Follow by Email

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Margazhi Blogotsavam: Day 10: The One Whom Shiva Served: Vidyapati

Vidyapati, born in the Mithila region that spans parts of Bihar in India and Janakpur in Nepal, was a poet of great repute. He is also called ‘Maithil Kavi Kokil’ which means ‘poet cuckoo of Maithili’. His writings in Maithili and Sanskrit languages have had a great influence on the literature of Eastern India. In fact, his name itself indicates that he was a master (Pati) of knowledge (Vidya). 

Image courtesy: Bhagavatham Katha

Besides his love poems expressing the divine relationship of Krishna and Radha, Vidyapati is best known for his devotion to Lord Shiva which forms the theme of much of his poetry. Till today, his creations survive in the form of folk songs. There is one incident in particular that highlights Vidyapati’s bhakti. 

Once, a cowherd boy called Ugna came to Vidyapati and saying he was an orphan, pleaded for help. Reluctantly, Vidyapati employed him to take care of his cattle and do odd jobs around the house.

A few days later, Vidyapati had to participate in a royal event hosted by King Shivasimha, so he left for the capital city, taking Ugna with him. They passed through barren lands without even a drop of water and overcome by thirst, Vidyapati fainted. Ugna gave him some water and revived his master. Vidyapati felt the water tasted like Ganga-jal and demanded to know where Ugna had found it. The cat was out of the bag now! Ugna appeared in His original form, as Lord Shiva in front of Vidyapati. He had drawn water from his matted locks (jata) and that’s why it tasted like Ganga-jal!
Ugna Mahadev Temple
Image Courtesy: Bhartendu on Trell
Overwhelmed with happiness at seeing his Lord, Vidyapati fell at Ugna’s feet, who warned him to keep this a secret. If the truth was revealed, Ugna would go away forever. Even Sushila, the wife of Vidyapati wasn’t to know the truth.

When the Delhi ruler Allaudin Khilji imprisoned King Shivasimha, who was Vidyapati’s friend and patron, Vidyapati went to rescue him. Khilji set the condition that if Vidyapati won in a debate against his court-poet, Shivasimha would be released. But the debate had to be in Persian. With Ugna’s blessings, Vidyapati could create poetry even in a language he didn’t know! Defeating the Emperor’s poet, he got King Shivasimha released.

One day, Sushila got angry with Ugna for not doing some work correctly, and started hitting him. Unable to bear this torture of the Lord, Vidyapati blurted out the truth about Ugna’s identity. The next moment, Ugna disappeared from there! Mad with grief at losing the Lord, Vidyapati wandered here and there in search of Ugna. Finally he found Him in Nandanvana, but the Lord refused to return; however, He promised that He would help Vidyapati whenever required.

How deep must have been the affection of Vidyapati, if the Lord Himself wanted to live as his servant!

Can we learn to cultivate a bhakti as deep as this?

Even if we cannot draw the Lord towards us, can we at least learn to see Him in everyone around us, and let this realization dictate how we behave with them?



  1. Very nice. I had never heard of this saints. This story reminds me a saint in Maharashtra, Sant Eknath. Panduranga served Sant Eknath in his home by taking the name "Shrikhandya". 🙏

    1. Yes, I too learned of him while searching for saints of the North. Thank you, Vatsala!

  2. Ahaaaaa treat to my mouth ears and senses ..... What devout he would have been for the Lord to serve him 🙏🙏 🙏🙏🙏❤️😍❣️

  3. It's amazing our country is dotted with such divine stories, real time divine experiences, divine messages following from unexpected quarters.... Feel blessed to be part of this great motherland ♥️🇮🇳🙏

    1. Yes! Blessed indeed we are to be Bharatiya!

  4. Amazing and what a great devotee was Vidyapati that Lord Shiva acted as a servent!


Do share your thoughts on this through the comment section. All you need to do is click on the hyperlinked word "comments" at the end of the blog and then enter your message in the box that opens up. If you so wish, you may also get in touch with me through email: