early 1990s, there were thirty-two languages with 1 million or more speakers (see table 15, Appendix).

The Indian constitution recognizes official languages (see The Constitutional Framework, ch. 8). Articles 343 through 351 address the use of Hindi, English, and regional languages for official purposes, with the aim of a nationwide use of Hindi while guaranteeing the use of minority languages at the state and local levels. Hindi has been designated India's official language, although many impediments to its official use exist.

The constitution's Eighth Schedule, as amended by Parliament in 1992, lists eighteen official or Scheduled Languages (see Glossary). They are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. (Precise numbers of speakers of these languages are not known. They were not reported in the 1991 census, and estimates are subject to considerable variation because of the use of multiple languages by individual speakers.) Of the official languages, approximately 403 million people, or about 43 percent of the estimated total 1995 population, speak Hindi as their mother tongue. Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, and Tamil rank next, each the mother tongue of about 4 to 5 percent (about 37 million to 47 million people); Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, and Oriya are claimed by between 2 and 3 percent (roughly 19 million to 28 million people); Bhojpuri, Punjabi, and Assamese by 1 to 2 percent (9 million to 19 million people); and all other languages by less than 1 percent (less than 9 million speakers) each.

Since independence in 1947, linguistic affinity has served as a basis for organizing interest groups; the "language question" itself has become an increasingly sensitive political issue. Efforts to reach a consensus on a single national language that transcends the myriad linguistic regions and is acceptable to diverse language communities have been largely unsuccessful.

Many Indian nationalists originally intended that Hindi would replace English--the language of British rule (1757-1947)--as a medium of common communication. Both Hindi and English are extensively used, and each has its own supporters. Native speakers of Hindi, who are concentrated in North India, contend that English, as a relic from the colonial past and spoken by only a small fraction of the population, is hopelessly elitist and unsuitable as the nation's official language. Proponents of English argue, in contrast, that the use of Hindi is unfair because it is a liability for those Indians who do not speak it as their native tongue. English, they say, at least represents an equal handicap for Indians of every region.

English continues to serve as the language of prestige in India. Efforts to switch to Hindi or other regional tongues encounter stiff opposition both from those who know English well and whose privileged position requires proficiency in that tongue and from those who see it as a means of upward mobility. Partisans of English also maintain it is useful and indeed necessary as a link to the rest of the world, that India is lucky that the colonial period left a language that is now the world's predominant international language in the fields of culture, science, technology, and commerce. They hold, too, that widespread knowledge of English is necessary for technological and economic progress and that reducing its role would leave India a backwater in world affairs.

Linguistic diversity is apparent on a variety of levels. Major regional languages have stylized literary forms, often with an extensive body of literature, which may date back from a few centuries to two millennia ago. These literary languages differ markedly from the spoken forms and village dialects that coexist with a plethora of caste idioms and regional lingua francas (see Village Unity and Divisiveness, ch. 5). Part of the reason for such linguistic diversity lies in the complex social realities of South Asia. Indian languages reflect the intricate levels of social hierarchy and caste. Individuals have in their speech repertoire a variety of styles and dialects appropriate to various social situations. In general, the higher the speaker's status, the more speech forms there are at his or her disposal. Speech is adapted in countless ways to reflect the specific social context and the relative standing of the speakers.

Determining what should be called a language or a dialect is more a political than a linguistic question. Sometimes the word language is applied to a standardized and prestigious form, recognized as such over a large geographic area, whereas the word dialect is used for the various forms of speech that lack prestige or that are restricted to certain regions or castes but are still regarded as forms of the same language. Sometimes mutual intelligibility is the criterion: if the speakers can understand each other, even though with some difficulty, they are speaking the same language, although they may speak different dialects. However, speakers of Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi can often understand each other, yet they are regarded as speakers of different languages. Whether or not one thinks Konkani--spoken in Goa, Karnataka, and the Konkan region of Maharashtra--is a distinct language or a dialect of Marathi has tended to be linked with whether or not one thinks Goa ought to be merged with Maharashtra. The question has been settled from the central government's point of view by making Goa a state and Konkani a Scheduled Language. Moreover, the fact that the Latin script is predominantly used for Konkani separates it further from Marathi, which uses the Devanagari (see Glossary) script. However, Konkani is also sometimes written in Devanagari and Kannada scripts.

Regional India's languages are an issue in the politically charged atmosphere surrounding language policy. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, attempts were made to redraw state boundaries to coincide with linguistic usage. Such efforts have had mixed results. Linguistic affinity has often failed to overcome other social and economic differences. In addition, most states have linguistic minorities, and questions surrounding the definition and use of the official language in those regions are fraught with controversy.

Hindi and English language in India

For the speakers of the country's myriad tongues to function within a single administrative unit requires some medium of common communication. The choice of this tongue, known in India as the "link" language, has been a point of significant controversy since independence. Central government policy on the question has been necessarily equivocal. The vested interests proposing a number of language policies have made a decisive resolution of the "language question" all but impossible.

The central issue in the link-language controversy has been and remains whether Hindi should replace English. Proponents of Hindi as the link language assert that English is a foreign tongue left over from the British Raj (see Glossary). English is used fluently only by a small, privileged segment of the population; the role of English in public life and governmental affairs constitutes an effective bar to social mobility and further democratization. Hindi, in this view, is not only already spoken by a sizable minority of all Indians but also would be easier to spread because it would be more congenial to the cultural habits of the people. On the other hand, Dravidian-speaking southerners in particular feel that a switch to Hindi in the well-paid, nationwide bureaucracies, such as the Indian Administrative Service, the military, and other forms of national service would give northerners an unfair advantage in gov-ernment examinations (see The Civil Service, ch. 8). If the learning of English is burdensome, they argue, at least the burden weighs equally on Indians from all parts of the country. In the meantime, an increasing percentage of Indians send their children to private English-medium schools, to help assure their offspring a chance at high-privilege positions in business, education, the professions, and government.

Bengali, the language of West Bengal

Bengali, the language of West Bengal
Bengali, the mother tongue of Rabindranath Tagore, the poet who won the first Nobel Prize for Asia (1913), Sree Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh, of Aurobindo, philosopher, poet and spiritual guru, of Subhash Chandra Bose, Revolutionary leader of India's freedom struggle, of Satyajit Ray, one of the greatest film makers of the world, and of a host of several more great champions of culture and literature. This language, Bengali, is spoken by 230 million people all over the world, predominantly in Bangladesh and the states of West Bengal and Tripura in India. It is ranked 5 among the most spoken languages of the world (ref. encarta encyclopedia, 1998), and it belongs to the Indo-Aryan (eastern) group of the Indo-European family of languages. And it is one of the official languages of India, and second most spoken language in the country - after Hindi.

The origins: As mentioned above, Bengali belongs to the eastern-most branch of the Indo-Aryan/Iranian group of the Indo-European family of languages. Its origin is traced up to a form of Prakrit, a group of languages spoken in ancient India (The term Prakrit means 'natural'), where Sanskrit was used only by the Vedic Brahmins, whereas the common people's language was Prakrit. The Jains promoted the Prakrit languages, these being the tongues of the people. Some of the Prakrits are: Ardh Magadhi (the language of the people in Magadh, Bihar), Shouraseni (spoken by the people of ancient Mathura; and used by Kalidasa and Bhasa for the dialogues of servants, labourers and jokers in their plays), Maharashtri (used by the Jains in the Maratha region), Apabhransh, spoken between 500 BC and 1000 BC. The Classic Sanskrit, according to scholars, had its roots in Prakrit. Some experts interpret Prakrit as the fore-runner to Sanskrit. Prakrit is 'unrefined', and Sanskrit is the 'refined', semantically. Like Sanskrit, Apabhransh was a literary language, and from Gujarat to Bengal, this language was used in poetry without much local or ethnic influences creeping in. But over a period of time, languages slowly evolved appropriating each one's own definite form and thus the present Bengali too took shape by the middle of the 6th-10th centuries, according to scholars. During this period of evolution, proto-Bengali passed through Magadhi-Prakrit, and Maithili, the earliest recorded spoken language in the region, also considered as the language of the Buddha. From this evolved what is termed as Ardhmagadhi (half magadhi) out of which branched off Apabhramsa which eventually changed forms as regional tongues like Bihari languages, Oriya languages and the Bengali-Assamia languages. And the stage is set for Bengali to arrive in its near-present form.

Historians have identified three well-defined periods in the development of the language and its literature.
1. Old Bengali (900 – 1400) –period of devotional songs, emergence of certain pronouns, inflections, and the branching off of Oriya and Assamiya.
2. Middle Bengali (1400-1800) –major texts arrive, like Srikrishnakirtan of Chandida. Compound verbs become fashion. Influence of Persian. Increase in Sanskrit influence. Maintains a largely Sanskrit base for vocabulary.
3. New Bengali (from 1800 till date). Language undergoes significant changes. Verbs and pronouns undergo shortening.

Development: The first attempt to codify the grammar for Bengali was made by Manoel, da Assumpcam, a Portuguese missionary, during 1734 and 1742 and the text is Vocabulario em idioma Bengalla a Portuguez dividido em duas partes. In 1778, Bathaniel Brassey Halhed, a British scholar, brought out A Grammar of the Bengal Language, using Bengali types in print for the first time. In 1832, Raja Ram Mohan Roy too came with a grammar – Grammar of the Bengali Language. Bengali is a conglomerate of several dialects, grouped into four –Rarh, Banga, Kamarupa, and Varendra. Out of these, Rarh, the dialects of South West became the basis of standard colloquial Bengali. The standardization of Bengali remained a dream for the elite. But when the process of standardization began, the decision makers were the British. Calcutta was the capital for British India for long, before they shifted to Delhi in 1911, and they favored the West-Central dialect of Nadia, as the standard (Nadia is now near India's border with Bangladesh.).

Unlike Sanskrit and other Indo-Iranian languages, Bengali is not a phonetic language, in that it is spoken and written differently. Two styles of writing evolved over a period of time, with distinctively different terms and sentence structure. One is Shadhubhasha or the 'chaste language', and the other is the choltibhasha or the current language which is defined as the Standard Colloquial Bengali, or rather it can even be called modern language. Shadhubhasha is more of Sanskrit word forms, and the other one uses the colloquial style. Janaganamana, India's national anthem that Rabindranath Tagore penned, and national song Vande Mataram by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee were done in the Shadhubhasha. Though Tagore's Jana gana Mana is in the 'chaste language', Tagore himself was a promoter of the colloquial style, as were Peary Chand Mitra who wrote Alaler Gharer Dulal (1857), and Pramatha Chowdhury who wrote Sabujpatra,(1914). The Bengali writing system is not alphabet-based. It is written in a variant of the eastern Nagari script. The spelling system is as in Sanskrit, and it does not accommodate the sound changes available in the spoken language. Bengali has around 100,000 words, of which half is direct borrowings from Sanskrit and about 21,000 are derived, cognate forms from Sanskrit. The rest is foreign borrowings.

Literature: The Bengali literary heritage dates back to the classical period of Sanskrit. The influence of non-Aryan languages cannot be discounted, either, argues Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, the eminent scholar and linguist. Professor Nihar Ranjan Roy, points out in his Bengalir Itihas: Adiparba: "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 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 too would understand them equally well." Bengali literature found itself developing faster in the 19th century. It was by way of translations for the benefit of the British in Calcutta. Actually it was these translations that paved the way for the development of the modern Bengali prose. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, arriving in Calcutta in 1814, immersed himself in writing. He translated vehemently from Sanskrit, and wrote essays on religious topics in magazines. He formed Atmiya Sabha, a club of kins, in 1815. The Sipahi Bidroha (the Sepoy Mutiny) of 1857 and the Nil Bidroho (the Indigo Revolt) caused a tremendous shock in the literary world and some fine dramas were published based on these revolts. Michael Madhusuan dutt was the first epic poet of modern Bengali, and his 'Slaying of Meghanaad', based on Ramayana became an all-time hit. He introduced sonnets too, and thus ruled over the Bengali literary scene for several years. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was another great writer of this period, the second half of 19th century. 'Durgeshonandini', his first novel, and 'Anandamath', his master piece in which appeared the famous song 'bande maatarom', became all-time hits. Literature in Bengali found all-round development in the years that came – in poetry Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Biharilal Chakravarty, in novel Romesh Chunder Dutt, Mir Mosharraf Hossain, in plays Girish Chadra Ghosh, in essays Akshay Kumar Boral… Literature flourished in Bengali. Music, painting, sculpting and dance and dramas filled the cultural scenes. Rabindranath Tagore's appearance in the scene with his manifold brilliance in writing and philosophy made him the monarch of the cultural and literary world of India for years. His Gitanjali bagged for him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 and he became a world luminary, and the prestige of Bengali reached sky-high. Tagore enriched Bengali life with his numerous short stories, novel, paintings, songs and plays. Kazi Nazrul Islam, another great poet finally became the national poet of the newly formed Bangladesh. While Sarat Chandra Chatterjee became highly popular both in books and in films, Tarashankar Bandopadhyaya, Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyaya and Manik Bandopadhyaya created history by their realistic novels. Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak created cinema history using the stories of Bibhuti Bhusahn and Manik. Satinath Bhaduri, Bali Chand Mukherjee (Banophool), Saradindu Bandopadhyaya, Sunil Gangopadhyaya, Bimal Mitra, and others made literature in Bengali unquestionably supreme in India. The scene of short stories was no inferior. Satyajit Ray himself, as was Tagore the Great, before him, was a master story writer. In poetry, the Tagore legacy was held high by Jatindramohan Bagchi, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Jibananada Das, Buddha Deva Bose and several others.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

gazal

वो इश्क़ जो हमसे रूठ गया
अब उसका हाल बताएं क्या
कोई मेहर नहीं कोई क़हर नहीं
फिर सच्चा शेर सुनाएँ क्या
इक हिज़्र जो हम को ला हक है
ता देर उसे दोहराएँ क्या
वो ज़हर जो दिल में उतार दिया
फिर उसके नाज़ उठायें क्या
इक आग गमे तन्हाई की
जो सारे बदन में फैल गई
जब जिस्म ही सारा जलता हो
फिर दामने दिल को बचाएं क्या
हम नग्मा सरा कुछ गज़लों के
हम सूरत गर कुछ ख़्वाबों के
बेज़ज्बा ए शौक़ सुनाएँ क्या
कोई ख़्वाब न हो तो बताएं क्या ---
-- अतहर नफीस