Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Sketches
Saints are said to be persons who make it easier for others to believe in God. Saint Naamdev of Mahaaraashtra was one such saint who was the pioneer of singing devotionals in Keertan (hymns) style in 17th century AD. Naamdev was a precocious boy. When he was still a boy of eight years, he bore the stamp of religious way of life, and his devotion was so deep that it made Paandurang Vitthal, the presiding deity of Pandharpur, play with him assuming different forms.
As he grew up, Naamdev almost became an itinerant preacher propagating the Bhakti (devotion) cult singing paeans in praise of God and by giving religious discourses. He always offered devout prayers to that Eternal Spirit who enriched his spirituality, power of speech and religious knowledge. As an astrologer had predicted when he was young, Naamdev composed countless devotional lyrics, popularly known as "Abhang".
Naamdev approached a Bhakti poet-saint Gyaaneshwar (Gyaan Dev), a very popular holy man, for spiritual guidance. After some time, Sant Gyaaneshwar advised Naamdev to go to Visoba Khecher for further guidance in meditation. He told Naamdev that God is omnipresent even in the dust which we stamp. Soon Naamdev gave up dualistic thinking about God, and became one with Paandurang Vitthal instantly receiving a surfeit of that spiritual independence. We notice two great influences at work in his life. One, from within, was his own vivid imagination, which saw visions and revelations in every common event. The other, from outside, was the spiritual ferment of the age. Naamdev's life was an epitome of that astonishing religious individualism.
Naamdev traveled far and wide propagating the Bhakti cult. He went as far as Punjab and popularized his devotional songs. Even today, the Panjaabee sing his devotional songs. They call him reverentially "Baabaa Naamdev". Some of his songs are even included in the sacred book of Sikh religion Guru Granth Sahib, during the time of the fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev Jee.
Naamdev and a Great Devotee Vithobaa
Now Naamdev could not understand that what he could learn from this devotee of Shiv and why Shiv had sent him to see him. Vithobaa said - "O Naamdev, I am so old that I cannot move my limbs, please move my feet where there is no God." Naamdev lifted his feet and tried to put his feet away from that statue, but surprisingly wherever he wanted to put his feet Shiv appeared there. Naamdev repented for his thoughts about that old man and asked for his forgiveness. This taught him the lesson that Shiv or God is everywhere, whether living or non-living things. After this incident Naamdev's life was changed. Now he started seeing Shiv everywhere and lived with him always.
Naamdev Brings a Cow to Life
Saint Namdev prayed to the Lord and chanted His name; devoutly calling to God to bring the cow to back life in a few days. Sure enough, Paandurang appeared in front of Naamdev on the 4th day and revived the cow. Everyone was amazed to see the cow come back to life! The Emperor too, lost his pride and bowed in prayer to the Lord. "But," it was asked, "Why did The Lord wait 4 days before bringing the cow back to life?" Naamdev explained, "God loves His devotee and does what the devotee prays for. Since we asked Him to bring the cow to life in a few days, He came to revive her in 4 days. If we had prayed to Him to bring the cow back to life at that moment, He would have done so immediately."
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 10/20/12