Sunday 8 December 2013

The Dewan who became a Dasa

He was an accountant in the Adil Shahi Kingdom of Bijapur. A master of Urdu, Persian and Kannada, he rose to become one of the most famous Haridasa saints of the era.
One day, he was giving a discourse on the Narasimha Temple in Bijapur where he was staying. Bijapur then was under the Adil Shahis and it was perhaps the most prominent city of South India.
A leading commander of Bijapur and one of its noblemen, Khawas Khan, happened to pass by the Narasimha temple. Attracted by the sonorous voice, he halted and found that a discourse was being delivered at the temple.
He invited the Haridasa to come to his house and deliver a similar religious discourse. The Haridasa gladly accepted and went to the mansion of Khawas Khan. The Haridasa gave an excellent discourse in Urdu and Persian language. Khawas Khan and his family members were stunned by the scholarship of the Dasa and his mastery over the languages.
This Haridasa was none other than Mahipati Dasa (1611-1681) who worked as an accountant for some time before plunging into the Haridasa movement.
When Mahipathi Dasa conducted a discourse in Khan’s house, he spoke on the incidents from Bhagavatha, Ramayana and other texts. His discourse was so well liked that it became a practice and later on  to conduct them in both Khan’s house and the Narasimha Temple. Many Muslims, including mullas, attended his discourse and appreciated it.
Mahapati Dasa’s guru was Kolhar Prahalada Krishnacharya. Mahipati belonged to the famous Kathavate family of Kakandiki, a small village near Bijapur.
He was the son of Koneri Rao, an orthodox Madhwa, and even as a young man, he learnt several languages. He was extremely proficient in Kannada, Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu and Persian. He came under the influence of Bhaskar Yogi, an Adwaita scholar, of  north Karnataka.
He wrote with the Ankita Mahapati and his song Kolu Kolena Kole is famous to this day.
Once, the accountants of the Kingdom were in difficulty, as they could not rectify a mistake in their accounts. Someone suggested that Mahipathi Rao could be asked to look into the accounts as he was a known expert in accounting. Mahipathi verified the accounts, identified the error and set it right. 
Mahipathi then was appointed as Manager of Accounts Department. Eventually, he rose to become the Dewan of  the  province.
Mahipathi then married Tirumala and led a very simple and austere life, even though he could afford luxuries and comforts. He was man of simple tastes add devoted to his work. It was two Sufi saints of Bijapur who sent him to Bhaskar Swamy.
The Sufi saints were a brother and sister called Shah Nunga and Shah Nungi. They were very popular in the city of Bijapur and elsewhere. They could predict the future and even perform miracles.
However, they lived a mysterious life and nobody knew where or how they lived. They wore rags and spoke in riddles. As they were highly pious, they were respected by both Hindus and Muslims.
One day, Mahipathi was inspecting some construction work on the banks of Begum Talab, a water tank in Bijapur. (This tank still exists). Shah Nunga appeared suddenly at the Talab and he saw a ring in the hand of Mahipati.
He was curious to know what the ring was. Mahipati told the Sufi saint that it was the royal sign or Ring (raja mudra) and that he had it in his possession as he was the Dewan of the province.
Shah Nunga took the ring from Mahipati and threw it in the Begum talab. Mahipathi was shocked and he realised that he would be in trouble if the ring was not found. As it was a symbol of royal power and prestige, it could not be trifled with.
Mahipati pleaded with Shah Nunga to retrieve the ring. Shah Nunga then turned to his sister, Shan Nungi, who had come to the Begum Talab, and asked her to get the ring.
Shah Nungi immediately jumped into the tank and came up with hundreds of rings, all bearing the royal sign. She then handed over the rings to Mahipati who failed to identify the original.
Mahipati then again requested Shah Nunga to help him identify the original ring. Shah Nunga retrieved the original ring and said, “Maut kaa ghan” (smell of stinking body). So saying, both he and his sister disappeared from the Begum Talab.
Mahipathi could not understand Shah Nunga’s utterance. He kepton thinking about it. He then approached Shah Nunga himself for an explanation of the words “Maut Kaa ghan”.
Shah Nunga asked Mahipati to approach Bhaskara Swamy, who was then staying in Sarvada, a small village. “Accept him as your guru”, he said. Mahipati then decided to renounce the post of  Dewan. Both he and his wife then came to Sarwada where they met Bhaskara Swamy.
Bhaskar Swamy accepted Mahipathi as his disciple and gave him Upadesha. He also blessed the couple, saying that they would  have illustrious children. Mahipathi and his wife stayed with Bhaskar Swamy for some time before going to their native place near Bijapur.
Later, Mahipathi went to Shahpura village in Gulbarga district. He made the Hanuman Temple here his home for carrying spiritual activities.
Mahipati has written scores of devaranamas and they are all full of devotion and sincerity to God.
His kolu song goes as follows:

kOlu kOlennakOle kOlu kOlennakOle
sadvastuvina balagoMbekOle

kOlunikkuta banni bAlErellaru kUDi
myAlye maMdirada hAdEli kOle
myAlye maMdiradoLu bAlamukuMdatAnu
lOlyADuta oLagiddAne kOle

AdigiMtalyade hAdi anAdiyu
sAdhisa banni odaginnu kOle
sAdhisi baralikke sAdhyavAgutalyAde
bhEdisi nODi manadali kOle

kaNNinoLihya bOMbekANabaruttade
jANyEru nIvu tiLakoLLikOle
jANyEru nIvu kANade hOgabyADi
jANrisuthAne sadguru kOle

sadgurupAdake sadbhAvaviTTu nEvu
sadbhOdha kEli sAdhisi kOle
sAdhisi kELi nIvu budhajanaroDagUDi
caduratanadali ati byAge kOle

arahuveMda sIreyanuTTU kuravheMba kuppasali
iruvaMti puShTali muDidinnu kOle
muDidu baralu pUrNa oDigUDi barutAne
baDAvanA dAri balagoMbe kOle

balagoMbe sAdhanavu nelegODu mADabEku
valavhAMga tAne SrIhari kOle
SrIhari muMde nIvu sOhya tiLidubanni
sAhyamADuva ihaparake kOle

ihaparake dAta mahipatiswAmi
sahakAranobba SrIpatikOle
SrIpatistuti kODaDalikke pUrNa
bhukti muktiya nEDu tAne kOle

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