Associate Professor
Department of Assamese
Nagaon College, Nagaon, Assam

‘Bhattima’ in general term is a prayer song paregoric sung in adoration of the lord worshipped or the preceptor. A particular class od singers known as “Bhata” has been in service of such regular singing in ancient India who in pursuit of glorify lord Krishna-Rama and sometimes the kings of the locality performed the most important jolon propagating in public ‘Bin Bairagies’ of Assam did sing the songs pertaining to spiritual appreciation of bodily existence.

‘Bhatta’ is a word originated in Sanskrit ‘Bhat’ and a class of these singers sang the ‘Bhattimas’ from the ancient time in India. Sankardeva in his pursuit to propagate the Neo Vaishnaism wrote a number Bhattimas as an instrument fit for the Ankiya Bhawnas. Sankardeva originally classified the Bhattimas in these, sections namely (i) Deba Bhattima, (ii) Naat Bhattima and (iii) Raj Bhattimas. Madhabdeva the main disciple of Sankardeva added the Guru Bhattimas in praise of his Guru Shree Sankardeva and has changed the basic these of Assamese Bhattima the prayer song. Naat Bhattimas were written in good numbers and were considered as significant part of the Akia Naat. They are lyrical narrative and meaningful songs- sung by the actors along with satra dhikar. Sankardeva has written altogether twenty tow (22) numbers Deba Bhattimas of which on (i) in Sanskrit two (2) in Brojawali, (19) nineteen other- Naat Bhattimas – such as two (2) from Patni Prasad, two (2) from Kalidaman, two (2) from Keli Gopal, Four (4) from Rukmani Haran, three (3) from Parijat Haran, Four (4) from Ram Bijay and two (2) numbers of Raj Bhattimas.

In each of Sankardevas Ankia Naat there is a Deba Bhattima at the beginning and Mukti Mangal Bhattima at the end. Some of these Bhattimas that are played in dramatic sequence may be called as dramatic (Natakiya) Bhattima or intimate (Antaranga) Bhattimas these songs.

In Ankia Nata Bhattimas have been sang to described the Characteristic significancants of the main characters of the drama. Sankardeva has made it a rule that there should have atleast three such Bhattimas one in the beginning one somewhere in the middle the other at the end in form of Muktimangal Bhattima. Krishna, Rama, Rukmini, Sita were the characters that the dramatist urges the audience to sang and offer prayers in gratitude of the Lord Krishna and Rama. The Sutradhara – dances expressing them.

Origin of Bhatimas: The creation of Bhatimas has become one of important work in the Assamese literature and cultural history. In 15th century Shankardeva, Madhabdeva and other Vaishnavite perception have begun to write Ankia Naat and alosng with them the Bhattimas also came begin. In around 1467-1470 when Sankardeva wrote the first Naat Patni Prasada – the first Bhattima has been composed “Jaya Jaya Jadaba” and Ashoka bana Mahala Murari were these two Bhattimas – He has written twenty two numbers of Bhattimas were written, which has been followed by Madhabdeva, who wrote ten number Bhattimas. Including the Guru Bhattima Madhabdeva has written eleven numbers of Bhattimas in total.

After Sankaradeva and madhabadeva many of his disciples hand written Bhattimas and around sixty numbers of Bhattimas were all together. Witting of the Bhattimas have been an important land mark in the history of lyrical literatue. It has been an established truth that these Bhattimas have augmented in the popularizing the Ankiya Naat as an important aspect of the Neo Vaishanite religion. Even tnough lots of Bhattimas written in Saachipat and Tutapat have been recovered, no notes written on the form – structure and literary criticism of the Bhattimas are found anywhere. No original printed books have been found. Sahitya Ratna harinarayan Dudda Baruah and Satradhikar Purna Kanta Deba Goswami in their edited books – Sri Shankar Vakyamrit (1953), Shri Shri Madhavadeva Vakyamrit (1980) have printed out fine and nine numbers of Bhattimas respectively. In the eighty and nineties of the last century Late Satradhikar Joykanta Goswami of Shri Shri Syamkanu Sattra of Jagiroad preserved as many as sixty Bhattimas, which were collected and their collection of an edited book of sixty number Bhattimas could be made possible.

Literary value of Bhattimas: Bhattimas occupy a separate identity in the history of Assamese literature. The poets and writers contribute their imaginary objective as per the need of the time as per them capability – they added the literary ornamental to the literary form and a correct estimation of these Bhattimas have now become most necessary.

Subject matter of Bhattimas: Main aim and objective of writing the Bhattimas in the Ankiya Naat was to influence the audience and drama lovers with the characteristic specification of Krishna Rama Vishnu as special kings and women characters as general. Bhattima has been one of the main instruments in establishing Bhakti Tattwa in the minds of audience.

Guru Bhattimas has been the creation of Madhabdeva the sole associate of Shankardev. Madhabdev at the highest position as Guru and the uncreation of Lord Krishna himself. Here, Madhabeva’s appreciation of the personality of Shankardeva, his establish of the Guru as the Lord Krishna himself in perfect terms and description were complete. Deva Bhattimas were basically written at the beginning of the Ankiya Naats as a prayer on behalf of the audience to the Lord. Naat Bhattimas are basically the description enclosure in order to argument the need of the dramatic sequence. The Raaj Bhattimas on the other hand were written in praise of Kuch Emperor Naranarayan.

Note & Reference:
H.N. Dutta Boruah. ‘Shri Sankar Bakyamrit,’ Ed. 1953
Giri Kanta Goswami. Giri Kanta: Bhattima Samiksha, 2001

About the author:Dr. Giri Kanta Goswami, author of the above article entitled as “The Works of Sankaradeva: A Linguistic Study”, is Associate Professor of Nagaon College, Assam and acting  Supervisor of Ph.D. in the Department of Assamese, Gauhati University. Already five Research Scholars have been awarded Doctor of Philosophy Degree and ten Research Scholars are doing research works for Ph.D. degree under his supervision...[Read more]

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