Chapter

Kartābhajā

Hugh B. Urban

in Songs of Ecstasy

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780195139013
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199871674 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195139011.003.0006
 Kartābhajā

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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

Chapter.  4359 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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