Utkal-Ghata Jadumani Mohapatra

Born :- 08-Jan-1781
Died :- 02-Jul-1866
Place of Birth :- Athagada Patna, Ganjam

Famous in each nook and corner of Odisha for his extempore, witty and satirical recitals, Jadumani Mohapatra, also known as Utkala Ghanta, was a poet par excellence. He belonged to the Reeti era with extra-ordinary skill in the art of mind- bugling diction and ornamentation along with appeal in all his poetic creations.  He  was the court poet in the of King Vinayak Singh Mandhata of Nayagarh princely state.

Jadumani was born at Athagada Patana of Ganjam. His family shifted to Itamati in the present Nayagarh district when Jadumani was just 10 or 12 years old. He had completed his chatshali education in his native village and became well conversant with Sanskrit dictionary, learnt Sanskrit grammar and studied epics from Vidyadhar Mohapatra of Mandhatapur, Pindik Rayaguru of Kunjaban in Dasapalla and Harihar Nanda of Puri. He married 12-year-old Khanjana Devi, the daughter of Raghunath Sutraray of Kunjaban at the age of 20.

According to the poet himself, his poetic talent was a gift of Lord Hayagriba whom he worshipped and who he meditated upon seeking His blessings. There is a story about his being a humourist poet. It is said that when the Lord appeared before him and asked him what boon he wanted, he first wanted to know how the Lord cleaned His nose with His all four hands holding different weapons and armaments. Lord Hayagriba could not resist a deep laughter and blessed him to become a humourist poet. He simultaneously presaged that although he would be unsurpassable as a humourist poet, he would be dogged by poverty till the end of his life. From that day on he kept reciting and writing poems instantly without straining his imagination, which made him popular throughout the length and breadth of Odisha and won him favour with kings of various princely states. Paucity accompanied him  throughout life even though he was the dewan (administrative officer) of the king of Nayagarh.

Jadumani had composed some of his chaupadis in the name of Binayak Singh, the king of Nayagarh, which the critics have held as highly erotic. To make his ends meet Jadumani, in utter penury, met the native rulers of Dasapalla, Khandapada, Boudh, Khallikote, Ranapur, Athagarh, Narsinghpur, Mahuri and Tigiria at various times to seek their help.

Jadumani’s noted works include two epic poems - Raghava Vilasa and Prabandha Purnachandra - in riti style. He also wrote prayers and chaupadis.

His satirical and humorous poems known as Jadumani Rahasya in wonderful compositions are popular in every village. Though he does not have a complete work to his credit, about 100 short and witty compositions have remained in circulation and are part of oral folk recitation. King Raghunath Singh of Nayagarh took interest in finding out the oral creations of Jadumani and published ‘Jadumani Rahasya Bakyabali’ in 1897. In 1950 Baishnav Charan Das Goswamy had compiled and published 50 chaupadis by Jadumani, out of which only 28 have found place in the Collected Works of Jadumani (Jadumani Granthabali) by Chakradhar Mohapatra.

Jadumani was a contemporary of Kabisurjya Baladeba Ratha. Once when he was in Puri at Lord Jagannath’s temple offering prayers for his son, he met Baladeba Ratha who also was singing the sarpa janana. Both the great poets of Odisha knew each other from the height of each other’s songs though they had never met before.

His personal life was replete with controversies; so are the dates of his birth and death which some critics place as 1776 and 1866 respectively. He spent his last days in Puri where Chandan Hajuri is said to have supported him financially.

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