One day, both the king and the queen went to a forest, and then the queen was separated from her husband when the latter went away pursuing a deer. In grief and remorse Kamakala wanted to immolate herself by burning. A voice from above prevented the tragedy and assured their reunion after a year's time. This incident offers the poet an opportunity to describe the seasonal characteristics of the twelve months (Bara-maha), and the descriptions aptly emerge from the lips of the lovelorn heroine Kamakala. At the end of the twelve months, with the return of spring, the lovers were reunited. Kaviraj Cakravarti in his Tulasi-carit or Sankhasura-vadha, an episode adapted from the Brahmavaivarta Purana, made much of the love-theme relating to Sankhasura, his marriage to Tulasi, and the rape of Tulasi by Narayana. 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 plot of the Assamese Mrgavati-caritra is briefly this: The prince of Kundilanagar saw four nymphs bathing in a lake and instantly fell in love with the youngest of them. The nymphs flew away, and the lovelorn prince passed his days pining for his beloved. Fortunately, next time when they came again to bathe, the prince was successful in capturing the youngest one, and lived with her happily for some time. One day, when the prince was away, the nymph managed to escape. She, however, left the name of her city with her matron. The prince was mortified when on return he learnt of her departure. He immediately set out in search of His beloved. In his wanderings, he met with many vicissitudes and performed many miracles, and at last arrived at the city of Rukem where the nymph lived with her companion-nymphs. The latter celebrated his marriage with their youngest companion with great merrymaking. Here the poet takes the liberty to describe graphically the erotic sports of the couple with much zest. Another mediaeval Sufi poem similar to Mrgavati is Madhumalati by Manjhan. This was also adapted in an Assamese kavya of the same name by an unknown author. It should be noted that in both the Assamese poems the original Sufi ideal is completely shorn off. The purpose of the Sufi poets is to depict the soul's love and aspiration for God and its ultimate union with Him. To the Sufi poets, the story of human love is only an allegory. 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. Naturally, in the Assamese kavyas erotic tendencies predominated, and they are replete with passages describing intimately every feminine charm and treating of love dalliances with an easy frankness. Many secular Sanskrit texts were also translated into Assamese prose under royal patronage. They deal with medicine, astronomy, arithmetic, dancing and architecture. In these books Assamese prose was employed for the first time for the discussion of utilitarian knowledge. Most of them were written by Sanskrit scholars. It was natural therefore, that Sanskrit would leave its stamp on them, because a sufficient number of tadbhava and racy desiya (indigenous) words with clear-cut usages had not yet been evolved. The study of Sanskrit texts for the cultivation of knowledge was indeed indispensable but Sanskrit words were even more necessary to enrich Assamese prose vocabulary.
It must, however, be added that, although tatsama words were borrowed, the Assamese writers used a straightforward and direct style suited to scientific expression. For the same reason these books are, generally speaking, clear and intelligible. Apart from their value as literary and technical documents, they afford most important specimens of scientific prose in the Ahom period. The chief one among them is Hastividyarnava of Sukumar Barkath. This illustrated book was written in 1734 under the orders of King Siva Singha and his consort, Queen Ambikadevi. The illustrations were drawn by the painters Dilbar and Dosai. The book contains descriptions of several kinds of elephants, the ways of training them, their diseases and their cures. The book also specifies the different categories of elephants to be used by men belonging to different social classes. The materials of Hastividyarnava are stated in the text itself to have been taken from Gajendracintamani of Sambhunatha. The prose of Hastividyarnava does not differ from the prose of the chronicles. It has similar sentence formation and vocabulary. The orthography is phonetic, and the structure of sentences follows that of everyday speech.
(Last Updated on : 23-03-2013)
|More Articles in Assamese Literature under Ahoms (6)|