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Shyamasangit


Shyamasangit a genre of devotional songs dedicated to the Hindu goddess Shyama or Shakti, symbolising power. It is also known as Shaktagiti. During the 12th-13th centuries Shaktoism grew in Bengal alongside vaisnavism and inspired a strain of Shaktagiti. Towards the middle of the 18th century, the ascetic poet ramprasad sen instilled new life into it and turned it into a distinct genre of Bangla songs, Shaktapadavali or Shyamasabgit.

It was Ramprasad's endeavour to free the cult of Shakti from the rites of the scripture or of the esoteric rites of the tantras and give it a simple musical form. He wanted to rid the society of the cult of gruesome deeds in the name of worshiping Shyama or Kali and to establish in its place a musical representation of the relationship of eternal and sublime love and care between the mother and her child.

Theoretically, Shyamasangit can be divided into two streams: devotional or metaphysical and umasabgit, agamani or vijaya songs. The first category of songs is inspired by spiritual thoughts. The other category, based on themes of daily family matters or social events, is known as padavali, umasangit, agamani or vijaya songs. The fundamental appeal of Shyamasangit centres round the fullness of the mother-child relationship of emotions, love and care, veneration and beauty. The tunes of the Shyamasangit are similar to those of folk songs and kirtan.

When Ramprasad Sen composed Shyamasangit in the 18th century, the society and culture of the time, especially music, was hedonistic. The composition of deeply spiritual Shyamasangit, addressing the goddess Kali as mother, was an event of great significance in Bangla music. The appeal of these songs spread far and wide across urban and rural societies. The Shyamasangit theme of mother-worship inspired people to sing praises of their motherland. Patriotic songs composed in the nature of Shyamasangit, addressing the land as mother, greatly helped to raise national consciousness.

Ramprasad was ably succeeded by Kamlakanta Bhattacharya (c 1772-1821) in composing Shyamasangit. An ascetic poet by instinct, Kamlakanta, like Ramprasad, was a devotee of the goddess Shyama. One of his songs is still popular today: Amar sadh na mitilo/Asha na purilo (my desire was not satisfied, my hope not fulfilled). The influence of Shyamasangit may be traced through dasharathi roy's panchali and rammohun roy's Brahmasabgit to the modern compositions of rabindranath tagore and kazi nazrul islam. [Khan Md Sayeed]