Eknath: The Revered Saint of Varakavi Sampradaya and His Profound Spiritual Legacy

Eknath: The Revered Saint of Varakavi Sampradaya and His Profound Spiritual Legacy
Posted on 01-08-2023

Eknath: The Revered Saint of Varakavi Sampradaya and His Profound Spiritual Legacy

Eknath was a pioneering reformer who played a vital role in promoting the growth and importance of the Marathi language. He advocated that individuals could attain devotion to God while leading a fulfilling family life and fulfilling their duties as householders.

Among his significant contributions, Eknath composed a vast collection of religious songs known as Abhangas, Owees, and Bharuds. These compositions became renowned for their spiritual depth and lyrical beauty.

Eknath's impact on society extended beyond his literary contributions. He sought to reform and revitalize spiritual practices, encouraging people to find divinity in their everyday lives. His teachings emphasized the significance of maintaining a balanced life, where spiritual pursuits could coexist harmoniously with familial and societal responsibilities.

Eknath's legacy as a reformer rests on his efforts to elevate the Marathi language, his inspirational spiritual compositions, and his belief in finding God within the context of family and household duties. His influence continues to be felt, both in the cultural richness of Marathi literature and in the timeless wisdom of his spiritual teachings.

Eknath, a celebrated figure among the saints of the renowned Varakavi Sampradaya founded by Gyanadeva, was born in 1533 in Paithan, Maharashtra. His early life was marked by the untimely passing of his parents, which deprived him of parental love. However, at a young age, he received spiritual education from Guru Janardana, a devotee of Dattatreya. Eknath's unique approach blended Vedanta and Sufism, setting him apart as a spiritually diverse soul known as "Eka-janardana."

Throughout his life, Eknath propagated two forms of bhakti (devotion) to the Saguna Brahman, considering it both an end and a means. While the Advaitic tradition generally identifies with bhakti as a means to attain moksha, Eknath also saw it as an end in itself, emphasizing the meditation of God with form.

Eknath became a pioneer in the reform of untouchability in Maharashtra, exhibiting respect and kindness towards lower-caste individuals. An incident that illustrated his compassion was when he rescued a Mahar child from drowning in the overflowing waters of Godavari. His teachings could be summarized as "Vichar, Uchchar, and Achar," emphasizing contemplation, vocalization, and righteous conduct.

Beyond his spiritual prowess, Eknath was a prolific writer, penning several books in his lifetime. Notable works included 'Bhawartha Ramayana,' along with numerous 'Abhangas' and 'Bharudas,' which gained popularity among the masses. Through his Bhagavata, he adeptly popularized Vedanta philosophy and eloquently explained the nine traditional limbs of the 'Bhakti marga' with examples from various saints. Eknath's scholarly and lucid commentary, Eknathi Bhagawat, is highly regarded.

His literary contributions extended to songs as well, as he introduced a new form of Marathi religious song called Bharood and authored 300 of them.

In the year 1599, Eknath attained samadhi by immersing himself in a body of water, following the example of his idol, Dnyaneshwar. He embraced a sacred 'jalsamadhi' in the revered Godavari River, leaving behind a profound legacy of spirituality and devotion.

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