Swami Samarth Ramdas – A Brief Introduction

Between the 13th and the 17th century, there were many eminent saints in the Maharashtra region. Eknath, Namdev, Tukaram, and Samarth Ramdas were some of these great souls. The teachings of these saints have not lost their relevance even to this day. This particular article is going to speak about Samarth Ramdas. Swami Samarth Ramdas was a multi-faceted personality being a saint, a social reformer who got involved with politics was physically fit, an expert horse rider, and expert in almost all weapons used in those times.

During those times, the Muslim invaders were fiercely attacking Hindu culture and traditions. Society was badly in need of someone to strongly counter this onslaught and protect the Hindu society. It was at that point in time that a phenomenal saint took the initiative. He mobilized the Hindus and motivated them to give a solid reply to the attacks. He was Samarth Ramdas.

Early life
Samarth Ramdas was born in a Brahmin family of the Rigvedic sect, in the year 1608. Narayan was the name given to him after his birth. When Narayan was just seven years old, his father passed away. Following this tragedy, Narayan became a loner and began contemplating on spiritual aspects. At the age of 12, Narayan fled from his marriage ceremony, when the priest uttered the term “Savadhan”.

Spiritual Practices and Religious Movement
Narayan devoted the next twelve years of his life to rigorous spiritual activities. He was especially devoted to Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman. It’s believed that he was around 24 when Lord Rama appeared before Narayan and bestowed his blessings on him. Soon after this divine experience, he gave himself the name of “Ramdas,” which means “servant of Lord Rama.”

Ramdas then traveled throughout India and got deeply disturbed by the prevailing circumstances. Things like natural disasters, famine, and floods created havoc in the lives of people. Additionally, the cruelty of Muslim kings seriously endangered the ancient dharma as well as the lives of Hindus. Here, Ramdas decided to do something concrete to combat the acts of those tyrants.

Ramdas started the “Samarth ” sect and rallied the Hindus under that. He formed more than 1000 mathas at various locations in India. These mathas were run by committed individuals having high moral standards. Samarth Ramdas had built eleven temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman, at several locations, too. The saint also initiated Chatrapati Shivaji who became his staunch disciple.

Philosophy and literary works
The philosophy of Ramdas is completely dissimilar to the teachings of many other saints. He taught that saints shouldn’t separate themselves from society; they should get involved in various activities and strive to solve the problems of people.

Both spiritual knowledge and physical strength are equally important. Ramdas added that militant methods have to be adopted to fight the atrocities of the Muslim invaders. Most of his literary works advocated this very philosophy. Dasbodh, Aatmaram, Chaturthmaan, Maan Panchak, and Manache Shlok are a few of his famous works.

Swamiji was not politically correct and his books are quite blunt on the issues with people’s behavior in society. Swamiji also gave a way out of the misery with his teachings.

In the year 1681, Shri Ramdas fasted till death while simultaneously chanting the name of Lord Rama. That is a spiritual method of shedding the mortal coils named Prayopaveshana.

Shri Samarth Ramdas – Contribution and Influence
Shri Samarth Ramdas had 1100 disciples and 300 of them were women. These disciples were selected to spread the knowledge of Hinduism among the masses. Swamiji also was famous for simplifying the understanding of Hindu dharma by using simple language to explain the higher purpose of life.

The mattas of Swami Samarth Ramdas were helpful in many ways to Shivaji’s Maratha empire giving both trained and physically fit youth who could become soldiers and also morally supporting the cause of Hindu Swaraj among common people.

Shri Samarth Ramdas was the inspiration for many great social reformers and thinkers of the 20th century like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Ramchandra Ranade, and Bhausaheb Maharaj. His letter sent in old age addressed to Chattrapathi Sambhaji and gave advise how to rule after his coronation is a masterpiece.

It would be an understatement to say without the support of Swami Samarth Ramdas, Shivaji’s Maratha empire would not have been possible.

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