Surdas is an outstanding saint and poet of sixteenth century. He was blind from early age, but was gifted with the celestial vision of spiritual insight. His poetry is a unique symphony of songs and psalms or Bhajans. It is a Samadhi of divine ecstacy of devotion, expressed in the matchless music of words. His poems flow like rivers rushing to mingle in the Rasa Sindhu the ‘ocean of Rasa’ of Lord Krishna. His blind eyes beheld every human act of love and compassion, transending into divine bliss. The surging love of mother for the child, the childhood pranks of Krishna and his chums, the innocent lovesome sports of chowherds and cowherd-maids have a spontaneity and charm of enchanting spiritual thrill of devotion.
Surdas has based his poems on Srimad Bhagwatam, as advised by his spiritual Guru Shri Vallabhacharya. Yet his poems are very original and have a hallowed fervor and expression quite rare in spiritual poetry. His poems bring us face to face with the divine, Sri Krishna, the ‘Blue Boy’ of Vrindavan who becomes the dearest friend or child of everyone.
Sursagar is a magnanimous poetic creation of Surdas in which every verse is vibrant with various spiritual moods and emotions. Selected verses have been stringd together to form a sacred “Rosary of Hymns”. As the reader moves from verse to verse, the humility of the devotee merges into the divine, to become indistinguishable whole.
Surdas in his devotional songs gives expression to the ineffable, infinite Absolute, the Supreme Godhead, Lord Krishna. The simplicity of his language has such charm and beauty, that great spiritual truths and their ecstatic experiences are couched in superb idlyllic settings. His poetry stirs the human heart, transmuting all emotions and thoughts into divine love. The streams of enrapturing love of the individual beings. Jivas or Gopis, rush to commingle in the azure ocean of Lord Krishna, like rivers desiring no return even the ocean is ready to swirl in eddying whirls because of the devout fervor of love and supplication. One emotion follows another in quick succession in Surdas’s poems till the entire life of the devotee intermingles with the divine to become its indistingishable part-partaking of the Divine Bliss of Lord Krishna’s Lila.
Surdasa’s blind eyes are as it were relumed with a new vision. He sees through the veil of life, revealing the innermost urges of mankind and sanctifies them with the magic touch of spiritual sublimity. The surging affection of the mother for the child, the childhood pranks of Krishna and his cowherd chums, the innocent sport with cow-hered-maids-Gopis, the various miracles of slaying demons in childhood, the joys of keeping trysts with the Gopis, their longings, and experiencing the pangs of separation from their beloved Krishna are all woven in an exquisite texture of spiritual realization and bliss-the Rasa of the Maha Rasa.
Surdas uses a unique diction of his own in conveying his devotional emotions in the resilient and pliant Brajbhasha-a mediaeval Hindi dialect. Such is the lyrical charm and musical incantation of Surdasa’s verses that their words glimmer with an aura of multi-meaningful images. There are hardly single English words for such allusions. Yet I have made a humble effort to present the charm and beauty of Surdas’s poems, bringing the translation as close to the original as possible, within the idiom the expression of the English language, though at places readers may get the oriental flavours as well. The original verses are included in the book for comparative study. They are based on Sursagar the Hindi edition published by Nagari Pracharini Sabha-Banares (Varanasi).
I am very greatful to Dr. Prabhakar Machwe for kindly writing such a scholarly research oriented, introduction, delineating the life of Lila of Lord Krishna, Vallabhacharya and his philosophy, the life of Surdas and his poetry for the English readership.
I am confident these inspiring verses of Surdas will blind human hearts in closer bonds of love and understanding, irrespective of time and place, and thus make the devotion and piety of Surdas a universal phenomenon.
I am glad to place the “Rosary of Hymns” of Surdas before the National and International readers. The comments and suggestions are welcome.
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