Many Voices, One Song (The Poet Mystics of Maharashtra)

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Item Code: NAF627
Author: Judith Sankaranarayan
Publisher: Radha Soami Satsang Beas
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9788184662450
Pages: 394
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 Inch X 6.0 Inch
Weight 590 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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100% Made in India
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Book Description

In the last several decades Radha Soami Satsang Beas has published a series of books on the mystics of the East reflecting the unity of mystic teachings. Sant Namdev and Sant Tukaram, two saints from Maharashtra, a state in western India, have already been represented in the series. In researching the lives and teachings of these two poet mystics, it became clear that medieval Maharashtra was blessed with an abundance of saints who taught the bhakti path, the way of devotion. The discovery led to the preparation of this book.

The easier part of this project has been sharing the teachings of the mystics - all write of love for the Lord and the master and all speak of the bhakti practice. The more difficult endeavour was finding reliable biographical information about the mystics, who themselves gave no importance to recording chronicles of their lives. We have therefore tried to portray the mystics simply as they are known, remembered and loved by the people of the region.

Translation can never truly capture the sweetness and depth of the mystics' own language. In this book the attempt has been to adhere to the expression of the mystics as far as possible while rendering the verses into clear and inspiring English. To convey, the rich variety of names used by the saints for the Supreme Being, descriptive phrases giving their meaning have been made a part of the translation.

The book begins with an introduction giving a taste of the themes of the themes of the mystics, followed by a small sampling of their songs. It then expands into a discussion of their lives, times and teachings. The poetry section that follows is organized alphabetically by Marathi-language first lines, which are indexed in roman script at the end of the book. This choice has been made since many of our readers are familiar with the words of the poems in their original language. Brief sketches of the lives of the mystics mentioned in the book are provided. The sources of all quotations and poems are given in endnotes, and a glossary and subject index are also included.

It is our hope that Many Voices, One Song: The Poet Mystics of Maharashtra will serve to convey the relevant and needed today as it was in medieval Maharashtra.



Visionaries and mystics - great human beings of unbounded heart and compassion - enable us to see a world without divisions. Through them we see the potential of human beings to know their common spiritual nature and live a life rooted in spiritual values that unite all humanity. Inspired by them, we too may choose to direct the course of our lives towards our higher objective.

Whether we think of such visionaries as emissaries of God or whether we see them as human beings of exceptional wisdom makes little difference. What is significant is that they teach a way of being that leads to the experience of the Divine, and that they themselves are living examples of a path of action that is a possibility for everyone. They ask us to walk with them and reflect on their teachings, to seek the universal spiritual reality that is our very essence. Experience what we have experienced, they advise, and learn from the many who have come before us: human beings are all in essence one divine family, so value our diversity but value most our spiritual unity, our shared inheritance. Seek this inheritance, they urge. Walk the inner way, the way of One, the way of love!

Many Voices, One Song: the Poet Mystics of Maharashtra opens a window onto the lives and teachings of some of the many mystics who lived in Maharashtra, India, between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries and taught the universal path of irfher devotion. The abundance of mystic poetry that emerged in those centuries reflects not only the humility and profound spiritual understanding of the mystics but also the receptive minds and hearts of the people of their time - their commitment to seek beyond the hardships of daily living, their courage to choose an unconventional way beyond the ritual practices of the day, their passion to know a deeper and higher reality.

Imagine for a moment being born in fourteenth-century Maharashtra, a world in which your birth determines your social status and how you live. Imagine you have been born with little status in the eyes of your fellow human beings. You may not even have the right to worship in the temple with those of higher status. The practice of worship seems to be a privilege exclusive to particular sections of society, or to those who study and recite scriptures in a language you do not understand. Your 'accident' of birth, a fact beyond your control, appears to have denied you a relationship with God and determined the pattern of your days till you die. Imagine this as your lot.

But this is just one side of the picture. The other side is that you have the opportunity to meet, in person, experts in the subject of spirituality - mystic adepts and teachers. Some call them saints — in Maharashtra, they are known as sants (saints), mahatmas (great souls) and sadgurus (true masters). They live as ordinary human beings, but their teachings and the way they explain life impress you in an extraordinary way. The powerful positive energy that surrounds them attracts you to them. Their songs and words ring with truth and you want to know more. They give you love and respect with no concern for your background. Theirs is a message filled with compassion and hope as they invite you to make your life meaningful - to understand the all-embracing nature of truth.

The path of devotion taught by the poet saints of Maharashtra can be found at the heart of all religions. In India, those with a Hindu background are generally known as Bhakti mystics and those within the context of Islam are called Sufis. All honoured their own religious tradition and spoke its language, yet they travelled and taught the same essential inner path. All held love of the Divine and a life of devotion as the objective of life. Their universal message lives in the hearts of devotees all over the world, reminding us that the ultimate reality is within everyone; it has no form, shape or qualities and belongs to no one religion. 'God' is love, and the simple fact of being human creates a unique opportunity to consciously experience divine reality. This has always been the revolutionary message of the mystics.

The reality of which mystics speak is also at the heart of modern science in its quest for a 'theory of everything', a theory that would explain all phenomena with one single model. But divine reality is too subtle ever to be known through research in the physical arena. In essence, every human being is a microcosm of this ‘everything’ sought by science. Mystics, as experts in the science of the soul, come to know its nature through meditation within ht elaborator of the self. In stillness and quiet they experience more than what the body and mind can ever know. Through meditation the mystic practitioner knows and merges with that most subtle and powerful energy that vitalizes the world, that originates and gives life to all creation.

Mystics of all cultures and times record their experience of this primal power as extraordinary, enrapturing light and luminous sound within themselves-the ultimate experience of intoxication and bliss. The mystics of Maharashtra called this power Nam, which is translated as ‘Name’. Nam has two aspects. Initially a seeker encounters Nam as the name or names given by the guru to repeat as a mantra. The practice of repetition, infused with the power of the guru-disciple relationship, focuses and stills the disciple’s mind. Once the soul is free of the limitations of the mind, of the true, unspoken Name. This Name is the goal and destination of bhakti practice.

The mystics of Maharashtra-the bold, the dedicated, the divine-intoxicated- sang their abhangs, their ceaseless songs of devotion, to awaken longing for the eternal transcendent Name . Through their verses, they shared their experience of bhakti. It would therefore seem fit to this study with nine gems of devotion in the mystics own words.




  Preface xvii
  Introduction 1
1 The Heart of the Matter 5
  Your Name is Everything 7
  Torrent of Love 8
  Only a Moment 8
  Good and Bad, This Body 9
  He will Tell Me 10
  This Restless Heart 11
  Carefree 12
  Endless Remembrance 13
  Such joy! 14
2 The Mystics of Maharashtra 15
  Across the centuries 15
  The social and religious context 18
  A language for all 21
3 Eight Poet Mystics 25
  Dnyabeshwar, the embodiment of true knowledge 27
  Namdev, tailor of the robe of Nam 33
  Janabai, beloved daughter of the Lord 37
  Chokah Mela, l pure of heart 42
  Eknath, the compassionate 45
  Tukaram, fountain of inspiration 51
  Samarth Ramadas, wedded to the Lord 55
  Bahinabai, devoted disciple and wife 60
4 The Bhakti Path 66
  The inner pilgrimage 66
  The Lord within 70
  The unstruck song 77
  The inner miracle 79
  The practice of bhakti 81
  The jewel of the master 85
  The jewel of the Name 93
  The jewel of devotion 101
5 Many Voices, One song 127
  Dnyaneshwar's Prayer for Humanity 129
  What can You Claim? 131
  Brought Here on Loan 132
  Forgetting to Love 132
  The Wonder 133
  What Detachment Brings 133
  What Is Knowledge? 134
  If your Serve the Guru 136
  With draw from yourself 137
  The jewel in My crown 138
  The Stream of simran 139
  Forever Happy 140
  Perfect Concentration 141
  In His Will 142
  No taste for nectar 143
  The gift of this body 143
  A Harvest of straw 144
  Music Eternal 145
  When remorse surfaces 145
  The lamp of worship 146
  Don't waste a moment 146
  Untrue to true 147
  Knowing all this 148
  Free Laundrymen 149
  Keep Trouble Away 150
  Stay Alert 150
  Full Measure 151
  Throw Away the World 151
  One Method 152
  A simple Secret 152
  Ancient coin 153
  A single desire 154
  Sword's Edge 155
  A devotee 156
  From Root to Fruit 157
  To Please Him 158
  So Tired 159
  The Cure-All 159
  Just sing the Name 160
  All Is as it Should be 161
  Rescued in a moment 162
  Treasure in your hand 163
  So weak 164
  In praise of the name 165
  Sand castles 166
  Travel simran 167
  Simply Simran 168
  The treasure of discrimination 169
  Asleep to the world 170
  This I want 170
  The living Temple 171
  Master guides his disciple 172
  Beyond Destruction 174
  Wherever you want 174
  Enough of stones 175
  A pure heart 175
  Tuka's plea 176
  He shines 177
  then the sound 177
  Pure of heart 178
  Those in love 179
  Put your life to use 180
  Now Ecstasy 180
  Play with wind 181
  Why want more? 181
  The inner Rosary 182
  The value of initiation 183
  Even the worst 184
  Jewel of liberation 185
  In all you do 186
  Home Awaits 186
  Living in the one 187
  See me in all 188
  Light into light 189
  Crown of all practices 190
  the master 190
  Master the mind 192
  Evening prayer 193
  Find the Middle 194
  Master of kal 195
  River of Nectar 196
  Who Is Yours? 197
  All these efforts 198
  I'll stay near 199
  Only love 200
  Sandalwood and Asafoetida 201
  Holy contract 202
  You Haven't Cared 203
  The royal Highway 204
  For a broken pot 206
  Ripple on water 208
  Not a Penny 208
  All is a false 209
  A Liberated soul 210
  Don't Be lazy 211
  Muktabai's lpea 212
  Can this be God? 213
  In Humility 214
  Mind is the Benefactor 215
  See how close 216
  O my mind 216
  NO room for Happiness 222
  Mind cut short 223
  Friend and enemy 224
  Kill Death 225
  Unexpected Gift 226
  You Protect Me 227
  The Great Giver 228
  Governing the village 228
  The Doer 230
  Days Are Flying by 231
  Before it burns down 232
  Even the Offenders 233
  Only a fool 234
  Spirituality is different 235
  Keep Quiet 236
  The jewel of life 237
  The essence of all 238
  The easiest way 238
  The elixir 239
  See for yourself 239
  All mirage 240
  This light 240
  Not necessarily saints 241
  Lie low 242
  All the same 242
  You wander 243
  Caught in the senses 244
  Be tranquil 245
  A visitor 246
  Then we go 246
  Who is Bound? 247
  Friend and Enemy alike 248
  Stones and water 249
  Keep Your Reputation, Lord! 250
  Treasure Divine 251
  Crop of love 252
  Reveal the hidden 253
  Simply shadows 254
  Not of this world 255
  Reality Drowned 256
  What Greater Worship 257
  Everyone still cries 258
  Salt and sea 259
  Forgetting god 260
  I'll be yours 261
  Unperturbed 263
  Destroy the darkness 262
  Come closer 263
  Becoming God 264
  Someday 265
  Waves and whirlpools 266
  Realization here and now 267
  The noose stays tight 268
  Make a profit 268
  The fair 269
  Now whole 271
  Ferry them safely 272
  Wondrous Physicians 272
  A peace sets in 273
  The noblest jewel 274
  Your essence 275
  All the Merits 276
  Truth 277
  Surrender 278
  Pure and Impure 279
  Polluting the waters 280
  The worth of spiritual discourses 281
  I am Free 283
  Pure Form 283
  Wonderstruck 284
  Turmoil day and night 284
  The immortals wait 285
  What have you accomplished? 286
  This is Penance 287
  Enough! 288
  Sit still 291
  Easy to talk 291
  Blossom of light 292
  Awake 293
  Not without god 294
  Climb the ladder 295
  Turn Back 296
  Right There 297
  Never Be lazy 298
  Sail Across 299
  This Belly 300
  Work Hard 300
  This fool, this madman 301
  The strongest ones 301
  The last resort 302
6 Life Sketches 303
  Appendix 321
  Endnotes 323
  Key to Abbreviations of texts quoted 323
  Glossary 334
  Bibliography 345
  Index of marathi first lines 355
  Subject index 359
  Addresses for information and books 373
  Books on spirituality 379

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