The Har Mala story deals with the challenge given to Mehta by Ra Mandlik (1451–1472) a Chudasama king, to prove his innocence in the charges of immoral behaviour by making the Lord Himself garland Narsinh. How Sri Krishna, in the guise of a wealthy merchant, helped Mehta in getting his son married is sung by the poet in ‘Putra Vivah Na Pada’.
He went to Mangrol where, at the age of 79, he is believed to have died. The crematorium at Mangrol is called ‘Narsinh Nu Samshan’ where perhaps one of the greatest sons of Gujarat was cremated. He will ever remembered for his poetic works and devotion to Lord Krishna. He is known as the first poet of Gujarati.
Mehta is a pioneer poet of Gujarati literature. He is known for his literary forms called ” pada (verse) “, ” Aakhyan “, & ” Prabhatiya “. One of the most important features of Mehta’s works is that they are not available in the language in which Narsinh had composed them. They have been largely preserved orally. The oldest available manuscript of his work is dated around 1612, and was found by the noted scholar K.K.Shastri from Gujarat Vidhya Sabha. Because of the immense popularity of his works, their language has undergone modifications with changing times. Mehta wrote many bhajans and Aartis for Lord Krishna and they are published in many books.
The works of Mehta are divided into three categories:
- Autobiographical compositions: Putra Vivah, Mameru, Hundi, Har Same No Pada, Jhari Na Pada, and compositions depicting acceptance of Harijans. These works deal with the incidents from the poet’s life and reveal how he encountered the Divine in various guises. They consist of ‘miracles’ showing how Narsaiyya’s Lord helped his devotee in the time of crises.
- Miscellaneous Narratives: Chaturis, Sudama Charit, Dana Leela, and episodes based on Srimad Bhagwatam. These are the earliest examples of Akhyana or narrative type of compositions found in Gujarati. These include:
- Chaturis, 52 compositions resembling Jaydeva’s masterpiece Geeta Govinda dealing with various exploits of Radha and Krishna.
- Dana Leela poems dealing with the episodes of Krishna collecting his dues (dana is toll, tax or dues) from Gopis who were going to sell buttermilk to Mathura.
- Sudama Charit is a narrative describing the well-known story of Krishna and Sudama.
- Govinda Gamana or the Departure of Govind relates the episode of Akrura taking away Krishna from Gokul.
- Surata Sangrama, The Battle of Love, depicts in terms of a battle the amorous play between Radha and her girl friends on the one side and Krishna and his friends on the other.
- Miscellaneous episodes from Bhagwatam like the birth of Krishna, his childhood pranks and adventures.
- Songs of Sringar. These are hundreds of padas dealing stories of Radha and Krishna like Ras Leela. Various clusters of padas like Rasasahasrapadi and Sringar Mala also fall under this heading.
The following is a playlist video of several Narsinh Mehta bhajans.
CLICK HERE to listen to more of Narsinh Mehta bhajans.
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