Śrīmad-Bhāgavata-Pārāyaṇa-Vidhi-Prakāśa: An Early Modern Poetry Workshop?
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This paper focuses on a mid-eighteenth-century work by Sāvantsingh, the poet prince of Kiśangaṛh, who wrote under the pen name of Nāgarīdās and is famous as the sponsor of the Kiśangaṛhī miniatures. The text under discussion is Śrīmad-Bhāgavata-Pārāyaṇa-Vidhi-Prakāśa, “Spotlight on the Ceremonies for a Full Recitation of the Holy Bhāgavata [Purāṇa].” This work documents a religious festival where a full reading of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa took place, organized by Sāvantsingh himself in the monsoon season of the year 1742. Contrary to what the title might lead us to expect, very little attention is given to the particulars of the recitation; rather, we get a transcript of the poetry composed by courtiers for the occasion and read at the beginning and at the conclusion of the rites. I have been able to identify some of the participants in a contemporaneous miniature, thus providing us with a visual image of the poets. In this paper, I analyze how the poems respond to one another and what this tells us about early modern poetry gatherings. I argue that such gatherings share many characteristics in common with contemporaneous mushā‘irahs in what was then the new, popular medium of Urdu poetry (called Rekhtā at the time), as described in Tazkirahs.
KeywordsKiśangaṛh Nāgarīdās Nimbārka Kṛṣṇa bhakti Bhāgavata Purāṇa kathā mushā‘irah poetic responses
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