xl] VERRNACULAR LITERATURE 421
of Fame, shining in its own pure radiance as the guide and
saviour of Hindustan. When we compare the religious and
moral atmosphere of his country with that of other regions of
India in which Rama-worship has no hold, and not till then,
can we justly estimate his importance. His influence on
literature has been equally great. Since his time all the epic
poetry of Upper India has been written in Eastern Hindi.
Although the Rama-legend has been mainly a subject of litera-
ture in Northern India, we also find occasional instances of its
treatment in other parts of the country. Kirttibas Ojh& wrote
a Bengali recension of the Ranzmyazta in the sixteenth century.
He had no important successor, as, -after his time, nearly all
Bengali poetry was dedicated, not to Rama, but to giva and his
queen. His work is, however, still recited at village festivals.
In Western Hindi we have the elegant Rdnma-clhandrika of the
celebrated Kegav Das, who will be referred to again in the
following pages, and many other works of less importance.
The present writer has seen no less than thirteen different
versions of the Rdmayana in various dialects of this language.
In Marathi, the learned Mor6pant wrote several poems dealing
with the history of Rgma, and other authors also handled the
subject, although the favourite deity of Marathi literature may
be said to be Vith6ba, a form of Krishna.
We have already seen that Rammnuja belonged to the south
of India. We need not, therefore, wonder at finding a Tamil
Rdmdyana written by Kamban in the eleventh century, which
is described by Bishop Caldwell as a highly finished and very
popular work. Malayalam literature is said to commence with
a Rama-charita, written in the thirteenth or fourteenth century;
and one of the oldest works in Kanarese is the RJmrnya.za of
Kumara Valmiki, a Brahman of Shol5pur District.
The range of literature dealing less directly with RAma is
immense. Commentaries, works on poetics, and even special
vocabularies in most of the great Indian languages, have seen
the light in profusion. To give any account of them in the
present pages would be impossible.
The acceptance of Krishna as a deity is as old as the San- iKrishi.a-
skrit A4ahdbhufrata. It is strongly inculcated in the tenth book literature.
of the Bhdgavata Purana, and has been wedded to immortal
verse in the Indian Song of Songs, the Gita-gavinda of JayadEva;
but it did not become a systematized form of popular religion
till it was preached by a Telinga Brahman, settled near Mathura Vallabha-
(Muttra), named Vallabhacharya, in the early part of the six- charya.