"For the purpose of collecting these songs, how often have I had to seek the favour of many long-bearded Vaiṣṇava mendicants and after strenuous efforts to please these village worthies, succeeded in securing some old songs from them."
Unfortunately at that period the old Bengali MSS., lying in countless numbers mainly in the homes of the peasants, were unknown to educated Bengalis, and consequently Babu Jagatbandhu Bhadra had to appeal to Vaiṣṇava Bābājees who, however, did not supply him with much material.
After Jagatbandhu Bhadra's collection had been published, educated Bengalis seemed to be attracted a little by the beauty of Vaiṣṇava poetry, and as a result the late Babu Rajkrishna Mukherjee initiated a research in the field of old Vaiṣṇava poems, his discoveries about Vidyāpati being published in the ‘Vangadarshana’ in the year 1874. Babu Sāradācharaṇ Mitra published an edition of Vidyāpati in 1876, and 6 years later Sir George Grierson published 80 songs of Vidyāpati in an article in the Asiatic Society's Journal entitled 'An introduction to the Maithili Language of North Behar, containing a Grammar, Chrestomathy and Vocabulary'. Other workers were now gradually attracted to the field, and about this time Babu Aksayakumār Sarkār of Chinsurah, Hughli, published his selections from old Bengali poems called the ‘Prachīna Kāvya Sangraha'. Shortly afterwards, Babus Rabindranath Tagore and Shrīshchandra Majumdār jointly brought out an edition of 'Selections from Vaiṣṇava Songs'. The latest attempt in this field was made by the proprietors of the Bangabāsī Press, Calcutta. They have presented in one portly volume a considerable number of old and new Bengali songs.
2. The difficulties of recovering Bengali MSS. and a history of the present compilation.
Up to this time, however, no search for old Bengali manuscripts had begun, and the main sources from which the compilers constantly drew were the stocks of printed books published by the Baṭtatā Presses of Calcutta. Babu Rāmgati Nyāyaratna in the preface to his treatise on the Bengali Language and Literature published in 1873, admitted this in the following words:—
“One naturally becomes desirous of reading a book of which he has seen a notice. But the criticism of unpublished manuscripts, not available to the public, cannot satisfy such curiosity. So we have restricted our review only to those books which have been printed and have