June 19, 2013 | 06:24 PM (BD Time)
19 June, 2013 Wednesday
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Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad: A celebrated literary exponent
M.Mizanur Rahman :
Munshi Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad (1871-1953) was a great researcher and collector of Bengali literary manuscripts of early ages. His exceptional erudition in this respect earned him a great fame in Bengali literary arena since he started his career as an industrious collector of old and most valuable Bengali manuscripts (Punthi) of neglected and obscured littérateurs of Bengal almost unknown to the world of ours today. The very foundation of wealthy Bengali literature was emanated from our old culture and tradition irrespective of castes and creeds. Munshi Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad brought us to the fore introducing those obscured but old Bengali literature of various trends. His undaunted spirit of perseverance made him a man of letters though he could not precede much in academic university level education. Mainly he engaged in discovering Bengali literary manuscripts (Punthis) of ancient littérateurs of Bengal lying scattered beyond cities and towns but in remote villages of Bengal. The savants, researchers at home and abroad have since been appreciating his various essays, and well-edited works on rich Bengali Punthis.
According to him, "One of the most important ingredients of literature is human. One who gets into the human soul is a littérateur, a creator. The only regal way to human soul is love. It is love's way. So the first and foremost religion of the littérateur is to love human beings wholeheartedly. That littérateur who has his endless love for his country, people, natural ambience and its topography, I can say with great confidence, he must earn respect from everybody for his literary works." (Prachin Bangla Punthi Sahitya, Mahe Nou, 2nd year, No.10, January 1951, page 16-17)
Munshi Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad put his best endeavour to discover ancient Bengali Punthi Literature that was regarded as the priceless treasures of Bengali literature.
However, his pecuniary condition was absolutely meagre, as he had to live hand to mouth because he lost his father before his birth and the mother at an early age. His college education had to be stopped owing to financial stringency. Somehow he managed to eke out his living, sometimes doing some odd jobs in government and non-government establishments. Never he found fortune that smiled in his life. Later he became a schoolteacher. He also edited some newspapers and periodicals of those days.
It is not out of sight now that Munshi Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad could decipher a lot of obscure ancient Bengali writings in poetry (punthi) and prose of our poets and littérateurs of early ages date back to about three and four hundred years. He made their annotations, transliterations, and meaningful copies and edited them properly so that future researchers would carry on further works. He ran from village to village of almost entire undivided Bengal to collect those valuable works of our pioneer Bengali littérateurs. In all, he considered his collection of those old literary works without any discriminatory communal feelings. Such rapprochement to secular ideals made him unique of his age when communal narrowness was prevalent all over Bengal i.e between 19th and 20th century.
He had a great fascination to his mellow and sweet Bengali mother tongue and its far-reaching imaginary and visionary apprehensions of eternal aspects. Hence he took such arduous and costly job of research works of his own tirelessly without having help or aid from any concerned authority.
Since he authored some eight hundred essays and fifteen books of considerable literary values in Bengali language. He left behind a huge research works unpublished.
The concerned authorities must take note of it and do the needful in order to enrich Bengali language and literature.
Dr. Mahmud Shah Qureshi in his article 'Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad: Somokaler poriprekxit ebong Bhabikaler Bhabona (Contemporaneous perspectives and aspects of its future thought), Dainik Naya Diganta, Dhaka Friday, 30th September 2011' has commented that the works of Sahityabisharad can be divided into three parts.
1. Edited old books. 2. Descriptions of punthis (manuscripts). 3. Fundamental research works and 4. Collection of essays.
Mainly towards editing those unpublished old punthis Sahityabisharad had shown his erudite theoretical discussions on sweetness of Bengali poetics directly and indirectly. On his edited article, 'Radhikar Maonbhongo by Noruttom Tagore (BS.1308)' as published in the Bongiyo Sahitya Porishad Potrika, Haraprasad Shastri wrote, "While editing this rare book his (Sahityabisharad) diligence, tact, wholeheartedness, acute discernment can hardly be found not only among authors of Bengal but also of India rather as it appears that a German editor has edited it." Thus Sahityabisharad got appreciations of his works from all the scholars of Bengal in his time.
The historians of Bengali literature are indebted to Munshi Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad for their vivid descriptions. He started collecting these punthis from his student life.
Thereafter all through his career he took this job as a hobby. Bongiy Sahitya Porishad published those descriptive chapters in several volumes. Just after the creation of Pakistan he contributed six hundred punthis to Dhaka University written by the ancient Muslim authors. In 1958 the Dhaka University, duly edited by Professor Ahmad Sharif, published it. These ancient Bengali punthis need to have been evinced thoroughly for research onward.
Munshi Abdul Karim Sahityabisharad devoted his life to collect those punthis and writing on them and that created many other Bengali researchers and authors like Dr. Mohammad Shahidullah, and Dr. Mohammad Enamul Hoque. Most glare example is 'Arakan Rajsova Bangala Sahitya' (Bengali Literature in the Royal C
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