Ramdas (Marathi: समर्थ रामदास, Rāmdās) (1606–1682) was a prominent Marathi saint and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in Maharashtra, India. Samarth Ramdas was a devotee of Lord Hanuman and Lord Rama. His birth name was Narayan Suryajipant Kulkarni Thosar.
Ramdas Swami was born in a Deshastha Rugvedi Bramhan family to Suryāji and Rānu-Bāi Thosar in Jāmb in Jalna District of Maharashtra on Ram Navami (the birth festival of Lord Ram), 1530 according to "Shāliwāhan Shak" calendar. His given name was Nārāyan.
As a child, Ramdas showed an inclination toward metaphysical contemplation and religion. One recorded incident tells how he was walking in the dark and bumped into something under a tree. Fetching a light, he saw a local villager who had been arbitrarily hanged by the Mughals, foreign rulers of India. This incident fired in him a desire to be free in all aspects of the world: free from foreign rule and also free from Maya, the illusion that prevents individual souls from realizing their unity with the greater Self, Ultimate Spirit.
When Ramdas was eight, his father died; which turned him into an introvert. After a lot of introspection he finally arrived at the thought of the God, at that tender age. He used to be engrossed in these thoughts and try and find out the ways to meet The God. Then at the age of 12 years Lord Ram himself appeared in front of him and advised him to count the 13 lettered Ram tarak Mantra 108 times at least once a day. Then Lord Ram accepted him as his own disciple. The Lord gave him a new name by which he has been known ever since,Ramdas.
At the age of 12 years while he was standing on the podium during his marriage ceremony he heard the Brahmins chanting "Saavdhan" (the last word which seals the marriage) meaning, 'be careful or Beware'. Swami Ramdas interpreted that word to mean that he had to be careful not to get entangled in the bonds of Maya, and must seek Self realization. Immediately after hearing it he knew what it meant and just ran away from the scene and went to the holy city, Nasik, where he started his worship of Lord Ram which lasted for 12 years. He did it the hard way, many a times remaining without food or water, for days together. Every millisecond of this time he spent in the worship of Lord Ram. During this time he was constantly guided from within by greatest worshipper of Lord Ram, Hanuman. After 12 years of extensive Sadhana he got the blessings of Lord Ram again and through him he also got the real knowledge and then he
embarked on a pilgrimage of most of the holy places of India which he completed in 12 years, bare feet. After finishing the pilgrimage he went back to Mahabaleshwar. Then at Masur he celebrated the birth day of Lord Ram wherein thousands of people took part in the religious activities. He started gathering people around him which was essential for his ultimate goal of establishing the
Hindu religion in its original form which was in a shambles because of hundreds of years of Muslim rule in the country. Next year he found the statues of Lord Ram in the deep waters of the river Krishna near Angapur. He built a temple at Chafal and installed them ceremoniously according to the Hindu tradition. He celebrated the birth day of Lord Ram that year at the newly built temple.
Ramdas practised physical yoga exercises as well as meditation. The Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation was his favourite as it involves every part of the body. It is said that he would do 1,200 Sun Salutations every day, believing that no spirituality could be attained if the physical body was not strong. In addition to his veneration of Ram, Ramdas worshipped Ram's divinely strong servant LordHanuman. He established 11 temples of Hanuman in Maharashtra and promoted physical exercise to develop a healthy society.
Ramdas Swami was a gifted composer. He produced considerable literature in verse form in Marathi. Among his works, two compositions particularly stand out: A small book of meditations,Shri Manāche Shlok, advises ethical behaviour and love for God, and a large volume, Dasbodh, provides advice on both spiritual and practical topics. Ramdas also wrote the Shri Māruti Stotra, a poem in praise of Hanuman, the AatmaaRaam, 11-Laghu Kavita and Raamayan (Marathi-Teeka).
His most popular composition is the Marathi song/prayer to Lord Ganesh Sukhkartā Dukhhartā Vārtā Vighnāchi. He also composed several other prayers such as Satrane Uddane Hunkaar Vadani to Lord Hanuman and Panchanan haivahan surabhushan lila to Lord Khandoba.
Dāsbodh prescribes the path of devotion to God or "Bhakti mārg", and the path of Knowledge or "Jñana Marg" for liberation. Through knowledge, Ramdas clears away all doubts and gives the understanding of one's "True Self". Ramdas also reveals the true meaning and significance of "Discrimination" and "Detachment".
It was orally narrated by the saint Samarth Ramdas to his disciple, Kalyan Swami. The Dāsbodh provides readers with spiritual guidance on matters such as devotion and acquiring knowledge.It is a comprehensive volume in verse form providing instructions on the religious life, presented in the format of a conversation between a Guru and disciple. The narration is believed to have taken place in a cave called Shivatharghal in the Raigad district of Maharashtra.
It deals with diverse aspects of human life such as politics, conducting business dealings and taking care of one's body and family life. One of the key messages given by Saint Ramdas is to not be lazy, as he always encouraged aspirants to earn the livelihood in a virtuous manner. The person who is ready to work will always be fortunate. Common man normally does not want to work and expects everything from God without an effort.
In Dasbodh, Samartha Ramdas presents the essence of many Vedic texts. Dasbodh is a manual for life, in the highest sense, and is somewhat unique among spiritual literature in that it not only expounds the classic themes of discrimination between the true and the untrue and the detachment commonly found in Vedic literature, but also provides a detailed instruction on how to function and excel in society from a place of deep spiritual understanding.
Contained within the chapters of Dasbodh, Ramdas outlines the path of liberation through Devotion and Knowledge. Through knowledge, Ramdas clears away all doubts and gives the understanding of one's "True Self." Ramdas also reveals the true meaning and significance of "Discrimination" and "Detachment." Entire volumes could be written in trying to describe all that is contained within the text. It draws upon ancient Vedic texts including, but not limited to; The Vedas, the Shashtras, the Upanishads, the Avadhut Gita, the Bhagavad Gita, the Rama Gita, the Yogavasishtha, the Guru Gita, and the Brahma Sutras, to name a few. Mainly what is presented in Dasbodh is the voice of direct experience itself.
Dasbodha is an epic written by Shree Samarth. Whatever he wanted to tell the world he has conveyed through Dasbodha in a candid manner. As per the tradition in his times he wrote it in the Owi form. The contents of the book are simple, straightforward and easy to understand. It is so simple that sometimes it seems to be a prose. Dasbodha is divided in 20 main parts called as Dashak each of which contains 10 sub parts which are called as Samasas. The total Owis number 7751. Each Owi is made up of 4 lines. After being blessed by Lord Ram he wrote the Old Dasbodha. One finds the freshness, fearlessness and candidness of a person blessed with the ultimate knowledge just recently in it. After a while he started with the continuation of the work and completed up to the 7th Dashak to which he added the Dashak he had written earlier, called the Dashak of knowledge. Then throughout his life he continued writing for the Dasbodha which amounted to another 12 Dashaks. These were added to the earlier 8 ones and the final volume of the Dasbodha as we know it now was prepared just 2 months prior to the time when Shree Samarth left his mortal body. At the end of the book he has unassumingly asked the readers to study, ponder over, introspect and not just only read the whole Dasbodha.