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.'
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