Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sri Yogaswami

Sri Yogaswami was born in Sri Lanka in May 1872. Originally known as Sadasivan, he led a normal life till 1905, when he met his Guru with whom he stayed till the latter passed away in 1911. He spent the next few years in intense meditation. Soon his fame spread and people started visiting him. He started the journal named Sivathondan, meaning the servant of Siva, which became a popular vehicle of his messages. He travelled to India in 1940 and visited Kashi. He also met Ramana Maharshi. In 1961 an accident confined him to the indoors of his Ashram in Jaffna. Three years later, at the ripe age of 91, much to the chagrin of his devotees, the Swamiji passed away, leaving behind him a legacy that continues even today

Link: Web Site

Neem Karoli Baba

Neem Karoli Baba

Originally named as Lakshmi Narayan, and known by many other names, Neem Karoli Baba was born at Akbarpur in presentday UP, probably around 1900 AD. At a very young age he went to Gujarath where he lived at a place called Bavania, by the side of a lake at a little temple. Later he shifted his residence to various other places. During his life time he built many temples, helped many people and was visited by many people. In the western world he was made popular by Baba Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das through such works as "Be here now" and "It is here now". Though he left his physical body at Vrindavan in 1973, many of his devotees still experience his physical presence and receive his blessings and guidance.

Link: Web Site

Sant Dariya Saheb

Sant Dariya was born in Vikram era 1691(1634A.D.) on Sunday in Ashwin month at Dharkandha in Rohtas District of Bihar (India).He was brought up and remained at that place for most of his life. It is said that the ancestral place of the Saint is Rajpur which is at a distance of 10 miles from Dhakandha,the maternal place of the Saint.Dharkandha is situated at a distance of about 52 miles from Arrah and about 6 miles from Suryapura.

Sant descended on the scene when the Mughal Empire was on decline and the British were consolidating their feet.There was absence of a powerful central Govenrnment which resulted in termoil in the society.Public was on the whims and mercy of the then local rulers and suffering immensely.Marathas power was on ascendance in the west.There was moral degradation all around and people were looking for a savior. The savior appeared on the scene in Sant Dariya.

Sant Dariya was sent to this world by Anadipurush (Supreme Lord ) to save people from their sorrow and miseries. He presented before the world a path of salvation (Muktipanth).He had to suffer opposition from the orthodox sects at several occasions but he went ahead in his mission with determination. He preached against ritualism and false doctrine prevalent in both Hindu as well as Muslim communities. He preached brotherhood of mankind. He was for unity and harmony amongst Hindus and Muslims.

Sant Dariya got enlightenment at the age of twenty years.When Dariya was one month old , Satpurush visited him and advised his mother to name him Dariya.Satpurush came again to Sant and asked him to preach to the misguided souls to save them. Satpurush assured Dariya that He would meet the basic needs of his followers in this world and ensure their permanent abode in Satlok when they leave their mortal body

Sant Dariya preached non-violence and was against killing of any living being. He was of the view that unless the lamp of kindness(Karuna) is illuminated in the heart, one cannot proceed on the path of realization of God. Sant preached monism . He preached against incarnation theory of God. He said that the Satprush(Anadi-brahm) is beyond triguna and He never comes into the cycle of birth and death.

Saint Dariya was Satguru and only the Satguru knew the path that leads to Nirvan(the state beyond the cycle of birth and death).He called his doctrine as Santmat (Doctrine of the saints).

There are controversies about his ancestory as also birth and death. Scholars are not in unanimity about his dates of birth and death. A brief mention of the Saint is found in Sahabad Report of Francis Buchanan who visited Dharkandha which was then in Sahabad district of Bihar, in 1810 A.D only thirty years after the parinirvan(death) of the saint. No other proven testimony is available about his date of birth. However, no purpose is served in going into controvercies.

The Sabad (word) of the Saint is most important for the welfare of the troubled living beings. Sant preached to one and all, both Hindus and Muslims . People of both the communities became his followers. His words are compiled in nineteen granths (books):

Sant was a poet par-excellence and he composed 15,000 padas (verses). There are altogether 37,000 lines in all these padas. Dr. Dharmendra Brahmachari who published research paper on Sant Daria for his Doctor of Philosophy Degree spoke highly of the poetic genius of the saint.

Sant Dariya, the great saint poet of the medieval India who preached love and human brotherhood breathed his last in Vikram era 1837 (1780A.D) on Friday, the fourth day of Bhado month.

  1. - A good site containing the information about Sant Dariya Saheb.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sant Eknath

Eknath was a major saint of the varakari sampradaya founded by Dnanadeva. Born in 1533 at Paithan, Eknath lost his parents at an early age and was brought up by his grandfather. Eknath's great-grandfather was Shri Bhanudas (1448-1513), a major figure in the Vitthala sect at Pandharpur.

Eknath was initiated by his guru, Janardana, a devotee of Dattatreya. Eknath was unique since he combined a blend of Vedanta and Sufism. Eknath was a devout gurubhakta and wrote under the name of Eka-janardana meaning eka of janardana.

A profilic writer, he wrote bhavartha ramayana, numerous abhangas (unbroken verses and a prolongation of the famous ovi meter) and bharudas (short poems with two meanings, one secular and the other spiritual). However, his major work was Eknath Bhagavata, a marathi commentary on the 11th skanda of the bhagavata purana. Started in 1570, it has over eighteen thousand ovis and was completed in 1573. In the work, Eknath stresses on the uplifting value of kirtana (singing God's names), rememberance of God's name (namasmarana) and meditation (dhyana) of the name. He explains beautifully the nine traditional limbs of the bhakti marga (navangani) with examples from saints.

Eknath distinguished two forms of bhakti to Saguna Brahman (God with form) : as an end in itself and as a means. Generally, the advaitic tradition identifies with the latter, considering that meditation of God with form does not lead to moksha (liberation) but only to krama-mukti (gradual liberation). However, a person who attains krama-mukti is freed from samsara (the cycle of births, deaths, and rebirths).

Eknath's Bhagavata popularized the vedanta philosophy to a great extent. Shri Ranade, a modern day historian, notes that `With Dnanadeva, philosophy reigned in the clouds; with Eknatha, it came down upon earth and dwelt among men.'

Link: Web Page

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sant Bahinabai

A new article about Bahinabai is available at

Bahinabai was not just a poetess, she was a devout worshipper of Lord Vithoba of Pandharpur. She was born to Audeo Kulkarni and Jankibai in 1628 A.D. at a town named Deogaon, to the west of Verula, a place well known for its carved temples. Her father, Audeo Kulkarni was a Yajurvedi Brahman and village scribe. A childless couple, Bahinabai was born to them after much penance and austerities. After the birth of Bahinabai, they were also blessed with two sons.

When Bahina was five years old, her parents marry her off to a very learned businessman in Shivpur called Ratnakar Pathak, a widower aged thirty. After Bahina’s marriage, her father Audeo due to family feuds fell into debts and was imprisoned. The son-in-law Ratnakar helped to set him free and the whole family set off to Rahimatpur. After staying there for two years they finally decided to settle in Kolhapur, where they got shelter in the verandah of a learned Brahmin named Bahirambhat. But, of all the places they visited, Bahina liked Pandharpur the best. She was fascinated by the idol of Lord Vithoba and thrilled to hear the Abhangas by Tukaram.

Very soon Bahirambhat received the gift of a cow and a calf which, in response to his dream, he offers to Ratnakar. Bahina and Ratnakar. They take great care of the cow. The calf takes a great liking for Bahina and followed her wherever she went. Once it so happened that Jayaram-swami, a well-known Kirtankar performer of kirtans or devotional musical discourses) had come to Kolhapur. Bahina attended the kirtans with her family, and as usual, the calf followed her to the kirtan. Jayaram Swami noticed this and appreciated the bond between the calf and Bahina, but the people around thought that the calf had strayed into the pandal and drove it out. Noticing this, Jayaram Swami called the calf back and patted both the calf and Bahina. Some people around at the time of the incident don’t take kindly to the Swami’s chidings, and complain to Bahina’s husband, Ratnakar, does not approve of the attention shown by Swami on Bahina and beat her severely. The calf unable to bear the ill-treatment meted to Bahina, gives up eating thus giving up her life.

Grief-stricken, Bahina falls unconscious for three days on hearing about the calf’s death. On regaining consciousness, she finds herself surrounded by her family, but Bahina was a changed person. She had experienced enlightenment in her unconscious state and had seen Lord Vithal before her. She had also seen Sant Tukaram. She becomes a devotee of Lord Vithal and spents her time singing Tukaram’s abhangas. On hearing this, Jayaram Swami tells Ratnakar that his wife Bahina was no ordinary woman but a saint and Yoga-brastha (a former yogi under a temporary lapse) and that he was very fortunate in having her as a wife.

The fame of Bahina’s devotional music spread far and wide, but Ratnakar consumed by jealousy, decides to leave her. On hearing this, Bahina was determined to give up her life in case he did leave her. And strangely enough, before leaving the house Ratnakar was taken suddenly ill and was in great agony. Bahina nursed him patiently day and night which made Ratnakar realize his mistakes, more so since he had abused not just another mortal, but a saint. After Ratnakar recovers his health, the whole family shifts to Dehu. In Dehu, they wanted to shift to locality of Mumbaji, but were refused admission because he was against them, being devotees of Tukaram, who was of a low caste. But this time Ratnakar stood by his wife and she came to be respected even more. They were given a place to stay in the temple of Tukaram. Here they regularly listened to Tukaram’s abhangas and kirtans, and Bahinabai thought herself most fortunate because she could hear Tukaram’s Abhangas day and night. Since then Ratnakar also became a devotee of Tukaram.

The couple Bahinabai and Ratnakar lived quite happily in the premises of the temple but Mumbaji could not bear to see their happiness. Once he drags their cow, ties it in his house and thrashes it severely which the people around can’t bear to see, and beat him. However, Bahinabai intervenes in the nick of time and saves Mumbaji, who repents for his wrong doings and becomes a follower of Bahinabai. In Dehu Bahinabai gives birth to a daughter, Kashi and son, Vithoba, who becomes a great poet and kirtankar like her in the future.

One day, in the absence of her husband, Bahinabai goes to pilgrim quarters and meditates continuously for three days. At the end of the meditation, she felt as though Tukaram himself had placed his hand on her head, blessed her and asked her to compose. It was a transcendental event for her. Overjoyed, she went to bathe in the river and as she came out, words flowed from her mouth. With the blessings of Tukoba, she got full inspiration to compose devotional songs. She began composing abhangas on spiritual subjects.

In many of her abhangas she has expressed on how she attained knowledge of Advaita Vedanta. She lived till 72 years. In her verses, her last message to her son gives description of her previous thirteen births and it is said she knew beforehand the time of her death. It is surmised that she had initiated disciples too. Deenakavi, the author of Panchkaran Mahavakya, was one of her disciples. A collection of her abhangas, songs and poems has been published in a book form by Shri Umarkhani. Bahinabai has specifically acknowledged Tukaram as her Guru and that he initiated her has been clearly expressed in all her Abhangas.


Web Page:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sant Chokha Mela

A detailed article about Chokhamela is available at

Chokhamela lived in Mangalavedha near Pandharpur in Maharashtra in the 14th century. He was born in the lower cast (Mahar), but his devotion to Lord Vitthala was pure and unmatched. He migrated to Pandharpur and became a desciple of the great saint-poet Namdev. Chokha used to constantly chant the name of Panduranga and clean the temple premises daily. However, he was not allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum due to his birth in the lower cast. One day someone questioned the futility of his devotion to Lord, as he would never be able to see God. Humiliated and deeply hurt Chokha abstained from taking food and wept inconsolably when Panduranga appeared before him, embraced him, took him inside the temple and talked to him. The temple priest was outraged as he felt that the temple was desecreted by Chokha and ordered him to stay across the river Chandrabhaga. Chokha's pleas fell on the deaf ears and at last Chokha went to stay across the river. However, Lord started to visit Chokha daily and both of them used to take lunch together. One day the priest was passing by Chokha's hut when Chokha was taking lunch with Panduranga and Soyara (Chokha's wife) was serving. Priest could not see Panduranga as his mind was impure. Soyara spilled the curd on Panduranga's pitambar by mistake. Chokha exclaimed, "Oh! Soyara you have soiled Panduranga's pitambar". Priest felt it was a deliberate attempt by Chokha to show his devotion and slapped Chokha across his face. Later he bathed in the river and ferried across the river. The priest was stunned to see Lord Vitthala's swollen cheek. He realised the intensity of Chokha's devotion towards Lord. He to Chokha, asked for his forgiveness and requested him to pacify the Lord. Chokha's prayers and request pacified Lord Vitthala.

Chokha was forced to return to Mangalavedha as the people there wanted to construct a wall in order to separate shudra people from others. While he was working there, he was killed when the wall collapsed and was crushed. Namdev deeply grieved the death of a great Vaishnava devotee, went to Mangalavedha and brought the mortal remains to Chokha and constructed his Samadhi in Pandharpur.