Saint Namdeo (29 October, 1270 - 1350) (Marathi: संत नामदेव) or Bhagat Namdeo was born on October 29, 1270 in the state of Maharashtra village of Narasi-Bamani, in Hingoli district (presently called Narsi Namdev). His father, a calico printer/tailor (Bhavsar), was named Damshet and his mother's name was Gonabai. Most of the spiritual message of Bhagat Namdeo emphasized the importance of living the life of a householder (गृहस्थ जीवन) and that through marriage and having a family one could attain enlightenment.
The first biographer and auto-biographer in Marathi and the foremost proponent of Bhagawad-Dharma who propagated the religion right up to Punjab.
Saint Namdev, a contemporary saint-poet of Saint Dnyaneshwar, is considered a prominent religious poet of Maharashtra. He was one the earliest writers who wrote in the Marathi language. He is the foremost proponent of the Bhagwad-Dharma who reached beyond Maharashtra, right into Punjab. He also wrote some hymns in Hindi and Punjabi. His depth of devotion and talent in delivering Kirtan was of such a high standard that it is said even the Lord Pandurang swayed to his tune. Despite being a proponent of the Warkari sect, Saint Namdev established religious unity across the country.
Saint Namdeo was born in the year 1270 in the village of Narasi-Bamani, now located in the Hingoli District in Maharashtra. He was born to a tailor named Damasheti Relekar and his wife Gonai. Yadusheth, his ancestor in the seventh generation, was a devotee of Bhagawad-Dharma. Soon after his birth, his family moved to Pandharpur, where the prominent temple of Lord Vitthal (also called Vithoba) is located. Saint Namdev’s spent the better part of his life, spanning eighty years, at Pandharpur. His parents were devotees of Vithoba.
Namdev showed little interest in the family profession. Even as a child his devotion to Lord Vitthal was extraordinary - his sole occupation was to spend day and night in devotion to Vithoba. His devotion was so sincere that sometimes he would consider Vithoba to be his dearest brother or his play mate. According to a legend, when Namdev was five years old, his mother once gave him some food offerings for Vithoba and asked him to give it to Vithoba in the Pandharpur temple. Namdev took the offerings and placed it before Vithoba's idol in the temple, asking Vithoba to accept the offerings. When he saw that his request was not being met, he told Vithoba that he would kill himself if Vithoba continued to ignore the offerings. Vithoba then appeared before him and ate the offerings in response to the utter devotion of young Namdev.
At the age of eleven, Namdev was married to Rajai. Namdev and Rajai had four sons namely Nara, Vitha, Gonda, Mahada and a daughter called Limbai. His elder sister, Aubai also lived with them. There were in all fifteen people in the household.
The year 1291 was a turning point in his life at the age of twenty-one when he met Saint Dnyaneshwar. Several records in various saint literatures have been found to the following event which is actually false but spread by some community to dominate Namdev-
Once, all the Saints like Dnyaneshwar, Nivruttinath, Sopandev, Muktabai, Namdeo, Chokhamela, Visoba Khechar, etc. had congregated at Saint Goroba’s house in Terdhoki. As instructed by Saint Dnyaneshwar, Saint Goroba tapped each saint’s pot (head) to find out who was spiritually mature. The reference to the pot being tapped is because Saint Goroba was a potter and him being selected for the test shows his own spiritual maturity. On testing Saint Namdev, Saint Goroba expressed his opinion that Namdev was still immature, which was backed by Saint Muktabai. Miffed by this, Namdev complained to the Lord himself. But the Lord advised him to accept the guidance of Visoba Khechar and Namdev acquired a Guru.
He accepted Visoba Khechar as his ultimate Guru(?), through whom he actually saw the form of God.This Visoba Khechar was Brahmin actually.
His Kirtans have references to many holy books. This shows that he was well read and a great scholar. His Kirtans were so effective that it is said –
Namdev Kirtan kari, pudhe nache dev Panduranga (Namdev delivers his kirtan, in front of him dances the Lord Pandurang)
His goal in life was –
Nachu Kirtanache rangi, Dnyandeep lavu jagi (Will dance to the tune of Kirtan, light the lamp of knowledge the world over)
Namdev travelled through many parts of India, reciting his religious poems (Kirtans). In difficult times, he played the difficult role of uniting the people of Maharashtra spiritually. He is said to have lived for more than twenty years in the village of Ghuman in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab. The Sikh brethren in Punjab consider him one of their own, singing praises of him as Namdev Baba. Bahordas, Laddha, VishnuSwami and Keshav Kaladhari were his disciples in Punjab. He composed around 125 Abhangas in Hindi. Sixty-one of these came to be included in the Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib as Namdevjiki Mukhbani (The holy songs of Namdev). There is an amazing similarity between the ShabdaKirtan of Punjab and the Warkari Kirtan of Maharashtra. A memorial in Ghuman, Punjab commemorates him. Temples in his memory have also been built in Rajasthan by the Sikhs.
In his early fifties, Namdev settled down at Pandharpur where he gathered around himself a group of devotees. His Abhangas became very popular and people thronged to listen to his Kirtans. Approximately 2500 of Namdev's Abhangas have been collected in NamdevVaachi Gaatha. The book also includes the long autobiographical poem Teerthaavali, talking about his travels in the company of Saint Dnyaneshwar. This poem makes him the first auto-biographer in Marathi literature. He has also written a biography on Saint Dnyaneshwar through Aadi, Samadhi and Teerthavali, which makes him the first Marathi biographer. He continued to propagate the Bhagawad-Dharma for 50 years after the death of Saint Dnyaneshwar. Saint Namdev is regarded to have had a significant influence on Saint Tukaram.
He died in July, 1350 at the age of 80 in Pandharpur at the feet of the Lord at Pandharpur. He preferred to be a stepping stone at the temple in Pandharpur so that he would be forever blessed by the touch of innumerable saints and devotees stepping on him into the temple.
गोबिंद गोबिंद गोबिंद संगि नामदेउ मनु लीणा ॥ आढ दाम को छीपरो होइओ लाखीणा
Gobindh Gobindh Gobindh Sang Namadhaeo Man Lena Aadt Dhaam Ko Shheparo Hoeiou Lakhena.
Naam Dayv's mind was absorbed into God Gobind Gobind, Gobind. The calico-printer, worth half a shell, became worth millions.
Sat Guru Arjan Dev Guru Granth Sahib (Page 487)
Namdeo was married before he was eleven years of age to Rajabai, daughter of Govinda Sheti Sadavarte. They had four sons and one daughter. Janabai, the family's maidservant and a devotee and poetess in her own right, records the tradition that Namdeo was born to Gonabai as a result of her worship of Vitthala in Pandharpur.
God's name was always on the lips of Namdeo. He was asked by the king to show miracles. He refused to do so and was thrown before a drunk elephant to be crushed to death.
Under the influence of saint Jnanadeva, Namdev became part of the Bhakti Movement. Vitthala of Pandharpur was now the object of his devotion and he spent much of his time in worship and kirtan, chanting mostly verses of his own composition. In the company of Jnanadeva and other saints, he roamed about the country and later came to the Punjab where he is said to have lived for more than twenty years at Ghuman, in Gurdaspur district, where a temple in the form of samadhi still preserves his memory.
In his early fifties, Namdev settled down at Pandharpur where he gathered around himself a group of devotees. His abhangas or devotional songs became very popular, and people thronged to listen to his kirtan. Namdeo's songs have been collected in Namdevachi Gatha which also includes the long autobiographical poem Tirathavah.
His Hindi verse and his extended visit to the Punjab carried his fame far beyond the borders of Maharashtra. Sixty-one of his hymns in fact came to be included in the Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. His hymns or shabads were very much a inspiration to the Sikh Gurus and they were able to identify the God in Namdeo's hymns with the Sikh version of the formless God.
Remembrance of God's Name central
Namdeo is a pioneer of the Radical bhakti School. Though he appeared a century earlier than Kabir, his religious and social views are very much like those of Kabir. He unambiguously repudiates all the four fundamentals of Vaisnavism. Though in his devotional approach, he is clearly a monotheist, he makes many pantheistic statements too, e.g., every thing is God; there is nothing but God; consider the world and God to be one; the foam and the water are not different. Chaturvedi writes: "Sant Namdeo seemed to believe both in transcendence and immanence, in pantheism and nondualism.
His devotion was purely of the non-attributional absolute. He also considers God to be immanent, everywhere, in all hearts, and the Creator of everything. Like Kabir and the Sufis, Namdeo is very other worldly. He says, "The strength of contempt of the world should be in the body an unchanging companion.
Message of Unity for all
One should lay aside differences between oneself and others, and feel no anxiety for things of the world. Rānadé also writes: "He (Namdeo) tells us that it is impossible that the pursuit of God can be coupled with a life of Samsara. If it had been possible for a man to find God while he was pursuing Samsara, then Sanaka and others would not have grown mad about God. If it had been possible for him to see God while carrying on the duties of a householder, the great Suka would not have gone to the forest to seek God. Had it been possible for people to find God in their homes, they would not have left them to find out. Nam Dev has left all these things, and is approaching God in utter submission."
Namdeo's cosmogenic views are also orthodox. He says that God created maya and "maya is the name of the power that placeth man in the womb." Indirectly, he is neither happy with the world, nor with human birth. To him, shop, shopkeeper, men and everything are unreal excepting God. Against this background, he sought release from the world and suggested renunciation: "Namdeo gave up trade, and devoted himself exclusively to the worship of God".
The world being a play of maya and not being a worthwhile arena for spiritual endeavours, Namdeo's goal was to have union with God through devotion and singing His praises. He says, "I perform worship, sing God's praises and meditate on Him for eight prahar in a day i.e., round the clock. At the same time, he suggests good conduct and purity of life. For, God created all men alike. Though he holds every person responsible for his acts, he clearly does not believe in a world rigidly governed by karma. Because he says: If everything were determined by karma, who created karma originally?
Sant Namdeo not only claims union with God, but, like Kabir, also states that more than once, God miraculously intervened on his behalf to reveal Himself to him, or help him. Without doubt, Namdeo's approach remains otherworldly both before and after his achievement. At one time, he even gave up work so as to remain absorbed in his worship and meditations. He never initiated any religious institution or movement. His was a solitary search for God, without creating any social or religious organisation.
We find that in his repudiation of Vaisnava doctrines, in his metaphysical ideas, methodology and goal and more particularly in his otherworldly approach to the world and society, Namdeo's views are quite identical with those of Kabir.
There is a shabad about Bhagat Namdeo in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib according to which the temple rotated towards his direction as he was not allowed to sit inside the temple.
Gurdwara & Temple
Ghoman is situated about 26 KM Southeast of Batala city and about 10 KM from Sri Hargobindpur. It is towards west side of Sri Hargobindpur. Ghoman is associated with Baba Namdeo (1270–1350). Baba Namdeo was the founder of this town and meditated here for 17 long years. Here he did miraculous deeds.There is a temple in Punjab of Saint Namdev.
The eastern entrance to this temple is known as the Namdeo gate (after the great 13th century Vaishnava saint). The sanctum enshrines the standing image of Vithoba also known as Panduranga, Pandhari or Vitthala. Stylistically the image dates back to the 5th century. There are inscriptions in this temple dating back to the 13th century which place origin of this shrine to the 6th century.