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Author Topic: SAINT RAMDAS By Dr. S. D. Parchure M. A., Ph. D. (Continued from December  (Read 1734 times)

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Offline JR

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The religious minded people of those days showed great in¬terest in Keertan. The saints therefore, took advantage   of these religious inclinations of the people in order-to spread the message of devotion  to   god. Saint Ramdas   also,   like   other   prominent saints, used to perform keertan wherever he   would   get audience. Ambejogai was already famous because of the   temple of the god¬dess and because it was the   abode of the   great   saint   Dasopant. Hence saint Ramdas was sure to get good audience for his keertan. He therefore performed a keertan there. Saint   Ramdas   was lus¬trous   because of his penance and youth   He had good personality and sound knowledge. Therefore his keertan was much appreciated by the audience and they were much impressed by the philosophy expounded by him.    One old resident of Jamb happened to be in Ambejogai and having come to   know that  an -illustrious   sadhu-Maharaj was performing keertan on that day, he attended the keer¬tan of saint Ramdas.    On seeing the face and stature of  Ramdas, he started feeling that he had seen the sadhu maharaj   somewhere before this; but he could not recollect where exactly   he had seen him.    The keertan started and from the style of speaking and from the voice of Ramdas the old gentleman   at once thought   that   he must be the Narayan, who ran away from the marriage altar years before.    The curiosity to know the facts made the old man   quite restless; but it was against the ethics of the keertan to say some¬thing in the middle.    So he waited  somehow till the   keertan was over.    No sooner Ramdas said the last verse of the   keertan, the gentleman approached him and said, "Sir, may I request   you   to allow me to talk to your goodself something in private?" Listen¬ing to this odd request from an unknown person, Ramdas did not know what to do.    He however replied, "There is nothing private for. a sanyasi like me. You may ask me whatever you want to ask in the presence of all." But when, inspite of such instruc¬tions the gentleman insisted on a talk in private, Ramdas could not avoid it. The first question that the gentleman asked was whether he was Narayan Thosar of Jamb village, who ran away from the marriage alter some twenty years ago. After getting the reply in the affirmative, the gentleman told Ramdas the full history of his family for the last twenty years or so and said, "Your mother has taken your departure in that fashion to her heart. Her tears are flowing day and night. She is longing for your re¬turn and as you are now very near Jamb, it will be worth while if you will come to Jamb and meet your mother before she passes away If you delay your visit indefinitely there is every likelihood that you may not be able to meet your mother,"
The picture painted by the old gentleman moved Ramdas very much. As a yogi and a sanyani, who has renounced the family life, he should not have allowed himself to fall a prey to such temptations, but the mother is a weak point in the life of every human being. A Sanskrit saying eulogises the mother as follows :
(there is no god who is greater than the mother.) Hence it is no wonder if Ramdas immediately decided to visit Jamb to see his mother.

Ramdas was visiting Jamb after a lapse of nearly twenty years- His love for his mother increased his eagerness to go home, As he approached Jamb, he first visited the Maruti temple outside the village. Though Ramdas could recognise all the objects in the village that were once familiar to him, he himself had changed to such an extent that no body in Jamb village re¬cognised him. As he approached his house, his heart started to beat fast. How was his.-mother? Would she be able to recognise him ? Such were the thoughts of Ramdas. He went and stood before his house and chanted three verses in praise of god. In those days people, who used to go to beg for alms from door to door, used to sing some such verses before they used to be given alms. It was also a practice of the lady in the house to give alms to the person who would come at the door and ask for alms by singing such verses. When Ranubai, the mother of Ramdas, heard the verses sung by Ramdas, she directed her daughter-in-law, the wife of the elder brother of Ramdas, Gangadhar, to give alms to the mendicant. She came out of the house to give alms to saint Ramdas, but he would not accept the same. She was baffled at this peculiar behaviour of the mendicant as that was least expected by her.

The mendicant, however, solved the riddle. He said, "This in not the usual mendicant who will go away when alms are given to him.'' When Ranubai heard these words of the mendi¬cant she said, "Is that not my Narayan? Oh Narayan, after how many years you have remembered me? How are you, my son?" Ramdas at once rushed inside the house. He bowed down before his mother and touched her feet.
Ramdas noticed that his mother was sitting down   and  she was groping to find him out.    Before   however   he could   enquire about it, Ranubai herself said, "Narayan, why did you go   away in that fashion?   I thought that you would never meet me   again in this life.    The tears from ray eyes have   been  flowing continu¬ously from the day you went away.    Because of   this   continuous  sorrow, look here, I have   become   completely   blind.   Now   you  are coming to me after so many years   and you must   have   now < developed into a grown up man.    But I  am   so   unlucky   that   i will not be able to see you at all." Saying so she   again   started ' shading tears.

Ramdas consoled his mother and said, "Ma, I have got al¬together different temparament. I am not a man who would take Interest in family life. I want to go out of all this. Hence I have chosen my line, but do not be sorry. Your elder son, my elder brother Gangadhar is with you. He will take care of you; but just look this side." Ramdas thus spoke to his mother and just placed his hands on her eyes and moved them away, and what a wonder ! The mother got her eye-sight back ! She became quite hilerious and said, "Narayan, how well-built and lustrous you have become? The lustre on your face is the result of-meditation of god that you have done all these years. From childhood only you have shown us so many miracles. Your supernatural power has helped me to see again, but will you stay with us now? "

Ramdas replied, '-I have already mentioned about my tem¬parament. Our country and religion are in danger of becoming extinct. Under such circumstances a man of my temperament cannot sit silent at home. I know there is no pleasure it taking the vow of service to the religion and the country, but I cannot help it. I must answer to the call of the motherland. I must go after resting awhile."
Ramdas thereafter stayed for a few days at Jamb. His el¬der brother Gangadhar and he did lot of gossiping during the short time at their disposal. Ramdas also performed keertan in the village. His mother attended the keertan and she was very happy to hear the learned talk of her son, who had acquired a a lot of knowledge at Nasik and other places which he visited.

After spending a few days in this fashion at Jamb and as¬suring his mother to return soon, Ramdas started for his pilgri¬mage of the holy places in the South in Shaka 1562. In the South he went to the southernmost point of Bharat viz. Kanyakumari. On his way he visited the important Shiva temples—the temple of Vvankatesh, the birthplace of Shankaracharya, the temples of Subramanyam and Virupaksha. He also visited Pampasarowar, Shabaristhan, Shrirangasthan, Gokarna, Pakshitirtha, Kanchi, Arunachal, Kamakshi, . Harihareshwar, Waradraj and after the pilgrimage of all the holy places in the South he came back to Panchawati after four years in Shaka 1566.

It was a great ordeal in those days to go on a pilgrimage on foot. There were no proper roads. Some roads were infested with thieves, burglars and such other bad elements who were like¬ly to harm your life. Sometimes people had to go through hilly places and mountain passes, where the wild animals used to attack the travellers, but inspite of all these dangers, saint Ramdas completed his pilgrimage of the whole of India in a period of nearly twelve years. Ramdas had left his house with a definite aim in life. He had to do something in his life. That thing, how¬ever, was not definite in his mind. During the course of his pil¬grimage all over India, he did not move only as a religious minded pilgrim. He wanted to do something for the people, who were reduced to a very bad, condition -due to various reasons. Throughout these twelve years, therefore he was clearly observing the conditions of the people and scanning the reasons for reducing them to that state of affairs. He was constantly, enquiring with his fellow pilgrims and was trying to understand their reaction to the conditions prevailing in India in those days. This observation of the condition and the mental state of the masses of India more or less. prompted Ramdas to chalk out his future pro¬gramme for the uplift of the people. This pilgrimage was there, fore the base of the future life of Ramdas. He was now about thirtysix years old and his mature thoughts and bright per¬sonality attracted the people, who came in his contact. From now onwards he, therefore, started adopting some persons as his disciples.

In order to know what Ramdas saw in the country in those days, there is sufficient evidence in his 'Dasbodh', but in addition to that we can refer to a few books written by his contempora¬ries. The important books giving an account of the time of Ramdas are as follows:—

1. A book written by an Italian traveller Manucei byname. He was in India from 1656 to 1708 A. D. He had therefore seen the complete reign of the Mogal Emperor Aurangzeb.

2. A French traveller Tavernier by name visited India six times during the perjod from 1631 to 1668 A. D. He was a dealer in precious stones.- He had met Shahistakhan and Aurangzeb. He had moved in India from Surat to Dacca and from Agra to Madras. His book is named 'Tavernier's Travels in India.'

3. Another Frenchman Bernier was in India from 1656 to 1668 A. D. He has written a book named 'Bernier's Travels in the Mogal Empire.

4- Mohamed Kasim Farishta was a historian of that time. He has written accounts of his time in Persian. John Briggs has translated this book in four parts.

5.    Elliot and Dawson   have published    in eight parts    'The History of   India   as   told by her   own   historians.' These books contain the English translation of the diaries   written   by   several diary writers at the courts of different kings, Nawabs and Sultans in India.

All the above books written by the contemporaries of Ram¬das are eye-witness accounts and it is difficult to doubt their authenticity. From these books we know that the Mohamedans and the Portuguese were committing atrocities in India at that time. The Mogals and their Nobles were oppressing the people in Nor¬thern India. In the South similar arson and looting was carried on by the Bahamani kings and the Portuguese. The four main things mentioned in the aforesaid books are:—

1.   Looting and arson.

2.   Kidnapping and seducing women.

3.   Razing Hindu temples to ground,  breaking   idols in   the temples and converting them into mosques and churches.

4.   Forcible conversion of, the people to   Mohamedanism   or to Christianity,
When saint Ramdas saw the atrocities, described above, by his own eyes, he knew the real problems of the people.The insecurity felt by the people, the Hindus who  were   serving   the Mo-hamedans were themselves righting against their  own people, the Hindus had lost all their confidence in themselves, they had no unity 'and such other difficulties faced by the Hindu population of those days pained Ramdas to a great extent and he decided   to   launch a campaign against these evils.    His   main   object was  to   create confidence in the people, organise them and make them   unite to-geiher for fighting against the   Mohamedans   and   the   Portuguese aggression.    The people in those days were religious minded.    To them religion was even more important than life itself.    Chhatra-pati Sambhaji Maharaj sacrificed his life rather than  getting con¬verted to Islam.    Saint Ramdas had judged this  correctly and   he decided to start awakening in the minds of the Hindus on   religi¬ous   grounds.     His   future   activities  .therefore,   moved   in   this direction.

( to be continued )   

Light on the Path to the Infinite
Float on !   Float on !
And may your little lights
Be not put out by wind or storm !
Let them enter the hearts of some
Who aspire to the Infinite !
सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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