Bengali, also known by its endonym Bangla, is an Indo-Aryan language native to the Bengal region of South Asia. It is the official, national, and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh and the second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, dating back to the 12th century BCE, Bengali as a distinct language shares some connections to Sanskrit.
The importance of Bengali began to assert itself in the late 19th and early 20th centuries during what is now known as the Bengali Renaissance. The Bengali language had only been codified and standardised in the 18th century, and by the late 19th century there was a movement that sought to simultaneously appreciate and preserve what was seen as the strongest elements of Indian and Bengali traditional culture while embracing the good ideas and positive influences of Western culture. This was a remarkable concept, as many in the area saw the undue influence of the British and other Western cultures as oppressive. Instead of a reactionary movement that sought to reject all modern Western influence as destructive, the Bengali Renaissance sought to combine the best of both approaches, peacefully and intelligently, recognising that many of the ancient practices of the region were no longer defensible in the modern world.