Kavi Kanka

Kavi Kanka (c 15th/16th century) one of the famous poets of the medieval period and the composer of satyapirer panchali. Kanka is thought to be a contemporary of Chaitanyadev. Kanka was born in a brahmin family in the village of Bipragram in kendua upazila of netrokona district. He lost his parents when he was only 6 months old and was brought up by a chandal couple, Murari and Kaushalya, who gave him the name of Kankadhar or Kanka. After the death of his foster parents, he was taken over by a Brahmin couple, Garga Pandit and Gayatri Devi, whose cows he used to tend.

Kanka exhibited his talent as a poet at an early age. He was a good flute player and used to compose shlokas orally. After noticing his talent, Garga arranged for his education. Kanka and Garga's daughter Lila grew up together and became fond of each other. At about this time Kanka is said to have come in contact with a Muslim fakir and became his disciple. At the command of this fakir, he composed Satyapirer Panchali and became famous as 'Kavi Kanka'. This Panchali was very popular in mymensingh.

Kanka's conversion to Islam enraged the Brahmin community, including his provider Garga, and they even conspired to kill him. He was forced to leave the place to save himself. He then started wandering about, singing Satyapirer Panchali. Kanka also composed Malayar Baramasi.

Towards the end of his life Kanka went to Puridham. A manuscript of Satyapirer Panchali by a poet known as Kavi Karna, written in Bangla but in Oriya script, has been found. It is believed by some that Kavi Karna and Kavi Kanka were the same person. [Ali Nawaz]