On the occasion of the 127th birth anniversary of linguist Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah, Bangla Academy arranged a seminar at its conference room in Dhaka on July 10. National Professor Mustafa Nurul Islam read out the keynote paper on the iconic linguist. Professor Anisuzzaman, president of Bangla Academy, presided over the programme.
Mustafa Nurul Islam said, “Muhammad Shahidullah contributed immensely to our mother language throughout his career. His research and writing enriched and boosted the development of the Bangla language. He delved deep into the history of ancient and Middle Age Bangla literature. Most of his works are research oriented and he wrote a number of significant books on these subjects and explained many aspects of Bangla language and ancient Bangla literature. He was humanist and a progressive personality.”
About Muhammad Shahidullah, Professor Anisuzzaman said, “Shahidullah deeply loved Bangla and this resulted in his lifelong research on our language and its accurate history. He was also a noted academic and philologist, and encouraged the young to learn Bangla. He wrote what he believed in. He taught us about the significance of mother language and its varied beneficial aspects.”
Shahidullah was born in the village Peyara, Chobbish Pargana, West Bengal (now in India) on July 10 in 1885. He passed his school finals (known as Entrance examination at that time) in 1904 from Howrah Zila School. In 1906 he passed the FA examination (equivalent to HSC) from Presidency College, Calcutta (now Kolkata). He received the Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Sanskrit in 1910 from City College, Calcutta, and Master of Arts in 1912 in Comparative Philology from the same institution.
Shahidullah joined the University of Dhaka as a lecturer of Sanskrit and Bangla in 1921. To pursue his doctoral studies, Shahidullah went to France and Germany in 1926. He studied Vedic Sanskrit, Buddhist Sanskrit, Comparative Philology, Tibetan and ancient Persian at University of Paris, and Khotni, ancient Vedic Sanskrit and Prakrit at Freiburg University in Germany. He received his doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1928 for his research on the distiches of the “Charyapada”, the earliest existing specimen of Bangla language.
Shahidullah was appointed Professor Emeritus by the University of Dhaka (1967) and awarded ‘Night of the Order of Art and Letters’ by the French government (1967) for his lifetime achievement in research on language and literature.
Shahidullah passed away in Dhaka on July 3, 1969.
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