About The Book
The present book entitled “Radha The Eternal Beauty Of Indian Literature” is a detailed study of the Radha-legend and Radha-cult which remain extensively scattered over written and oral literature of India covering both Sanskrit, Prakrta and regional languages of the country. It deals with the colourful character of the most popular and famous lady of Indian tradition. The present work is presented in eleven chapters in which the Radha-legend with a special emphasis on the character of the legendary lady –who is partly human and partly divine as reflected in different lyrics, poetics, Puranas, dramas, campu-kavyas, Pancaratra, Upanisadic and Tantrie text is dealt with. Among eleven chapters, the first being introductory and the last being conclusive, the first chapter is invariably a general introduction to the Radha episode. In this chapter, the meaning of the name of Radha and the Radha legend found in different sources are discussed in a general way. The second chapter entitled “The origin and development of the character of Radha in secular and religious and secular literature : a study” presents in detail a discussion on the origin and the evolution of the Radha legend with embrace both religious and secular literature including lyrical poems, dramas, Puranas, Tantra,, Pancaratra and Upanisadic text. The third chapter is exclusively dedicated to the Radha legend found in the lyrical poems. Prominent lyrical poems in the stotra-literature dedicated to Radha legend have also been discussed in this chapter five pays a glowing tribute to Radha as a goddess as it is confined to the study of the character of Radha as a goddess described in the Purana literature. In the chapter six, Radha-story delineated in the campu-kavyas is critically discussed. The chapter seven deals with the Radha-story delineated in the Sanskrit dramas. The chapter eight of this book is devoted to the main works of poeties of Rupa goswami. The chapter nine deals in details on the Radha-cult propagated in the Radhatantra, the only Trantric text on Radha. The chapter ten discusses in details on the Naradapancaratra and the Radha philosophy. Naradapancaratra is the only “pancaratra” –text of the vaisnavas which extensively deals with the divine character of Radha. The chapter eleven is a conclusive one where an endeavour is made to estimate the character of Radha reflected in different works in Sanskrit, Prakrta and regional languages of the country. She enjoys a very wide popularity as it can be imagined from the Radha-cult which have spread even into the secular literature of the different regions of India. Radha exerts a deep influence in Indian mind through her multi-coloured character. She has occupied an exalted position in both secular and religious texts. The author has utilized rare works like the Radhatantra in order to make the study on the legendary character of Radha a comprehensive one. Thus, the author has made a successful attempt in bringing to the light of common readers and learned academy the multi-colour character of this “Wonder lady.’
Dr. Shila Purkayastha, MA, Ph.D, the author of ‘Radha the Eternal Beauty of Indian Literature is an eminent Sanskrit scholar of the country. She started her career as a Lecturer in Sanskrit in Maharaja Bir Bikram College’ of Agartala and there she has also worked as a Reader and Course co-ordinator of Sanskrit Department. She was appointed a Guest Lecturer in the Calcutta University Post-Graduate Centre of Agartala in 1979. At Present, she is working as a Reader in the Department of Sanskrit, Tripura University, Suryamaninagar, West Tripura. She has established herself as a scholar, a Teacher, an eminent researcher and an academician. She was twice the Head of the Department of Sanskrit “and” Samskrita –Bharati” of Agartala, Tripura. Her present book is an excellent critical exposition on Radha, the most famous female character of Indian literature which exposes her erudite scholarship.
The legendary character of Radha has captured the hearts of millions of people all over India through the ages. A large number of lyrical poems, folk songs and dramas have been written over centuries in India in Sanskrit, Prakrta and regional languages. The Radha Krsna love-story is widespread all over India right from Tamilnadu, and Karnataka to Bengal and Assam.
Though some important books on literature have been written in the past on the character of Radha together with innumerable legends in her back, an exhaustive study on the Radha-legend and the character of Radha was always felt to be another very important topic in the field of academic literature. It has also been noticed that there is an enormous scope of working out an elaborate work on Radha who is a colourful character that attracts the readers through ages.
The Radha-legend is so popular among the Indians that I always maintained a strong desire to write out a Ph.D. thesis and if possible, to write a book also on the Radha-theme. The present work “RADHA THE ETERNAL BEAUTY OF INDIAN LITERATURE” is the book-form of the dissertation entitled “RADHA IN SANSKRIT LITERATURE” which I submitted in Gauhati University for the Ph.D. Degree.
It possesses mainly the distinct features which we have adequately elaborated in different chapters. Though the job of collecting materials was a strenuous affair, I found immense interest in the topic.
The work is presented in eleven chapters, the first being introductory and the last being conclusive. A critical analysis of the character of Radha reflected in different types of Sanskrit, Prakrta and other regional literature is dealt with in different chapters of the book.
I take this opportunity of expressing my sincere gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Apurba Chandra Barthakuria, Retired Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit, Gauhati University, but for whose untiring help, suggestions and inspiration, it would have been difficult for me to finish the job. He always remained a source of inspiration in working out this book on Radha-legend. I am also thankful to the publisher Messrs. “Punthi Pustak” for undertaking the publication of this book.
In the present work, I have made sincere attempt to five the reader a critical and complementary idea of the character of Radha which remains scattered over a vast range of Indian literature. The present author will be happy if the work renders any service to the academic circle.
Dr. Shila Purayastha’s Radha, the Eternal Beauty of Indian Literature is an extraordinary critical literary product of the modern times, initially prepared by the author as a Ph.D. dissertation of Gauhati University under a different name. The book has earned its distinction for its novelty, depth, and its totally original approach to the character of Radha, the Radha-legend and the Radha cult which swept the whole of India from Assam to Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa and Punjab. The book is a voluminous composition comprising all the different aspects of the famous legendary character which sways folk songs, sophisticated ornamental lyrics, Sanskrit drama and Vaisnava religious poetry. Dr. Shila Purkayastha is an eminent Sanskrit scholar who has an extensive study of Prakrta, Bengali and Assamese literature also. She has displayed her best talent as an eminent critical writer in the present book on Radha. An erudite scholar endowed with the faculty of probing deep into the character of Radha lying scattered over a vast range of Indian literature, Dr. Purkayastha has dwelt upon the role played by Radha in lyrical literature sometimes as a disheartened lover, sometimes as kalahantarita and a vasakasajja heroine, and sometimes as a witty woman, in an appropriately critical manner. She has also adequately analysed the character of Radha as a cowherd maiden, a princess, a goddess and a bride found in the written and folk literature of the country. Radha appears in the known history of Indian literature in the Gathasatasati of Hala for the first time. In this Prakrata anthology, she becomes a source of jealousy for other lovers of Krsna due to his partiality towards this beautiful lady. In a poem quoted by Abhinavagupta and several others, she is an abandoned lover bewailing on the bank of the Yamuna over her miserable plight.
In the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva, she presents herself sometimes as an Utkanthita and sometimes as a vasakasajja lady. Rupa Goswami dresses this famous heroine of Indian literature in many other forms not known to earlier writers on poetics. As Krsna is the incarnation of Visnu descending to the earh to destroy the wicked enemies of dharma, and Radha is his beloved, she has been rightly elevated to the position of a goddess by Puranic writers and the authors of the Naradapancaratra and the Radha Tantra. No other goddess has drived suh a great popularity and love from the society as Radha does. Radha is a multi-coloured character who appears in many other forms in the folk literature of India. She is a regular Assamese bride in a marriage song of Assam. She appears as the bride of Krsna in Tamil folk literature also. In two Assamese and Bengali folk songs, Radha is presented as a milkmaid bargaining with Krsna for the fare for crossing the Yamuna in a boat.
No other female character except Radha has exerted such a mesmerizing influence in the Indian minds through the ages. She constantly attracts the Indian people sometimes as an unsophisticated woman of an agricultural household and sometimes as a goddess. Dr. Shila Purkayastha has exhaustively discussed the multi-coloured character of Radha, the significance of the love-episode of Radha and Krsna and the Radha cult in eleven chapters of her work. She has nicely shown the gradual transition of the character of this legendary lover of Krsna, who has been recognized as an incarnation of Visnu, from her status as a simple and loving maiden of an Indian rural house-hold to the princess in the royal family of Vrkabhanu dressed in a sophisticated manner and behaving in a dignified way even in her love-lorn condition and finally ascending to the golden throne of a great goddess and a partner of the master of the universe.
Dr. Purkayastha pays a special interest in presenting to the readers the distinct mental conditions of joy and affliction of Radha under varying circumstances. The writer has made an untiring effort to collect all the materials relevant to the present study. But it is an extremely difficult task for any writer in a vast country like India where languages differ almost in its every part. Dr. Purkayastha has traversed over a very wide range of Indian literature both written and oral to make the study a useful one for scholars. She has adequately discussed the Assamese folk songs collected by Dr. Prafulla Dutta Goswami, Gokul Pathak and others. She has referred to the Radhakalyanam (Radha’s marriage) of Tamilnadu and the treatment of the famous female character in the literary works of eminent poets of Karnataka, Gujarat and Kashmir.
She has critically examined the part played by Radha in Indian literature and culture starting from lyrical literature to the Puranas, the Tantra and the Agama. In this context, she has adequately discussed the poems of the Saduktikarnamrta, and the Venisamhara and early campu Kavyas, the major Puranas, the dramas, the poems of great neo-Vaisnava poets of Bengal, and also a rare Tantra text viz. the Radha Tantra and the Naradapancaratra.
The author has examined the issue of parakiyaprema of Radha which has haunted the minds of Indian scholars through centuries, and dismissed the ‘scandal’ of Radha as without any implication as the love-affair of Radha and Krsna like the Gopi-Krsna love-episode of the Bhagavata as a religo-philosophical symbol of the love of devotees for the Supreme Being, thus prossessing no literal value. She has quoted the relevant passages from the works of great Indian thinkers like Swami Vivekananda in this context.
The new venture of Dr. Shila Purkayastha to write a comprehensive literary work on Radha is highly appreciable. She has critically and appropriately analysed all the different aspects of the character of Radha, the Radha-Krsna episode and the Radha cult of the neo-Vaisnava religion in an excellent manner. The present book will render a very useful service to the academic circle of the world. It is an extraordinary work in the field of research on a famous legendary character of India which has inspired millions of admirers to adore and worship her through the ages.
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