Mahipati

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Mahipati (1715 - 1790) who was born in in Tharabad, India about 35 miles from Ahmadnagar in the Bombay Presidency, was a scribe and Author who published several biographies, in Marĝthi, of the prominent Hindu saints who lived between the 13th and the 17th centuries in Mahĝrĝshtra, India. Born a "Deshastha Brahmin" he worked for some time as a scribe/record keeper for the local government of the town of Tharabad in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra. His authorities were principally Nabhaji, the author of the Bhakta Mala and Uddava Chiddghan. He has himself given the Shaka year 1696 (A.D 1774) as the date of completion of his Bhakta Lilamrita.

There is a legend about Mahipati which runs thus:

One day, outside his working hours, his superior sent a messenger to his house to ask him to come to the superior's office immediately to tend to some urgent official business. When the messenger arrived at his house, Mahipati was worshiping God. He asked the messenger to tell his superior that he would come as soon as he was done with his worship. The messenger, however, insisted that Mahipati should come with him right away. Reluctantly, Mahipati cut short his worship and accompanied the messenger to his superior's office. After finishing the 'urgent' business, he let his superior know that he would no longer be working with him as he had decided to spend his time writing religious material. Soon after that, Mahipati, dreamed that the departed spirit of Sant Tukaram told him to write the life stories of the historic religious figures of Maharashtra. Accordingly, Mahipati put together his noteworthy biographical book, Bhakti-Vijay, written in Marathi. He also wrote another book titled Bhakti-Leelĝmrut, covering the lives of Dnyĝneshwar, Nĝmdev, Janĝbai, Eknĝth, and Tukaram, who are all highly revered especially in the wĝrakari (वारकरी) sect of Maharashtra.

What little knowledge we have on these Sants of Maharashtra comes mostly from these two books written by Mahipati. Since Mahipati was born 65 years after the death of Tukaram who died 50 years after Eknĝth, 300 years after Namdev and 353 years after the death of Dnyaneshwar, we can make a fairly good guess that Mahipati undoubtedly based his biographies on these Sants on oral traditions passed down through the intervening generations.

Janĝbĝi was, perhaps, the first woman, born in the lowest caste, to achieve fame as one of India's religious poets. Since her mother's early death she had worked as a maidservant in the household of Dĝmĝsheti, the father of Nĝmdev. A little older than Namdev, she most likely took care of him for many years. She is thought to have died in 1350.

An English translation of Mahipati's Bhakti-Vijay was published under the provisions of the will of the late Dr Justin E. Abbott.

His other major works include:

  • Santa Lilamrita (A.D 1757)
  • Bhakta Vijaya (A.D 1762)
  • Katha Saramrita (A.D 1765)
  • Bhakta Lilmrita (A.D 1774)
  • Santa Vijaya (A.D 1774)

References