Introduction to Charyapada
For a few decades after the first Bangla schools were established and people began to read printed Bangla books such as Bidyashagor’s1 Bawrno-Porichawey2, Kawthamala3, Bodhodhawey4 etc, the idea that prevailed was that Bidyashagor had created and developed the Bangla language. This is largely owing to the fact that all people were reading were translations of English texts. That the Bangla language has an independent existence and that it has a rich literary history were facts that remained largely unknown. But with time it came to light that even before Bidyashagor, Rammohan Ray5 and Gurgurey Bhattacharya6 had written several treatises in the same language. Then Ramgoti Nyayrawtno7 came up with his History of Bangla Literature8. In that book he wrote about a few ancient Bangla poets such as Krittibash9, Kashidas10, Kobikawnkawn11 et al. The new
idea that thus developed was that though a few poems were written in Bangla around three hundred years ago, those were mostly not original works but translations of older Sanskrit texts. A few more books on the history of Bangla literature followed the one by Ramgoti Nyayrawtno. However, those, too, were molded after the Nyayrawtno’s book. Despite all these, the ideas that had dominated even in the 1880s were that Bangla is a new language, that everything cannot be expressed through it, that it is only good for translations, that it is impossible to think of and write on newer subjects using this language, that one has to create new words to write in it and that the new words have to be molded after existing
words in English or Sanskrit. Even I had similar ideas, until I was employed by the Bengal Library12 on the 1st of January 1886. Things changed as I stumbled upon several ancient Bangla books. The Brahmin Pundits of the past could not tolerate the Vaishnava/Boishnawb adherents of Chaitanya13. Books of the Boishnawbs could not be found in the houses of the Brahmins who took pride in learning the Smriti14 scriptures. Those learned in the Nyay-shastra15 scriptures were even more miffed at the Boishnawbs. Being from a similar background16 I had not read any Boishnawb book until I joined the Library. There I realised that many books by the Boishnawbs were still being printed but hardly anyone beyond the devotees were aware17. These included numerous compilations of songs and Sankirtan/Shawngkirtawns18 as well as several biographies and
histories. For most people it was hard to believe that the Bangla language had so many poets and so much poetry, that so many books had been and still were being written in the language. So I wrote and read an essay for the annual-day seminar of the KombuleyTola19 Library, Calcutta, in 1891 where I mentioned a hundred and fifty Bangla poets, narrated their short biographies and synopses of their published works. In that seminar I had realised that, just like me, most of those who were present were largely in the dark about Bengali literature and its history. Such sad state of affairs were reality in spite of the fact that the books that I had mentioned in my essay had all been printed and were all available for purchase from book-shops in Calcutta. A literary critic had asserted – ‘I had read all the available histories of Bangla literature so as to review essays, but it is impossible for me to review this one’. Another critic from Dhaka had proclaimed – ‘it seems like I have entered a new world’. Encouraged by such reviews, I felt that if so much of information could be culled out from printed books, much more can surely be
unearthed from the many old hand-written books and scriptures that were available throughout Bengal and were yet to be printed. Thus, the odd desire to collect and study old manuscripts grew in me. It was at this time that Raja Rajendralal Mitra20 passed away and the responsibility of collecting manuscripts from all over Bengal, Bihar and Odisha came to be vested upon me. Thus began my life as a collector, annotator and publisher of ancient Bangla manuscripts. I told the
‘traveling Pundits’ (pundit surveyors)21 who were employed by the Society to purchase if possible and bring to me all the Bangla manuscripts that they would come across. Several reasons had led me to believe that the Dhawrmo deity22 from the Dhawrmo-Mongol-Kabyo23 represents the culmination of Buddhism in Bengal. So I had stressed upon the necessity of buying and copying all the manuscripts that existed on that deity. Moreover, I had also felt that it is necessary to approach the temples of the Dhawrmo deity, of collecting stories on the cults, mores and myths surrounding the deity and the temple – and also to collect the existing folk rhymes and verses on the deity as prevalent among its devotees. At first, they brought to me the book Dhawrmo-Mongol24 by Manik Ganguly. The owner of the manuscript was not willing to part with it. Shombhu Chawndro Bidyarawtno, a brother of Bidyashagor25, had agreed to be the guarantor and bailed the book out at a rent of Rs. 10 per month for me. I had to convince the owner of the manuscript that the fact that he is in possession of a book on the Dhawrmo deity who is worshipped by people
belonging to the the lower castes, despite himself being a pious Brahmin and a scholar of Nyayshastra has heightened my academic curiosity. That book has since been published by Shahityo Porishawd26. I had also received another manuscript – Shunyo-Puran27 by Ramai Pundit28. It narrates the ways of worship of Dhawrmo, and contains a long rhyming poem in the end. The poem is titled Niranjan29-er Rushma30. From the cryptic poem it was clear that the Dhawrmo deity is neither worshipped by the Hindus and nor by the Muslims. It is also clear from the text of this poem that the worshippers of Dhawrmo were annoyed by the tyranny of the Brahminical feudalism that prevailed, and were relieved by the entry of the Turkish forces. Or maybe, there was a secret accord. Nagendra Baboo31 has printed and published Shunyo-Puran on behalf of Shahityo Porishawd. Another book that could be obtained after much effort was Dhawrmo-Mongol by Mayurbhatta32. This was possibly written in the 15th century,
because Bawrdhoman33and MongolkoT34 of the Rarh-lands35 are mentioned as the important seats of power, as they really were during those times. I had found yet another book – an untitled manuscript which was written in a strange language that was neither Bangla nor Sanskrit but seemed like a bit of both and more – it was like a Twilight Language – A Language Of The Dusk 36. The Mongol-Shlok37 ended with a phrase – ‘Bokti Sri Raghunandan’38. Raghunandan was an earlier Hindu Pundit from the Shen39 Era. He had laid down eighteen treatises on the Hindu religion. The other treatises dealt with theologies on the Aryan-Vedic Brahminical religion but this book seemed to speak of another religion – a folk one, having indigenous non-Aryan roots. It narrated the ways and means of worshipping Dhawrmo, along with the avatars of Dhawrmo and the other deities of the Dharmic pantheon. It is clear from this book that there were so many Buddhists in Bengal even in the 15th century that there needed to be an entire treatise for them. Back in those days, another person who shared my interest in collecting manuscripts was Nagendra Baboo. His method of collection was different. Unlike me, he would stay at his home in Calcutta and commission collections. He would buy manuscripts from those who would come from villages to buy printed BawT-tawla40 books at wholesale rates for reselling those in their villages. These rural booksellers would bring ancient manuscripts and scriptures from their villages when they would come to Calcutta and Nagendra-baboo would exchange those with some BawT-tawla books that he would stock for them.41I do not know how many manuscripts he had collected through this arrangement. Those manuscripts are with the Calcutta University at present. I had collected around five hundred manuscripts on behalf of the Asiatic Society42.
During this time I had found another kindred soul who shared my zeal in manuscript-collection. Mr. Dinesh Chandra Sen43, BA, was a Headmaster of the Comillah44 School. He had communicated his willingness to write a history of Bangla literature to the Asiatic Society. The Society had forwarded his communiqué to me. I felt that his efforts would be helpful for collection of scripts and scriptures from the eastern parts of Bengal. I commissioned travelling Pundit Sri Binod Bihari Kabyoteertho45 to work with him for a year. Even beyond that time period, Mr. Sen was to have the liberty to make use of Sri Kabyoteertho’s assistance. Several scripts such as the Mahabharata of Paragal46, the Ashwamedh-parva of ChhuTi Khan47 were collected and edited by Mr. Sen and Mr. Kabyoteertho. Several scriptures and the discourses on the Dhawrmo deity having thus been obtained, I was convinced that the worship of Dhawrmo is a part of the Buddhist tradition and had voiced my conviction through an essay. My intention was to write a history on the Buddhist influence of Bengal as evident through the prevalent worship of Dhawrmo and then visit Nepal to inquire about the state of Buddhism over there under the rule of the Hindu king48. As I was about to complete this essay, Nagendra-baboo came over to my house in Naihati49. He carried my essay back to Calcutta for the purpose of handing it over to the Asiatic Society. It was read
before an audience in my absence. People who were present at the reading had reacted with contempt, because the worship of Dhawrmo is prevalent among the lower-caste people whereas the intellectuals there were mostly from an upper-caste background. One member of the audience had remarked: ‘What a shame! He says Dhawrmo of the fisherfolks and boatmen50 is a Buddhist god! What a ludicrous, disgraceful proposition!’ I came back from Nepal and published an essay in English titled ‘Discovery of Living Buddhism in Bengal’. This time, I stated in clear terms that the worship of Dhawrmo represents the culmination of Buddhism in Bengal. The benefits of collecting and reading old manuscripts are many. Through this exercise we learned why, a good twelve hundred years back, king Adishur/Adisura51 began bringing in Brahmins by hordes and began giving them lands and villages to lord over in such haste. We got to know why some castes have become absolutely untouchable in Bengal52. Another bit of wisdom began to come up through this exercise. When I visited Nepal twice in 1897-98, I stumbled upon some strange manuscripts written in the Sanskrit language in the Royal Durbar Library over there. Closer scrutiny revealed that there seemed to be some writings in a new and hitherto unknown language in those manuscripts. In most segments of those manuscripts, the writings in the new language were either placed as references and addenda to the main Sanskrit text. There were also some portions of those manuscripts where the main body of the text was written in that strange new language and the Sanskrit texts constituted the endnotes, references, appendages etc. One of those books, titled Dakarnawb53 had a considerable body of text in that new language. I thought those would be words of the Dak Men – the wizards! I made a copy of this book. After reading I realised that the text of the new language is akin to Bangla but is not exactly Bangla and neither is it Sanskrit. I could not decide or determine what language this book was written in. There were two other books also written in such language: one being Subhashit-Sangraha54 and another one being Dohakosh Panjika55. Mr. Bendall56 had made a copy of the former for his collection and I had made a copy of the latter for mine. Mr. Bendall had printed the Subhashit-Sangraha and had also subsequently taken my copy of Dohakosh Panjika for printing. I never got the copy back. The original at the Durbar Library has since been sent over to Japan.
I had visited Nepal once again in 1907 and came across a few more books. One of those was titled: ‘Charya-Charyo-Vinishchaya’. It contained some Kirtan57-songs with Sanskrit notes explaining the metaphysical and mystical connotations that lay enwrapped in the lyrics. The songs were very much like the Vaishnava Kirtans and were referred to as ‘Charyapada’ or ‘Charjyapawd’. I also came across two other books written in a similar language – both were named ‘Dohakosh’ and both had explanatory notes in Sanskrit. One was written by Sarorooh-Vajra58 and the other was by Krishnacharya59. The Sanskrit notes of the Doha-compilation by Sararooh-Vajra were made by Adway-Vajra60. Bendall, in the printed edition of Subhashit-Sangraha, has appended twenty eight Dohas along with their notes. According to him, the language used is ancient Apabhramsa. I’m quoting one of the Dohas – ‘Guru ubesu amiarsu habhing na piyau jehi Bahusalmamarutlihin tisie marithau tehi (pg. 102) (If you do not drink the ambrosia of the Master’s advise You shall stand thirsty in the winds like a tree with many branches) But Bendall has presented it in a slightly different manner – Guru ubesha amia rasu habhi na piyu jehi Jaha satthena maruthlihing tisia mariu tehi (If you do not drink the ambrosia of the Master’s advise You shall die thirsty where the breezes blow) Prof. Bendall, in the first part of the appendix, says that the language is Apabhramsa61. Then in another place he says that the language is Buddhist-Prakrit62. Again, in the fourth part of the appendix, he says that the language is Shuddh63 Prakrit. Thus, he could not be sure about the language. Now, there is no specific meaning for the words ‘Prakrit’, ‘Apabhramsa’ or ‘Pali’. Any language that derives from Sanskrit is called Prakrit. The language used in the stone-edicts and edifices of Ashoka is Prakrit64, so is Pali, so is the language used in Jaina-Prakrit65, so is the Dramatic Prakrit used in Prakrit plays66, and so are Bengali and Marathi. And any language which the grammar of Prakrit does not enwrap in entirety is Apabhramsa. Dandin67 had said that language (bhasha) is of four types – i. Sanskrit ii. Prakrit
iii. Apabhramsa iv. Mixed (Mishra) I do not know at what exact time Dandin had lived. Consensus exists that he had lived before the 6th century AD. He speaks of the Maharashtri, the ancient Marathi language as ‘good Prakrit’ and refers to the poem ‘Setubandha’68 written in that language. Further back, in the 2nd century BC, Natya Shastra69 of Bharata70 had classified language in yet another manner. It had said that there are three languages other than Sanskrit – i. Bhasha71 - being languages like Dakshini72, Avanti73, Magadhi74, Ardha-Magadhi75 etc. that derive from Sanskrit ii. Bibhasha76 - being the languages like Aviri77, Souviri78 etc. that do not derive from Sanskrit iii. Language of the tribes and ‘lower’ castes such as the Andhra79 and the Bahlik80 languages – those that, unlike the previous two, can neither be used by the ‘civil’ society and nor in plays and theaters Natya Shastra does not speak of Prakrit as a ‘language’ but as a ‘reading’ – reading is thus classified in the Natya Shastra as i. Sanskrit Reading, & ii. Prakrit Reading This implies that that when the Natya Shastra was being written, i.e. between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD, there were different languages used in different countries of the subcontinent. Sharp differences thus exist between the Natya Shastra of Bharata and the Kavyadarsha of Dandin on the question of language. Vararuchi81, the grammarian who had authored the oldest extant grammar on Prakrit – the Prakrit Prakash, had, in the same treatise, classified four languages as Prakrit – i. The Prakrit -Maharashtri82 that is of the Prakriti i.e. nature (folk/spoken-derivative form) of Sanskrit; ii. The Prakrit-Shauraseni83 that is of the Prakriti i.e. nature (folk/spoken-derivative form) of Maharashtri; iii. The Prakrit-Paishachi84 that is of the Prakriti i.e. nature (folk/spoken-derivative form) of Souraseni; and iv. The Prakrit-Magadhi85 prevalent in the kingdom of Magadha Several grammars of Prakrit have followed the first treatise by Vararuchi. All these grammarians, while writing their books and treatises on Prakrit grammar, would take whatever books written in the Prakrit language that were available to them and would classify all the parts from such books wherein the language used would not fit in to the Prakrit grammatical tradition as Apabhramsa, meaning derivative. It
is impossible to count and come to a definite conclusion on the number of Apabhramsa languages that has come to be because of such a prevalent approach. Such was the annoyance of troubadour Misrana Surajmal86 of Bundi at prevalence of so many dialects classified as Apabhramsa that he had said: ‘Whichever language has no divisions is called Apabhramsa’. Most of the colloquial languages prevalent in the subcontinent have no divisions, and thus all of them can be referred to as ‘Apabhramsa’. Thus, the reference to the Twilight Language of Subhashit-Sangraha as Apabhramsa by Mr. Bendall does not expound any specificity to the nature or classification of the language. I believe that the latter-day poets whose works find place in the Subhashit-Sangraha were from places in and around Bengal. There has been some proof about some of them being from Bengal. The grammar varies in their works but the writings seem mostly to in Bangla87. All these books have been translated in Tibetan, and all these translations are present in Tengur. People from Tibet had taken to Buddhism en masse and had translated many Buddhist and Hindu scriptures into Tibetan. All these books can be divided into two parts: 1) Those that contain the words of the Buddha – Kengur; and 2) Those that contain words of all the other Buddhist saints, poets, scholars etc – Tengur Mr. Bendall has used these translations at two or three places of his
treatise. Between the 7th and the 13th century AD, the Tibetan scholars used to translate many books from Sanskrit and even from the other languages – and the dates of many of these translations have been mentioned as well. It can be said that this was done throughout the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th centuries AD. Mr. Bendall had found a few of these Doha-songs88. I have found two manuscripts full of such songs. One had thirty-three and the other had around a hundred verses, though the original text of the latter one could not be found in entirety. At places in those manuscripts the entire of the Doha-verses have been quoted in the note and at other times only the first few words or letters have been presented. Nevertheless, the second manuscript does definitely have more than a hundred Doha-verses. These scriptures place a lot of emphasis on bhakti i.e. devotion towards the Guru or the Master. According to these, advice and learning of religion (Dharma) has to be from the mouth of the Guru and cannot be from books. One of the verses says that the Guru is even more important than the Buddha. That song also states that one ought not to judge what the Guru says but obey the Guru at every instance. The Six Philosophies have been refuted in the compilation of Dohas by Sararoohapa (Sarahapa) as explained in the notes of Adway-Vajra thereof. These Six Philosophies, (differing substantially from those which, according to the Vedantists, are to be considered as the Six Theist Philosophies of Orthodox Hinduism89), are as follows: 1. Brahma90 2. Ishwar91 3. Arhat92
4. Bouddha93 5. Lokayat94 6. Sankhya95 The author makes no bones about his attitude towards the caste system. He makes his anger at Brahminism96 amply clear, saying – “The Brahmins may have come from Brahma’s head97 – but now that they are being born just the way everyone else is, how are they any different? They say that sanskar98-manners make Brahmins. If their path is so good then why don’t they give those to the ChanDala99 untouchables and let them be Brahmins as well? They say one becomes Brahmin by reading the Vedas100. Then why don’t they let the untouchables study those too and and become Brahmins? Why don’t the Brahmins do all that? Well, nonBrahmins, in fact, do read the Vedas at times! Texts of grammar contain words, phrases and quotes from the Vedas and Brahmins and non-Brahmins read such texts alike. Then what is the reason behind this prohibition from reading books imposed upon the non-Brahmins101? And if salvation comes through pouring butter on fire102 in sacred rituals, why can’t other people do that? I don’t know how much of salvation these oblations bring, but the smoke coiling up from flames that keep on burning throughout those rituals does surely bring a lot of pain to the eyes. They keep on speaking of the wisdom of Brahma, but they don’t even have the essence of the Atharva-Veda103, and even the other three Vedas are not authentic104. The Vedas do not hold the Paramarth – the Ultimate Essence or Absolute Truth105, and neither do they teach about the Shunya-void106. They just spew a lot of rubbish.” Sarahapa has this to say about followers of Ishwar-Dharma107, those who happen to be the orthodox theists: “The theists smear their body in ash, maintain dreadlocks108 and sit at home all day. They take seats at the north-eastern corner of their rooms and ring bells all day109. They sit in Yogic postures110 and wink, whisper and deceive people. Many ‘ranDi-s’, ‘munDi-s’111 and all sorts of people wearing all sorts of clothes and costumes follow the ways shown by such Yogi gurus of theirs. But if no matter exists beyond its own form and no object is real and absolute, how, then is it possible for ‘god’, as an object of thought, a construct, to exist112? They say that god exists as a doer of things; but if the expanse is absent, then how can the expansive be present?”
About the (Jain) Kshapanaks113, he says: “The Kshapanaks spread nets of illusion to deceive people. They don’t know the theories, they wear rags114 and subject their bodies to pain. They stay naked115 and they tear their own hair off. If staying naked brings salvation then the dogs and cats would have attained salvation by now. If tearing hair brings salvation then many people would surely have attained salvation too. If donning peacock-plumes bring salvation, then all those elephants and horses that get decked with plumes during celebrations would have attained salvation.” He adds: “What they call Jeeva116 or life-form can not be the way they say it is – because everything rises out of causes, everything is an illusion. They say that Moksha or salvation is a
continuous process – but it can not be so. They justify their make-believe idea of the continuity of moksha by saying that it is spread across the universe like an umbrella eighty six thousand yojans117 (approximately seven hundred thousand miles) wide. But the Universe is not a constant entity. It had a beginning and it is bound to have an end. What will happen to the umbrella once the universe ends? Will all moksha fade away?” About the (Buddhist) shramans118, he says: “There are many big Sthavir119-Theravadas. Some have ten disciples and some have a hundred million. They were saffron clothes, become sanyasis120 and deceive people to make their living. For the followers of the Lesser Vehicle121, if their Sheel, i.e. learning122, shatters, they go to hell. Those who protect learning, they may go to heaven, but they surely can not attain moksha123. Those who seek refuge in the Greater Vehicle124, even they can not get moksha – because they seek to explain their Path through the Sutras125, but all their explanations are strange and novel – all these newer and newer explanations make things complicated. They write these cannons but they are unaware of the meanings and essences inherent to these lessons – thus they can not go anywhere but to hell.
There lies no path other than the Easy (Shawhoj) one126 – and the Easy Path127 can only be learnt about from the words of the Guru128.” One page of the manuscript has been lost after this. Thus, there is no way of knowing how he refuted the Lokayata and the Samkhya schools. He says: ‘if you do not arrive upon the Easy Path, there’s no way you find your liberation’ In the Easy Path or Shawhojiya Dhawrmo129 there is nothing to be spoken of and there is no speaker. There is no affirmative voice and there is nothing to denote. There are no bridges to be built between the signifier and the signified130. Whichever path one seeks for freedom, one is bound to wander back to the Easy Path.’ He adds: ‘Us humans, we do not understand our own nature. We don’t have bhaab i.e. being and neither do we have a-bhaab or not-being. It’s all void – it’s all Shunya. There’s no wall standing between the universe and freedom – between bhawbo131 and nirvana – between being (bhawbo) in the universe (bhawb) and being free (nirvana). There’s nothing that separates them. It is all there, resting in Ease – we all be (bhawbo) with our beings (bhaab) in the being (bhawba) of the universe (bhawb)’ Thus, the Easy Path people are Unitarianists132 - they do not distinguish between human and other living or innate ‘beings’ and the universe as it is. If such be the nature133 of humans, what force can ever contain them? The last two verses of Sarhapa’s Dohakosh go thus:
“para-apaNa meiN bhatti karu sa’al nirantar Buddha ehuso nimmala parama pau, chitta sahabeiN suddha” meaning: ‘build no illusions between self and the others, we’re all Buddha – endless – This is the pristine lotus – absolute – Your mind is pure by its own nature” “adway-chitta taru-ar farau tihuaNey vista[r] karuNa fulli-a fal dharai Nam-ey para ooaar’’ meaning: “The mind is one The tree of mind spreads free across the Three Worlds of Heaven, the Earth and Hell The flowers of karuna bloom and they fruit – the fruit is called doing good to others”
In the paragraphs above I have narrated the Dohakosh of Sarhapa and the notes of Adway Vajra in the briefest possible manner that I am capable of. All the books that exist on Easy Path speak along the same lines. But there lies another aspect of all these. All the songs of the Easy Path are written in a Twilight Language – Shandhyo Bhasha - The Language Of The Dusk. The language has many layers and folds of meanings, connotations and the contexts thereof – where each word and phrase bear of dual or even multiple meanings – where the ‘real’ meanings are only for the initiated to understand – and the apparent meaning is for the lay listeners to perceive and enjoy – to thirst for the Easy sensations and to seek to quench the thirst by commencing with their journeys along the Easy Path. It is a language of light and darkness – some of it can be understood – the rest of the meanings hide within folds of darkness, absurdity and misty mystic metaphors. Thus, in these words of religious wisdom, there is something else that lurks – some other world, another mood, another state of mind, a different realm of experience – words and constructs whispering of another path through codes and crypts, through similies and metaphors, through dactyls and prosodies that throw faint fade light on parts and patches of some hidden road and country – things that can not be told just like that, senses that can not be explained or deconstructed through languages – those who have embarked upon their voyages through those realms of mist and into the shores beyond will only comprehend the deep meanings and realize the real essence behind the words written in the Twilight Language of these surreal, magic-real, mythic-real verses.134 We are discussing literature here. Let us confine our scope to literature. Now the question is: does this Twilight Language or the Language of the Dusk constitute the fountainhead from which the Bangla language arose and evolved? The name of the poet in the Sanskrit notes is Sararooha-vajra. In the language of the dusk, it becomes Sarahapa. So we have called him Sarahapa throughout as we shall throughout this book. Sarahapa has also referred to himself as Sarahapa in his poems as found in the Charya collection. I have quoted two Dohas that were written by him. Now I will quote an entire song that was written by him. This song is in the collection of Easy Path songs titled ‘Charya-Charyo-Vinischay’
Song 22 of Charya-Charyo-Vinishchay: Raga Gunjari by Sarahapa apaNey rochi rochi bhava nirvana/ michheiN lo-aw bawndhabawey apaNa//(♪ধ)’ antey na janhooN achinta joi/ jam-maraNa-bhava kaisaN hoi//(♪ধ)’ jaiso jam maraN bi taiso/ jeebanrey-mawawleN nahi visheso//(♪ধ)’ ja etho jam maraNey bi sanka/ so karau rasa-rasaNerey kankha//(♪ধ)’ jey sacharachara tiawsa vamanti/ tey ajaramara kimpi na honti//(♪ধ)’ jaam-ey kaam ki kaam-ey jam/ saraha vaNati achinta so dham//(♪ধ)’ People build false universes, false nirvana in their minds The people of the world have chained themselves Us, we are Yogis beyond thought We know not how birth happens, how death comes to be, how the universe has come to be Life and death are but the same Being born and dying are but the same Those who fear being born and dying, fear life and death of the universe may they desire the juices, may they stay with their alchemies may they keep on trying Yogis who travel the world, travel through the heaven – they haven’t conquered death they haven’t conquered suffering Saraha says, it’s beyond though for the Yogis to decide if karma is borne by birth or birth borne by karma.
In locker number 9990 of the manuscript-room of the Asiatic Society there lie three palm-leaf parchments. Together, those contain a biography of Shantideva. It is written in the old Newari135 script. From the nature of the letters it seems like it was written in the 14th century AD. Shantideva136 was a prince. The name of the country where he belonged to cannot be read from the script. His father, the king, was ManjuVerma. Taranath137 had said that the kingdom was that of Saurashtra138. Even Mr. Bendall seems to be of the same opinion. However, I do not think this is correct. I shall explain latter why. ManjuVerma wished to make Shanti his heir and successor to the royal throne. There used to be a ritual celebration to mark the entry of the prince into his inheritance to state power. On the day when such rites of passage were to be conducted in the imperial courtyard, the queen139 came out in protest. She told her son Shanti – ‘If you become the successor and then the king, with passage of time you shall drown in sin. I wish for your happiness, I want you to move forward in life; so I tell this to you, son, that you must leave these lofty vaults of power and dominance and venture out into the country where the Buddha is and where the Bodhisatvas are. There you shall
find a wizard named ManjuVajra. Make him your Master. You shall find your path.’ (This part of the tale bears similarities with the Nath tale of Wisdom-Witch Queen Moynamoti who had similarly prevented her son Govind Chandra from ascending the throne, on the advice of her Master/Guru Jalandharipa. 140 The Nath and Vajrayana traditions have many overlaps.) Hearing this, Shanti rode a green horse and set out for the faraway lands of Buddha and the Bodhisatvas. He left the kingdom and rode on and on for days on end – without stopping even for food or sleep. And then one day, as he was riding through a deep forest, a beautiful girl came by. She held the reins of his green horse and told him to alight. Shanti obeyed. She gave him cool water to drink and delicious mutton to eat. Conversations ensued. She told Shanti that she was a disciple of ManjuVajraSamadhi. This news startled Shanti. He told her – ‘I have come to become a pupil to your Master!’ Hearing this, she took him to ManjuVajra. Shanti became his student. He learned from his Master for twelve years. He learned the wisdom of MonjuShree – the Bodhisattva of Zen141. As those twelve years passed by, his Guru spoke thus to him: ‘Go to the Middle Country.’ Shanti went to the Middle Country and became the Rout/Raut of the King of Magadha. Rout/Raut means a General142. The word ‘Raut’ is not in use now. The people from the Gawndhobonik143 caste of Bengal whose profession by birth was to trade in perfumes and spices used to have four ashramas144 or schools. One of those is that of the Raut. The traders belonging to the Raut-ashrama used to sell spices from their
tents, mostly in barracks145. Many big cities of the past used to have localities designated solely for the Rauts146. Shanti became a Raut and he changed his name to Achalasena/Achal Sen/Awchawl-Shen147. He had carved a sword for himself made of wood from the sacred cedar148 tree. With time and by dint of sheer hard work and sweet behavior he became well-liked by the king. The other Rauts of the nobility thus grew jealous of him. One day, they came to know that the sword of Awchal-Shen had been crafted out of wood. They told of this to the king. Thus the king, one day, declared that he would examine the swords of all his generals. The others obeyed but Achal, whose name means Immovable, stood true to his name and refused, saying that his sword holds such power that the king would be blinded if he dares to look at it. He insisted that the king cover one of his eyes before he sees the sword, for else he shall lose vision in both. Curious, the king covered one of his eyes as Achal took his wooden sword out. The king lost vision in the eye which he had kept uncovered. The king was happy. He spoke words of praise about Achal. But Achal had made his mind up. He was not to stay there as a Raut anymore. Time had come for him to leave. He dashed his wooden sword against a piece of rock, and, having thus shattered it to pieces, he went away from the kingdom of Magadha in the Middle Country and reached the famed university of Nalanda149 – an institute where much sacred wisdom was gathered and imparted. Thus began his life as a philosopher and a writer.
He built a tiny hut made of leaves stitched together at a nondescript corner of the sprawling universitytown of Nalanda and began to stay there. He would listen to explanations of the Tripitaka canons150 as the learned scholars of Nalanda would come up with, and he would practice Yoga. He was known for being calm and ever at peace. He would remain silent and keep to himself. His manners were gentle and polite. Thus, in Nalanda, he came to be known as Shantideva – Mr. Peace. He was bestowed with yet another title from the Sangha151 of Nalanda – Bhusuku. This is an acronym derived from a sloka152 - “bhunjanopi pravaswaroh suptopi kuTing gatopi tadeveti bhusukusamadhi-samapannatwat bhusukunamkhyating sanghehapi” Meaning: His body would be bright when he would eat, it would be bright when he would sleep, and it would also be bright when he would sit inside his hut Days passed by. True to his polite nature, he did not engage in many conversations as he went about his daily activities maintaining his calm demenour and gentle composure. But as it is with every institute of learning, a few the young students of Nalanda sought to play a few pranks on him. Some took his silence for ignorance and decided to try to make him speak at one of the many occasions and events that were organized throughout the year by the Sangha of Nalanda. One such occasion was about to arrive. It was the eighth night of the moon’s fortnightly journey from blankness to full-moon radiance153 of the midsummer month of JoishThyo154. There was a custom prevalent in Nalanda where sacred scriptures and treatises were read and explained in this summer night every year. There was a big inn – a Dharmashala155 – to the North East of the main monastery-building156 at Nalanda. Each year, the learned and the curious would gather there on that night, and the inn would be decked up for this occasion.
That year, as the scholars, the pupils and all the listeners had gathered and the readings, debates and discussions were set to ensue, some of the students began to make such clamour: ‘Shantideva, you must speak today! We want to listen to you’. Shanti was not willing, but the students stood stubbornly insistent. They almost dragged him to the stage that was raised for the speakers. The students had thought that he will not be able to speak, and thus they shall get their chance to jeer at him in public. Shantideva stood sombre and uttered: ‘kim arshang paThami artharshang ba.’ Which readings are Arsh and which ones are Artharsh? The learned and the wise who had gathered were struck speechless. They knew of the Arsh157, but they had not heard of the Artharsh158. Bewildered, they asked: ‘so what is the difference between these two?’ Shanti said: ‘Those who possess the wisdom of the Utmost Essence they are the sages – the Rishis – they are the Buddha159 and the Jin160. What they say is Arsh – utterances of the sages. But here you may ask – ‘how can the canons and advices of Subhuti161 and the other disciples be Arsh?’ For that, Prince Maitreya162 has this to say: ‘yadarthavaddharmapadopsamhitam tridhatusamkleshnivarhaNam vachah vabey vabechchantamnushamsadarshakam tadwat kramasham vipareetamanyatha’ Thus, what the learned learn from the Arsh books – the essences they draw from those – that is artharsh, whereas the works of disciples such as Subhuti et al163 constitute the Arsh – because the Buddha rests at the foundations of such works. At this point the learned pundits that were listening spoke out: ‘We have heard much of Arsh. We wish to hear some Artharsh from you’ By that time of his stay at Nalanda, Shantideva had written three books – Bodhicharyavatar164, ShikshaSamuccaya165 and Sutra Samuccaya166. He stayed poised and in tranquil Zen for a while and then he began reading from the Bodhicharyavatar. The language used and the manner in which he read it was soft, deep and gentle – his voice rang like strums of a harp – and the senses that the words conveyed were deep, sweet and pithy. Awed, the pundits began to listen in sheer silence; the pupils who had earlier almost dragged him to the stage were now filled with reverence. The reading went on through this rapt silence that prevailed. As Shanti was fathoming the depths of the theories of the Greater Vehicle Path, he uttered the following words with the same focused composure and sonorous profundity that marked his nature – ‘yada na bhavo nabhavo mateh santishThateh purah
tadanyagatyabhavena nirlamboh prasahamyati’ As he had set about explaining the meaning of this sloka, the gates of heaven opened up and bright light poured is as Manjushri, whose body was glowing bright in the aura of godliness, descended – riding on his airborne chariot, which, too, was made out of the colours of light. The god came down his chariot and embraced Shanti with love. He held Shanti by the arm and welcomed him onto his radiant, airborne vehicle. Together, they went to heaven. The next day, the scholars of Nalanda went to the hut that Shanti had built. They found the manuscripts of Bodhicharyavatar, Shiksha-Samuccaya and Sutra Samuccaya and published the same on behalf of Nalanda. Two of these manuscripts have been found and have since been printed – but the one referred to as his Sutra Samuccaya remains yet to be rediscovered by modernity. The scriptures reveal that Shantideva and Bhusuku was the same person. Like the lyrics of Sarahapa, some songs written by Bhusukupa have also been found in the manuscript of Charya-Charyo-Vinishchay. However, whether the Bhusuku who had written these songs was same as the one who had written those books is doubtful – because the books of Shantideva alias Bhusuku speak of the Mahayana Path whereas the Charya songs by Bhusukupa speak of the Easy Path167. Mr. Bendall, in his introduction to the Shiksha-Samucchaya claims that this book contains words of Tantric i.e. Esoteric or Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Vajra-Yana or the Thunder Vehicle168. However, in reality, a very small part of that book deals with Tantric Buddhism. Most of it, like Bodhicharyavatar, contains elements of the Mahayana School and not of the Vajrayana School. There exists yet another incomplete seven-page manuscript of verses on the Easy Path as written by Bhusukupa, numbered 4801, in the collection of the Asiatic Society. It contains canons on eating and on sleeping, on building huts – and is thus a set of rules to be followed by the Easy Path people. This Manuscript No. 4801 of the Asiatic Society consisting of the unfinished seven (palm-leaf) page/scroll scripture as written by Bhusukupa also contains rules on drinking alcohol and its assorted paraphernalia. It contains Bengali rhymes and the letters of the manuscript are very ancient169. One of the poems goes as follows: Robi-kawla melawho, Shoshikawla barawho, beNi baaT bawhawnto toRaha samasta samarasa jau na jaytey kagaN jagfawla khaye Haraprasad Shashtri, in his Mouthpiece, does not translate the poem into modern Bangla. However, taking help from the glossary of terms provided by him at the end of the book Hajar Bawtshor Puratawn Bangala Bhasha-ey Bouddho Gaan o DNoha (Buddhist Songs and Dohas written in a Thousand Year Old Bangla Language) of which this text is a Mouthpiece, a rough translation of it will be as follows:) The art of the sun unites, the art of the moon rises, the two their union their duality 170
make the roads flow by and swell Broken, they who love it all the same – can’t go anywhere – ravens eat fruits of the world (Meanings of all the terms were not provided for in the glossary appended by Haraprasad Shastri. I have used my intuition in some places.) Another one goes thus: ‘Ombu pasartu chandan barho awkkoheTh kamala kori shayana awkko Surchapi shashi samarasa jaye Raut boley jaramarana bhawey beyadanDa chaudda charjyaha surkaye cchaRi na jaayi so dur yogi na janaha khoj guru ninda kori yoga’ Meaning, roughly:
Trade in water, perfumed sandals rise, strange lotus in strange bed The moon rides on music and loves it all the same The sun and the moon love it all the same Shanti, the General, the Prince, perfume-trader of the camps, Bhusuku Raut – He speaks of the fear of life and death The judgment of the Vedas The hour of the Vedas
The rule of the Vedas Fourteen verses and fourteen songs The music never leaves the body The body of music never leaves I don’t leave it It doesn’t leave me Because I am my body and my body is me It’s all far away, Yogi The Yogi doesn’t know the Yog – the union that lies far away; an endless search You don’t know where it is You haven’t found it yet You besmirch the Master with your Yoga
(Once again, the glossary doesn’t contain the meanings of all the terms used here because the glossary is for the Charya & Doha Poems and the Wizard’s Ocean scripture, whereas this poem has been quoted in Bangla by Haraprasad Shastri only in the Mouthpiece to the entire book. The syntaxes, thus, often get tricky to comprehend. Ergo, much liberal translation in lieu of absolute honest transliteration. Readers kindly excuse.) Shantideva had also written a book of verses on the Thunder-Tantric Path of Buddhism that prevails in Tibet, as attested by the Tengur section171 of the canonic literature of Tibetan Buddhism which contains, this book on Tantra by Shantideva – titled Shri Gujhya-Samaj-Maha-Yoga-Tantra-Vali-Vidhi (literally: ‘the Secret Society Great Yoga of Tantric Rules of Rites, Rituals and Sacrifices’). This scripture mentions that Shantideva used to live in Jahor. We don’t know where Jahor is situated today. However, that the Easy Path poet Raut Bhusuku whose songs find place in the Charya collection had stayed in Bengal for long has been mentioned by the poet himself in a Charya that begins with these verses: ‘baj naw paRee pNau-aa khaleyN bahiu/ aw-daw-yaw bangal desh luRiu//(♪ধ)’ aji bhusuku bangali voilee/ niyaw ghawriNee chanDalee leylee//(♪ধ)’
You rowed the thunder-boat along the canal of lotuses and reached the country of Bengal – united Today, Bhusuku, you become Bangali You are wedded to the ChanDalee Here United Bengal indicates the prevalence of advaita i.e. unitarianist Buddhism in Bengal. “Bhusuku, you become Bangali” implies that Bhusuku has taken to Unitarianism. Now, according to the Easy Vehicle (SahajYana), there are three paths – 1) that of the Avadhooti 2) that of the ChanDalee 3) that of the Dombee or the Bengalee (In lay terms, ChanDalee means a lady from the ChanDal172 community – a historically repressed community, considered as an untouchable outcaste by the caste-system dominated Hindu orthodoxy, many members of which had sought refuge in Buddhism to get away from the casteist exploitation, Dombee173 implies a female member of the Dom174 community (the males being the Dombas) – another perceived untouchable and outcaste community, historically depressed, whose traditional job as assigned by the caste-based orthodoxy is to burn corpses in crematoriums and whose community-name indicates that the community was known to have been proficient drummers in ancient times and whose traditional deity is Dharma, represented at times by statues of King Yama of Vedic-Hindu mythology, at times by marks and anointments of vermillion on rocks and boulders, and at times as Dharmesh who resides in the Sari or Shaal (Shorea robusta) tree – all being indicators of subaltern pre-Aryan roots and Bangali implies a native resident of Bengal.In Tantric parlance, ChanDalee also implies inner body-heat – representative of, as Mmd. Shastri says in the paragraph below, Unitarianism.) However, the Tantric Easy Path connotations are different. According to this Thunder-Tantra, the Avadhooti is one who holds the wisdom of Duality – Dwoito-Gyan/Dvaita Ynana, the ChanDalee is one who has both Dualistic (Dwoito/Dvaita) and Unitarian (Aw-dwoito/Advaita) wisdom as well as neither of those – both at the same time, whereas the Dombi or the Bangali is the holder of Unitarian Wisdom or Aw-dwoityo-Gyan/Advaita Jnana and is shorn of any form of Dualism in entirety. That Bengal was a place of Unitarian Wisdom or AdvaitaVaad in the 8th/9th/10th Centuries AD and that Bhusuku had settled down in Bengal for at least for a while is evident from these verses.
The song goes on: ‘Dohi jo pawncho paToN ingdi bisaw-aa NawTha/ N janmi ci-aw mor kahNi gai paiThha//(♪ধ) SoN taw ru-aa mor kimpi Na thakiu/ Ni-aw paribarey maha nehey thakiu//(♪ধ) ChaukoDi vanDar mor loi-aa ses/ jeevantey mailNeyN nahi visheShh//(♪ধ)’ (Charya-Charyo Vinishchay Manuscript Page 73) The Garrison rested in Five Columns You raze the Army down You singe them with your Fire of Ecstacy Sublime! Your material senses have thus been burnt Your conscious has thus been charred Now, I don’t know where my mind has reached My Tree of Emptiness stands no more It had lived in great joy in with its own family It had looted my Forty Million Rooms of Treasure Now, there isn’t much between Life and Death Another song by Perfume Trader Prince Bhusuku goes thus: Ai-ey AwNu-awna ey Jawgo re vangtieyN so paRihai/ rajsap dekhi jo chawmki-i sache king tawng boRo khai//(♪ধ) aw-kaw-Taw Joi-aa re ma kara hawtha lohna/ aaisa sawhabey jayi jaga bujhShhi tuT-I baShhNa tora//(♪ধ) maru-mareechi gandha nairee dapati-bimbu jaisa/ vatavatteyN so diRha va-i-aa apNey pathar jaiShh//(♪ধ) bNadhi-su-aa jim keli karai khela-i bahuviha kheRa/ balu ateleyN sasarsingey askashey phulila//(♪ধ) Rautu vanoi kaw-T Bhusuku vanoi kaw-T saw-aw-la aisa sawhava/ jaw-i toh mooRha achchasi vantee puchcha tu sad-guru pava//(♪ধ) Charya-Charyo-Vinishchay Manuscript Page 63) A translation would go thus:
They who possess the wisdom of Utmost Essence will be knowing this that the world is unborn that it never was born they will also be knowing this that it’s a mistake to think that the world is true and honest some people see a rope and mistake it for a King Cobra But does the Cobra really bite them? Truth rises when illusions fade Strange it is, Kid Yogi! But why soil your hands with salt and sand this? It’s all an illusion Beyond which lies the Shunya – that unimaginable emptiness, bereft of everything and nothing –
The truth of the world lies in this void Know of this, Kid Yogi And your desires shall fade A mirage in the desert, A city of angels, A reflection in a mirror – The world’s like these The world’s a woman She can’t have children But she can make endless love She can show endless magic She knows endless tricks and games She digs oil out of sand She gives horns to rabbits She blooms flowers in the sky The Perfume Selling Prince says: ‘Strange it is!’ Philosopher Bhusuku says: ‘Strange it is!’ It’s all the same It’s all nature It’s all us and everything and nothing and the beyond!175 Hey Fool, Hey Doubter, Hey Skeptic, Go to the Sadguru to ease your mind, to make your illusions dissolve in Emptiness Krishnacharya has a book, also titled Dohakosh which is a compilation of thirty three Dohas. A few of those are as follows: The first couplet of Krishnacharya in Dohakosh: loaawha gawbba samubbahai hau paramkhey pabin koTiha maha ek jawta hoi Niranjan-leen
A rough translation, following the ‘Glossary’ provided my Haraprasad Shastri at the end of thus book, would be as follows: people pride in their clans, me - I’m old and wizened by the Ultimate Essence ten million illusions gather; together they fade into the Niranjan-void The second couplet goes as follows: agambeyawPuraN-ey panDitta maan bahanti pakkasiriphal awliaw jim baherita bhumashanti Following the Glossary, it means, roughly: The worth of wisdom flows with the fire of ancience to arrive – with scriptures, sacred; the way the bees of earth flow by towards ripe wood-apples The thirtieth couplet goes as follows: bujhhi awbirawl sahaj soon kahi bey-aw-puraN tono toil-aw bishawayaw biawppaw jagu rey awshesh porimaaN Drawing from the Glossary once again, it means, roughly, as follows: seems like ancient wisdom speaks of the common easy void that hoists all form, matter and the subjects – makes the universe endless
The 31st couplet goes as follows: jey kiaw nichchal mawN raw-awN ni-aw ghawraNee loi ettho so vajura-Nahu-rey mori butta paramattho Meaning, roughly: he whose mind is still and makes love to his wife – hither, he rows the Boat of Thunder – my Buddha of the Ultimate Essence Several lyrical verses by Kahnopa or Krishnacharya find place in the Charya-Charyo-Vinishchay compilation. Page 61 of the manuscript contains the verse as written by him: ‘jo maN go-awr alajala/ agam-pothee ishTa-mala//(♪ধ) van kaiseN sahaj bolwa ja-aw/ ka-aw bak chi-aw jasu Naw sama-aw//(♪ধ) aaley guru uesi sees/ bak pathateet kahiba kees//(♪ধ) jetai boli tetabi Taal/ guru bob sey sees kaal//(♪ধ) vaNoi Kahno jiNrawawN bi kaisa/ kaley bob sangbohi-aw jaisa//(♪ধ)’
It means as follows: The mind, tangled up in the mesh of countless alternatives – tangled up in flames in the Vedas in wisdom past in wisdom future in arrival of the arrived in scriptures in garlands of gods that do good how will that mind speak of the Easy? how will that mind grasp the Easy? the body can’t explain it neither can words and nor the mind it’s pointless for the Master to convey the Easy to the Pupil Because it’s beyond all ways of word and speech Trying to speak of the Easy, trying the wrap its senses through words and other signifiers – is to drag the issue on and on But the Master is to resolve The Master can’t speak The Pupil can’t hear The Master knows that it can’t be explained to the Pupil except the way people who can’t speak explain things to people who can’t hear, Like the way Kahnu sings this song. This Krishnacharya was once a famed scholar and philosopher in these areas – quite a mystic leader of those times. He has written several books176. Other than many of the songs in the Charya-CharyoVinishchay collection and the thirty three couplets compiled in the Dohakosh, he has also written several books on the Tantric rites involving the worship of deities such as Heruk177, Hevajra178 etc. He has written several notes and commentaries as well. He was a Siddhacharya179.
The Siddhacharyas are still venerated in Tibet. These mendicants used to don long dreadlocks and chignons and stayed almost naked180. The first Siddhacharya was Luipa181. A couple of verses in the Charya collection were written by Luipa. This includes the first song in the collection, which goes as follows: kaya taruvara panch bi Daala/ chanchala chee-ey paiThho kaala// (♪ধ) diRha kariya mahasukha anumana/ Lui vanei Guru puchchhiey, jaaNa?// (♪ধ) sayal samahiya kahi kariyai/ sukha-dukheytNey nichita mariyaii// (♪ধ) eRi eyu chhandaka bandha karaNaka paTera aasa/ sunna pakha viRi rahurey paasa// (♪ধ) vanoi Lui aam hey jhhaNey diThha/ dhamana chamana beNi panDi baiTha// (♪ধ) Roughly, it means something like this: The body is a tree It has five branches Death enters restless mind Lui says –‘look how vast the Great Happiness is Ask the Guru about it’ What will you do with all the Samadhi that take you to your death through joys and sorrows? Leave the chains of rhyme Leave the neat deeds of cause and action The shunya-void – it has wings It is the foundation Attain the foundation Lui says – ‘I have studied the learned and the wizards I have seen my god seated – in the seat of Dhaman and Chaman in the seat of Ali and Kali in the seats of the vowels and the consonants my god sits on each of my breath
From portions of the Tengur that have been published, it is evident that Luipa hailed from Bengal and that he also went by another name: Matsyantrad182. In the Rarh regions of Bengal, devotees of the Dhawrmo deity sacrifice a goat in the name of Luipa or Matsyantrad even till this date183. He is also worshipped in Mayurbhanj184 To determine the time of Luipa it is sufficient knowledge that he had co-authored a book with Atish Dipankar Srigyan. The name of the book is Avisamay Bivanga. Atish Dipankar who hailed from the Bikramsheel Bihar Monastery185 made his journey from Bengal to Tibet in AD 1038, at the age of 58. The Shiddhacharyas were from the tutelary of Luipa – the disciples of his lineage would become the Mahasiddhas186. One of the Mahasiddhas – Darikpa187 – has acknowledged Luipa as his Guru in a lyric that has found place in Page 52 (song number 34) of the Charya manuscript. The song goes thus: Soon-koruNri aviNchareyN ka-awbak chi-aw/ bilasoi darik gaw-aw-Naw-taw parim kuleyN//(♪ধ) awlawkshyaw lawkhochitta maha-suhey/ bilasoi darik gaw-aw-Naw-taw parim kuleyN//(♪ধ) kinto mawntey kinto tawntey kinto rey jhaNawbawkhaney/ awpawiThan mahasuha-leeNey dulakha param nivaNeyN//(♪ধ) dukkheyN sukheyN eku kawri-aw vunjai indee janee/ swa-parapar naw chebawi darik saw-aw-lanuttar maaNee//(♪ধ) ra-aa ra-aa ra-aa-rey awaraw ra-aw mohera badha/ looipa-awpaw-ey darik dwadawsh bhooawNeyN lawdha//(♪ধ)
Translated roughly, it goes thus: The void and mercy behave the same Shunya and KaruNa behave the same in the body, in speech, and in mind Darik lives in pomp by the utmost shore of the sky with ten million minds – unseen, unnoticed Darik lives wanton by the utmost shore of the sky What will the mantras bring? What will the tantras bring? What will zen bring? What will we even do with all these explanations and explositions of the scriptures? Nirvana – utmost – unseen is hard to attain when fading into the vast happiness – bereft of foundations; The wise worship senses – for them the joys and sorrows are all the same No walls stand between things owned by the self and those that belong to others the self and the the other – are all the same188 Darik accepts all that are unanswered189 Darik accepts their silence, his estrangement fades away; King! King! O King! The other King is chained by delusions, bewildered, Darik, blessed by the lotus of Luipa’s feet Attains the twelve worlds Tilopa190 – yet another Siddhacharya from the tutelar lineage of Luipa had also written Easy Path songs in old Bangla. It is clear that these Shawhojiya songs were akin to Kirtans. Back in those days, devotional
Kirtan songs used to exist and such songs were referred to as Pawds – a trend that continues till date. At present the Kirtan songs are called Pawd whereas these in those times were referred to as Charya-pawd. From our discussions thus far it would seem that only Buddhists would write such songs in those days. But it is not so. Even the Nath191 Yogis used to write songs in Bangla. I have come across a Bangla poem by Meenanath192. It goes thus: Kahanti Guru Parmarth-er BaaT karma kuranga samadhik paaTh kamala bikasila kahiha N jamra kamla madhu pibibi dhokey na bhamra (Following the modern Bangla transliteration by Bangla literary historian Dr. Mohammad Shahidullah193, it goes something like this:) Guru speaks of the road to Utmost Essence The games of karma – the folds of Samadhi tell not the snail that the lotus has bloomed the bee never tires of drinking lotus-nectar (However, a translation of the modern-Bangla version of this as provided by Sukumar Sen194 in his Bangla-r Shahityo Itihash had interpreted thus:) Guru speaks of the path to the Utmost Essence The deer of Karma dives in the moon – the shutter of the moon is down The snail won’t carry the news when the lotus blooms The bee won’t be cheated if it drinks the honey of the lotus
Other Nath Gurus had also written books in Bangla. What comes to light from this is that Luipa had preached and propagated the Easy Path of Thunder Vehicle Buddhism in the 9th century AD195. He and his disciples had written several verses, lyrics, Dohas and Kirtans. Simultaneously or maybe slightly before this the Nath Yogis had begun preaching of the secret Nath Path and had also written several books of verses in Bangla wherein they had encrypted their visions. There were many Naths. Some of them had drawn their philosophies from Buddhism and some drew it from Hinduism196. One of the Nath Gurus to have taken to the Nath way from Buddhism was Gorakhnath197. According to Taranath, Gorakhnath, before taking to the Nath ways, was a Buddhist and his name was Ananga-Vajra. But I have come across certain references that suggest that Gorakhnath was named Raman-Vajra in his Buddhist life. The Buddhists of Nepal detest Gorakhnath and consider him as a traitor who had forsaken his faith. But they have deified his Guru Matsyendranath as a reincarnation of Avalokitesvara198. Matsyendranth was also
known as Machchhaghnanath – implying that he was a fisherman by calling. Buddhist scriptures shun entry of those who kill animals for a living – i.e. castes and tribes of fisherfolks and hunters – into its religious ways as such killing and bloodshed is forbidden in Buddhism199. Thus, Matsyendranath could not have possibly been a Buddhist by faith. He had written a book on the Tantric heterodox KoulaVamacharis200 – and from the nature of the book it is clear that he was not Buddhist by faith. And yet, strangely, Meenanath or Matsyendranath, who, could thus not have possibly been a Buddhist, is deified in the Buddhist traditions of Nepal whereas Gorakhnath who was Buddhist is vilified by the same tradition There exist two more reasons that have made me conclude that the language used in these scriptures is Bangla. 1) A learned French doctor, Palmyr Cordier201 by name, has made a list of all the scriptures of the Tengur that are numbered between 108 and 179. His list contains the names of the writers, of the translators, in some scriptures of the places where the translation have been done, and, in a fewer ones, even the names of those who had edited the translations. For a long time, Mon. Cordier had his medical practice based out of FarashDanga202 and we had become close acquaintances. He would often come over to my place and I would often go over to his. But after a few years he shifted his medical
practice to the French colony of Pondicherry203, and, after a brief stint there, he went back to his native country and stayed in Paris for some time. And then he was to make his final eastbound voyage and settle down in the island-colonies of his country that lie on the east204. He has passed away a couple of years ago. He possessed vast knowledge on Indian and Tibetan scriptures. He held particular interest in scriptures on the medical sciences and had collected four hundred scriptures containing much wisdom on that subject as had prevailed upon these parts of the world since ancient and medieval times. I had made a catalogue comprising of the names of all the writers, translators, editors and places drawing from the list that Mon. Cordier had created205. In that list, some of the writers were marked, based either on references in the original scriptures or in the translations, as Bengali. I have considered the language used in the songs written by such songwriters, who were mentioned as Bengalis, to be Bangla. 2) I have arranged all the other songs and verses of such authors who had been mentioned as to be from Bengal, made a list of all the words used by them and had studied the list to determine the divergences of the Bangla language that was used in those songs and verses written a thousand years ago with the one that prevails today. Through this exercise, I have obtained some ideas on the grammar and vocabulary of the Bangla language that was used in those ancient and medieval times. Based on such ideas, I have also prepared a list of all the other verses and lyrics that I have found in the scriptures. Wherever the language of any such verse seemed to be Bangla, I have referred to those as to have been written in Bangla. One of the lyricists must have hailed from Odisha. His song was also written in the Odiya language. In that, those verbs which, in Bangla, end with ‘L’ i.e. ‘law’ had ended with ‘R’ i.e. ‘Raw’ , pursuant to a grammatical rule in the Odiya language to this end. For instance, the Bangla verb ‘gahil’ or ‘gahilaw’, meaning ‘sang/sung’, becomes ‘gahiR’ or ‘gahiRaw’ in Odiya. I have determined the verse that was written in such manner to have been written in the Odiya language. The present book contains the result that came out of these linguistic experiments. Two people have helped me immensely in preparing a list of each of the words used in each of the verses. One of them is
Sri Noneegopal Bandyopadhyay206, the travelling Pundit assigned for my help by the Asiatic Society, and the other one is Sri Basantranjan Ray Vidwadballav207. I don’t know how old Mr. Ray is, but his beard has greyed up in entirety. Despite his ripe age, his enthusiasm in compiling the list of words has been spellbinding. He was an employee of the Shahityo Porishawd. He would take leave from his work each evening, would come over to my residence and would sit with me till ten or eleven o’clock every night, so as to help me in coming up with the word-compilation. His vast linguistic wisdom and grasp of the Prakrit, Hindi, Odiya and Assemese languages has been of immense benefit for me. Of the books that are being published now, the Charya songs and Dakarnawb were availed from the Royal Durbar Library of Nepal. They have taken the manuscripts back after the process of printing was done with. I had taken a few photographs of the pages of these books and those are being published with this collection. The two other books are in my possession and are dearly treasured by me. The Subba Sahib, i.e. the chief librarian of the Royal Durbar Library of Nepal, Bishnuprasad Rajbhandari, had presented me with those. His ancestors had been Prime Ministers to the Malla kings of Nepal208 for twenty four generations. His great grandfather had had stayed in Kashi209 with the last (Malla) king of Newar and had beathed his last in the Gorkha Hills210. His father had studied in the same school with Jung Bahadur211. But after the Kot Massacre of 1846212, when Jung Bahadur made a pact with the Gorkha Kingdom 213 to the tune of – ‘Raj tumhari, Hukm humari’214 (yours be the kingdom, mine be the rule),
Bishnuprasad’s father resigned from his post as the Prime Minister that he and his ancestors had held in the the Gorkha court and palace. Jung Bahadur sought to reinstate him, but he refused, saying: ‘I have had the salt of Newar215 and had joined hands with the Gorkhas. That was sin enough. Now I won’t have the salt of the Gorkhas and join hands with you’. When Jung Bahadur sought to bestow a lofty royal post unto his son Bishnu, the latter said: ‘I shall not take up any post that would require of me to take up arms’ And thus, Bishnu was made the in-charge of the Royal Durbar Library. It was in this library that Bishnu was to spend his lifetime, pouring over books of Tantra. Thus, he received much wisdom on the subject. He was aware of each and every scripture on the Tantras that had existed in Nepal and he possessed all possible information and knowhow on those scriptures, their contents and the places where they had been preserved. One day while I was in Nepal, Bishnuprasad Rajbhandari brought to me some ancient scriptures written on palm tree leaves and said: ‘You are Brahmin. You have come to my country and you are looking for manuscripts. For long I have been thinking what gift I can possibly give to you. Now I have brought these books for you. I know that you will put these to good use’. I saw that the manuscripts contained Sarahapa’s Dohakosh and the notes on the Dohas therein as made by Adway Vajra. Elated, I thanked him several times and I said to him: ‘Thus, owing to your magnanimity, I get essential pieces of the puzzle that the history of my country is. I shall most certainly print and publish these’.
Now that these are being published, it would have been nice had I been able to send a copy over to him. Sadly, it has been two years now that Bishnuprasad Rajbhandari has passed away. At his behest, writers employed at the Royal Durbar Library of Nepal had made a copy of Sarahapa’s Dohakosh and Adway-Vajra’s notes on them as were present in his gift for me. The original manuscripts have since been sent over to Japan where they remain on this date. I had been to Nepal in 1907. I had written and published a note describing, in brief, the content of the manuscripts that I had obtained copies of during that visit. I had also made my intention to print and publish these manuscripts public. Quite a handful of years have passed by since then. The delay has perplexed many ‘literature afficianados’ around. Many have said to me: “Give me, I’ll publish!” Many have gone one step further: “Shastri Mahashay: 216 is guarding his treasures like a Yaskha217 does” I do not think that they were aware of the volume and intensity of the toil that is necessary to arrange, arrange for, print and publish a collection such as this. Some people seek instant fame by publishing whatever new and unique material they stumble upon. I am not of that disposition. I was firm in my resolve. At no cost was I prepared to publish in haste thereby wasting these treasure-troves of wisdom and literary resources in the process. I would rather
have not published the manuscripts at all than mar them through hasteful publishing. Vasilieff218 has written that there are many Buddhist books written in the Apabhramsa language. Professor Bendall has published his collection of Buddhist verses as the Subhashit-Sangraha which also contains Dohas in Apabhramsa. As I have stated in the paragraphs above, no definite language bearing the name ‘Apabhramsa’ exists or had ever existed. Any language derived from Sanskrit can be termed ‘Apabhramsa’. I had noticed that the language of these Buddhist songs is, in reality, ancient Bangla. Both these scholars had said that the Tengur collections of Tibetan Buddhism contain these songs written in the Tibetan script. But it was impossible for me to have learned the BhuTia219 language and get this book printed and published. Thankfully, a few years ago, Mon. Cordier had published a list of those parts of the Tengur that contain these verses. But for that list, it would have been impossible for me to hustle up sufficient courage and set out on this pursuit. Because of the delay in publishing, some of my relatives and well-wishers had thought that I was being unable to print and publish it owing to fiscal constraints. So they approached Sri Rao Yogendranarayan Ray Bahadur220, the king of the princely state of Lalgola221, a patron and a lover of Bangla literature. Each year, the king222 disburses a grant for the Shahityo Porishawd. On hearing the deputation made by my well-wishers, the king decided that a lumpsum amount that he grants to the Porishawd is to be earmarked as coverage charges for printing and publishing. It was decided that this collection shall be considered as a part of the books published by the Shahityo Porishawd. Meanwhile, I had been entrusted to preside over the very same Shahityo Porishawd. The idea of publishing this collection in my name with funds earmarked for the Porishawd, which I myself was the president of, seemed wrong. I made the king aware of this compunction that had thus arisen. With no further ado, he arranged for a separate fund for printing and publishing this collection over and above the annual grant that reaches the Porishawd from his bursary. Nothing of the good paper and the print-quality
of this collection along with the multiple photographs and notes that I have appended could have become a reality but for his kind generosity. It is because of him that these songs that constitute the first instances of Bangla literature in written form could be presented in print with their duly deserved honour. I shall forever be indebted to him for bearing with all the expenses that were necessary for this publication, and so shall Bangla literature be. This book is to be considered as a part of the books published by Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd. Sri Haraprasad Shastri 26, PawTol-Danga Street, Kolkata223 8th Shrabon, Bengali Year 1323224 NOTES: 1 Bidyashagor/Vidyasagar: Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyay (1820-1891), Bangla educationist, social reformer, writer and translator noted for his vast knowledge and immense industriousness 2 Bawrno-poichawey/Varna Parichay: (literally: Knowing the Letters) The first independent printed primer on the Bangla-alphabets as they are used today, was compiled and published by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, through his Sanskrit Press (estd. 1847) in 1855. 3 Kawthamala/Kathamala (literally: Garland of Tales) Bangla translation of Aesop’s Fables, translated and published by Vidyasagar on February, 1856 4 Bodhodawy/Bodh Uday (literally: Rise of Realisation) Bangla schoolbooks created and published by Vidyasagar on April, 1851 modeled after the seminal Rudiments of Knowledge by William and Robert Chambers
5 Raja Rammohan Roy: (1772-1832) celebrated Bangla social-political-religious reformer, famed as the driving spirit behind the abolition of the suttee, as the founder of the Brahmo Samaj order, as the main influence behind Macaulay’s framework of the education policy of the East India Company and of the subsequent British Empire, and as the ambassador of the Mughal king to England where he passed away in Bristol in 1832. 6 Gurgurey Bhattacharya: (1799-1859) Gourishankar Bhattacharya (1799-1859) was known as Gurgurey Bhattacharya because of his short height (GuRguRey being a hitherto prevalent Bangla colloquoy for someone having a short physical stature). Other than being one of the founders and the driving spirits behind Bawngobhasha Prokashika Shawbha (literally: Council for Publishing in the Bangla Language) which happens to be the first ‘political’ conglomerate/collective civil group of the subcontinent, he was also a noted journalist from the early decades of the 19th century, preceding the spurt in printing presses on urban seats. He was popular for his sharp satirical pieces as well as for the sexual overtones and the libelous nature of his writings – leading to fines and imprisonments on several occasions. Through his belles-lettres he attacked the
corruption of the foreign rulers and relentless copying of foreign ways as were pursued by the elite and nuovo rich Calcuttans. He wrote several articles and pieces against the suttee and in favour of widowed women having the right to remarry. He was the editor of the mouthpiece of the heterodox anti-Brahminical and progressive Young Bengal group of Hindu College (presently, the Presidency College) students that developed around by a young professor of Portuguese descent named Derozio. He was also a board director of Sambad Bhaskar and Sambad Rasaraj – two contemporary newspapers of the 1830s, and an editor of another newspaper Hinduratna Kamalakar. Being renouned for his knowledge in Sanskrit and his unorthodox social outlook, his journalistic and literary exploits made him popular among the literate elites of early 19th century Calcutta and the same writings which would lead to his jail-sentences and fines were also a major source of his popularity. Among the prominent contemporary books of that period that were edited or written by him are the Bhagwadgeeta, Neeti-ratna (Jewel of Policies), Bhugolshaar (Essence of Geography) the Mahabharata of Kashiram Dash etc.
7 Ramgoti Nyayerawtno (1831-1894) – Sanskrit scholar, noted as the first historian of the Bangla language and literature. Author of Bangla Bhasha o Bangla Shahityo-Bishawyok Prostab (A Proposal on the subject of Bangla language and Bangla literature) – the first history of Bangla language and literature to be written printed and published in the Bangla language in 1873. 8 Ramgoti Nyayrawrno’s History of Bangla Literature: Original Title: Bangla Bhasha o Bangla Shahityo Bishawyok Prostab (Suggestion on the Bangla Language and Bangla Literature), first published in 1872-73. Being a Sanskrit scholar, in that book he was severely critical of the contemporary usage of Bangla language in the published prose literature of the middle and late 19th century. This book was severely criticized by novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay who was the most significant man of letters of those times. Bankim had bitterly derided Ramgoti’s absence of knowledge of the English language in his critique.
9 Krittibash Ojha (1381-1461): Bangla poet from the Middle Ages, renowned for his Bangla transcreation of the Ramayana. 10 Kashiram Dash (16th century AD) – Bangla poet from the 16th/17th century, renowned for his Bangla transcreation of the Mahabharata – a work that was completed in around 1610 AD. 11 Kobi-kawnkawn/ Kavi Kankan: Epithet given to poet Mukundaram Chakrabarty (16th century, exact dates unknown) by King Raghunath. Mukundaram is renowned for his long poem ChonDi-Mongol – a long verse on the myth of the deity Chandi/ChonDee – written in or around 1544. Kobi-kawnkawn literally means Bangle/Anklet Among Poets. 12 Bengal Library: Also known as the Library of the Asiatic Society. Established in 1808, it exists till date and possibly still holds a unique stock of cultural and literary resources from history, especially from the eastern hemisphere, consisting of several printed books as well as manuscripts.
13 Sri Chaitanya (1486-1534) Vaishnav/Boishnawb saint and socio-religious reformer from Bengal associated with the 15th century Bhakti Movement of the subcontinent. 14 Smriti: (literally: memory) Body of scriptures considered sacred in the Vedic and post-Vedic religious traditions. They are attributed to specific authors and are supposed, by Hindu tradition, to be read and remembered by the Sanskritic Brahmins. 15 Nyay/Nyaya-shastra (literally: the rules of justice/judgment). One of the six orthodox theist schools of Hinduism, noted for contributions in developing a unique system of logic, methodology and epistemology. 16 ‘Being from a similar background’- Haraprasad Shastri was born in a Brahmin family of Bengal as reflected by his family surname ‘Bhattacharya’
18 Sankirtan/ Shawngkirtawn: Sacred Boishnawb songs or bhajans, also known as Kirtans, prevalent throughout extensive parts of India, an inherent part of the Bhakti tradition which was, for a long period of time, scoffed at by the Sanskritic Brahminical tradition. Kirtan is the generic name for devotional songs of all bhakti traditions including but not limited to the Buddhist, Jain, Nath, Vaishnav, Shaiva, Shakto, Sant and Sikh traditions of faith.
20 Raja Rajendralal Mitra: (1823/24-1891) The first student and exponent of the discipline of archaeology from colonial Bengal. Hailing from a family of poets, he grew up to attain mastery over Farsi, Urdu, Hindi, Sanskrit, French, Greek and Latin. Other than being an archaeologist and a polyglot, he was also a cartographer, a historian, an author, a researcher and an active patron of and participant in the prominent intellectual and welfare-oriented discourses of the 19th century. He is noted for his pioneering work in collecting manuscripts and also for having edited fourteen volumes of Bibliotheca Indica – the seminal compilation of ‘Oriental’ works as was published by the Asiatic Society throughout the 19th century. He is one of the earliest Indologists and had introduced Haraprasad Shastri to research. He held the office of Librarian in the Asiatic Society in 1846 upto his death in 1891, when Haraprasad Shastri inherited his office and legacy. His main works include The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal – a pathbreaking essay published in 1872, along with The Antiquities of Orissa (1875,1880) and Buddha Gaya, the Hermitage of Sakya Muni (1878). His essays were published in prominent journals, periodicals and magazines on the 19th century, including Journal of the Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Journal of the Anthropological Society, Journal of the Photographic Society of Bengal, Calcutta Review, Hindu Patriot, Mukherjee’s Magazine, the Englishman, the Daily News; the Statesman, The Phoenix, The Citizen, The Friend of India, The Indian Field etc. For a brief period he was also an editor of the newspaper the Hindu Patriot which, when led by Harish Chandra Mukherjee, was a voice of protest against the oppressive Indigo cultivation. He was the founder-editor of immensely popular magazine Vividarth
Samgraha from 1852-1858 – the only pictorial periodical to be published during that period. Being a cartographer, he had published the first map of the world in Bangla in 1853 through the School Book Society, a detailed map of all the districts of the provinces of Bengal, Odisha and Bihar in Bangla and Odiya languages as published in 1868, a Hindi and Urdu map of the British India published between 1853 to 1855 as commissioned by the governance of the district of United Provinces (presently known as Uttar Pradesh) and a Farsi map of Asia. Besides being an active member of the erstwhile Philharmonic and Photographic Societies and also of the British India Association, he had also founded several welfare societies such as Central School Book Committee, Vernacular Literature Society, Calcutta School Book Society, Sarasvat Samaj, Bethune Society, Society for Promotion of Industrial Art and the Association of Friends for the Promotion of Social Improvement. His biography of Shivaji in the Bangla language, published in 1860, happens to be a prominent contribution to Bangla literature. Decorated extensively by Britain and other European countries, Rajendralal Mitra had also chaired the Second Session of the Congress Party held at Calcutta in 1886.
21 Travelling Pundits: Brahmins employed by the Asiatic Society to collect scriptures and document customs and culture so as to facilitate the corporate-imperial policies and schemes of the English East India Company. Some information on these travelling Pundits who were commissioned to travel from place to place and collect manuscripts in vernacular languages throughout the subcontinent can be adduced from the book ‘The Pundits: British Exploration of Tibet and Central Asia by Derek Waller, published by the University Press of Kentucky, 2004. However, most of the pundits discussed in existing academic literature were those involved in geographical-geological trigonometric surveys. Several journals of the Asiatic Society also mention these traveling pundits and their Islamic counterparts – the travelling Maulvis – who were also commissioned similarly by the Society – along with the terrains covered, manuscripts collected, their salaries and emoluments etc.
22 The Dharma/Dhawrmo deity: This ancient pagan deity is known by 84 names including Shunya, Niranjan etc., is represented mostly by rocks anointed with vermillion and is primarily worshipped by people belonging to historically repressed castes of the Hindu society. Dharma is a non-Vedic/non-Aryan folk/subaltern deity that once was widely worshipped throughout Bengal. Several fairs and festivities called Ga-jon (literally: People of the Village or People’s Song) of Dharma, surrounding its worship, still happen in the villages of Western and Southern parts of Bengal. Mmd. Haraprasad, after perusing the Mongol-Kabyo (Ballad of Benediction, see next note for Mongol-Kabyo) poetry and music scriptures dedicated to Dharma had come to the conclusion that it is a Buddhist deity. Dharma is predominantly worshipped by the caste of Dom people. Other historically repressed castes from the eastern parts of the subcontinent – those like Bagdi, Bauri and Hari – also worship this deity. That this worship has non-Aryan roots have also been underscored by Bangla scholar Sunitikumar Chattopahyay, who, however, adds that this deity has “nothing of the abstractions of Buddhist Dharma”. Hindu scriptures say that the first worshipper of Dharma was a Dom named Sada and interpolates the legend of King Harishchandra. Temples of Dharma can be found largely in the vicinity of crematoriums. The Sarna deity Dharmesh who, according to beliefs of the Santhal indigenous people who have been living in the hills and forests of the eastern parts of the
subcontinent since time immemorial, lives in the Sari (shaal) tree must also have influenced the conception of Dharma. Sukumar Sen, eminent Bangla literary historian from the 20th century, seeks to refute the claims of Buddhism and to establish Dharma as a Hindu deity, equating it with the Sun God. However, he fails to make a strong case in support of Hinduism. He also makes the same claim in his introduction to a printed edition of Rupram Chakrabarty’s DharmaMongol – a medieval Ballad of Benediction on Dharma. This and the overlapping of the cult of Dharma with that of the Vedic lord of death and justice, viz. Yama, and also representation of Dharma as the Sun God point at millennia of attempted cooption by the Hindus. Dr. Sasibhushan Dasgupta seems to reiterate and affirm the position taken by Mmd. Haraprasad that the deity has Buddhist connotations, and that it represents the Buddha. Dr. Asit Bandyopadhyay, however, delves deeper into the cult and its interpretation, establishing the pre-Budddhist pre-Vedic tribal origin Dharma. The preeminence of the Dom caste as the chief worshippers of Dharma, and the primacy accorded to them in the worships, community worship through festivities, along with the totemic forms and stones that are used to represent the deity, have made Dr. Bandyopadhyay come to the conclusion that the roots of Dharma worship lie way back in history – to pre-Aryan ‘Austric’ times far beyond the scripted memory of the subcontinent. Thus Vajrayana Buddhism commingled with the ancient tribal totemic-worship-rituals of the indigenous people of Bengal and thus the Dharma deity came to be. 23 Mongol Kabyo/Mangal Kavya (literally: Poetry of Benediction) The Mongol-Kabyo-s are a tradition of songs and verses, mostly of considerable length, which were written in Bengal during the Middle Ages as devotional hymns,
verses and paeans to different folk non-Aryan deities such as Dharma/Dharma, Manasha/Mawnosha (the goddess of snakes) etc. Dharma-Mongol is considered as the oldest among the Mongol-Kabyos. Each stream of the Mongol-Kabyo tradition consists of several narrative poems by multiple authors. For example, different versions of the DharmaMongol poetry exist, written at different times during the Medieval Ages (that span the post Pala-dynasty to the pre British-era centuries) by Mayur Bhatt, Shyam Pundit, Rupram Chakrabarty, Manik Ganguly and several other poets & songwriters. These can be considered as a part of the Bhakti tradition that prevailed throughout many riparian settlements of the subcontinent in the medieval times. Incidentally, all the Mongol-Kabyos are hymns for deities who were worshipped by the masses and scoffed at by the classes – meaning that people belonging to the lower folds of the class system would constitute the majority of worshippers of all these deities. All these Mongol-Kabyos thus involve deities who were indigenous to Bengal and had existed from before the Vedic times and independently of the Hindu pantheon and cosmology. However, subsequent interpolations have occurred. For example, Mansa, the snake-goddess on whom different versions of the MongolKabyo Mansa-Mongol were written, has often been portrayed as a daughter of Shiva – though the orthodox Hindu scriptures on Shiva do not mention of Mansa. The worshippers of the deities whom the Mongol-Kabyos were about being people constituting the numerical majority of the society, the Mongol-kabyo tradition had mass following in the rural Bengali society and the Mongol-Kabyo songs were and still are sung during religious festivities and carnivals of rural Bengal.
Related are the oral literary traditions of Panchali (PNachali) and Broto-Kawtha/ Vrat Katha, which also involve singing hymns dedicated to specific deities. A curious aspect of the Mongol-Kabyo verses is that in none of the stories narrated have the deities become protagonists. Each Mongol-Kabyo tale has a human protagonist whereas the deities would mostly be at the background, intervening only when necessary. Another curious phenomenon of the MongolKabyo tales is that in these the human protagonists would mostly be people from the trading community and all the other characters would be from the historically depressed communities, with almost no participation or introduction of characters from the priestly and ruling castes. 24 Dharma-Mongol by Manik Ganguly: Mongol-Kabyo on the Dharma deity, written in/ around AD 1700, alternatively in the second half of the 18th century AD. The Dhawrmo-Mongol/ Dharma-Mangal ballad of benediction is being sung for centuries in rural carnivals or Gajons of Dharma in villages of Bengal across a period of twelve days. This ritual is known as Baromoti.
The Dharma-mongol ballad of benediction tells the tale of Lausen, son of Ranjabati, who, blessed by the Dharma deity, performed many heroic feats (like cutting a rhinoceros made of iron with a falchion) as well as impossible tasks (like making the sun rise in the west) who fought and won a war by river Ajay (that flows through modern-day district Birbhum, West Bengal) and whose wives fought and won yet another one – across a series of events that ended up in his ascent to the throne. The place where Lausen fought the war by river Ajay is known till date as KNaduney-Danga (Land of the Weepy), located close to the carnival-site of the Joydev-Kenduli Baul-Fakir fair in District Birbhum and the ruins of the Fortress of Dhekurgarh – a place of much action in the Dharma-mongol tale – can also be seen close by – also known as the fort of the village Shyamrupa (literally: The Village of Green Beauty) – surrounded by thick forests and located close to village Kherowari (Kherwari meaning belonging to the Santhal tribe) in district Bankura, West Bengal. Though the name Dhekur means ‘Burp’ in Bangla and thus Dhekur-Garh would literally translate to ‘Burp Fortress’, here the term derives from the name of the tribe Dhekaru, noted for their skills in making bronze & iron weapons – after whom the Dokra form of bell-metal-art called Dokra is derived, and who used to inhabit the then foresty climes located at what would be a large strip of the modern-day border of the states of Jharkhand and West Bengal in modern-day India where the ‘tribe’, along with the Lohra tribe which is yet another ironsmith tribe from the neighbouring district of Birbhum, has merged with the profession-based ‘caste’ of ironsmiths known as Lohaar or Karmakar in Hindu, and as Kamar in Muslim religion and thus has by and large disspated within the folds of Hinduism and Islam.
25 Shombhu Chawndro Bidyarawtno: younger brother and also a biographer of Bidyashagor (see Note 1); was an eminent biographer on the 19th century, noted as the author of Bidyashagor-Jeebon-Chorit (Biography of Bidyashagor), Taranath-Tarkavachaspati-Jeebon-Chorit (Biography of Taranath Tarkavachaspati), Charitmala (A collection of biographies of several personalities) etc. 26 Shahityo Porishawd/Sahitya Parishad: Institution established in the late 19th century for advancement and spread of Bangla literature. Established in the year 1893 by L. Lyotard and Kshetrapal Chakrabarty, it was initially named the ‘Bengal Academy of Literature’. It was renamed as Shahityo Porishawd at the suggestion of Umesh Chawndro Batabyal and subsequently as the Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd. Literary luminaries of those times such as RC Dutt, Rabindranath Tagore, Nabinchandra Sen, Ramendrasundar Trivedi, et al were associated with it. The present collection of Charya Poems appears first in the 1916 publication of Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd in 1916, of which the above above-annotated text is a Mouthpiece. 27 Shunya-Puran by Ramai Pundit: Penned in the 11th century AD, this book deals with the rites, rituals, practices and processes of cult-worship of the Dharma deity – written mostly in cryptic ways so as to avoid persecution. It has the famous rhyming poem
Niranjan-er Rooshma which narrates the rescue of the Dharma deity and the Buddhist worshippers of Dharma and Sad-dharma from the clutches of the Brahminist tyrants by the Muslim Pirs (see Note 29 for the poem and its translation) in Jajpur, district located in the present-day state of Odisha, India. The writings, through a strange mixture of prose and poetry divided into fifty one chapters, reflect a confluence and commingling of the Shunya or the Void-worship of the Buddhists and the folk-indigenous cult-worships of the people, thereby pointing at the subaltern nature of the deity and the rituals surrounding it. Here, the deity has been referred to as Niranjan – a mystical connotation that is more popularly associated with Sikhism, thereby pointing at the underlying communalities of several streams of bhakti or faith in the subcontinent. However, Dr. Asit Bandyopadhyay seems to be of the opinion that this book was not written before the 17th century AD. 28 Ramai Pundit (10th-11th century AD): He is revered by people of the Dom caste who constitute the prime worshippers of the Dharma deity and is also considered as one of the greatest priests among all worshippers of formless divinity who is referred to as Shunya/Alakh/Niranjan/Dharma/Dharma by the devotees. Legend has it that he was born in a Brahmin family but he lost his parents at an early age and was brought up by the Dom worshippers of the Dharma deity. “Thus Ramai Pandit, who, in the Middle Ages, was an earthly expounder of the 19 great void I I doctrine (and was soon afterwards revered as a worker of miracles, a supernatural power), addresses this "form of the void," shunyamurti, as "sole lord of all the worlds " and begs it as " highest god" to confer boons” (Hopkins, Origin and Evolution of Religion, 1923)
Sukumar Sen says that Ramai Pundit was a priest of Raja Harishchandra, which is an impossible proposition because Raja Harishchandra is a mythic character mentioned in ancient scriptures such as Oitoreyo Brahmin etc, which were written almost a millennia before the Bengali language had even evolved and Ramai Pundit had even come to be. Though Prabhat Mukherjee, in his The History of Medieval Vaishnavism in Orissa says that Ramai was the court poet of King Lausen, no real king of that name has, till date, been found to have existed. Lausen is the mythical king and protagonist of the Dharma-Mongol texts who was blessed with divine superpowers. Thus, though very little actual information could be adduced about Ramai Pundit by the historians thus far, consensus exists on the fact that he was a wizard, an adherent and philosophical-expounder of the cult of Shunya or the Void Dharma and has authored at least two books – the Shunya-Purana and the Dharma Puja Bidhan (Rules of Worship of Dharma). 29 Niranjan: Niranjan is a name for the Zero/Void/Shunya in more than one religion/cult/sect. References can be found in Buddhism, in Sikhism, in the Baul-Fakir cult, in Sufi, in the Nath tradition, in the Parsee and Sindhi traditions and also in mainstream Hinduism. Literally, the term means spotless, or colourless, or unblemished, or pure. The conceptual origin can be traced back to Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika philosophy of Mahayana Buddhism. 30 Niranjan-er Rooshma: The poem goes as follows: Jajpur Badi, Sol Shah ghawr Bedi Bedi lawey kanno ey lagoon Dokkhinya magi-tey jaaye, jar ghawrey nahi paye Sha’ap diye poRaye bhubawn
Maldawhey laagey kawr, na chiney apon-pawr jal-er nahik dish-pash bolishThho hoiya bawRo, dawsh-bish hoiya jawRo Saddhormi-rey kawrey binash Bed-ey kori uchcharon, berya ogni ghawney ghawno Dekhiya shaw-bhaey kawmpoman Monetey paiya mawrom, shawb-ey boley rakh Dhawrom toma bina ke kawrey poritran? Ei rup-ey Dwijo-gawn kawrey chhishTi shawnghawron bawro hoilo awbichar BoikunThhey thakiye Dharma, mon-ey paiya mawrmo mayat hoilo awndhokar Dharma hoila Jawbon-rupi, mathayet Kal Toopi Haatey shobhey trikawch Kaman chapiya uttawm hawey tribhubawn-ey laagey bhawey khoda boliya ek naam Niranjan Nirakar hoila Vesta Avatar Mukhey bawley: ‘Dawmbdar!’ Jawthetey Debta-gawn shawbey hoiya ek mon anandet parila izar Brahma hoila Mohammad, Bishnu hoila Nekambar Adsu hoila Shulapani Ganesh hoila Ghazi Kartik hoila Kazi Fakir hoila jawto Muni Tejia apon bhek Narod hoilo Sheikh Purandar hoilo Malna Chandra Surya adi deb-ey pawdatik shebey Sawbhey miley bajaye bajna Apono ChanDika debi, tNihi hoila Haya Bibi Padmavati hoila Bibi Noor Jawthek Debota-gawn shawbhey hoiya ek mon Probesh korila Jajpur Deul DehaRa bhangey, karya diya khaye rawngey PakhR PakhR boley bol Dhoriya Dhawrmer Patro, Ramaichi PonDit gaey Ey bawRoi bishawm gawnDogol! A Rough Translation of the Poem would be as follows: The plaintiff is from Jajpur, Sol Shah’s family has read the Vedas He asks, why this tax? The harlot goes South, can’t find a home She curses the earth to ashes More taxes in district Malda , everyone has to pay Nets can’t tie the sides up! They’re strong, they gather in hordes And destroy the faithful of SadDharma
Vedas spelled out, flames gather thick all around All see the signs and tremble at what those mean All say: ‘Keep Us, Dharma Who but you can save us now?’ Thus the Brahmins wrecked everything And injustice grew strong Dharma, who lived in paradise, got the sign and all darkness became Maya Dharma turned Muslim, he donned a black cap, He rode the three barreled cannon and arrived – the three worlds began to quake in the name of Khuda Niranjan, formless, became Avesta-avatar And spoke of the Dum, his words had the Dum All the gods became one in mind and got the Izar of Ananda Brahma became Mohammad, Vishnu became Nooh Adam became Shiva Ganesh became Ghazi, Kartik became Quazi All the sadhus became fakirs Narad caste his disguise off and became Sheikh Indra became Haji Malna The other gods like Chandra and Surya became footsoldiers And they all started making music! Devi Chandika, herself she turned into Haya Bibi Padmavati became Bibi Noor All the gods became one in mind And entered Jajpur! And thus the war began The temples were smashed, the prosceniums were looted Sounds filled the sky: ‘catch ‘em bastards!’ Ramai Pundit holds the vessel of Dharma and sings: “THERE IS MUCH ANARCHY!”
31 Nagendra-babu: Nagendranath Basu “PrachyoBidyarnob” (1866-1938). He was given the title Prachyo-Bidyarnawb, meaning Ocean of Oriental Wisdom because of his immense scholarship on what was considered as the Orient by the Asiatic Society. He was the author of the first encyclopedia in Bengali and in fact in any subcontinental language, and was also an archeologist as well as an author of histories. He oversaw the publication of the Bangla Encyclopedoa (Bishwo-kosh) over twenty seven years, from 1894 to 1911. The first volume was co-edited by Rangalal Mukhopadhyay, famed in the history of Bangla literature as a nationalist poet and his brother Troilokyonath Mukhopadhyay – one of the earliest absurdist Bangla short story writers. Also a lexicographer, PrachoBidyarnob wrote one of the earliest Bengali to English dictionaries named Shawbdendu Mahakosh and also wrote the appendix of the seminal Sanskrit dictionary Shawbdo-Kawlpo-Droom – as was commissioned in the mid-19th century by Raja Radhakanto Deb and edited by Karunashindhu Vidyanidhi. His other works include Archaeological Survey of Mayurbhanj, Modern Buddhism and its Followers in Orissa, Social History of Kamrup etc. Like Haraprasad Shastri, Nagendranath Basu had also collected several ancient manuscripts and had edited and published them through the Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd. His collections of books and manuscripts constitute the first collection of the Bangla department of the Calcutta University. Also an archeologist, he had collected several ancient stone and bronze-edicts and had written several articles and treatises on ancient scripts. He had also written several plays and had translated Hamlet and Macbeth for a contemporary theater group named Dorjipara Theatrical Club. 32 Mayurbhatta: (10th-11th century AD/15th/17th century AD) Poet and songwriter, regarded at times as one of the earlest writers of the Dharma-Mongol-Kabyo verses and thus of the Mongol-Kabyo tradition, and at times as a hoax. The exact time of Mayurbhatta could never be determined by historians. Mmd. Haraprasad, following certain
geographical references (such as the importance of the towns of Burdwan and Mangalkot as major seats of power), seems to be of the opinion that scripture found as Mayurbhatta’s Dharmamangal was written in the 15th century. Sukumar Sen suggests that none of the Dharma-Mongol scripture texts were penned before the mid 17th century. The Dharma-Puran/Dharma-Purana of Mayurbhatta as published by the Shahityo Porishawd was edited by Prof. Basnatakumar Chattopadhyay, who refers to Mayurbhatta as the first poet of all Dharma-mongol Kabyo poems, and had determined the time of Mayurbhatta and of his Dharma-puran as the 11th century AD. Mayurbhatta has often been regarded as a contemporary of Lausena. The existence of any real king bearing the name Lausena is also a blindspot in history. There exist sources that place him in the 7th Century AD. A collection of Sanskrit verses from that period, titled ‘SuryaShataka’ is attributed to a certain Mayurbhatta, though whether these two Mayurbhattas were the same pesons or not remains unconfirmed. Besides, consensus has it that the Surya Shataka was written by a brother-in-law of Banabhatta, the court poet of king Harshavardhan, in the 7th century AD, a few centuries before the Bangla as a literary language had began evolving and thus it is improbable that these two Mayurbhattas were the same person. However, those who believe that Mayurbhatta was a Sanskrit poet also believe that he had had written the DharmaMangal or Sri Dharma Purana originally in Sanskrit and had himself translated by it into the mass language Bengali in which it survives.
Dr. Mohd. Shahidulla, on the other hand, states, from his independent scholarship, that Mayurbhatta belonged to the 17th century. Again, as has been remarked upon by Dr. Asit Bandyopadhyay and several other scholars, the text of Mayurbhatta’s Dharma-mangal seems to have been written in a much modern form of Bangla and was not written in the 11th century. The manuscripts of this book Dharma-Mangal as written by Mayurbhatta was in possession of a Brahmin Pundit of the 19th century named Bhutnath. He had never shown the original manuscript either to Prof. Basanta Chattopadhyay and nor to the Shahityo Porishawd. Research undertaken by Dr. Panchanan Mandal – a scholar and literary historian from Bengal associated with the Visva-Bharati University – has revealed that the text of Mayurbhatta’s Dharma-Mangal or Sri Dharma Purana is very much similar to that of an 18th century Dharma-Mangal poet named Ramchandra Bandyopadhyay, and thus possibilities of Mayurbhatta’s Dharma-Mangal Kavya and its supposed manuscript being a major act of forgery can not be discounted for. 33 Burdwan/Bardhaman: Burdwan, town and district in modern-day West Bengal. 34 MongolkoT: Town located in district Burdwan, West Bengal. It is surmised that it was named thus during the Pala era after yet another famous Buddhist monastery that had existed, long back, in the north-west of the subcontinent. Presently is regarded as a
Muslim pilgrimage and regarded as the land of the Eighteen Auliyas. According to the story narrated by a resident of MongolkoT, Moulana Mohd. Ismail to eminent late 19th/early 20th century Bangla historian Rakhaldash Bandyopadhyay, eighteen Auliya Pirs had come to preach the religion against the Hindu raja Bikramjit of MongolkoT but they all fell in the war. Their graves are considered as pilgrimages till date, and a carnival is held in memory of Pir Panjatan. But that Mongolkot had a thriving Buddhist can also be evinced from certain archeological findings from MongolkoT. 35 Rarh: Rarh lands are rugged undulating river-fed areas of western & central Bengal comprising largely of the Bankura district along with significant areas of the Dinajpur, Burdwan and Birbhum districts of Bengal. Topographically, it is considered as the area between the Chhota Nagpur Plateau on the West and the Ganges Delta on the South and East and is noted for a mixture of laterite soil and igneous rocks from the dead volcanoes of Gondwanaland. Its unique nature represents a confluence of the ancient plateaus and forests of central India and beginning of the South Gangetic Basin of the eastern parts of India and southern parts of Bangladesh today. This is the area where the ancient folk-deity Dharma is worshipped by the ‘Dalit’ and ‘Adivasi’ masses and scoffed at by the Brahminical classes even today. 36 The Twilight Language/The Language Of The Dusk: Many Buddhist scriptures that were written between the 7th and the 12th centuries AD, including the Charya poems, the Kavindra Vachana Samuccaya/Subhasita Ratnakosh, the ‘Doha’-poetry collections of Sarahapa and Kanhopa as well as songs of the Nath cult, many Radha-Krishna songs
Vaishnavism were all in coded languages bearing several folds of meanings – so as to avoid persecution from the Brahminical orthodoxy and yet appeal to the devotees – a fact underlined by literary historian Dr. Asit Kumar Bandyopadhyay. These verses contain mystical allusions which only those who are initiated into the folds of the secret Sahajiya or the Easy Path would comprehend, whereas, they would have an outer-meaning for the lay listeners to enjoy and perhaps get curious of this Path and embark upon their journeys of realisation. The Bangla term for this twilight language is ‘shandhyo bhasha’, meaning language of the dusk. Usage of such mystic language can be found in the songs of the Baul-Fakir-Sahajiya minstrels and troubadours of Bengal even till this date. The The Twilight Language: Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism, (Bucknell and Stuart-Fox, 1986), explores the Buddhist philosophies behind this language and its usage. According to that book, it is a polysemic language and communication system involving verbal, non-verbal and visual communication, associated with Tantric traditions. The Baul-Fakir-Sahajiya minstrels of Bengal owe their origin to and represent a confluence of Tantric Buddhism, Nath and Kapalika mendicancy, the mysticism of the Sufi Pirs Fakirs and dervishes along with the heterodox Vaishnava practices associated with Nityananda et al. So they adhere to the philosophies of communication as encompassed by the Twilight Language or Shandhyo Bhasha, a more literal translation of which being the Language of the Dusk.
The concept of “twilight language” was first put forth by Haraprasad Shastri in the 1916 publication by Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd. However, in 1928, Vidhushekhar Shastri had debunked this translation, showing that the term is based on a shortened form of the word sandhāya, which can be translated as "having in view", "intending", or "with regard to". Thus Mirca Eliade, following this reasoning of Mmd. Vidhushekhar, concluded in an essay in 1970 that nothing like the “twilight language” had ever existed. However, there is much post-Eliade literature in the Western academia on Vajrayana Buddhism, including those by Bucknell and Stuart-Fox (1986), Judith Simmer-Brown et al which consider the the Twilight Language as a language that had really existed. Staal (1975) concluded that this language can be interpreted as to mean the Secret Langauge. However, notwithstanding the doubts expressed over existence of any real Twilight Language by Mircea Eliade in 1971, if the Twilight Language had existed for real, this secret coded language must have had been one of the major ancestors of the Bangla, Odiya, Assamese, Angika and other eastern-subcontinental languages and of the lyrical tradition of the Baul-Fakir-Sahajiya minstrels.
37 Mongol-Shlok or Mangal-shloka: Shlokas are verse-lines composed in the Vedic ‘Anushtup’ or ‘Anushtubh’ meter. Mangal or Mongol, in this context, means benediction. A Mongol-shlok would be a shloka of benediction at the end of religious treatises written and composed in verse and music respectively. 38 Bokti Sri Raghunandan: Meaning - ‘Thus spake Sri Raghunandan’ (See next part of the main text about Sri Raghunandan) 39 Sen/Shen/Sena dynasty: Dynasty of staunchly Brahminical and orthodox Hindu kings that that ruled Bengal through the 11th and 12th centuries. The rise to power of this dynasty coincided with the rise of Brahminism and fall of Buddhism in Bengal. The Shen/Sena Kings, who were patrons of rigid Brahminism, were initially feudal lords and gentry of the Pala dynasty, who are said to have arrived from the southern parts of the subcontinent, primarily from the modern day state of Karnataka. They rose in power through the landholdings and barracks, overthrew the Pala Kings who were patrons of Buddhism, and imposed Brahminical pure-bloodry in its worst recorded form in the history of Bengal. The Shen/Sena Kingdom crumbled with the arrival of Turkish forces under the admiralship of Bakhtiyar Khilaji 40 BawT-tawla (literally: below the banyan tree): This was a cult of cheap mass-produced books that developed and became the most prominent feeder of pop-culture in the 19th century Calcutta, but waned away to history in the following century. The books would mostly be pulp-novellas, dime-novels, detective stories, tales of contemporary
gossip, religious stories including those from the Purans, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, several fairy-tales, confessionals of prostitutes, bodice-rippers, romances, fairytales – mostly written in the colloquial languages of Calcutta and its neighbourhood, and many being noted for their free celebration of ribaldry, as well as out and out pornographic works. Many of these books had block-printed coloured pictures. Unlike the ‘intellectual’ books for the classes such as those written by the elite literary stalwarts of the age, the BawT-tawla books were for the masses and reflected the tastes, sentiments and aspirations of a large urban section of the society who were able to read and write and were interested in reading books that they could relate to. Geographically, the area BawT-tawla refers to a stretch between the modern day streets Bidhan Sarani and Chittaranjan Avenue in Calcutta. This area had a number of wooden-block-printing presses and lithographs in the 19th century and the pop-lit books as such would be produced from this area where the printers and publishers had their offices and press-machines located. The first BawT-tawla publication came out in 1816 in the form of Gangakishor Bhattacharyya’s Bengal Gazette. One Baboo Bishvanath Ghose had invested majorly in the BawT-tawla publishing scene and the large-scale production of books from there owe largely to his industriousness. The market was carried beyond the city by the rural people who would arrive in Calcutta for temporary periods for supplying orders of trade and/or for pilgrimage, on boat through the Hooghly that flows beside the area. The wholesellers who had and still have godowns, shops and offices in the Burrabazar area of Calcutta which is adjacent to the BawT-tawla region, would also keep stashes of BawT-tawla books and sell those at wholesale rates to the rural traders who would arrive on boat. Thus, the economy of BawT-tawla books had flourished in the 19th century, making BawT-tawla literature an inherent part of the popular culture of Calcutta in that century.
The BawT-tawla cult survived in the twentieth century largely through through detective fiction, Jatra-opera scripts and then through astrological and pornographic works, though it has withered away now. 41 These Rural Booksellers Would Bring Ancient Manuscripts And Scriptures From Their Villages When They Would Come To Calcutta And Nagendra-Baboo Would Exchange Those With Some Bawt-Tawla Books That He Would Stock For Them: This arrangement between Nagendra-babu and the rural book-dealers signify the importance of the BawTtawla book-scene. Other than being one of the earliest instances of development of pop-culture the way the west understands that term in the urban spaces of the subcontinent, the dime pulp-tale books of BawT-tawla were also the ones that were carrying the cultural influences of the city to the villages for the first time through printed books. Culturally speaking, Europe entered Bengali villages largely through BawT-tawla. 42 Asiatic Society: Established as the Asiatick (extra k – Middle English) Society in 1784 by Sir William Jones with the purpose of Oriental research – and with it began the imperial culture-studies of ‘Orientalism’ of the West. It houses a huge library where Haraprasad Shastri was employed and has a vast collection of ancient and medieval manuscripts of all sorts including those that he and the travelling Pundits (see Note 20) who were employed by the Society for the expressed purpose of collection and archival of such manuscripts collected. 43 Dinesh Chandra Sen (1866-1939). Eminent Bangla literary historian, scholar, collector and compiler of of manuscripts, scriptures and folk-songs in the Bangla language, Dinesh Chandra Sen began collecting Bangla manuscripts on and from 1890, and based on his collection he came up with his book Bawngo-Bhasha o Shahityo (The Bengali Language and Literature) in 1896. His seminal work, however, is the History of Bengali Literature, published in 1911. He is also known for collecting the lyrics of folk songs called Mymensingh Geetika – a tradition of erotic love-songs prevalent in the rural bases of Mymensingh District in present day Bangladesh. He had also collected several folk songs from the eastern parts of Bengal, which have been compiled in Purbo-Bawngo Geetika (East-Bengal songs) 44 Comilla/Kumilla: district and town presently in Bangladesh
45 Binod Bihari Kabyoteertho: Very little information could be availed about Binod Bihari Kabyoteertho. The KabyoTeertho (literally – Poetry-Pilgrimage) title is awarded for scholarship in Sanskrit. Binod Bihari Kabyoteertho, as is evident from the text, must have been a travelling pundit commissioned by the Asiatic Society sometime in the late 19th century. The Bicentenary Souvenir (1784-1984) published by the Asiatic Society, refers to him in pg 1944. However, it merely reiterates what Haraprasad Shastri has mentioned in the Mouthpiece. It says: ‘…Binod Behari Kavyatirtha whose name as an assistant occurs in the preface of "Banga Bhasha O Sahitya" by D. C. Sen (see Note 42) …’ and goes on to narrate the ‘vigorous research’ that was going on in terms of manuscript collection – the same topic as is being discussed by Haraprasad Shastri at this portion of the Mouthpiece. The name of Binod Bihari Kabyoteertho also appears along with Dinesh Chandra Sen as one of the co-editors of Srikar Nandi’s medieval text Ashwamedha Parva (See Note 46) as was published by the Bongiyo Shaityo Porishawd in 1905.
46 Mahabharata of Paragal: Paragal/ Pawragal Khan was a General (recorded in contemporary literature as a Lawshkawr/Laskar, meaning heads of garrisons etc) of Sultan Hushen/Hossain Shah who ruled over Bengal from his seat at GouR, (situated in present-day Malda) in the 15th Century. In or around 15th century AD, Paragal became the Governor of the provinces located presently in and around present day ChawTTogram/Chittagong in Bangladesh, after having conquered the region from the Arakan-Burmese rulers. The Arakan rulers already had a thriving literary scene with court-poets like Alaol (AD 1597/1601 – 1673) who was the composer and lyricist of love-ballads for the court and had composed masterpieces such as Lorchandrani, Pawddaboti/Padmavati in Bangla. Pawragal Khan continued with the tradition and commissioned a curious project. He told poet Kobindro Pawromeshwawr/ Kavindra Parameshwar to write the Mahabharata in Bangla in a manner that it can be told and heard over the course of one day. Thus the book PanDob-Bijawey/ Pandav-Vijay (Victory of the Pandavas) came to be. Because this One-Day-Mahabharata was commissioned by Paragal Khan, it is also known as the Paragali Mahabharata. This is the manuscript Haraprasad Shastri has referred to and was thus archived by the Asiatic Society. 47 Ashwamedh-parva of ChhuTi Khan: Ashwamedha Parva is the Episode of the Horse-Sacrifice ritual – mentioned in several ancient scriptures including in the two epics. In this context, it refers to the episode mentioned in the version of Mahabharata that is said to have been scripted out by Rishi Jaimini.The ritual of Horse-Sacrifice was a grand ritual undertaken by rulers of big empires in the Vedic and Puranic times and instances of the same have been recorded in several ancient scriptures, including in the Mahabharata.The one that is being referred to here as the Ashwamedha Parva of ChhuTi Khan was written by Shrikawr Nondi/Srikar Nandy, another court poet from the
ChawTTogram/Chittagong province of the Hussain Shah kingdom of Bengal, on being commissioned to do so by his patron ChhuTi Khan (ChhoTey Khan or Khan the Younger), son and successor of Paragal, governor of the Chittagong region in the 16th century. This is the book that was edited by Dinesh Chandra Sen and travelling Pundit Binod Bihari Kabyoteertho and published by the Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd in 1905. 48 Rule of the Hindu king: Refers to the kings the Gorkha Hindu Shah dynasty of Nepal that lasted from 1768 to 2008. When Haraprasad Shastri had visited Nepal for collection of these Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts, the King or the Shah was Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah who was the ruler de jure and the Rana or the Prime Minister was Chandra Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana who was the ruler de facto – as was the arrangement that prevailed since the Kot Massacre of 1846 (see Exenote No 212 for Kot Massacre) till 1951. Both the Kings and the Prime Ministers of the Gorkha Shah-Rana kingdom of Nepal were Hindus and Hinduism was the state religion of Nepal throughout the entire span of the Gorkha kingdom. 49 Naihati: A town in West Bengal near Calcutta. 50 fisher-folks and boatmen: implies belonging to the lower castes in the varnashram-dharma or the cast system because these two professions have traditionally belonged to the ‘lower—castes’ i.e. the historically repressed Dalit castes. In this context, the critic uses this in a disparaging sense, accusing Haraprasad Shastri of ‘elevating’ the Dharma deity who is worshipped by people such as fisherfolks and boatmen belonging to lower castes to the level of Buddhism. The audience of such a reading organized by the Asiatic Society comprised of elite and upper caste people who were a part of the civil society of intellectuals in Bengal – a class created by imperialist intent of the East India Company and the British Empire, an intent which have also been given a collective cultural epithet – ‘Bengali Renaissance’ of the 19th century by several historians and academics. A comment like the one made by the critic in the audience before whom the essay on Buddhism by Haraprasad Shastri was being read reveals to a great extent the real nature of this ‘Bengali Renaissance’.
51 Adishur/Adisura: Adishur is a mythical king of Bengal who was said to have pioneered Brahminisation of Bengal by bringing the first five Brahmin priests and their families from the place Kanauj, presently located in Uttar Pradesh, India to perform rites and rituals that, according to the Vedas and other Hindu scriptures, only Brahmins have a divinely-bestowed right to perform. There is no consensus about the exact time of King Adisura/Adishur. The different opinions about his timespan are encapsulated hereinbelow: Adisur was the same person as King Lakshman Shen/Sena (1178–1206) the last king of the Shen/Sena dynasty. He belonged to the 9th century AD. This is highly unlikely. The Buddhist Pala kingdom being at the height of its power in the 9th century AD, they would surely not have been okay with such intense Brahminising drives. He belonged to the 11th century AD when the regressive system of kulin Brahminism developed. However, most historical sources hold Ballal or Bawllal Shen (1160-1170 AD) of the Shen dynasty responsible for this. Some sources say that Ballal Shen was the 5th/7th generation down a grandson of Adisura – which would place the latter, once again, in 9th century AD. The time span between the fall of King Shashanka (625 AD) and the rise of Gopala as the first king of the Pala dynasty (750 AD) is marked by anarchy – a state recorded in old literature as Matsyanyaya – (A Big-Fish-EatLittle-Fish State). Some sources mark that as the time of Adishur. Other sources say that six kings of the Khadga dynasty ruled during that phase, but Adishur was not one of them. His real name was Adityasen, son of Madhava Gupta, a latter-day Gupta general/governor of the eastern parts of the Gupta Empire – who, around AD 670, had declared seccession and did not ally with the Buddhist Khadga kings either – starting an independent lineage of eleven forgotten kings.
Bangla intellectual icons such as Vidyasagar, Tagore, Haraprasad Shastri, Nagendranath Basu et al place him sometime before 800 AD, because a sort of consensus seems to have existed in the 19th century that one among the five Brahmins said to have been invited to Bengal by Adishur was Sanskrit playwright BhaTTaNaryana – author of the play Beni Samhara – who lived before 800 AD These sources are scattered across more than a century of Bangla literature. Likewise, there is no consensus on the extent of Adishur’s kingdom. The conflicting opinions are as follows: The capital of Adishur’s kingdom was near Bikrampur close to present day Dhaka RangamaTi or present day Murshidabad District of West Bengal was the his capital The Social History of Kamrup by Nagendranath Basu mentions Adishur as the king of Kamrup – encompassing the present day state of Assam in India from the south bank of Brahmaputra to the northern districts of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Thus, there are too mant layers of puzzles left by time, history and recorded memory over Adishur who remains a king of myths and legends. 52 some castes have become absolutely untouchable in Bengal: The success of the Brahminisation efforts of king Adishur or of the Shen/Sena Dynasty kings culminated in the introduction of the system of Kulin Brahminism. The Kulins or the ‘pure-blood’ Brahmins got the right to marry as many times and whomsoever they wished to and claim as much as they wished as dowry. Caste system was clamped down where people belonging to the ‘lower’ castes were threatened and terrorized to silence and browbeaten back to the caste system from Buddhism and were excommunicated from society that the upper-castes – mostly being the Kulin Brahmins and some other thus empowered castes like the Kayesthas and the Boidyos – dominated.
This history becomes evident also from the Charya poems. Many of the Siddhacharya poets had names that reflected their non-Brahminical caste and tribe origins. Even many of the poems depict realities that were not of the elite. These were Buddhist poems written during the Pala dynasty. Not that the Pala kings were good to all the castes and tribes. They had also made laws forbidding hunting and fishing, leading to great grief and rebellion among fisherfolk and hunting tribes. But it was during the Shen rules that Brahminism became a dominant discourse, pure-blood became a religious contention and caste-Hinduism was enforced brutally. The history of decline of Buddhism in Bengal can be tracked from its history of rise in caste system. The ‘untouchable’ Doms still worship Shunya or Dharma or Niranjan – whom many sources believe to have been a Buddhist construct. Shunya or the void that lies beyond being (swa-bhaav) and not-being (aw-bhaav) has been a philsophoical contribution to Buddhism by Nagarjuna in the 2nd Century through his Madhyamika philosophy. That led to the development of the concept of the Unitarian Void, for which even a Charya poem has referred to Bengal as Adway Bangal Desh (Unitarian Bengal Country). But it was within the philosophical depths of these that problems arose. The 8th Century AD saw a Buddhist-Hindu sage GouRpa or GouRpada who sought to incorporate the Vedas – which were the first Aryan texts to have established the blood-supremacy of Brahmins in the subcontinent – and the Upanishads into this Unitarian philosophy. His disciple Govindacharya carried the philosophical experiments forward which were embellished & actualized by Govindacharya’s disciple Adi Shankaracharya – who is said to have led the rerise in Unitarian Vedantism and Brahminical supremacy across the 10th and 11th centuries that led to Buddhism fading away and the caste-system becoming rigid right from the beginning of the the last millenium. 53 Dakarnawb – Dak or Daak – wizard, (shaman, magician, tantric) male counterpart of Dakin or Dakini – witch) + Arnab/Arnawb – ocean.
The book-name literally means – ‘ocean of wisdom/ of the wizard’. This scripture published in 1916 by Shahityo Porishawd contained ‘Bawchon’s i.e. the aphorisms of the wizard/s. Bawchons are an integral cultural part of Bengal. Of these, the most pervasive are the sayings of Khana/Khona/Khawna. Khawna, legendary ‘witch’ from Bengal, is said to have been a companion to mathematician and philosopher Varahamihira – one of the Nine Jewels of King Vikramaditya (1st Century BC/ 4th Century AD). According to many historians Khawna was also called Leelavati and was herself a mathematician. She and Varahamihia/Bawraho-mihir are said to have stayed in Bengal sometimes between the 8th and the 12th century AD – in which case the Varahamihira of this tale must be a different one from one who was a contemporary to Vikramaditya. The Mound of Khawna and Mihir is found near the Gangariddhi Era (3rd Century BC) relics of Chandraketugarh in the district of Noth 24 Parganas, West Bengal. The Vachan/Bawchon tradition had thrived in the eastern parts of the subcontinent. Bawchons immortalized in folk sayings and the ones preserved in scriptures like Dakarnawb prove this. Bawchons, through short rhymes or shorter sentences, contain wisdom on mathematics, planetary, lunar and stellar movements and positions, everyday economics, agrariaculture, health and hygine, politics, manners and customs, climate, weather and the atmosphere, etc. For centuries rural life of eastern parts of the subcontinent has relied on these Bawchon-wisdoms. The farmers have relied on it to till and the sailors to sail. They thus constitute an inherent part of Bangla, Odiya and Assamese folk culture preserved in people’s memory across centuries. The scripture Dakarnawb is not an exhaustive list of all such aphorisms – many of which have survived through oral traditions of Bangla, Assam, Odisha and Tripura and many erased from public memory.
More than twelve collections of the Bawchons of Daak and Khawna had come out from lithograph presses of Calcutta in the 19th Century and early (pre WW-II) 20th Century – a couple of which being books on astrology. In the two decades of agrarian trauma, revolt, separation and food-crisis that followed WW-II, several contemporary Bangla magazines, periodicals, journals and mouthpieces on agriculture contained and explained many agricultural Bawchons of Daak and Khawna. Many books on astrology and ‘panjika’s containing dates of rituals based on the Lunar Calender containing such Bawchons are precently in publication and circulation. In Tibetan Buddhism, Daak and Khawna imply wizard and witch. The Tibetan scripture Dakarnawb, (Ocean of Wizard’s Call – Daak also means the Call) is a part of the Tibetan Buddhist narrative of Vajra-Daak-Tantra (Thunder-WitchcraftTantra) and the Bawchon-verses of Daak and Khawna – wizard and witch –also belong to this tradition. It is considered as one of the earliest surviving examples of Bangla literature by intellectuals like Mmd. Haraprasad and Dineshchandra Sen. Like many oral traditions, many of such Bawchons have also survived in public memory through superstitions like astrology and through notions of eugenics etc. Mmd. Haraprasad here uses the term Daak-purush meaning Daak-Man. The term Daak applies to wizards or Tantrics – including the Charya poets – and Dakin for the witches. The writer of this scripture never divulges his real name. 54 Subhashita/Shubhashito Sangraha/Shawngroho (Kobindro-Bawchon-shawmuchchawey/ Kavindra Vachan Samuccaya or Subhashita Ratnakosh): Subhashita Sangraha/Shubhashito Shawngroho means Collection of Good Sayings. The Shubhashita is a literary genre of poetry with inner mystical meanings. Several Shubhashita Sangrahas have existed over the course of the past two millennia. The most celebrated of which is the Maharashtri-Prakrit language collection of Gatha Saptasati (meaning Seven Hundred Ballads) written in the 7th century AD.
The Shubhashita Sangraha specifically referred to here is the collection known as Kavindra-vachanasamuccaya/Kobindro-Bawchon-shawmuchchawey (meaning: Collection of Words of the Best Poets), which were, according to Sukumar Sen et al, written in the 12th-13th century. This can also, as is evident from the name of the book, be considered as a scripted out portion of the ‘Sayings’ or ‘Bawchon’ tradition. The language used in the Kobindro-Bawchon-Samuccaya has been identified variously as proto-Bangla or an ancient form of Bangla or as a latter-day form of Sanskrit as had evolved in the eastern parts of the subcontinent by many scholars and historians of the Bangla language. The manuscript of that was collected by Cecil Bendall (1856-1906) from the Royal Durbar Library of Nepal written in Newari (old Napalese) script in the 12th-13th centuries, contained poetry from different times including classical Sanskritic and latter-day proto-Bangla ones: highly celebrated littreteurs such as Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti as well as those by several contemporary poets from the Pala era – poets such as Madhu Shil, Rati Pal, GouR Avinand, Tathagata Bandyo, Jitari Nandy, Gyanshri Mishra (a contemporary of Vajrayana philosopher Atisha Dipankara Srigyan) et al – who all belonged to the 11th -12th-13th centuries or in the ones immediately preceding. Because of the nature of the poetry chosen for the compilation, the compiler seems to have been Buddhist. This is also evident from the ‘Samuccaya’ in the title – a term largely endemic to Budddhist scriptures. Given the nature of their names, many of the latter-day (Pala Era) poets seem to be from Bengal.
The first English language translation of the Kavindra Vachana Samuccaya was published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, printed by Stephen Austin and Sons, Ltd., Hertford, England and edited & annotated by one F.W. Thomas in the year 1912, as a part of the Bibliotheca Indica series of the Society. The poets have been referred to as anonymous in that first English translation. However, names of one hundred and eleven poets whose works have been used in this compilation have subsequently been found from the verses and so has the name of the compilation – Shubhashita Ratnakosh – (Meaning: Jewel-Trove of Good Words) – been. 55 DNohakosh/Dohakosh Panjika: journal consisting of collections of Doha/DNoha-songs written and compiled by the Vajrayana Sahaj-Siddhi ascetics and wizards. The DNoha-kosh was published in Bangla script by Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd in 1916 – and subsequently in the Devanagari script by Bihar Rashtrabhasha Parishad in 1957. It contains collection of poems by VajraYana philosopher and poet Sarahapa (see Note 57 below) with notes by scholar AdwayVajra (see note 59 below) that Haraprasad Shastri had edited in the 1916 Shahityo Porishawd publication. 56 Cecil Bendall (1856-1906). English scholar, professor of Sanskrit at University College London and later at the University of Cambridge. Librarian of the British Library (which, then, was the British Library Museum) in the department of Oriental Manuscripts 1882-1893. Had collected several ‘Oriental Manuscripts) which are archived at the British Library and the University of Cambridge Library. Information about him can also be adduced from the online archives of Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Back in his days Bendall himself was a contributor to the Dictionary of National Biography of England. The manuscripts collected and archived reveal much about the spread and extent of Buddhist intellect in the subcontinent in the ancient and early medieval times.
A list of the major manuscripts collected, annotated and archived by him would thus be as follows: Catalogue of Sanskrit and Pali books in the British Museum, published by British Museum. Dept. of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts, Ernst Anton Max Haas, Lionel D. Barnett, and Cecil Bendall in 1887 A Journey Of Literary And Archæological Research In Nepal And Northern India, During The Winter Of 1884-5 as published by the Cambridge University Press in 1886. Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge, with introductory notices and illus. of the palaeography and chronology of Nepal and Bengal as published first by the Cambridge University Press in 1883. Siksha-Samuccaya, a compendium of Buddhist Doctrines by Shantideva, as translated by Cecill Bendall and published posthumously by the Government of India in 1922 (also archived in the British Museum, Dept. of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts) Catalogue of Sanskrit and Pali Books in the British Museum. Catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit Books in the British Museum Acquired during the Years 1876-92 as published by British Museum, The Department of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts. A Supplementary Catalogue of Sanskrit Pali and Prakrit Books in the library of the British museum acquired during the years 1892-1906, as published by The Department of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts in 1908 and archived in the British Museum, Dept. of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts and digitized by the University of Toronto in the American website archives.org.
57 Kirtan: Devotional songs prevalent throughout the subcontinent and popular till date. 58 Sararooha-vajra or Sarahapa and his Dohakosh/DNohakosh: Vajrayana (Thunder Vehicle) Sahaj-Siddhi (Easy Attainment) saint Siddhacharya Sarahapa (also known as Rahulabhadra) wrote and composed verses no. 22, 32, 38 and 39 of the Charyapadas. He was also the author of one of the two Dohakoshes that were published along with the Charya poems and the aphoristic sayings of Dak Man (the Wizard/s) by Shahityo Porishawd in 1916. His Dohakosha was also published in the Devanagari font through the Bihar Rashtrabhasha Parishad 1957. Sarahapa has been considered as one of the first Sahajiya/Shawhojiya wizards and one of the earliest poet-philosopher-ascetics of the Vajrayana and the Sahaj-Siddhi traditions. He was, like most of the other poets whose works find place in the Charya compilation as well as the Nath gurus, one of the eighty four Maha-siddhas – revered in Tibetan Buddhism and Nath traditions alike. Said to have been born in a Brahmin family, his name, before he became a Buddhist Tantric and Poet, was Rahulabhadra. Considered by many scholars as one of the founders of the Easy Vehicle philosophy, though there is confusion among scholars on whether Sarahapa or another Charya poet Luipa was the initiator of the Sahajiya or Sahaja Yana (The Easy Vehicle) path. According to Rahul Sankrityayan who wrote the preface to the 1957 Devanagarifont publication of Sarahapa’s Dohakosh, Sarahapa was the first Siddhacharya. Whereas Mmd. Haraprasad seems to be of the opinion that Luipa was the first one. Along with the Charyageeti songs written by him and the Dohakosh, several works attributed to Sarahapa can be found in the scriptures and colophons preserved by the Tengur-resources of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions.
59 Krishnacharya: Another Sahaj-siddhi saint and philosopher of the Vajrayana Path which is also know as Tantric or Tibetan or Esoteric Buddhism. He hails from around the 10th century AD. Also known as Kahnopa or Krishnacharyapa, he was a Buddhist poet, ascetic, philosopher, saint and intellectual – thirteen of the verses that he wrote and composed are present in the Charyapadas thus making him the poet with the most entries in the Charyapada collection. Like all the Sahaj-Siddhas, he is also a revered saint and scholar in the Nath tradition and has been mentioned in Taranath’s works. The book “Taranath’s Life of Krishnacharya/Kanha", (Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. 1989. Dharamsala) by David Templeman refers to Kahnopa or Krishnacharya as the disciple Nath guru Siddhacharya Jalandharipa. Krishnacharyapa also has a ‘Dohakosh’ or compilation of ‘Doha’ verses written by him. According to Vajrayana scholarship, Siddhacharyas Kahnopa and Dombipa – both being Tantric poets whose poems appear in the Charya collection – were disciples of Virupa or Birobapa – who also had penned one poem in the collection. Three people bearing similar names have been said to have existed according to Tibetan Buddhism. I. One was Mahasiddha Khanapa or Kanhapa, also known as Krishnacharya – a student and scholar of the Tibetan Buddhist mandala tradition of the VajraYaan deity Hevajra. This Krishnacharya was the student of Jalandharipa and is this thus in all possibility same as Kanifnath, the disciple of Jan Pir i.e. Jalandharipa. II. Another was Kanhapa, also known as the Eastern Kanha, whose guru or master was Virupa. Given that verses created by Virupa are also present in the Charya collections, in all likelihood the Kanhapa whose Dohakosh omnibus and whose contributions to the Charya verse compilations have been edited explained and
annotated by Haraprasad Shastri in the 1916 publication by Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd (Hajar Bawchhor Purano Bangala Bhasha-ey Bouddho Gaan o DNoha – Buddhist Songs and Dohas Written in One Thoudand Year Old Bangla Language), is this second Kanhapa. III. To deepen mystery reference to a third wizard/scholar with a similar name – Krishnasamayavajra, can also be found in Tibetan Buddhist Literature. Like the two previous mystics, he was also a worshipper of the Hevajra deity of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism and his real name was Sribhadra. He is also known as Nagpopa II. 60 Adway-Vajra: Vajrayana saint and Tantric-philosopher who is said to have been from the monastery at Savar – identified as being located in a place close to Dhaka, one with which Atish Dipankara Srigyana was also associated with in early life. Adway Vajra (literally, Unitarian Thunder) is also considered as the author of Tantric-Tiika (Tantric Notes) on Vajrayana Buddhism. The Sahajanmay Panjika notes attached to the Dohakosh of Kanhopa as was found by Mmd. Haraprasad in the Royal Library of Nepal were also by Adway Vajra. The word Adway in his name signifies Unitarianism. But that he was not a Vedantic Unitarianist but a Tantric Buddhist one is evident from the manuscripts found by Haraprasad Shastri from the Royal Durbar Library of Nepal in 1907 containing 22 short explositions on Tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism by Advay Vajra scripted over 22 colophones, all of which were printed and published together as the Advay Vajra Sangraha by the Oriental Institute, Baroda in 1927. Haraprasad Shastri, in his preface to the Oriental Institute publication, places Advay Vajra in the “11th or early 12th century”. Out of these 22 short treatises, Mmd. Haraprasad says, the treatise present in the 6th colophone was not by Adway-Vajra but by Nagarjuna.
61 Apabhramsa: This Sanskrit grammatical coinage means ‘derivative’, ‘deviant’, ‘corrupted’ or ‘non-grammatical language’ and thus any language where the norms of grammar deviate from the norms established by ancient classical Sanskrit and Prakrit grammarians such as Panini, Vararuchi et al. In scholarship on history of Indo-Aryan languages, Apabhramsa implies the second step after Pali and Prakrit as evolved from Sanskrit. The term apabhramsa was first found in Patanjali’s seminal treatise on Sanskrit grammar titled Mahabhashya (meaning: The Great Commentary), written in and around the 2nd Century BC. Apabhramsa is an umbrella of dialects consisting of the language prevalent in the transition phase between late Middle Indo Aryan languages such as Pali and Prakrit (prevalent from the 4th to the 8th century AD) to the modern Indo-Aryan language such as the modern day Marathi, Gujrati, Hindi etc. The Apabhramsa vernacular languages, according to scholars of the Indo-Aryan languages were in popular usage from the 6th to the 13th Centuries AD, preceeding which Prakrit (see next Note) was the umbrella-term for such post-Sanskritic languages. A working definition of Apabhramsha has been provided by Haraprasas Shastri in the Mouthpiece where he says: “Any language which has been derived from Sanskrit can be called Apabhramsa” 62 Buddhist-Prakrit: Prakrit means natural or rural in Sanskrit, and denotes any of several Middle Indo-Aryan vernacular languages and are derived from Old Indo-Aryan languages. In linguistic understanding, Prakrit is the language that, according to many grammaticians of those times, evolved in a natural way from Sanskrit. Like Apabhramsa, it is also a cover term for several transitional languages influenced by Sanskrit and regional elements. Buddhist-Prakrit is also called Pali, just the way Jaina-Prakrit is called Ardha-Magadhi (half Magadhi). Buddhist-Prakrit is also often considered was the definitive form of Pali. However, the earliest extant usage of written-Prakrit is the corpus of inscriptions of Emperor Ashoka (r. 268–232 BCE) as found in archaeological remains of Ashoka’s stoneedifices and copper-plaque-insciptions. Thus, by Buddhist-Prakrit, Bendall refers to Pali. 63 Shuddh: Pure
64 King Ashoka (r. 268–232 BCE) Celebrated king of the Mauryan dynasty noted for his devout patronage to Buddhism and welfare towards subjects. He would have his edifices written in the language used by the masses instead of in Sanskrit – the latter being the one used by the classes. Prakrita, being any language used by the Prakrita-jan, i.e. the common people who were neither the empowered Brahmins nor the nobility, was thus found in written form for the first time through his edifices. 65 Jaina-Prakrit: The Pali language used in Jaina scriptures. It is also called Ardhamagadhi
66 Dramatic Prakrit: This is a language devised specifically for use in theater in the millennium before the last one. This was not a spoken language but one used in theatrical performances and renditions and is thus a literary language. The Prakrit spoken language that bears closest resemblance to Dramatic Prakrit is the Prakrit-Maharashtri language that was prevalent in western parts of the subcontinent for a thousand years from BC 500 to AD 500. Whenever dialogue was written in a Prakrit, the reader would also be provided with a Sanskrit translation. None of these dramatic Prakrits came into being as vernaculars, but some ended up being used as such when Sanskrit fell out of favour. The three most prominent examples of dramatic Prakrit are Sauraseni, Magadhi, and Maharashtri – being the chief languages used in the theatrical traditions of Central-Western (Souraseni), Southern-Western (Maharashtra) and Eastern (Magadha) parts of India. A vast literary treasure of poetry and theater exists in the Maharashtri version of Prakrit. However, other regional and rooted variantsof the Dramatic Prakrit – used largely while denoting the dialogues of the characters that are portrayed as to be belonging to the ‘lower’-castes and tribal communities from this entire belt – were also in prevalence. Such variants are Prachya (Eastern), Bahliki, Daksinatya (Southern), Sakari, ChanDali (used by the ChanDalas i.e., by those
considered as untouchables in the Brahminical tradition), Sabari (used by the tribals), Abhiri, Dramili (precursor of the Tamil language), Odri (precursor of the Uriya language) etc – spoken by characters in such Prakrit Dramas according to their ethnic identity, socio-economic-political class and caste positions, gender, geographical loci etc (Shourosheni/Shaurasheni/Sauraseni was to be spoken only by the heroine and her female friends, Avanti by the cheats and rogues, Sabari by the indigenous people, Dramili by the forest dwellers, ChanDali by the ChanDala-untouchable outcastes, Odri by the inhabitants of coastal regions of Eastern India that lie beyond the Eastern Ghat ranges.) 67 Dandin (6th-7th century AD): Sanskrit author of prose romances such as Dasakumarcharita (The Adventures of the Ten Princes) and also the foremost classical expounder of poetics in Sanskrit – his most noted treatise of poetics being Kabyadarsha (The Ideology/Mirror of Poetry). 68 Setubandha: (literally: Bridge-tie): This is a collection of lyrics in Maharashtri Prakrit in the early years of the 5th Century AD, as written by King PravaraShen/Sena II (AD 400-AD 415) of the Vakataka Dynasty that ruled over Central, Southern and Western India from around AD 250 to around AD 500. It has often been considered as a Prakrit language Epic. 69 Natya Shastra: the Natya Shastra is a Sanskrit treatise on performing arts including theater, dance and music was written between BC 200 and AD 200 and is traditionally attributed to Sage Bharata. Though the Natya Shastra primarily deals with stagecraft, it has come to influence music, classical Indian dance, langauges and literature as well. It covers script-writing, stage design, music, dance, makeup, permormance through bhaava (emotions) and rasa (emotional responses) and virtually every other aspect of stagecraft. The Natya Shastra must have had more than one author because it evolved for four hundred years between BC 200 and AD 200 or, alternatively, between BC 100 and AD 300.
70 Bharata: Ancient Indian theatrologist and musicologist, regarded as the author of Natya Shastra, from which classical Sanskritic dance and music forms find roots. 71 Bhasha: literally: language/ native language 72 Dakshini: Not to be confused with Dakkhini or Deccani – the language the evolved in the Deccan in the 13th century from the courts of the Muslim Kings. The reference to Dakshini in Natya Shastra must have been a reference to the languages prevalent in the southern parts of the subcontinent between BC 200 and AD 200 or therearound. 73 Avanti: Avantika was what today is known as Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. It was the capital of the Gupta dynasty (AD 320-AD 550). Thus, the Avanti language must be the language that was prevalent in the central parts of the subcontinent between BC 200 and AD 200. According to the Natyashastra rules on theatrics, the language Avanti, in the Dramatic Prakrit plays, were to be used by characters portraying thieves and rogues. Avanti is also the name of a legendary and mythical enchantress of the urban base (Ujjain) of the place.
74 Magadhi: The language prevalent in Magadha – the capital of Maurya dynasty (322 BC – 185 BC), in the eastern parts of the subcontinent. The Magadhi language as mentioned in the Natya Shastra evolved into the Magadhi Prakrit which then evolved into the modern day Magahi language spoken by approximately 18 million people across Bangladesh, Nepal and India. Now, the word Magadhi can have two connotations – i. Magadhi-Prakrit – a literary language and one of the three Dramatic Prakrits (the other two being Shaurasheni and Maharashtri) used in Ancient India, also being the language in which the Ashokan edicts were written in and also the prevalent elite-class language, a language of the royalty and urban intelligentsia that coincided with the times of Gautama Buddha, Mahavira, also being the court language of the Magadha Mahajanapada – one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas (literally – the big settlements) – as mentioned in the contemporary Buddhist and Jaina texts that flourished through patronage of the imperial court of the Mauryan Empire at the heart of which lay the area of Magadha – the geographical locus of which will be the modern-day state of Bihar in India. ii. the Magadhi or Magahi language – A spoken language still prevalent among around eighteen million people across twelve districts spanning three modern day states of India (eight districts in Bihar, three in Jharkhand and also prevalent among some people in the district of Malda in West Bengal) and parts of Nepal. Considered as a dialect of Hindi, blends of this Magahi with Angika, Bhojpuri, Maithili and Bangla has led to newer and newer spoken dialects of Magahi in Bihar and Jharkhand and has also influenced several Hindustani languages including Hindi and Urdu. The Hindi spoken in Central India also has significant Magahi influences as is evident from the names of places named after days of the week – Shanichar for Saturday (the Shanichari market of Bilaspur), Etawar for Sunday (the Etwara area of Bhopal) etc.
75In the context used by Haraprasad Shastri in the Mouthpiece in reference to the Natya Shastra treatise, Magadhi refers to the Magadhi Prakrit. Ardha Magadhi: Literally: Half-Magadhi. Close to the Magadhi language as mentioned in Natya Shastra – also evolved into the Magadhi Prakrit and is thus, like ancient Magadhi, also a precursor of the modern day Magahi language. Many Jain scriptures or Agamas – i.e., holy books – exist in this language. The Ardha-Magadhi language was at the zenith of its development by 300 BC during the reign of the Maurya kings and it withered away with the decline of the Mauryan Empire. Ardha-Magadhi was a key element in the evolution of the major mainstream modern day languages of the Eastern parts of the subcontinent viz. Bangla, Assamese, Odia and the Bihari (Angika, Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili etc) languages. According to Buddhist scholarship, Ardha Magadhi was a pre-Pali post-Sanskrit form of Magadhi as was prevalent in the Magadha kingdom and Mahajanapada. 76 Bibhasha: literally: foreign language/ dialect/ alternative language. In the context of Natya Shastra as referred to by Haraprasad Shastri, the Bibhasha is any language that is neither Bhasha –i.e. a language derived from Sanskrit nor a language of the indigenous and what in the Sanskritic traditions were the “lower”-caste profession-holding communities. Bibhasha, according to Natya Shastra are all of the non-Sanskrit “foreign” languages that can still be used in plays, unlike the languages spoken by the tribal and dalit communities, in Theater, Dramatics, Songs and other Performance Pieces within the Sanskritic folds.
77 Aveeree/Aviri: Rabindranath Tagore in his essay titled ‘Bongobhasha, 1’ (Bangla Language, 1) says that the language Aveeree prevailed among the people of Marwar and Sindh – (i.e. in the western parts of the subcontinent two millennia ago when the Natyashastra was being developed) and says that it was one of the languages that were classified as Apabhramsa by the ancient (Sanskrit) grammarians. 78 Souveeree/Souviri: Souveree is also the name of a musical element as mentioned both in Natyashastra as well as in the seminal work on classical Sanskritic musicology Brihaddeshi (written between the 6th and the 8th centuries AD) attributed to sage Matanga. Chapter 28 of the Natyashastra titled Jati-vikalpa – meaning alternative clans, tribes and ethnic sects – also refers to Souveeree as a Jati or a ethnic group. 79 Andhra: The language that must have prevailed among many of the ethnic inhabitants of modern day Andhra Pradesh (including the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Seemandhra) and thus must have been a very old ancestor of the modern day Telugu language. Because the language has Dravidian and thus non-Sanskritic non IndoAryan routes, the puritanical mores of Natya Shastra consider this as a language unfit for the Sanskritic aesthetics of theater music and literature. 80 Bahlik: According to Rabindranath Tagore, the Bahlik language was prevalent in Punjab and that it was one of the languages to be classified as Apabhramsa by ancient (Sanskrit) grammarians. Thus, Bahlik must have been the language used by the ethnicities that used to reside in Punjab when the Natya Shastra was being written. The Bahlik people have been mentioned in several Sankrit texts including the two epics and several of the Puranic scriptures. The Bahlik language as mentioned in Natya Shastra must have referred to the language prevalent among the tribes residing in the mountainous tracts of the northern and western parts of the subcontinent – collectively termed as Uttarapatha (or the Northern Path) in Sanskritic and Buddhist texts and it seems like it comprised parts of present-day Afghanistan (the Hindukush Mountains, the Oxus Valley & Bactria of the Greek historians), Pakistan (Punjab) and India (Punjab, Surat). From the contempt towards the aesthetic value of this language as shown in Natyashastra, it appears that the Bahlik people, like the Andhra people, never belonged to the Indo-Aryan ethnicity and their language had non-Sanskritic roots – evident from the fact that contemporary rulers of the Bahlika provinces have been termed as Mlechha i.e. non-Aryan barbarian foreigners in some Brahminical texts.
81 Vararuchi: This is a name associated with several literary and scientific texts in Sanskrit and also with various legends in several parts of India. The Sanskrit grammarian, mathematician and philosopher-sage Katyana from the 3rd Century BC is often regarded as Vararuchi, as is in the text by Haraprasad Shastri. By Vararuchi’s grammar, Haraprasad Shastri perhaps implies the grammar of Katyana. The Prakrita-Prakash is a much discussed treatise because of its historical significance as the earliest grammar book on the Prakrit languages (Cowell, 1854). 82 Maharashtri: This is a Prakrit language prevalent in the Western Parts of the subcontinent for a thousand years between BC 500 and AD 500. This language is considered as one of the ancestors of Marathi, Konkani, Sinhala and Dwiwehi (the last two being the language spoken in the Maldives) and is noted for its similarity with the Dramatic Prakrit - and is thus associated with a rich post-classical literary tradition in which several plays and ballads such as Setubandha, Gatha Saptasati etc were written 83 Shauraseni/Shourosheni: This Prakrita language, like the Maharashtri Prakrit, also bears close resemblance to Dramatic Prakrit and bears a rich theatrical and poetic tradition. It is believed to have been spoken in and around Shoorshen or Surasena (present-day Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, India) around the 5th Century BC or, alternatively, between the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD), though most of the literary traditions are from the 3rd to the 10th centuries AD. Believed to have influenced the development of the Hindi and the Pubjabi languages of today and had also been one of the root languages of Urdu and KhaRiboli. Many ancient Jain scholars of the Diagambara sect had written their treatises in this language. In Dramatic-Prakrit theatrical traditions, the Shaurasheni language was spoken by the female characters.
84 Paishachi: The term Paishachi implies that which is used by the Pishachas – meaning zombies – people from Northern and/or Eastern parts of the subcontinent were regarded as zombies and their language Paishachi was regarded as the language of the zombies – because these ethnicities did not have Indo-Aryan roots. Pishach as a noun means a zombie and an adjective means a nefarious human being in modern-day Bangla colloquy. Despite this tarnishing etymology, the Paishachi has often been classified as a literary Prakrit language.
In Kavyadarsha – the seminal Sanskrit treatise on poetics written in the 6th-7th Century AD, Dandin refers to the Bhutabhasha – or the language of the ghosts. This has often been regarded as to be the same as Paishachi language. Some scholars have opined that such terminology draws from the fact that by the time the treatises of Vararuchi and Dandin developed, the language was not in use and so, Vararuchi, by using the term Paishachi, and Dandin, by using the term Bhuta-bhasha, implied that it is a dead language and the speakers of this language were dead. This argument seems flawed because it is unlikely that a language that was dead in the 3rd century BC when Vararuchi was writing his grammatical work Prakrita-Prakash – was also remembered after a good thousand years in the 7th Century AD by Dandin in his Kavyadarsha. Some scholars also believe that Paishachi is an ancient form of the Pali language that the Sthavirya (literally: still, steady) discipline of Buddhism (precursor of the modern-day Theravada discipline) used, and that the language was spoken by people from Kashmir. Influences of Paishachi language on the modern-day Kashmiri language have been noted. From all these discourses, it becomes clear that Paishachi was a widely used language of the northern and/or eastern parts of the subcontinent in the ancient times – before Pali became the prevalent language in the middle ages with the advent and prosperity of the Pala and other Buddhist kingdoms in those geographies. Thus, that the Brahminical Sanskritic scholars were dismissive of the people from the northern and/or eastern parts of the subcontinent – so much so that latter were referred to by the former as zombies or ghouls, clearly because of their non Indo-Aryan ethnic roots, becomes evident. There exists a collection of tales written in Sanskrit named Kathasaritasagara which is said be have actually been an 11th century AD translation of a collection of tales called Brhtkatha (the Big Story), written originally in Paisachi in the 6th century AD – a book lost in time.
85 Prakrit-Magadhi –Same as Magadhi (see Note 73 above) 86 Misrana Surajmal/Surajmal Misrana (1815-1863): Philosopher, troubadour and a Court Poet of the Hada-Chauhan kings of Bundi, was a renowned scholar, had attained mastery over six languages and had supported the rebellious sepoys of the 1857 mutiny. He belonged to the caste of the Charans, (charan meaning troubadour) – who were mostly poets, singers, performing-artists and entertainers by profession, were often engaged as court poets and were always in the front-line of the armies during attacks, and were also noted for their affinity towards consumption of opium and alcohol. Troubadour Surajmal was also a scholar of grammar, logic, history and politics. During the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the royalty at Bundi had sided with the British, but the troubadour had chosen to support the rebellious soldiers, and thus had fallen out of favour of the court and thus got rid of his imperially bestowed honours. 87 language… seems mostly to be in Bangla: The initial claim as forwarded by Haraprasad Shastri in the 1916 publication by Shahityo Porishawd was that all the manuscripts published, including the Charya songs, the Dohakoshes of Sarahapa & Kanhopa, the Dakarnawb and the Mekhla Notes are in ancient Bangla. This has since been disputed. Rahul Sankrityayan in his preface to the book Dohakosh by Sarahapa as was published by Bihar Rashtrabhasha Parishad in 1957 in Devanagari font, mentions that the language used by Sarahapa in that book is an old form of Hindi and also speaks of how the language used by Sarahapa in his Dohakosh-poetry is the one from which Hindi, Uriya and Angika (a language used primarily in Bihar and Jharkhand, also known as Bhagalpuri, written in Devanagari and having affinities with the Bihari-Bhojpuri-Jharkhandi dialects) language evolved. There is no mention of the possibility of the language used by Sarahapa being a precursor of modern Bangla and Assamese in the preface to Sarahapa’s Dohakosh and also no debate on that in or surrounding that publication and thus all portals of information in the English language, including virtual ones, seem to have taken it for granted that Sarahapa was an early Hindi poet and the language used by him in Dohakosh is Hindi
It is clear from the book Bangla Shahityer Shawmpurno Itibritto (Complete History of the Bangla Literature) by Dr. Asitkumar Bandyopadhyay that many other scholars have also opined that the language that was used by Sarahapa in Dohakosh was not ancient Bangla. The consensus among latter-day scholars, as evident from the book by Dr. Bandyopadhyay, is that though the Charyapawd verses were in ancient Bangla, those of the Dohakoshes by Sarahapa/Sararooha-pa/Sararooh-Vajra and Krishnacharya/Kahnopa/Krishnavajra were not. Rahul Sankrityayan seems also to have inferred that the language used in the Charyapad verses were also ancient pre-Khariboli pre-Urdu Hindi. Similar divergences of opinions also must be extant about the scholars regarding the language used in the book Dakarnawb. It is presently an academically established finding that a form of proto-Bangla language had developed in the mystic Charyapada literature of the Pala dynasty through the Twilight Language in which the Charyapada and (possibly) many of the Kavindra Vachana Samuccaya (Subhashita Ratnakosh) song-verses were written. 88 Doha-songs: Songs of the Doha-kosh. Also referred to as Songs of Realisation by many latter-day scholars.In the poetic traditions of the subcontinent, Doha is a form of rhyming poetry of self-contained verses. The Doha-kosh of Sarahapa would thus be a compilation of such Doha-poems or Doha-songs written by Sarahapa and the one of Krishnacharyapa would be a similar compilation of such Doha poems or songs by the latter. Sarahapa has been regarded as the earliest maestros in this Doha-tradition, which included later-day mystic poets such as Kabir, Rahim, Surdas et al. 89 The Six Philosophies: The Six Theist Philosophies of Orthodox Hinduism are as follows: 1. Samkhya 2. Yoga 3. Nyaya 4. Vaisheshika 5. Mimansa 6. Vedanta
90 Brahma: Signifies, in this context, Vedic Brahminism – The Brahminical traditions draw from this philosophy where there is emphasis on rigid enforcement of the caste-system to preserve the sanctity of the ‘pure-blood’ Brahmins are to be the intellectual and spiritual leaders of the society by dint of their pure blood. The four-fold caste system or the Chatur-Varna-Ashram-Dharma derives attestation from this Aryan Vedic philosophy. 91 Ishwar: Literally, God. In this context, implies the faithful orthodox theists. 92 Arhat: This term is common to Jainism and Buddhism, and also to Hinduism. In non-Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the Arhats are those who are on the path to nirvana but have not attained complete Buddhahood, whereas according to Mahayana Buddhism, an arhat has also attained nirvana. In Jainism, the Arihant is the conqueror of foes, who has killed his inner afflictions and possesses pure and infinite knowledge. In Buddhism, the term is used variously by different schools to denote Destroyer of Foes and also Deathless or Deserving. The coinage Arhatta was there from before the time of Gautam Buddha. The word is found in Buddhist and Jain scriptures and also in the Vedas, in Bhagavat Puran and in Narada Pancharatna (The Five Jewels of Sage Narada). In Jaina texts, Arihant is the step before attainment of Bodhi. Here, Arhat implies the Jaina faithfuls and Mmd. Haraprasad also uses the term Kshapanaka subsequently in this book to imply the followers of this philosophy. 93 Bouddho: Buddhist 94 Lokayat: Peoples’, subaltern. Often used as a coinage for all the folk-religions. However, in a more specific sense, it means the heterodox atheist materialist philosophy of the Charvaka/Charbak lineage. The Charbak tradition, like their Buddhist counterparts, was ravaged by the re-rise of Brahminism on the early centuries of the last millennium. Charvaka has not been considered as a part of the Six Orthodox Philosophies of Hinduism by most scriptures, with certain noted exceptions such as the treatises of the 7th century Jain monk Haribhadra, the Dohakosh by Sarahapa etc. The Lokayat way, because of the fact that it presents a dialectic flow against the flow of traditional caste-system ridden Brahminnical ‘Hindu’ism, was a refuge for many people who were exploited by the two upper castes – the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas, and has also, for long, been a countercurrent – one that has, through the ages, been progressively drying up – had received some attention from the scholars of post-colonialism in the last few decades of the past century.
The most prominent features of the Lokayata stream of philosophy are: i) atheism ii) anti-spirituality iii) staunch materialism Scholars such as Dasgupta, Radhakrishnan, Chattopadhyay et al have noted it as a people’s religion – one that prevails among the masses, and also as a ‘worldy philosophy’. According to the Lokayat philosophy, there is no soul or spirit beyond the body, and thus, no heaven, hell or rebirth. Being followers of the motto – ‘Seeing is believing’, they have also been regarded as experientialists and materlialists who believe that this life is all the matters and that it’s a real, material life. Experience, money and desires are regarded as the important aspects of life. The Lokayats can also be regarded as Bodyist-materialists who believe that the body is everything, as is the material universe. This resonates with the Sahajiya (Easy Path) Deho-tattwo (the body theory) of the Baul-Fakir minstrels of Bengal. Desires being the
root of life’s meaning, for the Lokayatic, life can be realised through materialization and fulfillment of bodily desires and pleasures. The most celebrated Charvakite/Lokayatic saying is – be happy and stay pleased for as long as you live, borrow if you may but have butter. No scriptures written by the Charvaka lineage have survived. The philosophy has been mentioned and challenged by many major Buddhist, Jaina and Hindu books, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as well as the Unitarian Vedantic books by Shankaracharya and his followers, and much of these philosophies, it is said, has developed through negating the hardcore realism of the Lokayata philosophy. All these sources refer to the Lokayatas as their ‘previous-opposition’ (purva-paksha), signifying that the Lokayata philosophy was present very long ago. Modern-day scholars are mostly of the opinion that the Lokayata life-views developed and spread among the masses in the period between 6th century BC and 2nd Century AD – a period classified as the Age of Epics in the subcontentinental history. 95 Sankhya: An atheistic and strongly dualist philosophy of consciousness and matter – noted for its emphasis on realism and rationalism. According to this school of philosophy, the only means of attaining knowledge are through: a. perception, b. inference and c. words from reliable sources. The dualism of Samkhya is based on its emphasis on the idea that the universe can be broadly divided into two parts: a. matter (Prakriti), and b. consciousness (Purush) It also lays down a highly celebrated triality in Hinduism – that of the existence of three innate qualities i. goodness, ii. passion, iii. darkness.
Sage Kapila from the 1st millennia BC is accredited as the initiator of this Philosophy, though the exact century from that millennia he lived in could not be determined. Myth has it that his ashram was located where the Ganges meets the sea – being where the forests of Sunderban lie. The Sankhya Philosophy is also a part of the six orthodox theist school of mainstream Vedantaist i.e. Upanishadic Hindu Philosophy. 96 Brahminism: Brahminism, in this context, implies the entire Vedic-Vedantic religion and the theology surrounding the four Vedas and the Upanishadic scriptures. 97 The Brahmins may have come from Brahma’s head: Hinduist justification of the four-fold caste system, through the myth than when god or Brahma created humans, the Brahmins came from his head and so they are the intellectuals of the society, the Kshatriyas came from his hands and so they must constitute the warriors and the royalty, the Vaishyas came from his torso and so they are the farmers and businesspeople, and the Shudras came from his legs, and are thus dirty, untouchable and good only for menial labour – constituting the lowest strata of the castedivided Hindu society. 98 Sanskar: Anything accepted, mandated and welcomed by the Indo-Aryan society; anything that is sacred, pristine and ‘pure’ in such society, something obeyed by generations as sacred.
99 ChanDala: Perceived as a generic name for many a socially outcaste and untouchable communities by the Brahminical caste-hierarchical order of racism. Like the Dom people, many of the ChanDala people also bear the ancestral livelihood of cremating the dead and are thus similarly stigmatized as untouchables. According to many historians, the ChanDala people were those tribal communities who were pushed to the edge of urban habitats by the Aryan Brahminic settlers, were used as slaves to perform ‘inferior’ tasks such as cremating corpses which were perceived as too lowly for the upper-castes to perform. There exists debates on whether the ChanDala people, who, on finding living difficult, had come from the forests and had settled at the outskirts of the Aryan urban bases of the subcontinent during the ancient times when the Aryan Veda-worshippers had settled down along the Indus-Gangaplains or whether they were present since time-immemorial within the settlements from times before the ascendancy of the Brahminical Aryan-Vedic uprise had begun and were pushed at the brink of the settlements once the Aryan Vedics, on being empowered tribes with better iron-made weapons, had commenced on their urban-debelopment
drives. However, that the ChanDala people were considered as those belonging to the ‘lowermost’ wrung of the social hierarchy where the top stratum was held by the Brahmins and that the the word ‘ChanDal’ has been used in a derogatory sense by the dominant upper castes of the social order are facts recorded in several literary resources of the ancient, medieval and modern times 100 ‘becomes Brahmin by reading the Vedas… why don’t they let the untouchables study’: One of the agendas of the neo-Hinduisation drive that had began in the subcontinent with the rise of patriotic nationalism in the early 20th century – has, ever since – been re-Hinduisation and re-Brahminisation, following the pattern endorsed by Adisura and other Shen/Sena dynasty kings like Ballal Shen/Sena to ensure total subjugation of Buddhism and re-rise of Hinduism in Bengal a thousand year back. Swami Vivekanda had spoken of the idea of ‘making the ChanDals come up to the level of the Brahmins’, and one of the main missionary agendas taken up by the Arya Samaj – a religious institution established in the 19th century where the initiated do not believe in the theory of Aryan invasion and claim that all the places mentioned in ancient Hindu texts are places spread throughout Eurasia – is opening schools and orphanages in the tribal areas of India where tribal children are made to wear the sacred thread (upavita) that the Brahmins are ‘supposed to wear’ according to the Hindu society and read the Vedas – and are thus get converted into Brahmins. The reconversion drive titled ‘ghar wapsi’ undertaken by the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Samiti has been very much in the national-media of India for over the past few years wherein many members of the tribal communities are being converted into Hinduism. One idea behind this spread of Hinduism has been such ‘upliftment’ of the lower-castes, which fits in to the democratic nationstatist parlance of a ‘welfare’ state, where ‘providing’ education to the ‘backward classes’ is a welfare need. The commonalities in the state-philosophy of ‘officially secular’ India and the Hindu Brahminical philosophies are too many for claiming that such communalities exist by mere chance.
101 ‘…prohibition from reading books imposed upon the non-Brahmins’: Many orthodox schools of Hinduism maintain that only the Brahmins are entitled to read the Vedas. 102 ‘pouring butter on fire’: Refined butter or ghee. Other than being an edible item and a spice, ghee is also used as a ‘sacred’ fuel in the fires that are lit during the sacramental Yagna or Yagya rituals as conducted by the Brahmins. Custom has it that while performing the Vedic Yagnas, if the Brahmin priest makes a mistake in chanting mantras, their penance is pouring a couple spoonfuls of ghee on the ritual-fire. Once that is done, the priest can continue with his yajnik ritual-chants. A special ‘sacred’ spoon is also designated for this purpose. 103 Atharva Veda: One of the four Vedas. Like the other three, several sages are attributed as the co-authors. They are the earliest known texts in the history of the subcontinent that refer to iron and thus many scholars believe that they were developed with the onset of Iron Age in the subcontinent in around 1500-1000 BC, which makes the Atharva-Vedas the earliest Vedic texts. However, the three other Vedas, viz., the Rg, Sham and Yajur Vedas are accorded more primacy in Vedic traditions because these three deal with the Vedic philosophies in detail whereas the Atharva Veda is ritualistic in nature and lays down the rules to be followed by the Brahmin priests during performance of religious rituals dedicated to the Vedic pantheon. 104 Authentic: Sarahapa uses the term ‘shiddho’ or siddha to imply correct or authentic. Siddhi implies authenticity and Siddha is someone or something or some subject, object or ordination that has attained Siddhi – in this context, is a reference to accomplishment or nirvana – the metaphysical salvation, devoid of qualities, involving freedom from the bondages of material existence and rebirth – which the Shawhoj Siddhacharya bards such as Sarahapa and the other poets who wrote all these Sahajiya treatises including the Dohakoash and the Charya-songs have sung about. The terms siddha and siddhi have connotations and usage in Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh philosophies and treatises. For the Vajrayana (Thunder Vehicle) path of Buddhism, also known as Tantric Buddhism that Sarahapa et al belong to, siddhi also implies attainment of supernatural, magical or psychic powers such as clairevoyance, levitation, bilocation, access to past-life memories, turning invisible or atomic, etc through practice and perfection of the Tantric rituals.
105 Paramarth: (Meaning: Ultimate Essence or Absolute Truth) Haraprasad Shastri uses the term Paramarth which implies the ultimate or the absolute meaning – the realization of which, according to several schools of Indo-Aryan theism – leads to moksha or the final salvation. The Advaita Vedanta thoughts – adherents of which were to wreck havoc on the Sahajiya wisdom of Sarahpa and the other Pa-wizards, poets, prophets and gurus a few centuries after the Dohakosh was written – also draws upon the emphasis on Paramartha along the lines of the Sahajiya prophets. Vedic-Upanisahdic, Puranic, Jaina and Buddhist texts all refer to the Paramarth or the ultimate essence. According to several schools of Buddhism, there are two Bodhichittas – Samvritti Bodhichitta that is one of relative truth and Parmarth Bodhichitta that is one of absolute truth. Thus, Parmarth in that sense implies Absoloute Truth. 106 Shunya: The Void. The Shawhoj sages such as Sarahapa et al place their devotion on Shunya which is the void which, drawing from the Madhyamika discipline of sage Nâgarjuṇa – represents nih-swa-bhaav or nothingness – one which is beyond swa-bhaav (being) and a-bhaav (not-being). The Void is the central theme of all the Charya songs as collected in this book. The songs in the Dohakoshes of Sarahapa and Kahnopa as well as the Shunya Purana of Ramai Pundit, as discussed above, also have this Emptiness or The Void as the guiding philosophy, as does the songs written by the Nath Yogis as well as the Dharma-mongol tradition of the Mongol-Kabyo (Songs of Benediction) in Medeival Bangla Literature. Referred to variously as Dharma, Alakh, Niranjan etc., philosophies of the Void were at the base of the Bhakti traditions, the Nath tradition, Sikhism, and the faith of the Baul-Fakirs.
Gautama Buddha had reportedly said ‘all world is empty’. The faith of Lalan Fakir was also based on The Void. The Sahajiya Void-Worship survives through the Baul-Fakir minstrels and their songs in Bengal and in the Vajra-Yana Tantric faith of Tibetan Buddhism, and is thus a living culture that the Shunya-vaadi (Voidist) philosophers like Nagarjunapa, GauRapa et al, Yogis like Machhindernath, Goraknath, Kanifnath et al, the Sahajiya Mahasiddha and Vajrayana sages and philosopher-poets like Sarahapa, Luipa, Darikpa, Kahnopa, Kambalapa, Tilopa, Naropa, Kukkuripa et al (who were also same as the early Nath Yogis), proponents of popular and mass philosophy and literature like Ramai Pundit and the poets of the Dhormo-Mongol Songs of Benediction in Medeival Bangla Literatary, Theatrical and Musical traditions, the Vajrayana philosophers like Adway-Vajra, Marpa, Milerapa, Lavapa, Taranath et al, religious philosophers like the Sikh Gurus, Voidists like Kabir and Lalan Fakir, and the Sahajiya Baul-Fakir minstrels and dervishes had all contributed in developing. ‘Nihilism’ can be a close English translation of the Shunya philosophy, but the understanding of Nihilism that has developed over the past few centuries in Western Philosophy is very different from the understanding of emptiness of Shunya or the Void philosophy of the Shunyaists. Philosophies on zero and ‘nothingness’ has been developing in different human communities, presumably, from ever since the conception of ‘zero’ had developed in communityconsciousness. The Charya songs belong to this tradition.
Academically, it has been argued that the Buddhists sought to preserve their early teachings through the conception of Shunya-ta or Emptiness as expounded most prominently by Nagarjuna through his Madhyamika treatises. 107 Ishwar-dharma, the theist orthodox tradition: a Sanskritic tradition and much related to the caste-system and ‘pureblood’ry of the Varnashram-dharma. It is the religion of the orthodox Hindu Schools and Philosophies, as forms the faith-backbone of the Vedic, the Puranic and the Vedantic scriptures. In this context, Sarahapa refers to the yogis who, unlike the Brahmins, do not perform the Vedic fire rituals but adhere to a whole host of other superstitious rituals perceptibly as a quest for moksha or salvation, all in the name of this Ishwar-Dharma that literally means Religion of God. 108 ‘… smear their body in ash, maintain dreadlocks’: Such and other rites of penance, austerities and whims, often referred to as boozoorgi or the tricks of the boozoorg-magician-sadhu. These oddities help distract devotees and impact them as well, thereby being useful in performing the so-called ‘miracles’ and winning the awe of the hypnotized masses. 109 ‘..take seats at the north-eastern corner of their rooms and ring bells all day’: Alludes to the superstitions practiced and propagated by the theist Indo-Aryan orthodoxy. 110 Yogic postures – Yoga-asanas or postures of Yoga and meditation of the Yogi-s, i.e., the practitioners of Yoga.
111 ‘ranDi’s and ‘munDi’s – intended meanings unclear in this context. In present day connotation, ranDi implies sexworkers and is a derogatory term common to Hindi Bangla and several languages with Sanksritic roots prevalent in the subcontinent today, and munDi implies shaven-headed. Whether these words had the same connotation in the language used by Sarahapa in the 8th and the 9th centuries AD is unclear. Though in the heydays of Kulin Brahminism predating the arrival of Turkish power, a Bengali Brahminical derogatory term for the Buddhists in the dwindling monasteries of Bengal was ‘shaven-headed’ or ‘neRey’ which has been used as a derogatory term for Vaishnavs and Muslims at different points of time in history by the Bengali Brahminical elite. However, whether these two words have been used in these popularly used senses by Sarhapa in this context is unclear. Haraprasad Shastri parenthesises these words in the Mouthpiece. It seems that Sarahapa uses this phrase to denote a motley horde of devotees that flock to temples and sites where the Yogis sit. Accirding to Adway-Vajra’s notes on Sarahapa’s Dohakosh, ‘ranDi’ implies widow and ‘munDi’ implies those who undergo monthly fasting penitences. 112 ‘how is it possible for ‘god’… to exist?’ A critique of theism raised by the Shawhojiya Shiddho sages during the Pala era. The Shawhojiya prophets, poets, musicians including many Fakir and Baul minstrels from Bengal maintain this criticism. 113 Kshapanak: By Kshapanak, the Jain-discipline has been implied, named after prophet, scholar and sage Kshapanak, who was one of the ‘Nine Jewels’ in the court of the king Vikramaditya. Some modern day Hindu-revivalist scholars from India claim that Vikramaditya belonged to the 1st century BC and belonged to the Paramara dynasty whereas the old-school ones claim that Vikramaditya is same as King Chandragupta II (380-413/15 AD) from the Gupta dynasty. Because of this confusion, the exact time of Vikramaditya and his Nine Jewels including Kshapanaka et al cannot be ascertained. However, that the works of Kshapanaka influenced Jaina philosophy is evident from the fact that the digambara Jain mendicants who practice nudism are called Kshapanaks. In this context, Sarahapa, by Kshapanak, and also by Arhat (or Arhant) means the mendicants of devotees of the Jaina belief and philosophy. The term Kshapanaka has often been used in subcontinental literature so as to imply the digambara Jain mendicants.
114 they wear rags: Refers to the non-nudist shwetambara Jain mendicants whose habit it is to wear rags. 115 They stay naked: Refers to the nudist practices of the digambara Jain mendicants. 116 Jeeva – Also written variously as Jiva or Jina – meaning life/life-force, is one of the primary elements of Jainism around which much of Jaina philosophy and faith revolves. It is also variously denoted as the soul or as life – that flows from body to body through a series of rebirths and reincarnations prior to attainment of moksha or nirvana, i.e., the final salvation. 117 Yojan: Unit of measurement. One Yogan = Nine miles (approx.) 118 Shraman: Haraprasad Shastri uses the term ‘Shraman’, implying Buddhist mendicants. The term ‘Shramana’ literally means seeker and as a way of faith it ca be distinguished from the Vedic way. Regarded as one of the pillars of the living tradition of Bhakti or Faith as prevalent in the subcontinent, the seekers or the Sharmans include the Buddhist, the Jaina as well as the atheistic and heterodoxical Ajivika mendicant philosophers and the philosophies of the Shramana tradition has evolved into the philosophies of birth, samsara, death, rebirth and nirvana as is acknowledged by several schools of faith in the subcontinent. Throughout the flow of the bhakti culture, the sharmans have been openly critical of the orthodox Vedic and Vedantic Brahminism and the inequities and superstitions imposed by the same. However the term ‘Shraman’ is used most popularly in a Buddhist connotation and denotes Buddhist mendicants who used to live by singing preaching and begging (the term for begging being madhukori or honey-gathering), and this is the sense in which it has been used by Mmd. Haraprasad in this Mouthpiece. 119 Sthavir: Haraprasad Shastri uses the term ‘Sthavir’. After Second Buddhist Council which was held around a hundred years after the demise or nirvana of Gautam Buddha, Buddhism factioned out into two schools – the Sthavirs and the Mahasamghikas. According the Theravada Buddhist texts, the Sthavirs were those who did not deviate from
the original teachings of Buddha. Sthavira, literally, means still. Sthaviryavadis are also said to belong to the Sect of the Elders. According to Drub, the language used by the Sthaviras was Paishachi (see note 84) – the language of the ghosts. Several latter-day important schools in Buddhism such as Sarvastivada and Theravada are said to have branched out of and been influenced by the Sthavirs. The word Theravada is the Pali translation of the term Sthavir and the Theravada discipline claims direct inheritance from the Sthavirs. 120 Sanyasi: ascetics or monks, those who have purportedly renounced material pleasures and afflictions and have thus taken to Sanyas – one devoid of material attachments and afflictions which are regarded as bondages in the way of moksha or absolution, according to all the Hindu philosophies and schools of thought. 121 The Lesser Vehicle: Denotes the Hinayana discipline that arose in the 1st and 2nd century AD. The adherents approach the stage of arhat – which is the manifestation of divinity in humans and is a stage before the stage of nirvana or salvation that the Mahayana adherents aim for. Here, ‘Lesser’ implies inferior spiritual capacities as compared to the Greater Vehicle or Mahayana, though these terms do not connote value judgments. The term has since been abolished by the Buddhists.
122 Sheel: learning. The three jewels of Buddhism are sheel, i.e., learning, panna or pragya, i.e., wisdom and samadhi, i.e. the state of complete attainment of nirvana and the consequent detachment from earthly material dukkha, i.e., sadness. Sheel is the way of life that the Buddhist mendicants are expected to follow. It has been classified into PanchSheel or the Five Sheels which comprise Gautam Buddha’s advices to refrain from certain activities whereas the AshTSheel or the Eight Sheels constitute the eight involvements the Buddhist sages are to partake in during ritualfestivities. The former are thus the negative duties whereas the latter the positive ones which the Buddhist mendicants are to adhere to. Sarahapa speaks of the futility of rigid and literal application of these while criticising Buddhism in his Dohakosh. 123 ‘those who protect learning… can’t attain moksha: Here Sarahapa refers to the futility of mere learning without wisdom – he says how sheel devoid of pragya cannot lead to samadhi or moksha – how the knowledge that is gathered through learning ought not to be hoarded like misers as, according to him, the Hinayanas do but be passed on to the future, for the learning to become wisdom. 124 The Greater Vehicle: The Mahayana school of Buddhism claims to adhere to the path of the Boddhisatvas as laid out in the Mahayana Sutras and aim for attainment of nirvana. In modern Buddhist literature it is often used in opposition to Theravada, but such a classification has only come in the recent times, after usage of the term ‘Hinayana’ was forbidden by the World Fellowship of Buddhists in 1950. Traditionally, Buddhism was classified in Mahayana or the Greater Vehicle & Hinayana or the Lesser Vehicle. Some scholars insist on a third category – the Vajrayana or the Thunder Vehicle path, also known as Tibetan or Tantric Buddhism which Sarahapa and the other Charya poets are proponents of. However, most scholars classify the Thunder Vehicle path as to be a branch of the Greater Vehicle path. The majority of people adhering to Buddhist faith belong to the Mahayana school. According to the Greater Vehicle scriptures, Mahayana is the path towards enlightenment and the Great Vehicle will take the faithful along that path.
125 Sutra: Literally, thread. In the context of Buddhist theology, Sutra or Sutta implies texts and treatises. In this specific context, Sarahapa speaks of the Mahayana Sutras which are the canonical texts of the Mahayana Buddhists. Around a hundred Sutras or treatises of the Mahayana scholars have been preserved through Sanskrit manuscripts and their Tibetan translations present in the Tengur collections which Tibetan Buddhist Scriptures that contain words which are not by Gautam Buddha but by the other Bodhisattvas – i.e. the enlightened ones. The Mahayana Sutra scriptures have been found in places throughout the subcontinent, and they survive through endless Tibetan, Chinese, Burmese, Sinhalese and Japanese translations as they do in several scriptures written Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsa, Pali, the Twilight Language and other Middle Indo-Aryan languages that existed in the subcontinent during the medieval ages. Sutras, taken together, constitute the corpus of Buddhist philosophy and canon. 126 Sahaj/Shawhoj - Easy: The Shawhojiya Path of the Shawhoj-Shiddho Siddhacharyas such as Sarahapa who adhered to the Thunder-Vehicle or the Vajra-Yana path and were shunya-vadis – abinarist worshippers of the nothingness or void or shunya or alakh or niranjan or nirgun – the state of void that exists beyond being and nothingness – the subject matter of all their songs including the 8th-11th century Charya songs of this book, the Shunya-purans, the songs of the Nath siddhacharyas such as Gorakhnath, Minanath et al written around the same time, the treatises of Sikh mysticism, the 15th century Nirguna bhajans of Kabir, the 18th century Shawhojiya songs of Lalan Fakir et al. The underlying theme is to see and be in the world in an Easy way, without differentiating between the self and the others, between what is owned by the self and the others, because, as Sarahapa ends his Dohakosh with, ‘sa-al nirantara Buddha’ – it’s all endless Buddha. It is believed that by adhering to the Sahaj path, the Shunya void beyond everything that exists and everything that doesn’t – can be realised. Because the Thunder Vehicle Tibetan Buddhist Tantric philosophy involves the Easy or Sahajiya Path, it is also known as SahajYana or the Easy Vehicle.
Though the Easy Vehicle originates from Buddhism, many Vaishnava-faithfuls became Sahajiyas in Bengal after Chaitanya and Nityananda preached their Vaishnava visions in the 15th Century AD and a mass coversion happened from Buddhism to Vaishnavism, and thus there are many Sahajiya Vashnavites as well. Like the Lokayatas, the Sahajiya philosophies also put intense emphasis on materialism, and their explositions on the human body, known as ‘Deho-Tawtwo’ or the Body-Philosophy consider the human body as a replica of the Universe. The presense of the soul or atman is not there in Sahajiya faith. However, the concept of Chitta or Citta, the mind, is very much present. Though Sarahapa distinguishes the Sahajiya philosophy from the Lokayat one, many modern day scholars like Debiprasad Chattopadhyay seem to suggest that Sahajiya falls within the Lokayat philosophy or the philosophy of the masses. The Baul-Fakir communities of the singing mystic minstrels of Bengal are considered as adherents of the Shawhoj or the Easy Path. 127 The Easy Path: The Shawhoj Pawth of the Shawhojiya faithfuls who follow the philosophy of SahajYana or the Easy Vehicle of the VajraYana Buddhist Tantrics, though the modern-day connotation of the term primarily includes the Vaishnav Sahajiya people including the Baul-Fakir minstrels (see previous Note) 128 ‘…the Easy Path can only be learnt about from the words of the Guru”: The Shawhojiya Path, as Harprasad Shastri mentions in the Mouthpiece, lays a lot of emphasis on the Guru. The Doha-songs of Sarahapa and Kahnapa, the notes of Adway Vajra, the other Charya songs of the Pa Prophets as translated in this book, and even the Dohas and nirguni bhajans of Kabir and all the Baul-Fakir songs that are sung by the Shahhojiya mystics of Bengal say how important it is to place primary importance on the teachings learned directly from the gurus i.e. the Masters to learn about the Shawhoj Pawth/Sahaj Path. Like many traditional streams of wisdom and philosophy, even the Sahajiya wisdom flowed along time through the master-pupil lineages, where the a pupil among all the students shall rise to “learn from the master, be with the master, see through the master and become the master” – as a Zen proverb goes.
129 Shawhoj Dharma: Haraprasad Shastri uses the term ‘Shawhoj Dharma’ or Easy Religion. Though it’s not in any officially mandated list of religions anywhere, the Shawhojiya (literally: Easy) Dharma has been around since the time of Sarahapa (8th century AD) till date – as is evident from the lives of the Baul-Fakir mystic troubadours of Bengal and the Sahajiya Vaishav worshippers who can be seen and whose kirtan songs can be heard in many parts of the subcontinent today. 130 signifier and the signified: Though the linguistic theories of Saussure have been rendered outdated at present, Haraprasad Shastri uses this exact connotation here while explaining about the Dohakosha of Sarahapa 131 Bhawbo: According to the Shawhojiya Path, Bhawba or Bhawb is the universe where we be: being is Bhawbo (Gautam Buddha said to his son Rahul: ‘Atma-deepa Bhawbo’, meaning – ‘be your own lamp’) and Bhaab is the mood, the aura, the vibe, or the sense with which we be (Bhawbo) in the Universe (Bhawba).
132 Unitarianists – Unitarianism or Advaita in Vedanticism and in Buddhism, in modern connotation, define two different religions – the former being the main pillar of modern-day Hinduism and the latter, the Buddhism that was popular in Bengal in during the Pala Era. It developed earlier in Buddhism through philosophies on the Shunya-Void by Nagarjuna in the 2nd century AD. With Buddhism, this Unitarian Voidism became a thriving culture of faith in Bengal as evinced by a Charya poem by Bhusukupa where he refers to Bengal as ‘Adway Bangal Desh’ – Unitarian Bengal Country. From this school of Unitarian Void rose a master named GouRpa in the 6th Century AD in Bengal, who had a disciple named Govindacharya whose disciple is the notorious Adi-Shankaracharya. GouRpa had imparted Vedic elements to the Unitarian theory of Buddhism. But Buddhism being the longest standing human resistance against Aryan-Vedic racism and Brahminical supremacy, such mix provided dangerous tool for religious turnaround for the Vedic Brahmins in the hands of Shankaracharya who rose from the ashram of Govindacharya by the river Sabarmati.
Thus, though the term Unitarianism popularly refers to Unitarian Vedantism of the caste-Hindus, it is, in its original connotation, a Buddhist philosophy of the Void – where the Unity signifies nullifying the binaries of being and notbeing to reach the Void where being and not-being unites – a conception of unity through sheer nothingness. 133 swabhaav: Haraprasad Shastri uses the term ‘swabhaav’ to denote the nature of the self or being. In Bangla, nature or characteristics of all objects, innate or alive, are denoted as ‘swa-bhaav’, which literally means ‘own-being’. It has philosophical connotation in Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika philosophy. 134 “…other world – another mood…mythic-real verses”: All the secrecy of the Shawhojiya way or the Easy Path – the secrecy and urgency to protect the wisdom and preserve the same through poetry and music written in the Language of Dusk or Twilight perhaps bear footprints of the terrible, impending Brahminical beating that the early Shawhojiya faithfuls – the adherents of the Easy Path had been apprehensive about. Even today it is reflected by the way the Brahminical civil society – including the Sanskrit-Pundits of the 17th century, the Bangali feudal lords turned babu-s of the 18th and the 19th centuries – and the 20th century Bangali bhadralok/gentlemen has been thinking about the Baul-fakirs, even while enjoying with the poetry and music in a Sanskritic, Aryaesthetic way. For a large section of the urban-babus, the perceived debauchery of the Baul-Fakirs is as interesting, if not more, than their music.
For the Brahiminical aggressors, the idea that has prevailed throughout the past millennia has been to usurp and interpolate the wisdom of the Easy Path – the Unitarian Vedantists had shown the way by using the philosophy of the Voidists including the honey-gatherers of the Easy Path against them and destroying endless monasteries, torturing and re-converting them and then shaming them as ‘nYaRa-neRi’-s (the shaven headeds – meaning the lower-caste Buddhist reconverts – mostly the lower caste Boishnawb/Vaishnava worshippers who convereted from Buddhism in face of severe Brahminical onslaught and who are scoffed at by the Brahminnical civil society both in the eastern and the western parts of the subcontinent). These repressions have continued throughout the past millennia – and this has necessitated such codifications of the words of these mystic bhakti poets throughout the subcontinent – in order to protect, nurture and retain the culture among the followers who have sought refuge to such cultures in the face of the thousands of years old and ongoing racist assault on these dalit castes and tribal ethnicities as meted out by the upper castes of the society.
135 Newari: Nepali 136 Shantideb/Shantideva or Bhusukupa: 8th century Buddhist scholar who wrote three seminal works on Buddhism – two of which survive– from the Nalanda university and was a noted adherent of the Madhyamika school of Nâgarjuṇa (AD 150-AD 250). Famed as the author of BodhisattwaCharyavatara or BodhiCharyAvatara (A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life) , he had also written a treatise titled Shiksha Samuchchaya/Sikkha Samuccaya (Training Anthology) and another one called Sutra-Samuccaya, (Anthology of the Sutras) – though the last anthology is lost in time. Also a poet, some of his verses find place in the Charya poems under the nom de plume Bhusukupa – a title he was given at the Nalanda University. Because the treatises attributed to Shantideva deal with Mahayana Buddhism whereas the Charya songs of Bhusukupa are themed on Sahajiya-VajraYana-Tantric Buddhism, many including Mmd. Haraprasad raise a controversy on whether Bhusukupa and Shantideva were the same persons or not. Besides, multiple songs attributed to Bhusukupa and one Shantipa appear separately in the Charya collection. Shantideva is said to have been born Shantivarman, son of King Kalyanvarman in Saurashtra – located presently in the state of Gujarat in India. According to the 14th century manuscript containing words about the life of Shantideva written in Newari preserved at the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Shantideva’s father was king Manju-burma of Saurashtra and not king Kalyanvarman. Bhusukupa had acknowledged in a Charya verse that he had married and settled in Bengal.
There were two Shantidevas – one being from the 6th and the other from the 8th century. From the short 14th century Newari manuscript that Haraprasad Shastri refers to and uses in the Mouthpiece while narrating his life, it seems like it was the 8th century scholar who had studied in Nalanda who wrote the Charya poems as Bhusukupa. Linguistic evidence also supports this claim because no song or literature written in the Twilight Language exists from the 6th century. One confusion that remains in this context is that Luipa, who hailed from the 10th century AD is often considered as the initiator of the Easy Path where the Charya songs belong and the general timeline affixed for these songs is 10th to 12th Century AD and as such it is difficult to incorporate an 8th century poet within this timeline. However, there is another idea that Sarahapa, the 8th Century AD Charya poet, was the initiator of the Easy Path. There was also a disciple of Naropa in the 11th century AD named Kukuripada or Kukkuripa (literally: Bitch) – one of whose songs appear in the Charya collection – who also went by the name Shantibhadra. However, whether Kukkuripa and Bhusukupa, both of whose songs appear in the Charya collection, were the same persons or not has not yet been determined by modern historians, though consensus seems to exist on the fact that Shantideva and Bhusukupa were the same persons, subject to the doubt voiced by Mmd. Haraprasad in this 1916 publication. 137 Taranatha (1575-1634): Tibetan Buddhist Lama and one of the last great Tibetan Buddhist philosopher-masters of the medieval times to be adept in Sanskrit. He translated extensively from Sanskrit Buddhist texts. He was known to be a prolific writer and was considered as a reincarnation of the Shawhoj-Shiddho poet and scholar Krishnacharyapa whose verses and notes appear in the present collection of Buddhist songs by Haraprasad Shastri. Taranatha’s works have been extensively translated to English in the 19th and the 20th centuries. He had written extensively about the Shawhojiya Siddhacharyas and the Nath Gurus including Jalandharipa, on whom, he had quoted a couple of Bangla sentences – proving that he was adept in Bangla as well. His major works include ‘The History of Buddhism in India’, ‘The Golden Rosary’ and ‘Origins of the Tantra of the Bodhisattva Tara’. He is also noted as a founder of several monasteries in Mongolia in his later life when he had dedicated himself to the cause of preaching Buddhism in that country.
138 Saurashtra: Presently encompasses eleven administrative districts the south-western coastal districts of the western Indian state of Gujarat. The Sanskrit name Saurashtra appears in several Vedic and other ancient texts, as does the Prakrit name Sorath of the early medieval times and its present-day variant – Surat. The people who had migrated to the southern parts of the subcontinental peninsula still preserve the language Saurashtri which was once spoken in the kingdom of Saurashtra. Consensus exists that Buddhist sage Shantideva was born a prince in Saurashtra. 139 ‘… the queen came out in protest…’ Sukumar Sen, in his Banglar Shahityo-Itihash (Literary History of Bengal) refers to the mother of Shantideva and wife of ManjuVerma as Gyan-Dakini – meaning Wisdom-Witch. According to Sukumar Sen, when Shantideva was about to ascend the throne, Gyan-Dakini poured hot water on him. And while he was writhing in pain, she said: ‘Listen, son – the king, the painter and the poet – they can never be happy in life and neither can they ever be free. If you become the king, you will have to endure severe pain. Leave the palace instead. Go the monastery where ManjuGhosh is. Meet the wizard who is at the helm of the monastery. Make him your master.’ Shanti had duly obeyed. 140 Wisdom-Witch MoynaMoti’s prophesy and advice to her child Govind Chandra: The story of Shantideva moving out in search of a mystical life and rejecting royalty at his mother’s pursuation bears resonance to the tale of Queen and Gyan-Dakini or Wisdom-Witch MoynaMoti as found in the literatures of the Nath tradition. MoynaMoti was a disciple of JalandhariPa. Her husband, the king of the land, was Manik Chandra. The king knew of the Tantric wisdom that was in possession of MoynaMoti and regarded her as a Gyan-Dakini (Wisdom-Witch). The doctrine of primogeniture being in prevalence in the kingdom, their son Govind Chandra was to inherit the throne. But
MoynaMoti foresaw her son’s childlessness and imminent misfortune, and so she told him to become a Yogi instead – by starting out as a disciple of JalandhariPa. Now, Jalandhari had taken employment as the sweeper of the royal stable. Though Prince Govind found this proposition insulting, he became a disciple of JalandhariPa or HNaRiPa/HandiPa. He would use his Tantric learnings and wisdoms to wrong and frivolous ends. Upon knowing this, his master took away all of his abilities of Tantric wizardry. When his wives noticed that he was thus shorn bereft of all capacities, they began mocking him. Enraged, he ordered Jalandhari to be buried alive, and subsequently, Kahnopa/KanifNath, who was a disciple of JalandhariPa or HNaRiPa/HandiPa, on hearing of the travails of his guru from GorakhPa/GorakhNath, came to his master’s rescue. Sukumar Sen also notes the striking similarity of the role of the mother in this tale and in the tale of Shawhojiya Tantric Yogi BhusukuPa or ShantiPa or Shantideva. The Nath and VajraYana traditions had many overlaps, including a common lineage of Siddhacharya Masters. Dr. Sen further observes that the travelling Yogis must have heard of a tale of the mother encouraging her son to be a Yogi instead of a King and this must have flared their imaginations up – and thus such tales where the mother plays the role of the initiator of the spiritual/mystic journey of the son and prevents him from indulging in the material pleasures of kingship and political power became prominent in Medieval literature of the subcontinent. The epic poem Padumavat written in 1540 by Malik Mohammad Jayasi in Awadhi language narrating the tale of Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s siege of Chittor and the subsequent tragic fate of Queen Padmini and of that entire kingdom in Rajputana has such a story and so has the Bangla translation titled Padmaboti that was written by Alaol – the court poet of the Burmese Arakan dynasty who based out of modern day Chattagram or Chittagong – on a commission by Magan Thakur – a minister and nobleman belonging to the Arakan court. 141 Monjushree/Manjusri: (literally: Gentle Glory), in Vajrayana Buddhism Manjushri is the deity of meditation. In Mahayana Buddhism, Manjushri is a deity associated with transcendental wisdom. He is also considered as a manifestation of Buddhahood in Tantric Buddhism. He is often referred to as Prince Manjushri.
142 Raut: Alternatively used to imply a Prince (Apabhramsa for the Sanskrit word Rajputra) or a trader in perfumes, also means a shepherd or goatherd or cowherd. Shastri, however, focuses on the life of Shantideva as was built around the nobility and royalty for some time, first as a prince and then as a general. In modern parlance, the caste Raut had a traditional profession of herding cattle and can be found around the states of Chattisgarh and Maharashtra in India. However, Haraprasad Shastri seems to be of the opinion that Raut was a subcaste of the Gandhabonik caste that can be found in eastern India and had a traditional profession of selling perfumes in army camps. Though Bhusukupa or Shantideva uses the term Raut to describe himself in all of his Charya poems, there is no reference in any religious or historical text about him being a shepherd or cowherd. Despite the allusion to the Gawndhobonik Perfume Trading caste, neither is there any reference of him being one. In all probaibility, the term Raut has been used in the Charya poems to signify that he was a prince, through Mmd. Haraprasad opines thay Raut also means a General or one who does business of perfume trade with arm camps and barracks. 143 Gawndhobonik/Gandhabanik: Bengali caste of tradespeople whose traditional profession is to trade in perfumes. Many of them in the medieval times were known to be voyagers who had their fleet of ships – and the human protagonists of two of the four major Mongol-Kabyo poems of medieval Bangla, viz. ChNad Shawdagawr/Chand Sa’dagar and Dhawnopoti Shawdagawr/Dhanapati Sa’dagar – belonged to this caste. Thus, the Gawndhobonik people have a rich history of trade by voyaging into faraway shores on ships to sell their perfumes and other wares. 144 ashram/ashrama: All caste-based families, within the caste-system based Hindu societal structure – are said to belong to specific ashrams or ashramas within the caste-folds.
145 Barracks: Haraprasad Shastri uses the term Chhauni which means both camp and army-barrack. 146 “Many Big Cities Of The Past Used To Have Localities Designated Solely For The Rauts”: To prevent endogamy between castes and thus retain the status quo of the caste-based societal structure, people of different castes were made to stay – by the Brahminical and royal powers that used to determine the social order – in separate spaces assigned to each caste in different human habitats. The cities being spaces where many people stay, the chances of endogamy were more and thus the caste-differences were rigidly enforced by the Brahmins and the Royalty – and thus each city had separate habitats for people of separate castes.
147 Awchawl/Achal: literally – Immovable: is also regarded as one of the Five Wisdom Kings or Heruks of the Singon, Zen and other schools of Esoteric Tantric Thunder Behicle Buddhism – an angry fighter and guard of the shunya-void wisdom – as an angry manifestation of the radiant bodied Mahavairochana Buddha who embodies the emptiness or the void that lies at the center of all wisdom and is thus placed at the center of the Five Wisdom Buddhas in both the Greater Vehicle and the Thunder Vehicle ways of Buddhism. Achal, as the Wisdom King, is depicted as angry, with flames leaping from his form – much unlike the calm composed form with which his humanly manifestation appears in biographic texts on Shantideva as politely radiant and gentle devotee of the glowing Thunder Vehicle deity of meditation and transcendental wisdom, viz., Manjushri.
148 Sacred Cedar Tree - Deodar: A tree deriving its name from the Sanskrit word Devadaru (Literally: Tree of the Gods) – a species of cedar tree bearing the scientific name Cedrus Deodara and being a native tree of several parts of the Eastern Hemisphere. This tree bears immense cultural and religious significance in the subcontinent.
149 Nalanda: Buddhist University and Town established during the Gupta Empire at the site located in the state of Bihar in India today – on a place where King Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty had built a temple/stupa on the urn of Sariputta – the chief male disciple of Gautam Buddha. It ran for seven hundred years between the 5th and the 12th century AD until being ransacked by the forces of Bakhtiyar Khilji from Turkey who arrived in the eastern parts of the subcontinent in the 12th century AD. However, Brahminical aggression spearheaded by Shankaracharya had already put thye survival of Nalanda in jeopardy as several other monasteries were converted from Buddhism into the castebased Brahminism as it re-rose with the fall of the Pala dynasty and the rise of the Shen/Sena dynasty of Bengal Bihar, parts of Odisha and of Assam. The site of Nalanda was, during the time of Gautam Buddha, a village where one of his two closest disciples, viz., Sariputta or Shariputra, was born and also had died. 150 Tripitaka: Literally meaning three baskets, is the term for all the Buddhist canons and scriptures taken together. The name also connotes the fact that the Buddhist canons were divided into three parts – i. Sutra – the sermonical teachings of Gautam Buddha ii. Abhidharma – the interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings and the philosophical-psychological discourses thereto iii. Vinaya – rules to be followed by the Buddhist monks in their monastic lives.
151 Sangha: Buddhist term for association or assembly. Ironically, the term Sangh is synonymous with the neo-Hindu zealots of India and abroad today. 152 shlok- sloka: saying, verse or prayer in Sanskrit. The shlok quoted by Haraprasad Shastri explains that Shantideva was called Bhusuku in Nalanda because of a sort of radiance that was conspicuous in his persona all the time. 153 ‘..eighth night of the moon’s fortnightly journey from blankness to full-moon radiance …’ Haraprasad Shastri, in the Bangla text, uses the term ShuklashTomi – meaning the ashTami or the eighth day of Shukla-paksha or Shuklo Pawkkho – literally: White Fortnight – the fifteen nights between the newmoon and the fullmoon when the moon keeps on getting bigger. The other fortnight – the one between the full-moon and the new-moon – is called Krishna Paskha or Krishno Pawkkho – meaning Black Fortnight. The date of the occasion on which Shantideva delivered is first & last legendary speech in Nalanda has been calculated according to the Lunar Calendar. The tides being determinable by the waxing & waning of the moon, the rural life of the subcontinent that had depended largely on agriculture, fishing and hunting-gathering until modernity used the Lunar Calendar to determine date and time and thus all rooted fairs, worships and ritual-dates of the subcontinent are determined according to the moon. 154 JoishThhyo – derives from the Sanskrit word Jyeshtha, meaning eldest. It is the second month of the Bangla calendar and third month of the Saka calendar which is officially mandated by the government of India as the ‘Indian calendar’. This month runs from the middle of May to the middle of June and thus falls on peak summertime and is followed by the first month of the rainy season or AshaRh, the third month of the Bangla calendar.
155 Dharamshala – Religious resthouse – literally, Dharam means religion and –shala implies sanctuary. These were inns built for pilgrims belonging to Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh religions. There still are many Dharamshalas present in India. 156 ‘monastery-building’: Haraprasad Shastri uses the term Bihar/Vihara, which are Buddhist monasteries. The mainmonastery of Nalanda possibly implies the one built around the stupa built by King Ajatshatru – the Mauryan Emperor contemporary of Gautam Buddha, which is said to have the urn of Sariputta, one of the two disciples who were closest to Gautama Buddha. 157 Arsh: Sanskrit term for what is said/written by the sages, i,e, the Rishis. In grammar, Arsh usage of a word or phrase occurs when a word or a phrase that is used in that manner for the first time by some historically famous writer (eg. words coined by Shakespeare in English, the new words and uses of old words in new senses by Tagore in Bangla, etc.) 158 Artharsh: Sanskrit for this would be the arth i,e, the meaning of Arsh, being the words spoken/written by the sages 159 Buddha: In this context, it means the enlightened – those who have received Bodhi, i.e. Realisation or Enlightenment, i.e., any of the Buddhas and not just Gautam Buddha. 160 Jin/Jina: the life-force, considered as of utmost importance in Jainism. According to Jainism, Jin represents the fullest manifestation of the life-force. Jin is one has conquered temporal and material existence through self-discipline and attained a transcendent and external state of bliss. 161 Shubhooti or Subhuti: One of the pupils of Gautam Buddha, and thus, like Sariputta, Ananda and the other Ten Sravakas or Ten Great Disciples, is considered as an arhat. He is considered as the first and foremost scholar in the understanding of Shunya or the void that is the subject matter of many Buddhist texts including the Charya poems. It is primarily because of this that Subhuti has a prominent place in the cosmic understanding of Tibetan Buddhism. It is said that Gautam Buddha imparted the wisdom of the Diamond Sutra by addressing Shubhooti. 162 Maitreya: Scriptures of almost all the schools of Buddhism prophesize of Maitreya – a future Buddha who is to arrive in future when Dharma will be forgotten and life will be in peril. He is also a much celebrated figure in the form of colonial theosophy that arose in 19th century British India where he is considered as a Master of Ancient Wisdom.
However, the Prince Maitreya whom Bhusukupa had quoted in his explanation cannot be the same as the protagonist of this prophesy because in the anecdote as presented by Haraprasad Shastri, Maitreya has been quoted by Bhusukupa. Here, it refers to Maitreya-Nath, Buddhist philosopher and author (270-350 AD), who, along with Asanga and his half-brother Vasubandhu – both hailing from places that are located in present-day Peshawar in Pakistan – were the three major exponents of Buddhist Yogachar traditions. The Five Treatises of Maitreya-Nath, viz., the Ornament for Clear Realization, the Ornament for the Mahāyāna Sutras, the Sublime Continuum of the Mahāyāna, the Distinguishing Phenomena and Pure Being and the Distinguishing the Middle and the Extremes, constitute the core texts of Yogachara school of Buddhism out of which the cults of Yoga has developed and evolved over time in Buddhism. This Maitreya-Nath is whom Bhusuku quotes and explains in his talk. Once again, confusion exists among scholars on whether Maitreya-Nath was a real person or was he a representation of the ‘future Buddha’ Maitreya who is said to be residing as a Nath, i.e., a Protector, in the Tusita heaven at present and he will arrive on earth as Maitreya Jataka – a Buddha – in future when Dharma will be in peril. Thus, much of the works of Asanga and Vasubandhu are attributed to sayings that this Protector of the Tusita Heaven, Maitreya-Buddha, had said to them when they had reached that heaven through meditation. Thus, it is not yet clear whether Maitreya Nath (270-350 AD) a real philosopher or one envisioned by Asanga and Vasubandhu through their meditation. 163 Work of Subhuti: Subhuti as mentioned in Note No. 161, was a disciple of Gautam Buddha. In the text of the 14th century Newari manuscript, what Shantideva spoke of as ‘the works of Subhuti’ in his midsummer night address to the scholars at Nalanda, might be a reference to the Diamond Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism which is narrated mostly as Gautama the Buddha’s address to Subhuti.
164 Bodhicharyavatar: This is the seminal Sanskrit language work of Shantideva, the 8th century Buddhist scholar and poet whose life-story has also been narrated by Taranath. The Bodhicharyavatar of Shantideva, written in and around 700 AD, has been translated in English under several titles such as A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Entering the Path of Enlightenment etc. The subject matter of the book is the development of bodhi-chitta or the enlightened mind through the Six Paramitas or the Six Patiences until the attainment of the realization of Buddhahood, spread across ten chapters. Its take on Pragya or Wisdom has been considered by Tibetan scholars as one of the clearest explanations of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism and thus as one of the most lucid explositions on Shunya or the Void. 165 Shiksha Samuchchaya/Sikkha Samuccaya: Anthology of Training written by Shantideva (possibly alias Bhusukupa) during his stay in the Nalanda University in the 8th century AD – book on Mahayana and Madhyamika Shunya-ist constructs that deals with the philosophy of education or Shiksha through twenty seven short pneumonic verses. 166 Sutra Samuchchaya/Samuccaya by Shantideva: This book has been lost in time. Taranath refers to this book. Haraprasad Shastri says that the manuscript of this book had not yet been found in the early 20th century. Even today, a hundred years after the time of Mmd. Haraprasad, there is no information on this book. From the title it appears that it was written in Sanskrit and that it was an Anthology (Samuccaya) of the Source-Books (Sutra) i.e. of the teachings of Gautam Buddha.
167 “… whether the Bhusuku who had written these songs was same as the one who had written those books is doubtful – because the books of Shantideva alias Bhusuku speak of the Mahayana Path whereas the Charya songs by Bhusukupa speak of the Esoteric Shawhojiya Path: As mentioned in Exenote 136 on Shantideva, there are several controversies on whether Shantideva and Bhusukupa were the same persons or not, despite what the 14th century palm-leaf scripture written in old Newari insists. For further lucidity, the controversies are encapsulated hereinbelow. There were two Shantidevas in the 6th and the 8th Centuries AD respectively and the more famous one, being the writer of three major Mahayana treatises, was the latter one. There was also a Shantibhadra in the Nalanda monastery in the 11th Century AD who had written a Charya song with the nom-de-plume Kukkuripad, meaning Bitch. Considering the 8th Century Shantideva the same person as Bhusukupa, then the latter must also be from the same century. But the Adi-Guru of Shawhojiya – the ancientmost Master of the Easy Path – Luipa belonged to the 10th Century AD. If Bhusukupa is a Charya poet of the Sahajiya, then he should have been from the 10th Century of latter. However, according to some scholars like Pt. Sankrityayan, Sarahapa was the first Sahajiya poet who was also from the 8th Century AD. The scriptures of Bodhi-Charyavatar and Sikkha-Samuccaya as written by Shantideva deal with Mahayana Buddhism whereas the Charya verses of Bhusukupa are on Sahajiya/SahajaYana stream of Vajrayana Buddhism. This concern has been voiced by Mmd. Haraprasad. However, it can be observed that such watertight boundaries between the different schools of Buddhism can’t be drawn in light of the fact that Vajrayana Buddhism has also been, by certain sources, considered as a part of the Mahayana School only – the foundational pillars of both being philosophies of void and emptiness as promulgated by the Madhyamika and other discourses.
However, the great scholar Taranath has not raised any dispute on the separate identities of Shantideva & Bhusukupa in his seminal works on ancient and early-medieval Indian Buddism. 168 Tantric-Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, Shawhojiya or the Easy Path, Vajra-yana or the Thunder Vehicle, Shunyavoid, nihilism, Nâgarjuṇa’s madhyamika a-binarism: All these refer to the Voidist mysticity – the set of secret rituals and pantheons of deities such as Heruk, Hevajra, the different Taras of the Buddhist Tantric VajraYana traditions that had thrived in the eastern parts of the subcontinent during the Pala dynasty rule and has since shifted to Tibet in face of Brahminical onslaught. There are significant overlaps between Buddhist Tantra and Nath Tantra. In all possibility Yogachara elements of Buddhist Tantra and Shaivite elements got commingled to lead to the Nath School of haThayogis. Vis-à-vis the Charya songs, it can safely be said that the poets were all Tantrics. Kanhopa in one of the songs refer to himself as Kahnu Kapali – Kapalika being the more heterodox element of Tantra. The worship of Vajra or Thunder is common in the subcontinent and so is the worship of what is considered as the feminine counterpart of the Thunder – Lotus. Tantrik rituals focus upon union of male and female symbolized by the Thunder of Man meeting the Lotus of Woman to attain a sense of unity through the Void – this being the form of materialist, mystical Unitarianism of the Yuganaddha that arose in Bengal out of Buddhism at the turn of the first and the second millenniums AD, until the onslaught of the spiritualist Vedic Brahmins.
Conception of the feminine as Shakti, a manisfestation of cosmic energy and consciousness, is commonplace in subcontinental bhakti theology. This has also been influenced by Vajrayana as reflected by the Tibetan deity of nothingness or null-self known as Nairatman (One Without Self) and also the deity Tara, whose worship was brought into the subcontinent from an indigenous worship of Tibet by Nagarjuna – the 2nd century AD philosophical-initiator of the Void-faith, known in various manifestations such as Neel Tara (Blue Tara), Green Tara (Shyama in Shakto Bangla faith), White Tara, Ugra-Tara (Harsh Tara), MahaChin-Tara (Tara of Great China) EkjawTa (One Bunned) etc., in Tantric understanding as prevails in Tibet and those places in the subcontinent, where, according to Hindu mythology, 51 pieces of the corpse of Suttee, the companion of Shiva, had fallen. The Charya poets belong to the 84 Tantrik Mahashiddhas of the Sahaj-Yana stream of Tantric Buddhism. The Mahasiddhas are also venerated as the earliest Nath philosophers. As Buddhism waned in Bengal, another reaction to Brahminical caste-Hindusim arose in the 14th century AD in the form of the Vaishnava Hare-Krishna cult of Chaitanya and Nityananda and Sahaj-Yana Buddhism became Sahajiya Vaishnav religion, constitution the Tantric aspects of Vaishnavism – along lines of secret ritualisms drawn out by Nityananda et al. This got further mixed with the Auliya faith and led to the indigenous Fakirs and Jikirs of the eastern subcontinent and thus the Baul-Fakir-Sahajiya cult of Tantric poets and singers have come to be in Bengal. Thus, Tantric-Buddhism continues to impact living culture. Even in the western climes of the subcontinent, nirguni dohas and Bhajans of Kabir, Rahim, Surdas and all the Sikh and Sufi mendicants continue to carry the essence of these philosophies.
169 very ancient: Date not given. The European ideas of Ancient, Medeival and Modern historicity had not developed among the intelligentsia of Bengal or of anywhere else in the subcontinent in the early 20th century when Haraprasad Shashtri was writing this preface and introducing these manuscripts to the ‘Modern’ world. If Bhusukupa of the Charya songs and Shantideva of the Mahayana order are the same persons, then the writings must have been from the 7th CE which is the time of Shantideva. The particular colophone/palm-leaf-manuscript preserved as Manuscript No. 4801 as mentioned by Haraprasad Shastri might have been from the 14th century which is the time when the fourteen-page palm-leaf manuscript of Locker No. 9990 of the Asiatic Society that contain the biography of Shantideva were written in Newari script, or from the time of Taranath who wrote an account of Shantideva, i.e., the 17th century AD. 170 “the two/ their union/ their duality: The term used by Bhusukupa in the Charya song is ‘BeNi’, a word which has also been used with altering stresses at the ‘i’ (i.e., as beNee at times) in severalplaces of the Doha-song compilations, and, according to the glossary of terms as provided by Haraprasad Shastri, connotes Union of Two, or Duality, or Two in a pair. 171
Tengur Section: As explained previously by Haraprasad Shastri, the entire gamut of canons on Tibetan Buddhism can be divided into two sections: 1) Kengur – Those that contain the words of the Buddha; and 2) Tengur – Those that contain words of all the other Buddhist saints, poets, scholars etc.
172 ChanDala: Generic Sanskrit word for the ‘untouchables’; multiple pre-Aryan communities had existed before the Vedic intrusion occurred. These ethnicities had distinct languages and mores – and were considered to be of impureblood and thus untouchable by the upper hierarchies of the cast system – in many cases even their shadows were considered impure and they were not allowed inside towns before sundown. (see Note 99)
In Yogic-mystic context of Tantric Buddhism, Chandalee means the ‘Inner Heat’, represented as a form of breathing in Yogachari traditions. This is the inner-connotation used by Bhusukupa in the Charya poem – signifying an usage of the Twilight Language – where the same word (ChanDala) can have two connotations – an outer one (Dalit ‘untouchable’) and an inner one – ‘Inner Heat’. 173 Dombee: Means a woman from the Dom community. Also implies, in Tantric parlance, an avadhootika or energyvessel devoid of Dvaita-Gyana: the Wisdom of Duality. However, according to the Thunder Vehicle (Vajrayana) Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, Dombi was a king of Magadha and also a Tantric Buddhist, being a disciple of Thunder Tantric Virupa. He had chosen a perceived ‘lower caste’ woman from a community of singers and dancers as his consort and companion, and had gone to the forests with her to practice Tantric ways of the Vajrayana path for twelve years, before returning with her, riding on a pregnant tigress and brandishing a serpant as a whip, to reclaim his kingdom. Though Haraprasad Shastri, following accounts from the scriptures he had come across during his Nepal visits, had said that he was a king of Magadha, Taranath, in his accounts, had said that he was a king of Tripura (a state, also present in modern India) where both he and his Master Virupa hail from. Thus, ‘Dombee’ here is yet another example of usage of Twilight Wisdom – a word having multiple layers of meanings, connotations and implications.
174 Dom: The Dom people include the Bagdis of Bengal and the Gauris and Gadariyas in central and western India along with the Dom people of Iran and the Middle East. Also known as Domba, their occupation or profession, as was also deified within the Brahminical caste-based society, was cremating the dead. The word ‘Dom’, according to many scholars, derives from Damru or Drum, signifying that the musical affinities of the Dom community. Their traditional deity is Dharma, a deity that emerged out of indigenous and Buddhist faith. The Dom people of the Middle East, as it has been proposed by Matras (2012) et al, had migrated out of easten and central parts of the subcontinent in the 6th century AD. Domaka is a language presently spoken in a small area at Gilgit-Baltistan and the Domari is believed to have been the ancient language spoken by the Dom people of the subcontinent, and those who had moved out in the 6th Century AD and have become a gypsy tribe in Central Asia over the course of history, it is said, used to speak in the same language, which this became an influence over the Romani language. The gypsy Doms are a part of the Romani tradition and heritage whereas the Dom people who stayed back in India developed certain unique habits, including being noted as warriors and horseriders and also constituting many of the forest dwelling and nomadic communities of the subcontinent. Both the Romani Doms and the subcontinent Doms, who are thus claimants of common ethnic heritage, have preserved many Dom customs and traditions and heritages through oral traditions, and also some which were written down in other languages such as the Bangla Dharmamangal musical and literary traditions, the later being a peoples’ culture from medieval Bengal. However, there being no written script of the Domari or Domaka languages, their core culture is still an oral one, and because of their habits of wandering and staying in forestlands, they have been persecuted much by the imperial and post-imperial forces. The Dom people of the subcontinent have been noted for their bravery in the folk literatures such as Dharma-mangal Kavya Poem of Benediction tradition of medieval Bengal and also in a Bengali children’s rhyme that has survived the zero-sum games of history. The rhyme goes like this Aag-Doom Baag-Doom GhoRa-Doom shaajey Dhaak Dhol Mridanga Baajey
Baajtey Baajtey Chollo Dooli Dooli jaabey Kawrno-phooli Kawrno-phooli-r biye Ta Shujji Mama-r Tiye Ta Chawl Shujji GhaaT-ey Jai Ek Khili Paan Kiney Khai Paan-er Bhitor PhNopRa Ma-ey Jhhi-ey JhhawgRa Holud bon-ey kolud phool Tar modhye Kawdom-phool Meaning, roughly: The Dom at the fore gets ready! The Dom at the rear gets ready! Doms get ready on horsebacks! Dhak Dhol and Tabor drums beat! The Palanquin moves through music! It goes to River Karnafuli! The wedding at Karnafuli! The parrot of Uncle Sun! Come Sun, let’s go to the river! Let’s buy a leafful of betel and eat! But there’s a hole inside the leaf! Mom and daughter quarrels! Kalud flowers bloom in yellow forest! Kadam flowers bloom inside Kalud flowers! This rhyme, popular till date, notes the horseriding prowess of the Doms while depicting a culture and customs of wedding, sex and childbirth by the sunny valleys of Karnafuli, a river that flows through the south-eastern forests and highlands of Bangladesh close to Myanmar, under a metaphor of a marriage between the parrot of Sungod wedding the Karnafuli river, with mythic allusions that are lost in time, save in this nursery rhyme which also depicts the popular custom of having paan or betel leaves still prevalent among many people throughout the subcontinent along with the flowers that used to bloom in the forests of the valley. This rhyme and the rural Dharma-mangal culture of music and faith through devotion to the Dharma deity, that still lives among the Bagdi and Dom people – perceived as lower castes by the Brahminical society – are two major and extant Dom influences on Bangla literary tradition.
175 It’s all us and everything and nothing and the beyond!: Sarahapa, in one of the last Doha-songs of Dohakosh, as translated previously, also resonates this Shawhojiya sense when he says: ‘it’s all Buddha- endless, nirantar’ 176 He Has Written Several Books: Here He refers to Kanhapa or Krishnacharya. Other than the Dohakosh collection of 33 couplet-verses, Krishnacharya is the author of Hevajra Tantra – one of the seminal canons of Esoteric Vajrayana Tantra of Buddhism. He is regarded as one among the 84 Mahasiddha yogis and he is said to have been a disciple of Jalandhari-pa, (alternatively, of Virupa or Virobapa), another of the Maha-Siddhas. Kanhopa is also known as the Dark Siddha in Vajrayana traditions. Recent scholarship on early medieval history of the subcontinent points at several characters named Kahnopa – there two Krishnas teaching Buddhism in Nepal at one point of time and there is also reference to another Krishna – a disciple of Naropa – who propagated the Gujhyasamaj Tantra (The Secret Society Tantra) of Shantideva in Tibet. Other than being considered as a Vajrayana/Sahajyana Tantric prophet-bard, Kanhopa or Krishnacharyapa is also regarded as one of the earliest wizards of the Nath lineage – as Kanifnath. The Kanhopa whose lyrics appear in the Charya-Geeti collections belonged to the 8th Century AD.
Kahnopa of Tibetan Buddhist traditions had a Master named Virupa who was also a VajraYana philosopher and poet. Virupa hailed from Tripura (which is also a state in modern-day India) and had another disciple who was also a Sahajiya poet – Dombipa, the tiger riding king whom we have discussed shortly before. In Nath traditions, the Master of Kanifnath was Jalandharipa. If Kanhopa and Kanifnath are to be the same persons then Virupa and Jalandharipa must have been the same persons as well because it is difficult to surmise that the same pupil will have two different masters. However, Jalandharipa and Virupa are separately mentioned among the Chaurasi Mahasiddhas or the Eighty Four Great Liberated Ones revered by Nath and Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions alike. If Jalandharipa and Virupa or Virobapa were two different persons, then so must have Kanhopa and Kanifnath been. Thus, the existence of multiple Kanhapas or Krishnacharyas, along with the possibility of Kanhapa and Kanifnath being seprate persons, makes it clear that there ought to be several books of the Vajrayana and Nath traditions where the authors bear the name Kanhapa. 177 Heruk/Heruka: Important group of deities or divine lineages of the bodhisattvas in the Vajrayana (Thunder Vehicle) way of Buddhism – also known as Tantric Buddhism or Esoteric Buddhism – and has been a prominent deity of Tibetan Buddhist panthoen over the centuries. Heruk is considered as the Lord of Thunder and as the lineage of the Wisdom Kings who fought fierce angry battles to save wisdom. The Heruka deities, other than being angry brave fighters, also are embodiments of indivisible bliss and emptiness – the shunya beyond being and not-being and thus, along with deities such as Hevajra, Nairatma, Tara et al, occupy an important place in Buddhist Tantric pantheon.
178 Hevajra: One of the primary Enlightened Beings in the Thunder Vehicled Path of Tantric Buddhism or Vajryana Buddhism. The consort of Hevajra is Nairatma (literally: null-self) – who has been referred to in the Charya Songs time and again by Kahnopa and even bards like Biroopa (Virupa or Virobapa of Tripura – Master of sage-poets Kanhapa and Dombipa) – who are all considered to be Siddhais or Enlightened Ones according to the Tantric Buddhist traditions. The worship of Hevajra had started primarily from Bengal. Taranath’s seminal works in the 15th century and several other medieval as well as modern texts also refer to Siddhacharya bards and wizards such as Sararoohapa or Sarahapa, Kampala or Kambalambarpa or Kambala or Lavapa (the founder of the Dream-Yogic traditions on yogic practices based on dreams), Biroopa or Virupa, Dombi-pa et al – i.e. almost all the lyricists whose song-verses appear in the collection of Charya-songs – as prominent propagators of the Tantric worship of
Hevajra. Kahnopa, his disciple Bhadrapa, Bhadrapa’s disciple Tilopa, Tilopa’s disciple Naropa and Naropa’s disciple Marpa the Translator (1092-1097 AD) – a contemporary of Charya poet Kukkuripa (a song of whose features in the Charya translations) – were all adherents of the Hevajra Tantric tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism to a great extent and thus carried the lineage of wisdom surrounding this Tantric deity forward. 179 Siddhacharya: Siddhacharyas, in this context, refer to the eighty four Great Siddhas or Maha-Siddhas revered in the Buddhist and Nath traditions – eighty four sages and yogic practitioners of Tantra, bard-prophets and songwriters whose timespan is across four centuries. Most of the lyricists of Charya-Chawrjyo-Binishchawey belong to the eighty four siddhacharyas and so are the poets of the Dohakosh compilations and so are the venerated Nath gurus such as Gorakhnath, Machindernath or Matsyendranath, Jalandhari, Kanifnath et al – whose lives have also been discussed in brief by Haraprasad Shastri in some subsequent paragraphs of this mouthpiece. 180 These mendicants used to don long dreadlocked hair and chignons and stayed almost naked: As depicted in Tibetan and Nepalese paintings – which Haraprasad Shastri must have noted during his travels. 181 Luipa – meaning ‘Fish Gut Eater’ in old Bangla (from the old Bangla word lohia or lohita denoting the loTey fish or the Bombay Duck and also the rohu fish) – Luipa or Luipada was a Thunder-Yogi bard and is considered by many as the first of the eighty four Siddhacharyas – and the contemporary annotator of the Charya songs – Munidatta, refers to Luipa as the adi i.e. the first Siddhacharya. However, scholars including Rahul Sankrityayan regard Sarahapa as the first Siddhacharya scholar. The name Lui also may relate to the Brahmaputra River which was referred to as the Rohitya or Rohit River in ancient Sanskrit texts.
Some texts refer to him as a contemporary to the Pala king Dharmapala (AD 770 – AD 810) and place him in the 8th century AD whereas some texts – including those that Haraprasad Shastri had depended upon to determine the period when he lived, refer to Luipa as a contemporary of Atish Dipankara Srigyan and thus place him in the 10th century AD. The Vajrayan Buddhist Tantric bard Shabarpa or Savarpa, titled as the Hunter – who is also considered as one of the eightyfour Siddhacharya, whose name in all possibility indicates his tribal origin, whose songs also find place in the Charya-Geeti collections and who was a follower of the Voidism of Nâgarjuṇa and might also have been a founder of the monastery at Savar at coordinates located in Bikrampur in present-day Bangladesh – is often considered as a Guru of Luipa. However this is a conflicted contention given that Shabarpa is also considered as a Mahasiddha among the Siddhacharya lineage which Luipa is said to be the founder of. Luipa is also considered as the same person as Matsyendranth or Machinder-Nath, popularly known as Meenanath, the Nath Yogi Siddhacharya – because of the similarity in the connotations of the names. However, many historians seem to differ, because Luipa hails from the 8th CE whereas Meenanath from the 10th century AD. Luipa, is considered as a direct Guru of Darikpa and Dombipa – both being revered as two among the eighty four siddhacharyas and both having their songs present in the Charya-Geeti collection. As for Luipa, he is regarded as the writer of the Shribhagavad-Abhisamaya, the Vajrasattva Sadhana ritual practices of Thunder-Yogic Tantra of Buddhism, the Tattvasvabhava-Dohakosha-Geetikia-Drishti-Nama collection of mystic Shawhojiya songs, the Luhipada-Geetika songs, the Shrichakrasamvara-Abhisamaya-Tika notes and the Buddhodaya verses, as the co-author of the text AbhisamayaVibhanga along with Atish Dipankar, and as the lyricist of songs numbered one and twenty nine in the Charya-Geeti collection.
It has been noted by several scholars that Luipa was born in a royal family of what can be either modern-day Sri Lanka or in what was then known as Oddiyana – a hidden country of wizards and witches – identified variously as located in modern-day Odisha, India or in Shambala, Tibet. 182 Luipa-Matsyantrad – Probably this ‘other name’ of Luipa indicates that Luipa and Meenanath were the same persons and also leads to the confusion between their identities. The earliest Nath Yogi Matsyendranath or Machhindernath or Minanath is considered as the Adi Guru or the First Master of the Nath and is the originator of the Yogic practices of hathha-yoga whereas Luipa is considered as the Adi Siddhacharya or the First Attained among the Siddhacharyas and also as the writer of the first verse of the Charya compilation . 183‘… even till this date’: This Mouthpiece was written by Mmd. Haraprasad a good hundred years back – in 1916. The worship of the Dharma deity in rural Bengal has dwindled into miniscule cultdom and many of the assorted rights and rituals have disappeared over a century of cultural erosion of rural life, living and livelihood. The main worshippers of Dharma have been the Dalit castes of Bengal – the fisherfolks, the boat-rowers, the Dom corpseburners et al. Thus, whether the ritual sacrifice of a goat in the name of Matsyantrad or Luipa on the occasion of the subaltern-pagan worship of the Dharma deity is still prevalent in the Rarh districts of Bengal (as mentioned in the previous note) is doubtful. However, certain modern-day Bangla literatures record the Carnival of the Old King of Jamalpur – a fair that happens in the modern-day administrative sub-division of Kalna in Burdwan District, West Bengal. This Carnival surrounds the worship of King Dharma – who is the ancientmost existing ‘people’s deity’ in Rarh and happens on the full moon night of the first summer month, Boishaakh (between mid-April and mid-May). The Carnival symbolizes the warring strength that all the indigenous people of Rarh were once noted for. During the carnival, the worshippers throughout the village of Jamalpur begin slaughtering goats, and then a mad rush and fight with bamboo-poles ensues on looting the shares of the mutton.
184 Mayurbhanj: District located in the state of Odisha in India where the majority of the inhabitants are indigenous people. The district adjoins the modern day states of Jharkhand and Bengal. The district was, until the 21st century, noted for dense forests and elephants. The worship of Dharma deity was common among the indigenous people of the forested plateaus that stretch along the eastern climes of the subcontinent, and remnants of the cult still prevail. Whether the worship of Luipa or Matsyantrad has survived in that tribal district over the hundred years that have passed along the times when Haraprasad Shastri had written of this ritual and this date when I am translating it – is something that I doubt. Hope some kind seeker will bring us to lucidity someday. 185 Bikramsheel/Vikramshila Monastery: According to some scholars, this was located in and around where the district Bikrampur is in present day Bangladesh or, alternately, in the northern fringes of the modern-day city of Kathmandu. This was a monastery that had thrived during the Pala Kingdom and had withered away in face of Brahminical followed by Islamic arrivals of cultures. Other than Bangladesh and Nepal, India too has a claim of share in the past glory of the Monastery where Buddhist scholar and adventurer Atish Dipankar had resided in and taught – claiming that it lies in the district of Bhagalpur of the modern-day Indian state of Bihar. The Pala dynasty king Dharmapala is noted as the founder of this Monastery.
186 The Shiddhacharyas were from the tutelary of Luipa – the disciples of his lineage would become the Mahasiddhas: This contention has most definitely been doubted by many because different tutelaries i.e. master-topupil lineages have been observed among the eighty four Siddhacharyas and moreover many (including Pt. Sankrityayan) consider Sarahapa was the first Sahajiya Siddhacharya. 187 Darikpa: Disciple of Luipa, one of the Eighty Four Mahasiddhi poet-prophet-mendicant Vajrayana Yogis. He has the epithet: ‘Slave-King of the Temple Harlot’. He had written Verse No. 34 of the Twilight Language Charya songs. 188 The Self And The The Other – Are All The Same: One of the last Dohas of Sarahapa in the Dohakosh as translated above reflects the exact same sentiment – telling us to not alienate the self from the other – it’s all Buddha – endless – nirantar 189 Anuttar (literally – what has no answer) – refers to Anuttar-Yoga or Anuttar-Yogic Tantra, a Yogic-Tantric tradition of Tibetan/Vajrayana Buddhism – which seems to be strange combination of Yoga and Tantra – given that the latter two, often, speak of contradictory methods of practice. Anuttara signifies those who have attained Bodhi or Buddhahood. The attainment of Anuttar, according to Buddhist Tantric mysticism of Vajrayana, happens through a process of body-control involving the Inner Heat or ChanDali
190 Tilopa ((988–1069) Mahasiddha Vajrayana sage and a practitioner and propagator of the Anuttar-Yogic-Tantric Vajrayana tradition. That he was not the sole originator of the Anuttara philosophy is amply evident from the fact that a few Songs of Realisation or Charya songs by different philosopher-poets including one by ChaTilpa refer to the Anuttar. Tilopa received his wisdom from several scholars and philosophers long dead or alive at his time – Indrabhuti, Matangi, Lawapa, Kahnopa, Saryapa, Sukhasiddhi, Nagarjuna et al. Tilopa is said to have been born in Bengal in places constituting modern day district Chittagong of Bangladesh. His primary disciple Naropa was also a scholar of repute and was also involved with the Nalanda University. Disciples of Master Tilopa or Guru Tilopada, including Naropa and disciples of Naropa including Marpa the Translator & Kukkuripada the poet of verse number 2, 20 and 48 of the Charya songs, as well as Milerapa, the disciple of Marpa – continued the Anuttar-Yogic legacy of Tilopa forward. 191 Nath: The tradition arose throughout the subcontinent in the 8th-9th-10th centuries – drawing from Buddhism and Hinduism – focusing on several Tantric as well as Yogic rites involving the kundalini seats of energy and the wheels (chakras) of the body. Matsyendranath/Machindernath/Meenanath is considered as the founder of this sect. His disciples Chaurangi and Gorakhnath and Gorakhnath’s disciple Jalandhari-pa/Jan Peer/HNaRi-pa/HanDi-pa – are considered as three of the Mahasiddhas also revered in Tibetan Buddhism. The Nath tradition also has Kanifnath, a Nath disciple of Jalandhari-Pa – who may or may not be the Charya poet and Vajrayana Tantric Kahnopa or Krishnacharyapa. Then again, Kahnopa and Krishnacharyapa might have been multiple people as discussed before.
According to Nath creation-myth, in the beginning, everything was dark. Then a bubble came to be. Soon, the bubble became an egg. The egg hatched and Dharma, bereft of form and complexion, having no beginning or end – popped out. The eggshells became peripheries of the world and the water from the hatched egg filled the world. Hapless, Dharma floated and sighed. Out of the sigh, an owl came to be. Dharma rode on the owl and began flying across the skies. Then he created the triangular earth out of a pinch of dirt from his skin. He and the owl were both weary and so they landed on the earth thus created, through which flowed the Balluka river. He created the first goddess Ketaka and married her. It is believed that Meenanath came from the navel, Gorakhnath from the forehead, Jalandhari from the hands, Chaurangi from the legs and Kahno-pa/Kanifnath from the ears of Dharma. That the Naths, like the Vajrayana mendicants – were heterodox worshippers of the shunya-void is clear from the song Shunya-Gadh-Shahar (Empty-Fortress-City) by Gorakhnath and also from other songs and incantations of the Mahasiddha Nath Gurus. That the Dharma deity worshipped in Bengal is a common deity for the Buddhists and the Naths alike is itself a proof of the commonality of origin of the Shawhojiya minstrels and the Nath mendicants which is further attested by the fact that the rites and rituals of Dharma worship as is available in medieval Bengalee literature containing devotional paens to and by the VajraYana-Nath-Mahasiddha Masters. There is also some commonality with Sufism – evinced by the title Pir that was given to Jalandhari-pa. Much of this commonality stems from the emphasis on the shunya void of Dharma – also known as Alakh or unnoticed and Niranjana or colourless in Dharma, Nath and Sikh mysticism alike – a development on Nagarjuna’s ‘nih-swabava’ Unitarian Void beyond the binaries of being and not-being.
14th century Maithili literary ballad Gorkha-Vijay by Vidyapati also narrates the Nath mysticism through the mystic soujourns of Master Gorakhnath and Pupil Meenanath. Much of Nath literature is in codes and crypts so as to avoid Brahminical usurpation and destruction, and thus, like the Charya songs, also form a part of the Twilight Language tradition. 192 Meenanth or Matsyendranath or Machhindernath: (10th century AD): Reverred as the founder of the Nath sect, as an avalokitesvara-deity titled Bunga Dyakh in Buddhist traditions of Nepal or old Newar, as one of the Chaurasi Mahasiddhas in Tibetan Vajrayana or Esoteric Buddhism – is also the founder of the Yogic practices of haTha-yoga. He was the guru of Gorakhnath and Chaurangi and is considered as the first of the Nine Naths of the Nath tradition which also includes other Siddhacharyas such as Gorakhnath or Gorakhpa, Chaurangi or Chaurangi-pa, Jalandhari or Jalandhari-pa or Jan Peer, Kanifnath or Kahno-pa et al. Matsyendranth, like the early Nath Gurus, is thus revered in Hindu and Buddhist traditions alike and is also a key figure in the Sikh theology that developed a few centuries later. Because of the commonality of connotations of their names, Matsyendranath – being the first Nath Guru and Luipa – being the first Shawhojiya Mahasiddha – are at times considered as the same person. This has been affirmed by modern scholarship as well.
According to Tucci et al, he was born in a family of fisherfolks in either Kamrup, being the present day state of Assam in India or in Bengal. However, his traditional birthplace is said to be in Patan, a village located in present-day Nepal. A song that is said to have been written by Meenanath has been presented by Haraprasad Shastri in the present mouthpiece whereas similar versions of the same song has been presented by Dr. Mohammad Shahidulla and by Dr. Sukumar Sen a few decades down the line in the last century.
195 Luipa had preached and propagated the Shawhojia or Easy Path of Vajrayana Buddhism in the 9th century AD: This claim has since been contested. Scholars such as Rahul Sankrityayan had claimed that Sarahapa and not Luipa was the initiator of the Shawhoj-Shiddho lineage. 196 Some Of Them Had Drawn Their Visions From Buddhism And Some Drew It From Hinduism: The Nath tradition, as it stands today, draws elements from Tantric and Yogic Buddhist as well as Tantric and Yogic Hinduist – especially Shaivite or related to the rites surrounding the worship of Shiva and Shakto or related to the rites surrounding the worship Shakti or energy as manifested in feminine form through Kali in Hinduism and Tara in Buddhism – and had also been influenced by Sufi and Sikh mystic elements.
197 Gorakhnath or Gorakshanath (10th-11th century AD) – Mahasiddha and disciple of Meenanath – Gorakhnath and Chaurangi – the other disciple of Meenanath – were instrumental in the development and outreach of the Nath Path and by drawing elements from Shaivism and other non-Buddhist elements into the worship of Dharma, he incurred the ire of the Buddhists of those times, which was increased by the fact that he was a Buddhist by faith before he took to Nath worship. That is why, as Haraprasad Shastri says in this mouthpiece, Gorakhnath is considered as a traitor by the Nepalese Buddhists. However, he is still considered as one of the Eighty Four Mahasiddha Vajrayana saints in the Tibetan Buddhist heritage. Gorakhpur in present day Uttar Pradhesh which happens to be the most revered pilgrimage of the Nath faithfuls is named after Gorakhnath and many scholars including Sukumar Sen had also claimed that the Gorkha community draws its name from Gorakhnath who belonged to that community. His birthplace in Nepal where he, according to Haraprasad Shastri, is much hated has been named Gorkha after him and that is also the name of an entire district in present day Nepal.
He is said to have authored several songs and scriptures on the secret cults, traditions and rituals of the Nath Path. The Maithili language ballad Goraksha-Bijawy/Gorkha-Vijay of Vidyapati which tells the story of the life of Gorakhnath – is the foremost literary output of the Nath tradition and is considered as a part of the corpus of medieval Bangla
literature. It contains a story of how Guru Matsyendranath, cursed by Shiva, had forgotten the Great Wisdom that he had heard Shiva narrating to Parvati. He hid as a fish below the boat wherefrom Shiva was narrating the wisdom to Parvati. Being cursed on being caught evesdropping into their conversation, he was enchanted by the beauty of the women of Kamrupa, presently located in Assam, and was thus held captive in lust. His disciple Gorakhnath, on hearing this, masqueraded as a dancer and reached the court of the Queen of Kamrupa where Meenanath was the Royal Consort. The ‘guru’-‘guru’ sounds that came out of the beats of the madal-drums and the rhythmscape of the mirdanga-tabor that Gorakh played while dancing as a woman brought memories of the wisdom and of his life as a Yogi back to Meenanath.
This is also the subject matter of the Maya-Machhinder films of early Indian cinema. A Bangla song, written in a very riddlesque and cryptic form though not in the Language of the Dusk but in Bangla – the one purportedly sung by Gorakh while he was dancing in the Royal Court of Kamrup to bring the Yogic senses back to Meenanath – appears in the Gorkha-Bijawey ballad of medieval Bangla literature as reproduced by Sukumar Sen in his Banglar Shahityo-Itihash (Literary History of Bengal) goes as follows: pokhri-tey paani nai paR kyano puRey? basha-ghawr-ey Dimbo nai, chhao kyano uRey? nawgor-ey monushyo nai ghawr chaley chal aNdhawley dokan diya khorid kawrey kaal jhhim jao bawriSha awtawley jao Meen Jhhampiya toreetey paRi shomudro goheen In means, roughly, as follows:
The pond is dry; why do the shores burn? there’re no eggs in the nest, how come baby birds fly? there’re no humans in the city everyone makes their move from within their rooms everyone’s building roofs for their rooms everyone’s sorting paddy from within their rooms everyone plays chess and rolls dices from within their rooms The city is empty The houses are empty The houses sort paddy, the houses build roofs the houses roll dices the houses play chess the houses make their moves; They set shops in darkness – they buy time and death Rain, rain hard and heavy Meen, go to the depthless fathoms To dive in, to swim across, to build a boat, to row by – Dive into the deep ocean – reach the other shores fast! 198 Avalokiteshwar or Avalokitesvara: A deity or bodhisattva common to all folds of Buddhism. Literally, the name means the Lord Who Looks Down – and is regarded upon as the bodhisattvic manifestation of Karuna or compassion of the Buddhas.
199Buddhist scriptures shun entry of those who kill animals for a living – i.e. castes and tribes of fisherfolks and hunters – into its religious ways as such killing and bloodshed is forbidden in Buddhism: This policy of the Buddhist orthodoxy to keep fisherfolks and hunters out of Buddhism had led to the Kaibarta/Koibawrto Rebellion of 1075 AD – one that was to weaken severely the foundations of the Pala dynasty. The Kaibarta-s are fishing communities and have been traditionally branded as one of the lowermost Dalit castes in the traditional Hindu social hierarchy. In around 1075 AD, the fisherfolks belonging to the Koibawrto community from Barendrabhumi (what can presently be considered as the Bankura district of West Bengal and the Dinajpur districts of West Bengal and Bangladesh) rebelled
against the Buddhist king Mahipala II, one of the last scions of the Pala dynasty. The king had passed a law banning all forms of fishing or hunting, showing the reason that killing living creatures were against Buddhism. This had made livelihood very difficult for the fisherfolks and the hunting tribespeople who joined hands in the uprising. A strong naval fleet of fast moving and well-armed boats launched severe guerilla assaults on the kingdom of Mahipala-II and, after his death, on his son and successor Rampala –II, who had to forfeit a significant chunk of the kingdom – the entire of Barendrabhumi, to the Koibawrto rebels as a result. Koibawrto guerilla leaders such as Dibyok, Rudok and Bheem fought valiantly with their fleet of armed boats, liberated Barendrabhumi from the Pala kingdoms and held fort for two decades, before falling to severe attacks by the forces of king Rampala –II, who had to mobilize the entire Pala army to wrest away the lost territories. The Koibawrto general Bheem was captured and brutally executed by the royalty. But the long fight had already exhausted the Pala kings and they could not stand up to the anti-Buddhist Brahminnical uprising that was spearheaded from the Pala barracks by General Vijay Shen/Sena – an event that was to toll the final deathknell for the once-glorious Pala Kingdom.
The Koibawrto Rebellion of the fisherfolks has been the earliest historically documented rebellions of the subcontinent by any of the the marginalized and historically depressed communities and signifies a rare occasion in the several millennia old subcontinental history of Dalit and proletarian struggles for liberation from the clutches of the royalty and upper castes and classes – one where liberation in the form of temporary political liberation could be achieved through riparian guerilla warfare and the same could be defended through able and valiant stewardship of a naval fleet for a couple of decades in the face of severe opposition and assault by imperial power.
200 Koula-Vamacharis: Haraprasad Shastri uses the term Koulo – the only prevalent noun-usage of which in Bangla (as found in the seminal Bongiyo Shawbdokosh lexicon by Haricharan Bandyopadhyay) implies Tantric or KoulikaKapalikas of the Vamachari heterodoxy or the ‘Left-Path’ – the Tantric practices that are common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism Nath traditions and Sikhism. (Vamachar – literally: Left-oriented Rituals). Nath Yogi Guru Meenanath is said to have written the secret scripture on Koula philosophy and wisdom known as Koula-JnanaNirnaya (Determining Koula Knowledge) and thus the Koula cult of heterodoxic rites and rituals is a part of the Nath tradition. That the Charya songs are also part of the Koula Tantric heritage is evinced by the fact that Kahnopad (or Krishnacharya or Kahnopa or Kanifnath) had referred to himself as Kahno Kapali or Kanho the Kapalika (Koulik) in one of the the songs penned by him. The emphasis on realization and practice of non-duality and pure ecstasy through the physical body – what is termed as as Deho-tatva or the Body-Theory in Baul context – thus constitute an inherent element in all the Tantric practices of Thunder Vehicle Buddhism, the Easy Way and the Nath Path. Thus, the Sahajiya, Vajrayana, Nath and Koula or Kapalika traditions of Tantra are all related and overlapping.
201 Palmyr Uldéric Alexis Cordier, Dr. (1871 – 1914): French Oriental manuscript collector and compiler, Ayurvedic exponent, medical practitioner, linguist. Fruits of his labour can be found in the 3rd edition of the Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient (BEFOE-III) of 1903, from pages 604 to 629. This reference has been cross-cited in Volume 116 / Issue 01 / January 1984, pp 156-157 of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland in the book-review section. Dr. Cordier and Gustave Lietard (1833 – 1904), a hydropathic physician at Plombieres-les-Bains in Lorrainem are considered as the the first historians of Ayurveda (ancient subcontinental medical sciences) in France by Arion Rosu in the essay Two French Pioneer Historians of Indian Medicine, published by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France, in their journal Ancient Science of Life (Vol No. XIll Nos. 1 & 2, July-October 1993, pp. 2-10). A list of Ayurveda-related works and collections by Dr. Cordier, as mentioned in the abovementioned essay, are as follows:
1. A study of Indian medicine : Vedic and heroic times (doctoral thesis at the University of Bordeaux, 1894) 2. Vagbhata and the Astangahrdaya (pamphlet, 1896) 3. Nâgarjuṇa and the Uttaratantra of the Susrutasamhita (1896) 4. Some new data concerning Sanskrit medical treatises prior to the thirteenth century (1899) 5. Physicians and medicine in Bengal (1899) 6. Bibliographical note on J. Jolly’s “Vagbhata” (1901) 7. Vagbhata : a historical and religious study (1901) 8. Indian medicine : sitala “smallpox” (1901) 9. Origins, evolution and decline of Indian medicine (1901) 10. Medical training in ancient India : Vedic and Brahmanic times (1902) 11. Introduction to the study of Sanskrit medical treatises incorporated in the Tibetan Tanjur (1903) 12. Recent discoveries of Sanskrit medical manuscripts of India (1903) 13. Obituary : Dr. Alexandre Lietard (1904)
14. A history of Indian Medicine : pulmonary tuberculosis (1912) 15. Three Papers on Tropical Medicine (1913) A total of twenty two French language works by Dr. Cordier have been listed and archived online as on 15.08.2015. 202 FarashDanga: Literally: French-land. Former name of the city of Chandan-nagar, located 35 kilometers to the North of Calcutta in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. It was established as a French colony in AD 1673, and it remained such throughout the remaining of the Mughal era, the subsequent English East India Company and the British rule over the subcontinent that came after that – for a good two hundred and seventy seven years, until the de facto and de jure governance of the city was handed over to the Indian government in 1950 following a plebiscite. 203 French colony of Pondicherry: Pondicherry was a French colony from ever since the French East India Company established trading centers there in 1674. French hold over Pondicherry, peppered intermittently by brief stints of Dutch and English occupation, continued right up to 1962. 204 Island-Colonies Of His Country That Lie On The East: refers to erstwhile Indochina
205 I had made a catalogue…from the list that Mon. Cordier had made: This long list, titled Bouddho-TantricGronthokaar-Naam-Shuchee (meaning: Buddhist-Tantric-Book-Writer-Name-List), was not published in the 1916 compilation by Shahityo Porishawd. 206 Noneegopal/Nanigopal Bandyopadhyay: Dates unknown. The Calcutta University Teaching Staff registry, for the years July-June 1924-25 to 1925-26 lists him as an Assistant Lecturer of Sanskrit. At page 196, it gives a very short bio of his as: “Passed Title Examination in Sanskrit. Literature; formerly traveling Pandit for the Asiatic Society” A Pundit Nanigopal Bandyopadhyay has also been referred to as a professor of Sanskrit with the Dhaka University for the year 1939. Other than in the Mouthpiece annotated, Mmd. Haraprasad also refers to the assistance provided by Pundit Nanigopal Banerji in manuscript collection and compilation work in the Shastri Report on the Search for Manuscripts for the years 1906-07 to 1910-11 as was presented by the Asiatic Society.
207 Basantaranjan Ray Vidyaballav/Bidyabawllobh (1865-1952): He was a scholar and a manuscript collector who had collected around eight hundred manuscripts of ancient scriptures and verses in his lifetime. He has donated all of those to the Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd. He had made the discovery of the manuscript of the collection of devotional Vaishnav/Boishnawb Kirtana songs in Bengali titled Sri Krishna Kirtan by BoRhu ChonDidas from the cowshed of Debendranath Chatterjee's house at Kakinlya village, Bankura district (located in present day West Bengal) – and this book is considered as one of the landmarks in the history of medieval Bangla literature. He was a member of the Bengal Academy of Literature in 1894 which was subsequently renamed as Shahityo Porishawd and then as Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd. He was chosen as a Professor for the nascent Bangla Department of the Calcutta University by legendary Bangla educationist Sir Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay (1864-1924). His association with the Shahityo Porishawd seems to have been referred to by Mmd. Haraprasad in this Mouthpiece. However, from the timeline of Bidyabawllobh’s life it appears that he was only fifty one years old in 1916 when Haraprasad Shastri was writing this present Mouthpiece to be published by the abovementioned Porishawd, and thus Basantaranjan Ray Vidyaballav not have been as old and as Mmd. Haraprasad describes him to be. Thus, the Pundit Bidyabawllobh mentioned Mmd. Haraprasad could have been a different and a much lesser known pundit who shared the same name.
208 Malla Kings of Nepal: The Malla Dynasty was a ruling dynasty of Nepal (AD 1201–1769). It was during their reign that the people living in and around the Kathmandu Valley began to be called the Newars. They were the ruling clan of the Malla Mahajanapada which was one of the Sixteen Mahajanapadas (Mahajanapada – literally means ‘Great Foothold of a Tribe’ – these are the sixteen kingdoms and oligarchic republics that existed in ancient India from the 6th centuries BC to the 4th centuries AD and have been frequently mentioned in ancient Buddhist texts). The Malla clan was powerful in the north eastern parts of the subcontinent. With subsequent flows of political power, the seat of the Malla power came to be in Nepal, to the north of the seats of the Pala dynasty rule. Mallabhum is also the historical name of the present Bankura district of West Bengal, which is separated from Nepal by a few hundred kilometers. The Malla dynasty of Bankura, West Bengal and that of Nepal were different – the former nomenclature being related to the forest dwelling Mal tribes of the region and the latter being the one that came to an end in 1769 when Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha invaded the valley, thus initiating the Gorkha Shah dynasty of Nepal.
209 Kashi: Kashi here refers to the Hindu Kingdom of Kashi or the corresponding State of Benaras that flourished where the modern state of Uttar Pradesh in India is situated, with its seat of power located at Kashi, by the banks of the Ganga in the present day city of Benaras between the 11th to the early 20th century AD – a chain of unbroken Brahminical rule from the early medieval period till British suzerainty – broken intermittently by the rule of the revenue collectors of the province of Oudh or Awadh or Ayodhya that was ruled by the Mughal empire in its heydays. Many of the famous holy temples of the Hindus situated by the bank of the Ganges in Kashi were built by the kings, belonging to the Bhumihar caste and titled as the Naresh – the Best Among Men, who were ex-revenue collectors of Awadh who had subsuently turned into Brahmin zamindars with British entry in the subcontinent. 210 Gorkha hills: This comprises of the Darjeeling Hills and the Singalila and the other ranges of the Himalayas as located in the Gorkhaland Autonomous Council region of modern day West Bengal, and possibly parts of the Himalayan ranges that stretch north and west from Darjeeling up to Sikkim and Nepal.
211 Jung Bahadur Rana (1816-1877) – founder of the Rana dynasty of Nepal. After the Malla dynasty fell before the Gorkha might in the late 18th century, a state of chaos and infighting had prevailed over Nepal for the last and the first few decades of the 18th and the 19th centuries respectively, after which, Prime Minister and General Mathebarsingh Thapa, the guardian and guide and maternal uncle of Jung Bahadur, doctored the Kot Massacre or Kot Parwa (meaning the Kot episode) in 1846 by which 36 members of the Royal Court of king Rajendra of the Shah-Gorkha dynasty were killed, following which Jung Bahadur Rana became the de facto ruler of Nepal, keeping king Surendra, the son of King Rajendra, as the de jure or puppet king. 212 Kot Massacre of 1846: A watershed moment in the history of Nepal that happened on 14th September 1846, when 36 (according to some historians, 40) members of the Royal Court of the Gorkha-Shah dynasty of Nepal that had gained ascendancy after the Malla kings were dethroned in 1769 were assassinated. Kot in Nepalese means Palace Armoury. This is where the assassinations had occurred. The prime target was the Prime Minister of the Shah king Rajendra. The king Rajendra Bikram Shah took exile in the Kingdom of Kashi. The events were, much like the World War I, a snowball effect of an assassination in the palace.
General Gagan Singh Bhandari, a favourite of the Shah King Rajendra and a lover of the Queen Rajyalakshmi, used to wield much power over the state of affairs of the kingdom right before the eyes of the king and this had angered many among the nobility. He was found dead in the palace on 14th September 1846, at the night before the massacre. The very next day, at the insistence of the enraged queen, the palace was attacked by the battalions galvanized by General Jung Bahadur, aided by the able guidance of his maternal uncle and Commander in Chief of the Royal Army Mathebarsingh Thapa.
The queen had thought that the members of the noble family of the Pandeys was responsible for the murder and commanded, on threat of death, to General Abhimanyu Singh, to kill the family members of the Pandey nobility of the court. General Abhimanyu had known that the real culprit was Jung Bahadur and thus he refused, leading to a swordfight with the soldiers at the command of the queen that resulted in his death. By then, the forces of Jung Bahadur had already launched an assault on the armoury of the palace – resulting in a free-for-all skirmish that led to the death of thirty six/ forty people of the royalty and the nobility, the escape of the Shah-Gorkha king Rajendra to Kashi and the establishement of the Rana-Shah rule where the ‘Rana’s or the Prime Ministers would be the hereditary descendants of Jung Bahadur and the ‘Shah’s or the Kings would be the hereditary descendants of Rajendra Shah – an arrangement that was to continue till the abolition of monarchy in Nepal in 2008. 213 The Gorkha Kingdom: By the Gorkha kingdom Haraprasad Shastri refers to the Shah Dynasty of Nepal whose de jure reign had prevailed from 1769 to 2008.
214 Raj Tumahri, Hukm Hamari – meaning ‘Your Kingdom, my Command’. The arrangement as entered into by the Nepalese royalty after the Kot Massacre of 1846 was such that King Surendra of the Shah-Gorkha dynasty would sit on the throne as the puppet king of the Rana or the Prime Minister Jung Bahadur. Such arrangement – that the figurehead kings would be from the Gorkha-Shah dynastry whereas the Ranas or the Prime Ministers who will have the final says on matters of law order and governance, and would thus constitute a hereditary royal title of the Ranas, would hail from the descendants of Jung Bahadur prevailed till 2008 when Nepal finally stepped out of imperialism. 215 I Have Had The Salt Of Newar: ‘Having the salt of someone’ is a popularly used idiomatic coinage in the subcontinent, signifying faith placed to the paymasters. If one has the salt of someone, implying of he or she draws his or her salary from that person/institution in lieu of his or her service, it is considered as a grave act of dishonesty and treachery for him or her to rebel or act against the will of that person or institution. This ‘salt-pact’ of loyalty and servitude prevails on popular ethos throught the subcontinent. 216 Mawhashawey/Mahashay: Mister, a Sanskritic reference still prevalent in Odisha, though the Assamese and Bangla equivalent of this as prevalent at present is Moshai or Mawshai
217 Yaksha: in Indo-Vedic and Sanskritic myths and legends, Yakshas are mythical beings who guard treasures. A famous literary Yaksha is the male protagonist of the Sanskrit play Meghdootam written by Kalidasa in around the 5th century AD. Yakshas are believed to be largely benevolent spirits who guard all treasures and resources. There are ample references to Yakshas in the classical Sanskrit plays and mythological texts as well as in Buddhist and Jaina scriptures.
218 Vasily Pavlovich Vasilyev or Wassiljew (1818-1900): Scholar of Buddhism, he is renowned as the author of the three volumes of the History of Buddhism which were published in 1857, 1860 and 1865. Born in Russia, he was a student of Oriental Studies and had undertaken several academic researches on Buddhism for ten years (1840-1850) on behalf of the Peking Orthodox Mission. Several other books, essays and articles by him were, and still are, being published by several journals and publication houses throughout Europe.
There are several references and attributions to Vasiliyev’s works in the contemporary scholarship of 19th and early 20th century. Roger Garin-Michaud’s Buddhist Bibliography catalogues “Bouddhisme”, traduction française de Vasilieff par G.A. Lacomme, Paris 1865. Yet another book, titled: “Hinduism and Buddhism: A Historical Sketch” by Charles Eliot as was published in 1862 refers to: Vasilief, Le Bouddhisme, Troisième supplément, pp. 262 ff. Köppen, Rel. des Buddha,I.151.Takakusu in J. Pali Text Society, 1905. Vasilyev had also written and published the Biographies of ancient Buddhist philosophers such as Aśvagosha, Nâgarjuṇa, Âryadeva, and Vasubandhu in 1875, which has since been translated and published in English by E Lyall. He had also penned several other treatises that are still found useful by the scholars of Tibetology and by the ones of Sinology alike.
219 BhutTia: In modern-day parlance, BhuTia refers to people from the Denzong community of Sikkim and their language. However, much Sanskritic and Apabhramsic literature have been referring to the extensive Himalayan highlands of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, the Gorkhaland-Darjeeling parts of West Bengal and parts of the states of Arunachal, Uttarakhand and Kashmir as BhoT and the language and the people as BhuTiya, i.e., the labguage of or people from the the Kingdom of the BhoTs, for more than two millennia. This has led to the broader ethnocultural classification of the BhoTiya or BhoT who are, together, considered as groups of ethno-linguistically Tibetan people living in the Transhimalayan region that divides India from Tibet. The word Bhotiya derives from the Classical Tibetan name for Tibet itself: Bod. Though the spoken language is mostly considered as Ladakhi, the term BhoT, as mentioned by Haraprasad Shastri here, refers to the written form of this language as per the Classical Tibetan scripts comprising of the Ali (the vowels) and the Kali (the consonents), representing, in a metaphysical sense, inhalation and exhalation respectively, in Thunder Vehicle Buddhism that is popularly known as Tibetan Buddhism. Musical notations of Bangla are still called Kali – signifying commonalities of cultures in Tibet and in the eastern parts of the subcontinent.
220 Yogendranarayan Ray (1850-1946): Zamindar, i.e. landlord of the estate of Lalgola, located presently in district Murshidabad, West Bengal. This zamindar of Lalgola was noted for his philanthropy and charity and he had given several grants for welfare of people, for education and for scholarship bursaries of academic pursuit and for libraries – including for one at his own estate in Lalgola which he had founded and was noted for its vast resources in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Shahityo Pawrshawd could be established and it could operate because of his grants. He was accorded several titles including Raja, Raja Bahadur, CIE, Kaiser-e-Hind etc. by the British colonial government. Yogindranarayan Ray had funded several publishing projects of the Bongiyo Shahityo Porishawd, and such projects include publishing of the present collection by Haraprasad Shastri, a compilation of all the works of Ishwar Chawndro Bidhyashagor and several other ones were done through funds provided by him. A list of all such projects that he had funded is available in the book Kashi Parikrama written by the erstwhile landlord of the estate of Bhookailash which lay where the localities of Khidirpur, Maidan, the Fort William of the central parts of the city of Calcutta/Kolkata are presently at.
221 Lalgola: Presently located in the state of Murshidabad in West Bengal close to the international border that separates West Bengal and Bangladesh. The Princely Estate of Lalgola was an expansive zamindari (land-holding) estate since the feudal medeival ages and prevailed throughout the prevalence of the Permanent Settlement Act during the successive governances of the East India Company and Britain. 222 The King: Haraprasad Shastri refers to Yogindranarayan Roy as Raja or the King, as was the custom prevalent till the 1947 in many vernacular languages of the subcontinent according to which owners of vast estates of land, who were called zamindar in Farsi, were referred to as Raja or the King.
223 PawTol-Danga Street: PawTol-Danga or Pataldanga Street is an old street in the northern parts of Calcutta. Vidyasagar, Haraprasad Shastri and many other 19th and 20th century Bengali intellectual luminaries as well as popular fictional characters used to have residences there. 224 8th Shrabon, Bengali Year 1323: Date corresponds with the English Date 23rd July, 1916.