Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The folk legends of Shiva and Vidyapati

Vidyapati is the most celebrated poet of Mithila. He was the first of the old Vaishnava master singers who spoke and wrote in desil-bayana (folk language), and his short hymns of prayers and praises soon became exceedingly popular. He wrote on several branches of scholarships.

Prominent among them are Keertilata (a marvellous piece of literature written in praise of Kirtisimha and Veerasimha of the Oinwar dynasty of Mithila); Bhuparikrama (geographical details of the world); Purusapariksha (an examination of Hindu ethical morals based on the good examples from the ancient history of India); Keertipataka (description of the details of the battle between Sivasimha, a worthy descendant of Keertisimha, and some Muslim rulers); Padavali (an account of his charming songs written in his mother tongue- desil-bayana); Likhnavali (written in a form of letters); Gangavakyavali (on religious merit of worshipping the holy Ganga); Saivasarvasvasaar (a vast treatise like an ocean on the Shaiva form of worship-can be treated as an encyclopaedia of the Shaiva cult); Daanvakyavali (about the importance of religious gifts for a common practioner of Hindu religion); Vibhagsasar (details of law of position of property and inheritance); Durgabhak-titarangini (on the form of Durga worship); Gayapattalaka (an excellent manual of rites to be performed on the occasion of death rites at Gaya); Gorakshavijaya (song-drama); Manimanjari (drama); Dvaitanirnaya (on the practices and experiments of tantra and tantra tradition of Mithila) and Vyadi-bhakti-tarangini (details of snake-worship in Mithila).

According to the local legend, Vidyapati was an ardent devotee of Shiva. He composed several songs in the form of Nacharis and Maheshbanis to please the Lord. Impressed with the devotion and poetic creativity of the poet, Lord Shiva came to him in a disguised form of a cowherd boy called Ugna.

Ugna requested the poet that as he was an orphan boy he wanted to work in his house as his servant. With a little hesitation, the poet assigned him the job of looking after his cattle. Ugna became a very charming and affectionate servant to the poet within a very short period.

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 poet became very thirsty but it was a huge barren land where he saw no drops of water.

The helpless poet finally requested Ugna to bring some water. Ugna too showed his inability to bring the water and requested him to travel some more distance, but Vidyapati refused to walk further and became unconscious. He fell on the ground. Now, 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 wherefrom he had brought it.

Ugna tried to make some false story but failed to do so. He wanted to keep it a secret and that’s why he avoided deliberately the poet’s query, but as Ugna wanted to avoid it, the poet’s curiosity increased. Finally, he appeared as Shiva, in his original form, before the poet.

Vidyapati touched his feet and took the dust of Ugna’s feet into his hands. Ugna now warned him not to disclose the secret before anybody including the poet’s wife Sushila. Vidyapati assured Ugna to keep this secret with him.

According to the local legend, Vidyapati was an ardent devotee of Shiva. He composed several songs in the form of Nacharis and Maheshbanis to please the Lord.

Ugna remained with Vidyapati for many years and helped him miraculously in many critical situations. For instance, when Shivasimha was arrested by Emperor Allaudin Khilji of Delhi, Vidyapati accompanied by Ugna, came to Delhi to get him released. Knowing that Vidyapati was a poet, Allaudin arranged a scholarly debate between Vidyapati and his own court-poet.

Vidyapati was told to respond either in Persian or a mixed language alone. The poet with the heavenly blessings of Ugna defeated the Sultan’s poet and responded in poetry he had composed in the prescribed languages. Not only that, with the blessings of Ugna he got rid of many obstacles created by the Sultan and his men at Delhi and finally succeeded in getting his king released from the prison of Sultan.

Now the story takes a very sad turn. Once, 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 be abused and humiliated. He could not control himself and shouted, “Stop! What the hell are you doing? Ugna is none else but Lord Shiva.” It is said, that very moment Ugna disappeared from there.

Now Vidyapati realised his mistake. He left his house and wandered 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. The place where Ugna appeared before the poet as God is known as Ugnaasthan. A small lingam was enshrined by the local devotees. Recently a temple has been made for that lingam.

This story is known to each and every person of this region. For them it is history. Even today they worship Lord Shiva while singing the devotional songs of Vidyapati to please him.

Source : Organiser


allwin said...


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Opp. Radhey Shyam Kuan, Vrindavan-281121, Dist. Mathura, U.P. India
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Haridwar Ashram: Shri Ram Sharnam Ashram, 511-A, Sapta Sarovar Marg,
Bhupatwala, Haridwar, India, Mobile No:+91 9810011735, Tele: +91 (1334) 260741

Kailash said...

Dear Santoshji,
Let me introduce myself before you. I am Dr. Kailash Kumar Mishra, an anthropologist from Delhi University. I run an NGO in the memory of my Late Father and father-in-Law - RIRKCLRC in Delhi and also work as consultant with some NGOs and INGOs. I was associated with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) - an autonomous Institution of Government of India under Culture Ministry for 13 years as Research Officer. I wrote an article on "The folk legends of Shiva and Vidyapati" under the Heritage plus Column of the Organiser (weekly) magazine. The article was published in May 02, 2004. This art article is available on the website of the magazine. Given below is the link for your kind reference.

Toady I have seen the same article with same nomenclature and texts in BIHAR CHRONICLE - A New Beginning. Your name with your email ID, Photograph and Facebook Account has been shown as the contributor of this article. This is disgusting for me!! This article has been posted by you on Wednesday, June 27, 2007.
Given below is the link of the article and webpage of Bihar Chronicle also for your reference:

May I request you and also the owner of this website to give the credit to me as the author of this article.
Given below is my communication:
Dr. Kailash Kumar Mishra
Managing Trustee, Bahudha Utkarsh Foundation
Chairman, RIRKCLRC

B-2/333, Tara Nagar, Old Palam Road, Kakrola,
Sector 15, Dwarka, New Delhi - 110078
M: +919868963743
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