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(Editor, Compiler, Author and Translator Dr. PADMA SUDHI)
Folk-ballads have been collected from every part of India. There are regional differences in their character and motifs, and most of them do not satisfy each and every point of the definition of ballad in the real sense of the term. The ballads of Assam have been divided into four groups according to their subject matter, historical, magical, realistic and satirical. The historical ballad Barphukanar Gītā is the most important from both literary and historical points of view. It describes events which occurred during the early nineteenth century in the course of Badancandra Barphukan's invitation to the Burmese invaders to occupy the territory of Assam. Badancandra was an Ahom viceroy of Lower Assam in Gauhati. Other historical ballands of Assam are: Bakhararbarar Gītā, Padum Kuvarir Gītā, Manirama Devanar Gītā, Jayamati Kuvarir Gītā, and Ajān Fakirar Gītā. Though each of them refers to one or two historical characters, the events and incidents described in them are not, strictly speaking, historical, because a lot of unhistorical and romantic elements have entered into them. In the ballads of magic, the emphasis is laid more on the magical than on the realistic activities of life. Three ballads of this type have so far been collected from oral tradition and published. They are Manikuvarar Gītā, Phulkuvarar Gītā and Janaganharur Gītā.The last is Assamese version of the Bengali ballads Gopicandrer Gītā. The realistic ballads deal with the affairs of day-to-day life. Sometimes they express deep sentiments of love and affection. Dubalar Santir Gītā, Saudar Gītā, Kanya Baramahi and Pagala Parvatir Gītā are a few ballads of the realistic group. These ballads are generally available in Lower Assam and Karmrup District. The santrical ballads of Assam are compositions of a class of village buffoons known as Bhārurā or Bahnā. Strictly speaking, they cannot be called ballads in view of the fact that they have no story in them. Bengal is particularly rich in ballads. A number of ballads have been published in English translation by the University of Calcutta. Western scholars were greatly impressed by them and bestowed on them their highest praise. These were mostly collected from the district of Mymeshingh (now in Bangladesh) and they were published under the editorship of Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen with the title Maimansimha - Gītīkā by Calcutta University in 1923. Another volume was also brought out by the same editor under the title Purvavanga - gitika (Calcutta Universities, 1932); this contains a collection from the district of Sythet, Noakhali, and Chittagong, all now in Bangladesh. Selected ballad were also rendered into English by Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen and published under the title Eastern Bengal (Calcutta, 1926). Some of these are the finest specimens of Indian folk-ballads. They express the deepest sentiments of love and sacrifice based on the realities of human lives. Love is the motif of almost all the ballads collected from this area, and they have, therefore, a universal appeal. They have been justly classified as love ballads by a European scholar. Though the basic sentiment of folk-ballads all over the world is love, it must be admitted that this sentiment predominates in the ballads from Mymensingh. They are also intensely lyrical in character. Of a ballad entitled Mahuya it has been remarked by a foreign scholar that lyrical points form the most characteristic feature of the ballad and, I do not hesitate to say, its most valuable artistic achievement. We could call it the art of poetic abbreviation. The ballad describes the story of love and sacrifice of a gypsy girl and a boy of a high family. In the ballads from the Punjah, Rajasthan and Kashmir, heroic sentiments predominate, but sentiments of love and sacrifice are not altogether lacking in them. Ballads of Andhra Pradesh are generally full of pathos. The episodes of Kāmamma and Sanyāsamma, who sacrificed their lives on the funeral pyre of their husbands, have been dealth with in these ballads. There are also ballads of Vira Rājamma, Lakśmammā and Pal Thaṅgā, who had to undergo physical tortures by their mother-in-laow and to sacrifice their innocent lives just because of suspicion about their character by their husbands. The ballad of Bālā Nāgamma, who was tortured by her step-mother, is very famous and is full of pathos.
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