In the post-Sankara period, with the rise of Gorakhnath and the Nath Sampradaya, there arose in different parts of the country a line of Saints and Mystics who brought the wisdom of the ancients, the Rishis and the Acharyas, to the common people. They adopted the local language and used the medium of song in their mission. They were pilgrims, all the time moving among the people. They came from all classes and strata of the society, which in itself was the outcome of the universality and the basic oneness of men that they proclaimed. They might have risen in diverse schools of religion or philosophy, but all of them emphasized the fundamental truths and the eternal values. With satire and sarcasm, and in homely language with similes and symbols, they declaimed against hypocrisy and corruption, empty forms and rituals and all kinds of sham. Their plea was for sincerity of faith and fellowship of beings and integration of the whole man. With the fall of Hindu kingdoms the ideals and institutions the minstrels of God, kept up the moral of the people and preached the superiority of spiritual values over mundane pursuits. They revitalized the devotion and faith, the Bhakti and Sraddha, of the classes and the masses. In the coming together of cultures, confrontation was not the only result; there was also a synthesis, which gave rise to saints who bridged the gulf and spoke the same voice of integration.
The side coverage that the subject provides has been kept in mind while presenting these men of God. Because of their number and their detailed treatment, these devotional poets and mystics had to be included in two volumes. Some names may appear to have been left out, they will appear in some other volumes, those on the Ramayana-Bharata-Bhagavata poets, teachers and musicians.
In this volume representing Part One, twelve of these personalities are dealt with : five from Tamil Nadu in the South, two from the North-West (Punjab and Kashmir), one from these are women systics, from two terminals of the land, one the Tamil 'Bride of the Lord' and the other who, denuded of everything mundane, including clothing, intoxicated with divine amrita, wandered and yet had her seat in the lap of the Lord. She, as also the weaver-saint of holy Varanasi, are adored alike by Hindus and Muslims.
Two of the chapters here represent group-saints, the Tamil Nayanmars and Alwars, hymnists of Siva and Vishnu. The opening essay, also from the same language-area, relates to the line of 'realised souls" called Sidhas, although it deals in the main with the foremost among them.
The authors who have written on these Saints are scholars in their languages and writers of standing in the concerned fields of literature and culture. Well, read and dwell on the higher planes to which the Saints' lives and sayings uplift you.
Back of the Book
India has had a long line of saints and mystics who, steeped in the deep wisdom of the ancients, brought the results of their own experiences to the common man. It has been easier for the people to imbibe the fundamental truths and eternal values when told through the medium of the song on the local language. Whether the homily is against hypocrisy and corruption or the futility of form and ritual, it is usually found best administered when offered with similes and symbols or satire and sarcasm. The object of these seers was to establish sincerity of faith and integration of the whole man. Since they were always on the move, these minstreals of god kept up the morale of the people by emphasizing the superiority of spiritual values over mundane pursuits.
The present volume includes twelve of these personalities. The authors of the lives of the various saints are scholars in their language and experts in their respective fields of literature and culture.
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