By Swami Harshananda
Bargit literally means ‘excellent songs’.
The Vaiṣṇava movement in Assam owes its origin mainly to Saṅkaradeva (A.D. 1486-1568). He and his chief disciple Mādhavadeva have left behind a class of devotional poems and songs in Assamese. These songs are well-known as ‘bargit’ (‘vara-gītam or excellent songs’). They still hold their sway upon the masses of Assam.
These lyrical songs are classical as far as musical techniques are concerned. Their content is highly philosophical. They also include the stories of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa in their content.
The bargīts of Saṅkaradeva are full of dāsyabhakti (devotion to God like a servant towards his master) whereas those of Mādhavadeva excel in Vātsalyabhakti (devotion to God considering a devotee as God's child).
Later writers like Gopāladeva, Anīruddha, Srīrāma and others were mostly pontiffs of Vaiṣṇavite monasteries (called ‘Sattras’). They imitated these bargīts and attained some distinction in this field.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore