The verses in the Padyavali are selected and arranged not so much to illustrate the theology and philosophy of the Gaudiya Vaisnavism but to exemplify by means of the devotional verses of various Vaisnava writers the general features of Bhakti as a Rasa or devotional sentiment. The verses collected in the Padyavali, originally composed by different earlier poets can be appreciated both from the view of religious expression as well as from the standpoint of literary effort of a fervent lyrical character. It brings together in one context many nuances of the emotional worship of Krishna introduced by Gaudiya Vaisnavism and is, therefore, a document of its Bhakti-devoutness. It also bears witness to a phase of literary activity of medieval Bengal, a remark-able lyric literature peculiar to it-self. The verses appeal to the readers by dint of the tenderness and human interest of their lyrical productions as well as of the honest human passion expressed with an exquisite directness of speech.
This edition of the Padyavali was prepared on the, basis of sixteen manuscripts obtained from various sources and two printed editions. The elaborate and learned introduction by Dr. De deals with history of the development of the theology and philosophy of Guardia Vaisnavism as the back-ground of the work. The editor has been able to identify most of the poets whose verses have been. collected in this anthology and described in details their lives and works. This has been a very valuable part of the work.
Though not concerned directly with dogmas and doctrines, his Padydvali, as an illustrative collect-ion of devotional verses, has been cited with great respect among his other authoritative works.
One of the most important features of the Catania movement was its extraordinary literary energy. The power and vitality of its inspiration are evidenced by the vast literature it created for itself both in the learned classical tongue as well as in the living language of the province. The abundance, variety and spontaneity of this literature are amazing. On the one hand, it poured itself lavishly in song and story in the vernacular, creating a new literary epoch by its fruitful contributions of great diversity and beauty; on the other, it enriched the field of Sanskrit scholarship and Sanskrit devotional literature by its more solid and laborious productions in theology, philosophy and ritualism, as well as by its luscious poetical outbursts in prose and verse.
The movement has thus permanently enshrined itself in the abundant and versatile literature it produced. In its earlier stages, with which we are directly concerned here, this literature expressed itself chiefly in Sanskrit, and took various forms. The ritualism and religious practices of the faith were codified in a huge compilation, entitled Hari-bhakti-vilcisa, attributed to Gopala Bhatta ; its theological presuppositions and esoteric doctrines were explained by Santana Gosvamin in his learned commentary on the Srimad-bhagavata and his Brhad-bhaga-vatamrita, to which his brother Rupa Gosvamin added a Laghu:bhagavatamrita; its mystical-metaphysical dogmatic were set forth for the first time by Jiva Gosvamin in his abstruse Bhagavata-sandarbha, elaborated into six parts; and its fundamental theory of Bhakti as a Rasa and its essential emotionalism were laboriously expounded, in the true analytic spirit of the scholastic age, in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu nod the Ujjvala-nila-mani of Rupa Gosvamin.
But the purely literary expression of this devotional movement, which exalted emotion over reason, is not the least important of its many features. Its earliest efforts in biography and narrative were represented by the Sanskrit works of Mufti Gupta, Svarupa Damodara and Pararnananda-Sena Kavikarnapura, the last of whom also established its hagiology by his Gaura-gattoddesa-dipika. Its emotional and poetical possibilities were expressed in a series of mystically impassioned stories, poems, dramas and campus composed by Raghunatha Dasa, Rupa, Jiva and others. Its larger mass of resplendent Bengali songs and lyrics with their deeply passionate erotic mysticism, and its more voluminous narrative and biographical literature in Bengali form without doubt the most important and influential bulk of its literary productions, but its literary efforts in Sanskrit are by no means negligible. The religious revival must have supplied an emotional inflates which produced wonderful results in vernacular poetry for more than a century, but it also led to a fervent expression of devout feelings even through the more difficult, but perhaps more rich, medium of Sanskrit. Apart from the regular dramatic and poetical works mentioned above, a large number of small verses and hymns must have been composed by a number of devotional writers.
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