THE collection of songs edited in the present volume possesses a two-fold interest. Composed so long ago as the fourteenth century A. D. It claims the attention not only of the philologist as the oldest known specimen of the Kashmiri language, but also, and still more, that of the student of religions.
In ancient times, the religious system based on Saiva Yoga was the object of much study amongst the learned men of Kashmir. From that remote corner of North-Western India their teaching influenced the whole peninsula, so much so that we even read that Eamtouja, the leader of a rival Vaisnava belief, felt compelled to travel from distant Madras to Kashmir, with the special object of combating the hostile creed at its fountain head.
There is an imposing mass of Kashmir & aiva literature still extant. Mijch of it has been published in the original Sanskrit, and more than one English work has been devoted to it.
Lalla or Lai Ded, the authoress of the following verses, was a wandering ascetic, and a devoted follower of this cult. The importance of her songs consists in the fact that they are not a systematic expose of Saivism on the lines laid down by the theologists…
Is not a mere book-religion as evolved in the minds of great thinkers and idealists, but a picture of the actual hopes and fears of the common folk that nominally followed the teaching of these wise men whom they had accepted as their guides. The book, in short, gives an account, often in vivid and picturesque language, of the actual working out in practice of a religion previously worked out in theory. As such, it is a unique contribution to the body of evidence that must necessarily form the basis of a future history of one of the most important religious systems of India.
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