Bihari Lal

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Bihari Lal / बिहारीलाल

Bihari Lal Chaube or Bihārī (1595 – 1663) , was a Hindi poet, who is famous for writing the Bihari Satasaī (Seven Hundred Verses) in Brajbhasha, a collection of approximately seven hundred distichs, which is perhaps the most celebrated Hindi work of poetic art, as distinguished from narrative and simpler styles. Today it is considered the most well known book of the Ritikavya Kaal or 'Riti Kaal' of Hindi literature. The language is the form of Hindi called Brajbhasha, spoken in the country about Mathura, where the poet lived. The couplets are inspired by the Krishna side of Vishnu -worship, and the majority of them take the shape of amorous utterances of Radha , the chief of the Gopis or cowherd maidens of Braj, and her divine lover, the son of Vasudeva . Each couplet is independent and complete in itself, and is a triumph of skill in compression of language, felicity of description. and rhetorical artifice. The distichs, in their collected form, are arranged, not in any sequence of narrative or dialogue, but according to the technical classification of the sentiments which they convey as set forth in the treatises on Indian rhetoric.

Bihari was born in Govindpur near Gwalior in 1595, and spent his boyhood in Orchha in the Bundelkhand region, where his father, Keshav Rai lived. After marriage he settled with in-law's in Mathura. His father, Kesav Rai, was a twiceborn (Dwija) by caste, which is generally means an offspring of a Brahman father by a Kshatriya mother. Early in his life, he studied ancient Sanskrit texts. In Orchha state, he met the famous poet Keshavdas from whom he took lessons in poetry. Later, when he had shifted to Mathura, he got an opportunity to present his in court of visiting Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who immediately got impressed by his work and invited him to stay in Agra. Once at Agra, he learnt Persian language and came into contact with Rahim, another famous poet. It was also at Agra that Raja Jai Singh I (ruled. 1611-1667), of Amber, near Jaipur, happened to hear him, and invited him over to Jaipur, and it was here that he composed his greatest work, Satasi. Bihārī wrote in Brajbhasha. His poetry is in shringar ras, depicting the divine love of Krishna and Radha. A couplet in the Sat-sai states that it was completed in A.D. 1662. It is certain that his patron, whom he calls Jai Shah, Raja Jai Singh I (1611-1667), of Amber, near Jaipur, during the reigns of the emperors Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. A couplet (No. 705) appears to refer to an event which occurred in 1665, and in which Raja Jai Singh was concerned. For this prince the couplets were composed, and for each Doha or couplet, the poet is said to have received a gold piece worth sixteen rupees.

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