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  1. Life

  2. Works

  3. Influence on literature of neighboring regions

  4. Some famous poems/songs




idyapati lived in the second half of fourteenth century. The exact years are not known, but the Tithi was Kartik Dhawal (bright half) Trayodashi. The ancestors belonged to the Gadha Bisaphi family of Maithil Brahmins of Kashyap Gotra. The ancestry is traced as Vishnu Thakur –> Haraditya –> Karmaditya –> Devaditya –>  Dhireshwara->  Jayadatta -> Ganpati -> Vidyapati. Devaditya had seven sons. The eldest Vireshwar was the Minister for peace and War under the Karnata King of Mithila Mithila, Maharaja Sakrasingha. He was the author of  Dharmshastra treatise Dasakarmapaddhati. His son Chandeshwar Thakur was a great scholar of Politics, Astronomy and Dharmshastra.

             The second son of Devaditya, Ganeshwar Thakur was the author of Sugatisopana and Gangapattalaka.  His eldest son, Ramadatta, wrote Dasakarmapaddhati and Mahadaanpaddhati and the younger son, Govindadatta was the author of Govindmanasollas, a devotional work on Vishnu.  Both the sons of Ganeshwar died issueless.

            The third son of Devaditya, Dhireshwar had two sons: Jayadatta and Kirtti. Jayadatta also had two sons : Gauripati and Ganapati. This Ganapati was the father of famous Vidyapati.

             The fourth son of Devaditya was Jateswara the Bhandarika (store keeper); the fifth was Haradatta the Sthanantarika (Transfer Officer); the sixth was Lakshmidatta the Sandhivigrahika ( Minister for peace and war); and lastly the seventh was (Rajaballava)  a courtier. They all seem to have died childless.

             The father of Vidyapati, Ganpati married the daughter of Srikara  of the family of Buddhabalae named Ganga Devi. His ancestors held high posts in the courts of the Kings.  So did Vidyapati Thakur. It will not be out of place to mention that the “paddhatis” of Vireshwar and Ramadatta are followed in Mithila even today and the Nibandhas of Chandeshwar still form the basis of the social and religious life of Mithila.

            He was very close to the queen “Lakhima” of Raja Shiva Singh, and finds mention in so many of his poems.



 In Sanskrit:

  1. Saivasarvasvarasara  - Digest on worship of Shiva
  2. Gangavakyavali – On worshipping Ganga
  3. Durgavhakti Tarangini – On worshipping Durga
  4. Danavakyavali – On performing various kinds of Dana
  5. Gayapattalaka – On performing various rites in Gaya
  6. Varsakrittya – On the performance of various customs, ceremonies and rites by house holders throughout the year
  7. Likhanavali – On letter writing
  8. Purushapariksha – On judging a person
  9. Vibhagasara – On right way of partitioning one’s inheritance

In Abhatta:

  1. Kirttilata – It relates the regaining of the kingdom of Mithila from the Muslim usurper Aslan by Maharajkumars Veersimha and Kirttisimha.
  1. Kirttipataka – Also an eulogy in praise of the then Maharaja, Maharajkumars

Maithili Drama :

  1. Gorakshavijaya – Relates to the well known story of Matsyendranatha and Gorakshanatha
  2. Manimanjari-natika

Maithili Lyrics :

            Dr. Subhadra Jha’s edition published from Varanasi is till date the best collection of Vidyapati’s poems. Various good editions of his poems have been brought out but none is as comprehensive as the one brought out by Amulyacharan Vidyabhaum and Khagendranatha Mitra. It is a revised edition of Nagendranath’s important collection of Vidyapati’s poems and has been published by Sharatkumar Mitra.


Influence of Vidyapati in Bengal 

The influence of Vidyapati in Bengal was so intense that for a period of time he was considered a poet of Bengali literature. His songs were mingled with those of Chandi Dasa who spread the Vaishnavism cult. Romesh Chandra Datta goes on to prove that there is no chance of their having met and Chandi Dasa came much later and had immense influence of Vidyapati especially in the Krsnakirttana .

The following quote from Grierson (Maithili Chrestomathy,, p34)

And now a curious circumstance arose, unparalleled I believe in the history of literature..(His songs) were twisted and contorted, lengthened and curtailed, in the procrustean bed of the Bengali language and metre into a kind of bastard language neither Bengali nor Maithili. But this was not all. A host of imitators sprang up notably one Basant Roy of Jessore, who wrote, under the name of Vidyapati in this bastard language, songs which in their form bore a considerable resemblance to the matter of our poet, but which almost entirely wanted the polish and felicity of expression of the old master-singer … (These imitation songs known as “Brajbuli” songs) became gradually more popular amongst the Bengali people than the real songs of Vidyapati.”


History of Brajbuli Literatue by Dr. Sukumar Sen gives a complete account of “Brajbuli” poets. It is interesting to note that Ravindra Nath Tagore was so influenced by Vidyapati that he wrote (1884) a number of poems in the guise of Bhanu-Singh and named it Bhanu-Singh-Thakurera  Padavali.

 Influence of Vidyapati in Assam

             It was Sankara Deva who introduced Brajbuli (Maithili) to Assam.  Vidyapati was considered a Vaisnava singer. Shankar Deva found a great instrument in Brajbuli or Maithili in spreading Vaisnavism and introduced it in Assam.

In the history of Assamese, Brajbuli occupies an important place; it was able to lay the foundations of Assemese Literature. The Department of Histororical Antiquities, Government of Assam, Gauhati first published this literature. 

Influence of Vidyapati in Orissa

        Bengal acted as the source of spreading Maithili to Orissa in the first half of 16th century. The earliest known Brajbuli poem in Orissaby Ramanand Rai, the famous poet and dramatist, is dedicated to Pratap Rudra Deva (1504-1532). Dr. Sukumar Sen has given a vivid description of the meeting of Ramanad with Shri Chaitanya Dev (1511-12). The master asked Ramanand to explain to him the aim of Vaisnava religion and philosophy. Ramanand went on explaining without ant success. Then he asked the master if he could recite a few poems. The influence was magical and the master was greatly moved  on hearing only a few lines

        Other Orissa poets in the 16th century are Champati Rai, Maharaja Prataprudra Deva, Madhavi Dasi, Kanhu Dasa and Murari. In the next century the names of Rai Damodara Das, Chanda Kavi and Yadupati Dasa are worth mentioning.

Oriya Brajbuli is still unexplored.

Influence of Vidyapati in Nepal

Due to close proximity Nepal could not escape the influence of Maithili. Though the people of tarai better known as Madhesias (Madhya Desi ) speak Maithili, historically nothing of importance is found. However the Malla Kings of Nepal themselves wrote in imitation of Vidyapati and induced many poets and musicians to do the same.

Recently the Madhesias have been accepted as the citizen of Nepal and this is a positive sign of Maithili getting its rightful place in the Kingdom of Nepal. The poets and writers are quite active in the tarai region.