Eknath was a prominent Marathi saint, scholar, and religious poet of the Varkari sampradaya. In the development of Marathi literature, Eknath is seen as a bridge between his predecessors, Dnyaneshwar and Namdeva, and the later Tukaram and Ramdas.
Eknath was born around 1530 AD in a Brahmin family. Eknath’s parents were Suryanarayan and Rukmini. However, he was brought up by his grandparents, Chakrapani and Saraswatibai, as his parents died very soon after his birth.
Eknath was a great scholar and he wrote a lot of books for people and the principles would be still applicable to the age as well. Out of all the works, the following works which have been identified are listed below.
1. Chatusloki Bhagavata
9. Rukmini Svayamvara
11. Bhavartha Ramayana
Eknath from his very childhood showed faith in God and seemed, unlike other children who were unaware of all divine feelings. Eknath did not enjoy the ordinary games of children. Instead, he would arrange his marbles to represent gods and would offer them flowers. He would place his shoulder a ladle and pretend it was a lute. Then in his lisping words, he would invoke the King of Heaven. Sometimes when saint Haridas would come singing kirtans, Eknath would listen attentively, then repeating the same words, he would dance in ecstasy.
Meeting with his Guru
Eknath heard about a scholarly man, Janardan Swami just when he was twelve years old. He began his quest to meet the holy person.
It is said that Eknath reached the saint’s house at midnight. Eknath showed eagerness to get spiritual knowledge from Janardan Swami. Swami saw that the boy was no ordinary person and showed traits of divine characteristics. He accepted him as his disciple.
Eknath used to keep track of all expenses, accounts, and other details in his Guru’s home. One day when Guru got up early in the morning, Eknath was still checking the accounts. Guru asked, “Eknath, why have you not slept yet.”. “I am keeping track of the accounts, there is some mismatch in the figures. But now I have solved the issue”, Eknath told. Swami was surprised and said, “But you could have done this in the morning as well.” To which Eknath replied, “Even I had slept after seeing this problem, anyways I would not have got sleep.” The swami was so pleased. “Now,” said Janardan, “I want you to concentrate your mind in the same way on Lord Krishna. Only by so doing can you attain your highest well being in this life.”
The humble Eknath.
Eknath was so much loved by the people in the village, that very soon he became so popular. However, there were people who were jealous of his fame. Eknath always climbed down the stairs of the holy river, went to the shore of the river, put the holy water on his forehead, and offer salutations to the Sun. One day his detractors paid a man who used to chew tobacco and told him when Eknath came back after offering salutations to Sun, you spit tobacco on his white robe. When Eknath climbed back after offering salutations to the Sun. The man spit tobacco on his clothes and laughed. However, Eknath bowed down before him, climbed down to the river, put the holy water on his forehead, washed his clothes with water, offered obeisance to the Sun, and came back. The man did the same thing again, spit tobacco on him, and started laughing loudly. However, Eknath smiled bowed before him and went down to the river, washed his clothes, and saluted to the sun. The man did this several times and Eknath was always calm and serene. But alas, the man consumed so much tobacco that he had no more power to spit again. His whole mouth started to pain. He fell on the feet of Eknath and said, “I made such a big mistake, forgive me, Oh holy saint.” To which Eknath replied, “I should thank you, my brother. I am a very lazy person. Because you spit on me so many times, I did salutations to my God numerous time, otherwise, I would have never done that.”
Eknath, the social reformer.
Eknath being a highly spiritual person, also cared for people and society. He realized very quickly that people were living in such a caged life. The Devgiri fort was occupied by the Muslim people. He saw that people in the state were depressed, they had felt as if it was God’s will for them to suffer, so be it. Eknath realized that he needed to awaken the masses. He prayed to Goddess Jagdamba to bless everybody and bring back freedom and love and rid the place from invaders. Gradually through Eknath’s efforts people developed faith amongst themselves and develop unity and protested the evil rulers.
The best way to understand Eknath is to read his words, understand the beautiful teachings he has given in his books, without that we will not be able to understand him fully. In the future, I am planning to analyze some of his works and bring before all of you, which would be highly beneficial to all of us in our daily life.