surdas

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Surdas was born blind, the younger of many siblings in a poor family, in 1478. His disability, rather than creating sympathy, resulted in his mother neglecting him, as she saw no future for him. She began to ignore him to the point that she failed to even acknowledge his existence. The privations he suffered provoked him to run away from home when he was barely six. He began to sing songs as he wandered, surviving on the charity of those who felt drawn to his soulful singing. His melodious voice and natural musical talent soon attracted the attention of an eminent Guru, Vallabhacharya who adopted him as a disciple in his monastic order. His musical abilities soon won the appreciation of all. As time passed he rose in favour with the Guru and became his chief disciple.

Like Mira he became an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, the maverick, cupid like Avatar whose melodious flute had captivated the souls of all the maidens of the glade of Vrindavan and  enraptured every man. He transferred eventually to that Vrindavan of legend and myth, singing songs of the beauteous blue Avatar. Legend has it that once straying close to a well he fell into it, remaining there for several days, till giving up all hope he sought divine help by calling out to his Krishna. A youth appeared suddenly and pulled him out of the well but when he turned to thank him there was no trace of him. Convinced that it was none other than his Krishna he began composing heart-rending verse in his praise and adoration. His Sursagar (Lake of Melody), is a collection of thousands of songs covering the legend of Krishna from childhood to kingship, the Machiavelli of the Mahabharat epic and the voice and soul of the Indian bible, the Bhagawat Gita.                                                     surdas stamp

His fame as a mystic poet and musician spread across the land far and wide, even reaching the Mughal court. Legend has it that the Emperor Akbar a connoisseur of music wishing to hear him is said to have joined the ever-present congregation of admiring disciples, incognito. Later revealing himself he asked him to join the musicians at his imperial court. Surdas declined averring that he sang for Krishna alone.

Krishna among Hindus is regarded as the incarnated Supersoul (Paramatma) into which every soul (Atma) merges after its long and arduous journey of numerous lifetimes, experiencing mortal trials and travails to learn the lessons of temptation and limitation to which the physical form of the mortal is subject. The process through which the  evolution of the material shell the souls inhabit takes place The ubiquitous presence of divinity in the physical world harmonizes it, balancing furious materialism with the calming and healing spirit of the soul.

 Surdas, in one of his most famous songs, addresses his beloved Lord, the Supersoul Krishna to be patient and tolerant of the shortcomings, failures and frailties of the physical condition that the soul is experiencing through its host, for eventually they will be overcome and healed by the power of the spirit, merging eventually with the Supersoul in enlightenment and bliss.

LET NOT MY FAULTS EFFECT YOU  SO

( Prabhu more avagun chit na dharo )

Lord let not my faults affect you so,

You are called the discerning one,

Then forgive and help me go

Across this ocean of life,

For metal can take any mould,

 As a devotee’s lamp,

Or shaped also

To become a butcher’s knife

But the Philosopher’s stone never discriminates

In turning both lamp and knife to gold.

Here is a river

There a drain, filled with defiling waters

But in the holy Ganges,

As one they flow.

One is called an incarnate soul,

The other,  Supersoul

But when they merge

As one they glow,

So help me cross to the other shore

Or your honour as saviour forego.

Memorial Statue of Surdas

Memorial Statue of Surdas

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