Surdas was a blind Hindu devotional poet and singer. He is known for his songs written in praise of Krishna. They are usually written in Braj language, which is one of the literary dialects of Hindi. Surdas’s name is the highest among the devotee poets who have flowed the stream of Krishna bhakti. In Hindi literature, Mahatma Surdas, a unique worshiper of Lord Krishna and the best poet of Braz language, is considered to be the “Sun” of Hindi literature. He is a great poet of the Krishna-Bhakti of the Bhakti era in Hindi literature.
Biography of Surdas
|Date of Birth||1478|
|Father’s Name||Ramdas Saraswat|
Early Life of Surdas
There is disagreement regarding the exact birth date of Surdas. He was born in 1478 in a village called Ranukta or Ranuka. This village is located along the Mathura-Agra road. Some scholars are of the opinion that he was born in a poor Saraswat Brahmin family in a village called Sihi. Sur has differences about the exact birthplace, some scholars say he was born in Ranukta village which is located on the road from Agra to Mathura, while some say he was from a village called Sihi near Delhi. The birthaday of Surdas is celebrated as Surdas Jayanti in the Vaishnav calendar, on the 5th day of the Hindu month of Vaishakh. Surdas’ father Ramdas Saraswat was a singer. There are differences about Surdas being born blind. Initially, he lived in Gaughat near Agra. There he met Shri Vallabha Acharya and became his disciple. Surdas died in Parasauli village near Govardhan in 1580.
Vallabha’s story says that Sur was blind from birth and his family neglected him, Surdas was forced to leave his house at the age of six and lived on the banks of river Yamuna. It is said that he met Shri Hithi Harivansh Chandra Mahaprabhu, the bhakti poet-sadhu of the Brahmin language and founder of the Radhavallabh community, and became his disciple on his way to Vrindavan for a pilgrimage.
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Surdas met Shri Vallabha Acharya at Gaughat. He later became his disciple. Sri Vallabha Acharya walked towards Krishna Bhakti with initiation on the path of confirmation. Under Vallabha Acharya’s guidence and training, Surdas memorized the Shrimad Bhagavata, studied the Hindu scriptures, and gave lectures on philosophical and religious subjects. After being separated from the family, Surdasji sang the verses. It was then that Shri Vallabha Acharya heard the song of bhakti from Surdas’s mouth and made him his disciple. After which he started remembering Lord Krishna and narrating his doings. At the same time, he had a Bhajan kirtan with Acharya Vallabha at Srinath temple at Gaughat in Mathura. The great poet Surdas was one of the most prominent disciples of Vallabha Acharya. There is a fascinating fact about Surdas and his guru Vallabha Acharya that there was only 10 days difference between Sur and his age. Vallabha Acharya was born in 1534 in The Boishakh Krishna Ekadashi of Vikram Samvat. That is why Surdas was born in 1534 and is considered to be equivalent to Boishakh Shukla Panchami. He remained celibate throughout his life.
Krishna Bhakti and Surdas
After learning from Vallabha Acharya, he is completely immersed in Krishna’s devotion. He wrote his devotion in Braj. He did all his work in Braj language, for which Surdas is described as the great poet of Braj language. Braj language is a dialect of Hindi literature which was spoken in the Brahmin shastra during the bhakti period. Apart from Surdas, Rahim, Raskhan, Keshav, Ghanananda, Bihari etc. have contributed to Hindi literature by creating compositions in this language.
Bhakti Andolan (Movement)
Surdas was a part of the Bhakti Movement spread across the Indian subcontinent. This movement represented the spiritual empowerment of the people. Similar spiritual movements of the people first took place in south India in the seventh century and spread to north India in the 14th-17th century.
Braj Bhasha (Language)
Surdasji’s poem was written in a Dialect of Hindi, which was by then considered a very Plebian language, as the popular literary languages were either Persian or Sanskrit. His work enhanced the status of the Braj language from a crude language to a literary language. Surdasji did all his work in Braj language, for which he is described as the great poet of Braj language.
Compositions of Surdas
Hindi literature mainly contains evidence of 5 books written by Surdasji :
The most famous work written by Surdas is Sursagar (Sur’s Ocean). However many of the poems in the book seem to have written by later poet’s in Sur’s name. Surdasji in the 16th century form contain descriptions of Krishna and Radha as lovers. The Sursagar in its present form focuses on descriptions of Krishna as the lovely child of Gokul and Vraj, written from the gopi’s perspective.
Out of the total 12 chapters of this book by Surdas, 11 are in abbreviations and the tenth one has been found in great detail. Bhakti is the priority here. The 10th section is divided into two parts. All copies of the Sursagar were found between 1656 and the 19th centuries. The oldest copy of this is found from Saraswati Bhandar in Rajasthan.
Surdas has a total of 1107 verses in Sursaravali. This book was written by him at the age of 67. The entire book is written as the song “Brahad Holi” .
Sahityalahari is a miniature form of 118 verses of Surdas. The most special thing about this book is that in its last verse Surdas talks about his family family according to which Surdas’s name is “Surajdas” and he is the descendant of Chandbaradai. Chandbardai is the one who composed “Prithviraj Raso”. Sahitya-Lahari has the speciality of metaphor.
Poetry of Surdas
He created the unique abstract work ‘Sursagar. In that book he portrayed Lord Krishna and Radha as favourites and at the same time clarified the beauty of Lord Krishna with the Gopis.
Similarly, Sur composed Saravali and Sahityalahari. These two amazing works created about one lakh blocks. Due to lack of clarity of opportunity, many classes were lost. He painted Holi celebrations with rich artistic work. Verses describe Lord Krishna as an incredible player and break the pot and describe the idea of existence.
In his poetry, we can hear the epic stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. He beautifully describes all the avatars of Lord Vishnu in his poems.
Poetic features of Surdas
Surdasji is considered to be the best poet of Hindi poetry. Praising his poetic works, Dr Hazari Prasad Dwivedi says that when Surdas starts describing his favourite subject, it is as if metaphors start raining. At the same time, Surdas gives a very simple and lively depiction of the childhood form of Lord Krishna. Surdasji’s poem has a clear reference to natural beauty. Not only this, the poetry presented by him and the fascinating depiction of Krishna Bhakti are not found in the work of any other poets.
Krishnapremi Surdas died in 1580 AD in Sambat in Parsauli village near Govardhan. Parsauli is the village where Lord Krishna used to make his rasli. Surshyam Temple (Surshyam Kuti) has been set up today where Surdas dedicated his life.
1. What were Surdas’s teachings?
Ans: Surdas’s work philosophy is a reflection of time. He was very immersed in the bhakti movement spreading in India. The movement represented a grassroots spiritual empowerment of the people.
2. Who composed Sursagar?
Ans: “Sursagar” is the work of Surdas.
3. Who was Surdas’s guru?
Ans: Surdas’s guru is Shri Vallabha Acharya.
4. When did Surdas died?
Ans: He died in 1580.
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