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Author Topic: SAINT EKNATH  (Read 8822 times)

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Offline JR

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« on: February 19, 2007, 08:07:50 AM »
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  • By Dr.  S.  D. Parchure M. A., Ph. D.

    ( Continued from July   1974 )


    According to the instructions of his guru, Eknath started on the pilgrimage. They started from Daulatabad and came to Nasik after a few days. After performing the usual rites there, they went to Panchwati Here Shri Janardan Swami told his disciple to write a Commentary in Marathi on "The Chatushloky Bhagwat". Eknath accordingly started writing the Commentary and completed it with¬in a few days. This is the first noteworthy book that Eknath wrote and those who do not believe in the favour of the Guru, will be wonderstruck to find that this first book of Eknath is also of a very high standard. The language is polished and figurative and the whole Commentary shows that the subject has been very well understood by the author. The book has simplified the philosophy so much that any layman will understand it easily.
    After finishing this work, Eknath went to Trimbakeshwar. There he paid his homage to the Samadhi of Nivrittinath and com¬posed twenty two Abhangas. Eknath similarly had great respect for Dnyanadeo, Sopan and Muktabai and he has composed Abhangas praising them also.

    Janardan Swami thereafter returned to Daulatabad and direc¬ted his disciple to visit the holy places of Northern India Among the saints of India there was always a practice to visit the holy places in India in order to get the first-hand knowledge of the con¬dition of the country and the people. Eknath was no exception to this convention. According to the directions of his guru, he visited the Fayoshni, Tapi and Narmada rivers. Thereafter he visited Ujjain, Mathura, Gokul,Vrindavan, Kashi, Prayag, Gaya, Ayodhya, Badrinath, Pushkar and Dwarka, all of which are in the Northern direction. On his way back to Paithan, he visited Junagad and Dakor in the Gujarat and paid his respects to the Gods in these cities.

    After coming back to Paithan, Eknath did not go to the house of his grand-father. He used to beg alms in the town and was subsisting on them; but once when he was going for alms, his old grand-father saw him and he at once recognised him. He was over¬whelmed with joy to see his grand-son, who had left the house long ago, without informing him and hence who was almost taken to be lost. He entreated the grandson to return home; but Eknath said he would do as per the advice of his Guru. Eknath accordingly sought the advice of Janardan Swami and he started staying with his old grandfather and grandmother.
    In the grandfather's house Eknath was observing total silence for some days; but after some days he broke his silence and started doing the "keertans" publicly. Eknath was often requesting his Guru to pay him a visit and according to his promise Janardan Swami once came to the house of Eknath on the birthday of Lord Krishna, when Eknath did the keertan. Eknath was an ardent devotee of the God and that day because his Guru was present at the keertan, his words were flowing freely. Janardan Swami attentively listened to the keertan of his disciple and he was pleased to note the simple but powerful style of Eknath, his deep knowledge of philosophy and his well-worded and touching language.


    Marriage and family life never came in the way of Shri Janar¬dan Swami in following the path of righteousness. His disciple Shri Eknath Maharaj, also did not consider marriage as an obstacle in following religious practices. In due course he also thought of matrimony and was married to a well-behaved and chaste lady. Her name was Girijabai. She was always hospitable to the visitors and a willing worker at home. She always joined hands with her husband in welcoming each and everybody who visited their house.

    In the house of Eknath Maharaj Keertan and Bhajan used to go on all the year round. There was a "Sadavarta" in his home, according to which it was undertaken by the owner of the house to feed all the persons that would visit his house. Eknath Maharaj used to do the keertan and in his leisure hours he would go on writing philosophical books in Marathi (in verse form).

    At the time of the marriage of Shri Eknath one Shri Uddhav, who stayed at Bijapur and who was known to the family of Shri Eknath, came to Paithan and after the marriage he stayed permanently in the house of Eknath Maharaj. This gentleman was a man of great capacity and he used to manage all the household affairs of Eknath Maharaj. Because of the "Sadavarta" referred to before, a number of grocery articles were required to be purchased and stored in the house very often. Apart from this, Shri Eknath Maharaj was a saint who was widely known in the country. Hence he always used to have a number of visitors everyday. All these visitors also were required to be sui¬tably entertained. Similarly the festivals, birthdays etc. of all the Gods like Rama, Krishna, Dutta, etc used to be celebrated when also a number of people used to visit Eknath's house. To attend to all these jobs and manage all the household affairs of Eknath Maharaj was no small job and it required a man of various accomplishments. It goes to the credit of Uddhav that he managed all these jobs quite efficiently.


    Shri Eknath was aii accomplished personality. He had purified his body by penance in the early age according to the directions of his Guru. He was graced by his guru, Janardan swami and Shri Eknath himself got the "darshan" of Lord Krishna while he was performing penance on the Sulabha mountain. Even the God therefore tried to serve this holy personality in some form or the other and it is believed that the God served Shri Eknath Maharaj in all for thirty six years in three different forms.

    As mentioned before Shri Eknath Maharaj started doing the keertan after his return to the grandfather's house from the pilgrimage of the holy places in Nothern India. It is a custom that when the "Haridas" does the keertan, some other person stands behind him and joins the Haridas in singing the chorus. The prose portion is spoken only by the Haridas. So when Shri Eknath Maharaj started his keertans, he naturally felt the need of a person to support him. One day one person, who gave his name as Vithal, came to Eknath Maharaj and volunteered to give him the support during the Keertan. It was found that this Vithal had a very good voice and he was supporting Shri Eknath Maharaj in the Chorus very well It is said that Lord Krishna himself took the human form and served Eknath Maharaj in this fashion. After serving Eknath Maharaj in this way for a period of twelve years, Shri Vithal took leave of Shri Eknath Maharaj.
    After Shri Vithal left Eknath Maharaj, one other Brahmin appeared on the scene. He gave his name as "Shrikhandya" and offered to stay with Eknath Maharaj and attend to all his domestic work. This gentleman, who was known as Shrikhandya, was attend¬ing to all household duties in the house of Shri Eknath. Because of the sadavarta in the house, the work in the Kitchen was heavy and of varied nature. Bringing water from the well, serving food to the visitors, plucking flowers and making the preparations for the god's worship and such other jobs were being attended to by this Shrikhandya ungrudgingly. He also stayed with Eknath Maharaj for twelve years and it is believed that God himself took this opportunity to serve Shri Eknath Maharaj in this human form.

    Later on Eknath Maharaj had enough persons to attend to his domestic and household affairs. His wife was also a very efficient lady, who used to welcome all the visitors properly, whereby Shri Eknath was entirely freed to follow his religious and literary pursuits. In the advanced age Shri Eknath concentrated more on writing commentaries in Marathi on Various Sanskrit Books. So when Shri Eknath was writing his Commentary on Bhagwat, he used to read it out to the people gathering in his house everyday. In the evening when he used to read his book, one brahmin, who gave his name as Keshav, used to attend Shri Eknath's house regularly. Keshav used to take part in the discussion that took place. Sometimes he even went on suggesting changes and alternatives to certain portions of the book. This Keshav is supposed to be the third form of the God in the house of Shri Eknath. The written works of Shri Eknath would be of permanent nature and if some flaw remains in them, the posterity would find fault with Shri Eknath. Hence God is supposed to have helped Shri Eknath in the form of Keshav in making his works entirely flawless. Like Vithal and Shrikhandya, Keshav also was with Eknath Maharaj for a period of twelve years.


    The acquiantance of Shri Eknath with saint Dnyaneshwar was through his guru Shri Janardan Swami. In the early age of Shri Eknath, his guru used to read Dnyaneshwari and Amritanubhav and Comment thereon. In the beginning these Comments gave rise to a sort of, curiosity in the mind of Eknath about the author of these books. As Eknath grew in age, he also made it a practice to read these books as often as possbile. A close study of these books changed the original curiosity about the author into devotion. Shri Eknath however noted that because of the different persons copying the books in the manner they liked, so many mistakes had crept therein. In those days we must remember, that there were no printing presses and all books were being copied by persons who used to have good handwriting and often times less intelligence. Hence there always was a possibility of mistakes creeping in at the time of copying. Shri Eknath saw a few copies of Dnyaneshwari at different places and he found that the persons copying them had deviated from the original in many places. He therefore arranged to collect a number of copies of Dnyaneshwari from various places and after comparing them he decided the correct readings, thus arriving at an authentic edition of the book which was as much near to the original as possible. The tragedy of the whole affair is this that today nobody is able to say exactly which is the edition prepared by Shri Eknath after putting in so much of labour.

    From the Legends and the Abhangas known in the days of Eknatb, he knew that Dnyaneshwar had taken Samadhi at Alandi. The high regards that Shri Eknath had for Dnyaneshwar did not allow him to remain satisfied with whatever slipshod information he got. He therefore went all the way to Alandi in search of the Samadhi of Dnyaneshwar; but to his great disappointment he found that nobody in Alandi either knew about the samadhi or was enthusiastic about going round in search of it. Shri Eknath was however full of energy and taking great pains he located the samadhi. He was very sorry to find that the Samadhi was surrounded by trees growing wildly, with the result that the roots of a number of them had penetrated into the Samadhi building. This state of affairs annoyed Shri Eknath very much and he cleared all the trees round about the Samadhi. Thus because of Shri Eknath's efforts it is today possible for all the devotees of Shri Dnyaneshwar to get a glimpse of the Samadhi. This is really a great achievement in the life of Shri Eknath.

    ( to be continued)

    An Important note of the Sanatana Dharma - the Eternal Religion - is the teaching, "Worship God with Love and Longing in your heart, not in hope of reward and not in fear of punishment. Worship Horn, not coveting Heaven and not fearing Hell!"
    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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