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Sadhu Bhasa


Sadhu Bhasa or chaste language, is an old written form of the bangla language, later supplanted by another form called chalita bhasa, or colloquial language, which is now in common currency. While Sadhu Bhasa is literary, Chalita Bhasa is the language of daily use. This phenomenon of two standards, a high and a low, is known as diglossia in linguistics.

The syntax of Bhasa is more defined; the use of tatsama (literally, the same as that, meaning Sanskrit) words is more frequent. The forms of pronouns, verbal endings and others are longer than they are in the spoken form. While Chalita Bhasa conforms to phonological changes, Sadhu Bhasa has changed very little over time. This phenomenon is reflected in the use of vowel harmony and vowel mutation in the colloquial form. The colloquial form is somewhat fast-paced while the chaste form is grave.

Sadhu Bhasa bifurcated into two forms in the nineteenth century: Vidyasagari, or the form used by iswar chandra vidyasagar, and Babkimi, or the form used by bankimchandra chattopadhyay. Vidyasagari was also used by akshay kumar datta. sanskrit words were abundant in Vidyasagari, which made an explicit effort to avoid non-Sanskrit words. Bankimi was used by haraprasad sastri, dinesh chandra sen, rabindranath tagore as well as by mir mosharraf hossain and ismail hossain siraji. Although this form also made heavy use of Sanskrit words, non-Sanskrit words were also abundantly used.

Two examples from Vidyasagar and Bankim's Sadhu Bhasa are the following: 'এই পরম রমণীয় স্থানে কিয়তক্ষণ সঞ্চরণ করিয়া, রাজকুমার অশ্ব হইতে অবতীর্ণ হইলেন এবং সমীপবর্তী বকুলবৃরে স্কন্ধে অশ্ববন্ধন ও সরোবরে অবগাহনপূর্বক, স্নান করিলেন; অনন্তর, অনতিদূরবর্তী দেবাদিদেব মহাদেবের মন্দিরে প্রবেশপূর্বক দর্শন, পূজা, ও প্রণাম করিয়া কিয়তক্ষণ পরে বহির্গত হইলেন।’ (Vidyasagar, vetalapanchavingshati) and ‘অনেক দিন আনন্দোত্থিত সঙ্গীত শুনি নাই, অনেক দিন আনন্দ অনুভব করি নাই। যৌবনে যখন পৃথিবী সুন্দর ছিল, যখন প্রতি পুষ্পে পুষ্পে সুগন্ধ পাইতাম, প্রতি পত্রমর্মরে মধুর শব্দ শুনিতাম, প্রতি নত্রে চিত্রা-রোহিণীর শোভা দেখিতাম, প্রতি মনুষ্য-মুখে সরলতা দেখিতাম, তখন আনন্দ ছিল। পৃথিবী এখনো তাই আছে, কিন্তু এ হৃদয় আর তাই নাই।’ (Bankimchandra, Krishvakanter Will).

The Bankimi Sadhu form was more or less used in the contemporary literature. During this period, the standard written form of Bangla was Sadhu Bhasa, being used in correspondence, prose and other such works across Bengal; this was most used in official documents and legal papers. At present the form is almost absent from daily life and literature. [Mohammad Daniul Huq]