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Dak


Dak (literally, a man versed in mantra; dakini, a woman similarly skilled) a soothsayer of ancient Bengal, and said to be the originator of the maxims contained in Dakarnava. According to Bengali tradition, Dak was a gop or milkman, but Assamese tradition describes him as a potter. However, haraprasad shastri, who discovered the manuscript of Dakarnava in the royal puthi collection of Nepal, believed that Dak and Dakini were Buddhist scholar ascetics. According to the Assamese writer Buruvzi, Dak lived in Lohi Dangora of Barapeta subdivision in the northeastern Indian district of Kamarupa. Other scholars, however, believe that the maxims attributed to Dak were not created by a single individual, but were composed by a number of people over a period of time.

On the basis of their content and language, scholars date the maxims between the 8th and 12th centuries. However, because many of the sayings were transmitted orally, they underwent considerable linguistic changes. Nevertheless, some of Dak's maxims have retained their original linguistic form as in the following example: Buddha bujhiya ediba lunda/ Agale haile nibariba tunda.

Dak's maxims reflect the lifestyle of the people of Bengal as well as of human nature in general, suggesting that their composer or composers were men of this land and were acquainted with the ways of life here. One maxim says that a husband who spends his time elsewhere and peers furtively at other women makes his wife miserable. Another maxim talks of the transient nature of life and advises people to eat the best things today and, if necessary, cure with medicine the ill effects of overeating. [Azhar Islam]