(Last Updated on : 16/12/2009)
Rajasthani literature mostly comprises poetry right from its nascent stage. Rajasthani poetry has been often divided into five major types: (1) Jain (2) Charan (3) Akhyan (4) Sant (5) Laukik, including secular love. Rajasthan is the land of the chivalrous. Its poetry too reflected the same sentiments. Initially it was the heroic poetry that shaped the Rajasthani poetry. The language used to narrate the tales of the fearless heroes was Dingal. Besides this other languages, like, the Prakrit-Apabhramsa, Pingal, Maru-Gurjar, Dingal and other colloquial Rajasthani languages. In ancient Rajasthan
, the Charan poets or court poets, chroniclers and others were responsible for composing several eulogies that described the heroic deeds of the Rajput kings. Though mostly oral in tradition, the Rajasthani poetry was penned down primarily in the medieval era.
Amongst the several forms of Rajasthani poetry, Charan and Akhyan Kavya deserve special mention. Due to traditional ties with the Rajputs
, feelings of hero-worship, place and function in the medieval social set up, certain castes, particularly the Charans, were more connected with Charan style of poetry. The other castes include Motisar, Bhat, Rav, Dhadhi etc. Brahmins, Rajputs, Mahajans and others have also made notable contributions to it. Echoes of rivalry, mostly professional, between Charans and Bhats resound in ancient Rajasthani literature. Most Charans used Maru Bhasa or Dingal languages and the Bhats used Pingal for their poetic compositions. But from the 17th century this tendency changed. Many Charans composed poems in Pingal language.
On the other hand, Akhyan Kavya is another important type of the medieval Rajasthani poetry. Such Kavyas have rendered remarkable cultural service to Hindu society in the medieval times. The themes are taken from the epics or the Indian Puranas
and the stories or episodes are popular. An effort is made to render the story in a highly artistic poem, so as to attract the people. It is sung in popular musical modes and its appeal is mainly musical. The dramatic elements are skilfully incorporated. The dialogues are brief, meaningful and effective. The descriptions are pointed, vivid and charming. The language used is necessarily easy and fluent. The Akhyan may, thus, be easily committed to memory and reproduced for wider popularity. Traditionally Akhyan has been connected with religious rites. This was an additional advantage for the propagation of Akhyan Kavyas. Popular entertainment is the objective, but;` indirectly, lofty religious and cultural traditions, ideals, ideas, and values are imparted. Akhyans are generally sung and recited in Jagaran. Many of them may be easily staged in open-air theatres. Akhyans are mostly short, such as Ramayana
by Mehoji, Rukmani Mangal by Padam Bhagat but longer Akhyans such as, Katha Ahmani by Delhji have also been written.
The Jain poetry that formed the bulk of ancient Rajasthani poetry was mainly composed by the Jain saints. Religious in nature, these verses were quite popular and are a part of Rajasthani tradition. Emotions of love and separation, remorse, heroism, pride, prudence, and accounts of heroic deeds of both men and women form the subject matter of the love poems from Rajasthan. Secular poems were also a part of these verses. Some verses have been quoted in more than one work mentioned above due to the popularity of their appeal. Some of them, developed in Rajasthani form, are still popular amongst the common folk. Many of them have also been adopted in substance and given new forms by later Rajasthani poets. This shows the long tradition and mass popularity of such verses.
Besides these the Sant poetry is the product of those adhering to some sects, and those who were unattached and self-willed like Miran, Din Darves and others. The deeds of Divine incarnations also formed the subject matter of such poetry. Thus, such different forms of Rajasthani poetry went further enriched Rajasthani literature