At the end of the classical age, in the post-Sankara period and with the rise of Gorakhnath and the Nath-Sampradya there arose in the different parts of the country a line of Saints and Mystics who brought the wisdom of the ancients, the Rishis and the Acharyas, to the common people. They adopted the local language and used the medium of song in their mission. They were pilgrims, all the time moving among the people. They came from all classes and strata of the society, which in itself was the outcome of the universality and the basic oneness of men that they proclaimed. They might have risen in diverse schools of religion or philosophy, but all of them emphasized the fundamental truth, and the eternal values. With satire and sarcasm, and in homely language with similes and symbols, they declaimed against hypocrisy and corruption, empty forms and rituals and all kinds of sham. Their plea was for sincerity of faith and fellowship of beings and integration of the whole man. When the great Hindu kingdom declined, invasions increased, the ideas and institutions of Dharma and Bhakti were in peril, these minstrels of god, always on their feet, kept up the morale of the people, and through the attraction of the form with which they played, with freshness and variety, on the refrain of morality and character, and the superiority of special values over mundane pursuits revitalized the devotion and faith, the Bhakti and Sraddha of the classes and the masses. In the coming together of cultures, confrontation was not the only result: there was also a synthesis which gave rise to saints who bridged the gulf and spoke the same voice of integration.
The wide coverage that the subject provides has been kept in presenting these men of God. Because of their number and their detailed treatment, these devotional Poets and Mystics had to be given in two large volumes. Some names ma appear to have been left out, they will appear in some other volumes, those on the Ramayana-Mahabharata-Bhagavata Poets, Teachers and Musicians.
This Volume, the second part, on the Devotional Poets and Mystics, offers another fourteen of them; five from the Hindu speaking areas; three from Western India (Gujarat and Maharashtra), one from the East (Bengal), a group of saints, the haridasas of Karnataka; two from Tamil Nadu and one each from Sindh and Andhra Pradesh. Four of them ware Muslims who spoke to Hindus and Muslims alike. Some of them were active participants in politics and public affairs but maintained the poise and peace of their soul, and were adepts in the art (Kausala) of Nivritti in Pravritti, a lesson which is the ever relevant message of the Gita.
Among the writers of these articles are, besides University Professors and writers, Vice-Chancellors and High Court Judges who sent their articles at different times. It was therefore not possible to presents the Saints in a rational arrangement. But arranged or not arranged, flowers are flowers.
Thanks are due to these authors who have participated in the blessing of these Saints whose lives and lessons they have dwelt upon.
Here is one more open book of God-realisation.
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