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Offline JR

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« on: February 19, 2007, 05:34:56 AM »
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  • By-Dr. S. D. Parchure. M.A.,Ph. D.

    Whenever we talk about the Saints of Maharashtra, the name of Dnyaneshwar easily stands the first. However his contemporary Saint Namdeo is also equally important. His place among the Maharashtrian Saints is unique; because unlike most other Maharashtrian :saints he moved far and wide outside Maharashtra for preaching, and even today his followers are found in large numbers in far off places like the Punjab and Haryana.

    Like Dnyaneshwar there is no reliable information available about Namdeo, The information that is available is through legends .and also through a number of biographical ' Abhangas' which .are included in the Gatha known after his name; but though over 2000 Abhangas are included in Namdeo's Gatha, we feel that they are compiled by six different persons who were known by the same name viz. Namdeo. We have therefore to accept the information derived from these ' Abhangas' very guardedly, relying only on those that appear to be definitely of Namdeo himself.

    Family History

    From the scanty information available, we can say that we can trace the history of the forefathers of Namdeo to Yadushet Relekar who stayed at Narsi village before some 825 years [i.e. round about 1150 A. D.]. This Yadushet was a tailor and Namdeo was his sixth decendent, the intervning five being Harishet [son of Yadushet], Gopalshet (son ofHarishet),Govindshet(sonofGopalshet), Narahar-shet (son of Govindshet) and Dam shet (son of Naraharshet and the father of Namdeo). Yadushet was running a cloth shop. He was great devotee of God. Vithal was their favourite God. He and al his successors used to undertake a pilgrimage to Pandharpur for " Ekadashi " in every Ashadha and Kartik months. The grand father of Namdeo, Naraharshet, when he had gone to Pandharpur for the pilgrimage was suddenly taken ill on the day next to the Ekadashij day and died in Pandharpur itself along with his wife Limbaba; (perhaps due to an attack of cholera, which is usually rampant their during the time of the pilgrimage.)
    Narsi Brahmani the original village of Namdeo is at a distance of about 26 miles from Washim in Vidarbha. The names of the father and mother of Namdeo were Damsheti and Gonai respectively They were married at Narsi.

    About 20 miles from Narsi, there is a village named Kalyani One Shri Goma, who was a devotee of Shri Vishnu, was staying ii this village. His wife Umabai was a worshipper of Shri Nrisin whose temple was at Narsi. This couple got a daughter because o the blessings of Shri Nrisinha. This daughter was named Gonai and was married to Damsheti. After their marriage Gona gave birth toa daughter who was named as Aubai. Thereafter she got a son in Shaka 1192 (1270 A. D.). This was Namdeo.

    From the family traditions of Namdeo and the special devotedness of his parents to God, we feel it quite appropriate that such a great devotee of God like Namdeo should have been born in this, family.
    Outside the Narsi Village there is a temple of Shri Keshavraj. Damsheti, who was a sincere devotee of Keshavraj, used to worship this God with deep faith and was taking his daily food only after offering " Naivedya " to Keshavraj.


    This practice was continued by Damsheti for years together. Once, however, when he had some work, he had to stay outside Narsi for a day or two, The work of offering Naivedya was hence shifted to Namdeo who was then only five years of age. As directed he went to the temple and offered the Naivadya to the God. He, however, never knew that the offering to the God was only nominal. He was under the impression that after a formal offering the God takes up the Naivedya as human beings would do. Hence after wait¬ing for a long time when he saw that the idol of the God was not accept¬ing the offering, he shouted at the God and said that if the God did not drink the milk, offered as Naivedya, he would sacrifice his life at the foot of the God. On knowing this firm decision of Namdeo, God had no other alternative but to drink the milk offered to him. On returning home Namdeo's Mother asked him as to what happen¬ed to the milk. When he replied that it was drunk by the God, She did not believe in his story. Next day when Damsheti returned home, his wife told him what had transpired on the previous day. When he listened to the whole affair, he also did not believe in the story; but he and his wife decided to keep a watch and find out the truth. Hence they told Namdeo to go again and perform the " Pooja " of Keshav¬raj, the next day. The innocent Namdeo never knew the intension of his parents and went to the temple for performing the Pooja. Dam¬sheti, However, was following him very closely and to his utter surprise the story told by his son was found to be correct. On seeing the effect of this sincere devotion of Namdeo at the age of five, Dam¬sheti aptly felt proud that he had such a pious son and he was fully convinced that in his future life Namdeo was going to be a renowned devotee of the God.

    Married Life

    According to the custom of the time, Namdeo was married at a very early age. The name of his wife was " Rajai". Though there is no definite proof to know what were the educational attainment of Namdeo we can say from his " Abhangas " that according to the traditions of his time, Namdeo must be knowing to read and write properly. In the Namdeo-Gatha we come accross 164 biographical Abhangas; but from their contents there arises a doubt whether all of them are composed by Namdeo himself. It is quite possible that so many of them have been composed later on by some other person and have been pawned as those of Namdeo.

    From his childhood Namdeo was a devotee of God. As year: rolled on, he grew up and was married; but his interest in worldly things did not increase. On the other hand he became famous as sincere and staunch devotee of Pandurang. This no doubt pleased his father Damsheti; but the lady folks in the house viz. his mother Gonai and his wife Rajai were both displeased with this queer behaviour of Namdeo. As a married man, they expected him to take interest in worldly life and work for the family. They tried to impress; this thing upon him in various ways; but all their advice fell on deaf years. Namdeo did not leave his Bhajan and continued to spend almost his whole day in the temple in the worship and meditation of God.
    In the biographical " Abhangas " we come across the account where Gonai, Namdeo's mother, quarrelled with God (Pandurang' for having made her son mad after Him. She has scolded God in various ways. She has censured God for making Namdeo lose interest in the family life. Of course all this conversation and quarrel must be imaginary; but it no doubt shows the inkling of the mind of Gonai.

    In some other " Abhangas" Rajai also has expressed the sorrow because of the disregard shown by Namdeo towards worldy affairs. She is also not lagging behind in pulling up her husband on that score. This is a clear indication that the financial position of Namdeo was not at all happy and poverty reigned in his house. Namdeo's Son Gonda has also written a few Abhangas in which he has narrated the following story which reflects on the characters of both Namdeo and his wife Rajai :-

    Because Namdeo was spending his whole day in the temple in-the Bhajan of God he was not earning anything for the family. There was therefore, hardly anything in the house to feed upon. Rajai also had four children. She would therefore first try to feed her children before taking food herself. Hence, for many days in the month she would not have enough to eat. Looking to this state of affairs in the house, Rajai once decided to commit suiside. She there¬fore, tied her son Nara on the back and Mahada on the front portion, of her body. She took her third young child in her hand and threw herself in the river Bhivara; but looking at this thoughtlessenss of Rajai, Lord Pandurang appeared on the scene and lifting her up, He placed her on the bank of the river.

    When Rajai found that God was not allowing her to die peace¬fully she dashed her head on the ground and again jumped into the river; but the God repeated his former performance and placed her on the bank of the river in a very safe position. Thinking that it was futile to try to end her life in this fashion, she started for home. On her way she saw a dead serpent lying by the roadside. She therefore thought of making use of that serpent for ending her life. She came home, cut the serpent into pieces, and kept them on the fire for cook¬ing. Her idea was to eat the poisonous bits herself and also to give them to her children for eating so that they can all end their life simultaneously; but lo! when she removed the cover on the pot, which she kept on the fire, to her utter surprise, there was no trace of the serpent. Instead of that there were pieces of pure gold, glittering and shining. Rajai got overjoyed at the sight of Gold and she went to Namdeo and showed the pieces of Gold to him. On seeing that he said, " Oh! what a fool you are! why did you give so much trouble to Lord Pandu¬rang?" saying so he immediately sent for the Brahmins and dis¬tributed all the pieces of Gold among them. It cannot be said exactly how far this story might be true, but no doubt it reflects very clearly on the mind of Namdeo and his wife Rajai.
    (to be continued in the next issue)
    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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