বঙ্গ সাহিত্য পরিচয়/ভূমিকা
1. A brief survey of Bengali Anthology.
Anthology in our old
literature. When examining a collection of old Bengali MSS., we often come across volumes, more or less of an anthological character, containing choice passages from standard authors on a particular subject. In the days when printing was unknown, it was a saving of time and labour to the copyists to compile selections instead of transcribing the poems of individual writers in their entirety. For, mediocre poets had passages of occasional brilliancy, while the most favoured ones grew dull at times; and the copyists naturally preferred to select good passages and reject the dull and uninteresting ones, when preparing fair copies of a Rāmāyaṇa—a Mahābhārata—a Bhāgavata or a Manasār-Bhāsana—subjects upon which so many Bengali poets have written at various epochs of our literature. Anthology has therefore been a recognised branch of study and culture in Bengali Literature from very early times. The book “Twenty-two poets on Manasā Devi" published by Pandit Chandrakānta Chakravartī from Chittagong about twenty years ago, is a typical work of its kind. Among heaps of old Bengali MSS., written between the 15th and 18th centuries, we find numerous works of an anthological nature compiled by unassuming scholars who did not claim the distiction of compilers but subscribed their names at the end of the poems as mere copyists.
Its development in
the hands of the
Vaiṣṇavas. In the hands of Vaiṣṇava writers, however, anthology became a conscious and studied art. In the collection of old poems they showed a discernment and power of classification, which, based as they were on the works of the masters of Rhetoric, evinced wonderful subtlety in the analysis of poetical beauty and the finer emotions of the human heart. In the Bhaktiratnākara, a Bengali work written by Narahari Chakravartī between 1614-1625 A.D., we find 360 different kinds of love-emotions classified and defined in all their delicate shades. This clasification was of course based on the earlier Sanskrit works of Rupa and Sanātana, written during the first half of the 16th century. The songs of the Pada-Kartās were arranged in the works of the Vaiṣṇava compilers according to this minute classification. The first great selection of Vaiṣṇava-songs, now no longer extant, is said to have been compiled by the venerable Bābā Āul Manohara Dās towards the end of the 16th century. This selection was called the Pada-Samudra which, it is said, comprised 15000 songs. Many years ago the late Pandit Hārādhana Datta Bhaktinidhi of Badanganj—Hughli, showed me stray pages of this collection. But the complete MS. said to have been in his possession seems now to be lost. It was too bulky to be copied or used for ordinary purposes. The next collection of the Vaiṣṇava songs, entitled the ‘Padachintāmaṇimālā’, was made by Prasāda Dās, one of the disciples of Shrīnivāsa Āchārya—the great Vaiṣṇava apostle of Bengal in the 16th century. Far more valuable is the ‘Padāmrita Samudra’ another well-known collection of old Bengali songs compiled about 1710 A.D. by Rādhāmohana Thākura, a descendant of Shrīnivāsa Āchārya. The Bengali songs in this collection were annotated in Sanskrit by the learned compiler, and his annotation was named the ‘Mahābhābānusāriṇī’ or ‘the interpreter of great emotions.’ After Rādhāmohana Thākura, down to the end of the 19th century, we find innumerable song-anthologies, such as the ‘Gītachintāmaṇi’ by Hariballabhā Dās, ‘the Gītachandrodaya’ by Narahari, the ‘Padakalpalatikā’ by Gaurimohana Dās, and the ‘Rasa-manjari’ by Pītāmvara Dās, besides the ‘Pandārṇavasārāvalī,’ the ‘Līlā Samudra’, the ‘Chamatkār-chandrikā’, the ‘Gīta-kalpataru’ and many others. Some of these are anonymous.
But by far the most important anthology of Vaiṣṇava songs in Bengali was made by Vaiṣṇava Dās of Teyañ-Vadyapur in the district of Burdwan. This name he had adopted as a Vaiṣṇava with conventional humility, his real name being Gokulānanda Sen. He was born about the year 1688 A. D. There are altogether 3001 songs in this important compilation which was named the ‘Pada-kalpataru’. In the prefatory verses of this book, he thus writes about his efforts to collect old songs:—
“Rādhāmohana Thākura descended from the great Shrīnivāsa Āchārya, was possessesed of great qualities which it is impossible to praise in adequate language. He made a collection of old songs and named it the ‘Padāmrita-Samudra’ (an ocean of song-nectar). My interest was roused by singing these songs, and I determined to make a new collection. With this object in view I travelled a good deal, gathering together old songs. Those already found in the Padāmrita-Samudra were included in my compilation which is based on them. But the present work contains a large number of old songs not to be found elsewhere.”
In the more modern
times. The credit of collecting old poems in comparatively modern times must rest with the poet Iswara chandra Gupta, whose indefatigable labour and sacrifice in this field are touchingly narrated by him in the preface to his edition of Bhārata chandra’s Vidyāsundara published in 1854 and quoted in this book on pp. 1809–1815. Iswara chandra was charmed with the old poems of Bengal and he made a vigorous search to recover them between 1840-50. The poems he collected were published in his magazine 'the Sambāda Prabhākara', in the January numbers of 1852 and 1853. But his labours were mainly restricted to the period of Bengali literature between the middle of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The next collection made by Babu Mahendranāth Rāy and published by the Sanskrit Press in 1852 comprised, besides some poems of Bhārata chandra, a considerable portion of those of Mukundarāma, who was a contemporary of Akbar. The collection was complete in two parts, (Demy 176 pages,) and Babu Mahendranāth wrote thus in his preface: "I hope that this selection may. safely be placed in the hands of our boys; for there is nothing in it which may not be read aloud by a youngman in the presence of his elders." The compiler then takes considerable pains to prove that poetry is a subject worth studying. He attempts to refute the view held by learned men of his time, chiefly those who studied Logic in Bengal, that "poetry is a subject which can only amuse children. Far from having any edifying influence of its own, it only serves to dull the edge of intelligence." Bhārata chandra, Mukundarāma, Nidhu Babu, Haru Thākura and a few other Kaviwalās were, it appears, the only poets of the old school, whom the educated people of the country seemed to recognise in the earlier half of the 19th century.
Our best poetry of the old school, however, belonged undoubtedly to the Vaiṣṇavas. But these were viewed with great disfavour by educated Bengalis in the early years of the English influence which engendered in our young men an austere puritanic taste and an almost morbid idea of decency. In the Tatwabodhinī Patrikā which was the organ of the educated young men of Bengal at that time, we frequently come across invectives and abuses levelled against the worship of Kriṣṇa as promulgated by the Bhāgavata.
It was therefore an epoch-making event in the history of the Vernacular literature of Bengal when Babu Jagatbandhu Bhadra, then a teacher in a Government School, with the help of Babu Umācharan Dās, who was a prodigy of English learning among Bengalis in those days, brought out an edition of the songs of Vidyāpati and Chandidas in the year 1872. Though Jagatbandhu Babu made use of the Pada-kalpataru which was already printed by some of the presses of Baṭtalā in Calcutta, he also collected a considerable number of songs written by these two poets, not hitherto published. He writes in a half-humorous style in his preface:—
"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 purposely avoided dwelling upon all unpublished works, however high merits some of them might possess."
The Asiatic Society of Bengal was at the time making vigorous search for old Sanskrit manuscripts; Search for Bengali MSS. but no attempt was made to recover ancient Bengali MSS. till 1878, when Sir George Grierson published the ballads of King Mānikchandra in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Deva Nāgri characters with notes and an English translation. In 1892 the Peace Association of Calcutta announced a prize for the best essay on the origin and growth of the Bengali Language. While engaged in writing an essay for this competition, I happened by chance to come across an ancient manuscript of the poem Mrigalubdha by the poet Rati Deva of Chakrashālā in Chittagong, and on further enquiries I learned from reliable sources that many such ancient books, mostly ill-preserved, were to be found throughout the villages of Eastern Bengal buried away in the houses of the rustics. As I found it impossible to collect these valuable works unaided, I applied to Dr. Hœrnle for advice in the matter. He instructed Mahāmahopādhyāya Haraprasād Shāstrī to render me all possible assistance from the Asiatic Society of Bengal in my search for manuscripts. Accordingly Pandit Binodbihari Kāvyatīrtha of that Society was appointed to assist me, and he came to Tippera for this purpose in 1893. By the year 1894 I was in possession of quite an unexpected treasure of old MSS. collected from various parts of Bengal—mostly from Eastern Bengal. The existence of these was absolutely unknown to the educated people of the present generation. Gradually an increasing number of such MSS. was discovered, and after the publication of my History of the Bengali Language and Literature in Bengali in the year 1896, a lively interest was taken by the educated community in the subject and vigorous measures were adopted to recover these precious works. It became clear to all that unless the contents of these ill-preserved MSS. could be saved by means of printing them, the bulk of such valuable materials must be ultimately lost. Mahāmahopādhyāya Haraprasād Shāstrī collected on behalf of the Asiatic Society nearly 800 of them and about an equal number is now in possession of the Sāhitya Pariṣat of Calcutta. Munsi Abdul Karim of Chittagong, Babus Shivaratan Mitra and Nilratan Mukherjee of Bīrbhum, Babus Haragopāl Kundu and Surendranārāyaṇ Roy of Rangpur, Babus Basantaranjan Roy and Haridās Pālit of Bankura, and Babu Akrurchandra Sen of Manikganj, Dacca, Babus Shivachandra Shīl and Hārādhana Datta of Hughli and Babu Achyutchandra Chaudhuri of Maina, Kānaibazar, Sylhet, have laboured hard in their search for old Bengali MSS. They have, I am afraid, received but little recognition for their disinterested labours. In at least two cases that I know of, want of encouragement has well-nigh quenched the enthusiasm of earnest workers. Munsi Abdul Karim, whose indefatigable labour in the field entitles him to be ranked as no mean scholar, struggled hard with poverty as a school master in a Chittagong M. V. school for many years. The workers go unrewarded. Failing in his attempts to secure a suitable post in Calcutta where he could be in touch with some good libraries, he has practically retired from the field of research and must now be content with his humble berth in the office of the Inspector of Schools, Chittagong. The duties of his present position leave him but little leisure or opportunity to conduct the research so earnestly begun. Such has also been the lot of Babu Shivaratan Mitra who is now a clerk in the office of the District Magistrate of Birbhum, and whose repeated attempts to settle in Calcutta for the purpose of conducting his researches, have met with failure. Yet these men are of approved worth and it will be difficult to find their equals in this department. The recovery of old Bengali MSS. is a task which requires special ability, tact and industry, and efficient men in this line are not easily available.
There is a unique treasure of old MSS. lying in all parts of Bengal, even a hundredth part of which has not yet seen the light. They comprise works on a great variety of subjects important to all students of Indian History. Importance of these old MSS. The literature of the Sahajiyā-cult of the Vaiṣṇavas discloses startling facts showing on the one hand the degeneracy of the Buddhist Tāntriks, and on the other, the spiritualizing influence of the Vaiṣṇavas who attempted to mould the old religious doctrines into a new form on the basis of their emotional creed. The Dharmamangala-poems give glimpses of the pre-Mahomedan Bengal; and the innumerable biographies of the Vaiṣṇavas give graphic accounts of the social history of this country in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Many other interesting matters lie hidden in our old literature, and these will be touched upon later on in the preface. Here, I want only to impress on my readers the importance of the subject. These works are indeed a rich mine of historical, philological and literary information. It is by no means an easy thing to secure them. Year by year a large number of these works is consigned to the Ganges or to some other river by their owners. For if the latter think that they cannot preserve them with due care, they consider it an act of virtue to throw them into some river; but they are not, generally speaking, inclined to part with these books in favour of any individual seeking them. It is always therefore a very hard thing to secure them from these superstitious people. All direct questionings as to whether there are old manuscripts in a particular house are looked upon with suspicion by illiterate rustics, as they apprehend such an enquiry to be the precursor of some oppression. The unwillingness of the owners to part with them. In several instances the owners of old MSS., when they came to learn that I had sure knowledge of their possession, fell prostrate at my feet with tears in their eyes and implored me not to impose an income tax on them for keeping these books! It was difficult on my part to convince them of the reason why I wanted the MSS. The rustic villagers of Eastern Bengal especially I found very unwilling to part with the books in their possession. In the village of Rājbāri in Tipperah I found a whole poem of Mahābhārata by Nityānanda Ghosh, the reputed predecessor of Kāshi Dās, copied about three hundred years ago, lying in the house of an illiterate washerman. I offered him a reasonably large sum for the book, but he declined to sell it. A fortnight after this refusal, his house was burnt and the rare old MS. with it!
While Sanskrit MSS. generally bear bark covers, the bulk of Bengali MSS. are found inside wooden covers decorated with various artistic engravings or with paintings and designs showing Pauranic models. They are tied with strong twine and I often came across MSS. from two to three hundred years old, with no sign of having been opened for a century and a half. The yellow paper, on which the books were written was specially prepared with arsenic and other ingredients as a preventive against old insects. The story of an old woman and her MS. In a village on the border-land of Sylhet, fatigued by a walk of 18 miles without food, I approached the house of a milkman where it had been reported there was an old MS. One of her near relations introduced me to the old woman of the house who was the owner of the book and she agreed to show it to me. I found it under a heap of flowers and Bel leaves, for it used to be worshipped daily in the house. I showed the old woman my sacred thread and gained permission to touch the book. While I was untying the cover, the old woman was clamouring at the highest pitch of her voice, warning me to be careful and expressing her doubt that I would be able to tie the covers again as tightly as they were before. I did not pay any heed to her words, but opened the MS. and took my notes from it. When, however, I had finished my work and was about to fasten it again, the old woman cried out that the binding was not tight enough. I applied all my might, but the ancient milkman who had tied it more than a century before, must have been a veritable rustic Samson, as the impression of the cord on the wooden covers of the book indicated; and how could I, a frail mortal, cope with that giant's might and fit the cord on his lines! ‘It is loose’, ‘it is loose’, she cried, till she became fierce, and my palms were torn and bleeding in several places as I drew the cord round the book with my utmost strength.
Such were my experiences. The Sanskrit MSS. preserved mainly in the houses of the educated Brahmin community afford far less difficulty in this way than the old vernacular books. It is neither convenient nor agreeable to visit the straw-roofed sheds and mud-hovels of the poor and superstitious artisans who are generally their custodians, and the distant villages of Bengal are not always easy of access. A journey to them is often attended with considerable hardship and risk. One night's experience. I recollect how one night I and my companion, Kalikānta Barman, were providentially saved from death while returning after a fruitless search for old MSS. from the village of Gailara in the district of Tipperah. We lost our way in the dead of night and wandered for many long hours in the dense forest of the hilly land infested with snakes and tigers, while violent storm and rain raged around and an impenetrable darkness encircled us. It should be stated here that force is of no avail in collecting old books. If violence or coercion of any kind is to be employed, the villagers will often shut their doors and deny that they possess any MS.
Mr. N. Vasu's library of MSS. By far the largest collection of old Bengali MSS. is to be found in the library of Mr. Nagendranāth Vasu, the editor of the Bengali Encyclopaedia, ‘the Vishvakoṣa’, and I am proud of the fact that I was of some help to this scholar in collecting them. In August 1897, I was living at No. 14 Rājābāgān Street, Calcutta, and was very seriously ill. A man named Rāmkumār Datta, a native of Patrasiar in the district of Bīrbhum, was employed by me at the time as a servant in my house. I trained this man in the art of collecting Bengali MSS. and sent him to Viṣṇupur and other places several times during the year for the purpose. Some of the MSS. he collected under my instructions and guidance were important and rare. But as I was in great pecuniary straits at the time, and could ill afford to pay for the MSS. and the expenses of Rāmkumār's trips to the Mofussil, I advised Mr. Vasu to utilize the trained services of this man and he readily complied with my suggestion. Rāmkumār was thus transferred to his service and for a period of more than ten years collected old MSS. from various parts of Bengal, Mr. Vasu sparing neither pains nor money to replenish his library with this valuable collection of books. His library now contains more than 1500 old Bengali MSS. I studied most of these at the time they were collected, so they have been of great help in compiling the present work.
How to preserve these works? The great problem that confronts all lovers of Bengali literature is how to make this important find easily accessible to the public. Unless this is done, no research by individual writers can be put to a scientific test by the scrutiny of the literary critics. It is true that some of these old works have been printed at Baṭtalā, and the late Rāmnārāyaṇa Vidyāratna of Berhampur, with the munificent donation of a lakh of Rupees from the late Mahārājā Bīr Chandra Mānikya of Tipperah, published a number of Sanskrit and Bengali works of the Vaiṣṇavas. The Sãhitya Parisats of Calcutta and Rangpur have also published some old poems with notes. But I am of the opinion that the time for editing old books which the Parisats and other literary bodies have taken upon themselves to accomplish, has not yet arrived. A very large number of these books still lie unpublished. When these are collated and carefully studied, it will then be safe and proper to edit individual works. All premature attempts to edit a book when sufficient materials bearing upon it have not been examined, is sure to lead to wrong conclusions. So I once suggested that instead of wasting time and money on editing individual books which necessarily retard the progress of the publication of the whole, the MSS. already secured by the Sãhitya Parisat of Calcutta might be at first rapidly published; so that in two or three years we might actually possess a considerable number of published old books; and when this result was achieved, experts might be employed to edit or annotate important individual works. But my suggestion was not accepted. The number of old Bengali works already printed at Baṭtala and elsewhere is considerable; but by far the greater number of books, some of which are valuable and important are still, as I have said, lying in the shape of MSS. exposed to the risk of being ultimately lost.
The importance of publishing these MSS. was greatly felt by Mr. Rabīndranāth Tagore, who about four years ago, in consultation with his nephew, Mr. Gaganendranāth Tagore, proposed that a lakh of Rupees should be raised by subscription from a few enlightened zemindars of this province, provided the compiler of the present work could undertake the sole charge of printing and publishing them. The Vice-Chancellor approached. Owing to ill-health, I declined to undertake this huge task, and Mr. Rabindranāth Tagore sought the opinion of Sir Asutosh Mookerjee as to whether the University of Calcutta could undertake to do so. The Vice-Chancellor, whose zeal in the cause of the vernacular language is well-known, at once realised the importance of the matter, but for the present he thought it better to have ‘Typical Selections from the Old Bengali Literature’ compiled on a somewhat large scale, than try to bring out the whole mass of old writing, which would necessarily involve a very considerable expenditure. The present compilation. In September, 1910, I was employed by the Syndicate to prepare this compilation. This is, in brief, the history of the origin of the present work.
3. The need of a Bengali anthology felt by European Orientalists.
It is noteworthy that the Orientalists of Europe have also felt the need of a compilation of this sort. The Times of London while reviewing my History of Bengali Language and Literature in its issue of the 20th, June 1912, wrote: “If we may be allowed to make the suggestion, the University of Calcutta might now employ Mr. Sen in preparing an anthology of characteristic passages from ancient authors, with a running commentary and literal prose translation into modern Bengali. The extracts should be made rather with a view to the linguistic interest of the passages chosen than to their literary merit. Such a work would be invaluable to European students of the language and might incidentally show educated Bengalis, often culpably careless of their own literature, how much of old world charm still lives in the work of rustic but happily inspired bards.” M. Jules Bloch of Paris, who is now enthusiastically engaged in studying the Indian vernaculars, complains (in his letter to me, dated 22nd March, 1912) that the meanings of old and obsolete words given in my History help him but little as he has no opportunity to go back to the text itself. Mr. J. D. Anderson, a retired civilian and Professor of Bengali in the University of Cambridge, has strongly urged in several letters the need of a Bengali scholar taking upon himself the task of compiling an anthology of the old literature of Bengal. But these scholars did not know then that the Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University had already anticipated the importance of the subject and made arrangement for the publication of a work of this nature. The literal translation of ancient poetry into modern Bengali prose recommended by the Times does not appear to be a necessary thing, as a large portion of old poetry is intelligible by itself and, where necessary, notes have been appended to explain difficulties. But some of the earlier writings, especially those of a sectarian character, such as the songs of the Sahajiyās and descriptions of the rituals of the Dharma-cult, have baffled all attempts of the compiler at satisfactory interpretation. Still he has given short extracts from them in the hope that there may be found among the readers of the book some men more competent than he to solve the knotty problems raised by the mystic writings.
I cannot help alluding with permissible pride to the gracious mention of this book by His Excellency the Chancellor of the Calcutta University in his Convocation address delivered on the 16th March, 1912. These are His Excellency’s words:—
"Mr. Sen is about to supplement his History of Bengali Language and Literature by another contribution to the history of one of the most important vernaculars in this country. May I express the hope that this example will be followed elsewhere, and that critical schools may be established for the vernacular languages of India, which have not as yet received the attention that they deserve."
4. The intrinsic worth of our past literature and its high claims admitted by European scholars.
An opinion still seems to prevail in some quarters that after all there may not be anything worth preserving in the old Bengali literature. Fortunately such a view is restricted only to a few anglicised Bengalis, who seem to be ashamed of the soil of their birth and would, if they could, drown it for ever in the Ganges. They have caught the echo of the remarks of the contemporaries of Eben Betuta that the country is a "blissful hell" from the European scholars of the old school who did not know anything of the past history of our race. It is a matter of some gratification that modern European scholars have just began to realise the importance of our language. Men like Dr. Kern, Sir George Grierson, and M. Sylvain Lévi have recognised the high claims of the Indian Vernaculars and especially of Bengali which heads the list in the width of its scope and in the wealth of its literary productions. As far back as 1801 William Carey had made the pronouncement in the preface to his Bengali Grammar that the Bengali language "current through an extent of country nearly equal to Great Britain, when properly cultivated, will be inferior to none in elegance and perspicuity". Mr. F. H. Skrine, late of the Indian Civil Service, says in one of his letters that "Bengali unites the mellifluousness of Italian with the power possessed by German of rendering complex ideas". Mr. J. D. Anderson remarks that, "The really interesting thing about Bengali is its extraordinary resemblance to French. I have a strong feeling that the extraordinary and most expressive richness of Bengali in the compound verb (a clumsy term) is due to the fact that the indigenous castes once used agglutinative verbs”. In the year 1850 P. S. Dorazario and Co., Tank Square, Calcutta, published "An introduction to the Bengali Language, adapted to students who know English". In the preface to this work we find the following remark (on p. v). "Bengali is truly a noble language even in its present state, able to convey almost any idea with precision, force and elegance. Words may be compounded with such facility and to so great an extent, that any scientific or technical term of any language may be rendered by an exact equivalent, an advantage which among the dead and living languages of Europe is only possessed by Greek and German."
We may go on quoting similar opinions from scholars who speak with authority on the subject, advancing high claims for Bengali. But it is hardly necessary to increase the length of this preface with such extracts. What I urge is that this beautiful language of ours, spoken by millions of people dwelling in the lower Gangetic valley, possesses a literature which any nation may well be proud of. It is true that the old Bengali literature in its primitive stages is permeated by a rustic element; but no apology, I think, is needed on our part for this. This is true of all other literary languages of the world in the early periods of their growth. If some of the earlier Bengali poems occasionally show a coarse humour, because this old literature of ours has sprung from the masses, it also possesses the real poetry of the race, being an expression of hearts that beat with the true emotion of the country-folk. While the higher class of people in the early stages of our vernacular literature wrote in Sanskrit and pandered to the taste prevalent in the Hindu and Mahomedan courts, the country-people composed songs and ballads, which possess a far more representative character and with all their faults have a charm which must appeal strongly at least to the Bengali race.
With the advent of Chaitanya Deva, this literature at once shook off all its coarse elements and flourished in all the genuine wealth of true poetry and learning. Scholars reputed far and wide for their learning in Sanskrit began to write books in Bengali, and Bengali poems were found of such merit and elegance that learned pandits came forward to annotate them in Sanskrit. Works showing extraordinary erudition and wealth of material were undertaken by veteran scholars in Bengali. Such for instance is the Chaitanya-Charitāmrita written by Kriṣṇadās Kavirāja who had devoted his whole life to the study of theology, living as a bachelor and recluse in Brindābana. He commenced to write his books in his 87th year, finishing it in 10 years in 1615 A.D. Of almost equal merit and learning is also the monumental work, the Bhaktiratnākara, by Narahari Chakravarti, written between 1614 and 1625 A.D. As for the Vaiṣṇava songs it will be found difficult to find their parallel in any language or any country. A gifted European disciple of the late Swāmī Vivekānanda once told me that the Swāmī used to say that "the Vaiṣṇavas of Bengal had exhausted all resources of tender emotions". Says Mr. S. K. Ratcliff, in the paper, 'India', published from London in its issue of the 15th March, 1912: "The English reader is used to being told that the Western convention of romantic love between youth and maid is entirely foreign to Eastern habits of feeling", but a study of "Chaṇdidās and his successors should cause him to abandon that view, for he will find there not only love-poetry indistinguishable in essence from that of Europe, but proof of the existence in India of a fashion precisely similar to that of the mediæval courts of love". M. Sylvain Lévi in the Revue Critique, D'Histoire et De Littérature (January 18, 1913), speaks enthusiastically of "the songs of passionate love of Chaṇdidās"; and May Sinclair in a recent issue of the North American Review quotes abundantly from the old Bengali songs of the Vaiṣṇavas showing their high degree of excellence. Sir George Grierson praises "the matchless sonnets of Vidyāpati" in his History of the Literature of Hindusthan, and he says elsewhere "the glowing stanzas of Vidyāpati are read by the devout Hindu with as little of the baser part of human sensuousness as the song of Solomon is by the Christian priest". "They (Vidyāpati's songs) became great favourites of the more modern Vaiṣṇava reformer of Bengal—Chaitanya—and through him songs purporting to be by Vidyāpati have become as well-known in Bengali households as the Bible is in an English one." It is not merely the Vaiṣṇava poems that have attracted the attention of European scholars, the late Professor E. B. Cowell of Cambridge had a great admiration for the Shākta poet, Mukundarāma, a considerable portion of whose poems was translated by him into English verse. He compared the Bengali poet to Chaucer and Crabbe and used to recite passages from the poem to Bengali gentlemen who paid a visit to him. Miss Noble speaks thus of Râmprasāda Sen, another Shākta poet of Bengal, in her beautiful booklet entitled "Mother Kāli." "No flattery could touch a nature so unapproachable in its simplicity. For in these writings we have perhaps alone in literature the spectacle of a great poet whose genius is spent in realising the emotions of a child. William Blake in our own poetry strikes the note that is nearest his, and Blake is by no means his peer. Robert Burns in his splendid indifference to rank and Whitman in his glorification of common things have points of kinship with him. But to such a radiant white heat of childlikeness, it would be impossible to find a perfect counterpart. His years do nothing to spoil his quality. They only serve to give him self-confidence and poise. Like a child he is now grave, now gay, sometimes petulant, sometimes despairing. But in the child all this is purposeless. In Rāmprasāda there is a deep intensity of purpose. Every sentence he has uttered is designed to sing the glory of his mother." As yet the works of our early poets have not been translated into English and made known to European Scholars, except in stray cases where they have elicited well-merited admiration. When these works are better known, they will, I confidently hope, draw a large number of admirers from all parts of the enlightened world. Mysticism in literature is justly receiving a tribute of praise from European scholars at the present moment, and this element predominates in our early poems—especially in those of the Vaiṣṇavas.
Mr. F. H. Skrine in a letter regretfully says, "if a tithe of the pains given by the Bengalis to acquire a smattering of English had been devoted to their mother tongue, they would long since have ceased to merit the reproach of producing little or no original work".
It is a note-worthy fact that while our poets sang and scholars laboured in the cause of the Vernacular Literature, the aristocracy of the country, both Hindu and Mahomedan, were not slow in rendering active support towards its development. Great sacrifices of time and money were made by munificent noblemen of the country for preparing translations of the Sanskrit epics and other religious works. They were anxious to enlighten the popular mind, and made free gifts to the poets towards this end. The reader is referred to the enormous costs borne by Rājā Jay Nārāyaṇa and the pains he took for translating the Kāsī-Khaṇda, mentioned in my History of Bengali Language and Literature (pp. 782-787). Rajā Jaychandra of Chittagong in the eighteenth century engaged a pundit named Bhabāninath for translating a Sanskrit Purāna on a pay of Rs. 300 a month. The value of this amount was much higher than now and it will be curious to note in this connection that even at a much later period Warren Hastings used to draw Rs. 300 a month as a member of the Council and in 1767 the local Government had to submit an explanation to the Directors of the East India Company for paying Rs. 300 a month to Major Rannell as Surveyor General of India—the amount being considered too high a pay for that officer! The patronage accorded by the Mahomedan Emperors of Gour to the Vernacular Literature in the 15th and 16th centuries, marks an epoch in its history, and the bounty of Rājā Kriṣṇachandra of Navadwīp and other Hindu noblemen in its cause at a later period is too well known to need a more than passing mention here. Not only the poets but even the copyists of vernacular poems were highly rewarded by their patrons. One of the striking illustrations of munificent gifts made to a copyist is mentioned in my History of Bengali Language and Literature (p. 104). Enumerable instances of liberal gifts conferred on the poets may be cited. Occasionally, however, we meet with glorious examples of self-denial and true Brahmanic pride in the poets themselves. When an Emperor of Gour in the beginning of the fifteenth century offered to give Krittivāsa whatever he might seek as reward for translating the Ramāyaṇa, he said, "I do not accept any money from any one. Whatever I do, I do for glory alone". The Vaiṣṇava poets lived in the heaven of their own consummate bliss and emotional felicity and sang without any thought of earthly reward.
The joint hands of the rich and the gifted contributed to the development of our past Literature and it ill becomes us to overlook this precious heirloom. If we do not bestir ourselves by taking vigorous steps to preserve these works by publishing their contents, they will ere long be doomed to inevitable destruction. We must develop the resources of our knowledge by an intimate aquaintance with this valuable heritage, lest in the march of civilization we are found wanting, and awake late only to discover that our treasure is lost owing to inadvertence and folly. Surely there is great force in the words of Justice J. G. Woodroffe who says, "Those who can find nothing worth remembering or keeping of their own, had better write themselves out from the list of peoples".
5. The arrangement followed in this book and its contents.
This book contains sufficient material for ordinary purposes. There are, however, many works in our old literature each of which is of greater dimension than the present compilation. The Brihat Sārābalī alone contains 95000 verses. The smaller works count by hundreds. So the extracts given in this book, though enough to create curiosity and interest in the subject, are inadequate for the purpose of a critical and special study of our past literature from the historical, philological or literary points of view. But for the present if it is proved by this work that the subject is of sufficient interest, it will, I hope, draw workers into the field and if this result is achieved, the purpose of the present compilation will be served.
Something should be said about the arrangement of the poems and other writings contained in this book. The entire past literature of Bengal has not been viewed and treated as a whole from a chronological point of view. The writings belonging to particular subjects and religious cults have been classified and grouped together, and chronology has been observed 16 INTRODUCTION. in regard to each of such groups. The classification has been made as follows:— 1. The Buddhistic age a s a ... 8th-12th century. 2. The Songs of Shiva - - - ... 10th-18th 35 3. The Song of the Sun-God ... ... 10th ox 4. Poems on Manasā Devi - - - ... 12th-18th 33 5. Poems on Chandi * * * ... 13th-18th y? 6. Poems on Dharma - - - ... 15th-18th 33 7. The Rāmāyana ... - - - ... 14th-19th yy 8. The Mahābhārata - - - ... 14th-18th yy 9. The Bhāgavata ... * - a ... 15th-19th yy 10. The Vaişņava Padas - - - ... 14th-18th o 11. The biographical works of the Vaisnavas 16th-19th 2y 12. Miscellaneous translations ... ... 16th-18th yy 13. Miscellaneous poems - - - ... 15th-19th 25 14. The Age of Rājā Krisnachandra ... 18th 23. 15. Old songs --- - - - ... [8th xx 16. The Sahajiyā literature - - - ... 14th-18th לע 17. Old prose - - - * * * ... 14th–19th sy 18. The supplement. I have already said that many of the old Bengali poems lay forgotten for centuries, while only a few of them were published at various times by the Battala presses; this small number of books claimed a precedence over others sometimes by their own intrinsic merit but oftener by sheer good fortune. The poems, thus favoured, became known to the public while others, often more meritorious than they, lay unrecognised and unknown, pining in the cold shade of popular neglect. The song of Shiva by Rāmeswara written about 1750 A.D. is the only work of the Shaiva literature that is known to the people. Out of a very considerable number of Shaivait poems that have come to light quite recently, I have given extracts from the writings of the following — 1–3. Three sets of manuals of Shaiva worship called the Gâzan composed probably in the 10th century with subsequent interpolations and changes in them, collected from Maldah, Burdwan and Backergunj Districts. Shaiva Literature. 4. Song of Shiva by Rāmāi Pandit ... ... 10th century. 5. ,, , , , Rāmkrisma ... ... 17th century. 6. ,, , , , , ,, Jivana Maitra ... ... 1744 A.D. 7. ,,, , , ,, Rāmeshwara ... ... about 1750 A.D. INTRODUCTION. 17 Among the poets of Manasi Mangala the names of Nārāyana Deva, Vijaya Gupta and Ketakā Dās Ksemānanda are generally Manasa Mangala. known. Sixty authors, however, have up to now been discovered who wrote such poems. Out of these I have given extracts from the following:— Manasā Mangala by Hari Datta 23. l 2 3. , 4. xx 5 23 22 23. xx 2? 10. ** zy 23
2? 翼翼 23. 23 22 „ Nārāyaņa Deva 22
Vijaya Gupta ... Vanshivadana . . . Sashtivara Gangādās Sen ... 12th century. 13th century. 1478 A.D. 1575 A.D. 16th century. 33 23 Ketakādās Kşemānanda 1650 A.D. Jagajivana Rāmavinoda Dwija Rasika zz ** I could not secure a copy of Mayurbhatta's poem which is the earliest Dharma mangala. written in 1713 A. D. ; so this book has been popularised. given extracts from the following poems:– 1. Dharma Mangala by Govinda Bandyopādhyāya i 5 *
22 work on Dharma. The Bangabási press of Calcutta published some years ago Ghanarām's Dharma Mangala
33 23 xy 33 Ruprâma Māņik Gānguli Sitaräma. Das Rāmehandra Banerji Rāmnārayaņa Ghanarāmā I have here 15th century. 1547 A.D. 1597 A. D. 17th century. joy yy 1713 A. D. Krittivāsa is admittedly the best and the earliest writer of the Rāmāyana Ramayana. generally forgotten. the Rāmāyana in my History in Bengali. But other poets who adopted the popular story of Rāma and wrote poems on it have been I have mentioned twenty eight Bengali authors of of Bengali language and Literature. Here is a list of works on the subject from which I have given extracts in this book
3 Rāmayāņa by xy
Krittivāsa Shankara Kavichandra Dwija Madhukantha „ Ghanashyāma Dās IDayārāma 14th century. 16th century. y? 32 22 2x 17th century. 18 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. ll. 12. INTIRODUCTION. Rāmayāņa by Krişņa Dās Râmshankara Dutta 33 33 53 „ Advutächärya 35 ,, Dwija Bhawāni 33 ,, Jagatrâma ... Raghunandana „ לל Rāmamohana „ לע 17th century. 1665 A.D. 1742 A.D. About 1750 A.D. 23. 33 1785 A.D. 1738 A.D. In the region of the Mahābhārata-tales Käsidās alone holds the field in the popular estimation. I mentioned thirty one authors Mahābhārata. of the Bengali Mahābhārata in my History of Bengali Language and Literature. I have quoted from the poems of twenty-four authors here of whom the following deserve prominent mention : l i 15. 16. 17. The name ef Bhāgavata. following poems among others on the subject :— l. . Mahābhārata by Sanjaya 33 לל 23. ,, Abhirāma Shrīkaraņa Nandi „ לל 23 ,, Ghanashyāma 33 „ Rajendradās Nityānanda Ghosh , לל Kāsī Dās „ גל 32 ,, Gangādās Sen Chandana Dās ,, גל Shrinâtha ,, גל 35 ,, Sārala 23 , Nandarāma ... 33 „ Dwaipayana Dās 53 ,, Ananta Mishra 32 , Krisກູarma - a 22 ,, Laksmana Bandyopadhyā Bhāgavata by Mālādhara Vasu Mâdhavāchārya 25 33 55 „ Shyāmā Dās 25 „ Narahari Dās ... 22 , Abhirma IDs ... 33 ,, Narasinha Kavīndra Parameshawara 14th century. 15th century. 22 22 16th century. 22 2x 5 * 22 39 22 32 2x 33 23 23 •y 17th centnry 33 2x 1660 A.D. 17th century. 33 22 32 22 ya About 1750 A.D. Malādhara Vasu is generally known in connection with the Bengali version of Bhāgavata in the old literature. I have, however, given extracts in this book from the 1472 A.D. About 1520 A.D. 16th century. xx גל 17th century. 33 25 INTRODUCTION. 19 7. Bhāgavata by Achyuta Dās ... ... 17th century. .8. „ . „ Rājarāma Datta --- 22 zz 9. zz „ Gangādhara Dās - - - 22. 32 10. 3.2 „ Parasurāma ... - - - 2x ox 11. *x „ Sankara Dās ... ... 18th century. 12. 22 „ Jīvana Chakravartī --- 22 2x 13. >> ,, Bhabānanda Sen --- 2x 22. 14. 2x „, Uddhabánanda --- xx 23. 15. 2x „ Rādhāmādhava Ghosh ... 22 >> 16. 23. „ Ishwar Sarkār ... Earlier part of the 19th century. 17. joy „ Rādhākrişņa Dās - - - 22 22 Mukudarāma's Chandi Kāvya (translated by the late Prof. E. B. Cowell into English verse) is the only work with which Battala has made our people familiar. Twelve authors of Chandi are mentioned in my History of Bengali Language and Literature. I have given here extracts from the following poems:– Chandī Kāvyas. 1. Chandī by Mānik Datta - - - ... 13th century. 2. ,, ,, Harirāma - - - ... 16th century. 3. „ „ Māhhavāchārya ... 1579 A.D. 4. „ „ Kavikankaņa Mukundarāma ... 1589 A.D. 5. ,, ,, Kamalalochana ... ... 1609–1630 A.D. 6. „ „ Јayanārayana --- ... About 1752 A.D. Regarding a large variety of other subjects treated in old Bengali works I refer my readers to the Table of Contents. I have given extracts from the works of about three hundred authors. It should be stated here that the age ascribed to the early poets of each of these groups does not generally indicate when a particular section of our literature was first composed. The earliest authors in most cases have not yet been recovered. But a vigorous search for old MSS. may ere long unearth at least some of them. 6. The earliest Bengali poems had a circulation all over India. The historical and other questions involved in them. It is, however, almost certain that some of the earliest Bengali ballads and songs used to be sung throughout a large part of the Åryāvarta and even in the Maharatta country in the 10th and 11th centuries. The song of Behulā, the bride of Laksmindra, is still sung in Bhagalpur and the 20 iNTRODUCTION. adjacent districts of Western India. I have secured one of the old Hindi versions of the tale “revised and corrected by Pundit Vinduprasāda Mishra Săraswata” and printed at the Kalpataru Press, Benares, and I have obtained information of another version published from Allahabad. Babus Bhagabati Sahāya, M.A., B.L., and Vaidyanātha Nārāyaņa Singha, M.A., B.L., members of the Calcutta University, declare that these poems were once very popular in the villages of Bhagalpur and in still remoter places Hindi & Urdu versions of Upper India, where parties of minstrels used to wander about the country singing the songs. There can be no doubt that the original home of these songs was Bengal. In the Hindi version too we find descriptions of Chānd, the merchant king of Champā, of Behulā the daughter of Sāha the merchant, and of Sanakā, the queen of Chānd. That these songs were imported from Bengal is not only indicated by the localities of the incidents described in the poems, but also by the fact that the Hindi poems themselves were frequently required to be sung “in Bângăl Räga’’ or the tune prevalent in Bengal. There is also a frequent mention in these poems of that favourite tune of the Bengali rustics, the Bhātiyāl Råg, with which our village people are so familiar. The poems must once have been sung with great pomp at Magadha and other capital cities of Bengal from which they made a triumphant march westward and caught the fancy of our Hindusthani brethren. (pp. 172–74) We certainly miss the pathos of the tale in the Hindi version and the great poetry with which it was endowed by the Bengali writers in the 16th century. These songs of Bengal must have travelled to distant countries in their comparatively earlier stages and they bear a greater affinity to the earliest poems of Bengal than to the later ones. I have found one passage in the Hindi version in which the description of Manasā Devi's ornaments tallies almost exactly with that found in the poem of Hari Datta, the earliest known Bengali poet of the Manasā cult. Not only the songs of Manasā Devi, but those of the Pål kings eomposed to celebrate their heroic deeds and specially "ಸ್ಮಿ? * * Rājā Gopi Chandra's embracing the ascetic's vow, are found in various parts of India. In the Hindi version of the poem by Laksman Dās, the king Gopichänd of Bengal and his mother Maināmati (written as Mainābati in Hindi), and the religious teachers Jalendhara and Goraknatha are mentioned almost in the same way as in the Bengali poems recovered from Northern Bengal. The Uriyā. version which bears a greater affinity to the Bengali ones and which was recovered by Mr. Nagendranath Basu from a MS. 200 years old, found in Mayurbhanja, has been quoted in part in the present compilation (pp. 85-94). But this song was not restricted to upper India alone. The pathos ΙΝΤΙΚΟΙ) ΙΙΟΤΙΟΝ. 21 created by King Gopichänd's adopting the vow of Sannyās, when he was in the heyday of his youthful glory, was so great that these ballads found ready response everywhere throughout the whole of the Indian Peninsula. Kaviraja Durgānārayana Shāstri of Calcutta has collected a number of songs in Hindi and Urdu, from the Punjab, dealing with Gopichandra's deserting his palace. Poems and dramas are still written in the Maharatta country of which the subject is the embracing of the ascetic's vow by Gopichandra, the king of Bengal. As a further evidence of this still surviving interest in the incidents of the Bengali Prince's life, we refer our readers to the excellent picture showing the pathetic parting of Rājā Gopichandra from his wives Aduna and Paduna, drawn by the artist Ravi Varmă of Poona and sold all over India. The question now is how to account for the fact that these old songs of The suzerain power Bengal found access to all parts of Hindusthan in a of the Pal kings. comparatively early age. It is evident that they did so when these songs were in their rude early stage. None of the subsequent embellishments given to some of them by the Bengali poets of a later age have, as I have already said, been incorporated in the Hindi, Urdu and Uriyā versions. The songs travelled to other parts of India about the 10th century and have since been cut off from all connection with the main source from which they originally flowed. This undoubtedly brings us to the time of the Pål kings when some of them held suzerain power over a large part of India. The capital of these great monarchs was naturally the central place from which fashions and amusements were imitated in other parts of India. These songs must have gone to different countries at that early age, but with the curtailing of the political powers of Bengal monarchs during the time of the Sens, all channels that had connected Bengal with other parts of India giving her the proud position of a suzerain power, became closed. This accounts for the fact that the foreign versions of the tale were deprived of the rich embellishments contributed to the stories by the later Bengali poets. The renunciation of Gopichänd, which formed the subject of so many The reason of Gopi poems and was of such wide spread interest, was chandra's Sanyasa. accomplished by the wish of his mother Maynāmatithe dowager queen, and wife of Rājā Mānikchandra. What led the mother to send her only son away from the palace, to wander forth as an ascetic in the forest for twelve years, is a matter which seems shrouded in a mystery. On p. 100 of this book there is distinct mention of an intrigue between Maynāmati and the Sadhu Harisiddhyā, made by Gopichänd who openly charged his mother with infidelity to his deceased father King Mänikchandra. He even accused Maynāmati of having poisoned her husband at the 22 INTRODUCTION. instigation of the Sādhu, and attributed her determination that he should become a Sannyäsi to her foul design of enjoying the kingdom with the socalled Sādhu, after having cleared all obstacles from her path. He said “Were you a chaste woman you would have ascended the funeral pyre of my father and proved your fidelity as a Sati” (p. 101). But how far this allegation was true cannot be positively said. The characteristic spirit of these songs is a sentiment of regard breathed throughout the poems for Maynā mati. Had her character been as depraved as is suggested in this passage, the 吕 country-bards would not possibly have been so full of enthusiastic admiration for her. It is also certain that Adună and Paduna, wives of King Gopichandra, deeply mortified at the sannyäs of their husband by the will of his mother, maligned her in every possible manner. And it is not unlikely that they invented stories to which Gopichänd himself, distressed at the thought of deserting his kingdom, lent a credulous ear for a time. The other versions of the story explain the reason in a different way. The astrologers had told the dowager queen that Gopichandra was destined to die in his 19th year, but that this fate could be averted if he led the ascetic's life for a term of twelvé years. The affectionate mother was thus compelled to send her only son away as a Sannyäsi, thus sacrifieing her own happiness for the sake of saving of his life. When Gopichänd had made the foul allegation, she gave him a well merited indignant reply which ill disguised her feeling of great disappointment at this treatment from her only son. She said that the Sādhu was a disciple of Gorakhnātha as she herself was and therefore stood in the relation of a brother to her. The Uriyā version describes a beautiful discourse between the mother and the son on the eve of his Sannyäs. Gopichänd stands before a looking glass and feels proud of the great beauty of his person reflected in it. The mother here approaches and discourses on the fleeting nature of youth, alluding to the fact that her husband was admired for his handsome appearance, all the world over, but yet he, a mighty king, could not resist the call of death. Her arguments have a convincing effect on Gopichänd who ceases to be frightened by the idea of renunciation. These songs, though full of exaggeration and the crude ideas of their rustic The purity of moral bards, give us occasional glimpses of the Hindu court life. and the purity of Hindu life. Gopichänd on the eve of his departure said to his queen Aduna that whenever he saw a fair woman he would be reminded of his faithful wife and weep for her. But he added that he would respect these women as mothers and if required to talk with them, he would do so with down-cast eyes (p. 51). The way in which he preserved the integrity of his moral character when Hirā the INTRODUCTION. 23 harlot sought his love shows that he had not made a vain promise to his queen. (p. 72). 7. The Song of the Sun-god. On pp. 164-171 a very early song of the Son-god is given. This song I have collected from Backerganj in Eastern Bengal. It possesses unique value. The Sun-god was the original hero of our nursery songs, and many of those attributes which have been latterly ascribed to Shiva and Krisna, originally belonged to the God of the Day as is proved by this song. It acquired its present form probably in the 10th century A.D. or even later. But it embodies the traditions of a much earlier age. Gauri, the reputed spouse of Shiva, is here described as the bride of the Sun-god. Krisna figures latterly as a boatman, and The historial aspects of the song. the milkmaids are described as taking refuge in Him when His boat is overtaken by storm in the Jumna. Here we find that the Sun-god is in the boat, and Vishwakarmā is the boatman trying to create false alarm by pretending to sink the boat (p. 167.) This recalls the incidents of Shri Krisna’s boat-trips with the Gopis. The Gopis again instead of being described as companions and lovers of Shri Krisna seem to stand in a similar relation to Shiva (p. 167). It also appears from the songs that at one time the Sun-god was worshipped in every important village of Bengal, where songs in his honour used to be sung by the rural people (p. 167). We are far away from the times when the Sun-god was the central figure in the pantheon of our mythological deities. A large number of most artistically finished images of this god are now being unearthed in different parts of the country, attesting to the age not very much later than the 10th century, when the country people sang songs in his honour. The worship of the image of the Sun-god wearing boots and standing in a chariot drawn by seven horses has completely passed away from the country, though at one time temples possessed of far-famed artistic and sculptural beauty like that of Kanārak were dedicated to him. The song posseses the happy inspiration of its rustic bard. The pathos The bride’s fears. of ಇಲ್ಲ! rural * has been preserved in he unassuming simplicity of its descriptions. The heroine of the song is a girl less than twelve years old. Separated from the home of her parents she sets out with her husband for her new home, in a boat. In vain did she implore her mother not to send her away. The mother regrets her helplessness in the matter with tears in her eyes, saying that as she is a wife now, she must go to her husband's home. Deserted by her parents and other 24, INTRODUCTION. inmates of the home, she implores the boatmen to row the boat slowly so that she may yet for a little while hear from a gradually widening distance the wail of her mother lamenting the separation (p. 171). The simple fears of the little wife freely expressed to her lord and his great tenderness for her and anxiety to give her all comforts in his power are shown in the following dialogue. It gives the rustic bard’s conception of the nuptial bond, and though my translation will lack the simple and unassuming beauty of the original, it will, I trust, show what the woman’s place in a Hindu joint family is. The bridegroom here is the Great God Surya, and the bride, his queen Gauri. But the rural poet, while depicting them, opens a chapter from the home-life of his own people under the garb of mythology. - “I shall go to your country, my husband, but ill will it fare with me when I am in need of apparel.” “In my fair cities a colony of weavers will I found for you.” “I shall go with you, my husband, ill will it fare with me when I want shell-bracelets for my hands.” “In my fair cities will I make the bracelet-makers dwell, who will cut shells to adorn your hands.” “I shall go to your country, my husband, but where shall I get vermilion for my brow.” “From the adjacent countries will I import Bănias to my fair cities to sell vermilion to you.” “I shall go to your country, my husband, but where will a supply of rice come from ?” “In my fair cities the ploughmen will be busy reaping harvests for you, my love.” “I shall go with you, my husband, but who will be my mother there.” “I have a mother and she will be mother to you.” “I shall go with you, my husband, but who will be my father there? " “My father will be your father as well”. “I shall go with you, my husband, but who will be my brothers and sisters there * * “My brothers and sisters will, my darling, be brothers and sisters unto rou.” y Read this little poem, composed probably 1200 years ago, side by side with the following description which a venerable lady of high society has given of her childhood in the middle of the 19th century (pp. 1777–78). This will show that mythology and A parallel passage. real history in our literature, in their crude and elegant forms, are both taken from life. Rāsasundarī, from whose autobiography the following extract is taken, was only twelve years old when she was married. She had enjoyed her own marriage festivities thoughtlessly, as her companions had done, and had never anticipated that the bridegroom's party would carry her away to her husband’s home.
"In the morning they asked my mother, if the (bridegoom's) party would leave the place that very day. I thought that the new-comers would now be going away. I was very happy and walked gaily with my mother in the compound. A short while after the new-comers again entered the inner apartment. I saw then that some of the inmates of the house were weeping. When I saw this I was greatly alarmed. My mother, aunts and elder brothers embraced me in turn at this time and began to weep. At this I sobbed and cried alond. I was now convinced that my mother would be giving me to the new-comers. I caught her arms tightly and told her 'Mamma, do not give me away to these people.' When my relations heard this and saw how greatly frightened I was, they were all moved and spoke soothing words to me. My mother took me in her arms and began to say many kind things. She said, 'Do not cry, my darling, what is it that ails you? God will be with you everywhere. I will bring you again a short while after.' I was so frightened at that time that my limbs began to quake and I could not utter a word. Anyhow I controlled myself a little and said crying—'Mamma, will God accompany me there?' She said—'Yes why not? God will go with you and protect you child. Do not cry.'"
The young bride came in a boat to her new home, weeping all the way,—desperate at her forlornness. She describes next her first experience in her husband’s home.
"I began to call on God from my innermost heart while my eyes swam in tears. My mother-in-law came in and affectionately took me in her arms and tried with gentle and kind words to assuage my grief. Oh! how thankful am I to God! How perfect is His arrangement all premeditated in love! How artfully does He make the bark of one tree fit another! As she embraced me I felt her arms as tender as those of my own mother. Her words were affectionate and kind; and as I heard them I thought that my mother was speaking to me. Yet her outward form was not like that of my mother, who was very handsome and fair-coloured. My mother-in-law was not so. There were many other points of dissimilarity. Yet when she sweetly embraced me I shut my eye in joy and thought that I was in the arms of my own mother."
26 INTRODUCTION. 8. The Literature of the Sahajiyūs. The Literature of the Sahajiyā-cult dealt with under group 16, the spirit of which is breathed in Chandidas' poems, quoted on pp. 997-1002 shows a curious and interesting phase of Buddhistic doctrines. It is clearly Buddhistic in its origin and though latterly the sect identified itself with and was merged in the Vaisnava community it has retained under the flag of Vaisnavism some old forms and ideas which ill disguise the creed of Buddhist Täntrics of the Mahāyana school. The Vaisnavas were well-satisfied if a class of people admitted Chaitanya and Nityananda as incarnations of the Deity, and they opened the portals of their society to all such people without scrutimising their views. It is well known that the Sufis amongst Mahomedans, who became converts from Buddhism, have retained the philosophy of their original creed veneered with faith in a personal God enjoined by Islam. The theology of the Sahajiyās is Buddhistic in the like manner. Not only is its hostile attitude towards the Brahmanic religion well marked in the various treatises propounding their Shahajiyās attack the * -- a - - - worship of Krisha's doctrines, but even towards Vaisnavism itself which image. sets so much importance on the worship of the image of Krisna. Such worship is uncompromisingly attacked by some of the Sahajiyā writers though they outwardly profess the Vaisnavite creed. I quote below an interesting passage from a book called 'Jnanádi Sādhanā' written by a Sahajiyā, extracts from which will be found on pp. 1630 1637 of this book:— “The child, as soon as he is born, forgets the true nature of the soul, It hostile attitude to and is caught in the snares of illusion created by the wards Brahmanism. false Brahmins of india, and becomes accustomed later on to their ways of thought. Under their false advice he takes the sacred thread at the dawn of youth, and goes on performing evening and morning rites as prescribed in the Vedas. Then in the hope of obtaining four-fold blessings, viz. spiritual reward, wealth, satisfaction of desires and emancipation from earthly bonds, he goes on praying to God and worshipping Him under the instructions of his religious preceptor. But he never sees the God he worships. He reads in his false and unreliable Shāstras that Krissya dwells in the so-called heaven called the Baikuntha, and without seeing such a Deity he makes His image in stone and clay and worships it. The false Brahmins tell him on the authority of the false Vedas, that if he can perform the Ashvamedha and other sacrifices, and make gifts of cows (to the Brahmins), he will have a place in heaven after death. He does as he is bidden, but not knowing the true nature of INTRODUCTION. 27 God and merely performing the acts recommended in the false Vedas he does not advance a step, but suffers from repeated agonies of births and deaths by passing through a never-ceasing cycle of births. “The Sādhu asks the Inquirer—“How do you obtain a knowledge of the Deity?” “The Inquirer says—'I obtain a knowledge of my god Krisna through my mind.” “The Sādhu—“When the mind acts in concord with the five senses, such as the ear, the eye, the tongue etc., then only can it perceive sounds, objects of sight and taste etc. When the mind does not join with the senses, it cannot percieve the external objects. Tell me then how without the relative action of the five senses, can you perceive God by your mind alone.” “The Inquirer– I now understand that without the help of the five The existence of God senses the mind alone can have no conception of the unreal. Deity. I understand it quite well now but beg to submit my reasons here. When the mind acts with the help of the ear, it becomes cognisant of sound which is the virtue of the sky. So through the ear the mind cannot realise God. When the mind acts with the help of the skin it becomes aware of touch which is the virtue of the air. But this does not give one any conception of the Deity. And so on. I now fully understand that the five senses cannot help in the realization of Divine quality. I therefore feel that I am without any knowledge of God and that to me therefore the existence of God is unreal.” “The Sādhu—“If a child after coming to this earth from his mother's womb has never heard a sound owing to his deafness, can he read the letters Ka, Kha, Gha etc., when he is in his 25th year? Or can he call his father and mother by the usuals terms papa and mamma? I also want to know from you whether a man who is born blind can contemplate the darkblue colour ascribed to Krisna, which, as they say, is like that of the newlyformed cloud.” “The Inquirer—“The man who is born deaf and has never heard Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha ete. and papa and manma uttered by others can never read Kh, Kha, Ga, Gha, as we do, nor call his parents papa and mamma like us. And one who has never seen any object of dark-blue colour like that of a newly-formed cloud can never contemplate the dark-blue colour attributed to Krisna.” “The Sādhu–How then did you say that without the help of the senses one could realize Krisna, the god of the universe? A man born deaf cannot read the letters nor call his parents and friends by the terms by which they 28 INTIRODUCTION. are called, and a man born blind cannot contemplate the dark-blue colour of Krisna like that of a new-formed cloud. So one who has not a true knowledge of the Deity within him cannot realize God by his mind alone which is the receptacle of the impressions produced by the five senses. Now tell me whether you do possess a knowledge of God or not?' “The Inquirer–o I am without any knowledge of God. I never heard God speak to me, nor ever felt His touch on my person, nor did I touch the food partaken first by Him. My nose never smelt the sweet scent emanating from His person. And now I understand that the existence of Krisna is unreal to me.” “The Sādhu– You had formerly heard that the Vedas originated from the mouth of God and that in them is written what is good and what is evil. Tell me if you consider the Vedas to be true.” “The Inquirer—“As Krisna, the god of the universe, is now unreal to me, the Vedas which are said to have emanated from him are necessarily unreal. So are the definitions of vice and virtue given in them. It is written in the Shāstras of the Brahmins themselves that vice and virtue are unreal and so are father, mother, and one's own self, and all that one says and does. Now I should be silent and speak no more. I only want to hear what your Holiness will be pleased to say.” “The Sādhu—“Tell me when does a man become silent for ever in this world P “The Inquirer—“When a man dies he becomes silent for ever.’ “The Sādhu—“As you profess yourself to be silent, tell me whether you are living or dead?” “The Inquirer–o I have not been able to realise God by my five senses, so you may take me for dead.” “The Sādhu– Now the life of your ignorance is dead, and now forget Are you living or for ever those false doctrines which you read in your dead 2 false Shāstras. You will now be born anew with true knowledge which I am going to give you.’ In the above extracts the reader will see the attacks made on Brähmanism and even on Vaisnavism itself which the Sahajiyā-writer outwardly professes. The Kartābhajãs, who are a sect of Sahajiyās, also hold strange theories which upset the whole moral fabric of our society. In the supplement I have appended some songs by Lål Shashi, a Kartābhajã. These are of a mystic nature and unintelligible, except to the initiated. The literature of this sect is a field worth exploring, for it undoubtedly shows Buddhistic elements though I、ODUCT觅ON。 24) under a thin outward coating of the Vaisnava religion. In Nepal the Buddhists call themselves “Gubhājus’ which is a contraction of the word “Gurubhajãs or the worshippers of the Guru, while the Hindus call themselves Debhājus or the worshippers of the Devās.” The Kartābhajã and the Gurubhajã have an identical meaning, the word Kartā and the Guru both signifying a religious preceptor. They are, as I have said, a sect of the Sahajiyās, and the views of this class of men will be found in the songs of Chandidas who was one of them, and in the writings of many others who called themselves Vaişņavas. When dealing with the ideal of romantic love of the Sahajiyās, we must always bear in mind that it is a part of their religious creed and is not a factor of the social evolution of the Hindus. The Sahajiyās themselves seem to entertain and excuse this ideal merely as a means to attain salvation—as a Sadhana and condemn it in a man of society. They accordingly keep their views strictly secret, and reveal them only to the initiated after they have passed through a number of tests. They believe that a man's proper advancement and progress in the The creed of the spiritual world must be by those means which Sahajiyās. are available to every one. God should be approached by love alone, but no one can realize this love without first loving a human being. The Sahajiyās maintain that the highest form of love is to be attained, not by shunning the company of women but by worshipping and loving them. Love between man and woman is the sahaja or the natural path; and by suppressing this holy flame that God has given to us, it is impossible to illuminate our spiritual path. They recommend that one should cultivate the feeling of devotion and the selfless spirit of sacrifice by loving another man's wife. This is called Parakiyā. They are not prepared to accept the orthodox standard of wifely fidelity as a true test of love. The true wife is applauded in society and she is given the promise of reward in the next world. These considerations must have led many a Sati to burn herself on the funeral pyre of her husband. How far a Sitä or a Sãvitri, reputed for devotion to husband, was guided by love alone in her career of wifely fidelity remains to be determined. The applause of her own kith and kin, and her glorification by society as a chaste woman and a martyr, might have played an important part in making her undergo the sacrifices that she did. It is difficult to separate the alloy from the gold in these cases. It is only when a woman loves a man other than her husband and sticks to him with steadfast devotion, that she can be said to pass the true test. The society in which she lives abandons her. She has nothing but infamy and contempt from her own people. Even her parents
- See M. Hara Prasād Shāstri's preface to “Modern Buddhism" by Nagendranāth Vasu. 30 INTRODUCTION.
would shut their gate against her and her very touch would be avoided by her friends as that of a leper. Here she stands a martyr for love alone. So Parakiyā, or love for one other than one's husband, is by far a truer test of selflessness than fidelity and sacrifices undergone in a nuptial cause. The Sahajiyās say that it is easy to worship a stone or wooden image of God. It is agreeably non-interfering. But to love a man or a woman with a whole-hearted devotion is very difficult. One must never murmur, never cross the person whom one adores in the spirit of true worship but must bear all ills from him or her without grumbling. It is only when disinterested love has been cultivated in this way, that the portals of love's heaven will be opened to a person. He will then and then only be fit to realize the love of God. This is surely is a dangerous theory to practise. So the Sahajiyās and Kartābhajãs, as I have stated, keep their doctrines strictly secret The victory of the to all except the initiated. In the Hindu Society, Sahajiyas in Bengal, where the married couple have no choice in mutual selection, Parakiyā is a rebellious and daring off-shoot of Nature repressed. It is a violent retribution for the compulsion of unchosen and romanceless wedded life. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries of the Christian era, the country was so full of these ideas that Chaitanya Deva had to be unusually hard upon those of his followers who showed the least tendency towards romantic love. This explains his severe attitude towards junior Haridãs. To Râm Roy, who asked him why he so scrupulously avoided the company of women—he being God incarnate, his reply was:– “I am a man and belong to the Holy Order of Sannyäsis. So I must be pure in thought, in action and speech. Just as a dark spot, however small, becomes prominent in a piece of white cloth, so even a small fault of a Sannyäsi becomes great in people's eyes.”—But a century and a half after Chaitanya Deva passed away, the Sahajiyās again gained ground in the Vaisnava Society. It will be interesting to read the two documents quoted on pp. 1638–1643 which announce the defeat of those scholars who advocated orthodox principles in sexual morality and had a controversy with the Sahajiyās for a period of six months. Nearly all the best scholars among the Vaisnavas in the first half of the 18th century in Bengal, Benares and Jaypur took part in the discussion, enlisting themselves on one side or the other, before a regular court presided over by high officers deputed by Nawab Ali Vardi Khan. The victory of the Sahajiyās not only meant an intellectual triumph but a substantial increase in their income as they obtained the disciples claimed by the other party and this was a great wordly gain to them. These two documents were registered in Nawab Ali Vardi's court in 1717 A.D. They enforced extremely humiliating conditions to which the supporters of INTRODUCTION. 31 orthodox opinion had to subscribe, acknowledging their defeat in an unhesitating language. The origin of the Sahajiyā idea of love must be traced to some primitive institution in society where men and women mixed freely without restraint and without any respect for sexual morality. This developed in time to Madana-Utsava where the god Madana figured as a sort of Indian Belial sanctioning debaucheries in his worshippers. The Buddhists living in monasteries in later times adopted these orgiastic ceremonies and took an active part in them. This was even as the great Buddha had apprehended many centuries before, when after having twice refused to open the portals of his Holy Order to women, he was compelled to do so in favour of Mahāprajāpati by the repeated prayers of his favourite disciple Ananda. He regretted the fact, and said that as the white ants Sheetasthikā destroyed full-grown crops, the Holy Order would be destroyed in future by the mixing of men and women in monasteries.” To guard against this, he had enacted strict and wholesome lawst but the depravities he had apprehended gradually came in, and the ‘Nega-Negies, or ‘the shaven couple as the Buddhist Bhiksus and Bhiksunis were called, earned the contempt of society by their unholy lives. Yet these men and women living in monasteries where the precepts of a great religion still sounded in their ear, did not fall without a struggle. Like Dona Julia of Byron, they were at first full of noble intentions. The Tântries among them wanted to subdue animal passion by facing the temptations, and the more romantic of them indulged in an ideal love, such as the Sahajiyās still practise, and which has been described in a foregoing paragraph. All these methods, it should be stated, were adopted originally as means to lead them to the gate-way of heaven. The Madana-Utsabha developed into the Dola-Lilä of Krisna. And from the 10th to the 14th century, the realistic features of this festivity were gradually idealised, and in Chandidas this idealised form found its highest expression. Chaitanya Deva turned the channel altogether to a new direction and the Parakiyā as interpreted by him became the symbol of bliss from which the sexual feature was entirely eliminated except as an allegory. This Sahajiyā creed, therefore, touches the highest heaven of bliss and selflessness, when we have for its interpreter Chaitanya Deva or even Chandidas. But its grossly realistic feature is also present in society together with all the shades of the Täntric doctrines of the Mahāyana school of Buddhism.
- Vinaya Pitaka, Chulla Varga, 10, 1, 1-5, and 10, 1, 6. + Vinaya Pitaka, Pati Moksha and Sutta Bibhanga, 21-30. 32 INTRODUCTION.
9. Some furourite subjects of the Bengali poets. The Table of Contents will show the details of subjects included in this work and I need not repeat them here. One point that will strike the reader is that the Bengali genius has always occupied itself with treating certain poetical subjects again and again. Not only do we find innumerable poets dwelling on the stories of the Rāmāyana, the Mahābhārata, the Bhāgavata etc., each according to his own power and many improving upon the work of their predecessors, but these writers have been particularly fond of describing the same poetical situations or incidents, vying with one another for excellence. Such for instance - - - is the Vāramāsī, or a description of the twelve The Varamasis. - - - - months. The seasons in this tropical clime of ours are well-marked, and its home-staying people have many opportunities of closely studying the peculiarities of each of the twelve months which constitute the year—associated, as they are, with the particular joys and sorrows of their home-life. Nature brings her offerings of particular flowers and fruit to their doors each month; but we do not meet gay flowers, sweet fruit and sun-shine always. There are the rainy months with their floods, bringing down the thatched walls of straw-built sheds and making their mud-hovels crumble—reducing the poor dwellers to the verge of starvation. The Vāramāsis, given by various poets, graphically portray these months with their joys and sorrows. The most remarkable of these were written by Kavi Kankana whose intimate knowledge of the life of the poor gives to his accounts a dismal and almost pessimistic aspect. I quote below some passages from Cowell's translation of Chandi by Kavi Kankaņa :— From the Wäramāsā of Fu//arā—the hunter’s wife. Next comes Aşa!h,* to soak the fields and roads ; And e'en the rich in their well-stocked abodes Feel, as they watch their stored provisions fail, The ills which all the year the poor assail. I trudge to sell my goods from door to door, Thankful for refuse rice, nor hope for more. The leeches bite me as I wade the plains; Would’t were a serpent’s bite to end my pains !
- + * + 용
- Half May and June. INTRODUCTION. 33
Ashwin” is Chandi's month,t and everywhere Rams, buffaloes, and goats are slain to her. All woman put their finest dresses on, All except me; poor Phullarā alone Must rack her brains for food, or famished die; With all these victims, who my goods will buy? 3: * + + In Chaitra's f month the soft south breezes blow, In the sweet jasmine flowers the bees hum low; And with the spring's soft influence in their heart Maidens and youths are love-sick, though apart; All joy save me, but I for some old sin Must think of hunger's ravening pangs within.” With this description of the life of the poor may be contrasted “the sweet juice of mangoes and the fine grains of Shāli rice” in Jaistha (p. 366); the blooming of gay flowers in rich men's gardens, where women dressed in their best attire scented with perfume indulge in the play of swinging in the month of Phälguna (p. 368); and “the spreading of the Mallikā and the Mälati flowers on couches of love and the drinking of wine and the indulging in dance and songs in Chaitra” (p. 368) together with “the lotus blooming by the touch of the bees in Asādha” (p. 803) and many other descriptions of this nature. The reader will find Vāramäsis by various authors quoted on pp. 322, 335, 366, 376, 801, 856, 1050, 1052, 1058, 1085, 1102, 1103 and 1104. These by no means exhaust the list. They are only a few typical ones selected from a great variety of such descriptions. Besides the Vāramāsī, there were also several other favourite subjects of these Bengali poets. It is curious that the fire of the kitchen, with its soot and smoke, has frequently shot forth rays supplying poetic inspiration. The poetry of cooking may be called in question, but it will certainly interest a large number of readers who appreciate good food more than good poetry. The skilful preparations of indigenous food have now been mostly forgotten. But considering that the Bengali women were once specially trained to excel in the culinary art, it may be worth while to revive a taste for these indigenous preparations. The descriptions are written in poetry and used to be sung; they related to a subject which was the special province of Hindu women who appreciated these writings very much. The high class Bengali women used to The culinary Art.
- Half September and October. t Chandi or Durgā is worshipped in the month of Ashwin. : Half March and April.
5 31, INTRODUCTION. worship the Fire by offering incense and ghee before touching the cooking pots (p. 196). Though the subject is a matter-of-fact one, the poets occasionally enlivened it by poetic touches such as in the passage—“While stooping low, stirring the curry with the ladle so that the froth gathered at the top might subside, her golden ear-drops moved to and fro.” This calls up a lovely familiar picture of the Hindu household. Golden plates were abundantly used in serving food (p. 198); various kinds of plates and cups used for ordinary purposes are described on p. 245. It is curious to note that the flesh of the tortoise was a favourite food. The way in which it used to be prepared is mentioned on p. 224. Descriptions given on pp. 4, 197, 221, 222, 333, 479 and 1301 include a large variety of preparations of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and sweets. The artistic dressing of the cocoanut fruit and the preparations of sweets with it as described by Jadunandana Däs (p. 1301) is very interesting. We may also feel some curiosity in examining whether there is any truth in the exaggerated account of Dāk who wrote in the 10th century A.D. that the lobster fried with oil and asafetida, if taken regularly, gives a man vision for eight miles (p. 4). The dress of women was another favourite subject of the old The costumes of Bengali poets. The reader will find typical descripWΟΥΩΘΥΠ, tions on pp. 210, 227, 260, 286, 334, 335, 372, 385, 386, 667, 829, 907, 910, 1228, 1291, 1293, 1294, 1295, 1519, 1520, 1521, and 1794. The quality of cloth worn by women was so fine that we find a 17th century poet mentioning the fact that threads weighing a tolà used to be sold for Rs. 50, which in those days carried a much higher value than now (p. 289). The most artistic female costumes are described in the passage quoted on p. 1290-95. The account here is so graphic and the ornaments and clothes worn by women in the mediaeval ages are described with such a superior aesthetic sense as to call up a perfect vision of a princess's toilet-room, and lovers of Indian art will be delighted to find in them some of those costumes and ornaments with which the stone-images in the Indian sculpture-galleries are found to be decorated. The dancing of women is described on pp. 225, 229, 285, 286, and Dancing. 1116. The poets exaggerate the skill shown in the performances. But it is plain that the aim of the dancers was often to produce an illusion of equilibrium and rest by the extreme quickness of the movements. I quote from pp. 1116:— Krisova’s conditions for Rādhā’s dance. “Oh moon-faced one, dance to this tune—(here the tune is given). INTRODUCTION. 35 “So nimbly should thy feet move, that the anklets must not sound. “The ornaments shall not jingle nor the Sări rustle, “To this bow-shaped spot your dancing must be confined. “If you fail, your Beshara (nose-ornament) and your richly embroidered Kunchāli (bodice) will be at stake. “But if you succeed, my beloved, my own dear flute will be yours.” Rādhā’s conditions. “You are to dance Krisna to this tune—(here the tune is given). “Your head and neck must not move, nor the anklets make a jingling sound. “The garland of field-flowers on your neck must remain steady and so we shall know your worth. “Your eye-balls, the small diamond-drops on your ears, and the bright pearl hanging from your nose must remain motionless. “Lalitā will play on the violin and Bisākhā on the Mridanga ; Suchiträ will play on the seven-stringed lyre—the Saptaswarā, and I will enjoy the fun of it. Do thou, O Tunga Devi, play on the Kapilas and let Ranga Devi occupy herself with the Tambură, and Indulekhā play on the Pinaka and Sudevi, on the cymbols. If your dancing mars the harmony of the music, we will seize your flute and crown, and cry shame upon you.” Agriculture was, as it is now, the chief pursuit of the Bengal peasantry. Agriculture and des. In the olden times when the peasants were themselves *P****, the authors, it was very natural that agricultural experiences should be recorded in the songs. The wise sayings and aphorisms of Dāk and Khanā are replete with the wisdom acquired in fields. I have given some extracts from this class of writing in my History of Bengali Language and Literature.” The peasants of Bengal were a settled and contented class of people, industrious in their habits, having confidence in their king and full of home-instincts. The plots of land they tilled and their cow-sheds used to be close to their homes. “None but a mad man will have the cow-shed and the home at a distance from each other”— says Dāk (p. 5). The people were home-stayers and wanted a king to protect them. “It is always safe to make a home where there is a king. There we can acquire position, wealth and power and can have the opportunity of paying homage to the king”—sang the wise peasant of Bengal in the 10th century (p. 5). This stay-at-home element engendered in them a • Pp. 17-24. 36 INTIRODUCTION. love for village-life, subject to all the spiritualizing influences of the Brahmanic and Buddhist religions. They were keenly alive to the sanctity of home-life, and the canons of morality laid down by Dāk and Khanā for the conduct of women attest to the people's full appreciation of purity in domestic life. The Bengal peasants do not possess the courage of more enterprising races or of the nomadic tribes. If they have to leave home even temporarily, they will seek the astrologer's aid to ascertain if their journey will be an auspicious one. Thus in the rustic literature of the 10th century astrology plays a prominent part. The people anxious for the safety of their little homes, which were exposed to frequent incursions of foreigners, took to reading their fortune and propitiating the evil planets. A list of bad omens for a journey will be found on pp. 119, 120, 257, and 795. But people in high position often attached but little credit to the astrologer's prognostications. We find in the poem of Chandi, Dhanapati the merchant insulting the astrologer who had the courage to say that the day fixed by the merchant far going on a sea-voyage was not auspicious. The astronomical calculations were wonderfully precise, and it is curious that even the village-folk of the 10th century knew the secret of a lunar eclipse by such simple calculations as :-"If the moon occupies the seventh place from the sign of the Zodiac appropriate to the month, and if there be a full man that day, it is certain there will be a lunar eclipse” (p. 12). In the Shivayana by Rāmeshwara quoted on (pp. 130-137) the mode of agricultural operations and the preventives used against insects are graphically described. The names of various kinds of grass given there are now mostly unknown to us. For the right identification of them we must seek the help of the rustic people of the locality where the poet was born. On pp. 116, 117, 136, and 137, various classes of rice have been enumerated. The descriptions of the finer ones among them remind us of the loving care with which they were grown. The names of rice are often poetic, and suggest the purpose for which they were used. Such for instance are the “DurgāBhoga’—the meal of the goddess Durgā-the ‘Wägar, I wan’—the nourisher of young heroes, the ‘Mou-Kalasa’—the cup of honey, the ‘KumāraBhoga’—the prince's meal, the ‘Mahāpāla'—the nourisher of the earth, and the ‘Kanaka-Chuda’—the gold-crested. The names of trees with which our forests abound will be found on pp. 212, 213, 214, 574, 623 and the names of the birds that gaily fly in the sky of Bengal on pp. 86 and 321. Some of the writers have urged that the orange was imported from China to India in comparatively recent times, but this does not appear true from the description of the orange on p. 1301. The names of flowers are given on page 209 and of various indigenous spices on 245. In fact, throughout this old literature of ours the rustic element appears again and again, INTRODUCTION. 37 sometimes in its coarse and vulgar aspect, but oftener in lovely descriptions of rural life and picturesque scenery which gives Bengal one of her greatest charms. 10. The Dharma-mangala Poems. The Dharma-mangala poems are full of glimpses of the Bengal of the pre-Mahammadan days. The ruins of Läu Sen's palace at Maynāgarh in the distriet of Midnapore and of the fort of Ichhāi Ghosh at Dhekur on the Ajaya in the District of Burdwan, still attest to the historical authenticity of the subject treated in these poems. It is true that the crude imagination of the rustic poets has distorted many facts but there can be no question as to the ground-work of these poems being historical. The poems declare Ichhāi Ghosh to be a Goâlâ or milkman by caste. The surname Ghosh is common amongst the milkmen of our day. Recently a copper-plate grant made by Ishwar Ghosh in the 10th century has been discovered and reproduced in a recent issue of the Bengali journal Sahitya. This Ishwar Ghosh issues the copper-plategrant from a place called “Dhekkuri” and we find Dhekur mentioned in all the Dharma-mangala poems as the capital city of Ichhāi Ghosh. Ishwar Ghosh is the Sanskrit form of a name which would be naturally pronounced as Icchāi Ghosh by the rustic bards. And as there is an agreement in point of time also, it appears that Ichhāi Ghosh and Ishwar Ghosh were indentical. Even if this was not so, there is little doubt that they belonged to the same family. Of course all that is stated in these poems about the chief is not reliable. The temple of Shyāmarupa, the Deity worshipped by Ichhāi Ghosh, is still to be seen in a deserted woody place on the hills near Dhekur. The literature in honour of the god Dharma was originally Buddhistic. Dharma occupies the second place in the Buddhistic group comprised of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The Doms, who were originally the worshippers of Dharma, discharged priestly functions in the Buddhistic temples. These people are unclean in the eyes of the Hindus, but they have still retained the priestly position in the worship of Dharma. The Brahmins at first would have nothing to do with the worship of this Deity. In the year 1547 A.D. Mänik Gânguli, a good Brähmin, while writing a poem on the god Dharma was afraid lest he should lose his caste by doing so. That Buddha was transformed to Dharma in popular belief has been proved by Mahāmahopādhyāya Haraprasada Shāstrī in his pamphlet on Living Buddhism in Bengal, and his conclusions on this point have been supported by later researches in this field of Bengali literature. Dharma is sometimes named 38 INTRODUCTION. “Lälitavatära' in the Bengali Shunya-puräja, a book written in the 10th century. This reminds us of the Lalita-Vistara—the earliest standard biography of the Buddha. The Shunya-purāna states that, “The god Dharama is greatly honoured in Ceylon”. Dharma is represented as protesting against the Vedic sacrifices. Curiously this line of the book—“gooste §§ food o-accords exactly with the one in the hymn to Buddha by Jaydeva in his Gita-Govinda. The theory of the Void—off-which was propounded by Nāgārjuna in the 1st century A.D. is also the favourite creed of the worshippers of Dharma and in the Shunya-purāna and Dharma-mangala poems one will constantly come accross these Buddhistic doctrines. As I have fully stated all these in my History of Bengali Language and Literature, I refrain from repeating here other arguments in favour of the conclusions arrived at by Mahāmahopadhyāya Haraprasāda Shāstrī and now accepted by other scholars. 11. The Bhakti-Cult. The revival of Hinduism in Bengal dates from the 8th century when a Bengal monarch found it necessary to bring into his country five good Brāhmins versed in the Vedas from Kanoja. The country was at the time full of Tântric worship and Buddhistic ideas, the Buddha having been transformed, as I have already stated, to the god Dharma. Songs and festivities in honour of Dharma were the craze of the rural people. The “Dharmer Găjana” was one of the great festivities of these worshippers. On pp. 156161, I have given extracts from the manuals that expound the rituals of the “Găjana” which in later times had often put Shiva in the place of Dharma. When an institution degenerates, the rituals and outward forms of worship carry an exaggerated value, as the ideas that ruled them gradually fall into the background. The revival of Hinduism warred against these forms of worship, and gave precedence to faith and to the sentiment of worship. They sometimes overdid their part; it is a common thing to find in the Pauránic literature, which undertook to expound Brähmanic views on religion after the Hindu revival, such sentiments as, “If a man utters the name of God in reverent faith even once, that will expiate all the sins committed by him in his whole life”, “If a man bathes in the Ganges but once, no sin will remain in his body.” These ideas only prove that the revivalists emphasised Bhakti or the spiritual sentiment of worship in the place of outward forms and rituals which had hitherto found much favour with the populace. But the ideas took a long time in fixing their roots in the lower stratum of society. By the end of the 14th century the people had accepted them, and Buddhism had evidently fallen into disfavour and showed a marked decadence. The translations of the epics and many Sanskrit works of the INTRODUCTION. 39 Pauranic literature began in the earlier part of the 15th century. The country had by this time been awakened to a full appreciation of the Bhakticult. The Buddhist temples had already given flickering lights of it from amidst the clouds of their pompous ceremonies. The Mahāyanists had sown the seeds of Bhakti", but it was reserved for the revivalists of Hinduism to reap its rich harvests. The revivalists spread their religious propaganda throughout the country Bhakti in our Litera by various means. The Bhakti-cult was accepted by ture. the people with enthusiasm. The literature of this age is full of passages emphasising Bhakti. In the Bengali versions of the Rāmāyana and the Mahābhārata an under-current of Bhakti was introduced, and for this apparently there seems to be no justification. The original epics did not supply any data. The Rākshasas who were great enemies to Rāma An indigenous figured in the Bengali versions of the Rāmāyana as growth. his great Bhaktas. The genius of the Bengali race - shaped Sanskrit models in the light of the predominent idea that ruled the people, and unless one knows the country intimately, this old world-charm will not be rightly appreciated. These epics and other poems of Bengal used to be sung before thousands of people. Each line of the poets thus called forth distinct images which superficial readers are sure to miss in a cursory reading. The country became fully charged with poetical ideas. The Mangal-songs created an atmosphere for the right appreciation of the poems and helped the spread of poetic and spiritual ideas among the people. Their minds were impressed with every word of a good poet, and thus his works possessed a truly representative character. Divested of the old Yātrās, the Kirtanas, the Kathakatas, the Mangal-gāns, and the Rayānis— the atmosphere in which the poems grew and were nourished—they look like relics of some great temples or of stone-images which used to be worshipped there, and imperfectly convey the effect once produced by them in the midst of their right environment. The mere poems would not indicate the great poetic beauties developed through these popular institutions, any more than Ganot's Physics would give an idea of the scientific laboratories of Europe. The hereditary bands of ministrels who sing these poems are still to be found in the country side. The Chaņdī of Kavi Kankaņa, the Rāmāyaņa, the Mahābhārata and even the Dharma-mangalas are still sung before the rural people. This explains why a lakh of copies of the Rāmāyana of Krittivasā are sold every Kear to the people. Without advertisement the Battalà presses sell hundreds of copies of the Mahābhārata, the Chandi and other works
- See Kern's manual of Buddhism p. 124. 40 INTRODUCTION.
among the masses. The large sale of these books may be coveted by many authors who have distinguished themselves in our modern literary circles. The whole literature of the past is an indigenous growth. The same idea that is imaged in clay in the temples, that permeates the religious processions and festivities of rural homes, that the priests repeat in their sacred hymns and children hear in the nursery songs—pervades our past literature, which is in perfect and harmonious accord with the ruling sentiments of the race. The study of this literature will be a study of the people, whereas the ideas imported from outside in our modern literature may please the fancy of those foreign scholars who are amused by finding an echo of their own sentiments in our books; but the original—the indigenous elements of the soil will interest those who are far better critics and possess a really historical frame of mind. This literature is, as I have said, permeated by the sentiment of Bhakti, particularly that portion of it which has been contributed to by the Bengali Vaisnavas who have shown this element in their mystic writings in a far more conspicuous way than any other people in the world. 12. The dominant idea of the Jaisnava Literature and Chaitanya as its interpreter. I have written at some length on the Vaisnava literature in my History of Bengali Language and Literature, and I need not, within the short space of this introduction, dwell upon the subject again in detail. But let me here make one or two passing remarks. The Sahajiyācult, as I have stated, required a lover to worship the object of love with all the ardour of the soul. Love beyond the matrimonial pale was the special point of culture with these people. It was somewhat of the nature of A comparative the romantic love prevalent in Europe in the mediaeval study. ages about which Hallam writes, “The violation of marriage vows passes for an incontestable privilege of the brave and fair.” That such love, with all the platonic vows made in its preliminary stages, was a dangerous game to play is evident to all; and in this Europe and Asia had an equal share of evil consequences. Says Hallam, “The gallantry of these ages which was very often adulterous have no right to profane the name of religion”—“The morals of chivalry we cannot deny were not pure.” In Bengal too the Sahajiyās by their profligacies had earned the well-merited contempt of the people. In Europe there no doubt was a religious side in this matter, but with us it had become entirely devotional. I again quote Hallam, “The love of God and the ladies was enjoinod as a
- The student's Middle ages (1907), p. 580. INTRODUCTION. 41
single duty.” “The characteristic virtues of chivalries bear so much resemblance to those which Eastern writers of the same period extol, that I am a little disposed to suspect Europe of having derived some improvement from imitation of Asia.”t This sort of love-romance appears to be most congenial to our tropical clime, where a luxuriant imagination is the characteristic of the people. The oriental by his very nature and environment is prone to carry such sentiments to an excess till the secular is given the . footing of the spiritual. Ilove between man and woman, according to Chandidas, was the door-way to heaven, for, as he says, “He that pervades the universe, unseen by all, is approachable only by him who knows the secret of pure love between man and woman.” The orthodox standard of nuptial love is trampled under foot. Chandidas says, “Far higher than what the Vedās say and the canons of our theology sanction is the region of this love” (p. 998). He addresses Rāmi, the woman whom he adores, “Thou art my Gāyatri” (p. 996). Chandidas was a Brähmin and Rimi was a washer-woman. The difference in social status between the two was the difference between heaven and earth. Yet this Brühmin calls her his “Gāyatri”—the great hymn—the highest and the most sacred thing with a Brähmin, which it would be sacrilegious on his part to compare with anything of the earth. But the lover has become a mystic and risen far higher than Brähminic traditions. Rāmi to him is adorable “as the goddess Pârvati, the consort of Siva, as Saraswati, the goddess of speech” (p. 996). “There is not the least particle of sensuousness in this love of mine”, he says (p. 996). He has himself ascended the highest point in the scale; but no one knows the danger of the Sahajiyā ideal of love better than the - poet himself. He says, “in a million there may be found His love for Rāmī. o - - one who can purify himself by this love.” The rest, he repeatedly says, will roll in the mire—victims to animal passion. There were undoubtedly many ignominious Chandidases who, in their A step gained in spiri attempts to try heroic feats in love, degraded themtual experience. selves in society and became out-eastes. But as they had a high ideal before them, their failure, though ignoble, was not without a redeeming feature. It is true that many of them succumbed to the influence of the flesh, but sensuality was not the point from which they had at first started and they had made great sacrifices for love. They thus made a step forward in their spiritual experience and became fit to realize the divine love inspite of their failures.
- The Student's Middle Ages, p. 580. + Io. —p. 582.
(; 42 INTRODUCTION. Chaitanya Deva came at this stage and in the place of human love - preached the love of God and adopted the phraseology Chaitanya. - of human love merely as a symbol to denote the mystic yearnings of the soul for God. With his advent the spiritual night that had enshrouded Bengal during these days came to an end. The Täntrics used to sit on the dead bodies of the Chandāls, all alone, for whole nights in the dismal funeral grounds, drink from human skulls and pass through unheard-of hardships; while the school of romantic love demanded the greatest sacrifices for its ideal. Often through culpable rites and misdirected and even hideous practices, the earnest amongst these people had tried to get glimpses of a higher life. They were panting for God's grace, to assuage all grief and sanctify the heart. It was the healing balm of the soul that they wanted; it was beauty idealized that they strove to touch and feel. They wanted to see a Poet and not merely read poetry. Chaitanya came as the living Poet among them, holding before their sight the superb beauty of spiritual life in full bloom. The country was at the time full of songs of Rādhā and Krisna. - - - - - - The song of Jayadeva, first sung in the court of Radha-Krisna-Songs. Laksmana Sen in the 12th century, was echoed in remote villages of Bengal. The favourite bard of the court of Shiva Sinha, king of Mithila, sang the love of Rādhā and Krisna in a new strain, and the rural villages of Bengal and Bihar resounded with his song in the 14th century. Chandidas sang in a still higher strain, unmistakably pointing out that the songs of Rādhā-Krisha had a symbolical significance for man's love for God. Here Chaitanya appeared as an interpreter. He rejected the theory of love between man and woman as leading to a high spiritual plane, acknowledging the value of human love-literature merely as a symbol. He was not a preacher or a reformer—not a religious recluse, or a devotee who had developed certain feelings within himself in order to give them a poetic expression. He loved God with that ardour and warmth of the soul which no one had ever before felt for the Unseen. When with open arms he ran to embrace the Tamāla tree which produced in him an illusion of Krisna, none of the vast assembly that witnessed his frenzied ecstasies had the heart to stop him; it was a romance of the highest order which they dared not disturb. When with tears in his eyes he spoke to the cloud decorated with a rainbow-mistaking it for his Krisna, when with startled looks he listened to the chirp of birds as if it was the sound of Krisna’s flute—when in a trance he broke off half-way in the midst of recitation of hymns and fell on the ground senseless, the multitude that saw him realised the truest poetry in life. His whole life was a record of such INTRODUCTION. 43 fine frenzies and poetic visions. When, however, he spoke, people would melt into tears and realise the god-vision themselves. Unless Chaitanya's life is fully understood, the import of the Padas—the His relation to the Vaissava songs—will lose much of its force. In the * Kirtan songs, the Head singer begins with preliminary verses in praise of Chaitanya. These verses which are called the Gaura-Chandrikā embody the very essence of devotion and mysticism. The audience follow the spirit of these verses in the Rādhā-Krisnasongs which are subsequently introduced. Rādhā’s love for Krisna with its passionate ecstasies and a hundred delicate shades all arise in the secular but reach the spiritual plane. In the great personality of Chaitanya, these songs, romantic in the highest degree, had their realistic fulfilment. Nowhere else have songs of a high order been found in such perfect harmony with the poetic life that inspired them for the most part. Says M. Sylvain Lévi, “Around the apostle who preached the cult of Kri ga—the new ideal of a religion of love free to all— sprang up a rich growth of hymns, recitations and poems.” The whole country rose like one man in adoration of the The great admiration divine man. Våsudeva Sãrvabhauma, the hoary-headed for Chaitanya. scholar—the greatest logician of India in the 15th century—once said, “If all my property be destroyed and even if my sons die, that can be borne, but not that any one should blaspheme Chaitanya.” “The people gathered sacred dust trodden by the feet of Chaitanya in such quantities that the track of his passage could be followed out over a large stretch of country.” Junior Haridãs committed suicide as Chaitanya refused to admit him to his presence because he had accosted Mādhavi Devi-a beautiful damsel—in a manner inconsistent with the asceticism that he professed. King Rudrapati of Travancore and Pratāpa Rudra of Orissa and many other great chiefs of India paid the same homage of worship to Chaitanya as they did to their tutelary gods. Sākara Mallik and Dabir Khās, two brothers—ministers in the court of Hussain Shāh, the Emperor of Gaura,_deserted the capital and renounced their vast property in order to lead the ascetic's life as followers of Chaitanya. The younger brother left first, and when Hussain Shāh saw that the elder one had also a similar design in his head, he commanded that the minister should be thrown into prison. The latter bribed the Jail Superintendent with a lakh of Rupees, and fled and joined the Holy Order. It is well known how Raghunath Däs, the only son of Gobardhana Das of Satgāon, whose landed property yeilded an annual income of 19 lakhs of Rupees in those days, frustrated all
- Chaitanya Bhāgavata, Madhya Khanda. 44 INTRODUCTION.
attempts of his father to keep him at home and deserted it for ever in order to be a disciple of Chaitanya. Ishāna Nagara, a Brähmin follower, was doing some menial work for Chaitanya who remonstrated. But the devoted follower said, “If my status in society as a Brahmin debars me from doing some duties that I consider sacred, here do I disown my birth-privilege.” And so saying he tore away the sacred thread in order to do this work. Haridãs, the Mahomedan convert to Vaisnavism, was carried into 22 different market-places by the order of the Mahomedan Käzi and subjected to inhuman cruelties being whipped in each of these, till he was wellnigh dead. And all this he gladly suffered out of his devotion to Chaitanya. He triumphed over these persecutions and adhered to the great Master. The touching account of his death in the presence of Chaitanya is given on pp. 1224-27. The interview of Sãkar Mallik with Chaitanya, full of equal pathos, is described in the Chaitanya-Charitämrita and quoted on pp. 1210-23. The harlot Vāramukhi and the unfortunate Murāris, the ruffians Jagãi and Mādhāi, the robbers Bhilpointha and Nāroji of Southern India felt the irresistible charm of his influence and changed their lives. He was a poor Brähmin scholar, but is held dearer in Bengal than all her other sons. It is a very simple song which rural Bengal is accustomed to hear from the Vaisnava singers every morning: “Ye people, adore Chaitanya and love him. He that utters Chaitanya's name is dearer to me than life.” In the villages of Bengal and Orissa his image is worshipped by thousands, and children in Hindu homes are given those names by which he used to be called, riz., Nimãi, Gauranga, Gaurhari, Nader Chānd and so forth. This admiration for him is due to the fact that in him the spiritual life of India had reached its mature beauty—its very flowering point. He was at once a romance and a reality—an ideal realised and the religious mission of India fulfilled. Europe with her inborn political genius justly glories in a Nelson, in a Bismarck and in a Napoleon Bonaparte. But when we make too much of our village chiefs like Pratāpāditya, Sitārām and Udayāditya and hold their anniversaries, we only want to prove that Bengalis and Europeans are exactly similar in all respects. This is pseudo-patriotism, as in the fury of imitation we undervalue our own position of strength exaggerating the virtues in which we have but little share. Let not Bosora be ashamed of her roses regretting that she does not produce the Himalayan pine. In India religions do not grow by the spasmodic efforts of men. The whole atmosphere is charged with the ideas which develop in their proper time. When a religion is in full bloom in this country, it represents the beauty of the life of the people. Elsewhere the secular and the spiritual may be INTRODUCTION. 45 separated by a line of demarcation, but here the one merges in the other. Even politics here have sometimes risen to the level of religion as in the edicts of Ashoka. 4 Bengal. JMelo-drama. With the above remarks on the life of Chaitanya Deva and its bearing on the Vai nava songs, I shall introduce my foreign readers who are not acquainted with Bengali to the following translation of a Bengali work written by Krisnakamala Goswämi, born in 1810 A.D. Nearly the whole of the text translated here will be found on pages 1592-1620. For the sake of brevity I have omitted some passages of the original in my translation. The book is called the “Divyonmāda” or the “Divine Frenzy”. The author thus refers to the extensive popularity of this book in the preface to his poem the “Wichitra-Vilăsa”—“It seems to me that the public were well pleased with the two works—the Svapna-Vilăsa and the Divyonmāda ; otherwise how is it to be explained that more than 20,000 copies of these books were sold within a very short time of their publication?” Thirty years ago there was hardly a man or woman in the Hindu communities of Eastern Bengal who could not reproduce from memory at least some songs from the Divyonmāda. This melo-drama which reads like a romantic tale of love, with all exuberance of the imagination of the Orient is not exactly what is seems to be, but is curiously enough an attempt to retell the story of Chaitanya's trances, which was more like a dream—too far removed from the materialistie world, to be appreciated by the purely rational mind. Rādhā is no Haidee dying of separation from Juan—no Dido expressing her agonies in a poetic language at being deserted by Eneas. She is the poetic symbol of spiritual experiences of a peculiar type which the Bengali Vaisravas had developed in the 16th century. For the right understanding of the illusion created in the mind of Rādhā by the sight of a cloud, the reader is referred to the ecstasies of Mādhavendra Puri, a devout Vaisnava, described in the Chaitanya Bhāgavata as follows:– “The story of Mādhavendra Puri is a marvel. He used to fall into a trance at the sight of a cloud.” Many of the mad utterances of Rādhā, to be found in the book, sound like the very sayings of Chaitanya Deva in his frenzied condition. For instance, on p. 56, where Rādhā attempts to name Krisna, and she falters after uttering the first letter, the passage is bodily imported from ChaitanyaCharitämrita” On p. 56 Bisākhā says that Rādhā while enthusiastically telling the story of her great love, suddenly breaks off and falls into a trance. There are many songs in Bengali describing how Chaitanya Deva, while speaking of Krissa to Swarupa Dāmodara suddenly stopped in
- The nuost authoritative biography of Chaitanyu Devu. 46 INTIRODUCTION.
great emotion and fell into a trance. The lamentation of Rādhā at the sight of a cloud or a Tamāla tree may appear too visionary. But with the Vaisnavas in this country, it is far from being such. Chaitanya, during his tour in southern India, seeing a Tamāla tree at a village named Chandipur embraced it in ecstasy, and lay in a trance for a long time. The ripple of the sea, the chirp of a bird, the dark-blue waves of a river all made him delirious with joy and heightened in him a desire for communion with his God whom he saw symbolised in every object of sense. That this melo-drama is only a tale of the life of the Great Master is indicated in the Gaura Chandrikā, the preliminary verses in praise of Gaura Chandra (Chaitanya). It is an index of the contents of the book. When we lose ourselves in the enjoyment of communion with the Deity and become one with Him, we have an experience of the nondualistic aspect in religion. In the dualistic aspect we yearn for Him and bewail our separation from Him. Both these dualistic and non-dualistic aspects are co-mingled in Chaitanya. The Vaislavas say that it is god's cry for communion with himself—to taste the joys that are within him, that takes the form of Chaianya Deva. On p. 65, we have it again that Krisna himself, whose colour is dark, promises to assume the fair-colour of Rādhā. This is merely an expression of the general belief of the Vaisnavas that Krisna was incarnated in Chaitanya for the sole object of realizing the joys of Rādhā’s ecstasies, and in fulfilment of a promise to her he adopted her colour. The religious aspect of the poem is again emphasised on p. 66, where the author appears on the scene himself and interprets the Rādhā-Krisna love. Krisna is always present in the devotee's soul. When the latter vividly realises His presence, he thinks that He is in the Vrindå groves with him, but when the vision fades away he thinks that He has gone to Mathurā. The book is full of passages from the authoritative works on Vaisnavism, assimilated into the happy poetic language of our author. Those who are versed in the Chaitanya-lore will, when reading this drama, forget all about princess Rādhā, and follow the tale as one of Chaitanya's fine frenzies. The lines on p. 56, in praise of love for Krisna as typified in Rādhā, is a repetition of what Chaitanya Deva said to Rây Rāmānanda.* The dark-blue colour is the craze of the Vaisnavas and there seems to be a historical reason for this attachment for the The dark-blue. dark-blue. The images of Väsudeva (Krisna) in Bengal were generally made in black stone with a bluish tint. The supply of this stone came from the Raj Mahendri hills in North Bengal and Nilgiri hills of Orissa. In other parts of India statues were generally
- see Chaitanya-Charitāmrita, Madhya Khanda. INTRODUCTION. 47
made in white marble, granite and sand-stone. But here in Bengal the images, with a very few exceptions, were, as has been stated, all made in black-stone. The faces of the images often show that spiritual bliss which is the struggle and the goal of the whole of Indian philosophy. When the face of a Väsudeva is decorated with Alakā and Tilakā and five lights are waved before the image by the priest, it appears, through the scented smoke and the lights, no material object, but a living joy at the altar of which the devotee is prepared to sacrifice every thing that is dear to him. The great temples dedicated to these deities had endowments of extensive lands for their maintenance; villages were turned into gardens to supply flowers for worship; when the bell of Årati rung in the evening, princes bent their crowned heads at their altars. When these images were mutilated and destroyed and their temples desecrated by profane hands, many bled to death to stop this scourge, but all in vain. To the Hindus of those days the loss of the household deity was what loss of all his treasure is to the miser. They remembered the dark-blue images of Väsudeva which no longer adorned their temples, till the colour itself became a symbol to remind them of their god and fill their minds with a maddening grief. It became a sore point in their memory, and their deep-rooted sorrow found solace in association with everything that bore that colour. The dark clouds, the collyrium Anjana, the dark blue waves of the Jumna, were a reminder to them, and hence dark-blue is a sacred colour with the Vaislavas of the present day. The reader will often find that this dark-blue colour was the object of passionate panegyric with our poet. He is not alone in eulogising the colour. All our Vaisnava poets, from Vidyāpati and Chandidas downwards, have done so. The dark colour of Krisia is no doubt mentioned in the earliar Sanskrit works. But nowhere else in the literature of India is there such lavish praise bestowed on it as we find in the Bengali poems of the Vaisravas after the advent of the Mahomedans. The Vaisnavas have tried to interpret the dark blue in a metaphysical way, as is the wont of the Hindus, disregarding the obvious historical facts. This, they say, is the pervading colour of the Universe, of the azure, of the sea and generally speaking of the landscape. As the main colour of the Universe this has been, they say, made the symbol of the Deity. There is a crown of peacock feathers on the head of Krisna which indicates a combination of other colours that decorate the main dark blue of the world. Others seem to maintain that the dark colour symboliges the mystery which enshrouds the Unseen and the Unknowable. Hence it is sacred with the Vaisnavas. For praises offered to this colour the reader is referred to pp. 52, 53, and 66 of this poem. 4Գ INTRODUCTION. The original Bengali poetry contained in this remarkable drama is so exquisitely beautiful that I can hardly speak of my translation on other than an apologetic tone. However tedious the poem may appear, as the mellifluousness of the original Bengali has but been poorly preserved in these pages, the reader will on a careful perusal realize the spirit of the Chaitanya-religion in this book better than in many theological works of the Vaisnava sect in Bengal. The Divine Frenzy.* Gaura-chandrikā or Preliminary verses in praise of Gaurachandra (Chaitanya). In order to taste the sweetness that is within Himself did He forego His own qualities adopting those of Rādhā and incarnating Himself as Chaitanya in Navadwipa. Lo ! See, how Krişņa weeps at the supposed separation from Himself, and cries ‘O Krisna, where art thou gone?’ Tears flow from his eyes; grief-stricken he weeps and says, “Show me, if only once, the darling of my soul. Else I cannot bear this life.” Sometimes Chaitanya falls into a divine frenzy and feeling the presence of Krisna everywhere, seeks communion with Him in a trance. (A scene in the Jorindi-groves—deserted by Krisma). Enter Subala, Sudāma and other cow-herds—the companions of Krisna. Subala—Towards the close of yester-night, when the thought of Krisna caused an aching pain in my heart and, for a moment, I slept, I dreamt that he came to me. From behind me with his hands did he cover my eyes and softly whisper in my ear, “Say Subala who am I’; then while my eyes were darkened by his hands I touched him, and I found the contact soft and sweet, and said, ‘You are
- The whole of this melo-drama in the original is in songs, sung in that charming musical mode known as the “Manoharashahi rāgini”. INTRODUCTION. 49
Krisna dear and none other’. Then he came before me and embraced me warmly and asked, “How fared you all in the Vrindå-groves during my absence?” At that very moment my sleep fled and I saw him no more. But the dream was so vivid that methought it real, and that Krisna, after seeing me, had gone to see other friends of ours. Thus did I ask you in the morning if you had seen him. Oh! How foolish was I to inquire thus ! Sudāma—Fortunate are you no doubt. You were his dearest friend, thus graciously did he visit you if only in a dream; you have again tasted his sweet embrace. Happy are you. Come near us, we shall touch you. This will soothe us, yearning for a touch of him. If ever he be so kind as to come again to us, some of us will hold him by the hands, and others will fall at his lotus-feet and there remain, till he promises never to leave us and the Vrindå-groves. Shridãma–O brother Subala, say if for our familiar ways and slights he has left us! We never knew he was so great and showed him no respect. At the time of play we often quarrelled with him. Did he take all these slights to heart and therefore sever his connection with us f Oh! how often did we beat him in sport? We climbed on his shoulders as he did on ours. We took our food and gave him the remnants. The language we used to him was rude for we never suspected him to be so great. Ezif. The Scene—A room in Rādhā’s palace. Enter Rādhā and Lalitā, Bisākhā, Chitrā, Ranga Devi and other maids of Rādhā. Bisākhā—It may be that he is still in the Vrindå-groves. Often for the sake of fun, he does hide himself behind tall trees entwined with flowering creepers. Let us search through these groves, and perchance we may find him. (Here follows a conversation and Rādhā thinks that this may be quite probable, and, though weak and emaciated by her separation from Krisna, takes the lead, and they all go to search the groves.) The maids—Dear Rādhā, go not so fast, lessen your speed, faint and weak are you, and your limbs tremble as you walk. 7 INTRODUCTION. Though you walk faster than we, your chance of meeting Krisna is no greater. O Rādhā, the way is thorny, walk with care, lest the thorns pierce your tender feet. Venomous snakes in the way may bite you ; and our tears have made the ground wet and slippery. Go not so fast, rest your arms on ours and walking slowly peer into the path. Rādhā–Little do I care for the thorns. When love dawned in my heart, I thought within myself what might I not have to do for his sake He is a cow-herd and the thorny snake-infested wood-land path and the muddy slippery ground would I have to tread with him. For, how could I rest at home when his flute gave the signal and called me ! So in my court-yard did I pour out water to make it wet and learnt how to walk on slippery ground. On dark nights did I cover the paths with thorns, and learnt how best to tread the thorny wood-lands. From snakecharmers I learned charms to guard myself against the bites of snakes. O what did I not suffer for him 2 But all this has gone for nought, I see! They enter the bowers. Rādhā—Look at these groves, dear maids, deserted by Krisna, they have turned to wilderness. These groves were once renowned for beauty. The creepers with their foliage are withered, the flowers do not bloom, the dried leaves fall to the ground. It was Krisna that gave them his own loveliness and with him that is gone. Stop! The Bakulbower is here. Where are those creepers laden with flowers—the home of bees—which once resounded with the cuckoo's sweetest notes? Look there, the birds Sāri and Suka, mute with grief, sing no more. Grief-stricken stands the bower. Alas, to whom will I go for the tidings of my love | Here stands the Bata-tree, dear to the heart of Krisna. Men call it the flute-tree, for here he used to play on his flute. Ye, Tamāla, Săla, Hintāla, Dhaba, and Sinsapā trees, tell me where my love is gone. You dwellers of this shrine, surely you will help one suffering as I do. Ye Jasmine and Mālati, have you seen my love go by this way? What look like dew-drops INTRODUCTION. 51 on your leaves, are they not your tears of joy that ye have met him? Alas my maids, my sufferings they see, yet it excites no pity in their hearts! Let us go to the Kadamvatrees bedecked with flowers. Charmingly they look. Perchance there we may have some tidings of him. The maids—(aside) Her brain is frenzied. See how she talks with creepers and trees as though they were animate beings. Is this the reward of love for Krisna? Rādhā—Here are we at last, in this Kadamva-bower. Here Krisna was wont to play on his flute. Then would the cows, hearing the sound, playfully gather round him. Here I used to come as often as he sang my name on his flute. Oh I how happy was I then l Upon a friend he lovingly would lean and stand in that half-bent favourite attitude of his. His comrades—the cow-herds—would decorate him with flowers and leaves, and then Krisna would play on his flute calling Rādhā–Rādhā– Rādhā ' Whenever I heard that sound, sense left me, and all in haste I came, and if in the darkness a snake coiled round my feet, fain would I take it for an anklet of gold scorning to look at it. One day the sight of a champaka flower full-blown reminded him of my complexion. Then like a man insane he cried, “O where is my Rādhā P and fainted in the height of emotion. Then Suvala came to his aid. But when with all his care, the faint continued, in all haste did Suvala come to tell me of it. And when I heard of it, I knew not what to do. Then I devised a way. My jewels I made over to Suvala who looked so much like me,” and took his dress and in his guise came quickly to the spot. There saw I Krisna lying unconscious on the naked earth, and covered him with my embrace wipping away the dust. At my touch his sense came back to him, and looking at me he said, “Tell me, Suvala, where is Radha—my soul's joy". Whereat I–Am I not she whom you seek, obedient to your wish, my love?' And then he smiled and looked me in his arms for joy. The bower, whither so often we wended, shines yonder. He is gone but the lovely spot
- Suvala was a young lad and had a girlish appearance. INTRODUCTION.
is brimful of his memory. There he used to sit, and with what eagerness and words of endearment he would ask me to sit by him With a comb would he arrange my hair and make braids which he bound into a knot circling it with a garland of Mālati flowers. O with what care would he adorn me ! Then as he looked at my face, tears of joy flowed from his eyes | It was his wont to gather flowers with tender care and make a bed with them, for me—yea all for me—my maids. Our nights would pass in ecstasies. He would not close his eyes even for a little space Now I have lost him and what pity that death comes not even yet. She stops here and stands suddenly with a startled look. Lalită-What has become of Rādhā 2 Her words were flowing freely; what is it that suddenly stops her ? Oh what pain has seized her, that her eager look she fixes on the air 2 Bisākhā—It is a trance, or it may be that she has mistaken the chirp of the bird Sărasa in the air for the sound of Krisha's flute. Rādhā–Do you not hear, my maids, from far away there floates the music of his flute. Listen 'Tis that, and nothing else. My name I distinctly hear in the sound of the flute. Oh! now let us go—all of us go. How long will my beloved play on the flute and call me to him We should not make him tarry. If owing to fear of scandal you hesitate, do so. I fear not for a moment. I must go alone. For if I do not go, my life will surely fade. If you care for family-ties, then must it be so. I care not for them. I own no other ties than his. No more delay. I go in quest of him. Lalitä–She again stops and fixes her gaze madly on the clouds. Bisākhā—It is that fine frenzy which only those that love Krisna reveal. The new cloud in the sky she has mistaken for Krisna. The rain-bow she takes for the crown of peacock-feathers on his head. The cranes look in the distance like the necklace of white pearls on his breast, and the lightning's flash has the look of his yellow draparies in her eyes. Oh! Look, how in an attitude of worship she stands. A great emotion makes her frame tremble. Forgetting everything INTRODUCTION. - 53 else she fixes her gaze on the cloud, and is as motionless as a woman in a picture. Rādhā—Come now ye maids! He has come without our seeking. Providence assuredly has brought him so near us. Oh! let us all go to him. He, for whom we are lamenting in this wilderness, has out of his great love himself come to meet us. Oh! what good hap that he has again visited the Vrindå-groves | The night of our sorrow is past and the auspicious morning of joy has dawned. He has come home back—a victor. We must give him fitting welcome. Jars must be filled with water and placed before him. Red powder must be spread, and the earth should be decorated with the Alipana paintings. But see, there is no time to lose. Our rounded breasts will serve as the jars, the pearl-necklace will be like the paintings, and for red powder our Kumkuma will proclaim the welcome. In our very heart of hearts shall we give him his royal seat, and we shall wash his lotus-feet with our tears, and wipe them again with our flowing tresses. Look 1 how like the collyrium anjana or like a rain-cloud with darkish tint he looks : A beautiful pearl necklace hangs on his breast ! Oh what a likeness it bears to the rows of cranes that fly in the bosom of distant clouds ! His crown of peacockfeathers resembles the rain-bow, and his yellow garments dazzle the eyes like the lightning's flash. With her gaze still fired on the cloud. O come thou, soul of our soul. Hast thou remembered us, loved one, after all this weary time. Assuredly it is strange that with our great sufferings we are still alive. Our life hangs but on the hope of seeing you once more. The cloud does not move. Why, O loved one, why dost thou stand thus 2 Come, if only for a moment, to this pleasant bower. If thou comest here, thou wilt thyself behold our great sufferings. Wert thou well all this while ” It is good that thou hast come now. For, if thou hadst come a little later we should not hawe met. My life would have gOne out. Many a woman like myself yearns to offer her heart 54 Art INTRODUCTION. to thee. But to me there is none but thee, just as the sun has many a lily, but the lilies only one sun. There was a time when thou wouldst miss me if for a moment I were not by thee, and how couldst thou permit this long separation ? But we have met now. No vain regret for the past. I will not speak of thy indifference. Place thy lotus-feet on my breast, and stay here, if only for a little while. Though my heart burns with the fever of long separation, it will be made cool by a touch of thy lotus-feet. Receiving no reply. thou angry with me 2 Dost thou still remember that occasion on which I caused thee pain by my silence when thou didst even touch my feet and say, ‘Relent, my dearest Rādhā, and have mercy on me? Here fall I prostrate at thy feet. The cloud passes away. O my maids, he is gone. He has slighted my entreaties and gone away. Why should I live any longer in this world 2 Oh! had I the wings of a bird I would follow him Stay !—stay, if only for a moment. Go not thus away. Does he whose protection is sought kill her who seeks it—thus * If thou hast no liking for us, beloved, go away. But bear with me for a moment. We know yet where love is not, tears cannot engender it. If I die now–what matters? I say–let me die, as my ill-hap will have it. Where was it ever heard that an unwilling one was detained by entreaties : Thou wilt surely go. Only wait till thou hearest a word that I would say. I die; that matters not. Yet, alack 1 that our love will be stained People will say the milk-maid died because she loved Krisna. One word more. Our mutual feelings were sincere. They are no longer so, because thou art indifferent. Pity it is that none will henceforth value aright this love which is pure gold. They will all condemn it. My last appeal to thee is this: when thou didst go to Mathurā, thou promisedest to return quickly. My life has so long hung on that thread of promise. Only say now that what thou toldest was not true, so that the thread may break and I INTRODUCTION. 55 may die of despair. The end has come. I beeseech thee, stay till thou seeest my death for love. She sacoons atcау. The maids—We entreat you, dear Rādhā, have patience. Look and see, it is not Krisna but a cloud. Why shed tears for an illusion ? You are dying as a mad woman would. But how can we allow you to do so? O frenzied one, all your appeal has gone for nought. You have addressed a cloud. Krisna has not come. Oh why did we bring you to these bowers | If you die, we will die with you for grief. Lalitä–Soft . She has swooned away. What can we do now to bring her back to consciousness. Bisākhā–1 will recite the name of Krishna in her ears, and do you all sing praises of him. - All—(in chorus): Open your eyes, O Rädhā And see that your beloved Krişņa has come. She is in the arms of her maid Rupamanjari, and, at the mention of Krisna’s name, gradually recovers her senses. Rādhā–Who are you all here sitting by me ! The maids—What say you ? We are your friends. Do you not know us 2 Rādhā–Who am I that lie in your arms The maids—Why do you not know yourself 2 You are Rādhā, beloved of us all. Rādhā—Help my memory, I cannot recall. What Rādhā do you mean 2 The maids—You are our princess Rādhā, the daughter of king Brisa Bhānu. Rādhā—Why am I in this wood-land, and I a princess 2 The maids—You came here in quest of Krisna. Rādhā–O misery Where is my beloved gone * She swoons away again. The maids—Her condition is serious this time. May hap she will not live. Her garments are all loose, her ornaments have fallen off, her teeth are clenched, and the tongue is 56 INTRODUCTION. dry. The emaciated body trembles, and unconscious tears fall from her eyes. She cannot speak. In her attempts to name Krisna, only the first letter comes from her lips. O pity we cannot bear to see her beautiful pale face. Her colour, bright as the ray of the morning sun, has lost its lustre. Her eyes are closed. O what pain Is she dying : Lalità–Open your eyes, O Rādhā. Will the joys of the Vrindå-groves end for ever ? Bisākhā–In an evil hour did Akrura come and take away Krisna. Arise Rādhā. See your precious body is lying in the dust. Chiträ–Tell us again, our darling, all that you suffered for Krisna. Why have you stopped so suddenly * Rangadevi-See she gasps. Oh! what shall we all do now Ż Chiträ—Will not Krisna come again to these groves and stand by the side of Rādhā to our heart’s joy Shall we not make garlands with field-flowers for the twain, locked in each other's arms ? Bisākhā—Before her nostrils I have placed the fine threads of lotus-bud, they do not move. No breath is perceptible. Her pulse I cannot feel. How can we hope that she will live? Lalitä—So much misery was in store for us ! We did not know that we should have to witness the death of Rādhā In great grief they become prostrate on the earth, and 7e there in a halfwnconscious state, having no power to rise or do anything. Here enters Chandrà–the rival of Rādhā in Krisna’s love. Chandrä-Oh what is this I see 1 The beautiful damsels all like figures of gold lie unconscious in the bower! Like a forest of gold-coloured plantain trees under a great storm, they lie on the bare earth ! Alas Rādhā whose beauty is envied by the goddess Pârvati-whose good fortune in having secured the love of the Highest is coveted by Arundhuts—from whom the maids of the Vrindå-groves have their lessons in the love of Krisna— Rādhā—who is the crown of woman-kind—lies thus neglected and on the verge of death ! Alas! at the sight of her condition who will not be moved to compassion 1 Oh how beautiful is she As my rival I never cared to look at her so closely as I do now. When INTRODUCTION. 57 she would stand by Krisna and smile and speak, how lovely did that smile seem She who is now flung in the dust was the very necklace of Krisna’s breast. That colour of hers, which would give shame to the Kunda flower, has grown dark. Is it from thought of her dark-blue god o Her eyes playful as those of the Khanjana bird— those eyes which captivated Krisna’s heart—are motionless. Her feet, incomparably tender and beautiful, Krisna used to dye with red Åltā. These feet of Rādhā, softer than lotus-buds, would trip over the wood-land paths to meet Krisna. Fain then would one have wished to give her bare bosom as a path for Rādhā’s feet. Chandrà here calls aloud the maids of Rādhā—Suchitrú, Bisākhā Champakalatiã, Rangadevi, and others—who were lying on the ground stupified with grief. They now gently open their eyes as they hear Chandrá's voice. They describe Rādhā’s condition to her, how at the sight of a cloud she had a trance which has developed into her present condition, and they ask Chandrā what should be done to restore her to consciousness. Chandrā–This do I suggest. Bring an artist and have a portrait of Krisha drawn and then place it before Rādhā. A sweetscented blue lotus put near her. This will again create an illusion of Krisna. I will in the meantime whisper in her ear the name of Krisna. Thus she may gain her consciousness. In the weakness of her mind the portrait will be taken by her as the real Krisna. They all do as instructed. Chandrā wispers in Rādhā’s ear the name of Krisna. The maids ( in chorus )— Hail O Krisna, lord of Rādhā’s heart art thou. Rādhā slowly regains her consciousness and looks helplessly around as if in a trance. Rādhā–Oh where—where—where—O Bisākhā, show me—show me, O friend, my love. When shall I see his face, O Bisākhā, if I do not, my end will come. Oh Lalitā, Suchitra, Rangadevi and Champakalatikā, I pray ask him to touch me once. I will revive at that touch of his. They bring the portrait nearer. 58 INTRODUCTION. Rādhā—O friends, the day has auspiciously dawned on me. I have seen him. Addressing the potrait. If thou hast been so good as to come here I shall keep thee within my heart of hearts. My eyes will keep the watch. Kansa’s” messenger will have no entrance there. My very ribs will have to be torn out before they dare touch thee. There is in my heart, sweet friend, a bed of flowers. Thou wilt be there and I shall worship thy lotus-feet all alone; thou art to me what wealth is to a miser or the jewel in the hood is to the serpent.t This time I will not let thee leave me. She touches the portarit. Alas, it is not he. I do not feel the influence of that lifegiving touch. It is a portrait. You have only deceived me. Chandrà–Lose not your wits again, O Rādhā. We will devise means to bring Krisna up here. Rādhā–I will be a Yogini and go about begging alms, till I find him. Chandrà–Don’t say so, dear, you are our pride. You are a princess. Why should you go as a Yogini. I undertake to go to Mathură, and I will bring him. Wait only till I do so. Rādhā—Go, I beseech you friend. Waste not a moment. Chandrä-Be not impatient. I will go and search every town, every village and every house. Ere long he will be brought here, I promise. But before I start, O princess, O our beloved one, smile but once. Your smile will be the auspicious sign of my starting. For a long time have we not seen that sweet smile adorn your face. Rādhā (smiling forcedly)– Go now Chandrā, do not delay. Eacit Chamdrä. Re-enters Chandrā. Rādhā–What makes you come back, Chandrà 2 Chandrä-I am just reminded that at the dawn of love Krisna was so infatuated that we wanted him to execute a bond, before
- Kansa's messenger Akrura came to the Wrinda-groves and took away Krisna to Mathura.
+ The popular notion is that the serpent dies when it loses the jewel it is supposed to bear in its hood. INTRODUCTION. 59 allowing him to enter these bowers, that he would be your slave for life. I want that bond. Rādhā—What will you do with it Chandrä-I will take it with me and if gentle words fail to persuade him, I will have him bound in chains as a run-away and bring him here. He is a monarch now—that matters not. The law of the land he cannot disobey. If people ask me—“Why do you bind our king o' Proudly will I say— ‘Your king is the run-away-slave of our queen. Here, see this bond. Let him be the king of Mathură, what of that l” The maids give her the bond. Erit Chandra. Rādhā (to Chiträ)—Do please call Chandrä back. Erit Chitrà and qfter a time she re-enters vith Chandra. Rādhā (in a whispering tone to Chandrā)— Do thou, O Chandrā, go to Mathurå. Seek and find him out by all means. One thing promise me and this you must. Do not bind him. Do not speak rough words. If you reproach him, his face will be pale—that sweet face of his which a smile inimitably adorns, and as I think of it, my heart breaks. Chandrā–You wish me not to allude to his wickedness. Do you want me to fall at his feet and submit my prayer Rādhā—Not that either. Reproach him not, nor lose your dignity. Only tell him of our condition, and his heart will melt. Chandrä-Very well princess, I will do what I should think proper at the time. The scene—A street in Mathurā. Enter some women with pitchers to be filled with water from the Jumna. They sing in chorus. Oh let us go and fill our pitchers with water from the Jumna— from the dark-blue Jumna. None—none need we fear in the street. Our king is powerful. We will not allow any one to stare at our faces wickedly. If we meet any such, we shall draw our veils and turn aside. 60 INTRODUCTION. First woman (Seeing Chandrà coming towards them)— Just look my friends. Oh, how beautiful that woman is She belongs not to this town. Her presence seems to be like a flash of lightning—so gloriously beautiful is she Is she the celestial nymph Urvasi ? (То Аer cотранion) Do please ask who she is. Second woman (approaching Chandrā)— Who are you, good woman * Where is your home and why come you here 2 Your eyes look sad ; they seem to float in tears. Your movement betrays a deep-seated anxiety of the heart. You look like a deer that is alarmed when fire breaks out in a forest. From your beauty and grace, fain do we take you for a princess. Chandrā–No princess am I, my friend, only the servant of a princess; and her beauty excels that of any other woman. She suffers from a malady which mone can diagnose. I have come in quest of some cure available here. First woman—That princess whose servant you are must needs be beautiful beyond words. Third woman—Where do you expect to find the cure in this town 2 Chandrä-It is with your king. Third woman–Our king is no physician. How can you expect medicine from him 2 Chandrä-If he is not a physician how could he cure Kubzā of her deformity ?” The first woman (to her friends)— Yes, it is but too true. How does she know of it? Chandrā–Now, will you, good women, help me by telling how I can gain access to your king ” First woman–Do not enter by any of the seven front-gates. The guards will not allow you entrance. There are some gates to the inner-palace. There you will find hundreds of maid-servants coming and going. Mix in their company
- Kubza was one of the maid-servants of Kansa whom Krisna killed—she had a hump which Krisna cured by his touch when he made her his queen. INTRODUCTION. 61
and forsooth you will ere long be in the presence of the king. Erit. Chandrä-Then good-bye. I go as you direct. The palace as Mathurā. The scene—A room in the inner palace. Krisma seated on a throne. Enters Chandrā. Chandrā (aside)— There he is seated. It is good there is none about him. I shall not go direct to his presence. Let me first see if he remembers us. I shall here hide myself behind this door and name Rādhā, and watch what effect it produces on his mind. (Aloud) Blessed is Rādhā, the princess of the Vrindå-groves. Krisna (with a started look descending from the throne)— What do I hear? Who in this Mathură names my beloved Rādhā’ Oh, sweet name! It sheds life-giving drops in the desert of my heart. Who is it that has poured ambrosia into my ears ? My senses are delirious with joy! The very name gives me a heaven of delight. The Vrindå-groves now vividly appear before my inner sight. Oh, where is my beloved Rādhā" Where are my father Nanda, my doting mother Jasodā and my comrades? How cruel am I to have forgotten them Fie upon my desire to rule a kingdom ! Fie upon this throne! - Once more my soul yearns for the sweet joys of the Vrindå-groves. Who is it that has named her? There is nought I cannot offer to reward the person. Chandrā (aside)— Good. I am convinced he has not forgotten her. Approaches Krisna. Krisna—My poor woman, you look so sad. What is your name * Where is your home and wherefore do you come to me? Chandrà–I once knew, but now remember not my name. Oh, where is my native village? That too I have forgotten. And also the name of my king—the mission that brings me to this palace—all—all I seem to have forgotten. Let me recall. No, my memory is so bad: But I am a poor 62 INTRODUCTION. O woman and thou art a monarch. Trouble not yourself about me. Krisna—So strange, my poor woman, that you have forgotten everything on coming to this place | If one goes from one place to another, does one forget all about oneself? Chandrā–Yes, O King, this is but too true. The town of Mathura has surely some oblivious effect on one's memory. One forgets everything about one's former self by coming here. Kri na-Let that pass. I will ask you one question. Why did you repeat the name of Rādhā? How could you know her? Chandrā–Thou must know, O King, that we are all worshippers of Rādhā. Krisha—Very well, good woman, I am pleased with you. Ask some reward of me. What you seek will be yours. Chandrā–What gifts would Your Majesty want to offer me? Krisna—Why, I can reward you with gold, silver and precious stones. Chandrā–People of the place where I live count not gold, silver or stones as precious at all. The Tree of Plenty grows in my native place. There things, highly valued elsewhere, are obtained at the mere asking. We are not wont to seek for wealth, save one very precious jewel of ours that is lost, and about this I have come to appeal to thee, O King. Krisna—Say what it is. Chandrā–Our princess had purchased a precious jewel. She wore it on her bosom, and valued it above her life. A man from Kansa's court went one day and robbed her of it. The princess is almost mad with grief. She has sent me to thee that thou mayest help to bring the thief to justice. Krisna—If the thief is in my kingdom and the article is proved to be yours, surely you will get it. Chandrā–We know not for certain, where the thief is now, but he was once caught and executed a bond that is with me. The maker of this bond is probably here. If I can find him out, what help may I expect from thee, O King f Krisna—Forsooth, I shall extract the value of the loss from him even if I needs must sell all his goods to do so. INTRODUCTION. 63 Chandrā–But by selling his property, if the value be not secured, what then 2 Krisna—Why? he shall be sent to prison. Chandrā–I pray thee, O King, for pardon that I have troubled thee so much. If the thief is of the royal house, what then P Krisna—Mind it not, good woman. Even if it be my own self, the Law of the country must take its course. Chandrà–One word more. From behind the door I saw thee shedding tears at the mention of Rādhā’s name. Why, may I ask, why didst thou do so 2 Krisna—"Tis very strange that you should question thus ! Familiar your face seems to me. But I cannot distinctly recollect who you may be. Chandrä-Why shouldest thou know me now 2 That happy day is gone. Some charmer here, probably Kubzā, may have thrown magic dust in thine eyes. It may be strange that thou knowest not us—poor women—once your favourites. (Here she produces the bond). My gracious sovereign, see here this bond. Canst thou tell whose signature this is. Krisna–Now there is no mistake. You are Chandrà and none other. O my heart's friend, Chandrā, tell me I pray you how fare they in the Vrindå-groves. My father Nanda, so kindhearted and good, is he sorely overcome with grief ? How is my mother Jasodă—tenderness itself is she How does she live without me 2 If she missed me for a moment, she used to wander in the forest with tearful eyes, seeking me like a cow that has lost its young one. How are my dear friends, the cow-herds, in whose sweet company I tended the cows Oh, how fondly they were attached to me ! They used to hold up to my mouth the sweet fruit they had themselves partaken of. The maids of the Vrindå-groves, how are they all 2 Do they not miss me still And now tell me of Rādhā, a necklace of gold was she, adorning my breast. Oh, tell me how is she l Chandrā–Kindness itself! There is no need of all these frothy words; speak not of these things, they are so delicate. Everything thou hast forgotten of the Vrindä-groves. Only because I am here, thou dost remember them. But thou INTRODUCTION. needest not show this mercy. Some one may have lost her social place for thee, may have lost her loveliness and beauty and may now stand on the verge of death, thinking of thee | But what is that to thee ? If the trader makes profit in five different places, losing only in one, does he stop to regret it 2 The joy of the Vrindagroves is that one place in thy heart. Once the master of a few cows, now there are numberless elephants and steeds in thy stalls | There only a yellow-coloured cloth about the waist, and here all this gorgeous dress And the head, that once bent so low, seeking Rādhā’s grace, wears the proudest crown of the world now ! A cow-herd turned a monarch Thy memory must needs be dull, O king ! Krisna—Dear Chandrā, please cease, no more. Tell me how my own people fare in the Vrindā-groves. Chandrā–Bear with me then a moment, O cruel-hearted one. The Vrinda-groves are like a forest burnt by fire. Even the birds and beasts there seem to be struck dumb with sorrow. What shall I say of the people? Thy father Nanda mingles not in society. He is blind with weeping and seldom leaves his room. Thy mother talks and acts like one insane. Sometimes she thinks that thou art there and prepares meals for thee and at other times she fixes her eyes on the vacant air and swoons away. Thy friends—the cow-herds go no more to the pastures with their herds. The cows themselves will not take any food when it is offered. They look wistfully towards Mathură, as if, to catch the sound of thy flute. About the maids of Rādhā, I need say little. They neither take their -> meals, nor sleep. Weeping they look at the princess, and share her agony. The Vrindå-groves, sunny and ever-cheerful, are overcast with gloom. The cry of grief arises on all sides. If this was in thy mind, thou shouldest not have shown so much love. Krisna—But you have said nought about my Rādhā, Tell me of her who is my most beloved. Chandrä-What shall I say of her! Words cannot express her sad estate. It breaks one's heart to tell of her grief. Oh thou loved of us all—why hast thou caused such pain to INTRODUCTION. 65 her without a fault? Like the lotus when the rays of the sun are gone she pines away. That beauty which once put to shame the lightning's flash is seen no more. The plight in which I left her is pitiable. I doubt if there is still life in her. A maid holds before her nose the fine thread of the lotus plant, for witness if there still be breath. When her own hand she sees, she takes it for a lotus, and it reminds her of thee. Then she covers her hand, and in doing so, the bracelets make a sound which she mistakes for the humming of the bees—reminding her again of thee. And the wailing, that she involuntarily utters is re-echoed, and this she takes for the cuckoo's cooings. This too reminds her of thee. The whole world brings the memory of thee back to her and whatever she beholds throws her into a trance. Providence made thee a veritable thunder-bolt to crush a soft lily. If it is thy wish to have a sight of her yet while she is living, accompany me to the Vrindå-groves. Krisna–No need of any further talk, dear Chandrā. Within a day or two I go to your groves. Chandrä-Say precisely when thou wilt go. Krisna—To morrow positively. Chandrā–Such a promise thou once gavest us, but how can we rely on it 2 Krisnă—Chandrā, wicked woman, do you think I have no heart and cannot feel ? Chandrà–I doubt if thou hast a heart. Thou lookest the more glorious now with thy dark-blue colour. There is no sign of grief in thee. Hear me! You are dark; and if your dark would change to fair, then and then only could we believe that the thought of the fair one has worked through your flesh. Krisna–In my mind the thought of the fair one is uppermost. My dark colour will I change, I assure you.” This will be so. Chandrä-We shall see. Now say again when thou wilt go.
- The future incarnation of Krison as Chaitanya who was of a fair colour is prophenied here.
9 66 INTRODUCTION. Krisna—(Arises) Do not doubt me. I shall come. Ere long you will see me there. Chandrā–Then adieu, Krişņa. - (Erit Kris, a and Cham/ra). The Author’s Interpretation. Rādhā hears that Krisna will soon come. Tears of joy are in her eyes. Various are the emotions that arise in her mind. All of a sudden she sees Krisna at the gate of the bower. Goswami’ interprets that Krisna is always in the Vrindå-groves which represent the soul of the devotee. Why then, you ask, is it that the milk-maids suffer so much It is to taste the joys and sorrows of that love which is within one. When the god-vision is vivid in the devotee’s soul he supposes that Krisna is in the Vrindå-groves. And when the vision fades, he supposes him to have gone to Mathurā. A scene in the 77 indå-s/rores. Rādhā (to her maids seeing Krisna at the gate of the bower)— Oh Bisākhā look. Who is it that stands at the gate of these bowers? Has he come back, or is it merely a lovely cloud new-formed in the sky? I cannot trust my senses. Has he come back home? Can you assure me of this? Is it the crown adorned with peacock-plumes or a mere rain-bow that over-tops a cloud o Tell me, may I take it to be real, Bisākhā? Are these the rows of cranes that fly a wavy course in the distant sky or may I trust them to be the necklace of large pearls that Krisna wears on his breast? Oh may I trust my good fortune, my maids 2 Is it a vision—an illusion that I have so often seen, or has he really come again What is it that is gaily waving there? Is it his purple-coloured cloth, or but a flash of lightning in the clouds.” Is it the joyous chirp of the bird Chakora at the sight of a cloud, or the real sound of his flute 2 I wist not if I am to believe what I behold. (She stands in a sort of trance and weeps.) Bisākhā—Do thou, Oh Krisna, come in, and standing at her side soothe her by thy touch.
- Goswami i. e., Krisna Kamal Goswami, the anthor of the book who here speaks of himself in the third person. INTRODUCTION. 67
13. A bird's eye view of the whole. If we should attempt merely to name the many interesting things to be found in this work, that would itself be an arduous task requiring us to traverse an extensive field. But this book represents only an infinitesimal portion of the whole of our past literature, the exploration of which will undoubtedly lead to results of immensely greater value. I shall here indicate only some of the interesting subjects, out of many to be found in this work, and hope that they will be sufficient to attract the curiosity of my readers to this important find. Though the descriptions are sometimes exaggerated and manifest the crude notions of rustic bards, the old world of Bengal is here, so the value of the references herein indicated should not be ignored. On p. 98 the court of a Hindu king (11th century) is described which may be contrasted with another stamped with Mahomedam influence mentioned on p. 1487. War is described on pp. 325, 408-409, 413, and 106; war-implements on p. 413; the dress of soldiers on pp. 413; war-music on p. 412; the head-dress of a warrior on p. 392; the war-dress of an independent chief on pp. 436-437; war-dress of a general on p. 431; discription of a great hero fully dressed on pp. 429–430. It is curious to note in this connection that even a mighty hero used to wear velvet shoes when marching to the battle-field (p. 392). Description of a fortified city will be found on p. 403, that of a capital city on p. 334, and of a war chariot on p. 306. Soldiers were recruited from all castes including the Brahmins (pp. 327–328). We also find that Telegu soldiers were often employed in large numbers in the Bengal army (p. 252). The oppressions of the police and the way in which they used to manufacture cases are described on pp. 399–400; the system of espionage is described fully by Bhāratchandra and Râmprasād Sen”. The oppressions by Mahomedans are described on p. 189. Von Neor in his life of Akbar quotes a section of the Mahomedan Law authorising the Mahomedan collectors to spit into the mouths of the Hindu subjects when collecting rents. On p. 189 we find Mahomedans spitting into the mouths of the Hindus, particularly Brahmins, who had sacred Tulsi leaves on their hair or otherwise looked holy. The way in which the Mahomedans desecrated Hindu temples will be found on p. 217. They used to carry away Hindu women and marry them (p. 192). The ‘mild Hindu', when he had opportunities was not slow to retaliate. On p. 215, we find the Goâlâs tying the neck of a Maulvi with a cord made of goat-skin and besmearing his face with goat's blood. The independent chiefs sometimes employed hired bandits to commit robberies on the wayfarers (p. 1248). The structure and other particulars of a prison house and
- See History of Bengali Language and Literature pp. 647-648. 68 INTRODUCTION.
the rigour to which prisoners were subjected are described on p. 463. The country in the early years of Mahomedan conquest was so full of unrest that the people were frightened if they saw any armed men near their village (pp. 253-256). Descriptions of the twelve sub-lords, popularly known as the Bārabhuyās and the functions they had to discharge will be found on pp. 412 and 414. The descriptions referred to above, at least the greater part of them, belong to the Hindu period of Indian History. But as they were written by the poets who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries, the earlier traditions were undoubtedly changed to a considerable extent by the environment and circumstances of the subsequent period in which the poets lived. But the proud mention of the Emperor of Gaur as “Pancha Gaureshwara” or the ‘head of the kings of Āryyāvarta,’ on page 388 and in many other places in Bengali Literature, referred to in my work Vanga Vāsā-O-Sāhitya,” certainly indicates the suzerain power once held by the Bengali monarchs, though in the passages where this title occurs in Bengali Literature, it seems to have been reduced to a mere form of traditional courtesy. This title reminds us of that of “Bretwalda” of the Saxon Heptarchy in early English history. We frequently find mention of roy—an army consisting of 900,000 soldiers—belonging to the Emperor of Gaur. (pp.91, 380, 412, 432, 481). Though we cannot attach any historical value to this figure with regard to the cases mentioned by the bards, it is certain that the tradition of this numerical strength of the Emperor of Gaur's army was not altogether imaginery. All the poets emphasise this particular number whenever they have occasion to speak of the army of the Emperor of Gaur. It is not therefore unlikely that this number once actually represented the numerical strength of the army of the Emperors of Gaur, when they were real “Pancha Gaureshwaras.” On p. 383 there is a description of a war-horse named Andir-pâthar and on p. 1489 a horse with signs indicating bad luck is described. Dogs are now considered unclean by the Hindus but on p. 61 and elsewhere we find that trained dogs were kept in the palaces of the Hindu kings of the 11th century. The Darmamangal-poems give us a fairly accurate picture of the Hindu soldier. He is ever ready to sacrifice his life in the service of his king. He is not an abstract moralist, but will seldom tell a lie or deviate from the righteous course, because his notion is that if he goes astray morally, his sin will bring some danger on his king. A deep-seated loyalty inspires all his actions. The death of the Dom soldier Kālu for the fulfilment of a vow that
- Page 122. INTRODUCTION. 69
he had made to a man of the enemy’s camp is a striking and characteristic example of this fidelity. His wife Lakhā’s conduct is equally glorious and reveals the same loyal sentiments (p.443). With all his noble qualities, however, the Dom soldier shares the common flaws and foibles of a soldier's nature. The scene of drunkenness described on page 481 illustrates this remark. A glimpse of the administration of Hastings given in a street, song will be found on p. 1430-1432 and the inroads made into Bengal by Maharattas are described on pp. 1419–1420, 1421-1425. A poet of the 16th century describes how ships were built (p. 220.) Other particulars about the great sea-going vessels are mentioned on p. 230. The rites observed by merchants before undertaking a seavoyage are described on p. 230 and the commodities with which the ships were loaded are enumerated in full detail on p. 243. We find that during the rule of a good king in the Hindu period even the peasants were so rich that their children played with golden balls and a man of ordinary means in those days could keep an elephant in his house for travelling purposes (pp. 29, 96). The opposite picture is also given on pp. 29, 96, when the rigour of bad administration obliged the peasants to sell their babies in order to enable them to pay their rents. It is a very common thing to find in a description of the nobility the statement that they used to sleep on couches of gold and rest their feet on silver foot-stools (p. 52). Golden plates were frequently used in serving food (p. 198). A grand marriage procession described by Bijoy Gupta on p. 205 shows the immense resources of a Bengali merchant of those days. This is also indicated again on pp. 252-253, 1479. The architectural style and other particulars about the construction of temples are described on pp. 308, and 405, and the plan of building a garden house with separate compounds reserved for fruit-trees, flower-plants and medicinal herbs is indicated on p. 212. The architectural peculiarities of the Bengali buildings will be seen again on pp. 203-204 where the building of a steel house is described at some length. It was built in the fashion of a bungalow with curvilineal roofing. This according to Fergusson is the special style of Bengali architecture, which originated in Bengal during the Hindu period and has since been imitated all the world over. The varieties of cotton fabrics with or without stripes are described on pp. 244, 259 and 288. The details of figures woven with golden threads on women's bodices and on fans are described on pp. 271, 387 and 1345. The cotton industry and various classes of Benares silk are described on pp. 15181515. “Megha-dumbar” cloth used for umbrellas and female-dress seems to have been once in high favour (p. 251), and mention is made of various qualities of blankets some of which were manufactured in Bhutan 70 INTRODUCTION. (pp. 72, 252). *The price of a pearl necklace is calculated in minute detail by a poet who wrote about 1750 A.D. on pp. 482-483; a vivid account of the grocer Murari Shil and the way in which he transacted business is to be found in Mukundaram's poem p. 348. An earlier poet describes a black-smith named Tărăpati who was a great constructive genius (p. 202.) His yellow hair marks him out as an alien though it appears that he was a domiciled Bengali. It is quite possible that some of the artizan classes did not originally belong to the Hindu community, as up to now the water touched by them has remained undrinkable by the higher classes. lf seems that the Brahmins of Bengal before the period of the Hindu Renaissance did not always wear the sacred thread, which is now compulsory for them. This is indicated on pp 58 and 72. In the genealogical work of a class of Brahmins, it is clearly mentioned that they had once abandoned the secred thread under Buddhistic influence but adopted it again with the permission of the Vaidics. Various castes and their respective duties are mentioned on pp 315-320. A yogini in her dress as such is described on p 274. How marriage negotiations and the selection of brides used to be made in the 15th century will be found on pp. 248-249. Marriage expenses are mentioned on pp 1680–1682. Marriage rites are described on pp. 418, 419 and 942. It appears to have been customary in the 10th century to give away along with a princess, her sisters and many other maidens to the bridegroom as a part of dowry at his marriage (p 78). Polyandry is indicated on p 240. Various musical instruments are named on p 259. The style in which women lived in high society is narrated on p 389. Village amusements at the birth of a rich man's son are described on p 373. Education of young men, the sports and amusements they indulged in and the dramatic performances they held are described on pp. 368, 1678, 1696 and 1853–1854. On pp. 211 and 1456 will be found very picturesque descriptions of two Indian sages and their conduct in society. Prices of articles of food about the year 1720 will be found on p 98. Quarrels between a husband and wife are described with great force on pp 1432–1435, 1453, 1451-1452 and 1453. 14. The Vaişnava Padas. I shall not attempt to translate any of the padas of the great Vaisnava song-masters. The delicate shades of emotions couched in the melodious language of these gifted poets will but be ill-conveyed in a translation and I abstain from taking such a task upon myself. Those who are privileged to read and understand the Bengali originals will find in these lyrics the bloom and the highest perfection of tender thought. Bengal was once famous for the wonderful fabrics known as Dacca mus/in. But these
- See Banga Bhașā-o-Sāhitya (1908) p 673. INTRODUCTION. 71
lyrics of Bengal are finer than her muslin and drawing, as they do, their beauty, elegance and spiritual sweetness from the fountain of saintly lives of the Vaisnava devotees, they possess a realistic interest even in their highest romantic flights. I have given some of these songs in the present compilation on pp. 963-1164. - It is well-known to the students of the Vaisnava padas that Jnanadas and Govindadās, the two contemporary poets of the 16th century imitated Chandidas and Vidyāpati respectively. Some of the songs of Chandidas paraphrased and elaborated by Jnanadas now pass in the latter's name in the collections of Vaisnava songs. For instance the famous song Yo: ziffSigi, a qā āffHF, stsza ofgā ceļā, &c., attributed in the Padakalpataru to Jnanadas and reproduced as such in this book on p. 1059, is really Chandidas's composition. In the old MSS. of the padas preserved in the houses of hereditary singers of Birbhum—the birth place of Chandidas—the song has his vanità, and the reading of the song we have lately received from Babu Jyotishchandra Chatterjee seems to be a reliable one. He copied it more than 20 years ago, from an old MS. belonging to the late Nikunjabihari Mitrathakura of the village Mainādāl, Birbhum. He compared this reading with those found in the houses of other hereditary singers of the padas and was satisfied as to its accuracy. Jyotish Babu's proficiency in the Vaisnava literature and specially in Vaisnava padas is well-known, and we are obliged to him for supplying us with the reliable versions of some Vaisnava padas. The song mentioned above as found in Jyotish Babu's collection is given below. This may be compared with the one given on p. 1059 and the difference noted. সুখের লাগিয়া এ ঘর বাধিনু আগুনে পুড়িয়া গেল। অমিয়া সাগরে সিনান করিতে সকলি গরল ভেল ॥ সখি কি মোর কপালে লেখি। শীতল বলিয়া চাদ সেবিলু, ভানুর কিরণ দেখি ৷ উচল বলিয়া, আচলে চড়িলু, পড়িচ্চু অগাধ জলে। লছমি চাহিতে দারিদ্র বাঢ়ল, মানিক হারান্তু হেলে ॥ নগর বসালেম, সাগর ছেচিলাম মানিক পাবার আশে। সাগর শুকাল, মানিক লুকাল, অভাগী করম দোষে ॥ পিয়াস লাগিয়া, জলদ সেবিহু, বজর পড়িয়া গেল । কহে চণ্ডীদাস, শ্রামের পরিতি, মরমে রহিল শেল । In the collections extant a very beautiful pada of Chandidās has been marred-a part of it being dovetailed with a pada of Jnanadas. The song begins with the line “Efezą Ffwzą zē zfszą płytą" (p. 1060). I have omitted an inelegant line introduced by Jnánadās (Padakalpataru No. 1144 and p. 1060 of this book). The high moral tone of Chandidas's master-peice is clearly inconsistent with the vulgar taste of the latter part of the poem composed by Jnanadās. The reading in Jyotish Babu's collection is beautiful and consistent throughout ; here it is.
একথা কহিবে সখি, একথা কহিবে।
অবলা এতেক তপ করিয়াছে কবে ॥
পুরুষ পরশ মণি * নন্দের কুমার।
কি লাগিয়া ধরে + সখি চরণে আমার !
আমি যাই আমি যাই বলে তিন বোল ।
কতনা চুম্বন দেই কত দেই কোল ॥
পদ অাধ যায় পিয়া যায় পালটিয়া ।
বয়ান নিরখে কত কাতর হইয়া ॥
করে কর ধরি পিয়া শপথি দেয় মোরে ।
পুন দরশন লাগি কত চাট বোলে।
নিগুঢ় পারিতি পিয়ার আরতি বহু।
চণ্ডিদাস কহে আমার হৃদ মাঝারে রহু ॥
I take from the same collection the following reading of the famous pada of Chandidās, beginning with the line “শুন রজকিনী রামি” (p. 995).
শুন রজকিনী রামি ।
ও দুটি চরণ শীতল জানিয়া -
শরণ লইলাম আমি।
শুন রজকিনী রামি ।
কোন খানে ছিলে, কোন খানে এলে
আমার কারণে তুমি ।
তুমি বাগাদিনী, হরের ঘরণী,
তুমি সে ইন্দ্রানী সতী ।
তুমি সে কমলা, সরল অবলা
তুমি কাম-হীন রতি ॥
রজকিনী রূপ কিশোরী স্বরূপ
কাম গন্ধ নাহি তায় ।
ঘুরিয়া ঘুরিয়া মানস ভ্রমরা
তথাপি তোমাতে ধায়।
ধারি ধীরি করে হাতটি ধরিয়া মোরে উঠাইয়া লণ্ড । চরণ সরোজে, রহিনু লাগিয়া চণ্ডিদাসে যাহা কও ৷ This reading omits some good lines to be found in the one quoted on p. 995, and gives some new and excellent lines instead. One of the most facinating padas, popularly known as Vidyapati's, riz : “sas &afä হাম ão Castfää, äää as forfers co’ &c., is attributed to “Kavi Vallava' in Jyotish Babu’s collection. This pada was not, so far as we know, found in the exhaustive collection of Vidyāpati’s songs, made by Babu Nagendranath Gupta from Durbhanga—the native district of Vidyāpati. Nagendra Babu gave it in his edition of Vidyāpati because its authorship is ascribed to that poet in some of the Bengali anthologies of Vaisnava songs. But we cannot say with confidence whether ‘Kavivallava’ is to be identified with Vidyāpati. We are, on the other hand, in possession of certain facts which make the question a doubtful one. 15. Folk-songs. I have given extracts from some of our folk-songs, an interesting specimen of which is the tale of Sakhi Sená or Sashi Sená, as sometimes she is called,—described by the poet Phakirrāma Kavi Bhūsana about three hundred years ago. The existence of this song was only recently known, but at one time like the touching story of Madhumālā the tale had caught the fancy of the rustic folk and many versions of it were extant in our old literature. It is a noteworthy fact that this tale was based upon some historical facts to which popular imagination gave a poetic shape. About two miles to the north of Dantan, which some of our historians have identified with the ancient Dantapur of Orissa, lies the village of Moghulmari where in olden times a king named Vikramajit reigned. Sakhi Sená was his only child. A portion of this romantic story has been quoted on pp. 1352–1865 of which I subjoin below an English translation. I had only two old manuscripts of this poem, one copied about the middle of the 17th and the other in the 18th century. But both these MSS. are generally illegible towards the latter part. Hence I could not give greater extracts from the poem. I have, however, followed the narrative to the end. Sakhi Sená and her lover Kumāra, after where the narrative breaks in the followThe sequel of the ing extracts, were overtaken by seven robbers. Kumara story. (Kotorcăl’s son) killed six of them but as the seventh implored pardon in a piteous manner, our hero granted him life. The robber only sought an opportunity of wreaking vengeance on Kumara 10 74 INTRODUCTION. and in an unguarded moment when our hero least suspected any foul play, the miscreant killed him by a stroke of his sword. Sakhi Sená implored the mercy of the goddess Chandi who was pleased with her devotion and restored her husband to life. But Sakhi Sená's troubles did not end here. Kumāra had left her in a forest, greatly fatigued as she was, in order to seek a market-place where he might buy articles of food. On his way back he was transformed into a lamb by the witchcraft of a woman named Hirā. In her forlorn condition, Sakhi Senā was carried away by a king named Naradhwaja, who proposed to marry her. Sakhi Sená promised to marry this king if within a year her husband did not return, and Naradhwaja the king granted her request as he saw from the attitude of the princess that force would be of no avail with her. At the end of the year, which our lovely heroine spent in penances and austerities with a view to please Chandi, the goddess appeared to her in a dream and related to her the condition to which her unfortunate husband had been reduced by Hirā. She also told her the secret by which he would be restored to his former self. Sakhi Sená told king Naradhwaja that she should now perform a religious ceremony before giving consent to marry him ; and Naradhwaja, overjoyed at the prospect, made arrangement for the ceremony. The princess, however, required that a particular lamb which Hirā the flower-woman living in the city, kept concealed in her room, should be produced before her, and the king commanded Hirā to offer the lamb for the purpose of the ceremony. Hirā at first denied the possession of the lamb but was at last forcibly made to give it up. The Princess sprinkled holy water on the lamb uttering the Mantra taught her by Chandi, and she was once more in the embrace of her dear husband. Naradhwaja saw in the transformation of a lamb to a man the mercy of the goddess Chandi and ungrudgingly shared in the joy of the couple who had met after long years of hard separation. The old king Vikramajit had by this time heard of the coming of Sakhi Sená to a neighbouring kingdom, and he himself came to take the couple back to his city. Thus the days of woe and trouble were over, and Sakhi Sená lived a long life of happiness inheriting the kingdom of her father at his death. o The school-room where Sakhi Sena gave the promise to the Motowal's son, Kumāra, now reduced to a mound of earth full of debris, is still pointed out at Moghalmari and is called Sakhi Sená's Päthshālā. In the extracts given below the reader will see that it was the compulsion of a moral pledge that made the princess leave the palace with Kumāra and not the ordinary feelings of lovers. This is only an index of the pure ideal of the folk-lore which throughout retains a lofty standard of fidelity and spiritual resignation. INTRODUCTION. 75 The song of Madanamohana (pp. 1419–1421) relates the sorrows of the people of Visnupur (Dt. Bankura), at their being deprived of a sight of the stone-image of that god, once installed in one of the finest of the Raja's temples. This stone image possesses special sanctity. During a critical hour when the town of Visnupur was attacked by Bhāskara Pandit, the Marhattā general, about the middle of the 18th century, the king of the place found himself quite powerless to resist the foe, and asked the people who sought his help to rely on Madanmohana. Instead of making preparations for war, he called in parties of singers to his palace and ordered them to sing the praises of that deity. At the dead of night the people heard the roar of cannons and the residents of the town attested to having seen a stalwart black soldier riding through the streets. In the morning they found that the Marhattās had mysteriously disappeared, leaving many dead on the field. And the priest of the temple of Madanmohana came before the king with the strange news that the hands of the image of that deity showed marks of gun-powder and its feet were full of the dust of the war ground. The king and the people went to the temple and found the account of the priest true. It was then he who had saved them from the crisis, and they fell prostrate before him with tearful eyes of gratitude. This is the story related in the poem by one who believed it. The stone; image was mortgaged by one of the Visnupur Rājas to Gokul Mitra of Bagh-bazar, Calcutta for a lakh of Rupees and it so happened that the Rājā af Visnupur could not secure the image again. Though our readers may not share in the beliefs of the unassuming country bards, the devotional fervour which characterises these writings cannot but appeal to the heart. I6. Song of Sakhi Senā. ( 1 ) When the son of the Kotowāl spoke thus to the princess Sakhi-senā, it seemed as if a thunder-bolt had fallen on her head and in great rage did she reply. “You would elope with me, vile fellow ! For this object did you extort a pledge from me! Our teacher is not present, and thus you escape punishment to-day ! Your action is like that of a lame man wishing to ascend to the top of a mountain You would quarrel with a crocodile and still live safely in the depth of a river ? You are like a dwarf stretching his hands to touch the Moon I Fie that a sense of shame did not stop you in making such a roposal If I tell the king—my father, your body will no 76 INTRODUCTION. longer bear the burden of your head ' " Says the poet, Phakira Rāma “The words of the princess made the lad tremble.” ( 2 ) The Kotowāl's son : “In the gallery of the school-room your seat is above mine. You were joking with me and let fall your pen on the ground—not once, but thrice you did so. And thrice did I pick it up from the ground for you. Each time you smiled and promised that you would give me whatever I might seek as a reward for my pains. Encouraged thus by you, I made my plain proposal. If I have done you wrong, pray pardon me. I will not offend this way again. Because you have not fulfilled your promise you will be henceforward but untrustworthy and degraded in my eyes.” Says the poet Phakira Rāma “Even if one has to forfeit life he cannot escape the obligations of a promise thus solemnly made.” ( 3 ) “King Dasharatha was bound by a promise and had to banish his dearest son Rāma to the forest that he might fulfil the promise he gave. The shock was too great for him, and the old king died of grief. Yet did he not violate his promise. And even Rāma, the pure hearted, killed Vali in a questionable manner, only that he might fulfil the promise he had given to Sugriva. Rāma was again promise-bound to Bibhişana and true to his word gave him the kingdom of Lankä after slaying Rāvana.” Says the poet, Phakira Rāma, “One who gives a promise and fulfils it not, creates within himself a hell—the hell of remorse.” ( 4 ) The princess —“In what an evil moment did I come to School to-day ! Unknowingly I find myself entrapped by a pledge. And is this then so inviolable 2 I have drunk poison with my own hand and hurled a thunderbolt on my own head. I am a princess and sole heir am I to this vast kingdom. How shall I leave the palace and all this wealth and pomp 2 A hundred queens in the Zenana cherish me as the apple of their eye. How can I leave them all and go 2 In this the dawn of my youth how shall I go to a strange land Oh what a reward have I reaped after studying so many books all these years The single boat of hope—the treasure of a hundred queens, my mothers, I have unwittingly sunk in the depth of the sea of despair.” Says the poet Phakira Rāma. “What is the good of remorse after you have taken poison of your own making * ( 5 ) The queens : “Why this delay, fair daughter, in returning from school to-day 7 You look agitated and sad. A moment of separation seems like an INTRODUCTION. 77 age to us. We make a great sacrifice when we deprive ourselves of your company during the hours of school. For all this time, we keep watching the path from expectation of your return. Just as a serpent pines away when deprived of the jewel that adorns its hood, or a miser when he loses his most precious diamond, so do we, during our separation. But no more of this! Henceforth you need not go to school again. Why, dearest, should we feel all this aching pain needlessly Stay here, and give us the joy of your constant company.” Says the poet Phakira Rāma “You need not say anything further to her, good queens, her school days are of themselves at an end for ever.” ( 6 ) The Kotowal's son: “The princess asked me in school to wait for her under the Wakula tree. The night is far spent now, and I am weary of waiting. Surely affection for home-life has seized her. The love of the queens has doubtless wrought a change on her resolve. Fair princess, you have pledged your honour, and have not fulfilled your vow. If the sweetness of home-life has kept you from fulfilment, why did you give me the promise at all. It matters not, I feel relieved. I have played my part but you have not played yours. The pleasure and sorrows of this world are nothing as compared with those of the next.” Says the poet Phakira Rāma “Verily it is so, my lad.” ( 7 ) The Princess: “My love, wait only a few moments more under the Vakula tree. My maids are constantly with me. Wherever I happen to go, they accompany me. How, for shame, can I come out? The hundred queens will not leave my side for a moment. No sleep visits They are not in the their eyes. They watch me, as if I were a least sleepy. precious jewel. Before me, behind me, and on every side they move about. Like the bird Chakora thirsting for nectar they seem to drink deep the joys they find in my words and company. Some cover me with the hem of their garments; some fan me and some wave the soft Châmara. One offers me betel and another kisses me with great love, and a third calls my attention by such words as “hear me, my dearest child, I will tell you a story.’ And yet another, weaves a floral wreath for me, and asks me if I would like it. I am but mortal, how can I cut off all these tender ties at once? But rest assured that when I have given my word I will keep it.” Sings the poet, Phakira Rāma, “Kumar’s” anxiety was removed by these words of the princess.”
- Kumara is the name of the Kotowal's son, 78 INTROL)|UCTION.
( 8 ) (The queens asleep. The princess bids adieu to them :) “Oh my mothers, may your blessings fall on me. Here do I bow down at your feet. Henceforth we shall meet no more. Like a boat trusting itself to the current, I trust my youth to fate. Do not weep dear queens, when you miss me—your hapless child. Have that solace which one gets within oneself. Throw away my royal umbrella and the sceptre which I wield as a princess. Burn my throne and royal couch, for they will torment your eyes. Offer all the books lying in heaps in my chamber as a present to the Brahmins. Forbear to enter my apartment, it will grieve you over much. My golden plates and cups and vessels adorned with precious stones, distribute among the poor. My jewels and ornaments send to the royal treasury and adieu queens—my mothers—adieu for life.” Says the poet Phakira Rāma. “Why do you embrace this life, Oh Princess, when you have so great a sacrifice to make for it.” ( 9 ) The princess (meeting her preceptor who dissuades her from the path she has chosen). “How can I now return to the palace, oh my revered preceptor? Pray do not advise me thus. With what face shall I appear before my parents? How shall I bear life there, despised, where I was once so loved P. Such is the lot of a woman, Oh preceptor, the touch of man outside destroys her prospect for ever ! Being a woman of the Zenana I have come out. And where once I was as dear as life to all, I shall be an eye-sore, and how can I bear that? Do you not recall the washerman's wife in Ajodhyā, described in the Rāmāyana? Her husband refused her a place in his home. From my father's home have I come out for ever.” Says Phakira Rāma. “It is like the case of exiled Sitä once again.” ( 10 ) “Tell my father, the king, Oh my revered preceptor, that never more will he see his beloved daughter. Or if you like, you may tell him that she is dead. If he is sad, try to soothe him with soft words. Is it ever heard that a daughter stays in her father's home for ever? A daughter is owned by her father for a short time only. As soon as she is married, she goes to another family. Draupadi was dear to her father as life itself, but being married in to the Pandava family she went to her new home for ever. It is written in the holy books, that a father is a daughter's guardian only when she is a child. In her youth she is cared for by her INTRODUCTION. 79 husband, and when aged she places herself under the guardianship of her sons. Says the poet Phakira Rāma: “This is the lot of woman.” (11) (The Palace. The apartment of the queens.) The Chief Queen: “Oh where is our fair daughter Sakhi-Sena gone? The world seems dark without you ! For what fault are we deprived of the sight of your moon-like face? The memory of your beauty and excellence pierces our hearts like a shaft. Will you not gratify out thirsty ears with the nectar of your sweet words and seek your meals from us in your affectionate way any more ?” The hundred queens roll in the dust with grief, and strike their breasts with their bracelets. The very elephants and steeds in the king's stalls stand dumb with grief. The birds and the cattle of the palace are moved by an unknown pang. Through the whole city, and in the marketplaces, and on the roads there is but one subject of talk, and even the guards and menials shed tears crying ‘alas’ ‘alas's The poet Phakira Ramā says. “Rid yourself of your grief. Bring some Brahmin scholars. They will convince you of the nothingness of the world by quoting slokas from their holy books.” (12) The prineess (seeing in the forest a cow that had lost its young.) “Just see, my love, how madly that cow wanders in quest of her young : She is bellowing with grief and the moisture flows from her eyes. She is unable to bear the loss of her young. How will the hundred queens endure life after my loss? I was to them what his staff is to a blind man. O pain, never more shall I be allowed to see them l’” Says the poet Phakira Rāma. “This was written in your fate.” (I3) The advent of Spring. Spring, the prince of seasons, has but now begun. The trees, with their leaves all dried, looked like mere skeletons. Now see what luxuriant foliage covers them . The soft new leaves adorn the trees whose flowers are sought incessantly by swarms of humming bees, in search of honey. The high note of the cuckoo is heard, and the peacocks dance in great joy. The soft breeze carries on its wings the scent of sandal-trees and soft dreams possess the mind. When the lovers see this, they delight in each other's company forgetting their old sorrows for a time, Says the poet Phakira 80 INTRODUCTION. Rāma “This season calls forth in the hearts of men and women strange desires, difficult to resist.” (14) Nature had given her a form of surpassing beauty. Now the dawn of youth made her a marvel. Her colour exceeds the lustre of gold. And when she stands, her flowing tresses touch her very ankles. Her face is like the full-moon and her eyes are soft and playful like those of the gazelle. Her feet have the beauty of lotus buds. Thrice blessed is that art of the Creator which can mould to such a shape the human form. She binds her dark hair into a knot in such a way that it looks like the flower Kanera. Ringlets of hair cluster round her ears, and a golden 7hapa tied to a braid hangs behind her. The vermilion-mark on her forehead decorated with alaka shines softly like the moon. The diamond ear-drops from behind the hair look as though the sun were peeping through the clouds. A recklace of large-sized pearls adorns her breast, and her bracelets are studded with diamonds. She looks like a flash of lightning surrounded by clouds ; for with a blue coloured sar; she covers herself. Says the poet Phakira Rāma “Even a Yogi will find all the toil of his life and his asceticism gone for naught, when he beholds such a lovely thing.” (15) The clouds thickly overcast the sky and the whole land becomes dark at the hour of noon. With great speed they rattled and marched and the lightning flashed, unveiling the world for a moment. “ hura” “hura” “guru” was the sound of the storm that blew—driving the clouds, smashing the straw-roofs of the poor and raising foamy waves on the sea. Old houses fell with shutters and windows blown down And even the big temples quaked as the great wind passed over them. Truly it was a cyclone. The trees of Cuttack were carried down to Hinglat. The very pinnacles of the temples were blown off. Goats and cows were forced to fly on the high air like winged things. Hail-stones big as palm-fruits rattled down. The Kotowāl's son and the fair princess were in the wilderness at the time. Says Phakira Rāma “they prayed to Shiva to save them from the danger from which they themselves could find no escape.” (16) Seldom from her palace did the princess walk abroad on foot, and when from one room to another she passed, the maids spread a rich carpet on the court-yard. Shoes embroidered with gold and jewels she wore, and when INTRODUCTION. 81 walking in the sun, a guard held a golden umbrella over her head. If she perspired, four maids, each with a precious Châmara fanned her all the time. If the dew drops fell while she walked, the golden umbrella was again unfurled to protect her head. And now the hail-stones are beating incessantly against her head, and it seems at each stroke her very skull will break. Says the poet Phakira Rāma, “Hear me, oh princess, what next is in store for you no one can tell,” (17) “Oh my love, what will lecome of us? From the storm, the rain, the hail-stones, no. escape I see. What path should we follow 2 The thick hail-stones will ere long kill us both. The lightning's flash frightens my steed, and the striking of his hoofs on the rocky ground produces fire. The storm suffocates me and I feel as if the breath of life itself would cease. Says Phakira Rāma, “What next will follow?” (18) The Cooking. She was the pet child in the house, the darling of a hundred queens. Her beauty and noble qualities were the admiration of the palace. She never had passed the threshold of a kitchen. And if her hair was untied, with her own hands never did she adjust it, but her maids for her. Never had she learnt to blow the fire of the hearth with her breath. And as she does it now, the smoke of the wet fuel makes her face pale and sad. The smoke stifles her breath and the fire of the hearth well-nigh burns her skin. Alas! Once even the heat of a lamp-light was too much for her: with the smoke and the fire of the hearth she continues her struggle to cook a humble meal. Says the poet Phakira Rāma, “Continually does she perspire, and her eyes soft as the lotus float in tears.” - 17. Notes on Language. The Aryans settled in Bengal in a remote age when there was already a large non-Aryan population inhabiting the country. The new settlers gradually merged in the people as did the Roman settlers in Gaul, gradually identifying themselves with the Celtic tribes. The composite race in Bengal evolved a Prākrit in which the peculiarities of the speech of the indigenous people are still traceable. So far we should all agree. Mr. J. D. Anderson suggests that there are certain peculiarities of Bengali accentuation, the origin of which may perhaps be traced to the now lost language of the Chandālas and other aboriginals, who originally dwelt in the country 11 82 INTRODUCTION. before “the Brähmins, Vaidyas and Kāyasthas brought an Indo-European language into Bengal.” The peculiarity of Bengali accentuation, according to Mr. Anderson, is to be seen in the tendency to throw the accent forward, whereas the words in Hindi are stressed on the second and sometimes on the final syllable. Such for instance are the words Kharāb, Panjābi, Mofāssil, Adālat, Dewānī, Faujdārī, Mahārāj, Kumāri, Bangāla, Hindusthāni, Chitrarèkha, Dakhāl etc., all stressed on the second or final syllable, whereas these very words, which are also common to Bengali, when used in a Bengali sentence have an initial accent. “Not only is the first syllable of a separate word accented in Bengali,” says Mr. Anderson “but is not the first syllable of a clause still more strongly accented e.g., ii"go আমরা—উদ্ভিদ বলি—কারণ ইহা of gol–ce" of oil ed; 2 There are subsidiary accents of course, but are not the initial accents following pauses, dominantly audible?” The language which preceded Bengali in this country was, Mr. Anderson supposes, “either Dravidian or Tibeto-Burman Koch. Koch has a long agglutinative verb which is pronounced with a strong anaerusis or ‘start-off’ accent. This may have been the origin of the Bengali initial accent.” He further observes:—“The Bengali accent differs from the Hindi or Mahratti accent very much as the French accent differs from the English or German accent, whereas most modern languages in India and Europe have a strong word-stress. That is why so few foreigners can talk French or Bengali like natives. In French the tonic accent precedes and announces a pause or (in verse) casura. In Bengali it seems to be an initial anaerusis accent, after a pause, at the beginning, that is, of a vocal unit of utterance. In Hindi, English, Mahratti, Italian, German etc., there is a stress on the word which does not vary according to the position of the word. In French and in Bengali the incidence of the accent does vary according to the place a word occupies in a phrase.” “The Bengali payār is like the French heroic metre, the Alexandrine. It would be very difficult to write such verses in English, Hindi, or in any other language in which frequent word-stresses are the characteristic audible feature of the language.” Mr. Anderson has written a few lines of doggerel in English payār by putting stresses where the tonic accents seem to fall in Bengali ; here they are:– “Thi"s is the melodious the de”licately chi'ming Me”tre of Benga'li, in its pauses and its rhy'ming. T"ripping to the mea'sure of the da"nce of little feet; P"erilously simple, like the ji”ngle of the sweet Be"lls upon the ankles of the da"ncers as they posse; Bells upon their a'nkles, yes, and ri"ngs upon their toes.” On this point he says “Observe that the stresses here are much INTRODUCTION. 83 further apart than they would be in normal English verse or prose, and that I have had to choose many small atonic words to separate them. In French and in Bengali the poet has no such difficulty, since in prose the accents are further apart than in English or Hindi, being phrase-accents, not word-stresses.” There may be some truth in these speculations, but a good deal of research is necessary to establish them on a scientific basis, as Mr. Anderson himself admits. Bengali being nearer to Sanskrit than other Indian vernaculars, there is a preponderance of double letters (os), in our language, and what are these double-letters but instances (in many cases) of fixed word-stresses abounding in our speech? The accent due to the doubling of a letter or compounding two or more of them is fixed and does not vary according to the position of a word in a sentence.” In the loose Prakrit form of Hindi the absence of double letters is marked, whereas in Bengali not only Sanskritic words have retained the of but even words that are still in their crude Prakrit forms show innumerable instances of double letters, such as asso, 4to, &Co., cosé, Cotá, *istol, oft, où etc. In all these word-stress is fixed and is not liable to variation according to the place of the word in a sentence. The colloquial dialect of Eastern Bengal has সগ্রেগাল for সকল, ছোট্ট for ছোট, মধিব for মধ্য, সাধিব for সাধ্য, এ্যাক্ত for এত, 73 for of ete. In regard to the views of Mr. Anderson on the Bengali payār I have stated elsewhere that as this class of verse like all other kinds in old Bengali poetry used to be chanted, the vowel sound of the final syllable before a caesura, which occurs regularly after the 8th and the 14th letter in the payār, was lengthened for the sake of the musical effect. The accents fall on syllables in a song according to rules of music and do not truly indicate the dominant audible quality of a language. In reply he says “There is, as you rightly say, the difficulty that the Bengali verse was chanted. Hence as you say, the final syllable before the caesura and specially the rhymed
- Before putting this portion of the Introduction into print 1 showed it to Mr. J. D. Anderson who thus comments on my remarks :
“On one point 1 think you have misunderstood me a little. You say that the preponderance of Ross of shows that there is a word-stress in Bengali. I do not deny the existence of a word-stress in Bengali. In all languages, the three qualities of accent of force (stress), accent of height of sound (pitch) and quantity exist. The question in any given language is, which of these qualities is so dominantly audible as to be the basis of metre 2. It is theoretically possible that more than one of them may be so used, though I confess I do not think it is likely. English metre consists of the regular recurrence of stress. It is obvious that some of the syllables thus stressed are also pronounced in a raised pitch. But this is accidental, and is not necessary to the metre, *gh the poet may be conscious of it, may use it to heighten his metrical effects. In French the dominant audible quantity is what they call the accent tonique, which is 84 INTRODUCTION. syllable at the end (the syllable which carries the rhyme) are emphasised. I do not deny that. But don't you also hear the initial accent in the verses you quote?” On discussing this point at some length and giving a careful attention to Mr. Anderson’s various arguments, I am inclined to support the view held by him that there is in both Bengali prose and poetry an initial accent, but whether this peculiarity is the survival of the non-Aryan way of accentuation in the language is apparently a matter of mere guess-work in the present state of our knowledge. The speculation is ingenious and interesting, but is hardly capable of precise proof. Still the faintest clues and least hopeful suggestions are worth examining. I have referred to this matter simply in order to draw the attention of the Bengali student to those syntactical forms and other peculiarities of our language which may possibly be helpful in throwing light on the much debated problem of the origin of Bengali. The present work I trust will supply ample materials for research in this unexplored field. Already European Orientalists have commenced a study of Indian Vernaculars from this point of view. I may mention in this connection the name of M. Jules Bloch of Paris who is studying the Dravidian, Bengali and Maratha languages from the point of view of their phonetic peculiarities. The Bengali Suffices and Verbs. Before the revival of Hinduism which I have called the Pauranic renaissance, the language of Bengal was loose Prakrit, traces of which will dominantly a rise of pitch. There may be also a stress on the vocalised syllable, but that again, is accidental. Take a word common to both languages. Take ‘signification.” In English this is pronounced fisäfoo"s", and the stress is on co wherever the word comes in a sentence. In French the same word is fiff officii" with a rise of the voice on the final syllable, which is even more audible if the word comes at the end of a phrase. There is, I think also the same stress, if not so strong, as on the penultimate in English. I suggest that the initial accent in Bengali is stronger when the word comes at the beginning of a vocal unit, e.g. take the sentence of": একটি বিষয়—ল"ক্ষ করিবার আছে। Are you not conscious of a change of tone and stress on the syllables marked P But alter the order and say বিষয়ট এই and will not the accentuation be altered P. ln Hindi the words would keep their own word-stress. As to the origin of this pecularity in French and Bengali I merely suggest that it may be a survival from some vanished Dravidian or Tibeto-Burman speech. Mr. R. W. Fraser, a good Dravidian scholar, tells me that an initial accent is common in the Dravidian languages. It would be interesting to see how a Madrasi pronounces words common to Bengali and Tamil. It may interest you to know that Welshmen pronounce English with an initial tonic accent. Irishmen, on the other hand, don't. what I venture to suggest is that though the vocabulary of Bengali has become highly Sanskritized, yet it retains its indigenous tone of voice. This must affect metre, and hence it is in metre that we may get some clue. The fact that verse is chanted gives quantity a chance of being heard.” INTRODUCTION. 85 be abundantly found in our earlier ballads and poems. Sometimes the verbs sound strange in our ears, displaying a greater affinity to quaint Prakrita forms than to current Bengali, as in the lines “at” cox fan coin চারিযুগে মুঞি জীম” (p. 195) and “বনে বনে খেলা খেলম ক্ষণেক বাঘেতে চলম” (P. 198) Examples of archaic verbal forms as Goog, (p. 70) o, (p. 643) ভৈলন্ত, (p. 1829) খাইম, (p. 151) মরবু, (p. 58) মরো=মরিব, (p. 68) করম, (p. 65) BBBB SLS000S BBBBS BBBS BBBB SLLS 000S00S BBBS SLS 000S àost-asis of Iss of (p. 1329) isosie (p. 1417) are numerous. These have passed out of popular use, (a few of them only linger in the colloqiual dialects of the more backward villages of Bengal) thus proving Bengali to be a true daughter of Prakrit though our language has now assumed a highly Sanskritic vocabulary. The old poems abound in the loose Prakrit forms of all kinds of words—not merely verbs. The mode of spelling the words, too, is generally on the lines of Prakrit orthography. The reader will come across innumerable instances of such throughout the book. A few only are shown below:— পে আতি, ছে দিঅ', দিআ (p. 4) ভৈন=ভগিনী (p. 188) ইৎসা=ইচ্ছা, (p. 552) আউদর, (p. 549) কেহ্নে=কেন (p. 614) তন=স্তন, (p. 967) সেইটে=সে স্থানে (p. 1416) দুষ্ক=দুঃখ (p. 1417) সিগাল, (p. 659) পুপ্প, (p. 27) দপ্প (p. 20.) In the Vaisnava Padas the poets used to soften the words by disintegrating compound letters. Such as of and cofief for of (pp. 1016,1032, 1048) থীর for ক্ষীর (p. 1011) পবার for প্রবাল (p. 1011) দারিদ for দরিদ্র (p. 103) থল for স্থল (p. 1032) বজর for বজ্র, পতিবরত for পতিব্ৰতা (p. 1064) দুরজন for দুৰ্জ্জন (p. 1049) কটাখ for কটাক্ষ (p. 1008) দরপন for দৰ্পণ (p. 1050) বিছুরিল for বিস্তুত হইল (p. 1049) শাঙন for প্রাবণ (p. 8068) আঘণ for অগ্রহায়ণ (p. 1054) লেহ for স্নেহ (p. 1036). A great number of archaic and now obsolete forms of pronouns are found in the different cases. Some of these are shown below:— First Person, Nom. Sing.–cal p. 8. xx 2x >> , আক্ষি 576, 519, 614, 682, 688, 646, 647, 661, 652, 653, 657, 692. 22 22 ,, ,, qfqa pp 620, 632, 654, 647, 704. Do. plu. আহ্মরা (p. 648) আমী আদি (p. 622). Accusative, Sing. *sūl pp. 647, 650, onto, pp. 56, 708, 1702, of pp. 38, 602. Cosso and Costs of course occur very frequently. Do. Genitive sing wf*if* pp. 179, 579, 589, 614, 616, 617, 650, 652, 657. Do. মোহর pp. 617, 646, 960. 86 INTRODUCTION. Second Person Nom. Sing. তুঞ্জি pp. 577, 579, 615, 620, 632, 645, 647, 652, 653, 657. 33 plu. তোহ্মী দুই=তোমরা দুইজন p. 617. 22 22 Accusative Coloi pp. 579, 610, 651, Goiâţă p. 648, তোমাক pp 41, 49, 100, 701, 708. Genitive g*if* pp. 19, 20, C*t*ii p 652, Cyi*iift* pp. 609, 652, C5f*if* pp. 576, 6ll, 632,638, 649, 650,652,658,693. Third person, Sing, nom fîï p. 5, fooCėl p. 678, plu s3.txt p. 184, Accusative Sing. Ett pp 8742, 618, 702. gegetta p 655, ệstą, p 702. তl pp. 5, 6, 8, তোক p. 81, ওক p. 69. Gen. তোহর p. 89, তান p. 16, তাহানঙ্ক p. 610. We have also a large variety of postpositions to denote the cases in nouns. The nominative in old poems is generally indicated by the suffix ‘a’ which seems to be a survival of the Sanskrit instrumental ga. The dative and the accusative cases in these poems are generally indicated by the postposition o, which we believe to be the pleonastie or of Sanskrit. Examples of this are numerous in latter-day Sanskrit and in the Gāthā languages. The following passage from the Lalita Vistara chosen at random will show how largely the pleonastic of was used in the Pāli and other cognate languages. “সুবসন্তকে ঋতুবরে আগতকে । রতিমো প্রিয়া ফুল্লিত পাদপকে ॥ বশবৰ্ত্তি সুলক্ষণ কো বিচিত্রিতকো । তব রূপ স্বরূপ সুশোভনকে ॥ ব্যং জাত সুজাত সুসংস্থিতিকাঃ । সুখ কারণ দেব নারায়ণ বসন্তুতিকাঃ ॥ উল্কি লঘু পরিভুজ্জ সুযৌবনকং দুর্লভ বোধি নিবৰ্ত্তয় মানসকম্।।” In the earlier specimens of Prakrit we even find the modern accusative suffix & exactly as in Bengali for instance “পালি ও আজ দাসী এ পুত্তে দলিদ চালুTērzē gwe” Mrichhakatie, Act 8. Sir George Grierson, who is now the greatest authority on all questions relating to the comparative study of the modern Indian vernaculars, writes to me: “As regards the postposition #3 of the dative case in Bengali, it is, I am sure, impossible to connect it with the pleonastic suffix A to INTRODUCTION. 87 which you refer. The postposition occurs in nearly all Indo-Aryan languages. Thus, in various languages, we have kā, kā, kaī, kahā, Kahū, Kaū, Kū, and other similar words. All these have certainly a common origin. The oldest forms are kahi and kahā, and these are survivals from Apabhramsa Prakrit, in which they also occur. Kahi and Kahū are simply the Prakrit forms of the Sanskrit Artè, for, just as the genitive postpositions–er, kar, kēr, kā, k, and so on are all derived from the Sanskrit Artah, which in Buddhist Sanskrit e. g. Mahāvastu, is regularly used to mean ‘of’, as in udayama-kortú-asanā, the seats of the garden.” Sir G. Grierson has dealt with this point elaborately in an article entitled “On certain suffixes in the modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars” published in Zeitschrift Fur Vergleichende Sprachforschung Auf Dem Gebiete. Der Indogermanischen Sprachen. But with due deference to his opinion I take the liberty to refer my readers to the suffix as used in the dative and accusative cases on pp. 36, 37, 40, 42, 43, 44, 53, 68, 71, 98, 617,618, 633, 701, 705, 709 and 710, and solve the problem for themself. This suffix I still hold to be of a pleonastic origin. Mr. Anderson writes on this point:- - “It may interest you to know that Koch and Kāchari have an objective in coil, which is curiously like the Hindi. Now Koch and Kāchari were agglutinative till quite recent times and certainly borowed their inflections from some Aryan language. The only Aryan language with which they have been in contact has been the ol. Is it not curious that they should have taken the objective in Coi o Take again Assamese which has an objective in E, oto-to the man.” The form Co in Bengali was originally of and the coil in Koch and Kāehari mentioned by Mr. Anderson is certainly derived from this source. The Mio of Assamese is to be traced to the old Bengali form xiào, and all these I am inclined to connect with the pleonastic *. As far as the dative is concerned I find from the table given in the article of Sir George Grierson, already referred to, that the apabhrainsa dialects as well as nearly all of the modern Indian vernaculars such as Old Gujarāti, Mod. Gujarātī, Mārwārī, Jaipurī, Naipālī, Danga, Braj Bhākhā, Standard Hindi, Panjābi, Käsmiri, Indus Köhistān, Lohndi Sindhi, Oriyā, Bengali (Marathi), Assamese, Behāri and Eastern Hindi, have similar postpositions; all of these should evidently be traced to a common origin. This may either be the pleonastie of as I hold, or the word go as Sir George Grierson has supposed. There is much truth in what Mr. Anderson says in this connection. “The subject is one that requires more investigation, and in investigating we ought not to neglect the languages on the Bengal border.” 88 INTRODUCTION. The postposition of is often used as the genitive suffix in old Bengali; in such cases it is followed by the word ztifŸÉli as <féR# atffobil (p. 89) stfsifq; affol (p. 69) or ziifol (pp. 54, 58). In some cases, however, the word affol is missed, as in "for of (p. 682). In the Vaisnava padas written in the Braja Bhāsā Mifoli does not necessarily follow a word in the genitive case with the suffix *. But whether with or without the word also that generally follows it, this of does not seem to us to be the sign of the genitive case, as equivalent to 'of'. The pleonastic of has seldom any meaning of its own. In a few cases only does it give to a word merely a diminutive sense. In the words Niño attfi, (p. 1015) of 55 go, (p. 682) গৃহকসার, দেহক সরবস্ব, পার্থীক পাখ, মীনক পানি, নয়নক অঞ্জন (p. 1028). the postposition does not either alter the sense or emphasise the case in any way. The suffix therefore seems to us to be the Sanskrit pleonastie of in the genitive case also. Sometimes we have the genitive forms as No. লাগিয়া (pp. 54, 65) and মহলত লাগিয়া (p. 41). The real genitive suffix in Bengali is to. This in old literature was merely 3 (pp. 21, 25, 29, 07, 44, 52, 53, 54, 66, 708). The locative suffix Co was originally merely 5 (pp. 44, 55, 56, 76, 78, 70, 84, 611, 650, 652). This V is sometimes used as the suffix of the dative and ablative (pp. 659 and 708) and even of the nominative ease (pp. 554 and 659). The modern suffix is as in off, off, &c. is derived from siè (pp. 301). The original form of 8, as in Cotosis, was o (pp. 151 and 1633). I refer to a few points only in connection with the philological and linguistic materials which abound in the works comprised in the present selection. The reader will find many points to engage his attention for the purpose of research. The influence of Sanskrit on our language is to be traced from the beginning of the Pauranic Renaissance when the Sanskrit epics were first translated. It reached its climax in the age of Rājā Krisnachandra, and especially in the works of Bhāratachandra, whose Bengali poems were so highly Sanskritised that sometimes they might pass for Sanskrit as well; and if written in the Devanāgari characters the Pandits of other parts of India might take them to be Sanskrit, without any suspicion that they are Bengali. Imitation of Sanskritic figures marred the simple grace of those Bengali poems which were written directly under Court influence in the eighteenth century. A morbid imaginativeness and passion for wiredrawn similies after Sanskrit and Persian models became the characteristic of such poems. The prolific use of poetic figures in them reminds us of the attempts of Hudibras : “For Rhetoric he could not ope His mouth, but out flew a trope” INTRODUCTION. 89 The extravagant and almost absurd metaphors used by these poets may also find their parallel in those used by Butler in describing his hero's beard. The strained alliterations and puns on words, however greatly they may tax the reader's patience, may be excused in poetry, but they become unbearable in prose as in the passages: (1) “so so go of oil was co, তুষ্টর বীজ বপন করুন।” (ই) পাঠক মহাশয় এই দোষকর প্রভাকর প্রকাশকের প্রতি ক্রোধাকর না হইয়া ক্ষমাকর ও কৃপাকর হইবেন।” (p. 1816). On pages 1723 & 1785 the reader will find some of the abstrusest specimens of Bengali prose in the eighteenth century. There will be no difficulty in understanding why the average Bengali reader understood Bengali poetry better than such prose, and why therefore Rajā Rāmamohana Roy took pains to explain the rules of prose construction as a guide to his readers before introducing the subject-matter in his prose works (p. 1753.) The Nava Babu Vilāsa written by Pramatha Sharmā in 1823 is a work with brilliant flashes of humour, which undoubtedly served as the model of the celebrated assotto & otto (pp. 1734–1740). The earliest specimens of Bengali prose, (those belonging to the 10th century) will be found on p. 20. 18. A newly recorered song of Gopichänd. A very interesting song of Gopichänd, named “the song of Maināmati" after his mother, has lately been brought to light by the efforts of a few scholars of Eastern Bengal. Two old MSS. of the said song have been recovered from Tippera and it is being edited by Babu Nalinikanta Bhattashali, M.A., and Baikunthanāth Datta. The ‘Prativā' for Shrāvana and Bhādra, 1320 B. S. has published a portion of this song, and I regret that I had no opportunity of securing it in time to be able to incorporate selections from it in the present compilation or in its supplement. I, however, give below an extract from this song.” It was composed by the poet Bhabani Das, and the archaic and unadorned expressions used in it attest to the early age of its composition. This song will take a prominent place among the poetical tributes paid by the rural people of this country to the memory of Rājā Gopichänd, of which we have already given some interesting specimens in this work (pp. 27-110).
- With the kind permission of the editor of the “Prativā” and of the Secretary, Dacca Sahitya-Parisat.
12 90 INTRODUCTION. The condition of the people during the reign of Rājā Mānākehānd, father of Gopichänd, described to him by his mother Maināmātā. বড় পুণ্যের লাগি দিল দীঘি আর জাঙ্গাল। সোণা রূপাএ গড়াগড়ি না ছিল কাঙ্গাল ॥ হিরামন মাণিক্য লোকে তলিতে শুখাইত। কাহার পুষ্কর্ণার জল কেহ না খাইত। কাহার বাটীতে কেহ উদার না চাইত। সোণার ঢেপুয়া লৈয়া বাল্পকে খেলাইত ॥ হাড়াইলে ঢেপুয়া পুনি না চাইত আর । এমতে গোআইল লোকে হরিষ অপার ॥ মেহরিকুল বেড়ি ছিল মুলিবাশের বেড়া। গৃহস্থের পরিদান সোণার পাছরা ॥ গরীবে চড়িয়া ফিরে খাসা তাজী ঘোড়া । ফকীরের গায়ে দিত খাসা কাপড় জোড়া ॥ তোমার বাপের কালের সব ছিল ধনী। সোণার কলসী ভরি লোকে খাইত পানী ॥ রূপার কলসী করি বিধবাএ জল খাইত। কেবা রাজা কেবা প্রজা চিনন না যাইত । মুজুরি করিতে যাএ আরঙ্গি ছত্র মাথে। বসিতে লইয়া যাএ সোণার পীড়িতে ॥ তবে সেইজন জান মজুরিতে যাএ। একদিন মজুরি করিলে ছএ তঙ্ক পাএ ॥ দুই পহর মজুরি করে গৃহস্থের ঘরে। এক পহর দৌড়ায় ঘোড়া ময়দান পাথরে ॥ যার যেই নিতিকৰ্ম্ম এড়ান না যাএ। অশ্ব আরোহিয়া সেই মজুরির করি হএ ॥ দেড় বুরি কোঁড়ী ছিল কানী ভূঞির কর। চোঁদ বুরি কৌড়ি ছিল তঙ্কার মোকর ॥ দশ তঙ্কার বাড়ী খাইত দেড় বুরি দিত। বার মাস ভরিয়া বছরের খাজনা নিত ॥ তোমার বাপের সৈত্য তুমি লৈলা লাড়ি। ভুঞি পিছে ধরি লৈলা এক পোন কৌড়ি। INTRODUCTION. 91 Gopiehānd protests again his proposed Sannyās and narrates to his mother his great pawer and riches which he is required to give up. এহিমত কৈল যদি মৈনামতী মাএ। যোরহস্তে নিবেদিল গোপীচাদ রাজাএ ॥ আমি রাজা যোগী হৈব তার অধিক নাই। এমুখ সম্পদ আমি এড়িমু কার ঠাই ॥ কার কাছে এড়ি যাউব হঙ্গসরাজ ঘোড়া । কার ঠাঞি এড়ি যাইমু গাএর খাসা জোড়া ॥ ধনু বাণ কথাতে এড়িমু লাকে লাকে । তীর তাম্বু বাণ কাতে এড়িমু ঝাকে ঝাকে ॥ গাঙ্গেত এড়িয়া যাইমু বত্যিস কাহন নাও। পুৰী মধ্যে এড়ি যাইমু তুমি হেন মাও । পিলঘরে এড়ি যাইমু আশী হাজার হাতী। বৈদেশে গমন কালে কে ধরিবে ছাতি ॥ পাইঘরে এড়ি যাইমু নএলাক ঘোড়া । যোড় মন্দিরে এড়ি যাইমু সাহে মাণিক দোলা । পুরী মাঝে এড়ি যাইমু পঞ্চ পাত্র বর। পান যোগানী এড়ি যাবে উন শত নফর ॥ শ্বেত বান্ধী এড়ি যামু হারিয়া ছোহর । অদ্ভুনা পছনা এড়ি যাইমু কার ঘর ॥ দাফাতে এড়িয়া যাবে সত্তের কায়ন বেত। গোঞালে এড়িয়া যাবে গাই বারশত ॥ এহি সব এড়ি যাবে আপনে জানিয়া । নএয়ান গড় এড়ি যাবে উনশত বাণিয়া ॥ বাপের মিরাশ এড়ি যাইমু গৈরর সহর । দাদার মিরাশ যাবেক কমলাক নগড়। তুদ্ধি মাএর যত বাড়ী কনিকা নগর। আন্ধি বাড়ী বান্দিয়াছি মেহরিকুল সহর । চল্লিশ রাজাএ কর দেহ আহ্মার গোচর। আহ্মা হৈতে কোন জন আছয়ে ডাঙ্গর ॥ সাজ সাজ করি রাজা দিল এক ডাক । একডাকে সাজি আইলা বাশৈত্তৈর লাক । INTRODUCTION. হস্তী ঘোড়া সাজে আর মহা মহাবীর। সাজিল অপার সৈন্ত আটার উজীর ॥ বাষটি নাজীর সাজে ত্ৰিষটি সিগদার। হস্তে ঢাল সৈন্ত সাজে বিরাশী হাজার ॥ নএ হাজার ধনুকি সাজে গুণ টঙ্কারিয়া । বন্দুকী সাজিয়া আইল সলিত হাতে লৈয়া ॥ হস্তী ঘোড়া সৈন্ত সাজি ধরিল যোগান। তা দেখিয়া মৈনামতী বুলিল বচন ॥ শুনএ রসিক জন এক চিত্ত মন । কহেন ভবানীদাসে অপূৰ্ব্ব কথন । The Dowager Queen Maināmati speaks on the vanity of human aspirations and on the fleeting nature of earthly possessions. যাইব যাইবা বাপু রে সন্ন্যাসী হইয়া । সোণামএ রত্নপুরী আন্ধার করিয়া ॥ এমত বসেতে রাজা সন্ন্যাসী কিবা ধৰ্ম্ম । আপন গৃহেতে বসি সাধ নিজ কৰ্ম্ম ॥ ঘোষ ॥ মৈনামতী বোলে বাছা কিছু নহে সার। দুই চক্ষু মুদি দেখ সংসার আন্ধার ॥ ইষ্ট মিত্র বাপ ভাই কেহ নহে কার। পুত্র কন্যা সঙ্গে রাজা না যাইব তোহ্মার ॥ কাএয়া মাঞ সব ছারি বলে ধরি নিব । এমন সুন্দর তনু কাকেত মিশাইব ॥ ধন জন দেখিআ আপনা বোল তারে। এ তন্তু আপনা নহে লৈয়া ফির যারে ॥ কোন কৰ্ম্ম হেতু রাজা দেহ কৈলা পাত কি বুলি জোয়াব দিবা স্বামীর সাক্ষাৎ ॥ আসিতে লেঙ্গটা রাজা যাইতে যাব শূন্ত। সঙ্গে করি নিয়া সাবে পাপ আর পুণ্য ॥ INTRODUCTION. 93 She describes how she hitherto defeated all efforts of Fama to take away her son’s (Gopichānd’s) l്. - একদিন বধুসঙ্গে আপন মন্দিরে। পাশা খেলিতেছিল টঙ্গীর উপরে ॥ হেনকালে আইল যম তোহ্মারে নিবার। ফিরাইয়া দিল যম বাড়ীর বাহের । ভেটঘাট দিয়া আমি ফিরাইল যমেরে । বহু স্তুতি করি পুত্র রাখিল তোহ্মারে । আর দিন আইল যম প্রতিজ্ঞা করিয়া । তোহ্মার চরণ ঘোড়া দিলুম দেখাইয়া ॥ সে ঘোড়া পড়িয়া মৈল পাইশাল ভিতরে। তোহ্মারে নিবারে যম নিত্য বাউর পারে ॥ আর দিন আইল যম মহাক্রোধ হৈয়া । আহ্মাকে এড়িয়া তোহ্মা নিবারে ধরিয়া ॥ o তবে মায় মরি যাবে পুত্ৰশোগী হইয়া। পুত্র পুত্র করি মাএ মরিব ঝুরিয়া ॥
The King refers to his great wealth and power by which he hopes to subdue Yama, and the Dowager Queen points out the foolishness of such an idea. রাজাএ বোলে শুন মাগ মৈনামতি আই। এক নিবেদন করি তুঙ্গি মাএর ঠাঞি ॥ বাপের কালের আছে চোঁদ রাজার ধন। তুঞি মাএর জেলা আছে হিরামণ রতন। আমার কামাই আছে রজত কাঞ্চন। চারি বধুর জোলা আছে চারি গোলা ধন ॥ সৰ্ব্বধন দিব ভেট যমের গোচরে। ধন পাইলে যমরাজ এড়ি যাবে মোরে ॥ মএনামতী বোলে শুন রাজা গোবিন্দাই। আর এক বাত মাহে তোহ্মারে বুঝাই। ধন দিয়া যম যদি ফিরাইতে পারে। তবে কেন বড় রাজা তোহ্মার পিতা মরে ॥ 94 INTRODUCTION. ধনের কাতর নহে সেই মহাজন। রাত্রিদিন ভ্ৰমে সেই এ তিন ভুবন ॥ রাত্রিকালে আইসে যম দিনে চারিবারে । না জানি পাপিষ্ঠ যম কারে আসি ধরে ॥ রাত্রি দিনে অষ্ট বার নিত্যই গমন করে। না জানি কঠিন যম লই যাএ তোহ্মারে ॥ রাজাএ বোলে শুন মাগ মএনামতী আই। আর এক কথা কহি তুহ্মি মাত্রের ঠাঞি ॥ সাচানি আসিব যম বাড়ীর ভিতর । লোহার বান্ধিমু ঘর লোহার বাসর ॥ লোহার জাল তুলি দিমু পুরীর ভিতর। আশী হাজার সৈন্ত দিমু শিয়রে পশর ॥ হস্তে খড়গ লৈয় মুহি থাকিবে জাগিয়া । শিয়রে যাইতে যম ফেলিমু কাটিয়া । লাল টঙ্গীর রুয়া দিয়া যমেরে দিমু শাল। মারিয়া যমেতে নিবে বার হাজার মাল ॥ পলাইয়া যাবে যম পাই তহেঙ্কার । সেই যম আমা নিতে না আসিবে আর ॥ মৈনামতী বোলে বাপু কি বুঝিছ মনে। আর এক কথা মাত্র কহি তোহ্ম স্থানে ॥ আসিবে সেই যম য়নদখা হৈয়া । কেমতে কাটিব যম লোহার অস্ত্ৰ দিয়া ॥ চিলন্ধপে আইসে যম সাচানরূপে চাএ। মাছিরূপ ধরি যম ঘরেতে সামাএ ॥ কত দিনের আঞউ তারে গণি চাও। যার যে লিখন দিয়া যমে লৈয়া যাএ ॥ ইষ্ট মিএ বাপ ভাই থাকেএ বসিয়া । তাহাকে পাপিষ্ঠ যমে লই যাএ ধরিয়া ॥ " শুনহে রসিক জন একচিত্ত মন । মএনামতী কহে বাক্য মধুর বচন ॥ INTRODUCTION. 95 The lamentations of Gopichūnd's Queen Aduna at his sannyås. রাগ পএয়ার ছন্দ । কান্ধএ অস্থান নারী কান্দয়ে পছন। কান্দএ রতন মালা আর কাঞ্চসোণী ॥ অদুনার কান্দনে গাবীর গাব ছারে। পছনার কান্দনে সমুদ্র উজান ধরে । রতন মালার কান্দনে প্রাণ নহে স্থির। পদ্মমালার কান্দনে মেদিনী যাএ চির ॥ চারি নারী কান্দে রাজার চরণে ধরিয়া । মৈনামতী বোলে তুমি যাইবা যুগী হৈয়া । যে দেশে যাইবা প্রিয় সে দেশে যাইব । ধরিয়া যুগীর বেশ সঙ্গতি থাকিব। তুমি সে যুগিয়া রাজা আক্ষিত যুগিনী। ঘরে ঘরে মাগিমু প্রিয়া রান্দি দিব ভাত। ছাড়িয়া না দিমু তোহ্মা শোন প্রাণনাথ । এক সৈন্দা রান্দি ভাত দুই সৈন্দা খাওাইমু। হাটিতে নারিল রাজা কোলে করি লইমু। রাজা বলে কি প্রকারে হাটিয়া যাইবা । সে পন্থে বাঘের ভয় দেখি ডরাইবা ॥ খাউক বনের বাঘে তারে নাহি ডর। তোহ্মা আগে মৈলে হৈব সাফল্য মোহর । ষে দিন আছিনু শিশু বাপ মাএর ঘরে । সে দিন না গেল প্রিয়া দূর দেশান্তরে । অখন যৌবন হৈল তোমা বিদ্যমান। তুমি যুগী হৈলে প্ৰভু তেজিব পরাণ ৷ যখনে বাপের বাড়ী যাইতে চাইল আহ্মি। চুলে ধরি মারিবারে মোরে চাইলা তুদ্ধি। যে দিন অহুনার মাথে ছোট ছিল চুল। সে দিন তোহ্মার মাএ নিল পাণ ফুল ৷ এক বছরের কালে নিত্য আইল গেল। পঞ্চ বছরের কালে দেখি যোড়া দিল । 96 INTRODUCTION. সপ্তম বছরের কালে জানি বিভা কৈলা । নবম বছরের কালে মন্দিরেতে নিলা ॥ তুন্ধি সাত আন্ধি এমত কালের বিয়া। হীরামণ মাণিক্য মুক্ত লৈক্ষ দান দিয়া ॥ মোর বৈন পছনারে পাইলা বেভার। " ধনরত্ন মোর বাপের আছিল অপার ॥ সকল ছাড়িয়া আনিলা ভগ্নীরে আমার। - ছোট কালের বন্ধু মোরা জানিয় তোহ্মার ॥ আপনার হস্তে প্ৰভু তৈল গিলা দিলা । আবের কঙ্কই দিয়া কেশ বিনাটিলা ॥ লৈক্ষ তঙ্কার জাদ দিলা চুল বান্ধিবার। লৈক্ষ তঙ্কার খোপা দোলে পিষ্ঠের উপর ॥ পিন্দিবারে দিলা প্ৰভু মেঘনাল শাড়ী। যেই শাড়ীর মূল্য ছিল বাইশ কাহন কোঁড়ী। পাএতে পিন্দাইলে রাজা সোণার নেপুর। হাটীতে চলিতে রাজা ঝামুর জুমুর । নিজ হস্তে কাম সিন্দূর কপাল ভরি দিলা। যোড় মন্দির ঘরে নিয়া রূপ রঙ্গ চাইলা ॥ এ হেন দএয়ার বন্ধু কি দোষে ছাড়িলা । হেন প্রিয়া ছাড়ি কেন বিদেশে চলিলা ॥ তোহ্মার আহ্মার নষ্ট কৈল যেই জন। নষ্ট কউরুক তার প্রভু নিরঞ্জন ॥ o আহে প্ৰভু গুণনিধি কি বলিলা বাণী । শুনিতে বিদরে বুক না রহে পরাণী ॥ . . . বনে থাকে হরিণী বনে ঘরবাড়ী ৷ - প্রেমের কারণে কাকে কেহ না যাএ ছারি ॥ সৰ্ব্বদিন চরা করে বনের ভিতর। সৈন্দাকালে চলি যাএ আপনা বাসর। হরিণা যাএ আগে হরিণী যাএ পাছে। - , সৰ্ব্বদুঃখ পাসর।এ স্বামী থাকে কাছে ॥ সেই পশুর বুদ্ধি তুক্ষি রাজার ঠাই। * এতবারে আঙ্গি নারী রাজা তোহ্মারে বুঝাই ॥ INTRODUCTION. - 97 আটার বছর হইল তুমি অধিকারী। ". এ বার বছর হৈল মোরা চারি নারী ॥ - । * এ বুলিয়া চারি বধু পুরী প্রবেশিল । - ঘরে গিয়া চারি বধু যুক্তি বিমশিল । অনাঞ বোলে বইনগ পছন। সুন্দর। সাত কাইতের বুঝ আমার ধরের ভিতর ॥ 19. Concluding remarks. By far the greater portion of the present compilation has been taken from old MSS. written between the 16th and 18th centuries, though there were printed books available in some cases. I got some help from late Babu Ramanimohan Mullick's editions of the songs of the Vaisnava-masters. The Vaisnava songs, in the old MSS. in my possession, were occasionally revised by me on a comparison with the readings given in Ramani Babu's collections. I had also to consult frequently the excellent and erudite edition of Vidyāpati, edited by Babu Nagendranath Gupta and published at the cost of Babu Săradãcharan Mitra, whose earlier edition of Vidyäpati, (published in 1876) first popularised the poet among the educated people of Bengal. But whether we should altogether do away with the Bengalicised forms of these poems extant in this country, preferring their Maithil originals, is a question which ought seriously to be considered. Some of the padas of Vidyāpati have undoubtedly gained in richness and flow of style in their Bengali form. This is no doubt due to the existence of a devotional flavour lent to them by the followers of Chaitanya. Should these be altogether abandoned because we have found their originals 2 There are numerous editions of Krittivasa's Rāmāyaņa and Käsidāsa's Mahābhārata available in the market. I have not, however, depended upon these. The extracts given in this work from the above-named authors were taken from MSS. two to three hundred years old. It should be noted here that I have not included in my compilation some of the choicest passages to be found in the Rāmāyaņa of Krittivāsa published from Bat-tala, as I believe these to be later interpolations. For instance I find from comparing numerous old MSS. of the Rāmāyana that Krittivāsa's version of the lamentations of Rāma when Sitā was carried away is quite different from the popular reading of the passage to be found in the current editions of Bat-tala. The Räibär or the embassy of Angada, the humour of which was so highly extolled by former generations of the Bengalis, is found in the earlier MSS. with the colophon distinctly mentioning Kavichandra as its author. I have accordingly included it in the extracts from his composition. I had to study about 2000 MSS. for the purpose of making the present selection and most of these, as I have already mentioned, belonged to the 13 9S INTRODUCTION. library of Babu Nagendranath Vasu. As the MSS. in his library bore no number I could not give any for the purpose of reference. The University of Calcutta has very recently purchased this library and the public will now have access to them. On pp. 102-110 a portion of the song of Govindachandra by the poet Durlava Mallik has been quoted. This song was published some years ago by Babu Shibchandra Shil with copious notes. But I could not find it in time and had to take my extracts from a copy which I found in Nagendra Babu's library, and which, I understand, was made prior to the publication of the song. I find that the readings are slightly different though the copies were taken from the same original. Regarding the date of Krittivāsa I had a good deal of correspondence of a controversial nature with Mr. H. E. Stapleton, M.A., B.Sc., Inspector of Schools, Dacca. His concluding remarks in the Dacca Review, have, I trust, settled the question finally. He says “I now conclude that Krittivāsa was born not later than 1380 A.D.. a not very different date to the one given by Dines Babu in his reply to my criticism.” 1. The tradition of the country is that it was Husen Shaha who gave the title of Gunarāj Khān to Mālādhara Vasu, the earliest translator of the Bhāgabata, but 1 now agree with Mr. Stapleton in holding that this tradition is incorrect. On this point he says, “From the clear reference to the time occupied in the work (A.D. 1473 to 1480) it would appear that the king who conferred on Maladhara Vasu the title of Gunarāj Khān was Shamsuddin Yusuff Shaha who according to Blochman ( J. A. S. B. 1883, p. 309 ) reigned from A.D. 1478 to 1481. In the Riya-Zu-S-Salatin (Abu-S-Salam's translation p. 120) he is said to have been a sovereign of gentle temperament, solicitous for the welfare of his subjects, virtuous, learned and pious ”t ; so it does not seem improbable that he patronised Mālādhara's translation. The date of the composition of Vijay Gupta’s Manasa Mangala, I found in some old MSS. indicated in the lines “ছায়া শূন্ত রবি শশী পরিমিত শক। সনাতন হুসেন সাহ নৃপতি তিলক ৷” - Now the year mentioned in the above couplet does not agree with the dates of Husen Saha’s reign, and a great difficulty presented itself in reconciling the discrepancy. I tried all possible interpretations, some of which were necessarily of a strained character f but the difficulty, says Mr. Stapleton, “is removed by another reading of the first half of the first
- Vol. II, No. X1I, March, 1913, p. 455, + Dacca Review, March, 1913, p. 457. £ Dacca Review, March, 1913, p. 457. INTRODUCTION. 99
line, viz “o co-so" which is to be found in the older MSS. of which one was shown me at Gaila, the poet’s birth place, some years ago. As there are six seasons (Rož), one Moon (*i) and four Vedas the date is 1416 Saka (A. D. 1494 ) i. e. the year after the date, I showed in the Asiatic Society of Bengal for April, 1910 (p. 166 ) to be the accession year of Husen Saha. I was further given to understand at the time I saw the MS. that the year 1416 Saka for the writing of Manasā Mangala agrees with the author's statement that the goddess ordered him to compose the work on the Sunday after the full moon of Shravana, which was Sunday.” ” The present Gaila and Fullashri ( the birth place of Vijaya Gupta) in the district of Backerganj once formed the same village ; so the MSS. of Vijay Gupta's poems found there are more reliable than those found elsewhere, especially in regard to those passages which mention localities and dates in which copyists are generally found to commit errors. I am indebted to Babus Haragopala Daskundu, Haridas Palit, Basantaranjan Ray, Sibratan Mitra, Akrurehandra Sen and Anandanath Ray for supplying me with extracts from some of the poems which I could not secure here. I must here acknowledge my deep indebtedness to Babu Nagendranath Vasu, Prāchyavidyāmahārnava, without whose friendly aid, the preparation of the present compilation would have presented difficulties, which in my weak state of health, I could hardly have expected to cope with. My thanks are due to Mr. Allan Cameron, M. A., Professor of the Scottish Churches College, Calcutta, for kindly revising some of the proofs of this introduction with care. But as changes and additions were subsequently made, I am alone responsible for any errors that may be found in it. and I am painfully conscious that there are such errors, as owing to my bad health, I could not always do my best in respect of proof-reading. In conclusion my greatest thanks are due to Sir Asutosh Mookerjee, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta, without whose constant encouragement and help, this work would not have been completed. If the book is found to possess any merit, my highest reward will be the joy of proving worthy of his great kindness. BAGHBAzAR, CALcutta. DINESH CHANDRA SEN. 19, KANTA PUKUR LANE, The 25th January 1914. !
- Dacca Review, March, 1913, p. 457.
- Professional minestrels who sang songs mainly descriptive of the incidents in the life of Kriṣṇa and sometimes composed extempore verses before large audiences. (Vide History of Bengali Language and Literature, pp. 696-712).
- Quoted by the Amrita Bazar Patrika in its issue of the 23rd July, 1913.
- See Preface to the revised edition of "Literature of Bengal" by R. C. Dutta, p. IV, (1895) and of the "Three episodes af Chandi," translated by E. B. Cowell, p. V, (1902).
- Sister Nivedita.