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Sant Eknath

16th century Maharashtra

After the downfall of Yadava kingdom in 13th century, Muslim rule started in Maharashtra. This was the end of the spiritual golden era started by Sant Dnyaneshwar. Next 400 years (until Shivaji established Hindavi Swaraj) was a terror for Hindus. Eknath brought about an awakening among the masses against the foreign Muslim rule. In his Ramayana, he describes Sri Rama as a furious king who stands against wrong doers. (It was this Ramayana that inspired young Shivaji.)

During this time caste system pervaded in Maharasthra. Eknath (a Brahmin) fought for the removal of untouchability all his life.


Shri Bhanudas (1448-1513): Vijaynagar king Krishnadev Raya had moved the Pandharpur’s Vitthal statue to Hampi. This was with a noble intention of security for the statue, and a splendid temple for the lord. Shri Bhanudas went to Hampi and to the delight of all varkari, he got the Vitthal statue back to Pandharpur.

Eknath was the great-grandson of Shri Bhanudas. Born in Paithan near Aurangabad. He lost his parents at an early age and was brought up by his grandfather.

For 6 years, Eknath worked for Janardan Swami (Janardan Swami, a devotee of Dattatreya, worked in the courts of the Muslim king of Devgiri.) As an accountant Eknath once spent the whole night to find a mistake of one paisa. Janardan Swami was delighted to find such concentration. He turned Eknath towards the path of Krishna. Eknath was a devout gurubhakta and wrote under the name of Eka-janardana meaning Eka of Janardana.

Eknath was a scholar, fluent in Marathi, Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic. He wrote Bhavartha Ramayana, Rukmini Swayamvara, Eknathi Bhagavata and numerous abhangas and bharudas. Eknath collected several copies of Dnyaneshwari (copies were maintained by many families, and in 300 years they were corrupted with additions and mistakes while copying). After a careful study he prepared an authentic copy of Dnyaneshwari.

Many incidents in his life, tell about how he fought against untouchability. He shocked the contemporary Brahmin community by such deeds. He faced their anger by holding a crying untouchable child in his arms, or serving food to untouchables instead of inviting Brahmins, or giving Ganga-Jal to a dying donkey.

At the age of 66, he took jal-samadhi by wading into the waters of Godavari.



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