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Bishnath," the distance round the curve of the high land being only some six miles between the two places.
The large earthworks that surround the old city are extant to this day and measure roughly 2 miles 1 furlongs long, by 1 mile 2 furlongs broad, and comprise all that land lying between the Ghiladari river on the west, to the Sadharu river on the east. These entrenchments consist of double "Bunds" about 60 feet apart from the apex, with a deep ditch between, which was probably kept full of water from the rivers. Almost in the centre of this enclosure, of about 2 square miles, is a large fort consisting of exceedingly high earthern walls, which were at one time lined with brick; and surrounded by further outworks thrown up 50 to 60 yards away from the main fort, and protected by a ditch all round. It would appear that this was the citadel of the town. There are also several large tanks full of water to this day scattered throughout the enclosure. To the N.E. of the citadel is a clump of trees by the side of a tank, known to the natives as the "Burra-Gosai Jharoni,” and here the Assamese worship once or twice a year coming from all parts of the district. On examination, I found a walled enclosure 100 feet square, but now almost hidden under earth and jungle, laid with old Assamese bricks; and scattered about inside this a good deal of carved stone work. One slab had some inscription on it, but this has yet to be deciphered. There was also a curious granite vase standing about 2 feet high and solid, but for a circular hole running from mouth to base 2 inches in diameter. It was unbroken, and had evidently been used for ornamentation. By native tradition this spot is said to have been the tomb of a holy man of a bygone age, and there is a murti attached to the place, of old Hindu design, which the Thakur keeps hidden, until required at the festivals.
From these interesting remains it seems that Pretappur was a large and populous city about the 13th century, but its actual age was probably considerably greater than this, for the capital of Nagsonkor, A.D. 378, was situated in or about this place.
Vidyapati Thakur.-By NAGENDRA NATH GUPTA.
Twenty-two years ago Dr. G. A. Grierson edited a collection of Vidyapati's poems. These appeared as an extra Number, Part I, for 1882, of the Journal of this Society. Since then a great many more facts relating to this famous Maithil poet have come to light. Dr. Grierson's collection contained in all 82 poems, and he believed these were very nearly all that are known in Tirhut. This is not to be wondered at, since the collection was mostly made from the mouth of singers. Besides these, however, a great number of poems and songs, some of great poetic power and beauty, are to be found in Mithila in old palm-leaf and other manuscripts, scattered about in different households and villages. People are unwilling to part with these valuable manuscripts, and it requires a great deal of time, patience and labour to collect these poems and transcribe them from the old manuscripts. There is one palm-leaf manuscript, said to be in the handwriting of Vidyāpati's great grandson and believed to be genuine, containing no less than 400 poems. Most of these have been copied out and are at present in my possession. They have been closely examined by the best Pandits and scholars of Mithilā and have been pronounced to be genuine. The internal evidence as regards poetic merit, form of language and verse and the unmistakeable individuality of Vidyapati, is also complete.
Most of Vidyapati's poems current in Bengal were pronounced to be spurious by Dr. Grierson. This is so far true that the language, rhythm and even the sense of the Maithil poet have been frightfully corrupted in Bengal, but the intrinsic poetic value is undeniable. It now transpires that most of these poems may be found in Mithilā in old manuscripts, and it will not be difficult to restore them to their original shape and meaning. Besides writing under his own name Vidyapati wrote under several literary titles, and sufficient evidence is forthcoming to establish this fact satisfactorily. Up to now the titles that have been ascertained to be his are :- कविशेश्वर, कवि कष्टहार, सिंह भूपति, नव जयदेव, दशावधान. In the Bengal collection the title
1 Since reading this paper I have obtained possession of the original palm-leaf manuscript. The number of poems is about 350.—Author.
of कविरञ्जन is also found, which is the same as कविरतन in the Maithil poems. The title of कविकष्टचार is to be met with in Dr. Grierson's collection. There is a large number of poems bearing the title of कविशेवर. The title of सिंह भूपति does not belong to Vidyāpati himself but to Raja Siva Simh, or some other member of the family. Some poems have been composed under the name of सिंह भूपति. In the भणिता of one poem of this class the word of also occurs —
वहरिष्यो एक अपराध खेमिय
"Even an enemy forgives one (viz., the first) offence, saith Rāj Pandit: Simha King knoweth Radha is only a woman and Yadupati (Krsna) is amorous. '
In the deed of gift of the village of Bispi Vidyapati is spoken of both as महाराजपण्डित and नव जयदेव. I have found दशावधान in only one poem, of which the concluding lines are of great historical value :
दश व्यवधान भन पुराव पेम. गुनि
बालम साह पहु भाविनि भजि रह
कमलिनि भमर मुलला |
"Saith Daśāvadhān (viz., one who can attend simultaneously to ten different subjects),-This first meeting is due to the memory of old love; O beauteous one! love Lord ālam Shāh even as the lotus loves the bee."
The expression Alam Shah, or Lord of men, must have reference to the Emperor of Delhi at the time, or the Pathan king of Bengal. कविकष्पहार is found with as well as without Vidyāpati's name :
भगइ विद्यापति कवि कण्ठहार |
रस वुझ शिवसिंह शिव अवतार ||
"Saith Vidyapati, the Necklace of poets,-Siva Simha, the incarnation of Siva, knoweth the taste (of this song). "
विमुखि चलल हरि वुझि वेवहार ।
यावे की गाखीत कवि कण्ठहार ॥
"Understanding this treatment Hari turned his face and went away. What will Kavi-kaṇṭhahār now sing ? "
afa invariably occurs by itself and is never coupled with the poet's name :
कविशेखर भग कापरूव रूप देखि |
राय नसरद साह भजलि कमलमुखि ।
"Saith the Crown of poets,-Seeing her wondrous beauty King Nasarad Shāh fell in love with the lotus-faced one."
is found in a spirited account of a battle between Siva Simha and the Mahomedan army :—
रामरूपे खधम्म रख्खिा
सुकवि नव जयदेव
देवसिंह नरेन्द्र मन्दन
शत्रु नरवइ कुल निकन्दन
सिंह सम शिवसिंह राजा
सकन गुनक निधान चोरे ।
"The good poet, New Jayadeva, saith,--The son King of Deva Simha, the uprooter of the dynasties of hostile kings, the essence of all virtues, the lion-like Raja Siva Simha defended and preserved his own faith like Rāma, and in charity rivalled Dadhici."
All these extracts are from poems not yet published.
It is impossible to state with any degree of accuracy the precise number of poems and songs composed by Vidyapati. I have collected between six and seven hundred poems of which over three hundred have been collected in Mithila by Pandit Chunda Jha, the best authority living on Vidyapati. Each one of these poems has been submitted to a careful test to ascertain its genuineness, and every poem of doubtful authorship has been rejected. These poems are being put together for publication. When published they will not merely establish Vidyapati's position, which is not disputed even now, as the greatest poet of Mithilā, but also as one of the master-singers of the world, with a width of range and sweep of song worthy of a poet of the first rank. The poet lived not only to a very great age, but displayed incessant and extraordinary literary activity. He was appointed Raj Pandit in an age of Pandits. In a book called Rāg Tarangini and composed in Mithila about two hundred years
ago, he is spoken of as पण्डितवर कविशेश्वर विद्यापति Dr. Grierson does not mention that Vidyapati, besides being the first Maithil poet, wrote a great many books in Sanskrit. Of these Purusa Parikṣā is well known, and a Bengali translation of this work was a textbook in Bengal some time ago. Three other Sanskrit books composed by him have been printed-Durgabhakti Tarangini, Likhanābali and Danbakyābali. Among the other known books are Saivasarvāśwāsar Kirti-latā, Kirti Patākā and Gangā Pattal. He also composed some Sanskrit poems, in which the influence of Jayadeva is plainly discernible. In the village of Taraoni, or Taruban, about fourteen miles from Darbhanga, there is a large palm-leaf manuscript in Vidyapati's own handwriting containing the whole of the Srimad Bhagavadgītā, notes and all. It is in the possession of an old lady, a widow belonging to a collateral branch of Vidyapati's family, who refuses to part with it on any account. I have seen the book myself aud there can be no question as regards its authenticity. The concluding words are :- सं १०८ श्रावण शुदि १५ कुने रजा वनौलि पामे श्री विद्यापतेर्लिपिरियमिति.
"L. S. 309, Tuesday, the 15th Srāvaṇ, in the village of Raj Banauli. This is the writing of Sri Vidyapati."
The year 309 of the Laksman Sen era corresponds with 1416 A.C. according to the accepted calculation. According to the Maithil calculation it corresponds with 1618 A.C. Banauli is a village about 30 miles north of Darbhanga. The character of the script is Maithil and the modern Maithil alphabet has scarcely undergone any change since the days of Vidyapati. There is hardly any room for reasonable doubt that the Bengali alphabet, old and modern, is the same as that of Mithila. No trace can be found of the poet's manuscripts of his numerous original writings.
There is a tradition current in Mithila that Rāja Siva Simha was taken as a prisoner to Delhi. Vidyapati accompanied him and helped in obtaining his release from the Emperor. This story would appear to be borne out by the following lines in one of Vidyapati's poems :—
wa faqıufa aıgfa à fafu
करथि से से लोला ।
राजा शिवसिंह बन्धन मोचन
तखन सुकवि जीला
"Saith Vidyapati,-Vidhātā does what he pleases. When the bonds of Rāja Siva Sinha were removed, then the good poet lived (felt relieved)."