Charyapada

Charyapada (Bangla: চর্যাপদ, Assamese: চৰ্যাপদ) are 8th-12th century CE Buddhist mystic poems from eastern India that provide early examples of Assamese, Oriya and Bengali languages. Charyapadas were also known as Charyageetis as these Padas (verses) were actually meant for singing. Poets of these Charyapadas, the Siddhas or Siddhacharyas belonged to the various regions of Assam, Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.

Manuscripts of Charyapada

The original palm-leaf manuscript consisting of an anthology of 47 Padas (verses) along with a Sanskrit commentary was discovered by Haraprasad Shastri at the Nepal Royal Court Library in 1907 CE. This manuscript was edited by Shastri and published by the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad as a part of Hajar Bacharer Purano Bangala Bhasay Bauddhagan O Doha in 1916 CE under the name of Charyacharyavinishchayah. This manuscript is presently located at the National Archives of Nepal. Later Prabodhchandra Bagchi published a Tibetan translation containing 50 verses [1].

The Tibetan translation of Charyapada provided us some additional information. We came to know that the name of the Sanskrit commentary is Charyageetikoshavritti, the name of its writer is Munidatta and the name of the Tibetan translator is Chandrakirti.

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Pages from Charyapada

Poets of Charyapada

The manuscript of Charyapada discovered by Haraprasad Shastri from Nepal consists 47 Padas (verses). The title-page, the colophon-page,the pages 36, 37, 38, 39 and 66 containing the Padas (verses) 24, 25 and 48 and their commentaries were missing in this manuscript. The 47 verses of this manuscript were written by 22 Siddhacharyas, whose names are mentioned at the beginning of each Pada (except the first Pada). Later, from the Tibetan translation of the text and its commentary we came to know about another 3 Padas, the complete form of Pada 23 and also about Siddhacharya poet Tantripāda. The names of the Siddhacharyas as mentioned at the beginning of the Padas in Sanskrit (or the Tibetan translation of it) and the Padas written by them are:

Poet Pada
Luipāda1, 29
Kukkuripāda2, 20, 48
Virubāpāda3
Gundaripāda4
Chatillapāda5
Bhusukupāda6, 21, 23, 27, 30, 41, 43, 49
Kānhapāda7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 24, 36, 40, 42, 45
Kambalāmbarapāda8
Dombipāda14
Shantipāda15, 26
Mahidharapāda16
Vināpāda17
Sarahapāda22, 32, 38, 39
Shabarapāda28, 50
Āryadevapāda31
Dhendhanapāda33
Darikapāda34
Bhādepāda35
Tādakapāda37
Kankanapāda44
Jayanandipāda46
Dhāmapāda47
Tantripāda25


The name of another Siddhacharya poet Ladidombipāda has been mentioned by Munidatta in his commentary of Pada 10, but no Pada written by him has been discovered so far.

Probably, the Sanskrit names of the Siddhacharya poets were assigned to each Pada (verse) by the commentator Munidatta. The modern scholars doubted whether these assignments are proper on the basis of the internal evidences and other literarry sources. The controversies also exist amongst the modern scholars about the original names of these Siddhacharyas.

Language of Charyapada

Haraprasad Shastri in his introduction to the Charyacharyavinishchaya referred to the enigmatic language of its verses as Sandhya-bhasha (twilight language) or Alo-andhari (half expressed and half concealed) based on the Sanskrit commentary of Munidatta. But later Vidhushekhara Shastri on the basis of evidences from a number of Buddhist texts referred to this language as Sandha-bhasha (intentional language).[2].

The Charyapadas were written by poets from different regions, and it is natural that they would display linguistic affinities from these regions. Different scholars claimed the affinities of the language of Charyapada with Assamese, Bengali, Maithili and Oriya.

Affinities with Assamese

Luipa, also known as Matsyendranath, was from Kamarupa and wrote two charyas. Sarahapa, another poet, is said to have been from Rani, a place close to present-day Guwahati. Some of the affinities with Assamese are:[3]

Negatives -- the negative particle in Assamese comes ahead of the verb: na jãi (No. 2, 15, 20, 29); na jivami (No. 4); na chadaa, na jani, na disaa (No. 6). Charya 15 has 9 such forms.
Present participles -- the suffix -ante is used as in Assamese of the Vaishnava period: jvante (while living, No. 22); sunante (while listening, No. 30) etc.
Incomplete verb forms -- suffixes -i and -iya used in modern and old Assamese respectively: kari (3, 38); cumbi (4); maria (11); laia (28) etc.
Present indefinite verb forms -- -ai: bhanai (1); tarai (5); pivai (6).
Future -- the -iva suffix: haiba (5); kariba (7).
Nominative case ending -- case ending in e: kumbhire khaa, core nila (2).
Instrumental case ending -- case ending -e and -era: uju bate gela (15); kuthare chijaa (45).

The vocabulary of the Charyapadas includes non-tatsama words which are typically Assamese, such as dala (1), thira kari (3, 38), tai (4), uju (15), caka (14) etc.

Affinities with Bengali

A number of Siddhacharyas who wrote the verses of Charyapada were from Bengal. Shabarpa, Kukkuripa and Bhusukupa were born in different parts of Bengal. Some of the affinities with Bengali can be found from[4] the genitive in -era, -ara; the dative in –re; the locative in –ta; post-positional words like maajha, antara, saanga; past and future bases in –il-, -ib-; present participle in –anta; conjunctive indeclinable in –iaa; conjunctive conditional in –ite; passive in –ia- and substantive roots aach and thaak.

Melodies of Charyapada

From the mention of the name of the Rāga (melody) for the each Pada at the beginning of it in the manuscript, it seems that these Padas were actually sung. All 50 Padas were set to the tunes of different Rāgas. The most common Rāga for Charyapada songs was Patamanjari.
Raga Pada
Patamanjari1, 6, 7, 9, 11, 17, 20, 29, 31, 33, 36
Gabadā or Gaudā2, 3, 18
Aru4
Gurjari, Gunjari or Kanha-Gunjari5, 22, 41, 47
Devakri8
Deshākha10, 32
Kāmod13, 27, 37, 42
Dhanasi or Dhanashri14
Rāmakri15, 50
Balāddi or Barādi21, 23, 28, 34
Shabari26, 46
Mallāri30, 35, 44, 45, 49
Mālasi39
Mālasi-Gaburā40
Bangāl43
Bhairavi12, 16, 19, 38
While, some of these Rāgas are extinct, the names of some of these Rāgas may be actually the variants of the names of the popular Rāgas as we know them today[5].

Glimpses of social life

Many poems provide a realistic picture of early medieval society in eastern India by describing different occupations of people such as hunters, boatmen, and potters. It also describes the some popular musical instruments such as kada-nakada, drums, and tom-toms. The custom of dowry was prevalent. Cows were common domestic animals and elephants were common as well. Girls used to wear peacock feathers, flower garlands, and earrings.

Notes

1. ^ Bagchi Prabodhchandra, Materials for a critical edition of the old Bengali Caryapadas (A comparative study of the text and Tibetan translation) Part I in Journal of the Department of Letters, Vol.XXX, pp. 1-156,Calcutta University, Calcutta,1938 CE
2. ^ Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol.IV, No.1, 1928 CE, pp.287-296
3. ^ Language and Literature from The Comprehensive History of Assam Vol 1, ed H K Barpujari, Guwahati 1990
4. ^ Chatterjee, S.K. The Origin and Development of Bengali Language, Vol.1, Calcutta, 1926 CE, pp.112
5. ^ Roy, Niharranjan, Bangalir Itihas: Adiparba (in Bengali), Dey’s Publishing, Calcutta, 1993 CE, ISBN 81-7079-270-3, pp 637

References

  1. Dasgupta Sashibhusan, Obscure Religious Cults,Firma KLM, Calcutta, 1969 CE, ISBN 81-7102-020-8.
  2. Sen Sukumar, Charyageeti Padavali (in Bengali), Ananda Publishers, 1st edition, Kolkata, 1995 CE, ISBN 81-7215-458-5.
  3. Shastri Haraprasad (ed.), Hajar Bacharer Purano Bangala Bhasay Bauddhagan O Doha (in Bengali), Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, 3rd editiion, Kolkata, 1413 Bangabda (2006 CE).

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