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Madhava Deva – Life Story – Literary Works

Madhava Deva, born in 1489 CE to Govindagiri and Manorama, emerged as a seminal figure in the Vaishnava movement in Assam. His early life was marked by devout worship of Goddess Durga and rigorous study of Sanskrit. However, his spiritual trajectory transformed profoundly after his encounter with Sankaradeva, the illustrious saint and the progenitor of the Vaishnavism movement in Assam. This meeting led Madhava Deva to embrace Vaishnavism wholeheartedly, becoming Sankaradeva's most prominent disciple.

Madhavadeva's contribution to the Vaishnava community extended well beyond his master's lifetime. Following Sankaradeva's death, Madhavadeva assumed the mantle of leadership, nurturing the nascent community and providing it with direction and stability for 28 years. His leadership was instrumental in solidifying the teachings and practices initiated by Sankaradeva, ensuring the growth and sustenance of the Vaishnava tradition in Assam.

Literary Works

Madhavadeva's literary output was prolific and diverse, reflecting his deep devotional fervor and his commitment to disseminating the principles of Vaishnavism. His works, primarily composed in Assamese, encompass a range of genres, including devotional hymns, translations, summaries of epic tales, and dramatic compositions.

Namaghosha: This is arguably his magnum opus, a devotional work comprising 1000 verses. Namaghosha is a cornerstone of Assamese Vaishnavism literature, revered for its lyrical beauty and spiritual depth.

Bhaktiratnavali: A translation of an Oriya work by Vishnupuri, this text further exemplifies Madhavadeva's commitment to making important devotional literature accessible to the Assamese-speaking populace.

Nama-malika: Another translation from Oriya, this time of a composition by Purusottama Gajapati, continuing the theme of bridging linguistic and cultural gaps within the devotional community.

Balakanda: A succinct summary of the first section of the Ramayana, this work showcases Madhavadeva's ability to distill and convey epic narratives in a concise, engaging manner.

Rajasuya-kavya: This work is based on the story of Yudhishthira's Rajasuya sacrifice in the Mahabharata, illustrating Madhavadeva's adeptness at reinterpreting classical Hindu epics through a Vaishnava lens.

In addition to these major works, Madhavadeva composed several short plays, predominantly centered around the life and exploits of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. These plays not only served religious and educational purposes but also contributed to the cultural and artistic life of the community. His bargitas (devotional songs) are particularly noteworthy, characterized by their melodic simplicity and profound devotional sentiment. These songs have had a lasting impact on Assamese devotional music, resonating with the faithful across generations.


Madhavadeva's legacy is enduring, both as a spiritual leader and as a literary figure. His efforts in nurturing the Vaishnava community, coupled with his literary contributions, have left an indelible mark on the cultural and religious landscape of Assam. His works continue to inspire devotion and provide spiritual guidance, while his leadership ensured the perpetuation and growth of the Vaishnava tradition initiated by Sankaradeva.