One of the objects kept in view in this compilation has been to place before the student as great a variety of style as is possible in a small volume like the present, I have admitted on this ground, a few short extracts from the older poets, whose quaint and now antiquated style is as superior to that of their modern successors in vigour and richness, as it is inferior to it in elegance and refinement.
I have also taken care that the matter should be equally varied, and should enable the young student to form some idea of ancient as well as modern Hindu thought and culture. The passage specially translated from the Mahabharata, Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar’s beautiful renderings from Kalidasa, Babu Bhudeb Mukherjee’s masterly studies of modern Bengali life, and Babu Rajkrishna Mukherjee’s lucid expositions of the most advanced European thought in his singularly charming style, will present the student with reading as varied as useful, and with instruction which, although almost indispensably necessary to him, he cannot expect to obtain from his English text-books. There are many who do not accept the views put forward in some of these extracts, but it is impossible to find anything in Bengali literature, or in any literature, to which all parties will subscribe. The best way of training the minds of young men is not to restrict them to any particular groove of thought. Among the results of education, scarcely anything is more valuable than the capacity to consider questions that arise from different and even opposite points of view. I have not therefore thought it proper to confine the extracts to what will meet with universal acceptance, to the exclusion of what will best benefit the student.
A word about Grammar, Bengali Grammar is still in some respects in an unsettled state. Purists insist on a rigid adherence to the rules of Sanskrit Grammar in all cases to which they can be made applicable, while others contened that whatever is sanctioned by the usage of the best writers is admissible. In the present volume I have allowed each writer to retain his own grammar, confining my own duty as Editor to the correction of obvious errors and misprints.
I have admitted extracts from my own writing with some reluctance. They had a place in all previous selection ; their exclusion now for the first time would have required some explanation, and I had none to offer.
The student will probably find the present volume of selections more difficult than any of its predecessors. But students who do not take the trouble of acquiring a classical language must be prepared to give to their own vernacular, more time and attention than they have hitherto done. They have hitherto, enjoyed an unfair advantage over those who take up a classical language, and they must not complain now that the balance is sought to be redressed.
BANKIM CHANDRA CHATTERJEE.