Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah

Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah (10 July 1885 – 13 July 1969) is one of the pioneering figures in the realm of intellectual and epistemological exercises in Bangladesh. This leading Bengali educationist, writer, philologist and linguist was born in Peyara village, 24 Pargana, West Bengal (now in India).

Shahidullah received the Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Sanskrit in 1910 from City College, Kolkata, and Master of Arts in 1912 in Comparative Philology from the University of Kolkata. He began studying on the Sanskrit languages of the Vedic and Buddhist era, comparative philology, Tibetan language and ancient Persian language in France and Germany by the year 1926. He earned his PhD degree from Sorbonne University in 1928 for his research on the dialects of the Charyapada.

He was appointed as the Professor cum Reader of the Bengali Department in Dhaka University in 1937. He joined in Dhaka University in 1953-55 again since after his retirement in 1944 as a part time teacher of the International Relations Department. Mastering control over several languages, he has served as editor of the “Urdu Dictionary Project.” Later he joined as Editor of the “Standard Dictionary Project of the language in East Pakistan” in Bangla Academy. He was also recruited as the President of the Bengali Calendar Revision Committee, formed by Bangla Academy in 1963. Bengali calendar got a modern and scientific shape under the auspices of his leadership.

The great philologist has authored a number of books. His recommendable books include: Bhasa O Sahitya (Language and Literature), Bangla Bhasar Itibritto (Chronicles of the Bengali language), Dewan E Hafiz, Rubaiyat E Omar Khaiyam, Bidyapati Shatak, Bangla Sahitya er Kotha (Tales of Bengali literature- two volumes), Bangla Bhasar Byakaran (Grammar of Bengali language), Bangladesh er Ancholik Bhasar Obhidhan (Dictionary of the local dialects of Bangladesh). He died in July 13 of 1969.

He was awarded Chevalier De L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1967 for his research on language and literature and the posthumous Independence Award by Bangladesh Government in 1980.