Biography of Sant Surdas
There is scanty information about the life of Sant Surdas, (The dates of his date and birth are not really very clear), the medieval poet-singer of Braj the land associated with Lord Krishna. His compositions are in Braj Bhasha a dialect of Hindi that was considered crude at the time. Surdas' works are some of those credited with raising this dialect to a literary status.
Surdas was born blind to poor parents and because of this he was a victim of neglect and abuse. He left home at the tender age of 6.
The greatest blessing of Surdas's life came when Sri Vallabhacharya, the celebrated exponent of the Shuddhadvaita. also known as Pushti Marga, accepted him as his disciple. From his teacher he received knowledge of hindu philosophy.
He memorized the Srimad Bhagavata and other hymns in Sanskrit.
He portrayed in exquisite poetry the life of Krishna, especially child Krishna, in such vivid detail that he has not been equalled by any saint or poet, not even Kalidasa, in describing childhood.
It is one of the marvels in the realms of literature how a blind poet could portray in such meticulous and colourful detail the childhood of Krishna, stage by stage. Krishna's cutting his first tooth, his uttering of the first word, his taking the first step unaided, are all occasions for Surdas to compose inspired songs which are sung even to this day, in hundreds of homes, by mothers who see child Krishna in their own children.
The love that had been denied to him as a child flows by means of his songs on, the love that was showered on Bala Gopala in Braj by Yashoda, Nandagopa, the Gopis and the Gopas.
Surdas never entertained any idea of marriage but saw in Sri Krishna the eternal lover and he portrayed the love between Radha and Krishna as ethereal love-the irresistible attraction the individual soul has for the Oversoul or of the Jivatma for the Paramatma.
His work consists primarily of three major compilations, the Sur-Saravali, the Sahitya-Lahiri and the Sur-Sagar. The Saravali is supposed to have
originally one hundred thousand verses but many have been lost forever. It is based on the analogy of the Holi festival, by far the most popular of the festivals of the time, and always associated with Krishna as part of his Divine Play. Apart from being great narrative poetry they are also significant sources of information about the past.
The Sahitya-Lahiri is supposedly a treatise of various forms of poetical composition, dealing primarily with Bhakti.
The Sur-Sagar is his masterpiece, the ‘Oceanic work’ as its name indicates and remains the most influential and important of all his works. It deals with the life of Krishna in detail.
His fame was wide spread though he never left his native land, even the Mughal emperor Akbar paid homage to him.
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Sant Surdas Poems
Awake O! Prince Of Braj
Awake, Krishna, awake the lotus-petals open the water-lilies droop the bumblebees have left
Krishna Learning To Walk
Hands stretched out hesitantly, A foot on the ground unstably, Yasoda, teaching the Lord to walk. Sometimes watching His adorable face
Krishna Denying He Stole The Butter
O mother mine, I did not eat the butter come dawn, with the herds, you send me to the jungle, o, mother mine, I did not eat the butter.
Krishna Beginning To Speak
Mohan's begun to say 'Maiya Maiya,' And 'Baba Baba' to Nanda, Balaram He's calling 'baiya' From atop the house Yasoda shouts
Krishna Goes To The Woods
O Krishna, darling of Gokula, awake I have brought you milk, curd and sugar-candy come and partake of these delicacies: your pals are at the door, calling you to play; the sun has risen and it's time to go to the woods.
O Hari, 'tis morn, awake, there's water in the jar for you to wash your face no need to hurry there's plenty of time. I'll bring you whatever you like for your breakfast- dried fruits, butter, honey and bread.
Krishna Approaches Radha
Krishna said, 'O fair beauty, who are you? Where do you live? Whose daughter are you? I never yet saw you in the lanes of Braj.'
Krishna Complains About His Older Brothe...
O mother mine, Dau (Balram)forever teases me. you never gave birth to me, and I was bought in the market. this is what he tells me
The First Meeting Of Radha And Krishna
Krishna went playing in the lanes of Braj, a yellow silk garment round his waist, holding a top and a string to spin it with, a crown of peacock-feathers adorning his head
Krishna Wanting The Moon
Mother, the moon I want as my toy. I will roll on the floor, Not come to your lap, Nor have my hair-braid combed.
The Formless Brahma Has Incarnated As Kr...
Krishna awoke; Yashoda was enraptured to see his face blooming as a lotus that captures the rising sun's first rays. Taking off the coverlet she said, 'awake, darling boy, awake, your loveliness makes me swoon your bewitching face is like the full moon seen through the sea's foam when it was churned for nectar.'
Krishna Returning With The Herd
Mohan comes herding the cows, crown of peacock feathers on his head, garland of forest flowers on his chest, in his hand a wooden staff,
The Invigorating Dawn
Awake, O Krishna awake, the night has gone arise, no longer laze breathe the pure air of early morn; the cowherd-lads come and gaze at you,
Awake O! Prince Of Braj
awake the lotus-petals
open the water-lilies droop
the bumblebees have left
the creepers cocks crow,
and birds chirp on the trees.
The cows are in the byre lowing;
they run after their calves;
the moon fades before the sun.