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The Life of Eknath: Sri Eknath Charita
The Life of Eknath: Sri Eknath Charita
Description
Back of the Book

Among the saints of India the contribution of the Maratha saints is of immense importance. The saints of Maharashtra are more popular because they accomplished a high degree of reconciliation between worldly and spiritual life. But as they wrote or spoke in Marathi, the knowledge of what they wrote or spoke became restricted to Marathi readers.

The present book belongs to the series on the life and Works of Indian Saints, which we have started for the benefit of English-knowing readers. It depicts the life of Eknath who occupies a unique place among the saints of Maharashtra. Though in some aspects he is ranked as second to Tukaram he is the greatest of the Maratha saints who wrote in emotional verses-the abhangas.

The present account of the life of Eknath is derived from the Bhaktalilamrta (Chs. 13-24) of Mahipati. The record is traditionally regarded as the authentic version for all modern references to Eknath. It contains episodes, which depict the various phases and aspects of the life of Eknath and have attained popularity for their moral value. They portray the devotional ardour which inspired Eknath and which became the vital breath of his life. There is a religious fervour and an emotional element in all his writings which have universal appeal and can be utilized for their emotional content by a person of any creed or religion.

Preface

In that Preface I called attention to the fact that I felt there was moral value in the stories of the Maratha Saints, and that that fact had influenced me to make these translations. For these, translation I had chosen the oldest original sources, or at least those that were the best expression of tradition. I paid my respects to Mahipati, who collected the old stories, and rewrote them in his own graphic style. I briefly discussed the question of the historic character of these stories, and the confused subject of chronology. I confessed to difficulties in the path of these translations, and of their production in India. But I expressed my confidence in the generosity and courtesy of my Indian readers, to whom I was offering these flowers, if I may be permitted so to call them. I made my namaskar to those Marathi scholars who have done so much for the old Marathi literature, and expressed my thanks to Dr. Nicol Macnicol for his extreme kindness in seeing these translations through the press.

As a special preface to this volume on Eknath the following points may be referred to. The reader may ask why I translated Mahipati's account in the Bhaktalilamrita, when that account is but the same story as that told by Kesavaswami, only rewritten in Mahipati's own words. The truthful answer is that I had already translated it before I was properly aware of Kesavaswami's version, and the relation of Mahipati's Bhaktalilamrta to it. However, Mahipati's version has this advantage that the story of Eknath is more interestingly told. And moreover the slight differences between his account and that of Kesava may possibly be accounted for; because of access to other traditions, such as he used when twelve years before he wrote the short and incomplete account of Eknath in his Bhakta-vijaya. The two modern Eknath charitras by Sahasrabuddhe and Pangarkar and Ajgaonkar in Marathi are but resumes of this Bhaktalilamrta account.

A few words regarding Mahipati, the author of the Bhaktalilamrita will not be out of place. He was born at Taharabad in the Rahuri Taluka of the Ahmednagar district in the year 1715. he was early inclined to the religious life, but the death of his father necessitated his engaging in secular affairs. He was for a time a Government servant, but finding his worldly duties interfering with his religious inclinations he gave up the former. His interest centered on the lives of the Maratha Saints, and his writings are nearly all on lives of the Maratha Saints, and his writings are nearly all on that subject. He is the author of many works, but the two for which he is especially known are the Bhaktavijaya, completed in 1762, and the Bhaktalilamrta completed in 1774. (See Maharashtra Sarasvata by Mr. V. E. Bhave, first edition, page 372, on Mahipati.)

It would have been possible to add to my translation any number of references and footnotes. They would have interested scholars, but would be a burden to the ordinary reader and certainly a burden to the writer, who feels his time and strength can be better employed.

I am aware of many defects connected with these translations and accompanying notes. The reader will, however, bear in mind that hitherto little has been done to give to English readers a knowledge of the lives of the Maratha saints. A pioneer ha always difficulties that do not beset the path of those who follow. Edwards' life of Tukaram, and the Poems of Tukaram, translated by Fraser and Marathe, are the only attempts hitherto made that give a full account of a Maratha saint, and his works. Short resumes of the lives of the most prominent of the Maratha saints appear in many works, and in many histories of the Maratha people, Tales of the Saints of Pandharpur by C. A. Kincaid is a condensation of stories from the Bhaktavijaya (the story of Eknath is strangely omitted.) Dr. Nicol Macnicol has very effectively put into English verse many of the lines of the Maratha poets. But so far as I am aware no English writer has taken up an exhaustive study of the whole field of the Maratha saints. In therefore leading the way by means of translations of the original sources I have met with difficulties of many kinds, and I am only too well aware of the imperfections of my work. But, if my efforts bring about a better acquaintance with the Maratha saints, my real object will have been accomplished, and the path will be easier or those who follow me.

My own feeling regarding Eknath is that, although he does not enjoy the popularity of Tukaram as to his writings, in character, in ideals, in learning, in the consistency and nobleness of his life, he is the greatest of the Maratha poet-saints. I have already expressed the opinion that these traditional stories, told by Mahipati and others, are not necessarily exact history, but rather history plus the variations that have come about as they were handed down from mouth to mouth, and yet that are in keeping with the impression which the man made on his generation. That impression is after all the important thing, and there Eknath excels.

Contents
Page
Dedicationv
Prefacevii
Introductionxii
Life Of Eknath1
Glossary271

The Life of Eknath: Sri Eknath Charita

Item Code:
IDI624
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
1997
ISBN:
812081360X
Language:
(Translated from the Bhaktalilamrta)
Size:
7.2"X 4.8
Pages:
322
Price:
$22.50   Shipping Free
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Back of the Book

Among the saints of India the contribution of the Maratha saints is of immense importance. The saints of Maharashtra are more popular because they accomplished a high degree of reconciliation between worldly and spiritual life. But as they wrote or spoke in Marathi, the knowledge of what they wrote or spoke became restricted to Marathi readers.

The present book belongs to the series on the life and Works of Indian Saints, which we have started for the benefit of English-knowing readers. It depicts the life of Eknath who occupies a unique place among the saints of Maharashtra. Though in some aspects he is ranked as second to Tukaram he is the greatest of the Maratha saints who wrote in emotional verses-the abhangas.

The present account of the life of Eknath is derived from the Bhaktalilamrta (Chs. 13-24) of Mahipati. The record is traditionally regarded as the authentic version for all modern references to Eknath. It contains episodes, which depict the various phases and aspects of the life of Eknath and have attained popularity for their moral value. They portray the devotional ardour which inspired Eknath and which became the vital breath of his life. There is a religious fervour and an emotional element in all his writings which have universal appeal and can be utilized for their emotional content by a person of any creed or religion.

Preface

In that Preface I called attention to the fact that I felt there was moral value in the stories of the Maratha Saints, and that that fact had influenced me to make these translations. For these, translation I had chosen the oldest original sources, or at least those that were the best expression of tradition. I paid my respects to Mahipati, who collected the old stories, and rewrote them in his own graphic style. I briefly discussed the question of the historic character of these stories, and the confused subject of chronology. I confessed to difficulties in the path of these translations, and of their production in India. But I expressed my confidence in the generosity and courtesy of my Indian readers, to whom I was offering these flowers, if I may be permitted so to call them. I made my namaskar to those Marathi scholars who have done so much for the old Marathi literature, and expressed my thanks to Dr. Nicol Macnicol for his extreme kindness in seeing these translations through the press.

As a special preface to this volume on Eknath the following points may be referred to. The reader may ask why I translated Mahipati's account in the Bhaktalilamrita, when that account is but the same story as that told by Kesavaswami, only rewritten in Mahipati's own words. The truthful answer is that I had already translated it before I was properly aware of Kesavaswami's version, and the relation of Mahipati's Bhaktalilamrta to it. However, Mahipati's version has this advantage that the story of Eknath is more interestingly told. And moreover the slight differences between his account and that of Kesava may possibly be accounted for; because of access to other traditions, such as he used when twelve years before he wrote the short and incomplete account of Eknath in his Bhakta-vijaya. The two modern Eknath charitras by Sahasrabuddhe and Pangarkar and Ajgaonkar in Marathi are but resumes of this Bhaktalilamrta account.

A few words regarding Mahipati, the author of the Bhaktalilamrita will not be out of place. He was born at Taharabad in the Rahuri Taluka of the Ahmednagar district in the year 1715. he was early inclined to the religious life, but the death of his father necessitated his engaging in secular affairs. He was for a time a Government servant, but finding his worldly duties interfering with his religious inclinations he gave up the former. His interest centered on the lives of the Maratha Saints, and his writings are nearly all on lives of the Maratha Saints, and his writings are nearly all on that subject. He is the author of many works, but the two for which he is especially known are the Bhaktavijaya, completed in 1762, and the Bhaktalilamrta completed in 1774. (See Maharashtra Sarasvata by Mr. V. E. Bhave, first edition, page 372, on Mahipati.)

It would have been possible to add to my translation any number of references and footnotes. They would have interested scholars, but would be a burden to the ordinary reader and certainly a burden to the writer, who feels his time and strength can be better employed.

I am aware of many defects connected with these translations and accompanying notes. The reader will, however, bear in mind that hitherto little has been done to give to English readers a knowledge of the lives of the Maratha saints. A pioneer ha always difficulties that do not beset the path of those who follow. Edwards' life of Tukaram, and the Poems of Tukaram, translated by Fraser and Marathe, are the only attempts hitherto made that give a full account of a Maratha saint, and his works. Short resumes of the lives of the most prominent of the Maratha saints appear in many works, and in many histories of the Maratha people, Tales of the Saints of Pandharpur by C. A. Kincaid is a condensation of stories from the Bhaktavijaya (the story of Eknath is strangely omitted.) Dr. Nicol Macnicol has very effectively put into English verse many of the lines of the Maratha poets. But so far as I am aware no English writer has taken up an exhaustive study of the whole field of the Maratha saints. In therefore leading the way by means of translations of the original sources I have met with difficulties of many kinds, and I am only too well aware of the imperfections of my work. But, if my efforts bring about a better acquaintance with the Maratha saints, my real object will have been accomplished, and the path will be easier or those who follow me.

My own feeling regarding Eknath is that, although he does not enjoy the popularity of Tukaram as to his writings, in character, in ideals, in learning, in the consistency and nobleness of his life, he is the greatest of the Maratha poet-saints. I have already expressed the opinion that these traditional stories, told by Mahipati and others, are not necessarily exact history, but rather history plus the variations that have come about as they were handed down from mouth to mouth, and yet that are in keeping with the impression which the man made on his generation. That impression is after all the important thing, and there Eknath excels.

Contents
Page
Dedicationv
Prefacevii
Introductionxii
Life Of Eknath1
Glossary271
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