Bhakti Saints – Part II
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486—1534):
• Chaitanya also known as Sri Gauranga, was a popular Vaishnava saint and reformer from Bengal.
• At the age of 25 he took to monastic life at the feet of Kesava Bharti. Some time later he went to Puri, where many disciples gathered round him. He finally settled down at Puri and stayed there till his death in 1533.
Beliefs and Ideas :
• Chaitanya believed in one supreme being, whom he called Krishna or Hari. He held that the presence of the God could be realised through love, devotion, song and dance.
• He attached great importance to the inner and esoteric way of realisation, which he believed could be attained through a guru alone. “If a creature adores Krishna and serves his Guru, he is released from the mashes of illusion and attains to Krishna’s feet”
• Chaitanya denounced caste system and believed in universal brotherhood of man.
• He was opposed to the domination of the priests and the outward forms and ceremonies of religion. To him’ love ‘alone could lead a man to Hari.
• He originated the Sankirtan, or service of song and the institution of celibacy among monks or gosains.
• He wrote Shiksha Ashtak (eight poems) in which he gave the cream of the Shastras.
• Though Chaitanya did not directly organise any sect, his teachings inspired his disciples to start a new sect. Chaitanya himself began to be worshipped as an incarnation of Krishna.
• He lived either in the closing years of the fourteenth century or early fifteenth century.
• When he grew young he became the disciple of Ramanand and stayed most of the time at Banaras.
• He learnt the Vedanta philosophy in a modified and more acceptable form from Ramananda. But Kabir felt highly dissatisfied with the asceticism of the Hindu devotees who subjected themselves to austere bodily mortification.
Beliefs and Ideas
• He wanted a life of temporal and spiritual satisfaction and therefore was greatly impressed by the teachings of the Muslim saint Pir Taqi.
• Kabir did not believe in extreme asceticism and abstractions from the world.
• He condemned idolatry and useless ceremonies.
• He believed in the equality of man and declared that before the high throne of God all were equal.
• He preached a religion of love which aimed at promoting unity amongst all castes and creeds. He was the first saint who tried to reconcile Hinduism and Islam.
• He wished to abolish the caste system as well as the antagonism of the religions based on blind superstition or on the selfish interest of the minority exploiting the ignorance of others. He desired to establish social and religious peace among the people who lived together, but who were separated from one another by religion.
• He admired whatever was good in the two cults and condemned whatever was dogmatic. The different appellations of God, according to Kabir, are only expressions of one and the same truth.
• Kabir laid great emphasis on Bhakti and said “Neither austerities, nor works of any kind are necessary to obtain the highest and this is only to be obtained by Bhakti (fervent devotion) and perpetual mediation on the Supreme—His names of Hari, Ram, Govind being ever on the lips and in the heart.”
• Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion greatly appreciated the teachings of Kabir.
• The initial efforts of his parents to involve him in worldly things did not yield the desired results. Though he was married and had children, he renounced the world and paid visits to various holy places to preach spiritualism.
Beliefs and Ideas
• Guru Nanak laid much impress on the oneness of God as truth, and fraternity of men, righteous living, the social virtues of dignity of labour and charity.
• Nanak believed in God as the omnipotent reality and the human soul could attain union with him through love and devotion, and not by knowledge of ceremonial observance.
• He said “man shall be saved by his works alone. God will not ask a man his tribe or sect, but what he has done. According to Guru Nanak man could attain salvation by doing four things—Fearing God, doing the right, trust in the mercy of his name and taking a guide to direct him upon the path which leads to the goal
• Nanak decried caste system and challenged the monopoly of spiritual evolution and religious sanctity of higher castes.
• Unity of God and unity of mankind were the two fundamental doctrines of his creed.
• To him Islam and Hinduism provided two paths for meeting the God.
• Though Guru Nanak did not intend to start any distinct religion of his own, but gradually his followers evolved a new religion known as Sikhism, which was quite distinct from Hinduism.
padhi namaz te niyaaz na sikhayaa teriyan kis kam padhiyan namaazan You read prayer/Namaz, but you did not learnt offering/help then for what purpose are your prayers/Namaz? na ghar dheedha[dikhayi dena] na ghar wala dheedha teriyan kis kam dityan niyaazan neither you could see home, nor its members then for what purpose are your given offerings/help ilm padhya te amal na kita teriyan kis kam kityan ibaadan you read knowledge/education and[but] did not practiced for what purpose are your worships
Dadu Dayal (1554 — 1603 C.E.)
Dadu Dayal was a weaver from Ahmedabad. He was a mochi by caste and renounced the world at an early age.
Beliefs and Ideas
• Dadu laid stress upon the promotion of love, union, sentiments of brotherhood and toleration among people of various faiths.
• Dadu was opposed to idol-worship, caste distinctions, the theory of avatars (reincarnation of God), external formalities of religion and the practice of worship at the shrines of the departed saints.
• He insists upon the unity of God and he regards him in his twofold aspect of transcendence and immanence. To him he is one changeable, immortal, incomprehensible being.
• Dadu expressed his ideas which are contained in the granth known as Dadu Ram Ki Bani.
• Dadu like Kabir and Nanak was an embodiment of free spirit from any taint of religious bigotry or sectarianism, remarkable in any age.
• He tried to assuage religious quarrels and did his best to bring Hindus and Muslims and all other sects together.
• He dwelt upon the greatness of Guru even over the sacred books—the Vedas and the Quran.
Mira Bai (1498 — 1546)
• She was born at the village of Kudki in the Merta district in 1498 and was married to Bhoj Raj, the son of renowned warrior Rana Sanga of Mewar in Rajasthan.
• Mira became a devotee of Krishna right from childhood and always carried a small image of Girdhar Gopal with her.
• After marriage she continued her devotion towards Krishna and became popular as a Divine singer.
• Bhoj Raj, her husband did not like her mixing with people of all types and reprimanded her. But she continued with her devotion to Lord Krishna and service of the saints.
Beliefs and Ideas:
• Mira’s massage was that none by reason of birth, poverty, age or sex will be debarred from his divine presence.
• The way is but one—that of Bhakti. The portals will open when the teacher will bless the devotee with his company and teach him the mysteries of the Sabada.
• Once he is reached, there is no further or future separation possible. Sooner or later every one is to meet his Lord. Time as a factor can be shortened by intensity of one’s affection for the Lord.