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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."
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. He was granted a jaageer of 21 villages.
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.)
- 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.
- '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॥
Virsinghdev Charit was a biography of the Bundela king, Vir Singh Dev Bundela.
- Bahadur, K.P. (tr.) (1972). The Rasikapriya of Keshavadasa, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
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- Keshavdas at Kavita Kosh (Hindi)