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Mayoor Bhatt (Poet)
6th-7th century poet
Culled from    Mayoor's Sanskrit Works   Read also   Raajaa Bhoj,   Mayoor's Vakrokti Verses,   Kuntak

Mayoor Bhatt is regarded the contemporary poet of the great poet Kaalidaas, and Baan Bhatt. He is a 6th-7th century Sanskrit author of poetry. This date is based on the statement of contemporary Baan (of 7th century) that Mayoor was his friend - only the name is in question. Secondly, in the 9th and 10 centuries suggest that Mayoor was the contemporary of Baan and King Harsh (reigned 606-647 AD). Two poets lived in the court of Shreeharsh, among them Mayoor Bhatt was the father-in-law and Baan Bhatt was his son-in-law. This relationship between them has been mentioned at a few places. They were rivals in poetry, but Baan Bhatt approached the King before and got honorably settled in his court comfortably. After some time the King hear some of the poetry of Mayoor Bhatt also and he called him too in his court.

Family of Mayoor
Only two statements are found about his family of Mayoor, that he was either the father of Baan's wife, or the brother of Baan's wife, or the husband of Baan's sister. There is a possibility that Mayoor had a son who was also a poet; because in the Paddhati of Shaarngdhar and in Sookti Muktaavalee, there is a stanza ascribed to Shankukah Mayoorsoonuh (means Shankukah, the son of Mayoor)

Mayoor in Shreeharsh's Court
Mayoor was very good poet and he won a few contests in poetry, one of them was at Banaaras called "Mund Mandan" (adorning of the bald-headed). Maybe it was his Vakrokti Stanza dealing with Shiv and Mund (bald-headed). Sometimes it is considered related to Shiv as one meaning of Mund is Shiv. Mayoor was invited by Harsh for the contest and then became a courtier of that monarch. Seeing this Raajshekhar wrote -
"See the power of Saraswatee, goddess of speech, seeing even the outcast Divaakar, became the courtier of illustrious Harsh on equal terms with Baan and Mayoor"

Mayoor's success at Shreeharsh's court was so great that it is not difficult to imagine the state of Baan Bhatt's feelings as he saw himself being supplanted from the royal side, although the newcomer was his relative and the friend of his youth. A feeling of the rivalry sowed its seed in his heart.

But Mayoor always was not successful in his literary endeavors. When Devtaa saw Buddhism flourishing, they went to Shiv and Shiv incarnated himself in the form of Shankaraachaarya and founded the Vedaant system. He met other sects and converted them to Braahman. Baan and Mayoor. This Shlok proves that - "He (Shankar) by his talks made the celebrated Pandit in Avantee, chief of whom were Baan and Mayoor and Dandin, desirous of listening to his own Bhaashya, after he had overcome their envious self-conceit."

Mayoor in Jain Tradition
Jain tradition also mentions Mayoor. Buhler translates these two stories - "Formerly there lived, in Amaravatee Ujjayinee, Shree Ujjayinee, a Pandit named Mayoor who had studied the Shaastra and was honored by the elder Bhoj. His son-in-law was Baan. Baan was also clever. The two were jealous at each other, for it is said - "Donkeys, bulls, steeds, gamblers, Pandit and rogue, cannot bear each other and cannot live without each other.

One day they were quarreling. The King Bhoj said to them - "O Pandit, Go to Kashmeer, He is the best whom Bhaaratee, who lives there, considers to be the better Pandit." They took food for their journey and set out. They came to the road going to Maadhumatas (Kashmeer). They saw 5oo oxen carrying loads on their backs, so they said to their drivers - "What have you got there?" The drivers answered - "Commentaries on the syllable Om." Again they saw, instead of 500 oxen, a herd of 2,000. Finding that all these were laden with different new explanations of the syllable Om, they lost their pride. They slept at some place together. Mayoor was awakened by Saraswatee who gave him this theme for a verse - "The sky is filled with a hundred moons." He half raised himself, bowed and gave the following solution - Chaanoormalla, stunned by the blow of Daamodar's hand saw the sky filled by a hundred moons." Devee asked the same question to Baan, he growled and worked the theme a - "In that night, on account of the lotus-faces, that moved to and fro on the high terraces, the sky shone as if filled  by a hundred moons."

The goddess said - "You both are poets who know Shaastra, but Baan is inferior because he growled. I have shown you the quantity of the commentaries on the syllable Om. Who has ever attained a complete knowledge of the dictionary of the goddess of Speech? It has been also said - "Let nobody assume pride saying, "I am the only Pandit in this age, others are ignorant." Greatness of intellect is only comparative." Thus Saraswatee made both of them friends. When they arrived at the outer wall of Ujjayinee, they went to their own houses. They paid respects to the King one after the other as before. It has been also said - "Deer herd with deer, kine with kine, steeds with steeds, fools with fools and wise men with wises. Friendship has its roots in the similarity of virtues and of faults."

Writing of Soorya Shatak
How Mayoor wrote Soorya Shatak, is an interesting story. Once Baan had a lover's quarrel with his wife. His wife was proud of herself, she was not giving up her pride. The greater part of the night thus passed. Mayoor who was taking his constitutional came to that place. Hearing the noise made by the husband and his wife through the window, he stopped. Baan fell on the feet of his wife and said - "O Faithful One, Pardon this one fault, I will not make you angry again." She kicked him with her foot which had an anklet. Mayoor who still stood under the window became angry with his sister hearing the sound of the anklet and the disrespect shown to her husband, but then Baan recited a new stanza - "O Thin-waisted One, The night that is nearly past escapes swiftly, like hare. This lamp nods as if it were sleepy; O Fair-browed One, Thy heart has also become hard on account of its vicinity to your breasts, so that alas, you don't put off your pride and your anger at the end of my prostrations."

Hearing this Mayoor could not control himself and said in a poem - "Don't call her "Fair-browed" but passionate (Chandee), because she is angry." Hearing this harsh speech that faithful wife cursed her father, who had revealed the character of his daughter, saying - "May you become a leper by the touch of the betel juice which I have now in my mouth." At that moment, she spat some juice of betel leaf on him from her mouth and lepra spots appeared on Mayoor's body. In the morning Baan went to the King's court as usual, dressed as Varak, and made with reference to Mayoor who also came following his speech containing a pun - "The Varakodhee has come." [this stanza is in Shikharinee Chhand]

The King saw Mayoor's leper spots sent him away - "You must go." Mayoor went away from there and settled down himself in a temple of the Sun, sat down, keeping his mind, concentrated on the Deity and praised the Sun with the 100 verses - beginning with "Jambhaa raatibhakumbhod Bhavam..." When he had recited the 6th verse which begins with - "Shrinaghraanaanghri Paanin...." - the witness of the world's deeds appeared visibly. Mayoor bowing to him said - "Deliver me from my leprosy." The Sun god answered - "I also suffer even now on my feet, in consequence of a curse, because I had a sexual intercourse with the horse-shaped Rannaa Devee against her will. Nevertheless, I will cover the leprosy caused by the curse of the faithful wife by giving you one of my rays." Speaking thus the Jewel of the Sky went away. That one ray enveloped Mayoor's body destroyed leprosy spots. The people rejoiced, the King honored him. Baan being jealous Mayor's fame caused his hands and feet to be cut off. Making a firm resolution, Mayoor praised Devee Chandikaa with the 100 verses Stotra, beginning with, "Maa Bhankshir..." At the recitation of the 6th syllable of the 1st verse, Chandikaa appeared in person and restored his four limbs."

Buhler further says that the remaining Kathaa states that their leader could work great miracles - Maanatungaa Sooree. He allowed himself to be tied with 42 chains and got locked up in a house. He then composed 44 verses of Bhaktaamar Stotra (in Vasant Tilak Chhand) and freed himself from there. Some other sources name this Stotra as Mayoor Stotra also. He converted Raajaa Bhoj too as a Jain by this miracle.

Some say that Mayoor was Baan's brother-in-law - Baan's sister was married to Mayoor; and Baan wrote Soorya Shatak and Mayoor wrote Chandee Stotra. It was Baan, not Mayoor, who was cursed by his sister for his her description.

According to Madhusoodan's text, the King is Harsh, not Bhoj, and the cause of Mayoor's leprosy is composition of licentious description of his own daughter's charms. Madhusoodan cites the name King Harsh, while all others sources cites the name as King Bhoj shows that he was not influence by Jain traditions.

Soorya Shatak-Another Version from Sudhaa Saagar
(p 26-28) The account given of the above story, in Tawney's manuscript is not very lucid and is self contradictory. It says - "The two Pandit, related as sister's husband and wife's brother, were each other's rival in their poetical merits. Both were in the King's court honorably positioned. One day Pandit Baan went to see his sister to Mayoor's house at night. As he was lying down at the door, he heard his sister's husband Mayoor trying to conciliate her. He somehow managed to catch the three lines -
The night is almost gone, and the emaciated Moon is, so to speak, wasting away,
The lamp, having come into the power of sleep, seems drowsily to nod,
Haughtiness is generally appeased by submission, abandon your anger..."

Baan heard these lines repeated over and over again, he added the fourth line ---
Cruel One, Your heart also is hard from immediate proximity to your breast."

When Mayoor's wife heard this line from her brother, she got angry and ashamed, so she cursed him to be a leper. Because the power of the vow of his Satee sister, Baan got leprosy from that very moment. In the morning he went to the King's court covering his body with a rug, Mayoor said - "Ten million blessings on you", the King looked at Baan with astonishment and thought that Baan would propitiate some Deity with some device. Baan rose from his seat greatly embarrassed and went out of the court. He set up a post on the border of the city, built a Yagya Vedee there, filled it with Khadeeraa wood charcoal, and set up a fire in it. He himself sat in a palanquin at the end of the post and started uttering praise to Sun god (Soorya Shatak). At each stanza he cut one support of his palanquin. Thus at the end of the 5 stanzas he had 5 supports of his palanquin, and he was left clinging with the end of he palanquin. While the 6th stanza was being recited, the Sun god appeared in visible form, and because of his grace Baan had acquired a body of pure golden hue.

Next day he came in the court with a body smeared with yellow sandal paste and clothed in a magnificent white clothing. When the King saw Baan's healthy body, he told him that it was because of Sun god's grace, Mayoor said - "If propitiating god has been so easy, can you show some miracle here too?" Baan replied - "What is the need of a medicine for a healthy man? But for you I can do this much that, you after cutting your hands and feet with a knife, propitiate the Sun with your 6th stanza; but I will propitiate Bhavaanee with the 6th syllable of my 1st stanza." Saying this Baan entered the back part of the temple of Chandikaa, sat in a comfortable position, and he uttered the 6th syllable of his poetry beginning, "Do not interrupt your coquetry" (these are the opening words of Chandee Shatak). Devee Chandikaa appeared in person and made his body whole. Then he looked at the front of the temple. The King and the courtiers, came to see him and he entered the city with a great victory.

At this the false believers in religion said - "Is there any miracle in Jain religion too like this? If this there, let them stay here, if not, send them out of the city." So the King summoned the Jain teacher Maanatungaa and said to him - "Show some miracle of your Deity." Maanatugaa said - "Our Deities have got the emancipation so what miracle is possible from them? nevertheless, I will show you the work of their servants, the lower gods," So to show this miracle he allowed himself to be bound by 44 fetters and sat in the back part of the temple of Rishabh who was worshipped in the city. He then composed a new hymn of praise, full of spells, beginning, "Having duly worshipped the two feet of the Jeen illuminating the brightness of the prostrate crest-jewels of devoted gods". With each stanza his one fetter broke and his all fetters were broke till he completed his all stanzas - 44, one fetter on each stanza. Then he faced the temple and taught the law.

Writers of Sudhaa Saagar say that "when Mayoor became unable to tolerate his leprosy, thinking that either I will gain the grace of Soorya to cure it or otherwise I will abandon my life", went to Haridwaar. On the bank of the Ganges, he rode on a swing formed by a 100 ropes and hung it from a very high branch of a tree. The he started praying Soorya with his Soorya Shatak. As he recited one stanza, he cut one rope of the swing. Pleased with his praise, Soorya made his whole body free from disease and lovely and made his Soorya Shatak or Mayoor Shatak renowned.

Jagannaath's commentary (probably of 17th century) says that he was not cursed by his sister or wife, but by the sins of his previous life; and that his leprosy spots were not removed by reciting Soorya Shatak, but by by just praying to remove his disease.

The story says that Chandikaa Devee appeared as he uttered the 6th syllable of the 1st stanza and cured Baan's limbs. Now the 1st stanza in this poem is not included in the 1st stanza, but occurs in the following Pad -
Iti Udyatkopaketoon Prakritim Avayavaan Praapayaniyev Devya
By Devee who caused by these words as it were, the parts of her body that displayed signs of rising anger to their normal state.

Incidental Mention of Mayoor
(p 47-48) Once Raajaa Bhoj was walking alone through the city in the night, that he overheard a Vaishya saying to his wife -
Bhoj attains greatness by [the help of] certain poets, Mayoor and others who are engaged in praising him.

Another passage says - "Then once on a time, the King noticing the assembled crowd of Saavant and [knowing] that Kaalidaas was constantly lustful after courtesans, pondered - "Ah, Baan, Mayoor and the others have performed my command, but this [Kaalidaas], because of his lustfulness for courtesans does not heed my command. What shall I do?"

Yet another passage mentions his name - "Then once on a time, when the illustrious Bhoj was ornamenting his lion throne, and when the court was adorned by the assemblage of the poet-ornaments at whose head were Kaalidaas Bhavabhooti, Dandin, Baan, Mayoor and Vararuchi, the door-keeper entering said - "  Then follows an usual story of the entry of new poet and receiving gifts from the King.

Works of Mayoor
Almost all his works are given in the above mentioned book from which this information has been culled.
--His principal contribution to date is "Soorya Shatak", written in the praise of the Sun god.
--Besides, only his scattered stanzas are available through anthologies - Subhaashitaavalee, Paddhati of Shaarngdhar, Padyaavalee, Sookti Muktaavalee, Padyaamrit Taranginee, Saar Sangraha, Subhaashhit Ratn Kosh, and Sadukti Karnaamrit. All of these are found under his name.
--Of these the most interesting are his 7 stanzas, forming one group, and illustrative of Vakrokti or "punning in the dialog". They picture Shiv and Paarvatee playing the dice game, and perhaps formed the introduction of some work which is now lost.
--There are 3 other stanzas, "The Cow and Her Calf", "The Traveler", and "The Two Asses" in his name.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 11/17/12