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Sadhu bhasha (Bengali: সাধু ভাষা, romanized: Sādhu bhāṣā, lit. 'Chaste language') was a historical literary register of the Bengali language most prominently used in the 19th to 20th centuries during the Bengali Renaissance. Sadhu-bhasha was used only in writing, unlike Cholito-bhasa, the colloquial form of the language, which was used in both writing and speaking. These two literary forms are examples of diglossia. Sadhu-bhasha was practised in official documents and legal papers during the colonial period however it is mostly obsolete in the present day.
This Sanskritised form of Bengali is notable for its variations in verb forms and the vocabulary which is mainly composed of Sanskrit or tatsama words. It was mainly a vocabulary making it easier for literary works in Sanskrit to be translated. Notable among them was Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, who standardised the Bengali alphabet and paved the path for literary works. The colloquial usage of Bengali consisted mostly of its Pali base as well as indigenous (deshi), Persian and Arabic words embedded into the vocabulary. As a result, the Brahmins, a Hindu pundit caste, chose the path of Sanskritisation to make a "pure" language which would be used as a representative of classical languages into which the works of Sanskrit and Hindu literature can be translated. This shifted Bengali from its original Pali roots towards Sanskrit. This in turn increased the commonality in Bengali vocabulary with other Indo-Aryan languages, such as Hindi.
By the time of Rabindranath Tagore, the Sadhu-ness ("purity") of the literary form had largely waned into just a set of Sanskrit verb forms and in a decade, Tagore himself would switch to writing in Cholito Bhasha. Dr. Radha Nag's book Atmaghati Nirad Choudhuri আত্মঘাতী নীরদ চৌধুরী (Suicidal Nirad Choudhuri) appears as the last Bengali book written in Sadhu Bhasha.
The mid-19th century hosted two influential writers of Sadhu-bhasha; Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. Vidyasagar's style was very conservative towards withholding only the use of tatsama (Sanskrit) when writing. His style came to be known as Vidyasagari and Akshay Kumar Datta also wrote in this style. Chatterjee's writing style was somewhat more lenient to the use of tadbhava and deshi vocabulary. It came to be known as Bankimi - a more popular style, it was practised by the likes of Rabindranath Tagore, Hara Prasad Shastri, Dinesh Chandra Sen, Mir Mosharraf Hossain and Ismail Hossain Siraji.
- Huq, Mohammad Daniul. "Sadhu Bhasa". Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- Khan, Siddikur Rahman (13 July 2012). "কবে শুরু হবে আহমদ ছফা চর্চা". Ittefaq. Dhaka: Ittefaq Group of Publications Ltd. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.