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Stories of Indian Saints
Stories of Indian Saints
Description
Chief Author's Preface

Mahipati was born in the little village of Taharabad, in the Ahmednagar district, in the year 1715, and died in the year 1790. He was a Brahman by birth, and the first we hear of him is that he was employed as the town-scribe of Taharabad. The story told of him is that one day he was summoned by an official of the town to come at once. When the messenger arrived he was sitting performing the worship of God. He replied to the messenger that he was 'busy with his worship and could not come now, but would come later'. The messenger, however, would not take' No' for an answer and insisted that he should come with him. Mahipati finally agreed to to go, but mentally resolved to give up his secular employment and devote himself wholly to the religious life. He went with the messenger, performed his duty, and returned vowing never again to use his pen in secular employment. He resigned from his office and devoted himself solely to religion.

Naturally he became interested in the lives of those who had given up their secular lives, because they had becomes indifferent to its attractions. He then began to write the stories connected with the lives of the lives of the bhaktas (those who with love and devotion worshipped God) who were known in Maharashtra (the great nation, meaning the Marathi country included in the Bombay Presidency).

He evidently began at once to accumulate the books that told of the lives of those saints. He mentions some of them, such as the work of Nabhaji and Chidghan. He possessed the Gathas (Poems) of one Nama Vishnudas. For if we compare the stories told by that Nama we find indisputable evidence that Mahipati used them in writing his own account. It is to be presumed that other books were available, but are now non-existent, through time, rats, white ants and other enemies of manuscripts whether the stories of the different saints are real or legendary, matters little, but from them we learn what was popularly considered their conception of God, and their way of approach to Him. That they considered an image of an avatarlike Rama or Krishna a way of approach cannot be doubted. Tukaram's enthusiasm before the image at Pandharpur and the devotion of Ramdas to image of Rama give abundant evidence. But it should also be remembered that the approach by way of the idol was not their only way. They practised and taught what is called manas Puja, that is, worship with the mind alone. It was their way of going as it were into their inner chamber and closing the door to pray in secret to God, whom they called Mother and Father. If Hindus of the present day would follow the ideas of their saints, they need not seek approach to God through an idol can use the method of manas puja (mental worship).

Not all the bhaktas in these stories held to the ideal of bhakti and Vairaguya (renunciation) as did Tukaram and Ramdas. Many were sincere bhaktas while carrying on their worldly business, but they had the spirit of Vairagya; that is, their indifference to worldly things (or their Vairagya) was one of spirit. It meant that they did not look upon their riches as acquired for their own happiness, but to help the needy. They understood that they should not lay up the temporary riches of this world, but those supreme spiritual riches that are eternal.

Saints like Eknath, Tukaram and Ramadas tried to live the life complete indifference to worldly things, They obeyed literally the precepts, 'Give to him who asketh of thee,' 'Take no thought for the morrow; what ye shall eat or drink, not yet for your body, what ya shall put on." They trusted God for everything. But as I have elsewhere intimated they did not press this upon others unless others so chose it. Others were to continue in the business of life, doing their respective duties, but always with the unselfish spirit of Vairagya or of Indifference to worldly things.

As will be noticed on the title-page, Pandit Narahar R. Godbole will appear as a collaborator with me in the production of the remaining books of the 'poet saints of Maharashtra' series. He has translated a portion of this book and will help me I that same manner in completing the remaining three. The knowledge he has acquired of the language and style of the ancient writings he is making available for me in the laborious work of translating such large books as the Bhaktaviiaya and the Bhaktalilamrit.

Included in my physical weakness is my inability to use a pen. Anyone who has helped me in typing my translation deserves special thanks and a public acknowledgment of it. My nurse, Miss Joan Maree, has learned the art of typing in order to help me, and to her I owe a debt of gratitude.

Pandit N.R. Godbole has been fortunate in obtaining for comparision a rare manuscript of the Bhaktavijaya. He has discovered that the printed versions have omitted several passages that are found in this manuscript. It has seemed to me therefore worth while to publish these passages, and so give the book the form that possibly it originally had.

Pandit's Preface

The Preface to this book has already been written by the Late Dr. Abbott, for his the Manuscript of the translation of the Bhaktavijaya was just completed in his lifetime. On the title-page the learned Doctor has put my name under his as the second author. Nobody need remind me that I do not deserve this high honour, for I know better than anyone else my inability and unworthiness. But he treated me all along with a motherly indulguence, and my joint authorship with him to drop my name from the title –page but in reply he commanded me to accept his decision.

While working for Dr. ''Abbott I was often Impressed by the meagerness of my knowledge of Marathi, and I have often found that his English translation has enabled me to elucidate the meaning of the Marathi text. This fact I told several Marathi scholars whose comparisons of his English translation with the original text often filled them with admiration. Some of them therefore urged me to make known to the public the learned doctor's masterly knowledge of Marathi, which I would have done very readily had it not seemed like trumpeting the fame of my master whose salt I was eating. I am still eating his salt but as he is not living I cannot now be accused of flattery. Many times have I asked him in letters if the Husband of Rukmini had given him the correct interpretation of some difficult Marathi sentence in a dream. On one occasion I wrote a letter to him in the form of Marathi verse and to my great astonishment he sent his reply to me in Marathi verse. In May 1928 I presented copies of Dr. Abbott's first and second publications to the learned Shri Shankaracharya, Dr. Kurtakoti, who was so delighted with them that he was pleased to confer on their author the high title of Bhashabhushan ('an ornament to the language').

Great, however, as was his scholarship and learning, his character was greater still. Mahipati says that 'Saints conquer their opponents by the strength of peace and forgiveness' and Dr. Abbott has strikingly exemplified this in the case of some harsh critics. By nature unassuming and unpedantic, Dr. Abbott was a very thorough and God-fearing Christian, and higher praise than that I feet I cannot bestow.

From the Jacket

The Present book is an English translation of Mahipati's Marathi poem Bhakta-Vijaya which records the legends of Indian saints, irrespective of their difference in caste, community, creed, language and place of origin.

Thus we have record of different saints – Jayadeva, Jnanadeva, Namadeva, Ramananda, Tulasidasa, Kabir, Suradasa, Narsi Mehta and Guru Nanakadeva. A lot of information is available on Ekanath – the greatest scholar-philosopher-saint-poet-cum-social reformer and the towering personalities Tukaram and Ramadasa. It also records the miraculous and fascinating legends of several saints, how they spread the Bhakti cult, how they struggled against discrimination between man and man and how they tried to uproot the malpractices which prevailed in the name of Religion in these days.

"Bhaktavijaya is a classic dealing mainly with the Maharashtra saints and also of a few others belonging to North India like Jayadeva and Kabir.

In this weighty volume two parts are contained with Appendices of words, names and index for ready reference. Libraries need such volumes for people to understand the varied cultures of our land."
K. Chandrasekharan,

It is one of the most fascinating of religious story-books. It is said to be a translation of forty thousand lines of beautiful Marathi poetry."
Nirbhai Singh
The Journal of Religious Studies

CONTENTS

Foreword: By J.F. Edwardsix
Chief Author's Preface: By J.E. Abbott xxii
Pandit's Preface: By Pandit N.R. Godbole xxv
Introduction: Mahapati The Biographer of the Poet Saints xxvii
Introduction: Mahipati – A General Survey: By Dr. G.V. Tagore xxxiii
1.Invocation 1
2.Jayadev 11
3.Life of Tulsidas 31
4.Life of Namdev 57
5.Kabir's Biography 78
6.Kabir and his son Kamal 92
7.Kabir Chooses Ramanand As His Guru 109
8.Dnyandev and His Grandparents 123
9.Life of Dnyandev (continued) 140
10.Life of Dnyandev (continued) 158
11.Namdev, Kabir and Dnyandev (continued) 177
12.Namdev and Dnyandev (continued) 187
13.Namdev's Pilgrimage Ends 204
14. Namdev's Life (continued) 222
15. Namdev's Life (continued) 242
16.Kurmadas the Cripple 260
17.Raka and Gora the Potters 278
18., Life of Namdev (continued) 295
19Jagamitra Naga: God Protects His Own 311
20.Jogs Paramanand Narahari the goldsmith and Namdev 320
21.Namdev and Janabai 338
22.Matsyendranath, Gorakhnath and Changdev 358
23.Chokhamela, Namdev, Jiva and Tatva 377
24.Padmanabh and Kabir 390
25.Rohidas the Shoemaker 401
26.King Pipaji of Gademandal 406
27.Narsi Meheta 415
28.Marriage of Narsi Meheta's Son 429
29.Narsi Meheta's Cheque In God's Name 443
30.Maturity Ceremony of Narsi's Daughter 457
Appendix: 103 Extra Verses 465
Index 490

Stories of Indian Saints

Item Code:
IDJ783
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
1982
Publisher:
Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd
ISBN:
8120804694
Size:
7.2" X 5.1"
Pages:
1070
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$55.00
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Chief Author's Preface

Mahipati was born in the little village of Taharabad, in the Ahmednagar district, in the year 1715, and died in the year 1790. He was a Brahman by birth, and the first we hear of him is that he was employed as the town-scribe of Taharabad. The story told of him is that one day he was summoned by an official of the town to come at once. When the messenger arrived he was sitting performing the worship of God. He replied to the messenger that he was 'busy with his worship and could not come now, but would come later'. The messenger, however, would not take' No' for an answer and insisted that he should come with him. Mahipati finally agreed to to go, but mentally resolved to give up his secular employment and devote himself wholly to the religious life. He went with the messenger, performed his duty, and returned vowing never again to use his pen in secular employment. He resigned from his office and devoted himself solely to religion.

Naturally he became interested in the lives of those who had given up their secular lives, because they had becomes indifferent to its attractions. He then began to write the stories connected with the lives of the lives of the bhaktas (those who with love and devotion worshipped God) who were known in Maharashtra (the great nation, meaning the Marathi country included in the Bombay Presidency).

He evidently began at once to accumulate the books that told of the lives of those saints. He mentions some of them, such as the work of Nabhaji and Chidghan. He possessed the Gathas (Poems) of one Nama Vishnudas. For if we compare the stories told by that Nama we find indisputable evidence that Mahipati used them in writing his own account. It is to be presumed that other books were available, but are now non-existent, through time, rats, white ants and other enemies of manuscripts whether the stories of the different saints are real or legendary, matters little, but from them we learn what was popularly considered their conception of God, and their way of approach to Him. That they considered an image of an avatarlike Rama or Krishna a way of approach cannot be doubted. Tukaram's enthusiasm before the image at Pandharpur and the devotion of Ramdas to image of Rama give abundant evidence. But it should also be remembered that the approach by way of the idol was not their only way. They practised and taught what is called manas Puja, that is, worship with the mind alone. It was their way of going as it were into their inner chamber and closing the door to pray in secret to God, whom they called Mother and Father. If Hindus of the present day would follow the ideas of their saints, they need not seek approach to God through an idol can use the method of manas puja (mental worship).

Not all the bhaktas in these stories held to the ideal of bhakti and Vairaguya (renunciation) as did Tukaram and Ramdas. Many were sincere bhaktas while carrying on their worldly business, but they had the spirit of Vairagya; that is, their indifference to worldly things (or their Vairagya) was one of spirit. It meant that they did not look upon their riches as acquired for their own happiness, but to help the needy. They understood that they should not lay up the temporary riches of this world, but those supreme spiritual riches that are eternal.

Saints like Eknath, Tukaram and Ramadas tried to live the life complete indifference to worldly things, They obeyed literally the precepts, 'Give to him who asketh of thee,' 'Take no thought for the morrow; what ye shall eat or drink, not yet for your body, what ya shall put on." They trusted God for everything. But as I have elsewhere intimated they did not press this upon others unless others so chose it. Others were to continue in the business of life, doing their respective duties, but always with the unselfish spirit of Vairagya or of Indifference to worldly things.

As will be noticed on the title-page, Pandit Narahar R. Godbole will appear as a collaborator with me in the production of the remaining books of the 'poet saints of Maharashtra' series. He has translated a portion of this book and will help me I that same manner in completing the remaining three. The knowledge he has acquired of the language and style of the ancient writings he is making available for me in the laborious work of translating such large books as the Bhaktaviiaya and the Bhaktalilamrit.

Included in my physical weakness is my inability to use a pen. Anyone who has helped me in typing my translation deserves special thanks and a public acknowledgment of it. My nurse, Miss Joan Maree, has learned the art of typing in order to help me, and to her I owe a debt of gratitude.

Pandit N.R. Godbole has been fortunate in obtaining for comparision a rare manuscript of the Bhaktavijaya. He has discovered that the printed versions have omitted several passages that are found in this manuscript. It has seemed to me therefore worth while to publish these passages, and so give the book the form that possibly it originally had.

Pandit's Preface

The Preface to this book has already been written by the Late Dr. Abbott, for his the Manuscript of the translation of the Bhaktavijaya was just completed in his lifetime. On the title-page the learned Doctor has put my name under his as the second author. Nobody need remind me that I do not deserve this high honour, for I know better than anyone else my inability and unworthiness. But he treated me all along with a motherly indulguence, and my joint authorship with him to drop my name from the title –page but in reply he commanded me to accept his decision.

While working for Dr. ''Abbott I was often Impressed by the meagerness of my knowledge of Marathi, and I have often found that his English translation has enabled me to elucidate the meaning of the Marathi text. This fact I told several Marathi scholars whose comparisons of his English translation with the original text often filled them with admiration. Some of them therefore urged me to make known to the public the learned doctor's masterly knowledge of Marathi, which I would have done very readily had it not seemed like trumpeting the fame of my master whose salt I was eating. I am still eating his salt but as he is not living I cannot now be accused of flattery. Many times have I asked him in letters if the Husband of Rukmini had given him the correct interpretation of some difficult Marathi sentence in a dream. On one occasion I wrote a letter to him in the form of Marathi verse and to my great astonishment he sent his reply to me in Marathi verse. In May 1928 I presented copies of Dr. Abbott's first and second publications to the learned Shri Shankaracharya, Dr. Kurtakoti, who was so delighted with them that he was pleased to confer on their author the high title of Bhashabhushan ('an ornament to the language').

Great, however, as was his scholarship and learning, his character was greater still. Mahipati says that 'Saints conquer their opponents by the strength of peace and forgiveness' and Dr. Abbott has strikingly exemplified this in the case of some harsh critics. By nature unassuming and unpedantic, Dr. Abbott was a very thorough and God-fearing Christian, and higher praise than that I feet I cannot bestow.

From the Jacket

The Present book is an English translation of Mahipati's Marathi poem Bhakta-Vijaya which records the legends of Indian saints, irrespective of their difference in caste, community, creed, language and place of origin.

Thus we have record of different saints – Jayadeva, Jnanadeva, Namadeva, Ramananda, Tulasidasa, Kabir, Suradasa, Narsi Mehta and Guru Nanakadeva. A lot of information is available on Ekanath – the greatest scholar-philosopher-saint-poet-cum-social reformer and the towering personalities Tukaram and Ramadasa. It also records the miraculous and fascinating legends of several saints, how they spread the Bhakti cult, how they struggled against discrimination between man and man and how they tried to uproot the malpractices which prevailed in the name of Religion in these days.

"Bhaktavijaya is a classic dealing mainly with the Maharashtra saints and also of a few others belonging to North India like Jayadeva and Kabir.

In this weighty volume two parts are contained with Appendices of words, names and index for ready reference. Libraries need such volumes for people to understand the varied cultures of our land."
K. Chandrasekharan,

It is one of the most fascinating of religious story-books. It is said to be a translation of forty thousand lines of beautiful Marathi poetry."
Nirbhai Singh
The Journal of Religious Studies

CONTENTS

Foreword: By J.F. Edwardsix
Chief Author's Preface: By J.E. Abbott xxii
Pandit's Preface: By Pandit N.R. Godbole xxv
Introduction: Mahapati The Biographer of the Poet Saints xxvii
Introduction: Mahipati – A General Survey: By Dr. G.V. Tagore xxxiii
1.Invocation 1
2.Jayadev 11
3.Life of Tulsidas 31
4.Life of Namdev 57
5.Kabir's Biography 78
6.Kabir and his son Kamal 92
7.Kabir Chooses Ramanand As His Guru 109
8.Dnyandev and His Grandparents 123
9.Life of Dnyandev (continued) 140
10.Life of Dnyandev (continued) 158
11.Namdev, Kabir and Dnyandev (continued) 177
12.Namdev and Dnyandev (continued) 187
13.Namdev's Pilgrimage Ends 204
14. Namdev's Life (continued) 222
15. Namdev's Life (continued) 242
16.Kurmadas the Cripple 260
17.Raka and Gora the Potters 278
18., Life of Namdev (continued) 295
19Jagamitra Naga: God Protects His Own 311
20.Jogs Paramanand Narahari the goldsmith and Namdev 320
21.Namdev and Janabai 338
22.Matsyendranath, Gorakhnath and Changdev 358
23.Chokhamela, Namdev, Jiva and Tatva 377
24.Padmanabh and Kabir 390
25.Rohidas the Shoemaker 401
26.King Pipaji of Gademandal 406
27.Narsi Meheta 415
28.Marriage of Narsi Meheta's Son 429
29.Narsi Meheta's Cheque In God's Name 443
30.Maturity Ceremony of Narsi's Daughter 457
Appendix: 103 Extra Verses 465
Index 490
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