(Last Updated on : 28-12-2012)
Vaishnava Poetry in Bengal can be divided into three kinds: expositions of Vaishnava doctrine and practice, biographies of Chaitanya
and other Vaishnava leaders and the Pada. The Rasa-tattwa poems were based on the Sanskrit treatises. Bhaktirasamritasindhu and Ujjwalanilamani by Rup Goswami were the other well knows Vaishnavite works. The best of sixteenth century were the Durlabhasar by Lochan Das, the Rasa-kadamba by Kavivallabh, and the Prem-bhakti-chandrika by Narottam.
The last two has some literary value. In the seventeenth century there were a larger number of such verse-treatises, the well known are the Rasa-kalika by Nanda-kishore Das, the Rasa-kalpavalli by Ramgopal Das and the Rasa-manjari and Astarasa-vyakhya by Pitambar Das.
The biography was a new genre in Bengali literature
. The literature had been monopolized by gods and goddesses, but now living human became the subject. This was a secularization without which no literature can live its own life completely. This is the reason why Vaishnava biographers deserve credit. Their works are informative as it narrates the social conditions. Some biographers of Chaitanya take us outside Bengal and give us a brief of men and manners in southern and western India. The lack of form and style, the lameness and baldness of narrative and inattention to character and incident are the characteristics of these biographic poems.
All the biographies of Chaitanya written in his lifetime were in Sanskrit language. They are the Sri-Krishna-Chaitanya-charitamrita by Murari Gupta and the Chaitanya-charitamrita. Both of them are long poems written in the Mahakavya style. The earliest biography in Bengali language is the Chaitanya-Bhagvata by Vrindavan Das which is a long poem composed within fifteen years of Chaitanya's demise. Vrindavan had derived his information from Nityananda. Vrindavan wrote some Pada. The Chaitanya-mangal by Lochan Das is smaller and less authoritative but more popular. The Chaitanya-mangal of Jayananda is a pachali.
The most authoritative biography of Chaitanya in Bengali language
is the Chaitanya-charitamrita by Krisnadas Kaviraj. This was written within hundred years of Chaitanya's death. The author handles his materials with great integrity. Narottam the inventor of the Garenhati mode of kirttan singing was behind the propagation of Vaishnavism
in northern Bengal. Some of his Pada are among the best of their type. His devotional poem 'Prarthana' has a permanent place in Bengali literature