Bengali literature or Bangla Shahityo consists of literary compositions written in the Bengali language. This language is very commonly spoken in the Indian state of West Bengal and the Bangladesh. The literature is rich and offers diverse body of writing for all age groups. It is said that Bangla or Bengali traces its origin from the Indo-European group of languages. The very first literary work in Bengali is said to be scripted around 10th century. The Bangla literature is divided into three phases- the old Bengali, middle Bengali and the modern Bengali literary works.
Bengali literature has successfully pictured the various transformations happening in the society. From the Indian independence movement to the various social changes in the society, writers have mentioned them in their literary works. The vivid culture and traditions also find place in the various Bangla books and novels. Bengali Matrimony rituals and customs are also mentioned in various literary books. Writers have beautifully mentioned the distinctive Bengali matrimonial customs in their work.
The Old Bengali Literature:
The beginning works in Bengali dates back to around 10th century. These works generally comprise of mystic songs of Buddhist religion. The Buddhist seer-poets like Kukkuripada, Kamlipada, Chatilpada, Dhendhanpada, Kanhapada, Shantipada and Luipada. Their works are commonly called the Charyapada.
Middle Bengali literature:
In this period, the literature scripted in Bengali has influence of the Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Even before his arrival, others contributed to the language’s literary works. Lyrical poems were chiefly in the part of these period work. Translation of Bhagavata Purana and Krishna Kritana were also added to Bengali literature. It is in this period that Bengali translations of two greatest works in Sanskrit were done. The Ramayana and the Bhagavata helped in enriching the language. The translation of these two greatest works helped in reaching out the works to many who did not understood Sanskrit.
Another very interesting addition to Bengali literature in this period is the Mangal-Kavya. This is collection of poems praising the various Hindu deities. Most of these poems have origin in rural Bengal. These Hindu narrative poems are divided into Dharma Mangal, Manasa Mangal and Chandi Mangal.
Modern Bengali Literature:
The 19th Century was the period when many important contributions in Bengali Literature took place. Notable works were written in this period and it is right to say that this period was actually literary renaissance. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, social activist and scholar, translated Sanskrit works into Bengali, to reach out to the masses. His reforms on Bengali matrimony’s old customs and rituals made a change in the social outlook. He wrote on many important social and religious issues.
Some of the notable writers and their literary works in this period are as follows: