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Rami – Bengal Poetess – Life Story

Rami was a poetess and a washerwoman – first woman poet of Bengal. She inspired the Bengali Shakta poet Chandidasa (15th century CE). It is difficult to ascertain historical details about Rami. Some historians say that Rami is the short form of Ramamani; others say this name is derived from Ramatara.

Chandidasa was the priest of Goddess Visalakshi in the Nannur village in Birbhum district of Bengal. One day, as the was moving along the river bank, he saw a charming girl named Rami washing clothes and feel in love with her. Thereafter, he wrote a number of padas (verses) inspired by his love. But, as she belonged to a lower caste, he was removed from his priestly duties and boycotted by society. The Brahmins agreed to reappoint him in the temple on the condition that he leaves her. But he refused, after having had a vision of her as the Divine Mother.

In some of the poems Candidasa, centered on Rami, human love is taken to a higher plane and Rami is treated almost like a Goddess.

A very famous piece of Chandidasa states – “Rajakini Prema Nikasita Hema, Kamgandha Nahi Tay” which means that love of the washerwoman is like pure gold; it is above carnal craving.

There are a few poems which are attributed to Rami. Though there is controversy over their authorship, some historians consider Rami the first woman poet of Bengal. The two poems which are attributed to Rami talk about the love of Radhika (Radha) or Sri Krishna. However, these can be interpreted as her expression of love for Chandidasa. Some historians think that these two verses were actually written much later. Whether we accept these are her poems or not, Rami is immortalized in verses by Chandidasa himself.