A portion of the Vishnu Purana was translated at some time in the seventeenth century A.D. by Bhagavat Misra who was also known as Raghunath Misra. He made metrical renderings of the Satvata Tantra also. A complete and literal translation of Visnu Purana was made by Parasu Ram Dvija in the first half of the- 19th century (1836). Though the author imitated the Vaisnava poets in language and method of narration, his work on the whole shows no literary skill or accomplishment. Vishnu Parvan belonging to Harivamsa was rendered into Assamese by Kavi Sekhar Vidyacandra Bhattacaryya during the reign of the Ahom king, Rajeswar Singha (1751-1769).
Another book, Kalki Purana, is also ascribed to Rucinath Kandali. King Siva Singha and his consort Ambika Devi patronised Kavicandra Dvija and set him to. Many of the translators and adaptations came from the common people and were in perennial contact with the soil. Therefore they wrote in a simple style and enshrined in their writings many popular myths, legends, folklores, and cultural traditions.
Epics in Assam during Ahom Age
Very few books were written during this age on themes of the two epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. One of the leading poets who enjoyed great reputation in the later part of the eighteenth century and who drew on the Ramayana story was Raghunath Mahanta. Raghunath made a prose summary of the Ramayana. His prose shows, on the one hand, the influence of the Buranjis and, on the other, in a still more marked degree, that of the traditional style of the Carit-puthis of the Vaisnavas. Raghunath's fame as a poet rests on his two long narrative poems Adbhuta-Ramayana and Santrunjaya; both appear to have been based on some floating Ramayana legends. According to the poet, the source of dbhuta- Ramayana is the Markandeya Purana. The story relates to Sita in the Nether World (Patala) after her final estrangement from her consort, Rama. Having parted from Lord Rama for good, Sita was living in Vidyabilasinlpura of the Nether World.
Sakta Influence on Assamese Literature during Ahom rule
The growing Sakta influence in the Ahom period had been great and far flung. The later Ahom kings adopted Sakta religion and developed the Sakta outlook on life, which was in accord with the militant and epicurean ideals of the ruling class. For this reason and on account of the impact of new urban cultural currents, the influence of Vaishnava poetry began to decline and a new Sakta literature came to be written. In imitation of the Vaisnava Bargits the Sakta poets created in Assamese a body of hymns which are even now sung as prayer-psalms. Some of these hymns were said to have been composed by the Ahom kings Rudra Singha and Siva Singha. These Sakta hymns, though impressive in alliteration and metrical perfection, suffer from a certain monotony of theme and phraseology coupled with want of personal feeling. Side by side with these lyrics flourished during this period with the descriptive verses on Sakta goddesses such as Durga, Kali, Sitala, which are even today chanted in their worship and adoration. The court poets were encouraged by the Ahom kings to render Sakta scriptures into Assamese. Ananta Acarya was commissioned by King Siva Singha to write Ananda Lahari. This connection many dedicatory verses glorifying their piety and charity were composed. These court poets were masters both of Sanskrit and of Assamese. Naturally, in the pras'astis or panegyrics, the poets used a specific diction abounding in sonorous and metaphorical Sanskrit expressions presupposing aknowledge of Puranik mythology and legends.
Erotic Literature in Assam during Ahom Rule
The science of erotica (Kama-sastra) was very much cultivated and fostered in the Ahom court, and some of the Sanskrit texts on Kamasutra were translated into Assamese. A versified treatise on erotica was compiled by a poet named Kavisekhar Bhattacarya for the entertainment and instruction of Prince Charu Singha Gohain, son of King Rajeswar Singha, and of the Prince's consort, Princess Pramada Sundari Aideo. It became the practice to engage scholars to read out to queens, princesses and high-born ladies popular kavyas, love-romances and erotic Sastras. That Kama-sastra exercised a tremendous influence is evident from the fact that a large number of Carita Mantra-puthis, books on charms relating to love-making, were compiled during the period. These Mantra-puthis contain nostrums, charms and conundrums on the art and practice of love-making, of winning love, exciting passion in woman, beautifying and removing physical defects in woman, and increasing virility.
Popular Culture in Assamese Literature during Ahom Rule
The tales from the Puranas, Hitopadesa and Panchatantra became an instant hit. Poets even turned to folklore and fairy tales for inspiration, and found materials that gave their imagination a free rein. Dvija Goswami's KavyaMstra is a book in verse containing many fables from the Hitopodesa and some moral observations in rhymed couplets. Another Assamse version of the Hitopodesa was done by Rama Misra, author of Putala-caritra, at the instance of Bhadrasen Gohain Phukan, an Ahom general. Kaviraj Misra is another story-teller, who flourished about 1616. He was an itinerant minstrel, going about reciting his verses on Siyal Gosain (The Fox-Saint) and thereby obtaining food and raiment. The story centres round a legendary figure, Siyal Gosain by name, who was thrown away under a ketaki plant soon after his birth through the intrigues of his stepmother.
Romantic Assamese Literature during Ahom Rule
Furthermore, love-romances were composed by the court poets from episodes culled from the Puranas and folklore. Kaviraj Cakravarti, who was the court-poet of both King Rudra Singha and King Siva Singha, in his Sakuntala-kavya, narrated the familiar story of Shakuntala but to heighten the romantic effect added to it the love episode of Candraketu and Kamakala. Dina Dvijavara wrote the elegant love poem Madhava-Sulo- cand from the story of the same name in the Kriyayogasara canto of the Padma Purana. By erotic language and skill in romantic narration, the author in his adaptation replaced the original devotional ideas with sentiments of anacreontic love and earthly passion.
Some poets searched for fresh love-themes in new literary pastures. One such new love-romance is Rama Dvija's Mrgavati-caritra, a work corresponding to the Sufi work of the same name written in 1500 by Kutban. It also appears that the poet was familiar with some elements of Jayas's Padmavat and the Jain poet Maladharin Devaprabha's Mrgavati-caritra, a work based on the popular Udayana legend. The Assamese poets, however, made their lovers suffer for the sake of their beloved. They emphasised earthly and human love and treated love both in union and in separation.
Books on Medicine during Ahom rule
Even treatises on medicine include chapters on astrology inasmuch as they discuss the nature of diseases, astral in origin, and therapeutic charms and incantations. Divination was also resorted to for treatment and cure of diseases. Mantras or spells were practised to cure diseases. Mantras were further used to scare away devils and evil spirits who were supposed to be the cause of human ailments, to cure snakebite, to remove the bad effect of dreams, to secure release from misfortune, to protect the fields from the evil eye, for the prosperity of the home and the harvest, and for a hundred and one other purposes. Significant among these mantra-puthis are the following: Sapardharani-mantra (Snake-catching charm), Karati-mantra, Sarvadhak-mantra, Kamaratna-mantra, Bhutar-mantra, Khetra-mantra; the list might easily be extended. It is true that these mantraputhis have no literary value, but they are important as documents of popular beliefs and superstitions.
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Assamese Literature under Ahoms