Swami Samarth Ramdas was a great litterateur, visionary and progressive RashtraSant, adept at diverse topics ranging from spirituality, love of all religions, patriotism, organising people, awakening people, social work, politics, worldly engagements, poetry, literature, metaphysical and physical development.
Swami Ramdas was born in the Thosar family in Jamb village in Marathwada, Maharashtra. The family traditionally worshipped the sun. Swami Ramdas was named Narayan.
Narayan was an exceptional boy in terms of his ideas and behaviour. He was a great devotee of deity Hanuman and Lord Rama. He had a vision of Lord Rama even when he was a boy. Lord Rama Himself initiated him. As a boy, Ramdas acquired some knowledge of the Hindu scriptures and developed a liking for meditation and religious study. One day he shut himself in a room and began to meditate on God. When his mother asked him what he was doing, Ramdas replied that he was meditating and praying for the good of the world. His mother was surprised and joyous at the precocious religious inclination of the boy.
When Ramdas was twelve years of age, all arrangements were made for his marriage. He sat at the altar in front of the bride with an Antarpaath (a screen traditionally placed between the bride and bridegroom till the actual exchange of garlands officiating the union) between them. When the priests chanted Sawadhan (be alert) as a part of traditional marriage holy chants, Ramdas actually became alert and bolted away from the place and disappeared within the twinkling of an eye.
Narayan ran away to the holy city of Nashik for developing his spiritual self. He experienced the holy atmosphere of the Godavari, also known as south Ganga, and even had the fortune of interacting with Lord Rama. He began on his path of spirituality by repeating the Gayatri Mantra (a holy Hindu hymn). He undertook a twelve year Tap (religious austerity) and meditated the Ram Mantra (Shri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram) thirteen crore times at the banks of the Godavari at Tafali near Nashik. Lord Shri Ram was himself Narayan’s Guru.
His main objective was to spread and establish the Hindu religion throughout India.
In his own words,
Dharma Sansthapana Jagjivana| Bharatkhandi karne aisi|
(Establish the religion is the aim of my life| To make India a nation |)
He visited all the pilgrimage and holy places in the entire country. While visiting the country, he observed the ethos of the nation. In extremely difficult times like calamities and autocratic rule of foreign forces, he literally waved a magic wand to turn the State back from the path of destruction. He strove hard to establish and widen the scope of Maharashtrian religion. It was as a tribute to Ramdas's extraordinary patience and determination in rehabilitating the Hindu religion in India that people named him Samarth (all-powerful) Ramdas, a name which he richly deserved.
(The Marathi people should so unite | And spread the Marathi religion |)
He created a Ramdas sect of his devotees who followed his philosophy of regular reading of the holy text, politics, alertness and perseverance and worked towards the spreading the religion through preaching. He established his Math in several places to achieve his objective of spreading the religion all over the country.
The lifeless people of Maharashtra sprung to life with the powerful incantation of Samartha Ramdas’s chant, Jay Jay Raghuvir Samartha. (Hail be Lord Ram). This singular chant engulfed the entire State. The chant even spread to northern States, at the banks of the Ganga, Yamuna and Kaveri. By developing virtuous disciples and establishing Math, he developed impartial leadership qualities in the people and reached a considerable milestone towards his goal in establishing a sound nation. By creating an unparalleled balance between religious power and political power, he filled the minds of promising youth with patriotism. He established the powerful deities of Lord Ram and TuljaBhavani and Maruti, the deities of strength, before the people. Simply considering the number of Maruti temples established by him leaves us awe struck at his perseverance and industry; he literally established hundreds of Maruti temples. He lived a life of an ascetic in the wide open, and devoted his entire life towards the benefit of the country. He showed the path of spirituality and a better life to people of all classes, orphans, helpless children and women. He advised them to develop good judgement to soundly establish their worldly and spiritual lives. He dreamt of an ideal land. He awakened the spiritual as well as the scientific minds of the people to make the nation strong.
Saamarthya ahe chalvaliche, jo jo karil tayache| parantu tethe adhishtan pahije| bhagvantache|
(A movement has strength, with people joining in| but the movement needs the presence| of divinity)
According to his above adage, he tried to create a movement with the presence of divinity. Realising the importance of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s political movement of establishing Swarajya, he gathered the people together and made a valuable contribution towards strengthening the Swarajya movement and establishing the nation. He awakened the movement for a divine and just nation by creating a balance between tolerance and yearning for victory.
Along with his valuable contribution towards establishing the nation, he also stressed on educating the masses, establishing sound worldly lifestyles, spirituality and good judgement, because these are the essential components of a self ruled sound nation. To make the masses literate, he started a mass movement of reading and writing. In his preaching he says -
Disa maji kahi tari te lihave, prasangi akhandit vachit jave
(One should write something everyday, and read at every opportune moment)
He also said –
Je je apanasi thave| te te itaransi shikvave| shahane karun sodave sakala jana||
(Whatever one knows| one should teach others| make everyone clever)
He has also taught how worldly life and spiritual life can be balanced together. He says,
(A home of sincerity and honesty | an ocean of peace |
Attempted to draw a parallel with Meru (a tall mountain) | that too is insufficient ||)
He uses such profound synonyms with respect to a mother. Samarth Ramdas has also written on diverse subjects such as literature, art, health, lifestyle, nature and construction business. He has not left a single aspect of life untouched. Samarth Ramdas gives detailed instructions to achieve the highest goal and become successful in any field.
While establishing a Math at Parali, a garden was being established around the Math. At this time, Samarth Ramdas wrote an entire volume on gardening. Similarly the volume Karkhane (Industry) that he wrote while the fort was being built in Sajjangarh contains initial chapters on production of bricks, how to organise labour and all such details with respect to construction.
Balake shvapade pakshi | lobhati vedhati mani | Chitta nischinta hotati | dhanya te gayani kala ||
(Children animals and birds | enamour and entrance the mind| Ones mind is put to rest | blessed is the art of song ||)
Samarth Ramdas also expresses his pride in the Marathi language so –
Aik Mhanji Marhati kay | He to bhalyasi aiko naye |
Ti murkha nenati soy | arthaanvayaachi ||
Lohaachi mandoos keli | naanaa ratne saathavili |
Tee abhaagyaane tyaagili | lokhanda mhanoni |
Taisi bhasha prakrut ||
(Listen to how great the Marathi language | even the learned are foxed |
It (the language) makes a fool of you | with its depth of meaning ||
Created a chest of iron | collected varied gems (in it) |
Which were unfortunately lost | mistaken for (mere) iron |
Such is the language natural || )
There are many such subjects covered in his literature. Though the language used by Samarth Ramdas has a limited vocabulary, the words are so profound that they are succinct and apt. His style of composition and use of words makes his literature extremely lucid and effective. He had en eye for detail for all aspects of life and an effective way of perfectly expressing that detail, as also his thoughts and ideologies, in his literature. His verses had a specific lilt and rhythm to it. This made his verses extremely easy for even the common people to learn, understand and memorise. All of his literature is based on his own experiences, which adds to the weight of the words. Samarth Ramdas’s verses and literature are so profound that they are a topic for an exclusive research.
While Samarth Ramdas was awakening the minds of people through all his literature, his chief objective was always Hindavi Swarajya (Self rule of India)! The foreign rulers of the country at that time were attempting to destroy the prevalent Hindu religion and culture from the country. To counteract that, Samarth Ramdas believed that the only way to stem the rot was to awaken strong feelings of patriotism, religiosity (of one’s own religion) and pride in one’s mother tongue in each youth of the country. He set out on this mission and created turmoil in the country. Samarth Ramdas was the chief architect of strengthening the foundations of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Hindavi Swarajya in the country and establishing an ideal nation in Maharashtra.
Samarth Ramdas resided most of his later life around Satara, Chafal and Sajjangarh. The Lord Ram temples and eleven important Maruti temples established by him are in this region.
He wrote the Dasbodh while sitting in a cave in a place called ShivtharGhal near Raigad. There are historical records of Shivaji Maharaj and Samarth Ramdas having met in the vicinity of Chafal.
Samarth Ramdas was and still is an exemplary guide in spirituality, philosophy, devotion to Lord Ram and Shri Hanuman. He took Samadhi on Sajjangarh on 1681.
Literature of Samarth Ramdas
Shrimath GranthaRaj Dasbodh: This work consists of 7,751 verses called ovi. It provides sagacious advice on both spiritual and diverse practical topics
Manache Shlok: A small book of meditations which consists of 205 memorable four-line verses and is an advice and preaching to the human mind, to behave in an ethical way and devote oneself in the love of God.
Maruti Stotra: This is a Marathi adulatory poem for Lord Hanuman which is very popular in Maharashtra.
Other than the above compositions, he also wrote Atmaram Grantha, Karunashtake, Savaya, Pade – Choupadi. He has also written many hymns.