Rajshahi College: The Department of Bangla

--Professor Al-Faruk Choudhury

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It is difficult to say exactly when Bengali department was introduced in Rajshahi College which has achieved a glorious history. Through starting F.A Class, the journey of Rajshahi College started on 1st April, 1873. It acquired its honour as first Grade College in the year 1873-74 and got affiliation of opening honours and degree pass courses in 1878. Then B.L course in 1881 and Masters Course in 1892 were introduced. At this stage the propensity developed among the students that they felt comfort of doing Masters after Passing B.A than studying honours directly. Only some subjects were taught in honours and masters courses and the number of students was not satisfactory. English, Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, History, Physics, Chemi-stry, Mathematics, Economics and Philosophy were approved to be taught in honours and masters levels.  But Masters and B.L course were closed in Rajshahi College because of newly introduced rules of Calcutta University in 1909.

It is found in the report 1917-18 that the above mentioned disciplines were approved to be taught again in Rajshahi College. But we can’t give assurance that honours course in Bengali was available from the very establishment of Rajshahi College. According to the report of Rajshahi College 1912-13 Bengali was taught in I.A and B.A classes as vernacular composition. Even more vernacular composition was taught along with honours course in English. Probably no teachers were found in Bengali subject before 1918. There was a lecturer in Bengali named Basanta Kumar Roy in the staff list of 1918. Before that time some Shyamacha-ran Bhattacharya worked  as a lecturer of Bengali and Sanskrit. In B.A hons. Result in 1934-35 it is shown that except Bengali students had to study all the above mentioned subjects. It is known from the inspection report of 1935-36 Bengali was introduced as a separate subject instead of vernacular composition. Though Bengali got approval as a separate subject in the I.A and B.A Classes, it did not get affiliation.

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That time Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian were considered as important subjects in Indian subcontinent, Bengali language and literature did not get much significance academically. In every sphere the medium of education was English which was established as the state language in 1836 instead of Persian. It was then dominantly spreading in all aspects of education and culture. Rabin-dranath Tagore read out the article `Shikser Herfer’ in Rajshahi College in 1892. In this article Rabindranath gave emphasis on mother tongue as the medium of education. In 1914 Promotha Choudhury came to Rajshahi College.  He also upheld the necessity of mother tongue as the medium of education mentioning the article `Shikser Herfer’ by Rabindranath. In the Calcutta University syndicate Ashutos Muk-hopadhay gave a proposal to include Bengali language and literature as the subject of examination in 1891. But this proposal was dismissed by the 11-17 votes. In the editorial of `The Bengali’ Surendranath Bann-erji strongly protested against this proposal. In course of time Sir Ashutos Mukhopadhaya gave approval of Bengali as an examination subject at school and college levels and conferred honours and masters degrees in Bengali language and literature when he was the vice chancellor of Calcutta University in 1904-1914 and 1921-1923. Accor-ding to the information available in the records of Rajshahi College honours course in Bengali was introduced in the college after the year 1937-1938.

Shiv Prasanna Laheri achieved honours in Bengali from Rajshahi College in 1941. No information is available about who got honours degree in Bengali before him. Kazi Abdul Mannan and Majharul Islam attained honours degree in Bengali with glorious result from this College in 1949. `Bangla Sahitya Mazlis’ (1948) was established in Bangla department after the appointment of Prof. Dr. Muhammad Enamul Haque. This department contributed tremendously to the development of Bangla literature and culture. Since then students of Bangla department have been playing their pioneering role on the cultural movement in Rajshahi College. To uphold the kudos as well as age old tradition it has been publishing souvenir naming `Chetona’ for the masters level students since the year 2007-2008.

We would like to express our due respect and gratitude to the former teachers of Bangla Department who contributed much to the improvement of the department. Here is the list of those honourable teachers: