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Baba "Vidyapati" - Cuckoo of Mithila (Mithila Kokila)

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

The name 'Vidyapati' does not need any identity. It is the base of Maithili Literature. In Mithila, Vidyapati Ji is believed to be face of Maithili songs, poetries, proses, stories and Novels.

“विद्यापति कवि गाओल रे धनि मन धरु-धीर।

समय पाए तरुवर फर रे कतयों सिचु नीर।।”

Full name of Vidyapati Ji, is Vidyapati Thakur, born in the 1352, Bisfi, Madhubani, which is part of Mithila region of India (north-central state of Bihar, India). He died in 1448, in Bisfi. He was Maithil Brahmin, writer-poet and was known for his erudite work in Sanskrit and also for his divine/ erotic poetry in the Maithili language. He was the first writer to use Maithili as a literary language.

His name was derived from two sanskrit words, 'Vidya' meaning Knowledge and 'Pati' meaning Master. He was a man of knowledge. His hereditary surname is Thakur. He was born in a family of Maithil Brahmins belonging to Kasyapa Gotra of the Madnyandina Sakha of Shukla Yajurveda. The name of his father was Ganpati who dedicated his life to the kingdom. His, was a family of Scholar – Statesmen, known in Mithila for culture in sacred literature and occupying posts of great trust and responsibility at the court. His family closely connected with the court of the Tirhut Rajas. He saw that his forefathers, though busy as a statesmen , were nonetheless famous authors as well. His ambition was to become an author , who recognize by the literary works. He himself was a Raj – Pandit in the court of ruler Shiva Singh. He was a great friend, , companion , reliable officer and a responsible court man of Raja Shiva Singha. He served as a court Poet in Shiva Singha’s regime for 36 years.

Little detail is known of Vidyapati’s early life, though his status as a Brahman undoubtedly meant rigorous training in Sanskrit and other such marks of scholarship. Likely through his father’s efforts, he received a commission from the king during the reign of Kirti Simha (ruled c. 1370–80). The result of this commission was the long poem Kirtilata (“Vine of Glory”). Vidyapati became a court scholar under Kirti Simha’s son, Deva Simha, for whom he composed Bhuparikrama (“Around the World”), a group of romantic stories that also contained advice to the king. His songs are the part of the daily lives of the people in present time too. His poetries are the main components of the Maithili Literature. The songs, proses written by him has been reading by the folks with the same enthusiasm and passion from thousands of years.

The poetry for which Vidyapati is best remembered, however, is a collection of love poetry written between 1380 and 1406. This collection expands on what had become the cult of Radha and Krishna, subject also of the 12th-century Bengal poet Jayadeva’s celebrated Gita Govinda (“Song of the Cowherd” [Govinda is another name for Krishna]). According to the English scholar W.G. Archer, Vidyapati’s work is distinct from that of Jayadeva in both form and voice. Unlike Jayadeva’s work, which is a unified dance-drama, Vidyapati’s offering is a collection of separate love songs that examine the many moods and seasons of love and lovemaking. Jayadeva’s viewpoint is also unremittingly masculine, while Vidyapati finds Radha’s feminine sentiments and observations the more nuanced, and he does not esteem Krishna over Radha.

भन विद्यापति मोर भोलानाथ गति

देहु अभय बर मोहि, हे भोलानाथ।

Though he is little known in the West, Vidyapati remains a treasured poet centuries after his death. Especially the contemporary Maithili and Bengali peoples as well as practitioners of Vaishnavism hold him in high regard. Poet Vidyapati is known as Mithila Kokila [Cuckoo of Mithila]. RabindraNath Tagore has remarked him a poet of happiness and love. He also wrote books on the subjects like Ethics, History, Geography and Law. He was titled Abhinava Jayadeva by Raja Shiva Singh.

He was the great disciple of Lord Shiva, It may say that Lord Shiva himself came to him and live with him as a servant. Vidyapati called him Ugna by love. He has a big role in making the Indian Literature. He wrote many poems and stories which got translated and republished again by many famous writers. His works are also flourshing in Bengali,Nepali, Odia and other Eastern literary traditions. For his great literary works he is awarded by 16 titles including: Navkavi, Khelan, Kantahaar, Kavi Ranjan, Abhinav Jaydev, Kavi Shekhe.

Vidyapati has given his whole life to the Maithili Literature. He took his last breathe in Janakpur, Nepal,a very prominent place in Mithila. Vidyapati would always remember by his people for whom he used to live and write.

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