Gopal Bhand

Gopal Bhand a legendary humorist and jester figuring prominently in Bengal folk culture. He first appears in early nineteenth-century bat-tala literature and is popularly believed to have been a jester at the court of Raja krishnachandra roy (1710-1783), of Nadia. Gopal Bhand is said to have been immensely witty and wise, entertaining the raja and imparting wise lessons by telling anecdotal stories appropriate to the issues at point. In some ways similar to Raja Birbal at the court of the Mughal Emperor akbar, Gopal Bhand is an earthier, coarser humorist.

The historicity of Gopal Bhand is doubtful. Though the regime of Krishna Chandra is well documented, there is no mention anywhere of any jester called Gopal Bhand at his court. However, there was a person called Shankar Taranga who is known to have been a bodyguard of Raja Krishna Chandra Roy and whom the raja regarded highly because of his courage, wit and wisdom.

It is not rare in history, that people's wit and wisdom accrete round the name of a real or imagined personality of the past and for such a figure to emerge over time as a hero. Gopal Bhand is possibly one such imaginary hero. However, imaginary or real, Gopal Bhand is an important institution in Bangla folk literature. [Sirajul Islam]