Bengali is considered a very beautiful language not just in India but the world over. The language is filled with a lot of elegancy and intricacy that gives writers, poets and authors to create magic with their writing swords using the raw language. Unlike other states that have drifted from their own native languages to make place for a blend of other-state languages, it is Bengali that has maintained its charm and beauty over the years.
UPSC Bengali Syllabus explain in detail
History of Language and Literature.
Answers must be written in Bengali.
Topics from the History of Bangla language
- The chronological track from Proto Indo-European to Bangla (Family tree with branches and approximate dates).
- Historical stages of Bangla (Old, Middle, New) and their linguistic features.
- Dialects of Bangla and their distinguishing characteristics.
- Elements of Bangla Vocabulary.
- Forms of Bangla Literary ProseSadhu and Chalit.
- Processes of language change relevant for Bangla. Apinihiti (Anaptyxis), Abhishruti (umlaut), Murdhanyibhavan (cerebralization), Nasikyibhavan (Nasalization), Samibhavan (Assimilation), Sadrishya (Analogy), Svaragama (Vowel insertion)-Adi Svaragama, Madhya Svaragama or Svarabhakti, Antya Svaragama, Svarasangati (Vowel hormony), yshruti and w-shruti.
- Problems of standardization and reform of alphabet and spelling, and those of transliteration and Romanization.
- Phonology, Morphology and Syntax of Modern Bangla. (Sounds of Modern Bangla, Conjuncts; word formations, compounds; basic sentence patterns.)
Topics from the History of Bangla Literature.
- Periodization of Bangla Literature : Old Bangla and Middle Bangla.
- Points of difference between modern and pre-modern Bangla Literature.
- Roots and reasons behind the emergence of modernity in Bangla Literature.
- Evolution of various Middle Bangla forms : Mangal kavyas, Vaishnava lyrics, Adapted narratives (Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata) and religious biographies.
- Secular forms in middle Bangla literature.
- Narrative and lyric trends in the nineteenth century Bangla poetry.
- Development of prose.
- Bangla dramatic literature (nineteenth century, Tagore, Post-1944 Bangla drama).
- Tagore and post-Tagoreans.
- Fiction, major authors : (Bankimchandra, Tagore, Saratchandra, Bibhutibusan, Tarasankar, Manik).
- Women and Bangla literature : creators and created.
Prescribed texts for close study.
Answers must be written in Bengali.
- Vaishnava Padavali (Calcutta University) Poems of Vidyapati, Chandidas, Jnanadas, Govindadas and Balaramdas.
- Chandimangal Kalketu episode by Mukunda (Sahitya Akademi).
- Chaitanya Charitamrita Madya Lila, by Krishnadas Kaviraj (Sahitya Akademi).
- Meghnadbadh Kavya by Madhusudan Dutta.
- Kapalkundala by Bankimchandra Chattarjee.
- Samya and Bangadesher Krishak by Bankimchandra Chatterjee.
- Sonar Tari by Rabindranath Tagore.
- Chhinnapatravali by Rabindranath Tagore.
- Raktakarabi by Rabindranath Tagore.
- Nabajatak by Rabindranath Tagore.
- Grihadaha by Saratchandra Chatterjee.
- Prabandha Samgraha Vol. 1, by Pramatha Choudhuri.
- Aranyak by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee
- Short stories by Manik Bandyo-padhyay : Atashi Mami, Pragaitihasik, Holud-Pora, Sarisrip, Haraner Natjamai, Chhoto-Bokulpurer Jatri, Kustharogir Bou, Jakey Ghush Ditey Hoy.
- Shrestha Kavita by Jibanananda Das.
- Jagori by Satinath Bhaduri.
- Ebam Indrajit by Badal Sircar.
The beauty of Bengali language
The population base that speaks Bengali is huge and over 200 million all over the country. It is also regarded as the 7th most widely spoken language in our country. It is popular not just in our own country, but finds a national language status in Bangladesh. The state of West Bengal is considered as the native place for Bengali language. Apart from West Bengal, the language is also widely spoken in Tripura, Assam and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The spoken language of Bengali is considered a tough skill at hand and a new bee would definitely take some time to learn and be fluent with the language. A big advantage with the written language is that the language does not discriminate between genders, similar to the English language. The verbs used in the language should be used with a lot of care as they tend to give multiple meanings for a single verb usage.
Bengali activists staged demonstrations and protests in the year 1952 after our country gained independence to set the language as the national language of the country of Bangladesh. Though it led to a lot of bloodshed and violence among the Bengali youth, UNESCO came up with solidarity and identified the sacrifice behind the protests and violence. So, the 21st of February every year came to be known as the International Mother Tongue day . This declaration was made as late as 1997. Till date, Bengalis are revered for this heritage status of their mother tongue.
The journey of the language in various forms
The very famous author Rabindranath Tagore created magnificent works in Bengali that are renowned world over and remain much significant till date. His works are a great source of research among students. He wrote the famous ‘Gitanjali’ and also received the Nobel Prize for the same. In fact our national anthem is written beautifully in the Bengali language.
Bengali language has a lot of words that originated from its own source language as well as derived words from Sanskrit. The language also has a mix of Persian and European words due to the colonisation effect before independence. The alphabets of the language resemble the Brahmi and the Devanagari script.
Charles Wilkins was the first person ever to print a written note in Bengali language as early as 1787. It is interesting to note that the literature of Bengali follows two diversions, mainly elegant language and current language. The 16th century old elegant form of the language was mainly for poetics, folk songs, verses and hymns.
It is an outdated version of what we see Bengali as on today. The current language is much more refined and confines to the etiquette of the 20th century. The latest or the current language is mainly spoken and used by the educated classes of Bengal.
Here we list a few of the very famous literary masterpieces produced in Bengali language that have stood the test of time, yet created a niche for themselves around the globe:
- Gora by Rabindranath Tagore
- Feluda by Satyajit Ray
- Byomkesh Bakshi by Sharadindu Bandhyopadyay
- Pagla Dashu by Sukumar Ray
- Bimala by Rabindranath Tagore
- Srikanta by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
Bengali Optional Paper in UPSC mains
- This paper is considered an easy one, for aspirants who are well versed with the Bengali language and are familiar with the grammatical aspects too!
- It is considered an easy ride for those who are native Bengali speakers and have a hold on the general aspects of the language.
- Sticking to the prescribed syllabus and referring the books listed will be more than sufficient training for the exam.
- Do refer to Bengali newspapers for more of literature and to polish and fine tune your writing abilities.
- It is also important to attempt mock tests and previous year question papers to get an idea about the kind of questions that may be asked in the paper.
- It is also good to have peer discussions and an expert teacher in Bengali who could guide you through in the written section of essays and elaborate answer writing.
- You should also note that of late, many unexpected and uncommonly asked questions are being asked in the exam, it’s better to have a wide approach while attempting the paper.