Surdas was an Indian poet and singer who was popular in the 16th century era. Reportedly, he was blind and was famous for composing poems in love with his guru Lord Krishna. The languages used by Surdas to write poetry include Braj, medieval Hindi and Awadhi.
According to some historians, Surdas was born somewhere between 1478 and 1483.age 101 years; at the time of death) in Village Sihi, Faridabad, Haryana. His music teacher was Vallabhacharya, a famous Indian saint of the 16th century. Vallabhacharya was the originator of the Pushti Marga sect. Some historians and scholars claimed that Surdas was born in 1478. These historians claimed that according to the Vaishnava calendar, Surdas was born on the 5th day of the Hindu month of Vaisakha. Surdas Jayanti is celebrated in India on this day. Other historians dispute the above facts and claim that he was born between 1561 and 1584. The birthplace of Surdas is also disputed. Some scholars claimed that Ranukata or Renuka, located on the main road from Agra to Mathura, was the birthplace of Surdas, while some other historians claim that Sihi, a village near Delhi, was the birthplace of Surdas. After Vallabhacharya’s death, his successor Vitthalnath chose eight poets, including Surdas, to compose songs and poems to spread praises of Lord Krishna in India. These eight poets were popularly called “Astachap”. Surdas was prominent in his poetic skill and devotion to Lord Krishna. meaning of astachap,
The eight disciples of Vallabh Acharya are called achhaps (eight seals in Hindi), named after the oral signature chapter written at the conclusion of literary works.
parents and siblings
His father’s name is Ramdas Saraswat and mother’s name is Jamunadas.
Surdas was not married throughout his life.
Initiation from Vallabhacharya
Surdas was born in a very poor family. Reportedly, he was blind from birth and was neglected by his family. When he was six years old, he was abandoned by his family. According to some historical sources, Vallabhacharya first met Surdas on the banks of the Mathura river, where Surdas (a blind) was weeping and singing religious songs. Vallabhacharya was on his way from Vrindavan when he asked Surdas the reason for his crying. Surdas replied that he was abandoned by his family because he was blind. On this Vallabhacharya placed his hand on Surdas’s head and soon after the incident, Surdas looked at Lord Krishna with his closed eyes, who lived in Braj about five thousand years ago. Surdas saw the life journey of Lord Krishna with his blind eyes. Surdas went to Vrindavan with Vallabhacharya, who taught him the Hindu religious aarti at the Shrinath Temple. Saint Vallabhacharya taught him to memorize Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. Surdas was initiated by Vallabhacharya. Hindu scriptures were also recited by Surdas under the guidance and training of Vallabhacharya. Soon, he started giving religious and philosophical discourses in local Hindu temples.
composition of poems
The poetic compositions of Surdas included scenes and descriptions of the love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Mostly, it depicts scenes that depict the yearning of Radha and the gopis in the absence of Lord Krishna. These poems focus on Bhakti philosophy with some highlights from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Surdas told in his poems that Lord Krishna had 24 incarnations. He further said that the Indian historical legends Dhruva and Prahlad were his followers. Some incarnations of Lord Krishna from history mention that Krishna was a lover of the festivals of Vasanta (spring) and Holi.
The Bhakti movement initially started in South India in the seventeenth century and gradually spread its ideologies to the states of Northern India. Surdas actively advocated and participated in the Bhakti movement in the Indian subcontinent during his time there. The movement was led by many Indian saints and propagated spiritual empowerment among the masses. He composed these poems in Brajbhasha, a dialect of Hindi. Persian or Sanskrit languages were also prevalent among the local people of Braj. Soon after his poems became popular, the Braj language began to gain recognition, and it was transformed from a common language into a literary language. Indian poet Tulsidas was inspired by the writings of Surdas. Tulsidas composed the book Shri Krishna Geetavali, which was based on the writings of Surdas. According to historians, Surdas was a good friend of Tulsidas. The great Indian ruler Akbar was also fascinated by the poems and devotional songs of Surdas. Surdas often attended the devotional meetings held in Akbar’s court. The modern Indian poet Dr. Hazari Prasad Dwivedi composed many Hindi poems on Surdas. Dwivedi has described the aura of Surdas in one of his poems. Hazari Prasad Dwivedi said that Alankar Shastra used to follow Surdas with folded hands and it started raining when Surdas sang. He wrote,
When Surdas begins to describe his favorite subject, it seems that the Alankar Shastra follows him with folded hands. And there is a flood of similes and a rain of metaphors. Also, Surdas has depicted the childhood form of Lord Krishna very concisely and vividly. Surdas ji had given a wonderful direction to poetry by connecting devotion with makeup.
Surdas was inspired by the ideologies of the Bhakti movement and all his poetic works revolved around his love for his guru. He propagated the ideologies and teachings of the Shuddhadvaita school of Vaishnavism. He learned the spiritual analogy of Radha-Krishna Leela by listening to the sages of his time.
The book Sur Sagar (Ocean of Sur) was written by Surdas in the 16th century with 100,000 poems or songs on Lord Krishna. In the modern era, several revised editions of this book were issued by famous Indian poets under the name of Sur. In his composition Sur Sagar, Surdas describes Lord Krishna and his life as follows:
The beloved child of Gokul and Vraj, written from the point of view of the gopis. ,
In this book, Surdas described Lord Krishna as a mischievous and lovely child of Braj in the eyes of the gopis. Surdas’s other two works include Sur Saravali and Sahitya Lahiri. According to some historical sources, there are one lakh verses in the book named Sur Saravali. Surdas in his book Sur-Saravali focuses on the Indian festival of Holi. However, some of the ballads in this book were lost with the passage of time. His books mainly contained the life and virtues of Lord Krishna, who created this universe in a playful mood. According to Surdas,
The Lord is the great player, who, in his fickle mood, creates the universe and the primordial being by himself, who possesses the three gunas, namely sattva, rajas and tamas. ,
Some compositions of ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the holy book of the Sikhs, have also been extracted from Sur. In his other work, Sahitya Lahiri, Surdas composed 118 verses, which were based on the devotional philosophy to Lord Krishna.
According to some historians, Surdas died between 1579 and 1584 in Braj, Uttar Pradesh. He died a natural death.
Facts / Trivia
- In the library of Kashi Nagari Pracharini Sabha, 25 texts composed by Surdas are kept specially for the readers.
- Darshan is mentioned in the poetry of Surdas that both Bhavapada and Kalapaksha meet each other at the same stage.
- Soon after taking initiation from Vallabhacharya, Surdas started following the Vallabh sect. Some historians claim in their writings about Surdas that the manuscripts written by Surdas were ranked highest among other Indian poets and singers such as Narsi, Meeran and Vidyapati.
- A film called Surdas was released in 1939 by Krishna Dev Mehra. Several other films were featured on Surdas’s life such as Bilvamangal or Bhagat Surdas (1919) by Rustamji Dhotiwala, Bilvamangal (1932), Chintamani (1956) by PS Ramakrishna Rao, Chilamboli (1963) by GK Ramu, Bilvamangal (1976) by . Gobinda Roy, and Vilavmangal Ki Pratigya (1996) by Sanjay Virmani.