Biographical Sketches of Dekkan Poets/Jaganath Pundit


This poet was a native of a town named Mungunda which is situated in the Telugu country, he was the son of Ramachandra Upadhya, a bramin of the Veginad tribe—and was contemporary with Akbar Sha—Jaganath did not learn a word of the Sanscrit language till he was past twelve years of age, when he went to the house of his brother-in-law and studied poetry: by indefatigable exertions, he acquired a competent knowledge of the learned languages, and became a poet of no small talent. He visited the Court of the Karnatic Rajah, but not meeting with the countenance that he expected, or that his abilities merited, he wrote some verses expressive of the neglect he suffered, that the same might excite attention towards his endeavours, but notwithstanding this stratagem, his labors continued unheeded, and he in disgust forthwith proceeded to the Court of a Maharatta Sovereign, but as he was clad in mean attire, no notice was taken of him even there, until raising his voice, he repeated the following lines:—

The Kokil singing 'midst a flock of crows,
His melody in tuneful warblings shows,
And while the pow'r of harmony displays,
The verdant groves re-echo forth hislays;
The Foresters enchanted by his song,
Indignant drive away the sable throng,
That no vile croaker of the kawing raae,
Should near the vocal stranger hold a place.

These lines Jaganath Pundit intended as a satire on the inferior talents of the poets at the court of the Maharatta King—and though the censure conveyed in this extempotaneous effusion was sufficiently galling, yet the sovereign conferred large presents and suitable apparel on our poet. Jaganath Pundit after this proceeded to Jayapore, where be staid many years: in this place he vanquished several pundits in public disputations on various subjects, and he established a School wherein he instructed numerous pupils in the Puranas. While residing at Jayapore, he understood that the Emperor of Delhi entertained many pundits at his court, and as Jaganath among his other acquirements, possessed a perfect and critical knowledge of the Persian language, he was determined to pay this monarch a visit, he proceeded to Delhi, and on his arrival there, composed some excellent verses in Persian and Sanscrit, in which he described the beauty of the King's steeds, as they paraded in front of the gate of the palace. When Jaganath came to the royal presence he repeated some verses both in Persian and Sanscrit, in which he censured the worldly pursuits both of the Hindus and of Yavanas. It is said, that at the court of the Emperor, Jaganath confuted all the pundits who were opposed to him, and the fame of his talents spread abroad. He was of a very comely person, and it is reported, that the daughter of the Emperor, who admired his talents, and had frequently seen him through the Venetians of her apartments, became violently enamoured of him. The strength of her love was so great, that she at last revealed her passion to her Mother, and requested her to marry her to Jaganath. The name of this illustrious lady was Lavangi, she had just arrived at the age of puberty and was a very beautiful and accomplished princess.

Jaganath Pundit was also smitten with the charms of the Emperor's daughter, and wrote verses in praise of her beauty. Although the princess' mother was very averse to the match, yet finding, that her daughter's existence depended on the fulfilment of that event, she on a favourable opportunity disclosed the whole affair to the Emperor her husband, this monarch was much grieved at learning this intelligence, but at last, gave his consent and the couple were married with all due forms. Pundit, Roya had no issue by the princess and he proceeded to Benares where the bramins excommunicated him, but he gave a pair of metal images to the Vystnavas of the Yadana Mountain who established them on a high-place, and called them Chella Pella Roya. According to tradition, Pundit Roya and his wife sought a voluntary death in the river ganges. After his death, his disciples published his works in poetry, and an account of his town which they call, Pundit Roya Sataka.—It must he observed, that the foregoing account of this poet is taken from traditionary accounts handed down by his disciples and does not deserve implicit credit.— The marriage of this poet with the daughter of the Emperior of Delhi is a mere fiction or the circumstance would have been authenticated in some books of History.