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Samartha Ramadas and Social Harmony

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Sri Samartha Ramadas (वि.सं. 1665-1739; ई. सन्. 1608-1682)
Sri Samartha Ramadas (वि.सं. 1665-1739; ई. सन्. 1608-1682)

– Krishna Gopal Sharma

Birth Anniversary of Guru Samartha Ramadas (February 17, 2020)

A crusader to protect the Sanatana Dharma in the face of Islamic aggression, Samartha Guru Ramadas has come to be one of the world’s greatest saints. He was born at a place called Jamb near River Godavari in Maharashtra. He was a devotee of Sri Ram and Hanuman since his childhood. At the time of his wedding, when the priest said ‘be mindful’, he stood up right there and attempted to run away from home.

His great penance – Sri Samartha Guru did penance for 12 long years on the banks of River Godavari.  Every day, from early morning till afternoon, he would stand in waist-deep water and chant Gayatri Mantra. He had chanted the Ram Mantra ‘Sri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama’ a whopping 13 crore times. And then he embarked on a tour of the country’s holy places. When Samartha Guru Ramdas came to Pandharpur, he saw only Sri Ram even there. This was where he met Saint Tukaram. He was disheartened by the socio, political, economic condition of the nation at that time. Samartha Guru felt that Lord Sri Ram himself has directed him to help out Shivaji.

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Opposition of caste discrimination:  A huge section of society faced persecution and humiliation due to caste discrimination. Samartha Guru considered this discrimination wrong in every way possible and launched a social awareness programme to fight it. He had propounded the concept in his Sri Daasabodha book that there is the same Brahman in everyone. He says:
Oonch Neech Naahin Paari
Raaya Ranka Yekachi Saari
Jhaalaa Purush Adhvaa Naari
Yekaachi pad ||24||

(Sri Daasbodh Saathva Dashak, Brahma Nirupan – 24, Page 179-180)

Which means that there is no high or low. In His presence, King or servant, the poor are the same. Men or women, they all get the same status. Tukaram says God is the same for everyone.

ब्राह्मणाचें ब्रह्म ते सोवळे। आणि शूद्राचें ब्रह्म ते ओवळे। 
ऐसें वेगले आगळे। तेथें असेचि ना॥
उंच ब्रह्म तें रायासी। नीच ब्रह्म तें परिवारासी।
ऐसा भेद तयापास। मुळीच नाहीं॥
(Ibid, Saathva Dashak, Brahmanirupan- 25.26 Page.180)

Which means that it cannot be decided that the Brahman of the Brahmin is holy and Brahman of the Shudra is unholy. It cannot be even said that a Raja’s God is a superior being than a people’s god. Samartha Guru saw God in human beings and rejects all discrimination in the name of caste and creed:

भेटो कुणी येक नर। धेड़ महार चांभार।
त्याचे राखावे अंतर । या नाव भजन।
(Lok Nayak Samartha Guru Ramadas, Page 94)

Which means ‘When you meet a person from Ghed, Mahaar, Chambhar (Harijan castes) communities, prayer is nothing but keeping each heart’s desire in mind.’ In Varkari tradition, there was a saint who belonged to the Mahar Caste. His name was Sant Chokhamola. Samartha Guru says:

अनाथांचा नाथ रे। त्याला कैसी जात रे।
चोखामेला संगे जेवी। दही दूध भात रे।

Which means the lord of the orphans has no caste. He eats a meal of curd, milk and rice with Chokhamola.’ And some other time Samartha Guru gives a clearer explanation of the uselessness of caste:  

रामी रंगले मन। असो नीच जाती। 
त्यांच्या चरणांची। वंदीन मी माती। (Ibid, Page. 94)

Which means that person’s caste may be low, but his heart is filled with the colour of devotion of Ram. I consider the dust under his feet as holy and I bow to him. ‘What is that holiness that becomes polluted at mere touch, he asks.

ऐसे कैसे हे सोवळे । शीवता होतसे ओवळे॥ (Ibid, Page 97)

Reject all kinds of feelings of high and low and love everyone from your heart. That is what aids in everyone’s prosperity, said the saint.

ऊँच नीच म्हणों नये । सकळांचे निववावे हृदये।
राखावी बहुतांची अंतरें। भाग्य येते तद नंतरें॥ (Ibid, Page. 97)

You should not consider anyone high or low. Win everyone’s hearts, make a place in everyone’s heart, love them and ensure prosperity.

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Food and money to ‘Untochables’ – Samartha Guru had invited a thousand couples from the so-called Untouchable community to a discourse on the occasion of Ram Navami at a village called Bhoravadi near Chaapal. After making them bathe in Maand river, he performed a Puja to all of them. He gave clothes to men and woman. He hosted a lunch for all of them and gave them money as Dakshina. At that time, this was considered a major revolutionary gesture. Giridhar Swami wrote about this with illustration in the book Samartha Pratap. Dr Sacchidananda Parlikar wrote that Samartha Guru did not choose to give Dakshina only to Brahmins. In his view, even ‘untouchable’ couples had every right to receive Dakshina. He did not like to discriminate between people on the basis of caste, creed and community.  (Ibid, Page.96)

Samartha Guru Ramadas believed that those who walked the path of Bhakti found the Almighty.

चहंवर्णा नामाधिकार । नामी नाहीं लहान थोर।। 
जडमूढ पैलपार। पावती नामें॥ (Ibid, Page. 96)

Which means that people belonging to all four Varnas had a right to chant the name of God. Even idiots and the ignorant could cross the oceans of mortal life by taking God’s name. The only threshold, condition that the Guru dictated to define high and low was Karma, someone’s actions in life.

श्रेष्ठ कर्म करी तो श्रेष्ठ। कृत्रिम करी तो कनिष्ठ। 
कर्मानुसार प्राणी नष्ट। अथवा भले॥ (वही, पृ. 96)

Those who do good deeds become good people and those who are artificial become low. It is due to Karma that a man falls or rises.

Efforts to free the nation – Samartha Guru was someone who systematically worked to free the nation from Islamic aggression and terror. He first built a Hanuman temple near Krishna river at Mahabaleswar, established a Math and gradually established another 11 Maths and Hanuman temples. He went on to build thousands of Hanuman temples and Akharas all over Maharashtra.

At the time Samartha Guru lived, there were widespread atrocities across the nation. At most places, Muslims were in power. Samartha Guru considered taking power back from Muslims also as a work dedicated to God.

देव मस्तकी धरावा। अवघा हलकल्लोळ करावा।।
मुलुख बडवा कि बुडवावा। धर्मस्थापनेसाठी॥ (वही, पृ. 191)

Keep the Almighty on your head and make a noise all over, cry out for war. Destroy those Muslim rulers who are wrecking our religion and establish a rule of Dharma, he called out. Swarajya is a work of Dharma and even if one has to sacrifice one’s life, it is less.

धर्म कारितां मरावे। मरोनि अवघ्यांसी मारावे।
मारितां मारितां घ्यावे। राज्य आपुले॥ (वही, पृ. 191)

Be prepared to die for Dharma Sthapan. Kill if necessary, die if you have to but establish a rule of Dharma. He inspired the devout with such clarion calls.

देवद्रोही तितुके कुत्ते। मारोनि घालावें परतें। 
देवदास पावती फत्ते। यदर्थी संशयो नाहीं॥ (वही, पृ. 192)

The traitors of God, those who demolish Hindu temples are all dogs. Those who kill them are the devout. And, have no doubt, they shall win.
Guruji considered Ram Navami as a tool to unite all Hindu community and organised innumerable Ram Navami festivals. There were Sri Ram chariot processions and people participated with enthusiasm.

Huge following – Samartha Guru wanted to bring an awakening and unity to the Hindu community across the country. Out of his huge disciple base, he made 1100 disciples Mahants and that included 300 women. They travelled across the country and strove to unite the Hindu community everywhere. More than a thousand Maths were established under their leadership and those were places that shunned caste discrimination strictly
The empowered ranks of the Maths and Akharas established across the nation, from Tanjore to Kashmir, gave a lot of cooperation to Shivaji Maharaj. When Shivaji’s son Rajaram had to leave Maharashtra and go south, he could fight Aurangzeb for 20 years only because of the support of the Tanjore Math.

Literary Works – realising the need for the Hindu community to be provided with resources on many issues, Samartha Guru Ramadas wrote Daasabodha, Karunashtaka, Manaache Shlok, and Sundara Kanda and Yuddha Kanda from the Ramayan.
Ramadas made a wonderful attempt to build a unified social order. He trained thousands of Karyakartas. His message was that Lord Ram lived inside all of us and love everyone. Discriminating on the basis of caste meant, disregarding the presence of Prabhu Ram inside us. He had united many classes that were called Backward and brought them to help Shivaji Maharaj in establishing an formidable Hindu order,

(Source: The Saint Tradition of India and Social Harmony – Pages 344 से 349)

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