Chapter 21


January 31, 2022

Passage: Burdwan is an ancient city of Bengal. It is a district headquarters and university city. It is on the River Damodara. There is a road-bridge over the river named Krśak Setu (কৃষক সেতু). (Krśaka [farmer] is grammatically incorrect. It should be karśaka, কর্ষক)

There are five sub-divisions in Burdwan District. Many great persons were born in this district.

General Knowledge: Burdwan comes from the Sanskrit word Vardhamána (বর্ধমান). It is a prehistoric town, in fact, the oldest town in the world, and at the same time the capital of the oldest land of civilization – Ráŕh.

Capital: Capital means “concerning the capita, or head”. Burdwan is as important as the head for the land of Ráŕh.

Ráŕh: The land was known as Ráŕh (রাঢ়) because of its laterite, or red, soil.2

Burdwan: Burdwan is a city, as its population is more than one hundred thousand. Its original name was Ástikanagar (আস্তিকনগর), which means “a town that pays respect to God and credence to Providence”. Later on the name became Atthinagara in the Prákrta language. Vardhamána Maháviira, the propounder of the Jainistic cult, came to Burdwan and preached his gospels for a period of seven years. Thereafter the name of the city was changed to Vardhamána.

The land of Ráŕh is a part of Bengal. “Bengal” is also a time-honoured name.

Burdwan is a district [as well as a city within the district]. In the pre-Pathan period, a district was known as a bhukti (a bhukti is just like a county in Britain). In the Pathan and Mughal periods, the word zilla was substituted for the word bhukti. In the British period, a zilla became known in English as a “district”. There are five sub-divisions in Burdwan District.3

Burdwan is situated on the north bank of the River Damodara. The Damodara is the biggest river in Ráŕh. It comes from the Ramgarh Hills, and its confluence with the Ganga [Ganges] is on the border between Howrah and 24 Parganas Districts. (Dáma (দাম) means “fire”. Udara (উদর) means “belly”. Dámodara means “where fire is burning in belly”). The bed of the Damodara is rich in coal deposits. That is why such a name has been given to the river.

Krśaka: The word krśaka is grammatically incorrect because, if the suffix -ńak (ণক্) or the suffix -kan (কন্) is added to the root verb krś (কৃষ্), the derivatory word should be karśaka, as in ákarśaka (আকর্ষক), vikarśaka (বিকর্ষক), saḿkarśaka (সংকর্ষক), etc.

As the land is an ancient one, many great personalities were born there. The names of some of those personalities are given below:

Maharshi Patanjali, the propounder of Yoga Darshana [Yoga Philosophy], was born in the village Patun in Burdwan District. Jimutabahana Bhattacarya was the propounder of the Bengal school of the law of inheritance (Dáyabhága). Raghunath Shiromani was the propounder of the Navyanyaya school of logic. Kavikankana Mukundaram Chakravarti, poet, was the author of Chandimangal, born in the village Damunya. Krishnadas Kaviraja was the author of Caetanya Caritámrta, born in the village of Jhamotpur. Kashirama Das, author of the Bengali Mahábhárata, was born in the village Singhi. The renowned poet Kumudranjan Mallik was born in the village Kogram. The well-known poet Kalidas Roy was born in the village Karui. The wizard of rhythm, poet Satyendranath Datta – his ancestral home was in the Purbasthali area. The renowned poet of modern poetry, Kazi Nazrul Islam, was born in the village Churulia. Maladhar Basu, author of the Bengali Bhágavata (Shrii Krśńavijaya), was born in the village Kulingram. He was the forefather of the apostle of the juvenile heart of modern Bengal: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Rashbehari Basu, the first president of the Azad Hind Government in Japan, was also a son of this soil. Rev. Lalbihari Dey, author of the Folktales of Bengal, and the eminent lawyer Rashbehari Ghosh were also children of this land. The well-known literatteur and distinguished dictionarian, Rajashekhar Basu (“Parashurama”), was born in the village Brahmanpara. The village Dattadereton was the ancestral abode of Swami Vivekananda. The first Bengali daily newspaper, the Bengal Gazette, was published from the village Baharha of Burdwan District. It was published a few days before the publication of the Samachar Darpan from Serampore.

Burdwan is the richest district both in agriculture and minerals in Bengalee Land.4

In this year, 1989, the District of Burdwan has three cities. No other district of Bengal has so many cities.

The neighbour-districts of Burdwan are Birbhum, Santhal Parganas, Dhanbad, Purulia, Bankura, Hooghly, Nadia, and Murshidabad. Burdwan has territorial contiguity with those districts.

(1) This chapter constitutes a model of developing a topic through English composition. –Eds.

(2) Ráŕh = “land of laterite soil”. –Eds.

(3) [The British word] “sub-divisions” [became popular] in the Bengal Presidency [the British headquarters], but in the rest of [northern] India, they are called tahsils or talukas.

(4) An English rendering of Bangalistan, a concept of a united Bengal. –Eds.