Biographical Sketches of Dekkan Poets/Eleswara Upadhya

ELESWARA UPADHYA.

ELESWARA UPADHYA flourished in the seventh century of die Salivahana era, and was a native of the town of Eleswar, which is situated to the westward of Srisaile. From his infancy he made divinity his particular study, and in a short time, attained to such high degree proficiency in learning, that he became the preceptor of numerous pupile, and was styled by way of eminence, Eleswara Upadhya. This surname, however, which conferred a dignity on his native village, has thrown the veil of oblivion over his rest name, which has been lost to prosterity, who only recognize him by the title before-mentioned.

This philosopher and poet made many commentaries on the text of Goutama, called " Smriti Durpana" or the "Mirror of Memory," and after he had completed his forteenth year, he visited Rajas of different provinces, and at their several courts, confuted every other sect that taught doctrines contrary to orthodoxy. This poet wrote a geographical treatise, and in the topography of the Telugu country, divided it into hundreds nads, or such as Vigenad, Valanad, & c. the records of these divisions are preserved in the archives of Kondavede, and in the provinces west of the Kristna river, such as Orungole, Vemulavada, Eleswar — they are written in the provincial dialect, and are still in the possession of village accountants and other authorities.

Although the Telugu country has undergone several- revolutions, and been under different dynasties, yet the sub-divisions made by Eleswora Upadhya, with their various appellations, have been retained. The lands which were granted, by different kings and nobles, as a reward for the labors and valuable works of our poet, he made over to Bramins whose descend, ants have preserved their title deeds to this very day.

Eleswara Upadhya taught Sanscrit versification and prosody to the Princesses of Raghupati Peta, Narayana Gad, and other places, on which account he was much respected by those distinguished Personages, and received rich rewards from -them. This Poet also established a private College, where five hundred pupils were instructed in all the branches of scientific and elegant literature, especially the Sanscrit language and it is said, that, even the female members of this Poet's family, spoke that dialect as fluently as their vernacular tongue, from constantly hearing discourses in it; for Eleswara would allow no other but the learned language to be spoken even in colloquial conversation, having a sovereign contempt for every other, conceiving the same to be prohibited by the Hindu law.

It is said, that when Eleswara Upadhya found some of his scholars dull in learning their lessons, for want of a retentive memory, he searched in ancient books, and discovered in a very old volume, that treated on the occult' sciences, a recipe to remedy this evil which was oil extracted, from the red seeds of the Jotispati plant, and mixed with other ingredients and then used in culinary purposes. — When the scholars of Eleswara made trial* of this excellent medicine, which was eaten with their daily food, it is reported that their heads became clear, so that they readily performed every task set- them, and made great progres* in their learning.

£leswara took very great pains in instructing his pupils, and the fame of his uncommon merits spread around through different provinces, and at last reached the ears of Khan Khan, one of the generals in the army of the renowned Eaperor Akbar, and great Sancritntscholar,^ho was very desirous to see this celebrated p^ilqsopher tin^ . ^et, and on that account made a long journey, to Upadhaya, accompanied by a imqp,eroHSi;etinue.. When this Chief came to the presence of Eleswa* ra^ be made prostration, but the other in ahaught ty tone exclaimed — " Mlech^Kshaya-Astu,'* (let BarbajiiWis be destroyed)^ The General unhesitatingly fepUed, '^ Ast°-:P^uchami-Tat purusha," (may meii b? slain by Ihem) Eteswara Upadhya then rejoined, " Mlecha-mCTiti Sese ha^" (let Barbarians destroy each other). Kbaq iOian could make no r^ply ta (his retwt, but repeat^ this short sentence, l^ahasrapat, o^ God of 1^ thousand beads, thousand eyes, aod thousand rays) The poet -on this said " Cbala* ^ ^hkita Ohiuna Tava Syne phar^ti" — wfaicl Drained bvGoogIc words bear the following several interpretation." when your army marches, the god of a thousand heads (namely, Sesha the serpent, that supports Earth) trembles, the god of a thousand eyes (Indra) is moved, and the god of a thousand rays (Surya or the Sun) is dispersed. The Moslem general Khan Khan was highly delighted with this compliment, and conferred on the poet Eleswara many valuable presents, and the title of "Eleswara Upadhya Seromani" or the principal gem of the sages of Eleswara, and then returned to the Emperor's Court.

After this Eleswara Upadhya employed his pen in writing a dramatical work, entitled " Geresa Natuka," which celebrates in beautiful versification, the nuptials of the god of Sresaile.

This poet had no male issue, , but only daughters, one of whom named Nachi, became unfortunately a widow, when she had just arrived at the age of puberty, and she resolved to put an end to her life, being inconsolable at his loss, and of the consequent deprivation of all hopes of having children, and enjoying domestic happiness but her father dissuaded her from her purpose, reminding her that suicide was a heinous crime in the eyes of the Almighty. Nashi became at length reconciled to life, and was resolved to devote the remainder of her years to philosophy and study: she had heard from her father, that by swallowing a large quantity of Jotishpati oil, a person will either obtain a quick genius, or die in the space of five hours; she had the fortitude to make the trial, and took a strong-dose of the before-mentioned oil. In a short time, however, she felt a buring pain through her whole frame so acutely, that she could not bear it, and in a state almost frantic, jumped down a well, that was at the back of their house, and remained immersed in water for two hours, in the mean time the poet missing his daughter, whom he loved excessively, left off teaching his disciples, and went in search of her to the back of the house, and calling out her name Nachi, the damsel answered him from the bottom of the well, and apprized her father of what she had done. He directed her to remain for five hours in the well, and then to come out, which she did, and found herself entirely rid of her burning pains. It is said, that by the virtue of this oil, the daughter of Eleswara attained to such Wonderful capacity, that she shortly became a proficient in all the arts and sciences, and able to discourse on the most abstruse point in natural philosophy. She likewise became a poetess, and wrote an-epic poem, which she entitled Nachi Nataka, in which she recorded in elegant Shanscrit verse, all the events of her own life from her birth till her widowhood. She afterwards obtained the consent of her father to go on a pilgrimage to all the holy places in the peninsula, and it is said, that in the course of her tour, she overcame in controversy many learned pundits at various places, confuting every one, who came in opposition to her. After receiving rewards form the kings of Delhi and of Joyapore, she returned home, much admired for her talents and ready wit.

Eleswara Upadhy had another daughter, in whom he was more unfortunate, for it appears, that through some treachery she bad been married to a person of an inferior cast, by whom she had issue. When the poet discovered the real rank of his son-in-law, he revealed the whole circumstance to his daughter, who through shame put an end to her own life, and that of her children, by setting fire to the house in which they dwelt, and perishing altogether in the flames.

Eleswara, near the close of his life wrote a code of laws, entitled "Eleswara Vijaya," in which the distinctions of all the tribes and relationships was minutely examined. This work has been quoted by various authors, but, not withstanding its celebrity, the original is unfortunately lost, as now not a single copy can be found, although much search has been made for it This poet died as much respected for his unimpeachable character, as the number of his pupils, and his prodigious learning.