Hemadri Pandit, forgotten scholar of the 13th century

  • Hemadri Pandit, Prime Minister in kingdom of the Yadavas of Devagiri (Maharashtra) was an authority on Dharma, wrote a commentary on an Ayurveda text, Head of the Elephant squad, introduced Modi lipi (cursive of Marathi) and the Hemadpandti style of temple making.

In the eleventh century, Bharat's North western frontier was captured by the Ghaznavids. Power of the imperial Pratiharas was on the verge of extinction, the mighty Rashtrakuta Empire was shattered by its vassal Chalukya king Tailapa II. But Tailapa died a few years after this event. After his death, other mighty empires fell. Thus, Hindu rulers in India vanished. 


However, the fall also gave opportunities for illustrious and brave personalities. Many independent Hindu kingdoms got carved out of these empires. These kingdoms were united under linguistic and regional banners.


In Deccan and the South, after the fall of Rashtrakuta and Chalukyas, three such kingdoms emerged. These were Hoyasalas of Dwarasamudra, Seunas of Deogiri and Kakatiyas of Warangal. During their rule local arts, literature, architecture, trade and commerce flourished. This started a new age of creation and rejuvenation.


The dynasty was immortalised in history by the writings of the celebrated mathematician Baskarasharya, the famous scholar Hemadri and the great writer on music, Sharngadeva”. Source Hemadri Pandi (HP), popularly known as Hemadapanta, of the Seuna (Yadavas of Devagiri-modern day Daulatabad in Maharastra near Ellora) kingdom was one of famous three. He was Prime Minister from 1259-1274 in the kingdom of the Yadavas. Source


To read about the Yadavas click Here


HP was born in a Deshastha Rigvedi Bramhin family in modern day Karnataka. His ancestors migrated to the Seuna kingdom. There is very little known about his childhood, adulthood and educational activities. He rose to prominence in the Seuna kingdom i.e. from Secretary to influential minister of Seunas. His illustrious career covered about three kings of the Seuna dynasty of which the first was Mahadeva, the second Ammana and last Ramachandra.


During the reign of Mahadeva HP was appointed as secretary of the king. His grip on administration was exceptional. HP also had excellent knowledge about situation in neighbouring kingdoms for e.g. their history and current events.  


During the reign of Mahadeva, he completed Chaturvarga Chintamani, considered to be an encyclopaedia on Dharma. This work is based on study of the Vedas, Sutras, Smritis, Puranas and other sacred Hindu texts. It is a one of its kind.  


Chaturvarga Chintamani consists of five khandas -


1. Vrata Khanda- deals with Dharmic rites and observations.

2. Dana Khanda- deals with several grants and their importance.

3. Tirtha Khanda- deals with places of sacred pilgrimage.

4. Moksha Khanda- is a discussion of realization of highest goal.

5. Parishishtha Khanda- this section has the appendix. (It covers discussions about all the book and references that he used).


This magnum opus by HP reflects the dharmic outlooks, beliefs, rituals, practises etc. and is still considered an authority.


HP’s next work was in Ayurveda. He wrote a commentary on Ashtanga Hridya, written by Vakbhata, titled Ayurveda Rasayana. It is still considered an authority. “Besides this work it is also believed, that, he wrote several other works such as Chaturvarga Chintamani, Sraddhapaddhati, Hemadriprayoya etc.” Source Note that Rasayana is therapeutic measure that prevents aging, provides positive health and imparts resistance and immunity against disease. Source and to read more


During the reign of Mahadeva, he was chief of elephant squad. (This was a branch of the army which is mounted on elephants)


HP also introduced Modi lipi (cursive of Marathi) as an official language and introduced Bajra (millet) system (encourage to grow bajra). Many Marathi authors/poets flourished during his life. Dnyaneshwar, the great saint was his contemporary.  During his lifetime, Marathi authors and poets were patronised which helped establish a golden era of Marathi language. 


HP encouraged his juniors in literary fields for e.g. Bopadeva. He also wrote a commentary on Bopadevas work i.e. known as Muktaphala. Another literary work, Shraddhakalpa is also attributed to Hemadri. Due to his understanding of dharma, Dharma Shastra was also known as Hemadri Shastra. To the students of Seuna history, Hemadri is an indispensable author.


In addition to being a voluminous author of the period, he provides valuable information about the history of the dynasty. By virtue of being in a responsible position in the Seuna administration and in charge of records he had a very good knowledge of contemporary history that he used in his literary works. The introductory portion of his Vratakhanda gives a valuable account of the genealogy of the Seuna dynasty from its start. Though this account is not correct to the letter, it is invaluable.


During the short reign of the second ruler Ammana, Hemadri rose to prominence and helped Ramachandra occupy the throne. During the reign of Ramachandra, he became most prominent personality of the Seuna kingdom.


Along with his literary work, he was a master in administration, diplomacy and foreign policy. He took decisions which resulted in financial stability of the Seuna kingdom. During king Mahadevas reign the elephant squad, under his leadership, helped conquer neighbouring kingdoms. Thane plates of 1272 AD refer to conquest of Jhaadi Mandala by HP.

Hemadpanti style Shiv Mandir Ambarnath, Maharashtra. 

Another area of contribution was architecture. Temples built during his reign are known as Hemadpanti temples.  Hemadri built temples in his unique style of architecture so the temples were known as Hemadpanti temple.


These temples have a unique style of architecture. They were are built in Dry stone masonry (without limestone). These temples consist of Garbhagriha, Antarala and Mandapa with entrances on three sides covered with an Ardhamandapa. These mandapas are always in square shape. The whole structure of temple stands on plinth made up of several horizontal mouldings which is sometime referred as Rathas. Temples consists of stone pillars with intricate carvings, most common is Baar Khambi (1£ pillar).  Shikharas of these temples are seven tier miniature structure. Some notable examples are Gondeshwara temple Sinnar, Aundha Nagnath temple at Aundha, Gupteshwara Temple Dharasur and Siddheshwar Temple at Hottal.


Due to his extensive patronage towards building and repairing of temples, temple architecture in Maharashtra is known as Hemadpanti temple architecture.


He was a staunch orthodox Hindu.  Records of Bukka 1, emperor of Vijayanagara Empire, states that his son made many danas (donation) in accordance with the works of Hemadri. Reddi kings, Vema and Anavota, too are said to have done Vrata and Daana as directed by the works of Hemadri.


When the Islamic invasion in northern India destroyed the sacred learning centres of Dharma and destruction of Dharmic knowledge, three pillars of dharmashastra preserved this knowledge. First is Vijaneshwara, second is Apararka and third is Hemadri Pandit.


HP died before the Islamic conquest of Devagiri. But his works remained immortal and his service towards dharma and preservation of Dharmic knowledge is exceptional.



1. A history of South India by K A Nilkantha Shastri.

2. The Yadavas and their times by Omkar Prasad Varma.

3. The early history of Deccan by A S altekar.

4. The Seunas of Deogiri by R Srinivas.


To read all articles by author  He writes about lesser known heroes like freedom fighters Balwant Phadke, Rajguru and Uma Naik and Tripura king Vijaya Manikya II.  

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