In 1752, the Bengali poet Bharatchandra Ray completed a long narrative poem dedicated to the glory of Annada, the consort of Shiva and the divinity who, as her name proclaims, “bestows the bounty of rice.”
A poet well-versed in Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindi—all of which enrich his work—Bharatchandra took up the literary performance genre maṅgalkāvya and thoroughly transformed it, addressing the aesthetic tastes of the court rather than those of the traditional village audience. He added depth and sensitivity to well-known legends, along with allusions to his own experiences of poverty, and more than a dash of mischievous wit.
The second volume recounts the clandestine love affair of Princess Vidya and Prince Sundar, and how Bhavananda, ancestor of the poet’s patron, stopped a rebellion and became a king.
This translation, the first in English, features the original text in the Bangla script. Lively and entertaining, In Praise of Annada was regarded as a major achievement in its own time and is now counted one of the treasures of Bengali literature.