EKNATH (A. D. 1533-1599), a great saint-poet-cum-social reformer was a polymath, Sahitya Samrat whose valuable contribution to different forms of literature served as a beacon to his contemporaries and future generations.
Chapter 1 of this monograph depicts the deplorable socioeconomic and political condition of Maharashtra of the 16th century. After a brief biographical sketch (in Ch. 2), chapter 3 evaluates Eknath's magnum opus, his commentary on the Bhagavata which by its lucid exposition popularized the Bhagavata Sampradaya in all class of society. His romantic presentation of the merger of the individual Soul in the Supreme Soul in Rukmini Svayamvara (Ch. 4) is still unsurpassed. His interesting narrative of the Rama Story in the Bhavartha Ramayana (Ch. 6) was a model to later narrative poets like Mukteshwar, Mahipati and others. His miscellaneous works include not only his Vedantic treatises, but a vast number of his Abhanga-lyrics. His Abhangas popularly known as GAULANI describing the life of Krishna in Gokul, have enchanted not merely the elite (in Keertana) but have fascinated the masses in folk-dramas based on them. Ekanath's unique contribution is his BHARUD Abhangas. Through the wide social spectrum including all the castes and subcastes, god etc of the lower castes, games of goy an even animals, allegorically, Bhakti is preached in attractive style.
The last chapter shows how his spirtual leader of his times, "The Avatara of Jnanadeva" ushered in a New Epoch in Marathi literature is still regarded as the greatest saint (next to Jnanadeva) of Maharashtra.
G.V. TAGARE (b. 1911): Linguist, Historian of Pali and Prakrit literatures and author of works on Shaiva and Jain Philosophy is an English translator of the Bhagavat, Kurma, Narada, Brahmanda & Vayu Puranas (20 Volumes published) and Skanda Purana (in press) A writer on saint of Maharashtra in Marathi Journals is now engaged in the (English) Translation of Eknathi Bhagavata.
Eknath (A.D. 1533- 1599) a great polynath, a poet-saint cum social reformer of a high order, was a becacon unto his contemporaries as well as to successive generations. Though spiritually motivated, his contribution to literature is so rich and varied that he may be regarded as a Sahitya-Samrat of the age. He ushered in an epoch in Marathi literature.
Due to his great contribution to the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra, he came to be regarded as an Avatara of Jnaneshvara by the masses- 'a prop unto the temple of Bhakti' as Bahinabi, a disciple of Tukaram puts it.
Here is a peep in the life and works of Eknath as a maker of Indian Literature.
I place on record my sincere thanks to the Sahitya Akademi for giving me an opportunity to make an in-deoth study of Eknath and to my friend Prof. N.G. Deshpande for critically reading my manuscript and making valuable suggestions.
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