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Padas – Devotional Lyrics In Hinduism

Pada is a term variously used in Hindu literature, generally for devotional lyrics. Most of the medieval Hindu saints and poets have composed padas for communicating their feelings of love for God. The common man is enthralled by the music and the words (sangita and sahitya). In Hindi, a large number of padas have been sung by great saints and poets like, Tulsidas, Haridas, Surdas, Ravidas and Mirabai. In Bengal, there were the Vaishnava saint-poets such as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who composed padas and sang them in kirtans and bhajans.

The same devotional practices were observed in Assam and Odisha. In Gujarat, Narsi Mehta inspired the common man with his songs. In Mithila, people still sing songs of Vidyapati and Jayadeva. In the south, there were twelve Vaishnava saints such as Peyalwar and Andal and the Saivite saints such as Apparswamy, Sundar Murti, and Gnanasambandar, whose padas are still sung by people.

The padas depicted the reverence felt by the saint-poets for their aradhyas (superiors), generally set in pristine notations of the ragas and talas. The padas are thus a rich legacy of the past in prosody and music. These devotional songs have often brought about a change in the outlook of people. In Maharashtra, particularly, the kirtana parties are a common feature; songs of Guru Ramadasa, Sant Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram are sung.

There is also another interpretation of padas regarding legal matter in a law case. They are called the ‘vyavaharapadas’ (Mitakshara commentary of Yajnavalkya II). In ancient times, eighteen vayavahara padas were prevalent. Parts of speech are also called padas. A pada has been defined as a meaningful unit (sakta padam).