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Bengali Language and Literature. 

A series of lectures delivered as Reader 
to the Calcutta University, 


/'W/07U of the Calcutta University, Associate Member of the Asiati* 

Society of Bengal ^ Honorary Member of the Indian Research 

Society, Author of Banga Bhasa-O-Sahitya 

and other Bengali works, 

&c. y &t , &t. 


" This language, current through an extent of country nearly equal to 
3reat Britain, when properly cultivated, will be inferior to none in elegance and 
aerspicuity " 

/- William Carey. 

<( Bengali united the mellifluousness ol Italian with the power possessed by 
German of rendering complex ideas." 

F. H. Skrlne. 

Published by the University. 


Sole Agent* 



Printed by I) C' KFRR, at the "\ MMIKI 
n, Haldur Lane, 



C.S.I., M.A., D.L., D.Sc., F.R.A.S., F.R.S.E., 

Whose sound and far-sighted educational measures in furthering the 

cause of our beautiful language will be ever gratefully 

remembered by his countrymen. 





This work consists of the lectures delivered by me as 
Reader in Bengali Language and Literature to the Calcutta 
University during the months of January to April 1909, at the 
Senate House, Calcutta. They treat of our language and 
literature from the earliest times down to 1850. 

The volume now presented to the public has very little 
affinity with my Bengali work on the same subject, for which 
I was granted a literary pension by the Right Honorable 
the Secretary of State for India in 1899. There must, 
of course, be something in common between the two books, 
dealing as they do with the same subject, but the arrangement 
adopted in the present work is altogether new, and the latest 
facts, not anticipated in my Bengali treatise, have been incor- 
porated in it. 

It should be borne in mind that our early Bengali literature 
had the strange characteristic of forming a gift from the lower 
to the higher classes. The more cultured ranks of our society 
under Hindoo rule delighted in the study of classical Sanskrit ; 
during the Mahomedan period, Arabic and Persian were added 
to this ; and the vernacular literature deemed it always a great 
honour and privilege if it could only now and then obtain an 
approving nod from the aristocracy. This perhaps accounts 
for the somewhat vulgar humour that characterises old Bengali 
writing. But mspite of occasional coarseness a depth of poetry 
throbbed in the heart of the multitude. I refer my readers 
particularly to the Mangala Gans, to the works of the Manasa 
and Chandl-cults, and to the Yatra and Kavi songs. For the 
pr$at Vai^hava period of our literature, on the other hand, no 
apology is necessary. In this our people attained the very 
flowering point of the literary sense. I do not know how far I 


have been successful in conveying, even in a small degree, 
the great beauty of this department of our literature. 

With regard to the short chapter on pre-Mahomedan 
literature, which is chiefly Buddhistic, I regret to say that I 
was not allowed access to the materials collected by Mahamaho- 
padhyaya Haraprasad Shastri in Nepal. The chief interest of 
this period is, however, linguistic and philological. When 
Mahamahopadhyaya Shastri publishes an account of his 
researches in that Held, the world will, I feel sure, learn many 
things that are not found in this book. 

It is stated on page 89 that Nula Panchftnana, the great 
authority on genealogical questions, lived a hundred and 
fifty years ago. This is not correct. I have lately discovered 
that he must have lived about three hundred years ago, 
since in his family the present is the tenth genaration in 
descent from him. 

On page 950 again, I have referred to the gentleman 
known as Hindu Stuart. The following additional parti- 
culars, taken from a book entitled "The story of the Lai 
Bazar Baptist Church" by Edward J. Wenger (p. 508) may 
be of interest in connection with his tomb in the South Park 
Street cemetery. "This tomb is that of Major General 
Charles Stuart, who died on the 3ist March 1828, aged 
70 years. He is generally known as Hindu Stuart, 
because it is traditionally stated, that he became a Hindu and 
had his residence in Wood Street, Calcutta, full of idols. It is 
stated that Government refused to allow him to be cremated 
as a Hindu because of his position as a general officer of the 
British army, so gave him a burial in this cemetery, but 
allowed his tomb to be constructed in the shape of a Hindu 
temple viith emblems of idolatry -all about its exterior. In 

itself it is a very curious-looking structure Our interest 

in it lies more in the fact that he was one of the bitterest 
the missionaries in his day." 


Ever since 1897 when my Bengali work on the History 
of Bengali Language and Literature first saw the light, 
I have been suffering from severe nervous ailments. I 
have never since been fit for the strain of steady and 
continuous work. I had to work on the lectures that are 
contained in this book under severe and trying conditions. 
Twice during the progress of the book through the press, 
my condition created grave anxiety. In this state of health, 
I had to revise all the proofs myself, often including the first 
readings. I am not at all an expert proof-reader. This 
will account, though it may not be a sufficient excuse, for 
the many errors that will be found in the following pages. 
But the indulgent reader may find in the book, in spite of all 
its defects, the results of lifelong devotion. There are many 
things in it which will, I am afraid, be of little interest 
to the European reader, but it has been my endeavour to make 
the work of some use to every scholar whose curiosity and 
interest may be roused in regard to the subject. So I have 
taken care not to omit any point, however trivial it may 
appear at first sight. 

My esteemed friends Babu Kumud Bandhu Basu and 
Mr. C. S. Paterson of the Young Men's Christian Association, 
Calcutta, have very kindly looked through the pages of this 
book. I take this opportunity of conveying my grateful thanks 
to them. To another European friend also, whose name I am 
not permitted to mention, I am much indebted. As I still, 
however, had to make considerable additions and alterations 
even after these revisions, I alone am responsible for the many 
defects of the work. 

During the long years of my research in the field of old 
Bengali Literature, I have had the esteemed patronage 
and help of many European and Indian gentlemen, 
foremost among whom I may mention the names of Dr. G. A. 
Grierson, C, I. E., Mr. F. H. Skrine, Mr. W. C. Mac- 
pherson, C. S. I., the Hon'ble Mr. R. T. Greer, C. S. I., 


Mr. B. C. Mitra, Mr. K. C. De, (I.C. S.), Mr. G. N. Tagore 
of Calcutta, their Highnesses the Maharajas of Mayurbhanja 
and Tippera, and the Hon'ble Maharaja of Cossimbazar. In 
the early years of my research I had obtained considerable help 
from MahamahopSdhyaya Hara Prasad Shastri. To these 
and to all others who have helped me in times of need, my 
heart goes forth in great esteem and gratitude. I am indebted 
to my friend Mr. Nagendra Nath Vasu for allowing me the 
use of his valuable library of old Bengali manuscripts and 
helping me with suggestions, and also to Mr. Abanindra Nath 
Tagore for lending me some of the panels with old paintings, 
which have been reproduced in this book. 

Before I conclude, I owe it to myself to offer my special 
thanks to that great friend and patron of Bengali litera- 
ture, the Hon'ble Mr. Justice Asutosh Mookerjee, Vice- 
Chancellor of the Calcutta University, to whose ardent 
sympathy and unweaiied efforts our language owes its 
present firm footing in this University. It is to his constant 
encouragement that these lectures owe their origin and 
completion. If I have been able even in a small measure to 
prove myself worthy of his distinguished patronage, I shall 
consider my labours amply rewarded. In the Convocation 
address delivered by him on the i^th March, 1909, he made 
the following kind and appreciative reference to my lectures. 
" We have had a long series of luminous lectures from one of 
our own graduates Babu Dinesh Chandra Sen, on the fascina- 
ting subject of the history of the Bengali Language and Litera- 
ture. These lectures take a comprehensive view of the 
development of our vernacular, and their publication will 
unquestionably facilitate the historical investigation of the 
origin of the vernacular literature of this country, the study 
of which is avowedly one of the foremost objects of the new 
Regulations to promote." 


r^ Calcutta* } 



Bengali Language & Literature, 



Early influences on the Beiig-ali Language, 1-15, 

Early Aryan Settlement in Bengal andBuddhistic and Jain 
ifluences, 1-4. Vernacular writings oLrffe Buddhists Oppo- 
iition by the Brahmins, 5-9. Moslem patronage followed by 
hat of the Hindu Rajas, 9-15. 


Pre-Mahomedan Literature t 16-91. 
Dak and Khana, 15-25. Dharma-cult and its exponent 
Ramai Pandit, 26-37. Sahajia-cult and its exponent Chan- 
didas the dangers to which it led the Vaihava society, 
37-46. Dharma Mangala poems, 47-55- Songs of the 
Pal Kings, 55-63. The Caiva-cutt. How it faced Bud- 
dbism Buddhistic influences Early songs in honour of iva 
iva as a peasant the domestic virtues in aivaism, 63-73. 
Genealogical records their historical value, 73-91. 

/ Supplementary notes to Chapter II, 92-114. 

Bengali, a form of Prakrita How it was sanskritised by 

the Pauranik revivalists Bengali verbs and case-endings 
Assamese, Uryia and Bengali, 92-114. 


Chandidas and Vidyapati, 115-149. 

Chandidas, 115-135. Parakiya Rasa or worship of 
women. How it is made to approach spirituality.^- Chandi- 
das's life the story of his love his death, 115-123* the 
spiritual aspects of his poems. A tendency towards idealiza- 
tion a brief analysis of his poems, 123-135. Vidyapati, 
135-149. Our claims on the Maithil poet his poems recast 
by Bengali poets the authenticity of the various records ( 
bearing dates his ancestry his interview with Chandidas, 
and other points relating to his life a review of his poems. 
Vidyapati and Chandidas compared, 149. 


The Pauranik Renaissance, 150-380. 

L Leading characteristics of the Renaissance, 150. 
170. Faith in God and in the Brahmin. The causes that 
led to the growth of Brahmanic power. Fables about them. 
The story of Lomaga the sage, 150-157*- The dissemina- 
tion of classical ideas the popularisation of the Pauranik 
stories. The Mangala gans. The story of Hari^a Chandra 
the great influence of the Pauranik stories upon the masses, 

II. Vernacular Recensions of Sanskrit works : 

(A] Translations of the Ramayana, 170-195. Kritti- 
vasa born 1424 A,D.-*-autobiographical notice. 
The story of R$rna's exile, i79-i83-r-the^great 
popularity of Krittivasa, 186, Sa?tiyara Sen 
andGangadas Sen Durgfr Rama-^Jagat Rama- 
Rama Prasada Adbhutacharyya iva Charana 


Kavi Chandra Lak$mana Bandyopadhyaya 
Valarfima Bandyopadhyaya Rama Mohana 
Raghu Nandana Goswsmi Raryr Govinda Das 

and other translators of the Rsroayana, 185-195. 
(Z?) Translations of the Mahabharata r 196-220. The 
Mahabhsrata its contents, 196-198. Sanjay's 
recension, 198-201. Mahabharata translated by 
Nasira Saha's order, 201. Paragali Mahabha- 
rata by Kavindra. A^vamedha Parva by ri- 
karana Nandl compiled at Chhutikhan's order, 
203-207. A list of 31 writers of the Mahabhsrata, 
207-209. Cakuntala by Rajendra Das, Nitya- 
nandaGhosa, 209-214, K^i Rama Das, 214-220. 

(C) Translations of Bhagavata, 220-225. The con - 

tents of the Bhagavata their pastoral interest 
and religious meaning, 220-222. Msladhara Vasu 
and other translators, 220-225. 

(D) Translations of Chandi by Markandeya, 225-235. 

Raja Suratha and the Vai^ya the theory of illu- 
sion the myth of Chandi the Durga Puja 
Bhavani Prasada the blind poet. Rupa Narayana, 
Vraja Lai and other translators of Chandi, 

IIL The conception of Civa in the Renaissance and 
songs in honour of him, 235-250. The impersonal charac- 
ter* of Civa aivai$m goes to the back-ground Development 
of Cakta and Vaisnava cults, 235-239. iva as a peasant 
in the earlier poemshis later development into the patriarch 
of a family The great pathos of the . Agamani Songs A 
passage from Ra^nef wara's ivayana other poems in honour 
of ive 240-250. 

IV, The Cafcta cult and its development 250-380, 
God as mother The gradual adoption of the mother-cult by 
the Aryans 250*2521 


(a) Poems in honour of Manasa Devi The per- 
sonal element in the deities of the akta cult, 
contrasted with the impersonal character of Civa. 
The Bhasan Yatra, 252-257. The story of 
Manasa-mangala The defiant attitude of 
Chand Sadagara The superhuman devotion of 
Behula, the heroine and bride of Laksmindra. 
The ultimate submission of Chand the merchant 
to Mana5 Devi, 257-276. Sixty works on 
Manasa Devi their importance. Hari Datta 
and Vijaya Gupta, 276-284 Narayana Deva 
Extracts from his poems. Extracts from Ketaka 
Das Ksemananda's Manasa Mangala, 284-292 
A list of the writers of Manasa-mangala, 292-294. 

() Songs in honour of Chandi Devi t 294-362. 

How the poems originated with the people and 
gradually improved. The History of the Chandi- 
cult, 295-298. The story of Kalakctu t the 
huntsman and his wife Fullara How the 
poverty-stricken pair by dint of their devotion ob- 
tained the grace of Chandi and succeeded in 
getting possession of Guzerat The end, 298-309 
The story of Crimanta Sadagara The 
marriage of Dhanapati with Khullana, the damsel 
of Uzani Troubles on account of the jeal- 
ousy of his first wife Lahana Dhanpati's sea- 
voyage The sight of the lady on the lotus 
Disasters brought about by Chandi Devi 
Crimanta, Dhanapati's son, goes in quest of his 
father to Ceylon His troubles The meeting of 
the father and the son the happy end, 309-333. 
Janardana, Manik Datta, Madhavacharyya and 
other poets who wrote Chandi Mangala, 333-336. 
Mukunda Rama Kavikankan and his 


Chandi Mangala His life and a review of 
his works The intense reality of his poetry, 
336-359. Poems of the Chandi-cult written by 
later poets Bhavni ankara Jaya Ngrgyana 
and iv Charana Sen, 359-363. 
Poems on Ganga Devi Poems on Citala Devi Traces 

of Buddhistic influence and of Hindu Renaissance Poems 

on Laksmi Devi and Sasthi 363-370. 

V. Dharma Mangala poems recast by the Brah- 
hiin authors MayuraBhatta Manik Ganguly Ghanarama 
Sahadeva Chakravarty The reasons for placing them under 
Pauranik revival 371-37?- 

IV. Poems in honour of Daksina Roy, 377-378. 

Some remarks about the poems. Poems in hoiiour of the 
Sun, 37 8 "38o. 

Supplementary notes to Chapter IV, 381-398 

Mixture of Arabic and Persian words in Bengali Conser- 
vativeness of the Hindu writers and Sanskritisation of Ben- 
gali Correction of Orthography, 381-385. The five Gaudas 
Their affinity in language Agreement in habits and 
costumes -Often under one suzerain power Pancha Gaude- 
9\vara, 385-390. The dialects of Eastern and Western Ben- 
gal Sanskritic and non-sanskritic names, 390-392. A list of 
obsolete words with their meanings The origin of ' Babu * 
The case-endings The plural forms Navigation and trade. 
Old Bengali literature treated with neglect, 393-398. 

The Literature of the Vaisnavas, 398-565. 

I. Vaisnavism in Bengal. Mahayanism and Vai- 
navism The lay Buddhist Society, a recruiting ground for the 


Vai^navas The points of similarity. The message of Eastern 
India and the apostles of Bengal. The environment of 
Chaitanya, 398-409. Navadvvipa the birth place of Chaitanya 
A seat of learning. The Navya NySya. The flourishing 
condition of Navadwipa Its area Sceptical tendencies oi 
the age. The defects of the Renaissance Bengal ready for 
a great faith The advent of Chaitanya Deva, 409-414. 

II* The life and teachings of Chaitanya Deva, 

414-439* Chaitanya's asceticism and severity. His frenzied 
ecstasies. Reorganisation of the Vai$nava order Chaitanya 
as an exponent of the Renaissance, 439-444. 

IIL Vaisnava biographies, 444-495. A new start in 
biography and the ignoring of Caste, 444-446. 

(a) Kadcha or notes by Govinda Das t 446-464* 

(6) Qhaitanya Bhagavata by Vrindavana Das t 
464-471- rlvasa's Angina Attacks on the non 
Vainavas Valuable side-lights Chaitanya's con- 
temporaries, 464-497. Chaitanya's visit to Gaya 
and the ' lotus feet ' Meeting with I$wara Puri, 

467-47 1- 

(c) Jayananda f s Chaitanya Mangala t 471-477. The 

new facts brought to light by him The passing 
of Chaitanya Deva The Brahmins of Pirulya, 

(d) Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krisna Das, 477-489* 

Early misfortunes and Vai?nava influence 
Chaitanya Charitamrita commenced when the author 
was 79. His vast Scholarship Defects of style 
The excellence of the work. The last days of Chai- 
tanya The death of the author in a tragic manner, 

(e) Chaitanya Mangala by Lociiana Das, 489*496, 

Autobiographical notes, 489-490. -A good poem 


but not a good biography Extracts form the 
work 490-494. Further particulars about the poet, 

(f) Brief accounts of Vaisnava devotees 995-511. 

Nityananda and Advaitacharyya, 495-496. The 
princely ascetic Gopi Chand, 497-498. Narottama 
Das, 498-499. Raghunath Das, 499-503. Rupa 
and Sanatana rlnivasa, Haridas, yamananda 
and others, 503-511. Bhakti Ratnakar and other 
biographical works, 511-514. Theological 

works t 5 r 4-576 

V* The Padas or songs of the Vaisnavas, 545-545* 
Kri?na and his uncle Karhsa, King of Mathura, 517-520. 
The Gostha The lake Kaliya The Deva Go?tha The 
Uttara Gostha, 520-525. Kri?na and Radha First love 
The meeting, 525-529. The parting Radha forsaken hy 
Kri?na The emotions of Chaitanya Deva attributed to 
Radha The Gaur Chandrika and the influence of Chaitanya 
on the songs of Radha-Kri?na The human interest and the 
underlying spirituality The Prabhasa, 532-545. 

The Pada Kartas Govinda Das Brajabuli Jnana 
Das Jadunand.-ma Das Jagadananda and others, 545-557. 
A List of Pada Kartas with the number of Padas they wrote, 
557-559- The excellence of their Padas The collections 
Pada Samudra Padamrita Samudra and other works 
Pada-Kalpataru, 559-565. 

Supplementary notes to Chapter V. 566-6 13. 

The organisation of the Vaisnava order 'The friend of the 
fallen* Buddhists surrender themselves to Vaisnava masters, 
566-567. Chaitanya and his companions villified 567-568. 
The title 'Das' Vai^ftava influence in the Ramayana in the 
Qakta and (Jaiva literature.- Bengali, a sacred dialect to the 
Vai^navas, 568-577. The disputes between the Caktas and 


the Vai$fcavasA satire against the latter, 577-579. Manahara 
Sahi tune The origin and development of the Klrtana 
songs A list of Klrtaniyas ivu Klrtaniya, 579-585. 
The K at h .ik at has Set passages committed to memory 
by them Examples A short history of the Kathakathas 
Their extraordinary influence, 585-590. The story of 
(Dharaand Drona, 590-596, The preliminary hymn in 
Kathakatha, 596. Mass education The Bengali Mss. 
preserved in the house of rustics The influence of Hindi 
case-endings The metres The poetic license, 597-602. 
A list of obsolete words The pretenders, How the Vais- 
navas gradually merged in the parent society.- Material 
prosperity Cheap living and poverty The merchants 
The Mahotsava ceremony, 602-613. 


The post-Chaitanya Literature. 613-775. 

I. (a) The Court of Raja Krisna Chandra of Nadia 
Vitiated classical taste and word painting, 614. The 
reaction and its effects Raja Krisha Chandra The 
Sanskrit and Persian models The Kutnis The depra- 
ved taste The Sandkritisation of Bengali style and Bharat 
Chandra, 614-62^: 

(b) Syed Alaol, the Mahomedan poet, who 
heralded the new age his life and a review of his works, 
622-635 The style and the taste, 6^637. 

(c) The story of Vidya Sundara Vidya sends a 
challenge to her suitors for a husband Her love with Sundara 
The detection and punishment The happy end by the 
grace of Kali, 637-653. 

(d) Early poems about Vidya-Sundara Govinda 
Das Krisna- Rama, Rama Prasada, 653-662. Bharata 


Chandra His life and a review of his poems Ouomatopoetic 
expressions used by him, and other points about style and 
rhyming. Praha Rama Chakravarty 662-678. 

IL (a) The court of Raja Rajavallabha of Dacca- 
Its poets, Jayanarayana and AnandamayJ, 679. Rajanagara, 
the capital-town of Raja Rajavallabha the catastrophe of 
i8ji. Family history of Jayanarayana and Anandamayi 
Extracts from their writings, 679-687 The poets of the 
school of Bharata Chandra, 687 Chandra Kanta, Kaminl 
Kumaraand other poets Their bad taste Giridhara's trans- 
lation of the Glta Govinda, 687-691. 

III. Poetry of Rural Bengal 692. The villages of 
Bengal Renunciation, the goal of Hindu life The songs, 

(a) Kaviwalas and their songs t 692, Danda kavis 

Raghu, the cobbler Rama Vasu the bashful 
Hindu wife Rasu Nara Sirhha His high spiri- 
tual tone The mother-hood, 692-703. A list of 
Kaviwallas Songs by Haru Thakur The Portu- 
guese Kaviwala Mr. Antony, 703-709. 

(b) Religious songs 710. The boatman's song 

The rustic songs, 710-712. 

(c) Rama Prasada Sen, and the poets of his school, 

712, Life of Rama Prasada Sen Kali, the 
mother The akta interpreters Kali, a mere 
symbol The image. A European critic oa 
Rama Prasada His songs, 712-721 Other song- 
writers Rama Krisna of Nattore Ram Dulala, 

IV. The Yatras or Popular Theatres, 724. Their 
defects and incongruities Redeeming points Lament of 
Chandravali and the interpretation by the master-singer 
The grief of the playmates, 724-730. Vidya Sundara Yatras 



Gopala Uriya, 730-731. -Bother Yatras A brief history of} 
the Yatrawalas KriAa Kamala His poems, the Bhava 
Sanmilan or Union in spirit Extracts from Kri?fia Kamala's 
writings Yatra poems with prose Farcical episodes, 731-743- 

V* Three great poets with whom the age closed, 
Dao&rathi Ray His panchali and other poems, 743-752. 
Ra&a Nidhi Gupta (Nidhu Babu) His life His songs, 
752-758. Icvara Gupta His life and works, 758-769. 

VI. The folk-literature of Bengal Malancha-mala 
and Kanchanamala Buddhistic and Moslem influences* 

Supplementary notes to Chapter VI, 776-844* 

L Miscellaneous poems, 776. Historical poems Raja- 
mala Maharatra Purana Samser Gazir-gan Chaudhuris 
Ladsi, 776-780. Metaphysical works Maya Timira Chandri- 
ka, Yoga Sara Hadamala Tanu Sadhana and other works, 
780-782. Translation of Ka^ikhanda by Raja Jaya Narayana 
Ghosal, 782-792. The interchange of ideas beween the 
Hindus and the Mahomedans A common god, Satya Pir 
Hymns to iva and Sarasvati by Mahomedans Musical 
treatises, 792-800 Stories, Buddhist poems recovered from 
Chittagong Moslem writers on Radha Krifna, 800-804. 

II* Mainly on style, literary tastes and language 

The Sanskrit metres in Bengali Bharata Chandra's signal 
success Valadeva Palit His attempts to revive Sanskrit 
metres Payara Chhanda Tripadi and its off-shoots, Folly 
in alliterations and puns Da9arathi's style, a departure from 
classical model -Learned discussions The meeting of the 
learned The education of women Arabic, Persian and 
Hindusthani, 804-824. Change in the meaning of words. 
8a6.-*-Bengali sculptors, 828, 

IIL Early Prose LiteratureBengali, a mixed langu- 
age~*-Portuguese elements, 828-830,* Causes of the develop- 


ment of modern prose The (punya Puraha Deva Dfimara 
Tantra-Chaitya Rupa prapti Prose works by Sahajias-Logic 
and Law Bhasa Parichchheda KaminI Kumara 830-844. 

The Modern Age, 845-1002. ** 


I* (a) The epoch ushered in by European workers 
missionaries and Civilians 845-850* Hal- 
bed's grammar, 848 Punches by Wilkins 7 
Panchanana and Manohara Crude printing al- 
ready known in the country, 848-850. 

(6) Dr. Carey and his collegues t 850-854* Young- 
men of Bengal anglicised 855. Dr. Carey's 
Bengali works The story of a thief How 23 
fish disappeared 855-867. 

(c) Bengali works by Europeans t 867-878. 

(d) A new ideal in the country 878-883. The 

Pundits of the Fort William college Mrittunjaya 
Rama Rama Vasu Rajiva Lochana Krina 
Chandra Charita, 883-896. The contributions to 
our natural literature by the Pandits, 897. 

(e) The Rev* K. M* Banerji and other authors 
_who followed in the wake of European 

writers, K. M. Bannerjee, his works. A list 
of publications by other writers Vocabulary 
Grammar History Biography Moral tales and 
other subjects Periodicals, Magazines and 
Newspapers 900-912. 

III. General remarks indicating the characteristics 
of the new age and its contrast with the earlier one t 
9I2 f Specimens of the style of Bhattacharyas Profulla Jnfina 
Netra -SarvSmoda-taranginl Lipimalt Payara Chhanda 
Tripadi Chhanda Bengali style of European writers Babu- 



Bengali Language & Literature. 


Early Influences on the Bengali Language. 

Bengal was a very ancient centre^ of Aryan settle- Aryan 
ment in India. The pre-historic kingdom of Prag- fn Bengal"* 
jyotis, which extended from modern Jalpaiguri to the'**~ / * 
back-woods of Assam, was one of the earliest Aryan 
colonies in this country. ' Vanga ' is mentioned in 
the Aitereya Aranyaka* and frequent references to 
this land are found in the great epics the Ramayaria 
and the Mahabharata. According to Manu, Bengal 
formed a part of the Aryyavarta.f The two great 
heroes of the Dwapara yuga, who are said to have 
been the sworn enemies of ri Krisna the great up- 
holder of Brahmanic power, were (i) Jarasandha, the 
King of Magaclha and (2) Poundraka Vasu Deva, J 
the King of Pandua in Bengal, and both of them led 
expeditions to Dwaraka to subvert the power of 

* Aitereya Aranyaka 2.1.1. 


See Harl Variifa, Bhavisya Parya, Chap, 19, 


Buddhistic This land has, from very early times, been the 
influences, cradle of popular movements in religion. The Bud- 
dhists and the Jains, at one time, converted nearly 
the whole population of Bengal to their new creeds, 
and the Brahmanic influence was for centuries at a 
very low ebb here. Some of the greatest Buddhist 
scholars and reformers of India were born in Bengal, 
among whom the names of Atiga Dlpankara (born, 
980 A.D.) and ila-Bhadra are known throughout the 
Buddhistic world. anta Raksit, the renowned High 
Priest of the monastery of Nalanda a native of 
Gauda, spent many years of his life in Tibet on a 
religious mission, and an illustrious band of Bengalis, 
within the first few centuries of the Christian era, 
travelled to China, Corea and Japan, carrying there 
the light of the Buddhist religion. The scriptures of 
the Japanese priests are still written in Bengali 
characters of the nth century,*" which indicates the 
once-great ascendency of the enterprising Bengali 
priests in the Land of the Rising Sun. The marvellous 
sculptural design of the Boro Buddor temple of Java 
owed its execution, in no inconsiderable degree, to 
Bengali artists, who worked side by side with the 
people of Kalinga and Guzrat, to whom that island 
was indebted for its ancient civilization. In the 
vast panorama of bas-reliefs in that temple, we find 
numerous representations of ships which the people 
of lower Bengal built, and which carried them to 
Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, Japan and China,^^w^ries 
visited by them for the purpose of pn!mmgating 

* In the Horiuzi temple of Japan, the manuscript of a Buddhistic 
work entitled Usmsa Vijay Dharini, has lately been found. The 
priests of the temple worship the manuscript, a fac-simile of 
which is now in the possession of the Oxford university. It is written 
in a character, which we consider to be identical with that prevalent 
in Bengal in the 6th century. Vide Anecdota OjcinienMS, Vol. IJI, 


the Buddhistic faith and conducting commercial 
transactions. The well-known story of how prince 
Vijay Sirhha, son of King Sirhhabahu of Bengal, 
migrated to Ceylon with seven hundred followers and 
established his kingdom there in 543 B.C. is narrated 
in Mahavam^a and other Buddhist works. Buddhism 
flourished in Ceylon under the patronage of the 
kings of the Sirhha dynasty and the island is 
called 'Simhar after them. The Ceylonese era dates 
from the commencement of the reign of Vijay Sirhha. 
The citizens of Champa in Bengal had already, in a 
still earlier epoch of history, founded a colony in 
Cochin China and named it after that famous old 
town.* About the middle of the ninth century, 
Dhlman and his son Bit Palo, inhabitants of 
Varendra (North Bengal), founded new schools of 
painting, sculpture and works in cast metal, which 
stamped their influence on works of art in Nepal, 
from whence the art of the Bengali masters spread 
to China and other Buddhistic countries.! 

In Bengal new ideas in religion have ever found 
a fit soil to grow upon, and it is interesting to observe, 
that out of the twenty-four Tirthankaras (divine 
men) of the Jains, twenty-three attained Mokea 
(salvation) in Bengal. The place of their religious 
activity was Samet-^ekhara or the Par^vanath hills 

* See Buddhist India, by Rhys Davids, p. 35. 

^t Vide Indian Antiquary Vol. IV. p. 101, and also Indian 
Painting and Sculpture by E. B. Havell p. 79. On page 19 of this 
work, Mr. Havell writes " From the seaports of her Western and 
Eastern coasts, India sent streams of colonists, missioneries and 
craftsmen all over Southern Asia, Ceylon, Syarrt and far distant 
Cambqdia. Through China and Japan, Indian art entered Japan 
about the middle of the sixth Century M The Eastern seaports, 
here referred to, were probably Tamluk, Chittagong And those 
on the Orissa Coast/* 


dicted by 

Bengali, a 
form of 

in the district of Hazaribagh and many of the 
Tlrthankaras, such for instance as C^reamgvunath and 
Vasupujya, were born in Bengal.* The greatest of 
the Jaina Tlrthankaras Mahavira spent eighteen 
years of his life preaching his faith in Rada Deca 
(Western Bengal). 

The country was for centuries in open revolt 
against Hindu orthodoxy. Buddhistic and Jain 
influences here were so great, that the codes of 
Manu, while including Bengal within the geogra- 
phical boundary of Aryyavarta, distinctly prohibit 
all contact of the Hindus with this land, for fear of 
contamination. t Ananda Tlrtha, the famous com- 
mentator of Aitereya Aranyaka, declares Bengal to 
be inhabited by Rakfasas and Pi^achas. In fact it 
is probable, that Bengal was mostly peopled by the 
descendants of the early citizens of Magadah,J 
hence Brahman ism could not thrive for many 
centuries amidst a people, who were the pioneer* 
of Buddhism. 

The Buddhist priests had already, in the latter 
part of the tenth century, begun to write books in 
Prakrita called the Gouda Prakrita. This Prakrita 
was called by the grammarian Kri?na Pandit, who 
flourished in the twelfth century, as a form of 
Paiyachl Prakrita or a Prakrita spoken by the evil 
spirits. The rules specified by him, in his celebrated 
grammar Prakrita-Chandrika, as peculiar to our 

*Vide Jainamala or a chronological table of the Tlrthan- 
karag quoted in the Bengali Encyclopaedia, VlcvAka^a Vol. 
VII. p, 168. 


) Manu. 

J Vide Indian Pundits in the Land of Snow, by Sarat Chandra 
Das, p 21. 



dialect, apply to it up to this day. According to 
him f and J change into *f and {, and 3 is pronoun- 
ced as W in this form of Prakrita, and of % 1, T, one 
form only is found in current use. These are, 
generally speaking, the characteristic features of 
spoken Bengali up to this day and our old manus- 
.cripts are full of examples of them. The reasons 
which made Krisna Pandit give our language the 
contemptuous name of Pai^achl Prakrita, are not far 
to seek. It is the same that made Manu*condemn all 
touch with this land. The dialect of the Buddhist 
people, in which the Buddhist priests were writing 
books, could not be accepted by the Sanskritic 
school which arose with the revival of Hinduism. 

Several works written in the tenth and the 
eleventh centuries of the Christian era in a very 
old form of Bengali, have lately been discovered 
by Mahamahopadhyaya Hara Prasada astrl in 
Nepal. These are (i) Charyyacharyya Vini^chaya, 
(2) Bodhicharyyavatara and (3) Dakarhava. The 
manuscript of Budhicharyyavatar is incomplete. 
They appear to be but poor fragments of a 
literature which owed its origin chiefly to the earn- 
estness of the Tantrika Buddhists for popularizing 
their creed. Though these specimens have how 
been nearly all lost, we hope some portion of them 
may be yet recovered by careful research carried 
into the literary archives of Nepal and Chittagong, 
the present resorts of Buddhism in Eastern India. 

This effort on the part of the Buddhists to raise 
Bengali to the status of a written language, how- 

*Manu lived In a prehistoric age, but as the laws of that sage 
are no longer to be found in. the form In which they originally 
existed, our remarks apply to their modified version given in the 
pbfigll *arf&hit which belongs to a much later period. 



works by 

the Budd- 


Revival of 


ever, came suddenly to a standstill on the revival of 
Hinduism in Bengal, Buddhist works were carried 
by the vanquished exponents of that faith to Nepal 
and Burma ; and all traces of the creed, which was 
once ascendant in the country, were obliterated 
there. Whatever may be urged in favour of the 
theory of " the gradual, almost insensible, assimila- 
tion of Buddhism to Hinduism " there can be no 
doubt that Buddhism was often suppressed in India 
by a storm of Brahmanic persecution. The follow- 
ing extract from (pankara-Vijaya regarding King 
Sudhanva will show the ruthless manner in which 
the Buddhists were sometimes persecuted : 

" Many of the chief princes, professing the 
wicked doctrines of the Buddhist and the Jain reli- 
gions, were vanquished in various scholarly contro- 
versies. Their heads were then cut off with axes, 
thrown into mortars, and broken to pieces (reduced 
to powder) by means of pestles. So these wicked 
doctrines were thoroughly annihilated, and the 
country made free from danger." 

Progress of with the decadence of the power of the Buddhist 
the Verna- . , . , . . f . . 

cular re- priests, who in their zeal to popularize their creed, 

tarded. had not considered the Vernacular of Bengal as an 
unworthy medium for propagating their religious 
views, Bengali lost the patronage which it f&d 
secured of the lettered men of the country ; and its 
future seemed dismal and uncheerful. We have 
shewn that the form of Prakrita prevalent in Bengal 
was in disfavour with the Sanskritic school which 
gave it a contemptuous epithet. Sanskrit scholar- 


who brought about a revival of Hinduism in Bengal, 
were imbued with a taste for the hard and fast rules 
of classical grammar, and had an unmixed abhorrence 
for the laxities of Prakrita adopted by the Buddhists. 
Bengali seemed to have no prospects with such 
scholars : nay they zealously opposed the efforts 
of those who offered to help the Vernacular of the 
country to assert its claim as a written language. 
The following well-known Sanskrit couplet bears 
testimony to their ill-will. 

11 ^Itvt ^tttfa stw sfiwfr 5 1 

^TCfiU* TFTO artl tfffalt *RWt 3W<? tt" 
u lf a person hears the stories of the eighteen 
Puranas or of the Ramayana recited in Bengali, he 
will be thrown into the hell called the Rourava." 

There is a corresponding Bengali couplet which 
is also well-known : 


"Krittivasa (Bengali translator of the Rama- 
yana), Ka^ldasa (Bengali translator of the Malyl- 
bharata) and those who aspire to mix with the 
Brahmins too closely, are the greatest of evil- 

In the famous controversy, which Raja Ram- 
mohan Ray held with the orthodox Pandits, he 
had frequently to explain his conduct in regard to 
his publication of vernacular translations of the 
Sanskrit scriptures, which according to those 
Brahmins, were sacrilegious. This shows that even 
as late as the early part of the igth century, when 


Bengali had reached a high stage of development, 
it was looked down upon by the orthodox Brahmins. 
Our readers are likely to conclude from the 
above, that the Brahmins were jealous of the 
gradual development of Bengali and its recognition 
as a written language. They wanted all truths of 
their religion to be locked up in the Sanskrit texts ; 
any attempt to promulgate them through the vehicle 
of a popular dialect, meant a loss of the great power 
which they had monopolized ; and they thus looked 
upon all such movements to enrich the vernacular 
language, with jealousy and distrust. But it admits 
of another explanation also, which is perhaps the 
right one* The Brahmanic school probably sus- 
pected, that the hunters after cheap popularity who 
adopted Bengali for conveying the truths of the 
^r^hmanic religion, would not keep intact the 
purity of their spiritual ideal, and that the truths, so 
dearly prized by them, would be sullied in the pro- 
vincial versions of the great Sanskrit works. They 
therefore decried all efforts to popularize the as- 
tras by compiling Bengali translations, Add to 
this their contempt for Bengali which was one of 
the most lax forms of the Ardha-mSgadhi Prakrita. 
Not only did the Sanskrit-knowing people hold the 
Vernacular of the country in disfavour, but even 
the writers of Bengali themselves had no high 
opinion of the resources of this language. We 
frequently come across such lines in old Bengali 
works, as " Naturally Bengali poems are faulty"* 
(Vijay gupta) "Not fit to be discussed in a verna- 
cular poem"t (Kavlndra) implying, that Bengali 

Kaylndra Paramefwara. 


was quite an unfit medium for conveying any serious 
or high thought. 

The question is : how could the poor Vernacular How could 
of Bengal find recognition in the courts of the kings, tain fvaour 
inspite of this opposition of the Brahmins? Every 
Hindu Court gloried in keeping a number of Sans- 
krit scholars attached to it. From the time of Vikra- 
maditya it grew to be a fashion with Hindu kings 
to keep learned companions and they were generally 
picked men finished masters in Sanskrit Poetry, 
Grammar and Logic, who revelled in the high flown 
style and in the niceties of rhetoric which abound in 
the latter-day Sanskrit works, such as Kadamvari, 
Da^akumar Charita and ri Harsa Charita. The 
copperplate-inscriptions of the Pal and Sen Kings of 
Bengal bear abundant proofs of the learning and 
poetical powers of some of these gifted men, whose 
contempt for Bengali was as great as was their scholar- 
ship in Sanskrit. How can we account for the fact, 
that the court of Krisna Chandra of Navadwipa, a 
glorious seat of Sanskrit learning where Hari Ram 
Tarkasiddhanta, Krisnananda Vachaspati and Ram- 
gopal Sarbabhouma were the professors of Logic 
where Vane^war Vidyalankara won his laurels in 
Sanskrit poetry and iva Ram Vacaspati, Ram 
Ballabha Vidyavagiga and Vlre^war Nyaya- 
Panchfmana discoursed on philosophy, such a dis- 
tinguished seat of classical learning as Krina 
Chandra's court could bestow its favours and titles 
on Bharat Chandra and Ramprasad the Bengali 
poets of the eighteenth century ? Not only Krisna 
Chandra, but many other Kings and Chiefs of 
Bengal, who preceded him, are described as 
having extended their patronage and favour to 




by Moslem 


the early Bengali poets. Their courts were guided by 
Sanskrit-knowing Pandits, and how are we to 
reconcile the fact, that these Brahmins welcomed 
the poor patois the despicable Pai^achi Prakrita 
of Bengal, for which they had hitherto only a feeling 
of unmixed contempt. 


This elevation of Bengali to a literary status 
was brought about by several influences, of which 
the Mahamrnadan conquest was undoubtedly one of 
the foremost. If the Hindu Kings had continued to 
enjoy independence, Bengali would scarcely have 
got an opportunity to find its way to the courts of 

The Pathans occupied Bengal early in the thir- 
teenth century. They came from a far distance 
from Bulkh, Oxus or Transoxina, but they settled 
in the plains of Bengal and had no mind to return to 
their mountainous home. The Pathan Emperors 
learned Bengali and lived in close touch with the 
teeming Hindu population whom they were called 
upon to rule. The minarets and cupolas of their 
-Mosques rose to the sky, adjoining the spires and 
tridents of the Hindu temples. The sounds of the 
conch-shells and bells emanating from the latter, 
were heard while the new-comers assembled in the 
Mosques to say their evening prayers. The pom- 
pous processions and the religious rites of the 
Hindus their Durgapuja, Rasa and Dolotsava -dis- 
played a religious enthusiasm which equalled their 
own, while celebrating the Maharam,' Id, Sabebarat 
and other festivals. The Emperors heard of the 
far-reaching fame of the Sanskrit epics, the 
RsmSyaha and the MahabhSrata, and observed the 


wonderful influence which they exercised in 
moulding the religious and domestic life of the 
Hindus, and they naturally felt a desire to be 
acquainted with the contents of those poems. The 
Pathan Emperors and Chiefs could not have the great 
patience of the Hindu Kings who were inspired 
by a religious zeal to hear the Brahmin scholars 
recite Sanskrit texts and their learned annotations, 
step by step, requiring the listeners many long 
years to complete a course of lectures on the 
Ramayana or the Mahabharata. They appointed 
scholars to translate the works into Bengali uhich 
they now spoke and understood. The fir^t Bengali 
translation of the Mahabharata of which we hear, 
was undertaken at the order of Nasira" Saha, the 
Emperor of Gaucla who ruled for 40 years till 
1325 A.D. This translation has not yet been re- 
covered, but we find mention of it, in another tran- 
slation of the epic made by Kavlndra Paramecvvara, 
at the command of Paragal Khan, the governor of 
Chittagong. Nasira Shah was a great patron of 
the Vernacular of this country. The poet Vidyapati 
dedicates one of his songs to this monarch* and in 
another, speaks with high respect of Sultan 

The name of the Emperor of Gaucla who 
appointed Krittivasa to translate the Ramayana, is 
not known with certainty. He might be Raja. 
KamsanarSyana or a Moslem Emperor, but even if 

cm ifTOt *rre *TW \ w ?tft*i wt TTCI fwtfa 

Nasira Shaha knows it well, whom cupid pierced with his 
dart the poet Vidyapati says Long live the Emperor of the ' five 
Indies. ' 


he was a Hindu King, there are abundant proofs 
to show, that his court \\as stamped with Moslem 
influence. The Emperor Husen Saha was a great 
patron of Bengali. Maladhar Vasu, a native of 
Kulingrama, and one of his courtiers was employed 
by him to translate the Bhagavata into Bengali, 
and after two chapters of this work had been 
translated by him, in 1480 A.n,, the Emperor was 
pleased to confer on him the title of Gunarsj Khan. 
We have already referred to a translation of the 
Mahabharata made by Kavlndra Paramegwar at the 
behest of Paragal Khan. This Paragal Khan was 
a general of Husen Saha, deputed by him to 
conquer Chittagong. Frequent references are 
found in old Bengali literature, indicating the esteem 
and trust in which the Emperor Husen Saha was 
held by the Hindus.* Kavindra Parame^war had 
translated the Mahabharata upto the Striparva, and 
Chhuti Khan son of Paragal Khan, who had succeed- 
ed his father in the governorship of Chittagong, em- 
ployed another poet named rikarana Nandl for 
translating the A^vamedh Parva of that epic. 
rikaran Nandi's translation has lately been pub- 
lished by the Sghilya Parisada of Calcutta. The 
poet Alaol, who lived about the middle of the seven- 
teenth century, translated a Hindi work entitled 

Pad ma Purana by Vijaygupta 

TO tnr 

Mahabharat by Kablndra 

(o) 9^9 *?\\ WV ^pM, OK *flft W 11, 

Song by Yapr&Ja Khan 


Padmavat by Mir Mahammad in a highly sanskrit- 
ised Bengali at the command of Magan Thakur, a 
Mahammadan minister of the court of the Chief of 
Aracan. It should be noted here, that there are many 
instances where Mahammadans adopted Hindu 
names and the name Magan Thakur should not lead 
us to mistake him fora Mahamaden. Alaol was also 
employed by the Moslem chief Solaman, to translate 
a Persian work into Bengali. Instances of like nature, 
where Mahammadan Emperors and Chiefs initiated 
and patronised translations of Sanskrit and Persian 
works into Bengali, are numerous, and we are led 
to believe, that when the powerful Moslem 
Sovereigns of Bengal granted this recognition to 
the Vernacular language in their courts, Hindu 
Rajas naturally followed suit. The Brahmins could 
not resist the influence of this high patronage ; 
they were therefore compelled to favour the langu- 
age they had hated so much, and latterly they them- 
selves came forward to write poems and compile 
works of translation in Bengali. From the account 
we have found in some of the early Bengali works of 
translation, we can have a glimpse of the manner 
in which court patronage was accorded to the 
Bengali poets. When the shades of twilight settled 
on the dark green clumps of shrubby trees on the far 
Songmura ranges, Paragal Khan the Governor 
used to call his ministers, attendants and courtiers 
every evening to his palace at Paragalpur in Feni, 
and before this illustrious audience, the translator of 
the Mahabharata had to recite portions from his 
poems the governor himself giving cheers in 
admiration of beautiful and interesting passages* 
The poet flattered his noble patron by calling him an 


incarnation of Hari in Kaliyuga* and it is curious 
to note, that the Pa than chief, who, was a devout 
Mahammadan, enjoyed this compliment of the 
Hindu poet and did not take it as an affront. 

Thus the appointment of Bengali poets to the 
Hindu courts of Hindu Rajas, grew to be a fashion after 
folios the *' le exam ple of the Moslem chiefs, and we find most 
Example. o f the works of our best poets dedicated to the kings 
and noble men who patronised them. Thus the 
works of Vidyapati, the Maithil poet, are inseparably 
associated with iva Sirhha and other sovereigns 
of Mithila. Mukundaram, the immortal author of 
Chandl, had for his patron Bankura Rai, the Raja of 
Arah-Biahmanbhumi. Rame^vara who wrote 
the "Civayana" enjoyed the patronage of Ya^ovanta 
Simha, Raja of Karnagada. Ghanaram, the author of 
" Dharmamangal " was the recipient of many favours 
from Kirttl Chandra, the Raja of Burdwan, and who 
can think of the great poet Bharat Chandra with- 
out remembering his great friend and patron 
Krisha Chandra of Navadwipa? Raja Jay Chandra 
employed the poet Bhabani Das for compiling a 
translation of the Ramayana; and many othei valu- 
able Sanskrit works were translated into Bengali 
under the auspices of the Kings of Tippera. We 
shall dwell upon all these works in their proper 
places hereafter. 

We now confidently presume that the above 
proofs will be held sufficient to support the view, 
that the patronage and favour of the Mahammadan 
Emperors and chiefs gave the first start towards re- 
cognition of Bengali in the courts of the Hindu Rajas 


and to establish its claims on the attention of scho- 
lars. It is curious to observe that, more than once 
in history, we have owed the development of our 
language to the influence of foreign people from 
whom such help was the least expected. Mr. 
Nathanial Prassy Halhed, a European member of 
the Indian Civil Service, wrote the earliest Bengali 
grammar for us in the eighteenth century ; and 
Bengali prose, in our own days, owes a good deal to 
the impetus given to it by the European mis- 

The other causes, which contributed to a rapid other 
development of Bengali during the Mahomedan Causes. 
period, may be briefly summed up as follows : 

(2) The revival of Hinduism, which we have 

called in this book as the Paurinik 

(3) The great Vaisnava movement in Bengal 

in the sixteenth century. 

Pre-Mahomedan Literature, 

1. Aphorisms and wise-sayings, Dak and Khans. 
2* Dharma-cult a form of Buddhism. 3. Ramai 
Pandit and his $unya Purana. 4. Sahajii-cuit 
and its exponents. 5. Dharma-itiangal poems 
and the story related in them. 6. The ballads 
of the Pal Kings. 7. The faiva-cuft, how it 
faced Buddhism. 8. Genealogical records. 

Before dealing with the literature of Bengal that 
grew up after the Mahomedan conquest, we 
propose to dwell here upon the fragments of 
literary works which have come down to us, from 
a much earlier period. They consist of (i) 
Aphorisms and pithy sayings which served as a 
guide for domestic and agricultural purposes to the 
rural folk of Bengal. (2) Hand-books of mystic 
doctrines, based on Tantrik forms of Buddhism. (3) 
Ballads and songs in honour of some of the Pal 
Kings of Bengal. (4) Hymns, odes and songs des- 
cribing the prowess of Dharma Thakur and other 
household deities. (5) Genealogical accounts of 
the Kulin families of Bengal. 

1 Aphorisms and wise-sayings, Dak and Khani. 

Referring to the earliest literature of Bengal, 
Vachana. which bears the stamp of Buddhistic influence, we 
light upon Dakarnava, a Tantrik work of the Bud- 
dhists, containing aphorisms and wise-sayings in 
old Bengali regarding agriculture, astrology, medi- 
cine and other matters of interest to domestic life. 
Mahamohopadhyaya Haraprasada astri found a 
copy of Dakar/java in the custody of the Buddhists 
of Nepal. Dakarnava gives specimens of a very 
old form of Bengali which may be traced to the tenth 


century of the Christian era. Dak-Tantra is also a 
book of authority with the rural folk of Bengal, but it 
is popularly known here as '' Daker-Vachana." The 
latter work gives a smoothed down version of its 
precursor and prototype preserved in Nepal ; but 
there are numerous lines to be found in the editions 
of the book publihhed by the Baftala Presses of 
Calcutta* whkh retain their old and antiquated 
forms. It is impossible to get any clear sense out 
of such lines as : 

fatfire ^ 1 1 

CTW ntft *rtfa n 


Probably the last portion refers to the rules for 
settling disputes by arbitration a practice generally 
adopted in the old order of society. There are 

evident traces of Buddhistic views in these sayings. Buddhistic 

* views 

Buddhism, in its days of decline in India, became 

identical with scepticism. In Daker-Bachana, we 
Come across such views as these : 

" When we get a good palatable thing to 
eat, it is not wise to keep it for to-morrow. Enjoy 

* Published by Beni Madhab De & Co., 318, Battala, Upper 
Chttpore Road, Calcutta, 



curds and milk; if they bring on disease, get it 
cured by medicine. For, says Dak, when one 
dies, there is an end of his connection with the 
world."* This is quite an un-Hindu idea. The 
pleasures of the present moment are condemned by 
the Hindu (^Sstras and the views quoted above 
remind us of Charvaka and other free-thinkers, 
and we have said that the Buddhists of the latter- 
day school had turned into free-thinkers like 
Charvska. The Buddhistic Dharma astra lays 
special stress on charitable works. In the short 
epigrammatic sayings of Dak, there are many 
passages calling on a house-holder to perform 
works of charity and public good. 

" One who is anxious to do a virtuous act, should 
dig tanks and plant trees (for the benefit of the 
people). One who founds institutions for the 
distribution of rice and water, never goes to 


t u vt vfirw 



We miss in these sayings, the familiar injunc- 
tions for prayer and worship, indispensable in 
a book of rules for the guidance of a Hindu 
house-holder ; and here we can draw a clear 
line of demarcation between the state of society 
before and after the revival of Hinduism in Bengal. 
All rules and codes framed for the guidance of men 
and women in our society, after the downfall of 
Buddhism have a distinct and unmistakable 
reference to the metaphysical side of religion. 
In them a far greater stress is laid on devotion 
to gods than on principles of morality, The 
Hindu priests even go so far as to declare, that 
a man committing the worst of sins, may secure 
a place in Heaven by uttering the name of God, 
a single time. The Daker Vachana evidently 
belongs to a period anterior to the acceptance of 
this ideal in society. 

Daker Vachana is not the only book of its KhanSr 
kind in old Bengali. Khanar Vachana furnishes 
an equally old specimen of oui vernacular. The 
latter is more popular with the masses and 
has, therefore undergone far greater changes 
than Daker-Vachana. We, however often light 
upon old and antiquated forms of expressions 
in it, which remind us, that though simplified 
and altered, the sayings must also be traced 
to an early age. Though the subjects treated The say - 
of, in the two books, coVer a varied field, by mailify de- 
far the greater portion of them is devoted to ^utturaf 
agricultural subjects. In Bengal, where the people subjects. 
are chiefly of the peasant class, these sayings 
are accepted as a guide by millions ; >the wisdom 
they display is the result of acute observation 


of nature and has a special significance in regard 
to the soil and climate of Bengal. We quote some 
of them below : * 

" If it rains in the month of Agrahayana, the 
king goes a-begging. 

" If it rains in the month of Fousa, money may 
be had even by selling the chaff, 

* " tfir TOT 


151 cvi it 





" If it rains at the end of the month of M0gha, 
the king and his country become blessed. 

<4 If it rains in Falgun, the millet Chinakaon 
(Peanicum miliaceum) grows abundantly." 

4< Khana says, the paddy thrives in the sun and 
the betel in the shade." 

" If the paddy gets profuse sunshine by day, 
and showers by night, it rapidly develops. Khana 
bays, the drizzling rain in the month of Kartic, 
does immense good to the paddy. ;l 

" Hear, O son of ploughman, in the bamboo-bush 
put some smut of paddy, if you do so near the 
root of the shrubs, they will soon cover two Kudas 
of land (about 174 cubits square)." 

<4 O son of ploughman, plant patol {Trichosan- 
the diceca] in a sandy soil, your expectations will 
be fulfilled." 

"Sow the seeds of mustard close, but those of rye 
(Sinapis ramose] at some distance from one another. 
Cotton plants should be put at the distance of a leap 
from one another and jute should, by no means, be 
planted near them, for cotton plants will perish if 
they come in contact with the water from the jute- 
field." " 

There are numerous rules of this nature laid 
down on agricultural matters, with special applica- 
tion to the products of the soil of Bengal, The 
books serve to this day as infallible agricultural 
manuals to the ploughmen of Bengal. The short 
sentences rhyming with one another are soon com- 
mitted to memory ; so every child and every woman 
knows them in rural Bengal. 

The following rule is enjoined for building a 
. , . . , J 6 On house 

residential house : building, 

On the 


of plants 

and on the 


Study of 
female cha- 
racter in 


" On the east, let there be the ducks (i.e. there 
should be a tank) ; on the west, an avenue of bam- 
boos ; on the north, a garden of fruit-trees ; and 
the south should be left open"* 

The chapter on medicine is not taken from any 
learned Sanskrit medical work. The indigenous 
plants and herbs of rural Bengal are prescribed as 
remedies, the effects of which seem to be infallible 
on the human system and were known by direct 
experiment. The discourse on the culinary art of 
Bengal in Daker vachan has a particular interest 
to us, as it describes the simple but exceedingly 
delicious fare, cooked by our village women. In 
plainnesb and in delicacy of taste, these dishes bear 
a striking contrast with the rich preparations of 
meat, introduced in the later times by the Maham- 

In Daker-vachan we iind an interesting study 
of female character which, I am afraid, will not be 
fully appreciated by people unacquainted with the 
life in our zenana. We give some extracts 
below : t 

" The husband is inside the house, the wife sits 
out-doors, and turns her head on all sides and 
smiles. With such a wife, says Dak, the husband's 
life is not secure." 

stfir ntw stw y/fv 


" The hearth is in the kitchen, but the wife cooks 
meals outside, she swells her small tresses and ties 
them into a large knot, and frequently turns back 
her head (as it to see somebody). She empties 
the pitcher, and goes to the pond for re-filling it, 
casts side-glances on the passers-by, and covertly 
glances at some stranger while talking vutfi neigh- 
bours on the road, hums a tune while lighting the 
evening lamp. Such a woman should not be kept 
in the house."* 

The sky of Bengal, clear and transparent in the 
early spring, foggy in winter, and full of frowning 
clouds and angry flashes of lightnings in the rainy 
months, ever changing its aspects from month to 
month, cannot fail to strike a keen observer of 
nature with the clearly defined lines of its varied 
weather. The various seasons produce different 
results on the human system, on the paddy-tields, 
and on the variegated flowers and leaves of trees 
with which the villages abound. Life here changes, 
as it were, from month to month and Nature pic- 
turesquely disports herself on the stage of this 
beautiful country through the twelve sub-divisions 



4 sfl 5 TO wt? II 

ttfrw w \ 
orfan *rr$ sre sre u 

Vara Mas! 
or ' twelve 
months' a 

WtCT Tfcfr fi[ II 


of the yean The " Varamasi" or a description of 
twelve months is a favourite subject with our old 
poets, who seem to be never weary of describing 
the peculiar pleasures and sorrows of each of the 
twelve months. Here, in these two manuals, there 
are frequent references to the conditions of weather 
foretelling the prospects ot paddy during each month 
of the year. Food, peculiarly congenial to the human 
system in each season and month, is detailed in 
Daker Vachana in strict accordance with the prin- 
ciples of health. I quote a portion below : 

M In the month of K&rtik, take the esculent root 
Ol (Arum campanulatuni). In Agrahayana the Bel 
fruit will prove congenial to health. In Pous take 
Kanji (a kind of sour gruel or sowens made by 
steeping rice in water and letting the liquor fer- 
ment). In Magh, a free use of mustard oil is re- 
commended. In Falgun take ginger and in Chaitra 
vegetables of a bitter taste (as Nim leaves) will do 
you good. In Vai^akh Nalita (a pot herb), in 
Jyaistha, butter milk, in A?ada, curds, in rvana 
Khoi (a kind of fried-grain) in Bhadra, palm fruit 
and in A^vina, cucumber. This is the VaramasJ, 
says Dak."* 



1OT 4\ 1FS 


The later Varamasis, of which there is quite a 
legion in our old literature, are mainly devoted 
to tender feelings experienced by lovers in the 
different months of the year, especially when 
separated from one another. 

The popularity of the two books is not ap- 
proached by any other writings that we know of, in 
the country, as even illiterate men have got the 
aphorisms by heart, and yet they have been handed 
down to us from a remote past, it may be the tenth 
century A. D. as we have already said and as ap- 
pears from the language in w r hich their older ver- 
sions are couched and from the spirit of the age 
which is stamped upon them. 

Our next point will be to discuss the authorship 
of these aphorisms. Khans is believed to be a 
historical personage, the reputed wife of Vaigha- 
mihira and a prodigy in astronomy, in the days of 
Vikramaditya, the King of UjjayinI, Even accepting 
all these traditions about her to be true, it is absurd 
to suppose, that she a native of Rajputana, would 
compose the aphorisms in Bengali or dwell upon 
subjects which peculiarly apply to Bengal. The 
Daker Vachana has similarly been ascribed by 
popular belief to a milk-man named Dak. In the 
vanita (signature) of these sayings, we occasionaly 
come across the words " Dak goala n (Dak-the 
milkman.) We have, however, found that they 
formed a part of the Buddhistic work Dakarnava 
Tantra, so their origin is easily explained. In 
some of the sayings we find the vanita of Ravaha. 
This exceedingly purile notion is no doubt due 
to the belief amongst the people of this country 



of the 


The ques- 
tion of au- 



recast by 


that a knowledge of astrology has come down to 
us fiom the Raksasas. Inspite of all these tradi- 
tions, we are inclined to believe, that these say- 
ings contain the accumulated wisdom of the Bengal 
peasantry, they are the heritage of an agricultural 
race to which the unassuming rural folk of Bengal 
have unconsciously contributed through ages, and 
that no particular person or persons should be 
credited with their authorship. 

2. Dharma-cult a form of Buddhism. 

The Moslem conquerors often built Mosques 
with the materials of the Hindu temples they had des- 
troyed. The sculptural representations of gods and 
goddesses and other carvings on bricks indicating 
the ancient decorative art of the Hindus have been 
lately discovered from dilapidated Mosques in 
various places in India, as the plaster, \\hich con- 
cealed tliem from view, crumbled down from the 
walls in course of time. 

Such has also been the case with Buddhism in India. 
In the Buddhist temple, the image of Buddha is often 
worshipped as iva Buddhistic religious books have 
been so recast and transformed by the Hindu priests, 
that they now pass for religious poems of the Hindus 
in the eyes of the people. Yet they were unmistakab- 
ly Buddhistic works at first. Such for instance are the 
poems of Dharma-mangal. Dharma-thakur, in praise 
of whose might, the poems were originally com- 
posed, represents the popular idea of Buddha and 
, occupies the second place in the Budhistic group 
comprised of Buddha, Dharma and Samgha. The 
third of the group 1^, changed into *f$(, is also 
alluded to, in the unya Purana, by Ram^i Pandit, 

II. ] 



He mystically discourses on W,* which however, is 
as remote from ^^ as is the popular conception 
of Dharma-thakur, from that of the historical Buddha. 
There are passages which distinctly prove the 
Buddhistic origin of the poems. In the unya 
Purana, which lays down rules for Dharma wor- 
ship, there is a line, " vfatSF ^H fofl ~<ra" 
(Dharma Raj condemns sacrifices). This sounds 
like a translation of the well-known line in honour 
of Buddha by the poet Jaydeva " 


There are many other passages which clearly 
indicate the same truth, for instance "f*J*5t*I 
SllVfatW ^3 *PVfa " (Dharma Raj is held in high 
veneration in Ceylon), In another line we find 
" ^iftlW fe*R ^ if^ ^^H" (In former times 
Dharma Raj was the Lalita Avatara). The most 
authoritative biography of Buddha is called the 
u Lalita Vistara." 

wi C^P 

Wtftf* H 

Puran PP, 83- 



In the poems of Dharma-mangal itself, there are 
frequent references to Buddhist saints, such as 
Minanath, Goraksanath, Hadlpa and Kalupa. The 
words fift$m and Jf sjfil with \\hich the readeis of 
the poems are so familiar, are words taken from 
the Buddhistic astras. The doctrine known as 
the unyabgd, which explains the origin of the 
universe from nothing, became a popular theory with 
the later Buddhistic school ; and this doctrine is 
detailed not only in the unya Purana, but also in 
the poems of Dharma-mangal. The Hadls, Domas 
and other low caste people are the priests in many 
of the Dharma temples. The Doma Pandits at one 
time occupied a prominent position in the Buddhistic 
temples, and when Buddhism \\as driven away from 
this country, all religious functions in many of these 
Dharma temples, still continued to be discharged 
by the descendants of the Doma priests, as the 
Hindus dared not oust a priestly class, revered by 
the people, from their duties in temples. We 
noticed, that the poems in honour of Dharma- 
thskur have been thoroughly recast by the Hindu 
priests, and Hindu ideas have been largely intro- 
duced into them ; but even as late as 1640 A.D. the 
Brahmin priests would not venture to mix too 
closely with the worshippers of Dharma-thakur for 
fear of losing caste. In the above year, when Manik 
Ram Ganguli, a Brahmin, was inspired by Dharma- 
thakur, who appeared to him in a dream for 
encouraging him to write a Dharma-mangal, our 
poet fell prostrate before him in dismay, and said 
"s?tfa TO l<p ifr fcfl ^fa IT* I 1 ',! shall be an 
outcast, if I sing a song in your praise). This 



2 9 

distinctly proves that Dharma-thakur had origi- 
nally no place in the Hindu Pantheon. 

As the popularity of these songs amongst the 
masses continued unabated, the Brahmins gradually 
took them up, and later poems of Dharma-mangal 
have been so greatly transformed in their hands, that 
they look very much like works devoted to theakta- 
cult ; but reading between the lines, the readers 
will be able to discover evident traces of Buddhism 
in them. It should however be noted here, that the 
Buddhism indicated in these works, has scarcely 
anything in common with the pure Buddhism of 
A^oka's time; and both are even more unlike one 
another than the Pouranic Hindu religion of the 
present day and the pure religion of the Upani^adas. 

The unya Purana by Ramai Pandit, Chana- 
charyavinigchay by Kanu Bhatta, the poems known 
as Dharma-mangal, and ballads and songs in honour 
of some of the Pal Kings of Bengal bear distinct 
stamps of Buddhism on them. The ballads of the 
Pal Kings, who were great patrons of Buddhism, 
indicate the marvellous power wielded by Gorak?a- 
nath and Hadisiddha, the great Buddhistic saints. 
The latter belonged to one of the meanest castes of 
the Hindu society, yet his power is said to have 
been so great, that the gods of Heaven, trembled 
in fear, when the saint approached. In the sogns 
of Govinda Chandra Pal, revised by the poet 
Durlabha Mallrk, the King is said to have asked 
his religious preceptor the far-famed Hadisiddha, 
as to what was the true religion. Hadisiddha 
said : 







by the 



born to- 
wards the 

end of 
the 1 Oth 



of his 



( Govinda, my son, the highest act of religion is 
to abstain from destruction of life). 

The popular notion of Buddhism in India holds 
this doctrine of ^f^Tl as the most essential point 
in the religion of Buddha, about whom the poet 
Joydeva has said : 

3. Ramai Pundit and his unya Purana. 

The great exponent of the Dharma-cult in Bengal 
was, by general acceptance, Ramai Pandit the 
reputed author of unya Purana, The poems of 
Dharma-mangal also make mention of Ramai Pundit 
with great esteem. His hand-book of Darma Puja, 
called the unya Purana, has been edited by Babu 
Nagendranath Vasu and lately published by the 
Sahitya Parisada of Calcutta. Ramai Pandit was a 
contemporary of Dharmapal II, who reigned in 
Gouda in the early part of the nth century A.D. 
Ra jendra Choi's rock-inscription (1012 A. D.), recently 
discovered at Tirumalaya, makes mention of this 
monarch. Ramai Pandit was born at Champaighat- 
on the river D\\arake<;\var in the District of 
Bankura. The year of his biith is not known, but 
he was born on the 5th day of the waxing moon, in 
the month of Vai^akha, towards the end of the loth 
Century A.U. 

Babu Nagendianath Vasu, who edits the unya 
Purana, accepts the account of Ramai's life 
furnished by his descendants, and takes him to be a 
Brahmin. The account is full of fables and is 
scarcely entitled to credence. The descendants of 
Ramai Pandit, who still discharge the priestly 


function in the Dliarma temple at Maina, are 
known as Dom Pandits and not Brahmins , besides, 
there have been so many attempts in Bengal to 
raise a low-born saint to the rank and status of a 
Brahmin, evidently with a view to remove the 
stigma of humble origin laid on his descendants, 
that we can hardly accept this account of interested 
patties as true. Haridasa, the great saint of the 
Vaisnava community, was a Mahammadan ; but he is 
now declared by some Vaisnavas to have been 
originally a Brahmin. Even in the accounts furnished 
from the temple of Mains by the descendants of 
Ramai Pundit, there are points to throw a doubt 
on the pretensions to a high pedigree advanced 
by them. Dharma-thakur therein is said to have 
cursed Ramai, saying that the people of higher 
castes would not touch water given by the Saiht. 
Ramai Pandit himself is said to have cursed 
his son Dharmadas for a fault, not clearly stated, 
by which he lost his caste and turned a Dom 
Pandit. These stories are evidently got up to 
establish the point that they were originally 
Brahmins, though so degraded now, The writer 
of the sketch very forcibly states that the Dom 
Pandits do not belong to the Doma caste. His 
very enthusiasm in establishing this point betrays 
the weakness of his position ; for the people of 
Bengal know Domas and Dom Pandits to belong 
to the same caste. The word f^W (twice-born) 
which occasionally occurs in the Bhanita of Ramai 
Pandit, is a later interpolation and the unya 
Purana, in its present shape, bears traces of many 
subsequent hands, as Nagendra Babu has himself 





of the 


i Pandit was eighty years old when he 
married. His son Dharmadas had four sons, 
Madhava, Sans tana, ridhara and Trilochana. 
The members of Ramai Pandit's family are 
authorised priests of Yjjtrasiddhi Roy as Dharma- 
thakur of the temple at Maina is called and they 
are privileged to perform the copper-ceremony 
of the 36 castes. 

The unya Purana begins with a description of 
the origin of the universe on the lines of the 
Mahayana School of the Buddhists. It runs thus* : 

" There was no line, no form, no colour, and 
no sign. 

11 The sun and the moon were not, nor day, nor 

"The earth was not, nor water, nor sky. 

"The mounts Meru, Mandara and Kailasa were 

"The creation was not, nor were there gods, 
nor men. 

" Brahma was not, nor was Visnu, nor the ethe- 
rial regions. 

IX f&T i 


ft 9 ! ^Trr 1 7- 

nw fft 

wnr 1iw i 13- 


unya Puran. 


" Heaven and earth were not, all was emptiness, 

" The presiding gods of the ten directions wen* 
not, nor were there the clouds, nor the stars. 

k4 Life was not, nor death, nor pangs of death. 

"The Lord moved in the void, suppotting Him- 
self on the void." 

From the Lord, says the unya Parana, sprang 
air; and as He drew breath, Ulluk (owl), a bird sacred 
with the worshippers of Dharma-Thakur, was creat- 
ed. The owl is also sometimes called a Muni 
(sage). The next creation was tortoise, which is 
also sacred with the Dharma-worshippers. }n the 
temple, dedicated to Dharma Thflkur by Lau Sen 
King of Maina, in the nth century, Dharma is still 
worshipped as a tortoise. The other objects of 
creation were the serpent Ananta, and the earth , 
and then from the Lord came akti, known as 

We* need not proceed further with this catalogue 
of theological reveries. The unya Puraiia gives 
details about the method of worshipping Dharma. 
We find iva, Visnu, Brahma and a host of Pauranik 
gods mentioned in this book in a strange way. 
They discharge functions which have little in com- 
mon with those attributed to them by the Hindus. 
Occasionally we come across the word ^fa^f 5 ?, 
which reminds us of the Nirvana of Buddha. 

Cunya Puiana, published by the Sahitya Parisacl, 
contains altogether 56 chapters, of which 5 are 
devoted to an account of the creation of the uni- 
verse. The rest detail the method of Dharma- 
worship with occasional references to the sacrifices 
made by Raja Hari Chandra and other devout 



>f passages 

from the 



The last 



followers of Dharma, for the sake of religion. 
There are several passages in prose in the book 
which furnish curious specimens of very old Ben- 
gali mixed with later interpolations. Our readers 
will admit from the antique forms of words in the 
following lines that they formed a part of the 
original writings of Ramai Pandit. 

^ TO 

flfl ntfr 
ifa itupr 

r 1 P. 

fRWT itftw w f^sri 11" p- 24. 



The book contains many passages of this nature, 
and the learned editor has, in an apologetic tone, 
avowed his inability to explain many of them. 

The last chapter, which is headed " 
(the anger of Niranjan) and was evidently annexed, 
at least three centuries after the composition of the 
original work, refers to the revival of Hinduism, 
the downfall of the followers of Sat-Dharma or 
pure religion (Buddhism), and to a free fight between 
the Mahammadans and the Brahmins at Jsjpur, 
the Mahammadans being described as the incarna- 
tions of gods and goddesses who are said to have 
come down for wreaking vengeance on the Brahmins 
for oppressing the Sat-Dharmls. We give a free 
and abridged translation of the curious passage 


below.* In all probability the passage was written 
by Sahadeva Chakravarti, one of the authors of 
Dharma-mangal, of whom we shall have to write 
at some length, hereafter. 

dtvra TO 

*f m fan 1*1* 

^tnr, ^ftr TOT 

f tn 






ft^CT ItW 

n ^ 

am ^ ittw ft? i 



and the 


comes as 

a Muha- 
mmad an to 
punish the 

" In Jajpur afid Maldah sixteen hundred 
families of Vedic Brahmins mustered stiong. 
Being assembled in groups of ten or twelve, they 
killed the Sat-Dharmis (Buddhists' who would not 
pay them religious fees, by uttering incantations 
and curses. They recited Mantras from the Vedas 
and (ire came out from their mouths, as they did so. 
The followers of Sat-Dharma trembled with fear 
at the sight thereof, and prayed to Dharma, for 
\>ho else could give them succour in that crisis ? 
The Brahmins began to destroy the creation in the 
above manner, and acts of great violence were per- 
petrated on the earth. Dharma who resided in 
Baikuntha uas grieved to see all this. He came to 
the \\orld as a Muhammadan. On his head he wore 
a black cap, and in his hand he held a cross-bow. 

( have changed the word ^ to TO in the second line, as I 

consider the latter to be the correct reading) 

unya Puran, p. 14^ 




He mounted a horse and was called Khoda, Niran- 
jana incarnated himself in Bhest (heaven). All the 
gods being of one mind, wore trousers. Brahma 
incarnated himself as Muhammad, Vi^nii as 
Paigamvar and Civa became Adamfa (Adam). 
Ganefa came as a Gazi, Kartika as a Kfizi, Narada 
became a Sekha and Indraa Moulana. The Ri?is of 
heaven became Fakirs. The sun, the moon and the 
other gods came in the capacity of foot-soldiers, and 
began to beat drums. The goddess Chandi incarnat- 
ed herself as Hay a Bibi and Padmavati became 
Bibi Nur. The gods being all of one mind entered 
Jajpur. They broke the temples and Mathas and 
cried u sci^e," "seize." Falling at the feet of 
Dharma, Ramai Pandit sings, ( 'O what a great 
confusion '" 

What historical incident is referred to, in the 
description given above; is not clearly known. But 
it unmistakably points to a general feeling of grati- 
fication, with which the Buddhists watched the 
oppression of the Brahmins by the Muhatnmadans 
at Jajpur, which they attributed to divine wrath, 
for atrocities committed upon themselves. 

4. The Sahajia-cult. 

When Buddhism declined in India, and Hindu- 
ism had not yet risen on her horizon in the fulness 
of its glorious revival, when the idea of a higher 
life inspired by a keen sense of morality and in- 
trospection, which was the dominant spirit of 
Buddhism, declined into scepticism and sensuality, 
and when devotion and absolute trust in God, which 
characterised the Pauranik Hinduism, v\as yet un- 
known in the twilight of the transition-period, 


history of 
the fight 




started by 






and Bodhi 



mystic rituals of Tantrikism ruled Buddhistic and 
Hindu communities all over India. The Vamacharl 
Tgntriks perpetrated wanton crimes in the name 
of religion and the vast literature, they have 
left us, lays down codes for those initiated in the 
creed, which totally upset the moral fabric of society. 

The Sahajia-cult owed its origin to the Vama- 
charl Buddhists. Salvation was sought for by a 
process of rituals in which young and beautiful 
women were required to be loved and worshipped. 
In sexual love there is surely a higher side which 
points to love Divine. The Sahajia-cult was 
originally based upon this idea. 

Kafm Bhatta a Buddhist scholar, who lived in 
the latter part of the loth century, was the first 
apostle of love-songs of the Sahajia-cult in Bengali. 
This love is not a legitimate affair sanctioned by 
society ; with one's own wife it could not, accord- 
ing to this creed, reach a high stage of perfection. 
Kanu Bhatta's work in Bengali which formulates 
the creed of Va ma char is called Charyya-Charyya 
Vinicchaya. It has been lately recovered from 
Nepal by Mahamahopadhyaya Hara Prasad astrl. 
Another work of a similar kind is Bodhi-Charyya- 
vatara, the MS. of which, as I have said elsewhere, 
is incomplete. 

There are passages in the love-songs contained 
in the above two works which are obscene ; but they 
are permeated by a mystic spiritual significance 
and are capable of a higher interpretation. 

The doctrines promulgated by the Vamacharl 
Buddhists did not pass away with the overthrow 
gf the Buddhistic influence in Bengal. In the 


Sahajia creed of the Vaishavas, the old doctrines 
re-appeared Amongst the masses, and its great ex- 

ponent Chandidas echoed the sentiments of Kanu Cha " d * 
. ... . * s ai * 

Bhatta in his love-songs, giving it a far higher spiri- ponent of 

i i j . r t Sahajia, 

tual tone than they had ever received from the 

Buddhists. Chandidas lived in the I4th century, 
so his writings do not, properly speaking, belong 
to the pre-Mahammadan period to which we should 
have confined ourselves in this chapter. For an 
exposition of the Sahajia doctrines, however, we 
find it necessary to refer to some of his songs 
which elucidate the essential principles of this 
curious creed. Says Chandidas : 

u Every one speaks of Sahajia, alas, w r ho knows 
its real meaning? One who has crossed the region 
of darkness (passions) can alone have the light of 

Chandldas's writings on this point occasionally 
appear as riddles, and indeed all writings of this 
class are so, but they give sufficient glimpses of 
the purity of his faith. 

t " The woman must remain chaste and never 
fall ; she will sacrifice herself entirely to love, but 
outwordly the object of her love will be as nobody 


^ras^t? CT fcwtni 

CT B ChandldSs. 

t " 

i " 


to her. Secret love must be indulged in secret ; 
and thereby her mind should be purified ; but she 
should not submit to desire. She must plunge 
heisHf headlong in the sea of abuse, but at the same 
time scrupulously a\oid touching the forbidden 
stream and be quite indifferent to both pleasure 
and pain, (she \\ill allow herself to be abused by 
others remaining true to herself)." 

To play with passions, to indulge freely in love, 
at the same time to guard oneself against a fall, is 
lisky. The poet knows it well and says* 

" To be a true lover, one must be able to make a 
frog dance in the mouth of a snake " (which means, 
the lover \\hile playing \\ith dangerous passions, 
nay, while apparently running even to the very 
mouth of destruction, must possess the self-control to 
return unhurt) " This love may be attained by one 
who can suspend the highest peak of Mount 
Sumeru \\ith a thread, or bind an elephant \\ith a 


ntfrfr TOW *ra " 
\ r 



cobweb ;"t implying that it is not in an ordinary 
man's power to control the surging passions of 
love and remain immaculate in his vow. The 
poet says, that by exercising restraint over feelings 
and desires and at the same time by running 
though great sacrifices for its cause, salvation 
through love may be obtained. 

According to Cbandfdas, the initiated people 
must exercise great discretion in selecting their 
objects of love. The lovers should be both pure 
in heart, spiritually bent and immaculate in morals. 

" If a young maiden (of a spiritual temperament) 
falls in love with a man of inferior quality, she 
shares the fate of a flower pierced by thorns and 
dies of a broken heart. If a youth happens to fall 
in love with a maiden of lower type, he becomes 
like one, who is under the influence of evil-spirits, 
moves about in great unrest, and eventually 
succumbs to despair; says Chandidas. " Such a 
union between a good-natured person and one who 
bears an opposite character may be compared to love 
between the tooth and the tongue ; they live to- 
gether but the former does not let an opportunity 
slip to bite the latter."* 

ex w jj, n<rw <7t 


(It should be noted here that the word %fo as used in the above 
extract, meant pure love in Chafhlld&s's time. Its meaning has 
since degraded and it now means a low carnal gratification). 



Chaftdidss himself loved a washer-woman 
following the rules of the Sahajia cult, for according 
to Gupta Sadhan Tantra, a book of authority with 
the sect, a washer- \\oman amongst others, is a 
legitimate subject of such love for a Vamachan 
Tnntrik. Here is the text of the above Tanthi.* 

" A dancing girl, a girl of the Kapali caste, a 
prostitute, a washer-woman, a barbar's daughter, a 
Brahmin girl, a udra girl, a milk-maid, a girl of 
the Malakar caste these nine are recognised as 
the legitimate subjects for Tantric practices ; 
those that are most clever amongst these, should 
be held as pre-eminently fit ; maidens endowed 
with beauty, good luck, youth and amiable disposi- 
tion are to be worshipped with care and a man's 
salvation is attained therrby " 

In purity and edifying influence, Chamlklas's 
sentiments made a near approach to spiritual love ; 
and he literally worshipped the washer- woman 
with the ardour of a devotee, though he himself 
was a good Brahmin. Her name was Ratal, and 
Chandldas says of her: 

"O my love, I have taken refuge at they feet, 
knowing, they have a cooling effect (on rhy burn- 

fif 2 

Gupta Sadrfan Tadtra. 


ing heart). I adore your beauty beaming with 
holy maidenhood which inspires no carnal desire. 
When I do not see you, my mind becomes restless ; 
and as I see you, my heart is soothed. washer- 
woman, my lady, you are to me what parents are 
to helpless children. The three prayers that a 
Brahmin offers daily to his God, I offer to you, You 
are to me as holy as Gayatn from which the Vedas 
originated. I know you to be the goddess Sara- 
svatl who inspires songs, I know you to be the 
goddess Parvati. You are the garland of my neck, 
my heaven and earth, my nether-worlds and my 
mountains nay, my whole universe! you are the 
apple of my eyes. Without you all is dark to me. 
My eyes are soothed when I see you. The day I do 
not see your moonlike face, I remain like a dead 
man. I cannot, for a moment, forget your grace and 
beauty. 0, tell me how I may deserve your favour? 
You are my sacred hymns and the essence of my 
prayers. My love for your maidenly beauty has not 
any element of physical desire in it. Says Charidl- 
(]^ s> the love of the washerwoman is pure gold 
tested by touch-stone."* Chandldas was himself 

ftwrift wt, TO I* itft *t i 

fcwfr*, CTftcn wi f ?t* n 
TOW 31%, yfr w Tff fn? i 




convinced that sexual love leads to love Divine. 
He says " Hear me, friends, how salvation may be 
attained through love for a woman : Reduce your 
body to a dry log (make it such as to be quite un- 
moved by passions), He that pervades the universe, 
unseen by all, is approachable only by him who 
knows the secret of pure love. M t 

So sang Chandldas the great exponent of the 
Sahajia cult in Bengal in the I4th century, more than 
3 hundred years after Kanu Bhatta had composed 
his love songs. It goes without saying, that in their 
earnest efforts to attain salvation by worshipping 
young and beautiful damsels, many a youth turned 
moral wrecks in this country. Chandldas rightly 

c^ ffa srt erf* * fctfw WCT ifirai <ttfa 1 1 
v? w Htgfir miftre snfir, fr fror ^f?^ ^^ i 
en IB, 

COT, fa^ft? CCT W ^^tftCT 1 1H II 


t " 

*tifer 11, 




says, that "in a million it would be difficult to find 
one" * who has the capacity for self-restraint re- 
quired by the Sahajis preachers. 

From the earliest times the Hindu society 
does not seem to have offered any refuge to 
fallen women. The dangers of admitting fallen 
women to a society with a severe ideal of female 
purity \\ere fully realised by the Hindus. The rite 
of Sati, and an uncompromising form of widow- 
hood, sprang up in our social organisation, as 
natural alternatives for women on the death of their 
husbands. The Buddhists reserved a place in their 
nunneries for fallen women and for those who took 
the vow of life-long maidenhood The Buddhist 
Bhiksus and Bhiksunles (monks and nuns) who pro- 
bably started the principles of salvation by sexual 
love with all the noble intentions of Dona-Julia in 
Don Juan, fell victims to their own snares and rightly 
earned the contemptuous title of c*T51 C^ the 
shaved couple. This epithet is now applied to the 
fallen men and women of the Vaishava society. 
But the women of that class do not get their 
heads shaved as the Buddhist Bhiksunles used to 
do. The Buddhist monks and nuns who formed 
improper relationship were the persons who were 
first called <?V?1 C^t I The Vainavas who borrowed 
the Sahajia cult from the Buddhists were not spared 
these nicknames. Chandidas himself knew the 
dangers of the creed and perhaps he stood the 
severe test. But latterly it became debased to the 
extreme and produced disastrous results on the 

The dan. 

gers of 


the harm 

it did to 

the VaH- 




For love, a little out of the way, if sanctioned 
by religion, offers temptations which the mass can 
hardly resist ; and it is no wonder that taking advan- 
tage of a wicked interpretation of the love of Radha 
and Kri?na, this cult of the Buddhist monks found 
favour in the lower stratum of Vai?nava society, the 
degeneracy of which was mainly brought about by the 
immoral latitudes of the Sahajia Vaisnavas. The 
great Vaisriava leaders were conscious of this draw- 
back of their society and so condemned the creed. 
Chaitanya Deva would not allow any of his ascetic 
followers to mix with women, and Rupa, Sana tana 
and other devotees, who followed him, were unspar- 
ing in their hostile attitude to the Sahajia Vaisnavas. 
Yet the creed numbered its votaries by hundreds 
amongst the Vaisnavas, and we have come across 
about thirty authors in old Bengali literature who 
advocated the principles of Sahajia.* 

* The following books, among others, give an exposition of the 
Sahajia doctrines some of them were written nearly 400 years 
ago, but all, before the British Conquest Most of them contain 
prose-passages which may be taken as specimens of early 
Bengali prose. 

1. Svarupa Varhan 

2. Vrindaban Dhyan 

3. Guruclsya Sam bad 

4. Rupamanjuri 

5. Prarthana 

6. Rasa Bhakti Lahari 

7. Raga Ratnabali 

8. Siddhinam 

9. At m a Sad h an 

10. Amrita Rasa Chandrika 

1 1 . Prembhaba Chandrika 

12. SaratsSr Karika 

13. Bhakti Latika 

14. Sadhya Prem Chandrika 

15. Raga Mala 

16. Svarup Kalpa Latik 

17. Prem Vila* 
id. Tatva Nirupan 

19. Rasa Bhakti Chandrika 

by Krhnadas. 

attributed to 

Norottam D&s 



Upasana Patala 
Ananda Bhairava 

j-by Premdas 


Ananda Lahari 

by Mathura Das 


Dinamani Chandrodaya 

by Manharadas 


Siddhanta Chandrodaya 



Amrita Rasa Valli 




Saratsara Karlka 

(by Mukunda Das 


Sadhan Opaya 

2 9 . 

Raga Ratnavali 


Totva Katha 

by Jodunath Das 

3 1 - 


by Jag at Krisna Das 


Bhandatatva Sar 

by Rasamaya Das 


Rati Vilas 

by Rasik Das 



hv RadhaBallavDas 

3 I' 

Nikunja Rahasya 

jby Vaih^ldas 

^ attributed tp^anatana 


Sidharati Karika 

( by one who subscribes 


Vivartta Vilas 

C himself as a desciple of 
; KrHnadas Kavira). 


5. Dharmamangal-Poems. 

The authors of Dharmamangal-poems, written Mayur 
in honour of the god Dharma, unanimously agree 
in declaring Mayura Bhatta to be the earliest writer 
on the subject. The poem which is said to have 
furnished inspiration to the succeeding poets of the 
Dhurma-cult was called the Hakanda Purafia, Babu 
Nagendranath Vasu considers the unya Purana 
by kami Pandit to be identical with the Hakanda 
Puraria.* But we do not agree with this theory, 
as the subject treated in most of the Dharmaman- 
gal-poems is quite different from what we find in 
the Cunya Purana. Besides, the name Hakanda 
Purana, is evidently associated with the superhuman 
sacrifices of Lau Sen at Hakanda, and of this song 
Ramai Pandit was not certainly the apostle. 

Mayura Bhatta's time is not exactly known 
In all probability he flourished a little before the 
Mahammadan conquest. Slta Ram, the author of 

* See Preface to the ^unya Purana, 


a Dharmamangal, who lived early in the fifteenth 
Century, refers to Mayur Bhatta's songs, as already 
having grown obsolete and partially lost by lapse 
of years, in his time. Mayura Bhatta who was 
admittedly the pioneer in the field and deservedly 
very popular, preceded Sita Ram by at least 3 or 4 
centuries. We learn from an account given in 
Matiik Ganguli's poem that Mayura Bhatta belonged 
to a respectable Brahman family of Bengal. 

These poems were originally Buddhistic in spirit 
but they passed through great changes in the hands 
of the Hindu priests. Most of the Dharmamangal- 
poems give a description of the heroic achieve- 
ments of Lau Sen, the King of Maina who flourish- 
ed in the nth century. I briefly summarise the 
tale below : 

Tfie story In the reign of Gaude^vara, son of Dharraapal II, 

mangal. King of Gauda, there lived one Soma Ghosa, 
who was originally a menial servant in his palace. 
He ingratiated himself into the confidence of the 
Emperor and secured for himself a landed property 
at Dhakur on the river Ajay. The son of Soma 
Ghosa was Ichai Ghosa who was a great warrior 
and a devout worshipper of the Goddess Kali. 
He gradually asserted his independence and ins- 
pite of all remonstrance offered by his father, 
declared war against the Empeior of Gauda. The 
Emperor sent several expeditions to put down the 
revolt but all failed. Karna Sen, King of Maing- 
gada, a feudatory chief, was summoned to help the 
Emperor in this crisis. Karna Sen, accompanied 
by his four sons, went to the battle field, but was 
vanquished in war and all his sons were killed. 


He returned to his capital to witness the death of 
his queen who succumbed to grief owing to the 
loss of her sons. Karna Sen, who was now old, 
went to Gauda under these overwhelming bereave- 
ments, with a view to meet the monarch and ac- 
quaint him with the dire loss that had befallen him 
in his expedition. The Emperor of Gauda was natu- 
rally moved, to hear the sad tale, and tried to think 
how best he could soothe his friend in the despair 
thus brought upon him by his fidelity to the throne 
of Gauda. The Emperor had a sister-in-law, a 
young maiden of remarkable beauty. He asked 
Karfia Sen to marry her. KarftaSen, as we have 
said, ' was already declined in the vale of years'; 
but he obeyed the royal command, and married the 
beautiful maiden, whose name was Ranjavatl. 
Lau Sen, the hero of Dharmamangal, was born to 
this married couple. It is said that his mother 
Ranjavatl went through various ordeals and super- 
human sacrifices in order to propitiate Dharma, one 
of these being self-destruction at the stake, when 
she was to be restored to life by the mercy of the god, 
who was pleased to grant her the boon of a son. 

With the help of Lau Sen, the Emperor of 
Gauda succeeded in putting down Karpurdhala King 
of Kamrup (Assam) who had rebelled against him. 
He also sent Lsu Sen to punish King Haripsl who 
had refused the old Emperor's proposals to marry 
his young and beautiful daughter Kaneda. A 
battle ensued, in which the army was led to 
the field by the lovely princess herself. The 
encounter between her and our hera was sharp 
and animated, but she could not long with- 
stand the superior skill and heroism of Lau Sen, 



and King Haripal was ultimately forced to submit. 
KSneda was, however, given in marriage to Lau Sen 
with the consent of the Emperor. But Lau Sen's 
.great achievement, was the conquest of Dhakur. 
Ichhfii Ghosa, who had baffled all attempts of the 
Emperor to bring him to submission, by destroying 
the vast armies sent at various times for the 
purpose, was killed by Lau Sen in a pitched battle. 

Besides these historical events, the poems give 
accounts of very mean plots and machinations 
to kill Lsu Sen, by Mahudya, the brother-in- 
law and prime minister of the Emperor of Gauda. 
Lau Sen was Mahudya's nephew, being his sister's 
son. The marriage of his sister RanjavatI with 
Karna Sen, who was old and decrepit, had not 
been approved of by him and though it had been 
celebrated under the orders of the Emperor, yet 
her brother tried his best to dissuade Ranjs from 
going to Mayna-gada with her husband. Ranja 
did not listen to her brother's counsel, but firmly 
told him, that as Karna Sen was now her lord, 
young or old, it mattered not to her, she was 
bound to follow him wherever he might go. 
In great anger Mahudya cursed his sister, saying 
that no child would be born to her. Hence when 
her son was actually born, and prince Lau Sen 
grew to be a handsome young hero with courage 
and spirit for any enterprise, a deep seated 
rage rankled in his uncle's bosom. There are 
hundreds of incidents in the poems, describing 
the plots to assassinate Lau Sen formed by 
Mahudya and last though not least was a 
command issued by the Emperor of Gauda at the 
instigation of the prime minister, calling upon 


Lau-Sen to go to Hakanda and fulfil certain extra- 
ordinary conditions for the propitiation of the god 
Dharma. These involved a severe course of 
penances, and required that the prince should make 
the sun rise from the west. If he should not be able 
to satisfy the King by this, he was to lose his head. 
When Lau Sen had gone to Hakanda on this 
strange mission, Mahudya led an army to Mayna- 
gada and laid siege to his capital. The brave and 
heroic sacrifices of Lokha Duma n I, wife of Kalu 
Doma, and those of his son aka, with the wonder- 
ful spirit of devotion to truth shown by Kalu in 
the sacrifice of his life at this crisis, are graphic- 
ally described by all the poets of Dharma-mangala. 
The trials and temptations which beset Lau Sen 
in his eaily youth, the court of Surikshya, the 
coquettish queen, the manners of Nayanl, the 
lewd Varui woman, are all full of interest for us as 
shedding light on various points of domestic -and 
court-life as it prevailed in the Bengal of those days. 
Lau Sen eventually comes out triumphant, by the 
favour of Dharma, and by dint of his wonderful 
devotion and strength of character. 

Such, briefly, is the subject-matter of the 
Dharmamangal-poems. The subject is an historical 
one. The ruins of Lau Sen's palace may still be 
seen at Mayna-gada in Tamaluk. The fort of the 
great Ichhai Ghosa, who offered a fierce resistance 
to the Emperor of Gauda in the 1 ith century, is also 
lying in ruins on the banks of the Ajay in the dis- 
trict of Bankura. The temple of Kli called ygm- 
rupa, worshipped by Ichhai, is also to be seen in 
that place, which is still full of the tradition of the 
prowess and heroic deeds of the glorious rebel 

The his- 
torical as- 
pects of 
the poems. 


The image of Dharma Thakur in the form of a tor- 
toise, and a temple dedicated to it by Lau Sen, 
maybe seen in Mayna-gada. In the list of the most 
prominent Indian Emperors of the Kali Yuga, fur- 
nished by our household almanacs, the name of 
Lau Sen occurs along with those of Rajah 
Yudhisthira, Mahlpal and Akbar. Haripal, against 
whom Lau Sen fought, lent^ his name to his 
capital in Simulia on the river BrahmanL The 
ruins of the outer courts of his palace, called the 
Bahir-Khanda, are still to be found in this village 
of Haripal. The river Brahman I, on which it 
once stood, has, however, been completely silted 
up. Old Simulia is now indicated by Simul-gada, 
which represents the once-fortified portion of the 
capital of Haripal. 

That the names Lui Chandra, Mahudya, Lohata, 
Jallan-ekar, Kaneda, Kalinga and Samola are 
those of historical personages, appears from their 
very antiquated Prakrita forms. They could not 
have been invented by any poet within the last 
seven hundred years. The refined classical tastq 
of the poets of the Renaissance period would 
not have permitted them to adopt these names 
in their poems if they had not been historical. 

These rustic epics of Dharmamangala were 
recited and sung by rural folk in early times, and 
as such can not perhaps cldim any high literary 
merit. But they are full of valuable references to 
the period before the Mahammadan conquest, and 
as our knowledge of that period is scanty, they 
possess an undoubted interest for the student of 


It appears from them that the Emperor of Gauda, The extent 
styled { Nn:*f)C?l3 ' King of the five Gaudas, or klntdom 
'lord of the five Indies/ as Beal has translated it, E ^ l ^ ors 
was the actual sovereign-head of Bengal, Orissa and of Gauda. 
Kamrupa. The kings of Cooch Behar, Assam, 
Barendra Defa, Shollipur, Kainjhora, Simulya, 
Maina-gada, Doluipur and other places, were all 
his vassals, and assembled under his banner at his 
summons. The royal seat of the kings of Gauda, 
was at Ramati, which is an abbreviation of the 
RamavatI mentioned in the copper-plate inscrip- 
tion of Madan Pal. This was either an earlier 
name, or a part of the city of Gauda. We also find, 
in the feudal organisation of the Empire, that 
Domas and Chandalas formed the main personal 
army of the emperors and their devotion to the King 
furnishes the poets with many extraordinary exam- 
ples of courage and heroism. 

We have read of the Bara-bhufias or twelve * lords Bara- 
of the land' of Bengal, who wielded great power in bhuiias. 
the country during Mahammadan times. But the 
custom of having twelve sub-lords attached to 
a paramount court, did not originate in India 
during the Mahammadan period. It is one of the 
oldest institutions of the Aryans. In the codes 
of Manu and ukracharyya, we find references 
to DwScjasa, Matxdalegvara, >vhich show that a great 
empire used to be divided into twelve subdivisions^ 
pr provinces each under its own chief, who was 
bound to serve the emperor, to attend his court 
and to acknowledge him as his feudal overlord. 
Tue Dodecapolis of the Greeks corresponds to 
this institution* During the reign of, Darius, 


these twelve lords became so powerful as to 
assert their independence and cause considerable 
trouble to the State. The custom of appointing 
twelve chiefs attached to the Darbar is even 
now prevalent in various States in Rajputna, 
and this is also the practice in the court of the 
Maharaja of Hill Tippera, which retains some of 
the most ancient usages of early Hindu Kings.* 
In all the ballads of Dharmamangal we find frequent 
mention of these t \velve lords, who are described 
as discharging important political functions in 
the court of the emperors of Gauda. They would 
appear to have been the pillars of the state, and in 
the confidence and honour with which they were 
treated at court, seem to have been second only 
to the Prime minister and to the feudatory chiefs. 
Certain functions were theirs which no one else 
could perform. At the time of the king's corona- 
tion, for instance, it was their privilege to pour on 
his head the sacramental water of the abkiseka. 
At the time of marriage of the emperor or 
his eldest son, they had the right of garlanding 
the newly-married couple. 

The descriptions of the royal courts, with which 
these poems abound, give us glimpses of important 
administrative forms prevalent during the Hindu 
period of Indian history, though subsequent writers 
did not fail to introduce some features of the Ma- 
hammadan Durbar in their descriptions. 

* For example, it is customary with the Tippera Rajas to 
enquire if any person dwelling in the Raj, has not had his daily 
meal before the Raja breaks his own fast, which he does at a very 
late hour of the day. This practice which, ho doubt, originated 
frorr> highly humane principles* has been reduced to a mere formal 


Mayura Bhatta, as we said, was the earliest 
writer of Dharmamangal and probably lived in the 
twelfth century. After him, came Khelaram, Ma- 
nik Gangull, Rupram, Ramachanadra, yam Pandit, 
Ramdas Adaka,. Sahadeva Chakravartl, Ghanaram 
and other writers, who gradually Hinduised the 
Buddhistic tales originally written to glorify 
Dharmaihakur. We shall 'notice their works in a 
subsequent chapter. 

6. The ballads and songs In honour 
of some of the P$l Kings. 

In Chaitanya Bbagabata, a Bengali work of great 
authority \tith the Vaishavas, the author Vrindavan 
Das (born 1507 A. I).) refers to the great favour in 
which the ballads in praise of some of the Pal 
Kings were held in Bengal. The copperplate-ins- 
cription of Madan Pal corroborates the trutli of this 
statement so far as Mahipal was concerned. The 
inscription says that the valourous and chivalric 
career of Mahipal, who was like a second iva, 
formed a favourite theme for popular songs in 
Bengal. We have an old Bengali saying " For the 
husking of rice in the mortar, the songs of Mahipal !" 
Later, when Caivaite ideas became fashionable, 
the name 01 Civa was substituted for that of 
Mahipal. All these things go to show that the 
Buddhistic monarchs of Bengal, about whom no 
chronicler came forward to write biographical or 
historical accounts, whom the Brahmanic school, 
while eulogising a Ballala Sen or a Laksmana Sen 
beyond all measure, completely ignored, must have 
left indelible marks on the popular mind by the 
greatness of their character and public works. 
Immense tanks, for instance, in the Districts of 

The chief 
writers of 



of the Pal 



of the 




RaJSr Gftn. 

The cru- 
deness of 
the song. 


Dinajpur and Rungpur, still attest the philanthropic 
spirit by which the Pal-Kings endeared "themselves 
to the millions of subjects over whom they ruled. 

The popular songs in honour of the Pal Kings 
were, no doubt, composed shortly after their 
death. The shape in which we find them now, 
however, is certainly not so old. The language has 
been considerably modernised, and here, as in the 
case of the uyna Purana, we come, now and again, 
on traces of the ancient originals. The ballads used 
to be sung in chorus by professional ministrels 
amongst the admiring rural folk with whom they 
were so popular, and this fact accounts for the 
changes wrought in their versions from age to age, 
to suit the understanding of the people. 

Manik Chandra RajSr Gan or the song of 
Manik Chandra Raja, was first published by 
Dr. G. A. Grierson in the Asiatic Society's Journal 
(Vol. I, Part III 1878). Manik Chandra Pal ruled 
in Northern Bengal during the first half of the i ith 
century, and the work in question must have been 
composed shortly after his death. 

There is not much that is intrinsically poetic in 
this ballad. It displays the unrestrained imagi- 
nation of a rustic author. The miracles attri- 
buted to Hadi Siddha remind one of the wonders 
performed by Danhas or some other dzinn in 
the Arabian Nights. Gods and men alike seem 
to be subject to the influences of Tantrik rites which 
awaken marvels at every step. But we occasion- 
ally catch glimpses of historical truth from inci- 
dental descriptions. The Government revenue 
of those days, was collected in cowries and trade 


was mainly conducted, by a system of barter. The 
higher classes seem to have been immensely rich 
and we find frequent descriptions of food being 
served to them en heavy golden plates. Their 
dinners were considered incomplete without at least 
some fifty different dishes, the tradition of which 
is not altogether unknown to our housewives even 
to this day. 

The similes and metaphors used in the descrip- 
tions are very commonplace, and show that these 
rural folk were completely ignorant of those classical 
standards which now permeate even the lower 
stratum of Hindu society. The beautiful teeth of 
Raja GopI Chandra's wife are compared to Sola 
(bark of the cork-plant). Nowadays, any peasant of 
the most backward of Bengali villages would com- 
pare them to the seeds of a pomegranate, after the 
classical style. 

But this perfectly artless song, in spite of its 
crudeness, is redeemed by the pathos which bursts 
forth in the cry of love of Aduna the abandoned 
wife of Gopl Chand. He turns ascetic and is about 
to leave her ; she falls at his feet in tears, and 
with the devotion and loving entreaty of a gentle 
Hindu wife, says to her husband : * * 

Will TO 







wi ftfiw 



" Leave me not 0, King, for some distant exile. 

" For whom have I built this cool house this 
bungalow, spacious and beautiful beyond descrip- 
tion ! Will you desert me in my youth ! alas, 
vain is then my youth. 

" How often shall I stretch out my hand and 
miss you, jewel of my heart ! 

" In the homes of my neighbours, women young 
and old will have their husbands by their sides. 

" My lot it will be to weep alone in an empty 

(( king, let me go with you. 

" If only I am with you, I can guard your 
precious life. 

" I shall cook for you when you are hungry. 

11 1 shall offer you water when you thirst. 

" With laughter and gentle play, how many 
hours will pass ! 



Ti^ciCT tff 


n w ntiti 
-TO itft fw* c^ftn 


"Walking in the open fields, we shall' talk 
merrily and know no weariness. 

" But when we approach the houses of men I 
shall declare you to be my guru my master. 

" When you desire to rest, I shall spread a cool 
mat for you, and you shall recline on a pillow, while 
I in happy mirthfulness slowly press with my hands 
your hands and feet. 

" When the summer is hot, I shall gently fan 
you, and in the cold month of Magha I shall cover 
you with warmth. " 

GopI Chand remonstrates, saying that an 
ascetic's lot is hard, and he will have to traverse 
forests infested with tigers and other wild beasts. 

The queen says in reply*: " These are false 
excuses to put me off. 

" Who would believe in such nonsense as this ? 


'Rtl ^ 9t 1T51 II 


W| m C^isi "fftfl 




Rajar gfin 


" When was it ever heard of, that a woman was 
killed by a tiger while in the company of her 
husband ? 

" But even if a tiger kills me I fear if not. I 
shall die without stain in the eyes of the people, 
and at the feet of my husband. 

" You will be to me as a fig tree and I as a 
creeper unto you. 

" I cling to your beautiful feet, O how can 
you desert me ? 

" While I was yet a maiden in my father's house, 
why did you not, O my pious prince, turn 
ascetic and renounce the world ? 

" Now I have attained to womanhood and am 
worthy of your love. 

"If you leave me now, I shall kill myself 
with sorrow." 

In a similar ballad, which gives an account of 
Govinda Chandra Rajah, whom we consider to be 
identical with Rajah GopI Chandra, the poet 
Durlabha .MalKk, recasting the song in compara- 
tively modern times, describes Queen Aduna's 
sorrows in somewhat the same way. 

When all importunities had failed and the 
king could not be moved from his resolution to go 
alone* : 


" Queen Adun fell on the earth, crying alas! 
atas ! 

" Her lamentations would have melted a stone. 

" The citizens assembled and began to shed 
tears for their king's departure. 

41 Children, old men, youths, and women all 
began to weep. 

" The very ocean seemed to move in surging 
waves, at the sight of the sorrow of the Queen. 

" The horses and elephants wept silently in the 

"The birds 'an' and * uka ' wept in 
their cages and would not touch their food. 

" The maidens who attended on the Queen 
began loudly to lament. 

" The Queen herself threw away her orna- 


CTW nw w TW cwtroi 



of Cunya- 


" In great affliction she threw away her 

"She wiped away the sacred vermilion from 
her forehead. 

" From her face she drew off the Besara, and 
from her feet she threw away the Nupura. 

"In utter woe she fell at the king's feet, 
covering them with her dishevelled hair and, 
crying again and again 'O king let me go 
with you !' " 

The CQnyabada, or doctrine of primeval 
nothingness, which, as we have said in a preceding 
paragraph, characterises the Mahayana school of 
Buddhists, is preached in this poerj? by the great 
sage Hadipa and there are numerous other evi- 
dences of Buddhistic influence in it. 

The capital of Govinda Chandra Rajah is des- 
cribed as situated at the town of Patika which has 
been identified with PaitkaPara under the police- 
station of Jaldhaka in the District of Rungpur. The 
renunciation of Rajah Gopi Chand created a sensa- 
tion all over India, which even at this distance of 
time, continues to be echoed in poems and 
dramas written in the Hindi and MaharStti 
languages. A .recent picture, by Ravi Varma 
representing Gopi Chand on the point of deserting 
his queen and palace, commands a large sale 
all over India. 

A promised Babu Bifweywara Bhattacharyya B.A, sub- 

edition of divisional Magistrate of Nilphamari in the District 
the songs* r 

of Rungpur, is at present collecting and editing 


capital of 

His great 

tlon a 
subject of 


a number of old and rare songs in honour of the 
Pal Kings from Northern Bengal.* 

7. The (aiva-cult, how it faced Buddhism. 

It was to the growing influence of the aiva 
religion that Buddhism eventually succumbed in 
India. The conception of iva, as we find it in 
the Puranas, is grand beyond all description. In 
the Vedic literature, he had been known as Rudra 
Deva. There he was the God of destruction, awe- 
inspiring, with four arms, each of which held a 
different weapon, and amongst which his trident 
and the Pinak carried at their points the grim 
terrors of death. The movements of this god, in 
infinite celestial space, made the great planets 
crush each other, and his trident pierced the 
elephants who supported the ten points of the 
compass. All other gods fell on their knees, and 
cried for protection, when iva danced in wild and 
destructive ecstacy at the time of the final dissolu- 
tion of the universe. 

But the PurSnas completely changed the Great 
God. We have heard of the fiery planets growing 
cold with lapse of time in the celestial regions, the 
pleasant verdure of shrubs and plants covering 
those orbs from which once emanated sparks of 
living fire. The God iva has passed through a 
similar transformation. In the Pauranik age he is re- 
presented as the very personification of calmness. 

Civa as 


from Bud* 

* Very lately Babu Nagendranath Vasu has discovered several 
versions of songs about Govinda Chandra Raja, in the 
villages of Orissa. These versions appear to be more correct and 
reliable than their Bengali prototypes. The custodians of the 
songs there have been, as in Bengal, the Yogis who were doubtless 
an important class of men in the Buddhist society. 


The destructive elements have all been eliminated, 
and he is now quiet and dignified, absorbed in 
Samadhi. This Samadhi is akin to the Nirvana of 
the Buddhists. The Great God is above all desire, 
as was Buddha. iva kills Madana, the God of 
Love, of whom another name is Mara; and Buddha's 
struggles with Mara and eventual conquest over 
him are well-known, He is represented as an 
ascetic with the beggar's bowl in his hand. He 
has a golden palace at Kailasa ; and Kuvera, the 
Lord of Wealth, is in charge of his store. But the 
Great God has nothing to do with wealth. He 
lives by begging, sleeps in the burning ground and 
remains absorbed in contemplation. In this 
respect also, he was verily like Buddha, who, though 
a prince, left the palace of Kapilavastu to embrace 
the life of a bhiku. Diva's company is sought 
for by the resplendent gods of heaven, but ghosts 
and goblins are his companions. Buddha, though 
a prince, mixed with the poor and the lowly, and 
thus showed that he scorned none. 

Civa drink* When the ocean was churned by the gods, 
^avethe Lak?ml > the Goddess of wealth, arose from it. 
world. Vi?nu seized her as his prize ; the great diamond 
Kaustuva, also fell to his share. The majestic 
elephant Airavata, the incomparable horse 
Uchchaitifrava, and the celestial Parijata tree, which 
arose next from the ocean, were given to the 
God Indra. Last, though not least, appeared that 
ambrosia which had the effect of giving immortality 
to him who partook of it. This was divided 
amongst the assembled gods equally. Civa 
meanwhile, remained in Kailasa, absorbed in 
samadhi, caring not whether the universe were lost 


or gained by the other gods. But at a second churn- 
ing of the ocean from which the gods had expected 
yet more prizes, streams of deadly poison issued from 
it in overwhelming quantities, with clouds of smoke 
that looked like curling snakes. This threatened 
to flood the universe and destroy it. The gods 
were awe-struck. They knew not how to protect 
the world from the destruction which seemed to 
be impending. In their despair, they called on 
iva to save creation. The Great God's heart 
was moved with compassion. He gathered the 
floods of poison in his out-stretched hands and 
drank it all up, in the presence of the wondering 
gods. But the poison he drank left a blue mark on 
his throat, and he is called Nilakantha or the Blue- 
throated. This episode is narrated in such a manner 
in the Puranas, that it seems to me to be analog- 
ous to the story of pain and sacrifice undergone 
by Buddha, who suffered for the sake of suffering 

Let us picture to ourselves the image of the His figure 
great iva. He is like a mountain of white marble, ^"JJ^Jjf 
tranquilly seated in the posture of Samadhi. On Himalaya. 
his forehead is the crescent moon. From his 
matted locks flows the pure stream of the Ganges, 
that goddess whom his mercy melts into an unceas- 
ing fountain of white waters. In this attitude lie 
may be compared very aptly to some mountains of 
the Himalayas, with the young moon shining above 
its cloudy height, and the perennial flow of the 
Ganges pouring over its steep regions. The heads 
of venomous snakes peep out of the locks of iva, 
as they do from the recesses of the great mountains. 



The image of Civa, as made in clay and marble, in 
the villages shows the quietness and composure of 
Buddha, and both are now so like one another ! Yet 
nothing could have been more dissimilar than the 
original conception of Ruclradeva the iva of 
the Vedas. 

Myth and The ^ es ^ Pi n * s of Buddha's life are ascribed to 

history iva. The Puranas represent him as embodying 

in India. all the attributes of Buddha's greatness. One point 
may be urged in favour of Buddha. He was a 
living person of flesh and blood, and as such, the 
influence of his sternly real personality might be 
presumed to produce far greater results than that 
of a mythological God. In Iiufia, however, this 
matter is viewed in a different light. Here, when 
a saint or great religious teacher dies, he is 
at once deified. He becomes one of the glorious 
gods and in popular estimation he occupies a place 
not far remote from that ascribed to the celestials. 
On the other hand, thousands of men and women in 
India, believe in every word of the Puranas. To 
them iva is as real as any historical personage. 
Buddha, though deified, could not claim the grand- 
eur of the back-ground which sets forth the lumi- 
nous figure of the great God of the Hindu Trinity. 
Infinite space, the whole of heaven and earth and 
the solar regions, are represented as the incidents 
of that back-ground. iva has no birth, no death ; 
his eyes never close, they are raised heaven- 
ward, lost in celestial reverie, and they scarcely look 
down towards this mundane world of ours, except 
for the sake of mercy. Buddha, already divested of 
his original glory, and reduced to Dharma Thakur, 


became quite lustreless in the eyes of the people, 
before this great and resplendent divinity of the 

iva has one element, however, which is wanting 
in the conception of Buddha. This is the sanctity of 
the nuptial vow, which sheds glory on his abode at 
Kailas. Buddha's emancipation could not be com- 
plete without deserting a devoted and loving wife. 
But iva and Durgii, the ideal couple, cannot be dis- 
sociated from one another. Durga, who is also called 
Sati and Annapurna, is the goddess who distributes 
rice to the hungry. To the world she is as mother, who 
cares not for herself, but for her children only ; and 
iva is the ideal of a Hindu householder, never 
ruffled in temper, immoveable, immaculate and 
merciful, their union representing the fulfilment of 
the spiritual vows given and accepted in marriage, 
thattuo will live for one another and for others. 
How perfect this mutual love was, is proved in the 
death of Sati. Her devotion to Civa was so great 
that she could not bear to hear him abused by her 
father Daksa. Feeling that the blood of the 
defamer of her lord ran in her own veins, she con- 
sidered her body itself as unholy, and gave it up 
in a flash, to be born again as a daughter of Himabat. 
In this new life she passed through severe penances 
and sacrifices to be worthy of being united in 
marriage to iva. In the stoical asceticism of 
Buddha, these domestic features find no place, and 
while assimilating the quintessence of Buddhism, 
the Caiva religion has this point in addition, which 
at once appealed to the Hindus a people conspicu- 
ous for their strong domestic instincts* 




extolled in 

the (aiva 



Buddhism, as presented to us on the eve of its 
downfall, combined sceptical views with gross 
superstition. The light that it had given to India, 
had spent itself in ages gone by, and in the shape in 
which it existed latterly, could scarcely commend 
itself to the Indian people, accustomed as they were, 
to live in a highly spiritual atmosphere. Dharma 
and iva in the popular notions of the period, ap- 
peared as very humble deities, whose function suit- 
ed the requirements of the rustic folk who worship- 
ped them. 

_ .,, *. The oldest songs relating to Civa, which fall 

The oldest .,.. r , , V , 

songs of within the scope of this chapter, shew nothing of 

* va * that high conception of him which distinguished the 
period of the Pauranik Renaissance. They were 
meant for Bengali villagers, and Civa figures in 
them as assisting in the work of the rice-fields, 
and even ploughing them himself like any peasant. 
Even in theunya Parana, there is a song devoted 
to iva in his agricultural capacity, from which we 
may take the following extract * : 




" The Lord is without any raiment. Iva 

figures as 
a He begs from door to door. a peasant. 

" At dawn of day he rises, and goes out to beg, 
" Some people give him alms; by others he is 
refused. Sometimes he lives on layni * and 
haritaki^ only. Hut Oh, how happy is he \\hen 
they give him the begger's rice ! 

" I say unto you, O Loid, why don't you plough? 

" By begging, you often have to fast, and you 
get rice only now and then. 

"You must select a muddy soil for cultivation, 
but if you can't secure this, and dry lands fall to 
your share, you should \\ater them well. 

<4 When you have rice at home, how glad \\ ill 
you be to take your daily meal! How long \\ill 
you, O Lord, suffer for want of food ? 

" Why not cultivate cotton, O Lord ; How long 
will you wear a tiger's skin ? 

41 You besmear your body with ashes (Bibhuti). 

" Why not cultivate mustard and tila. \ (So 
that yon may have oil to anoint yourself). And be 
sure to grow plenty of vegetables. Above all, don't 

(unya Purina. 

* Tcrminalia Belerica. 
f Terminalia Chabula. 
| Sebamum Orentalc. 

The agri- 

capacity of 


in the later 



forget banana plants, so that for the Dharma-puja 
nothing may be wanting." 

In the ivayana, or songs of iva by later 
writers, who Mere the exponents of theaiva cult in 
Bengal, we find a chapter devoted to Civa's agricul- 
tural speculation and experiences. The traditions 
about iva related in the Puranas have no bearing 
whatever upon these. We shall here quote a 
passage from the ivayana of Ramc?war, a writ- 
er of the i8th century, which will at once recall 
the anecdotes of iva related in the Cunya- 
PurSna. Harness-war, Kavicliandra and other writers, 
though their own idea of iva was of the high 
classical type, could not help embodying these 
humble episodes in their descriptions. This shows 
how greatly the rural people of Bengal favoured 
them. A song in honour of iva, though noble 
in all respects, would not be perfect in the popular 
estimation unless it included these humbler aspects 
of his character, that had found favour in the 
country for centuries. In that chapter of the 
ivayana to which we are referring, Bhima, who first 
appeared in the unya Purana as a devoted servant 
of Civa in the rice-fields, still retains the tradition 
of this character, co-operating with iva in his 

" Civa sits in the field and says to Bhima the 
ploughman ; 

ttfal TOT 




" Good. In four Danda's lime* you must level 
the ground perfectly on all sides. " 

" The rice was planted in several places on 
the ridges between the furrows, and iva, kneeling, 
applied himself to work with a weeding hook. 

" The grasses called Dala-durba and yama,t 
Tri^ira t an ^ Kesur were weeded out with care, 
and the straw in the (ield was quickly cleared. 
The old fellow || would not leave the field for one 
moment, but kept watch over it like a tiger." 

Altogether it is a long description, giving every 
detail of the field-work of the Bengali peasantry from 
which we have taken only the above short extract. 
Means are suggested for the destruction of the 
mosquitoes and leeches with which the marshy 
fields of Lower Bengal, are infested, and other 
precautions are given by which the peasant 
may secure a good harvest. From the language in 
which these episodes are couched, I am inclined 
to believe, that they formed part of some old song 
of iva which Rame^vvar was incorporating in his 

lift Ttl 

ivayana by Ramefwar. 

* A Danda is 24 minutes. 7$ Dandas make a Prahara and 
4 Praharas make a day (12 hours). Time is reckoned in Bengal - 
villages by this standard even now. 

t Species of Cyperus. 
J Grass with three blades 
Scirpus kyseer. 
!1 iva is here meant, 


poem without much revision. There are many 
passages such as 

4< itsfe TOdr 

The story 

of the 



which it is difficult to explain, because of the anti- 
quated words and provincialisms used peculiar to 
the locality in which the author lived. The some- 
what revolting story of the intrigue with Durga, in 
the guise of a BagdinI woman, \\hich is told of iva 
by these writers must also be referred for its origin 
to the late Buddhistic age. They incorporated in 
their songs tales which had been prevalent amongst 
the rustic people of Bengal at that period when 
moral ideas become confused under Tantrik 

Three elements are found in the later Civa- 
poems, (i) There is the Pauranik element, with its 
grand conception of iva, which, .as I have said in 
the foregoing pages, shews traces of the spiritual 
influence of Buddha's life (2) We have the humbler 
attributes of the divinity, ascribed to him by villagers 
and peasants under Tantric influences. (3) and 
again, counteracting these last, we have the purity 
and perfection of family relationships, as re- 
presented in the ideal Hindu household. Here 
inspite of many conflicting interests of the un- 
divided family, the prescence of its head brings 
harmony and peace, the result of that spirit of for- 
bearance that he has gained by the long habit of 
viewing all mundane concerns from a lofty spiritual 
stand-point. Here the mistress of the house-hold 
lives entirely for her lord, for her children and for 
others, without a thought of personal comforts 


inspired only by holy love a perfect picture of 
patient suffering and unflagging devotion, 

In Bengali songs of iva, this last trait 
reaches a high stage of development, showing 
the peculiar bent of our vernacular genius in 
conceiving and idealising purely domestic 

Kailasa, the City of iva, is the abode of bliss, 
where gold and lead have the same value, 
where the tiger and the lamb, the mongoose and 
the serpent are friends, and drink fiom the same 
fountain, forgetting their natural enmity. The love, 
harmony and tranquility which pervade Mount 
Kailasa, are all inspired by Mahadeva himself, 
whose holy dwelling-place is thus strangely unlike 
the heavens of other gods, glittering with gold and 
making the impression of the aggrandised capital of 
some worldly monarch. 

8. Genealogical records. 

If I am asked as to what is the chief basis of 
that Pauranik Hinduism which triumphed over 
Buddhism and has since ruled supreme in India, 
I should say Achara. This word, I find difficult 
to translate into English. It means rules for 
the guidance of every day-life to which every 
Hindu should conform ; yet this definition does not 
fully express the idea. The word Achara refers only 
to the details of daily life and must not be con- 
founded with questions of morality. A man may 
not be very moral, and still his life may be Achara- 
puta, or pure as regards the observance of the rules 
laid down by the Castras. 





develop in 




the heavea 

of iva. 




nandan and 

his great 


The great compiler of these rules in the i6th 
century in Bengal was Raghunandan Bhattacharyya 
and he is up to the present the greatest authority in 
the country with the orthodox community. To a 
superficial observer, the Herculean efforts made 
by Raghunandan in collating a vast body of ancient 
Sanskrit works, in order to settle very minor points 
in the every-day life of a Hindu, will appear like 
lost labour ; but diving deeper into the subject, and 
applying the principles of historical evolution to 
it, the reader will find a rational explanation for 
the popularity of AstSvirhsati Tattva the great 
work of Raghunandan, and have to admit that the 
age was in eminent need of such a scholar. If 
the country had not wanted him, why should his 
book have been accepted by the people of Bengal ? 
He did not possess any arbitrary power to enforce 
his code upon the multitude. They submitted to 
his yoke willingly. 

The con- 
tents of 

On particular lunar days, particular foods prove 
uncongenial to the human system. This is the 
sati Tatta. current belief of Indians. Raghunandan devotes an 
important chapter of his work to a consideration of 
this point.* The details of methods for pei forming 
raddha and other religious ceremonies, for observ- 
ing fasts and vigils, the restrictions against marriage 
between the people of the same caste, and against 
long journeys by sea or land, such are the subjects 
which have been treated with patient scholarship in 

* For instance, one should not eat a pumpkin or its srourd 
(cuctirbita pepo) on the and day of a Lunation ; Bnhati (Solanu- 
mhirsatum) on the third , Fatal (Trichosanthes dioeca) on the 4 th 
Radish (Raphanus Sativus^ on the h : Nimba (Melia Azadiracht^ 
on the oth ; and so on. 



this celebrated work. He quotes chapter and verse 
from Manu, Ysjnavalkya and a host of ancient 
sages in support of his views with regard to very 
small matters. A giant's labour was given to the 
raising of a mole-hill. The point that puzzles an 
enquirer, is how to account for the iron grip in 
which these rules, occasionally so puerile, have 
held the orthodox Hindu community for centuries. 
A devout Hindu would consult the &stras 
to know if on a particular day he could eat 
a cei tain vegetable. If in the month of Magha a 
person takes radish, he will be pronounced a 
non-Hindu. What could be the reason that made 
people submit to such laws with religious 
veneration ? 

How is it 
that the 
book carri- 
es so great 

authority ? 

To answer this question, we must survey 
our social condition during the decline of Buddhism. 
The great vice, which undermined the unity and 
strength of our society in the last days of Bud- 
dhism, was that of free-thinking carried to excess. 
The Buddhists preached : 

" There is no heaven, no hell, no vice, no virtue. 
None created the world, none has the power to des- 
troy it. No other evidence ib to be recognised than 
what appeals directly to our senses. There is no 
soul, our body alone is subject to pleasure and 
pain tk e result of good and bad actions. When 
we s$e that children are produced by the agency of 
parents, clay models by potters, and pictures by 
painters, such evidence is enough to shew how 
things come into existence. Then why should 
we ascribe them to an imaginary Creator ? Don't 

and its re- 
sult on 



Laxity of 



give pain to yourself or to others. Not depending 
upon others, is salvation. Heaven lies in eating 
food of delicious taste."* 

It is further preached that immorality is no vice, 
but this particular passage need not be quoted. 

Now let us imagine the effect of such free- think- 
ing on society, The Tantriks who were dominant 
all over India in the age of which we are speaking, 
were known to banquet on things so horrible at>, 
for instance, a putrid corpse. They wanted to 
shew that in their eyes nothing in creation was 
unholy. The marriage system had become lax. 
During the flourishing days of Buddhism, the 
different races of Asia had been brought into close 
touch with one another. The monasteries were 
filled with men and women of alien race, and 
when standards of morality sank low in Buddhistic 
society in course of time, a population, consist- 
ing of children disowned by the communities 
of both their parents came into existence, and 

* The above is the translation of a passage from VidyOfim&d- 
Tarangihl a well-known Sanskrit work by Chiranjiv Bhatta- 
charyya. The author gives an interesting description of religious 
controversies amongst the various sects of Hindus. The above 
arguments are put in the mouth of a Buddhist. Vidyonmad- 
Taranginl was translated into English by the late R&JS Kail 
Kris An Dev of Shobha VaZar, Calcutta in 1834. The Sanskrit 
Text of the passage is given below 




the purity of the four original castes of the Hindus 
was lost. On an examination of skulls, the Mon- 
golian type has been discovered in high-caste 
Hindus of various places in India. The Buddhists 
had no strict code of marriage-laws. In the Arhbatto 
Sutta of the Buddhists we find that pratiloma 
that reversal of ranks in marriage which is so 
highly condemned by Hindu law r -givers was at 
one time greatly in vogue in India. In the drama of 
Mrichchhakatika written by a Buddhist prince, we 
find Charu Datta, a good Brahmin, paying court 
to Vasanta Sena a courtesan. In the Da^aratha 
Jataka of the Buddhists, Slta is represented as the 
sister of Rama, who at the same time marries her. 
These and similar tales are told in a plain way 
without any comment, thus shewing that in Burl- 
dhistic society, rules of marriage were extremely 

The revival of Hinduism in Bengal, between the 
gth and the I3th century, meant war against thej>e 
laxities brought by a set of free-thinkers who 
would submit to no leader, but would wreck the 

whole fabric of society on the quicksands of their Thc 

, 4.1 v r 4.1 A propaganda 

own cynicism. I o preserve the purity of the Aryan O f the 

blood after the admixture and corruption it had revivalists - 

already passed through, to counteract the influence 

of the Tantrikism with its obnoxious idea of 

indiscriminate food, in a word, to undo the great 

evils of that age, strict rules regarding marriage and 

eating required to be enacted, if society was to be 

ordered and disciplined and led to accept a pure 


* Similarly in the history of Java, we find the Buddhist King 
Jayalank&r marrying his own sister Chandra-Sura in 675 


The origin 

of the sub> 


Hard and 
fast rules 
laid down 
by Raghu- 

When the Hindu revivalists began their task 
of reformation, they found the original caste- 
system shattered by the indiscriminate union of 
men and women. Society was in a thoroughly 
disorganised state. The children born of couples 
who came from different castes, were not owned by 
either of the original castes. The new builders of 
society classified them, and admitted them into the 
new order, allotting to each a fixed status in society. 
This accounts for the origin of so many sub-castes 
in India. They came into existence by the break- 
ing of marriage rules. 

Hindu society, after admitting this hetero- 
geneous population, shut its portals against new- 
comers, and no breach of the hard-and fast rules of 
marriage now enforced, was again to be tolerated. 
Regarding indiscriminate food, which had been taken 
in utter disregard of rules of health, minute details 
were now settled. But the vices to which human 
nature tends, cannot be checked by codes of law. A 
high ideal of spiritual life set before the people, 
keeps them in the right direction in these matters, 
and our society busied itself only in framing 
lules for the direction of the details of daily 
life. These rules hold their sway till now. If a 
person openly avows Jesus Christ to be the son of 
God, or Mahomet to be the only prophet of God, 
Hindu society will not war against him. Our 
toleration goes so far. But there are hundreds of 
petty rules in regard to eating especially cooked 
foods the infringement of any one of which will 
render him liable to be excommunicated from 
society or make him undergo severe penances. 
Marriage rules again have been made so severe, that 


even in the narrow groove of one's own caste, the 
selection of a bride-groom has grown to be a serious 
problem with Hindu parents. The reactionary move* 
ment, as is natural in such cases, ran to excess, and 
small points took exaggerated proportions in the 
eyes of the people Besides the Tantriks, there 
were other people near at hand, who disregarded 
prejudices of all kinds, in using meat as food, 
Buddhism, as I have said, had brought into India, 
a vast number of foreigners belonging to different 
Asiatic races. There were, amongst these, snake 
and cockroach eaters, not to speak of those whose 
daily food was ham and beef. The Hindu com- 
munity had to be guarded against adopting the ways 
of such alien peoples, and as the Muhammoden 
conquereis could not be expected to take any 
interest in these matters, touching the well-being 
of the people, the leaders of society became their 
natural guardians and dictated their actions. 
Raghunandan compiled a treatise which was much 
needed in an age of vice, resulting from unrestrained 

I believe I have now explained what I under- . . _ 

r Achar, an 

stand by the word Achara, which, I said, is the outcome of 
chief basis of our modern Hindu society. Achara 
is a deliberate disavowal of this spirit of free-think- 
ing. It is a reactionary step, taken to bring a loose 
and disorganised society into order and unity ; and 
however absurd it may appear on a superficial view, 
it had a mission at the time when its stringent rules 
were first enacted ; and it cannot be declared with 
certainty that the good results which the revivalists 
had in view, are fully exhausted even now. 


The topics discussed above should not be consi- 
dered as a digression ; for upon a knowledge of 
some of the essential features of the revival of 
Hinduism, will depend a right appreciation of the 
ideals set up by the succeeding literature. 

Vallala Sen who ruled from IIIQ to 1169 A.D. 

conferred Kulinism upon people of various castes 

The in Bengal. The qualities required to entitle one to 

required S of thc status of a Kulina were nine : viz., (i) achara, 

a Kulin. (^2) humility, (3) learning, (4) good repute, (5) the 

visiting of sacred places, (6) devotion, (7) good 

conduct, (8) religious austerity and penance, and (9) 

charity. Achara, of which we have spoken already, 

heads the list of these qualities. 

Kulinism Vallala Sen, while bestowing Kaullnya, or the 

made here- status of a Kulina, on a few select people of the 

higher castes, enacted, that after a fixed period, new 

men endowed with the above qualifications, would 
be admitted into the grade of Kullnas, and that 
these were to be the recognised heads of the 
different sections of the Hindu community in all 
social matters. But his son Laksmana Sen after- 
wards ruled, that the descendants of the Kullnas 
were to enherit Kulinism irrespective of their 
personal qualifications, and thus the Kulina classes, 
as they are now found, became stereotyped in 

ueneaiogi- society. Many books have been preserved in 
cal records. _ . . ..: .... . 

Sanskrit and Bengali, shewing the genealogy of 

the higher classes of the Hindu community ; and 
some of these may be traced to Vallala Sen's 
time. These give a glimpse at the inside of our 
social organisation, and indicate the changes 
which it has undergone during the last one thousand 




years. The son of a Kullna became by right a 
Kullna. This contravenes the wholesome prin- 
ciple of rewarding the meritorious members of 
society, on which Vallala Sen had wanted to 
base Kulinism. Kulinism thus became an artificial 
institution, but it had one aspect which still evoked 
the greatest sacrifices, by developing a peculiar ins- 
tinct of family-honour* The Kullnas and the non- 
Kullnas of a community were often bound together 
by marriage-ties. There were, however, many or- 
thodox families in Bengal who would on no account 
recognise such relationships. They were prepared to 
sacrifice every earthly consideration, even their 
lives, to guard the purity of their Kaulinya status or 
Kulinism. The lay men of different communities on 
the other hand never lacked patience in their efforts 
to persuade such orthodox Kullnas to marry with 
them, by offering huge sums of money. We find 
that a scion of the Vaidya Garia family of Tenai 
in Faridpur was persuaded to marry a girl of the 
Dasara Dutt family on a dowry of sixty-four 
villages in the subdivision of Manikganja in the 
District of Dacca. The ancestors of the Naikasya 
Kulinas amongst Brahmins of the present day passed 
through tests and sacrifices such as only martyrs in a 
great cause would be supposed capable of under- 
going. We find one of the lay Vaidyas coming to 
Senhati to induce a Kullna of that caste to form a 
matrimonial alliance with him, and persevering in his 
attempts, inspite of repeated refusals, till some 
banyan trees, planted by him on the banks of the 
river Bhairava on his first landing at the place, grew 
so large as to give shade to travellers, when at last 
the Kullna agreed to give a daughter of his family in 


spirit of 



marriage. I find in the preface to a translation of 
Chandl by Rapanarayana Gho$a (born, 1579 A. D.) 
that a lay Kayastha named Jadavendra Ray, Ze- 
mindar of Amdala, in the District of Dacca, took 
away two young men belonging to a Kullna family 
in a boat on .the river Padma ; and there he made 
a proposal of marriage between them and his two 
daughters. If they would not agree to his proposals, 
they were to be drowned in the river. The elder 
of the two, Vanlnatha, preferred death to the disgrace 
that would be brought upon his family by such a 
connection. He was drowned accordingly. But the 
younger, Ruparama, succumbed to the fear of death 
and accepted the alternative. We find in the Kula- 
Panjika by Kavi Kanthahara, that a Kullna Vaidya 
died broken hearted, from having been obliged to 
marry a tyrant's daughter.* Such instances are 
numerous in the genealogical books. This goes to 
show to what excesses the reactionary movement 
in regard to marriage rules was carried. The 
genealogical books also show our keen desire 
to follow ideals of purity and truth in life, and 
they record the struggle that Hindu society 
made to ward off the harm % that the overtures 
of an arbitrary Mahammadan aristocracy, were 
constantly making upon their quiet life. If any 
one wants to study the character of the people 
of this country, and to understand their aims and 
aspirations instead of summarily dismissing them as 
mysterious beings, he would do well to study 
these works carefully. 


Kullnism has often been abused ; but the sacri- 
fices and martyrdoms undergone for its sake in 
our society cannot but evoke feelings of wonder 
and admiration. 

The object of such sacrifices may be considered 
trivial but the qualities of self-denial, of utter dis- 
regard for earthly prosperity, and of devotion to a 
cause which distinguished these Kulinas are not 
to be despised. Just think of a man preferring to 
wear rags, to depend on a single meal a day, and 
to live in a hut of reeds, while his brother was made 
the owner of sixty-four villages and a palace, the 
same offer coming to him but being refused with 
indignation. Yet by marriage with a iellow caste- 
man's daughter, of non Kulina rank, he would not 
be excommunicated from society; only a very slight 
stain would be left on his family honour. - Social 
prestige has in the past occupied the same place in 
popular estimation in India as a sense of political 
right does in western countries; and unless this 
difference is taken into consideration, the ideals of 
the Indian people cannot be fully realised. 

I said, that some of the genealogical treatises 
may be traced to Vallala Sen's time. The follow- 
ing Bengali lines which occur in a Sanskrit work 
by Chaturbhuja, a Vaidya, written three hundred 
seventy-five years ago, were evidently already very 
old : 

of early 
tion in the 

to frrat f c*ra 



cal records 
in Bengali. 

A list of 

There are many such lines to be found in other 
works of this class, which show in their style, a 
striking similarity to Daker vachana and other early 

Early genealogical books in Bengali are mostly 
written in prose. The field has not yet been pro- 
perly explored ; yet the Sanskrit work*, that have 
already come to light containing the genealogical 
records of the three upper classes of our commu- 
nity form a vast literature. It is not however with- 
in our scope to refer to Sanskrit works. Of Bengali 
books on the subject, which are also numerous, 
we name some below. Though fragments of these 
writings seem to be ancient, yet their composition 
as a whole covers a period of not more than four 
hundred years, closing in the middle of i8th 

A few of these Bengali works on our social 
history are as follows : 

1. Melabandha by Devivar Ghatak. 

2. Prakriti Fatal Nirhaya by the same author. 

3. Kularnava by Vachaspati Mi^ra. 

4. Mela-rahasya by Danujsri Mi^ra. 

5. Da^a Tantra Praka^aby Harihar Kavindra. 

6. Melaprakriti Nirnaya. 

7. Melamala. 

8. Mela-chandrika. 

9. Mela-praka^a, 

10. Dafavati. 

11. Kulatattva Prakafiks. 

12. Kula Sara. 

13. Pirsli Ksrika by Nilkantha Bhatta. 

14. Go?thikatha and Ksrika by Nula Panchfinana. 


15. Rsdhiya Samaj-nirnaya. 

1 6. Kula Pafiji by Ramadeva Acharyya. 

17. RadhlyaGraha Vipra Karika by Kulananda. 

18. Graha Biprakula Bichara by the same author. 

19. Phakura by uka Deva. 

20. Kula Pafiji by Ghataka Vi^arad KantiRam. 

21. Dakuri by Cyama. 

22. Daksin Radhlya Karika by Maladhar Gha- 

23. Karika by Ghataka Kcgarl. 

24. Karika by Ghataka Churamani. 

25. Kula Panjika by Ghataka Vacliaspali. 

26. Dhakuri by Sarvabhauma. 

27. Dhakuri by Vachaspati. 

28. Dhakuri by ambhu Vidyanidhi. 

29. Dhakuri by Ka^inath Vasu. 

30. Dhakuri by Madhava Ghataka. 

31. Dliakuri by Nandaram Mi^ra. 

32. Dhakuri by Radhamohan Saraswatl. 

33. Maulika Varfifa Karika by Dwija Rama> 

34. Daksin Radhlya Kula Sarvasva. 

35. Ekjaya Karika. 

36. Vangaja Kulaji Sara Sarhgraha. 

37. Vangaja Kulaji by Dwija Vachaspati. 

38. Vangaja Dhakuri by Dwija Ramananda. 

39. Maulik Dhakuii by Ramnara)aha Vasu. 

40. Dhakuri of Varendra Kayasthas by Ka^i 
Ram Das. 

41. Varendra Dhakur by Yadu Nandana. 

42. Kulaji of Gandha Vaniks by Tilak Ram. 

43. Do. by Para^u Ram. 

44. Kulaji of Tamvula Vaniks by Dwija Patra 



to the 

student of 


An Exam- 
ple, Nalu 

on the 

question of 
the caste 

of the Sen- 
Kings of 

45. Kulaji of the Tantu Bains (weavers) by 

46. Satdharmachara Katha by Kinkar Das. 

47. Sadgopa Kulachara by Mani Madhava. 

48. Till Paiijika by Ramefwar Datta. 

49. Suvarna Vanika Karika by Mangal. 

50. Raja Mala (completed in 1439 A.D.) by 


This last is a genealogical history of the Rajahs 
of Hill Tippeia. 

These genealogical works preserve the traditions 
of an ancient race, and though the composition of 
many of them, as we have said, belongs to com- 
paratively recent times, yet they embody facts 
regarding our social condition which have been 
transmitted from distant ages, They are therefore 
entitled to the consideration of those interested in 
the history of Bengal. Not only do they give 
accounts of our social movements, but they are 
full of incidental references to contemporary 

I shall here refer in some detail to a genealogi- 
cal account written by a Brahmin named Nalu- 
Panchanana, who is an admitted authority on the 
subject. The style of writing and the description 
of the subject clearly show that the author, who 
lived about one hundred fifty years ago, had 
embodied facts in it found in older records. The 
book is called Gosthikatha Karika. It is chosen here 
for reference, because the genealogical accounts 
will not again be touched upon, and because the 
matter contained in the Karika is important, as 


giving the solution of a very knotty problem in the 
history of Bengal. The Sena Kings of Bengal were 
formerly believed to have belonged to the Vaidya 
or medical caste. In all the genealogical works 
written by the Brahmins, Vaidyas and Ksyasthas, 
they were described as Vaidyas. In fact Raja Rajen- 
dra Lai Mitra, who was the first to dispute the point 
of their caste, had to admit. " The universal belief 
in Bengal is that the Senas were of medical caste 
and families of Vaidyas are not wanting in the pre- 
sent day who trace their lineage from Vallala Sen." * 
But in the copper-plate inscriptions of the Sena 
Kings, lately discovered in various parts of the count- 
ry, they have been found to declare themselves as 
Brahma-Katriyas. In the face of their own decla- 
ration on this subject, the traditions and written 
accounts, which were formerly considered as per- 
fectly reliable, lost all authority, and the Sena 
Kings were generally accepted by scholars as having 
been K?atriyas. Now the descendants of those 
Biahmins, Kayasthas and persons of other castes, on 
whom Vallala Sen had bestowed Kaulinya, knew 
him to have belonged to the Vaidya caste, and they 
were in possession of written records substantiating 
this point. Yet nothing was now considered more 
reliable than a declaration on the part of the 
princes themselves as to the caste to which they 
belonged, preserved in the lasting impression 
borne by the copper-plates. The Ksrika, to which 
we have referred, however, unravels the history of 
these aspirations and proves them to have been 

* I ndo- Aryans, page 265* 


mere pretensions. We quote a part of this interest- 
ing record below* : 

fas cattfaiw H 
^^ *TeT*rw ^t^ ^ 



" One day the King asked the Brahmins of five 
Gotras (families), some of whom were great Kulinas, 
and pther Buddha rotriayas, "0 Pandits who 
adorn my court, tell me why have you deserted the 
Vaidyas, whereas formerly you used to, discharge 
priestly functions in their families ? " Mahe^a and 
other learned men said in reply, " \W are not pre- 
pared to da the daily work of priests in any house. 
We perform priestly offices for occasional ceremo- 
nies only. The Brahmins, who discharge ten 
set functions in one house, and eat the rice offered 
to the dead in the radh-ceremony are generally 
illiterate. We act as priests in the ' Hom'-ceremo- 
nies of the Brahmins only, and do not act as priests 
in the houses of udras. King Adifura was a Vaidya. 
He belonged to the Vaigya caste. He was an em- 
peror paramount, and therefore assumed the status 
of a Ksatriya. Indra Dumna was a Buddhist King. 
He founded the Jagannath Temple. He did not 
believe in castes, yet he called himself a Ksatriya. 
Whoever becomes a king aspires to the status of a 


Sambandha Nirnaya, by Lilntohan 
Vidyinldlli (2nd Edition) p p. 584*89. 


Ksatriya without considering other points. Simi- 
lar instances are to be found in the cases of out- 
castes like the Kambojiasin Gauda. Bhupal, Anan- 
gapal and Mohipal were not Katriyas, they were 
out-castes. But they were great Kings, hence they 
could marry girls from the three highest classes. 
Look at the Sat-^ati priests, they discharge priestly 
functions in all houses, hence they have lost all know- 
ledge of the Vedas, They eat the rice offered to the 
dead in the C r a^h ceremony. When Vallala Sen 
tried to pass into society a low-caste woman named 
Padmini, his son Laksmana Sen informed the 
Brahmins of his action and cried it down. Vallala 
in great rage dismissed Laksmana Sen from his 
court, and Lak?mana in order to protect the Vaidyas 
from his father's ire, made them give up the sacred 
thread. Thus the Vaidyas who belonged to the 
party of Vallala Sen and those that belonged to 
that of his son, became Vrstyas (fallen). 

Raja Adi^Gra belonged to the Vaidya caste, but 
he adopted the ways of a Ksatriya. Whoever be- 
comes a king wants to be called a Ksatriya, and, 
for his own glorification, declareshimselfasaKatriya 
everywhere. Every one aspires to a higher position 
than he enjoys. The Devas* want the position of 
Brahma the Great God. According to the astrab, 
Adi^arais a Brahmin (since the Vaidyas are traceable 
to an original Brahmin father), but by custom he 
was a Vaidya." 

The last lines account for the Sena Kings calling 
themselves Brahma-Ksatriyas in the copper-plate 

* Minor Gods or angels. 


These genealogical works give us, then, in An 
terse and epigrammatic prose and poetry, the sali- 

ent points in the social history of Bengal for the the * 
last one thousand years. The Bengali scholar whose 
indefatigable labour has brought to light hundreds 
of Mss. of genealogical works in Sanskrit and 
Bengali, and who has drawn the attention of his 
fellow-countrymen to an altogether unexplored 
field of literature, is Babu Nagendra Nath Vasu, 
the learned editor of the Bengali Encyclopedia, 
the Vifvakosa. 

Supplementary Notes 



Bengali The Bengali language was known to our early 

Prakrita. writers as a form of Prakrita. The name Vanga- 

Blia?a is of recent origin. They called it Prakrita,* 

or merely Bha?a. 

* The old Bengali writers usually designated our language as 
Prftkrita. There are numerous instances of it in our old 
literature. A few are quoted below . 

Adi-Parva by Rajendra Das. 


Krisfia Karhamrita. 

Qovinda Lilamrita, translated 

by Jadunandan Das. 

Chaitanya Mangala, 

by Lochan Das* 

Acvamedha Parva 

by Ram Chandra Khan 

In an old Bengali translation of the Gita Govinda, we come 
across the following lineb in Sanskrit by way of conclusion of a 



It has already been said in a foregoing chapter 
that our language, under Buddhistic influence, had 
lapsed into a very lax form of Prakrita, and was 
on that account treated with contempt by the Brh- 
manic school. I have already referred to some of 
its chief sources of development after the downfall 
of Buddhism. Within the last one thousand years 
there has been a movement for the enrichment of 
our language by importing Sanskrit words, and by 
correcting the current forms of words according to 
the rules laid down in Sanskrit-grammar. Curiously 
enough, in this process of the resuscitation of 
words, our language offers a striking resemblance 
to the Romance languages, which also passed 
through a similar process, almost at the same peri- 
od of history. If we look into the works noticed 
in the foregoing pages, this fact will be apparent. 
In spite of many portions of these works fiaving 
been recast in subsequent times, there are numer- 
ous instances in them of words belonging to a very 
lax form of Prakrita, which are no longer in written 
use. I quote some such words below : 

<Ftf% the month of Kartika (Last half of October 
and first half of November), *fn wings, ^Ifl 
stars, ^ft again, ^*fl crane, Of body, ftpf with- 
out, ^fa I, ^f*R you, 3[f*t a dunce, fSpsj mar- 
riage, J$ a flower, ^^ thunder, ff?ffi a mirror. 

The influence of the written forms of words in 
a literary language,, is often reflected in its spoken 
forms, and if we study the Prakrita writings of the 
5th and 6th centuries, we shall find numerous inst- 
ances of 5TW, T?f*F?i Fl^g, 5*R and similar words 
being used for 3t1 fffilW, FfafFS, WW &c. These 
loose forms are no longer in use in any spoken 


to Sanskri- 


The resus- 

of words. 


dialect of India within the knowledge of the 
writer of the present treatise. In the translation 
of the Ramayana by Krittivasa (born, 1432 A. D.) 
there is one curious passage, which he certainly did 
not find in the original poem of Valmlki, referring 
to this process of the recovery of words from their 
lax Prakrita forms. Valmlki, when he was a robber 
could not say ^ff but pronounced the word as oTt 3 !. 
The sage Narada attributed this inability to the 
vices that he had practised in life, and declared 
with much force that no vicious man would ever be 
able to pronounce <J. This btory may be understood 
as an instance of the way in which the later Brah- 
manical school attacked and overcame the loose 
forms of Prakrita current in the Buddhistic period. 
No Bengali peasant, however illiterate, would now 
be excused if he could not pronounce the 5 in <Bt1 

The correction of words in the written forms of 
our language has continued even up to the present 
day. Every year the correctness of a number of 
current words is called in question, being measured 
by the severe test of Sanskrit grammar. If any 
flaw is found in the writings of modern Bengali 
authors, judging by this standard of the Sanskrit 
grammar, he is unsparingly abused by the purists, 
and the Bengali language is gradually growing 
ornate and classical. In this respect it approaches 
Sanskrit as does no other language of modern India. 
Bengali was formerly, however, extremely colloquial,* 

* That formerly the language of Bengal was the furthest re- 
moved amongst Indian languages from the standards of Sanskrit 
will be proved inspite of its present very highly Sanskritised form, 
by the fact that even now |, ^ & J[ are not rightly pronounced by 
us, and for this defect the Sanskrit schools of Benares, Bombay 
and other important centres of Sanskrit learning, treat us with 

(X, LUEKAlUKfe. 


and the reactionary spirit has, perhaps for this very 
reason, taken an extreme form. Within the last ten 
years tfafW, *W, *!WTft, falU, f^flW^ wfal 
C^ttf 9 !^), *t*ftC<fJ, *M3t3, 3f3R, and similar words 
which were in every day use, have lost their status in 
the written language, because they have not been 
found to conform to the rules of Sanskrit. 

Now Bengali is a highly artificial language. I 
quote here a B^ngili hymn by Bharata Chandra, 
the great Bengali poet of the i8th century. One 
may take this as a piece of pure Sanskrit, and if 
written in Devnagri characters it will be read by 
Sanskrit scholars all over the world as a Sanskrit 
poem. They will certainly be surprised to hear, 
that it is a Bengali poem, quoted from the Bengali 
work Annada Mangala. This goes to shew to 
what an extent written Bengali has approached 


now a 




One word more ought to be said here regard- 
ing this process of the resuscitation of words. 
Several European scholars have found fault with 
Bengali authors for writing in a high-flown artifi- 
cial style, and for their tendency to use Sanskritic 
words in Bengali, in place of the corresponding 
current forms which are intelligible to the masses. 

We must, however, proceed to enquire why The causes 
, ..... . -' ... .. analysed. 

such a style is dally growing in tavour with Bengali 

writers, if it is so artificial. No one has power to 

The propa- 
ganda of 
the Paura- 
nlk religion 
sed Sans- 
krit texts. 


dictate arbitrary rules for the growth of a language. 
This will always develop naturally inspite of op- 
posing influences. Only so long as our efforts 
help the natural course, will the rules laid down 
by grammarians and purists be accepted by the 
people. Arbitrary forms may be excused, if used 
by a genius ; they can never, however, claim a place 
in common language, Language steadily changes 
according to its inherent requirements. It will not 
follow any capricious course which may be dictated 
by individuals. This principle applies to the 
written and spoken forms of a language equally. 

If this view of the matter is correct, we ought 
to see what influences tended to develop our Ian- 
guage after the model of Sanskrit, and how long 
those influences are likely to work in the future. 

Though Buddhism, as we have said, gave Ben- 
gali its first impetus towards the attainment of a 
literary 'status, the Sanskritic School afterwards 
took it up in right earnest and set themselves to 
the task of embellishing it. Let us take a survey 
of Hindu society in its entirety, after the downfall 
of Buddhism. The attempts of the revivalists to 
introduce the spirit of Pauranik religion amongst 
the masses were directed in various channels. 
There were the Yatr&s, or popular theatres ; Ka- 
thakatas or narratives and recitations to which we 
shall have to refer hereafter ; the Pathas, or read- 
ings from Sanskrit texts ; the Klrtanas, singing 
by the Vai$ftavas ; and other similar organised 
efforts to popularise the crepdof tfe^ Pmiranik reli- 
gion all over Bengal. The influence of tHese institu- 
tions upon the popular raw4 was immense, No 


village in Bengal, however humble it might be, 
was without them. Not only did they form a perennial 
source of amusement to the people, but they form- 
ed the mission and the propaganda of- Pauranik 
religion. The whole atmosphere of Bengal was 
permeated by these influences ; and as Sanskrit 
texts formed their main basis, a greater number of 
Sanskrit words was every day imported into Bengali 
and a closer contact with Sanskritic forms made the 
ear constantly keener in the perception of faultly 
expression. Thus the process of self-correction 
held an uninterrupted course. 

The view generally taken by foreign scholars, 
that this process of Sanskritising made the litarary 
language incomprehensible to the masses, is not 
tenable. When a village yatra, or popular theatri- 
cal performance, is going on, ploughmen, shop- 
keepers and other illiterate people will stand 
patiently for hours, witnessing the scenes. And 
what do they hear? 

ahd hundreds of such words which 
are never used in their current dialect, come pour- 
ing in upon their ears, and these they enjoy 
immensely. The Ramayana of Krittivasa, and the 
Mahabharata of Ka^ldas.- are read by peasants, 
and artizans, and in these works learned expressions 
like "fsflpw %5*t %TW?T are so numerous 
that one would wonder how the illiterate men and 
women who hear them recited, could appreciate 
them. Yet there is not the least shadow of doubt 
that they do so. For in Bengal joo,ooo, copies of 
the Ramayana published from Bartalaare sold every 

The views 
of foreign 
open to 


The people 
not in awe 

of the 







year, and it is doubtful if a hundredth part of these 
copies is sold to the Bhadralokas or gentlefolk. 
Our masses are not at all in awe of the Sanskrit 
vocabulary. On the other hand they seem to be in 
love with it. They are fond of pedantic words and 
when they commit, mistakes in using such words in 
their conversation, our scholarly people smile in 
derision. Our Calcutta theatres have many farcical 
scenes in which the rural folk, attempting a high 
flown style, are held up to ridicule, for the inappro- 
priate use of words. Thus the artificial style of 
the present day originates in a variety of causes 
attending the revival of Hinduism, and so long as 
the rich vocabulary of Sanskrit is not fully exhatist- 
ed, this process of the recovery of words and the 
importation of choice expressions from it for litera* 
rary and technical purposes, is not likely to cease* 
No one would leave a precious store until it has given 
him all that he needs. The genius of our language 
moves towards the Sanskrit ideal, being attracted 
to it by its unparallelled wealth of expression, and 
until it has taken full advantage of this treasure, it is 
not likely to change its present course. Our learned 
men desire this and our rural folk desire it no 
less. Broad-based as is the movement of our lan- 
guage touards the classical model, on the natural 
requirements of the Pauranik renaissance, we cannot 
forcibly retard this stream. 

Our masses, as I have said, are not .afraid of 
encountering Sanskrit words. The very nature of 
their environment has accustomed them to this. If 
the modern literature of Bengal affords them any 
difficulty, it is found in those modes of expression 
and of constructing sentences in which Bengali 



follows the model of English that appeals strange 
and unintelligible to them. 

The Bengali works, to which I have referred in 
this chapter, mainly form what may be called a 
rustic literature. They were in many cases recast 
and revised in subsequent times, but as I have 
already said there are many evidence's indicative of 
the early period to which their composition is to be 
referred. There are quaint terms and expressions 
which have not only grown obsolete but are in 
many cases unintelligible to us. The literature of 
the period shews that our language was as remote 
from classical Sanskrit in those days, as it is akin 
to it now. I quote several passages here from the 
works mentioned in this chapter which will iilus- Examples. 
trate these facts. 

recast, the 


often re* 

tain earlier 








fa* rrwa firM 


unya Parana 


Songs of Manik Chandra. 

t% CTfsi faf 

it? iw TRT iw f^ifet ^n firm n 


Songs of Manik Chandra. 

A list of Here follows a list of words, found in the books 

words with mentioned in this chapter, which have become 

meaning, obsolete, with their meaning. A still more com- 

plete list of such words will be found in my Bengali 

work " Vanga Bhgsa O Sahitya." 

... To him. 
' ... Aloe wood (Aquilaria agal- 

... ,- Of wonder, on a sudden. 


... Of a scholar. 
... Not rooted out. 

... Many. 

In a crooked way. 
.... Sound. 
.. Air. 

Guard, watch. 
One's own. 

The span of one's lite. 
A stick. 
... Bath. 
... A sugar cane. 
... God. 

Some how or other. 
, . Now. 

Without bank, sea. 
Good fortune. 
A writer. 

. . A well-wisher. 
.. Fat. 

. . . Those that move in the air. 
.. Folio weoj, 
. Strong, youthful. 
.. Youthfulness. 
f^ffa .,. House. . 

,.. The chief singer in a chorus. 
. . .Cow-dung. 
... Of the front. 
I| ... Empty . . 

^8 ,.. Long live.. 


... Agnates. 
GftTWI ... A wallet. 

... A big cudgell. 

. . Low marshy lands. 

... A sort of chain. 

By binding. 

A great tumult and uproar. 

To proclaim by beat of drum. 
. . Rice. 
... So much. 
... Character, name. 
... Drum. 

... A thing. 

C ... Gate-keeper. 

iff? ... Two. 

... White. 

A musical instrument- 
In contemplation. 

. . Navadwip. 

... Sleep. 

. . Without. 

. . Dance. 

... To ascertain. 
. Right. 

... Plank. 

... To Believe. 
CWft ... Pond. 

. . . Bank. 

. . . Foot Soldiers 

... A broom. 

... A Drizzle. 


*F? ... Bramha. 

... One who plays on a musical 

. . A musical instrument. 

. . Ashes. 

... A big boat. 

... Path. 


A musical instrument. 

To the place. 
. . A run. 
. . All. 

... To understand. 
... To Sign. 
. . A snake. 

Pertaining to evening. 
... Without. 

Bengali verbs are easily traced to those of Bengali 
Prakrita. From C3t^, ^sf, f^R, ^3, CTt^lt, 15^ verbs. 
?i>, *ftT, ^tPT) ^($1 ftl, ^fTT, *l*f^fj 9 ffi & C M the trans- 
formation is easily made to 5$, *fP5, WTIi 
C^Ff&lj ^1X3^1, <t^1, ^JH, CCT1, 

The participle forms in Prakrita 
*fet ;? rf^^ pass through slight changes in Bengali. 
Prakrita ^fa changed to ^[ff^ and ^TfClJt joins it- 
self to other verbs, and forms the origin of the present 
participle in Bengali. Such foims as ?fihn + *ltnE> 
^ftTTC?, *TS(l% and ^ WE are thus accounted for. 
The Sanskrit, form WPfci changed to the Bengali 


^tfe*l forms in the same manner the suffix of 
Bengali verbs in the past tense,, such a& ffiRJH 
*rtfipT, 'ffntff'J, and C^I + ^I^^^Rfffe 5 ! etc. 
In the backward villages of Bengal the two words 
are still often used separately in the present parti- 
ciple forms, such as *fi|C3 *rfW, *lftW *fln? I 
There are numerous instances of Prakrita and Sans- 
krit forms of verbs being used in the works which 
we have dealt with in this chapter. Such for 
instance as Wltft TOfo f *lft &c., We quote some 
examples below : 

2. wft ^fir^t * 

unya Pwrana 

These forms are now quite obsolete in Bengali.* 
The Sanskrit forms TOltfr and ftf: have 
both been adopted in Bengali, subject to certain 
changes. In Eastern Bengal *W (a form of 
TOItft) i s in colloquial use. Western Bengal 
favoured the form *fiw=*tf (from ^*:); and many 
instances of both are found in old literature. We 
quote a few lines below to shew the use of ^ 

* In later works written in the isth, i6th & 17th centuries 
instances of such use were numerons, as in 

Mah&bhSrata by Sanjaya. 

2. "ft^CT CTKTO 

Vlsma Parva by Kavindra. 

3. ^5 ^ h^ ^t ^fcsn^ itfo i 

Caitaaya Charitimrita. 

4 . fm^i^foif%fM 

rl Krisna Vl|aya. 


(a form of ^:). The various forms derived from 
TOTtft are very frequently met with in old Bengali 

i . " ftfo fafs *rat<f *<;* i ^ fa f* vfir^tCT i 


2. Wf WJ i ^&t* I" 

is changed to ^fs^ and this form has been 
adopted in written Bengali both in Eastern and 
Western Bengal. The appearance of ^ in ?^F, 
TP*> *tt^ e tc. is difficult to account for. Dr. 
Grierson traces it to Sanskrit f^ v In old Bengali, 
there are frequent uses of verbs without this fami- 
liar suffix, as in, 

Manlk Chandra Rajar Gn, 

2. (( sni ^ c^ts ^ ^^^ *PTW i" 

Chaitanya Bh^gabat. 

The verbal termination ^ in the old imperative 

forms ^filS, ^5 (changed to ^f^G, ^(T^) is traced 
to Sanskrit f^ ; and examples of f^ changed to ^ are 
numerous in Prakrita. The ft often changes to 
^ in Prakrita, as in ^^f ^3^* in PingaL This ?f 
forms a suffix of verbs in Hindi. 

In Bengali and in Prakrita, words are generally Softening 
. of words. 


(i) by changing the double letter to a 
single one. The long vowel ^ in such cases is 
introduced to coalesce with the 'preceding letter, as 


=^Pr^, sometimes the long vowel 
also joins with the last letter, asTW = ^t^1, F^= 
^=^1*1, f* = tf51 I There are 
also instances of the vowel fl of the termination 
being dropped as^^l=?ft^, *P^ 
(2) By elision of a letter, as 

(* elided,) ^fat^OTftt?, F^t 

Vtttt, l*tt=**RT, CT^sTl* or 
(^elided), V=^' 

fr and \5 of Sanskrit words often change to \$ in 
their corresponding Bengali forms, and tf to <Sf or 

Bengali The case-affix in Bengali of the nominative 

affixes. (fi rs * P erson > singular) is generally formed by omit- 

ting the aspirate or the nasal s, of Sanskrit. The 

affix <fR of the Sanskrit instrumental nominative, 

is reduced to <4 in Prakrita and used in active 

forms; as "WW^ fwhV'IW itfto ftn*twft 

CltW^f' 1 (Mricchakatika, Canto III). Instances of 

nominative this 4 forming the affix of nominatives in active 

case. f orms are numerous in old Bengali Mss., as ; 


'g Mati|bh|rata t 


In the current dialect of Bengal this vfl is often 
used as 3W4 SlftjtCt *fCT ^ifintH, &c. It is to 
be noted that the Bengali sentences, in active forms 
owe their construction rather to Sanskrit passive 
forms. The difference in the dual and plural 
numbers is not preserved in Prakrita. The usual 
affix in the pluial forms being '^rT. **[*R1 for 
^"PfWli 3!5*fl for *JJS[1: and like forms are frequent- 
ly found in Prakrita. In old Bengali also ^1 forms 
the affix of the nominative plural ; as in : 



Trump traces the C?p of the Bengali accusative to 
the Sanskrit ^5, used in the locative. But Max- 
muller's view, tracing C^ to the Sanskrit pleonas- 
tic ^, is evidently correct. In the Gatha and 
Prakrita languages the instances of the affix ^ The 
used pleonastically are so numerous, that some- accusative. 
times we find it occurring in many words in a 
sentence as in the Lalita Vistara: 


Where the affix ^5 forms the termination of 
words in both nominative and accusative forms, it 
often becomes difficult to distinguish between the 
two. In sentences, like, 


a doubt may naturally occur as to who the person 
addressed is. It is, therefore, probable that for 
avoiding this difficulty, the form <7F was adopted to 
denote the accusative and dative cases. In the 
Gatha and Prakrita languages instances of the affix 
CT in the accusative and dative cases are not 
wanting, as in 

Mricchakatika, 8th Canto. 

The pleonastic ^ formerly served as the mere 
termination of a word and was not reckoned as a 
case-affix. Hence in old Bengali this & is often 
affixed to words in various cases ; as in " ^^TtW 
i" (Chaitanya Charitamrita) and 
tnC?Hlfi[ " (^rikri^na Vijaya), 
where it forms the termination of the words in 
the locative case. 

the plural In old Bengali writings, *pf , *pWj ^ and simi- 

itumben Jar wQrds wefe genera n y use d to denote the 

plural number. The word " ^itfif n (beginning with) 
was also often used with a noun to imply plurality. 
The following extract from Narottama Vilasa will 
shew numerous instances of the use of "^tf? in the 
above manner. 

1L ] 


The genitive sign 3 being affixed to 

^faslSitfff forms 

current genitive forms 

easily explained. The pleonastic affix 

found to be joined with ff^St 

the Narottama Vilasa we find 

(< STR WftfipF h^ CfTl 

and the 
are thus 
is often 
&c. In 

This f^ is changed to fvf^f and we may thus 
account for fifsfo and f^^t^f formed by joining the 
genitive affix 3 to the above words. Some Bengali 
scholars are, however, of opinion that the genitive 
plural "ftpfif 11 comes directly from the Persian 


The current Bengali form in Eastern Bengal in the 
genitive plural is, however, formed not by affixing 
1 frFfil' but by ' c*fl ' or ' CltS ' to the words. The 
forms ^jftiWfa, OTWtlfTfli ^t^TH, ^TIC^tH, are no 
doubt derived by the genitive post-position ^ being 
affixed to the pleonastic ^ changed to ff. 

There can scarcely be said to be any particular 
affix in Bengali to denote the instrumental case. 


The Sanskrit 5TPR changes to 5t1^ I have said 
that the Bengali active forms were akin to the 
Sanskrit passive voice. The sentences ( f^ft^T *f1 
"W&rttl' 'tTH ^frnitrt' still in current use in 
different parts of Bengal, shew how the construc- 
tion of the Sanskrit passive changes into Bengali 
active forms, 


"l al 



The dative 



The geni- 
tive case* 

The loca- 
tive case. 


Uriya and 




There is no difference in Bengali between the 
dative and the accusative cases, the affix c^F being 
used for both. 

The Prakrita sign for the ablative case is 
The Bengali Z&iG is derived from 
old Bengali we find this word to be 
in, " $t>5 3E3 ftftfal *W tf\ ?T? " ( Padmavatl 
Aloal}, and often as*W, as in, fl c^ 
*ft5 ^1 fl Sflft I " (Sanjaya). 

The genitive post-position 1 of Prakrita changes 
to ^ in Bengali. In the place of Prakrita *$l*\ we 
have Bengali ^ifift ; | often changes to *$ or ( $ and 
and examples of this are numerous in the Uriya 
dialect. Bopp, however, considers the genitive 
affix ^fto have been derived from the Sanskrit affix ^ 
in the genitive plural froms as ^RfSTfonf, 5*SIW{ &c. 
Dr. Hoernle traces this ^ to Sanskrit f$, changed 
into C^S^F, C^if, ^ and other forms in the Prakrita 
and Hindi dialects. Raja Rajendra Lai is of 
opinion that the Bengali If comes from the Sanskrit 
genitive affix 3J. 

1 he locative C$ in Bengali is probably to be 
traced to the Sansktit $f^f, The locative in 
Bengali is often the same as in Sanskrit, as ?fcCJ, 
*WH *J &c. Sanskrit -n^Wt, CTlWt, ^0\\ &c. 
changes to *(Plf31, C^tt, ^fw &c. and in old Ben- 
gali such forms were in general use, In modern 
Bengali the ^ changes to 3 I 

Let us say a word regarding Asmeseand Uriya 
in relation to Bengali, the three now forming distinct 
languages. Before the first Bengali grammar was 
written by Mr. Halhead, Bengali which was called 
" Gaudiya SfidhQ Bhasa" by the people presented 
different provincial dialects even in literary 


compositions. The same author's works were read alt 
over a vast tract of country, which geographically 
transcended the limits of Modern Bengal and the 
Eastern Provinces, But words were changed by 
those who copied the manuscripts, conformably to 
the dialectical peculiarities of each district, so that 
one reads 'srt^' in the old manuscripts of Krittivasa 
found in Western Bengal where *\Ff would be 
the usual form in a manusciipt of the same work, 
recovered from the Eastern Provinces. The* 
Vaisnava works written in Bengali found readers 
in Orissa and As^am. The people of those coun- 
tries occasionally changed words in those works 
to suit the peculiar forms of their dialects. Many 
Bengali works have lately been found in manus- 
cript forms in Orissa. Bengali, therefore, in the 
various forms charecteristic of provincial dialects 
presented a literature which used to be read and 
written by the people of a vast area bounded by 
the sea on the South, extending to the Himalayan 
forests on the North of Old Gauda, stretching so far 
as Magadha and Mithila in the West and reaching 
to the backwoods of Assam and the out-skirts of 
Burma on the East. The differences of dialect 
described, could have been easily synthetised by a 
common grammar, including Assamese, Uriya and 
Bengali in one group. Bengali, recognised as the 
most advanced language in Eastern India, and 
fast assimilating the forms of different provincial 
dialects, for the purpose of propagating the Vainava 
creed, might have been taken as the common 
vehicle for the expression of the thought of these 
three provinces ; and in fact on the principle of 
natural selection, it had already, before the 


beginning of the nineteenth century, advanced its 
claim towards that end. But Assmese and Uriya 
have now alienated themselves from Bengali. The 
people of those provinces declare that they possess 
a distinct literature of their own which is as old as 
Bengali literature ; and indeed they do. The 
people of Chittagong, Tippera and Sylhet also 
possess old literatures stamped with provincialism 
of dialect, which now form a valuable part of our 
literature ; but which are by no means any way 
nearer, in style and form, to the old literature of the 
Burdwan and Batikura districts, than are Asamese 
and Uriya. The vanity of preserving the pecu- 
liarities of a small province may be natural amongst 
its own people, but it does not indicate a healthy 
state of feeling. The literary language of England 
has now reached a wonderful development because 
the American, the Irish, the Scotch and the Austra- 
lian have all adopted it. There is no want of 
peculiarities and dialectical differences in the forms 
of this language as spoken in those countries ; 
but these differences 6f the spoken language 
are not recognised in writing, and all these 
countries have submitted to a single grammar. 
The language has thus gathered strength from 
the co-operation of its votaries who recognise 
this unity in their literature, though politically many 
of them are not under the same yoke. Here is a 
passage which I quote as a specimen of the spoken 
dialect of Chittagong. No Bengali of the Western 
districts would understand a line of it and in the 
peculiar from which it exhibits, it would appear 
more remote from current Bengali than is Uriya or 


From an advertisement on a patent medicine. 

orfcrai] imra itfe', * ro 

I ift^t Wf? f% ^ ^^ CT ? 

CTWR ^itft f^f^l ! ff 

t fWtl, C?^ C?RI 

i ft'irs sfi ? 

i 1^1 cf ^ 71 ^ ? 


I >G^tW-11 ! ^TT 



I ^t* *& ^1 wtHf 5 ! ? 





Yet the people of Chittagong are proud of 
Bengali which they acknowledge as their mother- 
tongue ; and some of our greatest modern poets, 
writers, and speakers, come from that district. 
Unity in language, as in all other matters, contri- 
butes to the glory of our national life, and this 
point should not be ignored by our brethren who 
speak only different forms of the same language. 



I-Chandl Das. 

The Bengali works to which we have referred 
in the last chapter, scarcely rise to the level of 
of decent literature. They were composed by 
peasants and villagers, and these were the people 
who loved to read them and hear them recited. 
This fact must be held to account for their some- 
what gross turn of humour. Our language, as I have 
baid in the first chapter, was greatly stimulated by 
the attention it received from the Moslem Sovereigns 
of Gauda with their inevitably anti-Sanskritic cul- 
ture, But it possessed inherent qualities of its own 
which were bound to have been recognised in 
course of time, even if chance had not brought the 
Mahammadans to this country. With poets like 
Chandl Das and Vidyapati, the vernaculars of Bengal 
and Behar could not long have been allowed to 
languish in the cold shade of Brahmanical disdain. 
These songs revealed its innate stength and gave 
unmistakable proof of its capacity to express the 
highest thoughts of the human mind. At the 
very time when rural folk were amusing them- 
selves by a display of coarse wit in halting 
rhyme ; when no better themes than the plough, 
the furrow and the rice-field were to be found 
for the awakening of poetic inspiration ; when 
the tales of the Siddhas and their powers were 
being sung in the villages, and gave the same amus* 

The poems 

of Chandi- 

das and 

with other 
writings of 

the age. 


ment- to illiterate people as fairy tales do to child- 
ren ; at that very period of fantastic and uncouth 
composition, now more valued for philological 
and historical considerations than for any intrinsic 
poetic merits, the vernaculars of Bengal and Behar 
were suddenly lit up by the rays of two brilliant 
start*, the precursors of an illustrious host who 
appeared on our literary horizon with the advent of 
Chaitanya Deva in the sixteenth century. 

In order to understand the subjects treated by 
these two poets, one should first know what Para- 
kfya Rasa is. 

Paraklya Parakiya Rasa which is sometimes identified 


with Madhura Rasa, forms the essence of the 
Vaisnava theology. It is akin to the Sahajia cult, 
which, as explained in a previous chapter, mean.*- 
the romantic worship of a woman other than one': 
own wife. By a strange combination of circums- 
tances, this form of idialism, though to the Hindu 
mind it seems lawless and unhallowed, rapidly 
attained a highly spiritual form in Bengal. In 
a country where the portals of the Zenana 
remain ever closed to the outside world, where in 
the words of a Bengali poet, " the rays of the sun 
may not touch and even the moon is not allowed to 
see the fair one" in such an environment as 
that of the Hindu household, society admits, of 
no opportunity for the free^.meeting of men and 
women. Yet human natur is every where the 
same, and here as elsewhere stringent social rules 
are ineffective to defeat the impulse of personal 
choice and romantic love. The greater the opposi- 
tion, the stronger is the impulse which cries foi 


expression. In this country a blind Providence 
joins the hands of a mute pair who promise fidelity, 
often without knowing each other. When the 
situation grows monotonous, losing colour and 
poetry, both men and women are treated to lectures 
on the purity of the nuptial vow, and to promises 
of rewards in the next world, They fully believe 
in the sanctity of marriage, and are ready to 
sacrifice sentiment to stern duty. But human 
passion cannot be altogether repressed, and \\here 
it over-rides the ordinances of the aslras, it 
rushes forward with extraordinary strength, all 
the greater for the attempt at forcible sup- 

The Parakiya presents insurmountable difficulties 
in this country. Those who love have scarcely a 
chance of meeting ; they may long for the sight 
of one another's faces, yet this good fortune not be 
theirs for days and weeks together. There are 
numerous descriptions of the romantic feelings 
which this peculiar situation creates, in the Vaisnava 
songs. Here are a few short extracts: 

" If he happens to see a single letter that forms 
my name, he pores over it in an ecstasy of joy."* 

" He wanders about like a mad man and kisses 
the prints of my feet."t 



f ' 

t " 

Govinda Das. 


" If he heacs my name incidentally mentioned by 
any, his face is lit up with strange emotion and in 
vain does he try to hide the joy."* 

In cases where this feeling has arisen, and 
the persons concerned possess noble moral quali- 
ties social and moral barriers continuing to ex- 
cercise their full power, it is easy to see that 
the highest romantic idealism is the inevitable 
result. We then find that the very restrictions 
imposed, only accentuate the poetry of the pas- 
sion. There is nothing which the lovers are not 
prepared to lay on the alter of this their highest 
dream. Such love is the nearest approach in 
cammon life to the mystic longings of the 
devotee's soul, for the realisation of God ; and 
in fact, in the purity of its sentiment, and in its 
capacity for devotion and selfsacrifice, it approaches 
spirituality. Hence Vaishavism in Bengal adopted 
Paraklya as a symbol for the representation of 
divine love. Rsdha, the Princess, daughter of king 
Vri?a Elian u and wife of Ayan Ghosa, falls in love 
with Krisna the shepherd boy. But Radha is 
thought of by Vaisfiavas as the human soul and 
Kri^ha as the incarnation of the Love of god. From 
this story every suspicion of grossness is understood 
to be eliminated, and the drama played out amidst 
the pastoral scenery of the banks of the Jumna, 
conveys only the purity and holiness of a hymn of 


ifn *CT *flpwi "- 



Chandi Das and Vidyap^ti followed Jay Deva, 
and took this allegory for the expression in the verna- 
cular of the highest form of the spiritual ideal. 

From a reference* given in one of Chandi Das's 
poems, it appears that before 1403 A.D. he had 
composed 996 songs. He was born in the village 
of Chhatna in the district of Birblmm, but in early lift 1 , 
settled at the neighbouring village of Nannura, ten 
miles to the south-east of Bolpur a station on 
the East Indian Railway. The site of his home 
now reduced to a mere mound is still to be seen 
at Nannura, where he discharged priestly functions 
in the temple of Va^uli Devi. This temple coll- 
apsed in course of time, and a new one has lately 
been built on the old site where the goddess Va^uli 
is still worshipped. 

Chandi Das, in the popular estimation was one 
of those souls who turn love-mad. In Eastern 
Bengal a man of eccentric tendencies is somtimes 
called ' *fffiTI frlt ' or ' a mad Chandi. ' The word 
' WTI ' or ' mad fellow ' is not rightly translated 
by the bold English word ' mad/ for in Bengali 
it is tinged with a feeling of tenderness. ' *fW1 S$| ' 
and ' <TN*TI ftW^ ' are adored by the people of 
Bengal. The epithet '*ltW is akin to 'Dewana' 
in Persian. They imply the poetic excesses of a' 
great genius and are far from being terms of con- 

We have already alluded to Chandi Das's love 
for Rami, the washerwoman. At Nannura there 
is a spot which is pointed out as the site of Raml's 

II Chandldas. 

dfts's life. 




PHf TOf 


fallen from 
the Brah- 
minic or- 

home-stead* The way in which the poet first fell 
in love, as related by the people of the locality, is 
curious. By one of those echoes from the future 
which are heard by the human mind, on that very 
day in his life when the stars were set for his 
meeting with Kami, he had a foregleam of his com- 
ing experiences in love. He had gone to pur- 
chase fish in the market. There he offered a certain 
price to a fish-wife for the fish he wished to buy, but 
at that very moment she gave a greater quantity for 
the same price to another; Chandl Das was struck 
by this inequality of treatment and asked the fisher- 
woman'' s reason. She smiled and said" Oh, but 
his case is altogether different. We love each other!" 
Chandi Das stood silent for sometime, brooding 
over this reply. The sweetness of such a feeling 
attracted him, and it so happened that on that 
very day, Ram I, the young washerwoman, in 
all the beauty of her maiden-hood came into his 
sight and he fell over head and ears in love with 

The result was disastrous from a worldly point 
of view. He \\as a Brahmin and the washerwoman 
could take only the dust of his feet. Any other 
relation between them was not to be tolerated by 
society. Chandl Das has told us in his songs that 
his love for RamI was pure, there being in it no 
element of passion. In his devotion to his lady, 
however, he would not now brook any restraint. 
He openly avowed his love in songs, and remained 
absorbed in a sort of reverie, neglecting the duties 
of his priestly calling. The love of Tasso for 
Leonara or even of Dante for Beatrice can scarcely 
lay claim to comparison with the martyrdom endured 


by this Bengali poet for the lady of his heart. His 
songs, though in one of them he addresses Rami 
as " mother," were considered very offensive by 
Hindu Society, and he was excommunicated, and 
dismissed from his office in the temple of Vavull 
being proclaimed by beat of drum as fallen from 
the Brahmanic order. A Brahmin in love with a 
washerwoman ! It was monstrous, and as if he 
had been a putrid corpse, all contact with him was 
declared unholy. 

Now Chandl Das had a brother named Nakula, 
who enjoyed great popularity with the Brahmin 
community. By his earnest intervention on behalf 
of his brother it was settled, though after repeated 
opposition, that Chandl Das could be taken back 
into caste, if he would give an undertaking of good 
conduct in future and provide a feast for the 
Brahmins. Nakula arranged the feast, and when 
the Brahmins assembled at the dinner party, 
information reached Rami, the washerwoman, that 
Chandl Das was being restored to caste on the 
promise of deserting her for ever. She fainted 
at the news, and when consciousness returned, 
began to weep, in violent paroxysms of grief. In 
great agony, she went to the Vokul groves where 
she had so often waited to catch a glimpse of Chandl 
Das's face. But she could riot by any means 
control her feeling and rest here ; she went 
onward to the place where the invited party were 
partaking of the banquet served for them. She 
gazed at Chandidas and tears flowed from her eyes 
in unceasing stream. Never before had Rami 
looked in public upon the face of Chandidas! 



Rami and 


about her. 


Holy as the 

dfrs's death. 

Chandldas forgot all the promises he had given to 
the Brahmins and in the worshipful manner of a 
priest, who approaches his house-hold goddess, 
appeared before her craving a thousand pardons, 
It is said that a wonderful vision was at this mo- 
ment vouchsafed to only a few of the assembled 
Brahmins. They saw the four arms of the Divine 
mother of the universe shining forth, behind the 
supposed washerwoman ! 

But the rest oft he Brahmins were very angry, 
and Chandldas remained an outcast as before. 
His boldness became far greater now. He openly 
addressed Raml as C^*RT^1 ^tftlfs Gayatri the 
mother of the Vedas ' Imagine the folly of this 
comparison ' Gayatri the great hymn of the Brah- 
mins is to them the holiest thing on earth or in 
heaven. For a Brahmin to say, therefore, that a 
washerwoman was as holy in his eyes as the Gayatri, 
was an affront to the whole orthodox community, 
the degree of which can scarcely be conceived by 
one outside the pale of Hindu society. But Chandl- 
das had meant no more offence than a bird in its 
warblings ; in the fulness of his heart the mouth had 
spoken. In his dreams of love, thoughts of caste, 
of Brahminhood or of any other earthly considera- 
tion had no place.* 

Chandldas met with a tragic death. While he 
was amusing his audience by a recitation of his 
love-songs in the house of a friend at the village of 
Kirnahar near Nannura, the roof of the house is 
said to have collapsed ; and the great poet who had 

* For some of Chandl Dis's Songs on Rftml, see. pp, 

Jll* ] BENGALI LANGUAGE & LttEfcAfURfc. 123 

suffered so much because of his love, passed away 
from the earth. 

I have said that love in its most abstract and 
refined form was the theme of Candldas's songs. 
His poems on Radh and Krisna fall under 
the classification usual to the love- poems of the 
Vai?riavas. The Purva Raga or dawn of love ; 
Dautya or message of * love; Abhisara or secret 
going-forth, and Sambhoga-milana or meeting of 
the lovers, Mathur or the final separation, caused 
by Krisha's going to Mathura ; Bhava-sanmilana 
or union in spirit, and so forth. 

Krisna is the Divine Incarnation worshipped by 
the Vaishavas. He is represented as having a dark 
blue complexion. Dark blue suggests the predo- 
minating colour of the universe. We find it in the 
azure, in sky and ocean, in distant landscapes and 
in the immense verdure of pastoral meadows. On 
the head of Krisha is a crown of flowers and a plume 
of peacock's feathers reminding us of the rainbow. 
Thib symbolizes the various colours which adorn the 
main dark-blue pervading the earth and the sky. 
He has a flute in his hand, and when he plays on 
it, the very Jumna bends out of her course signi- 
fying that with a person who has heard the call of 
his God, the result is irrestible, the course of his 
life is sure to change. The human soul is sym- 
bolized in Radha, the soul that, with its five finer 
senses, becomes instinct with new life, the moment 
God appears to it in all His glory. 

This is how the enlightened Vaisnavas inter- 
pret the love of Radha and Kri?Aa. Let us explain 
this idea a little more elaborately* The devout 
believes that there is no paradise higher 

The sub- 

Jects of his 


Krisna and 

A further 
analysis of 
the subject* 



1 Sakhya ' 




than the home, with all the social relationships 
which centre there. To take the motherly instinct 
first; when the child was helpless and entirely 
dependent on mercy, who gave it food ? Who 
watched over it and protected it with the utmost 
care? It was the mother. Now a Vaisfiava, \\ould 
say that it was not in the power of a frail woman 
to undergo sudi sacrifices ; it was God's mercy 
needed for the protection of the helpless child that 
manifested itself in her motherly love. So the 
Vaisnavas see Him in the mother. This is TKl*IJ- 
stV But this has also another aspect; when a 
man is made a father, he, rough, rude-tempered, 
cruel man, becomes tenderness itself at the sight of 
the baby. Now such kindness was not inherent 
in his nature ; and the Vaisnava sees in the child, 
who can evoke these feelings, the love of God 
Himself. So in friendship also, which is called 
in the devotion of a servant, which is called 
or in *ft$[ that quietness of soul which is 
attained by the elders of the family, living the life 
of the religious recluse, we have only other forms 
of the realization of divinity. Thus, the Vaisnava's 
environment throbs with a new life as he becomes 
conscioys of divine love, and realizes the presence 
of God everywhere. His social and domestic ties 
only bind him with his god and in the voices of 
affection all around, he discovers the loving call 
of Him who wants all souls to come near Him, but 
whose voice is not heard by ears deafened with the 
tumult of the world. 

But higher than any where else is the manifesta- 
tion of God known to us in the love of mart and 


all lofty emotions. This is the ^^t^ which Chandi 
Das has expressed so beautifully in his songs, 
In all this, a clue will be found to the point of view 
which accepts the love songs of the Vaisnavas 
displaying, as these do, every form of intrigue and 
passionate idealism, between man and woman as 
hymns of religious adoration. 

In Chandi Das's 'dawn of love,' Krisna appears The dark- 
before the mind of Radha as a spritual vision, complexion 
She has caught a glimpse of his dark-blue com- of Krl8 " a 
plexion. It has acted on her almost like some 
infatuation. She sits alone lost in thought. The 
poet says* : 

" O what pain has overtaken Radha ! She 
likes solitude. She sits alone, and will listen to 
none. Pensive, she looks up to the sky and watches 
the clouds, her eyes do not move. She wants no 
food. She wears the yellow garb of a nun and 
looks like one. She unlooses the garlands from 
her hair, and pores over the beauty of her own 
dis-hevelled locks. With longing eyes, she be- 
holds the clouds and stretching out her hands, what 




TO* on itw 


does she say to them? Her glance becomes fixed 
on the neck of the peacock. Love for Kri?na, says 
Chandl Ds, has dawned on her heart." 

Love for Krisria the shepherd god, who wears 
the crown of peacock's feathers, Kri?na, whose 
beautiful dark-blue colour so soothes the eyes f 
It is this which accounts for her reveries about the 
clouds, her own hair, and the neck of the peacock, 
referred to in the poem. All alike remind her of 
Kri?na. She drinks deep of their beauty. She is 
indifferent to her physical comfort. She fasts and 
lives like a holy maiden a Yoginl,^we find in the 
lines ! It is a strange abstract love, and symbolises 
also the spiritual love of the Vaisnavas ! For this 
dark-blue complexion, as I have said, is taken to 
mirror the pervading colour of the Infinite, and, 
as an emblem of the divine presence, is sacred to all 
Vaihavas. Many a time and oft it is told of Chai- 
tanya Deva, the God-man of Nadia that he saw the 
dark-blue clouds, reminding him of God and 
swooned away in an ecstasy of love. To him the 
very contact with matter conveyed a spiritual 
idea. The objects of the senses were mere signs 
of the presence of One who was above the 
senses ; form indicated in his eyes the formless, 
colour, the colourless, and all knowledge of the 
outword world, the great Unknowable. This is the 

fifc *fir, 

1CT I 


distinctive characteristic of Indian thought. It has a A tendency 

constant tendency towards idealization, The river idealiza- 

Jumna and the village Vrindavana will be found ** on 

on any Indian map. They are sanctified in the eyes 

of ordinary Vai?navas. To them Kri?na lived in 

the flesh and sported with the milk-maids in the 

groves of Vrindavana, ever hallowed by the love- 

making of the Divine shepherd. But the gross 

aspect changes^the whole matter becomes abstract, 

in the eyes of an enlightened devotee. To him 

the human mind is Vrindavana, and there the 

enternal play of the Divine love the f^J^fl ' is 

ever going on. Radha was married to Ayan Ghosh 

but she belonged to Krisna, as our souls, though 

bound to this world, repudiate these bonds on 

their spriritual awakening, and cling to God alone. 

I may give an instance of this spiritualization An example. 

t -j u i j -ir*. ,. i The stof y 

of ideas even by rural and illiterate people in of an old 
Bengal. In 1894, I was residing in Tippera. It man. 
was early in June ; the clouds had gathered on the 
horizon, and round the Cataratan Matha of Comilla 
they had made the darkness of night a shade more 
black. An illiterate Vaishava devotee, an old 
man of seventy, was singing the following song of 
Chandl Das, playing on a lute made of a long 

(l Dark is the night and thick are the clouds, 
u How could you, my beloved, come by the path 
in such a night 1 

crow ^i?i> 

CT Wt 


" There in the garden, I see him standing in 
the rain ; 

4( My heart breaks at the sight thereof. 

" I say to you, O maidens, for many virtues of 
mine, my love has graciously come here to 
meet me. 

" Within the house there are the elders and my 
sister-in-law is very cruel ; I could not immediately 
run out to meet him. 

u Alas what anguish and pain have I not caused 
him by beckoning him to come ! 

u When I see how earnestly he loves me, 
fain would I bear the load of infamy on my head 
and set tire to my house ! 

*fc ft *rnr ifrw cstw, 

fwi CTIW i 

f fir, 

w ^fir 

mnr ^<9 *(s<ft ii 


"All the troubles suffered for my sake he 
takes as happiness and he is only sorry if he sees? 
me sad. 

" The story of this love, says Chandldas, will 
gladden the world." 

While the old man was singing, I suddenly 
heard his voice become choked with tears, and he 
could not proceed any more. On his coming to 
himself after this display of feeling, I asked him 
the cause of his tears. He said, it was the song. 
The song, I said, described a secret love-affair, 
and where could be the pathos in it that gave 
occasion for such an out-burst of feeling in an 
old man 1 

He explained to me that he did not consider 
the song as an ordinary love-song. Here is his 
interpretation, " I am full of sins. My soul is 
covered with darkness. In deep distress I beck- 
oned Him to come to me. The merciful God 
came. I found Him waiting for me at the gate of 
my house. It cannot be any pleasure to Him to 
come to a great sinner like me, the path is so 
foul, but by my supreme good fortune the merciful 
God took it. The world I live in, has left no door 
open for Him. Relations and friends laugh, or 
even are hostile, but remembering His great mercy 
what can a sinner do, except desert his house 
and all, court any abuse of the world, and turn z 
sannyasin !" The thought of His mercy choked mj 
voice "Oh dark is the night and thick are the 
clouds, how could you, my beloved, come by th< 
path." But 'He exposes Himself to the* rain, becaust 
in order to help the -sinner He is ready to suffer/' 




omits no 

detail of 




to compare 

with this 


Tears were still dropping from the eyes of the 
old man and as with his right hand he was still 
playing on the lute, he hummed again and again 
14 Dark is the night and thick are the clouds." 

Chandidas's songs omit no particulars of human 
sentiments. The longing regret at parting ; the 
pleasure, even ecstasy, of stealthy meetings at odd 
moments and the devices used for such meetings 
are described by him , in simple and unadorned 
style, without many classical figures. Indeed the 
scantiness of these is what strikes the reader. But 
the descriptions are vividly realistic, at once pre- 
senting a picture to the mind. Krisna comes to 
Radha in the guise of a woman-physician and 
touches her hand to feel the pulse. He comes as a 
magician and the women of the village assemble be- 
hind the screens to witness his feats. His labours 
are rewarded by one stolen glance at Radhas face. 
He comes to her as the barber-wife and obtains a 
minute's interview ; as a nun, and on the pretext 
of giving a blessing, whispers a word of love to her. 
Radha also goes to meet him in the disguise of a 
shepherd-boy, and the pastoral scenes are enlivened 
by a poetic touch describing their talk. In all this, 
as I have said, Chandldas repudiates classical 
similes and the language of convention. We quote 
some extracts from his writings. 

i. *" Of such love no one ever heard. Their 
hearts are bound to each other by their very 
nature. Thay are in each other's presence, yet 
they weep fearing a parting. If one is hidden 


from the other for half-a-second, they feel the pangs 
of death. Just as a fish dies, when dragged from 
the water, so do they, if parted from one an other. 
Among men such love was never heard of. You 
say that the sun loves the lily, but the lily dies in 
the frost, and the sun lives on happily. You say 
the bird Chataka and the clouds are lovers, but the 
clouds do not give a drop of water to the bird before 
their time. The flower and the bee, it is said, 
adore each other; but if the bee does not come to 
the flower, the flower does not go to the bee. It is 
foolish to describe the bird Chakora as a lover of 
the moon their status is so different. There is 
nothing, says Chandldas, to compare with this 
love. n 

$* ? ftW 

fan * 


OR 3 flj* ilPI TO I 


Parting. 2. *Such love was never seen or heard of. 

Moments to them are years. In each others' 
arms, they yet feel the pangs 'of the apparaching 
separation. With the edge of his cloth he fans 
her, and if she turns her head a little, he trembles 
with fear apprehending a parting. When the 
meeting comes to an end, nrty soul, as it were, 
leaves my body. My heart breaks to relate to you, 
O maidens, the pangs of parting. I quite believe 
you, says Chandidas/' 

3. t 4 May I go, now/ he speaks this thrice, 
O how many kisses and embraces with these words ! 
He proceeds half a step and looks back to gaze 
at me. He looks at my face in such anguish as I 
cannot describe. He places his hands in mine 
and asks me to swear by himself. O how he 
flatters me to get the promise of another meeting ! 
His love is so deep and hife prayers are so earnest, 
says Chandlers, let Mm remain in the heart for 


i , , 

CTBI jW 5ft fRT II 
CT ' 



We ar$ only too conscious of the fact that the 
beauty of the original is lost in the translation. It 
is always difficult to translate deep sayings into 
another language. Underlying the modes, ex- 

periences and make-shifts of human love with 

i t i The 

which these songs apparently deal, there is a mighty tual side. 

current of love divine, which originates here, and 
streams out along its heavenward course. Some of 
Chandidas's songs sound like hymns to God, Here 
is one. 

* u Thou art, O Beloved, my very life. 

" My body and mind I have offered unto thy 

" My family prestige, my good name, my caste 
my honour and all. 

Itft W 

^wnar ^ 11 


" Thou art the lord of the universe, O Krisna, 
adored by the Yogis. 

" I am but a poor milkmaid and know not how 
to worship thee ! 

u Yet do I offer myself, my soul and body, unto 
thee as the sacrifice of love. 

"Thou art my lord, thou art my path, My 
mind seeks not for any other object. 

"The world scorns me because of this love, yet 
do I not regret it. 

" Abuse is like a garland of flower about my 
neck for thy dear sake. 

" Thou alone knowest whether I am pure or 

" I know not even what is good or bad for me. 

"Virtue and vice, says Chandldas, are alike 
to me. I know them not, but know thy feet alone/' 

Some of Chandidss's songs of Bhavasanmilana 
(Union in spirit) have been adopted with slight 
changes by the Brahmo Samaj of Bengal and are 
sung in their churches during divine service. 

God as The paradox that has to be understood is that 

lover. Kritfha througout such passages means God. Yet 

he is represented as a youth, standing at a gate, 



trying to waylay the beloved maiden, attempting to 
entrap the soul, as it were, into a clandestine 
meeting. This, which is so inconceivable to a 
purely modern mind, presents no difficulty at all to 
the Vaishava devotee. To him God is the lover 
himself ; the sweet flowers, the fresh grass, the gay 
sound heard in the woods, are direct messages 
and tokens of love to his soul, bringing to his mind 
at every instant that loving God, whom he pictures 
as ever anxious to win the human heart. 

2. VidySpati. 

Vidiyapati is not, strictly speaking, a Bengali Vfd 
poet. He belonged to Mithila (Dwarbhanga) not a Bet 
and composed his songs in the Vernacular of 
those districts. Yet we include his name in a 
history of Bengali literature. This will appear 
anomalous, but our people have established 
their claims upon this Maithil poet in a manner 
that leaves no room for disputing our action. 
Vidyapati's songs have found a prominent place 
in all the compilations of the Vaisnavas cur- 
rent in Bengal, and they are sung here by the 
Vaisnub singers on all occasions. In fact a quarter 
of a century ago, it was believed by Bengali readers 
that Vidiyapati was a Bengali poet Recently, 
however, when a true account of his life was un- 
earthed by the researches of scholars like Babu Raj 
Krina Mukherjee and Dr. Grierson, we began to 
question the propriety of out claim. Vidyapati's 
songs, as known to Bengalis, are in matay respects 
different from the versions found in the Maithil 


language. The days of Vidyapati were the days 
of the glory of the Mithila university and at that 
time there was a great interchange of thought 
between Mithila and Bengal Hence Bengali poems 
dealing with the love of Radha and Kri?na found 
entrance into Mithila and the versions of those 
poems current there are full of Maithil idioms 
and expressions. The poems of Govinda Das, the 
great Bengali poet, are still known in Behar, al- 
though the people there have changed their lan- 
guage by introducing many Maithil words and 
idioms which sound strange to the Bengali ear. In 
the fcame manner, Vidyapati' s poems have passed 
through changes in the hands of the Bengali poets 
poems who recast them. The reader may compare the 
recensions current in the two countries from a 
collection of Vidyapati's poems made by Dr. Grier- 
son. One looks very much like a translation of 
the other, yet the Bengali recension is sometimes 
marked by as much genius as the original itself. 
It not only retains the sweetness but occasionally 
improves upon it by introducing new sparkling 
thoughts. Some of the best songs attributed to 
Vidyapati as "WiR Rfif *ft ?R*f CTOtfifS" are 
found only in the Bengali recension and the 
people of Mithila have not preserved them in their 
collection, nor even heard of them, It is the 
popular belief that Vasanta Rai, uncle of Raja 
Pratapadityg of Jessore prepared the Bengali re- 
cension of Vidyapati in the i6th century. Vidyg- 
pati's songs an Bengali glow with poetry, ^colour, 
and Miealth of. .expression, and, as we have said, ,are 
quite equal ,to their Maithil originals. Under these 
circumstances Vidyapati must be counted as 


Bengali poet, at least in this version, and it 
would be impossible now to expunge his poems 
from the compilations current in Bengal, where 
they have for the last three centuries found a 
prominent place. 

Vidyapati was a resident of Visti a village in 
the Sub-division of Sitamari, near Jarail, in the 
district of Durbhanga. This village he obtained as 
a grant from Raja iva Sirhha. Vidyapati enjoyed 
the patronage of iva Simha, Lacchima Devi, 
Vi^was Devi, Narasirhha Deva and other sovereigns 
of Mithila. The copper-plate grant by which Raja 
iva Sirhha is said to have conferred on the poet 
the title of Nava Jay Deva together with the owner- 
ship of the village Visti is dated 1400 A.D.* Some 
scholars consider this copper-plate to be forged. 
The date in the inscription is given in Hijra era 
along with other eras, but the Hijra era was, by the 
unanimous opinion of historians, introduced at a 
much later period by the Emperor Akbar. The 
characters of the inscription, besides, do not bear 
the stamp of that early period when the grant is 
said to have been made. The copper-plate, has 
been, on these grounds, declared to be unreliable. 
There is, however, no doubt that the village Visfi 
was granted by iva Siriiha to Vidyapati. The 
poet himself speaks of this grant in one of his 
poems ;t and the descendants of Vidyapati have for 

In 293 of Laksman Sen's era. 

t " *R*J wi w, wtfr it**, frft^t owl 

And are 

now in* 



The date 

of the 






The dates 
of Raj- 
PanjI not 

long years held possession of the village. The 
tradition prevalent in the country also supports 
the grant. The probable causes of'the anomalies 
found in the copper-plate inscription 'may be thus 
explained. The copper-plate would be ndturally 
in the custody of the eldest member of the family, 
and the other descendants .interested in the endow- 
ment would, according to custom, be permitted to 
retain copies of it. Supposing that the original 
copper-plate was lost, 'the descendants were no 
doubt reduced to the necessity of preparing an- 
other from the copies they had with .them, in order 
to satisfy Rajah Todar Mall who surveyed the lands 
during Akbar's time. If .this supposition is correct, 
it accounts for the introduction of the Hjjra era 
'into it, and also for -the comparatively modern 
style of'the characters used in the inscription. 

The court-register, >or 'Raj Panji df MUluig, 
records ^the year of Rajah iva Sirhha's ascent to 
the throne as 1446 A.D. This, however, is also 
opeivto objection, as in a poem of Vidyapati we 
have a mention of the date of Rajah iva-i5imha's 
coronation as '1400 A.D. Tit ere are 'also other 
reasons which make the dates given by the court- 
register* of Mithife of doubtful authenticity. There 


My father's name Is Gafupati Thtkr,*ml we are 
natives of Mlthl!*. iva Simha,>the Lord -of 'five Indies' 
took me to his court through kindness. He made a 
glft'Of-the village Vlsfi to me, and my peetry f lows at 
the contemplation of the fe^t ^>f LacchimS Devi 
(tlie Qtieeii). 


are conflicting opinions about these dates* But 
recently there has come to light another document 
which refers to a date in regard to Vidyspati and 
which we believe to be of unquestionable authenti- 
city. The MS. of an annotated copy of Kavya Pra- 
ka in Sanskrit lately recovered, shows that it was 
copied by one Deva Carma by the orders of the 
poet Vidyapati in November 1398 A.D. The MS. of 
Bhgavata in Vidyapati's own handwriting is ako 
preserved , but the date of the copy given on the 
last page, has not yet been deciphered. The two 
pundits, deputed by the Asiatic Society of Bengal 
for the purpose, disagree in their readings. 

From the various evidences which we have 
come across, we can declare with certainty that 
Vidyapati was born towards the end of the i4th 
century and lived to a good old age, probably cover- 
ing the whole of the I5th century. He was a 
contemporary of Chandidas and was attracted by 
his great rival's fame to undertake a journey to 
meet him. Many of the later Vaisfiava poets have 
described the interview between these two eminent 
men, which is said to have taken place on the 
banks of the Ganges in the spring season. The 
talk in which the poets are said to have indulged 
was appertaining to love and its higher flights. It 
is said that Chandidas made an impression on the 
Maitliil poet which is distinctly traceable in his 
later poems, chiefly about Bhsba Sammilana. In 
the biography of Adwaitgcharyya of ntipur the 
vetern saint of the Vaihava community, written by 
I^an Nsgara in 1 560 A.D., it is related that the saint, 
while touring in Mithila, saw Vidyapati there, 

1398 A.D. 

probably a 









1458 A.D. 

His patron. 


His Sans- 

The poet is described as a person of handsome 
appearance, and an excellent singer. This meet- 
ing between Adwaita and Vidyapati took place 
about the year 1458 or 27 years before Chaitanya 
Deva was born. Vidyapati refers to Giasuddin 
Toglak in one of of his songs and in another to 
Nasir Saha. But with very few exceptions his 
songs as a whole are dedicated to Rajah iva Siriiha 
his great patron and friend. 

Vidyapati was a scion of a distinguished family 
of scholars. His father, Ganapati Thakur dedica- 
ted his celebrated Sanskrit work * Ganga Bhakti 
Taranginl* to the memory of his deceased illustrious 
patron Maharaj Gane^wara of Mithila. Ganapati's 
father, Jaya Datta was not only a great Sanskrit 
scholar, but was distinguished also for his piety 
and saintliness of character. He obtained the 
title of ( Yoge^wara ' for these qualities. The 
father of Jaya Datta and the great grandfather of 
Vidyapati was the illustrious Vire<;wara who com- 
piled a code of rules for the guidance of every 
day-life of the Maithil Brahmins. The Vlreywara 
Paddhati, as his great work is called, is almost as 
much revered in Mithila as the Astavimgati X a Uva 
of Raghunandan in Bengal. Another point show- 
ing the social rank of our poet is that for several 
generations, his ancestors had discharged minis- 
terial functions in the court of the Maithil 

Vidyspati was a voluminous writer. Besides his 
ballads in the Vernacular, of which nearly 800 are 
now recovered, he wrote the following Sanskrit 
works : 


i. Purua Parlkjfa. 2. aiva Sarvaswasara. 
3. Dana Vakyavali. 4. Vivadasara. 5. -Gaya- 
Pattan. 6. Ganga Viksyavall. 7. Durga Bhakti 
Tarangini. 8. Klrtilata. 

My own criticism deals however with his Verna- 
cular poems alone. 

Vidyapati sang much in the strain of Chandi 
das ; as a Sanskrit poet of eminence, he was held in 
great admiration in the court of Rajah Civa Sirhha. 
His own heart, however, was in the songs which 
he composed in the Vernacular. In the brilliance 
of his metaphors and similes, in the choice of his 
expressions, and in the higher flights of his poetic 
fancy, he over-shadows all Vernacular poets , and 
Chandldas, the child of nature, is no match for 
him. When one reads the songs of both the poets, 
the ordinary ear is charmed with the elegant ex- 
pressions of the Maithil bard ; but to those who 
dive deeper into the inner yearnings of the human 
soul, Chandldas will seem a far greater apostle of 
love , his simple words will leave a more lasting 
impression, than all the literary embellishments and 
poetic flights of Vidyapati, Yet Vidyapati albo 
sometimes scales the heights attained by Chandi 
das. In the 'Purvaraga/ 'Sambhoga Milana,' 'AbhU 
sara' and ' Mana'* Vidyapati is more of a poet than 
a prophet. There is not much of spirituality, but a 
good deal of sensuality, in his earlier love songs. 
He ransacks the whole classical store to find an 
apt simile and is never weary of applying as much 
of these as is within his knowledge, like the sound 
scholar of rhetoric that he is. To give an example ; 

His songs 


Had ha and 


His meta- 
phors and 

* Lover'* quarrels. 


eyes com- 
pared to 
lotus and 
to bee. 


Sandhi or 

Dawn of 


the eyes- of Radlia are compared tx>a lotus, to a 
bee. These are commonplace and stereotyped 
similes ; but the poet observes for himself in what 
aspect the comparison holds good and makes his 
descriptions greatly interesting. 

" The pupil of her eye is like a bee resting on 
the lotus, the breeze driving it into a corner/'t 
this refers to the sidelong glances of Radhas playful 

" The pupil of her eye is like a bee, so intoxi- 
cated with the honey of the lotus that it can not 
fly away,"t this refers to the absorbed looks of 
Radha while brooding over her love. 

" Her eyes beautified with Kajjala, have assum- 
ed a purple hue, they look like the petals of lotus 
coloured with vermilion, " this is a picture of 
R&dha just after bathing when the eyes grow 
reddish. The Indian poets are lavish in using 
metaphors to indicate the beauty of the eyes, of 
those glances which bear messages to lovers, for 
their subjects can hardly find an opportunity to 
speak or write to each other. The stolen glances 
are the only means of intercourse of soul, they are 
the speech of love, and are minutely watched by 
the poets WT WWTO CT*fa% is a significant point 
in all such stories. 

The poet begins with Radha's ^RfJT^i or dawn 
of youth. This is the time when she is to fall in 

ill TRT 

CTTW ** fal, 


love 'with Krisna. She has reached an age when 
one would not mistake her for a child, yet would 
hesitate to<call ( her a women. If at times she moves 
with the blithe steps -of a child, -she immediate- 
ly mends her motion and walks elowly, with the 
grace of. a maiden. The merry ring of her laughter 
may remind one of a child's voice, but she ^controls 
herself quickly, and a sweet smile such as befits. a 
modest damsehis displayed -in the soft curve'of her 
coral lips. The 'beauty that has come so newly 
to her person :is a surprise to herself. The free- 
dom of childhood is gone ;, and her eyes become 
downcast if a whisper is heard. While busy with 
her toilet, in the company -of her maidens, she 
silently listens to their talk of love,; and if any of 
them notices this, she rebukes her, with mingled 
smiles and tears. 

Vidyapati's Radha is a special creation bfibeauty. Radha a 
She is a dream seen in -the flesh. Where her o f beauty, 
gentle steps may tread, water-lilies spring up at 
the touch of her feet. The charms of her person 
are a revelation ; she can hardly hide 'the joy, that 
a consciousness of it brings to her mind. Her 
smile is like the nectar which gives 'life and immor- 
tality. Her glances are Cupid's own arrows, not 
live, 'but a hundred thousand shot forth on, all 
sides ! 

When she goes on Abhisara'to meet her lover, 
^the pot 'creates a wildernessvof Slavish metaphors. 
The idea is here -overloaded with classical and 
conventional figures. Yet through rthis doud of 
imagery, appears a vision of beauty. .She is, says 
the poet, like a luminous ^wand, created by *the 
lightning; like a<golckmtendril ; tt 


The first 




of her hair fall loose behind, black as the clouds 
or as the bees, but soft and curling like the tender 
Caibala (moss.) Her eye-brows are bent, in the 
graceful curves of a bow, and her forehead beams 
with the lustre of the moon. The playfulness of her 
eyes reminds one of the bird Khanjana ; her beauti- 
ful nose is like the Tila flower ; her lips have the 
hue of coral, and so on. Radha's lovely form glows 
with shy happiness at the thought of this first 
meeting. She goes out in the dark night to meet 
her lover, covering herself with a Sadi of dark silk. 
She trusts to her guides, but when brought to the 
bower made by the maidens for the interview, she 
hesitates ; she fears to enter ; her heart is full of ten- 
derness and love, but a feeling of shyness and deli- 
cacy holds her back. The maidens lead her in, inspite 
of her gentle protests, and she finds herself face to 
face with Krisna. Her eyes droop ; she dares not 
lift them even to see that beautiful face at which she 
could never be weary of gazing. The tender- 
ness of the meeting is indescribable. The delicate 
maiden cannot say one word in response to the 
many, with which she is greeted ; and when she 
comes back she is overwhelmed with remorse at 
the recollection of her own failure. By degrees, 
however, all this is changed, In a subsequent 
canto she is found relating to her maidens the 
manoeuvres adopted by Krisna in order to meet 
her, such as at the moment when her sister-in-law 
was asleep, resting her head on her lap, and 
he came gently from behind her, to steal a kiss. 
In these descriptions, as I have said, there is an 
exuberance of sensuousness, and songs of Vidya- 
pati would never have passed for religious writings, 


if in the last canto he had not suddenly risen high 
above such sentiments and repeatedly given to uie 
whole story a spiritual interpretation. Of this, I 
may give a few specimens. Radha describes 
Kri?/ia, He is, she says, a flower to be placed 
upon her head ; he is the collyrium (*H3R) that makes 
her eyes beautiful ; he is a precious necklace 
clinging about the neck-, she Cannot, she says, 
conceive of life without him, he is to her what 
water is to the fish, or wings to a bird the very 
breath of her being and the only object of her life. 
By a torrent of such similes which arise sponta- 
neously, but are bound to lose their beauty in tran- 
slation, she describes herself as altogether merged 
and lost in the consciousness of her love. Alas, she 
has told all, but, though loving with all her might, she 
has failed to grasp him ; giving all that her soul is 
capable of offering, she feels that Kri^na remains 
unrevealed to her, as ever, In the last line she 
turns suddenly, with the cry, Tell me, O Krisfia, 
what art thou ?' This touching cry " ^ v ^TOJ'lt^R 
^FSft CTtlT' is wholly spiritual, and mystic, it is the 
agonised expression of the infinitely little in pre- 
sence of the infinitely Great. 

In the songs called Mathura, Vidyapati creates 
tender pathos by describing Krisna's desertion of 
Gokula. The shepherd has left the groves of his 

* l< Krl$na has gone to Mathura. -ruas, Gokula 
is deserted. 



of Gokula. 

" The bird uka weeps in its cag< 

"The cows look up wistfully, and all their 
gestures point to Mathura. 

4< No longer do shepherds and milkmaids meet 
,on the banks of the Jumna. 

U O maids, how can I go to those banks again 
and bear to see the pleasant bowers without him ! 

"The beloved groves where he and the maid- 
ens played amongst the flowers, how do they rise 
before me and yet I bear to live !" 

The maidens speak of Krisna's return, but 
Radha feels that she is about to die, and says : 

" If the lily has been withered by the cold rays 
of the winter-moon, what joy can it have in the 
coming of the spring ! 

it ^npnfii f w> ctn 

fro *OT ^T c^fir i 
r 1 

, f* 

wmi, en 

* * 
vi, fH'W ^w^i' VRP tw fa 


" If the seeds have been destroyed by the sum- 
mer sun, what will it avail that there be showers 
afterwards ! 

" Dying of thirst I came to the ocean. Alas ! not 
a drop had I to quench my thirst ! 

" Weary, I came to the sandal tree, but the 
sweet scent ceased. 

11 1 came for soothing to the light of the moon, 
and it began to scorch me with fire. 

" The month of Cravaha with its raining floods 
had not a drop for me. 

44 The Kalpataru* is barren for me. 

11 O Krisha, O Lord of my soul ! I sought refuge 
in thee, but found it not 

" The poet Vidyapati is silent from wonder." 

Though Rsdha speaks in the language of des- 
pair, she is nevertheless conscious of the all-per- 
vading mercy of God. The images here are all 
similes for Krisha himself. He is the ocean, the 
sandal-tree, the moon-light &c. 

The mourner is about to die of her longing for 

the return of Krisna. Here are a few beautiful touching 
f ... .. appear* 

familiar lines :. . when death 

seems near 

t" I shall surely die, says Radha, but to whom 

can I trust my Kri?fia ? 

* The Tree of Plenty irrhidra j s Heaven 
t " ifa TfiR lfi faff 3JJH 

ft* <3R <3lftft *TOI fWCT ft* I 




" O ye maidens, my companions, cover me, in 
my last hour, with the name of Krisria (lit., write on 
me the name of Krisria.) 

(4 O LalitS, friend of my heart, let the last sound, 
I hear, be the name of Krisria. 

" Burn not my body, O maidens, nor float it on 
the stream ; but bind it on the boughs of a Tamala- 
tree ; and let me rest for ever in its dark blue 

" If it should sometime chance that Krisria come 
to these groves again, I shall be called back to life 
at the sight of him. 

" Sing in my ears, O maidens, the name of 
Krisria, that hearing it, 1 may expire.'* 

The writing of the name of Krisria on the body 
may be a strange idea to my foreign readers, but 
those who have visited India will perhaps have 
seen the name of Krisria inscribed on the forehead, 
breast and arms of many Vaisriavas. At the 

aw wiwfir 

c^tt VRB cm it ]\ 
cm fn^i ^ TICT 


*nrw ii 


moment of death, it is a duty always observed by 
the relatives to recite the name of Krisfia in the 
ears of the dying. These love songs, therefore, as 
I have said, cannot be dissociated from their pervad- 
ing religious idea. 

Of Chandi Ds and Vidyapati, it may be said 
that the one sings as impelled by nature, his is a 
cry from the depths of the soul ; literary embellish- 
ments are lost sight of ; poetry wells up like a 
natural fountain, whose pure flow contains no 
coarse grain of earth. The other is a conscious poet, 
and a finished scholar, whose similes and meta- 
phors are brilliant poetical feats , they at once 
captivate the ear, and the boldness of colour in 
the pictures, presented to the mind, dazzles the 
eyes. The scenes of sensuality, and lust are re- 
deemed by others which are platonic and spiritual, 
a strange combination of holy and unholy, of 
earthly and heavenly. His earlier poems are full of 
sensualism, his later, of mystic ideas. Chandi 
Das is a bird from the higher regions, where earthly 
beauties may be scant, but which is nearer heaven, 
for all that. Vidyapati moves all day in the sunny 
groves and floral meadows of the earth, but in the 
evening rises high and overtakes his fellow poet.* 

* Complete editionb of the lov-songs of Vidyapati and 
Chandidas are expected shortly to be published with copious 
annotations by two Bengali scholars, Vidyapati is being edited by 
Babu Nagendra Nath Gupta under the patronage and direction* 
of Babu SaradaCharan Mitter, late Judge of the Calcutta High 
Court and the credit of collecting a large number of hitherto 
unknown poems of Chandidas belongs to Babu Nilratan 
Mukherjee, Head Master, Kirnahar School in the district of 
Blrbhum. Each of the two compilations will contain about a 
thousand poems or padas. This is far ahead of the number of 
fadas hitherto extant in the country. 






The Leading; characteristics of the Renaissance. 
Faith in God and in the Brahmin. 

2. Vernacular recensions of Sanskrit works. General 


(a) The Ramayaha. 

(b) The Mahabharata. 

(c) The Bhagabata. 

(d) The Chandi of Markandeya. 

3. The conception of iva in the Renaissance and 

songs in honour of him. 

4. The akti-cult and its development in Bengal. 

Poems In honour of 

(a) Manasa Devi. 

(b) (handi Devi. 

(c) Ganga Devi. 

(d) itala Devi. 

(e) Laksmi Devi, Saraswati Devi and 

Sasthi Devi. 

5. Dharma Man gal poems recast by the Brahmins. 

6. Poems in honour of Daksina Rai (God of tigers). 

Some remarks about the poems. 

I . The leading characteristics of the Renaissance. 
Faith in God and In the Brahmin. 

The I have tried to shew that the revival of Hinduism, 

ary m'bve- which had reached full development amongst the 

meat vernacular-reading classes in Bengal by the 15th 

century, was effective in bringing society back into 

discipline and order, thus counteracting those vices 

of free-thinking and gross Tfintrikism to which it 


had succumbed during the last days of Buddhism, 
In written language, metrical forms, aiming at ryth- 
mical perfection gradually found favour, and Sans* 
kritic expressions were preferred to the loose Prfikrita 
which in the Buddhistic age had been the current 
dialect of this country. Everywhere a reactionary 
movement a tendency to correct and embellish 
the current forms was observed. Both social -and 
literary movements were imbued with this spirit. 

But the chief point in the revival of Hinduism c d O j 
was the promulgation of the creed of devotion and devotion. 
trust in God, which tended to balance the scepti- ' 
cism of the later forms of Buddhism. Buddhism 
had, in its flourishing days, observed a strict moral 
code. The metaphysical side of religion was rejec- 
ted by Buddha as vain speculation. In the Ambatta 
Sutta, he declares theological discussion to be utterly 
fruitless, and advises his followers to stick to the 
practical matters of high moral principles and 
works of philanthropy and charity. 

When, however, Buddhism with its noble laws of 
character declined, the masses felt that the moral 
code was unavailing without faith. From one ex- 
treme, the human mind always runs to the other, 
In the natural evolution of spiritual thought, the 
negative aspect changes till it takes a positive 
character. The Hindu reaction put faith in place of 
laws. Thus moral principles, self-dicipline, and 
introspection, the watch-words of Buddhism, were 
thrown into the back-ground, and faith in God 
became the motto and the catch-word of the , 
Pouranik Ranaissance. The Hindu revivalists, in . 
running to such an extreme, perhaps overdid their 



part. They preached that man, being essentially a 
creature of circumstances, could not at all depend 
on self-help, He needs divine grace at every step. 
Faith, they said, was the only thing to be sought 
for, not only in order to attain salvation, but for 
the purpose of building up character. They went 
go far as to declare that it was not in the power 
of a human being to commit so many crimes in 
life as could not be expiated by utterring the name 
of God once in sincere faith ! 

Th rowth The dissemination of such ideas was neces- 
of the sarily accompanied by the growth of the Brahmanic 
power. As a set-off against the lawlessness of the 
Buddhistic free-thinkers, absolute obedience to the 
leaders of society was enforced. The Mahammo- 
dans, as the new ruling race, did not enterfere with 
the social and spiritual movements of the Hindus. 
Full powers, thus, came to be vested in the leaders 
of society. Without a reverence for the promul* 
gators, truth loses much of its force. Hence in 
the Pourahik Renaissance the Brahmin came to 
the front, and stood next to God in popular estima- 
tion. Hinduism thus became in a far greater sense 
than ever before, Brahmanism, or a Brahmanic 

A creed of faith has, often, much in it that is 
peculiar; it has its weak points which every 
rational man can laugh at. Yet a man of faith, 
blindly devoted to his faith, is often a better man 
than the rationalistic sceptic. There were many 
absurdities in the propaganda of the Hindu reaction. 
The following lines in Kaflram Das's Mahfibharata 
shew the nature of the romances invented and 

Das describes the incident of the curse 
3f a Brahmin, under which Raja Parlksit was to die 
}f snake-bite within a week. The snake had not 
^et appeared at the fixed hour. The Raja grew 
*estless, and when a woim was found in a fruit 
^resented to him, he cried out, " Let this worm 
become a snake and bite me, rather than that a 
Brahmin's word should prove untrue. "t There is 


's Mahabharata. 


's Mahahharata t 


the 'modifications introduced into older stories, at 
this time, in order to raise the Brahmins above 
the level even ot the Gods. 

- *" It is a Brahmin's anger which, like fire, burnt Fables 

clown the great dynasty of tiie Yadavas and of 

Sagara the distinguished king of the Lunar race. 

It is a Brahmin's anger, again, which has placed a 

blot on the Moon's surface. Kven the god of fire, 

Agni Deva, and the god of the sky, Indra Deva, 

have been subject in their turn to a Brahmanical 

curse. A Brahmin's anger has made the waters of 

the great sea saline. Kven the greatest of the gods, 

Vi?hu, bears the mark of a Brahmin's kick on his 




The reason 

of Brfth. 



The Yogis. 

The Saints. 

nothing corresponding to this line in the orginal 
epic, which makes it only the more significant in 
Bengali, as shewing to what an extent Brahmin- 
worship was developed in this country in a sub- 
sequent age, 

A Brahmin was called Bhodeva or god on 
earth. In the period of the Upanisadas, the glory 
of a Brahmin lay in his knowledge of the Supreme 
Being. In the Pauranik age he claimed reverence 
equal to that offered to the gods, by virtue of his 
birth alone, 

But how are we to account for the meek sub- 
mission of the people to the Brahmanical yoke? 
Why did they allow a class of their own community 
to usurp the reverence due to their gods, on the 
claim of birth alone, and how could such wild 
stories about their powers obtain credence with 
the laity ? 

In explanation of these startling facts, we 
have to remember that the highest type of Brahmin 
was that of the Yogi, who had renounced the 
world, and developed the mystic powers of the 
soul by communion with God, These were un- 
approached and unapproachable. The people of 
Hindustan believed in the miraculous power of the 
Yogis and offered. a reverence to them which was 
not less than that they gave to the gods. The 
next class amongst the Brahmins was that of pious 
saints, who were great scholars, caring only for a 
pure and stainless life and totally indifferent to 
worldly considerations. Such men took no thought 
for the morrow, even as Jesus taught One of these 
was tempted by Maharaja Krina Chandra of 


dwipa to accept a grant from him, but the Raja 
received only a rebuke in return though the Brahmin 
was in an utterly destitute condition. 

Besides these, there were lay Brahmins, who 
could not boast of any particular merit beyond 
that of birth. But the whole Brahmin community 
was imbued with the spirit of the Brahmanical ideal 
on which the reverence of the people for the 
Brahmins was mainly based. It is absurd to sup- 
pose that men who had no political power could 
enforce obedience, without first inspiring regard 
through their'character and high attainments. The 
stories invented to glorify the Brahmins beyond 
all measure, were due to a vague and exaggerated 
idea of the powers of the great Ri?is of old the 
ancestors of the modern Brahmins. In the back- 
woods of Bengal one meets even now with wonder- 
ful instances of belief in the Brahmin. There 
are people theie who will not touch food before 
tasting water mixed with the dust of a Brahmin's 
feet. Before a Brahmin, they will tell no lie nor 
commit any other sinful act. Blind faith sometimes 
raises the character of illiterate people, in a way 
which it is easy to undo, but difficult to replace by 
the spread of education. 

Yet it is the Brahmanical ideal and not the 
Brahmin of flesh and blood that is really worship- 
ped by Hindu society. It is love of truth, abso- 
lute trust in God, utter indifference to worldly con- 
cerns, wonderful devotion and universal charity 
which are still the governing principles in the ideal 
Brahmin's life. The indifferehce of a Brahmin to 
Worldly concerns is shown in the following story 

The lay 


cal ideal 

the society 

156 BENGAil LANGUAGE & Lll'EUAlUKE. [ Chap, 

An ex- 
ample from 

The sage 

to a 

related in the Chandi Ksvya by Madhavachsryya of 

Lorn ay a the great Brahmin, was passing through 
the austere duties of the religious life on the sea- 
coast. There, immaculate and pure, he was firm as 
a rock in his high pursuit and exposed like the rock 
to the inclemencies of the weather. lie cared not 
though the burning rays of the tropical sun beat on 
his bare head and was indifferent alike to the 
violent rain and the howling nine! that came roar- 
ing in from the surging sea. Nilamvara, a son of 
the God Indra, one day approached him and said, 
i( Great sage, I want to build a hut here in order to 
give you a little shelter.*' Loma<,d replied, " No 
need of a hut since life is transitory." Nilamvara 
asked the sage, "How long then will you live in 
this world?" Lomaya said " My body is covered 
with hair as you ,see , the fall of each hair will take 
the whole cycle of an Indra's reign ; when all the 
hair tl)us falls off, my death will surely come." That 
is' to i$ay, the sage would live for ages and ages, 
and yet he would not allow others to build a hut 
for him. ' For', said he', ' \\hen death was certain, 
sooner or later, what good could there be in covet- 
ing the small comforts of life'. 

Though couched in the form of an exaggerated 
"PaurSnik story, this supreme indifference to the 
M'orld and devotion to the cause of the highest 
good vihidi is evei lasting, is the true Br&hminic 
ideal which has been the cherished dream of the 
Svhole Indian community through ages* 

According to the (Jastras, it is a great act of 
virtue to make gifts to the Brahmins. They were 
prohibited from pursuing any avocation for money. 


Their lives were to be devoted to religious work, 
to study and to other disinterested pursuits, cal- 
culated to contribute to the happiness of mankind. 
And as the State would not take charge of them, it 
was enjoined as a pait of the duty of every man in 
society to provide for their maintenance. 

I have tried to indicate the lines on which the 
Paurariik Renaissance attempted to build up Hindu 
society. The literature that grew up in this at- 
tempt at a proper exposition ot the spirit of Hindu- 
ism, promulgates the creed of faith in God and in 
the Brahmin \\hich constitutes its essential features. 
We shall next deal in detail with those Bengali 
translations of Sanskrit works which first gave an 
impetus towards popularising the doctrines of the 
Pauranik religion. 

2. Vernacular recensions of Sanskrit works. 
General remarks. 

(a) The Ramayana. 
The Mahabharata. 
The Bhagabata. 



(d) The Chandi of Markendeya. 

The Chief 
istics of 




General remarks. 

Bengali translations of Sanskrit v\brks at this 
period did jiot, as a rule, follow the text too closely. 
They were meant for the masses. Learned people 
read the originals, and did not at all care to see 
them again in Bengali. In order more effectually 
to work on the impressionable mind of the common 
people, as also to suit their intellectual oipa- 

tions were 
not literal. 


> lseitt ifia- 
tion of 


city, the original texts required modification in 
Bengali. The Kafhakafas or recitatives with 
songs, which became very popular during these 
times, introduced stories and descriptions not 
contained in the original Sanskrit writings, but 
much appreciated by the people, since the narrators 
invented them for the very purpose of making a 
greater impression on their audience. The tran- 
slations of the period, though mainly agreeing with, 
not seldom deviated from, the spirit of their origin- 
als. These literary sins again were not always of 
commission merely, but sometimes of omission also. 
The higher truths and more advanced literary com- 
positions of the Sanskrit originals, were not always 
translated because they were not likely to be under- 
stood by those accustomed only to the Bengali re- 
censions. So, inspite of fresh accretions, the tran- 
slations were generally less in length than the 
Sanskrit texts. 

In the declining days of Buddhism, the masses 
had lost all touch with Sanskrit learning. We have 
seen that the teeth of Queen AdunS were compared 
by the rustic bard to the bark of the cork plant (sola) 
in order to signify their whiteness. The metaphors 
of that peiiod appear to the Bengal people of this age 
as neither refined nor edifying, in spite of thier apt 
and homely character. With the revival of a taste 
for Sanskrit, the metaphorical expressions with 
which that language abounds, were freely borrowed 
for the embellishment of the vernacular, and they 
became familiar even to the rustic people of 
the villages. These metaphors were often tran- 
slated without any idea of appropriateness, A 
woman's gait would be compared, for instance, to 


the movements of an elephant, The beauty of the 
hose was indicated by the beak of an eagle. Arms 
that reached down to the knee-joints were held as 
signs of manly beauty. The graceful steps of a 
girl were compared to the movements of a swan, 
and these and numerous similes like them became 
quite a craze with Bengali poets. Whenever a 
woman's beauty was to be described, the reader Not always 
was certain to meet with such stereotyped figures aP nte. Pf * 
of speech, which in more modern times became 
extremely hackneyed and tiresome. We must re- 
member that this country was once covered with 
forests, and in such ages when men lived closer to 
nature than they now are, the march of the elephant, 
slow and majestic, would attract the eyes. In a 
sight so familiar, they might well discover points 
which would remind them of the stateliness of a 
graceful woman. On the Jungly banks of the 
beautiful Indian Jhils, the grace of a swan's move- 
ment was a frequent sight that attracted the eyes. 
But ages passed and the forests were cut down ; 
the wild elephants passed out of sight, and the 
swan ceased to be a common object, hence those 
similes were no longer thought applicable to the 
idea of beautiful maidenhood. But where they 
thus naturally failed, convention came to the rescue. 

Conventional phrases from the classics had great _ 

^ . 5 Convention 

attractions for our poets, and with those who 

did not themselves possess keen eyes for the 
observation of nature, they commanded an over- 
whelming influence. I quote below a stereotyped 
description of beauty. However ludicrous it may 
appear in translation, the cadence of the rhythmical 
lines, added to the sweetness and sonorousness 


up the 



A Stereo- 
typed des- 
cription of 



enrich our 



of" the words, makes the description attractive 
in Bengali. What may strike a foreigner as some- 
what grotesque, is to us excusable, or even elegant, 
because the similes are classical and convention* 
ally correct, in accordance with the highest taste 
of a former period, 

*" Her eyes reprove the bird Khanjana in their 
playfulness. Her eye-brows are like the bow of 
the God of Love, bent to aim the arrows of her 
side-long glances. The beak of an eagle would be 
no match for her beautiful nose. The crimson hue 
of her lips reminds one of the Vancluli ilower. Her 
teeth are like pearls, and her smile like a flash of 
lightning, which dispels the darkness. By it she 
sheds ambrosia all around. Her waist is slender 
like the lion's, and her motion slow and graceful as 
a swan's," 

If classical figures occasionally overloaded ver- 
nacular poetry, the efforts of the translators, how- 
ever, did immense service towards the development 
of our language, by gradually enriching it with a 
supply of choice expressions fiom Sanskrit. Our 

in STOP n 



II Alftol. 


poor despicable patois rose to the dignity of a 
finished and mellifluous tongue, and a vast litera- 
ture was brought into existence, comprising nu* 
morous translations and expositions of Sanskrit 
works, The influence thus exerted upon the mass- 
es produced results of inestimable value, There 
is now not a rustic in a Bengal village who does 
not know how Ram nobly courted all misfortune 
and gave up the throne which by right belonged to 
him, because his father Da^aratha in a moment 
of weakness had given a pledge to Kaikayl, his 
queen ; how the great Bhi^ma took the vow of 
celibacy because his father King (Jsntanu could not 
win SatyabatI for his bride unless he promised the 
throne to her sons ; how the King ivi offered his 
own flesh in fulfilment of a promise ; how Prahlada, 
son of Hiranyaka$ipu, was true to his faith, in the 
midst of the cruel persecutions by his father; how 
the sage Dadhichi, for the good of the world died 
by fire, to create the Thunderbolt ; how the young 
prince Dhruva attained final beatitude in the heart 
of the forest, and dwells for ever in the Polar star ; 
how Alarka the king of spotless fame put out his 
own eyes for the sake of a vow ; how Ekalavya, the 
great archei cut off the thumb of his right hand at 
the desire of his teacher, Drona ; how Janaka the 
princely saint ruled his kingdom as a true servant of 
God, unmoved through weal and woe ; how Yudhis- 
thira would even choose hell for the sake of others ; 
and howNala, King of Ni?ada, suffered for the sake 
of truth all that a human being could suffer, and yet 
did not swerve from the righteous course. The 
devotion and sacrifices of woman as related in the 
Puranas are even greater, Half a century ago no 

The Paurfi- 
nik stories 


















the humbl- 
est Bengali 


al singers. 
The Mangal 

woman in Bengal, however illiterate, was ignorant 
of the sufferings of the faultless Sita, her trial and 
her exile ; of the wonderful devotion of SavitrJ, who 
followed her husband Satyavana even in death ; 
of DamayantT and her wonderful resourcefulness in 
the recovery of her husband, Nala ; of Chinta, the 
devoted wife of King rivatsa ; of the calm courage 
of Queen Kaucalya who could say to her son Ram 
on the eve of his exile, " Go thou to the forest for 
the cause of virtue ; and may the virtue and truth, 
which thou hast so faithfully followed, preserve 
thee!" Such were the stories and traditions by 
which the minds and characters of the masses were 
formed. When we read in the Charidl Kflvya by 
Mukundarama, of Kalketu, the illiterate huntsman, 
referring to texts from the Bhsgvata, in his soliloquy 
on the banks of the Ajoy ; of his wife Phullara ex- 
plaining to the Goddess Chandl the imprudence of 
visiting at strange houses, and illustrating her argu- 
ment by chapter and verse from the Ramayana ; or 
of Khullana, the beautiful wife of Dhanapati, freely 
quoting from the Purahas, as she talks with her 
co-wife Lahana, one need not be surprised at this 
display of learning even by people who sprang 
from the lower classes of Hindu society. The 
translations of the Puranas had by this time reach- 
ed the humblest cottage in Bengal. The way in 
which they were made familiar to illiterate men and 
women is interesting. The translated works were 
recited to them by those amongst themselves who 
were able to read, but a far greater popularising of 
Pauranik stories was carried out by the perfor- 
mances of the professional singers. These people, 
Mangal Gayaks, as they are called, give their 


renderings of the ancient stories to this day during 
winter evenings by the roadsides and in the villages 
of Bengal. The performers may be as many as 
eleven or twelve in number, of whom one, the Gayen 
is the leader or soloist, while the rest act as a kind 
of subdued, humming chorus. The Mangal or reci- 
tation is held in some large court or in the open air. 
The Gayen stands in a prominent position, often 
wearing a crown on his head and Nupura or cym- 
bals on his feet, while his chorus sits crouching in 
a semi-circle behind him. He begins to narrate 
a Paur&nik story, singing the metrical verses of a 
vernacular translation from some Sanskrit poem. He 
acts as he sings, and the Nupuras make a jingling 
accompaniment to his measured and rythmical 
movements ; even now and then his recitation is 
interrupted by some moral or theological digression 
of his own, which is often of extraordinary depth 
and beauty. This will end with a song, in which, 
at a given signal, the chorus joins, dwelling on a 
low droning note, and giving to the main narrative 
a major or minor character according to the musi- 
cal interval they maintain between themselves and 
the solo. 

In this quaint spectacle -which will draw hun- 
dreds or even thousands of men and women to see TheManga 

GSins firivc 
it, night after night, for months at a stretch, we a gn m p se 

catch a glimpse of a world so old that even the ancient 
Fauranik Renaissance itself, beside it, seems to be world, 
a thing of yesterday. The intellectual history of 
India ever since (^ankaracharyya in the end of the 
Seventh century has been one long story of the pro- 
gressive democratising of the Vedanta philosophy ; 
and the theological and devotional profundity 


of these Indian Mangal Gayaks is a result of this 
fact, a characteristic peculiar to themselves and to 
their age. But in the Mangal Gan itself, we can- 
not doubt that we have preserved to us the mode 
by which, in a remotely ancient past, the ballads of 
Homer were handed down amidst the villagers of 
Greece , the mode adopted by Damayanti in one ot 
the oldest portions of the Mahabhrata, when she 
sent out the Gayaks to search for the lost Nala , 
nay, a mode not unprecedented in medieval Europe 
itself, when the parties of strolling minne-singers 
performed simple dramas like 4 Ancassin and 
Nicolette' in the manor hall. 

There are many classes of Indian rhapsodies, 
but these ballad singers are undoubtedly the oldest 
and most primitive. Even betore the period of which 
we are now speaking, in the time of the Pal Kings, 
as we have already mentioned, Bengal was rich in 
such ballad-chronicles It is perhaps from the great 
patronage which the Gayaks received from this 
particular dynasty, that a single performance of 
any narrative is called a Pala to this day. The 
one-stringed lyre which was used by a ballad- 
singer while singing the glories of Gopi P&l, is 

Gopl-yan- s till known as the Gopi-vantra, after the name of 
tra ^ - 

that monarch. The poets who composed the songs 

of the P1 Kings were, in this respect, different 
from the court-bards of Delhi of a later period. 
The Renunciation of Gopi Chand, for instance, was 
obviously not a subject that a man was hired and 
paid to sing. Its popularity and persistence weie 
directly due to the way in which it struck the 
imagination of the people and was taken up by the 
village Marigal Gfiyaks. The ballads of Behulfi, 


or Manasa Mangal, have a similar source. Old 
systems of worship seem to fly before us, as we 
begin to thread the mazes of the history of the 
Mangal Cans. P^or instance, we have the worship 
of the Planets, probably introduced by the Svthic 
Brahmins in a very remote age. It is my own 
belief that the story of rivatsa and Chinta, which 
occurs in most of the Bengali versions of the Maha- 
bharata, and cannot be traced to any knov\n 
Sanskrit original, represents an attempt, fashionable 
at a certain period, to popularise the worship of 
Saturn or ani, through these Mangal Gans. 

When we consider how much of the recitation, 
at any given performance, may be the rhapsodist'h 
own composition and what portion is derivative or 
traditional, we are able to realise the way in which 
this particular form must have contributed to the 
growth of the great Epics The Mangal Gsyak is 
accountable to none, for the source from which he 
draws his narrative. He may take one part of his 
recitative from one version of the story, and another 
from another, at his own sweet \vill. His only 
responsibility is to please his audience. The songs 
with which his religious and descriptive passages 
are interspersed may be his own, or traditional, or 
lyrics of unusual beauty that he has picked from 
other poets of the countryside. The chorus is in 
tfuch rapport with him, that they will often begin 
the accompaniment, in hushed fashion, on the last 
words of his recitation, bursting into fuller music as 
he enters on the song. Sometimes, again, they will 
be silent until the song gives the signal. 

All this, which may seem to thoughtless ob- 
servers crude and unliterary, in actual fact consti* 

A story in 

honour of 


The Gayak 
and his 


The Man- tutes the great value of the Mangal-gan. The fullest 
create* Epk room * s ^ to individual genius, and that fame and 
poets. appreciation which are the main stimulus to poets, 
are given in their utmost measure by the rapt audi- 
ence vastly experienced in this form of composi- 
tion and ready to listen, spell-bound, for hours, if 
necessary to a Gfiyak of unusual powers. It is thus 
easy to see how every performance of a Mangal 
represents the net result of the whole past ex- 
perience of the Chief Gayen and his chorus, in 
appealing to their audiences. Each has acted and 
reacted on the other for many years, and a very 
successful form of Mangal will become more or 
less stereotyped, though not beyond the possibility 
of added refinement, and will be handed down from 
father to son, from teacher to disciple, from 
master-singer to student or apprentice, generation 
after generation. Supposing now some great poet 
to arise, some Homer or Valmiki these floating 
tales and songs and ballads will be woven by him, 
with his unique combination of critical and creative 
genius, into a strong coherent shape. Definition 
and form are given to this. At such a moment it 
may be written down, weeded of its vernacular im- 
purities, its popular grossness or chance vulgarities, 
but throbbing with the strong sympathies and dra- 
matic instinct of the common people who gave 
birth to it. At this point, it appears as if the im- 
possible had taken place. The world receives a 
new epic and it bears on its front a single poet'a 

It is owing to this popularization of old stories 
by the professional rhapsodists that there is still a 
possibility of epic poems being written in this 

country. Not only the subject, but the poetical 
features of a connected narrative become quite 
familiar to all classes of people, and when the great 
poet comes, he has the double advantage of linding 
a vast body of raw poetical material at hand, and a 
uilling audience educated to appreciate his subtlest 
acts of creative fancy. The poems of Chandl 
Mangal, Manasa Mangal, and the like, though they 
certainly do not bear comparison with the great 
Indian Epics, have thus a truly epic quality about 
them. They are expressions of all the poetry of 
the race and hence we find them read and admired 
by millions the illiterate masses forming by far, 
the most devoted of their admirers. 

At every stage of our past history, these ballad- 
singers have risen up from amongst the masses. 
New features have been introduced, in accordance 
with the taste and fashion of the period, the nature 
of the changing environment. As the Gopiyantra 
or one-stringed lyre of the old rhapsodists was 
supplanted in a later age by the behals or violin 
and khanjan or cymbals, of our present Mangal 
Gayaks, so also the crown of the Chief Gayen is 
perhaps a new departure. 

It is but natural that the Hindu Renaissance 
should have adopted this most convenient and 
powerful method for popularising Pauianik stories, 
and we have seen that it did so, with the utmost 
vigour, improving the old ways, which had been 
natural only to rustic singers, and adding such 
touches of heightened poetry as were inevitably 
demanded by the deeper culture- of the present 
audience. Under this head, of additions in accord- 

New fea- 
tures intro- 

The Hindu 
adopt the 
Gns for 
ing Pauri- 
nik stories. 


The Story 
of Haric 

The King 
gives his 

Sells him- 
self, his 
wife and 

ance with new tastes, will fall those passages of des. 
rription and devotion, which are now expected, 

I have already referred to the subject-matter of 
these songs. The vast literature of the Paurgnik 
stories furnished the Gfiyaks with inexhaustible 
stores of inspiration. Most of these stories are 
wrought by the Mangal Gayaks in high strung 
pathos. The story of the Great Hariy Chandra, 
for instance, is one of their favourite subjects, 
This mighty king, after having performed the 
A^wamedha and other sacrifices, felt that there was 
no monarch in the world who was as righteous as 
he. He was indeed one of the most truthful of 
men, but the vanity that he secretly indulged in the 
recesses of his heart was to be rooted out in 
order to make him a perfect man. A severe trial 
follows: Vifwsmitra, the sage, seeks to complete 
and manifest Hari^ Chandra's passion for truth. 
He appears before the king and seeks gifts. Harig 
Chandra whose bounty is unlimited promises to give 
him whatever he would seek. The sage asks for his 
\\hole kingdom. The king has already pledged his 
word and there is no escape He leaves the king- 
dom and with his Queen fjaibya and the prince 
Rohita^wa goes a-begging. But the sage will not 
let him alone even in this plight. He comes to the 
king and asks for dakshina, the religious fee which 
must be added to all kinds of gifts to a Brahmin. 
He could not, he said, accept the kingdom if a 
fixed sum was not paid on this head. The 
King finding no remedy sells his wife and son to a> 
Brahmin ; and he himself becomes the slave of a 
Dom, one of those low-born men, who serve in the 


funeral ground, and thus meets the demand of 

He is bidden by his master to watch and ser>v 
in the funeral ground during the night. It is a 
cloudy night and the rays of stars shine feebly 
over the grounds from which appears here and there 
the lurid light of funeral pyres that only increases 
the gloom of the place. A mourner comes, carrying 
a young lad in her arms, and implores, in a petious 
tone, help for cremating the dead child. Hari^ 
Chandra at once recognises in her his beloved 
Queen, the dead body being of his own son, the 
prince Rohita^wa who died of snake-bite on that very 
day. The interview between the royal couple in 
that plight becomes heart-rending; the King of the 
world in the guise of a Dom in rags, and the 
Queen (paibya whose beauty and character were 
the .themes of the songs of the Maghada bards, 
lowly at his feet in the agonies of insupportable 

The whole story is tragic and full of tender 
pathos. Raja Hari^ Chandra suffers for the sake of 
truth. There is no other compulsion throughout 
all these trials than that which springs from within, 
from a sense of duty, which with men of high 
character, always carries the strongest force. 
The Gayen sings in a melodious strain and his 
voice trembles with tender emotion, as he describes 
the sufferings of the King. The pathos created by 
the woes of the Queen and of the Prince melt the 
audience to tears, and the silence that prevails over 
that vast congregation is only interrupted by qcca- 
sional sobs the Chief Singer's tone ringing rn 

Serves in 

the funeral 


The pathe- 
tic meet* 


The great 
effect on 
the au- 

and his 

great popu- 



Born 1346 
A. D. 

strains of tender wail which is beard in that 
assembly like the plaintive sound of a single lyre 
and the story becomes more real than any history. 

In all this 1 have tried to show how great an 
influence was exercised on the minds of the people, 
by the Bengali versions of the Puifjnas. I shall 
now proceed to deal with some of the popular 
translations themselves which have helped to edu- 
cate the masses of Bengal, and also to form their 
character, for the last five centuries. 

(a) Translations of the Ramayana. 

The translation of the Ramayana by Krittivasa 
is by far the most popular book in Bengal. Five 
hundred years have gone by, since the date of its 
composition, and still nearly a hundred thousand of 
copies are annually sold in Bengal. I found the hill 
people of Tippera, who speak the Tippera dialect, 
purchasing copies of this work when they came down 
to the plains. It is in fact the Bible of the people 
of the Gangetic Valley, and it is for the most pait the 
peasants who read it. 

Krittivasa has left a graphic account of his own 
ancestry, and of the earlier portion of his life. 
Owing to the omission of certain names, however, 
from this autobiographical notice, an important 
problem touching his career remains unsolved. It 
has not been definitely ascertained who the Em- 
peror of Gour was, referred to by him as his patron, 
by whose order he translated the Ramayana. 

W^ know for certain that he was born in Febru- 
ary, 1346 A.D., on the 3oth of the Bengali month 
Magh *the Cri Panchaml day, when Saras wati, the 


goddess of learning, is worshipped in Bengal. The 
goddess no doubt looked with a benign smile upon 
the new comer, who heard at his birth the hymns 
recited by the Brahmins, and the sound of the 
conch-shells blown by the women. We may pre- 
sume further that the goddess granted the baby the 
boon of immortal fame. Krittivasa giveb an in- 
teresting history of his ancestors. They were 
Kulina Brahmins descended from Criharsa who came 
to Bengal from Kanouje at the call of King Adi(;ur 
in 732 A.D.* Nara Siriiha Ojha, lylh in descent from 
Criharsa, was the prime minister of King Vedanuja, 
whom we identify with King Danuja Madhava of 
Swarnagrama. Nara Sirhha Ojha left Eastern Bengal 
and settled in the village Fulia in 24 Paraganas pro- 
bably in 1248 A. D, owing to the disturbance 
which followed an invasion of Suvarnagrama by 
Emperor Fakiruddin. Nara Simha's son Garveswara 
was known for his large-heaitedness and his son 
Muiari Ojha was by far the most distinguished 
scion of his illustrious family, if we are to believe 
the accounts given by Krittivasa. He thus says of 
Murari Ojha. 

t " Murari was a great man, and was always en- 
gaged in religious pursuits. He was known for his 
extreme piety and was esteemed by all. No one 

of Kritti- 

Ojha, his 

* " 


' 654 aka or 732 A.D. 





He com- 
pletes edu- 
cation and 
visits the 


ever saw him moved by the vicissitudes of life or 
by passion. He was handsome in appearance. 
His scholarship in religious literature was as great 
as that of Markandeya or of Vyas." 

Murari Ojha's son Vanamali was the father of 
our poet. In his autobiographical sketch Krittivasa 
gives details about the position held by his uncles 
and cousins, together with a description of their 
personal qualifications which we omit. When 
Krittivasa entered his eleventh year he went to read 
in a Tola on the banks of the Bara Ganga.* There 
he read Sanskrit, Grammar and poetry, for many 
years. When he completed his education, he 
waited on the King of Gauda with a view to obtain 
some recognition of his scholarship. t He had com- 
posed five elegant verses in Sanskrit, praying 
for an interview with the king and had sent this 
through one of the officers of the royal guards. 
At about 7 o'clock in the morning, the guard came 
back carrying with him a golden staff. He 
approached Krittivasa and informed him that his 
prayer was granted and that he was ordered to 
lead him to the Emperor. KrittivSsa followed the 
officer through nine successive gates, and came to 
the presence of the king, who sat on a throne, lion- 
like in his majesty. On his right sat the minister 

* The river PadmS. 


cat* cfam *wi ctfwtar n 

SOT CSt* f1 



goddess of learning, is worshipped in Bengal. The 
goddess no doubt looked with a benign smile upon 
the new comer, who heard at his birth the hymns 
recited by the Brahmins, and the sound of the 
conch-shells blown by the women. We may pro- 
sume further that the goddess granted the baby the 
boon of immortal fame. Krittivasa gives an in- 
teresting history of his ancestors. They were 
Kulina Brahmins descended from Criharsa who came 
to Bengal from Kanouje at the call of King Adk;ur 
in 732 A.D.* NaraSirhhaOjha, lylh in descent from 
Criharsa, was the prime minister of King Vedanuja, 
whom we identify with King Danuja Madhava of 
Swarnagrama. Nara Simha Ojha left Eastern Bengal 
and settled in the village Fulia in 24 Paraganas pro- 
bably in 1248 A. D, owing to the disturbance 
which followed an invasion of Suvarnagrama by 
Emperor Fakiruddin. Nara Simha's son Garveswara 
was known for his large-heaitedness and his son 
Muiari Ojha was by far the most distinguished 
scion of his illustrious family, if we are to believe 
the accounts given by Krittivasa. He thus says of 
Murari Ojha. 

t u Murari was a great man, and was always en- 
gaged in religious pursuits. He was known for his 
extreme piety and was esteemed by all. No one 

* " CTWmtf "654 aka or 732 A.D. 

t ^*twr iprrfir PI 

I- Krittivasa. 


_ The 


him kindly 

and asks 

the Ram- 

haug overhead, and the monarch was there 
enjoying the sunshine of the month of Magha. 

I took my stand at some distance from his 

majesty, but he beckoned me with his hand to 

A . . . .. , 

come nearer. A minister loudly pronounced the 

ro y a ' orc ^ er > requiring me to approach the King, 
which I did in all haste. I stood at a distance of 
four cubits from him. I recited seven verses in 
Sanskrit, to which he listened attentively. Five 
gods inspired me, and by the grace of SaraswatJ, the 
rhyme and metre came spontaneously. Sweet were 
the verses and varied were their metres. The king 
was pleased and ordered me to be garlanded. Kedar 
Khan sprinkled drops of sweet-scented sandal on 
my head. The King presented me with a silk-robe. 
He asked his courtiers what gift would best be- 


ITS fas fatf *t*1 





come the occasion. They replied, " Whatever your 
majesty may deem fit. The recognition of your 
majesty is the only true reward of merit. M Then 
they advised me to ask of the king whatever I 
might want, I replied, " Nothing do I accept from 
any one. Gifts I avoid. Whatever I do, I care for 
glory atone. No scholar, however great, can blame 
my verses.' 1 

The King was pleased with my answer and re- " Blessed 

quested me to compose the Ramayaria. With this o,Scholar 

token of recognition from him I left the court. * FuHa ft 
People from all parts of the capital thronged to 

*i ct ret* 

csrw v WB y or 11 

"ft f"(C9 


have a sight of me, deeming me a wonderful man. 
They said, " Blessed are you, O scholar of Fulia, 
you are amongst the scholars what Valmlki was 
amongst the sages. ); By the blessings of my parents 
and with the authority of my master, I completed 
seven -cantos of the Rgmayana." 

In the genealogical work MahSvarii<;avall, by 
Dhruv&nanda Miyra, written in the year 1495, we 
find this mention of Krittivssa. " Krittivasa the 
wise poet, who is of a quiet nature, and peace- 

tfon ^tfl 

^tPl CTf* 




loving disposition, and v6ry popular/' The court, 
referred to in the autobiographical account, was in 
all probability that of Kamsa Narayana of Tahirpur. 
Jagadananda, the minister referred to by the poet, 
was a nephew of the Raja. Mukunda, the chief 
Pandit of the court, was probably Mukunda 
Bhaduri whose son rikrisna was the prime minis- 
ter, and whose grandson Jagadananda was a minis- 
ter of the court. They were all Varendra Brahmins. 
The title Khan affixed to the name of a courtier 
named Kedar shews the court of this King to have 
been already subjected to Mahammadan influence. 
In a manuscript-copy of the AranyakSnda of the 
Ramayana, we find Krittivasa lamenting over his 
failing health and his sufferings. 

The Ramayafia by Krittivasa, as we find it in 
print, is not at all the book that Krittivasa 
wrote. In Bengal, where the vernacular was adopt- 
ed as a means of popular teaching, all good works 
used to be recast by those who copied them at 
subsequent periods. The words which grew 
obsolete, and forms of expressions that became 
unfashionable, in course of time, were changed by 
copyists. There were also interpolations and 
omissions on a large scale, by reason of which after 
a few centuries the whole work would present a 
form in many points different from the original. 
But the general tone was as a rule preserved, and 
those who made changes, or otherwise added to the 
poem, adapted themselves more or less to its style. 
Krittivasa and Chaucer were nearly contemporary. 
But what a difference between them ! The Rama- 
yana of Krittivasa, passing through constant changes 
to suit the tastes of the moderns, is even now 

An histori- 
cal review. 

The inter- 


& changes 

in the 



a fountain of inspiration to millions of people, 
whereas * The Canterbury Tales' lies on the shelf 
amongst the classics, and is approached by the 
learned only. Historically of course such a state of 
things does not commend itself. What the ori- 
ginal poem of Krittivasa was like, can now be only 
dimly guessed under the mass of later interpola- 
tions and alterations. By the efforts of the Vangiya 
Shahitiya Pariaada, a number of very old Mss. of 
the Rmayana have been secured with a view to 
the recovery of the genuine poem of Krittivasa. 
Their different readings, however, are a puzzle to 
our scholars But when we consider the vast 
influence that this poem in its modernised form is 
still exerting, after the lapse of 500 years, on the 
education of the masses in Bengal, we do not really 
know how far we should regret the loss of the 
original poem, the quaint and antiquated form of 
which could afford only a philological interest. 
It must be stated here that the poetry of the 
original work has not suffered at all by these 
changes. The country people, true to their strong 
poetical instincts, have preserved the really 
beautiful and interesting passages while they 
simplified and modernised the style. Interpolations 
and changes have been made chiefly with the 
object of introducing into the poem leading 
thoughts of the succeeding ages. Vaisnava poets, 
particularly, have enhanced the charm of the book 
by adding a devotional element, which, in the 
present shape of the poem, forms one of its chief 

The changes wrought in the poem have been 
grfcat. We can now trace in it the interpolating 


hands of Vai?navas as well as (paktas followers of 
those two different cults who shewed such bitter 
animosity towards each other for so many cen- 
turies. The work being, as I have said, the 
most popular in Bengal, different religious sectb 
missed no opportunity to introduce their own 
various doctrines, and pass them on in the name 
of Krittivasa. These are like the advertisements 
on the cover of a shilling-novel, There could not 
be a better method for propagating a religious 
creed, and Krittivfisa not only helped the circula- 
tion, but his name added weight to the doctrines 

Krittivasa's Ramayana at the present day is a 
curious medley, in which the different elements of 
Pauranic religion have found a place, and it does 
not follow Valmiki's original poem very closely. 
As far as Krittivasa was concerned, he was pro- 
bably faithful to Valmiki, though he abridged him. 
We come to this conclusion on comparing the 
earlier manuscripts ; the older the Ms., the nearer 
it is to Valmiki's Kpic 

The story of Ram's exile which forms the main 
theme of the Ramayana is briefly this: Ram is to 
ascend the throne by the wish of his father King 
Dagaratha. He is dressed gorgeously, his person 
decked with jewels, his rich apparel diffusing the 
sweet scent of sandal ; he is delighted with the 
prospect of his coronation ; the people applaud his The Story 
virtues and look forward to his being crowned a king. exile. 
Ram is talking gaily about his good fortune with 
his beautiful bride Slta, when he is suddenly 
called, at dawn of day, to the appartments of his 


The com- 
ing Coro- 

The ba, 

royal father, old Da^aratha He passes through 
the streets, which ring with the joyous shouts of 
men and women greeting him. The capital is 
decked with flowers and banners. The air is fra<*- 


rant. Everywhere, throngs of people wait to catch 
sight of Ram, whose beauty of person, matchless 
valour, truthfulness and anxiety to help the poor 
and needy, have endeared him to all hearts. Ram 
comes into the presence of the old monarch, but 
there he meets with a strange spectacle ; the king 
is shedding tears and dares not look at his dear 
son. Ram is awe-striken, like a traveller treading 
on a venomous snake that lies in his path. His 
step-mother Kaikeyl, the favourite Queen of Da^a- 
ratha, sits beside her husband in an attitude on 
which the firmness of a fell purpose is apparent her 
features inspired with strange emotions, which do 
not betray any softness of heart. Ram makes his 
usual obeisance to both. The king weeps like a 
child, and hangs his head ; but the queen speaks 
out. Taking advantage of an old vow which Da^a- 
ratha made to her, she has extorted a promise to 
banish Ram for fourteen years, and to place her own 
son,Bharata, on the throne of Ayodhya. To this, 
Da^arafha adds in great grief that, promise-bound 
as he is, he is helpless ; but his son can easily take 
the throne by force ; and this he ought to do. The 
people of Uttara Ko^ala will give him full support 
in such an attempt. Ram for a moment stands 
silent as a statue. Only a moment ago he dreamt 
of an Empire, Now he feels, with the ascetics, that 
man's true greatness lies in the sacrifice that he 
makes, and that earthly magnificence cannot really 
give him glory. At this, he throws away his jewels 


and his rich apparel, dismisses the state-carriage 
that brought him here, waives aside the royal um- 
brella and with a firmness of purpose which is dig- 
nity itself, he puts on the bark of a tree, turns an 
ascetic, and leaves the palace. His half brother 
Lakmana and the beautiful princess Slta, of whose 
fair face even the Sun and Moon were scarcely 
hitherto allowed to have a peep, follow him. This 
daughter of the pious and revered Janaka, the King 
of Mithila, can by no means be persuaded to live 
in the palace without her Lord ; she throws away 
her jewels, and her tender feet, coloured with 
beautiful Alta, tread the bare earth with its 
thorny paths, while the people of Ajodhya lament 
wildly, as they see the royal couple, and the prince 
Laksmaha leave the capital in such a sad plight. 
The old King Da^aratha is crushed to death under 
the heavy burden of sorrow. Bharata, son of 
Kaikeyl, comes to Ajodhya, and hears of the machi- 
nations of his mother only to be struck with grief. 
Followed by the loyal subjects of Ayodhya, he over- 
takes Ram in the forest ; abandoning his own royal 
dress, he walks on foot and falls at his brother's feet, 
begging him, with tears, to take the kingdom. But 
Ram will not accept this. Bharata, however, cannot 
be persuaded to return without Ram. Ram pre- 
vails upon him at last, giving him his sandals, which 
he carries on his head and places on the throne, pror 

claiming himself to be the regent of Ram's shoes. 

. , , . , .1 . 

and ruling the kingdom in that capacity. Ram 

goes to the Dandakarariya groves, where the lofty 

peaks of Chitrakuta, the beautiful lake Pampa, the 

'silver streams of the Mandakini girdling the foot of 

Chitrakuta, the manifold beauties of the picturesque 


rules as the 




carried off 
by Havana. 


Ska's exile 

scenery of the Dak?inStya and the ever-changing 
seasons allay their heart's grief, and the royal couple 
and the prince Laksmafia pass their days, restored 
to peace of mind, and even to happiness. In the 
1 4th year of exile, Slta is carried off by Ravaria, the 
Raksasa King of Lanka ; and Ram with the help of 
Sugrlva, King of Kiskindhya, wages a dreadful war 
to recover his wife. In Lanka, Slta resists all the 
persuasions, threats and oppressions of Ravaria. 
She is resigned in her forlorn condition but firm and 
resolute in her mind. Ram obtains victory over the 
Rak?asa King and recovers Slta, and returns with her 
to the capital after fourteen years. He ascends the 
hrone of Ayodhya, but his subjects express 
,heir doubt about Sita's fidelity during her stay 
it Ravaria's palace; and Ram only to satisfy 
he people, banishes her, though he knows 
ler to be faultless. For the purpose of the 
\9vamedha or horse-sacrifice ceremony which he 
iolds after a time, the subjects hope that the king 
will marry again, as without a queen such cere- 
monies cannot be performed. But Kam makes a 
golden image of Slta, and says that he has but one 
wife ; she has been true to him in all his sufferings 
and he does not, for one moment, suspect her to be 
faithless. He knows her to be pure as purity 
itself ; and he has banished her only because he 
could not prove his own conviction to others. In 
the capacity of a king whose principal duty is to 
win the good wishes of his people, he has sacri- 
ficed all the happiness of his life and he is more 
miserable by doing so than the most miserable of his 
subjects. He performs the horse-sacrifice ceremony, 
sitting beside the golden image of Slta. Not 

Sit* vani- 
shes away 
in the arms 
of her mo- 
ther Earth. 


long after this, she is brought by the sage Val- 
mlki, in whose hermitage she was, to the court of 
Ram. There she stands, with down cast eyes like 
the young moon, the poet says, in its second day. 
The people are struck dumb at the sight of the 
lovely queen that beautiful Sita who in her youth 
went to the forest of her own free will, out of 
devotion to Ram, and triumphed over the unheard- 
of persecutions of Ravafia, and who now, though 
subjected to repeated wrongs by her husband, is, as 
ever, a suppliant of his grace. When the question 
of her trial is again raised, however, the queen calls 
upon her mother, the Earth, to open and take her 
to herself. Verily she has been her true daughter, 
ever since she was found by Janaka, the King, in 
the furrow of a field, and she is a patient sufferer of 
wrongs even as the Earth herself. A cavity opens, 
at these words, and the Earth in the guise of a stately 
woman appears from within. Sits throws herself 
into her arms, and, with her last looks fixed on 
Ram, enters in, and disappears. 

This is in brief the story of the Ramsyana. It The ennob- 
is full of tender and pathetic interest. Its tales of C nce o*thii 
righteousness, of life-long devotion, of holy ad- 
herence to one's vows and consequent sufferings 
have an ennobling influence on the people at large, 
and they are never weary of hearing them recited. 

One point need be mentioned here. The 
stories of the Puranas never involve their readers 
in a merely tragic interest. The sufferings that 
raise a man's character martyrdoms for the sake of 
virtue, are the subjects which they take up. The 
poem attracts the reader by its literary excellence, 

and other 




by some romantic motive appealing to the ordinary 
mind ; But in addition, there is a great purpose 
to be traced in this PaurSnic literature, underlying 
and hallowing the realistic scenes. This purpose is 
not made in artistically prominent, but it works half- 
revealed as the great Moral Law that runs through 
the affairs of men in this world. In India religion is 
not dissociated from any department of thought ; 
in poetry, in philosophy and even in logic, the 
chief point, the Indian writers have in view, is 
spirituality, which to their eyes is the finer essence 
of life and without which life sinks into grossness. 
Their earthly habitations are meant as temporary 
residences which always have lattices and apertures 
open towards heaven. 

Details of the changes which have been made 
by later poets in the original work of KrittivSsa 
will be dealt with in the chapter on Vaisnavism. 

The great The great popularity of Krittivasa cannot but 
of Krltti.^ strike any one who visits Bengal. Through the 
Rfini~*' S *a cocoanu t an l mango groves which half conceal the 
thatched roofs of the villages, let one pass by the 
narrow muddy road, in the stillness of the night, 
when nature, as it were, drowses, with the droop- 
ing leaves of the trees and the waning light in the 
cottages, and he will mark here and there some 
small merchant or craftsman, sitting beside his 
lamp and poring over the pages of the Ramayana, 
which he chants, as he reads, in a sing-song voice, 
that chimes in, with the droning of the beetles and 
the sound of the falling leaves. 


Numerous writers after Krittivasa translated 
the Ramayana into Bengali, but none of them 
could ever rival his popularity or throw his great 
work into the shade, though some of the subsequent 
translations display a highly finished style of com- 
position. The reasons which have determined this 
preference for Krittivasa are two-fold, (i) Kritti- 
vasa, of all the translators of the Ramayana, has 
made the nearest approach to reproducing that 
pathos which is admittedly the strength of Valmiki's 
great epic. (2) The unmatched simplicity of Kritti- 
vasa's translation commends it to the masses more 
than any other literary quality. This simplicity of the 
Bengali recension is also on the lines of Valmiki. 

Of the other translators of the Ramayana, we 
must first name Sastivara Sen who was born at 
Jhinardwipa, the modern Jhinerdi in Vikrampur in 
the district of Dacca. He belonged to the Vaidya 
or physician caste and lived more than three hun- 
dred years ago. Sastivara and his son Gangadas 
were voluminous writers. The son completed 
what the father had left unfinished. They tran- 
slated not only the Ramayana, but also the Maha- 
bharata, and wrote poems besides in honour of 
Manasa Devi. Sastivara is precise and short. 
Gangadas is rather elaborate and more poetic in 
his descriptions. Here are a few lines from 
Gangadas. Slta prays to be taken to the bosom of her 
mother, Eearth, when her sufferings grow unbearable. 

* " Tear-drops finer than pearls fell from her eyes 
as she addressed Ram, her husband, in a tone that 


tions of 
the Ramfi- 



SitS's last 


trembled with great grief. ' You are the Lord of 
the world and the help of the helpless, O King! 
You know best whether I have been true or not. I 
am the daughter of Earth and I am your wife. 
God created me for the personification of sorrow. 
You desire to place me under public trial, as many 
times as you please, before the people, even as 
one might do to a harlot. Such an insult as this 
trial my heart will no longer bear. Sltg bids' you 
a life long farewell, and begs permission- at ^tfur 
feet to depart for ever. None in tlu\ world could 
I count upon as my refuge, excepting you. May 
you, Oh lord, be my husband in all my future 
births ! ' Saying this, Sits in deep distress, began to 
cry, 4 O mother, mother ! you can bear, O mother, 
the burden of all mortal things, but not the sorrow 
of your own daughter ! Ml 


TOT wnr 



If this had been a translation from the original, 
I would not have cared to quote it. But all who 
know the Sanskrit epic will attest the imperious 
tone of the brief expressions that fell from Slta in 
the moment of deserting the world. In the extract 
quoted above, on the other hand, she speaks like a 
simple' Bengali woman and though we may miss 
here the lofty reticence and composure of the 
original, yet one cannot fail to admire the great 
insight arid refinement with which Gangadas has 
pourtrayed Slta's mingling of pride and sweet- 

The date of the composition of Dwija Durga- DwIJa 
rgm's translation of the Ramayana is unknown ; DurgarSm 
but this author flourished after Krittivasa of whose 
poem he speaks with great respect in the preface. 

Jagat Ram, the next great translator of the j a gat Ram, 
Ramayana, was born in the village Bhului, three 1655A.D. 
mileb to the south-webt of Raniganj, a station 
on the East Indian Railway. Close to this 
village on the south are the Vehari Nath Hills. 
On the west rise the historic ranges of Panchakota. 
On the north flows the strong, though narrow, 
current of the Damodara like a silver line through 
sandy banks. The scenery of the village is beauti- 
ful and the place is "a meet nurse for the poetic 
child." Jagat Ram was a gifted poet. He was 
set to the task of translating the RamSyaAa by 
Raghunath Sinha Bhup, Raja of Panchakota, and 
completed the work in 1655 A. D. He also began to 
write another book called Durga Pancharatri which 
he did not live to complete, The last cantos of 
this were written by his son Rftm Prasad Ray in 




1680 A.D. 


1742 A.D. 


1680 A. D. Jagat Ram's Ramayana 'has a racy 
and sparkling style and was at one time much 

Next comes Sarada Mangala by iva ChafaA 
Sen, a Vaidya, born in the village of Kathadia in 
Vikrampur in the district of Dacca- This recen- 
sion of the Ramayana was composed in the latter 
part of the i8th century. 

This author's real name was Nityananda and 
Adbhutacharyya was his title. He bagan the work 
of translation when he was yet a boy and brought 
his work to completion in 1742 A. D. 

Kavichandra was the title, ankara being the 
name of the poet. Many chapters and passages 
from this Ramayana have been added to that of 
Krittivasa,and in the shape in which we find the latter 
poem now, it owes largely to these additions. The 
well-known humourous canto of Angada Raybar or 
Interview between Angada, as ambassador, and 
Havana, which is now inseparable from Krittivasa's 
Ramayana, was written by ankara Kavichandra. 
Besides this translation of the Ramayana, he wrote 
many other poems, all of which are characterised 
by a lively poetical spirit. Kavichandra was one 
of the most voluminous of old Bengali ' writers.* 

* I have found 46 poems in all by this author. Kavichandra 

translated the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhaga 

bata in Bengali The 46 poems, numerated below, fall under 
one or the other of the^e three groups. I mention in the libt the 
dates, where available, on which the MSS. that I found were 

(1) Akruda agamana 1683 A. D. 

(2) Ajamiler Upfckhyan 680 A. D. 

(3) Arjuner Darpa Churtia 1847 A. I 

(4) Arjuner BSnd b^ndhft PalS, 1691 A. D 

(5) Unchhabritti Pfclfi 1654 A. D4 


He was born in Parma, a village neaf Logo 
in the district of Bankura. Babu Makhan Lai 
Banerjee, a descendant of ankara through one of 
his daughters, has, at great pains, collected a com- 

(6) Uddhaba Sarhbad 1654. 

(7) Ekadafibrata Pala 1680 A. D. 

(8) Kangsabadha. 

(9) Kanvamunir Pa ran 1813 A. D. 

(10) Kapila Mangal. 

(11) Kuntir iva Puja 1672 A. D. 

(12) Krisner Swargarohaha 1678 A. D. 

(13) Kokilsaihgbad 1859 A. D. 

(14) Qe^u Churi 1873 A D, 

(15) Chitra Ketur Upakhyan. 

(16) Dafam Purana. 

(17) Data Karna 1655 A. D. 

(18) Diva Rasa. 

(19) Draupadir Vastra Harana 1702 A. D. 

(20) Draupadir Sayambara. 

(21) Dhruva Charitra. 

(22) Nanda Vidaya 1758 A. D. 

(23) Parlksiter Bramha 9pa. 

(24) Pariyata Harana. 

(25) Prahlada Charitra 1664 A D 

(26) Bharata Upakhyana 1673 A. D. 

(27) Vana Parva 1678 A. D. 

(28) Udyoga Parva. 

(29) Bhisma Parva. 

(30) Karna Parva. 

(30 alya Parva 1673 A. D. 

(32) Gada Parva. 

(33) Radhikd Mangal 1660 A. D. 

(34) Lanka Kanda. 

(35) Ravahbadha 1839. 

(36) Rukmihi Harana. 

(37) Ivaramer Yuddha. 

(38) ivi Upakhyn. 

(39) Slt Harah. 

(40) Hari9 Chandler Pftl^l 1796 A. D. 

(41) AdhyStma Rmyana 1743 A. D, 






1838 A. D. 





plete manuscript of (pankara's works which, however, 
he is not able to publish for want of funds. Kavi- 
chandra lived about the end of the i6th century. 

The RarnSyana by Laksman Bandyopadhaya, 
was composed in the middle of the ijth century. 

The Ramayana, by Valaram Bandyopadhaya, 
was written in comparatively modern times. It was 
completed in 1838 A. D. Valaram Bandyopsdhsya 
was born in the village of Meteri in the district of 
Nadia; he dedicated his works to Madhava, his 
household God. 

In the original poem of Valmlki, Ram chiefly 
figures as a great man only. In Adikanda and 
Uttarakanda, the first canto and the last 
which, according to scholars, did not form part of 
the original poem, there are incidents that prove 
him to be an incarnation of Visnu. In the other 
five kandas, or cantos, however, which we believe 
to be the genuine epic of Valmlki, he mainly 
appears to us as a great man guided by the noblest 
of impulses, and this high character requires no 
help of a mythological kind to commend him to the 
reverence of the people. The Hindu mind, how- 
ever, has undergone a change since the original 
epic was composed. Ram has now become, in the 
eyes of the people, an incarnation of Visnu and his 
name for millions is a synonym for God. To a writer 

(43) Angad Riybftr. 

(43) Kumbha Karner Raybar. 

(44) Draupadir LaJJSnivraha. 

(45) DurvasSr Pftratt. 

(46) Laksmafier (akti (ela, 

Besides these Kavichandra wrote a Voluminous work in 
honour of < 


who believes in the divinity of Ram with all his 
heart, the epic is no longer a mere poem, every word 
of it is divine. The Bengali rescensions of the 
Ramayana, as also the Hindi Ramayana by TulasI 
Das, differ in this point from the original Sanskrit 
epic. Whenever the vernacular poets attempt to 
describe any episode of Ram's life, the expressions 
they use, in the excess of their devotional fervour, 
verge on the phraseology of sermons and prayers, 
and we miss in them the vigorous realistic descrip- 
tions of the original. Here is an account of the 
rainy season by Ram Mohan who lived in the last 
part of the eighteenth century. The poet labours 
under an ovei whelming idea of Ram's divinity, 
and cannot forget this even while giving an 
account of natural scenery at a particular season. 

* " In the month of A?adha the newly formed 
clouds appear in the sky, and I find the beautiful 
dark blue complexion of Ram, mirrored in them. 
It thunders continually. The sound falls upon my 
ear like the twanging of Ram's bow-string. The 
lightning flashes at intervals. Even so flashes the 
tigure of Ram in the mind of a devotee. At the 
sight of the newborn clouds, the peacocks dance 
for joy. So are goodly men overjoyed at the sight 
of Ram. Rain pours incessantly on the earth. 
How like the tears that Ram shed, in his grief for. 


A descrlp. 

tion of the 


*m ftrw 



Slta ! The lotus blooms in the lake, as shines the 
image of Ram in the minds of his devotees. The 
bees suck honey never leaving the lotus. Even so 
do the minds of the spiritual cling to the feet of 
Ram Chandra. The thirst of the bird Chataka is 
allayed by the rain as it falls. So are the pas- 
sions of the flesh soothed by the presence of Ram. 
The rivers and streams run swiftly to lose them- 
selves in the ocean, as the universe moves onward 
to lose itself in Ram. The rain-drops soothe the 


ff i 




heart of the earth, as the weary and the heavy laden 
are soothed by Ram's name." 

In spite of its ingenuity, which might have 
made it artificial, this poem is full of simple faith. 
But, however this be, there is nothing to be 
found in the original Sanskrit poem of Vglmiki 
which would give any opportunity to the poet for 
indulging in such fancies. 

Of all the translations of the Ramsyana Raghunan. 

'an Gos- 

which followed Kriltivasa's work, that by Raghu- dan Gos " 

nan dan Goswaml is decidedly the best. This has 
been published by the Battala publishing firms in 
Calcutta. It commands a good sale. The author 
was a learned man, and his writings display fault- 
less rhyme, and a great command over language. 
It is a work which attracts more by the richness 
of its rythmical expression, its finished style of 
composition, and its variety of metre than by 
pathos or power of delineating character and feel- 
ings. It is based not only on the Ramayana of 
Valmiki but also on the Hindi recension by Tulasi 
Das, and on some of the Puianas in which the 
story of Ram Chandra is re -told. 

The author was born in the village., Mar, in the 
district of Burdwan and completed the Rama- 
rasa yana, as his poem is called, in the middle of the 
1 8th century. He belonged to the illustrious family 
of Nityananda ; and his father's name was Ki^ori- 
mohan Goswaml, He dedicated the book to Radha 
Madhava, the tutelary deity of his family. 

It is difficult to shew in translation the rythm 
and the elegance of metre of a particular language, 



and these aretheyi?rteof Raghunandana's writings. 
He pleases the ear more often than he touches 
the heart. I shall make an attempt to trans- 
late a short passage, from the Rama Rasayana, 

* " Now Ram made himself ready for the battle 
with a gladsome heart. With the tender bark of a 
tree he girded himself tightly. His thick matted 
hair he circled about his head. Hard armour he 
wore that fitted him close." 

We feel that in this translation, the rich has 
become poor. When a very ordinary idea is made 
to sparkle by mere wealth of expression, it loses 
all its beauty, as soon as it is stripped of that 
particular garb ; and Raghunandan will be a poet 
only to those who know Sanskrit well, or speak a 
Sanskritic language. 

R&mgovln-. The Ramayana by Ramgovinda Das consists of 

da D5s, . . J j 4.1 < i 

25,000 lokas or verses and is therefore voluminous 

in size. The author's grandfather's name is Kunja 
Viharl Das and his father's name, ivaram Das. 
The date of the composition of this poem is not 



In my researches amongst the Bengali villages, 
and from other sources was derived, in addition, a 
large number of translations of particular episodes 
or portions of the Ramayana. Again there are 
many other poems which treat of the story inci- 
dentally. Of these we name some below : 

(i) ri Dharma Itihasa by Gunaraj Khan. 
(?,) Kauyalya Chauthi^a by Ramjivan Rudra. 

(3) Sltar vanavasa by one who subscribes himself 
as a son of Guria Chandra. 

(4) Lobku^er Yuddha by Loka Nath Sen. 

(5) Parijat hararia by Bhavanl Nath. 

(6) Rayvara by Duija Tul^i Das. 

(7) Ramer Svargarohana by Bhavanlchandra. 

(8) Laksmana Dikvijaya by Bhavanl Das. 

(9) Ramayana by Dwija Dayarama. 

(10) A story of the Ramayana by Ka^iram. 
(u) Jagat Ballava^s Ramayana. 

(12) Bhu?andl Ramayana by Raja Prithl Chan- 
dra of Pakur. 

(13) Lanka Kanda by Fakir Ram (Ms. copied in 
1602 A.D.). 

(14) Aranya Kahda by Vikan ukla Das. 

(15) K&lnemir Rayvara by Ka^I Nath. 

The above works, on the subject of the 
Ramayana, were written between the i4th and the 
1 8th centuries. 


The Maha- 
bharata, an 
epitome of 


(6) Translations of the Atahabharata. 

The story of the Mahabharata is not so compact 
as ^at f ^ e Ramayana. It is by no means, 
however, the less popular of the two. The Maha- 
bharata is an encyclopedic collection an epitome ot 
Indian thought and civilisation, the successive stages 
of which are, as it were, mirrored in it. There is a 
Bengali adage which says " What is not found 
in the RhSrata (the Mahabharata) is not in Bhatata 
(India)." Round about the main plot the great 
war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, 
there is a wild growth of wonder-tales in which the 
current literature and traditions of ancient India 
are undoubtedly entangled. From the din of war- 
fare to the quiet and contemplative philosophy of the 
Gita, the reader ib carried without an apology ; and 
descriptions of heroic exploits and unmatched 
chivalry are interspersed with accounts of austeri- 
ties and penances undergone for the sake of reli- 
gion and with mythological accounts of gods. To 
add a chapter to such a work is the easiest thing 
that one can do. One has simply to put a query 
in the mouth of Janmejaya and that never- wearied 
narrator, the sage Vaivampayana, is sure to relate 
whatever may be asked him in earth or heaven. 
The poem is like the fabled Sadlof Draupadl which 
may be dragged out indefinitely to any length. 
In the Bengali versions, the poets lost no oppor- 
tunity to introduce new stories and incidents from 
comparatively modern life, The pathetic tale of 
(prlvatsa and Chinta is their addition ; and it is not 
the only one which they have added to the epic in 
its Bengali garb* 


We need not proceed with the tale of the The con- 
Mahabharata at any length. The main story is not main story. 
the whole preoccupation of the poem. The Glta in 
the Udyoga Parva, together with the moral and the 
spiritual discourses of Bhlsma, in the anti Parva, 
yields to no episode of the main plot, in the interest 
which they evoke in the mind of the readers. The 
story of Nala and Damayanti, of akuntala, of 
Carmitfta and hundreds of such engrafted pieces, 
which an: now inseparable from the main poem, 
have little beating on the incidents of the Great 
War. An account of the Kauravas and the Pan- 
davas only would convey a veiy inadequate idea 
of the contents of the epic. Briefly speaking, the 
story is as follows : The princes of the lines of Kuru 
and of Pandu were born and brought up under 
circumstances which led to feelings of animosity 
on either side, ultimately bursting into the most 
sanguinary warfare on the fields of Kuruksetnu 
The five brothers, Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, 
Nakula and Sahadeva, tried by all possible means 
to avert the war. They were the rightful heirs to 
half the kingdom ; but Duryyodhana and his 
brothers would not part with this. Yudhisthira, the 
eldest Pandava, asked of King, Duryyodhana, a 
grant of five villages only, so that the live brothers 
might have some refuge in the world. Even this 
Duryyodhana refused to give, saying (l Not half 
the earth, that may be covered by the point of a 
needle, will I give without war/' Added to this 
were the great wrongs committed against the 
Psndavas by Duryyodhana from boyhood upwards, 
the conspiracies to assassinate them, from each of 
which they had a narrow escape, and the last act, 


surpassing all the rest, the atrocious insult upon 
Draupadl, the wife of the Pandavas. A war was 
inevitable and the Ksatriya Princes of India rallied 
on either side when it actually broke out. The 
Pandavas with the help of Kri?na gained the victory, 
though nearly the whole race of Katriyas was extir- 
pated, in a terrible battle that raged for eighteen suc- 
cessive days incessantly on the plains of Kuruketra. 
Yudhi?thira was afterwards smitten with remorse for 
having waged a cruel war which had resulted in the 
death of his relations and friends. This grief was 
accentuated by the news of the death of Krisna 
the incarnation of Visnu and the great friend of the 
Pfindavas. Yudhithira, with his brothers and Drau- 
padl, made the great pilgrimage up the snowy ranges 
of Himalays to Mount Meru. On the way each of 
the brothers dropped dead ; and Yudhisthira was 
alone left for the crowning scene of the Mahabharata, 
his ascent into heaven in mortal form. 

5an)aya's The earliest Bengali recension of the Maha- 

recension, bharata, that we have come accross, is by a Brahmin 
poet, named Sanjaya who belonged to the illus- 
trious family of Bharadwaja whom Adi&ra of Gauda 
had brought to Bengal. The task of translating 
the eighteen Parvas of Vyasa's Mahabharata was 
immense and Sanjaya justly claims the credit due 
to the pioneer in this field, He frequently refers 
to his work in the following strain in his Vanita. 

* " The Mahabharata, which was like an ocean of 
impenetrable darkness, is now unveiled to sight 
(made accessible to the masses) having been render- 
ed into Bengali verses (Panchall) by Safijaya." 



Yet Sanjaya's work is one of the shortest epi- The honour 
tomes of the Mahabharata that we know of ; it is pioneer. 
characterised by simplicity of style, and does not 
even possess any uncommon poetic merit. The 
manuscripts of Sanjaya's Mahabharata have been 
recovered from all parts of Eastern Bengal. The 
great popularity, it once commanded, is explicable 
only by reason of its being the earliest Bengali 
recension. Generally speaking, manuscripts of San- 
jay's Mahabharata are very voluminous, as chapters 
written by subsequent poets have been added 
to them at different times. The Adiparva by 
Rajendra Das, the Dronaparva by Gopl Nath 
Datta and numerous compositions by other 
writers are now inseparable factors in many of 
such manuscripts ; and these two poets at least 
excel Sanjaya in the wealth of their descrip- 
tion? and in the beauty and elegance of their 
style. Sanjaya's antiquated forms of expres- 
sion give him no advantage in contrast with 
Rajenclra Das's racy and poetic lines; yet the 
whole manuscript, about two-thirds of which 
belongs to other writers, is populaily known as the 
Mahabharata of Sanjaya. This writer evidently 
then enjoys precedence because he was the first 
in point of time. Sanjaya takes care in his Vahita 
that his name may not be confounded with that 
of the great Sanjaya, gifted with clairvoyance, 
who relates the incidents of the war to the blind 
monarch Dhritargstra in the Mahabharata itself, 
and frequently emphasises on the point of his 
authorship of the work as distinguished from 
their recitations by Sanjaya. We however know 
very little of his life,-^-the autobiographical account 


Sanjay, which was undoubtedly appended to the work 
a'contenT- as we ^nd in every old Bengali book, has not 

porary of y e t been recovered ; and we are in utter darkness 
Krittivasa. J 

about Sanjaya. From the early date of some of 

the manuscript-copies of his works that we have 
been able to secure, we are inclined to believe that 
he lived at about the time of Krittivasa and was 
probably his contemporary. 

Though some of the later poets excel Sanjoy in 
the elegance of expression, the earlier poet fre- 
quently displays a highly forcible style. Sanjya 
particularly excels in describring martial feats. 
Here is a passage shewing his vigorous and 
animated style . 

* u ln order to excite the anger of Karna, (Jalya 
says ( If you are once hit by Arjuna's arrowy you 
will cease to boast in such way, There is no 
friend, O Karna, to advise you rightly. When a fly 
willingly rushes into a flame, none can save it. 
A child in the arms of its mother stretches his 
arms out to catch the moon ; your aspiration is 
like that of the child ; you want to drag Arjuna 
down from his chariot. Like a mad man you attempt 

^< CBttl 

f ?rt?tai f ^w ii 

CTl ITS ^< ^ft t*R3T ^"RF^ I 


if or 


to. sacaocfo yxjmr own* body wkh a* sibarp speap. Like 
a fawii'cWtefigiitg a K<*n> you>call Arju-nabo fight? w&h 
yom You a#e lik- a jackaji sMwUfen. ('with* pridfc)> by 
eating a corpse, and c&aflfegdfog > fehe raajVsfcy 0f a 
s^n of a^ charitfteec, how foolish ii; is. for 
, to challenge th^ sooi of a kiiog to: 
you. YQW, axe lifce. a gnat defying th$, 

veup^ous, SrQake wb<93 bifc^- is dea4!y, 

lies- Qoil'edt up> w, a hol'e, 3&d you?, are 
teasing it with a stick. Like a snake- gpiAg out 
to figiit the bird Garuda (which lives upon snakes), 
you aspire to fight Arjuna. The mpoi* 
on the furthest limits* of the sea,, you 
cross the sea without a boat and, catcht the 
A frog mimics the thunder. I set the same 
estimate upon all your fretting." 

The next Mahabharata, to which we have 
, , , . . . . . __ rata trans. 

already alluded, was written at the order of Nasarata lated at 

Saha. This, tpanvsilattian* is. referred to, in the shllii?** 
Mahabharata of Kaivl'rwkai PaJJWi^v^rai in the order. 
following couplet. 




cr vr i 



vara & t rl- 

" Nasarata Saha blessed with all good qualities 
had a translation of the Mahabhgrata compiled in 
Bengali verses (Panchali).* We have not yet been 
able to recover this Mahabharata. 

Reference has also been made in the first 
chapter to the next two Mahabharatas, one of which 
was written by Kavindra Para we^vara and the other 
by rlkarria Nandi. Kavindra Parame^vara began 
his poem with the following preliminary account : 

t "The Emperor Husen Saha was a high minded 
monarch, prised by all throughout the Five Gaudas 
(Panca Gauda). He was expert in the use of 
arms ; and was like a second Krisria in the Kaliyuga. 
Laskara Para gal, a commander of the army of 

Kavindra Parame^vara. 



II Kavindra, 


Husen Saha, the Emperor of the Gauda, was 
a generous-minded noble man. He obtained 
royal presents in the shape of a golden dress, 
and horses of the speed of the winds ; and he 
was further endowed with a grant of an extensive 
estate in Chittagong where the high minded Khan 
settled. He enjoyed his territories with his sons 
and grandsons." 

At the command of Paragal Khan Kavlndra 
Paramefvara undertook to translate the Mahabha- 
rata. This Mahabharata which comes down to the 
StnParva, contains 17,000 Clokas or verses. It was 
composed during Husen Saha's reign (1494-1525 
A.D.). Close to the sub-division of Feniin the dis- 
trict of Noakhali liesParagalpur, founded by Husen 
Saha's great general who had conquered Chittagong 
and had obtained a grant of the neighbouring 
provinces as a reward for his valour. There is a 
tomb in the village, raised in honour of Rasti Khan 
(father of Paragal) whose name we also lind 
mentioned in this Mahabharata. Paragal Khan's 
son was the valourous prince Chhuti Khan, In 
Parggalpur, tanks dug by the orders of the illustri- 
ous father and the son still exist and are called after 
them, *Rrm *fa[ ftft and } % ffft respectively. 
Kavlndra Paramef vara, as I have said, translated the 
Mahabharata down to the Strl Parva. Paragal 
Khan had in the meantime died and his son Chhuti 
Khan succeeded him. He followed in the foot-steps 
of his noble father and appointed a poet named 
rikarana Nandl to translate the Ayvamedha Parva. 
We find the following historical account in the 
introductory chapter of his book, 








(usen $aha) was 

He Mled the 4divgdwn flHce >a second 
Rffitm. Wuseti Saha, 'the great monarch, ftulefl the 
.'by Sgma '(preserving of peace 5 ), D&na 
of gifts'), Danda ^punishment) and by 
*Bhe.da {bitingimg abaiit division amongst his ene- 
iwie). Latikffr Chhuti Khffn vvas-one of his generalk. 
He settled near Tipperah on "the >ftrth trf 
Chitt^gong, in the valley of the Chandra ekhara 
Hills. The abode of his father had been in the 
Charlol Hills. The town is so beautiful that only 
a ,god could have built it. People of four castes 
and various races live 'there. The .place is almost 
surrounded on all sides by the River Fani (modern 
Feni, lit. a snake). On the East are seen vast 
mountainous ranges without a limit. Chhuti Kh&n, 
t'he son of Paragal Khan, is dauntless in battle. 
manly arms reach to his knee-joints. His 

IV. U iBfiMtau vLMteutfGE & >Li5imkAtn>k*E, 

eyes :re like tftiH-tolown lotuses. He 'moves <ma- 
jei&icalty tlike the elephant. Sixty four qualities <dwotl 
in him amd God has granted him 'world- x wide 
renovwn. In -magnanimity of souKand in his-charity 
he matches Vail and Karna. Jn his great war- 
tike (qualities and in -the dignity of (his mien, 
however, ithere ds 'none iwith whom 'he may be 
compared. On -a report 'of his excellent qualities 
reaching the Emperor '('Husen Snha) he v was callled 
to "his couft. He received great honour from "the 
Emperor and obtained t!hose rewards to which only 
the distinguished generals of 'the court aTe entitled. 
Chhuti Khan^began^o Pule his kingdom by Sama, 
Dana, Danda and Bheda. The Kii\g of Tipperali 
left his country being afraid of Chhuti Khan. He 
took refuge in the mountain (of Udaypur). He 


CTtW i 


further sent elephants and horses as tribute to 
Chhuti Khsn and built his palace in the midst of a 
dense forest. Chhuti Khan has not yet done 
anything to inspire fear in him. Yet he lives in 
constant alarm. Chhuti Khan gave friendly assu- 
rance to the King of Tipperah and he dwells happily 
in his own capital. The khan's royal glory is 
increasing every day and he looks upon the people 
of the country as his children. 




" One day while Chhuti Khan was seated in his 
court in the company of scholars and friends, he 
seemed to be much delighted on hearing the story 
of the sacred Mahabharata. He heard the A^va- 
medha Parva, written by the great sage Jaimuni, 
and expressed a wish to his courtiers that the book 
might be translated into the vernacular dialect. If 
any courtier of his would undertake and complete 
the task, it would add lustre to his glory through- 
out the country. Placing the garland of royal 
order upon the head, rlkarana Nandl composed 
the poem in Payara." 

The reference to the king of Tipperah in the The poet'5 
above extracts is a distortion of historical facts a ery ' 
made by the poet to please his master. Early in 
the 1 6th century Dhanya Manikya was the king 
of Tippera. He was a powerful monarch who, with 
the help of his celebrated general Chaichag, had 
successfully checked the advance of the invading 
Muhammadan armies into his territories by adopt- 
ing prompt and vigorous measures ; and Chhuti 
Khan had to remain contented with his possessions 
in the Chittagong hills. 

We have come across thirtyone old writers in all, A list of 
who compiled translations of the whole or portions 
of the Mahabharata. We give a list of them 
below : 

(0 Mahabharata by Sanjaya. 

(2) Bharata Panchali written by the orders of 

Nasarata Saha (not yet recovered). 

(3) Mahabharata by Kavindra Parame^vara. 

(4) A9vamedha Parva by rlkarana Nandl. 

(5) Do do by Dwija Abhirama. 


(61) ^a^tttiParva by Knin^rraind^ Vasiu (Mss. 
fwmd j dated 1*694, A.EXV 

(7-) A^vamedha Parva by Anarrda Mi^ra. 

(8) Mahabharata by Nityananda Ghosa. 

(g) A^vaJiiedha, Dwija*Ram Chandra 

by Dwij^ Kavi, Cha-ndra, 
(i i) Adiparva fco Bfea-rat?a/ Parva by ^arana. 

(12) Bharata by Sasthlfeara. 

(13) Adiparva and Agyamedhfl. Parva by 

Gangs Das Sen. 
(14), Adiparva by Raj^ndra Das, 
(05) Djcona Paajva by (Ekipi Nath- Dattai- 
(i 6) Mahabharata by Ra^me^var Nandi. 

(17) Do by K'as^i Rai Das. 

(18) Bhlsaaa Parva, Drona Parva awdi Karto 

Pa^rva- by Nandar^m Das (adopted SOB 
of Kagicaim Das,. 

(19)- Maha-bh^rata by Tritochana Chakrav^rfeL 

(20) Do by Nemgi Das. 

(21) Duona Pa.rva by Dvaipayana Das. 

(22) Bbarata* by BaHava Da,s, 

(23) A^vamedha Parva by Dwija Kri^naram. 

(24) Do by Dwifa Rag-hunath. 

(2 b ) The N'ala Upakhyait by Lofenath Datta. 
< 26) Do by Madliusudan 


(27) The story of Savitrf by ^iva Chandra 


(28) Bharata by ,Bhriguram Das. 

(29) Acvamedha Parva by Dwija Ramakrisna. 

(30) Do by Bharat Pandit. 

(31) Mahabharata compiled by the order of 

Dharma Mafiikya, king of Tippera. 
( )f these writers Kavindra Parmecvara, as we have 
said, translated nearly the whole of the Mahabharata, 
and amongst others, Sasthivara, Ramecvar Nandi, 
Trilochan Chakravarty, Nit)gnanda Ghosa, Nimai 
Das, BallabhaDev,andBhriguiam Das also attempted 
to translate the whole of the epic. Translations, in 
those days, as I have said, were not closely re- 
stricted to the texts. Besides omissions and 
changes, stories and incidents were freely added 
to the poems by the writers. The Bengali recen- 
sions, as compared with the original of Vyasa, appear 
to be, in many respects, quite different poems. 
One would hardly find in many of these works a 
score of lines together which would conform to 
the Sanskrit text The Ramayaha and Maha- 
bharata were, so to speak, reborn in these Bengali 
recensions, which resembled the Sanskrit epic only 
as the child does its father. They offer many strik- 
ing points of difference which cannot be ignored. 
In the history of these differences is to be found 
the peculiar bent of the Bengali genius which, 
moulding the great epics in its own way, gave the 
Bengali recensions an air of originality of which 
we shall have to speak hereafter. 

Of the episodes translated from the Maha- 
bharata, the story of akuntala by Rajendra Das, 
who flourished in the middle of the I7th century, 
is one of the best that we have found in the whole 

The origi 
nai & its 

by RSjen- 
dra Das. 






da Ghos's 



book. Though mainly following the Sanskrit text 
of Vyasa, the poet is indebted to Kali Das's akun- 
tala and to Bhatti Kavya, from which he culls many 
beautiful blossoms to adorn his tale. The fine 
poetical touch in u There was no tank without its 
wealth of lilies, no lilies without bees, and no bees 
that did not hum under the enchantment of the 
honey," is evidently borrowed from a well-known 
passage in Bhatti Kavya. 

In the Drona Parva by Gaplnath Datta, Drau- 
padi, the wife of the Pandavas, comes to the battle- 
Held and fights. We do not find anything of this 
nature in the Sanskrit Epic The author probably 
wrote from his imagination 

In 1806 A.D Rajah Prithvl Chandra of Pakur 
wrote a poem in Bengali named Gaurl Mangal The 
work is interesting to us for its preface, in which 
he takes a bird's eye view of old Bengali literature, 
and gives us a list of some of the noteworthy 
Bengali writers, who had preceded him. He 
refers thus to the translations of the Mahabharata 

" Eighteen Parvas of the Mahabharata were 
rendered into Bengali verses by Ka^irgm Das and 
before him by Nityanan da." 

In Eastern Bengal, the Mahabharata by San- 
jaya and by Kavlndra Parme^vara once enjoyed 
great popularity, but in Western Bengal Nitya- 
nanda Ghos's Mahabharata was in high favour 
with the people until the advent of Ka^lram Das. 
We know very little of Nityananda Ghos ; but that 
Ka^IrSm Das, whose Mahabharata yields to no 
Bengali book in its popularity amongst the masses 
excepting perhaps the RS may ana by KrittivSsa, 


drew largely from Nityananda Ghos's work, 
which was earlier in the field, admits of no doubt. 
The Kathakas and the professional singers of the 
Puranas had already popularised the story of the 
Mahabharata in the country. Those amongst them 
who attained celebrity, by their proficiency in the 
art of recitation and singing, found numerous en- 
gagements all over the province. In their pro- 
fessional tours they visited all the important villages 
of the country, and thus the very language they 
used became familiar to the people. It is pro- 
bably owing to this reason, that in all the Bengali 
recensions of the Mahabharata, from Saiijaya and 
Kavjndra to Kaci Das and even to more modern 
writers, we frequently come across the same lines 
almost word for word, as if the authors whose fields 
of activity lay at different places and who lived at 
remote distances of time from one another, had 
copied from the same source. Jf this is, generally 
speaking, tiue of the different Bengali recensions 
of Sanskrit works in our old literature, it is most ot 
all so in the case of Kaciram Das's work and that 
of Nityananda which preceded it. We often find 
page upon page of the two works to be almost 
identical, the slight difference, observable in the 
two works, is no more than what we may find in 
two different manuscripts of the same book. We 
have evidence to prove that Kaylram Das did not 
himself write the whole of the Mahabharata, the 
authorship of which is attributed to him; and in 
many portions he simply revised Nityananda's 
compositions and incorporated them in his work. 
Kaciram Das was, however, an expert recension- 
ist and showed much originality in his work. This 

Why do the 



so closely 





point will be dealt with hereafter. In the mean- 
time let us refer our readers to two stray passages 
of the two recensions (viz. one by Nityananda and 
the other by Kay Ira m Das) to shew how closely the 
two texts agree with each other. One extract 
will be sufficient for both, the slight difference 
being indicated in the footnote : 

The Lamentation of Gandhari. 

* " When Krisna' s consoling words she heard, 
she was restored to consciousness. The chaste 
Gandharl, daughter of Vichitravlryya and Queen 
ot Dhritarastra, said again to Krisna, " Behold 
Krisna my hundred powerful sons lie dead 
on the field, struck by the iron mace ol Bhima 
O, look, my daughters-in-law, all princesses, 
arc crying most bitterly those whom the sun 
or the -moon could not see, whose body is 
tender as irlsa flower, and whose beauty is a 
wonder, which the sun stops his chariot in the sky 
to observe these ladies have come to the field ol 



Kuruk?etra, poorly dressed and with hair dishevell- 
ed. Look at them, they are singing wildly owing 
to excess of grief their voice is heard like the 
sound of the lute of Narada, There, some widows, 
maddened by grief, have taken weapons in their 
hands and hero-like are dancing wildly, I cannot 
bear it , I cannot tind peace anywhere. O, where 
is my son Duryyodhana j Where has he gone leav- 
ing his mother f Look at his condition now, Krisria. 
Over his head the regal umbrella of gold used to be 
spread. His body which was bedecked with pearls 
lies low in the dust '" 


TOTS f *f 

* CM 

C>f ^5 

Prom Nityananda (ihos's Mah5bh5rata. 

Das gives exactly the same poem with the 
following alterations. In the 3rd line, in the place of 



)as, a poet 

of the 


This almost verbatim agreement cannot be ex- 
plained by the fact of the two works' being equally 
translations from a common Sanskrit original As I 
have said, Bengali recensions scarcely ever follow 
their texts closely ; and in this instance the differ- 
ence between the original and what is belived to 
be its translation, is really similar to that between 
the deep and measured tone of a European organ 
and the soft and melodious lay of an Indian lute. 

We now come to Kay Ira in Das, admittedly the 
best o( all recensionists of the Mahabharata He 
draws largely from the preceding writers. Indeed 
his purpose is to revise their works and incor- 
porate them in his own. But in spite of this, his 
poetic individuality is deeply impresecl on many 
of those lines with which he illumines their 
compositions. But this is not all. He introduces 
episodes not to be found in the original Maha- 
bharata, nor in any extant translation earlier than 
his own , and it is mainly in these additions that he 
displays the peculiar traits of his poetry. Kaciram 
Das was a poet of the people. Indeed his educa- 
tion, scope of intelligence and mode of treatment 
of his subjects were all such as to meet the require- 
ments of the masses Those deep problems of 
the soul, which are worked out in so many 
chapters of the original Mahabharata, he scarcely 

we find ?R? fa| , the I2th line reads fgfl- 
Of*f l>fa Cm^ , in the i6th line, we read 
for 3*fa"Hf : in the 2oth line, there is ^jfa 
; in the 2ist, ^ffa for ^^1 ; and in the 22nd 



notices, or if he touches them at all, he dismiss- 
es very briefly. He narrates a story in an intensely 
popular fashion His dogmatic pronouncements 
on religious matters and great reverence for the 
Brahmins are all characterestic of the views and 
beliefs of the crowd, and he scarcely ever rises 
above their level in the narration of the story of the 
great epic. He often worries the readers by repeti- 
tion of common places ; his exaggerations, besides, 
are such as sometimes to verge on the grotesque. 
But throughout his writings one feels a constant 
current of devotion, which flows like a noble 
stream purging and refining all grossness, and 
beautifying what is awkward and inelegant. The 
strength of popular Indian Literature lies in the 
vehemance of faith which underlies its somewhat 
vulgar humour. 

The devo- 
tional ele- 

There are many passages in 
Mah^bharata which bear testimony to his aidour of 
belief, and in such passages, the Bengali recension- 
ist wonderfully develops the materials at his 
command. The episode of the insult to Bibhisan, 
which does not occur at all in the original of Vyasa, 
is introduced by Ka^iram with singularly happy 
effect. The piece shews the grandeour of Judhis- 
thir's Rajsuya sacrifice which was, it is said, attended 
by all the princes living in the vast continent, 
bounded on the North by the North Kurus, on the 
West by the dominions of the Jadavas, on the East 
by the Sea and on the South by Ceylon. Here had 
come King Joy Sen of Giribraja (Bhagalpur) 
with his gigantic array of boats that " covered 
sixty miles of the Ganges." Here was the Lord of 

Insult to 


Chedi with numerous feudatory chiefs who waited at 
the gate for days till he could obtain entrance into the 
Great Hall. Here the King Dirghajangha of Ayodhya 
(Oudh), with a picturesque array ot noble steeds, 
elephants, and camels, patiently awaited the 
command of the Great Emperor; and other mighty 
princes, too many in number to be mentioned, 
approached Yudhiathir with presents of immense 
gold, silver, pearls, diamonds, corals, invaluable 
stuff made of silk, fur and cotton, big tuskers, 
musk-bearing deer and curious animals as horses with 
horns, nay the very gods of Heaven were present 
here to do honour to Yudhisthira. In this grand 
assembly Bibhisari, the King of Lanka, declined to 
bow down before Yudhisthira, saying that he never 
bowed to any body on the earth except to Krisna 
the divine Incarnation Insulted at every gate, 
in which the kingof Rakshasas witnessed the grande- 
our of the Rajsuya Sacrifice, he still persisted in 
his determination not to do homage to the para- 
mount Emperor Krisna vainly tried to convince 
him of the greatness of Yudhisthira and when 
Bibhisan was still inexorable in his attitude of 
pride, the Lord took to a device to humiliate him. 

Entering the great Hall, Krisna found Yudhisthira 
seated on his throne situated on a flight of 100 steps, 
and himself taking his stand above fifty steps mani- 
fested himself in his Vi^wa-Rupa. Yudhisthira seated 
behind him could not see this manifestation of his 
divinity, but all others present saw it. Suddenly 
tiaras of gold crowns a thousand of them shone 
forth from the Divine Head. The astonished multitude 
saw thousands of arms holding resplendent weapons, 
thousands of eyes, that looked like solar orbs 


the diamond Kaustava the great bow Saranga 
the conch Panchajanya, the mace and the lotus 
the sacred enblems of Divinity. This appeared as a 
vision too glorious, not only for human sight, but 
even for that of the gods. The great god iva had 
come to see the Rajsuya Sacrifice under the guise 
of a Yogi, but the sight made him unconscious, and 
he revealed himself to all by falling at the feet 
of Krisria Brahma also fainted there and his 
rosary and kamandalu dropped from his hands 
as he fell prostrate. Indra, the holder of the thunder- 
bolt, with his host of gods, fell stunned by the sight, 
at the feet of Krisria, and all the princes, Bibhlsan not 
being excepted, that had assembled there, fell pros- 
trate at this glorious vision which even the gods could 
not bear to look upon. Thus Krisria made the vast 
assembly of gods and men bowed down in rever- 
ence apparently before the royal throne on which 
sat Judhisthira in full glory. Pointing to this 
phenomenal sight of the bowing down of all, Krisria 
addressed Judhisthira calling him the mightiest of 
all monarchs, to whom even the great gods had 
made their obeisance The humble reply of Judhis- 
thira shewed his devotion to the Lord, his great 
meekness and piety. The story thought crude in 
many respects, is a masterpiece of tender faith 
and it is in this point that Kaci Das always 

Kaciram Das was born in the village of A brief 
Singi in Perg. Indrani in the district of Burdwan. 
This village is situated on the river Brahman I, 
and it was formerly known as Siddha or Siddhi. 
The poet belonged to the Kayastha caste, and his 
brothers and son were all gifted with poetic talent, 


The latter 

portion of 

the Mahfi- 



by others. 

His elder brother Krina Das wrote a poem des- 
cribing the events of Krisha's life. The third 
brother, Gadadhara, wrote a very elegant book in 
honour of Jagannath of Puri in 1645 A. D. and 
named it " Jagat Mangala." From a reference to 
the Mahabharata by ^Kaciram Ds in the above 
poem, we conclude that the former work was written 
before 1645 A. D. ; and in fact we have further 
evidences of this, which will be dealt with here- 
after. Ka^iram Das's adopted son Nandaram Das 
(a son of the poets' brother Gadadhar) wrote the 
Drona Parva, which we find incorporated with 
Kasiram's M ah a bharata, though the authorship of 
that Parva is popularly ascribed to Ka^iram. There 
is a saying current in the country to the effect 
that Ka^iram Das died after having finished the 
Adi, Sabha, Bana and portions of the Virata Parvas. 
The easy flow of verses characterised by its 
Sanskritic expressions, which indicate the poetic 
individuality of Ka^iram Das is traceable in those 
cantos which are ascribed to him in the saying , and 
we believe that the latter part of the Mahabharata 
consists mostly of Nityananda Ghos's writings 
revised and incorporated into the work, a few more 
chapters having been added by Nanda Ram, the 
son of Ka^iram Das. In these we miss the genial 
flow of Ka^i Das's style and that sprinkling of 
choice Sanskritic expressions which abound in his 

* Evidences have quite recently been found to substantiate this 
point. In an old M.S. of this Mah&bh&rata, NandarJim says that 
his uncle and father KSci DSs at the hour of his death regretted 
the circumstance of not being permitted to live to complete the 
great work he had undertaken, and piteousty asked NandarJim to 
do the task left unfinished by him. 

IV, ] 


We know every little of the life of Kaciram Das. 
It is said that he was a school-master in the village 
of Awashgarah in the district of Midnapore \ and 
that the above village having been an important 
resort of the Pandits and Kathakas, who recited 
the Purahas in the house of the local Raja, 
Ka^i Das first conceived the desire to undertake a 
translation of the Mahabharata in their learned 
company. In Singi, the native village of the poet, 
there is a tank, which is called C^l^ 3J3 after him. 
We are in possession of several dates which have 
a bearing on his time. The year in which " Jagat 
Mangal" was written by his brother Gadadhar 
has already been referred to. We know of a manus- 
ciiptof Kairam Das's Mahabharata in the hand- 
writing of Gadadhar; it was written in the year 1632 
A. D. Nanda Ram Das, made a deed of gift 
to his family priest in 1678 A. D. This must have 
been drawn up after Ka^i Das's death, as during 
the lifetime of his father, Nanda Ram could not 
possibly have made a gift to the priest a duty 
generally devolving upon the head of the 
family. From these dates we may safely conclude 
that Kasiram Das was born towards the latter part 
of the 1 6th century and lived till the middle of the 
seventeenth. At the instance of some young men 
of the village Singi, the Vangiya Sahitya Pari?hat 
of Calcutta is shewing great activities in raising 
subscriptions for erecting a suitable memorial in 
honour of the poet in his native village. 

Kasiram Das's Mahabharata and Krittibfisa's 
Ramayana are the two books which have been, for 
some centuries, par excellence, the great educative 
agencies of Bengal. What may appear as incon* 

and oth 

A mem 
rial in 

of the 


The two 
great epics 


raised the 


of the 



has a pas- 
toral inter- 
est ; its con- 

Vaka, Kri- 
mira and 

gruous, crude and unpolished in them is, as I have 
said, due to the poets having adapted their works to 
the humble intellectual capacity of our uncultured 
peasantry, whom it was their aim to elevate. These 
poets have been, for ages, the fountain-heads from 
which have flowed wisdom and spirituality, strik- 
ing the finer chords in the hearts of multitudes of 
Bengal, and their works are up to the present, a 
living source of inspiration throughout the country. 

(c) Translations of the Bhagavata. 

Next to the Ramayana and the Mahabhgrata 
comes the Bhagavata in order of popularity through- 
out Bengal. The two epics have a universal interest 
for all the Hindus, but the Bhagavata is mainly res- 
tricted to the Vaisnavas Though its circulation is 
thus narrower, yet its votaries admire it the more 
highly, in fact it is looked upon by them as the only 
sacred book and is revered with the Vedas The 
Bhagavata has passages of high poetic merit ; its 
descriptions of the pastoral scenes and rural sports 
of Krisna particularly are greatly admired , they have 
found peculiar favour in Bengal. The scene is laid on 
the banks of the Jumna Krisna, here, is not only the 
god of love, but retains his omnipotent character, 
even as a shepherd boy. King Karhsa of Mathura, 
bent on killing him, sends the demon-nurse Putana, 
who with poison in her nipples tried to kill the 
child, but Krisna while sucking her breasts draws 
out her life-blood and kills her. The great demon 
Trinavarta comes riding on a whirl-wind, and the 
shepherds, who were grazing their cows on the banks 
of the Jumna, are awe-struck, when Krisha, who is 
wjth them, pulls the demon down by his hair, and 


destroys him in the severe fight which ensues. The 
demons Vaka, Krimira and a host of others, sent by 
Karhsa, are killed in succession by Krisna. The 
God Indra, whose w r orship was forbidden by him, 
dooms Vrindfivana to destruction, by sending heavy 
showers of rain for seven consecutive days and nights 
and exposing it to thunder-storms. But Kri$ha 
holds up the mount Govardhana with the tip of his 
finger and so makes it a shelter for the village. The 
thunderer is v\eary ; the stormy winds crash against 
the roc k ; the lightning makes deep cavities in it , hail- 
stones destroy the trees-, but beneath lies Vrinda- 
vana snug and cozy, not one of its herbs is 
touched, nor a leaf nor a petal of its sweet Kadamva 
flowers is broken under the surging floods which pass 
over the rock Govardhana The accounts of these 
exploits and victories, however, are but of minor 
interest in the poem , its main attraction being the 
pastoral occupation, the sports and the domestic 
scenes, descriptions of which are interspersed 
amongst those of the valourous exploits of Krisna 
undertaken to protect Ins friends who resigned 
themselves to his care The tender love of his 
mother Jagoda, unwilling to part with him in the morn- 
ings, (when his comrades and fellow-shepherd boys 
call him to join their games and his elder brother 
Valarama invites him to the groves by sounding his 
horn) lest he fall into the snares of Karhsa, ever 
plotting against his life ; the beautiful pastimes 
indulged in by the shepherds, in which Kriha takes 
a prominent part ; his love-making with the milk- 
maids ; and above all the deep religious meaning given 
to each passage by the enlightened Vaisriava inter* 
preters who invest the poem with high devotional 

He holds 
up the 


and pas* 


The deep 


Vasu, the 
firat tran- 
1473 A.D. 

significance even in apparently realistic descriptions, 
all these combine to make the Bhagavata one of 
the most remarkable poems of the world. But as 
it is written in very academic Sanskrit, it is likely 
to lose its main charm by translation into non- 
Sanskritic languages. 

Maladhar Vasu, the first tianslator of the Bhaga- 
vata in Bengali and a Kayastha by caste, was a 
courtier of the Emperor Husen Saha at whose 
orders he commenced translating the tenth and the 
eleventh cantos of the Bhagavata in 1473 A. D. and 
completed the work in 1480 A. D. The work is 
named rikrina Vijaya. Husen Saha conferred on 
the poet the title of Gunaraja Khan as a reward for 
his literary services. Maladhar Vasu was a native of 
Kulingrama and belonged to the Vasu family of that 
place, who at the time wielded great influence and 
power. The village was fortified and the pilgrims to 
Puri were required to take a Duri or a kind of pass- 
port from the Vasus of Kulinagrama, without which 
no one was allowed to visit the shrine. Maladhar 
Vasu wrote his work with a facile pen. The easy 
and graceful flow of his style is very marked 
throughout the book. I quote here a passage* : 




The merry 

"When they had finished eating, the shepherds 
sounded the horn and marched. The cows followed 
them, and all assembled on the banks of the Jumna. 
On the way, the spirit of fun found many kinds of ex- 
pression. Here the cuckoos w^re blithely singing 
and Krisha imitated their notes. There the monkeys 
were leaping from bough to bough and he and his 
comrades went climbing and leaping with them. 
Again, the peacocks were dancing and the lads copied 
the dance. The birds were flying in the sky, and 
their shadows on the earth were pursued by Valarama 
and Krisha who danced as they did so. The trees 
abounded with flowers which they gathered as 
they went; some Krisha wore on his head and 
some he placed on his heart." 

The Bengali translation of Maladhar Vasu, it Rsdh - 
should be said, is not literal, and Radha, whom introduced 
we do not find mentioned in the Bhagavata, is 
introduced in this Bengali recension where the 
poetic passages describing her deep spiritual love 
awake the loveliest interest. By this innovation, 
Maladhar Vasu strikes the key-note of those love- 
poems on Krisha and Radha, with which the 
Vai?hava works of later times abound. 

in the 


CTW Tft I 

Bhdgavata by Maladhar Vasu. 


Other tran- After Maladhar Vasu came a host of Bengali 

slaters of recensionists of the Bhagavata. They generally 

Bhagavata, restricted themselves to the tenth canto of the 

work. I give a brief notice of these authors and 

their works below : 

2. (Jrikrisna Mangala by Madhavacharyya. 
This work was dedicated to Chaitanya Deva The 
author was a pupil of the Tola founded by Chaitanya 
and was related to him. This work was written 
early in the f6th century. 

3. rikri?na Mangala by Nandaram Das. 

4. Crikrisria Vijaya by Krisija Das, a brother of 
Ka^iram Das. Krisna Das was decorated with tlie 
title of Kri?na Kirikar, on his writing this uork. 

5. Gopal Vijaya by Kavivallabha. 

6. Govinda Mangal by ankara Kavichandra. 

7. Gokul Mangal by Bhaktarama. 

8. Kri?na Mangal by Dwija Laksminath. 

All the above-named works are voluminous in 
size, and were written more than three hundred 
years ago. Govinda Mangala by ankara Kavi- 
chandra was the most popular of all of these We 
have alread\ referred to the other works of ahkara 
Kavichandra. Of other writers who translated por- 
tions, I name some below. 

9. Bhagavata by Nandaram Ghose. 

10. Do. by Aditya Rama. 

11. Do. by Abhirama Das. 

12. Do. by Dwija Banikantha. 

13. Do. bv Damodar Das. 

14. Do. by Kavi (pekhara. 

15. Do. by Yadunandana. 

16. Do. 

Book-covers from tlu: nrighhourhood of Birhhmn, H>th and early iyth centuries. Tin 

picture pinj^-r is jjciirnilly O)iit;iiiu-(l np, ihciniur luce of the cover. The Moral 

(loi^Ms me from the ouiside (originally) in coloured laecjuer on wood. 


Here is a list of translators of episodes from the 

17. Hansadota by Narasirhha Das 

18. Do. by Madhava Gunakara 

19. Do. by Kri?ha Chandra. 

20. Prahlad Charitra by Dvvija Karh^ari. 

21. Do. by Sitaram Das 

22. Uddhava Samvada by Madhava. 

23. Do. by Ram Sarkar 

24. Do. by Ramtanu. 

25. Dhruva Charitra by Para^urama. 

26. Do. by Dwija Jayananda. 

27. Sudama Charitra by Jivana Chakravarti. 

28. Do. by Govinda Das 

29. Do. by Para^urama 

30 Usaharana by Pitambar Sen 

31 Do by Qrikantha Deva 

32 Gajendra Mok^ana by Dwija Durga Prasad 

33. Do. by Vamana Bhiksu 

34. Do. by Bhabanl Das. 

35. Maniharana by Kamala Kantha. 

36. Vastraharana by Ramtanu Kaviratna 

37. Gurudaksina by Vipra Roparam 

38. Do. by yama Lai Datta 

39. Do. by Ayodhyaram. 

40. Do by (pankaracharyya 

Of the manuscripts of the above works, none 
was copied later than the eighteenth century , 
and the composition of most them is no doubt to be 
referred to a much earlier period. 

(d) Translations of Chandl of Markandeya. Markan- 

We now come to another Sanskrit work held in Chandl 
high esteem as a sacred book Numerous transla- 


and the 

Theory of 

tions of this work are also to be found in old Bengali 
literature. This is the Chandl by Markandeya. It des- 
cribes how the goddess Chandl first manifested herself 
in heaven. Raja Suratha was driven from his kingdom 
by his enemies, who had already subdued the Kols. 
The Raja rode a horse and wandered near the hermi- 
tage of Markandeya where he met a Vaicya named 
Samadhi. This man had immense wealth but his 
wife and children had taken possession of it and 
driven him away. In the hermitage the King and 
the Vaicya with hearts heavy-laden with grief met 
and related to each other, the sad story of their 
misfortunes. They both brooded over their condi- 
tions, the king upon his lost kingdom, and the Vaicya 
on his wife and children who had so cruelly treated 
him. The king asked Markandeya, the sage, as to 
why he could not find peace of mind What was it 
that caused him so much pain f He knew that it was 
unavailing now to grieve over what could not be 
recovered. He referred also to the condition of 
his friend the Vaiyya, his mind still yearning for 
the sight of his wife and children, though they had ill- 
treated him. Markandeya said that it was that power 
of God, which producing phenomena that bear 
a semblance of truth without being true, blind- 
folded all living beings. By this power which pro- 
duces illusion, men*&re confounded and become 
unable to distinguish what is true from what is 
not true. The phenomenal and unreal world seems 
as real to them ; and they ignore God, the only Great 
Reality. This, the sage said, is the cause of all 
human woes. This Power of the Supreme Deity 
is Mahamaya (lit, Great illusion) or Chandl per- 
sonated as a goddess whose mercy alone, it was 


urged, could assuage the pain of troubled hearts. 
We need not enter into the philosophy of this 
faith. It is a solution of the problem of evils, 
arrived at, from a point of view, other than that in 
which a god of evil matches his power against 
a god of good. Being asked how this goddess came 
into existence, Markandeya said that she who 
appears as the phenomena of the Universe is 
eternal, but people trace her origin from that time 
when she first became manifest to the gods. Here The 
the sage gives a mythological story. At one Topical 
time the demon Mahisgsura became so power- story. 
ful that he took possession by force ot the king- 
dom of heaven, driving away Indra its king, 
and the god of death, ol wealth, and of ocean 
who were his associates and officers. Ciest- 
fallen and humiliated they wandered for a time 
on earth, bemoaning their lot, and then went 
to Vaikuntha, with Brahma at their head, and applied 
to Visriu the greatest god ol the Hindu Trinity, 
for help. Vinnu heard the story of the misfortunes 
that had befallen them and anger flashed from 
his brow. Simultaneously on the angry taces ot 
iva and BrahmS, appeared the same terrible 
light. The other gods were also moved by sudden 
anger and from that vast assembly sparks of 
fire arose like a terrible conflagration and ex- 
tended to the farthest limits of the firmament, 
This fire, which appeared as a destructive force, 
gradually gathered itself together and took the 
shape of a goddess resplendent in glory, who stood 
majestically before the mighty host of gods* The 
sparks of godly power from iva created the 
aueen-like majesty of the face of the 


in Chandi. 

The Durga 

those from Yama created her mass of black 
hair winch fell behind her like the clouds. Her 
arms were made by the sparks that immanated from 
Visnu. The Sun god saturated every pore of her 
body with his rays ; her eye-brows were created by 
the power of Sandhya the goddess of evening, and 
her third eye on the forehead which shone fiercely 
was born of the power of Agni god of fire. Earth 
trembled under the feet of this majestic goddess 
and her crown touched the skies. The gods in 
concert chanted her glory. Knsna gave her his 
divine discus, Civa his great trident, Varuria 
his conches, Indra his thunder-bolt and Brahma his 
rosary. Vk;vakarma gave her his axe, a necklace 
and a pair of Nupura. The god of ocean gave her 
a garland of lotuses which never fade. The goddess 
who was thus an outcome of the united power and 
glory of all the gods, challenged Mahisasura to a 
fight, and killed him in the severe contest which 
ensued. In subsequent times when the gods were 
pressed by the demons ambhu and Ni^ambhu, 
she again came to their rescue and killing the 
demonic brothers, restored Indra to his throne. 
Suratha, the king and Samadhi the Vai^ya, after- 
wards obtained their lost possessions by the grace 
of this goddess. This is briefly the tale, as related 
in the Chandi by Majkandeya. Though it gives a 
mythological account, it contains high metaphysical 
truths embodyingin them the essence of the Vedantic 
philosophy. The Durga puj festival, which is held 
with great eclat in Bengal, commemorates the 
victory of Chandi or Durga over Mahisasura. 

Of those who translated 'Chandi' into Bengali 
)ve shall here mention a few, The first qf 


them was Bhavani Prasad Kar, a Vaidya by caste 
who lived in the earlier part of the i6th Century. 
Here are a few lines from the long autobiographi- 
cal account that he gives of himself. 

" I was born in a Vaidya family of Kahthalia 
(in the district of Myrnenbing). I have attempted 
to compose this poem in honour of DurgS (Chandi). 
She has made me miserable from my birth. Pro- 
vidence did not grant me eyes. I have taken 
refuge at the feet of Durga, having no place to stand 
on in 'his world."* 

After having described his domestic troubles 
chiefly brought about by the wickedness of his 
nephew, he says, " I was born in the Kar family of 
Kahthalia. My father's name is Nayan Krisna 
Kar. God created me without eyes. So I do not 
know the alphabet and cannot write. "t 

His translation of Chandi is very close to the 
text, a novel feature in a work of this class, for 
which we ought to be thankful to the blind poet, 
but as he did not know how to read or write, and 

tft ^rtft 

The tran- 
slators of 



the blind 



Defect in 

The subli- 
mity of 
the classi- 
cal poem 

had to depend upon his ear, to acquire the art of 
poetical composition, his rhyming is not faultless. 
There is a nice distinction between ma and n, ta 
and tha, and ta and da in Bengali which at once 
strikes the eye when looking over a written page 
but which we often miss in the spoken form of the 
language Thus poor Bhavani Prasad's poem 
displays faults which in his case were almost 
unavoidable , yet his work is creditable notwith- 
standing these drawbacks, and though he is 
not a blind Homer or a blind Milton of Bengal, 
yet he is our blind Bhavani Prasad for aught he is 
worth, and deserves our praise We quote below 
a passage from his translation to shew how the blind 
poet often retained the sublimity of the classi- 
cal poem by the very unassuming simplicity ol 
his style which closly immitated the original. 

u Thou, O Goddess, that dwellest in all, manifest- 
ing thyself in the intelligence of the created beings, 
a hundred times do I salute Thee. 

"Thou that dwellest in the hearts ol all main- 
testing Thyself in human kindness, a hundred times 
do I salute Thee. 

11 Thou that revealest Thyselt in all pervading 
motherly love, a hundred times do I salute Thee.* 





Born 1597 


The next writer who translated ' Chandl' was 
Rupanarayan Gho?a a Kayastha. Rupanarayan 
was born about the year 1597 A. D. He was a 
native of Amdala in the sub-division of Manikganj 
in the district of Dacca. lie was well-versed in 
the Sanskrit classics but did not closely follow 
the text. He showed his erudition and poetical 
powers by importing poetical ideas from vaiious 
Sanskrit poems into his translation to which he also 
added passages from his own fancy. 

We next came across Chandi by Vrajalal. Judg- 
ing by the Unguage, it appears that this poem was 
written about the same time as Rupnarayan's. But 
the next work on Chandl by Yadu Nath displays a JaUun&th 
far greater power than most of the preceding works 
of this class. Yadu Nath was born in arkhabarl on 
the river Ghagat in Perg. Andlui (Police Station, 
Mithapur) in the district of Rangpur. His work was 
written in the Utter part of the i yth century. We 
quote a passage from the poem in which he describes 
the union of iva and Uma who are so blended as 
to form one figure. This figure is known in Hindu 
mythology as Ardhanarl^vara. Bengali poets and 
painters alike have applied their talent to the 
representation of this figure which seems to have 
a peculiar charm for them. There are three figures 
in our pantheon which illustrate such a blending: (i) 
iva and Uma, (2) iva and Vishu, (3) Krisna and 
Radha. We quote from Yadunath to illustrate the 
first, and from Ka9idasto shew the second. 

"My life has to-day been made blessed by seeing 
ivaand Uma united in a single form. On onesideare 
beautiful black locks and on the other a thick array 



of loosely hanging matted hair. On half the breast 
hangs a garland of heavenly Parijat flowers, on 
the other half, beads of Rudrak?a strung together to 
from a rosary. The left half of the figure is scented 
with rich sandal perfumes, and the right half is 
covered with the dust of the funeral gro\ind. On the 
left half the finest apparel appears whose colour 
shines like the sun and on the other a tiger's skin 
brought from the forests ! Uma and iva blended 
in one. To the feet of both Yadunath offers his 
humble worship in the cadence of Goura Sarang."* 
This image carries a mystic significance amongst 
enlightened aivas. The form of Uma represents 
the fineness and delicacy of earthly life and that of 
Life and C* va ' ^ e gnmness of death. Here, as in the actual 
world, life and death are united ; from the smiles 
of youth the wrinkles of age are inseparable, 
the flower that blooms and the flower that fades 

cffi forrftra 





appear on the same bough. This embrace of 
life by death is a common phenomenon, and thq 
Hindu devotee does not see in it anything to strike 
terror to his heart or make him sad He takes it as 
a fact of the immutable law of nature and views it 
with a feeling of reverence which inspires his songs 
with poetry. 

The next figure of this sort is that of iva and iv % 
Visnu. Visfm here is the God of glory of power 
and of life, and Qiva that of death. They are united 
in one image.* 

44 They merged one in the other and became uni- 
ted in one form. Half the body was covered with 
ashes and the other half with sweet scented Kasturi. 
From one half the head hung matted locks, and 
from the other flowing curls of finest hair. Over 
one half the head, the serpent hissed, the other was 
illumined by a glorious crown. On half the brow 



appeared the sweet-scented print of the Kasturi 
and on the other blazed flames of fire. Half the 
neck was wreathed with flowers, about the other 
half, hungr bones. From one ear hung the pen- 
dant*? and the glorious earing bearing the emblem 
of Makara, and from the other small serpents, 
coiling into the form of a ring. On half the neck- 
there was the brilliant diamond Kaustuva and on the 
other the blue mark of poison. Half the figure 
scented with sandal perfumes and the other half 
covered with the dust of the funeral ground. From 
half the body hung a loose tiger's skin and the 
other half was apparelled in rich purple. On 
one of the feet was the sweet sounding Nupura 
and on the other a ring of serpents Two hands 
held conch and discus and the other two the 
trident and the Dumbura." 

Here also the world is emblemed in a highly 
poetic language and in a manner which appeals 
seriously to the Hindu mind. The sublime and 
the beautiful in nature, the elegance and glory of 
life, pass into the desolation of the cremation- 
ground. This figure is sacred amongst Hindus as 
embodying the facts of life without ignoring those 
of death, and both are placed side by side in their 
natural harmony, instead of that grim contrast in 
which they are generally regarded elsewhere. 

The union Another significant point in the conception of 

f cults 0118 this blendin S of the deities is that it could only be 
possible when the various sects of the Hindus the 
nivas, the Cfiktas and the Vai?navas were so far 
reconciled as to accept one another's ideal in 













Chandl by 

1717 A.D. 


It should be said that the description of Ardha- 
naricwar given from the peom of Yadunath does 
not occur in the original Chandl by the sage 

The next translation ol Chandl was irom tho 
pen of Kamalanarayana, a son of Yadunath. This 
poem contains many passages which are truly 
poetic. It was written about the year 1717. The 
Mahammadan Governor of Bengal to whom he 
refers in his book was piobably Saha Suja, son of the 
Mogal Emperor Saha Jahan. 

The translations of other works such as Fadma- 
vata by Alaol and Gitagovinda by Rasamaya cind 
Giridhar, do not fall within the scope of the Pauranit 
Renaissance, so we shall refer to them in a future- 

The writers ol the works, dealt v\ith in this 
chapter, did not, as I have already said, proceed on 
the plrin of literal translation , that would have given 
them only a literary interest. The translations were 
reproductions ol ancient ideas with modem accre- 
tion of thought, meant to act as a living lorce for 
the education and ennoblement of the people, the 
element of philosophical interpretation was 'an in- 
novation which gave them a stamp of originality 
peculiar to the Bengali genius. 

3. The conception of iva in the Renaissance 

Songs in honour of him. 

The later torm of Caiva-literature contains the The later 
r i i j aiva-liter. 

leading characteristics of the Renaissance period, ature. 

though it lost a good deal of its importance as the 
songb of Civa no longer formed the main tneme oi 

with origi- 


upon their 

Bengali songs. We require to write in some detail 
how aivism was gradually pushed into a corner 
by the advancing Sakta cult. 

The inertness ol iva in old Bengali poems is 
very well-marked. Ciiandi in that literature is an 
extremely active deity; so is Manasa Devi, and all 
those other divinities in whose honour poems were 
composed in old Bengali. These Gods and Goddrss- 
es would not have borne to see a tear in the eyes of 
their worshippers ; whenever they fall into danger 
they are sure to obtain succour. A Chandi, a Manasa 
Devi, even a itala or a batyanara)ana is always 
devising plans as to how a devotee may be rescued 
from danger, how scoilers may be put down or ho\v 
the earthly prosperity ot believers may be increased. 
But iva the Great God is meit and immovable. 
In the poem of Chandi, Dhanapati Sadagara is 
exposed to all imaginable dangers ; he is thrown 
into a gloomy dungeon, where a stone, heavy 
enough to crush the strongest man is placed on his 
person. At the moment when his sufferings are the 
greatest, Chandi appears to him and calls upon him 
to have faith in her, promising him great iev\aid. 
Dhanapati replies " Even though in this dungeon 
my hie goes out, I will not worship any other deity 
than Civa. 1 '* In Mana^sr BhSsSna we find Chand 
Sadggara put through the most harrowing trials be- 
cause he will not worship Manasa Devi. Yet he re- 
mains firm in his devotion to iva. " I will not de- 
file the hand with which I \\oiship iva by offering 
worship to Mana&a Devi, that goddess who is blind 


Kavi Kankan 


of one eye."* be said in great contempt when he 
was offered prosperity and happiness piovided he 
agreed to worship Manasa Devi. King Chandra- 
Ketu in ltalsmangal, inspite of his great troubles 
would not worship Qitala Devi and remained true 
to iva. But what do the followers of iva gain as 
the reward for their heroic devotion to his cause ! 
The great (Jiva passive and inert, care* not for the 
sufferings of his followers. So it is no wonder 
that the followers of other deities who lavished 
favour upon the believers and undertook to destroy 
their enemies and confer wealth and piosperuy 
without being asked, inci eased daily in number, till 
the poems in honour ot (^iva, though forming a 
part ol the earliest literature oi Bengal, were 
gradually overshadowed by larger and mote poetic 
compositions in honour ot Manama Devi, Chanui 
and Satyanarayana. 

The Muhammadans with their vigorous living 
faith, had by this time come to Bengal. Their 
Koran which they believed to be inspired, lays it 
down that the God of Islam helps believers and 
destroys unbelievers. The stiong belief ot Isla.n in 
a personal God had to be counteracted in this 
country by forms of religion in which the personal 
element of divinity predominated. So the akta. 
and the Vaisnava religions flouilshed and the (^aiva 
religion with its irnpeisonal ideal and mysticism in 
which man rose to the level of his God in the 
Advaitabada, was gradually thrown into the batk- 

While Civ 
is indiffet 
ent to his 


attire goes 

to the back 


The Strug 

ter act 

Islamite in 
and the 
ment of 

the akta 
and Vais. 

nava cults 




ground, as the masses did not comprehend its 
speculative ieatures. 

The enlightened aivas attempted to reach a 
stage where the human soul is said to become so 
Caivaism. elevated as to be identical with the divine spirit, 
ftc^fcs I*fC^K> 1 am iva, 1 arn (^iva, was uttered 
by the great propounder of the aiva cult n 
ankarachar)ya in the yth century, and his tol- 
lowers tried to imitate him. 

^iva represents, in the eyes ol the enlightened, 
a spiritual principle, which to use a philosophical 
expression, may be called the noumenon. 'Ihe 
iva f ntl phenomenal world is attributed to akti the 
goddess Chandi, of whom I have already spoken 
akti is ever- active, creating the never-ceasing 
illusions of the visible universe All that we see 
around, is produced by ukti, \vho acts upon our 
senses and causes our sorrows and pleasures. But 
iva is inactive passionless, feelingless, unknown 
and unknowable, nirguna or without qualities. 
Yet akti could not produce the visible, ever- 
changing fornib oi this universe without coming 
in touch with iva, the noumenon or the permanent 
principle. To the shifting phenomena of the world 
to ourcvcrchanging visible environment, iva gives 
a permanence , so that when one spring is over, 
its permanent principle, worked by dku, brings on 
a new spring in the place of the old, the blooming 
flower in the place of the faded one iva, then, 
is the great bridge that connects the lost with the 
found, the universe that changes with the universe 
that is unchanging. The Puranas represent the 
figure ofivaas lying like a corpse on which dances 
Cakti or Kali in destructive ecstacy One of her 


four hands holds the severed head of a demon, the 
other a sword, implying the punishment of sin, hut 
the third is stretched out in the act of giving a 
boon and the fourth offers benediction. The last 
two indicate her protection of those who resign 
themselves to her care. 

This world, ever-moving towards destruction, is 
symbolised in Cakti , but she gives hope also that 
the virtuous will be saved. Beyond the sphere of 
virtue and vice, of pleasure and pain, is the perma- 
nent principle of the spiritual world iva who is 
immovable representing Eternity in the midst of all 
that shifts. The Yogis who try to attain a stage 
where pleasure does not please and sorrow does not 
cause pain, aim at the spiritual condition of iva. 
Thus they arrive at the permanent and abiding 
principle, and are not subject to the joys and pains 
that flesh is heir to At this stage one may sav that 
he is one with the divine spirit or ffFJfif* f*ft?T*t 
(I am Qiva, I am iva N 

The noble qualities of iva to which we alluded 
in a previous chapter, acted on the multitude as a 
great attraction, but gradually as this religion took 
a subtle and mystic form, it grew unintelligible to ' rhe 
the masses. Let us here deal with its popular Caivism. 
aspects as they are found in our old literature 

We referred, in a previous chapter, to the songs 
of iva iva according to popular notions, divest- 
ed of all glory, sunk into a peasant, a beggar and a 
Ganja smoker. He drank Siddhi and ate the fruit 
of the Dhutura. An agricultural character jj was 
attributed to him by those rustic bards who com- 
posed the pastoral songs. The Paursfiik conception 


of iva as a Bhiksu, probably borrowed from the 
Buddhistic idea of renunciation, degenerated 
amongst the masse*?, and the Great God was reduced 
to the level of a beggar. The mythology, that 
narrated the story of iva, swallowing poison to 
sants. protect the universe from destruction, lent credulity 
to the story of his taking profuse doses of Siddhi 
and Dhutura, thus the peasants of Bengal gave 
Addicted to a form to the Great God that mirrored the condition 

f tlieir own life ' Rut Ilis Ofl ifying character was 
not altogether lost, in this humble delineation. In- 
difference to the woild, and an ever contented dis- 
position, not ruffled by circumstances, befitting a 
Yogi, could yet be discovered in the character 
given him by the rustic poets 

But Bengali literature gradually grew more 
refined as it attracted the notice of scholars ; and 
iva as represented in the popular compositions, 
could no longer satisfy the enlightened taste of the 
multitudes who listened to the <aiva songs. These 
songs fell into popular disfavour as the elements of 
the personal God were found more or less wanting 
in Civa, and only a few writers, latterly, took up 
the subject for poetry The character that had been 
attributed to <^iva by the people in the days of 
Buddhistic degeneracy, was still retained in these 
The new songs, but a new element was introduced into them, 
fn (Jalva which served as an attraction to the rising genera- 
literature, tions inspired by the superior ideals of the Paurfinik 

The domestic element is prominent in the later 

^patriarch* son g s on iva In them ht ' P la ^ s the role of the 
of a family, patriarch of a family, where Kgrtika and Ganea 

his sons, Laksmi and Saraswati his daughters, 


Nandi and Bhringi his savage-servants, and above 
all Uma, his devoted wife, figure conspicuously. 
Uma was married to iva when she was merely 
a child. She was the daughter of Mount Himavata, 
who gave her to iva, in his old age owing to 
the pleading and intercession of Narada. The 
poets who wrote on the subject of this marriage 
had before them the scenes of a Bengali home. In 
such homes girls of a very tender age, were occa- 
sionally given in marriage to old men and the 
situation created pathos too deep for expression. 
Uma, a girl of eight, was married to the old iva 
who was a beggar, hopelessly addicted to intoxi- 
cating drugs and so poor, that he could not give a 
pair of shell-bracelets to his bride. There are 
innumerable songs in Bengali, describing the 
pathetic situation. In the month of A^vina (October- 
November) the whole atmosphere of Bengal, 
rings with the Agamani songs, sung by the Vairagis 
which describe the meeting of Uma with her mother ; 
and there is no Bengali to whom they do not 
appeal most tenderly. The domestic scenes of 
Bengal the sorrows of Bengali parents are really 
the themes of the songs, though they profess to deal 
with mythological subjects, which bear a realistic 
interest, full of deep pathos There the queen of 
Himavata in the month of A^vina, says to her lord 
(t Go thou and bring my Uma, I know not 
how she fares in Kailasa without me. I heard from 
Narada that she wept and cried 'o mother, o mother.' 
iva takes profuse quantity of Bhahg and Siddhi ; 
he loses his senses under their influence, and rebukes 
Uma for no fault of hers. iva has sold all the 
clothes and valuable ornaments that you gave Uma 

3 1 * 

The Joys 
and sor- 
rows of 
under a 
cal garb. 
The Aga- 


to purchase intoxicating drugs."* In another song 
the queen of Himavata says <k O Lord of the moun- 
tains, my Uma came to me in a dream and when my 
heart swelled with joy at the meeting, she disap- 
peared. Alas ! how cruel is she to her mother ! then I 
felt that it is no fault of hers, O mountain, she is a 
true daughter of thce to inherit that heart of 
stone/'t In another, when Uma grew older and 
gave birth to Kattika and Gane^a the queen 
says, ' O Himavata, all that you said about my 
Uma, has pierced my heart as with a sword. My 
poor Gahe^a, you said, was crying and going 
from door to door in hunger, and Ksrtika, my 
darling, when almost starved fell on the dusty earth 

* " ^8 Tte ftft 
^tft Wlflf 2HW 


^ fa 

I" Old song. 

t (< f?ft? cftfi ^TTO ^Pifipr, ^iw owl fror, 


inn mft T^ttms n 
C?TT Crests i 
fr^ crtm cror ^TTT% ^^ if oia song. 


and cried for food."* Yet Uma was the daughter of 
a king. The household of iva a scene of extreme 
indigence is painted in contrast with that of king 
Himavata and the sorrows of the queen who was 
in affluence herself, at the recollection of Uma's 
sufferings and those of her sons, find expres- 
sion in the old songs which at once appeal 
to the heart. Innumerable songs of this class 
are sung every year in Bengal by the profes- 
sional singers who visit almost every house in the 
month of A^vina ; and where is the heart so hard 
that it can refrain from tears, while hearing them. 
The girls here, of too tender an age to play the 
wife, 3,i'Q often taken away from the custody of 
parent^. With veils over their faces they have to 
stay in their husband's home, speak in whispers and 
subject themselves to the painful discipline of the 
daughter-in-law. At an age when they should skip 
and bound like wild deer, these tender beings have 
to live in a home to which as yet they are strangers, 
subject to possible censure at every step, and cut 
off from their parents and playmates. When the 
AgamanI songs, describing the sorrows of Menaka 
the queen of Himabata and of Um3, her daughter 
are sung by professional singers, the eyes of 
many a child-wife glisten behind her veil, and 
the hearts of their mothers cry out for the daughters 
who have been taken away from them, The 
flower falls to the ground in showers 


Old song. 


Song dur- 
ing the 
Fuji time 

in the 
month of 

for $iva. 
The cha- 
racter of a 
Yogi re- 
tained in 
the songs. 

under the clear autumnal sky of Bengal and the 
breeze blows softly in the season of these songs. 
The singers generally have an Ekatara or one- 
stringed lute with them, which chimes in well with 
their plaintive voice in the modulation of grief. 
The month of A^vina, in the eyes of every Hindu, 
is inseparably associated with these songs even as 
it is with the ephslika flower and the clear sky of 
autumn. During the Pujas which take place in 
this month, friends and relations meet in Bengali 
homes, the joyful tears of many a mother are 
mingled with her daughters' while they narrate to 
one another, ho\v the bitter days of separation were 
passed. The pictures, drawn by our village-painters 
are pleasant to us on account of many delicate asso- 
ciations. In them the queen Menaka stands with 
arms out-stretched, and Uma comes to her with her 
sons and daughters the scene suggesting the suffer- 
ings of the whole year. But old iva, it must be 
remembered, is the Great God. He can, at his will, 
assume a young and handsome appearance and 
Uma, inspite of her yearnings to meet her mother, 
is a devoted wife. iva, beggar and eater of 
intoxicating drugs though he is, is tenderly devoted 
to Uma. He cannot bear separation from her. 
When she goes to her father's house, there in the 
picture, the Great God follows her above, through 
the skies, with looks indicating immeasurable love 
and tenderness, and in the Agamani songs, rever- 
ence is not wanting for iva inspite of the humble 
characteristics attributed to him. Here is a song 
in which queen Menaka says : 

" O Hirnavata, I have this desire in my heart. 
Let me bring my daughter with my son-in-law and 


give them a home in this mountainous region. He 
will be here my adopted son, and this moun- 
tain, capital of ours will be a second Kailasa (the 
abode of iva). I shall see my Uma and iva for 
all the twelve months of the year and the pain of my 
heart will be assuaged. My son-in-law is ever con- 
tented. It is so easy to please him ! If I offer him 
the flower Kunda and leaves of Bel, he will make 
this place his home and will not wish to go away."* 

Yet every one kno\\s, while hearing or singing 
such songs, that iva cannot be bound to any 
earthly object He is addicted to nothing , it is his 
compassion, that people mistake for love. He 
cares not for either raiment or food, his content- 
ment springs from within. He is absorbed in 
contemplation, he is immaculate and above all 
desire. Uma tries to bind him by a thousand ties 
of affection But home and the funeral ground to 
him arc alike he aims at the superior delight which 
is derived from Yoga. 

* " ftfir 

1WW I 

II" Old song. 


Uma the 

A passage 
from Ra- 

The domestic element in the descriptions of 
Civa, lends a charm to iva-songs in Bengali. Um 
in Kailasa plays the housewife, the perfect prototype 
of the Hindu wife, ever accustomed to patient and 
strenuous sell-denial and labour, cheerfully borne 
for the sake of others. Her highest delight lies in 
distributing food to her husband, children and ser- 
vants. She herself eats nothing till everyone in the 
house, nay every guest has been satisfied ; but this 
pleasure of serving others while fasting herself 
invests her with a heavenly charm, which is 
indicated in the following passage quoted from 
CivSyana by Rame^vara . * 

ttfa 9 ItPT 
^ ^^ fiR! 

CWifa 1W I! 

fWH c^^a TO >w n 


" With his two sons iva sits down to dine. 
Three sit to eat and Uma serves food to them. As 
soon as she has served food, the plates are emptied 
and they look into the cooking pot. Padmavati 
(the maid of Uma) observes ho\\ eagerlv Civa 
eats and smiles. Sukta (the first curry) is finished 
and they fall upon broth Meantime the plates 
are all emptied of rice and they all want more 
" Mother '" says Kartika, "Give us rice" and 
Ganeca also repeats the request, \\hile the Lord of 
Destruction (iva) says " Oh Uma bring more 
rice." Uma says to her sons, "My darlings, be 
patient Gahea becomes silent at these words of 
his mother but iva suggests a joke to Kartika who 
says 'Our father and mother are Raksasas. We 
know only how to eat and know not how to be 
patient.' Uma smiles and distributes rice. Ganeca 
says 4 1 have finished my curry, what more have you 
in store ?' Hastily she comes and serves ten different 
kinds of fried food. iva is much pleased and 
praises her for her good cooking. The fried 
Dhutara fruit and cups of Siddhi are given to the 
Great God and he nods his head in approval as he 
sips. When all the curries are finished, they all call 
at the same time for more ; Uma comes hastily to 
fill their plates and the wind play-fully catches her 





A prayer 
for shell- 
and the 

Poems In 



draperies. The musical Nupura tinkles sweetly on 
her feet as she goes rapidly to and fro and her brace- 
lets sound in harmony with them. She finds it 
hard to serve so many. The drops of sweat look 
like pearls on her beautiful face. As a skilful dancing 
girl moves gracefully to the sound of the musical 
instruments, so does Um move briskly about 
while serving food to her lord and children, She 
next serves Payasa (pudding) of pleasant flavour, 
and then a sauce both sweet and sour. Her hair 
becomes dishevelled, and her dress grows loose 
With sweetmeats of milk and rice, the dinner ends. 

The domestic element again becomes pathetic 
in the description of Uma's wanting a pair of 
shell-bracelets fiom her husband. Her lord says 
that he is too poor to give them and a quarrel ensues, 
the sequel of which is that Urns sets out in anger 
for her father's home. iva then disguises himself 
as a bracelet-maker and goes to his father-in-law's 
house. There, with tears and begging of forgiveness 
on both sides, the devoted pair are reconciled and 
once more brought together. 

A considerable part of the unya Purana, to 
which we have already referred, consists of songs 
about Civa and these dating from the ninth century 
or thereabout form the oldest specimens of aiva- 
literature that we possess. Of other poems in 
honour of this god, which have come down to us, we 
notice some below 

<?R fror i 

frow fan 

en n" 


(2) iv5yana by Ram Kri$na, a voluminous 

(3) Mriga Byadha Sarhvada by Ram Raj. 

(4) Do. by yama Roy. 

(5) Mrigalubdha by Ratiram. (This poet was 
a Brahmin and a native of Surhha Dandi in Chitta- 
gong. He composed the poem in 1674 A. D.) 

(6) iva Chaturdacl by Raghu Rama. 

(7) Vaidyanath Mangala by ankara Kavi 
Chandra, composed in the I7th century. 

(8) ivayana by Ramecvara. This is a volu- 
minous work and was written about 1750 A. D. 
Ramecvara was appointed by Raja Yacovanta 
Simha of Karnagada to write his ivayana. It 
enjoys great popularity. The poet was a native 
of Yadupur near the police station of Ghatal in the 
district of Midnapur where a zemindar named 
Hemayata Siriiha oppressed him so greatly that he 
was obliged to leave his ancestral home and settle 
at Karnagada in the same district. Ramecvara 
belonged to the Radhiya Brahmin class. His 
father was one Laksmana Chakravarty and his 
mother's name was Ropavatl 

Of all the poems in honour of iva this 
Civayana by Ramecvara enjoys the greatest popu- 
larity. It was published by the Vangavashi Press 
of Calcutta some years ago, and a portion of it, 
called Vagdinir Pa la, is re-issued from the Battala 
presses every year, a large number of copies being 
bought by the common people. 

Though the number of poems dealing with 
Civa exclusively is comparatively small, yet 
there are many others which treat of his marriage 



tions of 
Civa and 
UrnS in 

God as 

The great 




and Mahis. 

with Uma and their domestic life in detail. Such 
incidental descriptions of iva and Uma are 
found in all the Chandi Mangalas, in the Ramayana 
by Krittivasa, in the Manasa Mangala by Vijay 
Gupta, and in many other old Bengali poems in 
which they might he least expected. This of course 
shows that they are relatively older. 

4. The Sakta-cult and Us development in Bengal. 

The idea of the femininity of God may have 
been characteristic of primitive Asiatic races of 
Mongolians and Dravidians in particular, whose 
civilization, according to some scholars, preceded 
that of the Aryans. In the Vedas which represent 
the pure creed of the Indo-Aryans before it had any 
admixture of the religion of the primitive races of 
India, -we do not rind any pronounced worship of 
god as mother. But the whole country was full of 
such worship and the Aiyan settlers had erelong 
to recognise and adopt it. We find in ihe Tantras 
that some forms of the Sakta-cult were imported in- 
to the religious system of the Aryans from China."* 

The great war between Chandi and MahisasQr is 
said to have occurred in the earliest part of the Satya- 
Yuga. The Hindus thus give it a date anterior to 
any event related in their own history, though there 
is no mention of this war in the Vedas. This fact 
is suggestive of the origin of the worship of the 
mother in a very primitive age and the non-mention 
of it in their earliest literature the Yedas, only 
leads to the hypothesis, that it did not originally 
interest the Aryans. 

*- In the Rudra-Yamala and other Hindu Tantras. 


But the Aryans could not help adopting this 
creed in their religious worship after they had 
settled in the country for some time, because it had 
such a wide-spread influence and also because by 
its great tenderness, this faith is, religiously ex- 
tremely attractive. When the Sakta-cult thus came 
to be recognised by the Indo-Aryans, they raised it 
into a highly rrfineel and spiritual faith, Sanskritized 
its vocabulary and Aryanized its modes of worship. 

But this worship took centuries to reach such a 
state Delai Chandl, Lakhai Chancll, Va<;uli, Tha- 
kurani are some of the non-sanskritic names of 
the mother as worshipped in different localities 
which still remind us of the primitive faith of the 
people, before they came in contact with Aryan 
civilization. The worship of the snake-goddess and 
of Chancll once prevailed in all parts of the ancient 
world and recent discoveries made in Crete by 
Dr. Kvans attest that it existed there as early as 
3000 B. C. 

But though akti- worship was recognised early, 
the local divinities in all parts of India could 
not receive similar recognition and homage from 
the Indo-Aryan settlers without a great struggle 
especially as the worship of these deities had much 
in itthat was crude and unfit for admission by Hindus 
into their organised cults. The aivaism which was 
the earlier of the two to become an organized creed, 
had great light with the creed of the people believing 
in various forms of the mother worship. Bengali 
Literature begins, so to speak, with this account of 
a fight between the aivas and the worshippers of 
those local deities who claimed to be akti, but 

f akta cult 
was lat- 
terly re- 

Some of 

the non- 


names of 


The local 
were not 
without a 


whom the worshippers of iva called witches and 
regarded as quite unworthy of worship. At a later 
time the Caiva creed was blended with the akti- 
cult even in its crude local forms, but this could 
not happen before a hard contested fight on either 

This chapter will concern itself with the history 
of such struggle and the gradual elaboration of 
these local cults under the shadow of a clearly 
organised doctrine of the relation between iva 
and akti. 

(a) Poems in honour of Manasa Devi. 

In Chaitanya Bhagavata, a work written in 1536, 
we find it mentioned that many people at the time 
took pride in worshipping Manasa Devi, the snake- 
goddess. The songs in honour of this deity may 
be traced back, as I have said, to a very early 
period and they have a wide circulation all over 
Bengal, especially in the East where the earliest 
writer of these songs, Hari Datta lived. The great 
respect, commanded by this deity in the lower 
Gangetic valley, Ls not difficult to explain. The 
plains of Bengal, especially the portions adjoining 
the sea, are infested with snakes, and deaths from 
snake-bite during the rainy season become so com- 
mon as to cause considerable alarm to the people. 
The cottages of the poor villagers, offer no protection 
to them from the venomous enemy and when the 
T . floods come upon the mud-hovels and thatched 

of snakes, roofs, snakes and other venomous reptiles take 
shelter there, and are not infrequently discovered 
hidden in beds or coiled up in pitchers and other 
household utensils. The poor people have no 


means of cutting down the jungles and keeping the 
village-paths clear. In their utter helplessness they 
are driven to take refuge in God. The God of the 
snakes is also the God of men and by propitiating 
him they hope to avert the danger with which 
unaided they cannot cope. A consolation comes 
to them surely when thus resigned to His mercy. 

The goddess Manasa Devi who represent^ the 
divine power as seen in snakes has been a popular 
deity from very early times, but before her worship 
was recognised as a form of akti-worship, the 
followers of the aiva-religion offered a great 
resistance to it, as indeed they did to the worship f 
of all other local deities of the later akta-cult. 
The history of the struggle of the aivas with the 
worshippers of akti, which was long protracted, 
is shrouded in the dark past. The flowers offered 
to akti, as Agoka and Java for instance, are not 
acceptable to the great Civa even now when that 
strife is over. The heroic firmness with which Chand 
Sadagara, Dhanapati Sadagara and other followers 
of Civa adhered to their faith and offered resistance 
to the spread of the worship of the local deities of the 
Sakta-cult, found in our old poems, opens a vista 
through which we have a glimpse of the struggle, 
which at one time split the whole Hindu community 
of Bengal. 

There is much that is crude in the poems on 
Manasa Devi and those on Chandl. This, however, 
proves that they once formed a part of the popular 
literature of the country before the people had 
come in contact with the refined classical taste 
of the Renaissance, The readers will have patiently 

Local dei- 
ties recog- 
nised in 
the akta- 
after a 
fight with 




element in 

the divi- 



to go through the manoeuvres and plots formed 
by the deities that would often appear undigni- 
fied and unworthy on their part. The propa- 
ganda of the akta-cult however was to restore 
faith in a personal divinity in the place of the 
impersonal iva. All through these poems one is 
sure to find the mother's heart in the divinities, 
eager to stretch out protecting hands to those 
children that cling to them. Into whatever danger 
a believer may fall, he cries out for the motherly 
help of the divinity whom he worships in a patient 
and prayerful spirit, and she is sure to appear to 
him with anxious solicitude to protect him. In- 
stances of this personal element in the deities are 
to be found throughout the vast literature of the 
Saktas The characters of (^rimanta and Kalketu 
in Chandi Ksvya, of Sundara in Vidya Sundara, of 
Lau Sen in Dharma Mangal, as recast by the Hindu 
preists, and of Behula in Manasa Mangal, have 
been all depicted as attaining great success in life 
by force of their devotion alone. When all 
resources failed and the great characters were 
reduced to utmost straits some of them being 
doomed to die on the scaffold, they fixed their whole 
heart on the mother and solicited divine help with 
tearful eyes, despairing of saving themselves by 
their own power, and the mother was sure to come 
to her devotees stretching out the hand of succour. 

Chauti^a* One of the familiar ways adopted by the old 

Bengali poets in describing such mystic situations 
was to put in the mouth of a devotee a hymn ad- 
dressed to her by namqs beginning with each of the 
thirty-four letters of the Bengali alphabet. The 


gods and goddesses in our mythology are often 
known to their worshippers by hundreds of names 
and these hymns addressed with 34 names, of 
which there is quite a legion in our literature, are 
called Chauti^a (lit 34) 

This idea of a personal divinity as contrasted 
with that of the impersonal iva is the predomi- 
nant feature in the literature of the Cakta cult. 

-o :- 

In the month of ravana (July-August) the 
villages of Lower Bengal present a unique scene. 
This is the time when Manasa Devi is worshipped. 
Hundreds of men in Sylhet, Backergunge and 
other districts throng to the river side or to the 
temples to recite the songs of Behula. The vigorous 
boat-racos attending the festivity and the enthu- 
siasm that characterises the recitation of these songs 
cannot but strike an observer with an idea of their 
vast influence over the masses. There are some- 
times a hundread oars in each of the long narrow 
boats, the rowers singing in loud chorus as they pull 
them with all their might. The boats move with 
the speed of an arrow, even flying past the 
river-steamers. These festivities of Manasa Puja 
sometimes occupy a whole month, during which 
men keep vigil and recite the songs before the 
goddess, and are generally known as Bhasan Yatra. The 
The wonderful devotion of Behula to her 
husband is the theme of these songs ; and a 
vast poetic literature has sprung up in Bengal 
during the last thousand years in commemoration 
of the events of her life and that of Chand-sadagara 


and towns 
tion with 
the charac- 
ters of 

who offered defiance to Manasa Devi for long 
years, yet ultimately was driven by strange cir- 
cumstances to worship her. How wide-spread is 
the popularity of these songs in Bengal may be 
imagined from the fact that the birth-place of Chgnd- 
Sadagara is claimed by no less than nine districts, 
all equally proud of the hero of the Manasa Mangal. 
It reminds us of the seven cities which disputed the 
honour of Homer's birth. I may name here some of 
the places that claim a connection in one shape or 
another with the chief characters of Manasa- 

(1) Champaka Nagara said to have been the 
capital of Chand Sadagara, in the district of 
Burdwan and close to Champaka Nagara is a small 
river which is called Behula, after the reputed 
heroine of Manasa Mangala. 

(2) Champaka Nagara in Tippera. 

(3) Dhubri in Assam. People here believe that 
Chand was a resident of the place 

(4) Mahasthana in the district of Bogra. 

(5) The people of Darjeeling believe that the 
t scene of the Manasa Mangal was laid on the 
r banks of the river Ranit close by. 

(6) Sanaka Gram near Kanfa Nagar in the dis- 
trict of Dinajpur ; Sanaka was the queen of Chand 
Sadagara and Sanaka Nagar is believed to have 
been named after her. 

(7) Champai Nagar in the District of Maldah. 

(8) The Mela (exhibition) held in honour of 
Behula in the District of Birbhum is said to have 
originated during Behula 's life-time, 


(9) In Chittagong, there is a spot pointed out 
as the site of the house of Kalukamar the builder 
of a steel house for Laksmindara, and there is 
besides a tank in the place which bears the name 
of Chand Sadagara 

We give here the story of Manasa Devi 

- o 

It was ordained by the great god C^iva that 
unless and until Chand Sadagar, the merchant- 
king of Champaka Nagar, worshipped Manasa Devi, 
her claims to obtain puja amongst mortals would 
not be recognised. 

At first she tiied by gentle persuasion to prevail 
upon Chand Sadagar to worship her, but the hero 
of the poems lent a deaf ear to her words. He 
carried in his hand a huge stick made of kintal 
wood and with it he tried, several times, to assault 
the goddess. The god whom Chand worshipped was 
the great iva. Could he brook the idea of offer- 
ing flowers at the feet of the deity who merely pre- 
sided over snakes ? He hated her from the bottom 
oi his heart and called her ill names 

The wrath of the goddess of snakes knew no 
bounds at this defiant attitude. She determined to 
revenge herself by some means, fair or foul. 

Chanel had made a beautiful garden outside the 
city, which was called " Guabari." He had spent 
many lakhs of rupees in making it an earthly para- 
dise. Now Manasa Devi commanded her retinue 
of serpents to destroy this fair 'garden by their 
venomous bites. They did so ; and lo ! this elysium 


The story 

of Manasa 





The garden 


The loss 

of Maha- 


of Chfind, so rich in fruit and flowers, was reduced 
to smoke. The guards in great consternation went 
to Chsnd and acquainted him with the fate of his 
far-famed Gubari. Chand came to the spot and 

To the wonder of all, there present, he uttered 
some mantras and the garden revived, wearing 
the fresh hues of its original verdure. 

Manasa Devi's plot was thus toiled by ChSnd, 
who possessed Maha Jnan'A power bestowed by 
iva, by which lie could give life to the dead and 
revive all that was destroyed 

It was useless for the goddess to try other 
experiments. She felt that so long as Chand pos- 
sessed this power he was practically invincible. 

She now appeared before the merchant in the 
guise of a youthful maiden. The poets who com- 
posed the songs have vied with one another in 
describing the beauty of this celestial maiden. 
Earthly beauty was as nothing compared to hers ; 
even the moon sank behind the clouds in shame, 
being smitten by the superior light that emanated 
from the face of this exquisite creature. Chsnd 
fell in love with her at first sight, but the fair 
maiden would not listen to any proposals from him 
unless he dispensed with his Maha Jnan and bes- 
towed that power on her. The infatuated merchant, 
not suspecting that she was Manasa Devi in dis- 
guise, agreed to her condition ; when lo ' like a 
shooting star she vanished from the place, and 
appearing in the sky in her own form, related the 
story of her triumph 


Not a whit 

His friend 

conies to 

the rescue. 

But though deprived of his great power, Chand 
was not a whit daunted. 

The next step of Manasa Devi was again to 
destroy the beautiful garden upon which her curse 
had already fallen so ineffectually. 

Chanel Sadagar had an intimate friend in the 
city of Sankoor. He was called Sankoor Gadudia. 
He also possessed Maha Juan and Chand sent a 
messenger forthwith to fetch him to his palace. 
The great physician, for such was his calling, came 
to Champaka Nagar and in a moment restored the 
garden to its original form. 

Manasa Devi's attempts were thus frustrated a 
second time, but her resources were inexhaustible. 
By a contrivance which for ingenuity and diplo- 
macy may be called a great intellectual feat, she 
succeeded in killing Sankoor Gadudia, the physician 
and friend of Chand. 

The latter was now friendless and helpless. 
Manama Devi not only did again destroy the Guabari, 
but the serpents appointed by her also killed one by 
one all his six sons. 

Sanaka, the queen of the merchant-king, fell on 

her knees and implored her husband to put an end T e gr 

to this unequal quarrel , for after all Manasa Devi 

was a goddess and he was a man I 

is killed. 

The terri- 
ble reta- 

The six wives of the deceased sons of Chand Chand 

a sea- 

wore the widow's white sari, wiped away the beau- 
tiful marks of vermilion from their foreheads, broke 
their shell-bracelets and filled the .house with wild 
lamentations. But with a firmness which was more 
than human, he was the more confirmed in his 


The ships 


resolution not to worship Manama Devi. He was, 
however, greatly troubled by the constant wailings 
of the women of his house, and also by the unso- 
licited advice of his friends, who came from distant 
countries to offer him consolation in his distress. 
He resolved to undertake a sea-voyage with the 
intention of escaping for some time from his un- 
congenial surroundings. Seven great ships, headed 
by " Madhukar," the royal vessel, started one fine 
morning for the great sea, and Chand had a \ery 
successful voyage , he went as far as Ceylon, and, 
loading his ships with valuable treasures and 
feeling once more fresh and lively for the change, 
was on his way home, when upon the dark 
waters of the lake Kalidaha, a great storm over- 
took his ships This storm was raised by Manasa 
Devi. The ship "Sea-foam" sank first, next the 
"King's Darling" and then the "Royal Fish" and 
so on, till the six ships were all wrecked in the 
bosom of the lake Kalidaha. But the stalely 
"Madhukar," on board which Chanel was, defied all 
storms and as often as the winds inspired by 
Manama Devi tried to ovei throw it, it struggled and 
rose to the surface of the waters like a playful fish. 

Manasa Devi sought the aid of Hanumgn, the 
great monkey, immortal through all ages, and with 
his aid at last succeeded in upsetting this ship 
also. Chsnd fell into the great lake and was about 
to be drowned. M^nasg Devi would not, however, 
allow the victim of her wrath to perish ; because 
unless she \\as worshipped by him, she could not be 
recognised amongst men. She threw the great lotus 
which formed her own seat down into the lake, and 
it floated near Chand. He was struggling to save 


himself and at the sight of the padma flower, 
stretched out his arms to catch hold of it as a 
support ; but one of the names of Manasa Devi 
was Padma and the flower also bore the same 
name, so he contemptuously turned back, preferring 
death to her aid. But Manasa Devi now appear- 
ed and begged Chsnd to submit to her She would 
in that case pardon him and reward him with all 
that he had lost, including the lives of his six sons. 
But Chand said, he could not defile his hand, re- 
served for the worship of Mahadeva, by ottering 
(lowers to the one-eyed goddess of snakes 

Somehow or other the merchant king escaped 

death, and after three days of severe struggle 

reached the shore. It was the beautiful city of his 

old friend Chandraketu where he touched land. 

Completely stripped of clothes, as he found himself, 

he picked up some rags from the cremation-ground, 

which he warpped round his waist, and straightway 

went to his friend's palace. Chandraketu gave 

him a warm reception, and as the merchant had 

not tasted any food for three days, he at once 

ordered a rich repast to be served to him , he also 

presented him with a valuable attire becoming his 

rank. When the hungry merchant sat down to 

dinner, Chandraketu incidentally remarked that it 

was not well for him to quarrel with Manama Devi, 

and in the course of an animated discussion on the 

point, Chgnd came to learn that Manasa Devi was 

the household deity of Chandraketu, and that there 

was a temple adjoining the palace dedicated to her, 

On this he would not touch any of the food. In a 

fit of rage he threw away the clothes presented 

to him by his friend ; and, wearing his former rags 


death to 


Devi's aid. 

He is 
received by 


teg* from 

door to 




I* dis- 
from the 

down the 
load of 

again, left Cbandraketu's palace, remarking that it 
was a pity he had entered that cursed abode, but 
he did not wish longer to disturb a fool in his para- 
dise. He then begged alms from door to door, 
and when a sufficient quantity of rice and vege- 
tables was collected, went to the river to 
bathe after carefully placing his little store in a 
secure place. But Manasa Devi in the meantime 
sent a large mouse which ate up the* grain and 
vegetables, and Chand on returning had to appease 
his hunger by sv\ allowing raw plantain-skins which 
some children had left by the river-side. He next 
got admittance to a Brahmin's house in the 
capacity of a servant, and his master appointed 
him to reap the harvest in his fields, and pile up 
the grain. But Manasa Devi created a bewilder- 
ment in his brain so that he could not distinguish 
the grain from the chaff, and threw away the for- 
mer and piled up the latter. When the Brahmin, 
his master, saw this, he was very angry and dis- 
missed him at once He next went with the wood- 
men to gather wood from the neighbouring hills. 
He knew the quality of wood better than the wood- 
men. So he collected a large quantity of valuable 
Sandal wood, and was on his way to the market 
with it. At Manama Devi's order, however, Hanu- 
man touched with his toe the load which was being 
carried by Chand. It immediately became so heavy 
that Chand had to throw it down and go empty- 
handed. In this plight, when he was moving about 
the forest like a disconsolate mad man, he could 
not help cursing Manasa Devi. Now, at this moment 
some birds had come near the traps placed there by 
the fowlers to catch them. Being startled by the 


careless steps of the merchant, they flew away. 
The fowlers, in great disappointment, came up to 
Chand, and, taking him for a mischievous knave, 
assaulted him. 

After suffering all imaginable ills at the hands 
of the infuriated Manasa Devi, Chand was able to 
return to Champaka Nagar, to his own great relief 
and to the delight of his queen Sanaka- 

Soon afterwards another son was born to him. 
It was a remarkably handsome child, and they called 
hin Laksmindara or favourite of the goddess of 
wealth. Chand consulted astrologers and they were 
unanimous in declaring to him privately that the 
boy was destined to die on the night of his mar- 
riage-day, by snake-bite. 

Chand had how given up all hopes of worldly 
happiness. Night and day, he worshipped the great 
Mahadeva and prayed for strength to keep up his 
determination. Now Laksmindara, who grew to 
be a most handsome and accomplished prince, came 
of that age when youths of his caste generally mar- 
ried, and the queen Sanaka sought for a suitable 
bride for her son. The family priest, Janardan, 
brought information that in the whole world there 
was not another creature in womanly form so lovely 
and beautiful as Behula the accomplished daughter 
of Saha, the merchant of Nichhani Nagar. Behula's 
face was like a full-blown lotus, her eyes were soft 
and playful as those of a wild gazelle, her hair 
wore the tints of summer clouds and when dis- 
hevelled, fell down her back and reached 
the ankles. She sang like a cuckoo and danced 
better than any dancing-girl in the whole city of 
Champaka Nagar. 

Is assault- 
ed by the 


son born 
to him. 

Doomed to 

die in early 


the accom- 
of Saha, 


The steel 

house on 



The builder 
makes an 

The first 




Chgnd knew that he would lose his dear son 
on the marriage-day yet could not resist the wishes 
of his poor queen. He built a house of steel on 
mount Santali, taking precautions that there uas no 
crevice left in it foi even a pin to pass through. 
The steel-house was guarded h) armed sentinels ; 
u easels and peacocks were let loose all around it 
to kill snakes, should they come into its neighbour- 
hood. All kinds of medicinal herbs which were 
known to be antidotes to snake-poison and the strong 
scent of which would make snakes and reptiles 
shudder and shrink into a corner, were strewn 
round the house, and snake-charmers and phy- 
sicians were assembled there from all parts of the 
world, to guard the place against all species of 
creeping animals. 

Manasa Devi paid a visit to the man who had 
made the steel-house, and asked him to keep an 
opening in it through which a hair might pass. The 
builder said that the house was now complete and 
that he had received wages and rewards from the 
merchant king , how could he again go there and 
make an opening? The goddess threatened to kill 
him and all the members of his family on the spot. 
So he obeyed. He went back to mount Santali on the 
pretext of inspecting the building more thoroughly 
and with a few stiokes of his chisel made a small 
opening, which he filled up with powdered coal. 

When Laksmindara was about to set out with the 
nuptial party for marriage, the bridegroom's crown 
that he wore, bedecked^with jewels and flowers, 
fell from his head ; and this was the first ominous 


When the marriage ceremony was being celebra- The second 

ted in the great pavilion which had been built for 
the occasion, the golden umbrella over the bride- 
groom's head gave way the silver rod which sup- 
ported it, having suddenly broken from some 
mysterious cause ; and this was the second inaus- 
picious sign. 

When Behula, the bride, was being carried 
round Laksmindara, she carelessly wiped from her 
forehead with her own hand the sacred vermilion- 
mark, the sign of the married woman whose hus- 
band is living. This was the third inauspicious sign. 

As soon as the marriage was over, Chejnd took 
Laksmindara and Behula to the steel-house on 
mount Santali. 

This was the terrible night, when the question 
of life and death for Laksmindara would be solved ; 
the astrologers had said, if his life could be saved 
that night, he would live a hundred years. 

There Behula and Laksmindara were left to 
themselves. The coy maiden beheld her husband : 
the garland of rangan flowers, which he wore, hung 
loosely round his neck touching his right arm and 
breast, his silken attire of deep scarlet half cover- 
ed his handsome person, and Behul^ looked upon 
her husband with that feeling of adoration which a 
Brahmin feels when he approaches his household- 
god. Laksmindara's eyes also drank deep of the 
beauty of the maiden, and he asked her to come 
closer to him so that he might embrace her. The 
bashful maiden would not [jsten to any such thing 
she hid her face with her tender hands and turned 
away. Fatigued by the labours and fatsting 



The third 

The pair 
taken to 
the steel- 

The couple 
left to 


cooks rice. 

A mys- 
and a 

required for the marriage ceremony, Lakemindara 
fell asleep. But Behula, though equally fatigued, 
sat near him on the bed and watched him for he 
appeared to her as a priceless treasure and she 
must not trust too much to her good fortune. 
After a while, Lakemindara awoke and said to Behula, 
(i My darling, I am very hungry; can you prepare 
some rice for me ? 1J Saying this he again fell asleep. 
Behula did not know what to do. How could she 
prepare rice there ? But her resources never failed 
her. The plate required for the sacred ceremony 
contained some cocoanuts ; theie were also rice 
and some coloured earthen cups there. She took 
three cocoanuts and made a hearth with them. One 
earthen cup was filled with the sweet milk of a co- 
coanut and rice was placed in it. She took a silken 
robe and with that kindled a fire to prepare the 
rice. There she sat, like Annapurna, cooking rice 
for her husband. 

At this moment Manasa Devi called to her all her 
snakes, great reptiles and venomous adders, and 
asked who would undertake to bite Lakmindara. 
The difficulties were great, and many hesitated ; 
but the snake Bankaraj, whose poison was as drops 
of liquid iire, came forward, and obeying the com- 
mand of the goddess, glided towards mount Santali. 

All of a sudden Behula saw that a mysterious 
opening was being made in the steel wall, and a 
snake entering the room. She took a cup of milk, 
with a ripe plantain in it, and offered it to the veno- 
mous intruder. The snake stooped low to drink 
the milk, and Behula, with a golden hook, caught it 
fast and made it a prisoner. While again watching 


the cup on which rice was boiling, she saw another 
snake coming through the same passage. It was 
the great Udaynag with fiery eyes. Behula made 
him a prisoner also ; following the same device ; and 
after a while the snake Kaladanta shared in the 
same way the fate of its predecessors. Then for 
some time nothing more was seen , the rice was 
ready and she called to her husband to rise and 
partake of the meal. But Laksmindara was fast 
asleep and did not respond. 

Fatigued with labour, fast and vigil, Behula at 
this moment felt an irresistible inclination to sleep. 
She sat beside her husband with her eyes still fixed 
on the mysterious crevice in the wall. The three 
serpents lay under a large pot and could not stir. 
Behula's eyes became closed in sleep but at times 
opened wide, gazing at the small opening. Towards 
the last watch of the night when everything was 
still and when even the rustling sound of leaves 
was not heard in that mountainous region, Behula 
yielded to the fatal influence of sleep and reclining 
on a pillow near the feet of her husband, lay like a 
flower, innocent and beautiful. 

No,/ came Kalnagini, that snake who had des- 
troyed the Guabari, and killed Chand's eldest son, 
ridhar, and approached with the speed of lightning 
the bed of Lakmindara. At this very moment the 
sleeping prince touched the snake with his foot and 
it at once turned and bit him in the toe. Lak$- 
mindara cried out. " Ho, daughter of the merchant 
Saha, dost thou sleep ? I am dying of a snake's bite I" 
Behula rose from the bed and perceived the snake 
passing out swiftly through the opening in the wall, 

The snake 

The snakel 


The fatal 


The luck- 
less bride. 


on the raft 

with the 


Laksmindara died. The next moment the sun 
rose, shedding its golden hues over the mountain- 
forests and the birds began to sing blithely on the wild 
trees. Queen Sanaka with her maids of honour 
came to the house and saw a most heart-rending 
sight. Prince Laksmindara lay there dead, and the 
widowed girl was sobbing over him. With dishe- 
velled hair, she was bending over the departed 
prince. Sanaka swooned, and the maids said "Oh 
luckless wretch, it is to thine evil fortune we owe 
this crushing bereavement. The vermilion-marks 
on thy brow have not lost 'heir lustre, they have 
still a deep scarlet hue, the tint of alakta on thy feet 
is yet unsoiled by dust, thy marriage attire of silk is 
as fresh as new, and yet thou art already a widow ! 
No snake could have done this, it is thy breath 
that has extinguished the life's fire in the prince, 
wretch that thou art." Behula did not hear these 
reproaches; for her mind was working on far other 
themes* The prince had asked her to embrace him, 
he had asked her to prepare rice for him : the first 
and the last requests of one who was all in all to 
her ' How unfortunate was she that she had not 
been able to fulfil these wishes ! At this recollection 
the tears again flowed from her eyes unceasingly. 

The body of Laksmindara was taken to the 
burning ghat. But Behula insisted that it should not 
be burnt. The custom in the country in cases of 
snake-bite was to place the corpse on a raft made 
of plantain stems called a bhela and leave it on the 
river, in the hopethil the skill of a physician or a 
snake-charmer might bring it back to life. Behula's 
arguments were appreciated, and a raft of plantain- 
stems was prepared. The corpse of the prince 


was placed on it, and it was floated on the river 
Gangoor. At this moment, to the wonder of all there 
assembled, Behula herself stepped on the raft and 
sat down beside the corpse, expressing her intention 
to accompany her husband's body over the waters 
and not to leave it until it should be restored to life. 

They called her a mad woman who had lost her Her 
senses under the great shock received immediately 
after her marriage, and entreated her to return 
home. The maidens, who had so bitterly reproached 
her, were now sorry for her misfortune and tenderly 
said how very foolish it would be for a woman of 
her youth to set out for unknown regions with a 
corpse. Where was it ever heard that a dead body 
was restored to life! But she sat like a fairy or an 
angel watching over the dead prince with eyes full 
of infinite affection and infinite sorrow. The queen 
maddened with grief lamented bitterly and begged 
the beautiful girl to desist from her foolish inten- 
tion. Behula only said, " Adored mother, you will find 
the rice I prepared in the golden plate in the steel- 
house on mount Santali. There the lamp is still 
burning. Go mother, cea^e weeping, and close the 
door of that room. So long as that rice remains fresh 
and that lamp burns, knowthat my hopes of restoring 
my husband to life will not be abandoned." The 
people of Champaknagar, who had all assembled 
there, shed tears and cried, " Oh honoured lady, 
adopt not this mad course !" Behulg only said, 
" Nay, bless me, sirs, that I may have my husband 
restored to me once more !" 

The raft passed swifty down the stream and 
Champaknagar soon vanished out of sight. The 
news reached her father's house, and her five 


brothers, of whom HariSadhu was the eldest, came 
to the river side, to take her back to their home. The 
brothers wept bitterly as they saw the forlorn girl 
sitting beside a corpse, and said, " We will burn the 
corpse of the prince with sandal wood, alight on 
shore. Though you cannot wear shell-bracelets, 
yet, we will give you golden ones ; though sacred 
vermilion will be refused, yet we can adorn your 
forehead with red powder ; though you may not 
take fish and meat, we will feed you with all kinds 
of dainties. You are our only sister. You will be 
adored in our home, come then to the bank ! How 
heartless were these people of Champaknagar! they 
felt no compunction at allowing you to accompany 
a corpse alone on the bosom of deep waters in 
this condition." Behula could not answer for some 
time, for tears choked her voice, but when she 
spoke, she was resolute and firm. She asked them 
to return and give her respects to her poor parents. 
She could not bear the idea of living in a world 
without her husband. Even the dead body of the 
prince had for her an attraction which nothing else 
possessed in her eyes. She was determined to 
restore it to life. 

Preserved The brothers went away overwhelmed with 

grief, and poor Behula, fasting and sorrowing over her 
lot, went on over the waters, she herself knew not 
whither. Wicked men amongst whom the chief were 
Goda, Dhana and Mana became enamoured of the 
extraordinary beauty of the devoted creature and 
tried to carry her away by force, but God, who pre- 
serves the children, preserved her also who was 
equally helpless, and resigned. They could not 
touch her person. 


When she drew near to a place called Bhagher 
Bak, the corpse began to decompose. Decay set 
in and the form of the beautiful bridegroom be- 
came swollen and rotten ; an intolerable stench 
came out of it and swarms of flies and maggots 
gathered round the putrid body. Behulfi saw before 
her eyes the workings of tho immutable law of 
nature the end reserved in the normal course for 
all human beings, and seeing this, she grew indiffer- 
ent to bodily pain. She washed and cleansed the 
corpse, she ate nothing, and when her grief was 
great, she wept alone in that forlorn condition. She 
passed the ghat of Noada and Srigalghata. People 
came to see her from the neighbouring villages and 
called her a mad woman who had lost her senses 
from grief. 

Whence came the strength and hope that sus- 
tained her in this distress ? She chanted the name 
of Manasa Devi a hundred thousand times a day 
and remained absorved in prayer, till her body 
became inert and motionless. Pale and emaciated 
with the dear relics of the prince's body by her 
side, she suffered intensely. In dark nights the 
winds rose and crocodiles gathered round her raft, 
eager to devour the decomposed body. Jackals 
also came to carry it off whenever the raft drew 
near the banks, but she was preserved by Provid- 
ence from their attacks. 

Being completely resigned, in her extraordinary 
devotion to Manasa Devi, and passing through 
unheard-of sufferings, she felt that a power was 
growing in her, which she could not define, but 
could feel nevertheless to be more than human. 
Sometimes she saw the evil spirits of the air in 


The force, 
of prayer 

ly resign- 


horrid shapes dissuading her with threats and men 
aces from her extraordinary course, at other! 
angelic faces peeped through the sky trying to vvir 
her to a life of ease and luxury, but she sat like t 
marble statute, unmoved either by fear or by temp 
tation sounding the very depths of suffering anc 
praying with unfaltering faith for the life of her deai 

strangles Six months passed in this way; the boat touchec 

her child. the ghit of NetQj the was her-woman of the Gods 

and in the fine morning air when she cairn 
there, Behula saw Nets washing clothes on UK 
bank of the rivor Gangoor. Behula felt that sh< 
was no human being, for her head was incircled b) 
a halo of light. A beautiful child was teasing hei 
as she washed, and to the wonder of Behula, slit 
strangled the child and kept it beside her. 

Behula said nothing, but sat on her raft by thu 
skeleton of her husband, silently watching this 
mysterious woman. 

The child When, however, the last rays of the sun faded 

conies back f rO m the western sky, Nets sprinkled a few drops 

to life. f . i i i iii* 

of water over the face of the child, and lo ! it 

smiled as if just awakened from sleep, 

Behula Neta was just about to ascend to the divine 

and Neta regions with the clothes and the child, when 
Behula landed and fell at her feet weeping. She 
uttered no word, but shed unceasing tears. 

Neta raised her from the ground and assured 
the unfortunate maid that she would carry her to 
the heavenly regions where the gods might be 
moved to grant her prayer. 


There in high heaven Behula was ordered to 
dance before the assembled gods, and she did her 
part so well that the gods were mightily pleased, 
and Manasa Devi was requested by them to restore 
Lak$mindara to life. Manasa Devi complied with 
this request after having extorted a promise from 
Behula that she would induce her father-in-law to 
worship her. Manasa Devi was pleased with her 
devotion and wished to know if she had any other 
boon to ask. With clasped hands and tearful eyes, 
she said, "The sight of my widowed sisters-in-law 
will pain me, Divine mother ! In your mercy restore 
my husband's brothers to life/' This Manasa Devi 
did and further rewarded her by giving back the 
seven ships loaded with treasures, which Chand had 
lost in the waters of Kalidaha. The Guabari of 
Chand was also restored to its original condition. 

Behula embarked with her husband and his* 
brothers on board the ships and started homewards. 
She related to her husband the story of her suffer- 
ings, pointing to the places of their occurrence as 
they sailed back up the noble river Gangoor, and 
her beautiful eyes swam with tears at their recollec- 
tion. But the heart of Lak^mindara was like to 
break for pain as he listened to the story of all she 

had endured. 


When the ships came near Nichhaninagar, 
Behula besought her husband to allow her to pay 
a flying visit to her poor parents, striken with grief. 
To this Lak?mindara readily consented, saying, 
" Let us both go there under the guise of a Yogi 
and Yoginl." Behula agreed gladly and immediately 
adopted the earings, the ochre-coloured clothes 


grants a 


On her 




and Lak 




nagar ii 







as a 


and the knotted hair distinctive of Yoginls. Lak?- 
mindara took a kumandalu in his hand, and covered 
his beautiful body with ashes like a Yogi. 

The seeming ascetics passed through Baruipara 
and other places, and came to the home of Saha, 
the merchant of Nichhaninagar. They entered the 
house by the back-door, and came directly to the 
inner apartments. At that momcMit, Amala, the 
mother of Behula, was coming out of the kitchen 
with a golden plate full of rice, for the dinner of 
Hari Sadhu, her eldest son, when the sight of the 
Yogi and YoginI made her tremble with grief, the 
golden plate fell from her hand, and she wailed 
aloud, "This YoginI is just like my Behula !" she 
could say only this and no more. She ran up to the 
supposed YoginI throwing her arms about her and 
swooned away. Bthula held her mother's head in 
her arms and tenderly caressed her, weeping pro- 
fusely. When Amala came to her senses, Behula 
softly said, "We are come back, mother, once more to 
your arms. Yonder Yogi is your son-in-law restor- 
ed to life." 

The people of the whole village came to see 
them, but Behula would not stop there even for a 
day. She was eager to go back to Champak Nagar, 
and in spite of their affectionate remonstrances, 
embarked once more on board the ship " Madhukar" 
and started for Champak Nagar that very day. 

When they reached that city, however, she played 
another trick. She disguised herself as a sweeper- 
girl. While on her way back from heaven she had 
employed an artist to prepare a fan bedecked with 
precious stones in which the pictures of all the 


members of Chanel's family were painted in living 
colours represented by the natural hues of precious 

With this fan in her hand, Behula landed on 
the banks of the river Gangoor. At that very 
moment her widowed sisters-in-law were coming to 
carry water, and were attracted by the fan, no less 
than by the beauty of the sweeper-girl. While 
examining the fan closely, they were struck with 
wondd ^o see the likenesses of the members of 
their own family painted upon the fan. They \vanted 
to know who this sweeper-girl was and what she 
meant to do with the fan. Behula said that she 
was called Behula, the sweeper-girl, her husband's 
name was Lakmindara, the sweeper, and his 
father's name was Chand, the sweeper, and her own 
father's name was Saha, the sweeper. The fan was 
for sale, and its price was one lakh of rupees. 

At this strange story the widows wept and went 
speedily home to acquaint queen Sanaka with w r hat 
they had seen and heard. Sanaka ran to the house 
of steel and to her surprise found the lamp still 
burning and the rice still fresh on the golden plate. 
Then she came to the bank of the river and seeing 
the pictures on the fan and the face of the sweeper- 
girl, which reminded her of Behula, she fell to 
the earth and began to rend the air with loud 
lamentations. Behula then said, " Mother, do 
not weep. Look at your sons. Manasa Devi 
has restored them to life. But we cannot enter 
Champak Nagar until my father-in-law worships 
Manasa Devi. So I have brought all of you here 
by a device." 






works on 

Once more the seven sons stood neat their 
sorrow-stricken parents, and the tears that were 
shed were holy, for Behuls's wonderful devotion 
more than anything else caused them to flow. 

Chand could not resist all this. Events had 
been too much for him. He saw in the sweet and 
resigned countenance of Behula that Manasa Devi's 
victory was complete, and that it would be impos- 
sible for him to resist the appeal silently expressed 
in the eyes of his beloved daughter-in-law. 

Chand worshipped Manasa in the month of 
Sravan on the nth day of the waning moon. Some 
say that he offered flowers to Manasa Devi with his 
left hand as a mark of contempt, turning his face 
away from her all the while. But however this be, 
Manasa Devi was pleased and granted him wealth 
and prosperity. His friend, Sankoor Garudia was 
restored to life. 

Behula and Laksmindara, who were Usha and 
Aniruddha in Heaven, and had been obliged to take 
a mortal frame under a curse, went back after a 
while to their celestial home. 

Manasa Devi's claims to obtain puja among 
mortals have ever since been an established 

About sixty works on Manasa Devi, written by 
different writers at various times, but all before the 
1 8th century have been brought to light by the 
researches of scholars within the last 15 years. 
Vijay Gupta's work, published by Ihe Adarfa press 

* Originally written for the Modern Review from which the 
story is now reprinted. 


of Backergunge in 1896, contains 232 pages (royal 
octavo.) printed in double columns. It contains 
15,000 lines and exceeds Milton's Paradise lost by 
half its bulk. Many of the other works referred to 
above are equally voluminous. Some of them 
contain graphic accounts of the sea voyage of 
Chand Sadagara and descriptions of the manner 
in which commercial enterprises were undertaken 
by the Bengalis in ancient times, with in- 
cidental references to the flourishing condition of 
Bengal and her industry. The geographical notices 
of places, the names of which are to be found in 
many of these works, bear witness to the changes 
constantly brought about in the plains of 
the Gangetic valley by its ever-shifting river 

The earliest writer on Manasa Devi in Bengal 
was Hari Datta, who was blind of one eye. We 
have come across only 20 lines of his composi- 
tion. They describe the ornaments made of snakes 
which decorated the person of Manasa Devi. Hari 
Datta was born in the district of Mymensingh and 
probably lived in the I2th century. We have 
come across a description of him in a later poem 
written by Vijay Gupta in honour of Manasa Devi. 
Manasa Devi is said to have appeared before Vijay 
Gupta in a dream and said : 

*' An illiterate man first wrote a poem in my 
honour ; but he had no idea of my power and 
glory. He was Hari Datta, the one-eyed. His 
irregular and metreless doggerel became ob- 
solete and were lost in course of time. His words 
were vulgar, his lines did not rhyme and his songs 

Hari Datta 

the earliest 

writer of 




defects of 
his poems. 


He probab- 
ly lived 

In the 1 2th 


had no merit by which to attract the people. The 
singers tried to please by rude gestures and clown- 
ish leaps."* 

Vijay Gupta's work was written in 1484, when 
Hari Datta's poe^s, once so popular, had already 
grown obsolete. The ungracious references made 
to his deficiencies in metre and rhyme and to a 
preponderance of rude words in his poems, only 
prove them to be antiquated specimens of the 
earliest form of written Bengali. We may, on these 
grounds, safely declare Hari Datta to have lived 
a few centuries before Vijay Gupta. We are in- 
clined to place him in the I2th century A.D. 

Vijay Gupta's Manasa Mahgal is one of the 
most popular works of its class. In Eastern 
Bengal, especially in the district of Backergunge, 
it is esteemed sacred and always read on the occa- 
sion of the worship of Manasa Devi. There they 
call poems about Manasa Devi, Ray an I. This word 
is a corruption of the word Rajsnl or night, and 
the word Yfigarana which is often used for these 




Bijay Gupta's Padma Puran, 


songs, means vigil. These facts imply that poems 

about Manasa Devi used to be recited during the 

This happens during the whole of the Bengali 
month of reivana. 

Vijay Gupta was born in the year 1448 in the 
village of Fulla9ri in the district of Backergunge. 
The pot with which he worshipped Manasa Devi is 
still preserved there in the temple dedicated to 
the goddess. Fulla<;ri is a well-known village, and 
is the birth place of many scholars whose names 
are not unfamiliar to the literary world. Kavlndra 
TrilochanaDas, Janakl Nath Kavikanthhara, Bhavani 
Nath Das Saraswati, Raghu Ram Das Kanthabharna 
and Kavikarnapur were all inhabitants of this 
particular village and Vijay Gupta with just pride 
speaks of it as Pandit Nagar or City of scholars. 
Here are some of his opening lines : 

"In aka 1406 (1484 A.D.) Husen Saha is the 
Emperor of Gauda, and Raja Arjuna as the morn- 
ing sun of war rules Muluk Fateabad (the modern 
Faridpur and a part of Backergunge) which ex- 
tends up to Bangrora. On the west lies the river 
Ghagara, on the east the river Ghahte^vara, and bet- 
ween them the village of Fullagrl, City of scholars. 
Brahmins versed in four Vedas, and Valdyas skilled 



and f 



the native 

village of 

the poet. 

His open- 
ing lines. 


hi* Manama 

in their own Castras, and Ksyasthas who are expert- 
writers all liVe in this place. Whosoever dwells in 
this blessed spot has a share in its glory. In such 
a place is the home of Vijay." Ghante9vara and 
Ghagra have both been silted up, though traces of 
them may yet be discovered and the site of the 
village Fulla^ri has become changed in course of 
time. The more important part of the village is 
now calld Gaila. 

Vi i a y Gupta belonged to the Vaidya caste, his 
father's name being Sanatana and his mother's, 
Rukminl. His Manasa Mangal is divided into 
the following cantos : 

1. Consultation. 

2. Hymns to the gods. 

3. Dreams. 

4. The garden house of Chand. 

5. Birth of Manasa Devi. 

6. An introductory notice of Manasa Devi. 

7. The lamentations of Chandi 

8. The beginning of the quarrel with Chand. 

9. Quarrel with Chandi. 

, 10. Chandi restored to consciousness. 
ii. Marriage of Manasa Devi. 


Vijay Gupta's Padrna Puran. 


12. Separation from her husband. 

13. Birth of eight snakes 

14. The churning of the sea, 

15. Curse of iva on Manohara, the cow. 

16. Necter produced by churning. 

17. i v a loses his senses by swallowing poison. 

1 8. iva restored to his senses. 

19. Manasa Devi exiled to the forest. 

20. Manasa Devi worshipped by the shepherds. 

21. The story of Hfisan Husen. 

22. Chand' s birth under the curse of Padma- 

23. The insult offered to Sanaka. 

24. The destruction of the Guabadi ( garden 

of Chand). 

25. Manasa Devi disguised as a milk-maid. 

26. A heated discussion between Manasa 

Devi and the disciples of (pankar Gaduria. 

27. Manasa Devi makes friendship with 

Kamala, the wife of ankara Gaduria. 

28. The story of a chaste woman. 

29. Death of ankara Gaduria. 

30. The destruction of Chand's garden. 

31. The Mahajnana or knowledge by which 

life can be restored, is lost. 

32. Manasa Devi kills the six sons of Chand. 

33. Manasa Devi is worshipped in the house of 

a fisherman. 

34. Usa abducted by Aniruddha. 

35. Manasa Devi's fight with the king of 

death (Yama). 

36. Chand undertakes a commercial tour. 

37. Trade by barter. 

38. The distress of Chand. 

39. Fourteen ships of Chand destroyed. 


40. Chand introduces himself. 

41. Birth of Lak^mlndara, 

42. Manasa Devi disguised as an ant. 

43. The building of the house of steel. 

44. Manasa Devi's conversation with Taravatj, 

45. Lakmindara sets out for his marriage. 

46. The gods attend the marriage ceremony. 

47. The canopy falls. 

48. Lak?mlndara sets out for home. 

49. Eight snakes made prisoners. 

50. A message sent to the serpent Kali. 

51. Kali goes to bite Laksmlndarn. 

52. Laksmindara is bitten. 

53. His dying words. 

54. The dream of Behula. 

55. The lamentations of Behula and of Sanakg. 

56. A white crow bears the message to Ujani. 

57. Hari Sadhu marches to meet his sister 


58. The interview 

59. Dom ghat. 

60. Dhana and Mana ghats. 

61. The ghat of a knave. 

62. Neta comes as a tiger and a vulture. 

63. The washerwoman's ghat. 

64. Behula dances before Civa. 

65. Padma sent to Manasa Devi. 

66. Their meeting. 

67. Grievances of the past twelve months. 

68. Lak?mindara and his brothers restored to 

life and the ships recovered. 

69. ankar Gaduria restored to life. 

70. Behula returns home, 


71. The ghats of Nets, of a knave, of Dhana 

and Mana, of a man with elephantiasis, 
and of Hari Ssdhu. 

72. Bebula disguised as a sweeper-girl. 

73. The trial of Behula. 

74. The meeting. 

75. Manasa Devi worshipped. 

76. The ascent into heaven (of Behula and 


These chapter-headings roughly indicate the 
contents of other poems on the same subject also. 
The literature in honour of Manasa Devi is vast 
and varied and is interesting from many different 
points of view. We have, however, no space to 
consider all these points with that thoroughness 
which they deserve. 

Contemporary with Vijay Gupta was Narayana Ng r s y ana 
Deva, another poet who lived in Boragram in the sub- Deva. 
division of Kishoreganj in the district of Mymen- 
singh. The Manasa Ma^gal of Narayaha Deva is 
almost as popular as that of Vijay Gupta in Eastern 
Bengal though a greater sanctity is attached to the 
latter' s poem, owing to the preservation of his wor- 
ship-pot in the village temple of Phullafri. Narayana 
Deva belonged to the Kayastha caste. His father was 
Narasiiiiha Deva. The ancestors of the poet were 
originally inhabitants of Magadha. Latterly they 
came down to Rada Def a and settled there. From 
Ra$a they made another move and settled in 
Mymensingh. Some descendants of Narayana 
Deva still dwell in Boragram, being i7th in descent 
from the poet. 




Deva was a fine poet. The following 
passage will show something of his pathos : Behula 
is lamenting for the death of Laksmindara :* 

" Where art thou gone, my lord, without me ? 
Awake beloved, lift up thine eyes and look upon 
thy Behula. Alas ! that beauty which shone so 
bright, putting the sun and moon to shame, has 
been stolen away by the bite of Kali, the snake. 
My Sdri of silk must now be torn off, my bracelets 
of shell must now be broken, and I, unfortunate 
that I am, must wipe off the vermilion from my 
fore-head. Oh my lord ! how long will you sleep ? 
Will you not wake and speak to me ? Will you 
not look again at my face ? Oh ! what fault have 
I committed against you, that you should make 
me wretched for ever ! To whose care have you 
left your miserable Behula ?" 

Again, Behula is on the raft with the body of 
her husband, and her brother Narayani Sadhu is 
trying to dissuade her from the insane course she is 
followingt : 




" Hearing Behul's words, Narayahi Sgdhu, her 
brother, says, " Why do you, O sister, follow a wild 
fancy that could never be carried into practice ? 
How did such an idea seize you ? Where was it ever 
heard that gods and men can meet ? Allow me, O 
sister, to burn your dead husband. How can you all 
alone reach heaven, the abode of the gods. How can 
we let you drift out to sea ' Where is the abode 
of the gods that you would icach ? With precious 
sandal and scented bark I will burn Laksmmdara's 
corpse and perform here the ceremony of his 
funeral. Come back, O sister, to your childhood's 
home. You may fast like a widow, but we shall feed 
you with every dainty. Your shell-bracelets may 
be broken, and the vermilion gone from your head. 
This is no matter ' for we shall give you other and 




Tfrf^fl fff 





her to 






richer ornaments to wear. When my mother asks 
me about you, how can I tell her that we left 
her Behula drifting on the water?" At this point 
the brother's emotion overcomes him ; Behula to 
soothe him, said 'But I have come here determin- 
ed to restore my husband's life, and you ask me to 
leave him to be devoured by the beasts of prey 
that live in the water ? Our relations at Champak 
Nagar would ask me what I have done with his body, 
and what should I say to them in reply?" Hearing 
these words Narayani Sadhu, weeping, said, " Oh 
sister, I cannot leave you, I cannot go. That mad- 
man Chand Sadagara has no proper feeling, his 
mind has gone astray. He has floated down the 
living with the dead ' On the turbulent river, the 
waves rise and fall. If you should fall, you will be 
devoured by sea fish and shark. O how shall I 
answer our mother when she asks me about you ! 
What shall I say to our friends in Ujaninagar ?" 
Thus by his lamentations Narayani Sadhu strove 
to soften her heart, and bring her back to home. The 

ffa ^3 


>oet Narayana lays down these verses at the feet of 
Vtanasa Devi. 

When however having tried every means in his Behul 
a J . bids fare- 

>ower, he failed to dissuade Behula, then, with a well to her 

jrieved heart he left her, and she bidding farewell ro 
o her brother, sailed on and on. The raft flew 
swiftly, like a shooting-star, and she came to a 
place called the Bagher Bank." 

mi fat* 

ittnn CTCT 


Ksemftnan- The next Manasa Maftgal that we light upon 
was written by Ksemananda a Kayastha, who 
adopted also the name of Ketakg Das. Ketaka 
occurs in the poem, as a name of Manasa Devi, 
thus Ketaka Das means Servant of Manasa Devi,' 
In his autobiographical notice the poet refers 
to Bara Khan, as the ruler of Selimabad in the 
district of Burdwan. Now, this Bara Khan, as we 
know from other sources, made a deed of gift of 
twenty bighas of land to one ivaram Bhatta- 
charyya in the year 1640 A. D. K?emananda 
regrets the circumstance that the Khan has been 
killed in battle. Hence his Manasa Mangal must 
have been written at some date later than 1640. 
Ksemananda was born in the village of Kanthra in 
the district of Burdwan and held lands in the 
Taluk of one Oskarna Ray. 

Ksemananda' s ManasSr Bhasana contains 5,000 
lines, and forms rather a brief version of the story 
as compared with other poems on the same sub- 
ject. But it happens to-day to be the most popular 

poem on Manasa Devi. Its poetical merits, no 
The reason Y . , 

of his less than its brevity, account for this extensive 

popularity. p p u i ar jty t I gj ve here an extract from it : * 

fan mi <awi vtrt t 

TOT TOT Wf fan *|H 

^ fro f 5 ^ fir <wft 

wtt fan 


Lak?mlndara and Behuls are disguised as 
a Yogi and Yoginl. 

" Lak^mlndara and Behula in disguise, begged Yogi and 
from door to door. But the people of Nichhani * 
Nagar did not recognise them. They visited every 
house begging alms, and they sounded the horn 
as they passed, reciting the name of (piva. People 
threw rice and cowries on their plate; but as 
soon as they were given, the alms disappeared and 
no one could tell how they had vanished. Behula's 
father was Saha the merchant. His house stood 
in the centre of the village ; around it were large 
and beautiful straw-built sheds, which were like 
lofty walls, and inside was a house that sparkled 
with gold. There lived Saha the merchant with 
his wife Amala. Behula went to see her parents. 
As she was disguised, no one recognised her. 
It was mid-day and the sun was up. The seeming 
Yogi and Yoginl entered the inner appartments. 
The Yogi sounded his horn and Amala came out. 


l, *tt5?f 



On a golden plate she brought rice and cowries to 
present to the supposed ascetics. But Lak^mln- 
dara hid his face for a moment on seeing his 
mother-in-law. Behula smiled softly ; the smile 
on her lips was as sweet as necter. Amala placed 
cowries and rice on her plate, but they disappeared 
as soon as given, through the spell cast by Manasa 
Devi. Amala saw this and asked the reason say- 
ing ' Tell me, O Yoginl ! who you are ! There does 
not dwell a creature in the three worlds more 
unfortunate than I ! Beholding you my grief over- 
powers me. There was, O Yoginl a daughter of 
mine, who strangely resembled you , but she 
sailed away with her husband's dead body, and 
I know not to what region she has gone. On seeing 
you, O Yoginl, my grief for her is rekindled. 



Tell me then in your mercy, how is it that the 
rice and cowries have disappeared/ Behula said 
' We are Yogi and Yogini, we live under the 
trees. We beg alms in the day-time and at even- 
ing we return to our resting place. We know 
nothing more than this/ But Amala her mother 
looked intently at the face of Behula, beautiful 
as a lotus, and said ' No, you are Behula my own 
Behula ; Oh ! my heartbreaks to see you; my Behula 
and Lakmlndara, stand before me ! Tell me 
truly that you are no other/ ' mother ' Behula 
said ' what introduction do we need to you ? 
We are your own Behula and Laksmlndara, cry no 
more, mother. Here is the husband of my heart, 
restored to life ! ; At these words, Amala broke into 
sobs, and hearing her weep, the people of the 

et?ta lift i 
wt fa c^Pt^tf^ cw ^51 tow 





village ran to her house. They asked her 
what it was that made her cry ! Some said that 
Behula had returned. People were struck with 
wonder, the dead Lak^mlndara had come to life 
again f Said they ' we never saw or heard of such 
a thing Behula has restored her husband to life. 1 

Other Xh e names of most of the other authors of 

authors , . 

of Mansa Manasa Mangal known up to now, are here 

Mangal. enumerate d. The latest of these writers, Raja 
Rajsirhha of Susung Durgapur in the district of 
Mymensing lived 125 years ago. 

4. Ramajivana (1770 A. D.) 

5. Raja Rajsiitiha. 

offtnn c^rfa fiww 

OR tfa&S 

fin fif \ 


From Behula's visit to her father's house 
by Ketaka Das Kemananda, 


6. Anupa Chandra. 

7. Kri^nananda. 

8. Gangadas Sen. 

9. Gopi Chandra. 

10. Pandit Gangfi Das. 

11. Golaka Chandra. 

12. Govinda Das. 

13. Chandrapati. 

14. Jagat Vallabha. 

15. Vipra Jagannatha. 

16. Jagannath Sen. 

17. Jagamohan Mitra. 

1 8. Jaydev Das. 

19. Dwija Jay Ram. 

20. Vipra Janakinath. 

21. Janakinath Das. 

22. Nanda Lai. 

23. Narayana. 

24. Dwija Valarama. 

25. Valarama Das. 

26. Vane^war. 

27. Madhusudan De. 

28. Yadunath Pandit. 

29. Raghunath. 

30. Viprarata Dev. 

31. Ramakantha. 

32. Rati Kanthasen. 

33. Dwija Rasik Chandra. 

34. Radha Krisna. 

35. Ramchandra. 

36. Vipraram Das. 

37. Ramdas Sen. 

38. Ram Nidhi. 

39. Ram Vinoda. 


40. Dwija Varhfl Das. 

41. Varhfldhana, 

42. Vanamall 

43. Vardhaman Das, 
44 Vallabha Ghose. 

45. Vijaya. 

46. Vipra Das. 

47. Vifvefvar. 

48. Vinu Pal. 

49. Sasthibara Sen. 

50. Sitapati. 

51. Sukavi Das. 

52. Sukha Das. 

53. Sudam Das. 

54. Duija Hari Ram. 

55. Dwija Hridaya. 

56. Kamal Narayana. 

57. Kavi Karnapur. 

58. Haridas. 

H - .. In closing this account of the literature of the 

typifies ManasS-cult, it must be remembered that in a 
the ideal of . , , , , ^, 

woman- country where women commonly courted death 

Bengal* on ^ ie ^ r ^ us ^and ; s funeral pyre, this story of 
Behula may be regarded as the poet's natural 
tribute at the feet of their ideal. 

(6) Songs in honour of Chandl Devi. 

Religion Religion has been the main -spring of activity 

wrimr *of * n fc ^ s Countt 7 ^ rom t ^ ie earliest times. Astronomy 

our originated with us. from the necessity for calculating 
activity. * . . . ' . ... ' , r _ 5 

the auspicious times for holding sacrifices. Geo* 

metry came into existence in order to settle the 


shape and size of altars. Poetry welled up for the 
singing of hymns to God. Mundane considerations 
never seriously occupied the attention of Indians or 
served as any inspiration to them. 

Bengali poetry was employed in its earlier 
stages for religious purposes. Poems in honour of 
Manasa Devi, Chandi and other local deities testify 
to the same inspiring motive in their writers. 
The songs in honour of the house-hold deities 
had to be recited on the occasions of their worship, 
This was enjoined as a part of the religious func- 
tion itself. Men and women assembled in great 
numbers in places of worship, inspired by faith, 
and the poets who wrote the poems gradually 
felt the need to make their performance really 
interesting and attractive. The earliest specimens 
of songs, in honour of the tutelary deities of Bengal, 
are generally short. They gave stories in brief 
form illustrating the might and grace of particular 
deities. For this purpose, a short and simple tale, 
without any pretensions to scholarship or poetical 
merit, was first composed ; the next poet sought to 
improve upon this work, and as particular religious 
sects gained ground and counted increasing num- 
bers of votaries, their religious poems also improv- 
ed, till the mere outlines of the earlier writers grew 
into elaborate poems in the hands of later poets. 

Here, in Bengal, people lived in straw-built huts 
themselves, while the oratory of their tutelary 
deity was often made of bricks, and rich people 
living in brick-built mansions, always spent far 
larger sums of money on their chapels than on their 
own dwelling rooms, The finest touches of decora- 

How the 






art and 



tive art they could command were employed to 
adorn the temple. The idea of luxury could have 
no hold upon a people who lived plainly themselves 
but applied their aesthetic talents and capital to 
religious purposes. It could not produce any heart- 
burning by creating a sense of social inequality, 
as the ownership of a Matha or temple could not 
give rise to jealousy, however great and costly 
might be its decoration. The portals of a temple 
were open to all equally. At the same time art re- 
ceived its highest impetus from religious motive, 

Bengali poetry also, like these chapels, had for 
its chief and primary object the worship of deities 
till it gradually become intermixed and enriched with 
romantic incidents of the human world, even as the 
walls and door-ways of a temple were decorated 
with fresco-paintings and sculptures on bas- 
relief representing scenes from life. 

However crude may be the poetic literature 
dealt with in these chapters, it always makes an 
attempt to give expression to the truth that righti- 
ousness is upheld by the Almighty's law, that faith 
conquers in the long run and that the sceptic with 
all his brilliance and power ultimately sinks into 

The songs to which we have referred, formed 

the popular literature of Bengal and existed in some 

crude shape in the country before the Pouranik 

Renaissance. Though latterly taken up by the 

Brahmanic School, their subjects had been con. 

ceived and worked out by the people in an earlier 

The poems epoch of our history when Brahmanic power 

with the had not yet asserted itself. The Brahmins im- 

People. p r0 ved these compositions by introducing Sanskrit 


words and many fine passages of classical 
beauty into them, but the subject-matter of 
the poems proves that it was the people who 
gave them their original shape. The 'chief charac- 
ters do not belong to the highest castes and the 
Brahmin has hardly any part in the drama of the 
poems. Dhanapati, rimanta, Lahana, Khullana, 
Chand, Behula, the main personages in all these 
poems, belong to the merchant-classes, which do 
not hold a very high position in Hindu society. 
The hunter Kalaketu comes from one of the lowest 
castes. In the manner in which the deities are 
represented to help their votaries, there is evidently 
a coarse and rustic element which indicates that 
the poems originated with the populace, rather than 
with the more refined classes In any case, it is the 
people who still patronise them, for by far the 
larger number of the Mss. of these poems I 
recovered from the houses of carpenter?, black- 
smiths and other artizans. The Sanskritic School 
of poets, while embellishing the style and diction 
of these works, could not, at the same time, rebuild 
the plot or otherwise improve their subject-matter. 

The history of the origin of the Chandi-cult is History of 
not easy to trace. Whether she was originally the the 
deity of the Mongolians and Dravadians, latterly 
admitted into the Hindu pantheon, as we have 
supposed, or she represents in an altered garb the 
mythological tradition of Semeremis, the queen of 
Assyria, who conquered Bactria about 2000 B. C. 
or as the Indian Anna Purna she is to be identified 
with Anna Perenna the goddess of the Romans, 
distributing cakes, whose festivals were celebrated 
on the 1 5th of March, is a problem which is not 


bbNUALl LAINUU/VUfc X Lil I HKttl UKC.. |_ 

within the scope of this treatise to solve. The late 
discovery made in Crete by Dr. Evans of the image 
of a goddess standing on a rock with lions on either 
sides, which * is referred to a period as remote as 
3000 B, C. has offered another startling point in 
regard to the history of the Chandl-cult. The mother 
in the Hindu mythology rides a lion, and in Mfir- 
kandeya Chandl there is a well-known passage 
where she stands on a rock with a lion beside, her 
for warring against the demons. 

As heretofore mentioned, there was latterly an 
attempt on the part of the Brahmin poets to 
connect the humble deities worshipped by rural folk 
with the gods and goddesses of the Pauranic 
pantheon. Marigcil Chandl a popular deity, was 
thus associated by the later poets with that Chandj 
who was described by Markandeya. 

There are two stories which from the subject- 
matter of all poems in honour of Mangal Chandl. 
The first one is 

The story of Kalaketu. 

Nilambara, son of Indra, was born into this 
world under a curse, as Kalaketu, the hunter. He 
married Phullara, daughter of Sanjayaketu, who 
used to sell in the market the venison and other 
flesh that he brought by hunting, and thus the pair 
earned their livelihood. The wild beasts of the 
forest, with the lion at their head, applied to Chandl 
for protection, as Kalaketu seemed bent on annihi- 
lating them. The lion himself was somewhat 
KSIaketu crest-fallen as he could not give effective aid 

beasts? to those who owed alle g iance to him as their Lord. 
Chandl was moved to compassion and granted the 


boon that Kalaketu should no longer be able to 
molest or destroy them. 

It was morning and the dairy maids were carry- 
ing their curds in pitchers to the market for sale. 
On the right the cows were grazing in the pastures 
and the village looked lovely under the morning 
breeze. Kalaketu the hunter, with his quiver on his 
back and a great bow in his hand, and ciystal 
ear-drops in his ears went forth on his usual hunt- 
ing excursion. As he was about to enter the dense tied "a, 
foiest, he saw a lizard of a golden colour. This 
lizard, he thought, was not a good omen. He 
tied up the animal with the string of his bow and 
thought it would serve for a meal if no other should 
be forthcoming that day. 

By the will of Chandl, a dense fog covered the 
forest that morning, and though Kalaketu wandered 
all round it in quest of a quarry, he could find 
none. Growing hungry, ab the day advanced, with KSIaketu 

his fruitless search, he returned home, and ac- returns 


quainted his wife Phullara with the tale of his dis- 
appointment. He suggested that she should go to 
their neighbour Bimala and ask for the loan of a 
few seers of khud or rice-dust and borne salt, and 
pointed out the lizard which lay bound with the 
string of his bow , this might also be killed and 
cooked, as no better could be found, to appease 
their hunger for the day. 

Phullara went to her friend Bimala for the loan Opes to 
and in the meantime Kalaketu found in the cottage 
a small quantity of flesh left unsold the day 
before. He carried this to Gola ghat to try if any 
purchaser could be found for it. 


The lizard 
was Chandl 
in disguise. 

Phullara is 



5he misun- 

She advises 

her to 

return to 

her own 


The lizard, who was no other than Chandl her- 
self, now came out from the noose in which she 
was tied and assumed the form of a beautiful 
woman. Her complexion was of the colour of 
Atasi flower and her dark hair fell down her back in 
luxuriant curls. She looked like a damsel of sixteen. 
Her silk sari, her golden bracelets, her necklace 
sparkling with precious diamonds, her bodice em- 
broidered with gems inset by Vi^va Karma himself, 
the god of art, the majesty of her demeanour all 
indicated her noble rank, seemingly that of a queen. 
When poor Phullara came back to her hut, she 
could not trust her own eyes. Bewildered, she 
made a low obeisance to the lady, asking her who 
she was and why bhe had condescended to grace 
their lowly dwelling place with her august presence. 

Chandl gave her story in language which had a 
double meaning. She said that her husband was 
old and poor and showered his favour on her co- 
wife, whom he placed on his head, while she was 
treated with great indifference. This referred to 
iva, the co-wife being the Ganges, who is re- 
presented as borne on the head of the Great God. 
But Phullara understood the statement in its 
ordinary sense and did not at all suspect her guest, 
to be the goddess Chandl. 

Poor Phullara, living in great poverty, prided 
herself on the love of her husband and was con- 
tented. She did not now wish the beautiful 
damsel to be seen by Kalaketu ; so hiding her jeal- 
ousy as best she could, with smiles, she advised her 
to return to her own home. t( For " said she " the 
night is approaching, and it is not safe for one of 
your position to spend the night in a stranger's 


house." "You call your husband a stranger to 
me ?" Said Chandl, " but he is devoted to me '" 
and indeed it was true that Kalaketu the hunter 
was a worshipper of Chandl. At these words of 
the goddess, Phullarfl's voice became choked with 
tears ; but without manifesting any external sign of 
her emotion, she quoted from the sstras to show 
the grave indiscretion of staying in a strange 
house without permission. u Think of Sita " she 
said " how faultless she was, yet she was put 
to shame, because she had lived in Havana's house 
for a time ; Renuka, the wife of Bhrigu, was behead- 
ed because her husband suspected her. If your 
co-wife quarrels with you, you can burely give tit 
for tat. Why should you leave your husband's roof 
for that ?" 

" I understand my own affairs," said Chandi, "it 
is not for you to instruct me in my duty." At this, 
a feeling of great unrest overtook Phullara, and she 
tried by a description of her abject poverty to 
work upon her guest's mind, that she might give up 
the idea of staying with them. She said, " only 
look, lady, at my poor hut, the roof made of palm 
leaves, supported on a single post made of ricinus 
tree ! It breaks every year in the summer-storms. 
In the month of Vaiyakha, the tierce sun glares over 
head and its rays are like living tire. There is no 
shade to be found under the trees, my feet burn on 
the hot sands, as I go to the market to sell the meat. 
My torn rags are so scanty that I can scarcely draw 
them up to cover my head. If I leave my basket 
in the market for a moment, the kites fall upon it, 
and empty it immediately. Through the days of 



The V&ra* 


Jyaisfha we have scarcely any food, and live, for 
the most part, on wild berries. In the months of 
Asadjia and rfivana, when the newly formed clouds 
cover the sky, the village roads become muddy and 
pools full of water, a host of leeches bite me as 
I go out, though a snake-bite would be more 
welcome, for it would end my miseries. In the month 
of Bhfidra, our whole village is flooded and scarcely 
can I find a customer for my meat. At the approach 
of Afvina, every one, seems to be happy, and the 
goddess Uma is worshipped in big houses. There 
is dance and merry-making, and people are dressed 
in beautiful raiment, but goats are sacrificed to 
the Goddess at every house, so our meat will not 
sell in the market, and in this hut we have so often 
to fast. In the winter-months, the little fire that we 
kindle with stray fuel gathered from the woods 
scarcely warms us. For want of clothes, I often 
wear the skin of a deer, which but ill protects me 
from cold. Then comes the spring season, when the 
jasmine blooms and the bee whispers love to it 
gathering its honey. With the spring's soft influ- 
ence in their hearts, maidens and youths are love- 
sick. But poor Phullara feels only the pain of 
hunger. Why do you, Oh noble lady, court a life 
so wretched as must be that of a hunter's wife." 
Her eyes glistened with tears as she related the 
story of her woes. 

Love's Nor did she at all exaggerate her miseries ; only 

Kalaketu's love made such amends for the ills of 
life that she did not mind them. When the 
hunter's well-formed strong arm served as a 
pillow to her in the night, what she did she care 
for want of a nice bed ? When eating what she 


had cooked, Kalaketu praised her for her good 
cooking, what did she care . that no food was 
left for her ' Did she not feel gratified that her 
husband was happy, though she might have to fast 
all day herself? And who was this woman that 
came now to rob her of her husband's love the 
only thing she prized in life? Alas, exposure and 
hardship had sullied her youthful beauty ; could she 
ever be a match for this paragon of beauty ! She 
had no qualifications to commend her to her hus- 
band, except her love for him. What will she do 
now? Her heart broke at these thoughts. But 
Chandl was not at all moved by the accounts of 
poverty. " Very well Phullara/' she said, " from this 
day there will be no more poverty in this house. 
You see my jewels? With them I can buy a king- 
dom. Come, do not grieve, you will have a share 
of my wealth and I shall not be blamed for coming 
here: for Kalaketu himself brought me, drawing 
me hither by his noble qualities. " 

This was what Phullara understood her to say. 
But indeed her words bore another sense, and in 
that sense were true ; for she said Kalaketu himself 
had brought her there bound with the string of 
his bow. The word ^ in Bengali means both a 
bow-string and noble qualities. 

Grief was like to rend Phullarg's heart at these 
last words of Chandl. She could no longer suppress 
her feelings. Great tears fell from her eyes, and 
she turned and went weeping all the way to meet 
Kalaketu at Golaghat. There, as the hunter was 
negotiating the sale, Phullara approached him with 
tearful eyes. He was struck with wonder never 

feels Jea- 

The Jea- 
lous wife 
and her 


having seen her moved in such a manner and 
asked what was it that caused her so much pain. 
''You have no co-wife," he said "and no sister-in-law 
nor mother-in-law to quarrel with you in the house. 
Why then, O my darling, do you weep?" Phullara 
replied, "I have none, my lord, to quarrel with It is 
true that you are my all. But it is you who have 
caused me this pain. What fault did you lind in me 
that you have become a villain like Ravana ' Whose 
wife have you brought to our house ? The king of 
Kahnga is a cruel tyrant. He will kill you and 
rob me of my honour by force, if he gets the slight- 
est inkling of your act." 

Kalaketu stood wonder-struck for a moment 
and then said "This is no time for joking. 1 am 
dying of hunger. If what you charge me with is 
false, I shall cut off your nose with a knife Kala- 
ketu' s address was rough but straight-forward, as 
befitted an illiterate huntsman of his class. It is 
difficult for the foreign reader to understand the 
abhorrence with which the huntsman is regarded in 
Bengal life. He is something of a poacher, some- 
thing of a trapper and altogether a savage. Through- 
out this poem, the poet seeks to deprive Kalaketu 
of any refinement as will appear from this coarse 
threat to his wife. Phullara, of course, was far from 
being sorry at his abuse ; for his words indicated his 
innocence. Both of them, therefore, hurried home, 
and when near the hut, Kalaketu saw a strange sight, 
as though ten thousand moons illumined the vault of 
sight. night. A damsel whose beauty dazzled the eyes, 
was standing with gaze fixed on the sky. The 
glowing light of evening fell on her profuse black 
hair, tinting it with a golden hue. She looked like 


a statue of stainless marble carved in relief against 
the azure. She wore a crown on her head which 
shone in the light, the diamonds sparkling with 
wonderful brilliance. The majesty of her form 
struck the huntsman dumb. He fell to the ground, 
bowing down to her in reverence. After this, he 
asked her who she was and what was her mission 
there. Chandl stood silent without a word. Then' 
Kalaketu said, " The home of a huntsman is deemed 
unholy. The bones of animals lie strewn around it, 
and it is filled with the smell of rotten meat. For any 
one, of your position, this is not a fit place to come 
to. It will require you a bath in the Ganges to 
cleanse you of your sin, in coming to visit such 
foul quarters. Why is it, O mother, I ask again, 
that you have come here ?" Chandl still gave no 
reply. The hunter continued : 

" The world will speak ill of you if you remain 
in this house ; and infamy, you know, is death to 
woman. Come with me, leave the house and I am 
ready to lead you back to your home. But I shall 
not go alone with you ; Phullara will accompany us, 
and we shall select a path frequented by our friends. 
In reply to this Chandl uttered not a word, and 
Kalaketu said impatiently " You are no doubt the 
daughter of a rich man and a rich man's wife too. I 
am only a poor huntsman whose touch is avoided by 
all. What business can there possibly be that would 
bring you to my house ? I humbly beg that you 
should leave this house at once." But Chandl smiled 
and did not at all seem inclined to move. Then the 
huntsman said ' Be witness, O setting sun, that this 
woman means mischief;" and taking his bow he 
aimed an arrow at her. To his great surprise he 



He alms 

an arrow 

at her. 

A painted 



in her 

own form. 

found, however, that he could not shoot. His hands 
seemed to be controlled by a mysterious power. The 
arrow could not be released and both it and the 
bow became rigid in his hands. Phullars came to 
his rescue, but could not take away either the bow or 
the arrow from her husband's hands. Kslaketu stood 
like one, turned to stone, and for causes unknown 
to himself, tears fell from his eyes. He tried to 
speak but could not. He seemed to be fixed to the 
spot by a spell and stood, looking like a painted 

Chandl said, "My son, I am Chandl. I have come 
to help you in your poverty. You will worship me 
on the third day of every week. Only place my ghat 
in your home and there will be no end to your pros- 

Kalaketu, now restored to speech, said " Par- 
don me, but how can I believe you to be Chandl ? 
My whole life has been spent in wickedness. I 
have killed numberless animals in fact killing is 
my avocation. You probably know some spell by 
which you have overpowered me. If you are 
really Chandl then mercifully show yourself to me, 
O Divine Mother, in that form in which you are 
worshipped by the world/' 

In a moment the figure of the damsel grew in 
size. The crown on her head seemed to touch the 
starry regions of the sky, and her ten arms holding 
the lotus, the discus, the triand, and other weapons 
were extended outwards in the ten directions. Her 
gracious face, full of majesty and glory, smiled on 
him with motherly love. Her apparel bedecked with 
jewels, fluttered in the evening breeze. One of 


her feet was placed on a lion and the other on the 
demon-king Mahisasura. Thus sublime and awe- 
inspiring, she revealed herself to the sight of the 
mortal couple and the winds threw treasures of the 
flowers to the feet of the gracious mother of the 

Kslaketu and Phullara with folded palms stood 
before Chandl, tears still flowing from their eyes. 
Gradually the form of Chandl faded away in the 
sky. The whole thing appeared to have been an 
illusion. The tint of the Divine Mother was 
merged in the colour of the AtasI flower which 
abounded in the place. Her hair vanished in the 
clouds. Her majesty spread itself in the quiet glow 
of the firmament, and slowly the glorious vision 
passed away. The earth and heaven appeared 
like the sacred emblem of her divine presence. 
Then, once more she stood before them in the form 
of the beautiful damsel standing at the cottage door, 
and asking what boon the couple would beg of her. 
Kalaketu only half articulately said, " Oh Mother, 
we want nothing more, our life is made blessed ; 
our wants are all satisfied." 

Chandl now bestowed a valuable ring on the Chandl 
huntsman and showed where a great treasure lay wealth. 
buried in seven jars. She also helped him to carry 
the treasure to his cottage. Her command was, that 
Kalaketu should found a kingdom in Guzrat with 
the money and there rule his subjects justly, and 
introduce the worship of Chandl amongst them. 

Next morning Kalaketu went forth with the ring Kalaketu 
to turn into hard-cash. The money changer to whom Murarl 
he applied was Murari ila, a dishonest fellow, who ila * 


king of 


is con- 
quered by 

the king 
of Kalinga. 

tried to cheat him of the precious possession by 
paying him a nominal value. But the diamond in 
the ring was peerless and Chandi had told Kalaketu 
of its value. After much haggling the price was 
settled at seven crores of rupees. 

With this money, and the treasure found in the 
jars, he proceeded to Guzrat where he cut down 
the forests and founded a city in honour of Chandi. 
A great flood in the meantime overtook the king- 
dom of Kalinga and the people there became 
homeless. With Vulan Mandala at their head they 
came to GuzrSt in crowds to inhabit it. Amongst 
them came Bharu Datta a knave who, with his glib 
tongue and high sounding phrases won his way 
into the confidence of King Kalaketu ; but Bharu 
grievously oppressed the people, and so he was 
turned out of Guzrat by order of the King. While 
in this plight he uttered a mysterious threat, saying, 
<( Phullara the Queen will soon be reduced again to 
her old position as the wife of a huntsman. She 
will once more carry baskets on her head as she 
used to do." He went to Kalinga and there gaining 
access to the court of the king, gave information 
as to how Kalaketu formerly a poor huntsman in 
his dominion, had now founded a new kingdom in 
Guzrat by taking away with him, nearly half the 
population of Kalinga. At this report the monarch's 
anger knew no bounds. He led an hostile expedi- 
tion and Kalaketu was conquered and thrown into 
prison. There in deep despair, the huntsman 
offered prayer to Chandi, He was to be beheaded 
the next morning. In this desperate plight he looked 
up to heaven and prayed with all his heart to have 
once more a sight of that Mother of the Universe 


who had condescended to visit his cottage when he 
was a huntsman. She came again and held out her 
gracious hand offering him her benediction. That 
night a terrible dream was dreamt by the king of 
Kalinga that his army was destroyed mysteriously 
by some unseen agency. He was so impressed that 
next day he restored Kalaketu to his kingdom, and 
his own army was restored to life by the grace of 
Chandl. Bharu Datta was turned out from both the 
kingdoms and the two kings became fast friends. 

Shortly after this, Kalaketu died and went to 
heaven, as Nilgmvara, son of Indra the period of 
the curse having expired. Phullara who had been 
Chhaya, Nilambara's wife and had been born as the 
daughter of Sarijayaketu with the object of sharing 
the misfortunes of her husband, accompanied him 
to heaven, on the expiration of her self-imposed 
term of life on earth. 

Pu?paketu, son of Kalaketu and Phulhua, then 
became the King of Guzrat. 

We now pass to the second of these two compa- 
nion-stories, which, although different, always 
form a single volume . 


to his 


The term 

of curse 



The Story of rimanta Sadagar. 

Ratnamals, a nymph of Indra 's heaven was, 
under a curse, born on earth as Khullana. 

The merchant Dhanapati was in the full vigour 
of his youth. He was a well built man of hand- 
some features, well-versed in the fashionable learn- 
ing of the day and immensely rich. He had a wife 
named LahanS, 



and his 




His favourite amusement was playing with pi- 
geons. The male pigeon was taken to the forest 
and there let loose while its mate was kept in the 
house of our hero many miles off. The male pi- 
geon would then, inspite of obstructions, fly back 
home to join his companion and the homeward 
flight of the bird through the sky would be en- 
thusiastically watched by the young men who 
sported with them. One day Dhanapati had loosed 
his male pigeons, as usual, in an adjoining wood. 
All of them returned except one who was pursued 
by a kite. Seeing no other way to escape from his 
enemy, the pigeon dropped to the ground and hid 
itself in the outer garments of a very young and 
fascinating maiden. This lady was no other than 
Khullana the daughter of Laksapati the mer- 
chant. The girl was much pleased with the beauty 
of the bird and gave it shelter. 

Now, Dhanapati waited some time for his favou- 
rite pigeon but when it grew late and the wanderer 
was not forthcoming, he commenced a vigorous 
search with his companions. He ran along the 
steep edge of the hills, through thorny plants and 
briers, till breathless, coming to the limits of a 
village named Ichhaninagar, he heard that Lak?a- 
pati's daughter Khullana had taken possession of 
his pet-bird. He at once hied to the mango groves 
where Khullana was gaily rambling with her maids. 
Khullana knew that Dhanapati was the husband of 
her cousin Lahana. This relationship, gives a wo- 
man liberty in Hindu society to make a little fun 

The and Khullana did not allow the opportunity to slip. 
merchant T . , , , .,_ 

and the In coquettish tones, she argued with Danapati now 

damsel. Begging for his bird, that it had come of its own 


accord and she could not give it up. The kite would 
have killed it and as she had saved its life, Dhana- 
pati had no right over it. The more the young 
merchant argued this point, the more did she smile 
sweetly and stood firm in her resolve not to return 
the pigeon. 

The charming smiles of this young and lovely 
damsel made Dhanapati's head giddy. He forgot 
all about his pigeon and stood rooted to the spot 
lost in a reverie. The girl, however, returned 
the bird and disappeared with her maids. But the 
echo of her joyous laughter rang in Dhanapati's 
ears after she had gone. 

His first act on returning home was to depute to < marry. 
Janfirdana, a Brahmin and a match-maker, to 
propose to Laksapati that he should give him his 
daughter in marriage. 

Laksapati could make no objection to such a 
proposal. Considering all points, where could he 
expect to find a better birde-groom than Dhana- 
pati ? He had already a wife, it was true, but peo- 
ple of his rank and position were scarcely expected 
to remain contented with one wife, and this could 
not be held as a disqualification. Lak?apati's wife 
however, objected to give her fair daughter to Dha- 
napati, because she knew his wife Lahana, to be a 
termagant. " It would be better," she said, " to 
drown our Khullana in the Ganges than to give 
her away to a man who has already a wife and that 
wife of the temper of Lahana. " The astrologer 
was called in ; he examined the marks on the palm 
of Khullana and prophesied that if she were not 
given to a man who already had a wife, she was 


Is won 




is sent to 


surc\to become a widow. Now, widowhood in India 
is held more terrible than death. So the frightened 
mother immediately gave her consent. r But Dhana- 
pati himself had to obtain the permission of Laha- 
na to marry a second wife. The news of these 
negotiations had already reached Lahana, and she 
sat in one corner of her room as angry as the 
summar-clouds when it is ready to hurl the 
thunder-bolt. But though a shre\v and obstinate, 
she could be weak to the verge of folly. Dhanapati 
had nothing else to plead than to bay A few sweet 
words to her ; " You are so beautiful, my darling ; 
but having no one to aid you in the duties of the 
kitchen, you are growing sickly. How I pity your 
lot ' If you do not mind it, dear wife, I shall find for 
you one who will be like a maid-servant in the kitchen 
and carry out all your orders in domestic affairs." He 
shewed her also five tolas of gold which he intend- 
ed to give to the goldsmith to make a pair of 
bracelets of a wonderfully beautiful pattern tor 
her. Lahana's anger was dispersed like the 
summar-clouds at these sweet words from her hus- 
band and, accepting his gift, she readily gave her 
consent to the proposed match. Thus Khullana was 
married to Dhanapati. 

At that very time a pair of birds called uka 
and sari was purchased by the king of Ujani. 
These birds had a marvellous gift, they talked like 
men. As there was no artist in the country who 
could make a beautiful cage of gold for the birds, 
and as the artists of Gauda were noted for their 
skill in making gold-cages, the king asked Dhana- 
pati to go to Gauda and give orders for a first-class 
gold cage ; he was to see it done and carry it to 


Ujani. While giving this order, the King smiled 
and said, " I depute you for this task because I 
know that you have recently married a very beautiful 
bride, and you will not wish to stay long at Gauda ; I 
shall therefore have the thing done in the shortest 
possible time." 

Dhanapati Sadagara left Ujani for Gauda con- 
signing young and lovely Khullana to the care of 

No\y Lahana bore Khullana no grudge. True to 
the promises she had made to her husband, she 
treated the girl with great kindness, taking parti- 
cular care to prepare dainties for her, and looking 
to her comfort with the watchful eyes of a loving 
sister. But Durvala, the maid-servant, did not like 
this state of things. As long as there was no 
quarrel between the co-wives, thought she, the 
task of the maid-servant was but thankless drudgery. 
u As soon as there is a quarrel between such per- 
sons, either will hold my services dear if I can 
abuse the other." Thinking in this strain, she 
privately warned Lahana against indulging in 
such affection for the co-wife. " Your ddrk thick 
hair is already strewn with gray," she said, " the 
hair of Khullana, on the other hand, is as black as 
a cluster of bees and as pleasant to see as the 
plumes of a peacock. Your cheeks are darkened 
by the shadows of passing youth, whereas young 
Khullana 's face glows with the freshness of the 
dawn ; while her beauty is gradually brightening, 
yours is waning. When the merchant returns, he 
will be drawn by the fresher charms of his young 
wife and your position will be permanently in the 












kitchen. Why not take early steps to save yourself 
from such coming danger ? You are feeding a 
venomous snake with milk. Take care, or it may 
bite you and so put an end to your life." 

Now, Lahana, as already said, was rather stupid. 
She lent a credulous ear to this mischievous advice, 
and asked Durvala if she could help her with 
any device by which she might get rid of her co- 
wife or otherwise bring her husband completely 
within her own control. Durvala went in her turn 
to Lila, a Brahmin widow, versed in the charms by 
which a wife may fully control her husband. She 
prescribed a charm which required the following 
ingredients: tortoise-claws, raven's blood, dragon's 
scales, shark's suet, bat's wool, dog's gall, lizard's 
intestine, and an owlet dwelling in the cavity of 
a rock.* Ending her advice, however, Lila said "This 
charm will doubtless have its due effect ; but I 
am not sure how far it will help you to gain your 
end. In some cases it fails and I cannot say, with 
certainty, that in yours it will be infallible. There 
is one thing, however, which I can assure you, will 
help you to win your husband's love, and is better 
to my mind, than all these medicinal charms put to- 
gether." "What is that?" asked Lahana with eager- 
ness. " It is sweet words/' Lila said, " and a loving 
temper that will act best of all to win the love 

* These extraordinary ingredients for the preparation of 
charms were used by the Indian gypsies who wandered all over the 
world during the middle ages, and were thus known to the people 
of East and West alike. We find them again in the description 
of the witch's broth in Macbeth which includes among other 
things, adder's fork, eye of newt, scale of dragon, maw of shark, 
wool of bat, gall of goat, lizard's legs and wings of owlet. This 
list strikingly tallies with that given in this Chandi K&vya by 
Mukundarjm who was a Bengali, contemporary of Shakespeare, 


of your husband." Lahana said : " But it is absurd ! 
I have hitherto ruled my house alone. If I find 
that he grows indiffierent to me, while Khullana is> in 
high favour, I shall not be able to brook it. My course 
has always been like this. If I found a flaw in my 
husband, however small it might be, I made much 
of it, and continually harped upon his wedk point. I 
cannot consent to live here like a tame lamb. It was 
foolish to send for you, Llla, in order to receive this 
advice!'* She then dismissed the wise woman, and 
after consultation with Durvala, lial recourse to 
another device. She had a letter written, pur- 
porting to have been addressed to herself by 
Dhanapati, from Gauda. It ran as follows : 

" My blessings on you, my loving wife, Lahana ! 
I hope you and all with you are all well. I am at 
Gauda and shall probably stay for sometime longer. 
I have some misgivings about Khullana, and my de- 
cision is deliberate. I feel that my marriage with 
her has not been approved of by the gods. It 
was an inauspicious affair. No sooner was I 
married to her, than there came a command from 
the Raja of Ujanl requiring me to leave home and 
to sojourn in distant parts; and since then I have 
had no peace of mind. It is not safe or desirable to 
treat Khullana with love and affection, lest Provi- 
dence be further enraged and hurl more miseries 
upon me. You must do as I say. As soon as you 
get this letter, strip her of all ornaments and fine 
apparel. Give her a rag of coarse khuea cloth to 
wear, and appoint her to tend the sheep in the 
fields. Give her half a meal of coarse quality and 
let her sleep in the place where the rice is husked, 
Do not omit to carry out these orders," 


The false 


great love. 

of blows. 


tends the 


Lahana thought if Khullana were treated in 
this way, her beauty would fade and she would 
never be able to gain full control over her husband's 
heart. This would happen as a matter of course 
from hardship, starvation and exposure. 

This letter was enclosed in an envelope, and 
Lahans, with tearful eyes, professing great love for 
Khullana, met her and showed it to hor, at the 
same time saying, that she was bound to catry out 
her husband's orders, though she would do so with 
the greatest reluctance and her heart, in fact, was 
breaking at the thought of what was before her. 

Now, Khullana was very intelligent, and though 
not a shrew like Lahana, she could not be so easily 
made to yield to the stratagem without resistance. 
She saw the letter and pronounced it a forgery, 
declaring it impossible that her husband should 
write in such a manner about her. The hand-writ- 
ing was not his, and the whole thing was the work 
of Lahana inspite of this great love which she 
professed for her. A hot discussion was soon fol- 
lowed by an exchange of blows. Lahana was 
the stronger of the two. So Khullana could not 
long maintain the fight and had to yield to superior 

Thereupon the youthful Khullana, as beautiful 
as picture, clothed in rags and with only the leaf 
of a fig tree to protect her head from the sun, went 
out to the fields to tend the sheep. Unaccustomed 
to walking, she grew tired and weary and she could 
not manage the animals. They ran into the rice fields 
and ate up the plants, while the owners reproached 
her. She wiped away her tears with one hand, while 


the other held the shephard's crook. By this time 

the spring had come. The trees were hung with 

blossoms and the fields were covered with fresh 

green verdure. The bees hummed in concert with 

the songs of the birds; and the Madhavl, the Ayoka, 

and the MalatI flowers looked like fringes on the The gay 

border-line of the sky. Amidst all this beauty, spring and 

Khullana, inspite of her hardships, felt a longing 

to see her husband. She went up to the bee 

and begged it not to hum. She prayed the Kokila 

to go to Gauda and bring her, by its cooings, 

to her husband's recollection. She caressed the 

tender Madhabl creeper, rich with the treasures 

of the spring that clung to the A^oka tree and 

called it most fortunate to have its supporter at 


A few days passed in this manner and her beau- 
ty gradually faded. She could not eat the coarse 
food, she could not sleep on the hard ground, she 
could not manage the sheep that were placed in 
her charge. One day at noontide, as she was re- 
posing in the shade of a tree, Chandl appeared 
before her in a dream in the guise of her mother. 
" The sight of your misery rends my heart, 
O Khullana/' she said. " The sheep named Sarva^I 
has been eaten up by a fox. Lahana will all but 
kill you to-day." The girl awoke with a start and 
sought forSsrva?!. Alas! SarvagI was gone. Tears 
rolled down her cheeks, as she cried " Sarval, 
Sarva^I," all about the field. She did not abandon 
her search till evening. But the sheep was not 
found. Khullana did not venture to return home, 
for fear of Lahana's punishment. In the evening 
strolling all round the field with tearful eyes, 


famished, worn-out, and fatigued as she was, she 
could no longer walk. The shades of evening 
spread over the earth. It was all so cool ! There 
was a consolation in the very darkness of the 
night a healing breath in the breeze and Khullanfi 
thought she was safe from the sight of men and 
began to weep in silence, resigning herself to 
Chandl, when suddenly she saw at a little distance, 
lights kindled by five beautiful damsels. They were 

KhuIIanft doing some thing which she could not understand. 

^Cfiand?f With slow pace she came up to them and intro- 
duced herself to these damsels, who were no 
other than five nymphs of Indra's heaven. They 
were grieved to hear of the miseries of Khullanfi, 
and asked her to worship Chandl as they were there 
doing, giving her every assurance that the cause of 
her grief would be removed thereby. 

There, with heart cleansed of all sin by her mani- 
fold sufferings, with the resignation and faith of one 
who is helpless, she offered flowers to Chandl and 
a feeling of pure satisfaction and complacency stole 
over her which she had never known before. She 
felt contented with her lot and now cared not what 
might befal her. She slept at night with the five 
nymphs and had a quiet and undisturbed rest. Next 
morning she looked prettier than she had ever 
done before. 

As Khullanft did not return home at night, Laha- 
na felt great anxiety about her safety, " Has any 
evil/' she thought, " befallen Khullana ? Who 
kndws what has come upon her, she may have been 
Lfthana's killed by some wild beast, or which would be worse, 
she may have been taken away by wicked men, 
young and beautiful as she is ! My husband will 


shortly return and what shall I say to him ? He 
especially commended her to my charge." Lahana 
felt uneasy and could not sleep all night. 

That very night Dhanapati, the merchant, had a 
dream, in which Khullana seemed to appear before 
him, and tenderly censure him for forgetting her 
so long. He felt a great desire to meet his young 
wife, and as the cage was now ready, set out for 
home, the very next morning. 

In the meantime Lahana had sent her people 
to search for Khullana. In the morning she came 
of her own accord and Lahana having repented 
of her wickedness, received her with open arms, 
ind began once more to show her all that loving 
:are with which she had treated her before DurvalS 
had poisoned her mind against her. 

Dhanapati returned to Ujanl. There, after an 
interview with the king Vikrama Ke9arl, from whom 
be received praise and rewards, he came home, and 
ivent straight to the inner appartments of his house. 
\iter a formal interview with Lahana, he hastened 
o meet Khullana. She was dressed in the finest 
ittire and looked exceedingly beautiful ! The 
nerchant addressed her with loving words but the 
:oy damsel would give no response, which only 
enhanced his eagerness to enjoy her company. 
kVhen they were alone together, in answer to 
lis words of endearment, tears flowed from her eyes, 
ler confidence was gradually won, and then she 
>roduced the letter given her by Lahana, command- 
ing that Khullana should be sent away to the 
: orest to tend the sheep. Dhanapati was taken by 
jurprise at this disclosure, and heard with anger 


sets out 

for home. 





to one 






and regret the sad tale of the miseries endured 
by Khullana in his absence. Being now convinced 
of her husband's affection, Khullana willingly 
forgave the wickedness of the co-wife and gave 
free expression to the sweetness of her own feeling, 
while Dhanapati bitterly repented having left her 
in the care of so dangerous a woman as Lahana. 

Next day Khullana was asked by Dhanapati 
to provide a banquet for some friends whom he had 
invited; and Lahana's anger knew no bounds at 
being thus passed over in her own house. The in- 
vited guests thoroughly enjoyed the viands prepar- 
ed for them by Khullana, and lavished praise on her 
skilful cooking. This further wounded the feelings 
of Lahana, who had eaten nothing the whole day. 
In the evening, however, Khullana went to her and 
fell at her feet, asking forgiveness for any unknown 
offence she might have given her, and matters were 
mended by this kindly act. 

The poets here introduce an episode describing 
the srad ceremony of the father of Dhanapati, in 
which all his caste-men were invited to his house ; 
there a dispute arose as to which of them should 
receive precedence as the head-Kulin in that assemb- 
ly. Dhanapati himself assigned the preference to 
Chand the merchant, but at this, the argument wax- 
ed so hot that many of the host's clansmen for- 
sook him. At this stage some wicked men present 
in the meeting, who wanted to lower Dhanapati 
in the estimation of all, seemed to cast a slur on 
the honour of his family by their insinuations 
agajnst Khullana's character, as she had been, for 
a period, deprived of the protection of Zenana-life, 


and sent to the fields to tend the sheep. Dhanapati 
was naturally indignant at this ; but as the party 
against him, who were jealous of his wealth and 
power, grew strong, Khullana, inspite of her hus- 
band's strong objections, stepped forward on the 
scene and declared her unshaken resolve to pass ^. 

through a number of ordeals with a view to estab- ordeals. 
lishing her innocence. The ordeals began. A venom- 
ous snake was let loose to bite her, but she appear- 
ed livelier after the bite, Chandl having herself pro- 
tected her favourite. Her enemies, however, said that 
it was all a trick, the snake was a harmless one. Next 
she was branded with a red-hot iron ; but by the 
grace of Chandl, it did not leave any mark on her 
person. The relations again said that this was also 
a trick. The iron-bar was made red by some device 
without being heated. 

Next a house of lac was built and Khullana 
wis placed inside, and it was set on fire. The fire 
spread with fury ; the lac-house was destroyed. 
Dhanapati grew mad with grief ; he offered to 
throw himself into the fire and put an end to his 
life, as without his loving wife Khullana who had 
suffered great ills in life and now met a tragic death 
all for his own fault, life would be unbearable. But 
just as he stepped forward to fling himself into the 
burning embers, there appeared Khullana fresher 
and livelier, than ever, her red apparel shining in 
the glare of the fire, and not a hair of her head 
touched by the flames with which she was sur- 

The relations and friends stood wonder-ptruck 
at this spectacle. Instinctively they bowed to her 

4 1 


The sea- 





in reverence, and the matter came to an end, Khul- 
lans having aquitted herself triumphantly in all 
the trials. 

Dhanapati next undertook a sea-voyage for 
trade. He fixed a day for setting out from home 
and called in an astrologer to say whether that date 
would be auspicious or not. The fortune-teller 
ventured to say that he disapproved of the day, 
but such a contradiction seemed to Dhanapati like 
impertinence, and he ordered his servants to turn 
him out of the house with contumely. Khullans 
meanwhile was worshipping Chandi in order 
to gain her favour and win her blessings for her 
husband on the eve of his departure. 

When Dhanapati came to bid farewell to his 
wife and found her engaged in this worship of 
Chandi, he grew very angry and saying " What 
witch is this you are worshipping, wife !" he kicked 
over the ghat and went away with a frown, 

On the high sea, the six ships of Dhanapati 
were all wrecked by a storm, which was sent by 
Chandi, all, save the Madhukara that is to say, 
the flag-ship in which the merchant himself 
had embarked. After this disaster he went to Ceylon. 
Near that Island in the great Indian ocean he saw 
a strange sight. Lotuses with red petals and 
large green leaves were springing up all over the 
blue waters, and moving gently in the breeze. On 
the noblest and loveliest of these flowers was 
seated a woman of unparalleled beauty. Her 
majestic looks and the light that shone about her 
face spread a quiet glow over the blue waters, and 
looked as if painted against the blue horizon* 


One might almost have imagined that the lotuses 
blushed for shame at being eclipsed by her resplen- 
dent beauty. And what was this woman doing ? 
Wonder of wonders! she had caught with one 
tender hand a huge elephant which with the other 
she was putting into her mouth. The stem of the 
lotus was shaking under its strange load, in which 
the beautiful and the grotebque were fantastically 
blended, and Dhanapati cried out in wonder : 4< But 
how can the weak lotus bear so heavy a burden !" 

He landed in Ceylon and had an interview with 
the king to whom he related this wonderful vision. 
The king only smiled and said it was a mad man's 
story, and all the courtiers laughed at him. It was 
a marvel, added the king, that his ship itself had 
not been swallowed up by the lady ! But when 
the merchant insisted on his point, and talked in 
all other respects like a sane man, he entered into 
an agreement with him, to the effect that he would 
forego half his kingdom and bestow it on Dhana- 
pati if he could show him the same phenome- 
non. Should it prove, however, that all was a 
mere fantasy, as the king thought, his ships and all 
his property would be confiscated and he would 
be thrown into a dungeon for life for putting a 
monarch to such trouble. 

They both embarked on a ship and reached the 
spot where Dhanapati had witnessed the extra- 
ordinary spectacle. But a wide space of blue waters 
confronted them, huge blue waves, rolling in from 
the blue sea, blue waves, moving to the blue 
horizon, and nothing more no lady, no lotus, no 
elephant met their eyes. The merchant looked 


king dis- 
believes the 



into prison. 


everywhere in vain for them. Alas, he was thrown 
into a dungeon, and condemned to be there in 

chains for the remainder of his life. 

play of At Ujani, a son was born to Khullana, a lovely 

the boys* . . . 

child whom everyone in the village loved dearly. 

He was named rimanta. He played manly games 
with his comrades. The play of Ha-do-do, by 
which the muscles become strong, was his favourite, 
but the pastoral games of rlkrina were the craze 
of the young men of that period. One of the 
boys would act the part of the demon of the whirl- 
wind Trinavarta. He would sweep down like a 
whirl-wind and surprise the others who were 
acting the parts of the Vrindavana-bhepherds, 
and rimanta, figuring as Krisria, would kill 
Trinavarta after a severe battle. Sometimes a boy 
would take the part of Jasoda, but rlmanta, the 
young Krisna, proved too heavy for this, when the 
former tried to lift him in her arms. Poor Jasoda 
fell to the ground with her Krisna and the sound 
of laughter was heard among the boys, who enjoy- 
ed failure and success with equal zest. At one time 
Narasimha Das, one of the companions of rlmanta, 
became Bramha, the god with four faces, and 
took away a kid belonging to the shepherds. 
Crlmanta, as Krisna, produced an illusion and in a 
mysterious way the kid \\as made to reappear 
and Bramha 's attempt to thwart Krisna was 

Thus all that Kri?na did with the shepherds in 
the groves of Vrinda was re-enacted in Ujani, and 
no one there played his part so well as Crlmanta, 
the son of Dhanapati. 


Then he was sent to a day-school belonging to The doting 
Dwija Janardana. The boy acquired Sanskrit her child. 
rhetoric and grammar in no time. He displayed 
wonderful intelligence and power of grasping the 
texts. Whatever he laid his hands on, he did with 
marvellous grace, for surely his birth had been the 
result of a boon, granted by Chandl to his mother 
Khullang, as a reward for her life-long devotion to 
that goddess in the midst of many sufferings. 

Much as rlmanta was loved, however, his 
father's long and unexplained absence from home, 
cast a gloom on the family ; and going to school at 
the age of twelve, the sensitive child w r as wound- 
ed by a slight levelled against his birth, by his 
teacher on the score of his father's long absence 
from home. 

Now rjmanta was loved by all, he had never 
been accustomed to harshness. His teacher's 
remarks, therefore, cut him to the quick. He was 
now a lad of some twelve years. He made for 
home straight way and going there shut himself 
up in a room alone, not even seeing his mother. 

Khullana made enquiries about him and dis- 
covered him in his solitude sobbing out his misery, 
and when his mother had asked him again and 
again what was the matter, he told her what the 
teacher had said, weeping all the while vehemently ; 
he expressed his desire to go at once in search of 
his father, wherever he might be, nor would he 
touch food, until his mother gave him permission 
to set out on this quest. 

Poor Khullana did not know what to do. 
Her dear lord had been away for more than twelve 
years. She bore a sorrow in her heart for which 

on sea 


The king 

But to no 



there was no cure. Every night when others were 
asleep, she would lie and weep for long hours 
till her eyes closing in sleep, she sometime 
dreamt, that her husband had come back, and 
was speaking sweetly to her. But when morn- 
ing dawned, she knew no joy, for it woke her up 
to stern reality taking from her this sweet inter- 
view. When her neighbours would talk of their 
husbands, she would retire to her room, with pale 
face, to hide her tears. The only consolation of 
her life was her son rlmanta. When she saw him 
in such distress about his father, she felt that her 
heart would break. She was wounded at a vital point 
and could only cry helplessly without trying to hide 
her tears. How would she be able to live without 
her son a mere lad, who was the only solace of 
her lonely life ! But the boy, though so young, 
possessed unflinching determination. Khullana, 
LahanS, Durval and other inmates of the house 
tried all that was in their power to dissuade him 
from his course, but in vain ; and when nothing 
could shake his resolve, KhullanS sent informa- 
tion to King Vikrama Ke^arl with a piteous re- 
presentation of her case and asked his help in 
bringing rimanta to his senses. The King readily 
consented to give his aid in counselling the boy 
to a right course ; but rlmanta would not touch 
food and seemed resolved to starve himself if per- 
mission were not granted him for going. When the 
king called him into his presence, he could not 
reply to him, his voice being choked with tears, 

It was very difficult to deal with such a head- 
strong boy. KhullanS at last in deep anguish of 
heart gave him permission to undertake a sea* 


voyage, and young (Jrlmanta gladly made himself 
ready for the journey. Khullana gave him sound 
advices as to how he should proceed with his 
mission, and so did the king, who also ordered 
seven good ships to be built for him. They were 
made ready in a short time, and Crlmanta set sail 
in them on an auspicious day. 

Khullana all the while was engaged in worship^ 
ping Chandi. What else could she do in her utter 
despair ? Her husband was gone and now her 
child also was to be parted from her. The ghat 
of Chandi was her only solace in this deplorable 
condition. When the ships sailed, she stood look- 
ing, with wistful eyes at the southern skies at 
which the unfurled sails seemed to be aiming. 
She resigned herself to the will of Chandi and re- 
mained fixed to the spot like a statue. 

Crlmanta was overjoyed as the sea-wind 
touched him. He was determined to find his 
father or die in the attempt. He had felt all along 
that his mother was sad, without being able to 
divine the reasons. He had always marked the melan- 
choly expression of her lovely face, and he now 
understood, that her sorrow was all for the absence 
of her lord If he could not make his mother 
happy, what was the good of his living at all 
"0 divine mother Chandi, do thou help this poor 
boy to gain his object," he prayed day and night 
and the ships went on, towards Ceylon. 

There is here a long catalogue of the cargo and 
a detailed description of the voyage. Last of all he 
came to Ceylon, but near the Island, upon the waters 
of the great Indian Ocean the same spectacle 


The same 



And a 




to execu- 


that had caused his father's trouble, met his 
eyes also. A large space of blue water was cover- 
ed with lotuses and upon the finest and noblest of 
them, sat the same mysterious and beautiful 
woman with dishevelled hair. She also was swall- 
owing an elephant. 

The wonder which a spectacle like this naturally 
creates in one's mind had its effect on rlmanta and 
when he landed in Ceylon, in an interview with the 
king Calibahana, the very first thing that he related 
was concerning the woman seated on the lotus. 
"Why, this is another crazy head !" cried the king, and 
he tried to convince the boy that it was a silly story, 
a mere fantasy of his brain ; but rlmanta would not 
stop till an agreement was made that if he suc- 
ceeded in showing it to the king, he would give him 
his only daughter in marriage with half the king- 
dom as her dowry, but if it proved a failure he 
should be beheaded. The king already loved the 
boy for his handsome appearance and keen intel- 
ligence, but as rlmanta seemed determined to 
bring ruin upon himself, there was no help for it. 

They sailed to the spot on board a ship. But 
alas ! the illusion was not there. By order of the 
king, rimanta was now taken to the place of exe- 
cution. He was now a young and beautiful boy of 
twelve, so lovely that the women shed tears as 
they saw him carried for execution, Crlmanta re- 
collected his mother's face and tears came into 
his eyes. He had come to seek his father, but he 
was not destined to meet him in this world. He 
thought of his playmates of Ujani, of the fair 
fields and meadows, where they sported, of 
Durvala, the maid-servant, of his step-mother 


Labanft, of his grand-mother, and of every other 
person and object associated with his dear home, 
and tears which he could not check, streamed 
down his cheeks. On the scaffold he clasped his 
hands, and cried k Chandl, Chandl, O divine 
mother ! look at your child ' O Chandi, I would 
by your grace find out my father, I am now going 
to be taken away from both my parents." He 
collected himself in a moment, the growing 
emotions were checked, and he named all the 
names of Chandl, beginning with each of the 34 
characters of the Bengali Alphabet, and offered 
hymns to the goddess. There, like a statue, he 
>at and looked like a yogi, though a mere lad. 
In his distress the boy attained the resigned spirit 
ol an old man, and God being both father and 
mother to us, comes to man when he is thus re- 
signed ; when we know that we are mere 
tools in the divine hand, and that He is the main 
actor on this stage, and knowing so cling unto Him 
as a helpless child does to the mother, then the 
divine grace becomes unfailing. 

Chandl appeared on the scaftold. The divine 
mother took (Jrimanta in her arms and the execu- 
tioner was overawed by her presence. Information 
was sent to king alivahana that a mysterious 
woman was protecting rimanta, nnd the king 
ordered that the boy should be tnken from her b\ 
force, if necessary, and executed without delay. 

But the men who tried to apply force, were 
killed on the spot. Others were sent to their 
succour. They also shared the >atae fate, and a 
vast army, belonging- to the kiitg, came to the, 

Prays to 


Kills the 




field. Strange and mysterious creatures rose from 
underground, rending the very entrails of the earth, 
some with more heads than one and others without 
any head at all. Goblins called Kavandhas and 
Vetfils worked destruction on the royal forces, whose 
heroic feats in arms, seemed like child's play before 
the destructive agencies unloosed by Chandf. The 
goblins took the skulls of dead soldiers, and filling 
them \\ith warm blood, drank from them in wild 
and honid ecstacy. They picked up heads that 
rolled in the fields, and with human entrails threaded 
them into ghastly garlands and put them on 
nn<) danced. The witches cut corpses to pieces like 
butchers and dressed them, and sold them to new 
comers of their own sort. The heads of ele- 
phants were used as balls, with which a horrid-faced 
hob-goblin played, and others came to join the 
paity, who like the fabled anthropophagi, had heads 
beneath their shoulders. There, aloof from the field 
of destruction, sat Chandi like a mother, and 
rlmanta clung to her, like a helpless child, filled 
with courage and confidence, as is the baby by its 
mother's side. 

King liv5hana heard the story and himself 
came to the field. There he witnessed this spec- 
tacle of destruction, and felt that it was Chandl's 
wrath that had overtaken his army. He presented 
himself with reverence and humilation before the 
goddess, and worshipped her, praying a thousand 

forgivenesses. Chandi was propitiated. She restored 
Chandi is . . . 

prop!- the army to life and king alivahana gave his 

tiated. daughter in marriage to rlmanta with half his 
kingdom for dowry, By the grace of Chandf, 
the king now also saw the wonderful spectacle 


which she had created as an illusion to bewilder 
the father and the son on the waters of the sea ; 
the thick array of lotuses blooming on all sides and 
the mysieriouoly beautiful woman in the act of & wal- 
lowing an elephant. 

Next came the pathetic interview between The 
father and son. Dlianapati was imprisoned in a ^ eon 
horrible dungeon. The prison house extended its inmate. 
two miles in length and was almost without any 
breadth, and so low that a child could not stand 
upright in it. The floor was covered with woims 
Hviie in chains for twelve years with the coarsest uf 
grain for food, the princely merchant Dhanapati 
had lain like an earth-worm. For these twelve ye^rs 
he had not shaved. So his beard fell down to his 
knees. H.s naiU looked like the claws of a wild 
beast and his eyes were almost blind with cataract. 
The foot with which he had kicked the ghat of 
Chandi was heavy with elephantiasis. 

By order of Qrimanta the merchant was brought The father 

before him. Khullana had described his father to fl " d * he 


him before he left Ujani. The merchant, she said, 
had seven moles on the breast, and a black mark 
on the left side of his nose. He was tall, his eyes 
were large, and the grace of his person was like 
that of a god. Though so aged and afflicted with 
unsightly diseases, rimanta was yet able to see 
instinctively that it was his father who stood before 
him in chains. He felt a satisfaction which 
brought tears of joy to his eyes. He had the chains 
removed at once. The matted locks were combed 
and cleansed. The barber was employed to shave 
the beard and cut the hair, and anoint the body with 
perfumed oil. Crlmanta now asked Dhanapati 


who he was, and what had brought him to Ceylon. 
Dhanapali said i4 My name is Dhanapati Datta. I 
am a native of Ujani in Mangalakota in Burdwan. 
1 came here to trade but owing to an optical illusion 
which completely overpowered me, I brought about 
my own misfortunes The tale would be a long 
one, and you need not listen sir, to its details. 
How thankful am I to you, O prince ! for my release. 
If you permit, I may now start for my home to 
meet my beloved and long lost family." 

rimanta asked if he had left any children be- 
hind him. " I had two wives " said Dhanapati " the 
younger Khullana was to give birth to a child, but 
I could not wait at home to see it born. If a child 
were born to her in due course, that one must be now 
a little more than twelve years of age " and here 
Dhanapati manifested extreme anguish of heart. 
r)manta showed him the letter written by Dhana- 
pati to Khullanfi in which the merchant had alluded 
to the child that would be born to her. Dhanapati 
\vep( bitterly over the letter. It brought to his re- 
collection his dear wife and all the sufferings he 
had passed through during these twelve years. He 
implored (prlmanta to tell him how he came into 
possession of an article which belonged to his \\ife, 
and if he knew anything about Khullana and other 
inmates of his house. Finally he said, " the sight 
pf you, dear sir, I do not know why, has filled my 
heart with great delight. If I had had a son, he would 
have been exactly of your age." This was too 
much for rlmanta, who at these worcib fell pros- 
trate at his father's feet, and said " Father ! I am 
your unfortunate son. I started from home with 
ships, with the., object of finding you. Gra* 


cious Heaven has at last granted my prayers. But 
how it pains me to see you in this condition ! " 

Dhanapati would by no means agree to worship Dhanapati 
Chandi, but Crlmanta's entreaties became irresist- ^ci, J? S 
ible and eventually he yielded to them As soon 
ab he offered a flower to the cup of Chandi, his 
diseases the cataract in his eyes and the elephanti- 
asis in his foot, were cured, and he became once 
more prince-like and full of the glory of vigorous 

King alivahana came with a hundred excuses The happy 
and entertained the father and the son with all 
manner of courtesy. rimanta sailed homewards 
with Cecils the princess, whom he had married, 
and with immense riches and a good number of 
ships that he had received ab a dowry, together 
with the riches and shipb of his father, returned by 
the king with interest. In clue time he reached 
Ujfini. There king Vikramkefarl of UjSni also 
give Crimanta his own daughter in marriage. So 
with two wives he lived in happiness and prob- 
perity, and Khullana's happiness knew no bounds 
at having her dear lord back, They all lived 
many years in enjoyment ot all kinds of earthly 
fortune, and zealously did they worship Chandi whose 
grace had given them prosperity and happiness. In 
due time Khullana, who, as has been already said, 
wab a nymph of Indra's heaven, and (Jrlmanta who 
was the Gandharvya named Ma'adhar, both born 
on earth under a curse came to the end of their 
earthly careers. They then ascended into heaven, 
and the worship of Chandi spread in the country. 


The Ana- 


and MSnik 


These two stories form the subject matter of all 
poems on Chandl. In the Chaitanya Bhagbata, 
a work to which we have already alluded, we find 
that these devotional epics were generally sung at 
night. They were generally allowed to take ei^ht 
nights. Hence a poem in honour of Chandi WHS 
divided into eight parts, or Atamangala, each 
part being sung in a night. The poems must have 
been fairly long, to engage the audience for eight 
successive nights. 

i. & 2. We have also a few short poems on 
Chandl which seem to be the earliest known 
specimens of such poetry. One we find with the sig- 
nature of D\\ija Janardana, and another with that of 
Manick Dutta. The latter refers to the temple of 
DvaravasinI in Gouda. Dvaravasini was worshipped 
with great pomp by the Hindu and Buddhist kings 
of Gouda. With the fall of their power, the 
temple of the goddess, where hundreds of pilgrims 
from different parts of the country flocked to offer 
prayers, became deserted and eventually in the 
i6th century, was reduced to a heap of bricks. 
Manick Dutta refers to the flourishing condition of 
this temple which must have belonged to an age 
not earlier than the I3th century His poem 
also gives an account of creation on the lines of the 
Qunya Purana, with obvious traces of Buddhism. 
We must remember that the later writers of poem 
on Mangala Chandi tried to identify this goddess 
with Chandl as described by Markandeya, but ori- 
ginally she had no connection whatever with the 
Pauranic deity. Mangal Chandl was a popular deity 
worshipped in the villages by the rustic people, 
mostly women, and the Pauranic element introduced 




into it, is the work of subsequent writers. This will be 
evident from a perusal of the short poem by Mfinick 
Dutta which possesses, as I have said, far greater 
traces of Buddhistic influence than of Pauranic 

Manik Dutta and Dwija Janardana lived pro- 
bably towards the end of the I3th century. 

3. A third poem on Mangala Chandl was written 
by Madan Datta 

4. Sarada Mangal is another poem on Chandl 
by Muktarama Sen a Vaidya who settled in 
Devagram in Chittagong. He wrote his poem in 
1547. His mother with heroic devotion ascended 
the funeral pyre of her husband ' This sight," 
says the poet, "gave me a religious tendency from 
my childhood. Since that time I have cared not 
living for earthly objects , hence I desire to write 
this religious poem." 

Some other authors of poems on Chandl are . 
5 Devi Das Sen 

6. Civa Narayana Dev 

7. Kirti Chandra Das 

8. Balarama Kavi Kankana. 

9. Madhavacharyya. 

Madhavacharyya's Chandl Mangal was pub- 
lished some years ago by Pundit Chandra Kantha 
of Chittagong. Madhavacharyya wrote his poem 
in 1579. He was a native of Trivenl. His father 
Parasara was a man of great scholarship and piety, 
he was also wealthy, and spent much in charity. 
We find in the poern of M&dhavaehryya a re- 
ference to the Mogal Emperor Akbar of Delhi 


rftm Sen. 




who was a contemporary of the poet and of whom 
he speaks in terms of high regard. 

Madhavacharyya' s poem was first sung by a 
glee-party consisting of recruits from the lower 
classes and he prays to Chandl in the preliminary 
chapter that she may not be offended with him for 
their incorrect pronunciation, It is said that 
Madhavacharyya later on came and settled at Navin- 
gour (modern Nan pur) in the district of Mymen- 
sing. It will be seen that Mukundarsma Kavi 
Kankan's Chandl Mangal is a great improvement 
on the poem by Madhavacharyya as> indeed it is 
upon all other poems of this cult. In dealing with 
Mukundarama we shall touch on all the important 
features of the literature of the Chandl cult, so 
a separate notice of them is unnecessary. Madhav- 
acharyya' s poem was up till lately extensively read 
in Chittagong, and in the back-woods of Bengal. 
But the printing of Mukundarama' s work has 
carried it to all parts of the country, and it has 
now almost driven the former poem out of its 
strongholds in those backward regions where it 
held undisputed sway for more than three centuries. 
MukundarSm Kavikankan and his Chandl-mangal. 
We have now tome to consider one of the 
greatest of Bengali poets. Mukundarama was 
not given to idealism ; he depicted what he saw 
with his own eyes. One who reads his poems 
poet. closely will find the Bengali home of the i6th 
century mirrored in his pages. They are full of 
realistic interest. It is for the intense realism of 
his description that Prof. Cowell calls him the 
Crabbe of Bengal and Dr. Grierson speaks of 
his poetry " as coming from the heart and 


from the school, and as full of passages adorned 
with true poetry and descriptive power." But 
before dealing with his composition, we propose 
here to give an account of his life. 

In the autobiography affixed to his poem he His life. 
says that he was a native of Uaniunya in the 
district of Burdwan. He held some lands under one 
Gopinath Nandi \\ho owned considerable estates 
in Pergunnah Selimabad. Unfortunately for 
the people, a Muhamadan governor named Mamiul 
Sherif was entrusted with the administration of 
the Pergunnah. Under his rule the traders 
groaned. He made false measurements of lands ; 
a kura was measured as fifteen kathas , and rents 
were assessed on waste lands. '1 he poor man's 
prayer was not heeded. The money-lenders bo- 
came exacting. Each Rupee was shoit by 2\ annas. 
No purchasers were to be found for cattle or stock. 
The landlord Gopinath Nandi was made prisoner 
and the poor people became stunned with fear and 
grief. Lest they should abscond, constables were 
appointed to keep watch over every cottage. In 
deep distress the poor people sold their spades and 
every utensil they possessed. Things worth a 
Rupee were sold at ten annas. The poet, helped 
by rlmanta Khan, an inhabitant of Chandibati, 
and being counselled by Muniva Khan as to the 
course he should follow, left Damunya with his 
brother Ramananda. He reached Bhetna where 
Ruparay helped him with some money and where 
afterwards Jadu Nandi of the Teli caste opened his 
hospitable doors to the small family of our poet. 
There he spent three days. Then, sailing down the 
stream of Godai he reached Tey wettya and, passing 



He com- 
poses his 
great poem. 

His great 
love for 

his native 

Dwaruke^var, crossed the Damodara and came 
to the village Kuchuttya. " There without oil," 
says the poet u we had our bath and appeased our 
hunger by drinking water. The famished children 
cried for food. On the banks of a pond with 
offerings of Saluka and Sapla flowers I worshipped 
Chandl. Exhausted, famished, and frightened, I fell 
asleep and dreamt that the goddess Chandl appear- 
ed to me/ 1 

Chandl taught him metres and their laws, and 
bade him sing a song in her honour. 

He next went to Arrfih Brahmanbhumi, where 
Rsja Bankura Ray was much pleased with bis 
poetry. He ordered five aras of rice* to be pre- 
sented to the poet and cleared all his debts, and 
besides appointed him as a tutor to his son Raghu 
Nath Ray. There enjoying the patronage of the 
Raja, he began to w r rite his poem on Chandl which 
was destined to win for him such great celebrity. 
The Raja lavished rewards upon the chief singer, 
\vho sung the poem in his court, and held our poet 
in great esteem. 

But Mukundaiam never forgot the village of 
Damunya from which he had been driven by the 
oppression of Mamud Sherif, We can trace his 
yearning for his native place in the autobiographi- 
cal account. Though by the favour of the Raja, he 
now enjoyed plenty at Brahamanbhumi, Damunya 
where he had owned only a few acres of land and 
tilled them with his own hands, was far dearer to 
him by many tender associations. His family had 
lived at Damunya for eight generations, The 

* About 3 


village with the noble river Ratnanu flowing by it 
was ever-beloved, nay, sacred in his> eyes. He 
writes of Damunya in the following lines: 

*" Kayasthas, Brahmins and Vaidyas oi pure 
origin, all honest men live in Damunya. The 
southern part of the village is inhabited by 
poets and scholars. The Great God iva by 
his grace has favoured this village with his pre- 
sence. He is known by the name of Chakraditya, 
and the village possesses a special sanctity and is 
visited by pilgrims on account of his temple there 
which Vrisa Datta erected on the banks of the 
Ratnanu. O, Ratnanu ' I drank thy water, dear 
and sacred to me as Ganges water, and from the 
virtue earned by so doing, I was endowed with 
poetiral talents even from my boyhood and my 
very lirst production was a poem in honour of Civa. 
The people of Damun)a are devoted to the worship 

cvpw irai, 


of Chakraditya. The village belongs to him and 
we lived in his jurisdiction. Jasavanta Adhikari 
who is the ornament of the Kanjuri family, Umapati 
Ray, whose free hand bestows charity on every one 
v\ho is in need of it, the saintly Sarvananda of 
the Nag family and other good people all dwell in 
that village. There is besides lean Pundit, well- 
versed in the Upanishads, belonging to the Kata- 
ditya Vandighati family and Lokanath Misra, 
Dhananjay Misra of the Bengal Pasi Brahmin family 
who adorn our village." 

He next traces his own genealogy from Tapan 
Ojha, a Raja of the family of the Karori Brahmins 


<RT wr wt, ^i en 


and names all his ancestors, concluding the list 
with blessings on his eldest son ivaram. 

All this shows how, though cut off from Damunya, 
his mind was yet full of pleasant recollections of 
its scenes. The river Ratnanu, the village god 
Chakraditya, and even the temple erected by Vrisa 
Datta, and the dear friends whom he could never 
hope to meet again for many long year^, inspired 
his imagination and were sacredly kept in his 
memory. We may imagine him to look wistfully 
towards Da'mmya from the far off Brahmanbhumi, 
even as Adam did towards the garden of Eden 
after bidding it a last farewell. 

Towards the last years of his life when the 
economic stability of the country was improved, he 
returned to Damunya and there erected a small 
temple which he dedicated to the worship of the 
goddess Chandl. This deity was named by him 
Sirhhabahini, the goddess who rides on a lion, and 
she is still worshipped there. The manuscript of 
Chandl Kavya written by his own hands was till 
lately in the custody of his descendant Jogendra 
Nath Bhattacharyya and I had it copied by a 
Pundit under the direction of the Bangyia Sahitya 
Parisat of Calcutta. 

We have seen a deed of gift under the seal and 
signature of BarakhSn, Governor of Pergunnah 
Selimabad, dated 1640 A.D. conferring the right of 
twenty bighas of land on ivaram Bhattacharyya, 
the eldest son of Mukundaram, of \\hom the poet 
speaks so often in his Chandl Mangal. 

Mukundaram, who his generally known by his 
title of Kavikankan, finished his celebrated Chandl 


Finished Kftvya in 1589 A.D. when Mansimha was the 
kJfnTIp 1 governor of Bengal; the poet refers to Mansimha 
A. D. with great regard in the introductory canto of his 

The con- His poem is divided into three partb ; besides 

tents. the usual preliminaries in which he offers hymns 
to various gods and goddesses, he gives an account 
of himself and of his native village of Damunya. 

Of the three main chapters, the first is devoted 
to iva ; this is evidently that first production, to 
which he refers in his account of Damunya. The 
sacrificial ceremony of Daka, the catastrophe that 
befell him, the death of SatI who was re-born as 
Uma, and the austerities she passed through in her 
new life, with the object of regaining iva for 
her husband, the killing of Madan by the fires 
of (Diva's third eye, the bewailings of RatI, the 
wife of Madan (full of tender pathos ; such as "let 
the years that 1 might have lived be added to your 
life, my dear husband, do you live for ever, letting 
me die here at your feet") the mairiage, the various 
domestic scenes in Kailash, the dispute between 
Civa and Uma, and the worship of iva by Indra 
and so forth, form the subject-matter of the first 

The second canto gives the story of Kalketu the 
hunter, and the third that of the merchant-princes 
Dhanapati and rimanta. 

The works of Mukundaram contain in all more 
than 25,000 lines and a considerable portion of 
this has been rendered into English verse by Prof. 
E. B, Cowell, 


The poets of Bengal had been long aiming at a Depicts 
faithful depictment of scenes of their own home-life, home, 
and in Mukundaram their efforts reached the high 
water-mark of success. Like all great poets 
Mukundaram represents his own people and the 
pecularities of the age in which he lived. Tin; 
human world as he observed it in Bengal was con- 
stantly before his mind. Under the garb of the 
gods of heaven and even of the beasts of the 
forest, it is the people of Bengal who appear before 
our view in the characters that he has painted. 
The beasts of the forest complain to Chandi that 
they are in terror of Kalketu the hunter. The tiger 
who amongst the lower animals, is held to belong 
to the Ksatriya or warrior caste, the great elephant 
whose might is fully equal to his enormous bulk, 
the rhinoceroes with his dreaded sword, the great 
buffalo whose red-eyes frighten the enemy away, 
all look crest-fallen and humiliated. Their speeches 
strangely disclose the political life of Bengal as it 
was in Mtikundaram's time, even as the speeches 
of the fallen cherub in Milton's " Pandemonium " 
recall the views and sentiments of the Radicals 
during the Civil War in the time of Charles I. 

The humbler beasts complain to Chandi that they 
are poor innocent animals who graze in the fields and 
are neither Neogis nor Chaudries who own estates. 
The conversation of Chandi with the beasts, humilia- 
ted and stricken as they are by the arrows of Kalketu, The 
is full of significant hints indicating how the sun talk 
of the glory of the Hindu chiefs was setting before 
the superior martial power of the Moslem invaders, 
and how the yoke of Muhammadan rule fell upon all 
ranks in society without sparing even the lowest, 


A dark 

Chapter of 



The human 
interest in 
his poem. 

The period was indeed a dark one for Bengal. 
The Muhammadan autocrats were making their 
power felt. In the Padma Puran of Vijay Gupta 
we find good Brahmins with sandal marks on their 
foreheads and Tulsi leaves on their heads, being 
bound and dragged before the Kazi and there put 
to abject humiliation for no fault. We quote the 
following passage from Von Neor's Akbar. 

" When the Collector of the Dewan asks them 
(the Hindoos) to pay the tax, they should pay it 
with all humility and submission and if the 
Collector wishes to spit into their mouths, they 
should open their mouths without the slightest fear 
of contamination so that the Collector may do so. 
The object of such humiliation and spitting into 
their mouths is to prove the obedience of the 
infidel subjects under protection and promote il 
possible the glory of Islam, the true religion and 
to show contempt to false religion " 

We have already described how, owing to the 
oppression of Mamud Sherif in Pergunnah Selima- 
bad, the poet had been obliged to leave his native 
village. We have seen how, while describing a 
ficticious warfare between Kslketu and the beasts, 
Mukundaram unconsciously represented the politi- 
cal condition of his country. It is this reality which 
saves his poem from dullness even in the minutest 
details of the story. As in the case of the beasts, so 
also in the description of natural scenery, the human 
world constantly recurs ; and in whatever he sees 
on earth or heaven, he finds human society first and 
everything else in its light. Here is an extract 
from one of his descriptions of a flower-covered 


*" The bee merrily extracts honey from one flower 
and then enters the next, even as does the village- 
priest, receiving presents from one house, imme- 
diately turn to visit the neighbour's." 

The domestic life of Bengal so dominated his 
imagination, that even looking at the gay flower 
with the bee upon it, the poet is reminded of the 
Brahmin priest ' Mr. Co well justly remarks " Wher 
ever he may place his scenes, in (Diva's heaven 
or India or Ceylon, Mukundaram never loses sight 
of Bengal. He carries everywhere the village life 
of his own early days " 

In a few touches he often calls up a picture or 
a scene which seems to throb with life. Kalakctu 
the hunter, when a boy, is introduced to us by the 
poet in the following passage : 

t " His mouth, eyes, ears and nose were as fine Kalaketu 
as if they had been carved by a chisel, and his arms as a 
were as strong as iron-bars. On his forehead he 
wore an ornament called Kapgltati. A tiger's claw 
hung on his breast He used to besmear his body 
with the red dust of the play-ground. Amongst 
the children he looked like their chief. One who 
attempted to wrestle with him was treated to a 
hundred blows, in fact, it soon became a question 

TOT ClCT *tt*> StfWtft fw 


* * # 



of life and death with his antagonist, If any one of his 
comrades, who were no match for him in strength, 
persisted in wrestling, in spite of his evident inferi- 
ority, Kfilaketu would throw him to the ground with 
great force, and no one dared to challenge him after 
such an experience. With his companions he 
marched out to hunt the hare ; if the animals 
fled, there was no escape from the dogs that 
he let loose to pursue them. With infallible 
aim, he threw iron-balls at birds who fell to the 
ground where our hero caught them and bound 
with creepers. He hung the burden on his shoulders 
and returned home with his booty." 

The descriptions are refreshing, for they offer a 

A contrast, contrast to those copied in the Bengali poems of 

the period, from the stereotyped accounts of men 

and women to be found in the latter-day Sanskrit 


citw *jw TO, TO TW uft 
1 ctwra 



Mukundarsm's description of a social gather- 
ing is always endowed with life-like vividness. A social 
Dhanapati was giving precedence to Chand as a ga er "*' 
Kulina in an assembly of his caste-men. The 
poet thus describes the scene. 

* " So he (Dhanapati) weighing all points in his 
mind, offered water first to Chand the merchant. 
He put the sandal-mark on his forehead and hung 
the garland of honour about his neck. At this 
stage, Canklia Datta said, ' In the assembly of 
merchants, the place of precedence has always 
been mine. Your head seems to be turned by 
your riches, you do not pay me the lespect that 1 
deserve. On the rada ceremony of the father 
of Dhusa Datta, sixteen hundred persons belonging 
to the Benia caste were present and the first seat 
of honour was given to me. Dhusa Datta knows 
it well and Chand may have heard of it too.' 



^tft ^^ ^^^ff^ H 
^^ fcro 55 TRI i 


cious Heaven has at last granted my prayers. But 
how it pains me to see you in this condition ! " 

Dhanapati would by no means agree to worship 
Chandi, but (prlmanta's entreaties became irresist- 
ible and eventually he yielded to them As soon 
as he offered a flower to the cup of Chandi, his 
diseases the cataract in his eyes and the elephanti- 
asis in his foot, were cured, and he became once 
more prince-like and full of the glory of vigorous 

King livahana came with a hundred excuses 
and entertained the father and the son with all 
manner of courtesy. rlmanta sailed homewards 
with 1191)8 the princess, whom he had married, 
and with immense riches and a good number of 
ships that he had received as a dowry, together 
with the riches and ships of his father, returned by 
the king with interest. In clue time he reached 
UjSni. There king Vikramkefarl of Ujsni also 
give Crimanta his own daughter in marriage. So 
with two wives he lived in happiness and pros- 
perity, and Khullana's happiness knew no bounds 
at having her dear lord back, They all lived 
many years in enjoyment ot all kinds of earthly 
fortune, and zealously did they worship Chandi whose 
grace had given them prosperity and happiness. In 
due time Khullana, who, as has been already said, 
was a nymph of Indra's heaven, and Crimanta who 
was the Gandharvya named Ma'adhar, both born 
on earth under a curse came to the end of their 
earthly careers. They then ascended into heaven, 
and the worship of Chandi spread in the country. 


sit down to eat. He was so great a miser, that he 
stowed his cowrie bundles here, there and every- 
where. Son of such a worthy father, you are not 
ashamed, Nllambara, to talk aloud in a meeting 
like this ?" Nilambara Das did not look at Chand, 
in his contempt, but turned towards Ram Ray 
who was his son-in-law, and said "What fault can 
there be in one's plying his trade ? Is not the 
keeping of cowrie bundles a legitimate function for 
all of us who belong to the Benia caste ? He con- 
tinued " If the question of caste is to rise at all, 
why not take into account the case of Dhanapati 
himself ? His wife tended the sheep in the fields. 
Is this not a great stigma on him ?" 


wtf srfft ^fflr n 



I am afraid the translation will not give any 
adequate idea of the animation which characterises 
this controversy in the original. In the discussion, 
points are brought home in colloquial dialect, by 
references to matters pertaining to caste-honour 
and this point is not likely to be appreciated by 
non-Hindu readers, but in it nevertheless lies the 
realistic interest of the passage. 

In the description of the spring-season which 

adorns the forest with fresh leaves and flowers, 

the poet ushers in the fair damsel Khullang who has 

lion of the j u - st entered her teens, with singular poetic effect. 

spr ng. jjj er i ove iy presence enlivens the whole scene, 

adorned as this is with all the gay blossoms around 

her. Everything becomes part of a lovely romance, 

showing that our poet, though trained in the 

school of realistic poetry, had yet access to the 

land of the lotus. 

*" With Kamadeva (the god of love) as a compa- 
nion, the spring season entered the woods. The 
damsel was taken by surprize by the blossoms all 
around as she sti oiled on the banks of the Ajay. 
The trees and creepers became suddenly lit up with 



new joy. On the banks of the Ajay, under the 
shade of an A^oka tree, Khullana felt the tender 
emotions natural to youth. The red of the young 
leaves on the tree-tops about her, charmed her 
heart ; and she wonderingly thought that the spring 
as the first sign of its advent had placed vermilion- 
marks on the brows of the trees. The joyful bee 
drank honey from one flower, and straightway 
visited the next just as the village priest having 
received presents at one house moves onward to 
another. Moved by the gentle breeze, the trees 
dropped the flowers, and Khullana received their 
floral gifts with joined hands keeping them for the 
worship of Kama Deva (the god of love) that 
the god might create a longing in the mer- 
chant's heart for meeting her. The southern 
breeze blew softly. She pressed the A^oka and 
Kirii9uka to her breast. The Ketakl, Dhataki, 
Champaka, and the Kanchana bloomed on all 
sides, and the bees roamed in their drunken ecstacy 
from flower to flower. The Agoka tree was 
surrounded by creepers, she hastened to it and said 
' my friend, how fortunate you are ! you are far 




more happy than I am.' The creeper she embraced 
and said ' Tell me by what virtues you have earned 
the great love in which you are held ! The whole 
forest is made bright by your lovely presence/ The 
peacock with its partner sounded a gay note but 
Khullana was only made sad by it. The bee and 
her mate drank honey from the same flower and 
they were so happy ! Khullana clasped her hands 
and said ' Sing no more, O happy pair, hearing 
your sweet hum, 1 am reminded of my absent love. 

*Pf TO 

fttWF tfW TO* 



TO spun w \ 
CT^RH, C5i? itft 

From Kavikankan Chandi. 


While your mate is with you and you reside in the , 
lotus, alas, how can you realise Khullana's woes ! 
Now the humming bees move away, but the cadence 
of the Kokila's cooings fills the whole sky and 
Khullana, like a deluded soul, can only tell her woes 
to the birds/ 

From pastoral and romantic scenes, let us by way A money- 
of contrast descend into a money-changer's shop. shop, 
The passage quoted below contains a description 
of the interview between Kalaketu and Murari il. 

* The money changer Murari was a knave, he 
used to lend money and keep accounts. As soon 
as he learnt from the voice, that Kalaketu had come 
to the house, he withdrew to the inner appartments, 
as he owed Kalaketu one and half boorisf of 
cowries as the price of flesh supplied by him. 
"Where are you uncle " calls Kalaketu, "please 
come down, I have an urgent business with you !" 
But the wife of Murari came out and said "The 
money-changer is not at home. Your uncle went 



f One boori is less than a pice. 



Mur&ri(llt out at early dawn to collect interest from his 
debtors, the little money that we owe you will be 
paid to-morrow. You need not wait for him to- 
day. Bring some fuel and some sweet plums from 
the woods to-morrow, when we shall pay for them 
and also clear our own old bill." " I wanted to 
turn a ring into cash" said Kalaketu. " If Murari is 
out, I must hurry away, and find some other money- 
changer for it. " Wait a moment " said she " let 
me see what sort of a ring you have." Tempted by 
the prospect of making a profit, Murari crept out 
of tho inner appartments by the back door carrying 
in his hands scales and a purse for bargaining. 






The hunter greeted him pleasantly and Murfiri said 
' How is it nephew that I never see you now-a-days. 
Your conduct is very strange !' Kftlaketu replied 
1 Uncle I go to the forest early in the morning to 
spread my nets, and with arrows in hand I wander 
the whole daylong. Phullarfi meanwhile sells game 
in the market and we both come home late in 
the evening. For this reason you do not see me now 
as often as you used to do. But uncle I have a 
ring to dispose of. Will you kindly help me with 
what it may be worth and save me from great per- 
plexity.' With this he tendered the ring, and the 
money-changer put it into the scale and noted the 

CTI ^fir, CTfm nm 

C^TC^T 'srw V&MJ +^rm \ 
$* fin TO 


weight to its last grain. He weighs it and declares 
the weight to be 1 6 ratis and 2 dhans : sings 
Kavikankana the poet. 

" No gold or silver is this my nephew ! It is bell- 
metal polished with care, so it looks bright. Per 
ratiyou may have ten gandas of cowries. The price 
of two dhans will be five gandas more. The price 
of the ring comes to eight panas and five gandas of 
cowries. Now I owe you for game one and a half 
boori. The total, therefore, is eight panas and 
two and half booris of cowries. But the whole 

^ftfif CT? ^% II 




of this need not be paid in cash. Take a portion 
of the price in cowries and the rest in dust of rice. 
Kalaketu said ' O my uncle this is far from being 
the price of the ring. I shall return it to its 
owner/ The money-changer said 'well, well, 
I agree to give live batas more. You won f t 
find any dishonesty in me ! Why, I had money 
transaction with your father Dharmaketu. But 
I see that you are far cleverer than your father 
ever was !> ( No uncle, said Kalaketu, we need not 
quarrel over the matter. Allow me to go to some 
other merchant/ ' All right ' the money-changer 
said, " I offer you two and half boor is more. You 
need not take the dust of rice, it shall all be paid in 

Thus Kalaketu's straight-forwardness and Mu- 
rari's craft are shewn in contrast. Murari hides contrast, 
himself in his house for fear of having to pay an 
old debt and when at last, getting scent of a pro- 
fitable bargain he comes out, he accuses the hunter 
of not having visited his house ! Kalaketu is in- 
telligent enough to understand his knavery, but he 
is above pettiness and gives him frank and cordial 

We find, portrayed in the poems of Mukunda- The 

rama all classes of our people, from the wealthiest characters 

are liie* 
to the poorest, all ranks of our society represented like. 

as vividly as in life itself. In alivahana and Vikra- 
makeyari we have types of our great land-owners 
those rajas whose caprices were equal to their 
favours, the luxury of their courts, and the great 
pressure put upon the Kotwals or town-inspectors 
for any maladministration complained of by the 


people. In Dhanapati and his rich kinsmen we 
have a picture of high life, with side-lights on the 
flourishing condition of Bengal when trade brought 
hoards of wealth to her people. In Lahana and 
Khullana, two distinct types of women, we find 
the feelings of jealousy and envy which sometimes 
rend Hindu families in twain and also the great de- 
votion and fidelity which characterise the patient 
Hindu wife. When we come down from the higher 
ranks of the Hindu community to the lower, we 
find our hero Kalaketu and his wife Phullara, repre- 
senting all stages of poverty-stricken rustic life, but 
the manliness of Kalaketu and the chaste-woman- 
hood of Phullara exemplify the noble qualities 
which, with all their ignorance and superstition, 
characterise the masses of Bengal. The poet was a 
lover of village-life and did not fail to observe the 
good traits in the characters of humble rustic folk, 
whom he vindicates in his vivid sketches. The 
knaves BharuDatta and Murari il are true types 
and the maid servants of the class of Durvala 
who cheat their masters of money, while entrusted 
w ^ m arketting and poison the hearts of the in- 
life, mates of the house against one another, are not 
even now difficult to find. In a word, all phases of 
Bengali life in the i6th century from the king of 
Kalinga with his autocratic temper to Vulanmandal 
anxious for the safety of his fellow Rayats, are 
picturesquely represented. We find in the poem, 
the crystal columns of the wealthy man's mansion, 
side by side with the hut of the poor-folk having 
a single ricinus post and roofed with palm leaves, 
the hole made in the earth to ferment the rice- 
water, and the abundance of gold plate at the 


rich man's table ; the deer-skin worn by poor 
people and the sky-coloured sftdi of gauze of the 
high born lady ; the ha-du-du-du, and other manly 
sports of country people, and the rich men's games 
of chess and dice, together with the theatricals 
of the period in which scenes from Krisha's 
life were played. But through all descriptions runs 
that devotional feeling for Chandl which hallows 
every situation in life, and testifies to the spiritual 
awakening of Bengal in those days. This last 
gives a more than poetic interest in our eyes to the 
celebrated work of Mukundarama. Though our 
author describes every phase of Bengali life, he is 
particularly successful in delineating the miseries 
of rustic people. Through all the romance of 
situations that he creates, there rises a sound of 
woe -a deep pathetic tone and a murmur of grief 
and wailing, and a gloomy effect is left on the 
mind of the reader, hightened by the provincialisms 
of the style of the poems, reminding him of the 
life of the poor in Bengali villages. The redeem- 
ing feature of it, as I have said, is the feeling of 
absolute resignation to the deity, which pervades 
the poem investing every episode of it with sweet- 

A few more writers after Mukundarama, com- 
posed poems on Chandf ; we give a brief notice of 
them below : 

10. Bhabantyankara, a Kayastha whose ancestor 
Nara Das left Radade9a (western Bengal) on 
account of poverty and settled at Chakra^ala in 
Chittagong. Bhaban^ankafa wrote his poem about 


poems on 



yana Sen. 

the middle of the seventeenth century. In locali- 
ties where the poem of Mukundarama was yet 
unknown, works on Chandl of lesser poetical merit 
were admired and Bhaban^ankar enjoyed a short- 
lived popularity in Chittagong in the latter half of 
the iyth century. 

IT. The next writer was Jaynarayana Sen a 
Vaidya who wrote his poem about the year 1763. 
Jaynarayana was relative of the far-famed Raja 
Rajballava of Vikrampur and was an eminent poet. 
He belonged to an age when the Bengali language 
had grown highly Sanskritised and Bengali poets 
took great pride in displaying the wealth of 
Sanskrit metres in Bengali. Though in the delinea- 
tion of characters, conception of plot and in pathos, 
Jaynarayana is assuredly no match for Mukunda- 
rama, yet living as he did directly in the midst 
of court-influence where a high flown classical 
taste predominated and in an age when word 
painting and artistic modes of expression were 
the craze of the poets, Jaynarayana shews a 
commendable skill in bringing into his poem a 
great variety of metres taken from Sanskrit 
models. Here is a passage in which our poet 
describes the attempts of Kamadeva (the god of 
love) to conquer the great god Qiva. 

* " Kamadeva made himself ready to march on 

t an expedition of conquest against iva. The 

to conquer humming of the bees was his war-drum. The new 

TO 5 * 

r tftfif 


purple leaves which shot forth from the trees were 
his flags, and his army consisted of Kokilas that 
flew in all directions at the royal order. The breeze 
began to blow gaily. The god ; Ksmadeva ) now 
appeared on the scene with sprightly steps ; a 
floral bow hung on his back, and he carried blithely 
in his hand the five flowers which were his five 





arrows. There was a crown of flowers on his head 
and a pair of flower-bracelets on his arms. He cast 
sportive glances all around. His left arm lay 
round the neck of his dear wife Rati and her arms 
were entwined with his. At this advent of the 
God of Love into the Himalaya mountains, with 
the Seasons tor his gay companions, all the flowers 
in the valley blossomed and the Kokilas sent aloft 
their far-reaching notes. Those damsels who had 
resolved, for some offence, not to speak to their 
lovers could not restrain themselves, but ran to 
meet them, as soon as the high notes of the Kokila 
reached their ears. The trees, hitherto bereft of 
leaves revived and were clothed with fresh flowers 
and leaves. The beautiful Ketaki flower sported 
with the gentle breeze. The A^oka flower bloomed 
when the ephalika should bloom. Nature's laws 
seemed to be upset ; from the bough of Jasmine, 
the Malati flower shot forth, and from the bough of 
the Nagake^ara, by a curious sport of Nature, 
appeard the Vakula and the Kadamba. The hum- 
ming of the bees charmed the ears and the Kokila's 
high note rent the air. The Madhavl creepers, 
the Palaya tree, the Tagara and the Vela plants 
drooped under their wealth of flowers/ 1 

But all this availed not, and we know that Kama- 
deva was reduced to ashes by the spark that flashed 
from the third eye of Civa, 

We shall have to refer to Jay Na ray ana in a 
future chapter and so close our remarks about him 

Civi 12. iva Charan Sen the author of ' Sarada 

Ben. Mangal ' (a translation of the Rftmayacia) wrote a 


poem on Chandf. He was contemporary with 
Jay Nsrayana. There are some sparkling passages 
in his poem. 

But the list of poems in honour of the local 
deities of Bengal does not end here. There are 
many other goddesses belonging to the akta-cult 
in whose honour long poems have been composed. 
It is not possible to give any detailed idea of these. 
But we shall briefly refer to some of them here, 

(c) Poems on Qahga Devi. 

We find a certain nnmber of poems written The sanc . 
in honour of Gangadevl, goddess of the Ganges, tity of the 
Amongst the Hindus the Ganges is sacred. When 
dying, we must have at least a drop of Ganges' 
water, or we feel disconsolate at the hour of death. 
This instinct is deeply engrained in the minds of 
our people. The late P. C. Roy of the Bengal 
Provincial Service, who was so advanced in 
his views, that at the close of his official career, he 
retired to England and married an English woman, 
literally pined for a drop of Ganges' water, during 
his last illness in England, and his English wife has 
informed her Indian relatives of this, in several 
touching letters. 

Stripped of the mythological account given of 
its origin, it is possible that its present course is 
in some measure due to the engineering enter, 
prises of some of the early Hindu Princes, of 
whom Bhagiratha, according to the tradition current 
in the country, was the most .successful, The river 


is associated with the glory of an ancient Indian 
monarch, but it formed, besides, in the Paurfinik age 
the very nucleus of the whole Indo-Aryan-civilisa* 
tion. The Aryans, here, as their numbers increased, 
apprehended that the strength and the compactness 
of their society would be lost, if they were scattered 
all over the country. Probably it was owing to 
this reason that they recommended their own men 
to settle and to erect dwelling houses and temples 
on the banks of the Ganges en joining it to be an act 
of particular merit, so that the whole Aryan popu- 
lation might form a compact community in the 
Gangetic valley. Those who lived beyond the pale 
of this blessed region were looked down upon by 
the dwellers in it and were, besides, required to 
travel all the distance from their homes, to come to 
the Ganges and bathe in its sacred waters to 
expiate their sins. The object of this injunction 
was probably to keep outsiders in touch with the 
main society. 

The Ganges is beloved of the Hindus, not only 
on account of the glorious cities that adorn her 
banks, not only because all that was sublime and 
beautiful in the past Hindu history, is, in some way 
or other, connected with her noble waters, but in a 
far greater sense, for the associations she carries, 
of ancient saints and sages who loved her and 
composed hymns to her glory. From Valmiki, the 
divine sage and poet, downwards, we have a host of 
these hymn-makers, and the Bengali hymn of Ajo- 
dhyarfim only echoes sentiments already expressed 
thousands of years earlier. The Ganges was 
worshipped because the Hindus found in the 
majestic sweep of her course and in the sublime 


music of her waters a divine message and 
revelation. In the Gita we have it in the mouth of 
Kri?na " Amongst mountains, lam the Himalayas, 
and amongst rivers, I am the Ganges/' 

(1) We have dwelt up op a poem on Mangala 
Chandl by Madhavacharyya written in 1679. This 
poet wrote a poem also in honour of Ganga Devi. 
It contains 5000 lines. 

(2) Ganga Mangal by Dwija Kamalknta The 
poet was a native of Kogram in Burdwan 

(3) Gangs Mangal by Jayram Das, a Vaidya 
He was a native of Guptipadain Hughly. His \\ork 
was written early in the eighteenth century. 

(4) The most popular work on GangadevI is 
the one written by Dwija Durggprasad a native of 
Ula in Nadia. He wrote his poem about 1778 
A.D. lie refers to a dream dreamt by his wife in 
which Ganga Devi had appeared before her, and 
given an order to her husband requiring him to 
write a poem to her glory This poem shows 
considerable power. 

Besides all these, there were numerous short 
hymns to Ganga Devi by Kavi Chandra, Ayodh)a- 
ram, Kavikankapa, Nidhiram and other poets, 






(d) ltala Mangala or poems in honour of itala Devi. 

ltala Devi or the goddess presiding over ... ... A 

11 ill- f narlti, ana 

small-pox and other diseases of the same class, ital 

riding on an ass, is considered by- some scholars 
to be identical with the Buddhistic gocjd^ss 
Devi. The priests who worship her, ; 



belong to the Doma caste a significant circum* 
stance, which proves the Buddhistic origin of the 
worship of this goddess, as prevalent in Bengal, 
Her form as made in clay, however, in this country 
does not represent a Buddhistic conception, The 
Brahmins have traced her back to the Vedas, They 
consider the word ( Taksan* in the Atharva Veda, 
and also another word 'Apdevl/ which occurs in 
various places in Vedic literature as signifying the 
goddess itals. In the Skandapursna and in the 
Picchilatantra there are accounts of this goddess, 
But the block of stone, roughly representing a face, 
covered with vermilion and with brass points fixed 
on it, which the Doma Pandits carry from door to 
door, asking for offerings in the name of the deity, 
does not seem to own any kinship with the figure 
of the g'oddefs artistically made of clay by Bengal 
, potters, The latter is evidently a Hindu conception. 

Itadcihfstic Poems in honour of Cltala Devi bear evident 

influence; traces of Buddhistic influence. The goddess is 
described in one of them as riding on an 4 uluK or 
owl. The bird '#/#,' which is sometimes trans- 
formed into a sage in Buddhistic tales, occurs fre- 
quently in the ^Qnyapurfina and in the Dharmaman- 
gals. This suggests that italg Devi was con- 
nected with the Buddhists. In another poem on 
the goddess, the author (Nityananda) says that no 
good poems in honour of itala Devi, could be 
found in Bengal, while in Udiya literature there was 
an abundance of such works which could be traced 
back to the very earliest times. The author describes 
how he took great pains to collect them from 
Orissfi and compile a ltala Mangala on their lines, 
in Bengali. Orissft was a strong-hold of Buddhism 


till comparatively recent times, and Udiya literature, 
when properly explored, will, we hope, show even 
more traces of Buddhistic influence than old Bengali 

But, like the Dharmamangals and other poerns 
of the Buddhistic cult, the ltalfjmangals also bear 
the stamp of the influence of the Hindu Renais- 
sance ; and the Hindu writers, who undertook to 
write such works in later times, gradually gave them 
the shape of Pauranik poems. The story of King 
Chandra Ketu and the troubles he underwent, for 
declining to worship ltala Devi, with his eventual 
surrender of himself to the mercy of the goddess, 
by which he recovered his lost fortune and achieved 
other rewards, forms the subject-matter of these 

The first poet of ltalsmangala, on whose work 
we were able to lay our hands, was Daivaklnandana. 
He wrote his poem about three hundred years ago. 
The father of Daivaklnandana was one Gopal Das. 
The ancestors of our poet were formerly inhabitants 
of Hatina in Burdwan, and the family latterly 
settled in Vaidyapur in that district. The next 
work, a voluminous one, was written by Nityananck 
Chakravarti, who was a Pandit in the court of Raj- 
narayana Ray, a Zamindar of Ka^igaon in Midnapur. 
Of other works in honour of itala Devi we may 
mention those by Krinaram, Ramprasad and an- 

(e) Laksml Charita or poems on Laksml, the Goddess 
of Wealth. 

The worship of Laksmi may also be traced back 
to the very earliest times. The autumn is the season 
for harvests, and in an agricultural country like 


of Hindu 

The sub- 



and other 





recited by 


medans ; 

who also 

her in 



Kar and 



India the deity presiding over the rice and oat- 
fields naturally obtained homage from her rural 
population in this season. In the Ramayana we 
find the description of a golden image of Lak?mi with 
two elephants on either side pouring water over 
her head in the A9oka-Banika of Ravana. The 
goddess in that particular form and position is 
known here as Gaja Lak?mi, and after more than 
two thousand years, the Jaypur sculptors still make 
images of the goddess exactly answering the des- 
cription of the Ramayana. The goddess Laksmi 
or rl was one of the most familiar deities wor- 
shipped by the Buddhists. On the door-way of 
many Buddhist temples the image of this goddess 
is found in a prominent position curved in bas- 
relief. It is curious to observe, that a class of rural 
Muhammedanfolk of Bengal have, for their sole occu- 
pation, the reciting of hymns in Bengali in honour of 
Laksmi-Devi. I his function exclusively belongs to 
them, and their Hindu brethern do not seem to 
grudge this. In Java, Lak?mi is worshipped by the 
Muhammedans of the place. Alas, the humble agri- 
cultural Hindu or the Buddhist could give up the 
woiship of all gods and goddesses after his conver- 
bion to Islam but not of his harvest-goddess 1 

A long poem was written three hundred years 
ago in honour of this goddess by ivananda Kar, 
who had the title of GunarSjkhan. The next poem 
on the subject was written by Jagamohan" Mitra, 
who seems to have -been a clever poet. He devotes 
a part of his book to a description of iva and Umfi 
in Kaila^a and other matters. The last poem of 
the Lak9m!-cult was written by Ranjitram Das in 



Poems in honour of Sarasvati, the goddess of learning* 

The goddess of learning, Sarasvati, was not 
without her votaries among the early Bengali poets. 
Of the numerous poems, which glorify her, one by 
Dayaram Das displays some poetic skill. The book 
is divided into seventeen cantos and tells an ani- 
mated story describing how by the grace of the 
goddess one might achieve scholarship without 
much study. Dayaram was an inhabitant of the 
village of K^archawk in Perganna Ka^lgaon in the 
district of Midnapur. 

Sasthlmangala or poems in honour of Sasthl Devi. 

This goddess is the presiding deity of babies. 
She rides on a cat. It is her function to pre- 
serve little children from falling a prey to sick- 
ness and premature death. As is natural, she 
is held in great respect by the women-folk 
of Bengal. We find mention of Sasthl Devi in 
the Vrahmhavaivarta purana and in Devl-bhaga- 
vata. Kri?naram wrote a poem in honour of Krisnar&m. 
Sa?th! Devi in 1687 A.D. The poem as usual tells 
a story of more or less interest with occasional 
passages of poetic beauty, and ends in establishing 
the glory of Sa?thl Devi by bringing to a happy 
termination all adverse incidents by her grace. 
Satgaon (Saptagram,) was in a highly flourishing 
condition, when Kri?naram wrote his poem ; he Sgtgaon. 
refers to that historic city in the following lines : 

* " I saw Radha, Vanga, Kalinga, and Nepal ; I 
saw Gaya, Prayag, and Kampal and travelled 




in the 

through various cities besides ; everywhere did I see 
Sasthi Devi worshipped with great pomp ; and 
nowhere in the whole country did I find a city so 
flourishing as Satagfion, where people dwelt in 
dense array on the banks of the Ganges," 

5. Dharma Manual-poems recast by the Brahmins. 

As I said before, these poems were originally 
written to glorify Dharma fhakur who represented 
Buddha in the days of the degenerecy of Buddhism 
in Bengal. A wave of Hindu thought came surging 
upon the story, however, in later days, and the poems 
were transformed in such a manner that Buddhistic 
ideas fell into the louer stratum and the Pauranik 
spirit became prominent in them. The original 
conception is Buddhistic notwithstanding, and scho- 
lars are still able to trace it. 

The earliest poet who sang of Dharma fbakur 
Bhatta and* was Mayur Bhatta. To him encomiums and tributes 
other Q f res p ec t were paid by all subsequent writers on 
the subject. Next comes Rupa Ram who is often 
called Adi-RGpram. Khellaram wrote his poem in 
1527 A.D. and Sitaram Das was probably his 
contemporary. Sitaram refers to the poem of 
Mayur Bhatta as having been partially lost or 
become obsolete during his time, which makes us 
suppose that Mayur Bhatta wrote in the i3th 
century or earlier. A manuscript of Dharmamaftgal 
by Prabhu Ram secured by Babu Nagendra Nath 



Vasu is 300 years old, so this poet also probably 
lived at the time when Khelaram and Sltaram 
were writing their poems. 

Manik Gafjgull's poem has lately been pulished Manik 
bytheVanglja Sahitya Parisat of Calcutta. He Fl"* ? 1 *' 

1047 ADt 

seems to have been the first amongst respectable 
Brahmins who undertook to write a poem in honour 
of Dharma-Thakur As the subject was Buddhistic, 
he was naturally averse to taking it up, and in the 
preliminary account of himself, he speaks of the 
undertaking with evident diffidence and misgivings. 
Manik Gafigull finished his work in 1547. His 
poem is a long one, being twice the size of ' Paradise 

We come next to the Dharma Mangal by Dwija Other 

Ramachandra and Cyama Das. But by far the Dharina- 
* J mangals, 

most popular writer of Dharmamafigal was Chakra- Ghanaram, 

vartl Ghanaram who wrote in 1713 A.D. by order 
of Krisna Chandra, Raja of Kri?napur. The 
poet's father's name was Gauri Kantha and his 
mother's Sita The poem was published by Vanga- 
vashl Press of Calcutta, some years ago. 

The poems known as Dharmamafigal are as a 
rule full of historical accounts which though dis- 
torted, throw light on some of the darker pages of 
our history before Muhammedan rule began. They 
have this interest, though we fail to see in most of 
them any great literary merit. Ghanaram was not, 
however, altogether without talents ; occasionally 
only We come across vivid description of warfare, of 
the Darbar of Hindu kings, and of the wily strata- 
gems of Mahudlya which while suggesting inci* 
dents of the past history are, at the same time, full 


of genuine poetic animation. But the poem 

generally lacks in that interest \\hich good poetry 

inspires in the mind of the readers. Those who 

do not specially seek for historical material will 

often find it dull and uninteresting. Here is a 

passage in which a wounded soldier a sprightly 

Cakft's young man aka when on the point of death in 

words, the battle-field speaks to his brother ingadsr.* 

" O brother ingSdSr, see what is the lot that 
was at last reserved for me ! Woe is to me ! I die in 
nocturnal fight, and at this last moment of life I 
cannot have a glimpse of my parents and fiiends 
Heie is the locket which I have always worn on my 

* fawn wt ^ ^ fiw 




neck ; take it and give it to iny poor mother ; this 
ring is my last token, give it, please, to my wife 
Mayura, and say to her ' you have become a widow'; 
commend her to my mother's care and tell my 
mother that I die an untimely death, leaving my 
poor wife in her charge, Here are my father's 
sword and shield. My golden chain I leave to Suka, 
tell him that dauntle^sly fighting I killed a host of 
enemies, and die at last in the open field, H-ere are 
my ear-rings, O ingadar accept them, my brother, 
as my last gift and here my quiver full oi arrows, 
which, please, distribute amongst my comrades/ At 
these words both brothers \\ept, and the dying man 
spoke, again 'tell my parents to bless me and forgive 
my faults, and offer my dying respect at their feet, 
How sorrowful am I that I could not see them again 
in life. Prematurely has their unfortunate son 
to bid them his last adue. My heart is pierced 

ofa rtw farw*, 

IK CTt? 
TO If^tt, VRTUT 

nr < 
CT^I iff? 

am fcw 

^1 ^fin fafr ?t^r ^rw i" 

From Dharma Mangal, 
by Ghanaram, Canto., XXII, 


The poems 
look like 




1740 A.D. 

with remorse that my life has been spent in vain. 
I did not recite the name of Ram, nor did I offer 
prayers to the gods or worship Brahmins and 
Vais&avas. I did not minister to the wants of my 
old parents, Surely Providence was against me." 

The worshipping of Brahmins referred to in 
this speech of aka as if it were a highly meritorious 
act, for omitting which he became repentant at the 
hour of death, evidences how far the poems were 
Hinduised ; in fact Dharma Thakur is thrown into 
the back giound in these poems and in his place 
the goddess Chandi has become conspicuous. The 
poems in fact look like those belonging to the Cakta- 

But by far the best poem on Dharma Thakur, 
though not so popular as Ghanaram's Dharma 
Marigal, is the one written by Sahadeva Chakravarti 
in 1740. This writer does not, like his predeces- 
* sors, treat the subject of Lau Sen's heroic achieve- 
ments. His poem has retained more Buddistic 
elements than any other work of the kind that we 
have come across. 1 give below a descriptive list 
of its cantos ; 

i. Hymnsin praiseof DharmaThfikur, Bhagavati, 
Lakgml, Saiasvati, Chaitanya, Tarake^vara, etc* 

j Salutations offered to Jiva and other con- 
temporary poets and to thr author's parents. 

3. An account of creation, how Brahma, Vi?nu, 
and iva came into existence. The marriage of 
iva. His agricultural operations in the field called 
Kamadfl Chandi appears as a VagdinI woman 
in disguise. iva and Chandi catch fish, (piva 
returns to Kailasha with products of the harvest, 


4. Chandf asks iva questions on metaphysi- 
cal points. Th>y both reach the banks of the 
river Valluka. Minanath who was in the womb 
of a fish is endowed with wisdom on hearing the 
truths that fall from the lips of Civa, Minanath 
obtains Mahajfiana or supreme knowledge. 

5. Minanath abuses Chandi. The curse of 
Chandl on Minanath. Owing to the curse Mina- 
nath falls into evil company at Kadali Pattan. 
The saint is transformed into a goat. He becomes 
himself again through the efforts of his disciple 

6. A meeting of the saints Kalipa, Hadipa, 
Minanath, Goraksanath and Chaurangi. Hymns in 
honour of iva and Chandi. 

7. Minanath gets possession of a kingdom 
in Mahanada; the account of the origin of the 
dynasty of Sagara ; iva in the guise of a Doma 
worships Dharma in the town of Amara. Bhumi- 
chandra the king of Amara oppresses the Domas. 

8. The king is afflicted with white leprosy as 
a result of his wickedness. He is cured by wor- 
shipping Dharma Thakur, 

9. Qridhara, son of Ramai Pandit abuses 
Dharma. He is killed in Varada Pattan for this act. 
Ramai restores him to life. 

10. The Brahmins of Jajpur oppose Dharma- 
worship Dharma appears in the field with his 
companions in the guise of Muhammadens in order to 
preserve Ins followers. Raja Bhumichanclraciits oft 
his own son's head as a sacrifice to Dharma. The 
Kaja then goes to heaven by the grace of Dharma, 


of history, 


ii. Raja Harif Chandra abuses Dharma. He 
goes to the forest with his queen and dies. The 
quern worships Dharma and the Raja is res- 
tored to life. A son is born to them ; they name 
him Lui Chandra. Dharma comes in the guise of 
a Brahmin to try the Raja. The Raja kills his son 
Lui in order ta feed the Brahmin with his flesh. 
Dharma restores Lui to life. 

The subjects treated of in this poem strike us by 
their novelty. The saints Minanath, Gorak?nath, 
Hadipa, and Kalipa had ligured as great religious 
teachers of the masses immediately before the 
decadence of Buddhism in this country. The 
places Kadalipattan, Saradapattan, Amara and 
Jsjpur were, we suppose, associated in some way 
or other with important incidents relating to 
Dharma-worship. We have no historical informa- 
tion whatsoever as to the form in which Buddhism 
existed in this country and influenced the masses 
during the time of the Pal Kings. The Rajas 
mentioned in the poem probably belonged to that 
dynasty. However crude and distorted the state 
in which we find these stories, there was, no doubt, 
some ground-work of fact on which they were 
based. When by the researches of scholars, we are 
put in possession of authentic accounts of later 
Buddhism, these stories, we venture to hope, may 
aid materially in unravelling the social history of 
Bengal at the period in question. 

Sahadeva writes for the people ; his composi- 
tions are full of provincialisms ; they are always 
to the point, and are very little affected by the 
influence of Sanskrit. As in style, so in subject, 
he shows an affinitv to the Buddhistic school. While 


there are passages in his work which are fult of 
p->etry, he always uses plain homely similes taken 
fmm common objects. 

All the poems called Dharma Mangala which 
are treated of in this chapter, hear the stamp of 
the Paurariik Renaissance inspite of their Buddhis- 
tic ground-work. The writers wrote them in Sans- 
kritic style and introduced into them thoughts and 
ideas which characterise the period of the revival 
of Hinduism and even the poem of Sahadeva 
Cliakravarti which more than any other work of this 
class belongs to the people, is not without a touch 
of the predominant ideas of the time. The poems 
shew ho\v Hindu ideals gradually rose to promi- 
nence ; Buddhistic ways of thought being thrown 
in them, into the remote back-ground. It is for 
this reason that \\e have included these works in 
our review of literature belonging to the Pauranik 
Revival in Bengal. jj: ^' ' : 

0. Poems in honour of Daksin Rai. 

Yet another god and we have done with this 
chapter. He is Daksin Rai, the god of tigers. 
He is worshipped in many parts of Bengal, where 
tigers make havac amongst men, especially in dis- 
tricts adjoining the "Sundarvans. The form of this 
god, as made in clay, is that of a warrior with bow 
and arrows in his hands. He rides on a tiger 
His first poetic votary was Madhavacaryya, who 
lived in the middle of the ryth century. The 
work is callecl Rayamangala. The next poem on 
the subject by Kri&uaram contains two significant 
lines, which showi the god as anxious to receive wor- 



belong to 



The god 
of tigers. 


His threat. 

The rustic 
and the 





in a new 


ship from the country people, to whom he holds 
out a menace. The poet tells how he dreamt a dream 
in which Daksin Rsi appeared to him and said : 

" If there is any one to be found, who does not 
like your poem, be sure, he will be devoured by 
tigers with his whole family." 

So we find in this literature much that is crude, 
and suited only for a rustic population. But 
many of its good works, which form a part of the 
Renaissance literature, conform to a high classical 
standard, and there are descriptions of great beauty 
and marked effects in word-painting, which in a 
subsequent age developed into a high-flown and 
ornate style, the characteristic of the age of 
Bharat Chandra. The worshippers of Manasa Devi 
and Mangal Chandl were to be found all over Bengal, 
and many eminent poets were drawn into writing 
poems in their honour, and these works are charac- 
terised by a true literary excellence ; but there were 
other poems, which show a crudeness befitting 
rustic literature, as that on the god of tigers just 
-referred to. 

Some remarks about the Poems. 

As already explained, the illeterate villagers of 
Bengal worshipped many gods and goddesses under 
the influence of Tantrik Buddhism, and the Hindu 
priests gradually took these up, and associating them 
with the deities of the Hindu pantheon as related in 
the Puranas, Hinduised the whole spiritual atmos- 
phere of Bengal. They connected the fables current 
in the country with the astrik stories and thus 
biidgod over a gap, created by the loss of Buddhis- 
tic ascendency and its traditions in Bengal. 


This contact of the popular faith with the new 
creed, that was being introduced, created a strange 
force, which is to be observed in a growing literary 
activity all over the country. Hindus did not 
destroy, but improved upon, what was left of 
Buddhism, and the literature of the Pauranik Renais- 
sance, while showing an unmistakable rebirth of 
Sanskritic ideals, had a place reserved for popular 
creeds and also for the stories current in the country, 
which the Brahmanic School presented in a new 
and attractive garb. 

But the whole of nature does not flourish at the 
same time ; we find some buds turning into flowers, 
side by side with others that have withered; 
similarly, the stories of Chandl and Manasa Devi 
developed into poems of high literary excellence, 
but those of Ray Mangal and Dhanya Purnima 
Vrata Katha betray the early literary stage in which 
they were left, doomed to premature decay. The 
worship of the sun which may be traced back to very 
early times, has attached to it, a number of poems 
whose chief exponents in Bengali were Dwija Kftli- 
dfisa and DwijaRamjivan Vidyabhusana. The poems 
in honour of the sun-god tell a story in illustration 
of his glory as is usual in works of this kind. In 
the poem of Ramjlvana Vidyabhuana (written in 
1689 A.D.) we find descriptions of the oppression 
of the Hadis by the sun-worshippers. The Hadls 
were Buddhists and the incidents related of this 
oppression, couched in the form of a mythical 
story have reference, as I believe, to an actual fight 
between the Buddhists and the worshippers of the 
sun. At one time the worship of the sun formed 
the most important factor in the religious funo 

ment not 

the rule. 

Poems in 

honour of 

the sun. 


lions of the Bengalis, This is evidenced by the 
discovery of numerous images of the sun -god of 
great size and artistic beauty all over the country, 
especially in East Bengal. But the worship of this 
god \\as in later times reduced to the recitation of 
some hymns only, and Bengali poems in honour of 
him were not destfned to flourish. 

Supplementary Notes. 



As a result of the conquest ot Bengal by the 
Muhammaddns and their settlement in the country, ! 
a number of Peisian and Arabic words were mixed 
with the dialect current in Bengal. In the official 
and business-life this foreign element naturally 
predominated. Sanskritic words were replaced by 
those imported by Moslem settlers. As the Hindus 
gradually lost administrative functions, the language 
of the court became full of Arabic and Persian 
words. Articles of luxury and the customs of high 
life bore foreign names, and the fact of a conquering 
nation gradually monopolizing all power, together 
with all the important and profitable activities is 
evidenced in the indelible marks left on our lan- 
guage, this importation of foreign words having 
commenced so early as 1203 A.D. when the Muham* 
madans invaded Ban gal. 

It is a sad history for Hindus. The words 
<f4rfft*fil (Justice of the peace), ftlffiW (the town- 
inspector), ^iTilj (minister), C'RI (soldier; and similar 
words denoting functionaries high and low, 
which we often meet with in our early litera- 
ture, were gradually replaced by the words ^tfw, 
C$li?t*f, ^f^f3, *!t^ etc., shewing that the courts 
of the Hindu Kings were being thrown into 

Mixture of 

Arabic and 


words in 


382 BENGALI LANGUAGE & LltEftATUkE. [ Chap. 

of Hindu 

shade while those of the Muhammadans flourished, 
The word s^H which means a city was replaced 
by the word *\%% , the Bengali i>f^Fl a rupee (from 
Sanskrit i?$1) when received as revenue by the Mu- 
hammadan rulers became Mt^t ; the words ^f*( and 
^j*vp1 (from Sans C3r|ftw) signifying land and land- 
owner were replaced by ^ft and ^foffUf. The man- 
sions of the rich and all big buildings were no longer 
called <lttf?rel but became known as iRH>. The little 
earthen lamp retained its old name ftft*f, but the 
word which once implied all classes of lamps became 
restricted in sense. Chandeliers and the wall-lamps 
were now called ^t? and C^Utlflfif respectively, 
and so in all departments of life, the very words 
imported into our tongue by the Muhammadans 
shew that they were enjoying the cream of things 
and monopolizing all power. The case was the same 
as that of the Saxon language after the Norman 
conquest. The victors who were placed in power 
introduced their own words into the spheres with 
which they were directly connected. 

But, curiously, in the vernacular literature of 
the Hindus, inspite of this common use of foreign 
words, our writers showed great unwillingness to 
adopt non-Sanskritic words. In the old literature of 
Bengal we seldom come across foreign words. In 
the pride of what Hindus considered to be their 
own superior Civilization, they remained aloof from 
Muhammadan contact as for as practicable, content- 
ed with their own social life and the cultivation of 
their classical literature. They cared not who admi- 
nistered the country ; thus the word 1?3 (city) is ol 
Muhammadan origin, while *ft (a village) remained 
true to the Sanskritic form* In the village the Hindi 


element was not sullied by the touch of anything 
foreign. The word ffff (moon), ^fr (sun), Tf? fair), 
*tt^ (water) ^ (flower) and those denoting objects 
of nature and social life retained their original 
Sanskrit or Prakitic forms not to speak of 
words relating to religious functions which remain- 
ed unchanged. As nearly all Bengali works of 
the period deal with social and religious sub- 
jects, there are scarcely any foreign words in them, 
and only a sprinkling of these occurs in the des- 
criptions of the Courts of kings. 

This was an age when Sanskritic words were 
being largely vernacularised, a practice to which we 
have already alluded. The translations are full of 
instances of highly artistic Sanskrit expressions as 
3FWU3FW '^fiW* CT* *ttta' '5K5W etc. A new 
school had came into existence, the function of 
which was to Sanskritise Bengali. Even in the 
works of Mukundarama who more than any other 
Bengali poet except Chandl Das used provincialisms 
in his poetry, we come across such words as ^Tt^^y, 
^TM, f*W and ft0r-5f *M5*|. The ingenious similes 
and figurative expressions which developed in a 
subsequent period are indicated in Mukundarama's 
writings though he seemed least inclined to use them. 
He belonged to the school of the people but owned 
some kinship with that of the pedantic scholars 
also. We quote here a passage in illustration ; 

" I cannot describe the beauty of Uma's face. 
Smitten by its beauty the moon dares not 
appear in the daytime, for this reason the moon 
looks pale and wears a blot which men speak of as 
the lunar spot. The pomegranate seeds, beaten 
by the beauty of Um$'s teeth, have lost their 


sation of 


style in 




A new 

lustre. The pomegranate fruit bursts when ripe, 
owing to this feeling of shame,'' These lines of 
Mukundarama, sounds a prelude to the style of which 
Bharat Chandra in a later age was the finished 
master. In the literature of this period there will 
be found instances of figures of speech and clever 
turns of thought borrowed from Sanskrit, shewing 
that a new era was dawning on our literature which 
welcomed art in the place of nature, and valued 
the rules of Sanskrit rhetoric more than the dictates 
of the heart. 

Of Ortho- 

Along with the resuscitation of Sanskrit words, 
systematic efforts were being made to correct the 
spelling of Bengali words, which still retained the 
forms prescribed by Prakrita Orthography. This 
process along with th,it of Sanskiitising words, has 
ever since been going on in our literature. There 
are many words of Sanskritic origin in Bengali even 
now which are spelt after the rules of Prakrita 
grammar ; such for instance are the words ^tW, 
CTW, ^fa and >ft?t which are derived from the 
Sanskrit ^$J, ^ *K and ($15 respectively, but 
which still retain Prakrita spelling. The purists 
will, I am sure, ere long correct them. In old 
manuscripts we find innumerable instances of C^> 
STRf'Rf, s'ft which are no longer presented to us in 
such Prakrita forms. The M.S. of Chandl Kavya, be- 
lieved to be witten by Mukundarama himself, shows 
spellings of words which do not alsvays conform to 
Sanskrit grammar , but Mukundarama, it should be 
remembered, lived in an age when Prakrita forms 
of spelling were current in written Bengali, wh&r 


language on the model of Sanskrit grammar and 
its orthography. Mukundarama lived in this 
transition period ; he used provincial words which 
were latterly condemned as unworthy to find a 
place in decent literature, as often as he used 
San.skritic. In the spelling of words also he favoured 
the Prakrita forms in use, as often as he adopted 
Sanskritic forms The charge of mistakes in spell- 
ing cannot be laid at his door, as during his time 
old ways were not given up in our language, and 
the Sanskrit orthography was not yet fully adopted 
for the regulation of Vernacular writings. 

The five Gaud as or "five Indies" vis. Svarasvata 
(the Panjab), Kanyakuvja (Kanoja), Gauda 
(Bengal), Mithila (Durbhahga), and Utkala (Orissfi) 
were formerly more allied to one another than 
they are now. We find the Bengalis to have been in 
close touch with the people of other parts of Aryya- 
varta. The old Bengali poems were known by 
the common name of Panchali. This word shews 
that we owe at least some forms of the old Bengali 
metres to Panchala or Kanoja. Svarasvata or the 
Panjab gave us its aka era which was adopted 
by the Bengalis, as it was by the people of other 
parts of India. The civilization of Bengal the 
new learning, especially that of logic, which made 
the tols of Nadia famous throughout India, came 
from Mithila, when Magadha, its glorious days 
over, had ceased to give light to Eastern India. 
With Kalinga or Orissa, Bengal in the past was 
inseparably associated. Our prophet Chaitanya Deva 
counts more votaries amongst the-Uriya people than 
-p .Bengal itself. So we find that the five Gaudas, 


The five 
Gaudas ; 

In close 
touch with 



as the five influential Provinces of Aryysvarta were 
called, had in the past ages a greater touch with 
one another and exchanged their thoughts and 
ideas more freely than now. 

Affinity in Vai?$ava literature has brought many Hindi 

anguage. wor( j s into Bengali In fact a large number of 
songs in old Vaisaava literature were composed in 
what is called Vrajavali a sort of Hindi current in 
Durbhanga. This admixture of Hindi with Bengali 
was due to the predilection in favour of the dialect 
of Vrindavan on the part of Vaisnava writers. 
They also adopted it in order to imitate Vidyapati 
the great master of songs, who wrote in the 
Maithila language. But the Hindi words occurring 
in the works of the Vai^navas cannot claim a place 
in the vocabulary of the Bengali language. Outside 
the pale of Vaisnava literature we come across 
many Bengali words more or less allied to Hindi 
and other dialects of Aryyavarta, the use of which 
has grown obsolete now. This indicates that 
Bengali in early times, as we might have surmised, 
bore a closer affinity than now to other dialects of 
Northern India, whose origin is Sanskritic. It 
branched off from the parent language at a remote 
point of time when the Aryan settlers divided them- 
selves into communities and settled in different 
parts of the country. So in the past the dialects 
also were nearer to one another. This fact in the 
case of Bengali is evidenced by the existence of 
the following and other similar words in our litera- 
ture of the 1 5th and i6th centuries. 

CTR, ffrai (Manik Chandra Rgjar 


Gan) ntfarW, ifefl, TBft %ft ^fa $?, ItfHl 
CTfotft (Vijay Gupta) ; ^T%, $fo*f, 4^51 (Krithivasa); 

, Cmr), tfrornf , 

), (Ananta- 

Ramayana) ; Vwi, S* 
^f5f, n%^^, ^T^^W, etc., 
etc,, fsR^, ^1, ^fl, 
f^ f^?, C^FC^, ^tT^ra, (Sahjaya, Kavindra, ^rikarna 
Nandi and others.) 

Of the words quoted above, f^*r is still in use 
in Durbhanga. The words 3*013, ^3 etc. are 
used in Orissa. The suffix '51' occurring in the 
proper names such as *ftf fasi reminds us of Hindi. 
The Hindi word ^;^ changed into JHCT is still in 
use in Eastern Bengal. The case-endings as in 
nTOflt^l sTtFlffl, ^TC^I ^TTfWI in Manik Chandra 
Rajar Gan and ^RW 9f^T in Krittivasa and *T?fW 
^H in Krina Vijay are akin to uses current in 

Not only in the language, but also in costumes 

J ^ " Agreemef 

and habits, the Bengalis of past times were more i n habits 

like their brethern of the up-country. They used 
to wear a turban and tuck up the Dhuti tightly 
between the legs as the Hindustani people do now. 
When the merchant Chand presented three silk 
clothes to the Raja of Ceylon, the Raja was taught 
to wear it after the fashion of the Bengalis, and 
Vijay Gupta thus describes it : 


*" One the Raja wore round the loins tucking 
the ends tightly between the legs. Of the 
other he made a turban, and with the third he 
covered his body." In Manik Chandra Rajar Gan 
we found Nenga brother of Raja Manik Chandra 
asking him to take his turban off as his mother 
was dead. The ladies of Bengal used to wear 
a bodice called Kanchuli like the up-country 
women of today. We meet with description of 
the Kanchuli in almost all our writers from 
Vijay Gupta downward. The custom lingered even 
up to the time of Raja Kri?na Chandra of Nadia 
in the eighteenth century. We quote from the 
Bengali work called Kitia Vamsavall Charitat 
" The queen (of Krisna Chandra) and the ladies of 
the royal family used to wear silk adis but during 
festivities and on important religious occasions they 
put on the Kanchuli (bodice), Ghagra (a sort of 
gown worn by up-country women), and Odna as 
the ladies of the North-western countries do." 
A description of this Odna is to be found in 
many of the old Bengali poems ; for instance in 
a pada by Varh^ivadana we have the following % 

Vijay Gupta. 

i p- 35- 


itf? VRM ^n H" 


" Through a blue Odn appeared her beautiful 
fair face; what if a bee mistakes it for a lotus and 
stings ? " A Nivivandha or girdle is also described 
in many of our old poems as worn by women. 

It was the fashion with the Bengalis of the 
higher classes to wear their hair long and in plaits. 
We find in Chandi Das, Radha's maidens humor- 
ously asking Krisna why his braided hair hangs 
loosely down his back. We have many accounts 
of how Chaitanya Deva's long hair was perfumed 
and washed with Amlaki (myrobolan) and how it 
was cut off by a barber named Deva (according to 
some Madhu) on the eve of his taking the vow of 
asceticism. In Vijay Gupta's Padmapursna we 
find the following lines : 

"^Beautiful Laksmindra's long and flowing 
hair hung loose as his kinsmen carried him to the 
bank of the river G^ngura." 

In Krithivasa's Ramayana we find " the soldiers 
of Rama fled precipitously, havig no time even to 
tie their long hair into knots. "t The Bengalis 
up to the 1 6th century wore their hair long as the 
Madrasis and the Uriyas do now. They scented it 
with perfumes and plaited it like the women. In 
the iyth century they imitated the fashion of the 
Moslem gentry who allowed their hair to grow 



Vijsy Gupta. 

trw pn" 



The Babri. 


The five 



under one 




The dialect 
of Eastern 



till it touched the shoulders in curls. This is called 
the Babri a fashion to which the Hindus stuck 
even till the middle of the igth century. 

The poet Bharat Chandra of a subsequent age 
describes ' Kusumbhs ' as a favourite food with iva. 
Present Bengali readers have no idea of what 
this word implies. In several editions of Bharat 
Chandra, the annotators observe silence as regards 
the passage, but in Rajputana, ' Kusumbha' is an 
article of luxury even now. It is a preparation of 
opium and milk which the Rajputs take on festive 

Thus a study of our old literature brings to our 
knowledge various points of community in language, 
habits, and modes of living amongst those diiferent 
branches that all came from one common stock 
and settled in different parts of the country. This 
affinity can also be accounted for by the fact that 
politically the five provinces to which a reference 
has been made, often remained under the same 
suzerain power The title * Pancha Gaude^vara' or 
the 'Lord of five Indies' was assumed by the King 
who for the time being became ascendant among 
the five powers. 

In old Bengali literature we frequently come 
across the tide Pancha Gaudecvara applied to 
petty chiefs by their proteges the poets, but the 
word always recalls the high political significance 
it once possessed. It is a title akin to the Bret- 
vvalda of the Saxons. 

The literature of Western Bengal had many 
words which have passed out of the current dialect 
of that province but the use of them still lingers in 


Eastern Bengal. The words 
R^ll, etc., occur in Chaitanya-Bhagavata and in 
the Manasa Mangalas written three to four hundred 
years ago by authors who were born in Birbhum 
and contiguous districts And curiously enough the 
people of these districts now ridicule the people of 
Eastern Bengal forcontinuing to use the same words. 
Instances of TOrffr, ^W8, CTfWS, etc., abound in 
the early literature of Eastern Bengal and that of 
the west also is not wholly free from such uses. 
In Crikrisna Vijaya by Maladhara Vasu, Daker 
Vachana and other works of West Bengal, many 
examples of fW$, Tff%, ^ttffffa, ^^ff*T, etc., are 
found. In Eastern Bengal we find the termination 
( V3' affixed to a number of words after the manner 
of Prakrita, such as 3ft^ for *r|, *fpG for *|1, *Th8 
for ^|, ^Q for so, ^1X3 for <Tt, tf\* for ft, ^3 for ^1, 
Wt for Tf1, <3\VZ for ^SH, ^tV9 for ^1, ^1\Q for ^|. 
Occcasionally they are met with in the earlier 
literature of Western Bengal also, as in Dakcr- 
vachan ( %*tft CWl^Tt^ OT^H^ ^Q- J ' 

The men and women in the Buddhistic age had 
curious names, not at all pleasing to the ears, such 

&c. But with the advent of the Sanskri- 
tic age, choice classical names began to be preferred. 
In Vijay Gupta's Padmapurana along with names 
which remind us of the Buddhistic period, Sanskrit 
names are found in large numbers ; such for 
instance, as 1>3f2p31 lustre of the moon, ^^sfl the 
peerless, 52ffWI moon-beam, srfafa jasmine, *f*Jt 
the moon, ^< a*f1 gold-lining, 3fr% the playful, 
the sincere one, ^^fjft beautiful bud, 

names of 
the Pra- 
krita age. 





flower-sceptre of cupid, Sf$-*rf*n garland of 
victory, ^<ni the pure. By far the greater 
number of names are found to follow those of the 
Hindu gods and goddesses. 

Non- We quote a passage from the same work to 

i" ustrate w ^ one or two exceptions, its uniform 
use of non-Sanskritic names. 

" There came a maid whose name was Radha ; 
her henpecked lord, she led home like a tame ass ; 
another maiden came of the name of Rui whose 
bald head was redeemed only by a tuft of hair 
in the middle , another whose name was Saru, her 
braided locks were eaten up by a cow, as she had 
gone to the cow-shed for lighting the tire ; another 
maid came of the name of Kui, in the hollows of 
whose cheeks some two maunds of broken rice could 
be stored ; another maid appeared called Ai whose 
cheeks were high, but the nose sunk deep between 
them, so that it could be scarcely seen ; yet 
another maid of the name of Sua, so tall that her 
head touched the top of the door as she came out."*" 


^ 4wi <rfraT ^w *m *t i 


<r^ w n 
1 1 

fow mftftw %tr fnr fn n vijay Gupta. 


We give below a list of obsolete words occurring A list of 
in works treated of in this chapter with their 

In Vijay Gupta's Padma Purana : 
indisposed, ^t 5 !^ skilled, forward, 
powerful, C5HI face, <gJfrfa%-- friendless, 
sacred thread, lf%*ffa act of attending, f^^fe" to 
pick up, T^RfttS in the front, ^f% big, Jftt 
mother, ^1t mother, ^[^TrW pains and hardships, 
CTITfH farewell, C^ffa humble prayer, 
returning, *tt^1 ripe, *\K$ to think, 
a foot, it 5 ! attitude, ^fe^Tl maidenly friendship, 
to deceive, *ffo*Tft3 skill, i;^ strong, 
like, C5WT1 stout and healthy, 
distress, fgt^l property, gafhs fortunate, 
to make a ^gn, f%^1 wet (from f>FS, we 
have also got fsfs^I, derived from the same word ; 
this should not be confounded with f^!>1 derived 
from $53? (bitter). In the Ramayana by Kritti- 
vasa: fT^ token of favour, fa^t\5 on the 
expiry of, C^t^ in hunger, C*Tfc tears, ^ 
limit, il\5 run, C^IM son. In Mahabharata by 
Safijay: ^Tftl I, ^ft| you, CTT^^ mine, ^TtT^[ 
to all, rt^3H forward, ^ft^ best, ^?TT? to 
become fit, C^fa why, *jff{ again, ftf^ without, 
tftfa play, '$&{ from, j|^ own. In Kavindra 
Parameyvara and (prikarah Nandi's works : * 
fear, ^J^ with, ^tff^ I shall throw, 
In the Padma Purana by Narayana Dev : *ft*TnT 
ill-fame, ^1 where, vlf&rl leaving. In Chandi 
Das's poem : C5lSr^|j young wives, tf& a 
knave, fe^^T 5 ! alarmed, ^s a Brahmin student, 
CT body, tf thigh, "^t^^ In eagerness, C?I? 
affection, >Q?R rice, ^tfl^t^f^ blame, 



swell (from Sanskrit ^fifa?; its present form 
is ^ftflS)- I n rikri?na Vijay: TO recovery, 
3t<Ftf5 sound, TfefRI dishevelled, CW^R a son. 
In various other works of this period : S>^ your, 
*N1 to keep, "SITS? another, ^tt^ now, ^T^ 
I shall go, *pFf? son, Clttffr son, "%5\ old (applied 
to objects as ^\f| *f$ an old bow), C$W then, 
*fir*ron-- I did, fafll to be, vfaf to him, 
to enter, f^ffT^T dissuaded, ^tfifWTfa 
began to cry, I;** a boar, Jft^l lord, 
Sugriva, a^^ loudly, f^f?f1 ant, S5*ff^T to 

The word ^t^, not in the sense of a son but 
in that of a father or a guardian is often found in 
the works of Vijay Gupta and other poets. In the 
former poem we find the desciples of Dhanvantari 
addressing him as ^t 5 !, and the goddess Padma 
of Babu. addressing her father iva by the same word. It 
is evident that the modern ^t^is derived from 
and it originally meant a father as the word 
does now. 

The case- ^n e words of which a list is given above occur 

endings j n ne arly all the old works comprised within this 

nouns. chapter. For the sake of convenience, however, 

I refer in most cases to particular authors from 

whose works I happened to note them. 

The case-endings of words and forms of 
pronouns, the examples of which I find in the 
works are also included in the following list. 

First person, singular, nominative 

ftf^R, CTI- Second person, singular, nomi- 
native ^JFfil, ^ft, ^f $, ^flp. Third person nomina- 


tive f%? ! First person, singular, nominative, accu- 
sative ^rWt^, CTfa, *TWCT, CltTOT, CTtCT- Second 
person, singular, nominative, accusative CWIflS, 
CSHT*, CSFW, ^t^> C*WW, C^tOf. Third person 
singular, nominative, accusative v5T^, ^Tl 
. First person, singular, possessive, 

ratt> TW, CltS, W?- Second person, 
singular, possessive WPfl, CSflW, ^ C^ 
. Third person, singular, possessive 

The plural forms were generally formed by The p j ura | 
adding *f, ffsf, and ^rffa , as ^[ftl^, ^tftPI^, SWW, 
and ^^fTftf. The verbs in the first person show 
such forms as C*rW, 'fWI, C^f^ 5 ?, C^K^l, (for 

. In the second person 

^fil?- 1 the third person we have in- 
stances of "$$ being used for jffi (as in facffa "^ 9 K 5 f 
^T^ ^ ^*t^)- There are many curious forms of 
verbs such as 

Trade was generally carried on by a system of Nav | lr t | 
barter, but cowris were much used as coins, and for Trade. 
they were counted in gandfis, panas, and kahahas. 
The Bengalis used to travel by sea for purposes of 
trade in early days, but during the period of which 
we are speaking, such practices fell into disuse. 
The sea-voyages described in old Bengali poemb 
are monostrous fables, but they prove the existence 
of traditions that existed in the country, about 
commercial enterprises undertaken by Bengalis in 
the past, though couched in the forms of romances, 
We may, however, glean what sort of ships were 
made in the country from these writings. In the 


pictorial illustrations of the Borra Buddar temple 
of Java published by the Dutch Government, we 
find numerous pictures of ships which went to 
that Island from Tamluka, Chittagong and the sea- 
coasts of Orissa and Guzrat, and they represent a type 
on which, even yet, the modern P^uropean sailing- 
ships have not noticeably improved. In old Bengali 
literature we find that oarsmen and pilots were 
generally recruited from Eastern Bengal. Their 
peculiar accent was a subject of ridicule to poets 
then as now. The oarsmen were supervised by 
Gavurs, who would occasionally beat them with 
rods called Dangas, if found to be lagging in their 
work. The oarsmen used to sing a chorus as they 
plied their oars ; such songs were called ' Sri. ; 
The Madhukar or the head-ship on board which a 
great merchant or king embarked, was adorned 
with many artistic designs. The prow especially 
was formed into various picturesque shapes ; it 
often represented the form of a peacock. The 
vessels were loaded with utensils of bell-metal 
made in various patterns, muslin and other fine 
stutfs, shells and corals, and various agricultural 
products of Bengal. The vessels bore poetic 
names such as 'The Sea-foam/ 'The Royal Duck/ 
'The moon light. 1 The descriptions of places, 
though mere old wives' tales entitled to little cre- 
dence, have still some grains of truth in them. Of 
the Ceylonese, it is said that if their parents 
die, they keep them long without cremation. This 
refers to the custom of the Buddhists who some- 
times allow even a whole year to pass before the 
coipse of a monk is cremated. In another place 
W<* find ' If they die, the son has no claim, but the 



sister's son inherits the property' a custom which 
is still observed in the Southern Presidency amongst 
the Nairs. Sea-voyages as described in the earliest 
Manasa Marigals seem to represent facts, though 
much distorted and exaggerated, but in later 
versions, we find the accounts turned into complete 
fiction from which it is impossible to gather any 
historical truth. 

The works mentioned in this chapter represent 
only a small portion of the literature actually 
written in Bengal between the I3th and the i8th 
centuries.* As most of these are in the form of 
old manuscripts and as search for them has been 
commenced only lately, and that in a half-hearted 
way, by scholars who have no funds to conduct 
the work vigorously, by far the greater portion of 
this literature was lost before any attempt was 
made to preserve it and of existing manuscripts 
not a tithe could be recovered for want of funds. 
The enlightened section of our community who 
are fond of displaying their erudition in English 
literature, who are never weary of admiring a 
Cordelia, a Haidee or even a Donna Julia and who 
quote from the English translation of Virgil to 
shew their appreciation of Dido's love, would not 
care to read the story of Behula the bride of 
Laksmlndra, whose unflinching resolution and suf- 
ferings for love rise higher than many a martyrdom ; 
or of Khullana, the loving damsel of Ujani, whose 
beauty, tender age, sufferings and fidelity all com- 
bine to make her one of the finest creations of 
poetic fancy ; or of Ranjavatj the wife of King 

*We have not included the Works by Vaisnava authors of this 
period in our list. 

Old Bengali 






Kadha Sen of Maynagar whose resignation was as 
great as her austerities that stripped even death at 
the stake of its natural horrors. The name of a 
Shelly, a Victor Hugo, or an Alfred de Musset evokes 
in the minds of enlightened Bengalis feelings of 
great admiration, but they do not care to know who 
were Chandl Das, Mukundaram and Krittivasa. 
The ears charmed by the beauty of Iambic and 
Trochaic measures would not stoop to favour the 
Payara and the Tripadl Chhandas of the old 
Bengali poems. Yet it is their own literature which 
contains elements that they are naturally best fitted 
to appreciate, and their appreciation of the romantic 
motives of European literature is apt to be fraught 
with disastrous results to our society which, under its 
peculiar constitution, leaves no room for the betrothed 
pair to have the slightest share in the mutual choice. 

__ As a natural consequence of this neglect, a large 

Ma n us* 
crlpts number of valuable manuscripts has been allowed to 

be eaten by worms or destroyed by fire, unknown 
and unheeded. The Battala Printing Agencies of 
Calcutta, which have undertaken to minister to the 
literary wants of a rustic folk have preserved a 
considerable portion of them by printing them 
on paper of very inferior quality, the printer's devil 
having freely distorted and tampered with the 
The laud- readings. Yet, though meagre in number and poor 

able efforts ; n execution, the Battala Presses have preserved 
of Battal. , t , , , . , v 

what otherwise would have met with a certain 

destruction, and though late we have now lisen to 
a consciousness of the gratitude which we owe 
to them for this invaluable service. 





The Literature of the Vaisnavas. 
Vaisnavism in Bengal. 

The Life and Teachings of Chaitanya Deva. 
Vaisnava Biographies. 

(a) Kadcha or Notes by Qovinda Das. 

(b) Chaitanya Bhagabata by Vrindivan Das. 

(c) Chaitanya Mangal by Jayananda. 

(d) Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krisna Das 


(e) Chaitanya Mangal by Lochan Das. 

(f) Brief accounts of Nityananda Advaita- 

chryya Narottam Das Raghunath 
Das Rupa Sanatana rinivas- 
Acharyya Hari Das and other Vais- 
nava devotees. 


Bhakti Ratnakar and other biographi- 
cal works. 

IV. Theological books. 
V. The Padas or Songs of the Vaisnavas. 

I. Vaisnavism in Bengal. 

Chronologically speaking, a considerable portion 
of the Literature, which forms the subject-matter of 
this chapter, precedes works treated of in the last 
chapter. Bat as the Vaishava Literature is marked 
by distinct characteristics of its own and has little 
relation to the spirit that predominates in the rest of 
our Literature, we have found it convenient to group 
the works of Vaisnava writers together and to deal 
with them separately in the present chapter, with- 
out observing their chronological order, in relation 
to non-Vaignava works. 

Works written by the Vaisnavas form the most 
important and interesting portion of our literature. 

gical order 


The excel- 
lence of 


A contrast 

with the 

works of 



They cover a varied field and contain the finest ex- 
amples of poetry that are to be found in our language, 
and are no less important for their lofty spiritual 
tone inspired by the great personality of Chaitanya 
Deva than for the influence they have exerted on 
our language in all its different channels. 

In the literature dealt with in the last chapter, 
we marked the hand of classical writers, who had 
recast the eailier recensions of rustic poems after 
Sanskritic models. This literature of renaissance 
is permeated by a taste for classical figures and 
classical allusions. Words were recovered from the 
loose Prakrita to which they had degenerated, and 
restored to their original Sanskrit forms. Reformed 
Hindus took up subjects of Buddhistic origin, cast 
them into the mould of their own new ideas, 
Hinduized their spirit and Sanskritized their langu- 
age. The Vaishava Literature, however, is essen- 
tially a literature of the people. This 'people' 
should not be identified with those rustic folk whose 
language was the hated patois and the subjects of 
whose songs were fables and stories in which facts 
were distorted or over-coloured without any artistic 
sense. The people who created Vai?nava Liter- 
ature had warred against orthodoxy and priest-craft. 
They had risen out of the stupor of ignorance of 
ages and become conscious of a new strength. A 
god-man had lived in their midst and in the living 
example before them, they had witnessed the fulfil- 
ment of the spiritual ideal of their country, greater 
than what scholars could teach or poets represent 
with all the inspiration of their language. The 
freedom and latitude of their literary attempts 


startle us by their boldness, as they attract us by 
their novelty. 

Bengal has, as I have already said, evinced in the A spirit of 
history of her religious progress, a spirit of constant against 
revolt against orthodoxy. Whenever an institution, 
basing itself on the dogmas of monastic pedants, 
has shut its portals against the immutable truths of 
nature and tried to blindfold men by learning and 
logic, the heterodox elements in this country have 
revolted against its theology and asserted themselves 
to break the fetters of social autocracy by proclaim- 
ing the true relation in which man stands to God 
and to his fellow men. It was this spirit which 
had at one time, made Bengal a staunch votary of 
the Buddhistic creed ; it was for this reason that 
the Jain Tirthankaras had found it a suitable soil 
for the promulgation of their doctrines; and last 
but not least the Vaistiavas of Bengal shewed the 
strength that lay dormant in her masses, a strength 
which by a Herculian application of its resources 
upset the whole social fabric, broke through the 
thick wallh of time-honoured institutions, and 
opened up a vista for the passage of heaven's 

This great strength of the people had been The devel* 
silently gathering itself in the declining days of thlTcreed* 
Buddhism, when the Vai?nava creed had not yet * Iove ' 
assumed a new shape in Bengal. The Mahgyana 
School of the Buddhists had branched itself in a 
hundred ways and the theory of the void (unyabad), 
though it occasionally led to scepticism and 
sophistry, counted a large number of votaries who 
developed a creed of devotion not unlike the Vaifftava 

5 1 


Mahayan- idea of love. Some of the scholarly MahaySnists 
VaUifavi went a step further than Nagarjuna, the great 
lsm * promoter of the creed and founder of the Madhya- 
mic School, and argued like atheists. This class 
earned for the Buddhists, the common name of 
sceptics in the country. But amongst the masses 
Mahayanism gave rise to the worship of a hundred 
deities like that of Prajna Paramita, Abaloki- 
teywar and Munja9ri, whose images have so many 
points in common with those of Vasudeva and 
other gods and goddesses of the Hindu Pantheon. 

Says Mr. Kern in his Manual of Buddhism,* 
" Mahaysnism lays a great stress on devotion, in this 
respect as in many others, harmonising with the 
current of feeling in India which led to the growing 
influence of Bhakti. It is by that feeling of fervent 
devotion combined with the preaching of active 
compassion that the creed enlisted the sympathy of 
numerous millions of people." Mahayanism in its 
higher theology professed doctrines not unlike 
those promulgated by the great Sankaracharyya. 
It bore a distinct affinity to Hinduism in its 
popular forms also. According to Kern, " Mahaya- 
nism is much indebted to the Bhagabata Gita and 
more even to aivism."t The Buddhist masses 
had therefore developed an emotional creed which 
led them afterwards to accept the tenets of 
Vaisnavism with such cordiality. The 'Nam San- 
kirtan' or the recitation of god's name which forms 
one of the most essential points in the Vaisnava 
creed was also prevalent amongst these Mahayfina 
Buddhists with whom the tl void" was sometimes 
contemplated as merely a name. 

* P. 124 f P. 123, 


When Buddhism ceased to be a living force, 
a great number of people who had adhered to 
that faith lost all social prestige in the country. 
They became out-castes the Hindu revivalists 
having refused to admit them to their society. 
These people readily responded to the brotherly 
call of the Vai?navas and gathered under the 
flag of Nityananda the great apostle of 
Chaitanyism in Bengal in the sixteenth century. 
Thus the Bauls, the Neda Nedis, the Sahajias and 
the sects that afterwards went by the name of 
Karta Bhajas and Kisori Bhajaks, who had originally 
formed the bulk of the Buddhist masses, now 
swelled the ranks of the lay Vainavas. Some 
of these people still uphold the doctrines of 
the Mahayanists though they outwardly profess 
Chaitanyism. The Mahima Dharmis of Orissa have 
a vast literature which promulgate the doctrines of 
Chaitanya and Nagarjuna alike. In some works of 
this class such as those of the Uriya poets Chaitanya 
Das and Jagannath Das who flourished in the 
sixteenth century and are popularly known as 
Vai?nava poets, the creed of Madhyamic Mahaya- 
nism is elaborately explained without any excuse, 
and the names of Dharma (Prajna Paramita), 
and of Buddha are of frequent occurrence in them. 
Indeed one poet went so far as to give an account of 
the five Dhyani Buddhasonthe lines of the Mahaya- 
nists, calling himself a follower of Chaitanya all the 
while. Some of these startling facts recently dis- 
covered by Babu Nagendranath Vasu will be found 
embodied in his archaeological Report on Orissa 
which is already in the press. It will be curious to 
observe how Chaitanyism and MahaySnism have 

The lay 
a recruit- 
ing ground 



commingled amongst some of these Vai?nava sects. 
In one instance a religious mendicant of the 
Vai^nava sect of Bsul was asked by the writer of 
the present treatise if he worshipped the image of 
Chaitanya. He said in reply that there could be 
really no image of Chaitanya to be worshipped as 
he was merely 'the void' and existed only as a 

Thus the scattered MahaySnists, who lay like a 
disbanded army, without any great leader to govern 
and control them, after Buddhism had been banish- 
ed from the soil of its birth, were now brought 
together and made to accept the emotional creed of 
love, in its fully developed form ; they were thus 
merged in the great community of the Vaisnavas. 
The Vai?riavas, while calling all people to accept their 
theory of spiritual love, also beat the drum of war 
against caste-distinction and priest-craft , and 
the evolution of what remained of Buddhism in the 
country to the highly spiritual and emotional creed of 
the Vairiavas came to happen as the natural sequence 
of this revolution ; for the Buddhist masses had al 
ready developed a creed of devotion being influenced 
by the spirit of the Pauranic revival all around, and 
Vaisnavism attracted them most, as it did away 
with caste now the only barrier that could pre- 
vent them from joining with the Buddhists. 

The points What distinction is there between the Buddhist 

of sirni- Vik?u and the Vaisnava Vairagi with his shaven 

head and loose over coat ? When we read Yuang 

Chuang's travels his description of Kui Nagar an4 
Benares for instance, and read mythological ac- 
counts of Buddha's killing the demons related with 


a devotional fervour, are we not reminded of 
stories about Vinu so exactly alike, described in 
Vaisnava books as Narottam Vilas and Bhakti 
Ratnakar? In the latter, the mythological deeds 
of Vi?nu are found marked by temples, while in the 
former the scenes of Buddha's conquest of demons 
are said to have been marked by pillars of Agoka 
Raja. The religious history prevalent in the coun- 
try merely changed name when the Buddhist 
theology passed into Vaisnavism and a careful 
btudy of the two religions will shew them often to 
be as similar as the image of Avalokite9war of the 
Buddhists and Vasudeva of the Hindus. 

But this detracts nothing from the praise due to 
the Vaisnavas. They infused new life, where vitality Credit due 
was sinking. It is true, materials lay all around in Vaisnavas 
the shape of a spirit of devotion and a desire for 
renunciation. But in the world materials are at no 
time wanting. It is only when a great power 
works them up to their highest capacity and leads to 
striking success that we have opportunities of 
observing that they were capable of such achieve- 
ments. Buddhism and Vaisnavism, besides, 
originally differed in their tenets, one laying difference. 
stress on knowledge and the other on devotion. 
It was only when the higher classes of the 
Mahayanists had left the country, that the Buddhist 
masses found it possible to accept a leader who 
preached the doctrine of Bhakti (devotion), 
without reserving a place for Jnan (knowledge) 
in his theology. 



message of 
India to 

the world. 

Eastern India seems to have a singular mission 
for the world. There is no Haldighat, no Chillin- 
wala, no Kurukhestra, no Panipat in this part of 
the country. No martial feats, no acts of extra- 
ordinary bravery or patriotism mark this blessed 
land ; but the pre-historic temples of Benares rise 
aloft invoking people from the furthest provinces 
of India to respond to their high religious call ; the 
Satna-songs accompanied by the evening-bells 
and sung in chorus by Vedic Brahmins in the 
holy city carry us to the times when the Ri$is of 
old, set their first great utterances on religion to 
sublime music. The monastery of Nalenda, once 
one of the greatest centres of learning in the world, 
opened its portals to all peoples without distinction 
and drew pupils from every part of the then 
known world. The pillar-inscriptions of A^oka pro- 
claimed from here the great truths of universal 
equality, forbearance, and kindness, and shewed 
the solicitious care of an ideal monarch who was a 
father to his people nay, was full of compassion 
even for the dumb animals. Here, in yet earlier 
times, lived Rama in Uttara Ko^ola whose name as 
that of an incarnation of God is uttered by all 
Hindus in the hour of death. And it was here that 
the great Buddha from Kapilfivastu preached his reli- 
gion which has left its stamp on the civilization of the 
whole world, and whose influence may be traced not 
only in the 'Karma-bad' on which modern Hinduism 
is based, but even in the Catholic Church of 
Christians and in the creed of the Shufis amongst 
Mahammadans. The Jaina Tirthankaras all at* 
tained their spiritual goal in this part of India, and 
the great temple of Jagannath in Purl, and the 


educational institutions of Mithila, and Nadia in 
comparatively recent times, have held up a torch 
which has lit up the Hindu world and led it along 
the path of intellectual and spiritual progress. 
Here in Eastern India, sang Valmiki, that master 
of epics, the deep pathos of whose sublime poetry 
flows like the noble stream of the Tamasa itself 
on whose banks it was first composed. Of the 
Ramayana it has been said ; "So long as the 
mountains of the world endure and so long as 
noble rivers flow, this epic will be read." 

The Aryans who came to Bengal and settled The 

J ... apostles of 

here had distinctly a high religious object in view. Bengal. 

From Cila Bhadra, Dipahkara and Mahavira to 
Minanath, Gorak?anath, Hadipa, Kalupa, Chau- 
rahgee and even Ramai Pandit the apostles of 
Bengal all proclaimed to the people the transitori- 
ness of this world and the glory of a religious life. 
I have referred to the whole of Eastern India, 
because Bengali civilization four hundred years 
ago was the result of all these influences combined. 
The environment of a man shapes his proclivities 
to a great extent and the Bengal of the i6th 
century was pre-eminently marked by the influ- 
ences that had governed Eastern India for ages. 
Nadia-Tolas, represented a revival, not indeed on 
such a wide scale yet in a subtler way, of the 
learning of the Nalanda monasteries. Buddha had 
taught kindness to animals and a process of intros- 
pection by which a conquest over the warring pas- 
sions of the soul might be gained. Peace was pro- 
claimed, not only with the human, but also with the 
animal world, and when the soil was so far pus 


Chaitanya pared by Buddhism, came Chaitanya Deva into this 
*a V step ed historic land of religion, to advance a. step further 
further. an d teach love to God. 

Born in a He taught it unmistakably. The family to 

pious w hich he belonged had for many generations past 
been Vaisnavas which means that they had abs- 
tained from all kinds of meat. No fish or flesh 
could cross the threshold of a Vaihava family. 
The word killing is not to be found in their voca- 
bulary , to speak of 'cutting 1 even a vegetable, for 
food, was unholy with them. They called it TRtH 
or dressing (lit. preparing). The older phraseology 
current in the country had been changed by the 
Vaisnavas. The idea of kindness to animals had 
reached perfection with them and how can this be 
explained, except as the result of Buddhism which 
long predominated here ? The family of Chaitanya 
Deva were of an unworldly character. His father 
Jagannath Mi^ra, was very poor. His wife achi 
Devi asked him one day why he did not worship 
Chandl for the avocation of such a priest would 
bring him more money. Jaganngth Mi^ra smiled 
and said he did not care to have it 

It was a family that cared only for the grace of 
God, God who was real to the Hindus of that 
period, and not a mere matter of speculation as 
he is to so many modern Bengalis. The life of 
Chaitanya proves that all the tender emotions of 
love, the yearnings of a mother for her child,^ 
all that friendship of man or woman may inspire 
in the soul, do not represent a tithe of what a man 
can feel or suffer when he realises the love of God. 
But it requires the clear vision of one in whom 


all worldly desires have been extinguished, to 
appreciate and realise this great love. Chaitanya 
Deva, became completely lost in his own devotion 
to God. The poetry that welled up round him 
'rom those who witnessed the superb sight of his 
be tutiful love ecstacy, has enriched our literature 
beyond measure in the matchless padas of the 
Vaisnava poets which will remain as an invaluable 
treasure to us for ages to come, 

He inspired 

the 'padas 9 

by his love- 


All honour to thoe, () Navadwlpa,-- the glory 
of Bengal ' The historic city is* now crumbling 
to decay. Its splendour is now a tale of by-gone 
ages. But Navadwlpa will remain sacred to 
Hindus for ever. Its very dust proclaims a history 
which holds us under a spell. For ages it has 
held a torch that has ilhrninated Bengal and in the 
1 5th century a heavenly light appeared on its 
horizon which, moon-like, developed into a glorious 
luminary; verily was Chaitanya Deva * Nava- 
dwIpa-Chandra ' or the moon of Navadwlpa, as he is 
popularly called. 

In speaking of the glories of Navadwlpa 1 am 
not referring to the fact that it was the last seat of 
the Hindu kings of Gauda. In later times it 
became a far-famed seat of learning. Its great 
school of Logic, founded by Vasu Deva Sarva- 
bhauma, and brought to perfection by Raghunath 
Ciramani, drew pupils from all parts of India. 
The new system of Logic called Navya Nyaya which 
supplemented the old system of Gautama, indicates 

the birth- 
place of 


a seat of 



jtbe keenness of the Bengali intellect. The subtlety 
with which the Navya Nyaya has been worked 
out, gives it a unique character and in the brilliant 
mode of its exposition, it may be considered 
as a land-mark of progress in human thought, 
and an achievement of which every Indian 
may be justly proud. This school of Logic at 
Navadwlpa drew pupils from Benares, the Panjab, 
Poona and all the other recognised centres of 
Sanskrit learning, so that by the early i6th 
century the Tolas or Sanskrit schools of Nava- 
dwlpa, had become the metropolis of learning in 
India. Narahari Chakervarty, author of Bhakti- 
ratnakara gives a topography of Navadwlpa of 
this period, from which we see that the area of 
The area of the city was sixteen square miles at the time. It 
included within this area the following among 
other wards AtSpur, Simulis, Majitagrfim, Va- 
manpukhuria, Hat-danga, Ratupur, Vidyanagara, 
$elpukhuria, Champahat, Mangachi, Rghupur, 
Mifiapur, Gandhavanik Para, Malakara Para, Csn- 
khari Para and Tanti Para. Vrindavan Das, author 
of Chaitanya Bhagbata, thus describes the flourish- 
ing condition of Navadwlpa 

" *It is impossible to describe the glories of 
Navadwlpa. Hundreds of thousands of people 
bathe there in the Ganges every day. Various 
races of people dwell in the city whose num- 


BA m 

Its flour- 

Oil * 


bers may be counted by lacs. There are hundreds 
of scholars in it by the grace of Sarasvati 
(the goddebs of learning). There are many 
professors who are fond of displaying their learn- 
ing. Even a boy there, will challenge a veteran 
professor to an intellectual discussion. People 
from various countries flock to the Tols of Nava- 
dvvlpa, and when they have finished their studies 
there, their education becomes complete." 

But what was this Navya Nyaya ot Bengal ? 
Those who have read the system of Logic founded 
by Gautama, know that its basis is a spiritual 
philosophy. But this Navya Nyaya of Bengal has 
nothing to do with religion. It is a secular system 
of purely intellectual reasoning. In the latter days 
of Buddhism, faith in God, as 1 have said, had 
become nearly extinct amongst some of the 
scholarly Mahayanists, and the creed become almost 
identical with scepticism in popular estimation. 
Human mind in this country after long ages ol 
scepticism and mystic Tantrik rites, confounded 
and stupefied by the supernatural feats of 'siddhas*' 
wanted to extricate itself from the mazy ways 
of an old and rotten institution and panted for 
light and for love of God, The horrors of Tgn- 

ifow PI fanun its n 

Chaitanya Bliagabata* 

of scholars 


and world- 



trikism are thus described by Narahari Chakra- 
varty in his Narottam Vilgs : * 

41 Who can count their crimes ? The blood of 
goats and buffaloes stain each house Many of 
them hold in one hand the heads of men severed 
from the body and in another a sword and dance 
in frightful ecstacy. If any body falls in their 
\\ay, he is sure to meet \\ith death at their hands. 
There is no way to avoid the frightful doom not 
even if he be a Brahmin. All of them are ad- 
dieted to meat and wine and are lost to all sense 
of sexual morality." 

Vrindavana Dssa's Chaitanya Bhagabata also 
shews the spirit ot the times.f 

"The people are wealthy by the grace of 
Lakgml (goddess of wealth). But they spend their 

cn irot 

Narottam Vilas. Canto VII. 

f ^ 4$ TO 


times in vain worldly pursuits. Their religious 
observances consist of singing songs in praise of 
Chandi sometimes for whole nights together. 
There are some who take pride in worshipping 
Manasa Devi Immense money they spend for 
making images of gods. They also spend money 
foolishly lor the marriages of their sons and 
daughters. Thus do they spend their lives. Even 
scholarly protessors do not interpret the sacred 
books in the light ol faith." 

This was the state of things in which the The defects 

Pauranik Renaissance took its birth, and en- * the Re - 
, . . naissance. 

gaged m its struggle to give to the people better 

ideals and a purer iaith , but while the Brahmins did 
a truly noble work on these lines, their power gra- 
dually became oppressive. The rules of caste 
became more and more stringent as Kulinism was 
stereotyped. While better ideals in religion were 
upheld by the Brahmins, the gap between man 
and man was widened by caste-restrictions The 
lower strata of society groaned under the auto- 
cracy of the higher, who shut the portals of learn- 
ing against the interior classes. They were also 
debarred from having any access to a higher life, 


From Chaitanya Bhfigabata* 


and the religion of the new school, became the 
monopoly of the Brahmins as if it were a commo- 
dity of the market-place. 

The people ^he human mind in Bengal, as 1 have already 

wanted sa jj was rea( jy f or a m-eat faith The people 
faith and a J & r r 

great were unconsciously waiting for a democratic move- 
personality . . . 

to teach it. ment oi reaction against the school of religious 

monopoly. They desired to be taught that an 
intricate system ot rigid monastic rites is not 
needed for the attainment of salvation. A simple 
life, with the name of God on the lips, holy absti- 
nence, and a pure faith, are better than all that 
was ever said by school-men. To say this in a 
society ridden by the Brahmin as Sinduavada the 
sailor by the Old Man of the Sea in a society 
where theological dogmas ruled over ignorant men 
with iron sway, menacing those who dared any 
opposition, would obviously require a unique 
personality. That Bengal had the strength of 
producing not only the great man who was 

Such a needed, but also the society that could recognise 
personality ... . . 

came. and appreciate him, is fully seen in the life ol 

Chaitanya Deva. who was born in 1486 A.D. 

As the Vaisnava literature to be dealt with in 
this chapter was inspired throughout by admira- 
tion for Chaitanya Deva, and bore the stamp of 
his influence in all its various departments, I shall 
here give an account of his life at some length* 

tl. The Life and Teachings Of Chaitanya DeVa, 

Chaitanya Deva was born at Mififtpur in Nava- 
dwipa in 1486. This Mifiapur has now been trans* 


formed into Mayapur by the orthodox Vaisnavas 
who can not bring themselves to call Chaitanya 
Deva's birth place by a Mahammadan name. It 
was in the evening of the 7th clay of the month 
of Phalgun (i8th of February) when the full moon 
had just emerged from the shadow of an eclipse 
and the air was resounding with cries of 'Krisna* 
'Krisna' 'O Lord' <O Lord' as is wont of Hindus 
on an occasion like this, that the birth of tho 
devotee who was to preach the Krisna-cult all his 
life, took place. 

Chaitanya Deva's ancestors were inhabitants of 
Jajpur in Orissa who owing to the oppression of 
Raja Bhramarbara, had settled in the village of 
Dhaka-Daksina in Sylhet. Jagannath Migra the 
father had come to Navadwlpa to complete his 
education and there married Cachi Devi a daughter 
of Nilamvara Chakravarty originally an inhabitant 
of Sylhet, who was now settled in Navadwlpa. 
Jagannath Miera and this achi Devi had eight 
daughters and two sons. The daughters all died 
in infancy. The elder son was Vi^varupa and the 
younger Vigvambhara. They called him, however, 
by the pet name Nimai because he had been born 
in a shed under a Nimba-tree. This Nimai after- 
wards became famous as Chaitanya Deva. 

The eldest son Vifvarupa was about to be 
married when he was only sixteen. On the night 
previous to the date fixed for his marriage the 
boy whose ascetic tendencies, had been already 
marked, left home and took the vow of a Sannyasin. 

His parents rose in the morning with hearts 
full of joy at the prospect of celebrating Viyva- 



and family* 



rupa's marriage. But what a disappointment 
when they found that the bird had flown f They 
received information that he had turned Sannyasin 
and renounced the world for ever In what cave 
of the mountains, in what holy shrine or in what 
recess of the forests where the Indian Pine and 
Fir trees raise their heads to touch the skies, the 
young Sannyasln roamed for the rest of his lift* 
has remained a mystery up to now. The parents 
were struck dumb with sorrow, and there remained 
to them their Nemai alone the last ray of light to 
dispel the gloom of their house. 

Jaganngth Micra a man of strong character 
fears. anf ^ f a spiritual bent of mind, bore this mis- 
fortune patiently , but achl Devi watched over 
Nemai with an anxious mother's care, always afraid 
lest he also would leave home and throw her into 
depths of misery. At last this fear became a 
mania with her " Since study makes a man realise 
the transitoriness of the world, let not my Nemai 
be sent to school. 1 would much prefer that h<* 
should remain at home and be a dunce.'' Thus 
did Cachi Devi argue with her husband. 

But the lad was as yet only five years old. This 
was the age when Hindu parents sent their boys 
to school. Jagannath Migra, however, could not 
do so with Nemai owing to achl Devi's objections. 

A ild Nemi grew up a wild boy. He mixed with 

boy. the bad boys of the village and carried on little 
depredations in the neighbouring houses and or- 
chards in their company. The pious Brahmins after 
their bath, used to close their eyes in prayerful 
attitude before small figures of gods on the 


banks of the Ganges. The little thief would come 
stealthily along, and carry away their images. 
Sometimes when a Brahmin's chadar was left on 
the banks while he bathed, Nimai would take it 
away and conceal it under a bush for the sake of 
fun. The little girls that came to bathe in the 
Ganges were teased and subjected to his wild 
pranks. He would collect the thorny seeds of 
Okra-plants and throw them on their flowing hair. 
Once a little girl complained to achl Devi that 
Nimai had threatened to marry her. The little 
fellow was six years old at the time. At times 
Nimai would step in among unclean and refuse 
things which a Brahmin would not touch. His 
parents would find him there, and gently ad- 
monish him for his conduct. His reply surprised 
them with the wisdom it disclosed. "You do not 
allow me to study/' said he, "how I am to know 
what is clean or unclean, Nothing is either clean 
or unclean in my eyes, all things are alike to me/' 
His words " Jflfal ^TRH <#F *rf^fa a $H" are fraught 
with the deepest truths of Vedantic philosophy. 
They strike the key-note of their speaker's subse- 
quent work in demolishing orthodox traditions 
about the sacredness of particular objects. No- 
thing indeed could be holy or unholy in the eyes of 
Chattanya, who had in subsequent years reached the 
stage of *TfaT l?*fa, when one looks upon all objects 
without prejudice for or against. 

But this mischief-making imp could not be 

, e , . ,., Sent to 

tolerated any longer, inspite of his sage-like Gangs 

sayings, and the gentle folk of the neighbourhood 
went in a body to Jagannath Mi^ra to complain to 



him against his boy and insist on his putting him 
to school without delay. Gangs Das was the 
name of the teacher to whose care he was entrust- 
ed. Nimai began to read in this pundit's tol. 
He learnt the alphabet within a short time and 
commenced reading Sanskrit Grammar. 

"He does not leave his book for a moment," 
says Vrindavan Das, his biographer/* "while bathing 
or dining or going to bed, his mind wanders over 
the pages of his books. The rules he reads he 
quickly masters, and in discussions amongst stu- 
dents he beats every rival. He wrote a commentary 
on Sanskrit Grammar himself with patient appli- 

Yet Sanskrit Grammar was the subject least 
suited to a student who possessed an emotional 
nature like that of Nimai. Ardent in spirit, and 
eccentric in temper as he was, he applied himself, 
with his whole soul, to whatever fell in his way, and 
study kept him engaged day and night in this early 
youth. But he was not a quiet and good-natured 
boy. As long as he remained engaged in his 

fr CStWW ^M 1TC* 
Cell tW 



Chaitanya Bhagabata. 


studies, he restrained himself. During recreation- 
hours, he gave free scope to his eccentricities. 

Murarl Gupta, an aged scholar, highly esteemed 

for his character and learning, and a Vaidya, or Assails 
, . . . , , veteran 

physician, by caste, was passing by, one day, when scholars. 

young Nimai met and accosted him with smiling face. 
"Will you, sir/' said he, "kindly clear up some diffi- 
culties of mine in grammar." The veteran scholar 
liked the child for his handsome appearance and 
for his talent. He proceeded to explain the passa- 
ges required, but Nimai had not approached him 
in the spirit of a bona-fidc student. He wanted 
to puzzle the old scholar. In the discussion, that 
followed, Murari was completely beaten, and young 
Nimai triumphantly made some very impertinent 
remarks. t "You are a Vaidya. Why should you read 
Sanskrit Grammar at all? It is a very difficult 
thing to master this science. It is not like books 
that teach how to prescribe medicine for cough, 
biles and indigestion/' 

Not only in Sanskrit Grammar but in Logic 
too he shewed particular proficiency. Gadadhara, 
a great scholar in Logic, was once challenged by 
him to a free discussion on several knotty problems 
in that Science, and had to admit that he was no 
match for Nimai. 

ton fan cm 

Chaitanya Bhagabata. 





lets up a 


The people of Navadwipa loved the young 
scholar. He was so handsome, so brilliant, and so 
affectionate of disposition, yet withal so wild. 
The people of Western Bengal have always felt a 
delight in ridiculing the peculiar accents of the men 
of Eastern Bengal. Among the youths of Navadwipa, 
Chaitanya Deva was the foremost in ridiculing 
these people for this defect. The people of Sylhet 
were specially marked out by Nimai for his jokes. 
He teased them till they became enraged. One of 
them with angry looks asked him, " You sir, can 
you say to which country you belong ? Is it not a 
fact that your father and mother were born in 
Sylhet ?" This was quite true, for his parents had 
come from Sylhet, a remote place in Eastern Bengal, 
and settled at NavadwJpa, But fair argument 
was not the object of Nimi bent on provoking 
them to anger ; and angry they became till one 
pursued him with a club, and another went to the 
Kaji to lodge a complaint against him. 

Nimsi set up a Tol or Sanskrit School himself 
at the age of twenty. His reputation as a scholar 
was already well-established and pupils flocked 
from all quarters to receive instruction from him. 
His mode of teaching and his treatment of scholars 
soon made him very popular amongst them. 

About this time, there came to Navadwipa, a 
renowned scholar named Kecava Ka^mirl. In the 
middle ages when learning was the chief object of 
admiration with the middle classes, and hundreds 
of scholars were taught in various centres of 
Sanskrit learning all over India, any one who ac- 

nrnfiri^nrv in n norfi^ulni* cnV*;*^- 


made it the mission of his life to travel to the 
various seats of learning, challenging scholars to 
free controversy. If he could win his laurels in 
this competition, he naturally enjoyed great esteem 
in the country and the scholars who were vanqui- 
shed acknowledged the fact of their defeat in an 
open letter presented to him. This letter was 
called 'Sfj-*!^ or letter of victory. 

Kefava Ka^mjrl after having vanquished 
the scholars of the rest of India had come to Nava- 
dwlpa, then the most important seat of Sanskrit 
learning in the country. There were veteran scho- 
lars at Navadwlpa about this time ; old Vasudeva 
Sarvabhauma, the first authority in Logic in India ; 
Raghu Nandan Bhattacharyya whose jurispru- 
dence up till now governs Hindu society in Bengal ; 
and Raghu Nath iromanl whose grand work, 
Chintamani Didhiti, a commentary on the Tattva 
Chintamoniby Gange^ Upadhaya is a monument of 
scholarship, and excelled the treatise it commented 
on, were all living. These were the intellectual 
giants of their period. But they were scholarly re- 
cluses who for many years had scarcely mixed with 
men. The people of Navadwlpa, however, were 
proud of the scholarship of young Nimsi, who was 
always eager to enter into controversy with others. 
They brought the veteran Kegava to Nimai who 
received him cordially on the bank of the Ganges, 
where his Tola was situated. 

Nimai asked Kefava Kaymiri, himself, a reputed 
poet, to describe the Ganges as it flowed past in an 
extempore poem. A few moments passed, and 
like a noble stream, rich and rhythmical flow cf 


verses fell from the lips of the old scholar to the 
wonder of the pupils of the Tol, and he surprised 
the audience by the brilliance of his metaphors and 
the sublimity and beauty of his ideas. Nimai 
noted the poem in his memory. His assailant, after 
delivering it, looked round in haughty pride, and 
said to Nimai, "You have learned Grammar only, I 
hear, and have no knowledge of Rhetoric. It is not 
in your power to appreciate or judge of the beauty 
of my poem." 

Nimai Nimai however shewed no want of patience, 

defeats nor displayed any sign of being disturbed by the 
remark. He praised the poetry but gently pointed 
out that there were some serious errors of 
Rhetoric in it. In the first line he had used the 
word *3^t%-^f signifying iva while the word 
really meant Lord of the wife of iva. This fallacy 
was called ft?P^i ^fs. In the word f^ss<jf$ in the 
next line there was the fallacy of ap^^f, in the 
word ,T9pt the fallacy of *3^3RF WM*T- Thus 
he pointed out fallacies too numerous to be 
mentioned and as he went on, the natural brilli- 
ance of his speech and the light that emanated 
from his eyes shewed that he was endowed with 
special gifts of genius. The veteran scholar was 
dumb-struck and retired with a broken heart. Thus 
the glory of Navadwlpa was saved. All felt that 
day that young Nimai was an extraordinary man, 
and the reputation of his Tol spread far and wide. 

Q d| But he always scoffed at religion. Old saint- 

scoffer of like men, who delighted in him for his wonderful 
gifts and could not help loving him for his pleasing 
disoosition, were oained to find that he was a 


godless young man, sceptical in his views and con- 
duct. I^vara Puri, a learned saint, a very old and 
highly esteemed man of Kumarhatta, frequently 
called on him and advised him on religious matters, 
explaining and illustrating how faith could be ob- 
tained faith that cleanses the soul and lifts man to 
the rank of the gods. He quoted chapter and verse 
from various works to prove what he argued. 
But Nimai would suddenly interrupt him, finding 
a grammatical flaw in his quotations and stop him 
by some such remarks as " Surely, sir, the verb 
that you use is not of the Attanlpadl class '" The 
saint was much saddened by the failure of his 
attempts to reform the young sceptic. But the 
eccentricities of Nimai had a limit when he grew 
into manhood; he stoically avoided any contact 
with women. 

Though he outwardly feigned scepticism, a deep 
religious faith was in fact ingrained in his nature. 
Cridhara and Gadadhara, two respectable Brahmins 
were known for the piety of their characters. He 
ridiculed them frequently, but if a single day 
passed without his meeting them, his whole soul 
yearned for their company, and he felt that to him 
the oft-ridiculed I^vara Puri was as a god. His mind 
was as clear as the autumnal sky, and his tempera- 
ment like the tender sweet-scented ephalika flower 
that diffuses its fragrance in the morning air. It 
silently attracted all who came in contact with him 
by its inherent love ; his ardent nature, which would 
not brook any restraint and seemed so often to run 
wild, had in it a secret spring of magnetism which 
facinated, even while it startled. It flowed like a 
noble fountain pleasing all by its playfulness, a 

The inward 

and an 




Tour In 


little dashing and abrupt in its course, yet never- 
theless lovely and joyous, it indicated the presence 
of elements in his character which were destined 
to leap over the walls of orthodoxy and carry the 
world with him, by the innate force of pure and 
lofty natural instincts. 

In the meantime Jagannath Migra had died and 
Nimai had married. His wife was Lak?ml Devi 
who had herself elected Nimai as her lord express^- 
ing a wish to her mother to marry the young 

Nimai was now settled in life. His homestead 
consisted of five large and beautiful houses on the 
banks of the Ganges. He lived a simple life devo- 
ted to his studies. The death of his father weighed 
on him and he contemplated a journey with a view 
to restoring his peace of mind. He accordingly 
visited Eastern Bengal making a tour through the 
several centres of Sanskrit learning that then exist- 
ed in that part of the province. His commentaries 
on grammar were taught in the tols there and his 
name was widely known. He met with a cordial 
reception everywhere, and is said to have stayed 
at Kotalipara in the District of Faridpur for some- 
time. Having received honours and rewards from 
his admirers, he set out again for Navadwlpa after 
a few months. Returning home, he caught sight of 
Navadwlpa, in the distance girdled by the Ganges, 
with its temples rising above the tops of the green 
trees. The place had a peculiar attraction for 
him, and he hastened to meet his mother and 
wife. His friends ridhara and Gadadhara met 
him half way, with open arms, and in his height 
of joy he mimicked the accents of the East Bengal 


people and the ring of his merry laughter resound- 
ed once more through the air as he came near his 
home. His companions left him and he went to 
his home in haste and threw himself at the feet of 
his mother, who began to weep as she saw her 
dear son come back. 

Her tears were inexplicable to him, for he had 
expected glad looks and blessings from his 
mother on his return home. He, soon, however, dis- 
covered with sorrow that his wife Laksml Devi 
had died of snake-bite. The merry and joyous 
young scholar collected himself in a moment and 
betraying no ouiwaid signs of grief, sweetly dis- 
coursed on the iticvitableness of the course of na- 
ture, and tried to console his mother. A month or 
two passed, but the poor woman was always sor- 
rowful ; she insisted on his marrying again and 
Nimai to please his mother married Visnupriya, 
daughter of Sanatan, a famous scholar of Madia. 

He was only twenty-one at the time. His 
mother seemed to be once more happy, but there 
came a change over the spirit of her son. A deep 
feeling seemed to weigh upon his soul and his mirth 
was gone ; he shewed signs of a deeper nature 
growing in him. He asked his mother's permission 
to go to Gaya to offer Pinda or offerings of food 
and water at the feet of Vin.u there, by which 
the spirit of a deceased person is freed from sins 
and his passage to heaven is insured. When 
Nimai wanted permission to go to Gaya to offer 
Pinda for the spirit of his father, achl Devi could 
not withhold it though she longed to keep Her son 
at her side, ministering to her own comfort, old and 
feeble as she now was. 

The death 
of his wife. 

Takes a 



A deeper 

in him. 



Starts for Nimai started for Gay ; his companions were 

gay, but he was sad. An emotion passed over him 
which brought tears to his eyes and he yearned for 
better company, Near Kumar Hatta he halted, 
and wanted to have a sight of lc,vara Purl, the 
saint whom he had so often ridiculed. As he came 
to Kumgr Hatta, he said, "It is heaven to me this 
Meet native land of Ic.vara Puri." The saint was dining 
Ifvara whei) Nimai arrived at his place. He partook of 
the food which the veteran Vai?nava was taking 
and wept for joy ; he said, "Dearer than my own 
soul, than anything that I possess, than my life 
itself, you are to me, O venerable sir, for you 
are a true servant of God." As he said this, 
tears began to flow from both his eyes, and he 
clasped the feet of Ic^vara Purl. The old man 
appeared as a god to him and he said again 
and again, "Blessed am I that I have seen such a 
holy man." Indeed Igvara Puri's devotion to God 
was such that he was admittedly the head of the 
Vaisnava community at that time. 

Nimai set out for Gaya ; his life, his conversa- 
tion and ways became altogether changed. He 
would speak but few words, and left Kumar Hatta 
as in a trance. While leaving, he took a handful of 
dust from the place and tied it in a corner of his 
cloth and said, "This is the dust of the place where 
lyvara Purl was born. It is sacred, it is dearer to 
me than all that I have, nay than life itself/ 1 He 
stood there absorbed in a reverie and seemed to 
see nothing around. 

Indeed a higher life was calling him. The 
portals of heaven seemed to open before him. 
His companions thought that there was something 


wrong with his head ; they tried to divert his mind 
to worldly matters by merry conversation ; for a 
time he joined them and was even jovial and gay. 

They came to Gays, and the great temple came 
in view with its crowd of pilgrims that flocked and 
pressed one another. At the sight of the temple 
he again grew pensive. This was the temple of 
Visnu, the great God of the Hindu Trinity. Visnu, 
while conquering the demon Gayasura, had placed 
his feet on the demon's head and this foot-print 
was changed to stone. Nimi stood with offerings 
before the lotus feet, 'TffTST as they were called. 
The Pandas sang in Sanskrit "These feet, O 
Pilgrims, lead to heaven, take ye refuge in 
them ! These feet were adored by Vali, the King 
who went into the nether worlds ; from these feet 
flows the sacred stream of the Ganges. The 
great yogis in their mystic vision desire to catch a 
glimpse of these feet ; their glory is sung by the 
God iva and rendered into divine music by the 
sage Narada. They lead to Heaven, these feet of 
God; there is no other way for man's salvation/' 
Niaiai appeared to be listening, but in fact he heard 
nothing of the song. He added the tribute of 
tears to those of constant shower of flowers that 
were offered at the lotus-feet by the pilgrims, 
and fell straightway into a trance. His companions 
attended him carefully and he was soon restored 
to consciousness. When he came back to his 
senses, tears were still flowing down his cheeks 
and he wept and said, ''Leave me, my friends, 
leave me, I am no longer fit for the world. Let me 
go to the Vrinda groves to find out Krisna, my Lord 
and the Lord of the Universe." 

Arrives at 

The feet of 

Falls into 
a trance. 


Nimai was brought home by his companions 
more or less unconscious. "Where, O, where is my 
God?" he cried with tears flowing night and day. 
When he came home they found him a changed man. 
"I have seen a wonderful spectacle at Gaya ; and I 
shall relate it to you/' he said to Gadadhara and 
rldhara. But while attempting to tell of it, his 
voice became choked with emotion and he fell 

The senseless into the arms of his friends. It was of 

God-vision. . _ . . . . j , A . 1 , , , . 

the God-vision that he wanted to speak, but he 

could not, being overpowered by his feelings. 

Poor achl Devi, what was she to do with a son 
in such a condition ! Physicians were called in, 
but Nimai told them that he had no malady to 
be cured by medicines. The Highest had appear- 
ed to him and he could think of nothing else. 
Strange it was, he said, that living in His kingdom 
they did not feel His presence and His great love, 
and again tears fell from his eyes and over-powered 

The pupils of his Tol flocked round their be- 
loved teacher, but he told them that he could not teach 
them anything of earth. He spoke of God's love 
and wept. His mother Qachi Uevl sent Visnupriya 
the youthful wife, to him, thinking that a bight of 
her would divert his mind, but Nimai did not even 
look at her. "Where is my Lord, my Krina !" 
he cried, and read verses from sacred books and 

But this over-flow of feeling was not all ; he 

went to the banks of the Ganges ; the scene of 

his juvinile freaks, now witnessed acts which 

shewed him to be completely changed. He would 

people, carry the burdens of old and sickly people for them. 



sometimes he would wash the clothes of others and 
perform acts of menial service, which as a 
Brahmin he should not have done ; and if people 
objected to being served by him, he would say 
" forbear, Friends! Do not, I beg of you, prevent 
me ! While I serve you, I see God. These little 
acts are holy to me." 

Sometimes he would chant the name of God 
for hours together, and as he sang, his eyes would 
become full of tears. The whole dav lon^f he 

./ o 

would recite and sing the name of Kri?n c i in pro- 
found devotion, till the people of Navaclwipa could 
no longer resist his influence When he spoke of 
God and his relation to man, they thronged in 
thousands to hear him. He preached, for instance 
of love. "What 11 , he said, "is love? Is it that 
attraction by which man and woman are drawn to 
one another? I say it is not so. Only when in 
your eyes man and woman appear the same and 
sex loses all it charms, only then can true 
love come" and again, "Be like a tree. The 
tree gives shade even to him \\ho cuts its boughs. 
It asks no water of any one, though it be withering 
away for want of it. Rain and storm and the 
burning rays of the sun it suffers, but gives sweet- 
scented flowers and delicious fruits to others. 
Patiently serve others even as a tree and let 
this be your motto." The words that fell from 
his lips appeared inspired ; they went to the 
hearts of the men and women who thronged 
to hear him. But he invariably finished speak- 
ing, chanting the name of Krina, the music 
of \vhich with its deep pathos made all weep 
for the love of God, Multitudes were attracted 

The effect 
of his faith 
and prea- 


from all quarters ; for the news spread on all 
hands that a God-man had come into their 
midst. By this time the sage Nityananda, who 
was then a young man, had come and joined Nimgi. 
They became the centre of a circle of men who 
lived holy lives, did act of charity, and recited 
and chanted the name of God, night and day, till 
songs of great poetic beauty were composed. Their 
music, consisted of songs accompanied by the 
Khol, Karatal and Rsmyinga, and for whole nights 
the music would go on, with Nimai in the centre of 
the party, sometimes in a state of unconsciousness, 
and at others, singing enthusiastically with the rest, 
while his face beamed with a strange God-vision. 

The Bhattacharyyas, the great scholars of Nava- 
dwlpa, opposed this movement. Nimai had broken 
the trammels of caste. He boldly declared, "Though 
one is a Chandal (Taria) he is superior to all 
Brahmins, if he is pious and has love for God." 
If any one says, "Thou O Kri?na art my life," 
he will embrace him, no matter to what caste he 
may belong. Nothing indeed was holy or unholy 

The break- in his eyes even as he had said in his boyhood. 

in?oppo. e U H an y one ta '^ es food, 1 ' lie said, "from the same 

sition of plate with a Domi (sweeper), he becomes pre- 

tie Bhatta- 1111 

hgryyas, eminently entitled by that act of mercy for obtain- 
ing the favour of god. I( a Muchi (cobbler) prays to 
God with true devotion, a hundred times do I offer 
salutes at his feet."* In a society where the Brahmin 
was held as a God, and a Doma as worse than a dog, 
these sayings from the lips of a Brahmin sounded 
strangely bold. The company of men, drawn 

* For authorities in regard to the above quotations, see my 
BangaBhftsrO-Sahitya, pp. 284 89. 


together by his teachings and by his wonderful de- 
votion, consisted of people from all ranks of society. 
They mixed freely and distinction of caste was 
no barrier to them. The Bhattacharyyas who re- 
presented the orthodox community harassed him 
by all means that lay in their power. 4< Look at 
these men", they said, "we cannot sleep at night 
for their screamings. This uproar that they create is 
corlainly no prayer to God." They applied 
to tho Kazi (Mahammadan Magistrate) to issue 
a rule prohibiting the inarch of the Sanklrtana- 
Party, as his procession was called, through the 
town. The Kazi did so. That day in tho evening 
Nimai with his followers, who now numbered 
hundreds of men, made a grand procession and led 
it to the very door of the Kazi, who though at first 
very much enraged at this breach of orders, yet 
felt a desire to see the procession. When he came 
down, a strange spectacle met his eyes. Hundreds 
of men with flags and musical instruments were 
chanting the name of God in chorus, and in the 
midst of them, like a vision of heaven, young and 
beautiful! Nimai stood God-like, his face beaming 
with superhuman light and eyes like two stars, 
floating in a fountain of tears. He heeded not any 
earthly obstruction and wa-. evidently lifted into 
divine ecstacy. The Kazi said, he was delighted to 
see the procession. 

Two great rogues of the Brahmin caste Jagai 
and Madhai, who belonged to the Police staff of 
the Kazi, dead-drunk with wine and accustomed 
to all manner of vice, resolved to assult Nimai and 
Nityananda and once as the two leaders were 
passing along the streets, Jagai threw a brick at 


beholds a 



Jagai and 



turn a 

And be- 
comes one 

Nityananda who was hurt on the fore-head which 
bled profusely. But Nityananda sang the name 
of God and only said to his assailant ' 'Strike me 
again if you like, but sing the name of Kri?ria." 
His face became so full of tenderness that the rogues 
repented, and became reformed from that hour. 
So great was the attraction of the personality of 
Nimai that sometimes for a whole night the Sanklr- 
tana party sang round him without minding the 
passing of the night and when it came to an end, 
they would wonderingly look at the sun thinking 
that he had appeared too soon. 

But Nimai felt that there was a strong party in 
Navadwipa who were not slow to calumnite him 
everywhere. He thought that as a householder, 
his teachings might not commend themselves to 
all classes and therefore determined to renounce the 
world, turn a Sanyasln and preach the Love of God 
all over India. This news came as a disaster to his 
followers, amongst whom were the veteran scholar 
Murari Gupta, the young and gifted Gadhadar Das, 
the poet Narahari Das of rikhanda, the singer 
and poet Vasu Ghose with Nityananda and the 
venerable Adaitacaryya of antipur at their head. 

But the word had passed his lips, and all who 
knew his character felt that he was inexorable. He 
left Navadwlp in the month of March in 1509 A.D. 
and passed through the usual ceremonies required for 
the Sanyasl'ns vow. The Guru or the religious 
preceptor elected by him for the occasion was 
Bharatl of Katwa. Nimai thus cut off all the 
ties of world, threw away his sacred thread and 
shaved his head- He was given the name of 


Chaitanya as a Sanyasin and has ever since 
been called Chaitanya 01 Chaitanya Deva. He went 
to Orissa, where he met Vasu Deva Safbabhauma, 
the greatest Indian scholar of the period. Vasu Deva 
was already advanced in years. He took Chaitanya 
to task for turning a Sanyasin when only a young 
man, as he had no right to do. Chaitanya said in 
reply U O my venerable sir, do not call me by such 
a high epithet as that of a Sanyasin The Love of Gocl 
has driven me mad and I have thrown away my sacred 
thread and shaved my head for this. Bless me sir 
that my mind may be ever devoted to him." Vasu 
Deva was explaining the Glta, but Chaitanya inter- 
preted it in a new light. The veteran scholar was 
struck by the new ideas, by the flow of sentiment 
and by the remarkable intellect of the young 
Snnyasln. When after three continuous nights 
Chaitanya had finished his exposition, Vasu Deva 
felt that he was in the presence of a superhuman 
man, endowed with poetical and spiritual gift, the 
like of which he had never before seen. From that 
time he became a humble disciple of Chaitanya 
Deva. Pratapa Rudra the King of Orissa, who 
was dreaded by the Pathans and was known as a 
powerful prince of India at the time, became his 
next disciple, and his prime minister Rama Ray, 
deeply versed in Sanskrit lore and an eminent 
poet avowed his faith in Chaitanya Deva and was 
so much devoted to him that he constantly sought 
the company of the great master in subsequent times. 

From Orissa with the blacksmith Govinda as 
his single companion, though hundreds, had wanted 
to follow him, the young Sanyasin started for and 
travelled over the whole of southern. India. 


To Orissa 

over the 



He left Navadwlpa in 1509 ; from there he came 
to Katwa in Burdwan. He crossed the Damodara 
and stayed in the house of one Ka^i Mi^ra for a 
day; from there he went to Hazipur and thence 
His tour, to Midnapur where Ke^ava Sfimanta, a rich man, 
scolded him for taking the vow of a Sanyasin 
when he was so young ; from Midnapur he went to 
Narayangad and thence to Vate^varam ; he crossed 
the Suvarna Rekha and reached Hariharpur and 
next moved to Nilgada ; crossing the Vaitarani he 
visited the temples of Gopinath, Saksigopal and 
Nimraja on the banks of the Mahanadi; he next 
came to Atharanala whence he saw the flag of the 
Jagannath temple and was lifted into an ecstacy. 
He stayed at Purl for three months. 

In April, (yth Vaigak) 1510, he started again 
with his one follower Govinda for southern India. 
Me came to the Godavari and met Rama Ray ; 
thence he proceeded to Trimanda (modern Trimal- 
gada in Hydrabad) and converted Dhundi Rama 
Tirtha to his faith ; from Trimanda he came to 
Sidhavate^vara (modern Sidhavate^varam ; between 
Cadappa and the river Punna) where a rich young 
man named Tirtharam came to tempt him in a 
vulgar manner, and himself became a convert to 
his faith. He then crossed a forest extending over 
twenty miles called Munna (on the river Munna 
in the Madras Presidency) ; from Munna he moved 
to Venkata (a city near Tripadi in the Madras 
Presidency) ; he next visited a forest known as the 
'Vagula woods' and converted PanthaBhil a notori- 
ous robber ; there he passed three days and nights 
without food chanting the name of God. Thence 


forty miles to the North-west of Madras) he next 
visited the temple of Panna Narasimha, and arrived 
atVi?nu Kanchi (modern Kanjivaram). From there 
he visited two shrines Kalatirtha and Sandhi 
Tirtha; then he passed onto Chaipalli (modern 
Trichina Palli); he next went to Nagar (about 145 
miles to the east of Trichina Palli and situated on the 
sea-coast). From Nagar he went to Tanjore (about 14 
miles to the south of Nagar) ; he crossed the mount 
Chandhalu there and passed on to Padmakota (about 
25 miles to the south of Tanjore) and thence to 
Tripatra (about twenty-five miles to the south); 
there he crossed a forest extending over 300 miles, 
in 15 days; he next came to Ranga Dhama (Sri 
Rarhgam) and visited the temple of Nrisirhha; from 
there he went to Ramanath and thence to Rame^var ; 
he next travelled through a forest called Madhikavana 
and crossing the river Tamraparni reached Kanya 
Kumari on the sea-coast ; from there he proceeded to 
Trivankoo (moden Trivancore). This place is des- 
cribed as being surrounded by hills. The King 
Rudrapati who reigned there at the time received 
Chaitanya Deva cordially ; from Trivancore he pro- 
ceeded to Poya?nl (modern Panani) and thence to 
Matsatirtha "and Kachar, crossed the rivers Bhadra 
and Naga-Panchapadi and came to Chitole (modern 
Chital Durgh, (on the northern boundary of Mysore) ; 
from Chital to Chandipur and thence to Gurjari (near 
Hydrabad) and thence to PGrna (modern Poona) ; 
from Parna he moved to Pattana and thence to 
Jajuri. Here he preached God's love to the 
unfortunate women the Muraries. From Jajuri he 
went to the woods called Choranandivan where he 
famous bandit named Naroji who became a 



back to 

Puri in 

Feb. 1511. 


work in 


India 1 

Convert and followed him. He crossed the river 
Mula and reached Nasika,; thence to Trimvak 
and Daman ; he crossed ihe Tapti and reached 
Varoch (modern Broach) ; from Varoch he came to 
Varada where Narojl died; He visited Ahammada- 
bad and crossed the river uvramati; he met 
two of his Bengali countrymen Govinda Charan 
and Ramananda, from Kulinagiam; he went to 
Ghoga where a prostitute named Varamukhi, beauti- 
ful and wealthy, became a convert, cut off her hair 
and took the vow of a nun. He next visited 
Somnath in November 1510, reached Dwaraka 
from where he marched to Dohadanagar and 
thence to Amjhora, Kooksi, Mandura, Deoghar. 
Thence he proceeded to Chandipur, from where he 
went to Roypur, Vidyanagar and Ratnapur ; from 
the last place he crossed the Mahanadi and rea- 
ched varnagad, thence to Sambalpur, Daspal and 
to Allalnath ; he reached Puri on the 3rd of Magh, 
(January, 1511). Thus his travelling on foot from 
Puri and back took one year eight months and 
twenty six days, and he travelled nearly 4000 miles 
within this time. During his travels he spent many 
days without any food. Whatever alms were brought 
to him by Govinda he would partake of only in 
very small quantities. Like a mad man his body lay 
covered with dust ; he chanted the name of Krina 
with tears in his eyes as he moved from place to 
place. Some of the scholars at Tungabhadra, Chandi- 
pur and at other places challenged him to a discussion 
on religious topics. He would not, however, enter 
into any controversy with them. He said that he 
was an illiterate man. He was rfcady to write out- 
letters of victory in favour of his assailant Rut 

/. ] - BENGAL! LANGUAGE & LIT gRAttJRE* 43? 

when he was (fragged into a discussion, inspite of 
himself, he would deal wonderfully with the ques- 
tions at issue, and none was a match for him. 
He concluded his discussion always with that 
display of emotion and trust in God which gave 
him the look of a heavenly being ; his eyes swam 
with tears, as he sang the name of Krisna in deep 
musical tones, which sounded, say those who heard 
him, like temple bells. Here is a description given 
of him by his servant Govinda." 

* " His influence over people was wonderful, he 
could move them as he liked, by his preachings. 
Sometimes he would speak in the Tamil language, 
(which he had acquired during his travels), at others 
in pure Sanskrit." 

At Gurjari after explaining to the people their 
duty to men and their relation to God. 

t " He cried aloud ( O God ! O my Krisna'! and the 
place seemed to turn into heaven, a pleasant breeze 

Kadcha by Govinda Das. 


cm* -*i1f or n 


blew and the villagers came in groups till a crowd 
was formed. The fragrance of the lotus emanated 
from his person and charmed every one. Chaitanya 
lost consciousness of the world and chanted 'O 
Krisna, O my God/ All eyes were fixed on him 
and his eyes shed incessant tears. Maharattas 
of noble family came there, and stood statue-like 
hearing him recite the name of God. Behind them 
1 saw hundreds of women with the end of their 
adi wiping away the falling tears, moved as they 
were by the pathos of Chaitanya thus calling upon 
God. Innumerable Sanyasins of the aiva and 
akta sects, stood there with folded hands and 
listened to the chanting with closed eyes." 

The end in Chaitanya came back to Puriin 1511. Thence he 

1534. went to Vrindavan and spent there the following six 

years, after which he returned to Puri and stayed 

for 1 8 years. His earthly career came to an end 

on the afternoon of a Sunday, being the yth day 

^tf*r IRK 

arffosf ^ ft%1 TOflf II 




of the waxing moon in the month of Asada (July) 
on Sunday at about 3 p. M. (1534 A. D.). He was 
48 years and 4 months old at the time. 

His wonderful emotion and tenderness display 
however only one phase of the character of Chaitanya 
Deva. He was an ascetic of the truest type, 
and was always keenly alive to the holiness of the 
ascetic's vow. If any one amongst his companions 
showed the least worldliness, he was unsparing in his 
treatment of him. He used to sleep on the bare 
floor of the Puri temple and when Jagadananda 
once brought a pillow for him, he indignantly 
said " Bring me a couch, Jagadananda, if you desire 
me to taste the comforts of this world. Don't 
you know that I am an ascetic, that as such I ought 
to sleep on the bare earth and that luxury is incon- severity 
sistent with my vows. 1 ' One of his followers 
Chota Hari Das accosted a beautiful woman named 
Madhabi in a tender manner. Chaitanya Deva 
said " He has taken the ascetic's vow and still 
follows after women. I will not look at him again." 
He never again allowed Chota Hari Das to come 
into his presence and the man is said to have died 
of a broken heart. Sanatan a rich man, who be- 
came his disciple came to meet him wearing a 
blanket which he had purchased for Rs. 3. It was 
the cold season and the bare body of Chaitanya 
Dev and of his followers were exposed to the 
shivering cold but they looked contented and joyful 
inspite of it. Chaitanya Deva talked with Sanatan 
but kept his eyes fixed on his blanket. The look 
was too much for Sanatan who escaped it by giving 
the blanket to a beggar and then joined the order 
of the ascetics, Govinda Das offered half his 


portion of a' haritaki to Chaitanya Deva after his 
dinner,- and kept -the other half for the next day. 
On seeing the other half, the next day he enquired 
of Govinda Ds where he got it. The ktter replied 
that it was the remnant of the day before ; " Would 
you store up things for the morrow like a worldly 
man ? You cannot then be admitted into the order 
of the ascetics." He was made to retire to his 
home for this act. A bottle of perfumes was 
presented by an admirer in Puri. It was broken 
on the spot by his order and the perfume allowed 
to soak into earth. The ascetics were required to 
clean a temple one day at Puri. It was observed 
that the dust carried away by Chaitanya Deva 
were larger than those of the servants employed 
at the same task. 

The nne There is yet another side of his character 

pi&et'aiui * Which requires prominent notice and which inspired 
lover. the Vai?nava poets with new ideals in theirlove- 
poems. The vision of God was always before him. 
It was Kri$ria's lovely complexion that he found 
painted in the newly formed clouds and it was 
Kri?na's divine flute that he heard in the songs of 
birds. When conversing with learned scholars 
and the devotees of the type Of Ram Ray, he 
would explain the meaning of this love ; this 
was a concrete way of thinking of the universal 
spirit the great soul attracting the lesser souls as 
the suri attracts the planets. Evert ift the Vedas 
we find a Risi praying to God that He may come 
t6 Him as a husband comes tb Ms .wife. This idea' 
was taken up and ^dfevelopec}: 5ri th faith of the 
Vai$navas God, according to them, is the Lord 
of ksye.; .This ChiiJta^yiM^^plainte^ with many. 


learned quotations from Sanskrit works on theo* 
logy. But when the God-vision possessed him, 
he yielded to the fine frenzy of a poet and a lover. 
Whenever he would see the Kadamva flower 
blooming into beauty, freshened by the rains, 
he would fall into a trance, remembering that it 
was the favourite of Krisna ; when the clouds ap- 
peared on the clear horizon, with the crown of the 
rain-bow fixed above, his eyes would not move 
from the lovely sight and he shed profuse tears, 
stretching out his arms heaven-wards and calling 
on his beloved Krisna to come to him. Wherever 
he saw a shady grove of flowering trees, he took 
it for the Vrinda groves where Kri^aa sported ; and 
wherever he saw a river flow before him, he heard 
in it, the soft mumers of the river Jumna, associated 
with Krisna. It was a beautiful sight to see him 
in fits of ecstacy. The Tamal tree with its dark- 
blue foliage created an illusion in him and he ran 
to embrace it, there with tears in his eyes he 
would chant hymns and quote verses on love, He 
had the highest poetical vision vouchsafed only 
to those who are endowed with the power to realise 
the presence of that primeval Poet whose creation 
of fancy this world is. If a great Emperor all 
unexpectedly calls at the lowly cottage of his 
poorest subject, what tribute can be offer to the 
monarch except the gratitude of his whole soul 
expiessed in tears' Even so it was the case with 
Chaitanya ; he saw the God-vision and became 
completely lost in it ; his life was a course of thanks- 
giving, tears, hymns and praises offerd to God. 

Yet this divine man never neglected the society nlsedthe" 
he lived in. He allowed the Mahammadans to 



enter his order ; he cared not for caste or creed ; he 
reorganised society and formed a new order in 
which merit and not birth was the mark of supe- 
riority. In this new order, Ganga Narayan Chaker- 
varty a renowned Brahmin scholar, openly took 
the dust of the feet of Narottam a odra, and 
acknowledged him as his spiritual preceptor and 
many others did similar things violating openly all 

People took Chaitanya as an incarnation of God, 

'tloafof " anc * '^ s * ma S e * s novv worshipped by the Vainavas 
O f Bengal and Orissa He was always unsparing 
however during his life time, in his condemnation 
of such attempts to deify him. Ram Ray the 
Prime Minister of Pratap Rudra of Orissa, 
asked him why he was so cautious in his conduct. 
"We all know you to be god in human flesh, you 
may act as you like ; why observe, so many res- 
traints?" he said. Chaitanya replied in firm tones 
fi l am a man and I have taken the ascetic's vow. 
In body, in mind, in speech, and in all my dealings 
I must be spotless. As in a white cloth a dark 
spot becomes conspicious, so a trifling fault in 
an ascetic's character, is prominent in the eyes of 
men, He is shunned like the pitcher of milk with 
a drop of wine in it.' ; Vasu Deva Sarbabhoum, 
the veteran scholar, with folded palms bowed down 
to him on his return from Southern India, and said 
'*! know you, O Lord! to be God on earth" 
Chaitanya indignantly answered "Sir ! why do you 
talk nonsense? Speak on other subjects/' So in 
Chandipur when lyvar Bharati prayed to him an to 
a God, he was offended. In the historic garden of 
Sribas' house at Navadwlp, the party assembled, 


instead of singing and reciting the name of God, 
one day sang. "Praises to you O Chaitanya" and 
when Chaitanya heard it, he stopped the singing, 
and asked the party to retire for the night. Such 
instances are numerous in his several biographies. 

But when in one of his trances he would lose 
all consciousness of the outer-world and picture- 
like or like a figure sculptured in fine clay, would 
lean on the shoulders of a comrade, his eyes over 
flowing with unconscious tears wide-open yet not 
cognizant of this phenomenal world a celestial joy 
beaming out of his countenance that spoke of the soul 
enjoying divine communion within, he was some- 
times heard to murmur "I am He." The mystic 
words were cought by his followers who based 
their faith on them. But when reminded of this 
on return of his consciousness, he denied all 
knowledge of such unholy utterance, cried for 
forgiveness in remorse and said that he was a great 
sinner. The fact of this utterance coming from 
his lips during occasional fits of unconsciousness 
is related in Chaitanya Bhggbata and other works 
which were written many years after Chaitanya 
Deva had pased away, and we all know how fertile 
is the Indian soil for the growth of wild stories 
about saintly characters whom, it is to the advan- 
tage of their followers to deify. In the contem- 
porary records left by Govinda Das, whom we con- 
sider to be one of the most authentic biographers 
of Chaitanya, no reference is made to any such 
utterances, though he describes Chaitanya Deva'3 
ecstacies more often that any other biographer. It 
is for such omissions and for the rational view of 
the matters which he took, that orthodox Vainavas 



of the 

do not give credence to Govinda Karmakar's 
accounts, whereas for these very reasons his work 
has an historical value and deserves the highest 

But whether an incarnation or not, whether 
he did or did not cure leprosy and blindness ascri- 
bed to him by the later biographers, we verily 
believe that he was a god-man vouchsafed to 
Bengal in order to raise her out of the stupor of 
ignorance into which she had sunk for ages. He 
embodied in himself the perfection of that spirit 
of faith and love which this country aspired to 
reach, rising out of the extremely sceptial opinion* 
of latter-day Buddhism. In him we find the faith that 
belongs to the age of the Pauranic Renaissance 
in fully developed from and in this respect he may 
be said to have been its greatest exponent. But 
he was far removed from the all pervading spirit 
of Paur^nic Renaissance in disowning the Brahmin, 
as the unquestionable head of society, electing in 
his place those endowed with spirituality and high 
character as naturally tit to rule irrespective of 
their birth. 

111. Vaisnava biographies. 

Before the advent of Chaitanya Deva, there 
had been no biographical literature in Bengal. 
The songs in praise of the Pal Kings are monos- 
trous fables and are as remote from history 
as any fiction ; the facts gleaned from them are 
the result of the scrutinizing researches of 
scholars by which fables are interpreted in the 
light of history. During the PaurSnik Revival, 
following the Buddhistic period, people lik^d to 


hear stories related about their gods and about 
the mythological characters of pre-historic times as 
narrated in the Puranas. The scholars were ins- 
pired by the ideals set up in classical works and 
altogether lost light of the living men and women ^ 
of the human world. But Chaitanya Deva's holy ignored in 
life and his pure devotion threw (Jastras and b\o%ra? 
theological works into the back ground ; phies. 
the Puranas came to occupy only a secondary 
place with his followers, and living examples of 
faith came to ths fore-front. The Brahmins with 
Manu's jurisprudence, Yajnvalkya's laws and the 
caste-stories created by the Brahmavaivartha 
PurSna, lost their authority with the Vaisnavas, 
and in the new order (^Gddras, the lowest of the 
four original castes, often occupied equal rank 
\\ith Brahmins. The Vaisnavas of Bengal like 
the Buddhist Cramans were held in as much res- 
pect as the Brahmins, though they were recruited 
like the Qramans from all castes The social order 
was completely upset; the followers of Chaitanya 
Deva often showed a fanatical disregard for caste- 
prejudices. A person in Hindu society cannot, 
according to rule, partake of cooked food at the 
hands of one who belongs to an inferior caste. In 
Chaitanya Charitamrita, we find one of Chaitanya's 
disciples named Kali Das who belonged to one of the 
hightest castes in society, making it the mission 
of Ins life to partake of refuse food left on the 
plates of Pariahs, Doms, and Chandals, and it is 
written that when Chaitanya Deva heard of this 
he was pleased. At a time when caste-rules held 
people in their iron grip, such fanaticism was neces- 
sary, in order to open the e)es of men to the truth, 


Cyamananda, Narottama Das and Raghunath 
Das were held in the hightest esteem by the 
Vai?nava community ; nay, many good Brahmins 
acknowledged them as their spiritual heads, though 
they belonged to inferior castes. 

Narahari Chakravarti, a Brahmin author, 
wrote a life of Narottam, a adra, with feelings 
verging on worship. Such a thing had been in- 
conceivable with the orthodox community of the 
period and yet became too true, shewing that a 
new life had dawned in this land, awakening men to 
a right appreciation of the value ot character and 
spirituality amongst men in preference to caste- 
honour. Narahari, the Brahmin, often declared 
himself eager to take the dust of the feet of 
Narottam, a Cudra. 

' The biographical literature of the Vai?navas 
is as varied as it is rich, and it gives us a graphic 
account of the history of Bengal society in the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

(a) Kadchi or notes by Qovinda Das. 

Let us first begin with the biography of 
Chaitanya Deva by his servant Govinda Karmakar, 
who accompanied him during his travels in the 
Deccan. It is not a biography properly so called, 
the book is called Kadcha or notes. He says, 
<J I got down notes of his doings very privately."* 
privately, because Chaitanya Deva would not like 
that his companions should take notes of the in- 
cidents of his life. He would not tolerate any act 



in his immediate follower from worldly cosidera- 
tions and much less any for the glorification of his 
own personality. 

Govinda Das was a blacksmith by caste. " I 
used," he writes, " to make weapons, ladles and 
tongs; my mother's name is Madhavi ; my wife 
a<plmukhl quarrelled with me and called me an 
illiterate fool. Feeling greatly, insulted I It-ft 
home one morning."* 

It was in the year 1508 that Govinda Das, in- 
dignant at his wife's conduct, left Kanchannagar, 
his native village in Burdwan. He heard on the 
way that a great saint had appeared in Navadwipa 
and conceived a strong desire to see him ; he came 
to Navadwipa at noon time, and met Chaitanya 
Deva in the company of his friends, bathing in the 
Ganges. The sight charmed him, he writes :f 

kl With him there was an ascetic (Nityananda) 
whose face seemed to be lit up with true spiritual 
lire. Next there came Advaita GosvamI; never 
have I seen a face so full of wisdom ; his beard 
and hair were hoary with age, giving him a vener- 
able look ; his flowing beard fell below his breast. 

ufa itfn 


t U 




with his 

wife and 






* * * I looked at the Lord (Chaitanya). 
The very sight was wonderful to me. I cannot 
describe the feelings that came upon me. A thrill 
of joy passed through me ; and my hair stood on 
end for joy like the spikes of the Kadamva flower. I 
stood lost in wonder and delight. I was spell-bound 
and transfixed to the spot ; my limb trembled and 
I perspired till my garments were wet. What I 
ielt I cannot exactly describe I wished I could 
wash the dear feet of the Lord with my tears." 

He prayed to Chaitanya to be admitted as a 
servant in his household which permission was at 
once accorded. Govinda Dss describes his new 
home and its inmates thus :* 

Govinda u There are live large and beautiful houses 

home. standing on the banks of the Ganges. acl Devi 

(mother of Chaitanya) is short in stature and of 






quiet and unassuming appearance. She is always 
making enquiries about her son. Vi$iipriyfi Devi 
is the wife of our Lord, and is always busy in 
ministering to his comforts. Humble in spirit, of 
a shy and retiring nature, she speaks very gently." 

No meat, no fish could enter their home, as 
indeed is the case in all true Vai?nava families. 
All food prepared in the house was first offered to 
Krisna, and then the inmates of the house partook 
of it as prasad. Various kinds of vegetables 
and preparations of milk were used in Chaitanya 
Deva's house, and Govinda Das relished them 
exceedingly. He writes* : 

"There were sweet vegetable-roots, fruits, He relishes 

thickened milk, butter, cream and excellent pre-* the 
parations of herbs, vegetable soup, gruel, puddings 
and various sorts of sweetmeats. achl Devi cooks 
delicious food which is first offered to Kri?na and 
then distributed amongst the members of the 
household. I, the prince of gluttons, became a 
willing servant in the house." 



"IT 3 ? VI ffft 5^1 CTtf* 


ftrartft ^ st wm i 

*TN??i ttt ^t? Ttf It 







ic resolves 

But Chaitanya's mind was not on earthly 

,,..,., f ^ 

matters. " His mind is lost in love for Kn?na ; 

his eyes overflow with tears. " If any one cries 
'Oh ! Kri?na, Oh ! my soul' Chaitanya immediately 
runs to embrace him."* 

After Govinda Das had stayed a litttle more 
than a y ear * n the house ' Chaitanya expressed his 
wish to renounce the world, and become an ascetic. 
He thus described his missiont ; 

" I shall have my head shaven, cast off the 
sacred thread, and wander as a Sannyasi from 
house to house, preaching the love of Krisna. 
Youngmen, children, old men, wordly men and even 




t " 





CTW fan 11" 



the Pariahs will stand round me charmed with the 
name of God. The very boys and girls will cry 
" Oh ! Kriina ! " The infidels and the Aghorapanthts 
(a vicious class of Tantrikas) will be drawn by the 
charm of Kri?na's name. Thge fla of his name 
will wave on high, piercing the very skies. Kings 
and poor men alike will feel the irresistible charm 
of His name. If 1 do not renounce my home, how 
can sinners be saved ? My heart feels deep pangs 
for the sinners of the world, and for those who are 
stung by the world's woes." 

Govinda Das describes minutely all that hap- 
pened to Chaitanya on his way from Purl to the 
Deccan, and thence to Guzeraf and back to Purl. 
In Siddhavategvaram occurred the tempting of 
Chaitanya, to which I referred in a previous chapter. 
Govinda Das describes the incident thus* : 

<4 There came a rich man of the name of Tlrtha- Tirtharam 
rama, with two harlots, to try Chaitanya and see tempts 
if he should prove a mere pretender. Of the two 
women, one was called Satyav^i and the other 
Lak^mivai. They began to speak of many 
things before Chaitanya. Being instructed by 

nwrfhr tfir fft 


the rich man, they tried to tempt him in various 
ways and Tirtharama thought, the ascetic will 
surely be wrecked this time. Satyavai adopted 
coquettish manners, and sat smiling near Chaitanya. 
She partially uncovered herself displaying her 
charms. Chaitanya addressed her saying 4 Oh ! 
Mother/ Satya was frightened at this address, and 
Lak?mi's fears were apparent on her face. Chaitanya 
was not in the least affected by their presence. 
Satya fell at his feet in remorse. Chaitanya said 
( Oh ! Mother, why do you make me a sinner by 
falling at my feet?' He could say no more. Hib 
matted locks hung loose covered over with dust. 
The ecstasy of love passed over him and he began 
to tremble for joy ; everything of this world seemed 
to pass away from his sight He became unconsci- 
ous in the presence of Satyavai and Laksmivai, and 

Stft fM WT <S<? ttt1 II 


tfo ^rc 9 ! TSJ vspf ^r ^w i 
^5 w nnr iw 11 


danced in the very ecstasy of love crying out ' Oh ' 
Krisna, Oh ! Krisna.' He was like one under a spell, 
and his eyes overflowed with tears of joy. His outer 
robes fell from his body, and thus uncovered he stood 
breathing deeply Sometimes he fell to the ground 
unconscious of the hurt he received from the thorns. 
His rosary were unstrung. His body was reduced 
to a skeleton by much fasting and it bled being 
torn by the thorns. Charmed with the name of 
Krina, he danced in ecstasy of heavenly joy. A 
strange light shot forth from his person. The 
rich man was lost in admiration at this sight. He 
(ell at his feet, but Chaitanya was unconscious, 



With arms lifted towards heaven he danced on. 
lie took Satyavai by the arm and told her to call 
on the name of Kri^na. All were charmed at the 
sight. He lay unconscious of the physical world, 
his mind fixed on Kri?na, his head drooped on 
one side, and saliva flowed from his lips his body 
was covered with dust eyes were shut yet still 
shedding tears. The Buddhists who were on the 
spot, deeply moved by the sight, cried 'Oh ' Krisna, 
Oh ! Krina', and as Chaitanya heard the 
name of God from the mouth of these sceptics, 
tears incessant tears streamed forth from his eyes. 
Tirtharama was deeply affected at the sight. He said 
'Oh ! sinner and faithless man that I am, be gra- 
cious Oh ! Lord, and show me how I may obtain 
God's mercy f> Chaitanya embraced Tirtharama 
and said 'You are really a virtuous soul, Oh ! 
Tirtharama, I feel myself hallowed by your 

VI WW 7$*? JjW II 


ft CW CTtCT t^ fft 

^ fir 


touch/ And again and again he said Tirtharama, 
you have won the love of God/ Tirtharama fell 
at his feet and wept. When remorse came to him, 
and with that a spirit of resignation, Chaitanya 
embraced him and raised him by his arms. Ho 
said 'Cast away all earthly wealth like a straw, 
and then only you will have true love for God. Cast 
off your fine apparel and jewels ; by renouncing 
these transitory riches you will secure permanent 
riches. This body of yours, covered with skin, 
will rot and perish in a few years ; and when your 
soul has departed, it will be reduced to ashes or 
eaten by worms or turned into clods of earth. 
There is nothing in the world, my friend, in which 
to glory save only devotion to God. Know all 
earthly things to be fleeting; renounce them and 
correct yourself of your habits of luxury. I cannot 
say how God's grace can be obtained. God 


Himself carries His grace to the soul of man. It is 
not in my power to say more than this. The 
whole world bears unfailing testimony to divine 
grace. What other proof will a wise man require to 
bring conviction to him ? Nothing is gained by 
fruitless discussion. To one whose soul yearns for 
divine love, God himself comes and inspires him 
with faith/' 

These and other teachings moved Tlrtharama 
so much that he took the ascetic's vow and he began 
to chant the name of Krisna day and night. " His 
infidel friends came and pitied the condition of 
Tlrtharama, and said 'Lo, Tirtharama is ruined." 

The account of how Narojl and Bhllapantha, 
two great robbers, were reformed, and how Vara- 
mukhl, an exceedingly beautiful woman of Guzerat, 
left her evil ways by the influence of Chaitanya 
Deva, are vividly described by Govinda Das. 

Ills influ- The frenzy of divine love seen in Chaitanya 

encc Deva had attractions which could not be resisted 
tlble. by any feeling soul. Wherever the young ascetic 


W C^ 

fotfi ihw it%i 

*$ wavtt 




went, people thronged round him, in large numbers ; 
scholars admired his profound learning, and the 
common people his ecstasies of love. And here in 
Bengal the village artists still paint him as standing 
in a trance, with his hands uplifted towards heaven 
and his eyes shedding tears 

His followers, who inspite of their earnest 
entreaties to be permitted to accompany him on 
his tour were all left at Purl, grieved at the separa- 
tion and waited eagerly there for his return, longing 
for the happy meeting. Chaitanya wandered through 
Southern India all this time, like a mad man, 
reduced to a skeleton by the fatigues of the journey, 
by fasts and by vigils, all borne with a gladsome 
heart because of his great love Children used to 
throw dust at him, sometimes taking him to be a 
mad man as he passed by ; but when he spoke, the 
wandering gaze of thousands fell upon him and 
they saw his face glow with a celestial light, which 
is a never-failing sign of spirituality, vouchsafed 
to one, who, in a pure heart rests on His great 

Govinda's description of the meeting of j oy at the 
Chaitanya Deva with his followers, when he came re-union. 
back to Purl, vividly pictures the animation and 
joy of the event. Murari Gupta fell on his knees 
before him ; with clasped palms the veteran Vasu- 
deva said " My heart is made of stone, or it would 
have broken long ago, at being separated from 
you." Narahari met him in great joy carrying a 
Hag in his hand, and Khanjan Acharyya though 
lame came swiftly before all others because of his 
great love for Chaitanya. The news of his arrival 



spread quickly all over the country, and Govinda 
Das gives an interesting and animated description 
of how the musicians Laksman and Valaram Das 
v\ho sounded the horn called Ram inga in the 
procession, together with Giri Purl, Narayan Tlrtha 
and other great scholars speedily appeared on the 
scene to pay their respects to their beloved master. 
Raja Pratap Rudra used to visit the procession 
every day and when Chaitanya marched with it, 
the King followed him on foot, with the humility 
and respects of a disciple. On the 3rd of Magha 
Chaitanya came hack to Puri, and Govinda Das 
finishes his diary here. 

A word is now necessary about Govinda Dss 
and his literary powers. Shortly alter he had left 
home in a lit of anger he met again with his wife. 

Govinda Chaitanva Deva came to Burdwan on his v\ay to 
Das and J J 

his wife. Puri, Govinda being with him , and here the inter- 
view took place. 

* " Knowing somehow or other that F had come 
to Burdwan, she hastened to meet me Tears were 
flowing from her eyes, while she fell at my feet 
saying ' O come back and let us go home together 


For a slight fault of mine you have renounced 
home ; what provision will you make for me 
your poor and devoted servant ? Where am I to 
go, and who will give me charity? I cannot tell 
what fate is reserved for me f To support a 
cursed life, now I must go and beg.' Hearing these 
words I hung down my head and said to myself 
"O God, O God." Since God's name makes 
the heart pure and raises it above all earthly 
attachments I took refuge in His name." Chaitanya 
heard all that my wife had said and sweetly talked 
with her on the aims of the spiritual life. Hearing 
his words she was very sorrowful. She said no- 
thing but began to weep bitterly, looking round 
helplessly. ChiUanya tried to soothe her with 
religious advice, but she hid her face in her 


sadi and wept even more bitterly. Seeing her 
in this condition, Chaitanya became full of com- 
passion and said turning towards me : " You need 
not go with me, Govinda, I shall take another 
servant ; you had better go home with your 

But how could poor Govinda leave the company 
of that divine man whose attraction had proved 
too strong for the princely Raghunath and 
Narattam, for Sanatan and Rupa, the ministers 
of the court of the Emperor of Gour, who had all 
left their vast worldly possessions, and joined the 
order of the Sannyasins for the great love they bore 
to the master? In fact he who makes us under- 
stand our relation to God, the only (rue relation- 
ship worth caring for, wields an irresistible 
power over us. When a prophet or a seer causes 
us to see the highest truth, this phenomenal world, 
> the fleeting and the perishable passes out of 
our sight and He becomes more real to us than any 
object of the senses. So it was with Govinda and 
Bothers. When Chaitanya expressed his desire to 
leave Govinda at Burdwan : 

*Rfr frfiroi CTICT ^ftre "rtfo* it 



* " I clasped his feet in deep anguish of heart 
and washed them with tears, but Chaitanya turned 
away and left me.'* 

Govinda could not, however, stay at Burdwan. 
He hastened to overtake Chaitanya Deva dismis- 
sing a number of friends, who had in the meantime 
assembled there to dissuade him from his resolve 
to renounce home as a Sannyasin. The devotion of 
Chaitanya's followers was wonderful. In the last 
page of the Kadcha Govinda writes that he was 
entrusted by Chaitanya Deva while at Puri to 
carry a letter from him, to Advaitacharyya at 
(pcSntipur. This meant his absence from Puri for a 
few days. But when entrusted with this task . 
t " Hearing this, tears started to my eyes, for I could 
not bear separation from the Lord." Vasu Deva 
Sarvabhauma the veteran scholar, had once said 
| " If a thunder bolt falls on my head or if my son 
dies, even that is bearable, but I cannot bear to 
hear Chaitanya abused." The great love in which 
Chaitanya Deva. was held in Bengal continues even 
now among her people, not to speak of his more 
special followers the Vaisnavas who believe him to 
be God himself. Even now in the village homes 
of Bengal parents clasp their little children to 








ness of his 


their breasts and give them such tender names as 
'Gour Chandra/ * Navadvipa Chandra/ ( Nadevfisi/ 
* Nagarvasi ', all indicating Chaitanya Deva or 
Navadvipa his birth place, hallowed in their eyes 
by his associations. In Tippcra, close to the 
Ranir Dighi, there is a locality inhabited by the 
Malis or sweepers a very low caste in Hindu society. 
I lived close to this neighbourhood for about eight 
years and scarcely a night passed that I did not 
hear these people sing in chorus for hours together, 
songs in praise of Chaitanya (( Come, if you 
would see the god-man who does not believe in 
caste" was the burden of one of these familiar 
songs Not only in Tippcra but everywhere in 
Bengal, people of the low castes show an unusual 
enthusiasm in singing songs in praise of the great 
Brahmin who proclaimed the equality of all men 
in our society. 

lions' of* Govincla Das' writings are simple and unassum- 

Nature. ' m ^ T} ie d ee p spirituality of his mind lends a 
charm to his descriptions of nature. In speaking 
of the Nilgiri hills he compares them to a great 
yogi lost in divine contemplation. He describes 
the sea near Kanyakumari in the following few 
lines : 

* u We crossed Tamraparm and Chaitanya felt 
a desire to see the sea. We heard the roar of its 
waves from a distance. There is no mountain, no 



forest, no land, no sound but that of the sea 
moaning incessantly' No word can express it but 
it looked so grand ! There is no object that meets 
the eye, yet it is so impressive ! One who has a 
sinless heart can alone appreciate the grandeur of 
the sea." 

Govinda's writings are free from narrow and 
orthodox views on religion. Chaitanya Deva visited 
the temple of iva, of akti, of Ganapati and of 
Surja. Wherever and under whatever form or 
name, God was worshipped, Chaitanya Deva took 
that as the emblem of the Lord of his heart , it 
acted as a sign to remind him of One whom he 
loved supremely. The feeling that burnt like holy 
incense in the temple of his heart was nourished 
by all that he saw, and in his enlightened and 
spiritual view, gioss forms and superstitious ideas 
were translated into the edifying truths of pure 

It is in the descriptions of Govincla Das in the 
above strain that we find how the piophets and seers 
of India rejected nothing in the faith of the people 
however gross it might apparently seem. They 
always interpreted the thing worshipped in the high- 
est light of faith and thub bridged over the gap bet- 
ween Fetichism and Vedantism. The lower classes in 

Free from 

all wor- 
ship and 





Das, born 
1507 A.D. 


all parts of the world are bound to be superstitious, 
but in Hinduism the gross forms of worship are 
always in touch with the superior light of pure 
faith and thus without disturbing the faith of 
the illiterate, Hinduism makes its vast religious 
system a homogeneous whole in which the lowest 
represents merely a step in the ladder that reaches 
the highest. This catholic trait in the character of 
Chaitanya Deva is deliberately omitted or ignored 
by many of his subsequent biographers, who want- 
ed to represent him as the leader and upholder of 
their own party, the god of a special class of 
men and not the prophet for all that he was 

(b) Chaitanya Bhggabata by Vrindavan Das. 

After Govinda Das's account of the few 
years of Chaitanya's life, the next biographical 
work about the great Vaisnava prophet was written 
by Vrindavan Das born in 1507 A.). He was 
a grandson of rinivas, whose brother rivasa's 
devotion to Chaitanya Deva is well known to the 
Vaisnava community. The spacious lawn before 
Crivasa's house was the favourite haunt of the 
Sankirtan parties led by Chaitanya Deva - ? many a 
night from the rise of the evening star on the western 
horizon till the appearance of the sun, the deep 
chanting of God's name was heard accompanied 
with the unceasing sounds of khol and kartal in 
this historic 'angina* of rivasa, but Vrindavan 
Das was only two years old when Chaitanya Deva 
left Navaclwipa for good. The biographer regrets 
in many passages of his work that he had not had 
the good fortune of seeing Chaitanya Deva. 


Vrindavan Das's Chaitanya Bhagavata is one 
of the standard works on his life and commands 
great influence amongst the Vai?navas| it contains 
about 25000 lines and is written throughout in the 
metre called the Payar Chhanda. Vrindavan Das 
represents the views of the orthodox Vaisnavas 
and takes great pains to establish Chaitanya as an 
incarnation of Vi?nu. He resents the opposition 
to such views by the unbelieving non-Vaisuava 
communities with a freedom of language that tran- 
scends all limits of decency. Outside the orthodox 
Vaisnava society none will appreciate his rude and 
overbearing remarks about those who would not 
accept Nityananda, the friend of Chaitanya Deva 
and a Vainava apostle, as an incarnation of 

But Vrindavan Das shows considerable powers 
as a historian. We feel a greater interest in the 
incidental description of the contemporary events 
that he gives than in his delineation of the subject 
of his memoir. He describes Chaitanya Deva's 
life in the light of the Bhagabata which gives an 
account of ri Krisna's life. Yet the Krisna of 
Vrindavan, Mathura and Kuruk^etra is as different 
from Chaitanya of Navadvipa as ever were any 
two characters in history. Vrindavan Das in his 
zeal to prove the identity of the two personalities 
hopelessly confounds both. It is, as I have said, 
in the incidental description of contemporary 
events that he shows the hand of a competent 
historian, and the biography greatly interests us 
when we study the minor facts related in it. It is 
also an invaluable source of information regarding 
the lives of many of Chaitanya Deva's followers. 



on the non- 




He begins his work with a reference to the great 
Vaisuava scholars and worthies who lived at 
Navadwipa immediately before Chaitanya Deva's 
birth and also to the condition of that city at the 
time. We have already quoted a passage from 
these accounts on page 410. 

*"Some of these great Vainavas had been born 
in Navadwipa; others in Chittngong, Radha, 
Orissa and Sylhet They were born in different 
places, but they had all met there. As the Lord 
(Chaitanya) would be born there, they were drawn 
to the place. rivsa and ri Rama, the scholars, 
ri Chandra ekhara Deva highly esteemed every- 
where, Murari Gupta the healer of all earthly 
maladies (belonging to the physician caste) these 
eminent Vai?navas were born in Sylhet. Pundarika 
Vidyavinoda of pearless learning, Chaitanya 
Vallabha Datta and Vasu Deva Datta, were born 



in Chittagong. Hari Das was born at Buclhan in 
Western Bengal. In the village EkChaka (Burdwan) 
was born the great apostle NitySnanda. All of them 
had met in Navadwipa." 

These men in subsequent times obtained 
celebrity for their great faith. They were like 
torches that had only required the touch of Chai- 
tanya Deva to kindle them. 

After describing the glories of Navadwipa, its 
^paraphernalia of educational institutions, and the 
customs, and avocations of its residents and how 
they spent whole nights in singing songs in praise 
of Yogi Pal, Gopi Pal, Mahi Pal and other kings of 
the Pal dynasty, Vnndavan Das goes on to say : 
*"They sometimes sing songs in honour of 
Manasa Devi and keep up whole nights. There are 
many others who worship Va?uli with presents, 
others who offer meat and wine for sacrificial pur- 
poses. Music, dances, songs are always going on 

an* \ 

i fan ' J 

Chaitanya Bhagabata. 



The people 
of Nava- 
to worldli- 

Chaitanya- Bhfiga vata. 


in the place and there is noise and bustle on all sides 
and men are without faith in Krisha. Religious 
teachings are thrown away on them. They do not 
care to take the name of Krisfia. They are al- 
ways vaunting their caste and their learning." 

Chaitan- " quote the passage in which Chaitanya Deva's 

ya's visit v ; s it to Gaya is described. 
to Gaya. } 

* " The son of achi Devi (Chaitanya) entered 
Gaya, the holiest shrine in India. He came to 
Brahmakunda and bathed in it ; he paid his respect 
to the departed spirit of his father in a fitting 
manner, and being admitted to the akraveda he 
hastened to see the lotus feet of Visnu. The 
Brahmins stood around the feet ; heaps of gar- 
lands of flowers were offered there ; sweet scents, 
flowers, incense and clothes were offered at the 
feet, so numerous that no one could keep record of 
them. The priests, clothed in holy attire, were 


i i 
itii c^^r or^r *wi 

^^ ^^ ?t?r j 
owi CWHI lift ^t^r n 

1w ^^ ^f 



describing the glories of the Divine Feet. ( These 
Feet that Ye see here' they said ' the god (piva has 
placed on his breast and called himself blessed Th f e e ^ tu5 
thereby. The goddess Laksmi's whole soul rests 
in the lotus feet of the Lord, the king Vali took 
them on his head and was reconciled to his lot in the 
nether world. To one who contemplates the feet 
of Visnu for a moment, Death loses all his horror. 
The great Yogies tn their highest vision catch but 
a glimpse of these feet. O how fortunate arc ye 
who see with your eyes this holy spectacle the 
feet of Vishu from which sprang the Ganges, which 
rest on the head of Ananta, the thousand headed 
serpent, and which are worshipped by Laksmi. For- 
tunate are ye to have a sight of these feet '" 


n TSI^I TH ?rn 


Chaitanya Bhagavata* 


ing emo- 

Ifvar Puri 

u He became overpowered with feelings of 
joy which could not be concealed, and he trembled 
in a sort of ecstasy, the incessant streams of 
the Ganges, as it were, flowed from his eyes." 

Igvara Puri had by this time come to Gaya, 
eager for Chaitanya's company, and met him on 
the threshhold of the GayS temple, As Chaitanya 
saw him he bowed to him in deep reverence and 
said * " Blessed is my journey to Gaya for I have 
seen you. If offering Pinda can secure heaven to 
my dead father, surely the sight of a saint like your- 
self is a hundred times better. You are better 
than all shrines, Revered Sir, for the sight of 
you cleanses the soul. Save me from this sea of 
the world ' I resign my body and soul to your care. 
Kindly teach me how I may take refuge at the lotus 
feet of Visnu." 

He was again in a trance and when he recover- 
ed his senses he recited Sanskrit verses and said 

5*1 arftrow 

OT fasft 




* ' O Krisna, O my father, O Lord of my soul, 
whither hast Thou gone and left me,' and he fell 
on the bare ground and his handsome person was 
besmeared with dust. 

(c) Chaitanya Man gal by Jayananda. 

The next biographical account of Chaitanya 
Deva that we come across, was written by 
Jayananda. Jayananda was born in 1513 A. D 
He belonged to a family, from which sprang 
Raghunandan, the law-giver of Bengal of the i6th 
century. Jayananda's father Suhuddhi Mi^ra, was 
a noted personality of the Vaisnava community, 
about whom frequent references are found in 
Govinda Das's kadcha, Vaisnavacbaradarpana, 
Charitamrita and other works. Jayananda when 
a child saw Chaitanya in the house of his grand- 
father. He was commonly called by the pet name 
of Guia. It is said that Chaitanya took some 
interest in the boy and gave him the Sanskritic 
name of Jayananda, by which he was latterly 

There are certain historical points, in which 
Jayananda differs from other writers, and from the 
traditions current in the country. It is generally 
believed that Chaitanya' s father Jagannath Mi^ra 
was originally an inhabitant of Dh&kgdakgina in 
Sylhet. But Jayananda refers to Jayanagar in 
Sylhet as the native village of Jagannath Miyra. 
The Mdhomedan devotee, who obtained a great 
celebrity in the Vaisnava community under the 
name of Had Das, by his staunch devotion to 


1513 A.D. 

The new 


brought to 

light by 


C*T*ttf 8 




away of 



Chaitanya Deva and by accepting his faith, is 
generally believed to have been born in Budana, 
but according to Jayananda, Hari Das was born in 
the village Bhatakalagachi on the bank of the river 
Svarna. We come to know from Jayananda's 
Chaitanya Mangala that Chaitanya Deva's ances- 
tors came to Bengal from Jajpur in Orissa. 

The history of how Chaitanya Deva passed 
away is a mystery ; it is not related either in the 
Chaitanya Bhagabata or in the Chaitanya Charita- 
mrita -the two great authoritative works on 
ChaitAnya's life. It is said that devout Vaisnavas 
felt such pain in describing the story, that many of 
them scrupulously avoided narrating it in their bio- 
graphies. It is true that once Chaitanya fell into a 
trance at the sight of the moon reflected in the sea 
as hes witnessed it from the Orissa coasts the scene 
reminded him of Krisna and he leapt into the ocean 
in an unconscious condition ; but it is also related 
that he was shortly after rescued by a fisherman and 
carefully tended, till restored to consciousness. 
This fact in his life is well known. The more 
advanced members of our community, finding no 
other clue as to how he parsed away, have lately 
started a theory that Chaitanya Deva was at this 
time lost in the waters and never again found. 
But the old records distinctly relate how he was 
saved by a fisherman ; so to assert in the teeth of 
this evidence that he met with his death in the sea 
is certainly unwarranted and no historian can credit 
it. Our country-sides are full of fables, relating 
to the m'anner in which he finally disappeared ; 
it is said that he embraced the figure of Gopinsth 
(Kri?na) made of Nimb^ wood and worshipped in 


a temple at Puri, and that there he suddenly van- 
ished. The priests of the temple declare that 
Chaitanya Deva's corporal frame, which was not 
of gross matter, was lost in Gopinath's figure ; they 
point to a golden mark in the image, asserting 
that that it has been there, ever since the time 
when Chaitanya Deva disappeared. A similar 
story is related by the priests of the Puri temple, 
who associate the disappearance of the devotee 
with the figure of Jagannatha. As the biographers 
of Chaitanya Deva are generally silent on the 
point, fables like these could pass current in the 
Vai^nava community and they have been long be- 
lieved by the people. 

Jayananda's Chaitanya-Mangala, which has An his- 
been recently unearthed in the shape of some old account, 
manuscript-copies of the work by Babu Nogendra 
Nath Vasu, gives a version of Chaitanya's passing 
away from the earth in a manner which we 
may accept as historically true. It is told by 
our author that in the month of Asada (July) 
Chaitanya Deva, while leading a Sahkirtana party 
in procession, fell into a trance and as he proceed- 
ed leaning on a companion, his eyes streaming 
with tears, and his hands up-lifted to heaven, with 
a smile which made his face divinely radiant, he 
was hurt in the foot by a brick, of which he was 
totally unconscious at the time. On coming to 
himself he felt illness with great pain in the foot 
and said to his companions, that after two days 
he would die. He caught fever that day, which 
increased and on Sunday the jth day of the wax- 
ing moon, in the month of July 1534, at about 
3 P.M. he left his mortal frame. 


A partial 


tlon of the 

story by 

Loch an 


A page of 

old his 


This we find in Jayananda's Chaitanya- Mafcgala. 
From an account given by Lochana Das in his 
life of Chaitanya a subsequent work, we are led 
to surmise that his body was immediately removed 
to the temple of Jagannath in Puri and the priests 
made a grave for it in the floor of the temple. 
TKey closed the doors of the temple against all 
visitors, Chaitanya's immediate followers not ex- 
cepted, while they were placing the body in it and 
repairing the floor after burial. The passing away 
of Chaitanya Deva was thus made a mystery by the 
Pandas, who now earn money from the credulous 
pilgrims by relating romantic stories about his 
disappearance and by pointing to the golden mark 
in the figure of Gopinath, which, they describe as 
the mark of the passage by which Chaitanya Deva 
melted into the figure of that god. 

Jayananda's Chaitanya-Mangala discloses some 
other facts of the history of Bengal. It is related 
in it, that Hossain Shah, the Emperor of Gour 
(1494 1525) heard of a prophecy in the land 
that the Brahmins of Navadwipa would subvert 
the Moslem power, establish a Hindu kingdom and 
occupy Gour. The prophecy was widely current 
and the Emperor was alarmed by it. Here is the 
passage describing the steps that he adopted to 
avert the evil. 

* " By the Emperor's orders the Brahmins were 
deprived of their caste or killed. Whenever a 
conch was sounded in a house, the Emperor's 





soldiers proceeded towards it at once and killed the 
inmates there and looted all property* If one was 
found wearing a tilak on the forehead or the sacred 
thread he was bound hand and foot. The temples 
were destroyed and shrines were desecrated. The 
Tulsi plants and the A9vattha trees (sacred 
amongst Hindus) were up-rooted by hundreds. 
Bathing in the Ganges was prohibited. The citizens 
of Navadwip became alarmed for their lives. The 
Mahomedans made the village of Pirulya near 
Navadwipa, their station and were determined to 
extirpate the Brahmins of Navadwipa. A false 
report had reached the Emperor of Gour that the 
Brahmins of Navadwipa would oust the Maho- 
medans from the country ; it was written in their 
sacred books and the citizens of Navadwipa were 

*r CTCSI ^tw 

!T1 ^H 


awi TWI 


all expert archers, The Emperor believed in this 
prophecy and he ordered a general devastation 
of Navadwipa. Vasudeva Sgrvabhouma, son of 
Vi^arada, with his family, removed to Orissa, leav- 
ing Bengal. The king of Utkala was then the 
illustrious Prataprudra, famous for his valour 
in war. He worshipped the great scholar of 
Navadwipa, presenting him with a golden throne. 
The brother of Sarvabhouma was Vidyavachaspati, 
who remained in Gour and their father Vi^arada 
proceeded to Benares, where he settled." 

It is further related that the Emperor was after- 
wards convinced that the Brahmins of Navadwipa 
were innocent. He became remorseful and not only 
stopped all oppression but ordered the Hindu 
temples that were damaged, to be repaired. From 
this time forward he was kind towards the 
Hindus. We have got references also in Chaitanya- 
charitamrita to Hossain Shah's oppression of 
the Hindus of Navadwipa and other places in the 


Jayananda's' Chaitanya Mangala. 


earlier part of his reign. But the Brahmin families 
whose caste was polluted by being forced to take 
water from the hands of the Mahomedans stationed 
in the village of Pirulya, lost their status in Hindu 
society, and after more than four hundred years, 
the Tagore families of Calcutta, who represent 
a class of Pirulya Brahmins, as they have been since 
called, have to a considerable extent regained 
their social position. 

Jayananda gives a list of authors who had 
written accounts of Chaitanya Deva's life before 
him, amongst which the works of Paramananda- 
puri, Gopal Basu and Gouri Das, mentioned by 
him, have not yet been recovered. We find it 
also mentioned in his work that Govinda Das, a 
black-smith by caste, followed Chaitanya Dcva 
in his travels in Southern India. 

(d) Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krisna Das. 

By far the greatest of the biographers of 
Chaitanya Deva, one who by his pure and lofty 
character, by his unique scholarship and no less 
by his hoary old age commanded the greatest 
respect of the Vaisnava community of the period, 
was Kri?na Das Kaviraj of Jhamatpur in Burdwan. 
Born in 1517 of a poor Vaidya family, he was 
inured to hardships from his earliest childhood. 
His father Bhagiratha used to earn a small pittance 
by following the avocation which belonged to his 
caste viz. that of a physician. At his death Krisna 
Das was only 6 years old. He had a brother Cyama 
Das, 2 years his junior. Their mother Sunanda could 
find no way to maintain herself and her two 
children. But an end soon came to her care and 





Da$ born 

1517 A.D. 

tunes and 


A dream. 

Goes to 
and settles 


anxieties ; the hand of death took her away, only 
a few months after she had become a widow and the 
poor children were placed in charge of his relatives. 
Krisna Das was not much cared for and he grew 
up to be a lad of 16, not running wild as such 
boys are likely to become, but sober and quiet 
a prey to melancholia and occasional gloom caused 
by the bereavements he had suffered which weighed 
upon his soul. A follower of the saint Nityananda 
Minaketana Rm Das by name, paid a visit to 
Jhamatpur at this time. His preachings produced 
a deep effect upon Krisna Das who now yearned for 
the religious life. Ram Das was however treated 
to ridicule by Syam Das, the younger brother of 
our author who took the matter sorely to heart. 

Mlnaketan had gone away, but the disappoint- 
ment caused in Krina Das's mind by his brother's 
onduct, together with the impressions of a holy 
life left on him by the devout Vai^ava, made him 
give up the idea of following any wordly pursuits. 
It is said that at this time Nityananda appeared to 
him in a dream and advised him to go to the Winds 
groves and pass his life there. The dream became 
a real force with him and he could not resist the com- 
mand. He walked about 800 miles on foot begging 
alms for his subsistence and arrived at Vrindavana, 
where the purity of his life and his high character 
even as a boy interested the six distinguished 
Gosvamis, the appostles of the Vainava faith of 
that time, who volunteered to take care of the young 
man's education. 

The beauty of the Vrinda groves, the scenes of 
which are rendered ever sacred by their association 
with Krifija, added to the austere lives of the apostles, 



Rup, Sanatan, Jlba, Gopal Bhatta and the two 
Raghunaths and their great learning, all combined to 
make lasting impressions on Krisna Das. He be- 
came a ready and willing disciple of the six 
Gosvamis and advanced rapidly in his studies. 
Within a few years, he had became a profound 
Sanskrit scholar and had written two works of 
great merit in that language. His Govindalila- 
mrita is a master-piece of poetry, and his annota- 
tions of Kri?ria Karnamrita attest his great erudition 
He wrote some small books in Bengali, mamely 
Advait Sutra Kadcha, Svarupvarnana and Ragmayi 
Kana and in all of these Bengali treatises occur oc- 
casional prose-passages which may be taken with 
the exception of those in the unya Puran of the gth 
century, as some of the earliest specimens of Bengali 
prose. It is worthwhile perhaps to point out that 
even the biographical notes of Govinda Das were 
written in poetry. When even arithmetic was 
composed in rhyme, how could biography be 
prose ? 

A religious celibate and student all his life, 
practising the austerities of a Sannyasin, he had 
reached the age of 79 when a change came over 
him. He had never cared for earthly fame or glory, 
his aim had been only to acquire sound scholar- 
ship in the theological lore of the Vai?navas, 
and as an unasbuming soul to quit his mortal 
frame in due time and quietly pass into the 
heaven of his Kri?na from the sacred banks 
of the Jumna. But a herculean task came upon 
him in his old age unsolicited and he could not 
avoid it. 

Under the 

six Qosvl- 








when he 
was 79. 


The Chaitanya Bhsgabat of Brindavana Das 
used to be read in Bjrindavana by the holy men 
of the place every evening, and they felt that the 
last portion of Chaitanya' s life was not described 
in the work with that completeness which the 
Vaisnava community required in a recognised bio- 
graphy. One evening when Kri$na Das sat in his 
cottage counting the beads of his rosary old and 
infirm as he was and suffering from the various 
diseases which age brings on, a deputation of the 
Vai$navas of the place, consisting of Govinda 
Gosvaml, Jadavacharyya Gosvami, Bhugarbha Gos- 
vaml, Chaitanya Das, Kumudananda Chakravarti, 
Kri?na Das Chakravarti, ivananda Chakravarti 
and of others, waited on the old scholar requesting 
him to undertake to write a life of Chaitanya Deva. 
The hoary headed Krisna Das pleaded his age and 
weakness, but they insisted on his undertaking the 
work. At this moment the priest of the temple of 
Govindajl came to him and presented him with an 
Ade9amalaya a garland of flowers a sign of divine 
command, from the temple, and the request made 
by the deputation became by this act of the priest 
inviolable as a religious injunction. Krisna Das 
had no other alternative than to take up the work. 
He was helped by the materials given him by 
ri Das, Loknath Gosvami, Gopal Bhatta and 
Raghu Nath Das. Besides this he received impor- 
tant help from the scholarly notes on Chaitanya's 
life by Murari Gupta and Svarupa Damodar and 
from Chaitanya Bhagabat by Brindaban Das, and 
Chaitanya Chandrodaya by Kavi Karnapur. But 
from these materials we can scarcely gain any 
I/IPS of thp vast erudition and extraordinarv nanis 


vtfith which he assimilated and shaped all that came 
into his hands. I give in the foot notes the names 
of the Sanskrit works* to which reference is made 
in the celebrated pages of Chaitanya Charity 
mrita (lit., the nectar of the life of Chaitanya), 
as his great work is called. It is a monument of 
industry and scholarship and of the devotional 
features that characterise Vai?navism. Up to now 
no other Bengali work of such patient and varied 
scholarship has been produced. But the language 
of the book displays an uncouth admixture of the 
dialect of lower Bengal with that of the upper 
Provinces. The author had long left his native 
land, and his own language had grown to be a 
curious medley of Hindi and Bengali. His pro- 
found scholarship in Sanskrit besides made him 
import high sounding Sanskrit words into the 
mixed language used in his work, and a student 
of Bengali must admit that such importation did 



1 6. Vicva Prakaca. 



17. Vrihat Gautamiya Tantra. 


Ujjvala Nilmani. 

1 8. Amarkosa. 


Kavya Prakaca 

19. Uttarcharita. 


Krisna Sandarva. 

20. Ekadasitatta. 


Krama Sandarva. 

21. Krinsakarnamrita. 


Gita Govinda. 

22. Kurmapurana. 


Chaitany Chandrodaya 

23. Gadura Purana. 


24. Gautamiya Tantra. 


Jagannath Vallava 

25. Nanrad Pancharatra. 


26. Nrinsiha Purana. 


Dankeli Kaumudi. 

27. Panchadasi. 


Natak Chandrika. 

28. Panini Sutra. 



29. Baraha Purana. 



30. Vidagda Madhava. 



31. Vira Charita. 


Visnu Purana. 


The vast 
ship dis- 
played by 


Defects of 

not add any beauty or grace to his style. Words 

and CTCVN01 which 
display a peculiar formation of Sanskrit Samasas, 
together with a sprinkling of Hindi words such as 
sf $", ZttQ and ^3*131 and even of Urdu jffi>\ and 
ftfl, all combined to make the work an omnium 
gatherum of heterogenous elements, which is 
far from being the graceful and elegant Bengali 
for which some of the Vais^ava works are noted. 
The author was no skilled hand in writing Bengali, 
but this does not detract, in any considerable 
degree from the unique merit which his work 
possesses and for which it has found a distinguished 
and a permanent place in the literature of the 
Bengali Vaisnavas. 

32. Brihannaradiya Purana. 53. Vedanta Dar^an. 

.33. Brahma Samhita. 54. Bhakti Lahari. 

34. Brahma Vaivarta Puran 55. Bharati. 

35. Vaisnava Tosini. 56. Bhagabata Sandarva. 

36. Bhagabata Gita. 57 Mahabharata. 

37,, Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu. 58. Kritalakamandara Stotra, 

38 Bhakti Sandrva. 59. Rupa Gosvarm Kadca. 

39. Bhabartha Diplka. 60. Stavamala. 

40. Bhagabata Purana. 

41. Malamasa Tattva 

42. Manu Samhita. 

43. Jamuna Caryya Vrata 

44. Ramayana. 

45. Laghu Bhagabatamrita. 

46. Lalita Madhava, 

47. Cva9vata Tantra. 

48. Svarupa Gosvami Kadca. 

49. Sahitya Darpana. 

50. Samksep Bhagabatamrita. 

51. Hari Bhakti Vilas. 

52. Hari Bhakti Sukhodaya. 

V. ] 


Chaitanya Charitamrita contains 15050 slokas 
or " couplets" and is divided into three main Khan- 
das or cantos, the Adi, the Madhya and the Antya 
Khanda. The first khanda contains 2500 slokas, 
the second 6050, and the third 6500. The poem 
discusses the views of the Vaisnavas on religion 
learnedly, with profuse quotations from Sanskrit 
texts. The doctrines of Chaitanya Deva are ex- 
plained elaborately and one unacquainted with the 
discourses of the six Schools of Indian Philosophy 
cannot follow the great Bengali work properly. There 
are very few Bengalis within our knowledge who 
can interpret the scholarly expositions of the author 
aright. With the lay Vaisnavas however the 
great attraction of the book lies in its delineation of 
Chaitanya's last days. The slokas that he -recited, 
his religious ecstasies displaying the highest poetic 
flights, which at times made him appear like a 
madman and at others like a heavenly spirit, and 
not unoften as a great scholar whose sparkling 
discourses were listened to with rapt attention by 
the multitude all have been graphically described 
in this masterly work of Kri^a Ds Kaviraj. The 
last portion of Chaitanya's life as told by Kri?na 
Das shows how 'God-vision became more and ' more 
frequent with hin till the emaciated body'tould 
bear these trances no longer, how the sight of a 
flower, a ripple on the sea, a tree, or a cloud would 
throw him into a rapture, and he would shed tears of 
joy seeing God in them, and stand unconscious 
with his hands uplifted towards heaven for hours 
together, how the songs of Jayadeva sung by a 
Vaisiiava maiden in the Purl temple, made him run 
like a madman, his feet pierced by thorns and 


of the 

The last 
days of 
his ecsta- 


dropping blood, and how in an unconscious state he 
was carried to his home by his followers. Some- 
times for a whole night he would sing the songs of 
Jayadeva, Vidyapati and Chandidas explaining as he 
sangthe relation of the soul to God referred to 
in these songs. Thoughts of the matter-of-fact world 
scarcely occurred to him. He had not visited his 
poor mother (pachi Devi and his devoted wife 
Vi?nupriya ever since he took the Sannyasin's vow 
and had never visited his dear mother-land of 
Navadwipa. The people of that place came to Puri 
frequently to have a sight of one whom they named 
Navadwip Chandra or the moon of Navadwipa. He 
would occasionally send messages to his bereaved 
mother, saying that he was well, and that she 
should not feel any anxiety on his account. In 

message the last year of his life he sent the following 
to mother* 

message : 

' * " O mother, at a time when I should have 
Ministered to your comforts, I took the vow of a 
Sannyasin, I turned mad and committed a great 
sin ; pray forgive me, for I am your child and am 
always bound to obey you." 

But this was only a fleeting idea. The God- 
vision came upon him again and he fell into a 
trance immediately after delivering the message. 



I quote below a small passage from Chaitanya 
Charitampta in which the author points out the 
distinction between the love of God and earthly 

*" Kgma earthly passion (lit. desire) and Prema Kama and 
(love) are two different things. One is pure gold 
and the other iron. When a man seeks an object 
for the satisfaction of his own desire, he is said to 
be prompted by Kama, but one inspired by a desire 
to fulfil the will of God, acts under Prema or love. 
Kama makes a man seek his own pleasure but 
Prema makes him do things in which God, delights. 
The idea of satisfying people by pandering to 
their wishes (cWM'tf), the ministering to the 
passions that have their origin in one's own body 
( C*R <rtf ), the fulfilling of the commands enjoined 
in the vedas ( C^f H ), wordly pursuits ( *pif ), feel- 
ings of shame, of physical pleasure and of personal 
gratification, attention to inviolable custom and 
attachment for one's kith and kin all these should 
be given up, and God alone should be adored. 
Friends and relations will be against such a man, 
but he should forsake all for the sake of God. 

T5T5 CR m II 


When one has attained this stage, a true devotion 
for God may be said to have sprung up in him ; 
his life becomes like a white cloth without stain. 
So the difference between Kama and Prema is 
great, Kama or desire is darkness impenetrable, 
which does not allow us to see beyond self and 
Prema (love) is the glorious sun which illuminates 
the truths of the whole universe. " 

In describing Chaitanya Deva's visit to Vrinda- 
van the scholarly author displays poetic emotion. 
He writes : 

* " On seeing Chaitanya, the very trees and 
ya's visit creepers of the Vrinda groves burst into blossom 
and shed tears of joy in the dews that fell from 
their leaves. Their boughs gently touched the feet 
of Chaitanya with their tribute of flowers and fruits, 




mr r 


and looked as if they welcomed a friend with gifts. 
Chaitanya in an ecstasy of love embraced each 
tree and creeper and by the silent prayers of his 
soul dedicated the flowers and fruits to Krina." 

On completing his work in 1615 after nine 
years of unremitting toil, Krisna Das writes : 

* Ct It is foolish to assert that I am writing this 
book by my own power ; my body is like an inert 
log ; I am old, decrepit, blind and deaf ; my hand 
trembles as I write, and I have no power to hold 
to my own ideas ; I am suffering from various 
diseases, and can not move or sit properly." 

He was 97 years old at the time. The MS. 
however was ready and along with other works of 
the six Gosvamis was sent to Bengal for circula- 
tion. The MSS. were being carried in a bullock 
cart and rinivas one of the latter day Vaisnava- 
worthies was in charge of this, under escort of 
several armed men from Vrindavan. When after 
some days, they reached Vanavisnupur in the 
district of Bankura, they met a man who made 

Chaitanya Charitamrita. 


tils tragic 



enquiries as to what was being carried in the cart. 
The guard said " it was treasure** ; for indeed in 
their eyes these valuable works were a treasure. 
The news was carried to Raja Vir Hamvira of 
Vanavi?nupur by the spy as the enquirer was. The 
Raja had a strong party of robbers under him 
who carried on depredations in the neighbouring 
countries. In the night they beat the guards, and 
looted the cart and disappeared. 

Crinivas, in whose charge the valuable MSS. 
were, sorely dismayed at this event, instantly sent 
a messenger to Vrindavan with the news. No 
copies of the MSS. were left there, and this meant 
the loss of the labours of the renowned scholars of 
so many years. The death of Kri?aa Das is thus 
described in a work named Vivarta Vilas : 

*"The news reached Raghunathand Kri?na Das 
and both of them fell to the ground and began to 
lament aloud. Old and infirm Kri?na Das could 
not stand the shock ; he could not rise from the 
ground and while in this condition passed away 
in great sorrow." 

The work was subsequently recovered, however, 
and now enjoys the highest popularity in the 
Vai?nava community. Pity that its learned author 
met so tragic a death, in his despair of its being 

* " 

Vaivarta Vi 


ever recovered. The high esteem, in which the 
book is held by the Vaisnavas is evidenced by the 
following remarks of the late veteran Vai?nava 
Pandit Haradhan Dutta Bhaktinidhi of Vadanganj 
(Dist. Hugli). 

'The day I consider as wasted, in which I 
have not read a chapter of this book. 1 

Referring to the author's unfortunate death, the 
Pandit writes : 

(t I can not relate the story of Krisna Dasa's 
death. One ought not to write about anything so 
sad. If I attempt to do so, my heart breaks." 

(e) Chaitatiya Mangala by Lochan DSs. 

We shall here touch upon another biography of 
Chaitanya Deva which also enjoys a great popu- 
larity. It is the Chaitanya Mangal by Trilochan 
Das commonly known as Lochan Das. Lochan 
Das was born in 1523 A.D. at Kogram, a village 
30 miles to the north of Burdwan and 10 miles 
from Guskhara, a station on the East Indian 
Railway. He was a Vaidya by caste. His father's 
name was Kamalakar Das. Narahari Das of ri- 
khanda, one of the most noted followers and friends 
of Chaitanya, was the religious preceptor of Lochan 
Das. In the brief autobiographical account he 
gives of himself in his Chaitanya Mangal and also 
in another work named Durlabha Sar, he writes : 

* " On both my father's and mother's side I was 
the only male child. My maternal grandfather was 



P of U the lty 

1523 A.D. 



A good 



not a good 


without any male heir, and I had no brother. 
Wherever I happened to stay I wa,s treated with 
great indulgence. In fact I was almost spoiled, 
None could succeed in giving me lessons. Thanks 
be to my maternal grandfather Puruottama 
Gupta, a man of high character who gave me sound 
thrashings and at last succeeded in teaching me the 

Lochan Das's Chaitanya Mangal has half the 
bulk of Vrindavan Das's Chaitanya Bhagavata. It 
does not claim the authority of a reliable biography. 
The Vaisnavas love the work because Lochan was 
a fine poet ; his work is more a creation of 
fancy than an historically accredited account of 
Chaitanya's life. There are professional parties of 
singers who sing the whole of Chaitanya Mangal 
and people delight in its high flown poetry. I quote 
a passage below from this book. The author is 
describing a conversation of Chaitanya Deva with 
his wife Vi?nu Priya on the eve of his turning 
Sannyasin. It is doubtful if the stoical character of 
Chaitanya is consistent with the feelings attributed 
to him in the passage but it does credit to our 
author as a piece of emotional poetry. 


Chaitanya MaftgaL 


*" Near Chaitanya's feet sat Visnu Priya sighing Visnupriya 
deeply and looking at him with tearful eyes. She tanya, 
placed the dear feet of her lord on her breast and 
bound them in a loving embrace with her arms that 
were like gentle creepers She wept till her sadi was 
wet with her tears, Chaitanya awoke with a start 
and asked ' Why should you be weeping beloved ? 
Tell me the reason/ He fondly touched her chin 
with his right hand and with sweet words asked 
her again and again the cause of her sorrow. Vinu 
Priya did not reply, but continued weeping in a 
manner that would rend the heart to behold. Her 
mind was burning with anguish and her body lay 

* " wi w ntrt ftifi itfan 


famr feic* i, 1m at 1*1 fan, 


ft^fiw flm ^m ?rm n 

*tc? ctrfl ftfftsi, ftcv fttror fan, 

i ^n% i 



inert while her eyes shed tears, She held his feet with 
her hands and silently wept in spite of the questions 
of her lord. Chaitanya, who knew the tender ways 
of love, wiped her eyes with the edge of his dhuti 
and began to speak kind and sweet words to her 
words which would make even a stone to blossom, 
and which naturally appealed to an emotional nature. 
As Chaitanya Deva seemed so solicitious, Visnu 
Priya with her face beautiful like the moon, said 
softly in a voice choked with tears ' Lord of my 
soul, place your dear hand on my head and say if it 
is true that you will become a Sannyasin. When I 
hear of it, my heart is likely to break for pain. I 
shall enter the fire, my Lord, if the report is true. 
This my life, my youth, my dress, my ornaments 
all I prize for your sake. If you forsake me why 
should I bear this wretched life ! My heart burns as 
with a firy poison when I hear this report. Who is 

oft, - 

If If 

Pi 1*1, fwfiffl 


there, O Lord, so fortunate as I ! I have a husband 
like you, I have cherished the dear hope that this 
youth of mine should be spent in your service. Ah, 
miserable am I now ! The thing that pains me most 
is to think how you must travel on foot. Through 
the depth of the forest and along thorny paths, who 
will accompany you? Your beautiful feet are tender 
as the Cirisa flower which I fear to touch lest I 
should cause you pain ; how will they traverse the 
hard ground, amongst the thorns of the forests 
and whither will you go, O Lord? Fora slight 
exertion, your face, which is like the moon, 
perspires ; how will you wander as a Sannyasin 

051 Itft fftH <FT, 


ttts^i itw n (i 


f t 




exposing yourself to the sun and the rain of the 
hot weather, both of which are quite unbearable ? I 
do not prize anything above these dear feet ; where 
will you leave me and in whose care ? You will 
forsake home to be a Sannyasin ; it is my wretched 
self that forms that chief bondage of your home, from 
which you wish to free yourself. No need, O Lord, 
to forsake home for me. For your least happiness, I 
would gladly put an end to my life with poison, 
so that you might stay at home and be happy 

Lochan Das died in 1589 at the age of sixty - 
particulars six. Besides Chaitanya Mangal he had written a 
Ben g ali work named Durlabhasar, and composed a 
number of very elegant songs. In the village of 
Kankda near Kogram ^Lochan's native village) the 
MS. of Chaitanya Mangal in the handwriting of 


Chaitanya Mangal 


Lochan Das is still preserved in the house of onej 
Ram Krisna ChakraVarti who is a professional 
singer of Chaitanya Mangal, 

(f) Brief accounts of Vaisnava devotees. 

There are numerbus other works in which the 
incidents of Chaitanya Deva's life are described. 
It should be stated here that notices of Sanskrit 
books, such as Chaitanya Chandrodaya by Kavi 
Karnapur, Kadcha by Murari Gupta and other 
works dealing with the life of Chaitanya Deva do 
not fall within the scope of the present treatise. 

Besides Chaitanya Deva, but inseparately asso- 
ciated with him, were Nityananda and Advaitachar- 
yya two great recognised apostles of the Vaisnava 
faith of whom we have already spoken. Nityananda 
was born at Ekchaka in 1473 A.D.and Advaitachar- 
yya was a grandson of Narasinha, the primeminister 
of Raja Gane^a. This Raja is said to have killed the 
Mahomedan Emperor, and gained the throne of 
Gauda for himself by the counsel of his prime- 
minister. Advaita's father, Kuv&r Pandit was 
originally an inhabitant of Sylhet and had latterly 
settled at antipur. Advaitacharyya was born in 
1434, and lived to a hoary old age till 1557. 

Accounts pf Nityananda are to be found in almost 
all the biographical works of the Vai?navas. His 
grandfather's name was Sundara Malla, his father's 
name HaraiOjha. This apostle had two wives Ba- 
sudha and Jahnavi two sisters ; they were daughters 
of Suryya Das Sarkel, an inhabitant of aligram 
near Amvikanagar in the district of Burdwan. The 
singers are never weary of singing songs 

nanda bortt 
1473 A.D. 


1557 A.D. 


phies of 


in praise of Nityananda. In one, which is very 
familiar, we have the following two lines which 
embody briefly the main traits of his character. 

* " Without anger without pride, and ever 
content, he moves about the city/' 

The name of Advaitacharyya was Kamalakar 
Chakravarti Advaitacharyya being his title, which 
indicates that he was a sound scholar in the 
Vedanta Philosophy. We find this line about him 
in the Kadcha by Govinda Das : 

t " A very handsome person. His flowing hair 
and beard are grey with age. His long beard falls 
down to the breast." 

Advaita married Sita Devi, a lady famous for 
her great piety. We have secured the following 
works on his life. 

(1) The early life of Advaitacharyya or the 
^alya Lila Sutra by Kri?na Das of Louda in Sylhet. 
The author was a contemporary of Advaitacharyya. 

(2) Advait Mangal by yam Das. This work 
vas written about a century after Advaitacharyya's 

t " *ff 

An old song. 

Kadchfi by Govinda Das, 


(3) Advait Prakaca by \$&n Nagar (born 
in 1492 A.D.) Advait Prakaca was completed by 
him in his seventieth year, in the year 1561. The 
book contains 5,500 lines. 

(4) Advait Mangal by Hari Charan Das. This 
book was written immediately after the death of 
Advaitacharyya by the author, who was a disciple 
of the apostle. It is a voluminous book contain- 
ing 23 chapters. 

(5) Advait Vilas by Narahari Das. This work 
was written in the latter part of the iyth century. 

The line of princely ascetics has not yet been 
broken in India. Ages after the great Buddha had 
left his father's palace at Kapilavastu, Raja Gopi- 
chand of Bengal in the I2th centuiy took the as- 
cetic's bowl in hand and renounced his capital 
where his two beautiful queens Aduna and Paduna 
bemoaned their lot. Raja Gopichandra a great 
Prince and the handsomest young man of his age, 
heeded not the enjoyments of life, but wandered 
through forests and dales exposing himself to 
unheard-of hardships, for the sake of religion. The 
situation involved a certain pathos the memory of 
which is still preserved in poems, to be found in 
all parts of India. When the monarch returned 
home still an ascetic after twelve years, the 
beggar's bowl still in his hand and unrecognised 
even by his devoted queens, they set on a bulldog 
to drive out one who appeared as an intruder into 
the palace, but the bulldog instantly recognised his 
old master, and falling at his feet began to wag his 
tail and lick them fondly ; the royal elephant was 
sent to trample him under foot, but the elephant 
bent its head and moved his proboscies in fond joy 






at meeting the king. The queens now believed 
that it was Gopichand, the king, who had returned. 
All this we find in Manik Chandra Rajar gan about 
which we have written in an earlier chapter. 

With the advent of Chaitanya Deva and under 
the noble example of his asceticism, princes and 
rich men came forward to undergo sacrifices 
for the sake of religion. All ranks of society 
came to realise the vanity of human wishes, the 
transitoriness of life and the glorious power of 
faith. We find many prominent instances of 

princely ascetics, among whom we may name Narot- 
Narottama f _/ , . . , . . . { _. . 

Dis. tama Das, son and heir of Raja Knsna Chandra 

Dutta of Crikheturi, who left his vast wealth and his 
palace, when only a lad of sixteen and walked on foot 
to Vrindavan. He lived there a life of piety and devo- 
tion which lights up the sky of the Vaisnava com- 
munity immediately after the halo of Chaitanya 
Deva's personality has passed away from it. Narot- 
tam's life is described by Narahari Chakravarti, in 
his famous work Narottam Vitas. Though only a 
Kayastha by birth, his influence was so great that 
many good Brahmins like Ganga Narayan Chakra- 
varty became his willing disciple^, and acknow- 
ledged him as their spiritual head An interesting 
incident is described about him in the Narottama 
Vilas, The Raja of Pakvapalli was approached 
by the orthodox Brahmin community with an 
application, that Narottama, the Prince of Kheturi, 
who had turned Sannyasin, was breaking caste by 
taking Brahmins as his disciples while he himself was 
a udra. They requested the Raja to inflict a ^e- 
vere punishment on Narottama for this impertinence. 
The Raja sent a message to Narotlama, asking him 


how it was that a man of such piety as he was 
reputed to be, could violate the injunctions of the 
astras. Narottama sent a reply to the effect that 
there was nothing in the (pastras, rightly interpreted, 
to uphold or support the views of the Brahmins 
and that he was willing to hold a public discussion 
with those who entertained the contrary opinion. If 
his arguments failed and he was convinced of his error 
he would accept the orthodox view of matters and 
regulate his life accordingly. The RsJ5 of Pakvapalli 
marched with a host of scholars to meet Narottama, 
and in the meantime Ganganarayan Chakravarti, 
his disciple, and Ram Chandra Kaviraj his friend, 
contrived a device ; one disguised himself as a 
potter, and the other as a seller of betels ; they 
opened small shops on the road along which the 
Raja was to pass. His men came to purchase 
betels and pitchers from the shops and they spoke 
to them in Sanskrit. This amazed the servants and 
they carried word to the Raja that potters and betel- 
sellers spoke in Sanskrit in that part of the 
country. The news interested the Pandits, who im- 
mediately went to the spot, and being accosted in 
Sanskrit, were led into a controversial discussion 
in which the Rajas staff of Pandits, who had 
brought a cartful of Mss. to prove their point, were 
completely beaten. They afterwards came to know 
that one was a disciple and the other a friend of 
Narottama. Their arguments, however, produced so 
great an impression op the Raja and his scholars 
that they became disciples of Narottama then and 
there. Narottama, though belonging to the Kayastha 
caste was called Thakur, a title generally applied 
in Bengal to Brahmins only* 


Another princely ascetic of this age was Raghu 
nth. Accounts of his life are to be found more or 
less in all the biographical works of the Vainavas. 
1498 A-D. Raghunath D$s was the only son of Gobardhan 
Das of Satgaon and was born in 1498 A.D. His 
father's income from landed property amounted to 
20 lakhs of Rupees a year, out of which he had to 
pay 12 lakhs as revenue to the Mohammedan 
Government. The heir-apparent to a property 
yielding 8 lakhs of rupees a year in those days was 
no ordinary man, and Raghunath was naturally 
brought up in the midst of pomp and luxury, and in 
a style befitting his high rank. While he was yet a 
boy, Haridas, the veteran Vaisnava devotee and 
follower of Chaitanya, paid a visit to Satgaon and 
as young Raghunath saw the great saint, the vision 
of a higher life passed before him. The impres- 
sion made on his mind was so great that he 
* conceived an abhorrence for wealth and earthly 
glory even at that early age. While in this state of 
mind a further change came over his spirit on 
meeting Chaitanya at antipur his eyes overflow- 
ing with tears of joy and a divine ecstasy moving 
his beautiful frame as he spoke of the love of God 
before thousands of men and women assembled 
there to hear him. Raghunath felt as if the portals 
of Heaven had been flung open to him and it was 
then that the world finally lost its charms for him. 
'His parents 'wer6 ' alarmed to find in the boy a 
growing tendency towards Sannyas and found a 
very beautiful bride for him. Besides, they, imposed 
great restrictions on his habits and movements ; 
but nothing availed. Raghunath's mind was fixed 
on the feet of Chaitanya, and night and day he 


thought how best he could break the fetters that 
bound him to the world and join the great master. 
He studied religious books with great devotion and 
spent five years in a sort of spiritual agony which 
made him pale and emaciated, it was the struggle 
of the bird in the cage that pants for the free air. 
By this time Chaitanya had again come to Cantipur. 
People flocked from all parts of Bengal to have a 
sight of the great devotee who was already recog- 
nised in many circles as an incarnation of Visnu. 
Raghunath in deep distress threw himself at the feet 
of his parents and besought them with tearful eye* 
to grant him leave to see the god-like man. He 
said that he would die of grief if permission were 
withheld. They could not resist his pathetic appeal 
and with a strong escort sent him to Oantipur. 
There the boy lay at the feet of Chaitanya, unable 
to utter a word sighing and sobbing like a maiden 
in love. Chaitanya's attitude towards him was 
severe even to rudeness. He admonished the young 
man for his resolution to renounce the world 
prematurely. " Go back home," he said ; " for you 
have duties to do where the Lord has placed you, 
and it would be a sin to avoid them , be not too 
much attached to the worldly life, but consider 
yourself as serving the will of the Lord, and if in 
course of time there comes to you a fitness to 
renounce the world by His grace, there will be no 
tension x>r strain in your efforts to attain that end. 
It will then be a perfectly natural and easy matter, 
as when the fruit is ripe, it falls to the ground of 

Raghunath obeyed the great master and came 
back to his father's palace. For a few years he 


lived like an ordinary man doing the duties of 
domestic life pursuing his studies with zeal, 
apparently contented in spirit. But it was to him 
a course of preparation for final renunciation for 
joining that great family of saintly men, who leaving 
the narrow environment of the domestic life had 
elected the good of the world to be their principal 
aim in life. When barely twenty, his mind was 
finally fixed, and he began to show a restless desire 
to leave home which again caused great anxiety to 
his parents. Raghunath at this stage of his life 
slept in the outer courtyard, and could by no means 
be persuaded to visit his wife. Nityananda, the 
most revered of the Vainava devotees next to 
Chaitanya, paid a visit to Panihati at this time 
and thither Raghunath went to see him. After 
this meeting his restlessness and yearning increas- 
ed tenfold. 

His mother proposed to secure him, by binding 
him hand and foot with rope so that he might not 
move from the palace. Gobardhan Das, his father, 
replied " Great riches, a peerless wife and all the 
glories of the earth could not bind him, and do you 
think a rope can do so ? Such a suggestion is 
very foolish/'* Yet the guards and sentinels kept 
watch over him, It was the story of Buddha 
over again. He made his escape one night and 
walked all the distance to Puri to meet Chaitanya. 
It took him 12 days to reach that place. The 

Jtfofl falW I 

I " 


hardships of the journey were great, as he went 
barefooted, living on fruit and on the scanty 
food that chance brought him and resigning 
himself absolutely to the will of the Lord. 
Chaitanya saw in the face of the young Sannyasi 
that his renunciation was complete and embraced 
him in an ecstasy of joy. 

The hardships undergone by Raghunath while 
practising life-long asceticism have scarcely a 
parallel in history. He used to sleep 4 dandas (or 
a little more than an hour and a half) by day and 
night, took a handful of refuse rice the maha- 
prasad that used to be thrown away in the com- 
pound only once a day and lived upon it. He wore 
rags and slept under the sky. His father occasional- 
ly sent large sums of money to his friends at Puri 
to minister to his comfort but he did not allow a 
single cowri to be spent on that account. This 
ascetic, whose whole life was one of austerities and 
holy contemplation, was cheerful and gay in spirit, 
and his piety was so great that though a Kayastha 
by birth he was rekconed as one of the six Gosviimis, 
whose words carry authority and precedence in the 
Vaisnava code compiled for the regulation of that 
community. The other five GosvSmis were of 
course Brahmins. He wrote 29 works in Sanskrit 
and composed many ballads besides the theme of 
which was either Gauranga Dev or the love of 
Radha for Kri?na. 

Next may be mentioned Rupa and Sana tan, the 
two brothers who were Ministers of the Court of sanfctan. 
Hosen Saha. They were immensely rich, and pos- 
sessed of great administrative powers, which were 


recognised by the Emperor, who trusted them with 
important functions, But they felt the irresistible 
attraction of Chaitanya Deva's personality, and 
renounced the court and their homes with all 
their sweet bonds, took the vows of Sannyasins, 
and joined Chaitanya Deva. Rupa and Sanatana 
trace their descent from Vipra Ray, a Raja of 
Karnat. They were required by Chaitanya Deva 
to pass their lives in Vrindavan, conducting religi- 
ous studies and practising the austerities of the 
religious life. We find descriptions of their 
great scholarship and piety and of the austirities 
they practised, incidentally in many biographi- 
cal works of the Vaishavas chiefly in the first 
chapter of the Bhaktiratnakar by Narahari Chakra- 
varti. They wrote in Sanskrit , so their works 
do not fall within the scope of our subject. The 
> Sanskrit works written by Rupa, Sana tan and 
their nephew Jiva Gosvami form by far the best 
portion of the Sanskrit literature belonging to the 
Bengali Vaisriavas.* 

Sanatan was born in 1484 A.D. and died in 
1558. Rupa was born in 1490 and died in 1563. 

* Sanatan wrote annotations on Haribhaktivilas which he 
called 'The Dik Prada^am ' His learned commentary on the 
tenth chapter of Cnmatbhagavat is called ' The Vaisnava Tosmi.' 
Besides this he wrote Bhagavatamrita in two parts, and a sans- 
knt poem called Lilastava. Rupa Gosvami wrote (i) The Ham- 
saduta (2) Uddhava Sande9a (3) Krishna fanmatithi (4) Ganoddeca 
Dipika (5) Stavamala (6) Vidagdha Madhava (7) Lalita Madhava 
(8) Danakeli Kaumadi, (9) Ananda Mahodadhr (10) Bhaktirasa- 
mrita Sindhu (11, Ujjvala Nilamoni (12) Prayukta Khyata Chan- 
drika (13) Mathura mahima, (14) Padyavah (15) Raghu Bhaga- 
vatamrita '16) Govinda Virudavali and other works Jiva Gosvami 
is the author of Hannamamrita Vyakaran, Sutramahka, Krisnar- 
cona Dipika, Gopal Virudavali, Madhava Mahotsava, Sankalpa 
Vnksa, Bhavartha Siksa Champu, and a good many other works 
on miscellaneous subjects A full account of these is to be found 
in Bhaktiratnakar, 


Of the other great Vaisnava devotees 
Acharyya, who was only a boy when Chaitanya 
Deva passed away, deserves prominent notice. He 
was as on of Gangadhara Chakravarti, an inhabitant 
of the village of Chakhandi on the Ganges. His 
mother Lak$mi Priya came from Jajigram. In the 
early part of his life rlnivasa was noted for his 
hand-some appearance, for his great devotion and 
for his scholarship. It is said that Chaitanya Deva 
prophesied his advent. One incident in his life 
interests us greatly. We have already stated that 
rlnivasa was placed in charge of the valuable Mss. 
written by the great Vaisnava devotees who lived 
at Vrindavan, and which were sent to Bengal for 
circulation. We have also stated how the works 
were looted en route by the robbers employed by 
Vira Hamvira, Raja of Vana Visfiupur. 

The loss of the precious Mss. written through 
years of unremitting toil by the great Vai?nava 
worthies in Vrindavan, and of which no copy was 
left with the authors, filled rlnivasa's mind with an 
overwhelming grief and well it might, for we have 
already related how the news of this loss proved 
fatal to old Kri?na Dasa Kaviraj. A vigourous 
search was carried on throughout the whole night. 
But it gave him no clue whatsoever to trace the lost 
possessions. When the day dawned, pale and 
exhausted rlnivasa thought that before he left 
the place he should apply to Raja Vira Hamvira 
for help, since the robbery had been perpetrated in 
his dominions. This prince, as I have already said, 
had in his employment a set of robbers who carried 
on depredations secretly under his instructions and 
who had done to the Vai?navas v what seemed to be 



an irreparable mischief. In the morning fjrlnivasa 
asked for an interview and was immediately admit- 
ted into the Court. The Court Pandit was explain- 
ing the Bhagavata, the great work of the Vaisnavas, 
to the Raja and his suite, when rinivasa entered 
the hall. He was attired in the yellow robes of an 
ascetic, the sacred garland of Tulasi hung round 
his neck, and his handsome face, radiant with intelli- 
gence and spirituality, at once made an impression 
on the Raja and his people. They bowed down 
knowing him to be a Brahmin and saint and asked 
him what made him seek an interview with the 
Raja. rlnivasa replied "As the Bhagavata is being 
read I shall not interrupt you. Only let the reading o) 
the holy book be finished, and then I shall proceed 
to tell what I have to say." He kept standing in 
the hall patiently in the attitude of prayer and 
would not sit down while Bhagavata was being 
read ; nor did he betray the emotion that troubled 
his soul while listening to the recitation of ^lokas with 
true devotion. His piety was to be seen on his 
face. When the reading was over, the Court Pandit 
VyasScharyya said to him " Revered sir, you seem 
to be a devout Vaignava. If it is not disagreeable 
to you, will you kindly read and explain some 
passages from this text for our enlightenment" 
He quietly responded to the call, and sitting in the 
midst of the assembly made a short speech on the 
spirit of the Bhagavata, His mind was already full 
of sadness and with his sonorous voice ringing 
with feeling, he delivered his disquisition on the 
great work, showing a masterly grasp of the subject 
and a power of oratory which seemed to their 
really wonderful. The whole Court was moved at the 


words which fell from his lips his voice almost 
choked with devotional sentiment ; they wept and 
saw through their tears the saintly man who seemed 
as a god to them. Even Vira Hamvira, though a 
notorious dacoit in the guise of a Raja, could not 
resist the tender appeal, and every one present, 
including the Court Pandit himself, fell atrlnivsa's 
feet and asked to be made his disciple. The Raja 
and his people were thus converted to the Vaisriava 
faith on the spot and rlnivasa was acknowledged 
their spiritual head. In the evening Qrlnivasa 
sought the Raja again, and told him, with voice 
choked with tears, that unless the Mss. looted within 
his territory, were recovered, he could not think of 
continuing to live ; the works of the Gosvamis he 
held dearer than his own life ; the blame of the great 
loss would be upon him, as he was in charge of the 
manuscripts, and this thought alone was sufficient 
to make his life miserable. The Raja was taken 
aback by this story. He fell at the feet of rJnivsa 
and with tears of remorse, craved a thousand par- 
dons, confessing that he had himself been at the root 
of this great crime. He now had the Mss. brought 
from his treasury, and rlnivasa was delighted to 
see them again. Alas for poor Krigha Das Kaviraj, 
he had died of a broken heart for a loss which 
was so soon to be repaired, in so strange a manner ! 
Raja Vira Hamvira, filled with remorse for his act 
placed his whole property at the disposal of the 
Vaisfiavas, and himself lived as a poor servant of 
the great masters. We have several beautiful 
songs in Bengali about Krina and Radha which 
were composed by the Raja and quoted by Narahari 
Das in his Bhaktiratnakara. 


But we cannot say that rlnivasa remained the 
same spiritual man after taking a Raja as his 
disciple. He married two wives, enjoyed the vast 
property presented to him by the Raja, and lived 
a life of comfort totally inconsistent with asce- 
tism. In the Premavilasa by Nityananda we find 
the following account of rlnivasa. Monohar Das, 
a native of Vanavisnupur, was relating the inci- 
dents of rlnivasa's life to Gopal Bhatta, one of 
the six great Vaisfiava masters, and a follower of 
Chaitanya. Manohar Das said : 

*" My native village is 24 miles from Visnupur. 
I live within the jurisdiction of Raja Vira Hamvira. 
We are all happy under his rule. The Raja is a 
disciple and a true servant of r!mvasa Acharyya. 
His courtiers are all good men. We have Vyasa- 
charyya amongst them. rlnivasa Acharyya lives in 
the town. The Raja has presented him with 
several villages and other properties. Acharyya 

* " TO CCffH I 


TO TO o" 



Prabhu ((prlnivasa) married in April last."- Manohara 
then went on to say many things in praise of 
rlnivasa. But Gopala Bhatta remained silent for 
sometime, and at last said again and again 'Oh, he is 
lost, Oh, he is lost !" 

In the Vaihava community there were still 
pious men whose lives were pure gold without any 
alloy of worldliness, men who shunned filthy 
lucre and all the other attactions of the world, 
remaining true to God for evermore. 

We shall here notice briefly some other Vais- Some O ther 

nava devotees, whose lives are included in the Vaisnava 


biographical literature of the Vaisnavas. 

i. Hari Das a Mahomedan. Bacause of 
his accepting the Vai?nava faith under Chaitanya 
Deva's influence he was carried by the orders of a Hari Das. 
Mahomedan Magistrate to 22 different public 
places in each of which he was mercilessly whip- 
ped till they thought he was dead. He did not 
disown his faith inspite of this persecution. Hari 
Das survived this fierce punishment and was not 
again molested but the wily Magistrate had recourse 
to a stratagem. Seated in a small hut Hari Das 
used to pray to God and recite His name for the 
whole night. A beautiful young woman dressed 
in the finest apparel was privately employed to 
tempt him. She called on him in the evening, 
where the devotee sat all alone absorved in prayer 
and said to him with smiles, that she desired to be 
his companion ; having been attracted by his pious 
life, she felt a great admiration for him, and would 
be glad to be allowed the opportunity of talking with 
him for a while freely to her hearts' content. The 


devotee said he would fulfil all she might want of 
him after saying his prayers. Then, for the whole 
night, he sat motionless as a statue, praying, and 
chanting softly the name of God. Nor had the 
woman again the courage to speak or disturb the 
course of his devotion ; and when the day dawned, 
and crowds of people assembled there, she had to 
depart. The nextdayshe again sought an opportunity 
to lead the saint into conversation, and was again 
disappointed in the same way. But when the third 
day passed in the same way, the example of this 
great life and its living faith could not be resisted, 
and she had her head shaved, and became a Vai$- 
nava convert, abandoning all her evil ways. Hari 
Das was born in Budhan in RadhaDega and died at 
Puri in 1534 shortly after Chaitanya Deva had 
passed away. 

(y&ma 2. yamananda belonged to the Satgopa caste. 

His father was Krisna Mandal and his mother Durika. 
yamananda is known by different names such 
as <Kri?na Das/ < Dukhl' and ' Dukhinl.' Many 
of the songs on Radha and Kri?na which he 
composed appeared under the last of his names 
in the Padakalpataru and Padakalpalatika. yama- 
nanda's worthy disciple Rasika Murari carried the 
work of propagating the Vai?nava faith to Urissa, 
and a full description of the manner in which 
this work was conducted, will be found in a work 
called Rasika Mangal by Gopi Vallabha Das. The 
Maharaja of Maurbhanja and other chiefs of Urissa 
who profess the Vai?nava faith, acknowledge the 
descendants of Rasika Murari as their spiritual 


Accounts of the lives of (i) Gadadhara (1486 
1514 A. D.), son of Madhava Mi^ra, (2) of Uddharana 
Datta born in 1481 A.D., (3) of Lokanatha Das 
Gosvami(4)andof Gopal Bhatta one of the six 

Vaisnava Gosvamis, son of Benkata Bhatta, are to 

i r , i r , i 

be found amongst others in many of these biogra- 

phical works. 

We here give a short note on several important 
works of biography written by the Vaisnavas in 
the latter part of the i6th and in the earlier pait of 
the Ijth century. 

By far the greatest of the biographical works, 
next to that of Chaitanya's life by Krisria Das 
Kaviraj is the Bhaktiratnakar by Narahari Chakra- 
varti. He was a disciple of the celebrated Vi^va 
Nath Chakravarti, whose commentary on the 
Bhagavata is authoritative amongst Vaisnavas in the 
interpretation of their sacred scriptures. Bhakti- 
ratnakar is one of the most voluminous works that 
we have in old Bengali literature. It is divided 
into 15 chapters. I give here an index of its 

Chap. I. An account of the ancestors of Jiva 
Gosvaml ; a description of the works written by 
the great Vai?nava masters , an account of 
rlnivasa Acharyya, 

Chap. II. An account of Chaitanya Das, 
father of rlnivasa. 

Chaps. Ill and IV. Accounts of the travels of 
rlnivasa to Puri and to Vrindavana. 

Chap. V. On rhetoric interpreted in the light 
of Vaisnava Theology. 

Datta and 


A|1 j nc | ex of 


Chap. VI. Incidents from the lives of Narot- 
tania, rlnivasa and Raghava Pandit, while they 
resided at Vrindavan ; accounts of rlnivfisa's 
being put in charge of the MSS. of the works 
written by the Vainava masters, and despatched 
to Bengal, 

Chap. VII The looting of the MSS. by dacoits 
employed by Vira Hamvira, Raja of Vanavisnupur 
and conversion of the Raja to the Vai?nava faith. 

Chap. VIII. An account of Rama Chandra 
Kaviraj and his initiation as a disciple of Crlnivas. 

Chap. IX. An account of the great Vai^nava 
festivals held at Kanchagadia and rikheturi. 

Chaps. X and XL An account of Jahnavi Devi, 
yife of Nityananda and her pilgrimages. 

Chap. XII. An account of rinivasa marrying 
second time. 

Chaps. XIII and XIV. Description of religious 
lestivities at Verakuli. 

Chap, XV. Propagation of the Vai?nava faith 
by yamananda in Urissa. 

Narottama. Narahari Chakravarti's second book called 
Narottamvilasa (life of Narottama), though compara- 
tively small in size shows a decided improvement 
on the Bhaktiratnakara both in style and in its 
arrangement of materials. Narottamvilasa is divid- 
ed into 12 chapters. 

Narahari was a great scholar in Sanskrit, and 
the above two works, though written in Bengali, 
are full of learned references and quotations from 
the Sanskrit. In the Bhaktiratnakara we find refer- 
ences to the following amongst other Sanskrit 


works Baraha Purana, Padya Purana, Adi Purana, 
Vrahmanda Purana, Skanda Purana, Saura Purana, 
primal Bhagavata, Laghu Tosinl, Govinda Viruda- 
valr, Gourganoddeca Dlpika, Sadhana Dipika, 
Nava Paclma, Gopsl Charnpu, Laghu Bhagavata, 
Chaitanya Chandrodaya Nataka, Vrajavilasa, Bhatti 
Kavya, Bhaktiratnamrita Sindhu, Krsina Charita by 
Murari Gupta, Ujjval Nilamani, Govarddhanacraya, 
Haribhaktivilasa, Stavarnala, Sangita Madhava, 
Vaisfiavatosinl, (pyamananda ataka, Mathura 

Premavilasa by Nityananda Das This is also 
a voluminous work divided into 20 cantos It was 
written during the early part of the iyth century. 
Nityananda's father Atma Rama Das belonged to a 
Vaidya family of Crikhanda. The work under 
notice mainly treats of the lives of yrtnivasa and 

Karnamrita by Jadunandana Da^. The author 
was a disciple of rlmati Hemalata Devi, a 
daughter of (Jrlnivasa. Karnamrita gives a full 
account of (pnnivasa Acharyya's life together with 
a short account of the lives of his disciples. The 
work was written in 1607 A.D 

Vartigi Ciksa by Purusottama Siddhanta Vagina. 
This book, while giving an account of Chaitanya's 
renunciation, mainly deals with the life of 
Varbci Das Thakura, one of Chaitanyas compa- 
nions. It was written in 1716 A. D. 

Rasika Mangala or the Life of Rasikananda by 
Gopivallabha Das. Rasikananda was the son of 
Raja Achyutananda and was born in 1590 A. D. 
He was one of the greatest disciples of 







And other 


works of 
the Vai^fia- 

nanda and took a zealous interest in the propagation 
of the Vai?nava-cult in Orissa. The author was a 
contemporary of the subject of his memoir, This 
work is important, as it throws light on the history 
of Orissa of that period. It describes how Raja 
Vaidyanath Bhanja (of Mayur Bhanja) was con- 
verted to the Vai$nava faith and also gives an 
account of the great Vai?nava festivals that took 
place in the villages of Verakuli and Alamaganja in 
the district of Midnapur. 

Mana Santo?iniby Jagajivana Mi^ra. The author 
was a descendent, by another line, of Upendra Mi^ra, 
an ancestor of Chaitanya Deva. The work gives 
a description of Chaitanya' s travels in Sylhet and 
other parts of Eastern Bengal. 

Besides these works we have come across a 
Chaitanya Charita by Chudamani Das, Nimai 
Sanyasa by Qankara Bhatta, Sita Charita by 
Lokanatha Das, Mahaprasada Vaibhava, Chaitanya 
ganodde9a, Vai?navachara Darpafia and other works 
which describe incidents in the lives of Vai?nava 

We shall here briefly notice some of the works 
which are of a more or less theological character, 
in which the principles of Vai?$avism are ex- 
plained as it found favour in Bengal. On page 46 
we mentioned a number of books written by the 
Sahajiya Vai?navas. I give below a list of other 
works on Vai$fcava theology. Most of the impor- 
tant theological works of the Vai^navas are writ- 
ten in Sanskrit. So they do not fall within the scope 
of my subject. The books mentioned below, writ- 
ten in Bengali, are generally small treatises and 


their composition covers a period of 300 years from 
after the time Chaitanya Deva till the middle of 
the 1 8th Century. 

1. Bhaktirasatmika by Akinchana Das 

2. Gopibhaktirasa gita by Achyuta Das 

The book contains 2,100 couplets. 

3. Rasa udharnava by Ananda Das 

4. Atmatattva Jigmasa 

5. Pasanda Dalana 

6. Chamatkara Chandrika 

7. Gurutattva 

8. Prema Bhaktisara by Gaur Das Vasu 

9. Golokvarnana by Gopala Bhatta. 

10 Harinmama Kavacha by Gopi Kri^ha. It 
contains 158 couplets. 

u. Siddhisara by Gopinath Das (18 couplets). 

12. Nigama Grantha by Govinda Das 

13. Premabhakti Chandrika by Narottama Das. 

The writer is one of the great Vainava 
masters about whom we have already 
written in some detail. The work 
under notice, though small in size, 
enjoys a great popularity with the 
Vai?riavas and is permeated by a 
devotional spirit. 

14. Ragamayl Kana by Nityananda Das. 

15. Upasana Patala by Prema Das. 

16. Mana9iksa by Premftnanda, 

17. Astottara atanftma by Dvija Hari Das, 


18. Vaisnavabhidhana by Valarama Das. 

19. Hata Vandana by Valarama Das. 

20. Premavilasa by Jugala Kicora Das 

21. Rasakalpa tattvasara by Radha Mohana 


22. Chaitanya Tattvasara by Rama Gopala Das. 

23. Siddhanta Chanclrika by Rama Chandra 


24. Sriiarana Darpana by Rama Chandra Das. 

25. Kriyayogasara by Anantarama Datta. The 

author was born at Sahapur on the 
Meghna. His father's name was 
Raghunatha Datta The book con- 
tains 4000 couplets 

26. Kriayogasara by Rame^vara Das. 

27. Chaitanya Premavilasa ( roo ^j 

couplets). J By 

28. Durlabhasara (950 couplets) | Loc hana 

29. Dehanirupana (100 coup- ^ Das born in 

lets). . ^ 

' 1523 A. D. 

30. Anandalatika (100 coup- ( 

lets). J 

31. Bhaktichintamani "1 g 

32. Bhaktimahatma I Vrinda- 

33. Bhaktilaksmana | yana Das 

34. Bhaktisadhana J 

35 Vrindavana Lilamrita ^ By Nanda 

36. Rasapuspa Kahka ) Kicora Das 

37. Prema Davanala by Narasiiiiha Das. 

38. Gokula Mangala by Bhaktirama Das. 

39. Radha Vilasa by BhavanI Dasa. 

40. Ekadayi Mahatma by Mahidhara Das. 
41* Krisna Lilamrita by Valarama Das. 




V. The Padas or Songs of the Vaisfiavas. 

The lyrics of the Vaifnava poets, known as 
Padas, form by far the most impoitant and most 
interesting page in the history of Vaisnava literature. 

These Padas are divided into several groups. 
They all relate events and incidents in the life 
of Kri$na in Vrindavana. The pastoral scenes, 
and gatherings of shepherd-boys, the playful ways 
of Krisna in his home, the manner in which he 
baffled king Karhsa's attempts to kill him, by 
destroying his great demons, who were one by 
one deputed to kill him, his love for Radha, the 
princess, and his final departure from Vrindavana 
and arrival at Mathura, where he overthrows and 
kills Karhsa have all been fully described in the 
Bhagabata, to which we have already referred on 
page 220. A short account of Krisna's life at 
Vrindavana and Mathura will enable our readers to 
enter into the spirit of the songs of the Vaisnava 

Karhsa, King of Mathura, had achieved notoriety 
by oppressing his people. It was then vouchsafed 
by Vi?nu to the goddess of Earth, who groaned 
under the king's oppressions, that He would Himself 
be incarnated in the flesh as a son of Daivaki, 
sister of Kariisa, with the object of destroying the 
ruthless monarch, who with his emissaries was 
devastating the earth. The message of the coming 
divine incarnation spread throughout heaven and 
caused great joy amongst the gods, so that Karhsa 
also heard of it. For Narada, the heavenly sage, 
came to him and said that the eighth child of 
Daivaki, his sister, would be that incarnation of 

The sub- 
ject of the 


King of 



Vi?nu, whose first mission would to be to kill him 
and then destroy other oppressors of the world. 

The prophecy alarmed Kamsa who immediately 
put Daivakl and her husband Vfisudeva in prison 
and ordered that all children born to her should be 
killed ; for his ministers advised him that the 
prophecy of Nafada was ambiguous in its meaning 
as it was not clear what was meant by the eighth 
child ; supposing that Daivaki should have twelve 
children, then counting from the last, the fourth 
according to ordinary calculation would be the 
eighth. As the question of the King's life or death 
hung on the correct solution, nothing ought to be 
left dubious and all the children of Daivaki should 
unsparingly be killed, thus completely remov- 
ing all chance of danger. One by one seven 
children were born to poor Daivaki in prison 
and they were all killed by Kamsa. Ultimate- 
the 5 eighth '? Vi?Au came as the eighth child. He was born 
child. in the middle of the eighth night of the waning 
moon and as Vasudeva looked upon him, he 
saw the baby surrounded by a halo of light and 
possessed of other signs from which he knew 
him to be no other than Vi?nu himself; he was 
naturally eager to save the divine child from the 
hands of the oppressor, and marched with him to 
the gates of the prison. The gate-keepers, at his 
approach, fell into a deep sleep, and the gates 
which were under strong lock and key, softly 
opened of themselves making a passage for the 
child. The anxious father came to the Jumna 
whose dark waters rolled before him, with their 
foaming waves, and the night was so dark that he 
despaired of crossing it* But at this mome/nt a 


jackal passed through the waters, showing that 
here there was a ford across the river and Vasudeva 
followed the steps of the jackal, and found land 
again under his feet. He crossed the Jumna and 
meanwhile the thousand-headed snake, Vgsuki, 
raised his hoods aloft and protected the father and 
the child. Vasudeva went to Vfindavana where, 
according to the prophecy he had heard that night, 
a child was born to Nanda Gho?a, the prince of the 
gopas, or milkmen, who inhabited the district. In 
obedience to the prophecy he passed into the birth- 
room the doors having yielded to his touch, placed 
his baby by the side of the sleeping Ya^oda, queen of 
Nanda Ghosa, and taking her baby with him, return- 
ed to the prison. In the morning Karhsa heard of 
the birth of Daivakl's eighth child and found to his 
surprise that it was a girl. He however, took the 
little thing into his hands and tried to dash its 
brains out against the stones. But this baby was 
an incarnation of the goddess Bhagabatl. Just as 
he was throwing her against the stones she slipped 
from his hand and assuming her own appearance 
as a goddess rose to the sky, saying : ( One 
who will kill you is growing up in Vrindavana,' 
The goddess disappeared and Karhsa had no sleep 
by day or night. He constantly thought who this Kamsa kills 
child might be, till he saw appartions of his des- 
troyer even in trees and walls, and sent emissaries 
throughout the land to kill every little child that 
was born. The groan of mothers rose to the sky ; 
the earth trembled to her centre and black winds 
began to blow all over the country. 

Then some one said to him that little Krisna, 
tea future destroyer, was growing up in the house 


Krisna kills 
the King's 


Kariisa is 


poets not 


in the 


of Nanda Ghoga, prince of Vrindavana and he sent 
Putana, the demon-nurse, to kill the child. Putana 
was killed, and then, as I have said in a previous 
chapter, in my remarks on the Bhagabata, one by 
one Karhsa's emissaries, Tfinabarta, Baka, Ke^i 
and others were killed in the course of similar 
missions and the King's anxiety grew in an alarming 
degree. Last of all he sent AkrGra, a devout 
Vai?nava, who would know whether it was indeed 
Visnu who was incarnated as Krisna, ordering 
him to bring Krisna to attend the Dhanuryajiia or 
bow-sacrifice that he was holding at Mathura. 
Nanda Ghosa, a feudatory chieftain under Kariisa, 
could not disobey his command. And Krifia and 
Valarama, his cousin, were taken to Mathura, where 
the former killed Kamsa in the open court. 

This is briefly the story of the Bhagabata ; but 
the Vaisnava poets do not lay any stress on such 
manifestations of the glory or ^^j, of Krisna. 
They scarcely touch on any of the points, here 
mentioned, in their accounts of Krisna. 

They describe his games and pastimes at home 
where his mother Ya^oda, while punishing him for 
misconduct, weeps for remorse. She would not 
allow him to go to the fields with other boys to graze 
the cattle, for fear of Kariisa's emissaris ; and every 
The Qostha morning the shepherds would come to her and beg her 
to send Kriha with them for the day. The Gostha 
or songs of the pastoral sports detail how Yaoda 
at first refuses the shepherds but at last yields to 
their entreaties coupled with Krisna' s own request 
to be allowed to go to the meadow ; how the 
shepherd boys blow their horns and the cows follow 


them with frolicsome leaps ; how Kri$na plucks 
flowers and fruits and distributes them amongst the 
boys and how they play together, sometimes 
mimicking the cries of birds, dancing with pea- 
cocks, trying to skip over their own shadows 
and sometimes pursuing monkeys through the 
boughs of trees ; at such a moment appears Trina- 
barta or some other demon while Kri?na leaves his 
comrades, and though only a boy; manifests him* 
self in all his glory, and then destroying the demon 
re-joins his companions in triumph. So the boys, 
forsaken by Kri$ha, feel that they are helpless, 
They know him to be their friend and playmate but 
he is also a mystery to them. They cannot realise 
his greatness but his personality is dearer to them 
than life. In many dangers it is he who protects 
them in a way unintelligible to them. The lake 
Kaliya was poisoned by the great snake Kali ; The lake 
some of the shepherds go there, drink the water Kfcllya. 
and die by poison ; Krisna is informed of it ; he comes 
swiftly to the lake, restores the children to life and 
enters the lake himself, disappearing in its waters ; 
he wrestles with the great snake for a long time and 
in the meantime the shepherd-boys having lost 
Kri$na, the friend of their souls, stand statue-like on 
the bank of the lake with tearful eyes. Who will now 
kill Kariisa's emissaries for them ? Who will now 
protect them from Indra, the God of clouds, who has 
already tried to destroy the Vrinda groves by 
sending floods ? Who will protect the cattle when 
a demon like Baka comes down to devour them ? 
The apple of their eyes, their protector, play- 
fellow and constant companion, their friend and 
philosopher, their ever-beloved Krisna has now 


disappeared in the waters of the poisonous lake 
Kaliya, and they cry out, in song : 

* U O, let us all go, let us go to mother Ya^oda, 
and tell her O mother, the jewel of your heart 
is lost by us in the waters of Kaliya. The moon of 
the Vrinda groves has set on yonder lake ! The 
Vrinda groves are now void and all the world is void 
to us and what is now left that we should care to 
live for 1" 

At this juncture comes Radha like a mad woman 
stricken with fear, with her hair dishevelled ; she 
goes to throw herself into the waters of Kaliya, 
when lo ! the great serpent Kaliya raises its hood 
aloft, two mermaids on two sides singing the 
praises of Kri?na and on the hood of the serpent, 
from which a rich diamond sparkles like the sun, 
stands Kri^ria playing on his flute. The picture 
of this scene which is called kaliya damana> is to be 
found in all the artists' shops in Bengal. The boys 
are as if restored to life by the bight. All these 
incidents are the subjects of song in the 'go?tha' ; 
and the Vainava padas describing these pastoral 
scenes tenderly appeal to the heart and claim a 
tribute of tears from their readers. 


Then comes the Deva gotha. Here the boys 
describe a superb scene that they have witnessed 
in the Vrinda groves, while they come as usual in 
the morning to solicit Ya9oda j s permission to take 
her dear son to the woods. They say "O mother, 
believe not your Krina to be a common child. We 
cannot conceive of his greatness. He is our 
comrade and friend, but he is no ordinary mortal. 
Resplendent beings, with halo of light round their 
heads, appear in the forest , O mother, we never 
knew that such beings lived in Vrinda van. A 
woman of superhuman beauty romes riding on a 
lion to the forest every day and taking our Krina 
in her arms gives him sweet cream and butter to eat. 
But Krina distributes those amongst us ! They 
are so sweet, so sweet ' O mother, though you are a 
queen, you have nothing so delicious !" Thus the 
boys unconsciously indicate that the Goddess Bhaga- 
vati comes amongst them to meet Visnu who is incar- 
nated as Krisna. They continue " Then comes, O 
mother, a host of other beings. We know them 
not. Never in VrindS groves, have we seen such 
men ! One of them rides on a buffalo (Yama, king of 
death), another a peacock (the warrior god Karti- 
keya) and athird, resplendent with a crown from 
which diamonds shoot forth their light like suns, 
comes riding on a huge white elephant (Indra riding 
on the elephant Airsvata) and then comes another 
being with four faces, radiant as fire, counting the 
beads of his rosary (Brahma, the creator). They 
all come to our Kri?na and if he looks at them 
with kindliness, they feel as if they are blessed, 
their eyes become tearful with joy ; they dare not 
approach him too closely, they hold him in so great 

The Deva 

A superb 

The gods 
and god" 

come down 

to pay 

honour to 



a reverence. But last comes a beggar riding on a 
bull. He puts on a tattered tiger's skin and from 
his matted locks flows a stream. He is covered 
with dust and serpents hiss from his head. As 
he sees Krisna he dances for joy and Krina 
becomes all impatience to meet him. He clasps 
the beggar in his arms and locks him in a close 
embrace saying 'O Lord, you are immaculate, un- 
approachably pure and a true Yogi. I gave you 
the golden palace of Kailasa and appointed Kuvera, 
the god of wealth as your store-keeper ; but you 
live in funeral grounds on scanty food, and 
have not been moved from the stern ascetic life. 
You are above all the gods, O Lord. O Lord, I wor- 
ship you/ Saying this our Krisna falls at his feet. 
But the beggar washes his feet with the water that 
flows from his matted locks and says again and 
again ' I am blessed, I am blessed.' This refers to 
an interview of Kri?na with Civa. The waters 
from his locks are the holy streams of the 

The splrU These songs all possess a deep spiritual signifi- 

tualsignl* u a. i A tA A A A 

ficance of cance. 1 h rough the legends ot gods and goddesses 

the padas. they touch the finer c h or( j s o f our emotions, and 

teach that wealth, fame and worldly ties are as 

nothing when God calls us to Him. The devotion 

of the shepherds of the Vrinda groves to Krina 

has no grain of earthliness in it. Beyond the 

pale of palaces, of the world's splendour and luxury, 

the Vrinda groves are situated, under a clear 

sky and the simple-minded shepherds, by dint 

of their sincere devotion alone acquire the spirit of 

resignation to him which theologists and monastic 

pedants, with all their learning, cannot realise* 


Then comes the Uttara-gotha or return home of 
the shepherds. The mother is anxious. The 
shades of evening cover the Vrinda groves ; the 
last ray of light disappears from the western horizon 
and the poor Ya^oda is restless. She goes into 
her appartments to learn the time and comes out 
looking wistfully towards the woods Afraid of 
Kamsa's emissaries or of other accidents befalling 
her beloved Krisha, she describes to her companion 
and relative Rohini her anxious fears. She knows 
that her voice will not be heard, yet calls aloud 
' Krisfia, Kriaha, Krina ;' and when her anguish 
is at its deepest, lo ! the horn sounds, or the lowing 
of the cows is heard, and she runs out to meet her son. 
Krisria, with sportive steps amongst his gay com- 
panions with the crown of peacock feathers bent 
a little to the left and the garland of forest flowers 
hanging round his neck, his face marked with 
beautiful alaka and tilaka, comes running to the 
embrace of his doting mother. This is the Uttara 

But these incidents also, comparatively speaking, 
form a very minor portion of the literature of the 
padas, the greater part of them being devoted to 
Krisna's amours with Radha. 

Radba is the daughter of the king Vrisa Bhanu. 
When she was born she did not open her eyes, 
and people thought she was blind. Amongst 
others Kriha as a boy went to see the new-born 
child. But when he stood beside her, she opened 
her eyes, so that before seeing anything of the 
world she might see him the lord of the universe, 
unto whom she was pledged in love from birth. In 
due time she was married to Ayana Ghoa 

The Uttara 

Go^tha or 



Padas on 



Vi^akha, one of her maids, now showed her a 

picture of Kri$fia. The moment she saw it, she 

felt a strange emotion, she yearned to see him 

First love, in the flesh. There under the shade of a Kadamva 

tree with the crown made of peacock feathers bent 

a little to the left, and adorned with the flowers of 

the forest, stood the young shepherd-god flute in 

hand; the flute sang ( Radha, Radha/ and on the 

moment she fell in love. Her maids did not know 

what had wakened in her heart. She would go 

and come out of her room a hundred times in an 

hour without cause, look wistfully towards the 

kadamva tree, and sigh deeply. Sometimes she 

would quietly sit like a statue and rise suddenly with 

a start. Her garments hung loosely on her, her 

necklace fell to the ground she cared not for it. 

The maids thought she was possessed by ghosts. 

One evening she softly related to them her story. 

It was as if the dark blue sky had taken a human 

shape, the rainbow on the top had assumed the 

beauty of the crown of peacock's feathers and the 

woods and forests had given their floral tribute to 

adorn his person. His flute called constantly 

' Radha, Radha ' and she could not control herself. 

She took little food or fasted altogether and looked 

like a Yogini with her yellow cloth, and fixed her 

gaze on the clouds, with which she held communion 

with uplifted hands. 

The emotions of Kri?na were no less fervent. 
The spikes of the champaka flowers, drenched 
with the rain, blossomed and he was remind- 
ed of Radha at the sight. He could not look 
towards Vyia Bhanu's palace for his tears ; day 


and night he took his flute in his hand and sang 
' Radha, Radhfl.' 

Then comes the meeting. She stealthily walks The 
along the forest-path to meet him. A dark colour- meeting. 
ed sadi hides her in the dark night ; like a creeper 
with fine foliage and gay flowers or like a streak of 
lightning formed in human shape she goes caring 
not for caste fearing not the slanderous tongues 
of the wicked or the reprimands of her elderly 
relations, offering herself body and soul to his 
service. She comes to him as a martyr for love, 
and joins him in the bowers of the Vrinda 
groves ; and from that time forward every night 
the maids prepare a bower of flowers and there 
Krisna and Radha meet. There are many man- 
oeuvres and devices adopted by the lovers for these 
meetings and the scandal has by this time spread. 
Radha said she would mind no consequence. If 
the world will not look at her face, well and good. 
She will repeat the name of Krisna day and night 
and the joy derived from that would make up for 
all her sufferings. ' Take my bracelets away, O 
maids, the service of Kri?na will adorn my hands, 
and I want no other ornaments for them ; take 
away my necklace of purest pearls, the thought 
of Krisna is the ornament of my breast ; I want 
no other for it ; the praise of Krina will adorn 
my ears, no need of earrings for them. The ground 
trodden by Krina's feet is dear to me, cover my 
body, O, maidens, with the sacred dust of that 
ground ! Oh I shall turn a Yogini for love. My 
infamy is known, you fear it,-but 1 glory in it ; I 
glory in all that the love of Krisna may bring 
to me !' 


We have already spoken of how Kri?na goes 
in the disguise of a physician knowing Radha to 
be ill and on the pretext of feeling her pulse 
touches her hand, and is overjoyed. He sees her 
in the guise of a holy nun, and blesses her, before 
all present, while with side-long glances conveys 
to her secretly his deep love. Many similar devices 
are described. One day, Subala, one of the friends 
and companions of Krisna dressed as a girl, went 
to Radha privately and told her that Kri?na was 
reminded of her at the sight of a champaka flower 
and it being day time he was not able to see her, 
and a fit of unconsciousness had came over him. 
On hearing this she immediately exchanged clothes 
with Subala and looking like a pretty shepherd-boy, 
with the shepherd's crook in her hand, went to the 
pastoral grove leaving Subala in the house, dis- 
guised as a girl. There she saw Krisna lying on 
the earth unconscious and took him in her arms. 
At her touch his senses came back to him ; but 
without looking at her he said " O Subala, tell me 
where is my Radha, the soul of my soul ?" Radha 
said " Look at me, I am your devoted servant. 
You do not recognise me \ n and Krisna in raptures 
held her to his breast. 

The story But Radha is a princess. Occasionally an idea 

pearl-plant f ner own position in contrast with that of a 
village-shepherd is not unnatural in her. One day 
the shepherds thought, if the cows were adorned 
with necklaces of pearls, how grand they would 
look ! They applied to Kri?na, who, sent Sudama, 
a fellow-shepherd, to Radha, asking her for a pearl. 
One pearl would be enough, he said. He would 
sow it in the ground and by his power create pearl- 

Painted in lacquer on .\vocdin Icaid, ^uu t lu lea J ook Cover, laktn Acni ihe 
District of linl'.hum, t-arly 171!! century. 


plants. The princess sat in the company of her 
maidens, and told Sudama in reply " Foolish 
shepherd, know that pearls grow in sea-shells 
and they are precious things. They are not like the 
forest-flowers that you pluck every day in the Vrinda- 
groves. The idea is worthy only ot a shepherd. 
You want to adorn cows with necklaces of pearls , 
no monarch could be so lavish as to entertain such 
a wild fancy. Go back to your Krisna and say 
that the dew of heaven falls into the sea-shells 
under the influence of the constellation Svati, a 
rare happening, and is formed into pearls, and 
that fisher^ risk their lives to bring them from the 
bottom of the sea. It is not as easy to get a pearl 
as to possess a kadatnva or a champaka flower " 
The maids also jeered at Sudama who stood 
silent, much mortified at being ridiculed in this 
manner The crown of flowers fell from his head, 
his crook fell from his hand; insulted and disap- 
pointed he returned to Krisna and related the 
story of the treatment he had received trom 
Radha and her maids. Krina heard it; a sense of 
shame suffused his face, and he was pensive for 
some time, then he said, "Very well, my friends ' 1 
shall obtain a pearl by some means or other. Please 
wait here a moment for me." He ran to his mother 
and begged for a pearl. Yayoda said, " Foolish boy, 
what would you do with a pearl ?" But Krisna would 
not leave her without one. He was refused and with 
tears in his eyes was about to return, when Ya^oda's 
heart melted in affection . " After all a pearl is of 
no value compared with my Kri?na. I cannot see 
him sad." She called him to her and from her 
earring gave the brightest pearl that she had. 


Forthwith he ran to his companions and sowed 
the pearl. Lo, the plants grew and in a few 
moments they were rich with their precious burden. 
The bank of the Jumna its groves and bowers 
all looked as if they were set on fire, the pearls 
reflecting the light of the sun. The shepherds 
plucked them as fast as they could, made necklaces 
of them, put them round their own necks in pro- 
fusion and hung them on the cows. In the mean- 
time a maid of Radha had come to the Jumna to fetch 
water, when her eyes were dazzled by, the wonderful 
scene. She hid herself behind a tree, and stealthily 
saw all that the shepherds did with the pearls. 
She hastened home and reported the matter to 
Radha, who now felt remorse for her conduct. She 
sent one of her maids to sound Krina as to how 
he would treat her. But the shepherds sent her 
away with rough words. Radha herself hastened 
in the evening to the spot : but the pearl-groves 
had disappeared and she saw a strange city looking 
like a second heaven on the banks of the Jumna. 
There were celestial maidens with golden rods in 
hand guarding the gate of the city, and each maiden 
was as beautiful as herself and decorated with 
jewels and ornaments such as no earthly princess 
wore. She asked one of them if she knew where 
her Krisna was. The damsel replied in contempt, 
( What ! You want Krisna ! You could never reach 
his palace, it is the highest in heaven. You will pass 
many a city like this before you reach his palace; 
but the guards will not allow you to enter." And 
poor Radha in deep anguish of heart passed on 
from palace to palace, all displaying wonderful 
wealth, their spires and domes resplendent with 


diamonds, and reaching up to the starry regions, 
heavenly damsels of beauty superior to any she 
could claim, rudely preventing her passage and when 
she asked about Kri^fia, saying " How foolish for a 
mad woman to think of reaching the highest heaven, 
the Vaikuntha of Krina ' )j There in the starry 
night when the dews were falling and the champaka 
was diffusing its tragrance, the soft murmurs of 
the Jumna were heard from a distance, in that 
dark night illuminated by the diamonds on the 
walls of the palaces and the stars of the sky, the 
unfortunate wanderer moved from gate to gate 
with pale face crying ( O Krisfia', and as the 
gate keepers treated her with contempt and even 
rudeness, her eyes became full of tears and she 
suddenly fell on her knees and with clasped palms 
prayed, <( O Lord of my Soul, O Lord of the 
Universe, O Krina, I am a poor woman, foolish to 
the extreme and full of frailties and sins. Pardon 
me, O Lord, pardon me. I cannot live without 
thee. I die here " And she drooped low even 
as a flower droops when the rains fall upon it, 
and in deep resignation she sat closing her eyes 
dazzled with the glories before her, 'How weak 
am 1 ! How poor and cursed ! ' She cried. 
' But forsake me not, O Lord of the Universe, I 
am but a poor and ignorant milk-maid," and when 
she opened her eyes, the palaces had all gone and 
she saw her own Kri?ha, the shepherd-boy 
standing before her, flute in hand, and taking her 
gently by the arm, saying " Radha, my soul, the joy 
of my life, where have you been so long ?" and she 
clasped his feet with her hands and for her choked 
voice could not say where she had been. God does 



MSthura or 

by Kris ha. 



by Kris ha. 

not come to the proud but yields to love. This is 
the meaning to be found in thib story. * 

There are innumerable songs describing similar 
incidents in this love-story. The last is the Mathur, 
the most pathetic ot all. Kariisa sends AkrQra to 
Vrmda-groves to bring Krisna. A chariot comes 
to take him. The shepherds stand speechless, 
statue-like and with choked voices, they cannot 
even say * don't go/ Yaf oda lies unconscious in her 
frantic agony of heart. Nanda hides his eyes and 
groans in a corner of his palace, and the milk-maids 
with Radha at their head go to throw themselves 
under the wheels of the chariot to destroy their miser- 
able lives; for unbearable will their life in Vrinda- 
van a be when Krisna has gone away. The birds uka 
and Sari sit mute, not singing their accustomed merry 
tunes. The cows look wistfully towards the far 
bank of the Jumna where Mathura is situated. The 
bees no longer hum round the blooming flowers. 
All the groves of Vrinda look like a picture of 
desolation where the shepherds and the maids, 
remain plunged in sorrow after the chariot has 
moved away. Kri?na kills Karhsa and is restored 
to Vasudeva and Daivakl, but poor Nanda and 
Ya^ocla are blinded with weeping. 

Radha with her maids seek the Vrinda groves ; 
it is a mad and fruitless search ; she asl^s the 
jessamine, the lotus and the kunda flower if they 
Can tell her the whereabouts of Krina ; she stands 
lost in a trance, and then runs on again, the 
thorns pierce her feet, she does not care ; the 

* This story is related in the Bengali poem Mllktalatavali 
written about 120 years ago. 


maids say ' do not run in that way, the thorns will 
pierce your feet, the snakes may bite ; the place 
abounds with them.' Radba says ( when I 
fell in love with a shepherd, I knew I would have to 
wander through forests full of thorns. So 1 brought 
thorns from the woods and placing them in my 
courtyard, 1 learnt to wait: on them. I guarded 
myself against snakes by learning charms with the 
same object ; so I fear them not.' She comes to 
the pleasant bowers there her senses leave her 
completely. Her gaze is transfixed to the clouds 
overtopped with a rainbow ; she mistakes them 
for Kri?ria and addresses them,* " O go not away ! 
Wait but for a moment, thou friend of my soul, 
leave me not thus. One should not forsake her 
who cannot live without him. If you stay not 
here, go wherever you will ; but wait only one 
moment. If you are resolved to go away, tears 
cannot check you, I know, and tears cannot 



produce love. If my life goes out for this, let it go. 
Who can avoid fate ! Alas, dear friend, who can 
detain the unwilling heart by mere importunities I" 

" But bear with me for one word more. Our 
feelings were mutually sincere. But you are indif- 
ferent to me now. The result of this will be, that 
our love which was pure as gold will be misunder- 
stood ; others will blame the love that killed 
the milk-maids. Stand there a moment, if you will 
not come near, wait only there where you are, and 
see how 1 die of love." 

All this Radha addressed to the clouds mistaking 
them for Kri?na. At this stage she swoons and 
Vj-inda the maid comes. She uses various methods 
to bring her mistress to her senses, but she fails. 
Her maids cry aloud, ' Radha is dead/ With 
thin cotton placed near her nostrils they feel that 
there is still a little breath left. She is carried to 
the yamakunda, and they plunge her body into the 
holy waters a usage followed by Hindus at the 
moment of death and called the Antarjali, and the 
maidens whisper in her ear ( O Krisna, O Krisna, ' 

Rye Unmadini by Krina Kamala, 


for the dying soul must hear the name of God. 
On hearing Krisna's name she slowly revives and 
looks helplessly around ; weak and feeble she can- 
not speak. Vrinda says ' At the first infatuation 
of love Krisna gave a bond to Radha that he 
would be her slave all his life. She now wants back 
this bond assuring the maids that she will go to 
Mathura with it and bring him back bound in chains 
as a runaway slave. Radha, though dying for love, 
cannot hear any one abuse Krisna. She speaks 
her foolish fears in gentle whispers to Vrinda* ' Oh, 
do not bind him, do not speak rude words to him. 
If you say a rude word, his lovely face will grow 
pale, my heart breaks at the very thought of it. 1 

But Radha and Krisna are no historical person- Thesplri 
alities with enlightened Vai?navas. Krisna Kamala 
the poet says of Krisnaf " When the God-vision 
becomes clear in the soul the devotee expresses it 
by the allegory of Krina's coming to the Vrinda- 


* u 

TOT OFT itft nnr 


Rye Unmadini by Krisna Kamala. 

Rye Unmadini by Krisiia Kamala, 


groves. When the vision fades away, he considers 
Krisna to have gone to Mathura " Ds?arathj, 
another poet of the old school, says * %< If you O 
Kri?na, come to my heart, it will be sacred as the 
Vrinda groves My devotion to you will be ex- 
pressed in the symbol of Rdh& ; my desire to 
reach the final emancipation will b^ as Vrinda the 
milkmaid. My body will be the palace of Nanda 
Ghosa and my love for you will be Ja^oda herself. 
Bear, O Lord, the load of my sins as once you 
did the mount Govardhana and destroy my six 
passions, which are like the six emissaries of 
Kariisa." The whole matter is thus spiritualised. 
Chaitanya Deva said t " As a young man yearns 
for his beloved, even so the soul yearns for 
God ; it is for want of a better object of compa- 
rison that the Vaisnavas worship the Lord under 
this form/' 


A song by 

Sayings of Chaitanya Deva, 
from Govinda Das's Kadcha. 


A person who yearns for God should not care for 
home, for fame, or for any earthly consideration ; he 
must renounce all. This idea is best expressed by 
the allegory of Radha and Krisria ; for a woman, 
peculiarly situated as she is in Hindu society, cannot 
contract love with a stranger without risking all 
that is near and dear to her. The spirit of mar- 
tyrdom in this love is kindred to that for which 
the soul of a true devotee is always ready. Per- 
secutions and all manner of earthly evils must 
come upon him as a matter of course and the world 
will call such a man, a knave, a maniac and what 
not ; but he must stick to his faith inspite of 
all misfortune. Hence this symbol was adopted 
by the Vaisriavas to express their unflinching 
devotion and self-sacrifice for religion. 

The personality of Chaitanya Deva gave a 
new form to this poetic literature. If one reads 
carefully a number of Vai?riava padas from such 
collections as the Padakalpalatika, Padakalpataru, 
and Padasamudra together with some of the biogra- 
phies of Chaitanya Deva, they will be struck with the 
fact, that nearly all the emotions ascribed to Radha 
are taken from those of Chaitanya Deva. The rap- 
turous feelings on his seeing the clouds described 
in his biographies are attributed to Radha in the 
padas. His fine frenzy lends charms to the similar 
mental states ascribed to her, and the sight of a 
kadamva flower, of the river Jumna, of the 
Vrinda groves, lifts both into a state of rapture. 
One who is not an adept in Chaitanya literature 
will be charmed while reading the padas by the 
high poetical flights reached in the description of 
Radha's love for Kriria, and will not easily suspect 

The emo- 
tions of 
Deva attri. 
buted to 


that in the accounts of this love they are perusing 
the story of Chaitanya's realisation. In fact there 
are innumerable songs in this literature which echo 
the sentiments of Chaitanya Deva, and there is in 
this respect a difference between the love songs 
of Radha and Krisna of the pre-Chaitanya period 
and those that followed him. The allegory be- 
comes complete and beautiful in the latter as they 
bear the stamp of this influence, and the com- 
pilers of the collections of these songs have clearly 
indicated this by giving as a prologue to each 
chapter a song describing the emotions of Chai- 
tanya Deva by Vasu Ghosa, Narahari or other 
poets who personally witnessed them. Such a 
The Goura- prologue is called the Goura Chandriks or prelimi- 
Chandrika. nar y verses in praise of Chaitanya ; the songs 
that follow are true to the spirit of the emotions of 
Chaitanya though the love of Radha and Krisria is 
apparently the subject of them. For instance, in the 
Purvaraga or dawn ofjlove, we have several Goura 
Chandrikas to indicate the subsequent spirit of the 
songs. One Gour Chandrika runs thus * u To-day 
I saw the moon of Navadwipa (Chaitanya) , 




CTt W *% sn ^ItQI C^ II" Pada No. 68. 

From Chapter I, Paclakalpataru, 



resting his cheek upon his hand he sits brooding 
quietly lost in thought ; he goes and comes 
without intention ; as he wanders towards the 
woods where the flowers bloom, his eyes, 
large as full blown lotuses, seem to float in tears. 
They betray great emotions A strange glad- 
ness takes possession of him and Radhamohana (the 
poet) can not enter into its meaning/' After a 
prologue of this sort the compiler gives many 
passages of love between Radha and Krisha. The 
first runs as follows .* " She (Radha) comes out 
of her house a hundred times , her mind is agitated , 
she looks wistfully to the shade of the kadamva 
trees; Oh, why has Radha become so? She cares 
not for infamy, nor for the scoldings of the elderly 
women of her house. Has some spirit possessed 
her? Her loose garments she does not care to 
adjust, she sits quietly and rises with a sudden 
start ; her ornaments fall carelessly from her 

The difference between the songs written before 
and after Chaitanya Deva is well marked ; for in- before and 
stance, in a song on Abhisara or the stealthy visit Chaitanya. 
of Radha to Krisna by night, we find Jayadeva, the 



m n 



Sanskrit poet of the I2th century writing.* " The 
sounding nupura of your feet you must leave behind, 
for they will jingle; you should come to love's bower 
putting on a dark-coloured sadl." In the night 
she would have to go stealthily ; so the poet re- 
commends a dark sdl to conceal her from the view 
of others and also to leave her nupura lest they 
should draw the attention of others by their jingling 
sounds. This is a very natural piece of advice to 
one who wants to meet her lover secretly ; but 

' e * us reac ' a ' ove son S on Abhisara by a subsequent 
poet who wrote after Chaitanya Deva " Her nupura 
called bankaraja sounds pleasantly and her brace- 
lets make a merry jingling sound. She is sur- 
rounded by her maidens ; the high sounding 
musical instruments, the Dampha and the Ravaba 
are heard from a distance and a thin music flows on 
like waves of love." This seems quite unsuited 
to a song on Abhissra where secrecy must be the 
watchword. But the poet who wrote it had in 
his mind the processions of the sankirtan parties 
led by Chaitanya Deva where the Dampha, the 
Ravaba and other musical instruments sounded 
their high notes and where the party marched, 
literally carried on by waves of love. 

These associations and references, however 
anomalous they may appear at times, as marring 
the natural beauty of a description, do in fact 
nothing of the sort but lend a charm to it ; they 



only remind one of the spiritual significance of 
these songs without affecting the poetry. The 
song referred to is highly poetical mspite of what 
might appear as its anomalies. I give below the 
full text* " Towards the cool shade of the Vrinda 
groves Radha goes to meet Kri?na. Her face is 
as beautiful as a newly risen moon, the sandal- 
marks adorn her lovely cheeks, a mark of kastun 
is on her forehead , behind her hang her beautiful 
braids adorned by a golden jhapa with silken 
pendants and a lovely pearl brightens her nose. 
The bracelets and the nupura called Bankaraja 
make a merry jingle as she walks ; her maids 
surround her and the high notes of Dampha 
and Ravaba are heard. As she goes, cupid flies 
away terror-struck, and the sweet scents from her 
person attract the bees, who mistake her foot- 
prints for lotuses and maddened with the perfumes 
fall to the ground in the hope of drinking honey, 
and only kiss the foot prints. The beauty of her 
person far excels that of a golden creeper or the 
lightning flash it shows the utmost skill the 
creator had in command; gracefully she walks as a 

n, sn tur r m, 



royal swan ; her arms rest on the shoulders of her 
maids. Poet Ananta Das says they arrived at the 
bowers to the delight of Krina." The kasturi 
mark, or tilak, is a holy sign referred to in the above 
song, and this is another feature that reminds us of 
the spiritual significance of the song. The foot- 
prints bear the light red mark of the alta dye and 
hence they are mistaken for lotuses. So without in- 
juring the poetic beauty of the description or intro- 
ducing anything to jar on the ear of the unsuspecting 
lay reader, the songs are fraught with a deep re- 
ligious significance which true Vai?riavas only are 
privileged to enjoy. The references are so clear 
that to those versed in Chaitanya literature, Rgdhs 
the princess portrayed in the songs will pass away 
and the personality of a handsome Brahmin youth 
maddened by God's love, bewailing his separation 
from Krifia and holding communion in a trance 
with the clouds of heaven, the trees of the woods, 
and the waves of the Jumna as though they were 
real friends who could tell him of the God he 
sought for, will appear as the only reality investing 
the songs with the significance and beauty of a 
higher plane. 

, *n:$r 

, <ra% grot w, fro fro iwfas 
ftfr, fwft CThrtfWt fofar ^fr **f 

Padas No* 308-9 Chapter X, Padakalpataru, 


The love literature of the Vaisnavas is a unique 
treasure. It displays the nicest classification of 
emotions and all conceivable forms of tender 
feelings. The Purvaraga or the dawn of love is 
divided into subheads such as ^Sfftt, ^F^jf^F, 

etc. Then comes 

tion of 

and many^more. In Bhaktiratnakara we have 
360 different kinds of the finer emotions of a lover's 
heart minutely classified. Each of these groups 
has hundreds of songs attached to it by way of 
illustration and has, besides, the usual prologues or 
Goura Chandrika which the poets have called 
^^faWtf^ or lending permanent interest to the 
songs, suggesting spiritual associations. 

It is a curious literature. It deals with human 
passions mainly of the most platonic sort and has 
always a door open heavenwards. While perusing 
the accounts of love between man and woman 
in all its varied forms, the reader will everv now 
and then find himself breathing a higher atmos- 
phere ; it is as though he comes to the junction of 
a river with the sea ; looking back, he sees a 
stream that comes through delightful landscapes, 
through groves and bowers that resound with 
human voices, but looking forward he finds the 
endless sea that cuts off at the coast all connection 
with the human world and stretches on beneath 
the foaming waves till it loses itself in heaven. 

There is yet another account of Kri?na's life 
which the Vaisnava poets have taken pains to des* 

The human 
and the 



cribe ; it is the scene of Prabhasa. Krifia who was 
a shepherd boy has killed Kamsa and is now the 
king of Mathura ; no more the crown of peacock 

The feathers on his head, but a diadem sparkling with 
Prabhasa. ' . 

the richest jewels, no more the rod Pachanbari in 

his hand to drive the cattle, but the sceptre to rule, 
and no more playing the flute to madden poor Radha 
but playing with the fate of millions of his subjects. 
The Vrindavana scenes are forgotten. He has found 
his parents, Vasudeva and Daivakl; and cares 
not to hear that Nanda and Ya^oda have grown 
blind with weeping for him. The shepherd boys 
no longer tend the cattle on the banks of the 
Jumna as in Krina's time they cannot bear the 
sight of the Vrinda groves. Radha's body is carried 
into the waters of the Jumna and her maids know 
that in a few moments all will be over with her. 
At this time, the Dhanuryayna or sacrifice of the 
bow is held in Mathura in the field of Prabhasa 
by Krisna. All the world is invited to attend 
it, but he does not invite the people of the 
Vrinda groves. Nanda and Ya^oda hear of the 
sacrifice and so do the shepherds. Uninvited 
they go, for they cannot bear separation from him 
any longer. The gate-keepers prevent them from 
having an interview with the king. Ya^oda im- 
portunes them at every gate to be allowed to have 
a sight of her dear Kri?na, but the gate-keepers 
take her to be a mad woman and will not allow her 
to pass into the Royal presence. Struck with grief 
Ya^oda falls to the ground sighing in a manner 
which rends the heart to behold. Suddenly in the 
great hall Krisna with the Svruka the golden sacri- 
ficial cup reciting mantras falters in his speech; 


suddenly a. tear starts to his eyes and he clasps 
his brother Valara ma to his bieast saying ft O tell 
me, Brother, where is my unfortunate mother, where 
are my comrades of the Vrinda groves and where 
is my Radha? Away with my royal robes and 
kingdom ; where are the scenes of our boyhood 
the dear Jumna and its bowers ?' ' The whole 
scene changes from the grandeur of a royal palace 
to the groves of Vrinda. 

The reason why he did not invite the people 
of Vrindavana is that he held them as his own, 
and it would be dishonouring the sacred relation- 
ship to send the formal letter of invitation due 
only to those who are more or less distant. 

Of the Pada kartas (lit. masters of songs) that Govinda 
followed Vidyapati and Chandidas, the greatest 1612A.D. 
by unanimous consent of all parties is Govinda Das. 
We find accounts of this poet's life in Bhaktiratna- 
kara, Narottamavilasa, Saravali, Anuragavalll, and 
Bhaktamala. He was a son of Chiranjiva Sen, an 
illustrious companion of Chaitanya Deva and was a 
grandson, on his mother's side, of Damodara who 
was a great Sanskrit poet and scholar of Crl- 
khanda at the time. Chiranjiva left his village 
home at Kumaranagara and settled at Qrikhanda 
where he had married. But the akta element 
there was powerful and showed open hostility 
towards the Vainavas. The result was that 
Govinda Das had to leave rikhanda in his old 
age and settle at the village of Telia Vudhuri on 
the Pudma. 

Govinda Das belonged to the Vaidya or the 
physician caste. His elder brother Rama Chandra 



Kavirsja was a famous scholar and a friend of 
Narottama Thakura. It is "aid that Govinda Das 
formerly belonged to the Cakta sect, but having 
recovered from a serious attack of dysentery at 
the age of forty through the help of a devout Vai?- 
nava, he adopted that faith and became a disciple 
of the famous rinivasa Acharyya. 

His songs on Radha and Krisna are held in 
great appreciation by the people. They are written 
in that sweet mixed dialect which is called the 
Brajabuli. Bengali by eliminating the Prakrita 
elements, and adopting the more rigid forms of 
Sanskrit has lost some of its natural mellifluousness 
but in Brajabuli we find a preponderance of 
Prakrita words together with a sprinkling of 
Maithili which contributes greatly to the softness 
of the mixed tongue Brajabuli is not the spoken 
dialect of any province ; yet it is not at all an 
artificial dialect. The choice Piakrita vvoids to be 
found in old Bengali together with some of the 
soft-sounding Maithil words are combined in Braja- 
buli in an artistic manner. And the curious medley 
has been made singularly sweet and pleasing to 
the ear by the Vainavas in the padas. And Govinda- 
das particularly, who imitates Vidyapati in his 
songs, is a perfect master of this mixed language. 
His songs which are only next to those of Chandi- 
das and Vidyapati in poetic merit are quite un- 
matched for their sweetness of language and show 
a wealth of rhythmical expression which brings him 
into the first rank of early Bengali poets. 

His padas. In the last years of his life we find the poet 
occupied in making a collection of his songs at 


*"In close retirement he was occupied in making 
a compilation of his precious songs with a glad- 
some heart." 

Govinda Das's padas were sung during his 
life-time by Gokuladas and ridas, two brothers 
inhabitants of Kanchs Gadiya, who enjoyed a 
great reputation in the Vaisnava community as 
singers, and it is related in Narottama-vilasa that 
Vira Bhadra Gosvami and Jiva Gobvami, two great 
apostles of the Vai?nava faith, delighted in his songs 
and being full of admiration for the poet 
embraced him as a mark of their satisfaction 
when his padas were sung before them by the two 
gifted brothers. 

Besides his Bengali padas, Govindaas wrote 
two Sanskrit works of great 'poetic beauty via , 
Sangita Madhava and Karnamrita. 

Govinda Das was born at rikhanda in] 1537 
A.D. and died at Telia Vudhuri in 1612 A.D. 

I give below two padas by Govinda Das. 
Radha feels that she cannot bear life forsaken 
by Krisria. She says . 

t " Let my body after death be reduced to the 
earth of those paths which will be touched by the 

TOR W3[ ^ ats W II" 

Bhaktiratnakara, Chap. XIV. 

t " 



beautiful feet of Kri?na. Let it be melted into 
the water of the tank where Krisfia bathes. When 
I shall have expired, let my spirit live as the 
lustre of the mirror in which Krisria sees his face. 
O, let it be turned into a gentle breeze for the fan 
with which he cools himself. Wherever Krisha 
moves like a new-born cloud, may I become the 
bky behind, to form the back-ground of his beauti- 
ful form/' 

* (( He for whose sake the reproofs of the elders 
and the slanderous tongues of the wicked were 
nothing to me ; he for whom I loved all the ills of 
life as if they were good fortune, and for whom I 
broke my sacred maidenhood, foregoing the law 
observed by wedded wives, stiange, passing 
strange it is, that he wants to forsake me ' 
How hard is this to believe ! He who would leave 
his palace of "pearls in expectation of meeting me 
and pass the whole night on thorny briers looking 
wistfully towards my path and he for whom timid 
damsel that I am, I would walk on dark nights so 




lost in love that if a venomous snake had coiled 
round my feet, I should have considered it as nupura 
to adorn them, says Govinda Das, it is not 
possible tor him to forget this great love." 

Next to Govinda Das we may name Jnana Das 
and Valarama Das. Jhana Das was born at 
Kandra, in the district of Birbhum and Valarama 
Das belonged to the Vaidya caste and was an inhabi- 
tant of rikhancla His father was one Atmarama 
Das. Both Jnana Das and Valarama Das imitated 
the style of Chandidas in their songs as Govinda- 
das did that of Vidyapati and the two poets were 
contemporary with Govinda Das. One of the 
most important festivals of the Vaisnavas that was 
ever held in Bengal was the Mahotsava ceremony 
of rikhetun. Narottama Das who had renounced 
the world and embraced the vow of Sanyfisin was the 
heir to the %adi of Kheturi, the deceased Raja, 
Krisna Chandra Datta being his father. As however 
he did not accept the Raj, but made a gilt of it 
to his cousin Santosa Datta, the latter out of gra- 
titude and admiration for the Vai?nava worthy 
called in all membeis of the Vaisriava community 
to (prikheluri at a Mahotsava ceremony held by 
him with great eclat in 1504 A.D. The ceremony 
was a grand buccebb and was in fact an historic 

Jnana Das 
and Vala- 
rama Das. 

The Mahat- 

sava at Crl- 


1504 A.D. 

ifTI W folT C*11 ^ ^fp^l ^ ^^t u 
Padakalpataru, second chap. 1 624th Pada. 


event in Vai?hava society having been graphically 
described by many writers, chiefly by Narahari 
Chakravarti who in his Narottama Vilasa gives an 
elaborate list of the important members of the 
Vai^nava community who attended it. Govinda- 
das, Jnana Das, Valarama Das were all there and 
Vrindavana Das, the famous author of Chaitanya 
Bhagavata, was at the time a hoary-headed old 
man, described as * venerable and learned' who 
took a prominent part in the affairs of the cere- 
mony. We also find Vasanta Roy there the 
clever poet who revised Vidyapati's poems and 
changed his Maithili to elegant Brajabuli in which 
we find his poems in the Bengali collections of 
the present day. The Mahotsava ceremony at 
rlkheturi is indeed a landmark in the history of 
the Vaisnavas and a sort of light-house discovering 
to our view^ a whole panorama of scenes in which 
the illustrious Vai$navas of the early iGth century, 
whose names are so familiar to us by their writings, 
played an important part. Besides, the history of 
social manners and customs and ways of life of 
the Vaihavas of that period have been faithfully 
recorded in the accounts of this festival. 

About the other Padakartas we jot down the 
following notes : 

Jadunan- Jadunandana Das, born in 1537 A.D. He wrote 

born 1537. an historical work called Karngnanda in 1607 at the 
command of rlmati Hemalata, daughter of 
Crlnivas Acharyya. He was 70 years old when 
he wrote the above work. Jadunandana, besides, 
tarnslated Govindalilamfita by Kri?ha Das Kaviraj 
and Vidagdha Madhaba, a drama by Rupa Gosvami 
from Sanskrit into Bengali metrical verse. 




Jadunandana Chakravarti wrote, Radha Kri?na 
Lilakadamva, a Bengali poem containing 6000 
couplets. He was a disciple of Gadadhara Das. 

dana Chak- 

Court Das. 

Prema Das, (the Vai^nava name adopted by Puru- p re ma Das 
sottama Siddhanta Vagica) was horn in Kulia in 
Navadwipa. He wrote the Vam^i ik?a, already 
noticed on page 513, in 1712 A.D and translated 
Chaitanya Chandrodaya, a Sanskrit drama by 
Kavikar^apura into Bengali verse. 

Gourl Das, a highly respected personage of the 
Vaisnava community and a contemporary of Chai- 
tanya Deva. It is said that the latter presented 
Gourl Das with a Gita copied by himself and also 
an oar with which he rowed his small pleasure- 
boat on the Ganges. Gourl made an image of 
Chaitanya Deva in Nimba wood when the latter 
was on the eve of taking Sanyasin's vows. This 
historic image ib still worshipped at Ambikanagara 
in Kalna. 

Narahari Sarkara (1487-1540) of rikhanda a 
friend and follower of Chaitanya Deva. Chaitanya 
Deva is said to have exclaimed when in a trance 
in a village of southern India " O Narahari, dear 
as my life, where art thou now ? Recite Krina's 
name once more and I will embrace thee." * 
Narahari belonged to the Vaidya caste. His father's 
name was Narayana. He wrote many padas in 
praise of Chaitanya. 




1540 A.D. 

* " 



Govinda Das's Kadcha. 


Vasu Vasu Ramananda a grandson of Maladhara 

nancto. Vasu who translated the Bhagavata into Bengali. 

Ramananda was a contemporary of Chaitanya Deva. 

Raya Ramananda the illustrious Prime Minis- 

Raya ter of King Prataprudra of Orissa and author of 

nanda. the Sanskrit drama, Jagannatha Vallabha which 

Chaitanya delighted to read Ramananda Ray 

was a great friend and follower of Chaitanya. He 

has left some Bengali padas of singular beauty ; 

the following one finds a place in Chaitanya 

Charitamrita and has a deep spiritual meaning 

which must be explained in the light of Vaisnava 


* i. " At first love dawned (on my heart) by a 
glance of his eye. 

2. It went on growing and knew no stop. 

3. When Cupid entered our souls, forgetful 
we became that he was a man and I a woman. 

4. O maidens, ask him, how could he have 
forgot all this story now ! 

5. Nor had we, in this love, waited for a secret 
agent or any third party. In this union Cupid was 
our guide." The idea contained in the 3rd stanza is 


* " 








Qopala Dfis 


Rama Ray died in 1584 A.D. 

Narahari Chakravarti author of Narottamavilasa 
and Bhaktiratnakara the celebrated biographical 
and historical works already mentioned, vvrotealarge 
number of padas under the name of Ghana yama 
Das. There is also another Ghana yama a 
padakarta, son of Divya Sinha and grandson of 
Govindadas, the illustrious poet. 

Rama GopalaDas the author of Rasakalpavalli 
(written in 1643 A.D.) wrote many padas of ex- 
quisite beauty and his son Pitamvara Das author of PitSmvara 
Rasamunjari contributed a good number of padas 
to Vaisriava collections, 

Jagadananda, a Vaidya by caste. He was a 
descendant of Mukunda, one of the contemporaries 
of Chaitanya. They were originally residents of 
(prlkhanda, but afterwards settled at the village of 
Yophalai in the district of Burdwan. Jagadananda 
cared only for sweet words in \\ispadas. We have 
come across some of the drafts of his composition 
in his own handwriting which show that he was far 
from being a born poet ; he acquired the power 
of writing poetry by mastering the vocabulary of 
sweet sounding words, as a school-boy acquires 
a knowledge of Geography by noting the places 
in his memory. One of the draft shows that he 
made himself busy to find out the synonyms of 
words to be used in his songs. On the other page 
of the said draft he scribbled doggerels with the 
words on his list ; he cared for nothing else than to 
create a pleasant jingle with them. He writes a 
line and then cuts it through and repeats the 
process several times, all the while evidently 







vari Dis. 


turning over the other page with the object of draw- 
ing upon the vocabulary which seems to be the 
only source of his inspiration ; thus correcting 
words continually with the help derived from it, 
he lights upon highly ornate expressions and com- 
poses a couplet in which rhythm is done to a 
fault, such couplets we find in the Padakalpataru 
and we cannot help enjoying the humour of the 
hcrculian efforts put forth to give them the shape 
in which they are finally presented to us. They 
hardly convey any sense through the jingle of words 
whit h it was the primary object of the poet to create. 
Jagadananda died in 1704 at Yophalai where a mela 
is held every year to commemorate his death, A 
collection of his padas with a learned preface was 
published not long ago by the late Babu Kali Das 
Nath of Calcutta 

Varh^I Vadana, son of Chhakadi Chattopadhyaya. 
Varh^l Vadan was born in the village of Patuli 
in 1498 A D. 

Rfima Chandra a grandson of Varti9l Vadana. 
He settled at the village of Radhanagara. He mig- 
rated from Patuli to Radhanagara on the Pudma. 
Born in 1534 A D, died in 1584 A.D. 

achi Nandana brother of Rama Chandra. 
Besides padas he wrote a poem called the Gouranga 

Parameyvari Das. We find a mention of this 
Padakarta in connection with the Mahotsava cere- 
mony at Kheturi which he attendee! in 1504 A D. 

Jadunatha Acharyya son of Ratnagarva Acaryya 
a friend and follower of Chaitanva Deva, The 


family which originally resided at Sylhet migrated 
to Navadvipa during Chaitanya Deva's life-time. 

PrasadaDas a native of Vishupur in the district 
of Bankura. He had the title of Kavipati. 

Uddhava Das a friend of Vaisnava Das who 
compiled the celebrated Padakalpataru an in- 
habitant of Tens Vaidyapura 

Ka<lha Vallabha Das, son of Sudhakar Mandal 
of K& nchagadia and the compiler of a Bengali tran- 
slation of Vila pa Kusum&njali by Raghu Nath 

Ray Qekhara or afi ekhara an inhabitant 
of the village of Parana in the district of Burdvvan. 
He lived early in the i8th century. 

Pdramananda Sen a gieat Sanskrit poet who 
ako wrote padas in Bengali. He uas born in 1524. 
He is more commonly known by his title Kavi- 
karnapura. He wrote his celebrated Chaitanya 
Chandrodaya Nataka in 1572 A.o 

Vasudeva Ghosa, Madhava Ghose and Govinda- 
nanda Ghose, three brothers and contemporaries of 
Chaitanya Deva. All of them composed padas in 
Bengali. They were originally inhabitants of 
Kumarhatta, but finally settled at Navadvipa They 
belonged to the Kayastlia caste. Vasu Ghosa's 
padas in praise of Chaitanya are the best of their 
kind and they generally form the Gour Chandrika 
or prelude to the,songs of Radha and Kn$na in all 
collection of Vairiava/W#:r. The present Maharaja 
of Dinajpur is descended from Vssu Ghoa through 
one of his daughters, 







nanda Sen. 



Cham pa ti 



Vira HSm- 


Champati Ray a famous Padakarta. We find 
the following line about him in the Sanskrit notes 
affixed to the Padsmrita Samudra by Radha mohan 

* (< There lived in Southern India a great follower 
of Chaitanya by the name of Champati. He is this 
famous Padakarta/' 

Daivakinandana, a contemporary of Chaitanya 
Deva and author of Vai?nava Vandana. 

Narabinha Deva Raja of Pakva Palli whose 
efforts to vanquish Narottama Thakur in a contro- 
versial discussion culminated in complete failure 
and his own acceptance of the creed of the Vaina- 
vas. The Raja wrote several padas of great beauty. 

Raja Vir Hamvira of Visfiupur to whom a re- 
ference has already been made, composed many 
padas some of which we find in the Bhaktiratnakara 
by Narahari Chakravarti. 

Madhavi a sister of Cikhi Mahiti and a con- 
temporary of Chaitanya wrote padas under the name 
of Madhavi Das. She was renowned for her piety 
and purity of life. 

This is, briefly, an account of only a few of the 
great masters of songs who followed Chaitanya Deva, 
A brief notice of some more Padakartas is to be 
found in my Bengali work ' Vangabha?a Sahitya, 1 
in the Bengali Encyclopaedia the Viva Ko?a and 
in the collection of songs in praise of Chaitanya 

Padamrita Samudra. 


Deva edited by the late Babu Jagatbandhu Bhadra 
and published by the Vangiya Sahitya Pari?at, 
Calcutta. I give below a list of the Padakartas 
whose padas I have been able to collect up to the 
present with the number si padas they composed 



Ananta Das 
Akvar ali 
Ananda Das 
Bhuvana Das 
Chandra ekhara 
Chudamani Das 
ankara Das 
al ekhara 
Cyama Das 
iva Ray 
ivai Das 
Dlnahlna Das 
Dharama Das 
Gupta Das 
Gokula Das 
Gopala Bhatta 
Govinda Das 
Gour Sundara 
Ghanarama Das 
Hari Das 


47 Ananta Acharyya 2 

1 Atmarama Das 9 
3 Bhupati Nath 7 

2 Chandi Das 960 

3 Champati Thakur 13 
i Chaitanya Das 15 

4 Cachinandana Das 3 
3 yama Chanda Das I 

3 yamananda 7 

1 ^ivaram Das 25 

4 iva Sahachari i 
7 rinivasa 3 

2 ekhera Ray 176 

1 Dlna Ghoe i 

3 Dukhi Krisna Das 4 

2 Daivakinandana Das 4 

3 Gatigovinda i 
3 Giridhara i 
i Gokula nanda i 

1 Gopala Das 6 

2 Goplkanta i 

1 Govardhana Das 17 
458 Govinda Ghosa 12 

2 Goura Das 2 

3 Gouri Das 2 
14 Ghana yama Das 35 

7 Hari Vallabha 4 

A list of the 





Harekri^ha Das 2 

Jagadananda Das 5 

Jagamohona Das 2 

Jiiana Das 194 

Kavira i 

Kamarali i 

Kanu Das 14 

Kaliki^ore 179 

Krisna Das 22 

Krisna Prasad 5 

Lochana Das 30 

Madlui Sudana 5 

Manohara Das 6 

Madhava Das 65 

Madhavi Das 17 

Murari Gupta 5 

Mohona Das 27 

Natavara i 

Nanda (Dvija) i 

Narabinha Das i 

Narottama Das 61 

Nava Chandra Da*> 2 

Nasir Mamud i 

Nrisinha Deva 4 

Paramananda Das 12 

Phakir Havir i 

Raghu Nat ha 3 

Rasamayi DasI i 

Rama Kanta i 

Rama Das 2 

Rama Ray i 
Raja Sinha Bhupati 4 

Hareiama Das 
Jagannatha Das 
Jaykri?na Das 
Jnanahari Das 
Kanai Das . 
Kri?na Kanta Das 
Krisna Pramoda 









Laksml Kanta Das i 

Mathura Das i 

Maheya Vasu i 

Madhava Ghoa 9 

Madhavacharyya 5 

Madhu 3 

Murari Das i 

Mohani Da* 4 

Nandana Das i 

Nayanananda Das 22 

Narahari Das 22 

Nava Kanta Das i 
Naranarayan Bhupati i 

Nripati Sinha I 

Parame^wara Das i 

Pitamvara Das o 

Phatana i 

Rasamaya Das 2 

Rasika Das 3 

Rama Chandra Das 6 

Rami 2 

Radha Mohona 175 








Radha Vallabha 
Ramananda Vasu 
Sinha Bhupati 
Sekh Bliik 
Saiyad Martuja 
Uddliava Das 
Valarama Das 
Vallabha Das 
Vasanta Ray 
Vijayananda Das 
Vindu Das 
Vipra Dasa Ghosa 
Vira Chandra Kar 
Vira Vallabha Das 
Vaisnava Das 









1 10 







Radha Madhava 
Ramananda Das 
Sundara Das 
Sekha Jalal 
Sekh Lai 
Tulasl Das 
Vala Deva 
Valai Das 
Varh^I Vadana 
Vasudeva Ghosa 
Vipra Das 
Vi^vambhara Das 
Vira Narayana 
Vira Hamvira 
Vpndavana Das 







27 Vrmdavana uas 30 

i Yadunandana 95 

17 Yadupati i 


Next to Vidyapati and Chandi Das, the following 
pada-kartas enjoy precedence for their poetical 
excellence and delineation of tender emotions. 

1. Govinda Das. 

2. Jfiana Das. 

3. Valarama Das. 

4. Ray (pekhara. 
5 Ghana yama. 

7. Ananta Das. 

8. Yadu Nandana Das. 

9. Varhgl Vadana. 

10. Vasu Ghosa. 

11. Narahari. 
6. Rai Vasanta. 

This pada literature is a mine of poetry. It 
breathes freedom from the rigid style of the old 


The pada* 
breathe a 
spirit of 

The advan- 
tages of 

The pada. 
kartas pre- 
fer Prakri- 

ta forms. 

writers who were always aiming at classical figures 
of speech. Here we find classical figures only 
occasionally, but more often the poets hit upon 
common-place objects and translate them into apt 
and happy similes. The style of the best amongst 
the pada kartas is free from all slavish imitation of 
Sanskrit models and is full of appropriate homely 
words and happy turns of expression taken from 
common life which discovers the innate strength 
of our language. By adopting the Braja Buli, 
the pada kartas not only made their language a 
fitter vehicle of tender thought, but gave scope for 
contributions to this literature by poets out-side 
Bengal. Hence it is that we find the songs of 
Champatipati, a poet of southern India and of 
Madhavi and Rama Rai, who belonged to Orissa. 
collected in Bengali compilation of songs. These 
poets found it easier to adopt Brajabuli than 
Bengali, as the former had in it a profuse ad- 
mixture of Hindi which people of all parts of 
India spoke and understood. 

In an earlier chapter of our history we have 
noticed that rustic songs such as Mgnik Chandra 
Rajar -0 were full of common place words taken 
from life. The writers of these songs could not use 
Sanskritic expressions simply because they were 
illiterate ; but the pada literature of the Vai?navas 
abounds, as 1 have already said, in loose Prakrita 
forms not as a result of ignorance of Sanskrit, 
for these poets were almost all Sanskrit scholars, 
but because they had a finer power of perception 
as compared with the poets of the Sanskritic 
school and knew better than they, that the poetic 
vision must be supplied from life and not from 


classical studies alone, 
over, from the living 

They drew richly, more- 
fountain of love that was 

before them in the ecstasies of Chaitanya's divine 


As in style of composition, so in their descrip- 
tions of social life, the same spirit of freedom 
dominates. In the poetic literature of the Hindus, 
the fidelity of woman 1ms always formed the loftiest 
theme and has naturally supplied the highest 
poetic inspiration. ButVai?nava literature glories 
in Radha who breaks the sacred ties of domestic 
life and walks in the unrestrained path of freedom 
from all social bondage. How could a society so 
rigidly fastidious in point of woman's honour ad- 
mire Radha and allow her such an elevated 
place in their literature 1 The answer is a very 
simple one Radha, as has been already said, is a 
religious symbol a typification of the free wor- 
ship offered by the human soul to God In Bengali 
songs the spiritual significance of this svmbol has 
been made apparent by associations with Chaitanya 
Deva Radha having been lepresented in them 
as the very spirit of God-realisation manifested 
by the great devotee. 

Besides, viewed in a spiritual light, domestic 
relationship has been given a greatly elevated 
place in the literature of the Vaisnavas. In the 
parent, in the child, in the friend and in all 
around us, it is the same benign hand that the 
Vaisnavas mark, offering love and unsolicited 
service to us Domestic ties are therefore sacred 
to them. Their literature is a history of this all- 
sacrificing disinterested love, 

The fasti- 
Socity and 

ship given 
a high 


i return. 

The collec- 
tion of 



Nothing in return is its motto. The flower 
that defuses its sweet scent does not want any 
return, nor do the rays of the sun that warm you, 
nor the air which you breathe without which you 
cannot live for a moment, and all this represents 
the sort of love which a real lover must have 
for the world. Those who want return in love and 
consider it a marketable commodity arc not privi- 
leged to have access into the pada literature of 
the Vaisnavas. When poor Radha was dying 
being forsaken by Krisna, she tells Vrinda " Say no 
cruel words to him. His face beautiful as the 
moon will turn pale, if you* use rude words. My 
'heart breaks at the thought of it." Yet no one 
could be more cruel than was Krina to Radha ! 
This may be denominated mere sentimentalism and 
be unacceptable to the materialistic mind. But the 
Vai?havas aspire to pnirtiMng an absolutely resign- 
ed love in life, whit h ias unnumbered woes to 
poison it unless we see < \ rv thing in the spirit of 
such love. 

Of the 1 collections of padas by the Vai?nava- 
masters the mobt bulky is reported to be Pada- 
samudra, compiled by Manohara Das in the middle 
of the 1 6th century. It is said to contain 15000 
padas. This vast collection has not yet seen the 
light and the only manuscript-copy of the work of 
which \ve have heard, was with the late Haradhana 
Bhaktinidhi of Vadanganja in the district of Hughli. 
He used to send me songs copied from the work now 
and then, but since his death I have not been able to 
trace the Ms. The next collection Padamrita- 
Samudra was made by Radha Mohona Thakur 
grandson of rinivas 'Acharyja towards the em 


of the i6th century. The learned compiler affixed 
Sanskrit annotations to the Bengali padas in his 
collection thereby showing great scholarship. The 
annotations are named as the Mahabhavanusari- 
tika. There are many smaller collections some 
of which enjoy great popularity, such as Padakalpa- 

latika by Goura Mohana Das, Gita Chintamani, by 

TT - A/,, ,1 /- ^.i 11 i XT r 

Han Vallabha, Gita Chandrodaya by Naranan 

Chakravarti, Pada Chintamafiimala by Prasfida Das, 
Rasamanjarl by Pitamvara Das, Lila Samudra, 
Padarnavasaravali, Gita Kalpalatika and other 
works by unknown compilers. 

But we have not yet named the collection which 
is the best of them all, and deservedly enjoyes the 
greatest popularity. It is Padakalpataru by Vais- 
riava Das. Vai?hava Das, lit. servant of the 
Vaishavas, is the title which the compiler adopted 
in token of humility. His name was Gakulananda 
Sen ai,d he was a Vaidya by caste. He was an 
inhabitant of Tena Vaidyapura in the district of 
Burdwan and he compiled his work early in the 
1 8th century. 

It would be difficult to recover Padasamudra 
which is by far the greatest collection of the Vais- 
nava songs. Of the rest Padamptasamudra by 
Radha Mohon Thakur is a much smaller collection 
than Padakalpataru ; but the compiler has inserted 
in it more than 400 padas composed by himself 
vvhice is too large a number to find place in the 
collection if we consider their poetic excellence, 
In the larger collection by Vaisnava Das we find 
only 27 padas of his own and these he was bound 
to insert as preliminary padas in honour of the 





A classi. 
fication of 

the finer 



account of 

great Vainava masters. Pada Chintgmani though 
a very small collection is a singularly line one 
containing 351 padas. The only defect of this 
work lies in the anxiety of the compiler to select 
padas whii'h please the ear in preference to those 
which appeal to the heart. 

The- Padakalpataru is a collection of 3,101 
padas and is divided into four akhs or Chapters. 
The first chapter contains 1 1 pallavas or sub- 
chapters. The number of padas in them is 265. 
The second chapter has 24 pallavas with 351 padas. 
The third has 31 pallavas with 965 padas and the 
fourth chapter ^pallavas and with 152 padas. The 
classification is made in the order in which emo- 
tions ^row and develop in the? heart. The subtlety 
and fineness of this classification will interest the 
student of Psychology Though the compiler has 
followed the rules of rhetoric in the classification 
of the songs, the songs themselves are not directed 
by rhetoric, but come from the heart of the 
poets direct and appeal to the heart of the readers. 

In the preliminary account given by Vaisriava 
Das in his Padakalpataru we find the following 
lines . 

* " In the line of rlniv5s Acharyya was born 
Rfidha Mohana Thskur. Who can describe the noble 
qualities that he possessed. He was a second 



incarnation of irniv!is Acbryya and his heart 
was the true home of love for Chaitanya. Rgdha 
Mohana Thakur compiled a collection of padas 
known as Padamritasamudra (a song-ocean of 
nector) I used to sing the padas from that work 
and was greatly interested in them. 1 travelled in 
various countries and collected other padas includ- 
ing those found in the Padamritasamudra in my 
work. He was my model and I compiled my book- 
after his work and named it Padakalpataru. " 

Pada No. 3,031. Padakalpataru. 

Supplementary Notes 



did not 

the Vaisfia- 
va society. 

The idea of 


The Bud. 


Chaitanya Deva himself was not the organiser 
of the Vaisnava community that afterwards sprang 
up in Bengal. In fact it was not his mission to 
make codes and regulations for the guidance 
of a small community. He spoke for all men, 
lived for all men, and lost in the love of God as he 
was, he was not at all actuated by any desire of a 
secular kind, to establish a community and claim 
the glory of being its founder. But a great idea 
the idea of equality and freedom was put into a 
stereotyped and orthodox society. The Chandals 
and the Farias felt that they were no heriditary 
bondsmen ; the udras felt that the Brahmins were 
not the only souls privileged to interpret the truths 
of religion. Freeing themselves from the iron grip 
of Brahmanic rule and the trammels of monastic 
codes, the people of all castes gave quick response 
to the call from the new order that was being 
formed. In the Buddhistic age fallen women and 
men who had lost their caste, flocked to the sanctuary 
of the viharas and shaving their heads as a sign of 
penitence became monks and nuns. On the re- 
vival of Hinduism the portals of society were 
closed against this class of people and they had 
no locus standt in the land of their birth, after the 



fall of the Buddhistic monasteries. These men and 
women heard of the great idea of universal love 
preached by the Vaisnavas who had raised the 
flag of equality for all men and they quickly res- 
ponded to the call. Chaitanya Deva lived at Puri 
for the last 18 years of his life, and all this time 
he dwelt on man's relation to God and showed the 
power and beauty of the Divine grace, by his 
own life and example. In Khardaii and nntipur, 
however, Nityananda and Advaitachaiyya initiated 
a great movement for organising the Vaisriava 
community on a new basis. The place is still 
pointed out at Khardah where 1200 Nadas or 
shaven men and 1300 Nadies or shaven women 
the Buddhist Bhik$us and Bhik?unies came to the 
great Vainava apostle Nityananda and surrendered 
themselves to him. He took them into his new 
order. So glad were these people at being admit- 
ted to the new order, that they have since held a 
me/a at Khardah every year in commemoration of 
the event. Nityananda is justly called patita 
pavana or " a friend of the fallen " owing to his 
sympathetic attitude towards the out-castes. The 
fallen women of Hindu society also, against whom 
it has always closed its gate with iron bars, found 
a place in the Vainava community. Widow 
marriage is allowed amongst the lay Vai$navas, 
who override all considerations of caste; in fact 
it is forbidden to ask a Vaisnava to what caste he 
had belonged before he accepted the Vai?nava faith. 
With what indignation the Hindu society looked 
upon this movement maybe seen from the following 
slokas in Tantraratnfikar. Vatuka Bhairava asked 
Ganadeva if the great demon Tripurasura killed by 


da and 






The tota 
of the old 



and his 
nions as in- 
of the De- 
mon Tri- 

iva was altogether annihilated or still lived in the 
form of a spirit, Ganadeva answered. 

*"The great demon Tripurasura being killed by 
^iva reduced himself into three parts in great rage, 
and devised many plans for the overthrow of 
the Qaiva religion, and for misguiding the people 
and taking vengence on the followers of Civa. 
The first part appeared in the womb of (pachl 
Devi and came into the world as Chaitanya ; 
the second part was incarnated in Nityananda 
who weilded a great power and the third 
as Advaita. Assuming these three forms this 
lord of the demons came to earth in the Kali Yuga 
and deluded the world by teaching effeminacy." 
effeminacy because Chaitanya Deva did not re- 
cognise such cruel rites in religion as human or 
animal sacrifices, but taught that one should know 
his sins and in a truly penitent spirit approach his 
God with tears ' The Vainavas abstained from 
fish and meat altogether and from all intoxicating 


drugs and liquors ; they were thus effeminate in 
the eyes of those who drank wine, took ganjs, ate 
all kinds of meat and were followers of kapaltks 
those dreadful people who could perpetrate the 
most heinous crimes without a blush. 

The lav Vaisnavas as a retort composed slokas An incar- 
i ^ - w , j - nation of 

to prove that Chaitanya was Visnu incarnated in God. 

the flesh and interpolated them in the manuscripts of 
the Vamana Purana, the Vayu Pu'-ana, the Naradiya 
Purana, the Bhovisya Purana, the Matsya Purana, the 
Vihu Jamala, the Garuda Purana, the Visnu Purana, 
the Kurma Purana, the Devi Purana, the Skanda 
Puiana, the Valmiki Purana, the Nrisinha Pmana, 
and in the Mahabharata. These slokas signify in 
the form of a prophecy that God will be incarnated 
in Chaitanya Deva in kali yuga 

The activity with which the Vaisnavas proceed- 
ed with their task of reforming society was re- 
markable. There is no sphere of Bengali life 
which does not bear the stamp of their influence. 
At early dawn in the winter-months every village 
in Bengal resounds with the kirtans of a class of 
Vaisnavas called the Vairagies who visit every 
house, from the hut of the rustic to the palace 
of the Raja, calling upon all to rise from their 
bed and offer thanks to God, as another day 
his dawned. Am >ngst the Tipras, a hill-tribe 
living in the hills of Tippera, who speak broken 
Bengali, I found in circulation such learned Vais- 
nava woiks as the Chaitanya Charitamrita and the 
Chaitanya Bliagavata. Many of these men wear 
tilak marks lik^ the Vaisnavas, and the Manipurians 
are all zealous followers of the creed oi Chaitanya 



The title 


in the 

Deva. The people of Orissa are more devoted 
followers of Chaitanya Deva than even the Ben- 
galees. The Vai?navas were anxious to do away 
with the pride of caste altogether. The Pada- 
kartfis and other authors amongst the Vai?navas 
have adopted the title of Das or servant in the place 
of their family surnames as a mark of humility. 
This word Dfis in the orthodox society of Bengal is 
exclusively used by castes inferior to the Brahmins. 
But in the Vaisnava literature all good Brahmins, 
not to speak of the inferior castes, delight in calling 
themselves 'Das 1 and thereby eliminate the titles 
indicating their family status; this has often made it 
exceedingly difficult for us to find out to what caste 
or family a certain author amongst the Vasinavas 

The whole of the old Bengali literature sub- 
sequent to Chaitanya Deva bears the mark of the 
influence of the Vaisriavas. The original Ramayana 
by Krittivas is lost, but from fragmentary manus- 
cripts of the 1 6th century that have come to hand, 
we may surmise that the poet conformed to the 
original epic of Valmiki though he considerably 
abridged it ; the interpolating hands of later writers 
are, however, distinctly traceable in the subsequent 
manuscripts and in the modernised version of the 
work which is found in the market. In this book 
we find the Rak?asas or demons metamorphosed 
into saints and Vai?navas. In the whole range of 
our literature we can scarcely find a more curious 
matter than this transformation by Vai?nava poets 
of thf Raksasas of the Ixamayaria, In the original 
epic of Valmiki they are great warriors,- fighting 
to the last on the bai tie-field with unflinching 


heroism. But in the modern editions of Krittivasa's 
Ramayaria we frequently meet a great Rak$asa 
on the battle field with the spirit of a devout 
Vai$nava; he sees in Rama an incarnation of 
God, and when such a feeling dominates in his 
mind the battle field is naturally transformed 
into a pulpit and sermons and hymns become 
the order of the day. Viravahu a Rak|asa, son 
of Ravana has come to fight with Rfima in the 
batlle field. Here is the description : * " From the 
back of the elephant Viravahu beholds Rama. 
His human form with dark blue complexion 
the colour that we find in a fresh tuft of grass 
is simply a mask to conceal his divinity. His locks 
hang in beautiful curls and his forehead is large. 
His demeanour is quiet and he is kind to all. The 
marks of *flSf (flag), TO (thunder-bolt), and of 
!$*| (hook) indicative of divine power are 
distinct in his person. The bow in his hand is of 




cf firor i 



Tarani & 

wonderful structure, and in all parts of his body 
are visible the marks of the great God Visnu. On 
seeing these signs Viravahu was convinced that 
Rama was Visnu himself; he threw away the bow 
from his hand and coming down from Ms> elephant 
prostrated himself with closed palms before Rama 
and said in great humility, ' I am a poor being, 
O Lord, have rm rcy on me. All praise be to thee 
O Rama the refuge of the world. Thou that art 
truthful and master of thy passions, an incarna- 
tion of Vi?hu, to thee I make my obeisance. Thou 
art the fiist principle of the universe and in thee 
rests the phenomenal world. The Gods of the 
Trinity form a part of thee. The Vrdas Sama, Rika, 
Yaju and Atharva have all originated from thee, 
O Lord. It is not in my power to desciibe thy 
infinite attributes." 

Tarani Sen, another Rak?asa warrior comes 
with the tllak marks ami Rama's name stamped all 
over his body like a true Vai?nava; and even the 
great Ravana addressed Rama, his foe, with closed 
palms,* " I have committed endless sins ; pardon me, 


Ramayanaby Krittivasa. 


R I may ana b) Krittivasa. 


Lord/' This may look odd ; but one thing ought 
to be borne in mind in order to understand the 
situation. Faith in the incarnation of God was 
the dominant idea of that age in Bengal. If it 
were possible for us to realise the psychological 
condition of a soul who fervently believed that the 
person before him was God himself, God who 
created the universe the all merciful divinity in 
human flesh brfoie him what else could he do than 
sinor his praises in devout worship as Viravahu or 
Tarani Sen did. In Bengal the peoples' mind at 
the time was full of the God-man Chaiianya who 
had passed away like a heavenly vision. Jagai, 
MaJhai, Bhilapantha, and Naroji, great moral 
wrecks who oald not resist the sp ;11 ot hi> faith 
and became converts to thi* creed of love, gave 
shape to the character of the Kaksasas of the 
Ra nayana and the old mythology revived by a new 
touch of living histoiy. The infidels figured as 
demons, and the battle-field was tiansformed into 
the scene of their reformation. The great person- 
ality of Chaitanya with his overflowing faith in 
God figured as the incarnation of Visnu and 
modelled the Rama of old Valmiki in a new shape. 
Thus the material of the epic was curiously recast to 
form a new page ot history, and all the incongruities 
and oddities which may strike us, become clear 
when we understand why the Ramayana in this garb 
attracted the people of Bengal, the change being 
form a battle-field to the Sankritana ground, from 
animosity to love, from fiction toTeality. 

In the songs of Uma which form a part of akta 
literature, we find one poet* describing her as 

* Rama Prasada Sen. 

The infl. 

dels as 
and Rama 
as Chai- 


Vahnava going to gostha or the meadows to tend the cows. 
influence -,, . , A . . . . .. . . . 

In &kta A nis feature is evidently attributed to her in imita- 

Literature. tion of Kris " a ' s gostha ; the tender sentiments 
of Ya^oda are not unoften attributed to Menaka, 
mother of Uma in the literature of the Cgklas. 

We find the iva of the Vedas transformed into 
an altogether different God in the Puranas. New 
features were added to his character which belong, 
ed to Buddha and thus he was represented in a 
light which satisfied the requirements of a particular 
period when Buddhistic idt-as predominated. This 
process of continually remodelling the gods in ac- 
cordance with the demands of paiticular epochs of 
Indian religious history, continues up to the present 
day, and it is this genius of the people of Bengal for 
giving a shape to the hoary gods of the Hindu- 
pantheon suitable to the tastes of the times, that 
keeps up a perennial flow of inspiration derived 
from the particular form of religion that may be 
prevalent at the time. iva himself takes on the 
Vainava stamp in some of the songs composed 
in his honour after the advent of Chaitanya Deva. 
We quote a song below to illustrate this : 

* " iva losing all consciousness by taking drugs, 
dances in the company of ghosts. His horn 

An old song of Civa* 


sweetly sounds the name of Krigna. *Dhusturfi 
flowers adorn his ears; and his eyes have a mad 
look from taking Dhustura drug ; his robe of tiger- 
skin is falling off from him." 

This dance of iva is quite distinct from the 
destructive dance of the Rudra Deva of the Vedas. 
The dancing described in this song reminds us 
rather of the dance of Chaitanya Deva in his 
spiritual ecstasy. The look of madness, the 
repeating of Krisna's name, the loose robes, the 
company of low-caste people who joined in his 
processions, as represented by the ghosts of Civa, 
all significantly point to the Vai^nava influence, 
without which this dance of iva becomes mean- 
ingless ; it is a dance in spiritual ecstasy and 
should not be confounded with the dance of the 
. destroyer of the universe that <iva originally was. 
iva's love for drugs in this song symbolises the 
excess of emotion verging on madness which 
characterizes the Vaisnava dance in a Sankirtana 

Thus we see that Vaisnavism influenced the 
soci' ty of Bengal in all its different sections ; 
neither aktas nor aivas could resist that influ- 
ence. The prevailing creeds strengthened them- 
s^lves by assirniUtion of the attractive features of 
their more successful rival, such as has gone on 
from the beginning in Hindu society. 

During the Pauranic renaissance Bengali litera- Theapolo. 
ture had not yet reached the stage when scholars vernacular 
cou'd undertake writing in that language without authors* 

Datura fastuosa. 


some sort of apology The activities of those 
who translated Sanskrit works into Bengali were 
employed in diverse channels, and works of great 
literary merit and scholarly patience had been 
already ptoduced in our tongue ; but in the vast 
literature belonging to the Pamanic Renaissance 
we scarcely come across one work in which its 
author does not refer to a command from a god 
to undertake a work in Bengali communicated 
to him in a dream, as if the stigma of such a 
humble undei taking would be removed by attri- 
buting it to divine inspiration The authors of 
Dharma Mangala specially are fond of describing 
such dreams. In one of these the god Dharma is 
said not only to have directed its author to under- 
take a Bengali poem in his honour but to have 
condescended so far as to supply him with the ink, 
pen and paper for the purpose. The authors seem 
to have been always in great apprehension of 
what people might say of their adoption of the 
popular dialect for writing books ; and in their 
dreams, we feel this throbbing pulse of fear, and 
an anxiety to prove to their honest, god-fearing 
and credulous countrymen that they had only acted 
undrr heavenly commands, which they were bound 
to obey. 

Vaishava literature is free from such preten- 
sions. No writer amongst the Vaignavas refers 
to dreams. Bengali language was no patois to 
them. The language in which Chaitanya spoke, 
in Which in yet earlier times Chandidas had 
u vvr *i tten was sacred in their eyes. Some of the 

lect to the Vai?nava works in Bengali such as the Padamrita- 
Valsnavas. . . ^ . . T , , _. . 

samudra bv ynnivgs Ach^ryva and Lhaitanya 


Charitamfitaby KrisftaDas Kaviraja have appended 
to them scholarly Sanskrit annotations, and Nara- 
hari Chakravarti in his Bhaktiratnakara quotes 
Bengali verses from the works of the preceding 
writers as authority. Bengali was thus raised to 
the same literary status by the Vai?navas as the 
Pali language was by the Buddhists, and no apology 
is put forward by renowned Sanskrit scholars such 
as Kri?na Das Kaviraja, and Narahari Chakravarti, 
for adopting Bengali as their vehicle in conveying 
the loftiest thoughts on Vedanta Philosophy and 
other serious subjects. 

Bengal was during this period the scene of 
animated disputes between (Jaktas and Vai?fiavas. 
The Vaisnavas would not name the Java flower 
because it was the favourite of Kali, the goddess 
of the aktas. They called it od. The word Kali, 
which also means ink, they would not use as it was 
the name of the goddess ; they coined the word 
sahai to signify ink. The (paktas, on the other 
hand, would vilify the Vaisnavas by all means 
that lay in their power. Narottama Vilas has a 
passage describing how the (paktas went to the 
Kali's temple and prayed that she might kill the 
followers of Chaitanya Deva that very night. 
When the great Narottama Das died, a body of 
(paktas followed his bier clapping and hissing as a 
sign of their contempt for the illustrious dead. 
Here is a satirical poem written by a akta poet 
about the followers of Chaitanya Deva. 

*" What a set of evil doers has God created in 
these fools of pretenders who call themselves 



the Caktas 
and the 


A satire 
against the 



the followers of Chaitanya ! They say * O tongue, 
take the name of Chaitanya ' and this is their 
prayer. When they name Nityananda they roll 
in the dust to signify their devotion. In the name 
of Chaitanya they call upon 36 castes to dine 
in the same place ; and the pariah, the washerman, 
the oilman and the kotal, all sit down cheerfully 
to dinner without observing any distinction of 
castes. They cannot bear to see a Vela leaf or a. 
Java flower, the every sight throws them into hyste- 
rical fits. If they hear the word Kali uttered by 
any one they shut their ears with their hands. 
They pay one rupee and four annas to a Vaighava 
priest and marry a widow with children ; and in 
their community a Mahomedan enjoys precedence 
in regard to caste being regarded as kulin \ Their 
prayer is ' Praise be to Kri?na, Crlnivas, Vidyapati 
and Nitai Das ' and they all have the conceit of 

TO Cllf <5t* **R1, *U3 fFFTl, TOtt TO 

fifl 'rftfir ^ tife? 

ClPf T^ 

, firotnfr, 


being profound scholars. Some of them very 
learnedly agree that the shrine of Vadarika is good 
for nothing; it is worth a kachu (Arum Colocasid)" 

The above satire levels itself at three points of 
Vainavism with which the orthodox community 
was particularly disgusted ; the first is the upsetting 
of the rules of caste, the second is remarriage of 
widows in the lower ranks of the Vaisnavas ; the 
third is their utter disregard for (gastric ordinances, 
and disownment of the sanctity of shrines. 

The Vaisnava singers took the country by The 
surprise by their composition of the Manoharsahi 
tune. For pathetic chant of tender sentiments 
and for cadence and soul-stirring effects, the 
Manoharsghi tune is without its rival in the Indian 
musical system. As in their ways and views of 
life the Vai?navas broke down the conventions of 
ages and displayed originality and freedom, so 
in thier kirtana songs they rejected the time- 
honoured musical tunes and modes which were so 
greatly favoured by the leading singers of fashion* 
able society, and introduced a new tune the 
Manoharsahi full of strange modulations, which 
sounds like a cry from the depths of the soul and 
appeals to the heart by its tender wail, bringing 
tears to the eyes of the hearers often without 
words. This is the tune adopted in the Vai?nava 
kirtanas where the singers* voice set at naught the 
hard and fast rules of the stereotyped six Ragas 
and thirty six Raginies of Indian music and flowed 


TOfiwtw wm TOR 

From a poem by 


into new forms. It delights the ear and overflows 
The the heart with soft emotions like the tender wail 
and his of the soul of woman uttered in song and expressed 
party. j n h eaven jy pathos. The kirtaniya or head- 
binger stands in the midst of his party and describes, 
for instance, the Mathur or the story of Kri?na 
deserting Vrindavana ; his voice trembles as a 
creeper trembles in the breeze, and he paints in 
words set to music how the trees of the Vrinda 
groves looked as if they wept, being wet with 
dews ; how being unable to follow Krifria, as 
their roots were fixed to the soil, they moved 
with their boughs in the direction of Mathura ; how 
the cows, stood dumb as if they were painted on 
the air with tears flowing from their eyes, and did 
not graze ; how the murmurs of the Jumna 
sounded like a deep anthem that rent the heart. 
The shepherd-god left for ever the Vrinda groves, 
reducing it to a scene of desolation and making 
his loves and games a tragedy of the deepest 
woe. When the master-singer sings, the musicians 
of his party stop playing, and other singers 
wait for the direction of their leader which 
is often intimated by a wave of the hand ; even 
the sweet violin stops when the master-singer 
alone holds the audience spell-bound and captivates 
their souls by singing the padas of the old masters. 
When a particular stage is arrived at he gives a 
signal and his party catches the last line of the 
song and resumes the music. Thus the master- 
singer with intervals of music in chorus resumes 
the thread of his tale, stage by stage, and brings to 
completion the whole episode of a story from the 


In a work called Chaitanya Chandrodaya 
Kaumudi written by Prema Das about the year 
1715 A.D., it is related that king Pratapa Rudra of 
Orissa was very much moved by the kirtana songs 
sung by the sankirtana party of Chaitanya Deva. 
In reply to a question put by that monarch, Gopi 
Nsth Acharyya told him that kirtana songs origin- 
ated with Chaitanya Deva. 

We are not, however, prepared to accept this 
statement as true. Long before Chaitanya Deva, 
in the Court of King Laksmana Sen, some favourite 
tunes of Bengali kirtana were adopted for singing 
the songs of the poet Jaya Deva, and latterly the 
songs of Chandi Das and Vidyapati began to be 
sung in some of the best modes of Manohara Sahi 
kirtana. These poets had preceded Chaitanya 
Deva by nearly a hundred years. 

But the Bengali kirtana songs and some of the 
popular tunes in which they are sung, were, we 
believe, of an yet earlier origin. They were started 
by the singers of the glories of king Mahipal in the 
loth century and contributed to by the Buddhist 
Mahayanists who had already developed the 
Bhakti-cult. Mahamahopadhyaya HaraPrasadaastri 
says on this head " The songs of Mahipal have 
already been spoken of. Buddhist songs in Bengal 
became the fashion of the day. This was, I believe, 
the begining of kirtana songs. Kri$nacharyya or 
Kahna wrote his celebrated Dohas, his songs and 
commentaries about this period. There were 
several writers of Dohas and Sabajiya sect of 
Buddhism used to sing Buddhist songs in Bengali 
throughout the country. Lui, Kukkuri, Birna, 
Gan^ari, Caitela, Bhfisukru, KahnS, Dombi, Mohinta, 


origin of 

the kirtana 

songs a 



Saraha, Dheguna, Santi, Bhade, Tandaka, Ranta, 
Kankana, Jayananda, Dhamma and Savara sang 
kirtana songs to the willing ears of Bengali 
peasants and Bengali artisans."* 

Though we would thus admit the priority of the 
claims of the Buddhists regarding the invention of 
some of the tunes of kirtana songs, yet there is no 
doubt that these were restricted to a very narrow 
circle of men. The popularity and development 
of kirtana in all its charming forms, especially in 
the composition of the Manohara Sahi tune, belong- 
ed undoubtedly to the Vainavas. Manohara Sahi 
rapidly attained a luxuriant growth under the 
fostering attention paid to it by the followers of 
Chaitanya Deva. So we need not wonder that in 
the popular notion the credit of oiiginating kirtana 
is ascribed to them. 

We shall here proceed to give a brief history of 
kirtana in Bengal. 

There are four kinds of kirtana. i. Gadana- 
Hati 2. Reheti. 3. Mandarani, 4. Manohara Sahi. 

The names are taken from those of the places 
in which particular kirtanas originated and flourish- 
ed. Gadana Hat is in the district of Maldah, 
Reneti in Midnapur, Mandaran in Katak and 
Manohara Sahi is a Perganna in the district of 

Manohara Sahi was created by a clever com- 
bination of the different tunes of the three other 
kinds of kirtana ; it was therefore a later growth* 
The composition produced a singular melody and 

* Preface to Ram Charita by Sandhyakara Nandi p. 12, 


thus Manohara Sahi quickly surpassed the rest and 
caught the popular fancy. The four recognised 
centres of Manohara Sahi kirtana are the villages 
Kandra and Teora, in Burdvvan, Manadala in 
Birbhum, and Tena in Mursidsbad. It is believed 
that a musician named Ganga Narayan Chakravarti, 
a Vaisnava of Teora, invented the Manohara Sahi 
by a skilful manipulation of the different tunes in 
which kirtana songs were sung at his time and 
that latterly Mangala Thakur, a disciple of Chaitanya 
Deva's companion Gadadhara contributed to its 
development and generally improved it. 

Here is a list of some of the celebrated singers 
of Manaharsahi kirtana (from the I5th century 
down to our own times). 

i. Ganga Narayan Chakravarti an inhabitant of Teora (Burdwan) 

a. Vadana Chand Thakura \ 

3. Chandra Shekhera Thakura / 

4. Shamananda Thakura ( ,. 1r , , , 

5. Pulina Chanda Thakura > of Kandra (Burdwan). 
6 Hari Lala Thakura I 

7. Vamshi Das Thakura ) 

8. Nimai Chakravarti ... of Payer (Birbhum). 
Q. Hara Dhana Das "> f A , , 

10. Dina Doyal Das j of Mereta 

1 1. Ramananda Mitra ") r , ^ , 
2. Rasik Lai Mitra j of Ma y na Dal 

13. Vanamali Thakura ... of Kandra (Burdwan). 

14. Krishna Kanta Das ... of Panch Thupi (Muridabad). 

15. Damudar Kundu ... of Kandi (Mursidabad). 

16. Krishna Han Hazra ) r D u r /\K -j u j\ 

17. Krishna Doyal Chandra j of Panthuh (Murs.dabad). 

18. Rama Baneriea > f . , . ,,. ., , , N 

19. Mahananda Mazumder I of Smhan ( M ^sidabad). 

20. Swarupa Lai Thakura ... of Sati (Mursidabad). 

21. Viswarupa Goswami ... of Soanipur (Mursidabad). 

22. Gopal Das This singer intro - 

duced the fashion now in 
vogue of adding easy Bengali 
verses to explain the deeper 
meaning of the Vaisnava 
songs, especially those in 
Brajabuli which is hard for 
the people to understand. 
The additions are cal)ecl 


Akhara (lit. alphabet) in the 
popular language, and Gopal 
Das was known as " Akharia 
Gopal " for this innovation of Batipur (Mursidabad). 

23. Gopal Chakravarti ... of Paraj (Mursidabad). 

24. Gopi Babaji ...of Kota (Mursidabad). 

25. Nitai Das ... .of Tantipara (Birbhum). 

26. Nanda Das ... -. of Maro (Birbhum). 

27. Anuragi Das ... ... of Dakhinkhanda Mursidabad. 

28. Sujan Mallik ... ... Viranpur (Mursidabad). 

29 Krishna Kishore Sarkar .. Kenchotali (Nadia). 

30. Rusik Das (living) son of 

Anuragi Das (No. 27) ... of Dakhinkanda Mursidabad. 

31. Sudha Krishna Mitra (living) ... of Maisa Dal (Birbhum). 

32. Pandit Adwait Das Babaji 

(living) ... ... Kasimba/ar. 

33. Siva Kirtaniya (living) ... of Kushthia (Nadia). 

Of the living klrtaniyas three are admittedly 
superior to the rest. Their names in order of 
merit may be thus put. I. Pandit Adwaita Das 
Babaji of Kasimbazar. II. ivu Kirtaniya of 
Ku$thia. III. Rasika Das of Dakfinkhanda 

Klrtantyfi. * heard three years ago the kirtana songs of ivu 

kirtaniya, one of the three great singers mentioned 
above. He sang one of those celestial songs which 
are inspired by deep love, (pivu himself was over- 
powered with emotion when he described Mathur ; 
his voice with its tender modulations and inimitable 
wail touched the heart of the audience, as his own 
heart was touched. We heard the songs in the house 
of Mr. G. N. Tagore, Calcutta, but the audience felt 
themselves to be in the Vrinda groves all the while, 
whither ivu had translated them, by calling up a 
perfect vision of the deserted scenes of the shrine. 

T The kirtana songs were once a madness in 

gingers Bengal, and even now they carry great favour with 

a certain section of our community. The singers 

are generally acquainted with scholarly Vaifnava 


works. They commit to memory most of the 
padas of the Vaisnava-masters and it is the people 
of this class who have been supplying the noblest 
ideas of self-sacrificing love to rural Bengal for 
more than 350 years. 

In a previous chapter I referred to the kathakas 
or professional narrators of stories. It is impos- 
sible to exaggerate the great influence which they 
wield over the masses. They narrate stories in 
the vernacular, from the Bhagavata, the Rfimayana, 
and the Mahabharataand intersperse their narration 
with songs which heighten the effect of their des- 
cription. The deep religious ideas which underlie 
the stories are discussed at intervals by the kathaka 
and no one can be successful in this profession un- 
less he is endowed with oratory, a sweet voice, and 
the power of raising tender emotions in the mind 
of his audience. We can trace the custom of such 
narration as early as the times of the Ramayana ; 
it may be even earlier ; we find Valmiki who 
lived many thousand years ago refer to a class 
of people whose avocation it was to narrate stories 
(See Ayodhya kanda, Chap. 69.) ; but the manner in 
which the modern kathakas deliver stories with 
the object of imparting religious instructions and 
inspiring devotional sentiments in Bengal is derived 
from the Vaisnavas. There are formulae which every 
kathaka has to get by heart, set passages describ- 
ing not only iva, Lak?mi, Vifftu, Krina, and 
other deities, but also describing a town, a battlefield, 
morning, noon and night and many other subjects 
which incidentally occur in the course of the 
narration of a story. These set passages are com- 
posed in Sanskritic Bengali with a remarkable 





jingle of consonances the effect of which is quite 
extraordinary. I quote here some of these 

Description of a dark night. 

* " It is the depth of night ; an impenetrable 
darkness pervades all objects, the lily droops, and 
the fragrance of the kumuda flower delights us, the 
sound of beetles rise from the earth , the birds 
are silent for a time and a network of stars is 
spread over the firmament. The woman who 
secretly goes to meet her lover is awe-struck in 
this thick darkness, and, losing her way, stops at 
every step and proceeds with difficulty ; in the deep 
shade of the forest move the tiger, the bear and 
other ferocious animals in search of prey. At 
such quarter of the night, the cries of the jackals 
break the slumbers of lovers who wake for a 
moment to listen, and again fall asleep in each 
other's arms." 



The descriptions are often highly poetic, and 
produce almost a pictorial effect on the mind. 
Thus in the description of noon* " The buffaloes 
and bears dipping themselves in a pool doze with 
half-closed eyes " or in that of a cloudy day ; f 
" The eastern sky is radiant with the bow of Indra, 
(the rainbow), it appears as if the god himself 
comes riding on his elephant the clouds, and 
twanging his great bow. A shooting light dazzles 
the eye as his thunder falls, the storm roars and 
the terrible sound frightens the traveller, the birds 
in great alarm flock around the trees and raise a 
confused chatter" and in similar descriptions pictures 
of Indian scenes with which we are all familiar are 
instantly recalled to the mind. 

But the descriptions of gods by far excel the 
rest and possess a peculiar charm with the Hindus. 
The words are so cleverly strung together as to 
create visions of sublimity and beauty by asso- 

I have a book of formulae supplied to me by a 
kathaka, in which I find set passages on the follow- 
ing subjects. 


A cloudy 


A short 


of the 


i. A city. 2. Noon day. 3. Morning. 
4. Night. 5. A cloudy day, 6. Woman's 
beauty. 7. The sage Narada. 8. Vinu. 9. Rfcma 
10 Lak^mana. n. iva. 12. Kali. 13. Sarasvatl. 
14. Laksmi. 15. A forest. 16. War. 17. Bhagavatl. 

Curiously enough these set passages though 
written in a highly artistic and poetic style are in 
prose and they are sung as if they were songs. 
The effect is not at all marred by the prose-forms 
in which they are couched. Being set to a chant, 
they sound highly poetic and do not at all jar on 
the ear. 

I shall here attempt at giving a short history of 
some of the most illustrious kathakas* 

We have not been able to gather much infor- 
mation on this head. We, however, know that Rama 
Dhana iromahi was one of those princes amongst 
kathakas who could move the audience as they 
liked, so much so that occasionally enormous 
amounts of money were paid as gifts to him by 
rich parties who became spell-bound, as it were, by 
the power of his brilliant oration. He was an in- 
habitant of the village Sonamukhi in the district 
of Burdwan. He lived about 150 years ago. Gada- 
dhar iromani was his worthy contemporary and 
was an inhabitant of Govardafiga. DharanI 
Kathaka, a nephew of Rama Dhana iromarii, 
wielded an extraordinary influence over the 
masses, and especially over the women-folk of 
Bengal, half a century ago. It is said that he was 
so extraordinarily gifted, that from tragic tales 
which drew forth profuse tears from the audience, 
he could suddenly pass on to satire and comic 


subjects making the whole house burst into peals 
of laughter before the tears had dried in their eyes. 
Kri$fia Mohana (piromani of Kodalis in 24-Per- 
gannas was his great rival. Another kathaka of great 
renown who lived about this time was Cridhara 
Pathaka who contributed a large number of songs 
to the literature of Kathakata. 

To-day Ksetra Natha Chudamani of Bagbazar, 
enjoys the esteem and admiration of a large sec- 
tion of the Hindu community of Bengal. As a 
story-teller there is no kathaka now living that 
can approach him. His songs and highly poetic 
descriptions call up vivid pictures before the mind. 
Krisna-kathaka of Shampukur is a person of 
superior scholarship but as narrator of story he 
stands below Ksetra Chudamani. 

The kathakas of the old school were scholars, 
poets, and finished singers. The effect which 
their narration produced was wonderful. Born 
story-tellers as they were, their oration was 
coupled with power of music, the effect of all 
which was heightened by their command over 
language and their great scholarship. All this 
made them the most popular figures in Bengali- 
society and it is impossible to describe the hold 
which they had upon the women of our country. 
When their day's work was done, they would 
hasten in the evenings to hear the stories narra- 
ted by kathakas at the house of some one who was 
generally a man of means and of religious tem- 
perament. The stories inspired the minds of 
women by instances of the lofty sacrifice that Hindu 
wives have made for the sake of virtue, chastity 
and faith. In the case of great and illustrious 




and Drona. 

gods in 

kathakas noticed above, they paid little heed to the 
stereotyped passages in their description. They 
composed songs extempore and sang them accord- 
ing to the requirements of their story. 

As I have said, it was the Vaignavas to whom 
the kathas or stories owe the elegant form in 
which we at present find them. The Vaisnava 
goswamies or priests have up to the present day 
the monopoly of this profession. I shall here 
briefly narrate a story told by the Vaisnava kathakas 
to show the kind of moral and spiritual instruction 
which it is the aim of the kathakas to imprint on 
the minds of their audience which chiefly consist 
of the women-folk 

The story of Dhara and Drona. 

Parikslta asked what were the meritorious 
acts performed by Ya^ods, the mother of Kri?na 
for which the Lord of the universe condescended 
to become her son. 

Cuka Deva said in answer . 

At one time Civaand Vi?nu wanted to test the 
devotional feeling of their followers on the earth. 
Durg5, the wife of (piva, accompanied them. 

They came down on the earth in disguise : 
Vinu as a young man apparently very poor, iva 
as an old man bending under the burden of four- 
score years, and Durga as an old woman stricken 
with age and disease. 

They came to a village where a certain 

(merchant) was known for his great faith in the 

A Cresfhi. g a j va religion. He was a money-lender and had 

amassed immense wealth by this avocation. It was, 


noonday when no Hindu, however poor, would turn 
a guest away from his door if he wanted food. 
Visfiu entered the house when the money-lender 
was negotiating with a customer as to the percent- 
age of interest on a certain loan. The god applied to 
him for help saying that his father and mother both 
old and decrepit, were stricken with hunger, and 
wanted shelter and food at his house for the day. 
The Qresthi looked at him, and, without replying, 
went on talking on his business, till it was high 
time for dinner and he rose to leave Visfm now 
again asked him if he could give three persons food 
and shelter for the day. The (presthi did not deign 
to give any reply even to this, but as he passed 
into the inner appartments, dismissing all his men, 
he replied briefly saying that it was now high time 
to worship Civa, before which he never tasted 
any food, so it was a sin on his part to detain 
him by requests of a secular nature. Vinu came 
back to iva and related the story to him and to 
Durg, and they were both greatly mortified at 
this conduct of one whom they had believed to be 
a pious man and their devout follower. 

Vi?nu now led them to the western extremity of 
that village ; it was afternoon, a dense wood lay a 
before them, the trees of which glistened with the wood 
light of the western horizen ; the champaka and 
at act flowers peeped through small vistas, lying 
hidden in the shade of large acvatha and cimula 
trees which abounded there. There they espied a 
small hut, a straw-roofed mud-hovel, very neat 
and pleasant to look upon, lying in a sort of woody 
covert, ^unwilling as it were from shyness to show 
itself to 


Vi?nu led them on to the hut, through a 
jungly path wreathed with flowering plants 
that could not all have grown there naturally ; 
some tender hand must have tended them as ap- 
peared from the wet ground underneath proving 
A damsel the care with which they were watered. As they 
of sixteen. came to the door of the hut they saw a damsel of 
sixteen eyeing them with a look of curiosity. She 
was poorly dressed in a single sadi not long enough 
to cover her decently. Her profuse black hair fell 
in luxuriant curls down her back ; she was beautiful 
as a goddess, with timid eyes and a countenance 
the purity of which was like that one finds in a 
jessamine flower when it first opes its petals. She 
had a vermillion-mark on her forehead and a piece 
of thread was tied round her left wrist, both indi- 
cative of the sacred vows of wifehood. She came 
and though of a shy and quiet nature she was 
free from that excess of coyness which generally 
marks the Hindu wife. She asked in a soft mur- 
muring tone as to what the young man wanted. 
Vi?fiu said what he had said to the re?thi ; he 
wanted food and shelter for three persons for the 
day. The woman replied " My husband has gone 
out to beg alms and will return presently , in the 
meantime kindly wait here," "But where can we 
stop? You have a single hut and no seats, no 
articles even of every-day use. What have you to 
offer for our comfort, fatigued and worn out as we 
all are, specially my old parents ?" She showed a 
great anxiety to please and said, " O sirs, if at this 
late hour .of the day, you go away from my doors 
without tasting any food, all my virtue will be lost. 
I am poor, but I crave your indulgence ; pray wait 
here, my husband will be back quickly". 


She had no metal plate or any other article 
of every-day use. The leaves of cala trees gather, 
ed from the wood served as plate for the poor 
husband and wife, and they also made cups of 
those leaves for drinking water. Vi?nu and the 
other two deities sat down in the hut and the old 
people looked exhausted and fatigued, unable to 
speak as if their last hour had come. Vi?hu said 
" Look madam ! my parents will shortly die as 
appear from thier condition. You are a very poor 
woman ; if death occurs in this hut, it will put you 
to great inconvenience and trouble ; allow us to 
depart, I will carry them on my shoulders and seek 
another place." The damsel softly said "Dear sirs, 
stay here, it would be a greater sin to send away 
dying men from my house. What may befall me 
I don't care; but my present duty I cannot avoid ; 
the rest is in the hands of one who owns this 
house." Asked Vi?nu in wonder : <k You said it was 
your husband who lived with you here ; what 
other owner of the house is there ?" She replied 
" My husband has told me that Visnu, the Lord of 
the universe, is the owner of this house, as indeed 
he is of everything we see. We are here to carry 
out the wishes of the master and have no idea of 
our own happiness or misery." Vi?nu said * Have 
you not up till now taken any food ? It is a late 
hour/ She replied : ( My husband has gone to beg 
for al'ns, he will bring what Providence may grant. 
I shall cook the food and offer it to Vi$nu first ; 
then we shall reserve a portion for any guest that 
may visit our house, and what remains my husband 
will partake of and I shall eat what may be left in 
his plate." "So late an hour in the day and no 






the master 
of the 


food ! Don't you feel hungry ?" She only smiled 
sweetly at the query without saying anything. 
It was nearly evening and the husband had not 
yet returned. Vi?nu seemed to grow impatient 
and said that by detaining them in the place 
she was practically starving his dying parents 
to death. At these words the eyes of the damsel 
grew tearful ; with the leaves of cala trees formed 
into a sort of cup she brought a little water for 
them and poured it on their parched lips and looked 
at them with such an affectionate tenderness as 
seemed to soothe their very hearts and would have 
had a healing effect on them if they had really been 
what they seemed to be. Vi?nu said " It is evening 
now, I can stay no longer. I must go away with 
my parents. " She fell at the feet of Visriu and 
said " Brahmin, my vow of serving guests is going 
to be broken ; if you would kindly help me to be 
true to it, wait a moment ; not far off is the shop 
of the grain-seller ; I will go to it though I never 
did so before, and will come presently back with 
articles of food. I am sure the grocer knows my 
husband and will give me credit.' She went to 
the shop through mazy paths, through briers aiid 
flowers, like a silvan goddess. Her curling hair fell 
To the down to her waist ; she wore no ornaments save 
g shop". S a rosar 7 round her arms, but her youthful charms 
did not want any artificial help; they fascinated 
the eyes that looked upon her ; she was innocent 
and full of piety and did not know the wicked 
ways of the world. When she arrived at the shop, 
the grocer was struck with her beauty, all the people 
assembled there felt the charm of her presence, 
find the man asked herwfyat jt was that she wanted, 


She said t{ My name is Dhara ; my husband is 
the ascetic Brahmin who comes to your shop to 
purchase food every day." " You mean to say that 
you are the wife of Dronathat poor pious Brahmin. 
I never saw you before, nor knew that you were so 
beautiful/ Dhara said " I have guests at my house. 
If you kindly help me by giving me grain on credit, 
with ghee and fuel, my husband will pay the bill. I 
have no money." ' yes, you have much with you 
to pay me. I hope you will not deprive me of 
what you have/ said the grocer in a low tone. 
Dhara a sincere soul who knew no sin wonder- 
ingly said, " What have I got to repay you with ?" 
" Promise that you will pay me what you 
have," added the man in a soft tone. In her 
eagerness to serve her guests, the innocent and 
pure-hearted Dhara gave the promise. The shop- 
keeper dismissed his other customers and gave 
a sufficient quantity of food-grains, ghee and 
fuel for the three guests and put them into a 
basket. He said, " Now is your time to pay before 
you leave." Dhara rejoined that she did not know 
what she had to pay and wonderingly asked him to 
tell it. The wicked man said, " I want only a touch 
of your rising breasts." Dhara stood silent for a 
moment, thinking of the promise she had given, 
which was inviolable. All of a sudden she seized 
a sharp knife that lay in a corner and with that The 
cut her breasts off and bleeding profusely present- 
ed them to the shopkeeper, who swooned at the 
sight. She now lifted the basket of food on her 
head bleeding all the way and came to her hut. 
Vi?nu came out and was horror-struck at the sight. 
The disguised deities all hastened to the door, and 


asked what had occurred to cause that heart-rending 
sight. She said, " Revered guests, prepare your food 
and help a poor woman to be true to her vows. I 
have prayed to Vi?fcu night and day that my vows of 
purity and unswerving truth to God and man might 
The ke P reserve d a N through my life, and I am glad that 

great even at the cost of life I am able to be true to 
sacrifice _ T% , t t , 

and the them Vi^nu knew what the matter was, and 

boon. Durga suddenly assumed her heavenly form vield- 
ing the celestial trident, her head resplendant with 
a halo of light, and was about to proceed to kill 
the wicked man, but iva stopped her. Vi?ftu 
said, " You are bleeding to death for the sake of 
your guests. Take my blessings. In your next life 
you will be called Ya^oda and I shall incarnate 
myself as Kri?fta and suck the breasts which you 
did not really present to that wicked man, but to 
God as offering for the sake of truth. " iva, who 
had by this time assumed his divine form, looking 
like a mount of silver with his matted locks 
through which the stream of the Ganges flowed, said, 
" And I shall protect the Vrindft groves when 
Krigna will be incarnated there/' Said Durga " I 
shall be Yogamaya, the presiding deity of Gakula 
where Kri?fia will play the shepherd-boy and 
preserve the milkmen and their cattle." And they 
all said, ' Blessed be thou, for thou hast lived a 
pure life and known how to die for truth and for 
services of men. " 

are sdltne * the stor * es relate d by kathakas 
9 which, with their songs and interpretation of Sans- 
krit texts produce a wonderful effect on the masses. 


As I have said before, a story like that of Dhara 
and Drofia ordinarily takes five hours in narrating ; 
I have given only the gist of it. It is impossible 
for me to give any idea of the effect produced by 
working it up into detail as the kathakas do. 

The kathakas invariably begin with a prelimi- 
nary invocation of Kri?na. The text from the 
Bhagavata on which they base this is poetical. 
They begin thus : ' Where Krisfia's name is uttered 
the place becomes sacred. All the shrines of the 
world, the Naimisaranya, Prayaga, Benares, and 
Gaya meet at that place ; the sacred streams of the 
Ganges, the Kaveri, the Kri?na, the Tapti, and the 
Godavari flow at that place where Krisha's name 
is recited.' This is a poetical way of expressing 
the idea of the Vai?navas that a simple prayer is 
more efficacious than visiting all shrines, and that 
if God is worshipped in the soul, the sacredness 
of all earthly shrines attends it in the act. 

The influence of Vaisnavism materially helped 
the spread of education amongst the masses. We 
often find people of the lower ranks of society re- 
puted for scholarship, (pyamananda belonged to the 
Satgopa or farming caste. But he was a great scholar 
in Sanskrit Grammar. The social life depicted in 
the old Bengali poems of this period shows that 
learning was no longer confined to the Brahmins. 
Mukundaram's account of the merchant (pripati 
who is said to have taken a delight in Sanskrit 
poetry and drama and his description of the 
education given to his son (primanta who in his 
early years read Bharavi, Magha, Kumar Sambhava 
and other masterpieces of Sanskrit poetry show 
that Sanskrit learning was no longer the monopoly 

The preli- 

The mass- 


The rustic 




of the Brahmins. In the tols established by 
Vai$fiavas, pupils from all ranks of society had free 
access. In an account of the education given to 
Dhanapati in his boyhood we find that though he 
belonged to the Bania caste, he had already learned 
to talk in Sanskrit and was well acquainted with 
the Devanagri characters. In the descriptions 
given by Mukundarama who vividly pourtrays every 
detail of social life in Bengal in the i6th century, 
we find the women of the lower castes re- 
ceiving a fair education, not to speak of those who 
belonged to the higher castes. Khullana read the 
forged letter produced by Lahana and expressed 
her disbelief in its genuineness as it was not in 
the handwriting of her husband. 

Bengali in the i6th century, outside the pale 
of the Vaisnava community, was mainly read by 
the people of the lower ranks of society. A large 
portion of old Bengali manuscripts written in the 
i6th, xyth and i8th centuries were recovered by me 
from the houses of the people of the lowest castes. 
The bhadraloks or the gentlemanly classes were 
generally interested in Sanskrit manuscripts. But 
I have found old Bengali manuscripts, preserved 
with almost religious care by the illiterate 
rustic people, handed down to them by their 
ancestors. This proves that their ancestors could 
read and write Bengali though owing to the deca- 
dence of Vai?nava influence, one of the aims 
of which was to enlighten the masses, these people 
had sunk into ignorance once again, Many of the 
Mss. brought to light by me were written by people 
of lower castes. Some of the writers seem to have 


been expert in the art of caligraphy. I name below 
some of the writers of this class who wrote parti- 
cularly elegant hands, 

1. Harivamsa copied by Bhagyavanta Dhubi 
(washerman) in 1783 A. D. 

2. Naisada copied by Cri Majhee Kait fa low 
sudra) in 1749 A. D. 

3. Devajani Upakhyana by Ganga Das Sen 
copied by Rama Narayan Gope (a milkman) in 
1747 A. D. 

4. Kriya Yoga Sara copied by Kali Charan 
Gope (a milkman) in 1740 A. D. 

5. Dandi Parva by Raja Narayafi Datta 
copied by rirama Prasada Dei (a low sudral in 
1785 A. D. 

In the houses of Vai?nava scholars, however, 
we find such Bengali works as the Chaitanya 
Charitamrita, Chaitanya Bhagavata, and Padakalpa- 
taru carefully preserved side by side with classical 
Sanskrit works. In their eyes Bengali works 
dealing with Vai?fiavism were not, as I have said, 
a whit less important than the most sacred 
theological books in Sanskrit. 

Bengali in the Vai?fiava period was subject to thel The 
influence of Hindi and this I have already mentioned o " 
on page 387. Many of the great masters of the 
Vai?nava faith lived in Vpndavana and there was 
a constant exchange of ideas between the people 
of that place and those of Bengal. This circum- 
stance explains why we find such a large number 
of Hindi words imported into the Bengali writings 
of the Vai?navas. The Padakartas held Vidyapati's 
songs in great admiration and as a result many 


of them imitated the Maithil forms in their padas 
and the Brajabuli of the Vai?nava -songs is a result 
of this imitation. Thirdly in their attempts to 
propagate the creed of Vaisftavism all over India, 
the Vai?navas came in contact with the different 
races of India speaking different languages. Hindi 
had already grown to be the langua franca of all 
India united under the suzerain power of the 
Moslem Emperor of Delhi. Those who had the 
propaganda of their faith to carry to all Indians 
could not help taking recourse to the most con- 
venient vehicle already available for approaching 
them. The Vainavas imported a large number of 
Hindi words into their works to make them intel- 
ligible to the people of all parts of India, 

Owing to these causes the works written 
by a large number of Vai?fiavas are more or less 
influenced by Hindi, and instances of foflg, *W, 
^"re*> ^^, *pf > 5$*C> *TO> $151, *R*, frf fa*l etc., 
are numerous in all Vai?fiava writings, not to speak 
of Brajabuli which is a thoroughly Hindi-ized form 
of Bengali. 

Case- The signs of the case-endings that we meet with 

endings. j n ^ e W0 rks mentioned in this chapter, show varied 
forms and are very much like what we have dealt 
with in foregoing chapters. The growing tendency 
to use the suffix "sufif in the place of *M, 1% *PR 
and other words, formerly used to denote the plural 
number, often coupled with a pleonastic *F, as in 
WWtffa, *tW^1frffa etc., found in Narottomavilas 
and other works-vindicates the development of the 
form fijfj which now makes the case-ending in 
Bengali that denotes the plural number, 


The metres used by the Vaisnava-masters, The 

though rich in their forms, do not conform to the 
stereotyped ways of early metrical styles called 
Payara and Tripadl chhandas which were carried to 
perfection by writers with a rigid classical taste. 
In the Manik Chandra Rajar .^vz;/ and other writings 
of the Buddhistic period, we find the Pya jara chhanda 
to be far from being restricted to 14 letters as it 
latterly became ; the latitude taken by the earliest 
writers in sometimes dragging the lines to a tiresome 
length, and not unoften shortening them to abrupt 
and halting rhymes, were the result of ignorance 
and uncultured taste. In the Vaisnava writings, 
however, we find a freedom from the rigidness of 
classical models not to be mistaken for the in- 
artistic and unrestrained excesses of the vulgar, but 
which is prompted by a superior poetic faculty, con- 
scious of its art, making light of restrictions, though 
keenly alive to the natural rhythm of metre and 
expression. In the following lines the poet over- 
rides Payara chhanda sportively and shows that by 
freeing himself from the trammels of a stereotyped 
metre, he makes the lines more rhythmical and 

m m stern 

"Praise be to Jaya Deva, the brightest jewel of 
the princes of poetry ; praise be to Vidyapati, a 
store-house of elegant sentiments, and praise be to 
Chandldas, the highest pinnacle of delicate feeling, 
who is peerless in the world." 

The poet who wrote these lines was well-versed Tfce 
in the Sanskrit classics, as the very expressions he 


uses, prove ; yet he uses ^*tt*f which is not the 
right word, it should have been ^*TO. The poet 
knew this quite well, but took the poetic licence of 
using it, for the purpose of making this word rhyme 
more elegantly with ffffi of the previous line. Here 
lies the difference between Vaiffcava writers and 
those who are the exponents of the Paurftftic Re- 
naissance in Bengali. These insisted on the Sans- 
kritic rules without compromise, whereas the 
Vaigftava poets, often the better Sanskrit scholars 
of the two, would follow their own keen perception 
of happy expression and brook no rules laid down 
by scholars and purists. As in the Payfira chhanda 
so also in our familiar Tripadi, they introduced 
innovations, yielding to the perception of elegance 
so natural with them. In the latter chhanda the 
half of a line generally rhymes with the other 
and the second line rhymes with the fourth ; 
but here are some verses in the Tripadi by a Vai?- 
ftava poet, in which one half of the fir&t line does 
not rhyme with the other, and yet the elegance qf 
the metre does not at all suffer, 


, w-pftro f*ft fare nn i 
nwfirai, vf&( ^1, *w cnPrc^ fti i" 

(He wears cloths of a yellow tint because they 
are like me in colour, and as the flute that he 
carries in his hand, sings my name, he holds it 
dearer than his life. Whenever he comes across 
a colour or a scent that remind him of me, he 
moves forward like a mad man \uth his arms out- 


Various metres were invented by the 
which please the ear, though they do not conform 
to the style already adopted in Bengali composition. 
Here is an example of long and short lines rhyming 
with each other and producing a singularly happy 
effect by their deviation from ordinary metre :- 

f TO C^ftlCT ^5 *fo CTfiT I 

(The lovely Radha, steeped in sweet emotions, 
sports with Kri?na. She puts sweet betels into his 
mouth and kisses him. She puts her arms about 
him in the delight of her heart. They praise 
each other with sweetest words and play together 
on the same flute. Some of the maidens whisper 
softly "how charmed is Kri$ha by his lady's touch !" 
Others snatch away his flute by force. Krina is 
lost in the pleasure wrought by the company of 
the milk-maids.) 

I give below a list of obsolete words, with their 
meaning from the works dealt with in this chapter. 

y? to prove : to cure. 
$t3[3t*! authority and power. 
ft W to tear. 

A list of 


words and 




one who has an ascetic temper of mind. 


humble solicitations. 

to clean. 


highly honoured, of an angry temperament 

to originate from. 


consciousness of the outer world. 

to be fit. 

to wipe away : that which is thrown away 

as of no value. 

a fervour of devotional feelings. 
_to cut jokes. 

to a particular direction. 






^^ great (as fs^ ^51?). 

flourishing condition. 

to bite. 

to provoke. 

to accept as a disciple : to admit as a 


one expert in caligraphy ; One who 
interprets the padas by simple words 
of his own, while singing klrtana 
to sign by hand. 


*nj small (as *|i| *\ 
\ chaff. 

to rebuke. 

J to have oneself shaved. 
1 red. 
i mad. 

to turn away. 
[ to wander about. 
02R1 love 



to make signs. 
f completed. 

i tinish. 

a female sympathiser. 


to move with a rod. 

an ear-ornament. 

a frog. 

l a garden. 

J to shampoo : to serve. 
> lips. 
(from 3jTfr) the dark spot on the moon. 

During the Vainava-period two persons, en- 
vious of the great esteem in which Chaitanya was pretenders 
held, declared themselves to be incarnations of 
Vi?iiu and tried to practise deception on credulous 
rustics. Both of them lived 400 years ago, and we 
find them mentioned in the Chaitanya Bhggavata 
and other works with great contempt. One was a 


of the 


606 BENGALI LANGUAGE & LiTEfcArOfcg, [ Chap. 

Brahmin, a native of Eastern Bengal; his name 
was Madhaba and Kavlndra was his title ; Kavindra 
literally means a prince of poetsj but the Vai$navas 
called him Kaplndra or a prince of monkies. The 
other one who was also a Brahmin belonged to 
Western Bengal (^tlj tffl) ; his name is not given, 
but his family title was Mallik. This man called 
himself an incarnation of Vi?nu and the Vaisnavas 
gave him the title of Fox. Both in Bhakti Ratnakara 
and in Chaitanya Bhagavata we find many con- 
temptuous epithets bestowed on these two men. 
We have besides seen a number of Sanskrit verses 
in which some details are given about them. 

The Vai?nava community gradually grew larger. 
Lay men recruited from the lowest castes formed 
the largest portion of this community. Fallen 
women and Pariahs swelled its ranks and the result 
waa that the allegory of Radha and Kri^fta was 
made an excuse for the practice of many immorali- 
ties. Chaitanya Deva did not himself organise this 
community, as I have said ; those, who did so, kept 
up its purity during their life-time ; but it gradually 
sank into ignorance and corruption. Not only 
Chaitanya Deva but alt his companions also were 
deified and the catholicity of views that had charac- 
terised them became a thing of the past. People 
came forward to prove that Haridas (a Mahomedan) 
was realy a Brahmin as if none but a Brahmin 
could be accepted as a leader even in Vaishava 
society. The Vaidya and Kfcyastha leaders of that 
society who once counted Brahmin disciples by 
hundreds gradually lost much of the esteem in 
which they had been held, because of their having 
belonged to castes lower than that ol the Brahmins, 





and at the present day there is no 

wami or priest in the Vai?nava community, who 

can claim a Brahmin disciple. The only caste next 

to the Brfthmins that still claims Brahmin disciples, 

is the Vaidya, and the descendents of Narahari 

Sarkar of Qrikhanda have a considerable following 

of Brahmin disciples up till now, though their 

number has greatly fallen off, Thus do we find 

Hindu society to be almost proof against any Tne Hindu 

attempt to break down the Brahminical caste- 

system. Hindu society has often been seen to 

yield for a time to the inspired efforts of a great 
genius to level all ranks, but, as often, it has been 
found to reassert itself when the new order, after 
its brief hey-day of glory, gradually succumbs to the 
power of older institutions. Buddhism, Vai?navism 
and even Biahmaism, all of which began with an 
ideal of all-embracing love seem each in turn to 
have lost its hold upon the masses gradually. 
There is an inherent power in the social organisa- 
tion of Hinduism, the power to draw from all faiths 
and nourish itself on the best elements of other 
creeds. Each religion, that comes in contact with 
it, prevails so long as a genius acts in its support, 
but when such inspired help is gone, it finds that 
its strongest points have all passed over to the 
other-side leaving it incapable of coping with the 
resources of the older institution. But though 
much of the influence of Vaisnavism has been lost 
in course of time yet it retains a considerable hold 
upon the masses, Widow-marriage and a disregard 
of the hard and fast rules laid down in the Hindu 
fastras characterise the lay Vaieftava community, 
and the Vaisftavas still preach the doctrines of 




their faith with great earnestness in backward 
villages. The whole atmosphere of Bengal 
resounds at the present day with songs, recitations 
and the tales told by the kathakas and the kirtan* 
wallas who belong to that community. These influ- 
ences also invigorate Hindu society as a whole t by 
awakening its spiritual consciousness and it is no 
longer at war with the daughter-creed. 

From the incidental descriptions found in 

Material various old Bengali works we find that during 1 the 
prosperity. ft & 

Hindu period not only the merchant-class, but even 

rustic folk, enjoyed great material prosperity. In 
Manik Chandra Rajar gan we find that even the 
children of villagers used to play with golden balls 
(OTWB ^tlM) and that even a maid-servant would not 
touch a cotton sari, but wore silk. An ordinary 
merchant's dinner was not complete without fifty 
different dishes with the rice, besides a number of 
preparations of sweets. The tradition of fifty 
different dishes is still familiar in every respectable 
Hindu household and old ladies may even now be 
found who know the art of preparing them. The 
Vai?navas, as I have said, never touched meat or 
fish, but in the preparation of vegetables and sweets 
they were past masters. Lists of the delicious 
dishes prepared by them are to be found in Chai- 
tanya Charitamrita ( Madhya khanda, 3rd and 
i5th chapters,) in 2498th pada of the Padakalpataru, 
and in Jayananda's Chaitanya Mangala and other 
works. Details of the preparation of meat and 
vegetable curries with fish, are to be found in 
Daker Vachana. Kavika^kafta Chandi, and in nearly 
all works of Dharmamapgala. 


We have also descriptions of gold plate being 
profusely used by rich men. They used to sleep on 
couches made of pure gold, and when they would 
sit on these they would rest their feet on silver 
foot-stools. In the old stories and folk-lore we 
find references to such fine cloth that when exposed 
to the dew on the grass, it could scarcely be 
seen. The Meghadurhbura sadi } made of an ex- 
ceedingly fine stuff, was a passion with women of 
the upper classes. 

This is only one side of the picture. In Maho- 
medan times the condition of the lower classes 
seems to have been deplorable. No description ot 
distress and want can be more pathetic than the 
account which Phullara gives of herself. For want 
of a cup, liquid food had to be stored up in a hole 
dug in the earth, and often a day and a night were 
passed without any food. The poor were not in- 
frequently subjected to capricious treatment from 
the rich. Many of the large tanks which were 
dug in Bengal at the time, seem to have been the 
work of forced labour. The custom of employing 
men by force without wages, which was called 
C^*tHr *!Ti?t ; T, was very prevalent. Living was re- 
markably cheap and wants were few. Now-a-days 
no rustic in Bengal, however poor he may be, can 
help spending less than Rs. 100 for a marriage 
ceremony. There is a list of the expenditure in- 
curred on that account by a poor man, 300 years 

Two dhadas or cloths 
for the bridegroom . . . 
Catechu ... , 



3 Pes , , 

i cowri (less than a pie) 

The cheap 

living and 




Lime ... . . . ^ Cowri (less than a pie) 

KhunS (a cotton sfidi for 

the bride) ,,.4^ cowries (a little more 

than 2 pies) 

Total ... 13 cowries (a little more 
than half an anna). 

This list we find in Chandikavya by Madhav- 
acharyya, written in 1579 A.D. Of course the value 
of articles in our present day has greatly increased, 
but yet the items mentioned in this list would not 
cost more than Rs. 5 even now, and comparing this 
with the lavish expenditure now-a-days incurred 
even by rustic-folk in marriage, we must admit that 
the economical Hindu of yore has imbibed extra- 
vagant ideas about living, with which they were 
once perfectly unfamiliar, and, from the standpoint 
of the Hindus, expensive living is no indication of 
^civilisation. At the marriage of Chaitanya a 
second time, Buddhimanta Khan, who managed the 
ceremony, said* " Brothers, hear me, in this affair 
there will be none of that stinginess which charac- 
terises most of the ceremonies of the Brahmins. 
We shall do things in such a manner that people 
may say it is the marriage of a prince. " Yet the 
matter was one of the simplest kind. Sandal per- 
fumes and betels, with garlands of flowers, were 
freely distributed. There was no dinner ; no 

Chaitanya Bhagavata. 


nautch ; no illumination ; no dowry. It is related 
in the Chaitanya Bhagavata that this distribution of 
sandal-perfume, betels, etc., cost an amount of 
money out of which five ordinary marriages could 
have been celebiated ! Yet the expenses calculated 
by the present value of money could hardly have 
exceeded Rs. 50. Compared with the present ex- 
penditure on marriages this was insignificant. For 
now-a-days no gentleman in Bengal can manage 
a marriage for less than Rs. 500 and a marriage 
of a pompous description must cost fifty times this 
amount. But I doubt if the present state of things 
mean any improvement in the material condition 
of the people ; it should rather be taken as the 
result of extravagant ideas about style of living and 
display which are threatening to prove disastrous 
to us. 

The merchant-classes, occupying an inferior 
position in society inspite of their great wealth in 
Bengal, were lavish in expenditure on the occasion 
of marriage and other festivals in those days. The 
description of the marriage of Lak^mlndra with The 
Vehula in ManasSr Bhasan discloses a pomp and merchants. 
grandeur which far exceed anything of the kind 
found in the modern festivities of our rich people. 
The profuse display of jewellery, of gold and silver 
plate, the noble procession of elephants and horses 
all glittering with gold-saddles and ensigns, and 
the rich dowries carried by thousands of men, 
valuable diadems sparkling from the turbans of the 
gay companions of the bridegroom, and rich illumi- 
nation all indicate the vast resources that were at 
the command of the merchants of that period. But 
this idea of pomp and extravagance in living was 


not the highest ideal of Hindu society. The mer- 
chants, as has been already said, ranked low in the 
social scale inspite of their great riches, and the 
poor pious Brahmins were the true leaders of 
society. The people wanted to follow the Brah- 
mins in their utter disregard of all materialistic 
considerations and in their devotion to God. 

Vai?navas were generally frugal in their living. 
The Mahotsava of the Vaihavas was the only 
M hotsava Ceremony in which they would sometimes spend 
all the money they had accumulated, by their life- 
long labour. It is a noble ceremony the like of which 
is not found outside the pale of India and which 
had its origin probably in the Buddhistic idea of 
all-embracing charity. As in other institutions of the 
Vainavas, so also in this they probably imitated the 
Buddhists. Sometimes* for a whole month a man 
of ordinary means kept his gates open to the poor 
and hundreds of them came from all parts of the 
country, poor, famished, half-starved people who 
had their fill sitting there in long rows without any 
distinction of caste or creed. It is never a rich din- 
ner, the fare being always* exceedingly simple. But 
it ib not for a limited number of invited people , it is 
foi all all who are driven to it by hunger. It may 
be called a feast for the uninvited, for those whom 
no one calls and all would turn away, who have no 
status in society and who in their torn rags are 
generally unwelcome visitors , the owner of the 
house who holds the Mahotsava ceremony himself 
serves as far as practicable the beggars, who 
flock daily to his house in thousands, No invi- 
tation is issued, but the tidings of the Mahotsava 
ceremony spreads far and wide, and countless men 


and women resort to the place and receive 
a warm and cordial treatment at the hands of the 
host \vlio figures on this occasion as a friend of 
the friendless, sometimes offering all that he has to 
the destitute and the needy. 



I. (a) The Court of Rdji Krisna Chandra of Nadia. 
Vitiated classical taste and word-painting. 

(b) AISol The Mahamedan poet who heralded the 
new age. His life and a review of his works. 

(c) The Story of Vidya-Sundara. 

(d) Early poets of the Vidya-Sundara-poems. 

(e) Bharata Chandra Rai Qunakara -the great 
poet of the I 8th century. Praharima Chakra- 

II (a) The Court of Raja Rajavallabha of Raja Nagara 
in Dacca. Its poets. Jaya N&rayanzt Sen 
Ananda Mayl Devi. 

(b) The poets of the school of Bharata Chandra. 

III. Poetry of rural Bengal. 

(a) The Kaviwalas and their songs Raghu, the 
Cobbler Haru Thakur Rama Vasu and 
others. The Portugese Kaviwalla Mr. Antony. 

(b) Religious Songs. 

(c) Rama Prasftda Sen and poets of his school. 

IV. The Jatras or popular theatres. 

V. The three great poets with whom the age 
closed Dasarathi RamanldhI Gupta If wara 
Chandra Gupta. 
VI. The folk-literature of Bengal. 

1. (a) The Court of Raja Kris ha Chandra of Nadia. 
Vitiated Classical taste and word-painting. 

A new era was dawning in our literature. 
Society after a great movement sinks into callous- 
ness. A great- idea passes away ; and in the age 


that follows the spasmodic efforts of common men 

to reach the high ideal expressed in some great 

historic character slowly spend themselves. Lesser Reaction 

men arise who pose as leaders of society, scoffing 

at all that constitutes greatness ; and custom and 

convention two hoary-headed monsters once more 

clasp the people in their iron grip. This is an age 

when craft and ingenuity find favour instead of 

open-hearted sincerity; when moral courage, 

character, manliness and strength of conviction fall 

into disfavour and worldly manoeuvres of all sorts 

pass for high qualities and are praised as indicating 


In the literature of such an age, we miss that 
genial flow of noble ideas that freedom of thought 
and freshness of natural instincts which characterise 
great epochs in a nation's life, and in their place 
we find the poets struggling to furnish long and 
wearisome details about a small point till it is 
worn thread-bare by its very ingenuity; a small idea 
is over-coloured and followed in frivolous niceties 
on the lines of a vitiated classical taste till it becomes 
almost grotesque or absurd. 

Such an age came upon the society of Bengal 
and its influence is stamped on the literature of the 
i8th century. This was an age when Mahfimedan 
power had just decayed. Robbers and bandits over- 
ran the country ; and knavery of all sorts was prac- 
tised in the courts of the Rajas. The school set up 
by Aurangeb in politics became the model for his 
chiefs to follow in their own courts. Conspiracies, 
plots and counterplots amongst brothers and 
relations who wanted to elbow down and kill one 





another to gain the gadi, were events of every-day- 
occurrence in the courts of Indian noblemen. Raja 
Kriafta Chandra of Navadwip by a stratagem which 
was highly praised, deprived his own uncle of his 
rightful ownership of the gadi of Krisnagar. Kri?na 
Chandra's son Cambhu Chandra played a similar 
dodge and tried to usurp the possessions of his 
father, by spreading a false report of his death. 
The Raja was thus going to be paid in his own 
coin. His agent at Agratlwip in Burdwan by an 
equally unscrupulous action ousted the rightful owner 
out of the possession of that place and gained it 
for his own master. In the Courts of Serajuddulah, 
the Nabab, plots of a far more important character 
were being formed fraught with consequences which 
were to change the history of the whole of India, 
tt was not an age conspicuous for its appreciation 
rf high ideas or of noble sentiments. " Raja Krisna 
Chandra was hostile to the followers of Chaitanya."*. 
H frustrated the efforts of Raja Rajavallava who had 
:rid to obtain sanction of the Pundits of Bengal 
,o the remarriage of Hindu widows of tender ages. 
Yet Kri?na Chandra was the most important man 
3f the period in the Hindu Society of Bengal. H}$ 
Court had gathered round it some of the greatest 
Sanskrit scholars of the country. He appreciated 
nerit, patronised literature, and encouraged art. 
The far-famed clay-models of Kri?nagar and the 
tine cotton-industry of antipur owe their perfec- 
Jon to the patronage of the Raja. The Raja was 
Viendly to the English and it was he who first put 
the idea of overthrowing Serajuddulah by the help 

* Khitlf* VaihfibAli Charita P. 29. 


of the English into the head of Mirzafar and other 
influential men engaged in conspiracy against the 
Nowab. Krisna Chandra was himself a scholar of 
no mean order. He could discuss knotty problems 
of logic with Hari Rama Tarka Sidhanta and in 
theology he was a match for the far-famed Rama- 
nanda Vachapati. He was well-versed in the 
doctrines of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, 
and made endowment of lands to the great expo- 
nents of that learning of the period iva Rama 
Vachaspati and Virecwara Nyaya Panchanana. He 
could compose extempore verses in Sanskrit and 
competed personally in public with Vanecwara 
Vidyalankara the famous Sanskrit poet of his court. 

Besides all these Raja Krisfia Chandra was the 
great patron of Bengali literature of the i8th 

Poetry under such patronage became the crea- 
tion of schoolmen and courtiers. It no longer 
aimed at offering its tribute to God but tried to 
please the fancy of a Raja , the poets found the 
gates of the palace open to receive them and cared 
not if the doors of heaven were shut. For models 
of Bengali court-poetry, we shall quote here a 
passage translated from the Naisadha Charita a 
Sanskrit poem held in great admiration by the 
scholars of the period. 

" How shall I describe, O, King, the profuse 
hair on Damayanti's head ! They compare it to the 
hair of a chamari (a species of deer). But it is 
foolish to compare Damayanti's hair to what that 
animal hides behind him as a mark of shame. They 
sav her eyes are as beautiful as those of the 

The great 
patron of 

The ove 


similes of 





gazelle. But it is as a sign of his disappointment 
and defeat that the gazelle kicks the ground with 
his hoofs. God took the quintessence of the moon 
and made Damayanti's face. So a hole was made 
on the moon's surface and they call it a spot. 
The lotuses have all fled into the watery forts 
being struck by the beauty of Damayanti's face. 
Before God had created Damayanti, he exercised 
himself in the art of creating feminine beauty by his 
creation of all other women, so that he might give 
perfection to that single form of Damayanti ; and 
when the ideal was reached in her, the subsequent 
forms were created only to establish the superiority 
of Damayanti over the rest." 

Not only the Naisftdha Charita, but Da9akumfira 
Charita, Harsa Charita and other Sanskrit works 
admired in this period, abound with passages like 
the above, and these served as models to the Ben- 
gali writers who were under the immediate influence 
of the courts, and they themselves began to regale 
oriT niceties which now seem so absurd to us. 
The Persian poems which were favoured in this 
age, also contain long drawn-out similes verging 
on the ridiculous, and the noblemen and scholars, 
who prided themselves on a vain-glorious pedantry, 
encouraged our poets to introduce similar artifi- 
cial compositions into Bengali. Here are a few 
short passages translated from a favourite Persian 
work of the period. 

" Her black hair was like a net to catch the 
wise." "The lustre of her nails kept the hearts of 
all men fixed on them. They were like so many 
rising moons". "Her waist was slender as a single 
hair or rather half of it." Zelekh$. 


Sienderness of the waist was held to be a point 
of feminine beauty, hence absurdities passed for 
niceties and were admired as poetic skill ! 

The literature that sprang up under the patron- 
age of courts was thus vitiated by their influence. 
Not only in the style of writing but in its subject- 
matter also, it showed the control of those evil stars 
that held sway over the literary horizon of Bengal 
at this time. The romantic conceptions of Persian 
tales are often singularly unpleasing to the Bengali 
mind ; especially does this remark apply to those 
kutnis or serving women, who acted as agents in 
matters of illicit passion. Yet these women figure 
prominently in the literature of this period. Here 
is an extract, translated from Zelekhs, a Persian 
poem, in which a kutni is vaunting her powers 
before the heroine of the tale. The Bengali poets 
were trying their level best to import such characters 
into their poems. 

" Who is it that has tampered with your heart ? 
Tell me why it is that your face beautiful as a flower 
has grown pale and yellowish. Why are you 
waning day by day like the moon ? 1 am afraid 
you have fallen in love. Tell me who is that person. 
If he be the very moon whose abode is in tiie sky, 
I will make him come down to the earth as a 
slave to your wishes. If he be a spirit of the 
mountains, I know such charms that he would be 
put into a phial and brought to you. If he be 
merely a man, take my word, I shall make him a 
bond-slave to you. He will be made to minister 
to your wishes in every matter and you need not 
care to please him by offering him your services/ 1 


The maid- 


of the 



not to be 





taste in 

style and 

in spirit. 

These kutnis are numerous in Persian tales. 
They are not of the class of Durvate, the maid- 
servant described in the Chandi Kav)as dealt with 
by us in a previous chapter. The latter are knaves 
who repay the kindness shown to them by creating 
disunion amongst the members of a family to serve 
their own selfish ends and by robbing their masters 
as much as they can, when entrusted with market- 
ing. Durvals bears a family-likeness to Manthara 
of the Ramayana, though placed in different situa- 
tions, and these women should not be confounded 
with the kutnis of the Mahomedan stories, they 
are not accessories to immoral purposes. The dutis 
perform a quite different function in the Vaisnava 
poems where love is spiritualised. 

Indeed the Hindu poets had hitherto taken 
particular care to keep scenes of illicit love out 
of their poems. But the kutni now became a very 
common thing in our literature, especially in the 
poems of Vidya-Sundara. A very striking instance 
of such \\omen as figuring in the poetry of the age 
is found in the character of Hira malini in 
Bharata Chandra's Annada Mangala the most 
popular Bengali poem of the day. 

Thus in the style of poetry as well as in its spirit, 
the court literature of Bengal presents a striking 
difference to the earlier Bengali works. The 
style and the spirit both became depraved- the 
former by a vain-glorious pedantry which made 
descriptions grotesque by their over-drawn niceties, 
the serious often passing into the burlesque and 
the latter by scurrilous obscenities grosser than any- 
thing in Sterne, Smollett or Wycherley and by the 
introduction of characters like those of Hira 


and Vidu Brahmini accessories to illicit love 
of the most revolting type. The descriptions of 
men and women are often marred by overcolouring 
like those of the beards of Hudibras described by 
Butler in a well known lengthy passage. 

But a literary epoch cannot be wholly without 
its redeeming features. There must be some really 

meritorious points by which it can attiact and make 

i . . I. 

people its votaries, i econcilmg them even to its vices. 

In this age, a rigid classical taste gave a unique 
finish to the Bengali style and enriched it with the 
variety of Sanskrit metres that so powerfully appeal 
to the car Bharata Chandra Ry, the court poet 
of Raja Krisria Chandra, stands alone in the field 
of our old literature as a word-painter. No poet 
before him contributed so much to our wealth of 
expression or had such success in importing ele- 
gance to our Sanskritic metres. The poet here, 
like a true Indian artisan, applied himself patiently 

to the sphere of decorative art. He hunted for and 

found choicest expressions and strung them into 
the most elegant metres and carried the whole 
school of Bengali poets after him maddened by the 
zeal to imitate his style. The heart had been 
feasted to satiety on the emotions contained in the 
Vaisnavd literature, the ear now wanted to be 
pleased. High sentiments expressed in rich poetry 
had abounded in the literature of the Vaisnavas ; 
enough of such. The scholars would have a brief 
day of their own. They would show feats of clever 
expression, pedantry and wealth of words strung 
together with masterly skill. The people were 
drawn by this novelty. After the strain of a high- 
strung idealistic spirituality, they were glad to revel 


merits of 

^ e literary 


8^ eat P et 



in grossly sensual ideas They descended from 
heaven to have a little taste of the mundane 
pleasures. The Sanskrit vocabulary and Sanskrit 
works of rhetoric became the chief sources of 
poetic inspiration ; yet the period, by a strange 
irony of fate, was ushered in by one who was not 
a Hindu, as it would be natural to expect, but a 
Mabomedan. A Mahomedan writer arose with a 
mastery of the Sanskrit tongue, the like of which 
we rarely find among Hindu poets in the Bengali 
literature. He was Syed Alaol, translator of 
Syed Algol. p^ m ^ V3> (^ a Hindi poem written by Mir Mahammad 
in 1521 A.D. 

(b) Alioi the Mahammedan poet who heralded the 
new age His life and a review of his works. 

Alaol was the son of a minister of Samser 
Kutub, the Nawab of Jalalpur (in the district of 
Faridpur). When a youngman, he undertook a sea- 
voyage in the company of his father. The crew 
were attacked by Portuguese pirates, known in the 
country as Hermadas (from Armada}. We have a 
line in the Chandi Kavya by Mukunda Rama des- 
cribing the great fear in which sailors held these 
Hermadas. " Night and day the merchant plied his 
oars in fear of being overtaken by the Hermadas"* 
The father of Alaol was killed in a hand-to-hand 

His father % nt w ^ tne marauders and our poet narrowly 

is killed, escaped a similar fate, and fled to Aiacan 

where Magana Thakur, the Moslem Prime minister 

of the ruling Chief of the place, received him hospi- 

* " fa TO in vrfan cv r 

Kavi Ka^kana Chandi. 


tably, being pleased with the great scholar- 
ship of the youngman. He resided at this place 
for many years and when he was verging on forty, 
he was ordered by Magana Thakur to translate 
the Hindi poem Padmavat into Bengali and he did 
so to please his patron and master. Some years 
passed in this liigh and agreeable company, and our 
poet seems to have tasted during this time the sweets 
of life after the woes that had befallen him in the 
early part of his career. He was again ordered by 
Magana Thakur to translate a Persian work named 
Saiful Mulluk and Badiujjamal into Bengali. 
But lie had now declined * in the vale of years 1 and 
when a few chapters of this book were written, 
Magana Thakur, the poet's friend and patron, met 
with an unexpected death, and Alaol in great dis- 
appointment left the half-finished poem and retired 
into a life of rest. But it was yet reserved for him 
to be subjected to further vicissitudes in life; and 
greater sorrows than those hitherto experienced 
were still in store for him. Suja, brother of Aurang- 
zeb, had come to Aracan about this period and a fight 
ensued between the unfortunate prince and the Ara- 
can Chief, the former being completely defeated. 
A wicked man named Mirza gave evidence against 
Alaol, to satisfy a private grudge implicating him 
as a party to Suja's action against the Chief of 
Aracan. Alaol was thrown into prison, where he 
spent a few years, subjected to all sorts of cruel 
treatment. He was, however, released and spent 
9 yeafs of his life in close retirement, Syed Musa, 
a rich nobleman of Aracan, took some interest in 
the poet during these evil days and at his request 
he completed his translation of Saifulmulluk and 

Enjoys the 
of M^gana 




into prison 


His poetry 

A list of his 

An im- 
on the 

Badiujjamal. Alaol had grown old by this time 
and had lost his wonted spirit the spring of all 
his noble poetry. In the last part of this 
translation we miss his characteristic genial flow 
and sweetness of expression. Besides the above 
two works he wrote sequels to the stories of Lora 
Chandrani and Sati Maina poems written by 
Doulat Kazi in Bengali. The latter works were 
undertaken by our poet at the command of Sola- 
man, another minister of the Aracan Chief. At the re- 
quest of an influential man of the court named Syed 
Mahamed Khan, Alaol translated the Persian poem 

Had&ipaikar by Nizami Gaznavi. Besides these, 
f r j 

Alaol wrote several poems on Radha and Kri?fia, 
some of which display exquisite poetic touches. 
Alaol was born about the year 1618 ; was thrown 
into prison in 1658 ; and being released lived to a 
good old age, till the close of the lyth century. 

It will be seen that Alaol the poet worked 
manly in the field of translation, and the chief 
work of his Muse on which his fame rests the 
Padmavati is only, as we have said, the Bengali 
translation of a Hindi poem. But Alaol's transla- 
tion is not only free but is also marked by great 
originality, a-nd though conforming in the main to 
the tale of the Hindi bard, is an improvement upon 
it in many respects. 

The Padmav&ti is written in a high flown 
Sanskritic Berjg&li. Alaol is the first of the poets 
who aimed at word-painting and at that finished 
Sanskritic expression which is the forte of the 
Bengali literature of the i8th century. In fact 
Alaol, though, generally speaking, inferior to Bharata 
Chandra, because he lacks the " elegant genius" 


of the latter, eclipses nearly all the other poets of 
Bengal in his profuse use of Sanskritic terms. For 
a Moslem writer to have the credit of importing the 
largest number of Sanskritic words into a Bengali 
poem and thus heralding an age of classical revival, 
is no small achievement, and we are bound to 
admit that none of the Hindu poets of the age in 
which he lived, was in this respect, a match for 

Alaol has given descriptions of the religious cere- 
monies of the Hindus, their customs and manners 

with an accuracy and minuteness which strike us as and the 

j r i *.u j r ,.L < Hindu 

wonderful, coming as they do tiom the pen of a spirit. 

Mahomed an writer. He has given a classification 
of feminine emotions in all their subtlest forms as 
found in the Sanskrit books of rhetoric, in the por- 
traiture of such characters as Vasakasajja, Khandita, 
Kalahantarits, and Vipralavdha. He has represent- 
ed the ten different stages of separation from a 
lover (ftsftSiJ ?*f WHI), closely following the rules 
laid down in Sahityadarpana and in Pingala's works 
on rhetoric. He has discoursed on medicine in a 
manner which would do credit to a physician versed 
in the Aurvedic lore. He has, besides, shown a 
knowledge of the movements of the planets and 
their influence on human fortune worthy of an 
expert astrologer. In his accounts of the little 
rituals connected with the religious ceremonies of 
the Hindus such as the Pra^astha Vandana, he dis- 
plays a mastery of detail which could only have 
been expected from an experienced priest. He has, 
besides, described the rules of long and short vowels, 
the principles ^$H, 3W etc. by which the various 
Sanskrit metres are governed, and quoted Sanskrit 



work read 
and pre- 
served by 

The Saas- 


culture of 




couplets like a Pandit, to serve as texts for the 
theological mat'ter introduced in his bobk. The 
Moslem poet is profuse in his eulogies of Civa t*he 
Hindu God, and all through the work writes in the 
spirit and strain of a devout Hindu. Curiously 
enough his work has been preserved in Chittagong 
by Mahomedan readers. The manuscripts of Padma- 
vati hitherto obtained, all belong to the border-lands 
of Aracan in the back-woods of Chittagong, copied in 
Persian characters and preserved by the rural 
Mahomedan folk of those localities. No Hindu 
has ever yet cared to read them. This goes to 
prove how far the taste of the Mahomedan's wa's 
imbued with Hindu culture. This book, that we 
shauld have thought, could be interesting only to 
Hindu readers, on account of its fengthy disquisi- 
IfWte on theology and Sanskrit rhetoric, has been 
strangely preserved, ever since Aurungjeb's time, 
by Moslems, for whom it could apparently have rlo 
attraction, nay to whom it might even seem posi- 
tively repellent. Prom the time of Magana ThSkura 
the Mahomedan minister, till the time of Shaik 
Hamidulla of Chittagong who published it in 1893 
covering a period o c nearly 250 years, this book was 
copied, read, and admired by the Mahomedans of 
Chittagong exclusively. What surprises us most 
is the interest taken by the rustic folk In its high- 
flown Sanskritic Bengali. The Province of Chitta- 
gong must have been once a nucleus of Sahskrit- 
iearning to have disseminated so dee> a liking for 
this classic tongue of the Hindus &mong the lowest 
strata of society, aiiii specially amongst Mahomed- 
aiis who might have Been e'xpfcctfcd to have the 
least aptitude for this, 


The poem Padmavati deals with a well-known 
epispde in Indian history. The Emperor Alauddin 
of Delhi had heard qf the wonderful beauty of 
Padmavati, queen qf the Raja of .Chitore, and 
demanded her for his harem. Bhim Sen, the Raja, 
.who is called Ratnasen in the Bengali poem, treated 
this request with the contempt which it deserved, 
and the result was that for twelve years the 
Emperor laid siege to Chitore. Bhima Sen was 
eventually defeated, and his queen sought death on 
the funeral pyre, true to the traditions pf Rajput 
women. This story had formed the subject of a 
poem by Mir Mahomed in Hindi which contains 
about 10,000 lines. The Bengali Padmavati by 
Alaol has about 10,500 lines. 

I have said that the classic taste, which made the 
Bengali poets of the i8th century revel in exag- 
gerated and high flown imageries, was indicated 
in the work of this Mahomedan poet, to such a 
considerable extent, that he may be said to have 
heralded the new epoch. Alaol rang the bell of 
the new age and the sound was caught by a host of 
other poets among&t whom Bharata Chandra was 
the most prominent. I shall here quote some 
passages from Alaol's Padmavati to show how his 
description owns kinship with those found in the 
Sanskrit and Persian poems already referred to by 
us, as also with the high sounding flourishes of style 
which characterise the Bengali poems that followed 
the age of Alaol. 

*" The light that beams in the face of Padmavati 
puts to shame the light reflected from a golden mirror. 

The sub- 
ject of the 

The new 


Far-fetch* One curious fact with regard to the face is that 
e s m es. twQ lotuses are confined in the disc of the moon 
(her face.) The sun who finds his friends so confined 
by his enemy, came to the rescue, in the shape of 
the vermilion mark on the forehead. The god of 
love, in aid of the sun, held the bow of her eye- 
btows, and aimed his shafts, which were the glances 
of her eyes. The only regret is that these friends 
though so near were not allowed to see each other." 

The lotuses are her two eyes. The sun accord- 
ing to the poetic tradition of Sanskrit rhetoric 
(*fr-3ff*fftj) is a lover of the lotus. The moon 
is unfriendly towards the lotus according* to a 
similar tradition. The lotus blooms in the day- 
time and fades in the evening a circumstance 
which caused the acceptance of this idea by the 

For pages and pages one may follow descrip- 
tions on this line. The ingenuity of such composi- 
tions, greatly favoured, as they were, by the scholar 
of a particular epoch, show the artificial taste of 
the age the absurdities that passed for intellectual 
feats and the grotesque and the uncouth that were 
accepted as beautiful. 


1 cww v 

Alftol's Padmfivati 


But Alaol's poems often reach a high degree of 
excellence from the wealth of their Sanskritic ex- 
pressions. It is to be regretted that the excellence 
of their style, and the effect produced by the jingle 
of classic words and associations suggested by 
them, are not such as can be conveyed in 
translation. The author frequently imitates the T 

style of the great bongf-masters of Bengal with translat* 

u , -ri f it i able beauty 

a happy enect. 1 he following passage reminds us O f style. 

of some well-known lines from the Sanskrit Gita- 
Govinda by Jayadeva. 

*" In the spring season the bridegroom revels in 
the joyous company of his bride. They are like 
two moons, shedding, as it were, ambrosia in the 
lovely smiles on their softly curving lips. The 
flowers are in full bloom, and.from the floral bowers 
the cuckoo cooes pleasantly in the company of its 
mate , the bees hum delightfully ; the cool Malaya 
breeze charged with the scents of flowers, softly 
touches the bridegroom heightening the charm 
of the sweet words of his lady-love. The acvatha 
tree, the prince of the forest, displays its wealth of 
new leaves, the tamala stands obliquely and the 
mango-creepers are rich with fresh foliage and 



tendrils. The hearts of the youthful pair are glad- 
some. They are decked with the wreaths of the 
rangan, mallika and the malati flowers.'* 

Alas, the beauty of metre and of choice Sans- 
krit words that characterise this passage is but 
ill-conveyed in the above translation. 

The line 
Indebted 6*fff^31 M is evidently inspired by Vidyapati's " 

^tfr^W Itfaft faft 1W& flWTft " and the lines 
beginning with " <qtfr c* 5 ! fafsfa C$tTW Wl" 
breathe the sentiments of Chandi Das in bis well- 
known passage opened by the line 

The description ot the seasons is full of de- 
licate sentiments and calls up familiar scenes by 
suggestive lines. During the rains the lovers sit 
&p at night in merry talk and *" if there be a sound 
, of thunder she is startled, and throws herself into 
the arms of her lover an unexpected surprise to 

Algol's PadmSvati, 



There are many pretty lines in the poem re- 
calling scenes of domestic affection and of the 
delicate associations of love. 

The preliminary lines in praise of God are full 
or sincerity and devotion. *' ( He treated life to of God. 
manifest Himself in love, and death to show that 
He i's also the terrible. Sweet scents of flowers He 
created to indicate heaven and evil odours to warft 
men of the filth of hell. As a sign of His high 
favour, He created sweet things, delicious to the 
taste, and the bitter and pungent, to indicate His 
wrath. He secretly hid the honey in the flowers 
and by creating the bees He brought it to the 
knowledge of the world. He created all in the 
twinkling of an eye, and the great firhiament creat- 
ed by Hifn stands without the support of pillars. 
The sun and the moon He created, and also created 
the riight alnd the day. The winter and the summer 
He created, and the heat, the rays of the sun arid 



eristic fea- 
tures of a 

a*fi tale. " 

the clouds which He lined with lightning, He 
pervades the universe both revealed and unre- 
vealed. The virtuous and the saintly know Him, 
but the vicious know Him not. M 

In this hymn Alaol follows more or less the 
Hindi original of Mir Mahomed. 

But though in the main story Alaol follows a 

st yj e on t h e \( ne o f ^} ie Sanskrit classics and shows 

a wonderfully close acquaintance with the manners, 

customs and religious life ot the Hindus, yet 
reading between the lines one may discover the 
vein of a Mahomedan poet by the non-Hindu 
elements to be found in his work, though couched 
beneath a highly Sanskritised form of Bengali. 
A certain extravagance of imagination reminds 
us, at every stage, of the excesses of fancy 
which characterise Arabic and Persian tales. 
Raja Ratna Sen heard of the beauty of 
Padmavati, and even before he saw her, fell into a 
fit of violent love ; renounced the world as an 
ascetic, and wandered through the forests. And 
"with him 1600 princes turned ascetic. "* The 



Alaol's Padmavati. 


Alaol's Padmavati, 


princess was sad, and the message of her sorrow 
was carried by the bird cuka. The poet describes 
the mission of the bird and the effect which his 
flight produced on the objects that he came in con- 
tact with. 

*" The message of her sorrow was carried by 
the bird through the sky, and the clouds became 
dark, in an excess of grief. A spark of this sorrow 
touched the disc of the moon and created a spot 
on its surface. The wings of the bird drooped 
under his burden of sorrow and they looked like 
lightning. The bird passed over the sea and its 
waters, in their deep woe, became saline. " 

These excesses of fancy, which should not be 
confounded with the play of poetic imagination, 
make the passages such gibberish as children may 
be heard amusing themselves with in their folk-lore. 

Ratnasen's wrestling-feats and skill in riding, 
which have been graphically described in the poem, RatnaScn 
have many points which remind us of the feats wrestling- 
exhibited by modern circus troupes. They give us 


^*tt fan 

Alaol's Padmavati, 



The story 
Is a failure. 


poem by 


a complete idea of the manly sports and pastimes 
that found favour during the Mahomedan period, 
though the description is not altogether free from 

Algol's Padmavati has little interest as a story. 
The characters are not delineated with skill, and 
the conception of the plot does not show any great 
mastery of the poet over his incidents. Its main 
charm rests on those stray glimpses of poetic 
elegances and high classical refinement, with 
which the book abounds, and no less on the great 
erudition of the poet, indicated in many noble 
passages. We appreciate the truth of what Alaol 
says of himself in the preliminary chapter of 

*" At the order (of Magana Thakur) I wrote 
Padmavati ; therein I showed the utmost powers 
that my intelligence possessed." 

Though greatly inferior to Padmavati in poetic 
merit, the Saifulmulluk and Badiujjamal of this 
poet contains occasional passages of much 
beauty. The preliminary hymn to God is quite 
a match for that which we found in Padmavati. 
t" Where would be the glory of light, if it were not 

Alaol's Padmavati. 

ntft *n*n fro i 



placed side by side with darkness ! If the wicked 
were not in the world, who would know the value 
of a saintly life ! The salt water of the sea makes 
us appreciate more the boon of sweet fresh water. 
If there were no misers, we could not give our 
tribute of praise to liberal minds. The true and 
the false represent but two sides of a picture, Don't 
you Alaol, care to listen to the praise or blame 
of this world. The little stock that you have in 
your own heart, give freely to the world, without 
feeling ashamed of it/ 1 

In the preliminary account of Padmavati Alaol 
says that Magana Thskur, the prime minister 
of the Chief of Aracan, had employed him to 
translate the Hindi poem into Bengali, high-flown 
Sanskritic Bengali, because the people of Aracan 
did not understand Hindi but understood Bengali. 
This leads us to the conclusion that the popular 
literature not only of Assam but also of the border- 
lands of Ar3can used to be written in Bengali, a 
circumstance confirmed by the other fact to which 
we have already drawn attention, viz. that it was 
the low class Mahomedan population of these 
places who have preserved these poems for about 
250 years. 

The faults and merits of Padmavati are charac- 
teristic of the literary works of the period that 


AUol's Padmavati* 


The style follows. The Sanskritic style used by Algol was 
taste. greatly improved by Bharat Chandra. The descrip- 
tions of the school that follows abound with niceties 
which mystify the reader, as in the case of Padmavati. 
In Bha rat Chandra, the great master of the age, we 
only find these niceties somewhat curtailed, and 
absurdities often reclaimed, by a sweet jingle of 
words, which please the ear, like the warblings of 
birds without conveying to us any clear sense or 

The moral tone became more and more vitiated ; 
and Bharat Chandra, had he lived in this age, when 
poets are not allowed to revel in the unrestrained 
language of sensualism and the grosser passions, 
could not have given us his masterpiece the Vidya- 
Sundara. The literature of Bengal in the iSth cen- 
tury was pitched in the key of a high-strung classic 
laste ; yet it bore no mark of any master hand, that 
could shape circumstances and give them life. The 
works of the period are nevertheless full of spark- 
ling passages and delicate sentiment, and they 
display above all a unique treasure of choice expres- 
sions which has greatly enriched our literature. 

The poets had betaken themselves to the pain- 
ter's art. They did not aim at inspiring life ; they 
wanted to give finish to the form. They busied 
themselves with colouring, till some of the pictures 
they drew became blurred by their very efforts to 
embellish them. For i was not the natural that 
engaged their poetic powers, but the artificial and 
exaggerated, which pandered to the vitiated taste 
of mere scholars. From the time of Alaol the tone 
gradually degenerated ; the good sensejthe sound 
principles, and the domestic instincts that aimed at 


purity were lost. There was a violent return to 
the senses. Sensualism of the grossest kind unres- 
trained and vulgar sensualism, redeemed only by fine 
literary touches and embellished by choice meta- 
phors pervades a considerable portion of the litera- 
ture of this age. The poets in their strenuous 
attempts to depict vulgar scenes cared only to 
produce effects by their rhythmical pomp ; and when 
one reads such passages he thinks more of the 
metre and of the niceties of expression than of the 
wicked and immoral spirit that they breathe. Hence 
the lawless tone loses much of its force and the 
scenes themselves appear as harmless as painted 
devils. Poetry sank to the level of mere painting, 
as I have said, and to that of a merely decorative 
type, painting in which skilled and ornate designs 
are worked up with inexhaustible patience by gifted 
hands like those we find in the caves of Elephanta. 

The Story of Vidya Sundara. 

The story of Vidyasundara finds a promi- 
nent place in the works which are called Annada 

r f Annada 

Mangala or Kalika Mangala. Annada, Kali and Mangal. 

Chandi are all names of the same goddess though 
their forms are different. These poems therefore are 
written in honour of a deity. The religious element 
however, is introduced by way of apology. It was 
not the custom of the old Bengali poets who rose 
with the revival of Hinduism to write on a subject 
which had no touch with religion ; and the religious 
garb of the story is thus accounted for. Grossest 
matter however is introduced into these works, 
though bearing a holy name. Those who have 


hears a 

report of 

Comes to 


and meets 


seen the sculptural figures in bs relief on the 
walls of the Puri and Kanaraka temples will not 
be astonished to find a religious work associated 
with these scenes of vulgar sensualism which 
are to be found in Vidygsundara a poem 
forming part of the religious work Annada 

Sundara, son of Raja Guna Sindhu of Kanchi 
(Kanjivaram) hears a report of the remarkable 
beauty of the Princess Vidya, daughter of Raja 
Vira Siriiha of Burdwan. Vidya was not only a 
peerless beauty, but her scholarship was so great 
that she had sent a challenge all over India offering 
her hand to the person who would defeat her in 
scholarship. The challenge was accepted by many 
distinguished princes who flocked to the Burdwan 
palace, but they were all defeated by the princess 
whose scholarly discourses in various branches of 
learning completely out-witted them. 

Sundaia, without taking permission of his royal 
father, went alone incognito and riding a noble 
horse reached the capital of Raja Vira Siriiha. A 
large Bakula grove spread its shadow in the pre- 
cincts of the city and the fragrance of its flower was 
carried on all sides by the pleasant evening breeze, 
when Sundara alighted from his horse, and sat in 
the grove, not knowing where to seek shelter for 
the night. At that moment a rather elderly 
woman whose charms were not altogether lost by 
years, a courtezan and a coquette, happened to- 
come there to gather flowers, for Hira was a flower- 
woman whose duty it was to make wreaths and 
gadands for the ladies of the Raja's house at early 
dawn every day. She was charmed with the hand* 


some appearance of the Prince and offered to lodge 
him for the night and as long as he might wish to 
do so, if he wanted to put up at her place. He called 
her aunt, and though she was not pleased with the 
prince for calling her so, as in her heart of hearts 
she entertained the hope of being flattered with a 
little attention from him, yet she showed him every 
hospitality at her house ; but when she asked him 
who he was and what his mission was at Burdwan 
she could elicit no satisfactory reply. The Prince 
said he was a youngman who had taken a fancy to 
travel in various lands for the sake of pleasure. 

The evening passed in pleasant conversation, 
and in the night the flower-woman began to wreathe 
her floral store into garlands ; and placed them in a 
beautiful basket, and Sundar asked her what she 
would do with them. She said that the garland would 
be presented to Princess Vidya at early dawn, a task 
which it was her duty to perform every morning by 
appointment from the queen. The Prince was very 
much delighted to find in Hira a woman who had ac- 
cess to the Princess. He asked her many questions 
about the beauty of Vidya and Hira following the 
close lines of classical metaphor and a highly or- 
nate style, as dictated by the Sanskrit rules of 
rhetoric, drew an over-coloured sketch of the 
Princess which had the effect of greatly heightening 
the desire of the Prince for an interview with the 
far-famed beauty. He made a request to Hira to 
allow him to weave a garland of flowers for Vidya 
to be presented to her next morning ; of course he 
did not mean that it was to be offered in his name ; 
as usual she would give it to the Princess ; -the 
garland was to be woven by him this was all that 

Offers to 
present a 


he wanted. Hira did not see any harm in this and 
Sundar, who was an expert in the art of preparing 
floral wreaths applied his whole heart to the work 
and prepared a garland with remarkable skill ; the 
petals of the flowers were so arranged as to form 
characters by which he conveyed his love to the 
lady in a beautiful Sanskrit sloka. 

Hirg had to sit up till a late hour of the night, 
as much time was taken by Sundar in artistically 
preparing the garland ; so she was late in' arriving 
at the palace the next morning, and Vidya reproved 
message her for her delay threatening that she would bring 
effects. her conduct to the notice of the King. Hira said 
that it had taken her a long time to weave one 
special garland for her, and that the Princess should 
pardon her for this first fault. " Where is the 
Beautiful garland of which you speak ?" She said ; 
3,md as Hira handed the thing to her she felt the 
iawn of love in her heart as she read the name of 
the Prince, and the message conveyed to her by 
the exquisitely artistic arrangement of the flowers. 
It was as though reading an elegant poem ; the 
garland rich in design, perfect in execution and 
containing the sweet message of love, charmed her 
heart and she importuned Hira, asking her to tell 
her who it was that had made it. Hira at first tried 
to maintain her position by declaring that she her- 
self had done so ; but the Princess laughed at all 
attempts on her part to establish this point by 
oaths and long speeches, and she was afterwards 
obliged to confess the whole truth to Vidya who, on 
hearing it, could not disguise her feeling from the 
flower-woman and wanted to have a sight of the 
gifted youngman. 


The inner apartments of a Raja's house are A sight of 

eternally shut against all out-siders ; but through the 
shutters of her window, Vidya saw Sundara, who was 
brought by Hira to a convenient place that they 
might have a sight of each other. It should be stated 
here that Vidya's learned discussion with those 
who courted her hand were always, following the 
custom of Hindus in such cases, managed behind 
the screen with the help of interpreters and in 
no case was a prince allowed to have even a peep 
at her. 

They saw each other and fell in love, How 
could an interview be effected ? It was im- 
possible to attempt anything like it on the face of 
the guards those eunuchs who kept a strict and 
vigilant watch at the palace gate. Sundara disguis- 
ed himself as a Sannyasin, wore matted locks and 
a false beard and covered his face with ashes and 

saw Raja Vlra Sinha. To the surprise of the Raja Sundara a* 
. a sannya- 

and his courtiers he declared his desire to enter sin. 

into a scholarly discussion with Vidya, and, if he 
succeeded in winning the game, to take her for his 
wife. A strange story from the lips of an ascetic ! 
Such a challenge would only be entitled to credence 
and approval if a prince \vere the suitor. But as 
Vidya had promised that any man was welcome to 
accept the challenge irrespective of age and social 
status, the false Sadhu insisted on being ushered 
behind the screen to have a discourse with her in 
various branches of learning and win her for his 
bride. The maids of Vidya humourously asked her to 
match her powers with his and if she should prove 
the weaker of the two, to court the lot of an 
ascetic's wife and wonder with him bare-footed, 



Vidvi puts visiting shrines like Benares, Gayfi and Prayfcg ! 
date. But Vidya whose mind was full of the handsome 
prince would not allow the Sannyasin to approach 
her, and put off the date for doing so to an indefi- 
nite time on some pretext or other. 

Both the prince and the princess were longing 
for an interview. Hlr5 was taken into their con- 
fidence, but she was afraid of the guards who 
would tear her to pieces if they had a scent of 
her having a share in the business. 

Prince Sundara felt that life was unbearable 

without an interview with Vidya. He fasted and 

Equipped worshipped Kali with true devotion, who granted 

charmed ^im a charmed rod wherewith the prince worked 

rod - out a subterranean passage from the room in which 

he lodged, leading through a mazy tunnel to Vidya's 

room in the palace. 

The maids of Vidya were taken into her con- 
fidence and they all promised secrecy. One night 
when the starry sky, with its grey linings of clouds 
looked beautiful, causing sweet emotions to grow 
in young hearts. Vidya felt a great longing to 
meet the prince. The maids attending on her 
suddenly saw that a deep cavity had been made 
inside the room, through which a turban sparkling 
meeting, with diamonds rose before their bewildered gaze, 
and shortly after there appeared a human form, 
the handsomest that had ever met their eyes 
Sundara was smiling in triumph and looking to 
Vidya assured her that it was all through the grace 
of Kali that he had at last succeeded in making 
an Underground passage leading to her apartments, 
maids felt reassured at this words ; but Vidya 


said to them that though she could excuse the 
thief and the intruder, it was not possible to break 
her promise ; unless and until he could defeat 
her in scholarship there was absolutely no hope for 
him. Sundara readily accepted the challenge and 
there followed a discussion in Kavya, Nyaya, 
Dharma^astra, Philosophy and all other subjects 
of human knowledge. At every turn Vidya was 
brought to bay by the intellectual acumen and 
profound scholarship of the prince and when so 
vanquished, she had a smile for him, which, 
coupled with the glances that they stole at each 
others face, invested her defeat on the field 
with a sense of conquest over the heart of her 
antagonist and lover. Vidya now acknowledged 
that she was defeated and that she saw no ob- 
jection to her being united to him in marriage, 
true to her promise. Among the various systems 
of marriage of the Hindus there is the Gandharva 
vibaha or marriage in secret which makes the 
vows sacred and legal by mutual election of the 
bridegroom and the bride. No priest or third party 
is required to mini&ter to the ceremony, the only 
condition required to bring this marriage to a con- 
summation is to exchange garlands of flowers worn 
by each other. Vidya in great delight took off 
the floral garland from her neck and offered it to 
Sundara and Sundara did the same to her. So the 
marriage was completed, The poets say that 
Kamdeva or the God ol love, unseen by others, 
discharged the priestly function in this ceremony. 
The marriage parties consisted of six seasons 
headed by the spring and tinkling sounds of the 
ornaments, the napura> the bracelets, the kankana 

The defeat 
and mar- 
riage in 


worn by maids, sounded the musical notes to con- 
summate the event. 

Thus Vidya and Sundara met every night. The 
maids connived, and nothing was known about the 
marriage by the Rajs or his queen. Even in day- 
time they met, for Vidya had a compartment in 
the palace all reserved for herself, and her parents 
visited her only occasionally, and when they did so 
they generally sent previous informations of their 
visit. Chapter after chapter is devoted by Bharata 
Chandra to describing the manoevres of the husband 
and wife to give pleasure to each other by surprise- 
visits and by every form of play imaginable in 
which the young couple indulged to their heart's 
content. Raja Vira Sinha continued now and then 
to send information to his daughter about the 
ascetic till waiting as suitor for her hand, but Vidya 
would not listen to it. She declared that she would 
lead the holy life of a nun and had despaired of 
marriage as no prince could yet defeat her in 
scholarship. The ascetic, as I have said, was no 
other than Sundara himself, who passed his days 
m the city in the gaib of an ascetic, with the object 
of avoiding attention as he was ostensibly without 
any occupation. The prince and the princess in 
the meantime both insisted whenever they met 
Hira, the flower woman, on her helping them to 
have an interview with each other, and the poor 
woman was at her wit's end to devise some plan 
for their doing so. She was completely ignorant 
of the affair that was going on subrosa. 

The maids of Vidya were alarmed to find that 
the princess was enceinte v so that the fact of her 
marriage could not be longer concealed from 


her royal parents. In great dismay they discus- Conceal- 
sed among themselves what was to be done at longer safe. 
this crisis. It was settled that the matter should 
be brought to the notice of the queen ; for the 
disclosure of the circumstances through other 
sources, which was inevitable, would expose them 
to the lisk of losing theii lives, as they would be 
implicated in a share of the guilt. They would not 
disclose Sundara'b name but would bring the 
matter itself to the queen's notice a course to 
which Vidya had reluctantly to give her consent, as 
there was no other alternative. 

The queen heard of it ; she visited the princess, and 
after vainly attempting to extort the right infor- 
mation from her and rebuking her as best as she 
could, asked the maids to disclose the name of the 
person who was so bold as to violate the sanctity 
of the royal zenana ; but they washed their hands 
clean of all knowledge about any one and main- 
tained a determined silence, in answer to all en- Theexas. 
quires on this point. In a great rage the queen perated 
approached the Raja, who was taking his afternoon 
nap at the time ; the maids in attendance were 
waiting with chamars and fans standing silently 
like painted figures by his bed-side. The queen 
in a violent paroxysm of anger flew into the royal 
apartments and the tinkling sound of her napura 
awoke the king who was surprised to find her in 
such a condition. 

She related the story to the Raja, declaring 
him tofbe quite unfit to hold the sceptre since such 
a thing could happen in his own palace. The 
police staff was worthless, if they allowed a thief 


The police 

to enter the royal zenana and perpetrate such a 
heinous crime under the king's nose, what safety 
was there for the life and property of the poor 
people living in his dominion ? 

The Raja convened his court immediately. The 
chief officer of police came trembling before the 
enraged chief, and Vlra Sinha after relating the story 
said, " You base-born fellow, there will be one 
grave dug into which you and your children will 
be thrown if you cannot detect the thief." The 
officer with folded palms asked for seven days to 
make an enquiry and find out the thief. The Raja 
granted him the time saying, if on the expiry of 
seven days, the thief should not be brought to his 
presence, the officer would lose his head and his 
children would all be killed. 

The police officer commenced operations of a 
thorough inspection of the palace. Vidya was 
made to leave her apartment, and the police 
people flocked to see through what passage a thief 
might enter the house inspite ot such a strong 
body of guards. It took them no time to discover 
the hole the passage made by Sundara. They 
entered the hole but came back feeling as if 
the vaults of hell were open, there was no 
passage of light or air, the gloom that pervaded 
it over awed them and choked them. The bravest 
of them repeated his attempts several times and 
as many times came back apprehending the ap- 
proach of a venomous snake or some devil. 
Dhumaketu, the Inspector, pronounced it to be a 
hole made by a serpent and Yamaketu, another 
officer of the staff, said that u must have been 


made by some black spirit. Whatever it might be, 
they were unanimous in their opinion that in all 
probability that was the passage used by the thief. 
They all sat round the hole and contemplated the 
best method of carrying on a sifting investigation 
as to where it could lead. They thought of exca- 
vating the whole ground covered by it, but that 
course would require such an extensive operation 
through the hard ground-floor of the palace that 
seven days might not suffice for finishing the work. 
Kalaketu, a police officer, said : " Brethren, let us 
wait here in the disguise of maids ; the thief may 
come of himself to visit the princess." 

This idea was accepted by all. They brought 
various dresses and ornaments from the Raja's 
theatrical stock. One of them who had a charming 
face put on the dress similar to that of Vidya and 
twelve officers disguised themselves as twelve 
maids decorating themselves with great skill in- 
order to practise the deception successfully. 
Thirteen men belonging to the police staff had 
thus stationed themselves in the" apartments of 
Vidya. Sona Raya and Rup Raya, the chief officers, 
sat at the main gates leading to the palace. There 
were 28 minor gates and as many police Inspectors 
guarded them with a vigilant watch. One of the 
old women belonging to the family of a police 
Inspector, who used to wear a red coloured sadi 
and a garland of Java flowers round her neck, 
visited every house on some pretext or other, and 
employed her maidens on a similar mission, making 
enquiries of the women-folk of the town to get a 
clue to trace the thief. A thorough search was 
made of the incoming and outgoing boats and all 


arrivals and departures were subjected to a most 
careful search. 

Vidya could find no possible way to send in- 
formation to Sundara, as her apartments were 
occupied by officers of the detective department. 
The police were trying to detect a thief, that was 
all that the people knew ; no inkling as to a guilty 
connection with the royal zenana was obtained by 
any outsider, and Sundara had no thought of all 
this investigations having been aimed at the detec- 
tion of his crime. 

As usual dressed in his best attire, scented 
with atar extracted from the rose and jessamine, 
with his turban and apparel sparkling with diamonds 
his head full of love's reveries, Sundara entered 
the subterranean passage in the evening and ap- 
peared at the other end of the hole. The police 
Officers looked at each other and smiled. Sundara 
could not recognise them in the dim light which 
the police had purposely kept in the apartments. 
He sat smiling by the side of one who wore Vidya's 
dress and attemped the gay amours with her to 
which he was accustomed ; but the false lady hid 
her face behind the veil and would not show any 
sign of reciprocating his warm sentiments, at 
which he feared she was angry with him for some 
unknown cause. The prince looked helplessly around, 
and asked the maids to intervene in his behalf to 
make his lady-love as kind to him as she had ever 
been. The maids responded to his call and all 
at once seized him his lady-love also was not 
slow in joining her maids in according him the 
reception which a thief deserved at the hands of 
the police. 


In the meantime some of the officers groped 
in the darkness of the subterranean passage, at- 
tempting to discover the residence of the arch- 
thief whose daring and ingenuity was so great 
as to have outwitted the whole staff of guards. the trap. 
They were no longer afraid of the devil dwelling 
in the cell, nor of snakes, since they had seen the 
thief entering Vidya's apartments through it with 
his fine apparel, nothing soiled by the dirt of the 
cell. They had to go a long way before they saw 
the region of the sun and the moon, and it so 
happened that the first light they saw, discovered 
to their eyes a charming bunglow which was 
familiar to them all, as forming part of the house of 
Hlra the flower-woman. The faded beauty, whose 
face showed a strange combination of wrinkles and 
loveliness, was dragged out of her room and be 7 
laboured for giving shelter to a thief and helping 
him to dig a passage under the earth. HlrS swore 
by all that was holy to her, by her father's name 
by the name of Raja Vlra Sinha and by the head 
of Sona Ray, the chief officer of the police, that 
all was a mystery to her and that she knew no- 
thing of such developments in her house and in the 
palace. Dhumaketu remarked : " How could the 
thief have the knowledge of Vidya's apartments, 
if you did not draw a map for him, you old hag ?" 
They bound her in chains and drove her like an 
animal to the palace. 

Raja Vlra Sinha sat on his throne to pronounce 
his judgment on the daring thief who appeared 
to him to be a remarkable man, and whose per- 
formance sounded like a romance. Sundara was 
brought before him bound in chains ; the courtiers 



The preva- 
rications of 
before the 

felt the influence of the charm of his personality. 
He appeared perfectly indifferent to his fate, 
and with a stately demeanour approached the 
throne. He was more handsome than all the 
princes that had stood as suitors for the hands 
of the princess. Raja Vira Sinha felt compunc- 
tion at the noble sight of the young man who 
would be welcome as his son-in-law, if only 
his birth, status in life, and learning, had qualified 
him for the high honour, and if he had not stooped 
to the wicked device of a thief for winning the 
heart of his pretty daughter. The sword of the 
chief officer of police was unsheathed and it stood 
ready awaiting only the command of the king to 
sever the head of the thief from his body before 
all the assembled court The Raja asked the young 
man to relate his story, who he was, what was his 
father's name and why he stooped to such a mean 
device for gaining the princess. Sundara said 
in a half-humourous tone, " My name is Vidyapati 
(lit husband of Vidya), my father's name is 
father-in-law of Vidya, my home is in Vidya-nagar 
(village of the name of Vidya) and I belong to 
the caste of Vidya." The offended chief was 
angry beyond measure at the audacity of the 
rnan > and the chief officer of the police wanted 
permission to kill him on the spot, but the chief 
by a glance cast secretly at the officer forbade him 
to do so. The more the Raja tried to bring the 
thief to a confession of his guilt as also to giving 
an account of himself, the more did he frustrate 
him by ingenious replies, and at last recited 50 
slokas composed by himself, extempore, in which 
he described his love to Vidya, but these $hk&s (in 


Sanskrit) which are found in the Vidya Sundara of 
Bharata Chandra and are well known as " Chora 
Panchasata" could also be interpreted as signifying 
praises in honour of the Goddess Kali. They have 
double meanings. The Raja was struck by this 
display of erudition and felt that he was no ordi- 
nary person, but as he persisted in his wayward- 
ness, at last gave orders to take him away from his 
sight and lead him to the place of execution 

The handsomest young man that ever met 
the eyes of men in Burdwan, being cruelly bound 
hand and foot, was being carried to the execution- 
ground, and the citizens that witnessed the scene 
felt sorrow and sympathy for the prince, especially 
the women-folk who made all kinds of reflections, 
some of which were not in good taste, as many ot 
them expressed in an unreserved language their 
envy at the good fortune of Vidya in having pos- 
sessed him. These descriptions do not really 
represent the Hindu women whose natural shyness 
would scarcely allow them to overstep the limits of 
decency in such a gross manner. We have in our 
literature of to-day feminine characters like Ayesa 
and Kunda-nandinI imitations of Rebecca and 
Haidee, who though they do not actually come in 
gowns and bodices, display the heart of European 
maids through the thin cover of Indian sadi. The 
feminine characters depicted in Vidya Sundara and 
the ideas attributed to them are similarly foreign 
to us. They unmistakably show the stamp of the 
influence which the literature of an alien people 
left on our own. 

Sundara being taken to the execution ground, 
prays to Kali for succour. The story of rimanta 

Order for 

Saved by 


The story 

tola by 
Cuka con- 
firmed by 


Sadagara repeats itself here. Sundara prays to 
Kali invoking her by names which begin with each 
of the 34 letters of the Bengali alphabet. He receives 
the never failing help of the mother ; a great army 
of ghosts come and bind the king's army with 

In the court of the Raja the bird cuka com- 
municated a strange story. It told the Raja that 
the thief was no other than the far-famed prince of 
Kanchi, Sundara, whose learning, handsome appear- 
ance and martial acquirements were the pride of 
Southern India. The Raja asked cuka as to why 
he did not give an account of who he was, though 
he was repeatedly asked to do so. The bird said, 
it was not the custom with a prince to give an 
account of himself, the royal ambassador introduced 
him to Rajas of those countries which he might 
happen to visit. The ambassador Gangabhata 
had been sent to Kanchi to proclaim the challenge 
of Vidya in that city and he was called in. After 
making obeisence to the Raja he said in reply to 
the query put to him about the prince, " The prince 
of Kanchi has the title of Mahakavi or great poet, 
because he possesses poetical powers in an uncom- 
mon degree. I saw him at Kanchi ; than him a 
more handsome prince does not exist in the world ; 
when he heard of the beauty of Vidya and of the 
challenge she had offered, he suddenly disappeared 
from the city and since then nothing' is known of 
him. His royal; parents in great distress sent 
messengers everywhere to make enquiries about 
his whereabouts. But so long as I was there he 
did not return. It is not unlikely that he has come 
to Burdwan," 


The Raja sent the ambassador to the execution- 
ground to identify the thief if he was really the 
prince. Gangabhata came back forthwith and de- 
clared that the thief was the prince, to whom he 
had, while at Kanchi, delivered the letter of 

The Raja himself went to the execution-ground. 
There he saw his army mysteriously bound with 
chains and unable to speak, and the prince in an 
attitude of prayer looking up to heaven. He 
seemed so completely resigned that he looked 
like a beautiful statue placed there to dispel the 
horror of the execution-ground. The Raja went 
and embraced him as his son-in-law, and by the 
grace of Kali the royal army was released from 
the chains and was once more set free. 

The marriage of Vidya and Sundara had already Marriage 
taken place according to the Gandharva system, festivities. 
the ritual of which consisted only in the exchange 
of flower-garlands between the couple as a sign of 
their mutual selection of each other, and the public 
ceremony was now performed with great eclat. 
Sundara after having stayed at Burdwan for some 
time went to Kanchi with his wife Vidya and lived 
many long years in happiness. Nor must we omit 
to say that during the marriage festivities Hlra the The flower- 
flowerwoman was released and rewarded by Raja regarded. 
Vlra Sinha. 

(d) Early poets of the Vidya Sundara-poems. 

The oldest Vidya Sundara that we have been 
able to secure, was written by Govioda Dss in 


1595 A. D. The poet was born at Deogram 
The story in Chittagong and belonged to the Atriya Gotra, 
i5 oi?e? W and to the line of Naradas who was probably a 
Kayastha. It appears that there had been previous 
poems on Vidya Sundara from which our author 
drew his materials. We find in the Brahma khanda 
of the Bhavi?ya Put ana* the story of Vidya Sundara 
described at some length in racy Sanskrit verses. It 
is wrong to suppose that Bharata Chandra was the 
first to connect the story with the Burdwan Raj- 
family and that he did so to satisfy a private 
grudge. In the Brahma khanda we find mention 
not only of Burdwan as the place of occurrence of 
its incidents but also of Raja Vira Sinha; and Rama 
Prasada whose Vidya Sundara is earlier, as well 
places the scene in Burdwan. Besides these, in the 
Padmavati by Alaol we find a reference to the under- 
ground passage dug by Sundara which proves that 
the tradition of the story had existed in the country 
for a long time. The mould in which it was subse- 
quently cast by Bharata Chandra and other poets of 
his school bears the mark of Mahomedan influence. 
Govinda Das's poem was free from those vulgarities 
Govinda which are now associated with the story, owing to 

*n 95 ^ e Wa y * n w ^ c ^ Bharata Chandra dealt with it. 
But Govinda Das wrote in a highly Sanskritised 
style and in this respect had affinities with subse- 
quent schools of poets. The following passage 
shows the sort of style which now came gradually 
into favour and from which it is so hard to translate, 
owing to the fact that its merits lie wholly in its 
literary art : 

* According to Wilson, Brahma Khanda was composed shortly 
after 1550 A.D, See Indian Antiquary vol. XX P 4x9 (1891). 


*" All praise be to the Lord of gods iva, the 
saviour of the world. Many salutations do I offer 
to thy lotus feet* The stream of the Ganges 
adorns thy locks, the moon is thy crown ; garlands 
of flowers and snakes coiled into the form of 
wreaths adorn thy neck and soft curls of hair hang 
loo -e and touch thy ears. Thy three eyes though 
half shut gleam fiercely, and the lustre of thy body 
is like unto a silver mountain. O Thou, the des- 
troyer of the enemies of the gods and of the god 
of love, Thou Prince of ascetics, regaling thy- 
self in the joy of Yoga, thou Lord of Gouri thy 
humble votary pays his worship unto thee." 

Govinda Das was of a religious turn of mind 
and often his reflections are worthy of one versed 
in Vedanta philosophy. Here are a few lines : 

t " As one sees the reflection of himself in a 
mirror, so is Kali reflected in the universe. AH 
emanate from her and pass into her, just as the 
waters of the sea rising to the sky fill the streams 
and rivers with rain and flow back to the sea." 

ika Mangala by Govinda Das. 

"ffhrt ii 


Kfilikg Mangala by Govinda 

A hymn to 





1686 A.D. 




After Gov