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Try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him.
The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth



Srila PrabhupadaSurdasTukaramSena MaharajKanhoptaraRamdas Swami
Gora KumbharJanabaiVallabhacharyaMadhavacharyaMeera BaiRaghavendra Swami

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda (January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902), whose pre-monastic name was Narendranath Dutta (Narendranath Dut-tta), was one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. He was the chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and the founder of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. He is a major figure in the history of the Hindu reform movements. While he is widely credited with having uplifted his own nation, India, he simultaneously introduced Yoga and Vedanta to America and England with his seminal lectures and private discourses on Vedanta philosophy. Vivekananda was the first known Hindu Sage to come to the West, where he introduced Eastern thought at the World's Parliament of Religions, in connection with the World's Fair in Chicago, in 1893. Here, his first lecture, which started with this line "Sisters and Brothers of America," made the audience clap for two minutes just to the address, for prior to this seminal speech, the audience was always used to this opening address: "Ladies and Gentlemen". It was this speech that catapulted him to fame by his wide audiences in Chicago and then later everywhere else in America, including far-flung places such as Memphis, Boston, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and St. Louis.

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Swami Parmahansa Yogananda

Paramahaṃsa Yogānaṃda; January 5, 1893–March 7, 1952), born Mukunda Lal Ghosh (Bengali: মুকুন্দ লাল ঘোষ Mukundo Lal Ghosh), was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced many westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.
Yogananda taught his students the need for direct experience of truth, as opposed to blind belief. He said that “The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God. Echoing traditional Hindu teachings, he taught that the entire universe is God's cosmic motion picture, and that individuals are merely actors in the divine play who change roles through reincarnation. He taught that mankind's deep suffering is rooted in identifying too closely with one's current role, rather than with the movie's director, or God. He taught Kriya Yoga and other meditation practices to help people achieve that understanding, which he called self-realization: Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.

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A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Sanskrit: अभयचरणारविन्द भक्तिवेदान्त स्वामीप्रभुपाद, abhaya-caraṇāravinda bhakti-vedānta svāmī prabhupāda, (September 1, 1896–November 14, 1977), was the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness a movement to propagate Gaudiya Vaishnavism of Hinduism, not only in India, but also throughout the whole world, a devotional yoga tradition that is popularly known as the "Hare Krishna". Born as Abhay Charan De, in Calcutta he was educated at the prestigious local Scottish Churches College. Before adopting the life of a pious renunciate, vanaprastha, in 1950, he was married with children and owned a small pharmaceutical business. He later took a vow of renunciation, sannyasa, in 1959 and started writing commentaries on Vaishnava scriptures. In his later years, as a traveling Vaishnava sadhu, he became an influential communicator of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology to India and specifically to the West through his leadership of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founded in 1966. As the founder of ISKCON, he has "emerged as a major figure of the Western counterculture, initiating thousands of young Americans." Despite attacks from the anticult groups, he received a favorable welcome from many religious scholars, such as J. Stillson Judah, Harvey Cox, Larry Shinn and Thomas Hopkins, who praised Prabhupada's translations and defended the group against distorted media images and misinterpretations. In respect to his achievements, religious leaders from other Gaudiya Vaishnava movements have also given him the credit.[13] He has been described as a charismatic leader, in the sense used by the sociologist Max Weber, as he was successful in acquiring followers in the United States, Europe, India and elsewhere.
 As such his Hare Krishna movement is accepted by the academics as "the most genuinely Hindu of all the many Indian movements in the West".

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Raghavendra  Swami

Sri Guru Raghavendra Svami (Tamil: ஸ்ரீ ராகவேந்திர சுவாமிகள் Telugu: శ్రీ గురు రాఘవేంద్ర స్వామి ,Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಗುರು ರಾಘವೇಂದ್ರ ಸ್ವಾಮೀ) (1595–1671) is a respected 16th century Hindu saint who advocated Vaishnavism (worship of Vishnu as the supreme God) and Sri Madhvacharya's Dvaita philosophy.

He was born in Bhuvanagiri in Tamil Nadu and ascended Brindavana at Mantralayam in present day Andhra Pradesh in 1671.

His Brindavanam in Mantralayam situated in Andhra Pradesh, India is a pilgrimage destination.Sri Raghavendra Svami was born as Sri Venkata Natha (Venkata Ramana), the second son of Sri Thimanna Bhatta and Smt. Gopikamba on Thursday, Sukla Navami of Phalguna month in 1595, when the moon was in Mrigashīrsha Nakshatra, at Bhuvanagiri, near present-day Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. Sri Thimmanna Bhatta was the son of Sri Kanakachala Bhatta and the grandson of Sri Krishna bhatta, a Veena scholar in the court of King Krishnadevaraya. Sri. Thimanna Bhatta and his wife, Smt. Gopikamba had a son, Gururajacharya and a daughter, Venkatamba.

Sri Venkanna Bhatta was also called Venkatanatha or Venkatacharya in honor of Sri Venkateshwara at Tirupati, with whose blessings he was considered to have been born, to his parents for their devotion and diligence towards the deity.

Sri Venkatanatha proved to be a very brilliant scholar from a very young age who learnt to play the Veena very proficiently thanks to his father and grandfather.
After his father's demise, Venkatanatha was brought up by his brother Sri Gururajacharya and completed the initial portion of his education under his brother-in-law Lakshminarasimhacharya's guidance in Madurai.
After his return from Madurai in 1614, Sri Venkatanatha married Smt. Sarasvati Bai in the same year and had a son Sri Lakshminarayanacharya. After his marriage, Sri Venkatanatha and his family went to Kumbakonam where he studied the Dvaita Vedanta, grammar and literary works under his guru, Sri Sudhindra Tirtha.

Sri Venkatanatha was already very well versed in bhashyas and consistently prevailed over renowned and reputed scholars, irrespective of the complexity of the debates. He was an ardent devotee of Sri Moola Rama and Sri Panchamukha MukhyaPranaDevaru (the five-faced form of Hanuman - Pancha meaning five, mukha meaning faces). He spent a large part of his Purvashrama life teaching Sanskrit and the ancient Vedic texts to children.

He never demanded any money for his services and endured a life of poverty along with his wife and son. They went without food several times a week. On occasion, his wife did not have change of clothes. This forced her daily change of wear to be dependent on when the clothes dried. She would wear 1/2 the sari, wait for the other 1/2 to dry and wrap it around her. But he was so devoted in his quest for a higher spiritual plane that these obstacles never deterred his faith in the Lord

Purvashrama MiraclesOnce while he was touring Kumbakonam along with his wife, Sri Venkatanatha and his family was invited to attend a function. Unfortunately, the hosts did not treat him well and wanted him to earn his food by running a chore. So they asked him to make some sandalwood paste for all the invitees. Sri Venkatanatha per his habit, was chanting stotras and mantras while preparing sandalwood for Tilaka. When the guests applied this paste, it induced a burning sensation all over their bodies. Surprised by this, the hosts sought a clarification from Venkatanatha. He replied that the burning sensation was due to the Agni Suktam (hymn for the worship as defined in the Esoteric Vedas) that he was chanting while preparing sandalwood and thus eternal power of Vedic Mantras revealed itself. This happens only when chanted with absolute dedication and devotion. The power is enhanced since it was chanted by someone as virtuous and devoted to Bhagavan Hari as himself. Upon realizing his devotion and power, the host apologized profusely to Sri Venkatanatha and sought his forgiveness.

Sri Venkatanatha then prepared the paste again but chanted the Vedic Mantra to Varuna (Vedic rain gods) this time. It has been recorded that when the guests applied this paste, they were awash with a sense of being drenched in rainwater, reaffirming Sri Venkatanatha's power of devotion.

 Ordination into Sanyasa as Guru RaghavendraThus while his life was spent in the worship of God and service of humanity, his spiritual guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertharu, was looking for a successor to his math. He had a dream where the Lord indicated that Sri Venkatanatha would be the right person to succeed him as the pontiff. Sri Venkatanatha initially refused due to his responsibility towards his young wife and son but was soon blessed by the Goddess of Learning, where she in a dream indicated that he was to seek salvation as a Sanyasi. Sri Venkatanatha treated this as an omen and changed his mind. The sanyasa ordination took place in 1621 on the Phalguni Sukla Dwitiya at Tanjore.

Moksha of Smt. SarasvatiOn the day of Sri Venkatanatha's ascension into SanyasAshrama, his wife, Smt. Sarasvati was seized by a sudden desire to see her husband's face for the last time. She ran towards the Matha throwing caution to the winds and was turned back. Since she couldn't see her husband any longer, she committed suicide by drowning in an old and unused well on the way.Per the tenets of Hinduism, she became a ghost trapped mid-way between Heaven and Earth due to her untimely death. Since her last wish of seeing her husband was not fulfilled, her ghost went to the matha to witness the ordaining function. However, by the time she arrived, her husband had become a Sannyasi Sri Raghavendra Theertha. However, Sri Guru Raghavendra could immediately sense his wife's presence with his spiritual powers. He sprinkled some holy water from His Kamandalu on her as a means of granting her last wish. This action granted her moksha or liberation from the cycle of births and deaths and was considered her reward for a lifetime of dedicated and selfless service to Sri Raghavendra Swami.

Sri Sudheendra Tirtha SwamijiOn handing over the Peetha to Sri Raghavendra Swami, his guru, Sri Sudheendra Tirtha Swamiji left for his heavenly abode. His Brindavana was constructed at Anegundi near Hampi under the personal supervision of Sri Raghavendra Swami. Sri Sudheendra Tirtha Swami's Brindavana is the ninth Brindavana at that location, earning the region the popular moniker of "Nava Brindavana". It is an extremely holy pilgrimage centre for Madhvas.

 Sri Yadavendra Tirtha and Sri Raghavendra SwamiMuch before Sri Raghavendra Swami ascended as Peethaathipathi of the Mutt, Sri Yadavendra Tirtha had been given Sanyasa by Sri Sudheendra Tirtha Swamiji. When he came back to Tanjore from his Teertha Yatra across Southern India, Sri Raghavendra Swami offered to make him the Peethaathipathi of the Matha and offered him the idols of Sri Moola Rama. However, Sri Yadavendra Tirtha, on seeing the devotion and spiritual prowess with which Sri Raghavendra Swami was pontificating the Mutt, declined the offer and continued on his pilgrimage. Thus Sri Raghavendra Swami then continued to enrich Dvaita Vedanta from Kumbakonam where numerous shishyas joined the Matha.

 Kumbakonam droughtDuring Sri Raghavendra Swami's time at Kumbakonam, the Tanjore district as a whole was reeling under the effects of a severe 12 year long drought. The Thanjavur Nayak ruler Sevvappa Nayak approached Swamiji for spiritual solace and was advised to perform some Yagnas. No sooner were these rites performed, was the region flush with rain and prosperity[citation needed]. As a mark of gratitude, the Maharaja gifted the Matha with a necklace embellished with precious stones[citation needed].

Swamiji offered the necklace as a contribution to a yagna that he was performing then. The Maharaja took affront at this action. When Swamiji realized this, he immediately put his hand into the homa kunda and retrieved the necklace in a condition identical to which it was given to him by the King. Neither the necklace nor Swamiji's hand showed any indication of having been in a raging fire. This incident only served to reaffirm the greatness of Swamiji and converted the Maharaja of Tanjore into an ardent Bhakta.

 Tour of South IndiaSri Raghavendra Swami embarked on a tour of South India, spreading the Dvaita Philosophy and visiting famous pilgrimage centers such as those at Rameshwaram and Srirangam. At Rameshwaram, he clarified the origins of the Siva Linga as the one that was installed by Lord Rama himself before his journey to Lanka to fight Ravana. In this context, he also clarified that Ravana was a Rakshasa since he was born to a Rakshasi mother and Brahmin father. He rebuffed the claim made by some scholars that Lord Rama, as the Supreme One, is not bound by Brahma Hatya Dosha (or any other doshas) for eliminating Ravana.

He also traveled to Kanyakumari, Thiruvananthapuram and Madurai where he met his Poorvashrama brother-in-law with whom he had spent a large part of his childhood. As part of his Yatras, he traveled to Vishnu Mangala, Kukke Subramanya and Udupi in Karnataka, amongst other such spiritual centers and impressed one and all with his mastery of Dvaita philosophy, won many admirers, gained many devotees and published stellar works of literature and philosophy some of which were carried around in processions of elephants as a mark of respect for its brilliance.

 Diwaan of AdoniOn one of his numerous travels, Sri Raghavendra Swamy came across a young and poor sheep rancher who prostrated before him in respect. Swamiji blessed him and told the young rancher to think of him or pray to him in times of adversity.

A few days later, the Nawaab siddi masud khan (king) of Adoni who is a Persian, and he did not know how to read, write the local language Telugu or kannada was riding on a horse near where the sheep rancher's herd was grazing. At that time an ambassador brought a letter written in local language, and gave it to Nawaab. The Nawaab who did not read the local language, looked around to seek someone's help to read and explain the contents of the letter. He saw the rancher and asked him to read and explain the contents of the letter. The sheep rancher too was illiterate and could not help the Nawaab in deciphering the contents of the letter. This angered the Nawaab because the Nawaab misunderstood the sheep rancher's inability to translate the contents of the letter as not obeying his order and threatened the man with dire consequences for failing to obey his order. The sheep rancher, who was in desperation by then, remembered the benevolent Swamiji who had passed by the same route a few days earlier. He prayed hard to him and tried reading the letter. Miraculously, the rancher was able to read and explain the contents of the letter to the Nawab[citation needed]. Since the information was favorable to the Nawab, he was impressed and the rancher became the Diwaan of Adoni (administrator of the local region Adoni).[citation needed] Many years later, the Nawab came to know about Sri Raghavendra Swami from this man.

[ Nawab of Adoni and MantralayamMuch after the above incident had occurred,the Nawab of Adoni got an opportunity to meet Sri Raghavendra Swami. The Nawab, instead of being respectful to him, decided to test his spiritual skills and placed before the Swamiji, a plate of non vegetarian delicacies completely covered with a piece of cloth, in the guise of offering alms.

Per Hindu customs, alms are customarily offered to a visiting saint to seek his blessings. Swamiji took some water from his Kamandala, meditated and sprinkled it on the covered plate, as part of his regular practice of purifying any food before consumption. He then opened the plate. It contained fresh fruits. The Nawab immediately became remorseful and became an ardent devotee of Swamiji then on. As an apology, he offered to give the Swamiji any amount of land and wealth. While Swamiji refused any such gift for his personal gains, he asked that the land around Manchale (present day Mantralayam), which was part of the Nawab's kingdom, to be handed over to his Matha.

Though the Nawab of Adoni offered to give him a more fertile region, Sri Raghavendra Swami insisted on the dry and barren region around Mantralayam, on the banks of the Tungabhadra river.

Many years later, he told a devotee that it was the region where King Prahalada had performed his yagnyas to Lord Rama during the Dwapara Yuga and was hence an extremely holy land. Thus the Matha moved to Mantralayam where Sri Raghavendra Swamy continued his spiritual journey. At Mantralayam, Sri Guru Raghavendra encouraged Annadhanam (donation of food) to all devotees. It is a practice that is followed by the Matha to this date and is heavily subsidized by donations.

 Sri Raghavendra Swami at Mantralayam
PanchamukiSri Guru Raghavendra performed penance at a place called Panchamukhi(Karnataka, Raichur District), near Mantralayam, in present day (Andhra Pradesh,Kurnool District) where He received darshan of Hanuman in the form of Sri Panchamukha MukhyaPrana. Sri Guru Raghavendra is considered by his devotees to be a reincarnation of Prahlada, the devotee who was saved by Vishnu in his Avatar as Narasimha (see Vaishnava Theology). Prahlada in turn is believed to be a reincarnation of Shankukarna, a Devatha, in the Dwapara Yuga. Hence, Sri Raghavendra Swamy chose Mantralayam as the location of his Brindavan

 Jeeva SamadhiOn Dwitiya Day of Sravana Krishna Paksha in 1671, Raghavendra Swami gave a soul-stirring speech[2] in Kannada&Telugu to hundreds of devotees who had gathered to watch the event. Some quotes from that speech are as follows -

"Without right living, right thinking will never come. Right living is performing one's ordained duties according to one's station in life without hankering the after fruits of the actions and on the other hand offering all one's activities to the Lord. This is real sadachara (right living). This is real karma yoga."
"Social work done for the good of worthy people should also be considered as the Lord's worship. In short, our life itself is a worship. Every action is a puja. This life is precious. Every second of our life is precious. Not even a second that has gone will come back. Listening to the right shastras and always remembering Him is the highest duty."
"Always keep away from people who merely perform miracles without following the shastras and yet call themselves God or guru. I have performed miracles, and so have great persons like Srimadvacharya. These are based on yoga siddhi and the shastras. There is no fraud or trickery at all. These miracles were performed only to show the greatness of God and the wonderful powers that one can attain with His grace. "

"Right knowledge (jnana) is greater than any miracle. Without this no real miracle can take place. Any miracle performed without this right knowledge is only sorcery. No good will come to those who perform such miracles and also those who believe in them."
"Have devotion to the Lord. This devotion should never be blind faith. Accepting the Lord's supremacy wholeheartedly is true devotion. Blind faith is not devotion. It is only stupidity. We should have devotion, not only for the Lord, but also for all other deities and preceptors in keeping with their status."
After this speech, Sri Raghavendra entered the Brindavana specially constructed for him with stone brought from Madavara village, near Manchale. Per his advice these stones were sanctified by Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana's footsteps when they visited the village during Treta Yuga.

He had advised his disciples to start arranging slabs around him once the japamala rolling by fingers in his hand become still.

He began reciting the pranava mantra and slipped into deep samadhi. Once his japamala became still, his disciples arranged the slabs up to his head and then, as per his earlier instructions, they placed a copper box containing 1200 Lakshminarayana saligramas that had been specially brought from Gandaki river in Nepal. Then they placed the covering slab over it and filled it with earth. They poured twelve thousand varahas (abhisheka) over the brindavan that they had built.[citation needed]

Thus Sri Raghavendra Swami attained Jeeva samadhi on Dwitiya Day of Sravana Krishna Paksha in 1671. This date is celebrated each year as Sri Raghavendra Swamy Aradhana at Brindavans all over the world. The Raghavendra Mutt in Mantralaya housing his Brindavan is visited by thousands of devotees every year.

It is believed he would live for

76 years physically on the Earth.
300 years in the Brindavana, through his literary work among the people.
400 years in the Brindavana without a physical form.
Totally 700 years in the Bridavana helping the society and the mankind to come-out from troubles and miseries

 Raghavendra and Sir Thomas MunroAn incident concerning Raghavendra Swami and Sir Thomas Munro has been recorded in the Madras Districts Gazetteer.[3][4] In 1801, while serving as the Collector of Bellary, Sir Thomas Munro, who later served as the Governor of Madras is believed to have come across an apparition of Raghavendra Swami. Sir Thomas Munro recorded as having spoke with Raghavendra Swami in English over an endowment proposal which he ultimately quashed as per the Swami's advice.

 Sri Appanacharya and Sri Raghavendra StotraSri Appanacharya was one of Sri Raghavendra Swami's foremost disciples at Mantralayam. Knowing his unstinting devotion and that he would try and thwart his Jeeva Samadhi, Sri Raghavendra Swami sent Sri Appanacharya to a town in Karnataka on the opposite bank of the Tungabhadra river before entering the Brindavana to attain Jeeva Samadhi.

Upon hearing of his beloved Swamiji's decision to enter Brindavana, Sri Appanacharya came rushing back to Mantralayam only to find the Tungabhadra in full spate (sudden flood) due to the rain. Unable to cross the river, he burst into a 32-stanza hymn, now popularly known as Sri Raghavendra stotra as a prayer to his beloved Swamiji. It is said that on hearing the hymn, the Tungabhadra abated and allowed him to walk on her.

As Sri Appanacharya rushed into the Math, he was mid-way through singing the last stanza of his hymn. At the same time, the last slab was placed on Sri Raghavendra Swamy in the Brindavana. On seeing this, Sri Appanacharya was overcome with emotion and was unable to sing any further to complete the stanza. Suddenly, a voice from inside the Brindavan said "Sakshee Hayastotra Hee", completing the Stotra and implying Sri Hayagreeva (an avatara of Lord Vishnu with the Horse head and Human body) and Prahalada and hence Sri Guru Raghavendra himself was witness to Sri Appanacharya's hymn.

This 32 stanza sloka has acquired fame as Sri Raghavendra Stotra or Sri Poornabodha sloka, since the first stanza starts with the words "Sri Poornabodha".

Another famous 2-stanza sloka praising Sri Raghavendra goes thus

Poojyaaya Raaghavendraaya Satya Dharma Rathaayacha

Bhajataam Kalpa Vrukshaaya Namathaam Kaamadhenave

 Visiting MantralayamMantralayam is on the banks of Tungabhadra River, a major artery of the Krishna river that functions as a border between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, in this region.

The official address of Sri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt

Sri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt, Mantralayam, (Mantralayam Taluka), Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh, PIN: 518345, India

The town is 16 km (9.9 mi) away from Mantralayam Road railway station on the Bombay-Madras and Bombay-Bangalore routes and around 30 miles from Raichur railway station. The Ashram is accessible by bus, taxis and other forms of private transport from both Mantralayam Road and Raichur railway stations, with Raichur offering more options, since it is a major regional hub.

The nearest airports are at Hyderabad about 240 km. away via Kurnool. From Kurnool to mantralayam is 90KMand at Puttaparthi about 237 km. away.

The Mutt provides accommodation for devotees. Once a day, free meals are provided at the Ashram on most days.

The Mutt accepts donations for Annadhanam and other sevas at the temple. All donations to the Mutt can be sent in the form of a cheque or a demand draft drawn on State Bank of India at Mantralayam and sent to the above address.

 Annadana at MantralayamIt is said that the donation of food and water (i.e. Annadana (Anna: rice, Dana: donation)) is superior to all other forms of charity since it fulfils a basic need of all creatures unlike other forms of charity which are always only as efficacious as the recipient of the donation.

Hence Sri Guru Raghavendra relentlessly propagated Annadhanam and ensured that free food and water was made available to all visitors to the Mutt. It is a practice that continues to this date at the Moola Brindavana Matha at Mantralayam with approximately 4000-5000 people being fed here everyday. While the Brindavana is open on all days of the year, no food is served on Ekadasi, Solar Eclipse, Lunar Eclipse and Krishna Janmashtami days.

 Adi (Step) Pradakshina at MantralayamAdi (Step by Step) Pradakshina (Circum-ambulation foot-by-foot) is a form of pradakshina of the Vrindavana at Mantralayam performed by many ardent devotees as a thanksgiving ritual for wishes fulfilled and prayers answered. The devotee starts the pradakshina by placing one foot exactly in front of the other in a single line, with no gap between the two feet (unlike regular walking motion) and repeats the process until he or she has finished circulating the Vrindavana and is back to the starting point. The goal is that two feet have covered every point along the circumference of the pradakshina-path around the Moola Vrindavan.

Hejje Namaskara: This is other form of thanks giving, which is performed by devotees. This is done by doing a namaskaram for evey step around the vrindavana, util the starting point.

[Accommodation at MantralayamThe Matha has built numerous guest houses and dormitories for visiting devotees. These can be availed of, by visiting the central office of the Matha at Mantralayam. Currently, there are no provisions to book these rooms online or in advance. Numerous private lodges are available


Sant Vallabhacharya


Vallabhacharya Telugu: వల్లబ్హాచార్య(1479–1531) was a devotional philosopher, who founded the Pushti sect in India, following the philosophy of Shuddha advaita (Pure Non-dualism). Vallabhacharya accepted the 'Acharya' designation of Vishnuswami Sampraday (Rudra Sampraday) upon request of Bilvamangala Acharya, the last Vishnuswami Sampraday acharya before Vallabhacharya. This was after Vallabhacharya won the famous debate of Brahmavad over Shankars in the courtyard of the King Krishna Dev Ray of Vijaynagar - the prosperous South Indian Kingdom. Apart from being the acharya of Vishnuswami Sampradaya, Vallabhacharya also propagated the Pushtimarg upon the god Krishna's order and thus became the acharya of not only Vishnuswami Sampraday but also Pushti Sampraday.

He is the Acharya and Guru within the Vaishnava traditions as promulgated and prescribed by the Vedanta philosophy. He is associated with Vishnuswami, a prominent Acharya of Rudra Sampradaya out of the four Vaishnava Sampradayas.[5] Within Indian Philosophy, he is known as the writer of Anubhashya - a commentary on Brahm Sutra, Shodash Granth or sixteen 'stotras' (tracts) and several commentaries on the Bhagavata Purana, which describes the many lilas (pastimes) of the Avatar, Krishna. Vallabha Acharya occupies a unique place in Indian culture as a scholar, a philosopher and devotional (bhakti) preacher. He is widely considered as the last of the four great Vaishnava Acharyas who established the various Vaishnava schools of thought based on Vedantic philosophy, the other three (preceding him) being Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya and Nimbarkacharya. He is especially known as a lover and a propagator of Bhagavata Dharma. He was born in Champaranya in India

 ChildhoodThe ancestors of Vallabha acharya lived in Andhra Pradesh and belonged to a long line of Telugu Vaidiki Brahmins known as Vellanadu or Vellanatiya following the Vishnu Swami school of thought. According to devotional accounts, Krishna commanded his ancestor Yagnanarayana Bhatta that He would take birth in their family after completion of 100 Somayagnas (fire sacrifices). By the time of Yagnanarayana's descendant Lakshmana Bhatta who migrated to the holy town of Varanasi, the family had completed 100 Somayagnas. Vallabhacharya was born to Lakshmana Bhatta in 1479 A.D. (V.S. 1535) on the 11th day of the dark half of lunar month of chaitra at Champaranya. The name of his mother was Illamma.

The period surrounding Vallabhacharya's birth was a tumultuous one and most of northern and central India was being influenced by Muslim invaders. It was common for populations to migrate in order to flee from religious persecution and conversion. On one such occasion, Lakshmana Bhatta had to urgently move out of Varanasi with his pregnant wife. Due to terror and physical strain of the flight suffered by the mother, there was a premature birth of the child, two months in advance. As the child did not show signs of life, the parents placed it under a tree wrapped in a piece of cloth. It is believed that Krishna appeared in a dream before the parents of Vallabhacharya and signified that He Himself had taken birth as the child. According to popular accounts, the parents rushed to the spot and were amazed to find their baby alive and protected by a circle of divine fire. The blessed mother extended her arms into the fire unscathed; she received from the fire the divine baby, gleefully to her bosom. The child was named Vallabha (meaning "dear one" in Sanskrit).[1]

 EducationHis education commenced at the age of seven with the study of four Vedas. He acquired mastery over the books expounding the six systems of Indian philosophy. He also learnt philosophical systems of Adi Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka along with the Buddhist and Jain schools. He was able to recite hundred mantras, not only from beginning to end but also in reverse order. At Vyankateshwar and Lakshmana Balaji, he made a strong impression on the public as an embodiment of knowledge. He was now applauded as Bala Saraswati.[1]

 Victory at VijayanagaraAt the behest of the great Tuluva king Krishnadevaraya, a sensational debate was conducted at Vijayanagara between the Vaishnavaites of Madhva and Shankarites over the philosophical question whether God is Dualistic or non-dualistic. Vallabhacharya participated in the discussion, considering it as a divine call.

Vallabhacharya, who had earned an epithet of Bala Saraswati, was given the opportunity to discuss the question. The discussion continued for 27 days in the conference hall. The day of victory for Vaishnavas was celebrated with great pomp at Vijaynagara. He was honoured with the kanakabhishekam ceremony by Krishnadevaraya. The title of ‘Acharya’ and 'Jagadguru' (world preceptor) was conferred on him. He was given vessels of gold weighing a hundred maunds. Vallabhacharya declined to accept them politely and distributed them among the poor brahmins and the learned only after keeping only seven gold mohurs. They were used for preparing the ornaments of their Lord Govardhananatha.

 Piligrimage of IndiaVallabhacharya performed three pilgrimages of India, barefooted. He wore a simple white dhoti and a white covering to cover the upper part of his body. (known as ‘Upavarna’, literally "upper cloth" in Sanskrit). He gave discourses on Bhagavata. He looked very bright, brilliant and his body depicted magnificent brilliance as a celibate. He gave discourses on Bhagavata at 84 places and explained the subtle meanings of the Puranic text. Even during present day these 84 places are visited by thousands of Hindu pilgrims and are referred to as "Chaurasi Bethak". He used to stay in Vraja for four months in each year.[1]

 AcharyaIn the traditional Vedantic belief, an Acharya, the leader of spiritual preceptors, is one who has written his personal views and comments on the ‘Brahmasutra’, ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and ‘Upanishads’. Shankarcharya, Ramanujacharya, Nimbarkacharya and Madhvacharya had written their comments and obtained the designation of ‘Acharya’. People then addressed him as Shri Vallabhacharya.[1]

 Literary WorkVallabhacharya composed many philosophical and devotional books during his lifetime such as:

1: Anubhashya or Brahmsutranubhashya - 4 cantos of commentaries on the Brahm Sutra of Ved Vyas
2: Tattvaarth Dip Nibandh - Essays on the fundamental principles of spirituality (3 chapters)
 Chapter 1: Shaastrarth Prakaran
 Chapter 2: Bhagavatarth Prakaran
 Chapter 3: Sarvanirnay Prakaran
3: Subodhini - Commentary on Shrimad Bhagavat Mahapuran (Available only on cantos 1,2,3 and 10)
4: Shodash Granth - Sixteen short verse-type compositions to teach his followers about devotional life
Other than the above main literature, he also composed additional works such as Patravalamban, Madhurashtakam, Gayatribhashya, Purushottam Sahastranaam etc.

 Establishment of Pushti Margam (literally, The Path of Grace)
Vallabhacharya discovers Shrinathji, at Mount GovardhanIt is believed that when Vallabhacharya entered Gokul, he thought about the important question of restoring people to the right path of devotion. He meditated on Krishna who appeared to him in a vision in the form of Shrinathji,[6] deity discovered by Madhavendra Puri and disclosed the 'Brahma Sambandha' (Sanskrit for - "Relation with Brahman, the supreme Godhead") , a mantra of self dedication or consecration of self to Krishna. During that time Damodardasa was sleeping next to him. In the early morning, Vallabha Acharya related this experience to his worthiest and most beloved disciple, Damodardasa and asked him - “Damala, did you hear any voice last night” ? Damodaradasa replied that "I heard something but was not able to understand the meaning of it." Vallabhacharya then explained the meaning of the mantra and at that time he became the first Vaishnava initiated by Vallabhacharya. He wanted to preach his message of devotion to God and God’s grace called Pushti - Marga. He undertook three pilgrimages of India. He performed the initiation ceremony of religious rite by conferring on them ‘NamaNivedana’ mantra or ‘Brahma Sambandha’ mantra. Thousands became his disciples, but 84 devoted servants are most famous and their life has been documented in Pushti Marg literature as the ‘Story of 84 Vaishnavas’.[1] He also met Vyas in his Himalayan cave and discussed about Krishna and his flute.

 FamilyVallabhacharyaji strictly adhered to three rules :[1]

1.He would not wear stitched clothes and hence always wore Dhoti and uparna (a cloth covering the torso)
2.He always performed pilgrimages bare footed
3.He always resided at the outskirts of the village. His sons and their descendants are known as "Goswami Maharajshri".
He was to remain a life-long celibate but the deity-guru Vitthalanatha of Pandharpur commanded him to marry and live the life of householder. Obeying his guru, he married ‘Shri Mahalaxmiji’ and had two sons: Gopinathji and Vitthalanathji (also known as Gusaiji).[7]

 Asura Vyamoha LilaBased on Pushti Marg literature, in about 1530 A.D., Shrinathji commanded Vallabhacharya to leave the worldly life and to come near Him. It is said that Shrinathji had previously expressed His wish on two different occasions. The third command was accepted by Vallabhacharya as the last verdict. He reached Kasi and according to Vedic traditions, formally renounced the world by taking Sanyasa and a vow of silence. He lived in a hut made of leaves on the Hanuman ghat for about a week. He spent his last days in contemplation of Krishna and suffered agonies of separation from Him. The members of his family assembled near him for his last darshan. When asked about his advice, Vallabhacharya scribbled three and a half Sanskrit verses in the sand by way of counsel. To complete this message, it is believed that Krishna Himself manifested visually on the spot and wrote in the form of a verse and a half. This collection of verses is known as ‘ShikshaSloki’ in Pushti Marg literature. He entered into the waters of the Ganges on the day of Rath Yatra (A festival that is celebrated on the second or third day of the bright side of the lunar month of Ashadha). People witnessed a brilliant flame as it arose from the water and ascended to heaven and was lost in the firmament. This episode is known as AsurVyamohLila.[1]

Vallabhacharya represented the culmination of philosophical thought during the Bhakti Movement in the Middle Ages. The sect established by him is unique in its facets of devotion to Krishna, especially His child manifestation, and is enriched with the use of traditions, music and festivals. Today, most of the followers of this sect reside in western and northern India.





Madhvācārya (Tulu: ಶ್ರೀ ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯರು Sanskrit: मद्वाचार्य) (1238–1317) was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in many ways, going against standard conventions and norms. According to tradition, Madhvācārya is believed to be the third incarnation of Vāyu (Mukhyaprāṇa), after Hanumān and Bhīma.[1]

[ Birth and childhoodMadhvācārya (or Madhva) was born on the auspicious day of Vijaya-daśami (Dussehra) in 1238 CE (AD) at Pājaka, a tiny hamlet near Uḍupi. Nārāyaṇa Paṇḍitācārya who later wrote Madhvācārya's biography has recorded Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭa (Naduilaya in Tulu) as name of the father and Vedavati as Madhvācārya's mother. They named him Vāsudeva at birth. Later he became famous by the names Pūrṇa-praj˝a, Ānanda-tīrtha and Madhvācārya.

Before the birth of Madhva, when his parents had gone for a purchase in the market, a beggar climbed a dhvaja stambha (flag-post in front of a temple) and announced: "Bhagavān (Lord) Vāyu deva is going to take birth for the revival of Vedic dharma in Pājaka kṣetra to a couple." The prediction made by the beggar was discussed by the parents of Madhva till they reached home.

Even as a child, Vāsudeva exhibited precocious talent for grasping all things spiritual. As an incarnation of Mukhyaprana this was not new for him. He was drawn to the path of renunciation and even as a young boy of eleven years, he chose initiation into the monastic order from Acyuta-Praj˝a (also called Acyuta Prekṣa), a reputed ascetic of the time, near Uḍupi, in the year Saumya (1249 CE). The preceptor Acyuta Prekṣa gave the boy Vāsudeva the name of Pūrṇapraj˝a at the time of his initiation into sannyāsa (renounced order).

A little over a month later, little Pūrṇapraj˝a is said to have defeated a group of expert scholars of Tarka (logic) headed by Vasudeva-paṇḍita. Overjoyed at his precocious talent, Acyuta Prekṣa consecrated him as the head of the empire of Vedānta and conferred upon him the title of Ānanda Tīrtha (saint of immaculate bliss).

Thus Pūrṇa-praj˝a is Madhva's name given to him at the time of sannyāsa (renunciation). The name conferred on him at the time of consecration as the Master of Vedanta is "Ānanda Tīrtha". Madhva, a name traceable to the Vedas (Balittha sūktam), was the nom-de-plume assumed by the Ācārya to author all his works. Madhvācārya showed that Vedas talk about him as "Madhva" and utilized that name for himself. However, he used Ānanda Tīrtha or Sukha Tīrtha also to author his works. Madhvācārya was the name by which he was to later be revered as the founders of Tattva-vāda or Dvaita-mata.

The country lying to the west of the Western Ghats from beyond Bombay to Cape Comorin comprised the ancient Kingdoms of Konkana, Canara, and Kerala. The Konkana abutted on Maharashtra country,~hose capital was Doulatabad. The language which the Konkan people speak even now is a dialect of Mahratti. Canara consisted of the modern North Canara and South Canara, the former being included in the present Bombay Pre~idency, and the latter in the Presidency of Madras. Kerala was the southernmost strip, including the modern British Malabar and the Native States of Cochin and Travancore. South Canara is the district with which we are most concerned as the native land of Sri Madhva. In this district, the taluq of Udupi is, for the same reason, a holy region for every person professing the Madhva faith. The province of Canara seems to have been under the sway of Vishu Vardhana, the great Vaishnava King who was converted by Sri Ramanuja. It is learnt that this King broke the power of Chalukyan rulers in this part of Southern India. The Bairasu Wodeyars of Mysore held sway in 1250 A D. and flourished 'till 1336 A.D., when their kingdom became merged in the rising Empire of Vijianagar, the State that Mr. Sewell refers to as 'a forgotten Empire' and Mr. Suryanarayana Rao as ' the never-tobe-forgotten Empire' of this peninsula. The Chandragiri river that runs between Bekal and Kasaragod in South Canara, was the southern boundary of the ancient Tuluva Kingdom. It is a magnificent stream in the rainy season. Tradition forbids Nair women of Kasaragod, crossing this river. Eight miles north of Kasaragod is the ancient town of Kumbla, now a Railway Station, situated close to the sea on a peninsula. It was a place of great importance at this time, though it is now much decayed. It was the Head Quarters of a Chieftain whose descendants are now in receipt of a smal1 Government pension under the titular name of 11 Kumbla Rajahs". Udupi and Mangalore were probably under the immediate rule of this Chieftain, Mangalore being only about 22 miles north of Kumbla. At the time of our history, one Jayasimha was the Kumbla Ruler. He came into contact with Sri Madhva in the latter part of the saints life and was evidently a great admirer of the Teacher. Among the communities that played a great part in the history of the times, the Jains seem to have been very prominent. Their Battis, Bettoos, and Stambbas, furnish eloquent testimony to the vast influence they wielded. The Karkal Statue of imposing height and weight, said to be 41 feet high and 50 tons in weight, is a striking item of proof. The Mudbdri temple of I ,coo pillars is a magnificent monument of their architectural skill. The pillar at Hale Angadi towering so feet high is a rem~rkable specimen of the kind, unsurpassed for delicacy of workmanship. Similar statues of colossal height and weight, speak volumes for the dominating influence that this community possessed in Sri Madhva's time and for some centuries later. The Brahmin communities of the West Coast are generally classed as Konkans, Saraswats, and Shivalli sects. The Shivallies are Tulu-speaking Brahmins, and it is with these that we are most concerned, in the present narrative. Shivalli is an alias for Udupi otherwise known as Rajata Peetapuram. These names are derived from the deities of the two ancient temples in this town. The temples of Chandra Mouleeswara and Ananteswara both face the east, one being in front of the other. These were the most prominent features of old Udupi,before Sri Krishna's temple came into existence in Sri Madhva's time. Udupi is a short designation for Chandra Mouleeswara, Udupa being the Sanskrit word for the Moon. In the temple of Ananteswara, the deity is seated on a pedestal of silver. Hence the town is known as Rajata Peetapura. Shivalli is a corrupt form of the Canarese expression Siva Belli, the silver of Siva, in allusion to the silver pedestal aforesaid.

 Tour of South IndiaStill in his teens, Madhvacharya set out on a tour of South India. He visited several places of pilgrimage like Anantaśayana, Kanyākumāri, Rameśvara and Śrīraṅga. Wherever he went, he preached his Tattvavāda or religious truth to the people. He attacked superstitions and declared that they should not be mixed with spirituality. While his Tattva-vāda initiated frenzied discussion among scholars all over India, it also attracted severe criticism and attacks from the orthodoxy. But Madhvacharya remained unperturbed and soon after returning to Uḍupi, he proceeded to write his commentary (Bhāṣya) of the Bhagavad-gītā. The authentic records show that he wrote 37 works on Tattva-vāda and they are collectively called as Sarva-mūla granthas. He established his school of thought by giving concrete proofs using three platforms called pratyakṣa, anumāna and āgama (see, infer and also refer the vedic text).

 Visit to BadriIn course of time, the urge to spread his philosophy far and wide took him north. In Badri, he bathed in the holy Gaṅgā and also observed a vow of silence of 48 days. From there, he traveled to Vyāsa-Badri where he met Vyāsa at his hermitage and presented him with his commentary of the Gītā. Veda Vyāsa changed the word that claimed "I have written with all His capacity" to "I have written with little of His capacity".

Upon his return from there, he authored his celebrated commentaries on the Brahma-sūtras. Though he authored several works, he never wrote any work with his own hands. Instead, his disciples transcribed his dictation onto palm leaves. Satya-tīrtha was one of the disciples who served as the scribe for most of his works.

In the meantime, his influence had spread far and wide throughout the country. Scholars all over India paid tribute to his unique analysis and commentaries of the scriptures. The circle of his disciples grew bigger and several got initiated into sannyāsa under him. Acyuta Prekṣa who had until then been skeptical about Ācārya's philosophy soon became a whole hearted adherent of Tattva-vāda.

 Installation of Krishna (Kṛṣṇa) and return to BadriAfter his return from Badri, Madhvācārya stayed in Uḍupi for some time and wrote his bhāṣyas or authoritative commentaries on all the ten Upaniṣads. He also composed glosses on forty hymns of the Rig Veda and wrote a treaties Bhāgavata-tātparya highlighting the essential teachings of the purāṇas. Apart from these, he authored several topical handbooks and a on devotional song.

It was also during this time that he installed the deity of Kṛṣṇa which he found in the western ocean near the Uḍupi sea-coast. After sometime, after appointing some disciples to take care of worshiping the deity of Kṛṣṇa that he had installed, he undertook his second tour to Badri.

On the way, he had to cross the River Gaṅgā. The other bank was then under the rule of a Muslim king. Unmindful of the threats of the Muslim soldiers against crossing the river, the Ācārya boldly crossed the river and reached the other bank. He was taken before the Muslim ruler who was taken aback at the boldness of the ascetic. The Ācārya said: 'I worship that Father who illumines the entire universe; and so do you. Why should I fear then either your soldiers or you?'.

Hearing such words, the Muslim king was greatly impressed. He was filled with reverence for this unique monk. He made offers of several gifts and riches which Madhvacharya politely declined and continued on his way to Badri. Once there, he met with Vyāsa and Nārāyaṇa yet again. On his way back to Uḍupi, he visited Kāshi where he defeated an elderly Advaita ascetic, Amarendra Purī in a philosophical debate.

Then came Kurukṣetra where a strange episode is said to have occurred. The Ācārya got a mound there excavated and demonstrated to his disciples the buried mace of (the epic hero) Bhīma therein; and once again had it buried under the ground. Later on he visited Goa on the way back to Uḍupi. Here he is said to have enthralled audiences with his music. His musical expertise is attested by contemporaneous writers.

 Last daysAfter returning home from his second tour, the Acharya took to initiating social reforms in and around Udupi. A section of orthodoxy however, was still active and opposed to his views. Pundarika-Puri, an advaita ascetic was also humbled by the Acharya in a debate. It was around this time that Padmatirtha, a monk jealous of Madhvacharya's erudition and popularity, arranged to have his works stolen from the custody of Pejattaya Shankara Pandita in Kasaragod. Madhvacharya now traveled to Kasargod and defeated Padma-tirtha in a philosophical debate. The essence of this debate was reduced to writing by his disciples and published as the Vada or Tattvoddyota. The stolen works were eventually returned to Madhvacharya in a felicitation ceremony arranged by Jayasimha of Kumbla, the king of southern Tulu Nadu

The acharya also had an intense debate for about 15 days with Pejattaya Trivikrama Panditacharya, the royal preceptor of the time, and emerged victorious. Trivikrama Panditacharya eventually became a disciple[2] himself and went on to write a commentary called Tattva-dipika on the Acharya's Brahma-sutra-bhashya and thus paid his tribute to the guru.

The Acharya too was equally fond of Trivikrama pandita. In deference to the request of the devoted pupil, he wrote an extensive commentary in verse, viz, Anu-vyakhyana on the Brahma-sutras. The Acharya was dictating this work-to four disciples simultaneously, on each of the four chapters, without any break. At the same time, the composition of the work Nyayavivarana was also completed.

Nearing his seventies now, Madhvacharya initiated his brother into the monastic order. He was to be known as Sri Vishnutirtha,[3] the first pontiff of the present day Sodhe Matha and Subramanya Matha. About the same time, Sobhana-bhatta received initiation into sanyasa from the Acharya. He later came to be known as Padmanabha Tirtha.

Both before and after the initiation of these two, several disciples form various regions of the country got their initiation into sanyasa from the Acharya. Among them, the names of eight disciples who chose to stay on in Udupi as pontiffs of different mathas are as under, in the order of their initiation":

1. Hrisikesa-tirtha (Palimaru matha) 2. Narasimha-tirtha (Adamaru-matha) 3. Janardana-tirtha (Krsnapura-matha) 4. Upendra-tirtha (Puttige-matha) 5. Vamana-tirtha (Sirur-matha) 6. Vishnu-tirtha (Sode-matha) 7. Srirama-tirtha (Kaniyuru-matha) 8. Adhoksaja-tirtha (Pejavara-matha)

The other two celebrated sanyasin-disciples of the Acharya are - 9. Padmanabha-tirtha 10. Narahari-tirtha

When Padmanabha-tirtha was initiated into sanyasa is not definitely known. There were several who had got initiation before him. It appears that he should have been initiated into the order some time between the dates when these eight pontiffs were initiated into the order.

After initiating several into the monastic order and installing pontiffs to the various mathas, he toured all over the district and engaged himself in educating the general public. He also composed the literary work "Krsnamrtamaharnava". His discourse to Brahmins at Ujire, where he delved upon the spiritual aspect of ritualism came to be published under the title of Khandartha-nimaya (Karmanimaya). Next he visited Panchalingesvara temple at Paranti, which he found in a dilapidated condition, without any worship or festivity. He made arrangements for the resumption of proper worship there according to the rituals prescribed by the ancient scriptures (agamas).

In the 79th year of his life, he decided to take leave of his disciples and proceeded to assign to them the responsibility of carrying on the tradition of his Tattvavada. Having done that, on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Magha in the Kali year 4418(1317 CE), he betook himself to Badri, all alone. The day on which he thus proceeded to Badri is celebrated as Madhvanavami to this day.

 TraditionThe disciples of the Acharya, both pontifical and lay, continued his tradition with devout zeal. Hundreds of dialectical treatises came to be written. Among the writers belonging to this school we may roughly classify some outstanding ones in the following chronological order: Vishnu Tirtha, Padmanabha-tirtha, Narahari-tirtha, Trivikrama-panditacharya, Narayana Panditacharya, Vamana-Panditacharya, (Traivikramaryadasa), Jayatirtha (Tikacharya), Vijayadhvaja-tirtha, Visnudasacharya, Vyasatirtha, Vadiraja, Vijayindra-tirtha, Raghavendra Swami, Yadupati-acharya, etc.

His philosophy Tattva-vada also eventually inspired the Haridasa cult who heralded the Bhakti movement for centuries to come. Seminal contributions were also made by the Haridasas in fields of music and literature. Narahari Tirtha, one of the direct disciples is also responsible for the resurgence of Yakshagana[5] and other forms such as Kuchipudi. Raghavendra Swami of Mantralaya was a saint in this tradition who lived in the 16th CE and is revered and worshiped to this day. Several Dvaita mathas and Raghavendra mathas in particular, continue to be established all over India and also in some places in US, UK and other countries.[6] All these Madhva mathas continue to further the propagation of Vedic studies and are also involved in social and charitable activities.

Madhva, commenting on the Vedānta-sūtra (2.1.6), quotes the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa as follows: [7] "The Ṛg Veda, Yajur Veda, Sāma Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahābhārata [which includes the Bhagavad-gītā], Pa˝carātra, and the original Rāmāyaṇa are all considered Vedic literature.... The Vaiṣṇava supplements, the Purāṇas, are also Vedic literature." We may also include corollary literatures like the Saṁhitās, as well as the commentaries of the great teachers who have guided the course of Vedic thought for centuries.[8]

 Religious establishmentsThe main icon (vigraha) in Udupi of Lord Krishna was established by Madhvacharya. The 8 monasteries (ashta mathas) of Udupi have been following his philosophy since then. The Eight monasteries (Ashta Mathas) are Krishnapura, Pejavara, Puttige, Sodhe (Sondhe), Kaniyooru, Adamaru, Shirur and Palimaru. He submitted some vigrahas to those mathas. They are as follows:

1.)Palimaru matha -Sri Rama

2.)Adamaru matha -Sri Krishna

3.)Krishnapura matha -Sri Krishna

4.)Puttige matha -Sri Vitthala

5.)Shirur matha -Sri Vitthala

6.)Sodhe matha -Sri Varaha

7.)Kaniyooru matha -Sri Narasimha

8.)Pejavara matha -Sri Vitthala

Madhvacharya declared, in his work "Vishnu-tatva-vinirNaya:" that he was the one who took the avatars of Hanuman and Bhima. Significantly, the only other person who openly makes such a declaration about his original form is Sri Krishna, (in bhagavad-gita).
 Works of MadhvacharyaThe Works of Madhvacharya are many in number and include commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita and the Brahma Sutras. Sri Madhvacharya also composed many works on the philosophy of Tattvavada.


Sant MeeraBai

Meerabai (c. 1498 – c. 1547AD) (alternate orthographies: Meera; Mira; Meera Bai) was an aristocratic Hindu mystical singer and devotee of Lord Krishna from Rajasthan and one of the most significant figures of the Sant tradition of the Vaishnava bhakti movement. Some 1,200–1,300 prayerful songs or bhajans attributed to her are popular throughout India and have been published in several translations worldwide.
 In the bhakti tradition, they are in passionate praise of Lord Krishna.

Meera, a Rajput princess[1] was born in Kudki (Kurki), a little village near Merta City, which is presently in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan in northwest India. Her father, Ratan Singh Rathore, was a warrior of the Rathore clan, the son of Rao Duda of Merta Rao Duda was son of Rao Jodha of mandore founder of Jodhpur.As an infant Meera became deeply enamored of an iconic idol of Krishna owned by a visiting holy man; she was inconsolable until she possessed it and probably kept it all her life. Her mother was supportive of her religious tendencies but she died early.

Meera’s marriage was arranged at an early age, traditionally to Prince Bhoj Raj, the eldest son of Rana Sanga of Chittor. However her new family did not approve of her piety and devotion when she refused to worship their family deity and maintained that she was only truly married to Krishna

The Rajputana had remained fiercely independent of the Delhi Sultanate, the Islamic regime that otherwise ruled Hindustan after the conquests of Timur. But in the early 16th century AD the central Asian conqueror Babur laid claim to the Sultanate and some Rajputs supported him while others ended their lives in battle with him. Her husband's death in battle (in 1527 AD?) was only one of a series of losses Meera experienced in her twenties, including the death of her mother. She appears to have despaired of loving anything temporal and turned to the eternal, transforming her grief into a passionate spiritual devotion that inspired in her countless songs drenched with separation and longing.

Meera's devotion to Krishna was at first a private thing but at some moment it overflowed into an ecstasy that led her to dance in the streets of the city. Her brother-in-law, the new ruler of Chittorgarh, was Vikramaditya, an ill-natured youth who strongly objected to Meera's fame, her mixing with commoners and carelessness of feminine modesty. There were several attempts to poison her.[2] Her sister-in-law Udabai is said to have spread defamatory gossip.

At some time Meera declared herself a disciple of the guru  ("guru miliyaa raidasjee") and left for the centre of Krishnaism, Vrindavan. She considered herself to be a reborn gopi, Lalita, mad with love for Krishna. Folklore informs us of a particular incident where she expressed her desire to engage in a discussion about spiritual matters with Rupa Goswami, a direct disciple of Chaitanya and one of the foremost saint of Vrindavan that time who, being a renunciate celibate, refused to meet a woman. Meera replied that the only true man (purusha) in this universe is Lord Krishna. She continued her pilgrimage, "danced from one village to another village, almost covering the whole north of India".[4] One story has her appearing in the company of Kabir in Kashi, once again causing affront to social mores. She seems to have spent her last years as a pilgrim in Dwarka, Gujarat. It is said that Mirabai disappeared into the Dwarkashish Murti (Image of Lord Krishna) in front of a full audience of onlookers.

Meera's songs are in a simple form called a pada (verse), a term used for a small spiritual song, usually composed in simple rhythms with a repeating refrain, collected in her Padavali. The extant versions are in a Rajasthani and Braj, a dialect of Hindi spoken in and around Vrindavan (the childhood home of Krishna), sometimes mixed with Rajasthani, and in Gujarati:

    That dark dweller in Braj
    Is my only refuge.

    O my companion, worldly comfort is an illusion,
    As soon you get it, it goes.
    I have chosen the indestructible for my refuge,
    Him whom the snake of death will not devour.

    My beloved dwells in my heart all day,
    I have actually seen that abode of joy.
    Meera's lord is Hari, the indestructible.
    My lord, I have taken refuge with you, your maidservant

Although Meera is often classed with the northern Sant bhaktis who spoke of a formless divinity,[1] there is no doubt that she presents Krishna as the historical master of the Bhagavad Gita who is, even so, the perfect Avatar of the eternal, who is omnipresent but particularly focused in his icon and his temple. She speaks of a personal relationship with Krishna as her lover, lord and master. The characteristic of her poetry is complete surrender. Her longing for union with Krishna is predominant in her poetry: she wants to be "coloured with the colour of dusk" (the symbolic colour of Krishna).


Sant Tukaram

Sant Tukaram (1608–1650) was a prominent Varkari Sant and spiritual poet during a Bhakti movement in India.

Sant Tukaram[1] was born and lived most of his life in Dehu, a town close to Pune in Mahārāshtra, India. He was born to a couple with the family name "More", the descendent of the Mourya Clan (Āmbile) with first names Bolhobā and Kanakāi. In accordance with an ancient Indian tradition, Tukaram's family name is rarely used in identifying him. His real name is Tukaram Vhilhoba Aambe. Rather, in accord with another tradition in India of assigning the epithet "sant" (संत) to persons regarded as thoroughly saintly, Tukaram is commonly known in Maharashtra as Sant Tukaram (संत तुकाराम). He is known as Bhakta Tukaram to South Indian people.

Scholars assign various birth years to Sant Tukaram: 1577, 1598, 1608 and 1609 CE. The year of Sant Tukaram's death —1650 CE— is much more certain.[2]

Sant Tukaram's first wife, Rakhumābāi, died in 1602. her early youth. SantTukaram and his second wife, Jijābāi (also known as Āvali), had three sons: Santu or Mahādev, Vithobā, and Nārāyan.

Dilip Purushottam Chitre, a well known Marathi Scholar, identifies Tukaram as the first modern poet of Marathi. Chitre believes that Tukaram was the first acceptable saint who denied caste hierarchy in Hindu religion and attacked rituals present in Hindu Dharma.

 Spiritual life and poetry
Tukaram leaves for Vaikuntha, abode of VishnuSant Tukaram was a devotee of god Vitthala or Vithoba, a form of Krishna.

Sant Tukaram is considered to be the climactic point of the Bhagabata Hindu tradition, which is thought to have begun in Maharashtra with Namdev. Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Janabai, Eknath, and Tukaram are revered especially in the Varkari (वारकरी) sect in Maharashtra. Most information about the lives of the above saints of Maharashtra comes from the works Bhakti-Wijay and Bhakti-Leelāmrut of Mahipati. Mahipati was born 65 years after the death of Tukaram, (Tukaram having died 50 years, 300 years, and 353 years after the deaths of Ekanath, Namdev, and Dnyaneshwar, respectively.) Thus, Mahipati undoubtedly based his life sketches of all the above "sants" primarily on hearsays.

[ Namdev as GuruSaint Tukarm accepted Sant Namdev as his Guru. One of his abhanga is proof for this.[नामदेवे केले स्वप्नामाजी जागे....सवे पांडुरंगे येवूनिया.] Namdev gave knowledge, who came along with Lord Vitthal in Dream of Tukaram.

 In filmsSant Tukaram was also the subject of a biopic, title Sant Tukaram, made in 1936 by V. Damle and S. Fattelal of the Prabhat Film Company, starring Vishnupant Pagnis as the lead, and released on December 12, 1936 at the Central Cinema in Mumbai. The film was a big hit, and broke all previous records by running continuously for 57 weeks.[3] It also had won an award at the 5th Venice International Film Festival in 1937, and still remains a part of film appreciation courses.[4][5][6] It is preserved at the National Film Archive of India.[3]

The story of Tukaram was also made in Telugu as Bhakta Tukaram in 1973 by Anjali Pictures. Akkineni Nageswara Rao played the title role with great devotion.[7]


Sant Chokha Mela

The chief gate of Vithoba temple, Pandharpur. The small blue temple in front of the gate is saint Chokhamela's memorial (samadhi).Chokhamela was a saint in Maharashtra, India in the 14th century. He belonged to the Mahar caste considered "untouchable" in India in that era. He was born at Mehuna raja, a village in Deulgaon Raja Taluka of Buldhana district. He lived at Mangalvedhe in Maharashtra. He wrote many Abhangas. He was one of the first Dalit poets in India. Chokhamela lived with his wife Soyara and son Karmamela in Mangalvedha. Chokhamela's hereditary task was to remove dead animals from people's homes and farms and to dispose of them beyond the town limits (this is task that has traditionally been performed by Mahars in Maharashtra). As a lower-caste person, Chokha was forced to live outside the town in a separate settlement for members of the untouchable caste.

He was initiated into bhakti spirituality by the poet-saint Namdev (1270?-1350?). Once when he visited Pandharpur, he listened to Sant Namdev's kirtan. Already a devotee of Vitthal alias Vithoba, Chokha was moved by Namdev's teachings.

Later, he moved to Pandharpur. The traditional story is that the upper castes here did not allow him to enter the temple[1], nor did they allow him to stand in the door of the temple. So he built a hut on the other side of the river Chandrabhaga.

While working on construction of a wall, the wall fell down, crushing some workers. Chokha was one of them. Chokha's samadhi in front of the Vitthal temple, Pandharpur where it can be seen to this day. According to a legend the bones of the dead Chokhamela were still chanting Vitthal, Vitthal, apparently yearning to visit the Vitthal temple. The bones were buried at the footsteps of the Vitthal temple. In early 20th century, the Dalit leader Dr. Ambedkar, while attempting to visit the temple, was stopped at the burial site of Chokhamela and denied entry beyond that point for being a Mahar.[2]

 BooksOn the Threshold Songs of Chokhamela/translated from the Marathi by Rohini Mokashi-Punekar

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar has inscribed his book The Untouchables who are they and why they became untouchables? to the memory of Chokhamela, Nandanar and Ravidas


Sant Janabai

Janābāi was a Marāthi religious poetess in the Hindu tradition in India, who was born likely in the seventh or the eighth decade of the 13th century. According to folklore, she died in 1350.

Janabai was born in Gangākhed, Mahārāshtra to a couple with first names rand and Karand. Under the caste system which rigidly existed in India, the couple belonged to the lowest caste. After her mother died, her father took her to Pandharpur.[1] Since her childhood, Janabai worked as a maidservant in the household of Dāmāsheti, who lived in Pandharpur and who was the father of the prominent Marathi religious poet Nāmdev. Janabai was likely a little older than Namdev, and attended to him for many years.

Pandharpur has high religious significance especially among Marathi-speaking Hindus. Janabai's employers, Damasheti and his wife, Gonāi, were very religious. Through the influence of the religious environment around her and her innate inclination, Janabai was all along an ardent devotee of Lord Vitthal, and she was also gifted with poetic talent. Though she never had any formal schooling, she thus composed many high-quality religious verses of the abhang (अभंग) form. Fortunately, some of her compositions got preserved along with those of Namdev. Authorship of about 300 abhang is traditionally attributed to Janabai. However, researchers believe that quite a few of them were in fact compositions of some other writers.

Along with Dnyāneshwar, Nāmdev, Eknāth, and Tukaram, Janabai has a revered place in the minds of Marathi-speaking Hindus who belong especially to the wārakari (वारकरी) sect in Maharashtra. In accord with a tradition in India of assigning the epithet sant (संत) to persons regarded as thoroughly saintly, all of the above religious figures including Janabai are commonly attributed that epithet in Maharashtra. Thus, Janabai is routinely referred to as Sant Janabai (संत जनाबाई).



Sant Gora Kumbhar

Sant Gora Kumbhar was one of the notable Kumhar/prajapati saints in history. He was a Maharashtra based saint.

Sant Gora Kumbhar and other saints also wrote and sung hundreds of Abhangs(Shabads which can not be destroyed). The central ideology of this sect was chanting of Namas-kirtana(Kirtan) daily. This sampardaya attached least importance to the position/status of person in society. Rendering of Namaskirtana attaches a great importance to “NAMA” (Naam Japna) and chorus singing (Kirtan)

 LifeThough the authentic date of birth of Goroba(nickname of saint) is not known, still he is traditionally known to have lived in a village named Satyapuri alias Ter(Terdhoki).He was always chanting even at work(pottery). He was a follower of god Vithoba or Pandurang.[1]


Sant Ramdas Swami

Ramdas (Marathi: समर्थ रामदास, Rāmdās) (1606–1682) was a prominent Marathi saint and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in Maharashtra, India. Samarth Ramdas was a devotee of Lord Hanuman and Lord Rama. His birth name was Narayan Suryajipant Kulkarni Thosar.

 Early lifeRamdas Swami was born in a Deshastha Rugvedi Bramhan family to Suryāji and Rānu-Bāi Thosar in Jāmb in Jalna District of Maharashtra on Ram Navami (the birth festival of Lord Ram), 1530 according to "Shāliwāhan Shak" calendar. His given name was Nārāyan.

As a child, Ramdas showed an inclination toward metaphysical contemplation and religion. One recorded incident tells how he was walking in the dark and bumped into something under a tree. Fetching a light, he saw a local villager who had been arbitrarily hanged by the Mughals, foreign rulers of India. This incident fired in him a desire to be free in all aspects of the world: free from foreign rule and also free from Maya, the illusion that prevents individual souls from realizing their unity with the greater Self, Ultimate Spirit.

When Ramdas was eight, his father died; and when he was 18, his mother arranged his marriage. However, he wanted to pursue a monastic life. He ran away in the middle of the wedding ceremony, before the marriage vows were exchanged.

During the Hindu marriage ceremony, the last word which seals the marriage is "Saavdhan" meaning, 'be careful'. Swami Ramdas interpreted that word to mean that he had to be careful not to get entangled in the bonds of Maya, and must seek Self realization.

Sajjangad where Swami Ramadasa was invited by Shivaji to reside, now a also pilgrimageRamdas moved around quite a lot, and in the process, used several Ghal (Marathi: घळ), which are small caves used for meditation. The famous ones include: 

Ramghal, on Sajjangad
Morghal, at Morbag village near Sajjangad
Tondoshi Ghal, North of Chaphal
TaakLi, near Nashik
Chandragiri, opposite Vasantgad, near Karad
Helwak, near Helwak village
Shinganwadi, near Chandragiri
Shivthar Ghal, near Mahad
 Spiritual Development
HanumanFor the next twelve years, Ramdas devoted himself to studying Hindu religious books, to meditation, and to prayers in a place named Panchavati, near Nashik on the banks of the Godavari River. At age 24 he took the name "Ramdas", meaning "servant of Lord Ram," an incarnation of God.

Ramdas practised physical yoga exercises as well as meditation. The Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation was his favourite as it involves every part of the body. It is said that he would do 1,200 Sun Salutations every day, believing that no spirituality could be attained if the physical body was not strong.

In addition to his veneration of Ram, Ramdas worshipped Ram's divinely strong servant Lord Hanuman. He established 11 temples of Hanuman in Maharashtra and promoted physical exercise to develop a healthy society.

 WritingsRamdas Swami was a gifted composer. He produced considerable literature in verse form in Marathi. Among his works, two compositions particularly stand out: A small book of meditations, Shri Manāche Shlok, advises ethical behaviour and love for God, and a large volume, Dasbodh, provides advice on both spiritual and practical topics. Ramdas also wrote the Shri Māruti Stotra, a poem in praise of Hanuman, the AatmaaRaam, 11-Laghu Kavita and Raamayan (Marathi-Teeka).

His most popular composition is the Marathi song/prayer to Lord Ganesh Sukhkartā Dukhhartā Vārtā Vighnāchi. He also composed several other prayers such as Satrane Uddane Hunkaar Vadani to Lord Hanuman and Panchanan haivahan surabhushan lila to Lord Khandoba.

Chhattrapati Shivaji, a disciple of Swami Ramadasa was the founder of the Maratha ConfederacySamarth Ramdas had many disciples. Kalyan Swami worked as a writer for Ramdas, recording his songs and prayers. Ramdas tested him in many ways before giving him this responsible position. Other noteworthy disciples included Udhhw Swami, Vena Swami, Akka Bai, Bhim Swami, Dayanand Prabhu, and Diwakar Swami.

Chhatrapati Shivaji considered Samarth Ramdas his spiritual Guru and sought his advice many times. Shivaji requested Ramdas swami to move his residence to a fort named Parali & establish his permanent monastery there. The fort was subsequently renamed Sajjangad (सज्जनगड) - Fort of the sacred.

In the 20th century, Nana Dharmadhikari undertook to spread the philosophy of Samarth Ramdas.


Sant Kanhoptara

Kanhopatra (Marathi: कान्होपात्रा) or Kanhupatra (कान्हूपात्रा) was a 15th century Marathi saint-poetess, venerated by the Varkari sect of Hinduism.

Little is known about Kanhopatra.[1] According to most traditional accounts, Kanhopatra was a courtesan and dancing-girl. These accounts typically concentrate on her death when she chose to surrender to the Hindu god Vithoba—the patron god of the Varkaris—rather than becoming a concubine of the Badshah (king) of Bidar. She died in the central shrine of Vithoba in Pandharpur. She is the only person whose samadhi (mausoleum) is within the precincts of the temple.

Kanhopatra wrote Marathi abhanga poetry telling of her devotion to Vithoba and her struggle to balance her piety with her profession. In her poetry, she implores Vithoba to be her saviour and release her from the clutches of her profession. About thirty of her abhangas have survived, and continue to be sung today. She is the only female Varkari saint to have attained sainthood based solely on her devotion, without the support of any guru, male Varkari saint, or parampara (tradition or lineage).

 LifeKanhopatra's history is known through stories passed down over centuries, making it hard to separate fact and fiction. Most accounts agree about her birth to Shama the courtesan and her death in the Vithoba temple when the Badshah of Bidar sought her. However, the characters of Sadashiva Malagujar (her alleged father) and Hausa the maid do not appear in all accounts.

 Early lifeKanhopatra was a daughter of a rich prostitute and courtesan named Shama or Shyama, who lived in the town of Mangalvedhe, near Pandharpur, the site of Vithoba's chief temple. Apart from Kanhopatra, Mangalwedhe is also the birthplace of the Varkari saints Chokhamela and Damaji. Shama was uncertain about the identity of Kanhopatra's father, but suspected that it was the town's head-man Sadashiva Malagujar. Kanhopatra spent her childhood in the palatial house of her mother, served by several maids, but because of her mother's profession, Kanhopatra's social status was demeaningly low.

Kanhopatra was trained in dance and song from early childhood so that she could join her mother's profession. She became a talented dancer and singer. Her beauty was compared to the apsara (heavenly nymph) Menaka.[1][4] Shama suggested that Kanhopatra should visit the Badshah (Muslim king), who will adore her beauty and gift her money and jewelry, but Kanhopatra flatly refused.Traditional tales narrate that Shama wanted Kanhopatra to marry, but Kanhopatra longed to marry a man who was more beautiful than her.Scholar Tara Bhavalkar states that Kanhopatra's marriage was forbidden, as it was not socially acceptable for a daughter of a courtesan to marry.

Most accounts declare that Kanhopatra was forced into the courtesan's life, though she detested it, while some say that Kanhopatra firmly declined to become a courtesan.Some authors believe that she may have also worked as a prostitute.

 Path to devotionSadashiva Malagujar, Kanhopatra's supposed father, heard of Kanhopatra's beauty and wished to see her dance, but Kanhopatra refused. Accordingly Sadashiva started to harass Kanhopatra and Shama. Shama tried to convince him that he was the father of Kanhopatra and thus should spare them, but Sadashiva did not believe her. As he continued his harassment, Shama's wealth slowly depleted. Eventually, Shama apologised to Sadashiva and offered to present Kanhopatra to him. Kanhopatra, however, fled to Pandharpur disguised as a maid, with the help of her aged maid Hausa.

In some legends, Hausa—described as a Vakari—is credited for Kanhopatra's journey to devotion. Other accounts credit the Vakari pilgrims who passed Kanhopatra's house on their way to the temple of Vithoba in Pandharpur. According to one story, for example, she asked a passing Varkari about Vithoba. The Varkari said that Vithoba is "generous, wise, beautiful and perfect", his glory is beyond description and his beauty surpasses that of Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty. Kanhopatra further asked if Vithoba would accept her as a devotee. The Varkari assured her that Vithoba would accept her as he accepted the maid Kubja,] the sinful king Ajamila and the so-called "untouchable" saint Chokhamela. This assurance strengthened her resolve to go to Pandharpur. In versions of the legend where Sadashiva does not appear, Kanhopatra immediately leaves for Pandharpur—singing the praises of Vithoba—with the Varkari pilgrims or coaxes her mother to accompany her to Pandharpur.

When Kanhopatra first saw the Vithoba image of Pandharpur, she sang in an abhanga that her spiritual merit was fulfilled and she was blessed to have seen Vithoba's feet. She had found the unparalleled beauty she sought in her groom in Vithoba. She "wedded" herself to the god and settled in Pandharpur. She withdrew from society. Kanhopatra moved into a hut in Pandharpur with Hausa and lived an ascetic's life. She sang and danced at the Vithoba temple, and cleaned it twice a day. She gained the respect of the people, who believed her to be a poor farmer's daughter maddened by the love of Vithoba. In this period, Kanhopatra composed ovi-metered abhanga poems dedicated to Vithoba.

 DeathDuring this same time, however, Sadashiva—who felt insulted by Kanhopatra's refusal—sought the help of the Badshah (king) of Bidar.[1] Hearing tales of Kanhopatra's beauty, the Badshah ordered her to be his concubine. When she refused, the king sent his men to get her by force. Kanhopatra took refuge in the Vithoba temple. The soldiers of the king besieged the temple and threatened to destroy it if Kanhopatra was not handed over to them. Kanhopatra requested a last meeting with Vithoba before being taken.

The chief gate of Vithoba temple, Pandharpur, where Kanhopatra is buriedBy all accounts, Kanhopatra then died at the feet of the Vithoba image, but the circumstances were unclear. According to popular tradition, Kanhopatra merged with the image of Vithoba in a form of marriage—something that Kanhopatra longed for. Other theories suggest that she killed herself, or that she was killed for her rebelliousness.

Most accounts say that Kanhopatra's body was laid at feet of Vithoba and then buried near the southern part of the temple, in accordance with her last wishes.[9] In some accounts, the nearby Bhima river (Chandrabhaga) flooded, inundating the temple and killing the army that sought Kanhopatra. The next day, her body was found near a rock. According to all versions of the legend, a tarati tree—which is worshipped by pilgrims in her remembrance—arose on the spot where Kanhopatra was buried. Kanhopatra is the only person whose samadhi (mausoleum) is in the precincts of the Vithoba temple.

 DatingSeveral historians have attempted to establish the dates of Kanhopatra's life and death. One estimate places her life circa 1428 CE by relating her to a Bahamani king of Bidar who is often associated with the Kanhopatra story—although in most accounts, that king is never explicitly named.[9] Pawar estimates that she died in 1480.[19] Others suggest dates of 1448, 1468 or 1470, or simply say that she lived in the 15th century—or in rare instances, the 13th or 16th century. According to Zelliot, she was a contemporary of saint-poets Chokhamela (14th century) and Namadeva (c.1270-c.1350).

 Literary works and teachings
Kanhopatra's patron deity: Vithoba, the Pandharpur image at whose feet, Kanhopatra died.Kanhopatra is believed to have composed many abhangas, but most were not in written form: only thirty of her abhangas or ovis survive today. Twenty-three verses of her poems are included in the anthology of Varkari saints called Sakal sant-gatha. Most of these verses are autobiographical, with an element of pathos.[3] Her style is described as unadorned by poetic devices, easy to understand, and with a simplicity of expression.[3] According to Deshpande, Kanhopatra's poetry reflects the "awakening of the downtrodden" and the rise of female creative expression, ignited by the sense of gender equality enforced by the Varkari tradition.

Kanhopatra's abhangas frequently portray her struggle between her profession and her devotion to Vithoba, the patron deity of the Varkaris.[9] She presents herself as a woman deeply devoted to Vithoba, and pleads for him to save her from the unbearable bondage of her profession. Kanhopatra speaks of her humiliation and her banishment from society owing to her profession and social stature. She expresses disgust for the society which adored her as an object of beauty rather than as a human being, and abhorred her for profession. She describes how she has been the object of lustful thoughts. She worries that she was beyond the "scope of God's love".] In Nako Devaraya Anta Aata—believed to be the last abhanga of her life—unable to bear the thought of separation from her Lord, Kanhopatra begs Vithoba to end her misery. In the abhanga Patita tu pavanahe, she acknowledges her Lord as the saviour of the fallen and asks him to save her as well:

O Narayana, you call yourself
savior of the fallen...
My caste is impure
I lack loving faith
my nature and actions are vile.
Fallen Kanhopatra
offers herself to your feet,
a challenge
to your claims of mercy.

Kanhopatra refers to Vithoba by names such as Narayana (a name of Vishnu, who is identified with Vithoba), Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu, identified with Vithoba), Sripati ("husband of goddess Sri," an epithet of Vishnu) and Manmatha (a name of Kamadeva, the god of love, used by Vaishnava saints to describe Vishnu). She refers to Krishna-Vithoba as the "champion of the low", and as a mother.] Kanhopatra also asserts the importance of repeating the names of God and reveals how chanting His names has helped her. She says that even Death would fear God's name, which purified the sinner king Ajamila - who ascended to heaven when he coincendentally called to God at his death bed, the "robber" Valmiki - who was transformed into a great sage by utterance of God's name - and even the prostitute Pingala. Kanhopatra says, she wears the garland of His names. She hoped that her chanting would ultimately lead her to salvation.[23] Kanhopatra also extols the deeds of Dnyaneshwar—the first great saint of the Varkaris—and his siblings.

Kanhopatra's abhangas also show her concern for her body, her sense of vulnerability and her will to "remain untouched in the midst of turbulence".[25] She compares herself to food being devoured by wild animals - an expression never used by male saints:

If you call yourself the Lord of the fallen,
why do O Lord not lift me up?
When I say I am yours alone,
who is to blame but yourself
if I am taken by another man.
When a jackal takes the share of the lion,
it is the great, who is put to shame.
Kanhopatra says, I offer my body at your feet,
protect it, at least for your title.

According to Ranade, this abhanga was composed by Kanhopatra when invited by the Bidar king.

Kanhopatra advises against seeking mere sexual pleasure;[14] she speaks of the evils of sexual attraction, citing mythological characters who suffered the consequences of sexual temptation: the demon-king Ravana, the demon Bhasmasura, the god-king of heaven Indra and the moon-god Chandra.

 Legacy and remembrance
Script of the drama Sant Kanhopatra, depicting Bal Gandharva (left) as KanhopatraKanhopatra is formally included in the list of Sants, meaning saints in Marathi in the text Bhaktavijaya. Mahipati (1715–1790), a traditional biographer of Marathi saints, devotes an entire chapter to her in his Bhaktavijaya extolling her devotion to Vithoba.[4] In his Bhaktalilamrita Mahipati refers to Kanhopatra as one of the saints who sit surrounding Krishna (identified with Vithoba in Maharashtra). Kanhopatra is cited by the Vakari saint-poets as "an example of the real downtrodden and deserving people persons that are saved by the merciful God". In one of his abhangas, the Varkari saint and poet Tukaram (1577 - c.1650) uses the example of Kanhopatra to illustrate that caste is irrelevant when compared with devotion and merit.[29][30] Her death and her surrender to Vithoba is regarded as a "great legacy of self respect combined with spiritualism." Kanhopatra is considered unique since she is the only prominent woman in Maharashtra who rose to fame without a traditional family backing. She was born in a household where devotion was unthinkable. She is the only woman Varkari saint, who is not associated with any male Varkari saint,[n 6] who has no guru, nor any parampara (tradition or lineage). She is credited to have attained sainthood exclusively on the basis of her intense devotion to Vithoba, a devotion reflected in her abhangas.

Kanhopatra's life has been recounted in a 1937 Marathi film Kanhopatra written and directed by Bhalji Pendharkar. She was also the subject of the popular 1931 Marathi drama named Sant Kanhopatra, in which Bal Gandharva played the lead. Kanhopatra's abhangas Aga Vaikunthichya Raya and Patita tu pavanahe; and Nako Devaraya Anta Aata are used in that drama and in the 1963 Marathi film Sadhi Manase respectively.

Kanhopatra's abhangas are still sung in concerts and on radio,[31] and by Varkaris on their annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur.[10] The tree that rose at her burial spot in the Pandharpur temple is worshipped as her samadhi by devotees even today.[9] A small shrine is also dedicated to her in her home town Mangalvedhe.


Sant Eknath

Eknath (1533–1599) was a prominent Marathi scholar and religious poet. He is called a "sant" (saint) in the Marathi tradition as are most other religious poets. In the development of Marathi literature, Sant Eknath is seen as a bridge between the towering predecessors Dnyaneshwar and Naamdev and the equally noble successors Tukaram and Ramdas.

 OriginsEknath was born sometime around 1530 AD in an illustrious Brahmin family of Pratisthan (Paithan today). They were said to be the Kulkarnis of the village, but their name is not known. Sant Bhanudas, who brought back the sacred image of Lord Pandurang, from Vijaynagar to Pandharpur, was Eknath’s great grandfather.

Eknath was born under the star sign of ‘Mula’ in the sagittarius constellation, traditionally considered a bad omen for the parents of the child. The omen was borne out for Eknath’s father Suryanarayan and mother Rukmini died shortly after his birth and Eknath was brought up by his grandparents, Chakrapani and Saraswatibai. As an orphan, Eknath had to the suffer taunts of other children. He began avoiding their company and found refuge as a child in prayer and other devotional practices.

 Tutelage by JanardanswamiWhen about twelve years old, Eknath heard about Janardanswamy. This great scholar lived in Devgiri renamed as Daulatabad by the Muslim rulers of the time. Eager to become his disciple, Eknath trudged all the way to Devgiri. Janardaswamy was amazed by this extra-ordinarily gifted boy and readily accepted him as his disciple. He taught Eknath Vedanta, Nyaya, Meemansa, Yoga etc. and most importantly, Sant Dnyaneshwar’s works. Janardanswamy was a devotee of Lord Dattatreya, and this meant that Eknath's social and religious outlook consisted of tolerance and kindness toward all fellow beings.

The Guru asked Eknath to go on a pilgrimage. He himself accompanied Eknath upto Nasik-Tryambakeshwar. Here, Eknath wrote his famous treatise on the Chatushloki Bhagavat. In this Marathi commentary, he explained the significance of four sacred shlokas of the Bhagavat in 1036 specially metered verses known as ovee

After completing his pilgrimage, consisting of various holy places of west and north India, Eknath returned to Paithan. His grandparents were extremely delighted to see him again and implored him to marry. Eknath and his wife Girija were truly made for each other and established an ideal examples of ethical living. In time, the couple was blessed with two daughters, Godavari and Ganga and a son Hari.

 Revival of the DnyaneshwariEknath was responsible for the rediscovery of the great work of Dnyaneshwar, the first bard of Marathi literature, the epic poem the Dnyaneshwari, which had been forgotten like many Hindu epics after the grinding Muslim invasions. About 230 years before the birth of Eknath, Dnyaneshwar had written an important commentary in Marathi in verse form on the geat sacred text in Sanscrit Bhagawad Geeta. It was called the Bhawarth-Deepika and it had come to be known as the Dnyaneshwari.

During the intervening period between Dnyaneshwar and Eknath, Maharashtra, like the rest of the country, had been ravaged by Muslim invasions. Defeat after defeat had left the people demoralized. The people did not have their epics, their ballads, their poems to turn to, these had all been forgotten in a generation or two. Eknath saw that the need of the hour was a revival of Marathi literature, of the great epics, an education in the old values and if the once popular Marathi-worded Dnyaneshwari could be brought again to the people, they could be uplifted, morally and spiritually.

Eknath devoted himself to bringing about the epic poem's revival. His first task was to locate the "samadhi" of Dnyaneshwar (a place where he took his own life) to show to the people that Dnyaneshwar was not a mythological being, but a real man, one of their own. He then devoted a few, hard years in compiling an undistorted version of the Dnyaneshwari.

 His WritingsAlmost all of Eknath's writings were in verse form in Marathi. Eknath wrote a scholarly and lucid commentary, Eknathi Bhagawat, on the Eleventh Canto of the Sanscrit sacred text, the Bhagavata Purana. The commentary involved 18,800 owees. He wrote the first 25,000 owees of his another major work, the Bhawartha-Ramayana. A disciple called Gavba added 15,000 owees to complete this work. Eknath wrote Rukmini Swayamwar comprising 1,711 owees; it was based on 144 verses from the Bhagawat Purana. His work, Hastamalak, comprised 764 owees, and it was based on a 14-shlok Sanskrit hymn with the same name by Shankaracharya.

His other works were the Shukashtak (447 owees), the Swatma-Sukha (510 owees), the Ananda-Lahari (154 owees), the Chiranjeewa-Pad (42 owees), the Geeta-Sar, and the Prahlad-Wijaya. He introduced a new form of Marathi the religious song called Bharood, writing 300 of them. He also wrote 300 religious songs in the Abhang form. He was also a preacher, and gave many public discourses.

Eknath initiated in Maharashtra a movement called Wasudewa Sanstha. It involved house-to-house visitations by individuals known as Wasudewa, who, standing in front of peoples' houses, spread religious messages through bhajans (ballads).

 His TeachingsEknath was one of the earliest reformers of untouchability in Maharashtra, working as he was in the late middle ages. In times when Brahmins even avoided the shadow and the voice of an untouchable, he publicly showed courtesy toward untouchables and frequented them. Once he saved the life of a Mahar child, rescuing it from drowning in the overflowing waters of the Godavari[citation needed]. The Brahmins of the village got angry at Eknath imparting his touch to the body of a backward. In an act meant to mollify them, he famously took a bath in the same river to wash away the impurity, hoping they would see the inhumanity of their taboos. His poems appeal their readers to treat each fellow being with kindness and humanity, as a brother, as a sister. This appeal also included birds and animals and plants. One of his most loved poems says, every soul you meet is your God.

Eknath’s teachings may be summarized as "Vichar, Uchchar and Achar" i.e., purity in thought, speech and action. His works, verses and preachings kindled hope among the people at a time when they needed it most. SamadhiCertain religious poets had dealt with the question of their own death by resorting to a "samadhi". Here the poet took his own life by immersing himself in a body of water, such as a lake or a river. Following the example of his idol, Dnyaneshwar, Eknath embraced "jalsamadhi" (water samadhi) in the sacred Godavari on Krishna Shasthi day of Phalguna in the year 1599AD.


Sant Sena Maharaj

There was a barber named Sena Nhavi. He was very pious and god loving. He used to get up early in the morning, have his bath, perform his poojas and only then look at his occupation and other domestic affairs. Sena was also the king’s barber and would have to go to the palace whenever the king called him. One day as Sena was performing his pooja in his house, the king’s messenger came looking for Sena. Sena was deep in his prayers and so his wife told the king’s messenger that he was not at home. Sena’s neighbor who was also a barber on seeing this went and complained to the king, that Sena was at home performing his prayers and had lied to him that he was not at home. He also offered to do the job himself. The Mohamedian king got angry on listening to this and sent the guards to arrest Sena. Knowing what was in the king’s mind Vitthal immediately took the form of Sena and came to the palace. The moment the king saw him, his anger disappeared. When Sena touched him the king was filled with amazement. Sena then shaved the king and shampooed his head. The king felt very happy and told him that he is the best barber in town and should remain with him in the palace. Sena then rubbed the fragrance oil on the king. As Sena was rubbing the oil, the king saw the reflection of Shri Krishna in the fragrance oil. The king was amazed on seeing this. He then saw up and it was Sena rubbing his head and not Shri Krishna with four hands as he saw in the bowl of oil. The king lost all consciousness and was absorbed in the form of god that he was seeing in the oil bowl. The men in the kings assembly started laughing at the king looking at his stage and told him that it was already afternoon and that he should go and have his bath. The king then asked Sena to be there and not to go home. The king also told him that if he leaves him he would die. Sena then told the king that he would return quickly. The king then gave a handful of gold coins to Sena. Shri Krishna then took the coins, placed it in the bag in Sena’s house and disappeared.

The king after finishing his bath came and asked his servants to go get Sena at once. He was in a completely different state and could not eat, nor dress up. He said that if Sena doesn’t come now he would loose his life. The royal servants immediately went to Sena’s house and asked him to come to the palace immediately. Not knowing anything that had happened, Sena asked them if the king was very angry with him as it was very late. Taking his bag, Sena immediately came to the palace. On seeing Sena entering the palace the king got up and greeted Sena and every one in the kings assembly laughed at this. The king then told Sena to show him the form with four hands that he had shown to him that morning. Hearing this Sena was full of astonishment. He then ordered his servants to bring the bowl of oil and saw Sena’s reflection in it, but was disappointed that he could not see the form he had seen in the morning. Sena then knew what had happened and his eyes were filled with tears and asked god why he had to do this lowly job of a barber to save him. He also told the king that it was lord Shri Krishna whom he had seen that morning. The king then rushed up to Sena and held him by his feet and told him that he had been able to see Lord Shri Krishna due to his association with him. Sena then saw the coins that god had put in his bag and distributed them to the Brahmans. The Mohamedian king then became a staunch follower of Shri Krishna. Sena then took leave from the king and decided to go in the service of god


Sant Surdas

Surdas, the 15th century sightless saint, poet and musician, is known for his devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Surdas is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the 'Sur Sagar' (Ocean of Melody), out of which only about 8,000 are extant. He is considered a saint and so also known as Sant Surdas, a name which literally means the "slave of melody".

Early Life of Sant Surdas The time of Surdas's birth and death are uncertain and suggest that he lived over a hundred years, which make the facts even murkier. Some say, he was born blind in 1479 in Siri village near Delhi. Many others believe, Surdas was born in Braj, a holy place in northern Indian district of Mathura, associated with the exploits of Lord Krishna. His family was too poor to take good care of him, which led the blind boy to leave home at the age of 6 to join a wondering group of religious musicians. According to one legend, one night he dreamt of Krishna, who asked him to go to Vrindavan, and dedicate his life to the praise of the Lord.

Surdas's Guru - Shri Vallabharachary A chance meeting with the saint Vallabharacharya at Gau Ghat by the river Yamuna in his teens transformed his life. Shri Vallabhacharya taught Surdas lessons in Hindu philosophy and meditation and put him in the path of spirituality. Since Surdas could recite the entire Srimad Bhagavatam and was musically inclined, his guru advised him to sing the 'Bhagavad Lila' - devotional lyrical ballads in praise of Lord Krishna and Radha. Surdas lived in Vrindavan with his guru, who initiated him to his own religious order, and later appointed him as the resident singer at Srinath temple in Govardhan.

Surdas Attains Fame Surdas' lilting music and fine poetry attracted many laurels. As his fame spread far and wide, the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542-1605) became his patron. Surdas spent the last years of his life in Braj, the place of his birth and lived on the donations, which he received in return of hisBhajan singing and lecturing on religious topics, until he died in c. 1586.

Philosophy of Surdas Surdas was profoundly influenced by the Bhakti movement - a religious movement which focused on deep devotion, or 'bhakti', for a specific Hindu deity, such as Krishna, Vishnu orShiva that was prevalent in Indian between c 800-1700 AD, and propagated Vaishnavism. Surdas's compositions also found place in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs.

The Poetical Works of Surdas Although Surdas is known for his greatest work - theSur Sagar, he also wrote Sur-Saravali, which is based on the theory of genesis and the festival of Holi, andSahitya-Lahiri, devotional lyrics dedicated to the Supreme Absolute. As if Surdas attained a mystical union with Lord Krishna, which enabled him to compose the verse about Krishna's romance with Radha almost as he was an eyewitness. Surdas' verse is also credited as one that lifted the literary value of the Hindi language, transforming it from a crude to a pleasing tongue.

A Lyric by Surdas: 'The Deeds Of Krishna' There is no end to the deeds of Krishna: true to his promise, he tended the cows in Gokula; Lord of the gods and compassionate to his devotees, he came as Nrisingha and tore apart Hiranyakashipa. When Bali spread his dominion over the three worlds, he begged three paces of land from him to uphold the majesty of the gods, and stepped over his entire domain: here too he rescued the captive elephant. Countless such deeds figure in the Vedas and the Puranas, hearing which Suradasa humbly bows before that Lord.

 Surdas's Guru - Sri VallabharacharyaA chance meeting with the Saint Jagadguru Shrimad Vallabhacharya at Gau Ghat by the river Yamuna in his teens transformed his life. Shri Vallabharacharya taught Surdas lessons in Hindu philosophy and meditation and put him in the path of spirituality. Since Surdas could recite the entire Srimad Bhagavatam and was musically inclined, his guru advised him to sing the 'Bhagavad Lila' - devotional lyrical ballads in praise of Lord Krishna and Radha. Surdas lived in Vrindavan with his guru, who initiated him to his own religious order, and later appointed him as the resident singer at Srinath temple in Govardhan.He used to sing melodious so his guru appointed him in as a temple-cum-resident singer

Surdas was called the sun in the sky of Hindi literature. He is best known for collection of his composition 'Sursagar'. This famous collection is originally said to contain 100,000 songs, however, only 8000 remained today. These songs present vivid description of childhood Lilas of lord Krishna.

 Influence On Bhakti movementThe philosophy of Surdas is a reflection of the times. He was very much immersed in the Bhakti movement that was sweeping North India. This movement represented a grass roots spiritual empowerment of the masses. The corresponding spiritual movement of the masses happened in South India in the first millennium A.D.

 On the status of Brij BhashaSurdas' poetry was a dialect of Hindi language, Brij Bhasha, until then considered to be a very plebeian language, as the prevalent literary languages were either Persian or Sanskrit. The works of Surdas immediately raised the status of Brij Bhasha from a crude language to that of a literary language of great repute.

 Philosophy ShuddhadvaitaDue to the training he received from his guru Vallabhacharya, Surdas was a proponent of the Shuddhadvaita school of Vaishnavism (also known as Pushti Marg). This philosophy is based upon the spiritual metaphor of the Radha-Krishna Rasleela (The celestial dance between Radha and Lord Krishna). It propagates the path of Grace of God rather than of merging in Him, which seems an extension of the belief of earlier saints like Kabir Das.

 Foremost amongst the Ashta-chaapEight Disciples of the Master-Teacher Vallabhacharya are called the Ashta-chaap, meaning, eight reprints (of the Master). Surdas is considered to be the foremost among them.

 CompositionsDevanagari Romanized English
प्रभू मोरे अवगुण चित न धरो ।

समदरसी है नाम तिहारो चाहे तो पार करो ॥

एक लोहा पूजा में राखत एक घर बधिक परो ।

पारस गुण अवगुण नहिं चितवत कंचन करत खरो ॥

एक नदिया एक नाल कहावत मैलो ही नीर भरो ।

जब दौ मिलकर एक बरन भई सुरसरी नाम परो ॥

एक जीव एक ब्रह्म कहावे सूर श्याम झगरो ।

अब की बेर मोंहे पार उतारो नहिं पन जात टरो ॥
 prabhU more avaguN chit n dharo |

samadarasI hai naam tihaaro chaahe to paara karo ||

ek lohaa pUjaa meM raakhat ek ghar badhik paro |

paaras guN avaguN nahiM chitavata kaMcan karat kharo ||

ek nadiyaa ek naal kahaavat mailo hI neer bharo |

jab dou milakar ek baran bhaI surasarI naam paro ||

ek jIv ek brahma kahaave sUr shyaam jhagaro |

ab kI ber moMhe paar utaaro nahiM pan jaat Taro ||
 Lord, heed not my faults!

You are known as he who sees as all equal,

at will you can take me across the ocean of existence.

One iron is used in worship, another in butcher's steel;

The philosopher's stone counts not merit or fault

but turns both to purest gold.

One is called "river", another a "rivulet" filled with murky water;

when they merge they become of one colour and are known

as "Sursari"(Ganges), river of gods.

The soul and the Supreme are given different names,

but all is one in Sur's Shyam.

This time, take me across, or give up your vow to be saviour!
Devanagari Romanized English
अखियाँ हरि दर्शन की प्यासी ।

देखो चाहत कमल नयन को, निस दिन रहत उदासी ॥

केसर तिलक मोतिन की माला, वृंदावन के वासी ।

नेहा लगाए त्यागी गये तृण सम, डारि गये गल फाँसी ॥

काहु के मन की कोऊ का जाने, लोगन के मन हाँसी ।

सूरदास प्रभु तुम्हरे दरस बिन लेहों करवत कासी ॥
 akhiyaa~M hari darshan kI pyaasI |

dekho chaahat kamala nayan ko, nis din rahat udaasI ||

kesar tilak motin kI maalaa, vrindaavan ke vaasI |

nehaa lagaae tyaagI gaye tRuN sam, Daari gaye gal phaa~MsI ||

kaahu ke man kI koU kaa jaane, logan ke man haa~MsI |

sUradaas prabhu tumhare daras bin lehoM karavat kaashI ||
 Our eyes thirst for a vision of Hari;

They long to see the lotus-eyed one,

grieving for him day and night.

Wearing a saffron tilak and pearl garland

and dwelling in Vrindavan,

he gave us his love, then cast us aside like a blade of grass,

throwing a noose around our necks.

No one knows what is in another's mind,

there is laughter in people's hearts;

But Lord of Surdas, without a vision of you

we would give up our very lives.