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Self-portrait, circa 1570.
Radha and Krishna in a manuscript of Rasikapriya, ca 1634.

Keshavdas (Keśavdās) (Hindi: केशवदास) (1555 – 1617) was a Sanskrit scholar and Hindi poet, best known for his Rasik Priya, a pioneering work of the riti kaal (procedure period) of Hindi literature. He is known for his famous quote, "Go ahead, light your candles and burn your incense and ring your bells and call out to God, but watch out, because God will come, and He will put you on His Anvil and fire up His Forge and beat you and beat you until He turns brass into Pure Gold."[citation needed]


He was born in Orchha. His father Kashinath and the elder brother Balabhadra Mishra were both Sanskrit scholars. Initially he was in the court of Indrajit Singh, the brother of the Bundela ruler Ram Singh. In 1608, when Vir Singh Dev Bundela came to power, Keshav Das joined his court.[1] He was granted a jaageer of 21 villages.

Major works[edit]

His first work is Ratan Bavani (ca. 1581). Three anthology of poems are attributed to him, Rasikpriya (1591), Ramchandrika (1600), and Kavipriya (1601). The Ramchandrika is an abridged translation of the Ramayana in 30 sections. His other works include Rakhshikh (1600), Chhandamala (1602), Virsinghdev Charit (1607), Vijnangita (1610) and Jahangirjas Chandrika (1612). He wrote in Brij Bhasha, though with a heavy mixture of Bundelkhandi dialect.


He praised the Betwa and Orchha as the most beautiful things on earth. More so because it was he, Keshav Das, who had made them famous. Greyed by years he rued the day when pretty girls he eyed on the Betwa addressed him as Baba—old man.

केशव केशन अस करी जस अरिहूं न कराहिं,
चंद्रवदन मृगलोचनी ‘बाबा’कहि-कहि जाहिं.
Keshav Kesni asi karee, Asi Ari hu na karay
Chandra Badan, mriglochani, Baba kahi rahi jaaye
(O Keshav, what havoc these grey hair have brought to thee May such fate not befall your worst enemy? Girls with moon-beam bodies and gazelle eyes Call me Baba and go their ways.)

Khushwant Singh describes one of his verses thus:[2]

Instead I read a long note prepared by Pukhraj Maroo, erudite Commissioner of Sagar, on poet Keshav Das (b. 1546 A.D.) who immortalised the Betwa. His father was tutor (Rajguru) of the rulers of Orchha. In his turn Keshav Das became the Rajguru among his students was the courtesan dancer Rai Praveen.

He used the Bundelkhandi dialect in his poetry.[citation needed] He excelled in Shringara Rasa:[3]

'केसव' चौंकति सी चितवै, छिति पाँ धरके तरकै तकि छाँहि।
बूझिये और कहै मुख और, सु और की और भई छिन माहिं॥
डीठी लगी किधौं बाई लगी, मन भूलि पर्यो कै कर्यो कछु काहीं।
घूँघट की, घट की, पट की, हरि आजु कछु सुधि राधिकै नाहीं॥

Some of the manuscripts of Rasika Priya are famous for their illustrations.[4][5]

Virsinghdev Charit[edit]

Virsinghdev Charit was a biography of the Bundela king, Vir Singh Dev Bundela.



  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Kabir, Tulsi, Raidas, Keshav". Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  3. ^ "'केसव' चौंकति सी चितवै". Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  4. ^ "The Project Gutenberg eBook The Loves of Krishna, by W .G. Archer". 2004-04-06. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  • Bahadur, K.P. (tr.) (1972). The Rasikapriya of Keshavadasa, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

External links[edit]