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23.12.17

Samartha Ramdas



Guru Samartha Ramdas (1608-1681) devoted his energies to establishing what he called Maharashstradharma, using religious faith to install a sense of integrity and greatness in the Maratha people. He became the guru of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha empire, who drove the Mughal conquerors from Maharashtra. 

The Dasbodha is his magnum opus. This huge work of 7752 ovis (verses) was compiled between 1659 and 1681, and is a compendium of advice for his followers.

The unmeditable should be meditated on.
The formless should be remembered.
Company should be sought with the companionless.
Express should be given to the wordless.
In remembering, it is forgotten;
in forgetting, it is remembered.
One meets it without trying to meet,
and loses it in trying to meet.
Not attained by an effort to attain it,
but attained by remaining silent.
(7.7; MMI 192)



There is an English translation by W.G.Tambwekar (1902).  Partial summaries in English are in V.H.Date's Spiritual treasures of St.Ramdasa (1975) and V.S.Kanvinde's Dasbodha (1963). Several more recent translations, partial and full, are available on the web, include one in the Internet Archive.

The earliest writings of Ramdas are the Karunastakas ("Pathetic verses"). An English summary is in Date’s Spiritual treasures of St.Ramadasa (1975).

There is also the Manache Shloka ("Verses addressed to the Mind"),  sometimes  known  as  Manobodhawhicremainpopularbeinsunbthe followers of the Ramdasi movement.

He who is the peoples’ Lord
Master of all qualities, whose cosmic time-wheel spins the worlds
We bow to Him on whom is rooted our four-fold body sounds
May this eternal path of devotion to Raghawa be dear to all.

My gentle mind, go by this path
of bhakti, which brings God’s love
Give up all that people despise
Do what is praised with all your might.

Rise early and think of Rama
Say prayers first, then speak to men
Abandon not this rule;
Who follows it is blessed in the world of men.
(1-3; trans. M. Noyce)
 

Several translations into English of the Manache Shloka have been published. V.H.Date condenses the original 205 verses into 161 prose paragraphs in his translation in Spiritual treasures of St.Ramadasa (1975). N.P.Gune’s 1984 translation is in Victorian English, but the meaning still comes across. A more recent translation is in Argade’s Musings of the Mind (2004). The most recent translation is by Geeta Sureshkumar Bhatt (2014) available in a Kindle edition. See also Tulpule, CML395.

OthresoRamdasvarieoutputtherarhymnaddressetShri Hanuman (the Bhimarupi stotras), and hundreds of ovis, abhangas, and other Marathi literary forms, few of which have been translated into English. Several  are  given  in  Marathi  verse  with  English  summary  translation  in  M.S.Mate, Temples and legends of Maharashtra (Bombay, 1988,  esp 76-8,100-1,120-1,138-9). For Tulpule's discussion of Ramdas and his writings see CML 394-400 ; MMI 69-72.


His closest disciples, Kalyan and Uddhav, wrote nothing (HML 31), but there are some followers of Ramdas who have left writings, such as Dinkar Gosavi and the poetess-saint, Venabai. 


from John Noyce,  The Saints of Maharashtra (2017)