The Lyrical Effusion of Madhavadeva

Madhavadeva, following his master Sankaradeva, composed 191 Baragitas or devotional lyrics attuned to classical melodies (rāgas), of which about 150 are now available to us. These lyrics are held in great regard not only in the Vaisnavite circle but have a strong sway over the entire Assamese society. If the lyrics of Madhavadeva's plays (Ankiyā Gita) are added to the above figure, the total lyrics composed by him would come to 180. The language of the lyrics, like that of the dramas, is Vrajāwali.

The Depiction of Child Krishna

In his Baragitas, Madhava preferred to depict the childish sports of Krishna and His filial relation with Nanda and Yasoda. His songs mainly contain the following rasas:

The songs of lilā have again been sub-divided into four categories:

Other rasas like virakti or apathy to worldly affairs also figure in some of the Baragitas of Madhavadeva.

The songs dealing with the sports and activities of the Supreme Lord in the shape of a child are best illustrated in the jāgana, calana, khelana and nritya types of lyrics.

The Song of Awakening

One of the most famous Baragitas of Madhavadeva, Tejare Kamalāpati, is the one usually sung before day-break in almost every Assamese family. It begins with Yasodā cajoling Krishna to wake Him from His slumber in the early morning:

Rāga Shyām
Tejare kamalāpati parabhāta ninda:
Teri cānda mukha pekho uthare Govinda. [Dhrum]
Rajani Vidura disa dhavali varana:
Timira pheriyā bāja ravira kirana.
Satapatra vikasita bhramar udāi:
Brajavadhu dadhi mathe tuvā guna gāi.
Dāma, Sudāma dāke teri laiyā nām:
Hera dekha uthiyā asilā Balarām.
Nanda gailā bāthāne goāla gailā pāl:
Surabhi carāite lāge uthare Gopāl.
Ksira lavanu laiyo singā beta venu:
Sakāle meliyo vatsa hāmbālāwe dhenu.
Kahaya Madhava māi, kinu tapasāili:
Trijagatapati Hari rākhowāl pāili.

Oh Consort of Kamalā, give up your morning sleep; Let me see your moon-like face, Oh Govinda. The night vanished, the quarters are clear and the sun’s rays have come out tearing asunder the darkness. Hundred-petalled lotuses are in full bloom with black bees hovering over them. The milkmaids of Vraja are churning milk singing your glory. Dāma and Sudāma are calling you and behold! Balarāma has also come out of the sleeping chamber. Nanda has left for the cattle-pen and the milkmen have gone to herds; arise, therefore, O Gopāla, to go for tending cows. Taking pails of milk and butter as well as your horn, stick and the flute, release the calves early and the lowing cows. Madhava says, “Oh Mother, what penance did you practise as to get the Lord of the three worlds as your cow-boy?”

The morning-scene in a dairy farm, the cajoling by a mother and the feigned obduracy of the pampered boy have been graphically portrayed in this type of lyric of Madhavadeva.

The Song of Moving

Krishna goes out early in the morning to the green fields of Vrindāvana on the banks of the Kālindi driving herds of cattle along with other cowherd companions. They carry cooked-rice, milk, curd, butter and other eatables in bundles on their shoulders dancing and singing all the way. The burden of the lyrics describing the preparation and daily movement to Vrindāvana (calana) is beautifully expressed by Madhavadeva in the following song:

Rāga Shyām
Parabhāta Shyāma Kānu dhenu laiyā sange
Vamsir nihsreane Vrindāvane cale range [Dhrum]
Jagatara guru Hari kāchi gopa kāche
ābhira bālak berdhi cale āge pāche
Sikā bāndhi chāndi kāndhe laiyā dadhi bhāt
Māthāye chāndani jadi sāje Jagannāth
Vāma kāse singā beta netakara celi
Bahu rase lāse vese kari cale keli
Asamkhya-sahasra sisu dhenu vatsagan
Singā-samkha-venurave puraya gagan
Nānān-khelan khele bahu bhāve gāwe
Vaikunthara pati prabhu vane cāre dhenu
Kahaya Madhava gati kānu padarenu

Accompanied by herds of cattle and playing on his flute, Shyāma Kānu (Krishna) goes to Vrindāvana in the morning. Attired in the costume of a cowherd boy, Hari, the guru of the world, moves on being escorted by the cowherd boys in the rear and the front. Carrying loads of cooked rice, curd and milk suspended from a pole on His shoulder and tying a head-scarf on His head, the Lord of the world is ready for His daily journey. From His left side hangs the silken wrapper and are also seen the horn and the rod. He moves gracefully indulging in various amusements and frolics. The sky resounds with the combined sounds of horns, conches and flutes played by hundreds of cowherd boys driving their herds of cows and calves. They move on, playing various kinds of games in diverse ways. Their various amusements and pastimes charm the world. The Lord of Vaikuntha, the Master of the World, tends cows in the forest. Madhava says the particles of dust of Kānu’s feet are his ultimate resort.

The Song of Play and Dance

The poet Madhavadeva takes ever increasing delight in describing the transcendental beauty of child Krishna in different situations and moods. The songs of khelana and nritya portray in vivid detail the pastoral games and amusements of Krishna in the company of cowherd boys on the sandy bank of the Yamunā and in the adjoining forests. He very often finds Krishna dancing to the Gopis’ clapping of hands for a mouthful of butter or a few pieces of sweets. A free translation of a song given below will give an idea of this type of composition:

Rāga Bhātiyāli
Bhāl kāliyā kānu khelanā khelāya
Khelār mādhuri Hari! Bhuvana bhulāya
Layalāse range dui carana calāi
Runu-junu kariyā nupura bāje pay
ābhira bālaka bedhi cāpari bajāy
Pāka phiri phiriyā nācaya Yadurāy
Candane lepita anga dolāye Gopāl
Ure jhalamala keli-kadambaka māl
Gaja-mukutār hār gānthi gale lole
Pindhana netera dhoti kati bedhi dole
Mohan kanaka venu uriyā dhare hāte
Mayurera cudā jhalamala kare māthe
Netera ancal khāni hālaya vātāse
Suhrida gopera mukha cāya cāya hāse
Mānika jiniyā javale dui danta hānti
Disa pāsa sobhe syāma sarirara kānti
Bamkima nayane cāyā amiyā varise
Madhavara mana rahu erupa harise

The dark-complexioned Kānu is playing gracefully; His charming play enchants the world. He moves His crimson feet rhythmically in dance and the bells of His anklets tinkle as He moves. To the rhythmic clapping of the cow-herd boys around Him, Kānu dances whirling round and round. Gopāla swings and waves His sandal-pasted body; the garland of Kadamba flowers glistens on His breast. A necklace of pearls is dangling from His neck and a yellow silk dhoti encircles His waist. He holds the golden flute in one hand; a peacock’s feather adorns His crest. The loose end of His silken garment flutters in the air. He smiles again and again looking at His cowherd friends. His pair of teeth surpasses the glitter of ruby and the brilliance of His dark complexion sheds luster on the surrounding regions. He showers ambrosia by His side-long glance. Let the mind of Madhava remain ever engrossed in such a happy form of Gopāla.

Other Lyrics

Another beautiful Sanskritic song by Madhavadeva is as follows:

       Rāga Ahir
        Govinda cintahu Bāla Gopālam
Ratana talapa maha,	sayane rahatu Hari,
	Pankaja nayana bisālam. [Dhrum]
Kara pankaja yuge	dhari pada pankaja
	Bayana pankaje nibesitam:
Munibara kaicana	chori amiyā
	Madhu pada pankaja rasa pitam.
Ohi mane bhābi	parama rati kautuke
	Nija pada pankaja pānam:
Bālaka keli	amiyā rasa sāgara
	Madhava kaha paramānam.

Think of Govinda as child Gopāla. Hari (as child Krishna) lies asleep on a cot of gems with His lotus eyes vast (chorus). (He) holds his lotus-feet with His lotus-hands and gets them into His lotus-mouth. “How do the sages drink the sweet juice of the lotus-feet in preference to nectar?” Thinking this in mind, He drinks (the sweet juice of) His own lotus-feet in all love and zest. The child sports (of Krishna) are a sea of nectarine juice. Madhava cites proof.

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