Sign In
Forgot password?
Enter your username or email to reset and email yourself your password
Sign In
Welcome . For your security, please choose your password.
Sign In
For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy
Sign up
for saving your wish list, viewing past orders
receiving discounts and lots more...
Subscribe for Newsletters and Discounts
Be the first to receive our thoughtfully written
religious articles and product discounts.
By registering, you may receive account related information, our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. Please read our Privacy Policy for details.


Share our website with your friends.
Email this page to a friend
By subscribing, you will receive our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. All emails will be sent by Exotic India using the email address

Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
Your Cart (0)

Barahmasa: Songs Of Twelve Months

Article of the Month - September 2009
Viewed 31791 times since 15th Sep, 2009

...Continued from Page 1

« Previous Page


Rtu in Sanskrit Literature
Rtu in Sanskrit Literature


As regards the full length Shad-ritu-varnan in proper natural sequence, its earliest examples are found in the poetry of Kalidasa, though there are opinions that the genre had attained its fully evolved form during the period in between him and Ashwaghosa. Nature description is the core of many of Kalidasa's works - Kumarasambhava, Meghdoot, Raghuvansa among others; however it evolves in its fullest accomplished form in the Ritu-samhara. Running into six cantos the Ritu-samhara describes in detail the six seasons of the year as per Indian calendar and how with each change in the season the mood and behaviour of a young lover alters. In the Meghdoot the intensity of love-longing is far deeper. However, the Yaksha in exile weaves his passion only around the clouds and thus season description confines only to the rains. Most of the subsequent Sanskrit texts - Bhattikavya by Bhatti, Kiratarjuniya by Bharavi, Shishupala-vadha by Magha, Naishadhacharita by Shriharsha among others, have come out with season-descriptions occupying sizeable space in each.


The Citrasutra of The Visnudharmottara Purana (Sanskrit Text with English Translation)
The Citrasutra of The Visnudharmottara Purana (Sanskrit Text with English Translation)

Subject-matter in regard to season-description has its presence in canonical literature at least since 3rd-2nd century B. C. with its first appearance in the Natya-shashtra by sage Bharata. Basically a work of dramaturgy the Natya-shashtra directs how seasons should be represented in a drama, especially on the stage through an actor's performance - acts, gestures, facial demeanours and the like. In his Kavyadarsha, Dandin mandates that an epic should essentially include the descriptions of ocean, mountains, seasons, the moon and the sun rise, parks, gardens, water-sports and pleasures of love. The observations of Bharata and Dandin are quite brief aimed at giving some broad guidelines. It is however Rajashekhara who in his Kavyamimansha comes with all aspects of season description including each season's basic characteristic features, each season's months-wise division, temperament of each month, imagery that a poet should use in representing a season, besides how the human mind reacts to a particular season. Thus, while on one hand Rajashekhara summarized how the seasons were portrayed in prior literature, on the other, he laid the canonical standards for those aspiring to portray seasons in their writings. As in most other things, Puranas also showed interest in season-description. The Matsya Purana has a whole chapter dedicated only to the month of spring and the Samba Purana alludes to different colours of the sun in the six ritus. The Chitra-sutra in the Vishnudharmottarpurana prescribes certain general rules for the depiction of each of the four seasons.


Broadly, the genre known in the Sanskrit literature as ritu or shad-ritu-varnan is known in the literature of masses or in vernacular literature as Barahmasa, though while in the shad-ritu-varnan the annual calendar is classified into six parts, in Barahmasa, it is in twelve. In ritu-varnan the description of nature's changes is season-wise formalized and is often impersonal, in Barahmasa, it is more subtle, puritan, personal and intimate. The ritu-varnan aims at describing the aura and magic of nature as it emerges with the change of a season, or as conventionalised, though at times conjoining with it also the singer's emotions, the kernel of Barahmasa is the turmoil of a loving mind that each of nature's changes stimulates. The nature is dragged into the world of human emotions and represents the singer's own vision of it. Being formal and impersonal, shad-ritu-varnan is the genre of gentry and its literature, but intimately felt in the blood the songs of the twelve months, that is, everyday life, of lovelorn heart belong to unsophisticated, uncultivated folk. Actually, it is immaterial whether the poet perceives the cycle of time in the frame of six seasons or the twelve months, what matters is how he perceives it - formally and impersonally, or intimately and subjectively.

The Kumarasambhava and the Ramayana both are epics, but, while the Ramayana represents an amalgam of various folk traditions, the Kumarasambhava is a classic observing all set norms of poetics and other conventions. This variously characterises the nature description in the two great texts. Rama, whose divinity often reveals in the Ramayana and who is represented as Ayodhya's prince, on monsoon's onset gives vent to his feelings as would an ordinary village lad. Clouds gathering in the sky remind him of how Bharata and Sugriva are with their wives and in their kingdoms while he is without both. Such subjectivity does not reveal in the nature description of the Kumarasambhava, though it is also in context to Parvati doing penance for winning Shiva's love. Thus the ritu-varnan in the Ramayana is in Barahmasa vein, while that in the Kumarasambhava, in shad-ritu-varnan. Most Barahmasas are based on the lunar calendar having months as Chaitra, Vaishakha, Jyestha, Asadha, Sravana, Bhadaon, Ashvin, Karttika, Agrahayana, Pausha, Magha and Phalguna. Each two of them are respectively the months of Basant, Grishma, Varsha, Sharada, Hemanta and Shishira.


Adi Granth Paintings Raga-Ragamala & Barah-Maha
Adi Granth Paintings Raga-Ragamala & Barah-Maha


The Barahmasa has two basic forms, one, literary, and the other, oral. Literary Barahmasas are a part of the written literature and are endowed with poetic merit and compositional uniformity. In its other form Barahmasa is found in many oral traditions from Gujarat to Bengal and in entire north and central India. Several texts have just a part of Barahmasa, sometimes formalized as chaumasa - four months, chhayamasa - six months, or athamasa - eight months. In literary tradition there are two types of Barahmasa, one, viraha, and the other, religious. The religious Barahmasas are further divided into two categories, one spiritual, and other, personal or mundane. Kabir often talks of self as Rama's consort every moment longing to meet Him. Sikhs' first Guru Baba Nanak and fifth, Guru Arjan Deva, wove around twelve months the yearnings of his self to unite with the 'Karta Purukh' - the Creator, in the Barahmasa vein.


The twenty-second Jain Tirthankara Neminatha renounced the world when his marriage procession reached the house of Rajimati or Rajala, his bride. This unique situation of Rajimati's separation from Neminatha and its pangs have been the theme of a number of Barahmasa both in Jain texts and oral tradition. Kabir's metaphor and Guru Nanak's songs of twelve months comprise the spiritual type, while those of Rajimati, the mundane. Rajimati's does not class as the viraha Barahmasa, not only because it is the theme of Jains' religious texts but also because, even when personal, Rajimati's yearnings are for a Tirthankara, the highest divinity in Jain sect. The intensity of Rajimati's love for Neminatha had such sublimity that it transformed her into the Siddhi, an ascetic divine status to which none of the wives of other Tirthankaras could rise.

However, Barahmasa, oral or written, as a genre, has broad five types, namely, religious, farming-related, narrative, viraha, and the Barahmasa of chaste woman's trial. As suggest Thera-gatha songs, the religious type must have been the earliest, though its mystic dimensions might have been its later development after the emergence of devotionalism of which love was considered as the best ritual. In its initial form religious Barahmasa might have been a popular means for spreading the religious massage of Buddha and Mahavira in their respective religions. In some parts, especially Bengal, a farmer's activities round the year, described month-wise, and his pathetic condition in contrast to his enormous labour, comprised the theme of Barahmasa poetry. Almost all Barahmasas are composed in narrative form; however, some of them have epical stretch and its narrative aspect is more accentuated. Most popular form of the genre is viraha Barahmasa. The genre has yet another type sometimes known also as kutani or duti-kavya - poetry of go-between. It portrays efforts of a hero trying to seduce a woman separated from her husband through a messenger. A part of the poem comprises dialogues between the lovelorn and duti in which the duti persuades her by various temptations, and the other, the dialogue between the lovelorn and her sakhi - friend, who advises her to forget her faithless husband and enjoy the boon of her youth.


Saint Bulleh Shah The Mystic Muse
Saint Bulleh Shah The Mystic Muse





Not only literature, miniature painting and even music have resorted to the Barahmasa model for seeking in it narrative continuity, vivid imagery, intense emotions, lyrical fervency, rhythmic vibrancy and dramatic conflict of the worlds of man and nature, besides its mystic connotations. The mystics like the early 16th century poet Malik Mohammad Jayasi, Hindi poets like Keshavadasa, Senapati, Datta, and Deva and poets of regional languages like Mulla Daud, Bulle Shah




Krishna as Raga Hindola
Krishna as Raga Hindola






among others have resorted to Barahmasa motifs and technique. Most of the Ragas in the classical music are set in accordance to various seasons - Hindol to Basant,







Ritu Grishma Varsha Sounds of the Seasons (Audio CD)
Ritu Grishma Varsha Sounds of the Seasons (Audio CD)







Deepak to Grishma,







Raga Megha
Raga Megha







Megha to Varsha,







Sadabahar Bhairav (Audio CD)
Sadabahar Bhairav (Audio CD)






Bhairava to Sharada,






Ritu Sharad - Hemant Sounds of the Seasons (Audio CD)
Ritu Sharad - Hemant Sounds of the Seasons (Audio CD)







Shri to Hemanta,







Ritu Shishir Basant Sounds of the Seasons (Audio CD)
Ritu Shishir Basant Sounds of the Seasons (Audio CD)







and Shishira to Malkosha.







Illustrative from its initiation Indian miniature painting has borrowed a lot from literature in general but Barahmasa in particular, which is one of its most important themes. It usually comprises twelve leafs serializing various seasons, sometimes the festivals occurring during such seasons, such as Holi in the month of Phalguna. In some series Radha replaces the lonely heroine. However, in most other cases it is a nayika separated from her loved one, usually a warrior, in whose context the cycle of the changing seasons is depicted. Paintings from hill states, Rajasthan and even smaller schools from Central India have resorted to Baramasa genre. Datia, one of the schools of painting in Central India, has painted a timeless series of Ashtayama, another form of Barahmasa series, now in the collection of State Museum, Lucknow.


Prabandha Kosha (Rajashekhara) : edited by Muni Jinavijaya, Shantiniketan, 1935.

Rig-Veda Samhita : edited by F. Maxmuller; English translation by H. Wilson, Poona.

Valmiki Ramayana : Gita Press, Gorakhpur, 1976

Vishnudharmottarapurana : Bombay, 1912; English translation by Priyabala Shah, Baroda, 1961.

V. P. Dwivedi : Barahmasa, New Delhi, 1980.

Charlotte Vaudeville : Barahmasa in Indian Literature, Delhi, 1986

Danielle Feller : The Seasons in Mahakavya Literature, Delhi, 1995

W. G. Archer : Seasonal Songs of Patna District, Man in India, v. XXII, 1952

O. D. Dalal (ed) : Neminatha Phagu in Prachina Kavya Sangraha, Baroda, 1956

Agar Chand Nahta : Barahmasa ki Prachina Parampara, in Hindi Anushilana, V.S. 2010

« Previous Page

Post a Comment
Post Review
  • Good Article. Even in the SANGAM LITERATURE of the south one can find a lot of information about the different seasons and not only that they even divided the area of living depending on the nature of the place like hilly , desert etc., with distinctive characters of thereon.
    by Shyamala R on 11th Oct 2009
I received the 2 sarees and the DVDs. You truly are a treasure house for the music and other related things. You have gotten me an array of CDs,books,DVDs and not least of all beautiful sarees. All always packed with care, delivered in a timely, no hassle fashion. Your business is very trustworthy and I am so glad to have when I need to look for something.
Prashanti, USA
Hello, Just a short feedback on your new website layout: the old one was better than most of what you come across on the www, but you've managed to make it even better. I very much like the new look of the book pages and 'my gallery' pages. Thanks again for offering me a look inside the books. It's a big help for finding out if it's really what I want. Everything is perfect: the presentation of the items, your way of handling the orders, and the fast and always diligently packed parcels. Thanks to all at Exotic India, Walter
thank you sooo much for the speedy delivery!! within two days I am already wearing my beautiful Exotic Indian shawl!! thanks so much
Pat Demaret
This is the second time I am ordering kurta. The first time it was in July of 2015. The whole transaction was very smooth, and I received my order in USA within a week's tme from India. it was faster than some of the local orders that I have placed. Thank you for your efficiency.
Prabha, USA
I like Exotic India and have had a great experience so far with your books / shipping etc. Please keep it up!
Sriram, USA
Thanks to all the staff at Exotic Art for helping me acquire these wonderful books from the holy land of Bharata Varsha. Happy new year to you all and all glories to Sri Krsna, peace...
J. Idehen, UK
Exotic India is a fine organization to do business with. I have had the best trading experience and the very best customer service. The communication I have had with Vipin K. is of the highest quality; my questions and requests were quickly and professionally answered and fulfilled. A special thanks to the artist Kailash Raj for the beautiful art he produces; I have certainly been enriched by the way his art exemplifies the stories they tell. Many Thanks to all concerned.
W. J. Barnett, USA
My beautiful shawl arrived today. Thank you so much for this lovely shawl. Really, it is nicer than the photograph. I hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year and much prosperity in the New Year. With gratitude
Tom Anderson, Canada
An excellent website, as always. I do not even mention its content, which is beautiful beyond words, but I am merely referring to the great functionality and optimal design of your website. Links always work, the information is accurate and complete, images are very clear, including scanned content of your books. A pleasure to purchase from you.
Oreste, USA
I just wanted to extend my profound thanks to you for expediting my order. It was so well packaged and all import processes taken care of so the beautiful statue arrived in fabulous condition. It looks truly wonderful and I am so happy to have Lord Ganesh take pride of place in my home. Thank you again for your superb service. Best regards
Nikki Grainger
Subscribe to our newsletter and discounts
Share with friends
Related Links
"The Bhagavad Gita, while describing the qualities of a wise person says…. This verse is vividly illustrated in the story of king Rantideva occurring in the Srimad Bhagavatam…. He did not believe in hoarding, was above all attachments and was highly patient…. They were all trembling due to starvation and thirst….bowed to the dogs and their owner…. What I want is only this: That I be able to go and live in the hearts of all beings and undergo sufferings on their behalf, so that they may become free from all miseries."
An Example of Living Vedanta: The Story of King Rantideva
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"But to pull this statement out of context and give it as an advice for anyone is far from correct…. But how is one to recognise the guru? Obviously, he will be able to understand the difficulties of the disciples and clarify to them the meaning of the scriptures on the basis of logic and experience…. They will have to search in their own neighbourhood only….The guru chosen by him should be at least better than himself!…. Of course, if the ideal guru whose features have been enumerated in the beginning is available, then the sadhaka should immediately go and surrender to him…. It is just like going to another teacher for higher education, after completing the education in a school."
The Qualities of a Guru and How to Find One
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Understanding the True Nature of Happiness
"Actually, the one who worships Bhagwan Vishnu should get rich and the one who worships Shiva should become an avadhuta like Him…. Then he works hard again to acquire wealth. I render all his efforts futile…. However, Bhagawan Vishnu is not like that, it takes longer to please Him…. As a consequence, they later harassed the great God Himself…. On the seventh day, he bathed in the holy waters of Kedarnath and began to cut his head with an axe to offer into the fire…. The boy bowed respectfully before the demon and asked…. No one who commits sin against a great person can be safe and happy in this world."
Shiva and Vishnu: A Unique Aspect of Their Worship
Show More
Others Viewing
Ruby Zoisite Earrings
Ruby Zoisite Earrings
Sterling Silver
1.3 inch Height
Ruby Zoisite Earrings
Affinities: India and Korea Past and Present
Affinities: India and Korea Past and Present
Pankaj Mittal, Daisy and Ravi Bhusan
Affinities: India and Korea Past and Present
Feng Shui: 151 Golden Tips (For unqualified success in all walks of life)
Feng Shui: 151 Golden Tips (For unqualified success in all walks of life)
Feng Shui: 151 Golden Tips (For unqualified success in all walks of life)
शाबर मन्त्र संग्रह (संस्कृत एवं हिंदी अनुवाद) - Shabar Mantra Samgraha (Set of 12 Volumes)
शाबर मन्त्र संग्रह (संस्कृत एवं हिंदी अनुवाद) - Shabar Mantra Samgraha (Set of 12 Volumes)
पं. रामदत्त शुक्ल (Pt. Ramadatt Shukla)
शाबर मन्त्र संग्रह (संस्कृत एवं हिंदी अनुवाद) - Shabar Mantra Samgraha (Set of 12 Volumes)
Japanese Durga (Juntei Kannon or Chandi)
Japanese Durga (Juntei Kannon or Chandi)
Brass Sculpture
16\" X 12\" X 6\"
Japanese Durga (Juntei Kannon or Chandi)
शिलाजीत के गुण एवं उपयोग: Uses and Benefits of Shilajit
शिलाजीत के गुण एवं उपयोग: Uses and Benefits of Shilajit
डॉ. ओ. पी. वर्मा (Dr. O. P. Verma)
शिलाजीत के गुण एवं उपयोग: Uses and Benefits of Shilajit
Show More
TRUSTe online privacy certification
All rights reserved. Copyright 2016 © Exotic India
Exotic India
A-16/1 Wazirpur Industrial Estate Delhi - 110052 India
- Phone: +919953839642