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Songs of EcstasyTantric and Devotional Songs from Colonial Bengal$
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Hugh B. Urban

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195139013

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195139011.001.0001

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(p.141) V Kartābhajā
Songs of Ecstasy

Hugh B. Urban (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This last chapter presents a translation of a humorous satirical poem by the famous Bengali poet, Dāśarathī Rāy (1805–57). He was particularly well known as a master of the Pāñcālī form, which are basically songs interspersed with short hymns to various deities. He is also noteworthy for his rather raw and gritty—and very funny—depictions of the lives of the lower orders of Calcutta during the colonial era. Largely conservative in his religious views, Dāśarathī singled out the Kartābhajās (a Bengali sect devoted to Tantra in colonial Calcutta) as the very worst example of all that was wrong with the Hindu society of his day—their sexual licentiousness, idolatry, violation of caste, overturning of traditional laws of purity, chicanery, and fraud. Hence, he provides a window onto the perception of the Kartābhajās in the eyes of the upper class elites of the day.

Keywords:   Bengal, caste, chicanery, colonialism, Dāśarathī Rāy, fraud, hymns, idolatry, India, Pāñcālī, poems, satire, sects, sexual licentiousness, songs, Tantrism, translations

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