bargīt

(‘excellent songs’)

The Vaiṣṇava movement in Assam owes its origin mainly to Śaṅkaradeva (A.D. 1486-1568). He and his chief disciple Mādhavadeva have left behind them a class of devotional poems and songs in Assamese, well-known as ‘bargīt’ (‘vara-gītam or excellent songs’) which still hold their sway upon the masses of Assam.

These lyrical songs are classical as far as musical techniques are concerned. Their content however is highly philosophical, though stories of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa also find a place.

The bargīts of Śaṅkaradeva are full of dāsyabhakti (devotion to God as of a servant towards his master) whereas those of Mādhavadeva excel in Vātsalyabhakti (devotion to God considering him as one’s child).

Later writers like Gopāladeva, Ani-ruddha, Śrīrāma and others, who were mostly pontiffs of Vaiṣṇavite monasteries (called ‘Sattras’) imitated these bargīts and attained some distinction in this field.