Biographical Sketches of Dekkan Poets/Vidyanat


This poet was a bramin, and a native of Ekaselanagur, or Orongole; he flourished in the 13th century of Salivahana, during the reign of Pratapa Rudra. Vidyanat, from his infancy, studied the Vedes, but a short time after he was invested with the sacerdotal thread, he unfortunately had a lawsuit with his cousin, by which he lost his small patrimony, and fell into very great distress. At the age of sixteen he began to read the Ramayana and other Sanscrit poems, in which are comprised the actions of ancient kings and heroes, and afterwards diligently applied to the study of the Sciences. When he was forty years of age, he composed some verses on cosmogony, which were very sublime and harmonious, and much admired by his contemporaries: by this publication he raised a small sum of money for his maintenance. Vidaynat had a daughter, and as he could not realize sufficient money by his lesser compositions, to defray the expenses of her wedding, he felt very unhappy, and knew not what to do, he however recollected an observation made by an ancient poet, that a person should not court the favor of the lower orders of Society, but should seek the patronage of kings and exalted personages, for the proverb says, "that a poet, a damsel, and a creeping plant, cannot thrive without a protector." Vidayanat accordingly wrote an epic poem, and called it Pratapha Rudreyam, in celebration of the heroic actions of the King Prataparudra, this elaborate poem is one of the most finished pieces of florid composition in the Sanscrit language. It abounds with metaphors, similes, and tropes of all kinds, with fine descriptions of the victories of the monarch over foreign potentates, interspersed with various episodes, in which love scenes are beautifully portrayed. While this work was composing, one day this poet was sitting at court, near the minister of the king. The poet Sivia enterered the royal presence, awl being a native of Eleswara agrahara, which were suffering under some grievances, he repeated the following Sanscrit verse:—

Navalaksha Dhanardharadhe nadhe

The chief of nine lacks of bow-holders

Pridhvim Sasati Vera Rudra Bhupe

The heroic Rudra ruling white the earth

Abhavat Parama Agrahara Peda

Excessive burdens oppressed the Agrahara (towns of bramin)

It is said, that the king Vera Rudra immediately ordered the lands of the bramins to be restored to them free of rents. At this moment, Vidyanat added the following verse:—

Kucha Kumbheshu Kurunga Lockananam

The vased breasts of the antclope eyed damsels.

Which entirely converted the meaning of the former verses, for the word agrahara has a double signification, viz. lands of bramins, or conspicuous necklaces, the poetry composed by the aggrieved bramin, was a reproach to the king, but with the addition made by Vidyanat, it became a great compliment, as will be seen when the verses are taken together, and keeping in mind the double meaning of the word "Agrahara."

Navalaksha Dhanurdharadhe nadhe

Predhwim Sasali Vera Radra Bhupe

Abhavat Parama Agrohara pida

Kucha Kumbheshu Kurunga lochananam

The chief of nine lacks of bow-holders

The heroic Rudra while ruling the earth

Excessive burdens of necklaces oppressed

The vased breasts of the Anteloped-eyed damsels.

Pratapa Rudra was much pleased with the quick genius of the poet, and made him magnificent presents, much to the gratification and admiration of the whole court. The king encouraged Vidayanat to proceed on with the epic poem, and promised him a suitable reward when it should be finished. While our poet was writing this book, Pratapa Rudra was taken prisoner by the Emperor of Debli, with whom he was at war. The king was in captivity three years, after which he returned to his kingdom, and being disgusted with the world, he resigned all secular affairs, and made over his dominions to his brother Anamadeo, to whom he recommend. ed the poet Vidayanat. Pratapa Rudra being much pleased with the production of the above named poet, delivered to him his ring, with authority to draw what money he pleased, from the bankers of Orongole, by which means Vidaynat obtained sufficient, for the expences of his daughter's marriage and his own comfort and livelihood. The King Anamadeo directed several copies of this author's epic poem to be transcribed and distributed through different provinces, and held in very high estimation, Vidayanat, whom he made principal of a college, which he founded and endowed, and which could boast of numerous students, who were maintained on the foundation. This poet died in the fifty-fifth year of his age, during the reign of Anamadeo.