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Jnanadas


Jnanadas (16th century) one of the greatest post-Chaitanya poets of bangla literature. He was also a prominent Vaishnav devotee and made great contributions to Bangla vaisnava literature.

Jnanadas was born in a Mangal-Brahmin family in the village of Katoar Kandra in Burdwan district. From his birth-place he was variously known as Mangal Thakur, Shrimangal and Madan-Mangal. He was a disciple of Nityananda, while his wife was a disciple of Janhabidevi. Jnanadas went to Vrindavan, where he came in close contact with Vaishnava devotees and scholars such as Shrijiva, Raghunathdas, Gopal Bhatta and Krsndas Kaviraj.

Jnanadas was the first poet to compose lyrics describing the image of krishna. He composed nearly 200 lyrics (others put the figure at 400) in Bangla and brajabuli on the love of radha and Krishna. Mathur and Muralishiksa are two of his important collections of Vaishnava lyrics. He was also a musicologist and became quite famous in evolving new forms of kirtan.

In composing lyrics, Jnanadas discarded the medieval traditions and tried to establish an active spiritual relationship between the Creator and human beings on the model of the relationship of Radha and Krishna. Although he followed vidyapati and chandidas in composing lyrics, he developed his own simple, but attractive, style. Love, beauty and spiritualism form the prime themes of his lyrics. His perception of the pleasures and pains of love crossed the limitations imposed by religion.

In his compositions Jnanadas followed the simple, mystic style of Chandidas, rather than the ornamental style of Vidyapati. Jnanadas succeeded in making Bangla an appropriate vehicle for self-expression. He was the first Vaishnava to effectively link the intimate relationship between the physical and spiritual. He was eloquent in describing love: his depiction of the craving of Radha's heart is matched only by Chandidas. [Md Masud Parvez]