Kavi Vidyapati , also known as ‘Maithil kavi kokil’ was a poet of Maithili language and a Sanskrit writer. Born in the Bisfi village of Madhubani district of Bihar.
Mithila has had a tradition of producing many renowned men in the field of art, culture and music etc amongst them, Vidyapati undoubtedly is the most versatile and famous.
He was the one who started the legacy of poetry in Maithili, Bengali and Oriya literature. He is known for his love poetries following the love story between Radha and Krishna, as well as, for his devoted bhajans for Lord Shiva and the goddess Durga. His collection of more than 500 love poems is a treasure to Maithili literature.
Vidyapati as his name suggests was a master of knowledge and a master of all the languages he dealt with. The songs he wrote as prayers to Lord Shiva are still sung in Mithila and form a rich tradition of sweet and lovely folk songs.
Every year a festival in his name (Vidyapati mahotsava) is celebrated for 2-3 days all over India and Nepal. One can easily decipher the tale of his greatness that even after 600 years of his death, he continues to live through his words. He continues to enrich the literature of Mithila and thus the literature of India.
Vidyapati and Lord Shiva: The story of Ugna
There is a famous folklore about Vidyapati that Lord shiva was so pleased with the poet’s devotion towards himself that he decided to serve him at his home in disguise of ‘Ugna’ and simultaneously help him in the other aspects of his life.
One day, Vidyapati received an invitation to participate in a royal function of the king of Mithila, Shivasimha. He took Ugna with him and they left for the king’s capital. On the way the Vidyapati felt very thirsty but it was a huge barren land where he saw no sign of water helpless Vidyapati finally requested Ugna to bring some water. He fell on the ground out of thirst.
Ugna, who was none but Lord Shiva himself, took out a jug of water from his matted hair (jata), revived him to consciousness and gave the poet water to drink. The poet felt the taste of Ganga-water and immediately asked Ugna from where he had brought it. Ugna tried to make some false story but failed to do so. Finally, he appeared as Shiva, in his original form, before Vidyapati. Lord shiva warned him not to tell anyone about Ugna’s real identity.
When Vidyapati’s wife humiliated and abused Ugna (Lord Shiva)
Once Sushila, the wife of Vidyapati assigned some domestic responsibility to Ugna, which he failed to deliver according to her given instructions. She became angry with him and started beating him with a broom.
This erratic behaviour of Sushila made Vidyapati frustrated that Shiva, of whom he was a great devotee, should not be abused and humiliated. He could not control himself and shouted at her to stop and revealed that he was Lord Shiva himself; and at that very moment Ugna disappeared.
Vidyapati realised his mistake. He left his house wandering through many temples, rivers and jungles in search of Ugna. Finally, Vidyapati found Ugna in Nandanvana. Shiva told him that he would not go back to his house but would help him whenever required.
Here is one of Vidyapati’s most beautiful creations in Maithili