Author: Not mentioned, translated from the English by Madhusudan Mukhopadhyay
Publisher: The Vernacular Literature Committee
Printer: Printed at Bidyaratna Jantra (Bidyaratna Press), Mirzapur, No. 59 Upper Circular Road for the Vernacular Literature Committee
Date & edition: December 1860
Price: 1 anna
As the extended title of the book –‘for the purpose of children’s reading’
indicates, the volume over and above the Vernacular Literature Society’s blanket readership of ‘women and children’,
was specifically intended for and directed at the child reader.
An exemplary tale of education of the eponymous hero – Abodh (the word literally translates as ‘dull’ ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ in Bengali) it begins with his father’s frustration at what seems to be the boy’s utter incapacity for learning. After much effort Abodh is able to read only in his mother tongue. As a last recourse, he is sent to a teacher named Dheeman (meaning ‘intelligent’). As an ex-student of the Normal School, and conversant with the principles of good teaching, he had started a boys’ school at his residence. Dheeman is soon successful in engaging the boy’s attention through friendly conversation. Finding out subjects that are of interest to the boy, he tests his pupil through such diverting matters like games and entertaining stories. Surprisingly, Dheeman discovers his pupil to be an intelligent one who had hitherto been a victim of a faulty system of education.
Dheeman is presented as an experienced schoolmaster who has formulated his own methods of education - practicing techniques that are quite different from the rote learning followed by the Chatushpathi (one of the indigenous schools) pundits. Not only are Dheeman’s lessons supplemented by practical education and physical exercises, but also where the pundits trust the rod he uses words of caution and sweet admonitions.
The narrative includes a story Dui jan dashyu [The Two Dacoits] within its framework. Abodh begins his first lesson with it. His father consenting, Abodh remains under Dheeman’s tutelage for four years after which he trains as an artist. The story of Abodh’s education finally ends with his success as an accomplished artist.
Though primarily a typical tale of education, the story embraces the important area of pedagogy and recommends education through entertainment and diversion and reasoning rather than the rod (views popularised by John Locke and hugely influential in shaping children’s literature in eighteenth century England).
The book carries an ‘Advertisement’ on the title page verso, written by the assistant secretary of the Vernacular Literature Society, Madhusudan Mukhopadhyay. It informs the readers about the place— both in and outside Calcutta— from where they might acquire their copies of the Society’s publications.
It adds that for the new VLS titles, interested readers may send in names and residential addresses to the VLS
office and the required books will
be duly sent.
Family Library. Didactic literature:
Tale of Education
Source: The British Library
Pages from the book:
1. Cover page
2. Page 1