facility and to so great an extent, that any scientific or technical term of any language may be rendered by an exact equivalent, an advantage which among the dead and living languages of Europe is only possessed by Greek and German."
We may go on quoting similar opinions from scholars who speak with authority on the subject, advancing high claims for Bengali. But it is hardly necessary to increase the length of this preface with such extracts. What I urge is that this beautiful language of ours, spoken by millions of people dwelling in the lower Gangetic valley, possesses a literature which any nation may well be proud of. It is true that the old Bengali literature in its primitive stages is permeated by a rustic element; but no apology, I think, is needed on our part for this. This is true of all other literary languages of the world in the early periods of their growth. If some of the earlier Bengali poems occasionally show a coarse humour, because this old literature of ours has sprung from the masses, it also possesses the real poetry of the race, being an expression of hearts that beat with the true emotion of the country-folk. While the higher class of people in the early stages of our vernacular literature wrote in Sanskrit and pandered to the taste prevalent in the Hindu and Mahomedan courts, the country-people composed songs and ballads, which possess a far more representative character and with all their faults have a charm which must appeal strongly at least to the Bengali race.
With the advent of Chaitanya Deva, this literature at once shook off all its coarse elements and flourished in all the genuine wealth of true poetry and learning. Scholars reputed far and wide for their learning in Sanskrit began to write books in Bengali, and Bengali poems were found of such merit and elegance that learned pandits came forward to annotate them in Sanskrit. Works showing extraordinary erudition and wealth of material were undertaken by veteran scholars in Bengali. Such for instance is the Chaitanya-Charitāmrita written by Kriṣṇadās Kavirāja who had devoted his whole life to the study of theology, living as a bachelor and recluse in Brindābana. He commenced to write his books in his 87th year, finishing it in 10 years in 1615 A.D. Of almost equal merit and learning is also the monumental work, the Bhaktiratnākara, by Narahari Chakravarti, written between 1614 and 1625 A.D. As for the Vaiṣṇava songs it will be found difficult to find their parallel in any language or any country. A gifted European disciple of the late Swāmī Vivekānanda once told me that the Swāmī used to say that "the Vaiṣṇavas of Bengal had exhausted