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Bhakti Saints of Rajasthan

Bhakti movement in Rajasthan: Bhakti movement in Medieval India is responsible for the many rites and rituals associated with the worship of God by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of Indian subcontinent. Main Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamilnadu in 12th Century, Nayanmars and Alvars played major role in Bhakti movement. It began to spread to the north during the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic rule. The main period of Bhakti Movement in Rajasthan is early 16th Century to late 18th Century.  The Islamic rulers were pressing public to convert religion from Hindu to Islam. The Bhakti movement was counter to the prevalent caste ideology which was dividing Hinduism. So, the Bhakti movement has its own importance to save Hinduism. The movement was spontaneous and the mystics had their own versions of devotional expression which play a major role in Rajasthan.

Main Characteristics of Bhakti Movement: One chief characteristic of the Bhakti movement can be mentioned as belief in one God. A devotee could worship God by love and devotion. The second characteristic of the Bhakti movement was that there was no need to worship idols or to perform elaborate rituals for seeking his grace. The third feature on which the Bhakti saints laid stress was the equality of all castes. There was no distinction of high or low as far as the devotion to God was concerned. The fourth feature was the emphasis, which these saints laid on Hindu-Muslim unity. According to these saints all men irrespective of their religion are equal in the eyes of God. The saints preached in the language of the common people like Rajasthani, Khadi and other local language. They did not use Sanskrit, which was the language of the cultured few. These saints laid stress on purity of heart and practice of virtues like truth, honesty, kindness, and charity. Some saints regarded God as formless or Nirguna while others consider him as having different forms or Saguna. Most of Bhakti Movement saint in Rajasthan are of Saguna Bhakta.

The main period of Bhakti Movement in Rajasthan is early 16th Century to late 18th Century.

Important Bhakti Saints of Rajasthan:

  1. Dadu Dayal
  2. Sundar das
  3. Meera Bai
  4. Bhakhan
  5. Wajind
  6. Raghavdas
  7. Lal Das
  8. Charan Das
  9. Mavaji
  10. Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti

1. Dadu Dayal

Dadu Dayal (1544—1603) was a poet-saint from Gujarat, a religious reformator which have said against formalism and priest craft. “Dadu” means brother and “Dayal” means “the compassionate one”.

He was reputedly found by an affluent business man floating on the river Sabarmati. He later moved to Naraina, near Jaipur Rajasthan, where he gathered around himself a group of followers, forming a sect that became known as the Dadupanth.

This organization has continued in Rajasthan to the present-day and has been a major source of early manuscripts containing songs by Dadu and other North Indian saints. Dadu’s compositions in Braj language were recorded by his disciple Rajjab and are known as the Dadu Anubhav Vani, a compilation of 5,000 verses. Another disciple, Janagopal wrote the earliest biography of Dadu.

Dadu alludes to spontaneous (sahaja) bliss in his songs. Much of the imagery used is similar to that used by Kabir, and to that used by earlier Sahajiya Buddhists and Nath yogis. Dadu believed that devotion to God should transcend religious or sectarian affiliation, and that devotees should become non-sectarian or “Nipakh”.

Key Points:

  • Believed to be born in 1544 in Samvat near Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  • In 1568, came to Sambhar & began to give sermons and “Dhunia”
  • Followers of Dadu Dayal made – Dadu Panth.
  • Naraina is the principal seat of Dadu Panthis and here clothes & pothis of Dadu ji are kept.
  • His teachings have been consolidated by his disciples – Dadudayal Ki vani & Dadudayal-Ra-Duha.
  • Contemporary of Rana Pratap & Akbar. In 1575, met Akber and influenced him by his views.
  • Dadu Dayal stressed on faith in God and Guru, knowledge of self, love, morality, futility of casteism, truth and simple life.
  • Community of nomad disciples of Dadu.
  • Cave on Bhairana hill in Naraina, where Dadu Dayal enetered into Samadhi.

Followers of Dadu Dayal can be classified into five types:

1.         Khalsa

2.         Virakta

3.         Sthandhari

4.         Uttaradev

5.         Khaki

2. Sunder Das: Sunderdas (1596–1689) was a noted saint, poet, philosopher and social reformer of medieval India. He was a disciple of Dadu Dayal. Sunderdas was born in 1596 in Dausa in Rajasthan state in India. Sant Sunderdas composed about 48 books. He is revered as the Shankaracharya of Hindi literature, and is popularly known as Sant Kavi Sunderdas.

Key Point:

  • Sunderdas ji established Naga sect.
  • Wrote: Sunder vilas, Sunder Granthavali, Gyan Samudra and Sundersar.
  • He is also known as Shankaracharya of Rajasthan.
  • Died in: 1707 (or in 1689) in Sangner, Jaipur.

Meera Bai: Born in Samvat 1573 at Kudki, Nagaur and was married to Bhojraj, eldest son of Rana Sanga.Her compositions include Teeka Raag Govind, Rukmani mangal, Teeka on Geet-Govind, and Narsi Mehta Ni Mund.Meera Bai established Pasi sect in Brindhavan (UP).Meera was devotee of Krishna and treated him as her husband.

Lal Das: Born in 1540 at Dholidoov village of Mewat on Shravana Krishna Panchami.Opposed superstitions prevailing in society & stressed on devotion & purity.Sermons are available in Laldas ji ki chetavaniyan.Died: At Nagla village of Bharatpur. His Samadhi is at sherpur of Alwar.Major sites are in Alwar, Sherpur & Nagla.

Charan Das

  • He was born in Derha near Alwar in Rajasthan.
  • He was the Author of around twenty works.
  • Many of these are in verse and deal with aspects of devotion, particularly relating to the worship of Krishna.
  • He Wrote commentaries on various Upanishads, particularly the Katha Upanishad, and on specific yoga practices, especially Pranayama, control of the breath.
  • He Belived in harmony between Hinduism & Islam.

Mavaji: He considered incarnation of Vishnu and two disciples of Mavaji, Aji & Vaje built Laxmi Narayn temple at confluence of Som & Mahi Rivers.

Rajjab Ji: He was the disciple of Dadu Dayal ji. He had born in Pathan Patwar, Sanganerand Ancient seat in Sanganer known as Rajjab Dwar. He Authored Rajjab vani, Sarvangi.

Bhakhan: He was born in Narena, Low caste Muslim singer; entertain Dadu with his fascinating songs.

Wajind: Initially, He was a Pathan hunter.When heCame under influence of Dadu and became follower and also known for Created literature for Dadu Panth.

Raghavdas: He was a Dadu Panthi scholarandin 1660 A.D. wrote Bhaktamal.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti: He was born in: 1143 in Sanjar, Iran

He became disciple of Khwaja Usman Harooni of Chistiya Order (Silsila). Came to India during reign of Iltutmish and settled in Ajmer in 1233 A.D. His shrine is open to all irrespective of religion, caste or creed and especially for poor and needy; hence he is popularly known as Garib Nawaz. Died in Ajmer, his tomb is popularly known as The Dargah Sharif.

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