Premanand Bhatt

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Premanand Bhatt (Gujarati: પ્રેમાનંદ ભટ્ટ) (1649–1714), also known as Premanand, was a medieval Gujarati poet and Maanbhatt (professional story teller) known for his Akhyana compositions.


He was born in 1645 at Vadodara in the cast of the Nandora Chaturvanshi Brahmins. In colophons of his Akhyanas, he remarked such as, "Place of braves called Vadodara, Situated in the middle of Gujarat, caste Chaturvanshi Bramins, Bhatt Premanand is the name". In those times, Gujarat was ruled by Mughal governor Aurangzeb. At that time it was openly said:

"Marwari language is valued at 16 aanas (Equv. To 1 Rupee), Kachhi language is valued at 12 aanas; Marathi language is valued at 8 aanas, While gujarati language is valued at 4 paise (Equv. To 1 aana)"

Born at the time when Gujarati language was devalued in such a manner, Premanand vowed that:

"I shall not put on a Turban on my head till the time I earn a respectable position for Gujarati Language"

By supposed divine inspiration, Premanand undertook the commendable but Herculean task of taking The Ramayan, Mahabharat, Bhagwat, Harivansh Puraan and life episodes of Devout-Poet Narsinh Mehta through "Maankala" (with the help of playing Maan) across numerous villages of Gujarat. Premanand provided invaluable service to Gujarati Language as well as to the people of society by poetically narrating the religious and social inheritance of Middle Ages, i.e. episodes from epics and scriptures in a simple and effective language and also performed valuable act of cultural awakening. Premanand's creations are priceless possessions of Gujarati literature; they are the cultural inheritance of Gujarati populace.

Renowned Gujarati Poet Narmad has noted that:

"Premanand's language is universally uniform. The depiction of customs, traditions and nature of people; and verbal depiction of incidents garnished with exaggerated descriptions have found their prominent place in the vernacular language. This is the beauty of Premanand's verses.

And the eminent Gujarati novelist Navalram has mentioned:

"It is not surprising that Premanand who hails from Vadodara, who has written poetry on pure and profound love and whose name has become so dear to those art-loving people who have experienced divine love and pleasure; enjoys the supreme position amongst the contemporary poets. I personally believe that it is his modesty and humbleness that he obliges the other three frontline poets by allowing them to sit near the steps of his artistic kingdom! Really! Gujarati people should be proud of Premanand"

Raskavi Premanand has structured his poetic verbal recitals as per time and incidences. For example, importance of "Okhaharan" (Abduction of girl named Okha) in the month of "Chaitra" (6th month of the Vikram year), the pleasure of listening to a detailed poetic depiction of the marriage of "Shamalsha" (son of Narsinh Mehta) in the month of "Vaishakh" (7th month of the Vikram year) which is the season for marriages, while in "Bhadarvo" (11th month of the Vikram year) – the month of making ceremonial offerings to the dead ancestors – he would present a poetic recital on the description of such offerings to the deceased father of Narsinh Mehta. He wrote Okhaharan.[1]


He was known by the title of "Ras-Kavi". His known creations are "Nalakhyan", "Sudamacharitra", "Dashamskandh", "Rannyagna", Okhaharan, Kunvarbainu Mameru.

Name of Raskavi (Poet of sentiments) Premanand is on the top of the list of "Aakhyankars".

Maanbhatt Tradition[edit]

Maan is a pot made of copper, displayed before you, which used to be made of soil earlier. Bhattji puts on rings called "Vedh" on all his ten fingers and plays Maan in a rhythm to create melodious sound as per the need of the narration being done by him verbally. The intensity and tone of the sound is varied as per the subject matter of the narration e.g. while depicting the war of Mahabharat, the Maanbhatt loudly narrates with action:

"Sounds of "Kill them", "Kill them" are heard... The earth starts vibrating ... and turbulence prevails..."

Maanbhatts used to exist even before Premanand, but Premanand's Aakhyans (poetic recitals) are popular even today. Through his creations using various "Chhand", "Duha", "Chopai" and "Dhhal", he would make his poetic recitals very popular and through them, he would express the main and true meaning of the subject matter. Even today people are interested in listening to such recitals. Apart from using "Chhand", "Duha", "Chopai" and "Dhhal", he would keep varying forms of "Taal" which would enable his audience to get deeply involved in his presentations. This poet would include the contemporary customs and traditions, dressing and social structure etc. in a very detailed manner. These recitals were made so lively using "Navras" (nine poetic sentiments) in a balanced manner that even today, while listening to them, the audience picturises the verbal paintings.

Maanbhatts would generally choose the epic Mahabharat as the topic of their 'Aakhyan' – verbal poetic recital. Such a recital would last for about 3 months at one particular place. It would deal with important episodes of Mahabharat like the birth of Pandavas, Draupadi's swyamvar (act of selection of a groom by a bride from those present), "Vastraharan" (Ghastly act of removing clothes of Draupadi by force) in the king's assembly, Okhaharan, Victory of Abhimanyu etc. Listening to very interesting and artistic and poetic vocal recitals of such events and incidences, the audience would get highly influenced and would offer food, money, cloths, utensils etc. with a lot of respect and love. Maanbhatt would accept such gifts and offerings and therefore he would never encounter the least difficulty in earning his livelihood.


  1. ^ Dalal, Roshen. Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. p. 17. 

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