Srimad Bhagavata and Medieval Hindi Poets

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Item Code: IDI700
Publisher: B.R. Publishing Corporation
Author: Sada Nand Madan
Language: English
Edition: 1998
ISBN: 8176460249
Pages: 433 (Black & White Illus: 1)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.6" X 5.6
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Book Description

From The Jacket

While studying various ceremonies and practices of all the religions in the world, it has been found that all the sections of the society have one thing in common, e.g., the saintly people in all the religions have recited the songs and praises have recited the songs and praises of the Lord in a musical manner. This emotional loving musical form of Bhakti has been largely influenced by the Bhakti-cult as propounded and propagated in the Bhagavata Purana. According to this Purana, Bhakti-Marg is the easiest of all the Margas in Hinduism such as Karma, Gyana, Yoga and can be adopted and pursued by all the followers irrespective of religion, caste, creed, age, sex, etc., because whosoever sincerely worships the God in any form, he appears in that form before their very eyes. It is, therefore, earnestly hoped that some of the readers who luckily happen to go through this work entitled "Srimad Bhagavata and Medieval Hindi Poets" will try to follow the Bhakti-Marg and the author will be rewarded to a great extent.

Sada Nand Madan (Born 14th February, 1930) did his Ph. D. from University of Delhi, Delhi in 1958. He was a lecturer in Sanskrit in Punjab University Camp College, New Delhi Ramjas College, Delhi University in 1960. He also taught in Digamber Jain College, Baraut (Meerut-U.P.) from 19614-64. Later on, he joined a senior Secondary School under Delhi Administration and ultimately retired in 1990 as Post-graduate teacher from Government Senior Secondary School, West Patel Nagar, New Delhi.


In the present thesis an attempt has been made to trace the Srimad-Bhagavata and Medieval Hindi Poets. The Bhagavata is a work of great celebrity in India and is, indeed, a very important Purana, which appears to have exercised an enormous influence on the development of Bhakti ideas in medieval times. The Srimad-Bhagavata stands unrivalled in the whole sphere of Vaisnava literature and the extensive popularity of this sacred Purana which as been widely accepted, praised and commented upon also testifies to this position. The chief purpose of the Bhagavata seems to be the glorification of Bhakti and Krsna-lila and it is this work, which has mainly extended the worship of Krsna. Now during the medieval period of Indian though, a current of spiritual tendency flowing in the life of India unhindered from age to age, took a from which is traditionally, though not very aptly, known as the Bhakti movement. It is no wonder then that the intensely personal and passionate Bhakti of the Bhagavata in collaboration with the teachings of other popular literature especially the great Epics and the Puranas, played a significant role in inspiring a number of teachers of the Krsna Bhakti-cult, viz., Visnuswami, Nimbarka, Madhava, Caitanya, Vallabha and others who mostly depended upon and accepted this Purana as the most authoritative book. Under the powerful influence of one or the other of these great Acaryas of Bhaktimarga, nearly the whole of North India took to the worship of Krsna. It is to be remarked, however, that the Vaisnavaite cult influenced a great number of people on account of its theistic tendency, as by its association with this Krsna as depicted in the Bhagavata it was able to emphasise the personal characteristics of the object of its worship. Sometimes it was the child Krsna who was specially thought of as an object of worship, but more often it was that aspect of Krsna's life, which was concerned with his relation to Radha and other Gopis that received most attention. This had its repercussion on Hindi literature too, the more so because in order to establish direct contact with the masses, it was necessary to use the popular Indian Language. So during the period which roughly begins from about 1500 A. D. and extends upto 1800 A.D. and which is traditionally known as the Medieval period in Hindi literature, there were a number of brilliant Vaisnava Hindi poets and Bhaktas who were fascinated by the beautiful and gracious personality of Lord Krsna as portrayed in the Bhagavata. These Hindi Bhakta Poets offered in song and verse their prayers and worship to Krsna (and Radha) and thus constituted the Krsna Bhakti School of Medieval Hindi Poetry. The object of the present thesis is to show how far the Krsna Bhakti Poets of Medieval Hindi Poetry are influenced by the Bhagavata and in what respect.

In view of the outstanding importance of the Bhagavata in the Vaisnava religion and its powerful influence that it still today exerts on the life and thought of the innumerable adherents of Vaisnava sects, I have taken up this subject: 'Influence of the Srimad Bhagavata on the Medieval Hindi Poets o the Krsna Bhakti School', for my research. To my mind it is perhaps the first attempt of its kind. A good start in this direction has already been made by Dr. H. L. Sharma, in his well-known treatise entitled 'Srimad-Bhagavata Aur Suradasa', but its range of information is confined only to one famous poet, viz. Suradasa. None has attempted systematically to trace the influence of the Bhagavata on the Krsna Bhakti Poets as belonging to one school. The systematic study of the teachings of the Krsna Bhakti Poets helps a good deal in understanding the Bhakti-cult as propounded in the Bhagavata. It is a definite link in the chain of the cultural evolution of Krsna Bhakti. The devotion of the Krsna Bhakti Poets of Hindi is greatly inspired by the extraordinary beauty and personal charms of Krsna as depicted in the Bhagavata. In their lyrics, Krsna's infancy and boyhood are described with great minuteness and every opportunity has been utilized for bringing out the sweetness and waggishness of his early years. Again, the Bhagavata has poetically described the love-scenes of Krsna and the Gopis, and by its power of high imagination and graceful diction has enshrined these scenes in melodious tones and enchanting imagery. Almost similar tendency is found in the poetry of the Krsna Bhakti School and the behaviour of Krsna and the Gopis while they lived in a state of mutual love, comes in for detailed treatment. But the most distinguished feature of the Bhagavata is its new theory and practice of intensely personal and passionate Bhakti which it weaves round the central figure of the boy and youthful Krsna and in this religious element lies the chief source of the power of the Bhagavata. The utter self-abandonment of the Gopis, the romantic love of the mistress for her lover, becomes the accepted symbol of the Soul's longing for God, and the vivid realisation of the eternal sports of Krsna in an imaginative Vrndavana or Gokula is supposed to lead in an imaginative Vrndavana or Gokula is supposed to lead to a passionate love and devotion for the deity. This, the leading religious idea of the Bhagavata lies at the foundation of the whole series of Vaisnava sects, which have sprung from it, none the less is the case with the Krsna Bhakti School of Hindi Poetry. This mode of realisation that has been followed in the Krsna Bhakti School upto the present day is based upon the spirit of the Gopis, the ideal devotees of the Bhagavata. The devotee here aspires to be a Gopi and worships the Lord in that attitude.

Thus, the Bhagavata may be regarded as one of the supreme scriptures of Medieval Vaisnavism especially of our Krsna Bhakti School. It is one of the most remarkable medieval document for the biography of Krsna and the Krsna-bhakti and these two aspects of Krsna-cult form the subject matter of the innumerable verses of the Krsna Bhakti Poets of Hindi poetry. An intensive, analytical and comparative study of the Bhagavata and of he compositions of the Krsna Bhakti Poets convinces a reader that the Bhagavata especially its tenth skandha which is exclusively dedicated to Krsna, forms the subject of special study of the Krsna Bhakti Poets and all their compositions are related in one way or the other to the life-story of Krsna and the Krsna Bhakti as described in the Bhagavata. However, such a comparative study of these works has not been made uptil now and consequently the poetry of the Krsna Bhakti School which is a rich and important source to understand the Krsna Bhakti of the Bhagavata, has not been utilized as exhaustively as it deserves to be. In the following pages which embody the results of my research on the subject in hand, and attempt has been made to give a complete, coherent and systematic account of the various aspects of the cult of the Bhagavata and an endeavour has been made to trace their influence in the devotional cult as promulgated. Practised and propagated by the Hindi Poets of the Krsna Bhakti School. In order to achieve this end every piece of important and interesting information pertaining to the subject has been carefully gleaned from the Bhagavata as well as from the compositions of the Krsna Bhakti Poets. During the course of my research it has been found that the different sects, viz., Pusti-sect, Radh-Vallabhi, Nimbarka sect including Sakhi Sampradaya and Gaudiya sect, which ruled the development of the Krsna Bhakti School in Hindi literature, received their inspiration in large measure from the explosive and emotional type of devotion described in the Bhagavata. Almost all the Bhakta Poets are indebted in one way or the other to the Bhagavata and they have got very high opinion about this remarkable work. They have taken very many similar ideas from it and have even quoted certain verses from it in original in support of their doctrines and beliefs.

The thesis consists of five chapters: the discussion in the first chapter is confined to the study of the Bhagavata, whose main theme is Hari-Bhakti or devotion to God especially in His Incarnation as Sri Krsna. In depicting the life of Krsna the Bhagavata deifies, on the one hand, an extraordinary human personality and on the other, it humanizes the same spirit. It starts with the conception that Krsna is the Supreme Spirit itself (Krsnastu Bhagavan Svayam), and illustrates by way of reference to the events of His playful earthly career. How divinity can be beautifully manifested in Humanity. As regards Krsna's life the author of the Bhagavata has made a clear distinction between one phase and another, considering the life of Krsna as a child and a boy to be more suitable for his purpose. This interest in the Bala-lila and Kisore-lila was a new feature in Hindu religious life and it was no wonder then that this teaching of the Bhagavata became in the hands of Vallabha, the founder of the Krsna Bhakti School of Hindi Poetry, a most potent force of spreading his teachings. Vallabha looked upon the Bhagavata Purana as a scripture of the same rank as the Vedas, the Gita and the Brahma-Sutras and as a natural consequence of this relative position, the Bhagavata came to enjoy a unique status in the Krsna Bhakti School. It was through his teaching of the Bhagavata that Vallabha secured a number of disciples who in their turn gave a great impetus to the Krsna Bhakti School of Medieval Hindi Poetry.

The second Chapter therefore deals with the Krsna Bhakti School of Medieval Hindi Poetry, which consists mainly of four Sampradayas, viz., Pusti-sect. Radha-Vallabhi, Nimbarka (Including Sakhi sect) and Gaudiya sect, and also states how it has come into existence under the impulse of the emotional Bhakti of the Bhagavata or due to certain other independent causes-political, economic, social, religious, philosophical and the like. Here I have given very briefly the general survey of the Krsna Bhakti School and in this context I have also referred as o which of the Krsna Bhakti Poets are directly influenced by the Bhagavata and in what respect. Then I have discussed at great length the common characteristics and the various tendencies or to be more accurate, the various types of Bhakti, viz., Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhurya, as followed by the Krsna Bhakti Poets and have also shown by way of illustrations that these various aspects of devotional cult in Hindi have an influence more or less of the Bhagavata.

In the third chapter I have indicated how far the Krsna Bhakti School of Medieval Hindi Poetry is indebted to Sanskrit Literature especially the Puranas and particularly the Bhagavata. In the course of my study it has been found that the Krsna Bhakti Poets are, no doubt, inspired in certain aspects by the teaching of the Padma or Bhrahma Vaivarta Purana or by the lyrical songs of Jayadeva, but they do not appear to have accepted them as canonicals. Their chief scripture is the Srimad-Bhagavata on whose devotional poetry and legend they have based their emotionalism. Hence, a major portion of this chapter deals with the Bhagavata especially its tenth book which has formed the special study of the Krsna Bhakti Poets. Again, in this context I have taken up every Skandha of the Bhagavata in its respective order and have dealt only with those contents or have related only those incidents, scenes or episodes which are reproduced, occur or elaborated in the poetry of the Krsna Bhakti School. A comparative study of the contents of the Bhagavata and of the compositions of the Krsna Bhakti Poets goes to prove that, no doubt, the main threads of the story of Krsna have been taken from the Bhagavata but no composition of Hindi Poets can be said as a mere translation or a paraphrase of it. These Krsna Bhaktas of Hindi appear to have been influenced mostly by the emotional aspect of the lyrical portions especially the lovely episodes, viz., Bala-lila of Krsna, Cir-harana-lila, Rasa-lila, and the like that occur in the tenth book of the Bhagavata which is considered as the characteristic part of the Purana.

The object of the fourth chapter is to show how far the subject matter, the most sublime aspect of the Bhagavata has influenced the Krsna Bhakti School. For this purpose the whole Chapter has been divided into three sections. The first section deals with the character-sketch of Krsna who appears as the blissful Lord in His sportive mirth and in all the phases and movements He is the main spring in the Bhagavata as well as in the whole body of literature of the Krsna Bhakti School. As regards the various lilas of Krsna or His variegated forms, the Bhakti Poets are, no doubt, indebted to the Bhagavata, but they have presented them in their own way enlarging or compressing, omitting or adding and have thus elaborated and developed the character of Krsna in a charming manner. The graceful charm of Krsna as displayed in the Bhagavata consists in the fact that even in His human form and/or in the midst of performing blissful sports similar to those of human beings, he works wonders such as can be affected only by the highest lordliness; while the main object of Hindi Poets is not to depict the extraordinary or uncommon character of Krsna, but the real artifice of these poets lies in their bringing the super-human to the human level. They let their hero perform miracles and leave it to the imagination of their readers to gauge the supernatural in Krsna. The second section of this chapter presents the character of Radha who has played such an important part in the religion of Devotion, where of Krsna is the central figure as her most beloved, her dearest and nearest one. Here, we have indicated what position Radha occupies in the Bhagavata and how the Krsna Bhakti Poets have departed from the tenets of the Bhagavata while giving free vent to their fertile imagination in depicting her as the ideal heroine. The third section is related to the Gopis, the milk-maids of Vraja whose love-affairs with Krsna and their pangs of separation (Viraha-sakti) as displayed in the Bhagavata and in the lyrics of the Krsna Bhakti Poets come in for detailed treatment. This section also throws some light on the way as to how to merge life in an eternal Gopi or how to adopt the nature of the Gopis who are pioneers and are even exalted as the teachers in the domain of devotional love.

The last chapter is devoted to the study of the most important aspect of the cult of the Bhagavata, i.e., Bhakti, the religion of devotional love for the Lord, which has been the main source of inspiration equally for all the Bhakta Poets of the Krsna Bhakti School. Here, no attempt is made to give any historical treatment of the subject but only an exposition of the main tenets of the Bhagavata religion is given, viz., general features of the concept of Bhakti, its superiority over other means of realisation, its excellence, need of associating with holy persons, forms of devotion and such other elements, as they have been incorporated by the Krsna Bhakti Poets. In this connection it may be mentioned the Prema-bhakti, is so very important in the cult of Bhakti that this, even though displayed from an insincere and sinister motive, is amply rewarded by the grace of Bhagavan, and hence is superior to Injunctory Bhakti directed sympathetically. In the end it has been shown that according to the Bhagavata and other allied texts of the Vaisnavas, the summum-bonum or the ultimate end or aim of philosophy as well as religion is Prema or strictly speaking Prema-bhakti, Bhagavat-priti, which again has been practised, popularised and propagated to its fullest extent by the Krsna Bhakti Poets of Medieval Hindi Poetry.

This humble thesis, "Srimad-Bhagavata and Medieval Hindi Poets" is offered as a small contribution to the understanding of the Bhakti-cult of the Bhagavata through the teachings of the Krsna Bhakti Poets who practised and propagated the highest spiritual ideal of personal devotion and worship towards Lord Sri Krsna as presented in the sacred Purana. The material contained in these chapters is the result of my research and studies and I may venture to claim originality in its presentation and interpretation. An elaborate account of the comparative study of the Bhagavata and of the poetry of the Krsna Bhakti School. As embodied in this thesis, will, I hope, enable an ordinary reader to appreciate properly the gracious and excellent personality of Krsna which has been all-pervading among His followers to an extent that is true of no other Prophet or religious teacher. This work will shed sufficient light on the religion of devotional love of the Bhagavata as popularised through the medium of the sweet and exquisite songs of the Bhakta Poets, which present a unique combination of sincere and powerful emotions, e.g., Dasya-Priti, Sakhya-Priti, Vatsalya-Priti and especially Madhurya-Priti, of Prema-bhakti with direct, almost spontaneous expression. The way and the spirit in which the ardent devotee poets of the Krsna Bhakti School on the basis of the Bhagavata, discard the claims of reason and base their attitude entirely on an emotional dedication to Krsna, will also be clear from a careful study of the following pages. It may be hoped that the thesis will prove useful to all students of Indian religion and will suit different modes and emotions, "the mode of adoration and worship, of sorrow and joy, of peace and tranquility, of discontent with the things of the world and a desire for freedom from its trammels, of humility and regret over wasted of the universe and the ways of God, or of passionate yearning for union with God.

In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge my deep gratitude to my revered Gurudev, Dr. N.N. Chaudhury, M.A., D. Litt., Professor and Head of Sanskrit Department, Delhi University whose ripe wisdom and mature experience has inspired and encouraged me to take up this research work. Since I joined research in this University, he has been extremely kind and considerate to me. My respectful thanks are due to Dr. R. D. Sharma, Special Officer (Hindi Section), Ministry of Education, Government of India, under whose able guidance this work has been carried out and without whose wise counsel, keen possible to prepare the thesis. I am also grateful to Dr. D. D. Gupta of Lucknow University, Dr. V. Snataka and Dr. U. B. Singh of Delhi University for their very useful suggestions and discussions. In the end I must thanks my elder brother Dr. G. R. Madan for inspiring me to do the research work and then get it published as well as younger brother Sri B. Dass, an official of the Royal Indian Navy-both of whom have liberally given me financial assistance during the period of my unemployment. I also pay my respects for my revered mother, Smt. Narain Devi, the embodiment of devotional love and my sister Smt. Kartar Devi for her constant encouragement throughout the course of this work.


  Preface v
  Abbreviations xvii
  Transliteration xix
1 The Srimad-Bhagavata-The Main Source of Inspiration 1
2 Krsna Bhakti School of Medieval Hindi Poetry 49
3 Indebtedness of the Krsna Bhakti School to Sanskrit Literature-The Puranas and the Bhagavata 129
4 Influence of the Bhagavata on the Krsna Bhakti Kavya 189
  Sec. I Character of Krsna 191
  Sec. II Character of Radha 225
  Sec. III The Gopikas 263
5 The Bhakti Bhavana of the Bhagavata 305
  Bibliography 395
  Index 401

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