Samarth Ramdas Swami
Samarth Ramdas Swami was a saint and spiritual poet of Maharashtra state in India in 17th Century. He was also the guru of Chatrapti Shivaji Maharaj. It is said that he got enlightenment at the age of 11.
Name : Narayan Suryaji Thosar
Birth Year : 1530, 1608 CE – Ramnavmi (in the month of ‘chaitra’)
Birth Place – Jamb village, Ambad Taluka of Jalna District on the banks of the river Godavari
Mothers Name : Ranubai
Fathers Name : Suryaji Pant
Elder Brothers Name : Gangadhar
Narayan was intelligent, physically well built and as firm believer of god he was very compassionate. He was a true devotee to Lord Rama and Hanuman. From his early childhood he was thinking about how to free people from the eternal cycle of life and death. At the age of 12, while he was getting married he ran away from the marriage stage to become a monk.
ADULTHOOD & DAILY ROUTINE
He would wake up before sunrise and exercise ‘Surya Namaskars’, a series of positions each of which involved prayers to the Sun. He used to stand in chest deep water in the river and chant “Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram”. Chanting used to continue until noon. In afternoon he used to go to Lord Ram’s temple in the forest and read spiritual books. In evening he used to attend lectures on spirituality and songs praising Lord Ram. At night he listened to ‘Bhajans’ (devotional songs). He used to pray to Lord Ram before retiring. He followed this routine for 12 years. As a result of his devotion, Lord Ram appeared before him and asked him to start a new sect. Soon people forgot his original name ‘Narayan’and started calling him ‘Samartha Ramdas’. Ramdas means loyal devotee of Lord Ram.
HIS LIFE AND WORKS
In the year 1554 (1632 AD), he left Takli to start his spiritual journey. For next 12 years, he travelled India and minutely observed condition of people. He realized that frequent floods, famines and attacks by fanatics had destroyed social life of people. Everyone was scared and depressed. Based on his experiences he wrote 2 books named “Asmani Sultani” and “Parachakraniroopan”.
Samarth Ramdas Swami felt bad when he saw the society depending so much on fate and providence. In the year 1566 (1644 AD) Samartha Ramdas Swami chose ‘Chafal’ for initiating his mission. He installed a statue of Lord Ram and started celebrating the festival of Ram ‘Janmotsava’ (Birth of Lord Ram). He established temples of Hanuman in towns and villages to convey importance of exercise to youth and taught them to get together and fight the enemy. He highlighted warrior’s role in society. Samartha Ramdas Swami established many study centres across the country. His teaching of patience and faith in the face of adversities helped people to deal with difficult conditions.
He understood the importance of the role of women in a harmonious society. He encouraged women to participate in religious work and gave them positions of authority. He had 18 staunch women disciples. Wennabai took care of the study centre at Miraj, Akkabai took charge of Chafal and Sajjangad. He strongly reprimanded an old man who was against women participation by saying that everyone came from a woman’s womb and those who did not understand their importance were not worthy of being called a man.
He abhorred distinction based on caste and creed. According to him, all human beings are equal. He was a true supporter of socialism and secular society.
During this period, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was in the process of establishing ‘Hindavi Swaraj’. Samartha Ramdas Swami and Shivaji Maharaj met in a historical meeting at Shinganwadi near Chafal in 1571 (1649 AD). Samartha Ramdas Swami said that Maharashtra existed because of Shivaji Maharaj. Samartha Ramdas Swami, through his teachings and his impact on society, helped him in realizing his dream.
Samartha Ramdas Swami left for his heavenly abode on the 9th day of Magh in 1603 (1681 AD) at Sajjangad.
His contribution to the field of literature is unparalleled. ‘Dasbodh’ , ‘Manache Shlok‘ , ‘ Atmaram’, ‘Manapanchak’ , ‘Anandavanbhuvan’, ‘Shivakalyanaraja’ and many more are relevant even today. Like a light house his teachings are guiding force in today’s troubled times.
He is a saint for all ages who aimed at building powerful & virtuous human religion. Though he lived four centuries ago, his teaching transcends all limits of time. His philosophy not only reawakened & rejuvenated the then doomed spirit of Maharashtra, but is equally valid for today’s Indian scenario, engulfed by corruption, poverty, promiscuity & reckless consumerism.
The principles governing his philosophy are very simple to follow and yet unique as they appeal to the commonsense, demand action in life & aim at building character through actual behavioural changes. According to Samarth Ramdas, “time-management” is at the core of successful life.
Sources: www.samarthramdas400.in/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samarth_Ramdas