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Offline JR

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SAINT RAMDAS
« on: April 04, 2007, 09:57:43 AM »
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  • By  Dr.   S.   D.   Parchure  M.  A., Ph. D.
    (Continued from March 1976 issue)


    All saints have affinity for other contemporary saints. They honour each other from the bottom of their hearts.  Saint Ramdas was also in touch with most of his contemporary saints.  He honoured them whenever they met him, but he was very close with the following four saints.  They took every opportunity to visit each other and to talk on philosophical matters.  Some times saint Ramdas invited all of them to Chafal and they used to stay together for some days discussing materials relating to the other world and to the life after death.  Their discussions used to be of a very high level and it was really a treat to listen to their dis¬cussions on religious and philosophical topics.

    Among these four saints, Jayaram from Vadgaon can be mentioned to be a close friend of saiut Ramdas.  Whenever any calamities befell him, saint Ramdas at once ran to his help. Like saint Ramdas he was also a poet and he had the urge to ask the people to awaken and rise to the occasion.  Four of his works in hand-written form are still lying in his ‘math’ at Vadgoan.  It cannot be said whether they will at all be published or will be eaten avvay by white ants before they see the light.  Jayaramswami also had high regard for saint Ramdas and has composed a few songs in his praise.  In Shaka 1594, during the life time of saint Ramdas, Jayaramswami took samadhi.

    The name of the second saint, who belonged to the friends’’ circle of saint Ramdas, is Shri Ranganathswami of Nigdi. This Swami was not of a sannyasi type like Ramdas. He was a Raj-yogi. He always moved on horse-back and had a paraphernalia of servants and disciples numbering over a hundred. He had a flare for horse-riding and sometimes he used to cover over a hun¬dred miles a day.  Even though he did not hanker after riches or wealth, it would follow him automatically.  He had composed thousands of verses out of which only a few have been printed so far; but from whatever printed material is available, we feel that he had poetic genious and imagination.

    He respected saint Ramdas very much and ran to him when¬ever he had any difficutly. Saint Kamdas also used to entertain him and gave him whatever help he needed. Ranganathswami took samadhi in Shaka 1606 after Ramdas took his samadhi.

    Anandmoorty can be mentioned to be another saint that belonged to the Daspanchak (group of five).  He was a resident of Agalgao.  The name of his father was Brahmadeo Bhat and Savitribai was the name of his mother.  The guru of Shri Anand¬moorty was Shri Raghunath, who was staying at Nasik.  Unlike saint Ramdas, Shri Anandmoorty was a married man.  He served his guru and remained with him for years.  Ultimately Shri Raghu-nathswami took samadhi at Brahmanath and Anandmoorty built a Vrindawan there.  He also started living there and preaching devotion to God.  He lived for a long time after saint Ramdas and took samadhi in Shaka 1618.

    The fourth saint of the circle was Keshavswami.  There is a town known as Kalyani near Latoor in the Maharashtra state.  Atmarampant, the father of Keshavswami, was the Kulkarni of that village . He and his wife Gangabai were a very pious couple and lived at Kalyani engrossed in the worship of god.  After a few years they got a son, but he was dumb.  Though the couple was dejected and worried, still their faith in god did not get shat¬tered in any way.  They continued their worship of God with un¬abated devotion, hoping for the best.

    When Keshavswami attained the age of five, Shri Shankara-charya happened to pay a visit to Kalyani. The couple therefore, naturally thought of taking their son to bow down to Shankara. charya.  When they narrated their story to Shri Shankaracharya, he immediately blessed Keshavswami by placing his hand on his head.  Because of this divine favour, the young lad started speak¬ing immediately.  He started his education thereafter and made remarkable progress within a short time.  He started performing keertans later on and was known to be one of the best^keertankars of his time.  He was also a married man.
    From Kalyani he migrated to Bhaganagar (Hyderabad) and stayed there after establishing his ‘math’.  He had high regards for saint Ramdas and hence he was always advising his disciples to follow the example of that saint.  He always longed for the meeting of saint Ramdas; but being away from Maharashtra, he could only have occasional meetings with the saints named above.  It is however recorded that the other saints who realised this difficulty of Shri Keshavswami, themselves went to Bhaganagar to meet him.  History has recorded the visits of saint Ramdas, Jaya-ramswami and Ranganathswami to Keshavswami’s math at Bha¬ganagar. Ihe Samadhi of this contemporary of saint Ramdas is located at Bhaganagar (Hyderabad) on the bank of the river.

    The above four saints and saint Ramdas were together known as Daspanchak.  As saint Ramdas was the source of inspiration of this group of five saints, it was known after him. All these saints were poets and they had high regard and appreciation for each other. They spread far and wide the faith in god and the Hindu religion. They all have composed verses in praise of god and in praise and appreciation of others.  Awakening among the the masses was considered by saint Ramdas to be the only solu¬tion to come out of the very disrupted position of the Hindu com¬munity and this goal was also accepted by the other four saints of the Daspanchak.  Hence because of their affinity for each other and because of their common goal for the national uplift, this group of five friends has left a fasting impression on the religious history of Maharashtra.

    LEGENDS

    Most of the saints in the world are said to have superna¬tural powers.  Hence many legends about all saints are current.  They are described at length in their biographies. It is a matter of individual faith whether to believe them or not.  While narra¬ting the life of saint Ramdas, a few of the legends have been narrated from time to time.  However, we give here a few more legends, which throw some more light on the character of this great saint.

    Shri Ram was the God, whose devotion was preached by saint Ramdas. as we have seen earlier.  Hanuman, the faithful devotee and servant of Ram, was considered equally sacred by Ramdas and he personally installed the idols of Hanuman at thirteen different places. Every year on Hanuman Jayanti day i. e. on the full-moon day in the month of Chaitra, the festival of the birth of Hanuman was being celebrated at all these temples.  The disciples of saint Ramdas, who were in charge of these tem¬ples, wished that Ramdas should attend the function at their temple.  The disciples were every year inviting saint Ramdas very cordially and he was always assuring them that he would attend the func¬tion if-he would be free to go to their town.  On one Hanuman Jayanti day, it is recorded that Ramdas attended the festival simultaneously at all the thirteen places!  All the disciples were pleased more because they thought that Ramdas showed them a special favour by attending only the function at their temple.  Later on they started boasting that saint Ramdas attended the function only at their temple and informed other disciples about it.  Everybody however claimed that saint Ramdas attended the func¬tion only at his temple.  This dispute in the end reached the ears of Chhatrapati Shlwaji Maharaj, who then caused enquiries to be made at all the places independently and it was found that saint Ramdas was present at all the thirteen places simultaneously!

    The fame of saint Ramdas was spreading far and wide and when the young   Maratha leader like Shiwaji Maharaj started honouring him and consulting him in religious matters, people from remote corners came to saint Ramdas for his darshan.  It might be recalled that there is a mention in the life of saint Ramdas that as a child, he and his elder brother were taken by their father to saint Eknath.  In those days, it appears that it was a very common practice to pay a visit to the saints in the vicinity.

    Shri Babajipant, the grandson of saint Eknath, went to Karnatak for business.  He completed the business successfully and earned a good income.  He could lay by 101 Mohors out of the money earned by him as sale price of his goods.  On his return journey, he had thought of paying a visit to saint Ramdas and get his blessings according to the custom of the time referred to above.  Accordingly he went to Chafaf where he was informed that saint Ramdas had gone to stay on the bank of the Krishna river in a grove.  As Babajipant had decided to pay respects to saint Ramdas, he naturally followed the saint over there.  Babajipant was worried about the gold-mohors that he was carrying, He therefore deposited them with saint Ramdas for safe custody.

    Some one hundred brahmins, who had come for the marriage ceremony of a rich person’s son, were returning to their homes.  In the meanwhile they also came to know about saint Ramadas and they thought of paying their respects to him. When the Brahmins came to saint Ramdas, it was noon time and Ramdas thought the Brahmins would expect him to serve lunch to them.  He, therefore, requested them to have a bath in the waters of the never and to return for lunch. The brahmins had thought to themselves, “This saint is staying on the bank of a river in a grove.  He has no paraphernalia, nor complement of servants. How does he propose to serve lunch for all hundred people at once ?”

    The brahmins however went to the river and had bath in the holy waters of the river.  They returned back and to their utter surprise they found that a sumptuous dinner was awaiting them. They all enjoyed the hearty meal and the sweets served to them.  After lunch the Brahmins expected to get Dakshina from saint Ramdas.  This practice was known to the saint and hence after the brahmins were sufficiently fed, saint Ramdas gave dakshina of one Mohor to each of them.  The brahmins took leave of saint Ramdas, with their minds fully satisfied. Babajipant also took leave of saint Ramdas; but he could not ask for his 101 Mohors, as he saw that saint Ramdas; gave them to the brahmins in his presence. He, therefore, returned to his house empty handed and with a vacant and sad mind.  When he came home in such dejected mood, his father knew that some¬thing had gone amiss with his son.  He therefore, tried to console him saying, “O son, don’t get dejected like this.  Are you not satisfied with the profit of one hundred and one gold-Mohors that you have earned during your business tour of Karnatak ? Be satisfied.  Do not hanker after large sums of money”.Hearing this, Babajipant got completely baffled.  He had seen with his own eyes that saint Ramdas had given as dakshina those 101 gold mohors which he had given to him for safe custody.  Then under these circumstances, how could those Mohors come to him ?  He however ventured to ask his father as to who gave those Mohors to him.  The father started giving the description of the person and Babajipant at once realised that the description very surely pointed out to saint Ramdas.  After having come to know this leela of saint Ramdas, tears stood in the eyes of Babajipant and he blamed himself for unnecessarily doubting the fidelity of saint Ramdas.

    He said to himself, “Really the ways of the saints are very queer. We common people can hardly know them.”  So say¬ing he bowed down to saint Ramdas and begged his pardon for his folly.
    ( To be continued)
    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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